Grand Central Market's renaissance is a few years in now, but it's not old news. Somehow, with the exception of only a few missteps (Anheuser-Busch? Seriously, guys?), GCM only becomes more and more of a culinary wonderland every day. The most glorious, and as of press time, the newest, addition of the year is Sari Sari Store, a stall in the seating area that's been designed to look like — and is named after — convenience stores in the Philippines. But there's an excellent chance the food served at this uppercase Sari Sari Store is better than the rest. That's due to its owners, Margarita and Walter Manzke, a restaurateur dream team.
The Filipino stall not only has excellent food, it's almost like a full-service restaurant, with metal utensils and glass water cups that the staff will refill if you sit at the counter. The sisig (pork head) with a fried egg is perfection — it's actually relatively light on the rich meat, which is a good thing — and the tortang talong (eggplant) is great, too.
The rice bowls and other savory items are excellent, but it's the buko pie, the star of the dessert menu, that will imprint itself on you after just one bite. (Unfortunately, it's a creation that does not photograph well.)
“Buko” means “young coconut” in Tagalog — in other words, a coconut that still has a green and smooth exterior. This is a custard pie made with the liquid from the fruit, but mixed into that custard are big slices of coconut meat, just firm to the bite and perfectly (with apologies for using a foodie word) succulent. Topped with shredded coconut, served in Margarita's famous pie crust (usually only available at République), a slice of buko pie is rich enough to fulfill the day's caloric needs, and ethereal enough to make you rethink everything you knew about pie.
317 S. Broadway, downtown; (323) 320-4020, sarisaristorela.com.