What do you do when someone emphatically states that they have had the best tapsilog in Manila? A mountain of it, the perfect antidote to a drunken spree, the epitome of all tapsilog greasy spoons in a city full of them? The birthplace of it all? You go. So long as they drive. And not when they're drunk, no thank you.
After being told that it was a must try, we collected ourselves on a rainy Friday night to look for Maty's, along Quirino Avenue in Paranaque. The gods may have smiled down upon us that night, as the traffic wasn't extremely horrendous, and we even caught the fireworks show at Mall of Asia as we drove down EDSA. Quirino is a side road off the avenue known as MIA road or The-Road-That-Leads-To-The-Airport. On the map, Quirino becomes Harrison if you head into Pasay city. But we were going the opposite way, into the hinterlands of Paranaque and possibly into Las Pinas. It was mentioned that if I ever find myself eventually going to the Bamboo Organ Festival, I would probably take Quirino. It's not an aesthetically pleasant street. Like many Manila roads, it has no sidewalks, the stores, homes, offices, churches, detritus are smack on the road, which also serves as a side parking lot. Eventually, you see three signs with the word Maty's on it, two on the left, one on the right. It's in the middle of inasal spots, carinderias, and other notable food points. Um. Ok, so according to our guide, the original Maty's is the one on the right. The family made enough to expand and they decided to do so in a triangle no further than 10 feet away from one another. Was it the monopolization agreement? Competition between Maty Sr and Jr and Tercero? Wouldn't you have wanted to be the fly on the wall for that discussion! Maybe not. Probably get bitten by the spider hiding in the eaves.
So you enter, and the waiter takes your order, then you sit at the plasticene table and wait (was it Maty himself? hmmm, I suspect Mr. Maty was the fellow standing in his sando by the large woks full of shredded tapa. He had that typical grill cook look, a man in charge of his domain. Mrs. Maty may have been the wizened lady manning the counter and the money.). We asked for four tapsilog and a few sticks of barbecue. In a flash, we had our plates dished out, the food on the table, and we were wiping away our sweat with the tissue paper provided on the side. We mixed our vinegar and red chilli pepper dipping sauce, to add a piquancy to the meal. The tapa, shredded to a fine consistency, was flavorful, a bit gamey, and reminded me of a well cooked corned beef hash. The egg was fried to death, I would have wanted it to be a bit undercooked, but it was mainly to give added texture (not taste) to the rice. As much fried rice as you could want or eat. To complete the experience, don't order any multi-national brand of soda, go for Pop-cola! Pinoy na pinoy. Even down to our local poison.
Total bill for four: P300.
Open 24 hours
Quirino Avenue (3 spots)
No reservations needed