Thursday, July 10, 2008


4.5 out of 5 stars

The HunHao gang was supposed to trek to C! (review to come) for Italian Fine Dining, but it turns out that they're only open for dinners during Labor Day. Coming from an Anvaya-weary sunbathe, we were starving inexcusably past 2 pm. And it was a unanimous decision --- since we were in Pamapanga anyway, why not go to the restaurant where sisig was perfected and branded as the Philippine's perfect beermatch?

Off we go to Aling Lucing, touted as "THE Original Sisig Queen." They have expanded quite slowly, only putting up their store in Pasong Tamo a few years back, but it does not do away with their unbroken reputation maintained by word-of-mouth. Of course, news of Aling Lucing’s murder (or parricide?) this April all the more piqued us into going here, news of her death being plastered all over media (check the addendum attached to this article, one bye GMA, the other by Inquirer). May she rest in peace.

Her carinderia is by an abandoned railroad, very simple and straightforward. Because of its success, they put up another carienderia across the same street, which are both managed by her granddaughter.

It has stayed a carenderia in the truest sense: where you eat al fresco on flimsy wooden tables and monoblocs. They also serve other viands “of the day” from adobo to afritada, perhaps to cater to the locals who couldn’t possibly eat sisig everyday without dying from high blood pressure.

But still, it was an experience eating here, having the granddaughter smile accommodatingly at us, while taking out the raw sisig from the fridge to prepare it before our eyes. She said that 2 orders of sisig would be enough for us. She must have underestimated our appetites, because even if there were girls with us (including me, of couse, haha), we ended up getting an additional order.

HunHao in Pampanga
I’m not a fan of wet sisig. In the same vein, I never appreciated Aysee’s, much to my barkada’s consternation. Aling Lucing’s sisig is also wet sisig, and I was at first disappointed when I saw it. But once I tasted it, I realized that this is how sisig should be! It may not have been crunchy, but darn it, it was one of the best sisig dishes I’ve ever tasted! It was so good that it didn’t need other additives to mask its taste --- unlike most of the ones in Manila that I’ve tasted that uses chicharon, mayonnaise or chopped pieces of meat to mix in with the pig’s cheek.

We wolfed down ours down in a matter of minutes, it was that tasty! And in the back of your head, you’re thinking, gosh, what was that other ingredient in their sisig that makes it so good? It was my friend, Nix, that figured it out, saying that instead of using just oil, they also cook it with butter. And lots of it. :D Who could complain, really? Apart from that, instead of pouring Knorr over the sisig, you dip it in mild-tasting suka. I know, I know. Suka and sisig, who would’ve thought? But believe me, it matches, with the vinegar cutting through the butter perfectly.
Aling Lucing is certainly sisig in its own class, and it deserved to win the sisig festival in 2003, where it bested 176 other contestants. I highly recommend readers to try this award-winning sisig. If not Pampanga, then by baby-steps towards their branch in Pasong Tamo.

2 branches:
Aling Lucing’s Sisig
CROSSINGS (by the old railroad)
Angeles, Pampanga

Aling Lucing’s Sisg
G/F Centerpoint Building
Pasong Tamo (Near the Corner of Buendia)

04/16/2008 | 09:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The pioneer who invented the popular sisig dish in the 1970s was hammered to death in her house in Angeles City in Pampanga early Wednesday.

Lucita Cunanan, a.k.a. "Aling Lucing," the pioneer who brought fame to Angeles City in Pampanga with her spicy pork dish, succumbed to massive head injuries caused by the hammer.

"Bilang barangay captain tinignan ko, wala kaming nakitang forcible entry, maayos naman. Tinanong ko maid ng matanda, wala siyang narinig na sumisigaw (As village captain, I checked the area but saw no sign of forced entry. I asked her maid, and she did not hear any shout or sound of struggle)," Val Lagman, chairman of Claro M. Recto village in Angeles City, said in an interview on dzRH radio.

He said Cunanan lived with her husband "Mang Tino" and a household helper. Her children do not live with them in the house, he said.

Citing initial findings by police, he said Cunanan's husband went out of the house at 4:30 a.m. to buy food. When he returned a few minutes later, he saw his wife hammered dead.

But he hinted police had "reservations" about Cunanan's husband's claims as there was no sign of forcible entry or sound of struggle.

Lagman also said a large necklace the victim would always wear was missing from the house.

"Di kami sigurado. May kaunting suspetsa naman (We are not sure, let's just say we have our suspicions)," he would only say.

Cunanan's trademark sisig was started in the mid 1970s when she served a unique blend of chopped pigs' cheek, liver, onions, vinegar and calamansi.

She was featured on the website of the Department of Tourism, which narrated how her dish gained fame.

The DOT website credited Cunanan for whipping up the "popular classical dish," usually a concoction of boiled and chopped pig ears and cheeks seasoned with vinegar, calamansi juice, chopped onions and chicken liver and more likely served in sizzling plates.

"It was Aling Lucing's, owned by 'sisig queen' Lucita Cunanan, that established the city as the Sisig capital in the country way back in 1974. Today, a variety of preparations include sisig ala pizzailo, pork combination, green mussels or tahong, mixed seafood, ostrich sisig, spicy python, frog sisig, Tokwa't Baboy, among other dishes," it said.

It added sisig has become a main fare for drinking sessions or even family dinners, and on occasion has become a centerpiece of local social functions. - GMANews.TV

Inquirer Northern Luzon : Missing Aling Lucing, the ‘Sisig Queen’

By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: May 07, 2008

nquirer Northern Luzon
Missing Aling Lucing, the ‘Sisig Queen’
By Tonette Orejas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:33:00 05/07/2008

ANGELES CITY – Three days after she was murdered on April 17, there is yearning for Lucia Cunanan.

“Hinahanap siya ng mga suki niya. Sinasabi ko kung ano ang nangyari. Nalulungkot sila (Her regular clients were looking for her, and I would tell them about the incident. They’re sad),” said Ruby Rosa Sususco, daughter of Natividad “Naty” Bernardo, a younger contemporary of Cunanan in the sisig-making business and stall neighbor in Angeles City.

It’s Friday night and almost every eatery in Crossing, a commercial strip along the abandoned railroad tracks in Angeles, occupies half of the street, serving grilled food al fresco – except for Cunanan’s.

The lights in her stall are out, dimming a proud legacy. “Aling Lucing, Home of the Original Sisig,” two sooty billboards proclaim. A small tarpaulin hangs, detailing where the funeral services were to be held.

Day in and day out for 34 years, Cunanan had held court in this unpretentious corner, perfecting the dish that had become her trademark and which had evolved into a virtual “pambansang pulutan” (national bar chow).

“She put the lowly sisig on the culinary map. Kapampangans can eat anywhere provided the food is good. Aling Lucing, whose eatery is near the railroad tracks, started that,” said Robby Tantingco, executive director of the Holy Angel University’s Center for Kapampangan Studies.

How the 80-year-old Cunanan was murdered – her body had 10 stab wounds, according to police – was undeserving for this culinary legend, said Tantingco.

Revolutionized dish

By all measures, Cunanan revolutionized the sisig. It was documented as a vinaigrette salad – actually a snack of unripe mango, guava or papaya or anything fermented in vinegar – by an Augustinian friar, Diego Bergano, in his Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga in 1732.

Sisig had been a pregnant woman’s food before it evolved into a bar chow favorite. As the pregnancy progressed, the woman took to eating boiled pig ears and tail dipped in vinegar. It was believed that the cartilage (soft crunchy bones) would make the fetus stronger.

In 1974, Cunanan served large quantities of a different kind of sisig out of the need to make ends meet for seven growing children, according to her eldest daughter, Zeny. The dish was not only chopped pig ears; cheeks and snout were added.

But instead of just being boiled, it was grilled to a crunchy perfection. Cunanan improved on the taste by adding chicken liver and hefty slices of onions, calamansi (Philippine lemon) and siling labuyo (chili).

In past interviews, Cunanan had said that men with pregnant wives actually urged them to innovate on the sisig. “They were envious of what their wives ate but since they could not get a share of it, out of consideration for their wives, they asked me to prepare them sisig during their drinking sprees.”

So the sisig, Cunanan-style, was born. It did not stop evolving and even went beyond Pampanga.

“Many Filipinos have come out with their own concoctions. Aside from the usual pork, there’s fish, chicken, etc.,” Dan Tayag, former majority owner of Trellis Restaurant in Quezon City, said.

Highest accolade

The highest accolade that had been bestowed on Cunanan was the “Sisig Festival,” an annual culinary event began in 2003 by then Angeles Mayor Carmelo Lazatin.

The first festival honored Cunanan for her feat in making Angeles famous as the “home of the original sisig.” At least 176 recipes were prepared in the next staging.

Enterprise-wise, Cunanan was good. She opened sisig restaurants in at least two shopping malls.

Asked seven years ago what made her sisig click, she said: “Siyempre, ating lugud (Of course, there is love).”


b said...

sweetie, you write a post about the food followed my the murder of the owner? only you can pull this.:P

anikka said...

i miss you grace...lets eat again soon hehe where? plan it please...have you tried greens in sct castor?the tofu chips and chocolate yogurt is to die for hehe


banonymous said...

all good, but bring the kulambo.

Batuting said...

Mga repapips at remamims, e2 tip kung san mahahanap ang ilan sa masasarap na pagkaing pinoy:

Beef Pares - Bukod sa Jonas (meron sa Ali Mall Cubao), sobrang sarap ng pares sa frisco along Tolentino Street malapit sa SSG Supermarket at Frisco Market. Nasa labas lang ng bakanteng lote na ang fence ay yero, katapat ng tapsihan na walang kwenta. Kung alam nyo yung Damayan Elementary School, malapit dun ang isa sa pinakamasarap na pares (served with garlic rice or mami). Pangmasa talaga, P20 lang patok na patok. Akala mo laging may away sa lugar dahil sa dami ng tao.

Sisig - Aling Lucing's sa Pampanga (along riles ng tren), original e2 mga pre at mre.

Tapsi - Heaven ang lasa ng tapsi sa Scout Borromeo (No. 38). Meron dun maliit na internet cafe (Stassjja Jedwig Internet Cafe) na nagseserve ng mga silog. Nadiskubre ko 'to ng mapadpad ako sa Pier One sa Tomas Morato at naimbita ng isa sa mga parking boy (Pipoy ang pangalan) na tikman ang tapsi ng tita nya. Di ako nagsisi dahil the best talaga ang lasa kaya dinadayo na ng buong tropa ko. For P35, kahit tatlong order sa isang kainan no problemo. May gayuma ata 'to mga bro at sis, hehehe. Walang sinabi mga kilalang tapsihan sa Pinas tsk tsk tsk. Madali lang hanapin yung lugar malapit lang sa Pier One. Sakay kayo tricycle at sabihin nyo *** name ng internet cafe.

graey eats said...

Batuting: Thanks for the tips! will go try some for myself :)

joy said...

I grew up with Aling Lucing's sisig!

But when we moved to Manila in the late 90s, we could not find any similar sisig until we discovered Kalye Juan in Tomas Morato.

Their version of sisig is the kapampangan version - grilled pork, not fried with lots of onions and a hint of liver. Masarap... Now we do not have to go all the way to Angeles to satisfy our cravyng.

graey eats said...

thanks for that, joy! I always see kalye juan, but i've never tried it. Now I will :)

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