Apart from the local street foods, Filipinos' common go-to food destinations are carinderias or eateries. It has a humble and rugged setting with affordable delicious dishes.
The distinct look and features of carinderia maybe not at par with the standards of many Americans. But to those curious, adventurous, and craving for a whole new experience, this Filipino eatery in Princeton, Texas, would definitely give you such experience and satisfaction.
Carinderia in Princeton
Carinderias or eateries are considered the unsung heroes of Filipino cuisine. These eateries may not have Michelin Star Chefs in their kitchens, but they have well-skilled home cooks. And they have expertise in reimaging local dishes. Hence, their loyalty to traditional recipes matched with their home-studied kitchen skills have kept the soul of Filipino cooking alive and enjoyed by the masses.
These factors embody the Old Rooster Creek Filipino / Asian American BBQ, commonly known as ORC BBQ in Princeton. This eatery wants to bring to Texans the comfort of Filipino food served in a carinderia style.
Leading the business is Allen Cook, a former American-Japanese officer, and his wife Josephine Cook, a former Filipina band singer from Leyte. The two met in Singapore, and when they reached the United States, they decided to establish the food spot in 2017.
“I cooked the food like we are having a gathering or fiesta. The ambiance of our place is like home, it’s like they are in the Philippines for a couple of hours. That’s what they all say... Some say I dropped the corner eatery from the Philippines to Texas.” -- Josephine Cook, Co-owner of ORC BBQ
All-Star Filipino Menu
What makes ORC BBQ the hottest ticket in town is its authentic menu. And the outdoor setting of dining, similar to the usual carinderia in the Philippines.
ORC BBQ got it all, from the savory saucy meaty dishes, mixed vegetables, sweet desserts, yummy appetizers, and the star of the menu that everyone wants to grab a bite - a whole crunchy Lechon - traditional style.
“We decided to introduce to people some Filipino cooking and it grew from there. We brought the Philippines to Texas along with some old traditions,” Allen Cook, Co-owner of ORC BBQ
Lechón is a pork dish in several regions of the world, most specifically in Spain and former Spanish colonial possessions throughout the world. And since the Philippines was one of the former Spanish colonies, it is no wonder this roasted baby pig is one of the famous dishes in the country.
Bulalo is a beef soup comprised of the shank with bone marrow still inside the bone, bulalo is considered one of the most favorite main dishes in the Philippines. Because of the popularity of this Filipino food, restaurants, and eateries specializing in cooking Bulalo were put up.
Cooking bulalo doesn't require extra effort. However, time and patience are necessary. The key to preparing a good bulalo is all in the meat. Simmering beef for more extended periods makes it tender and releases all of its flavors. This is probably why traditionally cooked Filipino Recipes tastes better because time and patience are always part of the ingredient.
Bopis is a spicy Filipino dish made from minced pig’s lungs and heart. This can serve as an appetizer for beer and alcoholic beverages; it is also considered a main dish and is best served with steamed white rice.
The recipe of bopis has continually evolved throughout the years. There are recipes with a little bit of sauce in them, while others require to let all the liquid evaporate.
Pichi-pichi is a Filipino dessert made of grated cassava and coconut juice. It is a steamed cake with a texture that is soft, chewy.
Filipino cuisine has a wide variety of kakanin (rice cakes), and pichi-pichi is probably one of the easiest to make. Its process is as simple as combining all the ingredients in one bowl, steaming the mixture in individual molds, and then coating it in grated coconut when cooled. The hardest part of the preparation process is grating the cassava tubers.
Banana Que is made from Saba bananas, then deep-fried and coated in caramelized brown sugar. It is usually skewered on a bamboo stick and is sold on the streets. The skewer stick is just for ease of serving and eating.
This snack is one of the popular street foods in the Philippines. And the name Banana Que was the term Filipinos used because it looks like a barbecue.
Ginataang Bilo-Bilo is a popular Filipino afternoon snack, perfect in the rainy season, which normally falls from July to December.
This sweet soup-like dessert is made with glutinous rice balls, plantain bananas, sweet potatoes, and tapioca pearls cooked in sweet coconut milk. To make it more special, jackfruit is also usually added.
“Lots of Filipinos here are very excited about the many different foods—street food and lechon. We cook them in the old traditional way and served them in an old-style setting in our small roadside place. The Americans enjoy it. It is something new and different style of food. It reminds them of the time they visited the Philippines.” -- Allen Cook
What makes ORC BBQ feels like home for many Overseas Filipino Workers and Filipino immigrants is the inclusion of karaoke in their alfresco dining spot.
The Cooks also has a nearby garden in their eatery, which Josephine tends, and uses some of the vegetables and herbs as ingredients for her cooking.
While the pandemic has pushed many to close their restaurants for health and safety concerns, the situation is not the same for the Cooks’ eatery, thanks to its outdoor setup.
“The health inspector did not shut us down, the reason is that outdoor dining provides more social distancing,” -- Josephine Cook
Another blessing the Cooks are thankful for is the people’s reception of their foods and services. With the past cases of violence and hate toward Asian Americans, they are blessed enough not to feel singled out for their culture and heritage in their community.
“We did not encounter any of that. In our eatery, people of different nationalities come. They’re polite and nice,” -- Josephine Cook
With great food and a humble setup, the Cooks promise to give a piece of home and comfort to everyone, Filipino or not, through ORC BBQ.
To have a full view of their menu, check the ORC BBQ Facebook page. You may call or text them too with these numbers 903-442-3071 or 903-442-3170. But I suggest to go and personally visit them at 10424 Country Road 1099, Princeton, Texas.