Delightfully unexpected things I thought I would never see in my lifetime:
- The arrival of a grizzly Spaniard bringing new hope to La La land.
- Portman and Johansson in the same movie at the same time. (woohoo!)
- A black dude and a white chick making a case for themselves as the next possible U.S. president.
- Ube prominently featured in a non-Pinoy restaurant.
Strange, no? But, inexplicably, all of these things seemed to simultaneously materialize as I read the newspaper while lunching on the outside patio at The Oinkster today.
The Oinkster is a pastrami joint in Eagle Rock that I've been meaning to check out for the last year or so. But, thanks to a general lack of geographical knowledge (I had no idea it was so close to where I work) it's taken me quite a while to make a pilgrimage to this piggy purveyor.
Although I've heard good things about The Oinkster's pastrami sandwiches and pulled-pork sandwiches and Belgian-style fries, hearing about something else on The Oinkster's menu was what initially piqued my interest:
Yes, milkshakes. Made from sweet Filipino purple yams. At a pastrami joint no less! Learning this bit of information had me perplexed. But, it turned out that this wasn't such a strange occurrence after all. After consulting with The Goog, I found out that the owner of The Oinkster is Filipino American. Now I really had to try this place out.
On my first visit (there were a few) to The Oinkster, I ordered the Oinkster Pastrami sandwich, some Belgian fries, and of course the Ube shake--all to go.
With its crown of whipped cream, the Ube shake was a sweet haze of tasty purple yammy-ness. It was nice and thick, viscous enough to require a little bit of suckage (that's a high-brow culinary term), but not so overly thick so as to collapse a lung. I admit, I am a bit biased to Ube, but this was the best milkshake of all time. All time! Many boys will be brought to the yard for this milkshake. Tasty.
Before even taking a bite, I knew I'd enjoy the pastrami sandwich--it was dripping with greezy goodness. The pastrami was moist and flavorful and not at all salty. The onions provided a nice sweetness, the cabbage a nice bite, and the cheese just put the whole thing over the top. The Oinkster Pastrami was just as good as the Ube shake, if not more so.
And the fries? Oh, I'll get to those later.
On my next Oinkster visit, I ordered the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, fries, and a concoction called Oinksterade--again, all to go.
The Oinksterade was a mixture of fresh orange and lemon juice, cane sugar, and filtered water (ooh-lar-lar). It tasted like, well, like Citrus Gatorade--which is good if you've broken a sweat after a brisk run. But all I do is sit and crack wise. The Oinksterade was good, just not something I'd want to order all the time.
The BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich had all the same fixin's as the Pastrami sandwich, but featured soy and honey-brined pork in place of the pastrami. I was a little underwhelmed by the pulled pork. The pork was tender and moist, but the flavors were a bit muted and didn't punch me in the mouth like the pastrami did.
But with a sploosh of The Oinkster's vinegary Carolina BBQ sauce, the pulled pork was worlds better. A sploosh of this barbecue sauce is also a welcome addition to the pastrami, but it really doesn't need it the way the pulled pork needs it. And yes, I said sploosh. It's the same thing as a splash, spritz, touch, or glug--just more ridiculous.
And the fries? Oh, I'll get to those later.
Today, for my latest trip to The Oinkster, I decided to order my food and eat there. It was a nice day and I figured I'd read the paper outside on The Oinkster's dining patio. I ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and another Ube shake (I couldn't help myself).
I wasn't expecting much from the cheeseburger. The only reason I went back to The Oinkster was for something I like to call "research" but what others may refer to as "being a fat pig". I like the sound of "research" better.
Anyways, The cheeseburger's 1/3 pound angus patty was cooked medium-rare (that's hows I roll) and topped with cheddar cheese (you can also choose from gruyere and american cheeses), house-made thousand island dressing, pickles, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. The Oinkster cheeseburger sounds a lot like another famous SoCal burger doesn't it? I still prefer In-n-Out, but the Oinkster cheeseburger was close.
And finally, the fries. I've put off describing the fries till now because they weren't that great when I had them the first two times. But when I had them at The Oinkster today they were awesome! I realized that when I took the fries to go, they had gone limp by the time I got to where I was going. So it's not that the fries are inconsistent, it's just that they are best when eaten ASAP.
The Oinkster's fries are not French, but Belgian because they are fried twice (those crazy Belgians). The double frying renders a very crisp exterior and a fluffy interior. The fries are perfect.
The Oinkster's Belgian fries come with a creamy house-made aioli containing the souls of a million garlic cloves. Besides the garlic aioli, The Oinkster also makes its own ketchup, chipotle ketchup, and mustard.
The chipotle ketchup is more sweet than spicy, but it's good nonetheless. So if you do find yourself at The Oinkster anytime soon, order yourself a pastrami sandwich, an Ube shake, and some fries--just make sure you eat your fries as soon as you get them.
After reading the day's headlines and polishing off the last of my crispy fries, I headed out of The Oinkster and overheard a conversation between two non-Filipinos, a customer and an Oinkster employee:
Customer: What's an oooob shake?
Worker: It's ooohbay. It's a Filipino thing and it's pretty good. It's our most popular milkshake.
Customer: Uh, ok. I'll take one of those.
Strange times indeed.