Found a Filipino fast-food gem

This is valuable info here, folks.

My buddy Marc was in town again, and wanted some Filipino food for when we all had dinner. My first idea was to meet up with him in Cerritos and try out a recommendation from another friend, Moonie. But my second idea was to have him meet us in Eagle Rock to try out this place I found — don’t laugh — via Yelp called Lutong Bahay.

The 9 reviews by Yelpers are mostly raves. Let me give you the rundown.

Lutong Bahay has its own sign in the Eagle Rock Rite Aid plaza (as I know it), but it is not its own establishment. Lutong Bahay, translated to “Home Cooking,” is actually the take-out portion of a small Filipino market, next door to Nanay Gloria’s. Yelp’s entry on Lutong Bahay has a very vague address which is actually confusing — looking for it today, I found three places where Eagle Rock Boulevard and Verdugo intersect. But Lutong Bahay is in the little strip mall off of the Verdugo Road exit from the 2 Freeway. So, when you go, plan on taking the food to go. Even if you wanted to eat there, there’s only one table with four chairs, one of which is right underneath the number dispenser for customers.

I had done a search on Yelp for “Filipino kare kare” in Los Angeles and this was the top result. So, since I’ve been searching for really good kare kare — which I define as very peanut-y, packed with real oxtail (with the fat trimmed) with a very orange sauce and little to no tripe (yuck) — I had to try it out. And Marc wanted dinuguan — not something I eat. So after Marc’s game in Anaheim, he trekked up to L.A. and met us at Lutong Bahay (on the directions I gave him, not the ones from Mapquest).

Now, the food. The place cooks up large catering trays of food, then puts them under heating lamps, in the tradition of turo turo — “point point” — restaurants. You point out what you want and specify small, medium or large.

The only dish they didn’t have today that we wanted was beefsteak, or “bisteak” but that’s not hard to get anywhere else.

We got a large kare kare (which looked really good and orange, unlike the yellow concoction I had recently), a medium dinuguan, large caldereta (Trinity is now a connossieur) and two types of adobo — pork and chicken. We opted for a large chicken adobo, plus two spare ribs. Along with a large portion of rice, and 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke and 7Up, we happily paid less than $50 for the whole loot. Then we trekked up to the home of my friends, Mel and Iliki, in Mount Washington and sat down to our feast.

As I spooned out a large helping of kare kare onto some rice, I said, “This is looking good. This is looking good…” Let’s just say I was so happy with the kare kare, I completely forgot to be a blogger and take photos, I ate it so fast. It may have been a little cool, but I was too busy eating it to heat it up. I would have also liked to have more of a peanut-y taste, but it was still quite tasty. And although it did contain some tripe, it wasn’t those huge pieces that other restaurants use to try to disguise the lack of oxtail. Anyway, I’ll have to take pictures another time.

Marc thoroughly enjoyed the dinuguan and was also similarly amazed by the kare kare. Trinity pronounced the adobo, caldereta and the spare rib to be “bangin’.”

I think Lutong Bahay may be my new favorite Filipino food joint.