Dessert Comes First

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

Magnum White King
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Time for Tapsi

posted by in Filipino

This little tapsilog place is nowhere near me but their tapa is unforgettable.

I eat tapsilog once a year at most, it being one of those things I never really hanker for. As someone who loves words however, I fancy the contraction of the three words into one – TAPa, SInangag, itLOG; and the various iterations of similar dishes – longsilog, tocilog, spamsilog, etc.

But seeing as how I eat tapsi so infrequently, you might understand my doubts when, over the course of several weeks, my Bin regales me with tales of the wonderful meals he has at a place called Tapsi ni Vivian. Like Countryside, it’s one of those “repeat discoveries” of my Bin and his office lunch group. My doubts turn to apprehension however when I’m told that we’ll have to drive to Marikina for it. I’ve since learned that there are other branches, but the mother of them all is in Marikina. I quite fancy long drives anyway, so off we go.

Tapsi ni Vivian, yet another contraction of its rather kilometric, complete name D’ Original Tapsi Ni Vivian at Bulaluhan, has been famous for its tapsi since 1984. Open ‘round the clock, it’s a favorite during the wee hours when inebriated folk require greasy grub to avert any impending hangovers. During the day, it’s got a clean, easy carinderia feel with the occasional jarring sound effect of jeepneys and their hybrid engines roaring/bleating/passing by.

Menu board lists all the -silogs I could ever want, and some I didn’t even know I did.

A glass case encourages diners to pick and choose from the offerings that change daily. Laminated signs taped to the glass indicate addendums: desserts, fruit shakes, and the decidedly frightening “Soup #5.” I know what that is but I don’t have the balls to try it. (Pun not intended).

The star here, naturally, is the tapsi (P80), so order it we must. Fried and re-fried in a large kawali off to the side, it’s temptingly dark brown and surprisingly, not all that oily. When our order comes in, three eggs are immediately dispatched into a waiting hot pan of oil. The eggs slip and stick together – a crescent moon with three bellybuttons (see photo above).

I’ve never heard of Sparkle softdrink; it tastes like Mountain Dew. How great it is to be drinking soda pop from a bottle again.

While waiting, we entertain ourselves with the requisite sawsawans housed in old-fashioned bottles. Pour and portion at will of patis (fish sauce), suka (vinegar), and toyo (soy sauce). I like more toyo than vinegar in mine with an abundance of fresh chili peppers, smashed mercilessly ‘til the seeds come oozing out.

Surprise! Small bowls of free soup are served, broth from the simmering beef bones for bulalo. It sears my throat going down but it’s seasoned well and satisfying.

The tapsi arrives. The cooked white of the fried egg has crispy edges, its overhang hangs over the garlic rice like an oversized beach hat, its golden center gleaming. The tapa is much softer than I imagine it to be – it tastes like corned beef. Yes, you read that right. “It’s been like, pressure-cooked to death and seasoned with their secret spices,” my Bin surmises, in between hearty spoonfuls of tapsi. His every spoonful is exact – each must have an equal amount of rice, some egg, and tapa that’s been previously doused with hearty amounts of his specially concocted sauce.

Tapa is usually made from sirloin but of course cheaper cuts are used also. The meat at Tapsi ni Vivian’s is different, however. It’s stringier, with a more discernible grain, perhaps brisket or shoulder (kasim) that’s been cooked long and slow. Whatever it is, it’s a different kind of tapa: sweeter yes, and very beefy with a corned beef-like texture. So flavorful is it that it needs a lot of rice; no wonder the tapa itself is such a small portion.

Small portions notwithstanding, we order other things to supplement our meal. The crispy pata (P350) is hit or miss – sometimes it’s crunchy and good, and sometimes the meat is dry, but at this price, it suffices. I have high hopes for the chicharon bulaklak (P100) but it’s been re-fried to a fare-thee-well and is tougher than pig’s hide. I haven’t tried the bulalo, shameful of me really, but I suggest that you do since they’re known for it. My little girl likes their tocilog (tocino; P80) very much, and while there are better longsilogs (P95) in Manila, the one here makes me happy just because it completes our -silog triumvirate.

~~
D’ Original Tapsi Ni Vivian at Bulaluhan
32 Gil Fernando Avenue., San Roque, Marikina
02 645.0125
Open 24 hours.

25 Responses to “Time for Tapsi”

  • Enjoyed the write-up, as always! But I think your time in Jakarta betrays you, hehe… The “si” should be for “sinangag,” not “nasi,” no? Cheers!

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Dokes-
    Good lord, you’re right! I’m so embarrassed! Must rectify that now.

    [Reply]

    Dokes Reply:

    Haha, no worries! I doubted myself for a moment, since I believe that “nasi” is also used in some dialects here… BTW, the word of the day for your readers is “portmanteau,” if they’re not already familiar with the term. (Given that Filipinos have a penchant for acronyms and portmanteaus, hehe…)

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Dokes-
    My, you’re quite the wordsmith today! But yes, “portmanteau” is quite the word of the day for this post. And you know what, I still think that the -si in tapsi could stand for nasi.

  • I will speak for my university, who prides itself on Rodic’s tapsilog. The people of UP Diliman are spoiled (spoiled) by its marinated and shredded tapa, served with spiced vinegar. It has become a rite of passage for a student, who’ll probably know the taste of this tapsilog better than the alma mater.

    I say try it one day. Once a year of tapsilog might not be enough!

    Image found somewhere, but yes, it’s inspired by Rodic’s tapsilog.

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    anotherwise-
    I have heard praises sung about Rodic’s but coming as I do from the other side of Katipunan, I’ve never tried it. I do intend to, one day.

    [Reply]

    aji Reply:

    Hi Lori!

    Rodic’s has a branch in Makati. It’s at Fedman Bldg, Salcedo St. It’s called Rodic’s Diner. Try it out!

    [Reply]

  • Hi Lori!

    Glad you enjoyed the tapsilog. My hubby and I used to have our dinner dates there because we live quite near Tapsi ni Vivian. Though we’ve ignored the place lately because it’s just there.

    I think it’s time we revisit!

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    aji-
    Funny how we tend to overlook those things that are closest to us. I do agree it’s time for a re-visit :)

    [Reply]

    aji Reply:

    I agree!

    Try out Krung Thai located at the Sta. Elena Public Market in Concepcion Marikina. It’s near the Marikina Sports Center. I just love their Tom Yum Goong.

    And, Tamagoya restaurant for their Stamina Ramen. Tamagoya is bordering on Antipolo/Marikina via Sumulong Highway.

    [Reply]

  • So far, the best Tapsi I’ve tries is the one from Rufo’s. A bit sweet but I’ve got a sweet tooth :)

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Moca-
    Vivian’s is better than Rufo’s! Go already.

    [Reply]

  • Good for you! The best “pantanggal ng hangover.” Naaalala ko pa when it was just a small dingy place sa tapat ng current location. Ngayon building na!

    The building that tapsi built hehe. (Also the face that tapsi built hehe)

    [Reply]

  • Lori! I am so happy you featured one of the best in Marikina. ;-) Hope you find your way to our lovely city often ;-)

    Cheers,
    Roni

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Roni-
    What other places can you recommend in Marikina? Someone mentioned Krung Thai. Don’t know if I got that name correct.

    [Reply]

    Roni Reply:

    Hi Lori, yes you got the name right. Try Krung Thai’s fried chicken, best eaten with their chili sauce. I love the bagoong rice and Thai iced tea as well ;-) Other places I would recommend are Some Kind of Wonderful Cafe, Isabelo Garden Restaurant (try Chef Portia’s Roast Pork Crackling), Cafe Lidia, and Macky’s Goto (make sure you try their tokwa’t baboy, simply the best!!)

    [Reply]

  • I was here with my office mates a few nights ago and they’re selling whole ostrich shells for about 340 pesos. :)

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Gobbledygook-
    I saw that too but I think they’re selling the entire ostrich egg! Look on my blog for a post I did with the ostrich egg that I bought.

    [Reply]

  • One of the best tapsilogs I’ve had is in Pendy’s in Bacolod. Tender, flavorful, properly dried and salted meat (I don’t like wet and sweet tapa), served with a gorgeously orange-yolked fried egg on top of real sinangag (meaning, not regular steamed or barely-fried rice topped with just a few pieces of garlic). I’ve actually brought it back to Manila! For non-traditional tapa, I dearly miss the one at Windows — it was like a cross between tapa, adobo flakes and mahu!

    [Reply]

  • Oh dear Lori! Tapsi ni Vivian is THE BEST TAPSILOG IN THE WORLD EVER!!!! My husband and I eat there during late nights after suffering at the gym (totally negates the workout right?) or on early mornings when there is nowhere else decent to fill the tums (we ate together with truck drivers on their “lunch breaks” hehehe).

    Looks like their portions have gotten smaller through the years though. They used to serve the tapa with a MOUNTAIN of rice. Pang construction worker!

    I miss Tapsi ni Vivian all the more. That is sure to be on my eating list when I get the chance to come home…

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Didi-
    I agree that the portions here are puny. My Bin goes right ahead and orders two tapsi immediately.

    [Reply]

  • “A crescent moon with three belly buttons.” I love the description!

    It might just as well be a dish from Heaven and Eggs!

    Now that I live closer to Marikina, I should go there too and finally find out who Vivian is. I spy a photo of hers at the menu wall.

    Sino nga ba si Vivian?

    [Reply]

    Lori Reply:

    Ouie-
    I too would like to know who the enigmatic Vivian is.

    .

    [Reply]

  • I love Tapsilog :) thanks for the post, Ms. Lori..I have tried tapa king and rufo’s so can’t wait to visit this place one of these days :)

    [Reply]

  • i haven’t tried vivian’s, but i enjoy sinangag express for my quick tapsi fix. :D

    [Reply]

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