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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No. 55: BBQ Pork Skewers at Fil-Am Cuisine

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 8:50 AM

click to enlarge Fil-Am Cuisine's BBQ pork skewers, $1.89 each. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Fil-Am Cuisine's BBQ pork skewers, $1.89 each.

SFoodie's countdown of our 92 favorite things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

click to enlarge sf_92.jpg

"Gusto ko ng isang platong breakfast," says the lady in line, "Give me a breakfast plate," but the counter guy at Daly City's Fil-Am Cuisine has to break the news to her: The next batch of rice isn't ready yet ― it'll be five, maybe ten minutes. She sighs forcefully, makes a clicking noise with her tongue, but she isn't going anywhere.

Sunday morning, and there's the usual chaos at this packed Filipino point-point, a tight storefront at the edge of a residential neighborhood, where five cooks work the food line. Customers trail out onto the sidewalk, waiting for rice plates or party orders ― flimsy, foil-wrapped pans of lumpia and pancit bihon, turron (fried banana spring rolls) when they have them, and above all the BBQ skewers constantly packing the double grills. The grill cook looks perennially stressed, a tightly rolled towel wicking the sweat from the back of his neck, armed with a spray bottle to fight flare-ups. One grill's covered with chicken skewers, the other with pork, foil strips turned a shade of bronze by the intense heat, lined up to prevent the bamboo skewer ends from turning to ash.

But it's precisely the carbonized bits of fat that make the pork skewers so tasty. Narrow hunks of anything-but-lean pork shoulder are bathed in a marinade containing soy sauce, garlic, and Sprite, then tightly shirred onto skewers and partially immolated on the grill. The virtue here isn't tenderness: It's the primal sensation of teeth grinding against plush flesh, burnt fat, and sinew. Meanwhile, the residue of char is so potent you taste it in your nose, and your throat feels itchy. The perfect balm, of course, is rice. No doubt the lady who's endured the wait for her breakfast plate ― a pork skewer with a couple of shiny longaniza sausages over a thick heap of rice ― could tell you that.

Fil-Am Cuisine: 66 School (at Mission), Daly City, 650-992-6191.

Dishes in our series so far:

92: Goat tacos from El Norteño

91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu

90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha

89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar

88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline

87: Outerlands' levain bread

86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt

85: Gyro King's spinach pie

84: Tandoori fish from Lahore Karahi

83: Braised oxtail and daikon from Namu

82: Golden Gate Bakery's custard tarts

81: Commonwealth's cured foie gras with umeboshi purée

80: Star Stream's Liège-style waffle

79: Mexican hot chocolate from La Oaxaqueña

78: Meatball sandwich from Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe

77: Cheesecake from Zanze's

76: Chicken pepian at San Miguel

75: Macau iced coffee at Vega/Special Xtra

74: Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch

73: Hai Ky Mi Gia's duck leg noodle soup

72: Sauerbraten at Walzwerk

71: Boudin noir at Cafe Bastille

70: Blackstrap molasses gingerbread at Lotta's Bakery

69: Plow's crispy potatoes

68: Prospect's Catcher in the Rye

67: Pork banh mi from Little Vietnam Cafe

66: Nakaochi at Ippuku

65: Sidekick's chocolate spritzer

64: Farmhouse Culture's horseradish-leek sauerkraut

63: Destination Baking Co.'s challah

62: Cotogna's roasted carrots

61: Hard Knox Cafe's chicken and waffles

60: The Rebel Within from Tell Tale Preserve Co.

59: The Slanted Door's Whiskey Cocktail

58: Carnitas burrito from Taqueria San Francisco

57: Sakura mochi from Benkyodo

56: Birria at Gallardos

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