This eatery brings the best of Filipino cuisine to Texas

Published May 19, 2021, 12:40 PM

by John Legaspi

Old Rooster Creek Filipino/Asian American BBQ is a food paradise not only for OFWs, but for other nationalities as well

Josephine in the kitchen and ORC BBQ’s lechon

If there are unsung heroes of Filipino cuisine, that would be the carinderias or eateries. They may not be experts in reimaging local dishes, but their loyalty to traditional recipes matched with their home studied kitchen skills have kept the soul of Filipino cooking alive and enjoyed by the masses.

That is what Old Rooster Creek Filipino / Asian American BBQ, commonly known as ORC BBQ, wants to bring to Dallas, Texas in the US, the comfort that comes from Filipino food served by an eatery. Leading it is Allen Cook, an American-Japanese former military officer, and his wife Josephine Cook, a former Filipina band singer from Leyte. The two met in Singapore, and when they reached the US, they decided to establish the food spot in 2017.

“I cooked the food like we are having a gathering or fiesta. The ambiance of our place is like home, it’s like they are in the Philippines for a couple of hours. That’s what they all say,” Josephine tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Some say, I dropped the corner eatery from the Philippines to Texas.”

“We decided to introduce to people some Filipino cooking and it grew from there. We brought the Philippines to Texas along with some old traditions,” Allen adds.

ORC BBQ facade and Allen chopping the lechon

ORC BBQ is only open during the weekend, which means the late hours of Friday till the dawn of Saturday is dedicated to preparing the dishes. Josephine whips up a number of Filipino meals with her wood stove and grill. Included in their rotating menu are caldereta, menudo, pancit, kare-kare, and lumpia. They also cook Filipino street food grills like betamax and adidas, and seafood such as stuffed squid and fish. Tapsilog and chicken adobo are among the breakfast favorites. While banana-cue, turon, halo-halo, ginataang bilo-bilo, pichi-pichi, and other Filipino delicacies add a sweet touch to their dining offerings. Although Josephine is the captain of the kitchen, Allen is in charge of slow-roasting the lechon.

Sisig, tapsilog, chicken feet barbecue, and pichi-pichi

“Lots of Filipinos here are very excited about the many different foods—street food and lechon. We cook them in the old traditional way and served in an old-style setting in our small roadside place,” Allen says. “The Americans enjoy it. It is something new and different style of food. It reminds them of the time they visited the Philippines.”

What makes ORC BBQ feels like home for many OFWs is the inclusion of a karaoke in their alfresco dining spot. Another, is the garden on its side, which is tended by Josephine, and uses some of the produce for her cooking.

The karaoke setup at night and Josephine’s garden

While the pandemic has pushed many to close their restaurants for health and safety concerns, the situation is not the same for the Cooks’ eatery, thanks to its setup.

“The health inspector did not shut us down, the reason is that outdoor dining provides more social distancing,” Josephine explains.

Another thing the Cooks are thankful about is the people’s reception of their food and service. With the past cases of violence and hate toward Asian Americans, they are blessed enough not to feel singled out for their culture and heritage in their community.

“We did not encounter any of that. In our eatery, people of different nationalities come. They’re polite and nice,” Josephine muses.

With great food and a humble setup, the Cooks promise to give a piece of home and comfort to everyone, Filipino or not, through ORC BBQ.

Check out more of their story at ORC BBQ Facebook page.