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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Adobo Filipino in Hinesville

I was pleasantly surprised the other day driving into work.

There, in the Kroger shopping plaza, was a new eatery called Adobo Filipino.

I’ve heard good things about Filipino cuisine but had never tried it. Now I can and so I did.

And plan to do so again and again because it was that delicious.

The shop opened about a month ago and aims to offer real, authentic Filipino foods. In order to maintain that integrity and attention to detail the entrée menu changes daily.

The little bit that I knew of Filipino food was that it has a unique combination of Asian and Spanish influences.

The first time I went, they were offering pork adobo, chicken adobo, pork sinigang and bicol express. Adobo I’m somewhat familiar with, as there are similar dishes in the Cuban and Spanish cuisine that cook with adobo.

Adobo is a marinade. In the Cuban cuisine it relies heavily on garlic, oregano, salt and a few other herbs and spices. Filipino adobo has more of an Asian influence, including paprika, soy sauce, ginger and other spices. But the concept is the same. The meat is often marinated in the adobo, cooked and then served in the marinade sauce.

The diner offered a combo special that day. For $8.99 you could get two entrées (sample size) with a side of steamed white or fried rice.

I opted for the combo platter and chose the chicken adobo and bicol express to go with my steamed white rice. Within minutes the server placed before me a plate with a massive pile of rice and two smaller bowls.

The chicken adobo had a familiar taste, similar to what I’ve made or had at mom’s house, yet definitely scrumptious.

The bicol express is pork, chilies and green beans simmered in coconut milk. This was a first for me and it was amazing.

The chilies, simmered in the coconut milk, gave the dish a pastel pink hue which at first caught me off guard. In the broth were chunks of pork and green beans cut on the diagonal. I took my first taste and — POW.

The chilies kicked up the spice factor. Not enough to burn, but enough to let you know it’s there.

OH yeah I’m hooked baby.

I’m glad they offer something different each day. So much so I was back just a few days later and tried the chicken afritada and the lechon (pork) kawali combo, this time with fried rice.

Afritada is a tomato based sauce used in several Filipino plates. This chicken afritada had red peppers, potato and peas. Once I poured the chicken and sauce over the rice the blended flavors reminded me of my mom’s Cuban style chicken and rice.

The lechon kawali was described as a crispy pork belly dish. That immediately brought to mind chicharrones, or as they are known in English fried pork rinds. But not the kind you would find in the chips aisle of the grocery store.

Those are not true pork rinds my friends. Put the bag back on the shelf, and go try the real deal.

The real deal was served up to me at Adobo Filipino. The skin on the pork belly was crisp and crunchy. The meat and fat was perfectly tenderized with spices before they were deep fried. The combination of crispy and melt in your mouth meat took me back to the days when the family would gather around a whole roasted pig. My aunt and I would fight over who got the best sections of pork skin.

It was just the right amount of skin to meat ratio and then the server brought out the dipping sauce.

"What is this?" I asked.

"It’s the sauce... dip the kawali in the sauce... trust me," she said.

Where has this sauce been all my life? It had a hint of peanut and paired so well with the pork it was all gone in minutes.

The owners say cooking specific meals daily in just the right amounts helps to ensure they keep their food tasting of the Philippines.

They’ve succeeded!

I look forward to trying their beef kare kare. It is one of the entrees offered after 4 p.m. It is beef cooked in peanut sauce with vegetables.

They also offer desserts like buko salad: young coconut meat mixed with tropical fruits in cream and milk.

That’s my next order for sure.

They have a variety of noodle plates that also change daily.

They typically offer vegetable and Shanghai lumpia, which are rolls served with a dipping sauce as appetizers. But some days they have additional appetizers to try.

Plates range in price from $3.99 to $8.99 and, trust me, you will leave their full and satisfied. Eat in or take out and come often. I plan to go as often as possible until I’ve sampled every option.

Adobo Filipino is at 549 W. Oglethorpe Highway and is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays.

Check the daily menu at www.facebook.com/adoborestaurants.

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