Filipino BBQ: A sweet and spicy romance

Mondays are always a little dreary for me. I drag my feet to get ready and kiss my daughter as she sighs peacefully in the dark. Although I have to be at work at 7:30am, it’s nice to drive on the freeway as the sky is pink and the sun is fully coming to rise. Sometimes it feels like the radio knows exactly what soundtrack I’m needing and will play Adele or some other ballad with minor piano scales. There’s a pull from the inside and, often — I try to empty everything onto the road. It’s the same feeling I get when I sit down at the piano to play…it’s a hurt that feels really good and seems to take a heavy, invisible weight off. I need that sometimes. It’s a periodic release that helps me to forget the weekend of leisure and gets me back into a deliberate work mindset.

Today was a typical Monday. The students started off in a decent mood in the morning but by the afternoon they were bonkers. I was barely unpacking my things when I realized it was 3rd period. By 5th period, (my most squirrel-y period) my patience was waning.

Thankfully, food saved me again! After researching the (4) Filipino restaurants in my vicinity, I decided to go to Pinoy BBQ ATBP in Milpitas. I chose it because of the proximity to my place. Traffic, around 4:00 was horrendous but I got there around 4:45.

I walked in and was instantly smiling. Bamboo Filipino fans and emerald flora adorned the walls, and pictures and posters of Manny Pacquaio greeted every square of available space. Along one wall were 4 or 5 glass-encased boxing gloves. It was really a display of Filipino pride and loyalty.

It was turo-turo style, which means “point, point” in Tagalog. The food is already prepared and the diner has full dominion over the restaurant’s wares. I saw two different kinds of skewers, pork ribs, chicken leg quarters, caldereta, mongo beans and goat stew.

The silver-haired man working behind the glass helped the person in front of me and the person behind me before getting to me.

“Do you have beef ribs?” I asked.

“No.” He said, “But I have skewers, it’s ok.” He took a skewer by the tongs and put it in my to-go box without asking.

“Is that beef?”

“No, it’s pork.”

“Actually, I think I’d like to try the caldereta instead.”

He poured some on expediently. “Okay. What else you want?”

“That’s it.”

He played some keys on the register. “See, only $6.50 for everything!”

Before I strapped Siena fully-in I had her try a little of the caldereta. “Beef!” I exclaimed. She could not get enough of it. The entire ride home she was screaming “Mo beef, mo beef!” and when we got home she had a whole bowl of caldereta…inhibiting me from taking a proper photograph as Zeke and I ate it hungrily as well.

I was able to save the chicken leg, quarter…however.


The barbecue sauce was a sweet, spicy medley. It’s a lot lighter than the traditional barbecue marinades. On Yelp, many reviewers said that Pinoy BBQ had the best BBQ around. I have to say that their sauce was pretty good. It had a simultaneity of tangy, sweet and tomato notes with a charcoal-smoky underlining..I was quite humbled.

I found a restaurant here and am anxious to replicate it. It’s a nice, Asian departure from the thick, weighty American varieties (although that fulfills its own purpose at times as well).

It’s 4:40am and I should begin lesson planning for the day. Enjoy…



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