“Hi, welcome,” said the man behind the counter at Taglish. “I’m Mike, I’m the owner.”
That was the pleasant beginning to a visit that got even better as it went along. Well, as pleasant as food-court dining can be, but we’ll come back to that.
Taglish is a Filipino-American stall in the food court at Lotte Market in West Orlando. The name is a portmanteau of Tagalog, a language spoken in the Philippines, and English. I’m not sure how that translates to the menu, which seems to have more fusions of Filipino and Spanish. But then if you combined those two you’d still come up with Taglish, so we’re good.
I placed my order with Mike – that’s Mike Collantes, by the way – who took my payment and asked for my phone number. No, he wasn’t being fresh; the staff sends a text message when the food is ready. That’s nice because it allows you to wander around the market while you wait, and there’s a lot to see just in the adjacent produce and seafood aisles.
I went whole hog, so to speak, and ordered Chicharrones for an appetizer and Lechon Kawali for my main course.
When my text came through I returned to the counter, gathered my food and took my tray to an open table in the group dining area.
The Chicharrones were flash-fried and crisp, sort of like a meat version of rice crackers. They were served with a soy dipping sauce but I liked them just as they were, with a nice bit of saltiness to the tongue.
Lechon Kawali is a two-step cooking process, first boiling pork belly and then deep frying it to get it crispy (though not as crispy as the chicharrones). Taglish’s was nicely crisped and served hot on top of a bed of moist yellow rice with stewed mung beans, which looked like lentils. What looked like a garnish was a stack of atchara, or pickled papaya, with a sweetly vinegarish taste.
Collantes’s resume includes experience cooking with the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Eric Ripert (Le Bernadin) and Joel Robuchon. Impressive bona fides, indeed.
Dining at Lotte Market is nothing like a meal at Le Bernadin, and that’s fine. Tables in the common area are clean if a little wobbly, and as I said, the market itself is a fascinating playground for foodies. If you’re lamenting losing your Lucky’s, pay a visit to Lotte.
And stop by Taglish for some delicious food. Or just to say hello to Mike.
Taglish is at 3191 W. Colonial Drive (at John Young Parkway, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily (closing at 8 p.m.). The phone number is 407-930-1076.