Goto Monster: A Side Street Eatery Not For The Faint Of Heart
For most Filipinos the only carbohydrate that accompanies their food is rice. There’s the occasional pan de sal (Filipino-style dinner roll), but that’s not taken with ulam (viand). In Filipino dishes, rice is most usually steamed, sometimes with some pandan leaves for a little aroma. Leftover rice is often made into sinangag or fried rice in the morning to accompany breakfast. But there is one incarnation of rice that is also quite dear to Filipinos, and that is rice porridge which comes in two variants: lugaw and goto. Nothing does them both quite like Goto Monster, a street food experience you can add to your food trip list!
What’s In A Goto
The usual trappings of both goto and lugaw are egg and chicken meat. Sometimes, the best times, there’s some chicharon (pork cracklings) sprinkled on top. A usual companion of lugaw and goto is tokwa’t baboy or tofu and pork meat. The meat is usually taken from the head of the pig. Goto Monster does all these and better because they use bagnet.
The Secret Magic of Bagnet and Salted Egg
Bagnet is a cured slab or pork prevalent in the Northern part of the Philippines, in the region of Ilocos. Bagnet is salted pork belly that has been left hanging to dry and fried to crispness. Surprisingly, despite a very dry crust, the meat inside is moist and juicy. Goto Monster uses this in their porridges, and it’s the best combination! There’s something about eating something crispy and soft at the same time that makes my senses tingle.
Another marked difference between Goto Monster’s lugaw and goto and the rest is that they use salted egg in their porridges! The egg just adds another layer of taste to the dish. Mind you; it’s not just more salt. The salted egg has a unique texture that is a pleasant surprise in every spoonful. Thinking about it now makes me want another bowl.
Goto Monster also uses bagnet in their tokwa’t baboy. It is served dry on a plate with a little dipping bowl where you can put your choice of dipping sauce. Tokwa’t baboy is usually marinated in soy sauce in vinegar with some onions and chili. Goto Monster gives you the liberty to choose what you want to dip it into. Personally, the soy sauce and vinegar combo is never a bad choice.
The “Go-To” Monster Rice Meals
Don’t fret if you’re not in the mood for porridge; Goto Monster also has rice meals you can choose from. The one we tried was a plate of fried rice, bagnet, and fried egg, a bagnetsilog if you will. Silogs are popular Filipino dishes wherein a protein is accompanied by fried rice or sinangag, and egg or itlog, hence the ‘-silog.’ There’s a silog place in almost every corner of the Philippines. Goto Monster’s bagnetsilog also comes with a serving of green salad.
They also offer a wrap filled with grilled eggplant, greens and vermicelli noodles, a welcome sight for vegetarians. It’s a welcome change from all the meat and the three sauces; hoisin, peanut and chili, all go well with the wrap. I just think it could use a bit more grilled eggplant.
The Goto Monster Drink for Aspiring Singers!
The salabat or ginger tea drinks go very well with the dishes. You can have it either hot or cold. Salabat is popular in the Philippines as a household cure for a sore throat. It’s also widely regarded as the potion to make you sing better. So, for all the aspiring singers out there, salabat is the drink for you!
Goto Monster looks more like a drinking joint than a place to get filling meals. It’s an al fresco dining area right beside the street. Don’t worry, smoke from the cars won’t be accompanying your meal. It’s on a residential street in the inner part of Makati. It’s a little hard to find but don’t worry it’s on Waze.
Goto Monster has a challenge for all its diners. If you can finish a monster bowl of goto in 45 minutes, you can get a free t-shirt. Losers pay PHP 750 for their bowl. Don’t take the challenge lightly. The bowl is big and deep. Anybody who can finish it is definitely a goto monster. Try it if you dare! If you don’t, a regular bowl will be more than enough. And if you’re feeling blue on a rainy day and want some ultimate Filipino comfort food? Goto Monster is the go-to place!
Primo de Rivera Street Corner Pablo Ocampo Sr. Extension, La Paz, Makati City