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Jonathan Gold Calls Sari Sari Store His New Fidget Spinner

The critic is just a little bit obsessed with the Grand Central Market stall

Sunny eggs in a bowl with rice. Matthew Kang

This week, Jonathan Gold checks out the new occupant of the former Bar Moruno space in Grand Central Market, Sari Sari Store. The casual Filipino counter by Republique’s Margarita and Walter Manzke has the critic feeling a little obsessive, “partly because we’re as likely to become crushed out on a new restaurant as a 14-year-old is on the latest Zayn track.”

It’s no surprise then that almost all of the dishes seem to win him over:

It may be an odd thing to say about a restaurant, but at Sari Sari Store it really doesn’t matter what you order. If you get adobo fried rice, you will find a bit of sweetness from the pork belly’s marinade; the sisig, fried pig’s head, is crunchier and more assertively salty; and the grilled eggplant is smokier, richer, more tart. The grilled pork ribs tend to smack more of the backyard Weber than of the pit, if that’s a factor, and the chewiness is not quite tamed. The slices of housemade “Spam,” soft and fluffy, seared almost black, are pretty wonderful, especially if you were expecting the high salt-sweet flavor of the actual trademarked meat in a can. [LAT]

And like at Republique, Margarita Manzke demonstrates her pastry prowess:

Margarita Manzke comes close to baking the best, darkest pie crust in Los Angeles, that the custard is as dense as pastry cream because it is pastry cream, and that while you would think that the jelly-soft layer of buko, young coconut, might pull the dessert toward the exotic, it ends up tasting like the kind of coconut cream pie you might find at a roadside diner in Oklahoma if you were very, very lucky. [LAT]

The Goldster concludes by also recommending the arroz caldo and “Spam” silog, and sums up his obsession by explaining, “I’ve given up my fidget spinner. I have Sari Sari Store instead.”