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‘Bagnet’ in ‘pandesal?’ XO 46 makes it a tenet

Meet the panwich—“pandesal sandwich”—of XO Heritage Kitchen.—MARGAUX SALCEDO

XO 46 Heritage Bistro has become one of the favorites of Filipino food lovers since they opened in 2010.

The restaurant is known not only for their delicious Filipino food, which captures the vibrant flavors of Filipino classics, but also for their theatrical service. Dressed in Filipiniana attire, waiters recite the menu and communicate with guests in straight and deep Tagalog, translating even words like softdrinks to “pampadighay” (something to make you burp) or chair to “salumpwit” (a portmanteau of “salo” or catch and “pwit” or “pwet,” which means buttocks).When the lockdown was declared in mid-March, the restaurant and many others in the industry were forced to close. They opened only in May for delivery services and then for dine-in customers, following government-required protocols, in June.

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As with many other restaurants, it has been a challenging crawl back to operations. But there is a little window where sunlight shines through: quarantine has made restaurateurs innovate and the market has seen the rise of many new products. We have heard most about the “ube pandesal” and sushi bake … now XO 46 presents: the “panwich,” or their pandesal sandwiches.

Sandee Masigan, who founded XO 46 with her husband Andrew, shares that these creations are a product of quarantine: “One of the favorite meals of Andrew and my daughter is my fried chicken sandwich with homemade bread, mayo, onions and bacon. But one night we ran out of fried chicken but I had ‘bag­net’ from XO here at home so I chopped it up, made the filling … and they couldn’t get enough. Later we tried other fillings … and the panwich was born.”

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They have since launched three panwiches: Chori Cheese Scramble, Smoked Bagnet Crunch and Beer-Batter Fish.

The first variant will bring you back to the 1990s when the “choriburger” was all the rage. It has the strong bite of chorizo, made even more savory by the addition of cheddar cheese and eggs. But Sandee makes it even more scrumptious by using not just one, but two chori patties, which they make in-house. This is a burger that is definitely worth having delivered again and again.

The second one is for those whose hearts can take it. Smoked Bagnet Crunch really started all the panwich creations. This is a spinoff of an XO 46 favorite, the 72-hour smoked bagnet. Another great thing about this panwich is that even if you would usually picture bagnet as something to enjoy with rice, this sandwich actually works.

For the pescatarians, there’s the Beer Batter Fish. I loved this because it brought me back to Borough Market in London which gave me a solid memory of really good fish and chips and to the time I visited our former publi­sher, Raul Pangalangan, in the Netherlands and he showed me an amazing fish and chips place (Dean, if you read this, I hope you are well).

XO 46’s panwich, howe­ver, is inspired by the fish and chips of Canada. Sandee recalls, “We used to have them a lot when we were in Vancouver for a while. We would drive to Granville island and watch the sea taxis and the seagulls (who would try to eat our food) and eat a ton of fish and chips and calamari.”

In Canada, they use haddock or salmon. XO 46 uses tilapia, which I also personally love.

XO 46 also takes extra measures to ensure safety and hygiene. All the food is cooked in only one kitchen, although they have many branches, to avoid going through too many hands. Their staff are also provided with shuttles to and from work every day so they get to avoid the crowds in public transportations.

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It’s nice to see our restaurants slowly come back to life—and continue to thrive.

Clearly this is one upside of lockdown: new dishes like the panwich.

I hope that Andrew and Sandee come up with more flavors because even if we enjoy these in our homes, it feels like an absolute XO 46 treat. I can’t get enough of these panwiches.

XO 46 Heritage Kitchen. Call landline: 8553-6632 or 8553- 6635 or mobile 0945-6158255 to order.

More from the author at margauxsalcedo.com and @margauxsalcedo on Instagram.

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