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What: Tapsilog (“tap-see-log”) is an iconic, traditional breakfast in Manila, a marriage of the three components that give it its name: tapa (dried meat, usually beef), sinangag (fried rice), and itlog (egg, usually sunny-side up). The process of making tapa is said to have come from the pre-Hispanic practice of curing meat by slicing it thinly and laying it out under the sun; before the arrival of domesticated cows from Europe, Filipinos used the meat of wild boar and deer. Sinangag (actually the past tense of sangag—to dry-roast, or fry) usually refers to day-old steamed rice that’s reincarnated with the help of garlic and oil (or butter, or margarine), while itlog is simply the Tagalog word for egg. Taken together, tapsilog exemplifies a frugal means of creating a hearty meal, a quality that’s typical of many Filipino dishes. Tapsilog is so popular that it’s not only worked its way into daily fare, but it’s also spawned a family of similar dishes, called “silogs,” including tocilog (with tocino, sweet, cured pork), bangsilog (using bangus, or milkfish), and even spamsilog (yes, with Spam!).
Where: Conti’s (632-856-2352; on the ground floor of Serendra, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, map) is a perennial family favorite for casual meals…as you can tell by the number of people typically waiting to be seated for lunch and dinner.
When: Sun-Thurs, 8am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 8am-11pm. To avoid the big crowds, your best bet is to show up for breakfast or brunch.
Order: Conti’s homemade beef tapa (Php 180) is a picture-perfect specimen of tapsilog. The beef strips are pan-fried with near-crispy edges, the sinangag a simple affair of garlic bits in fried rice, and the egg perfectly runny. A dipping sauce of vinegar with garlic showed up, as well as a small side of atsara (or atchara: pickled young papaya strips with carrots, garlic, ginger, onion and bell pepper; see also: inihaw na manok). Both the vinegar and the atsara are meant to cut the richness of the meat and the potential greasiness of the sinangag. While the components are presented separately, as pictured, it’s common to mix the runny egg into the rice and beef before eating, if you wish.
Good to know: If you want to skip the grease and garlic, you might ask for plain steamed rice rather than the fried sinangag. And if you’re not a fan of runny egg yolks, it’s fine to ask for your egg scrambled instead.
Alternatively: Both Rufo’s (multiple locations including 4736 Kalayaan Ave. at Salamanca, Poblacion Makati, map) and Tapa King (multiple locations including 5003 P. Burgos St., Poblacion, Makati, map) are tapsilog chains that offer fast-food-style Filipino breakfast favorites all day. At the 24-hour Rufo’s, try the unique and flavorful sauce-doused beef tapa—and don’t be surprised if you find yourself ordering an extra cup of rice to soak it all up.
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