Strange Times, and Pigging Out at The Oinkster

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Delightfully unexpected things I thought I would never see in my lifetime:

Strange, no? But, inexplicably, all of these things seemed to simultaneously materialize as I read the newspaper while lunching on the outside patio at The Oinkster today.

The Oinkster is a pastrami joint in Eagle Rock that I’ve been meaning to check out for the last year or so. But, thanks to a general lack of geographical knowledge (I had no idea it was so close to where I work) it’s taken me quite a while to make a pilgrimage to this piggy purveyor.

Although I’ve heard good things about The Oinkster’s pastrami sandwiches and pulled-pork sandwiches and Belgian-style fries, hearing about something else on The Oinkster’s menu was what initially piqued my interest:

Ube Milkshakes.

Yes, milkshakes. Made from sweet Filipino purple yams. At a pastrami joint no less!  Learning this bit of information had me perplexed. But, it turned out that this wasn’t such a strange occurrence after all. After consulting with The Goog, I found out that the owner of The Oinkster is Filipino American. Now I really had to try this place out.

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On my first visit (there were a few) to The Oinkster, I ordered the Oinkster Pastrami sandwich, some Belgian fries, and of course the Ube shake–all to go.

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With its crown of whipped cream, the Ube shake was a sweet haze of tasty purple yammy-ness. It was nice and thick, viscous enough to require a little bit of suckage (that’s a high-brow culinary term), but not so overly thick so as to collapse a lung. I admit, I am a bit biased to Ube, but this was the best milkshake of all time. All time! Many boys will be brought to the yard for this milkshake. Tasty.

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The Oinkster Pastrami sandwich features house-cured applewood-smoked pastrami, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and red cabbage on a soft roll.

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Before even taking a bite, I knew I’d enjoy the pastrami sandwich–it was dripping with greezy goodness. The pastrami was moist and flavorful and not at all salty. The onions provided a nice sweetness, the cabbage a nice bite, and the cheese just put the whole thing over the top. The Oinkster Pastrami was just as good as the Ube shake, if not more so.

And the fries? Oh, I’ll get to those later.

On my next Oinkster visit, I ordered the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich, fries, and a concoction called Oinksterade–again, all to go.

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The Oinksterade was a mixture of fresh orange and lemon juice, cane sugar, and filtered water (ooh-lar-lar). It tasted like, well, like Citrus Gatorade–which is good if you’ve broken a sweat after a brisk run.  But all I do is sit and crack wise. The Oinksterade was good, just not something I’d want to order all the time.

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The BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich had all the same fixin’s as the Pastrami sandwich, but featured soy and honey-brined pork in place of the pastrami. I was a little underwhelmed by the pulled pork. The pork was tender and moist, but the flavors were a bit muted and didn’t punch me in the mouth like the pastrami did.

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But with a sploosh of The Oinkster’s vinegary Carolina BBQ sauce, the pulled pork was worlds better. A sploosh of this barbecue sauce is also a welcome addition to the pastrami, but it really doesn’t need it the way the pulled pork needs it. And yes, I said sploosh. It’s the same thing as a splash, spritz, touch, or glug–just more ridiculous.

And the fries? Oh, I’ll get to those later.

Today, for my latest trip to The Oinkster, I decided to order my food and eat there.  It was a nice day and I figured I’d read the paper outside on The Oinkster’s dining patio. I ordered a cheeseburger, fries, and another Ube shake (I couldn’t help myself).

I wasn’t expecting much from the cheeseburger. The only reason I went
back to The Oinkster was for something I like to call "research" but
what others may refer to as "being a fat pig". I like the sound of
"research" better.

Anyways, The cheeseburger’s 1/3 pound angus patty was cooked medium-rare (that’s hows I roll) and topped with cheddar cheese (you can also choose from gruyere and american cheeses), house-made thousand island dressing, pickles, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. The Oinkster cheeseburger sounds a lot like another famous SoCal burger doesn’t it? I still prefer In-n-Out, but the Oinkster cheeseburger was close.

And finally, the fries. I’ve put off describing the fries till now because they weren’t that great when I had them the first two times.  But when I had them at The Oinkster today they were awesome! I realized that when I took the fries to go, they had gone limp by the time I got to where I was going. So it’s not that the fries are inconsistent, it’s just that they are best when eaten ASAP.

The Oinkster’s fries are not French, but Belgian because they are fried twice (those crazy Belgians). The double frying renders a very crisp exterior and a fluffy interior. The fries are perfect.

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The Oinkster’s Belgian fries come with a creamy house-made aioli containing the souls of a million garlic cloves. Besides the garlic aioli, The Oinkster also makes its own ketchup, chipotle ketchup, and mustard.

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The chipotle ketchup is more sweet than spicy, but it’s good nonetheless. So if you do find yourself at The Oinkster anytime soon, order yourself a pastrami sandwich, an Ube shake, and some fries–just make sure you eat your fries as soon as you get them.

After reading the day’s headlines and polishing off the last of my crispy fries, I headed out of The Oinkster and overheard a conversation between two non-Filipinos, a customer and an Oinkster employee:

Customer: What’s an oooob shake?

Worker: It’s ooohbay. It’s a Filipino thing and it’s pretty good. It’s our most popular milkshake.

Customer: Uh, ok. I’ll take one of those.

Strange times indeed.

  • manggy February 7, 2008, 12:16 am

    Doesn’t he mean “yoob” shake? :)
    Frankly, I’m not a fan of ube (read: I don’t like it, but I tolerate it).. I think it’s a little too grainy and starchy for my taste.
    In other news, those sandwiches look mighty tasty!

    Reply
  • Katrina February 7, 2008, 7:28 am

    Ube isn’t a potato; it’s a yam. :-) Purple potatoes do exist (though not in the Phils., more’s the pity), but they taste completely different.
    I like ube shake too, especially when it’s made with real ube! Was the Oinkster milkshake made with ube jam, or ube ice cream?
    It’s fantastic that Filipino ingredients are (FINALLY!) being introduced to Americans. Bravo to The Oinkster’s owner for sneaking it in among the pastramis and burgers! And how cool that the non-Pinoy customers actually like it! :-)

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia February 7, 2008, 8:48 am

    Hi manggy. I guess he could’ve pronounced it as “yoob” as well. Perhaps he was just a very literal guy;) And I have had grainy Ube before, and I know what you mean. And although this shake did have bits of Ube in it, they were soft and not offputting at all. The sandwiches were mighty tasty!
    You are completely right Katrina. Ube is yam and not potato. I’ve gone back and edited my post so as not to confuse anyone that stumbles upon it. I think I just got carried away with my alliteration, which I tend to do too often;) Considering how many times I’ve posted about Ube, I should know better. Thanks for pointing that out.
    I believe the Oinkster milkshake is made with ice cream. It’s very cool that non-Pinoys are getting a taste of Filipino ingredients, but I was more surprised that the worker made sure to point out that it was indeed Filipino. The owner must train his staff well!

    Reply
  • Lorena February 7, 2008, 9:16 am

    Oh, God, I hate going to LA (chip-on-the-shoulder San Diegan here!), but I just might go for Belgian fries, chipotle ketchup, and an ube shake! *wipes drool from chin* I’m a sucker for anything deep-fried and sweet, so The Oinkster sounds like a double-whammy…
    And the Oinksterade sounds like it’d be pretty refreshing on a hot summer’s day, that is, if I could just ignore the ube shake.
    BTW, love the blog– I’m half-Filipina, but find myself wanting for more Pinoy cultural experiences, especially food-related ones, and I find your blog both informative and entertaining!

    Reply
  • Thomas McTavish February 7, 2008, 9:23 am

    I think that a) the Oinkster sign is ripping off the Big A at Angels Stadium, b) I need to try an Ube shake and c) that the movie with Scarlett J and N-Port must have them in a jacuzzi … naked.
    That is all.

    Reply
  • Pat February 7, 2008, 10:11 am

    I’m not big on pastrami but I’d go for the ube shake and the Belgian fries! This reminds me of this super popular ice cream place in SF–Mitchell’s? They have halo halo ice cream, Thai iced tea, jackfruit, and ube too I think, etc … I believe there’s a Filipino connection there too.

    Reply
  • brilynn February 7, 2008, 3:28 pm

    Please excuse my ignorance but is ube like taro? If you mailed me a milkshake, (I’m sure it’ll travel just fine…) I wouldn’t be such a moron.

    Reply
  • oggi February 7, 2008, 4:40 pm

    Ube shake and Belgian fries with garlic mayo, perfect combination!:)

    Reply
  • joey February 7, 2008, 9:37 pm

    Sir, you are but the funniest blogger on the face of this earth! :) I love reading about your adventures with Filipino food in the US, and your journey to try and master the cuisine yourself. And I can’t think of a better testament to ube than to say that many boys will be brought to the yard by its milkshake! Hahahaha! I had laugh-tears in my eyes :)
    I would so be a loyal patron of a place called the Oinkster. There is a place near my apartment called Chubster’s Corner that I like :) And Belgian fries…the best in the world in my humble opinion :)
    I can’t wait til that movie comes out!

    Reply
  • Katrina February 7, 2008, 11:08 pm

    Joey, when I saw the name of this restaurant, I immediately thought of you! 😀 And yes, I have to agree — this blog is one of my favorites for the laughs!

    Reply
  • dhanggit February 8, 2008, 1:22 am

    i used to hate ube when i was a kid..but my mom loves it so she started cultivating in our garden..until it invaded our entire place LOL that was the time i started to appreciate it, for we needed to eat them constantly if dont want them to cut our vice view outside :-) nice post !! i love everything the pastrami and ube milkshake sounds a perfect match to me :-)

    Reply
  • Mila February 8, 2008, 2:58 am

    I had to dig a bit, but knew I had heard of Oinkster from another blog, Neal Pollack who writes on the Epicurious.com site blog mentioned eating there, and I think he had the ube shake :)
    Come to think of it, why don’t we have a lot of restaurants here in the Philippines offering ube shake? We have jam, candies, cakes, etc all made of ube. I can’t think of many burger joints that offer ube shake!

    Reply
  • Ruth February 8, 2008, 12:23 pm

    I grew up not liking ube, but I had it recently and realized that I find it pretty tasty now. I think the deep purplish color, and the fact that it was a yam, just made it seem wrong to me as a child. I’ve never had an ube shake but I would go for it if the opportunity presented itself.
    I too, love reading this blog – you crack me up. Your sense of humor is so Filipino.

    Reply
  • junemoon February 8, 2008, 2:16 pm

    Ummmmm. I want to try the ube milkshake! and even though I haven’t ever been a big pastrami fan, now I’m jones-ing for one of those sans and the Belgium twice-fried taters.
    As always, your post was totally entertaining. Thanks :) junemoon

    Reply
  • Jen Tan February 8, 2008, 10:42 pm

    HAHAHAHAA….OMG! You are soooo funny!!! I was actually reading your post outlout here in the office….hahaaha still laughing now! ;P
    Ohhhbay! I love it! I am an ube fan myself…but I’ve never really had ube shake before..only have it as halaya or ice cream (best as dirty ice cream)..puto or hopia =)
    I wish I could go visit the Oinkster and literally and figuratively pig out! ..enough reason for me to get a visa! hahaha
    Great post!!

    Reply
  • Sylvie February 9, 2008, 9:42 pm

    I really enjoy visiting your site. The food blog world is a great opportunity to induldge in so many cuisines. Hope this comment doesn’t get lost but I have also tagged you to participate in a new meme called “Tag” You’re It. I invite you to see my site for info on this event and to find out 5 things about me.
    http://soulfusionkitchen.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  • doreen February 10, 2008, 7:06 pm

    Ube is taking over the world! Little by little, the shady hand of Filipino influence is at work. Mwahaha!
    Seriously, though, I’d love to have an ube shake… but I’m lactose intolerant. I’m glad the flavour is becoming more mainstream.

    Reply
  • joey February 12, 2008, 5:42 am

    I always suspected that Grimace (purple thingy from Mcdonalds) was an ube milkshake!

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia February 12, 2008, 8:47 am

    Hi Lorena! I’m glad you’ve found my blog. And LA isn’t that bad;)
    TMac, the sign does look like the Big A doesn’t it? And I don’t think that movie will feature any jacuzzis, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.
    You’re right about Mitchell’s in SF, Pat. They do have Filipino ice creams there. I’ve tried their ube and macapuno flavors and both are very good.
    You’re not a moron at all Brilynn! If I had to pick something relatable that ube did taste like, I guess I would say taro is the closest thing. But at the same time, they’re completely different. It’s a terrible answer, I know.
    They are perfect together oggi!
    Thanks for the kind words joey! And Chubster’s Corner sounds like a winner;)
    Thanks Katrina!
    Wow dhanggit, you guys grew your own ube? I wonder if that would be possible here.
    Thanks for digging Mila. I looked up that article after you mentioned it and it looks like he enjoyed the ube as well.
    Thank you very much Ruth! I was sort of indifferent to ube growing up, but I’ve grown to like it more as well as an adult.
    I’m glad I could entertain you, junemoon. Thanks!
    Hi Jen. Yes, get a visa and hop on a plane to LA and try out the Oinkster!
    Hi Sylvie. I’m flattered you would tag me for your meme. I’ll check it out at your blog.
    Yes doreen, the shady hand of Filipino influence! Thanks for visiting:)
    Hi Joey. I’m not sure what I would do if McDonald’s ever featured an Ube milkshake. I might have to put my foot down for that!

    Reply
  • Julie February 12, 2008, 9:52 am

    Right on!!! There used to be a Filipino joint here that would sell Halo-Halo Especial, and it was topped with ice cream. Your ube shake is like that … but … without the halo-halo-ness? Anyway, now I’m going to go get a pastrami Reuben. If only the deli next door sold ube shakes!

    Reply
  • White On Rice Couple February 12, 2008, 3:57 pm

    Love your writing here! We’ll be in the Eagle Rock area in about two weeks. Can’t wait to try out the OINKSTER ! Never had slow, fast food before!

    Reply
  • Hrio February 14, 2008, 5:17 am

    i wanna have a bite of that sandwich!!!

    Reply
  • Babette February 14, 2008, 10:13 am

    ‘Slurpage’ – This is priceless! LOL Reading your blog is enjoyable Marvin, what a good way to break the monotony of a SAHM’s life.
    I love ube in anything. Are you considering making your own ube shake? I made ube ice cream using your recipe and I was in ‘ube heaven’!

    Reply
  • Madley March 17, 2008, 5:24 pm

    I actually went there the day you wrote this — had the pulled pork but didn’t realize I REALLY was just there for the UBE shake. Yummy — thanks for the tip! I’m at Oxy all the time — now I’ll be at Oinkster…

    Reply
  • Marianne/ anthropologist April 25, 2008, 10:37 am

    Portman stank in that movie, she just stank. I am sorry, I know she’s pretty, but the girl cannot act . . .

    Reply
  • Claire@ flowers tea November 22, 2010, 1:45 am

    Hello there, we don’t have that kind of food here in the Philippines :) Looks delicious though for sure, you have a different take on some Pinoy food, and it’s great.

    Reply

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