Per Mr. Geckle’s recommendation, I walked straight to the Sari Sari store upon arriving at Grand Central Market. I came back the next day.
I stepped out of the Uber in front of Grand Central Market on a Saturday afternoon. I was immediately greeted with the blend of perhaps a hundred songs, a song from each food booth. Somehow, this blend did not sound like discord, but intertwined with the friendly chatter and the pounding of my heartbeat as I prepared myself to eat at Mr. Geckle’s favorite booth. There were so many small booths, ranging from carnitas burgers to coffee ice cream, that it seemed impossible to pick one. But I trusted Mr. Geckle’s taste in food, so I walked straight to Sari Sari.
As it became my turn to order, I realized that I had no idea what to order. The main menu included descriptions of different Filipino rice bowls, including rotisserie chicken, charred eggplant, and crispy pork belly. I was having a difficult (but very fun) decision-making crisis. The man at the food register helped me out, informing me that the “Adobo Fried Rice” was their most popular dish.
The aroma and look of the food was incredible. A hint of pickle, a tanginess of vinegar, the sweet smell from the pork belly’s marinade, and the sunny side up egg that tied it all together was mouth watering. “LA Times” reviewer Jonathon Gold raved, “And the Manzkes, whose refined French cooking has been revered in Los Angeles for years, are masters of balance — you may notice the subtleties before you blast them into the umami zone with fish sauce, Sriracha and chile-infused vinegar.” I just hoped that the food tasted as good as it smelled (I’ve been let down by many herbal teas).The food did not disappoint; the flavor went above and beyond what I could taste with my nose and eyes. Like “LA Times” reviewer Jonathon Gold commented, I was in awe of the balance of flavor. Each element of the food had a distinct flavor that added a layer of complexity to the dish. The sweetness of the pork belly’s marinade complemented the tanginess of the vinegar and pickles, and the runny egg added a level of creaminess and subtle sweetness to the rice. As Jonathon Gold said, “A squirt of lime and a dash of fish sauce transform the flavor — not necessarily better, but different, with an extra level of depth.”