The owner of 8065 Bagnet, one of the first off the eaten track favorites in Manila, plays up traditional bagnet in another joint in Quezon City.
It’s a tale as old as time: Purchase a pork belly good enough for a king. Boil it with salt, pepper, garlic, and bay leaves until it’s soft and tender to the touch. Let it rest for several hours. Deep fry and then again for a second time. Chop into pieces and serve with bagoong. A procedure that’s been handed down generations, it’s made its way to almost every family’s dinner table around the country.
Kwentong Bagnet along Masinsinan Street in Teachers’ Village is a new restaurant that endeavors to retell the story of this classic through its creative dishes all, as you might have guessed, revolving around the Ilokano bagnet.
Owner Jeff Tuason recounted the story of his concept, saying that it wasn’t new for him. Kwentong Bagnet is one of two bagnet-themed restaurants owned by Jeff. The first, 8065 Bagnet, is located in San Antonio Village, Makati and is co-owned by one of his cousins.
Why the fascination with double deep-fried pork? “It’s very difficult to prepare,” he says. “But once it’s done… it’s easy to play around with. It’s crispy. It’s [delicious]. It’s pork. [And] it’s very Filipino.”
Kwentong Bagnet’s best seller to date is their Salted Egg Bagnet (Php 160). It’s an original concoction, which takes inspiration from the salted egg sauces of Chinese restaurants. Paired with their signature KB Fried Rice (Php 30), there’s no wonder why it has fast become their winning meal. It’s a bit of a deadly combination, and Jeff readily admits to it. But he shrugs his shoulders and says that it’s okay to indulge once in a while.
Sisig Bagnet and Salted Egg Bagnet
There’s also the Kwentong Bagnet (Php 120), which is a classic bagnet served with their own bagoong, salsa, and green mangoes. It’s best paired with a cup of Bagoong Rice (Php 30).
Some of their other notable dishes include the Dinakdakan Bagnet (Php 150) and Sisig Bagnet (Php 150). Be careful, because they pack quite a punch with bright green chilies peeking out from under the meat. Pair it with Aligue Rice (Php 30) and you’ll definitely leave with a smile on your face.
Recently, they added the Dinuguan Bagnet (Php 150) to their menu. Some will be familiar with this concept because of the crispy dinuguan served in other restaurants, but this dinuguan comes not with chicharon but with their classic bagnet.
So much deep-fried pork will leave any customer feeling a bit parched, and Kwentong Bagnet has their own Home brewed Iced Tea (Php 45) to quench anyone’s thirst. It’s a mix of freshly brewed tea leaves and just a splash of calamnsi juice. Not too sweet; not too tangy.
While Jeff and the rest of the team come up with the ideas for their menu, it’s Chef Charlie Albano that is responsible for bringing the concepts to life. He begins preparations for the day’s bagnet nearly 12 hours before their doors open. He follows the classic method of preparing bagnet, but explains that his marinade is a little bit different. It has a secret which he did not divulge.
Only on its fourth month in operation, Kwentong Bagnet is fast making a home for itself in the Maginhawa food scene. While the story behind it is a simple one, it’s one that many Filipinos can resonate with—good food shared at a table with friends and family, a thriving business born out of a simple concept, and an age old tradition innovated and turned into a menu everyone can enjoy.
Kwentong Bagnet is located at 4 Masinsinan St., Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila.