the best pork belly ever.

Although pork has never been one of my favorite proteins, I’ve grown to appreciate it and its versatility.  From pork rinds to pulled pork to ham and bacon, the white and fatty meat of the domesticated hog is undeniably tasty when prepared correctly.

Having been blessed to travel and taste swine in many forms throughout the United States, Mexico, Thailand and Laos, I concluded last year that Thailand had the best pork I’d ever tasted; in the form of roasted pork belly at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market.

It wasn’t until I finally visited Manila, a Filipino restaurant located in my hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin that I would reconsider my conclusion.  One of the first of its kind in the area, Manila’s team, Marlo along with wife Patricia and Chef Raza run a tight ship offering traditional and fusion Filipino food along with a full sushi menu and bar.

I had heard about the restaurant while residing in the Twin Cities and had hoped to visit it on my many trips back home; unfortunately putting it off until recently.  Accompanying me were my two eldest nephews; one of whom just graduated high school, and one of whom was preparing for his driver’s certificate.  What better way to celebrate than some good food?

Being one who likes to sample authentic ethnic foods, and of course because we have very few options to choose from, I decided on Manila.  Manila is located along Algoma in downtown Oshkosh next to the Algoma Club, where I performed a few times in the early 2000’s.  Manila’s aesthetics seem out of place in quaint ole Oshkosh, but is a much needed classy and hip spot that I would assume caters to a young professional crowd; if one exists in Oshkosh.  Manila also offers live music on specific evenings and even houses a vintage grand piano.

Onto the important stuff, the pork belly.

Traditionally known as Lechon Kawali, the lunch version is $10 while the dinner is $17.  I’ve only had the lunch version as well as a per pound to go purchase but everytime I have had the delicacy, I haven’t been disappointed.  Consistently savory, perfectly salted with just enough marbled fat and white meat, what makes this pork belly orgasmic is the crispy skin and the light gamey flavor.  I can see this being just a tad bit fatty and gamey for most but if you’re like me, who likes food to taste like it naturally should, albeit with a light salted flavor, then you won’t be disappointed.

If you’re in the Fox Cities area, I highly recommend you stop by Manila to try out the Lechon Kawali aka pork belly.  Tell Marlo Fres from sent you.  Cheers and happy eating!


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