Cheatin' on La Caja China with Tosilog
For those of us without backyards, it’s tough to sate a hankering for moist roast pork with shiny laquered cracklins. As much as I’d like to park a Caja China in my Chicago condo and vent the porky smoke out to the street, I’m afraid the hundred year old timber trusses, which happen to be as dry as an AA convention, would somehow spontaneously combust. So it’s with great relief that I can at least head up to the north side and drop maybe the best $6 of my week for some tosilog at Tapsilog at Iba Pa.
Tapsilog is sort of the Filipino version of Korean bibimbap, a comforting treat featuring a mound of rice doused with a bit of spicy and sweet vinegar, a runny fried egg, and some type of protein or vegetable, all wrapped in banana leaves. Tapsilog or “tapa” is a Filipino version of dried jerky beef. The prefix to “-ilog” changes based on the primary protein used in the dish, so tosilog comes from tocino, or cured pork (my favorite). There’s even SPAMsilog, which contains, you guessed it, Hawaii’s favorite meat in a can.
The tosilog at Tapsilog at Iba Pa, which features a shiny glazed crust and smoky succulent pork meat, along with a few sweet fingers of plantain, honors the backyard roasting tradition without all the hassle of procuring charcoal and chopping up a suckling pig.
Tapsilog at Iba Pa
Address: 2739 W Touhy Ave, Chicago, IL 60645