The past week had me longing for the decadent pleasure of deep-fried pork. I eat chicken or fish most of the time and I get moments of breaking the rules, such as when lechon with its golden crispy is served at work for somebody’s birthday, or a tempting picture of tonkatsu rice topping stares at me in a Japanese restaurant..I simply can’t resist!
And this was what happened while I was strolling through the bayside restaurant row in Mall of Asia called San Miguel by the Bay (nice view , pungent smell from the bay, ewwwe). I had just come from the gym a few walks away and there goes a place named CFront Bar & Restaurant which advertises “Ilocos Bagnet” in bright lights. I simply had to make a turn-around and try.
It didn’t help that CFront has this see-through window where you can see the bagnet (Ilocos’ version of chicharon) being deep-fried in a giant custom-made vat.
My first order was their Original Pinakbet with Bagnet which came out fine because the veggies were tender. It is a mortal sin to me when pinakbet is overcooked. The problem with this dish was the bagnet itself because the pork skin turned out to be chewy (makunat) instead of crispy. Must have been that the pork sat out too long before being served. Somebody told me it should be eaten immediately once fried.
On the second day, because I still had my pork fat fixation, it was time to visit – with the kids!
Got a sampling of their bagnet chicharon which was crispy already (it pays to tell the manager).
Next, we try their bagnet binagoongan which was deep-fried pork heaped with a topping of sauteed onions, tomatoes and bagoong or shrimp paste. I liked this because the bagoong wasn’t salty or overwhelming. Still, the pork meat was on the tough side and the resto could really do better with better quality pork – which is all that matters!
I haven’t been to Ilocos in a long, long time so the most convenient thing is to scour Manila for Ilocano specialties. I swear I’ve tasted better bagnet in smaller stalls but CFront can do for now when you crave for a taste of Ilocandia in a restaurant setting.