JP Anglo, master chef of the popular Filipino restaurant Sarsa, likes to search the streets of Manila for the best the city has to offer when it comes to food. In his social media accounts, you can often catch him trying out a Jolly Jeep pancit canton, or making tusok some fish balls, or trying out the famous Aling Sosing’s carinderia at Dian Street, Makati (too bad he missed their top notch bulalo on his visit, though).
His recent adventure took him northward, specifically to a takeout store in Project 4, Quezon City, on the corner of A. Luna and Lakandula Streets. The name of the store is Ana Lisa’s Take Home Crispy, and while it also offers other crispy things like Pork Ulo, Chicharon Bulaklak, Manok, Chicken Skin, and Liempo, it’s really best known for the pork knuckles dish that comes first on its signage.
The Crispy Pata at Ana Lisa’s seems like a legend in the area, “the Pride of Project 4” as one Facebook comment went. And from the way Chef JP raves about it in his video, and the crunch we hear coming from his mouth, it’s easy to see why. “Wow grabe yung lutong niya o, shet,” he says after his first bite, looking away from the camera as if in disbelief. “Okay siya.”
The Negrense chef munches on the Crispy Pata right then and there, just outside the store and on the sidewalk, using his motorcycle seat as a table for one. He commends the clean packaging before going back to the spectacular skin of the pork knuckles. “Yung crispiness niya parang brittle, like it shatters inside your mouth,” he says. He marvels at the skin easily separating from the meat. “Eto yung crispy pata na parang hindi minadali. Yung ginawa talaga sa very anal process of making crispy pata.”
One senses Chef JP requested to take a peek in the kitchen but was refused. (It is said the store also once refused coverage by a certain Anthony Bourdain). So he makes his guesses, as real chefs do, on how it was made. The boiled pork might have spent more time than usual in the drying phase, he says, but he’s really not sure.
He showers the dish with a few more praises: “Yung meat super moist, ang ganda ng paglaga.” “Humihiwalay sa buto [dahil] sa lambot.” “Gooey crispiness, just the right amount of saltiness.” And then perhaps the ultimate compliment of all, he says he’s got goosebumps.
One of the comments on his video seems to have come from one of the owners of Ana Lisa’s Take Home Crispy Pata, which thanked JP for featuring their store. “We are filled with pride that you've enjoyed our crispy pata and chicharon bulaklak,” it said. “Your reaction is exactly what we hope our customers would feel every time they taste our food even if they've had it a hundred of times already. We are truly thrilled with your recognition, but we are more honored to be a part of the tradition of the families we've served. Mabuhay po ang pagkaing Pilipino!”