Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King
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Whistlestop: The One Dish I Keep Coming Back For

posted by in Continental, Filipino, Restaurants

Brown, beefy, beautiful.

My college days and early working years were filled with visits to Whistlestop. It wasn’t cheap but pre-Starbucks, it was convenient and always open. Revived in 2009 after a spell away, the restaurant makes it easy to remember which dishes provided sustenance: old favorites are appended with a tiny “Bestseller” note. Seeing them again stokes my nostalgia: Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice), Boneless Buffalo Wings, etc. It’s interesting to me that the one dish that causes a stir in my carnivorous soul and incites almost unbearable hunger pangs is the Beef Salpicao. My previous experiences were bereft of it. Pity.

Beef Salpicao (P223) is a dish only for the macho because it’s bold and beefy and long on swagger. I love the cloves of whole garlic here, ivory jewels on a landscape of brown. Pliant, they lend themselves to being mashed in mouth or on spoon. The plate cradles a shallow well of what appears to be a sheen of oil that’s anointed the entire dish. It’s golden at the edges, transforming to deep saffron nearer the center, and at its very heart, a mahogany-colored middle, the precious juice rendered from the beef, which is real tenderloin.

True-to-its-name-tender with that fine, velvety grain, it’s none of the usual beef shoulder (kasim) that lesser places pressure cook to death and try to pass off as tenderloin. Soft to the bite, it’s also supple enough to be cut with a spoon, its somewhat stringy character taking exceptionally to its saucy coat. Not timid this sauce, it splashes the taste buds with a squeal of sour overlapped by sweet, with a touch of what I suspect to be Dari Crème margarine (not a bad idea, this) rounding off these twin-thrills. It’s a sauce that has resemblances to the dipping sauce at Joseph & Jaemark’s, and like all good sauces, it beseeches to be spooned atop garlic rice, and plenty of it. Some spoonfuls are beef and rice and sauce, others are bites of beef with sauce – the one constant is the sauce, always the sauce.

And at the end, when there’s no more beef and the plate is bare, all that remains are streaks of that sauce, reminders of the glorious oiliness that was, how it tempted and titillated. But look, there are a few errant grains of rice so I take my fork and press down on them, and with it, I wipe the plate where the beef was, clean. My mouth opens for this last bite and though it’s a scarce forkful, it’s an approximate abbreviation of beefy bliss, one that requires repeated visits.

~~
Whistle Stop
Jupiter Building
Jupiter corner Astra Streets, Bgy. Bel-Air, Makati
02 896.1989
Open 24/7

15 Responses to “Whistlestop: The One Dish I Keep Coming Back For”

  • hi lori! been reading your blog for quite some time and loving every post. :) i was actually wondering where else do they have a branch of whistlestop because the one in libis closed down yrs ago. :( glad i saw this post. :)

    also, i was checking your archive if you’ve already been to ‘chocolate fire’. people have been raving about it but i want to wait for your review before i try it out. :)

    i even tried chef stevie’s hainanese chicken rice because of your review about it. :) was so happy that i did! my fiance loved it too! :)

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Christine-
    Whistlestop only has one branch for now. Let’s hope for more. As for Chocolate Fire, I’ve been there twice but it doesn’t move me enough to write about it. There’s something about the place that I find inherently unsatisfying.
    –lori

    [Reply]

  • I go to Whistle Stop pretty often, usually when wherever we’re drinking is already closing and we don’t feel like going home yet! ;-) I like quite a few dishes there, but what I very much enjoy at Whistle Stop are the FRIES! Once, when I really couldn’t bring myself to eat, my friend said to at least have one of the fries that came with her burger. I took one, then another, then another… They’re coated in some kind of crunchy breading and toasted the way I like. (I DON’T like pale, soggy fries!!!) I haven’t tried the Salpicao yet. I’ll make sure to order some, next time.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Katrina –
    Unlike you, I prefer soggy fries but the Whistlestop fries you mentioned intrigue me.

    –lori

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori,

    For a while there I thought you stopped blogging. Yep, I’m enjoying your “back to basic series”. Your husband is a wise person (i deliberately didnt use the word guy). Carry on and I look forward to more down to earth articles. So easy to relate.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Myra-
    The urge to quit blogging is always there especially when the “well runs dry” so to speak. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
    –lori

    [Reply]

  • wow.. i like salpicao.. now I think I should try that! do they deliver? :)

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    They do, but it depends where you are. Give them a call.

    –lori

    [Reply]

  • Whistlestop in many ways is one of the most memorable places I have eaten. I like their massive burgers and their 24-hour schedule. I hope they revive the one in Quezon City!

    [Reply]

  • I had a bad experience with Whistlestop a few months back… had brunch with my team and while waiting for it had a couple bottles of beer. When the food arrived, I was shocked becoz the fried rice was on the slimy side already.. and most of the people on my team said that malapit nang mapanis… they just covered it up with tons of garlic.. since they were all tired and wanting to be able to still keep the fun on the brunch, they decided to let it pass.. not a good idea i guess.. i just didnt want to be the spoilsport when everybody agreed to let it pass… never went back..

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Kaye-
    I think you should’ve told them instead of bearing with that lousy cover-up. Every place deserves a second chance, and in this case, a second dish done right.

    –lori

    [Reply]

  • Lori, welcome back. For a while there I was worried that you got tired of sharing your views about the places you’ve visited. In any event, your trip to and post about Whistlestop brought back a lot of pleasant memories. It was one of my hangouts when I was still studying (Ateneo was close to the one in Libis) and was sad when they faded away. Having been away, I didn’t know they’re back. Thanks for your post – will have me some of those yummy salpicao soon.

    Also, thanks for your banana cream pie tip. Just returned to Manila and tried Kitchen’s Best’s BCP – it was indeed glorious.

    Gotta thank your Bin for bringing you back to us and Boo for discovering the shrimps with scrambled eggs. will try those soon, as well.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Hi Marites,
    Thanks for your support. Writer’s block is something that all writers go through although I seem to be going through quite a prolonged spell. I do hope to get back into the groove soon.

    –lori

    [Reply]

  • my fave is the vintage tapa. i also love picking up chocnut from the candy jars. (hehe, i have time to browse food blogs again!)

    [Reply]

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