ISLAND BACON: The tocino at Tapsilog Bistro comes with garlic rice and marinated, sweet bacon.
Mexico has tacos. England has fish and chips. In the Philippines, the equivalent is is tapsilog, a very simple, common dish of garlic rice, eggs and tapa (cured beef). Although considered a breakfast meal, it is also eaten for lunch and dinner, and as a popular late-night snack—pretty much any time of the day someone is hungry. There are several variations of tapsilog, all of which retain the garlic rice, eggs and the silog suffix but swap out the meat and change the prefix accordingly, like the “longsilog,” which uses the Filipino sausage longanzia instead of tapa, or “SPAMsilog” which is served with SPAM. You get the idea. The silogs are Filipino comfort food at its most basic. They have nice, easy flavors and make for a hearty serving of protein and carbs.
Tapsilog Bistro owner Ed Sanchez, who was born in the Philippines, wanted to open a Filipino restaurant in Campbell. His idea was to make the tapsilog (and 15 other silog variations) his flagship dish. The menu also features a handful of appetizers, most of which are specific to Manila, and a couple Americanized Filipino breakfast foods.
The bistro has a casual but lively atmosphere, somewhere between a diner and a brewery. The space is perhaps too small for the scale of business Tapsilog Bistro has already managed to attract in a mere 10 weeks since opening day. Some people have complained about the long wait, which is at its worst on the weekends, but that’s because Sanchez makes sure his kitchen cooks everyone’s meal to order, with nothing prepared in advance.
I ordered the standard tapsilog and the tocilog ($9 each). Quite often, tapa consists of several thin strips of beef. Tapsilog Bistro instead serves a full flat-iron steak. The tocilog comes with tocino, which is Filipino thick-cut, marinated, sweet bacon. The rice on both dishes was quite garlicky. I particularly liked the tocino. From the appetizer menu, I ordered the crispy pata ($16), a twice-cooked pig’s leg. It is boiled, then cooled down and seasoned—and then deep fried and served with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce and vinegar. The tender meat had a crispy skin. It’s a little shocking when you are served, literally, an entire leg (and the pig’s knuckles to boot) along with a knife to slice off your own portion. It can easily fill an entire table before anyone even starts on the tapsilogs.
819 W. Hamilton Ave., Campbell; 408.412.8926