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Proudly Pinay panwiches

XO46 added a whole new category to its already extensive menu: Panwiches, sandwiches that are as Filipino as they can get because instead of the usual burger buns, the sandwiches make use of pandesal and the fillings are Filipino favorites.



In this time of pandemic, when the struggle between keeping everyone safe at home and opening the economy once again is real, the battlecry has always been to buy local, support local. This means helping each other rise above the limitations set by the lockdowns, keeping the economy going by buying from each other and promoting local flavors.

The food industry does this by patronizing local ingredients sourced throughout the country over imported ones and by drawing inspiration from the familiar flavors of Pinoy dishes to come up with new dishes.

Among those who have been very consistent in its nationalistic approach to business is XO46, where the wait staff is garbed in baro’t saya and customers are greeted in straight Filipino. On its menu are classic and contemporary Pinoy dishes, from appetizers and soups all the way to desserts and snacks.

Just recently, XO46 added a whole new category to its already extensive menu: Panwiches, sandwiches that are as Filipino as they can get because instead of the usual burger buns, the sandwiches make use of pandesal and the fillings are Filipino favorites. There are three variants of Panwiches — Smoked Bagnet Crunch Panwich, Chori Cheese Scramble Panwich and Beer Batter Fish Panwich.

Smoked Bagnet Crunch is chopped bagnet crackling over layers of lettuce, XO46’s secret sauce and tomato, then topped with atsara and caramelized onion embraced by XO46’s signature pandesal.

Chori Cheese Scramble Panwich. / PhotoGRAPHS COURTESY OF Dolly Dy-Zulueta and xo46

Chori Cheese Scramble consists of double Vigan longganisa patties (garlicky and tangy with some crisped-up edges) with scrambled egg in between, resting on layers of lettuce, XO46’s secret sauce and tomato. The patties are then topped with sliced cheese to round out the taste and make them more delicious, in between halves of XO46’s signature pandesal. It is served with flavored vinegar on the side.

Beer Batter Fish is a whole lot of goodness with a beer-battered whole tilapia fillet with sliced cheese and dill sauce on layers of lettuce and tomato, wrapped in the same XO46 signature pandesal. Now, this is my personal favorite!

All three are community quarantine babies, born during the lockdown in the Masigan household. Being forced to stay home during the quarantine period, Sandee Masigan, who is half of the husband-and-wife team behind XO46, found herself cooking for the family all throughout the lockdown.

Beer Batter Fish Panwich.

“Being in the kitchen always gave me comfort, refuge and hope. I would try to come up with different recipes to keep meals fun and interesting. Sometimes, I would plan themed lunches and dinners, too,” Sandee relates.

One day, while making milk bread rolls, Sandee had a lightbulb moment. She thought, why not make sliders? So she whipped up some fried chicken, piled them high with bacon, cheese and other ingredients on her milk bread rolls, and let her husband, top restaurateur Andrew Masigan, and their only daughter Amanda try them. They both enjoyed the sliders so much so that they requested for them time and again. One night, they ran out of filling, and Sandee went looking for substitutes in her refrigerator. She found half a slab of bagnet in the fridge, heated it up, chopped it and then used it as a filling for her sliders. And the Smoked Bagnet Crunch Panwich was born.

That the Chori Cheese Scramble would become the second Panwich was almost a given. XO46 made its own Vigan longganisa, and since it was good not only with rice but with bread as well, it just had to be the second Panwich variant.

Smoked Bagnet Crunch Panwich.

The third choice came easy, too. After having two meat-based fillings, a third Panwich had to be fish, and since the Masigans had their favorite fish and chips shop in Ganville Island, Vancouver, Canada, they took off from there and came up with their own Beer Batter Fish Panwich. It was the simplest idea, but it took the longest to perfect among the three Panwiches because the batter had to be simply the best — crunchy, golden and full-bodied to carry the tender fish fillet within. The Smoked Bagnet Crunch was the fastest to perfect since it made use of the smoked bagnet (cooked for 72 hours), which was readily available in the XO46 kitchen. Just a little chopping and it would be ready to be assembled into a panwich along with the other ingredients.

As for the pandesal itself, the baker in the XO46 commissary was given the task of coming up with a good pandesal style bread.

Working with the Masigans on the Panwiches was XO46 executive chef Tanya Dizon, who finalized the recipes and winded up the research and development and kitchen experiments before finally launching them. They just made sure they used all locally grown and raised ingredients, especially the bagnet, Vigan longganisa and tilapia fillet.

Andrew and Sandee Masigan, the husband-wife team behind XO46.

Since Metro Manila and its surrounding cities and municipalities are still on some form of lockdown until now, the Panwiches are only available for delivery at the moment. When the lockdown shifts to a more relaxed form and dining in restaurants is allowed again, XO46 will open the doors of all its branches
— Estancia Mall-Capitol Commons, S’Maison-Conrad.