A sizzling sisig good time
By Thang Ngo
It still confounds me that there is only a handful of Filipino restaurants in Sydney given Filipino is the eighth most spoken language group in Australia. It’s not that Filipino food is not delish, it’s heavenly – influenced by Chinese, Malay, Spanish and American flavours. And it’s all accessible stuff, it’s neither too spicy or too plain. And the people are naturally friendly and helpful, so it’s not like the community aren’t used to being in hospitality.
LaMesa might be new in the current Chinatown location but it’s the grand dame on the scene, from many years previously at Dee Why. This is noodlies, Sydney food blog’s third visit and it’s been a consistent good, hearty feast.
It’s a large square space on the first floor and, true to it’s name (la mesa means kitchen table) the place is homely, pot plants on the floor, pictures on walls and mirrors on the ceiling create a lived-in familiarity. Today, noodlies goes for the traditional favourites.
Sisig is the best I’ve had. It comes out sizzling, bubbles popping on the sides of the oval hotplate with freshly cracked egg. We take particular delight in mixing everything at the table so it becomes one golden, glistening dreamy treat. Traditionally this dish takes time to prepare, the pig head (mainly cheeks) is boiled, braised then fried, seasoned with soy, onions, chilli and sour calamansi juice. Some prefer to add extra lime at the table.
I get the feeling the Filipinos like their pork, crispy pata here is da bomb! Pork skin is crunchy while the flesh is well cooked but not tough or flaky. Dip into the subtle soy and onion sauce for instant satisfaction. Tart sinigang soup helps to cut the fried goodness with sourness coming from a concentrated burst of tamarind; it’s a face crunching, eye watering broth that surprisingly, my palate gets quickly used to and then I get quickly addicted.
There’s lots to like, and sure my waisteline would suffer with prolong regular exposure (I haven’t even mentioned desserts), but Filipino food is utterly mesmerising. And, in my books, LaMesa does it best in Sydney.
Isn’t it time you head to Manila via Goulburn Street?
LaMesa Philippine Cuisine
Level 1, 19 Goulburn Street, Haymarket
1300 880 835