Eating Philadelphia Filipino cuisine with Chef Chance Anies, the current Chef in Residence, at Volvér.
The funny thing about having just eaten Chef Chance Anies’ zesty, Filipino-fueled meal during Jose Garces’ newest stab at his Chef-in-Residency program (on until mid-January 2023), is how Anies is opening his own new restaurant across the street from me in South Philly. Every morning when I walk my dog, I can see the purple and yellow neon of his black-brick Tabachoy lit from within its walls.
That said, dining with Chef Chance Anies and his menu, at Volvér is, in his words, an elevated experience one based on familial tradition a love of powerful flavor and humor. Chance is a Navy brat who learned from his father, a Washington D.C. chef.
“Tabachoy’s motto from day one has been ‘Light Hearts, Heavy Bellies’, essentially meaning, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but do take our food seriously,” Chance told me before my Volver dining experience with his menu. “We are gonna feed you well, and you’re gonna have a good time, so names for dishes also have to be fun. Our cheesesteak is called the Bistek Chistek, because it is a cheesesteak made with our Bistek Tagalog. Chistek is just a silly way to spell cheesesteak.”
For all that humor, Chef Chance Anies’ menu at Volvér is no laughing matter.
Starting with a seasonal salad with fried goat cheese balls, red wine figs, and the creamy orange vinaigrette was a gentle acid start, followed by Anies’ lovingly crisp cigar-rolled “Lumpia” filled with pork and garlic chili sauce.
The main event in the starter, small plates, however, is the rice congee Arroz Caldo. “We did not have Sunday gravy, we had Sunday Arroz Caldo. It is ginger toward rice congee, packed with chicken, boiled egg, and funk from fish sauce and bonito flakes.” You can taste the homespun-ness of Anies’ Arroz Caldo – its mouthfeel, the complex textures, the heady flavors. A big wow. And big ups to his small plate of Embutido meatballs on the menu. In Chef Chance Anies’ words, “what’s not to love about a pork meatball stuffed with a quail egg and served with banana ketchup?”
As for our main, the pork chop and stewed mung bean “mungo,” with chimichurri and tiger sauce? The sliced pork was insanely tender and flavorful all on its own. Add a dash of garlic chili gastrique, however? It is an entirely different taste sensation with its fresh dose of heat – one that still allows the rich slabs of pork’s personality to shine through.
Finish this meal with fried banana spring rolls “Turon” with caramel and vanilla ice cream? Good night and God bless.