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By Joseph L. Garcia, Senior Reporter
WHEN YOU THINK about it, there wasn’t anything special about the offerings of Tindeli, the new Filipino delicatessen concept by celebrity chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou. That is only true, however, if family means nothing to you.
On Nov. 26, this reporter got a taste of Tindeli’s Macaroni Salad, tasting like my own dead lola’s recipe, down to the roughly cut onions. We paired this with their sweet, meaty, bone-in ham, which definitely tasted like Christmas. The chicken galantina, studded with peppers and other delights, was elegant and comforting. The wood-smoked bacon was quite heavenly, and, unlike bacon bought in stores, still tasted comfortably like pork despite all the curing and salting. The bacon and the wood-smoked ribs deserve another visit, though the place takes special pride in its morcilla (blood sausage), which would do well mixed in another dish.
Tindeli, a portmanteau of the words tindahan (store) and deli (short for delicatessen, where cured meats are sold), took 10 years as a concept for Mr. Sarthou to execute. “Ang mahal! (So expensive!),” he said, noting the various pieces of equipment that had to be acquired, not to mention the testing, time, and logistics. “When you do charcuterie, it’s such a lengthy and tedious process.”
He did already have two cards up his sleeve: his family’s recipes for chicken galantina and ham. For the rest, he had to work backwards: at first, he tested out several European recipes for charcuterie (coming out with pastrami, and all the other things you can find in other stores), and scrapped it all when he realized that Filipino deli meats were the ones found in the silog family of dishes (that is, one protein, fried rice, and egg). The cured meats found in silog dishes included beef tapa, tocino, longanisa (dried or cured meat, pork cured in salt and sugar, and local sausage), and the like, all to be found in his menu.
“It’s complicated to do, but I didn’t want it to feel complicated on the plate. When you eat it, it’s very familiar. It feels like home,” he said; and to that we agree with.
These deli selections are paired with coffee from Mindanao and tablea (local hot chocolate) from Bohol, and all these together sounds like a concept that can be replicated, unlike Mr. Sarthou’s other eateries like Lore (his fine-dining Filipino desgustacion restaurant) and Azadore (the family-friendly barbecue place in the Scouts area). The vision is to expand Tindeli into 100 stores, and, boy, are they working on it. Soon, they will open a takeout counter in Kamuning, and they’re in talks with another mall (Tindeli is found in Gateway 2 Mall in Araneta City, Quezon City) to open a third outlet.
He does admit that a lot of his restaurants are high-end, but, “I’m better known for Simpol.” That’s his YouTube channel, where he teaches Filipino beginners how to cook Filipino favorites, which has since spun off into a lifestyle brand, with a line of cookbooks that won at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris. “I felt it was a disservice not to have something for my followers.”
Moreover, “I can’t be doing a lot of adventurous work forever. If I have something that’s stable and really rooted in our culture, kaya niya mag-survive (it can survive),” he said.
We’re finding a pattern in Mr. Sarthou’s playbook: in Lore, he deals with the collective memory of a nation, in Azadore, he serves memories of a community. In Tindeli, he tries to serve a memory of a Filipino home’s table. He discusses the role of memory in cuisine: “It gives context to our lives. Without these memories, how do we connect with our family, our friends, our community, our nation? That’s why it’s very important to keep that thread of consciousness alive in everything we do.”
Tindeli is located at Gateway 2 Mall, Araneta City, Quezon City, with operating hours from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.