Empacho PH is one Filipino comfort food restaurant up in the North that will really give you empacho after you eat, but in the very good way. Your classic Filipino dishes take a flavorful turn and will send you back to those family feasts where you surely experienced a certain form of food coma. Refresh a hefty meal with a signature Papua New Guinean drink that is only available in this restaurant and not anywhere else in the whole Philippines.
Empacho’s pride is their Empacho Lechon Belly. It is an oven roasted marinated pork belly with an incredibly tender inside and perfectly crispy skin. They serve it with their own recipe of the spiced vinegar called sinamak. The sinamak is strong and does not lack in heat and flavor which pairs beautifully with the meat.
We took some of this home too so we can savour it once we got back and let me just take this time to tell everyone that the night after the feature, the meat was still as tender as we had it in Empacho. It is a lechon miracle.
You can eat this with plain rice but they do recommend you eat it with their Guinamos Kalkag Rice, a bit salty from the dried alamang and shrimp paste and with just a hint of sourness from the sampaloc.
The Ultimate Empacho Salad is your lighter dish but with a hint of guilt. A rainbow of vegetables fill the large wooden bowl and are topped with roasted pork belly. You heard that right, everyone. Roasted pork belly amid singkamas, green mangoes, and tom yao among many other veggies. The salad comes with their spicy calamansi dressing which is kind of like a stronger and more citrusy vinaigrette.
You can’t have a traditional Filipino meal without your sabaw or soup. What we found unique was the Sinigang na Lechon with Strawberry. The lechon chunks were as tender as their lechon belly dish and the soup had such a delightfully sweet and sour flavor. The classic tamarind taste is still there but the strawberry gives it a new depth of flavor. The strawberry pieces tease your taste buds with a little kick of sour first and eventually gives in to that sweetness.
Their Spicy Tamarind Chicken Wings can be both your appetizer and your pulutan. Don’t worry though, it’s not super spicy. Once you bite into these crispy chicken wings, you will find that it’s actually more sweet and tangy than it is spicy. Each chicken wing only has one bone making it incredibly easy to eat.
Executive Chef Dimchee Nuñez pressurizes the chicken first before they’re sent to the freezer prior to breading and frying. This is to ensure the incredible crispiness of their chicken wings.
It became a battle between two hungry Typist editors and 20 pieces of Spicy Tamarind Chicken Wings. We totally finished it in one go.
We wrapped up our feast with their Salted Egg Lava Cake, a dulce lava dome filled with dulce de leche and salted egg custard. Their dulce de leche tastes exactly like traditional Filipino yema balanced out with that rich salted egg texture and flavor.
But let me tell you about their drinks. It was a legit honor to taste their signature Empacho Bitters, an authentic Papua New Guinean lemon-lime sparkly drink recipe. They’re the only ones who have it in the Philippines and you would be missing a lot if you don’t order it. Its slight bitter taste is from a secret Papua New Guinean ingredient you can’t get anywhere here.
This drink is more sweet and sour than it is bitter and is absolutely refreshing after eating a lot.
This place is best at night in my own opinion. It is the one place you should be holding your chillnuman sessions with their delicious drinks and a great interior aesthetic (thank you Empacho for your high ceilings and lightbulbs enclosed in geometric frames).
Empacho PH Co-owner Paolo Barlis shared to us how they started their restaurant because they really want to present Filipino comfort food in a way that is ideal for sharing with friends and family and of course with a price that will make you say, “Wow, sobrang sulit!”
He also says that this restaurant is perfect for chillnuman because of how spacious and presko it is. No more of that cramped feeling and slouching to pour your drinks!
Their signature alcoholic drinks include the 49 Sulu, a fruity drink that almost feels like smoke, if that makes any sense. The taste fills the inside of mouth right away and then the kick. It has got to be one of your favorite traydor drinks. The drink is served in a large mason jar and is good for 6-8 people.
Our favorite has got to be the Liwanag. It is a flavored vodka based drink that tastes almost like bubblegum candy thanks to that drizzle of watermelon syrup.
The Tambalan is their couple’s drink, one for her and one for him. The blue one tastes a lot stronger than its red counterpart, but if you love fruity and sweet, go for the red one.