Sampler plate from Merla's Kitchen (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
Imagine how tough it would be to be a guy like Marian Hossa. The Blackhawks star skates as hard as anyone else, but always seems to fade in comparison to the spotlight on guys like Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane. In some respects, the same is true of Filipino fare. Not nearly as popular as Thai, there are so few restaurants in the genre that they could never possibly have their own "-town" like China or Korea, and I'm not sure pork and vinegar is as sexy - or as widely consumed - as sushi is. That's why it's always a pleasure to come across a neighborhood Filipino joint, like Isla Pilipina in Lincoln Square or Merla's Kitchen, in the North Park neighborhood.