I had recently heard about a somewhat new Filipino restaurant that emerged in Asian Square off of Buford Highway. Being half Filipino myself, I thought I would be doing myself a disservice by not giving it a try. The last time I had been to a sit down Filipino restaurant was over 4 years ago when I lived in Orlando, FL (Cafe Mindanao which is now, sadly, shut down). So this past weekend after watching a matinee of Captain America and resisting the casual dining menu at the theatre, we made our way to Phil-Am Star.
The plaza and restaurant are nothing to rave about. The space is small, simple and does its purpose- provides a place for the patrons to eat. Our waitress was young and inexperienced but I wasn’t there for the service, I was there for the food.
I knew exactly what I wanted… pancit palabok and lechon kawali.
Palabok (or pancit luglug as we called it growing up) is one of my favorite Filipino dishes. It’s rice noodles with a thick shrimp sauce. Their preparation was very similar to how I make it on my own home. They topped it with chicharron (fried pork rind), green onions, and egg (I also prefer the addition of fried garlic). The significant difference between their palabok and mine was the sauce. I have always used a packaged Mama Sita product to creat emy sauce but theirs tasted homemeade. The flavor was fresher and not as packed with sodium and msg. We loved it. It was delicious. I have memories of my mom and I eating palabok and halo halo in the markets of the Philippines and this brought me back to my childhood.
As a lover of bacon, I could not resist another favorite of mine (although I rarely have it) lechon kawali (deep fried pork belly). Pork belly is very popular is many Asian cultures but, in my opinion, this has to be best. What’s better than some deep fried pork?
I enjoyed the lechon but not as much as I had anticipated. It was missing something but I am not quite sure what. It was served with a thick liver based sauce- which I was not a fan of. I had always had it with a vinegar sauce (vinegar with garlic, salt & pepper). Maybe that is what this dish was missing.
Everything was served family style so there is plenty to share. I wouldn’t rave about Fil-Am Star & Bakery but I also would not write it off of my list. I’m glad to see the Filipino culture being represented amongst the many various Asian establishments of Buford Highway.