Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sizzling Fillo Restaurant & Karaoke Bar

Sizzling Fillo Restaurant & Karaoke Bar

On the menu: The crispy pata fried pork comes in generous portions.

Sizzling Fillo Restaurant & Karaoke Bar

Mixed: The interior has a touch of Vega wedding reception.

Sizzling Fillo Restaurant & Karaoke Bar

Photography by Bob Barker

Selections: The leche flan dessert.

Not sure about dessert, but Sizzling Fillo's pork is something to savour. Simon Thomsen reports.

Conscious I didn't fit in dessert at La Casa last week, I didn't eat too much deep-fried pork hock at this Filipino restaurant. Picture a huge platter of crunchy pork skin and crisp meat to understand how much restraint that involved. The Homer Simpson part of my brain is still thinking little else but "Mmmmmmm, pork", but the rest of my brain was thinking "Must eat dessert" as the plates sat there for about 15 minutes before I called the waiter sitting behind the counter. Service here ranges from taking the order to bringing the food, but not much either side. I asked to doggy bag the pork.


Where was I? Well, the plates remained and when I realised he had sat down again, I asked for a dessert menu.

"No dessert, we close at 10pm," he said, presenting the bill. It's 9.58pm. We pay, noting a $2 charge for takeaway containers and they thank us and lock the doors.

So I can't tell you about the purple yam ice cream ($9) or leche flan (caramel custard, $9). Sorry. The crispy pata ($19)? No worries there.


The Philippines isn't known for food, despite being a melting pot of Malay, Chinese and Spanish flavours. Karaoke and shoes, perhaps, courtesy of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Sizzling Fillo, once known as Bahay Kubo, has the first two. Saturday is karaoke night. On other evenings, the sound of Filipino soaps on the TV competes with a soporific cover version of Katy Perry's Hot N Cold. Whoever's singing doesn't sound like she enjoys picking up large pieces of blistered pork skin with unctuous layers of fat underneath and dipping them in sawsawan, the vinegar-soy sauce to cut the richness.


Sizzling Fillo's menu is a roll call of the nation's staples, including ukoy ($7) a crisp-edged prawn and grated pumpkin (normally sweet potato) fritter with a garlic and vinegar dipping sauce. The core condiments of Filipino cooking are vinegar, garlic and pepper.

There's a small bowl of complimentary peanuts which are coated in fried garlic. Yum. Vegetables play a minimal role here, so it's best to leave this place to carnivores.

It's not pretty, but when on song the flavours are fabulous and portions beyond generous. There's enough fried pork on this plate to feed the entire Lidcombe Waratahs on presentation night. I reckon it would excite anyone fond of knuckle in European restaurants such as Una's or Kaiser Stub'n.


They eat a lot of pork in the Philippines. It's a regular feature on this picture menu, from spare ribs to sisig, spicy sizzling minced pork topped with a raw egg, as well as the national dish, adobo. While the name is Spanish, adobo actually refers to a cooking style that's pure Philippines. It's a stew using vinegar, garlic and pepper. Sizzling Fillo's chicken version ($13.50), using the wing's mini drumsticks, has a warm spicy note from bay leaf and soy sauce.

Obviously Christmas can't come soon enough for everyone here, since the windows and chandeliers are already festooned with seasonal decorations.

The room has a touch of Vegas wedding reception to it via grey silk chair covers and bare tables decorated with Singapore orchids that have seen better days. Red paper napkins are curled up in water glasses. One wall is a pastiche of painted brick and black render. Two large Chinese porcelain gods beside a $1 lolly dispenser guard shelves of Filipino snacks.

Best bring your own wine or beer. Of three beers offered, only Toohey's New was available. I had a pleasantly sweet coconut juice ($4).

"The dish is pretty tasteless," our waiter warns, bringing kare kare ($17), a peanut and coconut milk stew of oxtail, beef shin and vegetables. "You need to add this," he says, pointing to the traditional accompaniment bagoong, a pungent, pink shrimp paste. He's right, although not everyone will warm to the funky taste of fermented shrimp.

Given the restaurant's name, a sizzling platter seems appropriate, but I wouldn't bother with seafood ($21) again. Some so-so prawns and squid rings loll over a blue swimmer crab, halved, but not cleaned.

And green mussels shouldn't be served outside New Zealand unless you're fond of chewing rubber bands. A finger bowl would come in handy too, although a trip to the loo to wash my hands revealed an Asian backstreet atmosphere of sorts via the lighting's somewhat adlib wiring.

But mmmmmm, that pork.

The food: 11/20
The staff: 5/10
The drink: 2/5
The X factor: 2/5
The value: 7/10

Total out of 50 - 27

Address: 36 Railway St, Lidcombe; ph 9649 7939
Food: Filipino
Drink: Licensed; BYO, $5 bottle wine/ $2 per beer
Hours: Tue 5pm-10pm; Wed-Sun 11am-10pm
Owners/chefs: Joel Ignacio & Oliver Cardona
Wheelchair access: Yes
Parking: Free street parking
Price guide: Entrees $6-$21; Mains $13-$21; Desserts $5-$9

Snapshot: You can fit Sydney's Filipino restaurants into one shoe. And while it's worth a trip here for the pork alone, the chance to try the national dishes is worthwhile, despite the rather curious surrounds.

Information in this article is correct as of 26 October 2010.

Simon Thomsen reviews NSW restaurants for the taste section every Tuesday in the The Daily Telegraph. - The Daily Telegraph - October 2010

Simon Thomsen

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