Charcoal barbequing is a big part of Filipino street-food culture. Mama Lor has a charcoal pit with a grill covered in charred tilapia (freshwater fish), sticky-pork skewers and whole squids stuffed with tomato, onion and lemongrass.
Cluttered around the counter are stacks of hopia, a beloved mooncake-like pastry filled with purple yam, mung bean or pork. Opposite are shelves of Filipino rolls, sugary cakes and coconut buns. And down the back is a tiny, in-house bakery where you’ll find Mama Lor herself – the restaurant is named after the family’s mother and grandmother, who are both nicknamed Mama Lor – and her son Joaquin Bantiles working the ovens.
The local Filipino community comes here for the salty, hearty sisig (made with chopped pig’s head and liver); the pinaupong manok sa sabaw (leek and whole chicken stew); ampalaya dilis (bitter melon and crisp anchovies); and bulalo (beef and bone marrow soup). Real charcoal is used to cook it all, which the Lor family insists gives the food its flavour.
The lechon is a suckling-pig dish that’s usually only available to buy as an entire pig. It should be juicy, fatty, have an audibly crisp skin and be served with a traditional liver-based sauce. You can tell by the crowds Mama Lor’s nailed it.
Enjoy it all inside a space with a feature wall of hanging plants, and comfy leather banquets.