Halo Asian Mix
29 E. Adams St.
In the loop, near corner Wabash and Adams
Phone 312 360-1111
Just discovered this hole in the wall joint yesteray, in the loop, no less. It’s right near the southwest corner of Adams and Wabash, nestled among the row of lunch places on that corner. It used to be where Oodles of Noodles was, but now it’s called Halo Asian Mix. I got caught in the pouring rain walking around the loop after class yesterday and desperately needed refuge from the cold rain … so I went into the restaurant. I didn’t feel like having a hotdog (American Dog is next door) for dinner, and Panda Express is about two blocks away. So I went in.
It’s a little bit grungy, peeling paint and perennially out of order soda fountain dispenser … BUT the food looks good, cheap (lunch specials) and inexpensive (regular menu). They have an assortment of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian and Filipino dishes which are explained in the menu on the counter (I thought they should have a better way of explaining the food – the photographs are not that great). But when I heard Tagalog being spoken in the kitchen, I just had to order from their Filipino menu. It’s a short list but it is a sampler of good, solid Filipino fare: tapsilog, longsilog, tosilog, beef kaldereta, adobo (choice of pork or chicken), pork guisantes (pork with chick peas) and pancit (Filipino noodles). They also have lumpiang shanghai (Filipino egg rolls) and siopao (hot buns) for appetizer.
I ordered tapsilog. Tapsilog was popularized in Manila by one outdoor after hours restaurant right in the red light district of Ermita. The term comes from tapa (smoked beef, dried beef, beef jerky), sinangang (garlic fried rice) and itlog (eggs, any way you want). It’s popularity was followed by copycats – other similar restaurants next door – with their own – tosilog (tocino, pork or chicken marinaded in red-colored sweet sort of teriyaki marinade) and longsilog (longganisa, the sweet Filipino sausage). But tapsilog remains to be the best known.
The version of tapsilog by Halo (by the way it’s halo, or mix) is quite good. The beef is tender and flavorful with a hint of acidity in it. That’s the authentic way to cure tapa – with vinegar. It came with a cup of brown rice and three miniature vegetable lumpia (egg rolls) and a few leaves of green … and the perfect over easy egg on the side. (Usually, the egg is served on top of the rice, but who cares?) I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I was the only one in the restaurant and I was cold.
The next day, I came for lunch. Again, I was the only one there … but soon after me, a deluge of patrons came. This time, I ordered the beef kaldereta (in the picture). This is quite a surprise. The beef was melt in your mouth you can taste that it’s beef beef. Not a cheap cut of beef folks. Looks and tastes like loin cut of beef cooked slowly for a long time because even the sauce oozed with beef goodness. And they don’t skimp on the other ingredients too – the red bell peppers are a plenty, so are the carrots and the peas. This time, the rice was plain steamed rice, and also, three little miniature vegetable lumpia with its own sweet sauce came with the dish.
But … no desserts! I was expecting, leche flan, at least.
Good food, really, cheap lunch food, delicious authentic Filipino food. In the Loop!
Next week, I will try their Hawaiian fare. Spam o rama baby!