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Longtime D.C. Chef Cliff Wharton is experimenting with the Filipino food he grew up eating in Manila, from tender chicken adobo to crispy lumpia that snap. He’s launching a new food business this Tuesday called Lasing Na Baboy, which translates to “Drunken Pig.” Diners don’t have to fight for reservations because to start, Lasing Na Baboy will only be available for delivery through Uber Eats.
The short menu showcases four comfort food entrées ($15-$18) that each come with a mound of garlic rice; a side of baby bok choy and mushrooms; a single lumpia (Filipino food’s answer to the spring roll); and bite-sized sweet rice coconut cakes known as bibingka.
Think of it as a Filipino bento box, which gives diners an opportunity to try a little bit of everything. Additional sides are offered a la carte.
Wharton recommends the Bicole Express—a sliced pork dish flavored with creamy coconut milk, shrimp paste, garlic, and chilies. While some stand by the story that the preparation was developed in the Bicol region of the Philippines, others tell a different story.
“The lady who came up with this dish in Manila was pressed for time to name it because she was getting ready to open,” Wharton says. Her name was Cecilia “Tita Cely” Villanueva Kalaw. “Apparently the train going to Bicol was departing and bells were going off.”
Wharton, who moved to the U.S. when he was five years old, has worked at the original TenPenh downtown and the revival in Tysons Corner, which opened in 2016. Lasing Na Baboy will not be the chef’s first foray into Filipino food in D.C.
“Ten years ago at the original TenPenh, they let me introduce lumpia and chicken adobo,” he says. “I was one of the first to do it.” They also served the little coconut rice cakes when they dropped off the check. Wharton’s resume also includes Penn Commons, Urban Heights, Matchbox, and Tabard Inn.
Lasing Na Baboy could be considered a “ghost restaurant” because the dishes are being prepared in a test kitchen inside of a hotel. The term is being used in cities like New York where delivery-only restaurants are capturing a segment of the market.
Forbes reported in January that these eateries are growing in popularity because they don’t require the same level of investment or overhead as traditional restaurants, making them easy playgrounds to test concepts before moving to a full launch. Back in 2018, Eater revealed that nearly 1,000 of Uber Eats’ U.S. restaurant partners were these virtual restaurants “peddling entirely separate, delivery-only menus.”
Lasing Na Baboy delivery will be available Mondays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The delivery range will be determined by the app. Wharton says he’ll consider expanding the menu and the hours of operation down the line. He’s also mulling over whether to find Lasing Na Baboy a permanent, brick-and-mortar home. Diners can sign up for updates through the restaurant’s website below.
Wharton says he’s excited to be a part of the cresting wave of Filipino concepts in and around the District including: Bad Saint, Kaliwa, Purple Patch, The Game Sports Pub, Pinoy Kitchens in Eastern Market, The Flipside, Bistro 1521 in Arlington, and Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly in Rockville.
Lasing Na Baboy, lasingnababoy.com