James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

A Filipino Rainy‑Day Special. Just Add Tripe.

A Filipino Rainy‑Day Special. Just Add Tripe.

Breakfast Porridge in Manila

As much of the West basks in the sun, those of us in Southeast Asia are wading through murky floodwaters brought by the monsoon. The last time the sun made a full appearance in Manila was for one day, three weeks ago. The cooler temperatures at night, however, make the city more conducive to drinking. The onset of an incoming typhoon with gusty winds and rain is a valid excuse to stay longer indoors at the bar.

Goto—say it “goh-toh”, rounded mouth, with a half pout—or beef tripe porridge, is a Filipino rainy day special consumed for breakfast or a midday snack. The gruel is simmered in a ginger-garlic broth, glutinous rice, beef bones, and tripe. It may sound daunting first thing in the morning, but after an all-night bender, it is a tasty, cheap, and warming meal before the commute home. It is a local cure for a hangover.

From the bar to the goto stall we hail an amphibious padyak, or rickshaw. The Filipino-style padyak is awkward in a way that the rider is seated in a sidecar, beside the bicycle, instead of behind. It is not the most comfortable way to travel but it will be your best friend throughout the monsoon for short distances around the city. An hour’s downpour can bring Manila to a screeching halt. The side streets knee-deep in water are impassable to regular vehicles.

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Our ride is manned by an overzealous cyclist who is an expert in gauging the waves and depths of water overflowing from the gutters. Nakpil Street, where we are headed to, is the catch basin. We arrive buzzed, dishevelled but surprisingly dry.

The goto preparation is similar to a Cantonese style congee, but the Philippine version is thicker. Cooking with tripe is intimidating. Its funky taste and odour can remain if it is not washed properly. When prepared right, it adds a silken texture to stews and soups.

The kitchen is cut out of an old container used for shipping cargo. The waiter arrives with steaming bowls of goto served in a shiny white porcelain bowl. The glutinous rice porridge is topped with bright green scallions, fried garlic, a salted duck egg, and sliced cow’s tripe.

Adjacent to my bowl is an army of condiments that diners use to tweak the rice porridge to their tastes. The idea is to mix everything up as fast as you can into an unrecognizable mush while it is still piping hot. The end goal is to create one perfect spoon of flavors. The ginger infused into the broth gives it a half-spicy and peppery flavor. The tripe is soft and velvety. The crunchy garlic bits come as a pleasant contrast.

The savory porridge is the perfect “go-to” bowl for a busted stomach after a rainy night of revelry. (No pun intended.)

Goto Monster
Salo Food Park
562 Julio Nakpil Street,
Malate, Manila

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