Uniquely Filipino: Perla.
This area of Philly is full of restaurants but I hadn’t been aware of this place until I did some research. It’s a bit hard to find with a sign that doesn’t pop to the eye and, when you enter, you get the feeling you’re opening the door to someone’s house. I arrived on the early side for dinner………and I was a somewhat concerned I’d made the wrong choice when I walked into an empty space. However, it soon filled up nicely and my choice turned out to be a good one.
I’ve had Filipino food in the US, Bad Saint in DC comes to mind and in Manila as well but I’ve not seen these menu offerings before. No worry….the waitstaff was very helpful and I went “native” with their recommendations…..wished I could have tried more of the options….this is a place to share plates in order to get the complete experience. Also note, it’s BYOB…..had none so I went with the calamansi (calamondin) juice….similar to lemons and limes. Very nice.
First up was the grilled Spanish octopus….excellent…and this was followed by the Sisig…..all things pork…..jowls, ears….mixed with chicken liver and hearts all topped with a fried egg. Very rich dish with a spicy kick due to the long hots….and almost a meal in itself. I followed this with pinaputok…..barramundi….the side of soy with cane vinegar was so good I wanted to drink it! I also had to at least try the rice dish…..sinangag….almost fried in consistency with a side of bone marrow. Adding the soy with cane vinegar to this made it special.
Ended with the bibingka….rice flour, coconut milk cake all topped with a salted duck egg. Very interesting textures and the egg added a unique richness and flavor to the dish.
Service was excellent. It’s a small place so reservations are recommended.
I’d also recommend the kamayan…family style menu with the food served on banana leaves which cover the table! It’s only served it on Sundays and Weds….and obviously you need to be a group to enjoy it.