A longing for the flavours of her home led Janine Barican to open a Filipino restaurant in February. Named for a slang term meaning “to eat”, Chibog is all about recreating Filipino comfort food with modern, cheff-y techniques.
You can easily find Filipino food in Melbourne at pop-ups, night markets, food trucks, city canteens, and in a handful of restaurants. But Barican and co-owner and head chef Alex Yin are hoping to introduce the cuisine to a wider audience.
Instead of adobo, Chibog’s signature is sisig, which is typically made with a mix of braised and charred pig’s ears, pork belly and chicken liver. Instead of ears, head chef Yin uses a “secret cut” which he says has a similar ratio of skin, fat and meat. The pork is cooked three times: boiled in a pork broth, deep-fried, and sautéed. It arrives sizzling on the plate, with a sauce made from liver pate.
Kinilaw is a raw dish similar to ceviche. It uses yellowfin tuna, a dressing made from coconut cream and vinegar, and caviar. Kansi is a sour soup of osso bucco that’s been slow cooked in a tamarind broth with jackfruit and chillies. There’s also lumpia (vegetable spring rolls), kare-kare (ox tail stewed in thick peanut sauce) and crispy pata (pork knuckle).
And as with all Filipino meals, there’s rice. There’s plain white rice, a fragrant garlic fried-rice (sinangag), and an orange-tinged number cooked in rich aligue, or crab fat.
The neon-lit space is sleek and inviting, with leather banquettes, bar seating and tables for larger groups. It’s a mix of concrete, steel and dark timber textures by designer Elvin Tan. Towards the back there’s a mural of an iconic Filipino jeepney, a type of bus. To drink, there are Filipino brews San Miguel and Red Horse, wine and cocktails. The Pinoy Old-Fashioned is spiced with star anise, peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon; the Calamansi Smash is similar to a Mojito but with Philippine lime; and the Ube Macapuno Colada combines sweet purple yam with stringy coconut sport. There’s also a Lychee Sour.
For dessert, a classic leche flan (crème caramel) comes in spring roll form; and bright purple waffles are made with ube, a sweet purple yam, served with ube ice-cream.
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