A good friend Marlo is leaving for Malaysia and staying there indefinitely as Digital Director of a major Advertising company. Everyone’s so happy for his well-deserved success, since he’s really one of the nicest and most honest guys you’ll ever meet. We just had to give him the best send-off party ever. Organized by Knox, his girlfriend and my best friend, the party was a success—despite awkward moments with ex lovers being in one room for the first time and ex friends emitting thick fogs of tension in the air (a normal occurrence in our parties, I observed), most still had a good time emptying out beer and vodka bottles in our mouths, arm wrestling, and drunk dancing to 80s music. It was really nice to drink and get wasted with old friends you haven’t seen for a long time.
We were all plastered by the time we got out of The Vault in Citigolf Ortigas. So naturally, I went to look for hot, satisfying food that will sober me up before I go home—lest I want to hear my mom deliver another long speech about the current status of my liver.
I went to the most reliable choice in moments of extreme drunk hunger—R&J Bulalohan Tapsilogan Atbp. in Boni Circle in Mandaluyong.
“Classy” is the last word one may use to describe this establishment. For some strange reason, there was a telenovela on the TV at 5am, while a customer is singing a song that sounded like “My Way” on the karaoke machine, and the guys at the next table looked like they wanted to punch me. But I won’t let that stop me from eating in this fabulously unnerving place that boasts of the best Bulalo in town.
Diet out the window, I was in the mood for a very hot bowl of Papaitan and Lomi. I also wanted to eat rice, so I got Tofu Steak and 2 cups of future love handles.
Papaitan or Pinapaitan for those who don’t know, is a famous dish from Ilocos, the northern part of the Philippines. As you can see, it’s not the most visually appealing dish in the world. It’s generally a soup made out of meat, liver, (it will get nastier and nastier, I’m warning y’all) intestines, tripe, and other innards (like heart, kidney, pancreas and only Lord knows what else) of either cow or goat. All of this is then stewed with a lot of ginger, onion and kalamansi for hours until tender. The name derives itself from the Filipino word pait (pa´it) which means bitter—because the inventors of this dish weren’t content with the innards, that the also had to use (…wait for it…) the animal’s bile to flavor it. Then you add large green peppers, more kalamansi, patis (fish sauce) or salt to taste.
My father is Ilocano. I grew up on this dish. My Lola Ma used to cook this on special occasions like birthdays or family reunions. Her Papaitan was unbeatable—probably except for that one time when my dad cooked it using ampalaya pills instead of bile. His version was surprisingly as delicious as my Lola’s, not to mention healthy. Also, very ingenious, when you think about it.
Pinapaitan is an acquired taste. It’s essentially bitter soup made out of animal innards—definitely unappetizing when you put it that way. But for me, it is still, easily one of my favorite dishes in the world.
Lomi, just in case you’re wondering, is simply a kind of thick noodle, stewed in a salty thick broth with different vegetables and eggs. Wow, I’m actually salivating as I’m writing this.
So my order comes probably after 10 minutes. Soup was definitely hot. Properly seasoned. Servings were generous. It was heaven to a hungry, drunk person. Everything was delicious, as expected. Even the Tofu Steak tasted great. Consistency—this is the reason why I always come to eat at this place even if it’s a little dingy and cheap.
I mean, really cheap. Just take a look at my bill.
All in all R & J Bulalohan Tapsilogan Atbp. is your fail-safe place for dining while drunk, because of the taste of their food, speed of service, and price—that is if you don’t mind the dismal ambience and, let’s just say, slightly disquieting patrons. (See menacing stare from guy in the next table below.)
Next time I’m here, I will try the Bulalo and Crispy Pata. I hear it can rival the ones in Batangas or Tagaytay.
My DUI Score for this R & J Bulalohan Tapsilogan Atbp experience: 7.5/10 Drunk Stars
Credits: party photos stolen from Knox Balbastro • Papaitan and Lomi photos stolen from the net (sorry!) • R&J Bulalohan Tapsilogan Atbp. photos by me