Rehearsal Dinner

Since our wedding dinner featured a traditional Chinese banquet, it only seemed right that the rehearsal dinner would feature Filipino cuisine.

We decided to have it at the clubhouse in our townhouse complex, which worked out better than attempting to have it at a restaurant, especially with guests arriving at all different times, and several last minute invites that DH’s parents were making without our knowledge.

DH’s parents took some time off before the wedding to help us with the rehearsal dinner. Since DH’s parents weren’t familiar with the food options in San Diego, I turned to CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High for some advice. She helpfully compiled a list of potential places for desserts, lechon, and side dishes.

DH’s parents stopped by a few of the places on CC’s list. But for convenience sake, they opted to get everything in one place: Manila Fast food.

Our guests were really impressed when the lechon was brought in. Everyone had their camera out to snap a picture. A roasted suckling pig, this dish is traditionally served for big celebrations in Filipino culture, including birthdays, wedding, etc. While I’ve tasted leftover lechon before from DH’s family gatherings, this was my very first whole one.

Unfortunately, Manila didn’t do a great job with it. The skin was crispy but the meat was cooked far too long. It was dry and quite bland. I don’t feel bad pointing that out because DH’s parents were even more displeased. They have a family relative that roasts lechon and that’s their usual source. They all thought Manila’s was a poor version. CC had suggested someone her mom recommended, Lucia Toledo’s, who also delivers. I’ll have to keep that person’s name in mind in case I ever have to get a lechon while in San Diego.

For the side dishes, we stuck to the popular items: pancit, lumpia, chicken adobo, pork adobo.

I requested the purple sticky rice for dessert. It’s one of my favorites and apparently it’s a symbol for good luck.

Sapin sapin, another one of my favorites. It’s made with glutinous rice and reminds me of mochi. I love the tri-colored effect.

I believe these were some kind of flan:

I didn’t take too many pictures since everyone was starving.

It seemed like everyone had a good time. I had really struggled with what to do with the rehearsal dinner. We had called several restaurants, considered hiring a food truck, etc. I was happy we went with the casual setting because it allowed guests to arrive late, babies to roam around, and allowed us to go around and have a moment with all of our guests who had come down early for rehearsal.


14 comments on “Rehearsal Dinner”

  1. What a feast for rehearsal dinner! I’m sorry to hear that the roast pig only looked impressive. For some reason, the sapin sapin (which I have never tried), looks like a pile of mahjong tiles hehe.

    • Hehee, they do look like mahjong tiles. The sapin sapin tastes a little like mochi except it’s not doughy or as chewy and sticky. It’s hard to describe it. I can’t think of a chinese dessert equivalent but I definitely taste the glutinous rice four used to make mochi in it.

  2. Bummer about the lechon, but I understand the decision to go for convenience, especially since DH’s parents are from out of town. It looks intact, so someone must have had cleaver duty at the dinner.

    I’ve never had lechon – how does it compare to Chinese roast pork?

    • Yeah, DH’s Dad did the butchering. It was pretty fascinating to watch! I wish I had gotten a video. My dad kept asking how he knew how to do it, but apparently he just learned from all the times they’ve had it.
      I think the lechon tastes a little different from the chinese roasted pork. They both have the crispy skin, though the lechon doesn’t have that large layer of fat right underneath the skin like the chinese pork. It’s just crispy skin and then pork meat, which is usually pretty good too when you have a good lechon. Also I think the chinese roasted pork skin layer is a bit more fatty, thicker and crisper. The lechon skin is usually thinner, crispy, but not crackling crispy which is how I always think of the chinese one. Both are good though =)

  3. Aw, that’s too bad the roast pig didn’t turn out that well. It looks delicious, but you never know. I’ve had enough roast pig that the look of it doesn’t freak me out anymore (thought it used to). I’ve watched them make a whole pig in the ground before when I visited the Philippines as a kid, it’s interesting to watch. Looks like a great spread for your rehearsal dinner!

  4. I’m impressed that you guys held the dinner at your apartment’s clubhouse! I guess the clubhouse in my complex seemed small-ish. It’s too bad that the lechon wasn’t as tasty – it looks so good. I’m not so familiar with Filipino food except for a food stand from the Mira Mesa farmer’s market, but I want to try Manila Fast Food now!

  5. Too bad about the lechon – if it was done right, there should have been a layer of fat underneath the skin.

    I personally like seeing the head of the pig. It makes it more “special” or festive, ha ha. Where was the apple in the mouth? 🙂

    I’m glad the other food ordered was good – you stuck to the classics too. No balut, pinapaitan, or igado (fertilized duck egg, bile soup, liver stew) this time!

    • Haha, yeah, we didn’t want to get too exotic for our guests, since the majority weren’t familiar with Filipino food. I’m sad the lechon didn’t turn out well. But I know I’ll get other chances to taste better ones at the holiday parties of DH’s family.

  6. What an impressive feast! That’s really too bad about the roast pig!

  7. Wow. I love the purple sticky rice too. We call it “Biko” here in the Philippines. 🙂 Too bad the lechon isn’t that good. Anyway, i love your blog.

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