It’s 7,107 different islands that make up the archipelago that is the Philippines. The number inspired the name of Bistro 7107, a recently opened Crystal City restaurant, and the cuisine of those islands inspired the menu.
Bistro 7107, which bills itself as a fusion restaurant, presents a relatively small menu that still offers many beloved dishes of Filipino cuisine. As an appetizer, listed as “Small Course” here, you can enjoy an order of Lumpiang Shanghai ($8), the ever-popular spring rolls. In the Bistro 7107 rendition the deep-fried spring rolls are served six to an order, their crisp shells long and slender and filled with a mash of chicken and vegetables, heavy on the chicken. They’re presented with a sweet and tangy sauce for dipping.
For a little more heat, in more ways than one, there’s the Sisig ($12). The chopped pork dish comes to the table on a hot skillet, sizzling in its rich gravy. Tossed in with the pork are chopped red onion and little potent bits of green chili peppers. As for the meat, you’ll find plenty of pieces of pork belly with fried skin, but also tiny chopped and grilled bits of pig head. If the firm snap of the meat is a texture you enjoy, then this could well become a favorite dish as the grilled pork makes a big impression on the appetizer’s texture.
The menu continues with a few salads and about a dozen entrees, with some classic Filipino dishes to be found in the “Course 7107” selection. Pork appears time and again on the menu, but most grandly as the Crispy Pata ($16). Here, pork leg in two massive pieces is deep-fried for a crackling skin. It isn’t greasy at first, but as you dig in to the fatty layer beneath the golden shell and down to juicy meat to pull away from the big bones, you’ll understand why moist towelettes share the platter with this huge serving of meat. The dish is simple and savory, but a bowl of slightly sweet vinegar sauce on the side with chili pepper bits bobbing in it can add heat and tangy taste.
For more vegetables to accompany your pork, and an eclectic variety at that, there’s the Pinakbet ($14). The dish combines fried pork pieces with hearty chunks of vegetables – full pieces of okra, big slices of eggplant, strips of bitter squash, and slender long beans – in a sauce that’s salty with anchovy and begs for a bit of white rice to scoop it up.
For a meal here – which doesn’t shy away from big salty, fatty, savory flavors – something sweet makes a welcome conclusion. The Buko Pandan ($6) fits the bill, serving strips of coconut in richly sweet cream, topped in firm, bright-green Pandan gelatin cubes and a slice of peach.
One of the great joys of dining in the Washington, D.C. area is discovering cuisine from all across the globe. Not every city has a restaurant devoted to Filipino cuisine, and even here such eateries are rare. The menu at Bistro 7107 invites exploration for newcomers, and those familiar with Filipino cuisine now have a new place to revisit favorite dishes.
Bistro 7107 is located at 513 23rd St. S, Arlington. For more information, call 571-312-4155 or visit bistro7107.us. Restaurant hours are Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.