While there are myriad places to try Pinoy BBQ and everyone has their favorite spot, Ramos recommends Aling Sosing in Pasai. During our visit, the carindria was packed with hungry diners with a long queue winding down the street. A lean, energetic man was at the grill, lunging swiftly amid puffs of thick smoke, snapping his claws rhythmically as he flipped and tossed charred whole tilapia, glistening pork belly strips and pork skewers gate.
Founded in the 1970s, the business is still family owned, with Aling Sosing’s daughter-in-law, Gemma, and granddaughter, Mimay, running the show. “My grandmother started out small, serving breakfast and a few dishes like nilagang baka (boiled beef soup) for jeepney and taxi drivers,” Mimay said. “Slowly she kept adding more dishes, and people from the Makati offices were crossing over to eat here.
The atmosphere was festive and each table had some sort of grilled specialty, shared family-style alongside mountains of rice, bowls of broth and a myriad of condiments such as fresh bird’s eye chili, soy sauce and vinegar. Their skewers and Liempo (pork belly) had a salty profile, with more umami than many places, making it a perfect Oulam (main dish) rather than just a snack.
Although he serves a tastier, upscale version of barbecue at Toyo (using three cuts of pork and an ultra-concentrated reduction glaze to bring out the meaty flavors), Navarra remains a big fan of the version of classic street. “I like to discover the places recommended by my colleagues, and our master baker, Sherwin, made me discover Aling Bebeng’s barbecue“, he explained. Located at the corner of Washington and Roosevelt streets in Makati, the small charcoal grill, flanked by a table and a few stools, is one of the most popular barbecue (street grills) in Metro Manila due to the extra-gentle marinade and tender, plump cuts of meat. “It has become a favorite place for merienda (a late afternoon snack) for the entire Toyo team,” Navarra said.