Long ago and oh so very far away, I made the trek to Vigan, Ilocos, a Spanish town north of Manila, to visit a friend. She took me to the nearby bagnet and longganisa factory, where curtains of sausages hung on clotheslines and vats of pork belly slabs were being seasoned by bare-handed women rubbing the meat with spices before they hung them to dry.
In a basic sense bagnet is simply deep-fried pork belly cubes but in the Ilocano tradition these pieces of meat are seasoned and air-cured before cooking. The result is deep flavor that penetrates through the layers of meat and fat, a given when dealing with the wonderful gift of nature that is the pork belly.
Incidentally what is the recent rage about pork belly in Manhattan? It’s as if they’ve never heard of it before while Asians have long indulged in pork fat and raised their cholesterol levels to partake of this treasure. Anyway, 8065 Bagnet in Makati is a tribute to bagnet, offering creations made with fried pork belly, including curry, dinuguan (pig blood stew), sisig (sizzling), gata (coconut milk stew), kare-kare (peanut stew), and binagoongan (shrimp paste).
We were kidnapped by big fans of 8065 and they ordered the classic and the sisig, as we only came with a fraction of belly space that evening. The belly skin was crispy and the meat was delicious. It’s one of those places you need to forget because it would kill you to become a regular at this no-frills hole in the wall.
It’s a shameless tribute to pork belly, but I do love places that take a concept and run with it. Bagnet forever!
8065 Estrella St
San Antonio, Makati