Is this the best crispy pata in town?
MANILA – Here’s some pork you’ll definitely approve of.
A fairly new restaurant in Quezon City celebrates pork in all its sinful glory from appetizers and salads down to dessert.
While many recently opened eateries also highlight this well-loved animal, Livestock, located on Sgt. Esguerra St., near the ABS-CBN complex, is owned by a hog-raiser, so one can expect only high-quality meat to be used in creating a wide array of pork dishes.
“We breed our own livestock, which is pork, and cultivate some of our herbs and vegetables. So it's fresh from the farm right to your table,” said Ching Uy, who opened Livestock with her husband Mico.
“We are now considering possibilities of breeding our very own local Berkshire pigs so we can supply our own fresh Kurobuta pork. We hope to achieve this feat in the next five years,” added Uy, who studied at the Center for Culinary Arts, Manila.
Practically the entire pig is consumed at Livestock, whose menu ranges from Pig Cheek Bourgignon to Spiced Pig Tails and Splayed Pork Knuckles.
Diners can have an entire pork feast from start to finish, starting with Livestock’s version of the classic Caesar salad.
In addition to the usual fresh Romaine lettuce, Caesar’s salad dressing and Parmesan shavings, the chefs added bits of crispy pork belly. Even the most adamant salad-hater would not say no to this, while the pork pieces would definitely make this a hefty stand-alone dish for those trying to cut on their food intake.
For soup, the Lechon Tom Yum added a yummy crunch to the iconic Thai favorite with bits of lechon kawali instead of the traditional shrimp or chicken. I’ve had a lechon version of sinigang at Zubochon in Cebu, which also worked so well. Livestock’s tom yum hiked the spice level just a little bit to give the broth an extra dimension but still quite appealing to most Pinoy diners.
For the Crackling Pork Belly, the restaurant saw no need to further play around. As is, this is such a visually enticing dish – a thick log of slow-roasted pork with temptingly crispy skin and stuffed with herbs and lemongrass stalks. This dish proved to be just as tasty as it looks. The pork meat was bursting with flavor on its own such that you don’t need the two accompanying sauces – or even rice.
While this dish is enough to send pork lovers to gourmet heaven, along comes Livestock’s signature dish: the Melt-In-Your-Mouth Crispy Pata. Several food bloggers have pronounced this as the best crispy pata in the metro and for good reason. To show just how crispy and tender it is, the waiter will carve the meat table-side -- using only a wooden popsicle stick! And just like the pork belly, you really don’t need any sauce to boost the flavor. This Melt-In-Your-Mouth Crispy Pata indeed lives up to its boastful tag and is a seriously sinful dish.
The pork feast continues straight to dessert with the Bacon Ice Cream Sandwich, which is basically crispy French toast topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel sauce with a sprinkling of actual bacon bits. This dessert works wonderfully, just the right sweet ending to a pig-out meal.
Livestock isn’t all about pork. The lunch hosted for select bloggers and food writers also included some non-pork dishes such as fish fillet topped with creamy mushroom duxelles or the one-pot meal Rich Man’s Pot with vegetables, meat and rice, which is like a Euro-version of the Chinese machang.
There was even a vegetable dish: The Four-Egg Spinach, which is more of a side dish of sauteed spinach with four kinds of eggs, including century eggs, duck eggs and quail eggs).
The meal actually started with Drunken Mussels, a bowl of New Zealand mussels in a beer broth with pork bits, best enjoyed with a baguette slice. This seafood appetizer actually suggests Livestock’s gastropub positioning. The restaurant is housed in a multi-storey building that includes several al fresco areas for smokers, while the high-ceilinged main dining area is dominated by a well-stocked bar and a large TV.
But with a name like Livestock and a pig as its logo, it’s pretty obvious what this restaurant is really all about. If you shouldn’t be eating pork, it might be better to just avoid this place. When you see that crispy pata being prepped at the next table, it would be near impossible to resist.
Jardin de Zenaida
34 Sgt. Esguerra St.