I always feel like this blog should do more to promote the Filipino Community and Filipino restaurants. Not that we have so much influence but since at least one of us is an expert, we should put that to good use!
We arrived hungry which is always a good plan if you are eating Filipino food. We started with 4 skewers 2 of pork intestine and 2 of barbeque. Their barbeque is traditionally on the sweet side. The intestines were surprisingly crispy which made us think that they had been deep fried before or after grilling? It was a great way to overcome those hunger pangs.
We had one combo meal which is a very good deal at $7.50. Of the options, we chose Chicken Inasal which is marinated and grilled boneless chicken thigh. This was an incredibly tender piece of chicken and very tasty but missing where the tell tale grill marks....hmm. It came with rice and a bit of a salad from which I removed a fairly brown piece of lettuce. This happens sometimes and its not a federal affair.
I always love Crispy Pata, marinated and deep fried pork hock with a vinegar dipping sauce. This one was exceptionally good with very crispy skin and a large amount of surprisingly lean and flavourful meat. This was the medium size (they were out of small) at $16 which is a good price. A lot of people could share this and we did have quite a bit left over to take home.
Another Filipino classic dish is Sisig. This dish arrived so hot that it was actually spitting at me! Pork jowl seasoned with vinegar, calamansi and chilis, onions garlic and chicken liver, all grilled and served on a hot platter. Again this was an excellent version (again, we had quite a bit left over)!
We had a side salad (yes, they do have vegetables on the menu) that was very good. Roasted smokey eggplant with tomatoes and onions, a salt preserved egg and shrimp paste on the side. I admit that even now, I still find some Filipino flavours challenging (including shrimp paste) but this was a delicious mix and the shrimp paste in small amounts lent a salty oceany salty flavour that was very enjoyable.
Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw is a small restaurant. At 24-26 seats (?) it was full by noon on Saturday with people waiting outside. Simple and comfortable enough, and decorated with the lovely art of Filipino - Canadian artist, Raymon V. Maliwat.
Everyone was very hospitable and the service was efficient. The food was very good and though we spent close to $60 including tax and tips, we order more than normal people do and take home leftovers. Two people could get combinations and comfortably dine for $20 or $30 easily.
For what it's worth, we give Hapag Ihaw-Ihaw 4 out of 5.