Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Dish of the Week: Hiraya’s Tocino breakfast bowl

Diana Anos
Hiraya’s Tocino breakfast bowl, complete with pieces of pork belly and a fried egg over a bed of white rice and crushed black beans.

Located on H Street, Filipino American fusion cuisine spot and cafe Hiraya serves up picturesque drinks and comforting breakfast bites.

The first floor of Hiraya opened Sept. 30 and the upstairs dining room and bar is set to open later in 2023 with a more expansive menu. Paolo Dungca opened the restaurant to give the public elevated Filipino food and create attention for the culture since he had never seen the upscale element of Filipino food represented in his youth.

The name itself, Hiraya, speaks to Dungca’s passion for the restaurant, means “the fruit of one’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations” in Tagalog.

Upon arriving at 6:30 on a Sunday evening, I was immediately greeted by the low chatter of a half-full restaurant and medium volume music, ranging from Lana Del Rey to Mariah Carey. The storefront was made entirely of light wood planks, lining the entire front with the Hiraya sign peeking out over the door. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the front of the building were wide open, creating an indoor/outdoor separation. The bright color scheme of white, blue and orange were spread out through the restaurant, from the subway tiles on the side wall to the bookshelves in the back and even on the napkins.

Large plants welcomed guests at the entrance and a wide, dark wood bench was placed next to the marble and wood counter, serving as a waiting area for drinks. The hanging light fixtures strung throughout were made out of wood and woven materials, casting shadows on the distressed red brick walls.

Although the decoration choices seem chaotic, they combine to create an eclectic, casual feel. The kitchen in the back was open for customers to see in and created a homey setting, as anyone could hear the sizzling and chopping as dishes were made.

Along with food and drink options, the sold-out pastry case on the order counter made me wonder what the items looked like. Some of the options were a black truffle ensaymada ($7.00), an adobo chocolate chip cookie ($4.50) and a peach mango tart ($5).

As a breakfast enthusiast, the all-day breakfast items immediately caught my eye. I chose the Tocino breakfast bowl ($18) and other contenders included the Lumpiang Sariwa ($14), an ube crepe roll and the Bistek fries ($26).

I was torn about my drink choice as I saw others around me with colorful, Instagrammable lattes. I asked the barista what drink would complement my meal choice and he recommended the calamansi passion fruit iced tea ($6), describing it as a “Filipino lime-flavored Arnold Palmer.” I decided to give that a try.

Once I had ordered, I took my order number flag and found a table on the side of the restaurant. I grabbed utensils, a napkin and water from a nearby station.

When the Tocino breakfast bowl came out, it looked picture perfect: a steaming hot meal plated in a gray and brown spotted bowl. Two pieces of pork belly surrounded the sides of the bowl as did a colorful papaya slaw. A fried egg was placed right in the middle, and the dish was topped with a green garnish. Underneath the hearty proteins were a bed of white rice and crushed black beans.

The chewy pork belly was marinated in pineapple and soy sauce and had subtle flavors of each ingredient. The atsara, or papaya slaw, was tart and acidic, adding a crunch to the meal. The fried egg was crispy on the edges with a nearly hard yolk and had salty seasonings on top.

I mixed all of the parts of the dish together for a choose-my-own-adventure in each bite. The ideal combo had papaya slaw, rice and beans and some pork. Each flavor complemented each other as I was able to taste the sweetness of the pineapple marinade along with the tartness of the slaw.

The orange and yellow ombre iced tea was refreshing and served as an ideal compliment to the dish between bites of the warm and salty breakfast bowl.

As I watched families and groups of friends share their food and take photos of the gorgeous dishes, I was already planning who I could bring along on my next visit.

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