Sherman's Food Adventures: La Meza Grill

La Meza Grill

It has been awhile since I've been back to La Meza Grill.  I personally think it is one of the best, if not the best Filipino restaurant in the Lower Mainland.  The place isn't fancy, but it is modern and comfortable, complete with a Filipino grocery store attached to it.  I've said it before and have said it again, I'm still waiting for Filipino food to be the "it" cuisine.  They've been saying for years that it will happen and well, it hasn't.  Whatever the case, I brought my resident Filipino food expert in Steph to ensure that I'm not liking something that I shouldn't.

Trying to hit some of their greatest hits, we started with the Lumpiang Shanghai.  These Filipino spring rolls were on point featuring the classic thin wrapper.  It was wound up tightly enough so that the layers were crunchy.  I enjoyed how they were not overly greasy.  Inside, the pork filling was excellent.  It was juicy and delicate with a good rebound texture.  There was also no absence of flavour where the sweetness from the onions and veggies came through.  This was served with a side of sweet & sour sauce.

Moving on, we also had the Pork BBQ skewer.  As you can see in the picture, this was beautifully charred and sporting a sweet banana ketchup-based glaze.  They used pork belly and that resulted in very tender and fatty pieces of meat.  With the fat activated, there was plenty of natural pork flavour that was caramelized by the grilling.  With the charring of the sweet glaze, there was both smokiness and intense caramel notes.

We really couldn't be dining on Filipino food without including the Crispy Pata right?  So of course we ordered it!  This was excellent where it was pretty large and also fried up beautifully.  The pork hock meat was gelatinous and super tender.  Now the best part is the crackling and it was crunchy while not being hard.  It was almost airy with some sinful fat and gelatin underneath.  As usual, it was served with a soy vinegar dip on the side.

One item I've never had before was the Bulalo or beef bone marrow and mixed veggie soup.  This was a great suggestion by Steph as it was comforting, especially during these cold days.  This wasn't a complex soup, but it had a good meatiness complemented by the sweetness of corn, cabbage and bak choy.  Hidden underneath, there was quite a bit of tender beef shank.  This could be eaten as a meal by itself.

Continuing on the greatest hits of Filipino cuisine, we got the Filipino Spaghetti.  To be honest, I really like this dish, so it didn't matter if it was rather defaultish.  The pasta was prepared fairly al dente and it was sauced with the classic sweet tomato and banana ketchup mix (maybe a bit too sweet).  There was plenty of ground pork and beef with minor hints of onion. I would've liked to see a bit more hot dog wiener though.

Another favourite of mine is the Pork Sisig or aka sizzling pig face.  Yes, that doesn't sound super appetizing, but trust me, it is!  The fatty and gelatinous texture of the fatty meat crisps up with the hot cast iron plate.  Despite the heaviness of the main ingredient, things are balanced by the calamansi as well as the lemon wedge on the side.  This is best eaten with a side of garlic rice, which of course we also ordered. 

To complete all of our savoury dishes, we had another classic in the Mixed Pancit featuring stir-fried egg and rice noodles with chicken, pork, shrimp and vegetables.  At first, I thought this was a bit too mild-tasting, but as I dug into it more and mixed everything together, we found hits of garlic, sweetness and brininess.  Noodles were slippery and not clumpy while the veggies were cooked through without being soggy.

Hey, if we were doing the greatest hits, we just had to get the Halo Halo for dessert!   This had all of the elements including the base of shaved ice, gelatin, beans, flan, ube ice cream and evaporated milk.  However, the ice itself was not crushed properly where there was literally a big ice cube in the middle.  Oh well, just one minor detail in an otherwise delicious and affordable meal at La Meza.  If you haven't had Filipino food before, this is a great place to try it.  Portions are large and prices are small.  Did I mention it was yummy too?

The Good:
- On point food
- Inexpensive
- Large portions

The Bad:
- Not the biggest place, so not a lot of room for large groups
- Hopefully the next time I have the Halo Halo, there isn't a large ice cube in the middle  


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