Lumpia is a Southeast-Asian snack similar to a spring roll. Lumpiang Shanghai is the simplest form made of ground pork, minced onion and carrots, spices, and a binding of beaten egg. Lumpia is amazing. When I learned that there was a place that sells lumpia burgers, I had to try one.
Bahay Kainan looks like the cluttered house you might have grown up in; there are cardboard boxes and Virgin Mary statues everywhere. The room is tied loosely together with a bamboo tiki vibe (which may or may not be a part of your childhood). “Bless this mess,” as mom’s needlepoint always used to say.
The messy home philosophy extends to the food here. It’s a bit sloppy and a bit crazy, but that’s part of what makes it great. Take the Beef Steak Fries — a bunch of fries topped with veggies and sauce and bistek and, what the heck, toss a sunny-side-up egg on top. The beef has a slightly sweet marinade, and the pickled onions aren’t too strong. There’s a fusion-y, junk food vibe that is relatable and fun.
Here’s that Lumpia Burger! Just the idea of it is quite nontraditional, and it plays perfectly into those lazy throw-something-together nights when mom was exhausted from work. The lumpia is surprisingly crispy considering it’s stuffed into a bun with sauce and juicy tomato. The whole thing tastes quite like a burger with an egg roll instead of beef. The lumpia has a lot of meat, and the American cheese binds it all together. I won’t try to make any melting pot metaphors there; let’s just say that it’s a tasty sandwich!
Fried rice! With sisig! This sisig is seared pork, and it’s quite a thing. It’s crispy and fatty and luscious. The egg on the rice adds a creamy yumminess, and there’s a bit of red pepper spice as well as ginger flavor. This dish is a bit light on the sisig, but since sisig has such a strong presence, the flavor is balanced. With the Cotija cheese and tomato, it almost tastes like Mexican rice. There’s also a slight citrus aftertaste.
Here’s the sloppy view. Here’s the beautiful mess that we all know and love. Here’s the reminder that no matter how refined our tastes become as we grow, we’ll always have a special place in our hearts for quick meals and leftovers.