Image credit: @PartsUnknownCNN via Facebook
Anthony Bourdain and his deep connection to the Philippines was undeniable. It wasn’t wishful thinking — we we weren’t just another stop on his endless tour around the world.
He said it himself, his visit to the country was something personal. Anthony did not just put his favorite high-cholesterol dishes — lechon and sisig — on the global map, he told the story of thousands of Filipinos. It was his mission to find out, in his own words, why we were “so damn caring”.
That’s why the passing of Anthony felt like the loss of an old friend. And so, in honor of our friend, let’s retrace his steps around the country.
Anthony’s first stop on his 2009 trip to the Philippines was Manila. He came with the desire to see and taste the raw, real and gritty part of the city.
Together with a tour guide, they navigated the streets of Binondo where they sampled a couple of unnamed food carts that sold street food such as taho and chicken balls. Not exactly the greatest culinary representation of the country but raw, real, and gritty nonetheless.
After walking the side streets of Chinatown, the tour guide took Anthony to the famous wet market. Though it’s almost impossible to trace back the exact stall, you can relive this moment by ordering what they did almost 10 years ago.
In order to give Anthony a taste of the different Philippine regions Ivan, the tour guide, decided to order a medley of dishes:
- an Ilocano pinakbet (mixed vegetables with fish sauce),
- a Bicolano-style ginataang alimango (crab with coconut milk),
- and the paluto stall’s version of the inadobong hipon (shrimp with white vinegar, and soy sauce).
In true Tony style, don’t forget to add a little bit of pork to your veggies.
Image credit: @lucingcunanan via Facebook
The next leg of his trip was led by chef Claud Tayag who took him around Pampanga – the Culinary Capital of the Philippines.
• Mila’s Kambingan
In order to satiate Bourdain’s thirst for mystery meats and all things “exotic”, Claud took him to a roadside kambingan stall, which by the looks of it alone, was right up Anthony’s alley.
Here, he was able to feast on things like papaitan (goat’s bile), Kilawin (goat’s meat served ceviche style) and Goat’s Head Soup.If you’re not the squeamish type, this meal is as authentically Anthony as you can get.
• Aling Lucing
The famous Aling Lucing is quite possibly Anthony’s favorite place in the entire Philippines. It’s where he discovered his love for sisig which he excitedly described as a “sweet symphony of pig parts”.
Aling Lucing is the birthplace of the sizzling beer match, and the catalyst that sparked the ex chef’s love for Filipino cuisine. In fact, he loved it so much that he planned to include sisig in the Bourdain Market’s menu which was rumored to open in 2019.
• Bale Dutung
Of course, chef Claud Tayag had to take Tony to his very own gallery-restaurant to flaunt a fancier way to enjoy the Philippine Cuisine.
The multi-course meal included upscale versions of Pinoy classics such as Ensaladang Pako (fiddle and fern salad) and Adobong Pugo (quail served adobo-style).
Today, guests have to make a three-day advanced reservation to enjoy the customized “Anthony Bourdain Menu”.
Anthony’s trip to Cebu originally revolved around Augusto, his supposed Fil-Am tour guide who, it turns out, was an outsider himself. Anthony then had the idea to take Augusto and his family to try what he repeatedly called the “BEST PIG EVER”!
Though technically, the now famous, Zubuchon, did not exist at the time of the shooting, Joel Binamira, the man behind the brand, was in charge of preparing it for the No Reservations crew.
The whole pigs were stuffed with different herbs and spices and cooked over fire for hours. The traditional method gave the skin an out of this world crunch that Anthony couldn’t get enough of.
Image credit: Jollibee Philippines Official Youtube Page
Anthony’s visit to the Philippines the second time around was for a different purpose. Instead of searching for the best dishes, this episode was focused on telling the Filipino story which apparently he knew pretty well. The season 7 premiere episode was shot during Christmas time in Metro Manila.
The ex chef was always vocal about his hate for all things fast food, but he made an exception,
I sneer at fast food, revile it at every opportunity, but I am also a hypocrite because to me, Filipino chain Jollibee is the wackiest, jolliest place on Earth.
The lucky branch featured on the episode was the Blue Bay branch in Pasay City. Bourdain ordered the Jolly Spaghetti, the Chickenjoy with Rice with the “sinister brown sauce”.
• Super Six Grill House
Super Six Grill House is a popular drinking spot located along Remedios street in Malate. Here, Anthony hung out with a cover band that he met in a corporate Christmas party. They ordered cold beers and of course, sizzling sisig.
Anthony was also seen in Handlebar Makati where he hung out with Mad Dog Motorcycle Club members and watched cover band, Keystone.
• Oarhouse Pub
Known to be a regular haunt for journalists, Bourdain dropped by the Oarhouse Pub to discuss the dangerous realities of working as a journalist in the Philippines.
Contrary to popular belief, Anthony did have some downtime in between shooting. He also visited the country for reasons besides his show, which gave him a chance to try out other restaurants without a whole crew in tow.
- Tanabe – During one of his visits in 2015, Anthony and some of his crew found some time to visit this Malate gem where they reportedly spent almost PHP 8,000 on sushi and drinks. The report went on to list down his exact orders which included uni (sea urchin), chutoro (tuna belly), and unagi (eel).
- Sarsa Kitchen + Bar – During his more recent visits, Anthony was able to drop by some of the more modern restaurants such as JP Anglo’s, Sarsa. He was served their grilled items such as isaw (pig’s intestine), and liempo (pork belly), which according to him was tasty enough without the coconut vinegar dip.
Anthony was bold, honest, and unapologetic. He inspired us to explore beyond the safe, paved roads, and love even the grittiest parts of our country, and ourselves. Nobody can fill his shoes, but because of him we can allow ourselves to dream of our own adventures with no reservations.
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