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Is Filipino food embarassing?

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I have read statistics that Filipinos are the #1 ethnic minority in Seattle, more in number than Chinese even. And yet, just TRY to find a Filipino restaurant! I know of (counting) 6 places - 3 of which have the same owner. So, basically, 4 restaurants, and 2 "branches".

In contrast, I *think* Seattle has more than 6 Chinese restaurants. Just my gut instinct. Hell, Seattle has more TURKISH or GERMAN restaurants, and there aren't nearly as many of those ethnicities around.

I find the situation similar in most major cities, including Honolulu, with its 28% Filipino population. What's the deal? I love Filipino food, and given the mainstream popularity of Thai (and now Vietnamese lately), it should be quite popular...even among suburban white folks. So why are Filipinos so averse to running restaurants?

[SHORT ANSWER (from Filipino friends) is that Filipinos are the ultimate US wannabes; that they're more likely to open a Jewish deli or a burger stand than a Filipino restaurant. Maybe some truth here, but I'd say the same about Vietnamese, and there's no certainly shortage of THOSE restaurants about.]

I really don't see why we don't have 200 or 300 Filipino restaurants here. I believe the population is greater than Vietnamese and Thai COMBINED.

BTW, I'd appreciate it if anyone knows a few more. I only know of:

Rios - International District
Inay's takeout - in Uwajimaya; branch of Rios
Inay's Manila Grill - U-District; ditto
?name - one more in U-District [something with an "s", I think. "Sari Hut" maybe?]
Kusina Filipina - somewhere on Beacon hill
?name - take out stand in Pike Market

BTW, was the "old" Inay's - also on Beacon Hill - where Kusina is now? If not, is there some OTHER Filipino restaurant in their old location?


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  1. I can't shed any light on why there aren't more Filipino restaurants, but I do have a question regarding the ones that already exist: What's good to eat there? I've tried Inay's in the U District once, and one of the things I had (sorry, can't remember what it was) was so undelightful that I haven't been able to go back. I know what adobo's all about (and enjoy cooking it), but what else is worth trying?

    12 Replies
    1. re: BradS

      I tried the Rios buffet once, and thought that EVERYTHING there except the pancit (chow mein) stunk!! But then I tried Inay's in Uwajimaya - my god, everything I try there is PERFECT.

      For $4.95 most days you can get a combo of pancit, rice, and one of the 8 or so stew-like entrees (two a day chosen as specials; selection rotates daily). The Adobo was spectacular; the Chicken Apritada better, and the Guisantes sublime. I think Pecadillo was the only thing I found bland. But only bland - not out-and-out BAD, as at Rios.

      Imagine my surprise when the girl told me they were the same place!

      BTW, I haven't tried any of the a la carte items (okoy [fritters], shishkebab, sausages), so I can't comment. They look good, tho.

      Nor have I tried many desserts. The bibinka (big round ones on the case) look spectacular, but proved to be rather dull, at least to my taste. I ended up adding more sugar and cheese when I got home.

      But the main dishes...OH-LA-LA!

      As a general rule, I would recommend anything BRIGHTLY COLORED. The stuff that looks like Thai curry. In contrast, the black/brown dishes tend to be heavy, greasy, blobs of meat fat (with the exception of Adobo, of course). If you like, say, pork rinds, you might like them. Me, I stick to the flouresent veggie-heavy stuff.

      I've never eaten anywhere but these 2 places. The counter in Pike Market looks extremely unappetizing, all the moreso after being spoiled at Inay's.

      I mean to make a trek to the other 2 (Kusina, Sari-whatever) one of these days, tho.

      1. re: side dish

        i'm familiar with the food's of the island's. i invested in one of the first filipino restaurants that opened in new york city in 1952 called the "Phillipine Hut" on 47th street between 6th and 7th avenues. it was successful for three years until it lost it's lease and i arrangeged for my partner to work in the "hawaiian room" at the lexington hotel. in hawaii there are many fillipino restaurants that do well and i started a business making sausage and balotes that are still doing very well sending the balotes all over the mainland. in seattle we have had over a dozen attempts starting up various filipino restaurants, sausage makers and bakeries. baked goods of many types are available at central market in shoreline from rolls, cream puff's and empaladas and various jellies and candy as well various sausage products in the freezer and deli sections. i feel that if and when the time comes for some experienced chef operator decides to open a real place it will follow the success of my favorite place the "maylasian satay" restaurant that is probably the best outside maylasia now with 2 locations both special. the most successfull restaurants in asia that offer fillipino, maylay, singapore, indian and chinese food as well as a full european menu have been operated traditionally by filipino-chinese and maylay-chinese seamen who entered the restaurant business in the late 1940ties and 50ties all over asia especially hong kong and do extremely well.

        1. re: irwin koval

          Irwin, I question your assertion that there are "many" Filipino restaurants in Honolulu. In my day there were only 4 or 5 worthy of a phone book listing, and probably a couple dozen more running out of people's garages (thinking Kalihi here). Still, not even CLOSE to the number of Thai restaurants around, despite a population ratio of like 4000-to-1.

          By the way, don't mean to crossthread, but you just mentioned Hawaiian food, so could I ask whether YOU might have a list of places current in Honolulu? For that matter, in NYC and elsewhere as well?

          We really need a Hawaii board here!

          1. re: side dish

            Linked below is the Elsewhere in America board where you'll find many discussions of food in Hawaii in progress and to post your question about Filipino restaurants in Hawaii.

            Link: http://chowhound.com/boards/else/else...

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Ahhh, very nice. Thank you!

              1. re: side

                You're welcome!

                To circle back to your original question, I find it curious too that there are so few Filipino restaurants in Seattle. On the SF Bay Area board, I've been posting over the last several months on the Filipino food I've found in the town of Vallejo that has less than 150K residents. So far I've stumbled upon 7 independent restaurants, plus LingNam, Goldilocks and Jollibee's which are Manila chains, a bakery, and 4 grocery stores. That struck me as an extraordinary concentration in this little burg. Seems that whatever the reasons might be in Seattle, the reverse is happening in Vallejo!

                I'm just learning about Filipino food myself. There are some amazing posts by RST on the Chicago board that I've found highly educational.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  MELANIE: i'm curious if your aware of the similarity of evolvement in the ethinic dishes from the phillipines, japan, china, macau and hong kong that are based upon the influence on cusines brought about by the jesuit priests to these cultures. the many types of pasrties such as the common use of the word "pan". tempura [fried in dough or batter], abdobo. viga dos, types of sausage, egg tarts, curry puffs, jellied and colorfull desserts, vinegar, spices, chili peppers all started with priests from spain and portugel carried foward to being generally accepted in most regions of asia and india.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    As a relative Filipino newbie in Seattle, I do find it unsettling that my co-workers love filipino food and yet, I can not, for the love of God, really recommend a good Filipino restaurant around the area. Theories have always abounded in my brain on why we don't have good restaurants. It's hilarious that some people, or even Filipinos, for that matter, think that's it about being too assimilated. In fact, my own theory is quite the opposite precisely because we are not mainstream and are afraid to do so. There is some truth to the embarassment concept. Us Filipinos are notorious for the concept of 'hiya' which could be interpreted as reticent shyness but in all honesty, it really is about being afraid to embarass yourself and hurt your pride in the process. I know it totally sounds bizarre to the American mind but it works for our culture. But getting back to the food, a lot of our dishes border on the high 'gross-out' factor for a lot of Americans, as seen, for example in Fear Factor, with the balut (duck embryo)episode that scared the bejeezus of pretty much everyone except for me....I was salivating. There's also dinuguan, sisig and all the intestine stuff that might not be palatable to a non-Filipino taste bud. It embarasses us that everyone else find it gross and we find it so delicious. It embarasses us that we've gotten notices from the apartment landlords because we are frying 'tuyo' and it supposedly stinks up the whole place. So I guess forgive us for sticking to ourselves. That's why the catering business abounds. We are at home only when we are 'at home' precisely because we don't quite fit, which for me is nothing wrong. What is wrong though is that if we become too insular, we loose that cultural identity that goes with food because you don't build a critical mass outside your race here in Seattle. A lot of the younger Filipinos that grew up here haven't even tried the more obscure yet incredibly tasty regional dishes found in the Philippines. That's why I go home every year. That said, what we need is a vision. We need Filipino restaurants that is not Americanized but is catered to the American way of eating either like a deli, which Kusina Filipina, Inay's, D'Unik, and all the other delis in Silverdale, Federal Way and Tacoma delis cater to, or a restaurant style thing where the menu covers the usual appetizer, entree and dessert (which is a totally alien concept to Filipinos coz we always eat Family style),... a restaurant that would be true to the Filipino cuisine spirit but bold enough to venture and fuse cuisine concepts that would put it to another level. It maybe a concept heresy to most Filipinos but the truth is, our cooking is unique because it is a blend of all these cultures from Malay, Chinese, Spanish and American influences. It is so rich in diversity that I feel that it is an injustice that nobody can truly appreciate it for what it is and what it could be. Hopefully, this would be a sounding board rant to us Filipinos here in Seattle to finally put Filipino food on the map and make us truly proud of what it is.

              2. re: side dish

                My filipino mom says that we have pacific islander blood(guam, palau, micronesia) in us and are just lazy. :(

                I want to find a good filipino restaurant too, but it's been over 40 years!

              3. re: irwin koval

                My parents owned The Philippine Hut restaurant in NYC when I was a child. My mother doesn't remember Irwin and she said that only the chefs and my father were the investors. My mother worked as the bartender. After the "Hut" closed we opened another one on East 45th St. near the United Nations. Maybe Irwin knew one of the chefs and gave them the money to invest.

            2. re: BradS

              hi, i really recomend you to try kaldereta.. its really delicious.. specially if your fond of spicy foods.. or even bistek... its like beef steak but cooked in a different way.. but its just as delicious.. well i hope u try this things.. enjoy!

            3. Filipinos assimilate into American culture so extremely well, I think in general they just want to become part of the "melting pot" and somehow don't emphasize their "multicultural" background like so many immigrants populations do nowadays. I guess that's the original American spirit. Kind of reminds me of my grandfather, his dad came to US from some country in Europe but nobody knows. All he wanted to do was be American and he always told my grandpa that he was American and nothing else, work hard and don't take a handout from anyone. Well, I think that spirit may be long gone, in favor of multiculturalists, expect maybe the Filipinos (bless their hearts) they somehow represent what was once a great inspiration for unity.

              Sorry for the diatribe!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Fritz

                My first instinct is to agree with you (as my parenthetical comment pretty much said the same thing, tho far less eloquently), but...when you look at those "well-assimilated" Europeans of yore, you find Irish pubs, German delis, and...LITTLE ITALY!! Altho there was a lot less CONTEMPLATION about diversity, the reality was that everyone brought a piece of the "old country" with them.

                Filipinos, FWIW, do have active networks with social events, get togethers, churches outtings, etc. etc., same as the next group. Just no restaurants.

                In all of those events I've witnessed, they're chock full of homemade dishes of a most ethnic variety. So it's not like they've cast off their culture or their food. Just their restaurants!

                A Filipino New Year's party has pretty much the same "feel" as a Viet one or a Thai one. No more assimilated, no less. It remains a puzzle why there aren't hundreds of cafes about town.

              2. r
                Richard Harding

                Even Filipinos see little marketability of Filipino food. What does that tell you?

                I doubt Filipinos don't open Filipino restaurants because they are "white-washed". Someone will open a business if he thinks he will make a buck, assimilated or not. The real reason may be the lack of range in Filipino food.

                Are you Filipino? Why the fascination with the obscure of the obscure of "cusine"?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Richard Harding

                  You're amusing Rich!!

                  To imply that Filipino food has less range than GERMAN just made my day.

                  Hope you have a Happy non-sectarian white-bread-only Holiday! I'm working on goose chowmein for mine...with candied ube....

                  1. re: side dish
                    Richard Harding

                    German food? I am unaware of any German restaurant in Seattle. Ditto with Filipino restaurant, I guess.

                    I don't think I am the only one though.

                    Like you said, there are lots of Filipinos in WA but there are very few Filipino restaurants. I just think they are reluctant to open them because of the cuisine's lack of marketability, not because they have assimilated. If there are more Ethiopian places than yours, then you know you have a problem :D

                    Goose chowmein? Sounds good.

                    1. re: Richard Harding

                      Lack of range in Filipino food? The cuisine's lack of marketability? NOPE!

                      Let's put it this way. Not all Filipinos that come to live here in the US either have the capital to start a restaurant business or the skill to cook real good Filipino food. Just like not all Italian grandmothers can cook good Italian food. Filipinos are very particular with taste and what people would think of their cooking that even if they're good cooks, they still feel that they're not good enough. This is because of what we call "hiya" (direct translation: shyness but it's more than that. I wish I could explain more but it's something you won't get unless you experience to live in the Philippines and actually experience the social culture.) Because of this they would hesitate starting a restaurant because they just simply don't want to waste any money if incase the business fails. A lot of Filipinos come here to work and support families in the Philippines. We simply can't afford to waste a dime. Are Filipino food not worth the risk? Of course it is. But if we have to borrow money for capital on business, we just feel that it would be high risk. But heck, you go to California and they're everywhere. It's all about how much money you are willing to risk and whether you have that money and if everything fails, would you still have money to support yourself without being dependent on EBT cards --- because this is something we can't let happen to us. To us, being dependent on the government and the taxpayers to put food our table would mean losing our pride and dignity.

                      Filipino cuisine is wide range. It's beyond adobo or pansit (pancit). Every region has their own specialty; every habitable island has it's own cuisine. Now imagine how many habitable islands there are in the Philippines.

                      Marketability? Definitely marketable. Look at how many filipino restaurants in California are successful. It's just a question of whether a Filipino has the capital and people to actually cook Filipino foods the way they should be cooked. I would know because I am Filipino. Now, if you want real Filipino food, I encourage you t visit Philippines and start your food adventure in Luzon, then Visayas, and wrap it up by visiting Mindanao. And you know what? Food taste better when you meet the people and experience the culture.

                2. Being Filipino, my theory is that many Filipinos don't really need a restaurant because you can just go to someone's house and eat Filipino food for free! My mom and my aunts, for example, always cook waaaayyyy too much food all the time because they are used to cooking for big parties and are always expecting people to come over and eat anyway. Recently, my mom cooked 25 large lumpia eggrolls even though only 4 or 5 people were coming and this is in addition to all the other main dishes she had.
                  The mom of my sister's friend I hear cooks great--she even hosted a cooking show in the Philippines--and she used to just invite people over for food.
                  Of course, this is just my theory. Down in southern California there's a fairly successly chain(?) called Pinoy Pinay so maybe this area just needs some more time for development/consistency?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Carmel

                    I'd like to agree with you, but...see my response to Fritz. The points you raise would apply equally to Thai or Viet households/parties, and yet their restaurants flourish. I cannot quite perceive the material difference here.

                    I haven't heard of Pinoy Pinay, tho I used to live in LA. But I do recall seeing CHOW KING. That alone should put an end to the "Philippine Experiment"....

                    1. re: side dish

                      Well as for Vietnamese cafes, my old Vietnamese roommates and I used to frequent Little Saigon in Westminster, CA and those little cafes that dot many urban areas in the US are also a great part of the Vietnamese culture. My friends told me in Viet nam there are so many of little cafes like them that sell coffee, sandwiches, pho and other dishes. This isn't so much the case in Filipino culture.
                      But maybe also Filipino-Americans may going another route in the ways they get provide they're cuisine which is in catering. I've seen trucks up here in Seattle for example, Seattle advertising that they bake the best puto and have it and other foods available for your event. Come to think of it I can think of more Filipino people and places that did catering rather than have restaurants (Pinoy Pinay of course catered and Rainbow Manila is a catering company in the east LA County area is really good).

                  2. I doubt that Filipinos find their cuisine EMBARRASSING, per se; it just isn't their style to open restaurants -- here in Boston, the sushi places and even some Mexican restaurants are owned by Chinese people! It's just a cultural propensity to own restaurants. (at least, so the Chinese owner of the Japanese restaurant said).

                    1. Also a Filipina, and have heard that there's a good Filipino restaurant in the Silverdale area. But lots out here in the Seattle area suck. Goldilocks in Vancouver, B.C. is as close to respectable as you can get. It's true - if you want good Filipino food, most go to relatives. Many families do catering, and do it really well - I know my mother and aunts go to five or six places that do lumpia, pancit, puto, on a large scale that while they can all do just as well or better, it's just more convenient to order. Besides, when Filipinos go out to eat, it seems we hit Chinese restaurants more than anything - makes sense if you eat Filipino food every day, you want something different. More often than not, I see lots of 2nd generation kids losing interest in learning the techniques their parents have, and even losing interest in the food. Of course, I can't blame them - how some Filipinos stay slim eating cuisine rife with so much fried items is beyond me....

                      1. After reading all the comments, I find it surprising that no filipino mentions the obvious...business. As a second generation filipina growing up in the mid-west, I had very limited exposure to philipine culture. Now I live in LA. After 10 years, I've come to this conclusion. Filipinos are not good business people. This is not a slam, merely an honest opinion. The business mind, quality, and dedication to running a restaurant is not there. You will never hear a filipino admit it because pride gets in the way. Pride is a major limiting factor in any culture's success. This is the problem with Eastern Europeans (former communist countries in the E.U.), and spanish-based cultures like the Philippines. So, yes, Filipino food that mom, aunts, and grandma makes is excellent. Unfortunately, finding a consistently good filipino restaurant is more of a culture problem than a food problem.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bothsides

                          Whoa, this is a really illuminating post. From my perspective, as a largely assimilated 1/4 Filipina, 1/4 Chinese, 1/2 European (how's that?) woman, my mind is going in all directions. But the first thing I feel compelled to respond to is bothsides' comment about Filipinos not being good business people. Tho I can provide only anecdotal evidence, I can say that every one of my Filipino aunts and uncles (big family, lots of them) are involved in multiple markets; venture capital, city planning, HMO administration, and one even owns a Filipino catering company. All are exceptionally business-minded, *and* (this relates to my next comment), all can absolutely hold forth in the kitchen. The men, as much as the women, are really proficient when it comes to putting out some tasty Filipino favorites. But to the main point, I'd have to agree with earlier postings--from my p.o.v., I think the dearth of Filipino restaurants is a result of both 1) embarassment (my grandfather still will only eat his Filipino food when no one else is around, b/c he still remembers us kids thinking his food "smelled bad"), 2) because, as someone else said above, it's a family affair. They (my aunts & uncles, again) will have catered Filipino food brought in when it's a really large grp, but on the whole, if they're going to eat it, they'd rather make it the way their mom did. Again, just anecdotal commentary, but glad to be able to respond. Great thread.

                          1. re: jbeaux

                            I'm a pure blooded filipina and you are rigth that some filipino are embarass to eat the food do to comments. I was raised with eating the food but i was seen by most filipino as being too american so was never close to my ethinc root till i did culinary arts. I plan to open a filipino restaurant but I'm not planning my main client to be pure blooded filipinos but half blooded filipinos and filipino at heart because they are proud to eat the food.

                        2. Somewhere along the posts someone mentined that they should open up a non apologetic Filipino restaurant catered towards Filipino's. EXACTLY! My buddy who I worked with in a nice french bistro was half Filipino and he used to whip up some amazing staff meals. As a Korean, I've noticed that some of my favourite Korean Only restaurants have been totally over run with non-Koreans. That's a good thing in my eye. What may inconvenience me today might lead to some other great Korean restaurant that might open due to the demand! If someone opens up a restaurant that'll draw in their ethnic groups, you'll be sure that pretty soon the word will get out about it.

                          Now where the hell do I get my lumpia fix?

                          1. I agree that it's the culture of the Filipinos to eat at home or at one of their many, many parties. Americans, in general, have never embraced this cuisine since it is rather homey and at times unusual. Look at the Chinese, as well as the Vietnamese; these cultures have always eaten many of their meals at restaurants, and it's no wonder that they are leaders in the restaurant industry.

                            Although I am not Asian, I have many, many friends who are, and these are, simply, my observations.

                            1. Aloha BBQ in Renton is a Filipino owned Hawaiian restaurant featuring Filipino food not seen elsewhere. It's good and cheap.

                              I asked this very question to a Filipino friend of mine a few years ago, and his response was that there are a lot of good Filipino cooks, so you don't need to dine out for it, and those Filipinos who do dine out want to try something diferent, which might explain why Chinese restaurants are so popular amongst Jews.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ira

                                Aloha BBQ catered my cousin's (who is half Filipino) wedding a couple of years ago, and it was excellent. Lumpia!

                                1. re: ira

                                  chinese is also a convenient way to make sure you're keeping kosher while still getting to enjoy non-jewish food; no dairy, can order chicken, beef, or vegetarian to avoid pork...and unlike a lot of southeast asian cuisines, it's not rife with sneaky sources of crustaceans (ie, dried, powdered, or fermented shrimp). i always figured that was part of the draw for my dad's side of the family (new york jewish) when choosing where to eat out.

                                2. Would be nice to see other places then Chinese around.

                                  1. Side Dish-

                                    If you want to take a drive, locals in Tacoma rave about the Manila Diner on Center Street in the Nalley Valley. Our own Restuarant/Food critic Ed Murrieta has good things to say about it and I am glad he did. The food is unique and delightful. Check out his link for his review and next time you are down this way.


                                    1. I used to live in South Everett near Everett Mall Way.

                                      There are a few Filipino owned businesses in that area.
                                      A Filipino bakery - Jonee's (sp?) 7th and Evt Mall Way behind the gas station in the back, next to the pho restaurant - their shelves are lighly stocked, but I've enjoyed their meat filled buns and they have pancit wrapped to go, which I also enjoyed.

                                      An Asian market which is Filipino owned next to the Lover's Package.

                                      In the parking lot, a Filipino "Taco" truck that specialized in Filipino food - Juicy Jun's. Jun is very friendly. I haven't been down that way in a 5 months so I don't know if he's still sets-up in the lot or not.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: dave_c

                                        in the parking lot of lover's package? i've got to find this place!!!!!!!

                                        1. re: ccqueen

                                          Yes, in that parking lot in the back.
                                          Unless you're in the area, let me drive by and I'll find out if he's still using that lot before you go out there.

                                            1. re: dave_c

                                              thanks!!!!!! i can't wait to try it out.

                                        2. It seems to me that there is a fundamental mismatch between the American palate and Filipino cookery. Although Americans have developed a taste for bolder flavors in recent years, they still prefer balanced flavors and in lower doses than is native to other cultures (notice the “dumbing down” of flavors/spice for American patrons). Filipinos, on the other hand, love bold flavors, often all at once (hence the tradition of sumsuman). Fatty lechon kawali takes centerstage next to tart acharas take centerstage, a super-salty salad of itlog na maalat and rich sweet flan. Inoffensive fruit cocktail gets a Filipino makeover with the addition of rich/cloying condensed milk and mildly tart cream cheese. Spaghetti becomes a sweet and cheesy treat barely resembling its American counterpart. Where Japanese cuisine relies on clean flavors, Korean on singular bold flavors and Thai on balanced flavors, Filipino throws it all at you at once.

                                          Take away the bold tools of the Filipino chef and perhaps you might attract some Americans, but no Filipino will patronize the restaurant. “Magkano??? Walang lasa!” Leave the chef to his designs and all the Americans will touch are lumpia, pancit and adobo. Why not just eat a bowl of rice? Plus there’s the problem of Filipino food’s general lack of visual appeal. Rellenong manok and pancit luglug notwithstanding, Filipino food tends to be brown and soupy. The only way to improve the look of adobo is serving it in a pretty bowl. I can see Filipino gaining acceptance in certain markets (i.e. New York where offal and shrimp paste are the new truffles), but in less experimental regions like the Midwest or Pacific Northwest, I am doubtful.

                                          As for Filipinos being ashamed and wanting to be perceived as Americans: this is a nation of Spanish-named Roman Catholics with tables set with shumai, empanadas, tofu, fried chicken, satay, and SPAM. Filipinos aren’t ashamed, they’re just the ultimate adaptors.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            I think it is the other way around. Most filipino food is highly salted, much of it fried, very little chili is used. My cooking of even the mildest of foods usually elilcited, "Ayoko, mashado mahanghang para sa akin!" And "ang lasang pinoy"--filipinos like Jolly Bee because it is suited to filipino tastes. That taste is achieved by putting sugar in the burger meat!

                                            1. re: JungMann

                                              "all the Americans will touch are lumpia, pancit and adobo" So, what's wrong with that? When I go to a Filipino restaurant, that's what I'm going there to get. Most of the other Fil foods are acquired tastes (halo-halo = milkshake with beans), and you can have a great meal without eating eveything on the menu.

                                              For that matter, there's stuff that I don't eat at my other favorite restaurants, from Mexican (hot peppers, for instance) to the local steak place (mushrooms are just Athlete's Foot with ambition. It doesn't hurt my feelings if you eat them (here, you can have mine too), but we should ENJOY what we eat. I don't eat to "prove anything" except that I was hungry.

                                              So, when we have dinner at Magic Wok or Salo-Salo, you can have all the diniguan and balut that you like, and I'll stick with adobo, rice and lumpia and I'll have a great time!

                                              1. re: CaptainX

                                                i dont believe that we have good cooks thats why filipino prefers to eat in their home. i agree with the observation that filipinos are embarassed of their own food and to eat it in public. this i believe is the root: inability to embrace one's identity when they are out of the Philippines. well, not true to all but to the majority, yes. that for me is the reason why theres no filipino restaurant at the mainstream. they are not willing to show to the world who they are.

                                            2. There is a new restaurant that opened in Beacon Hill on Ranier called Kawali Grill. The food is freaking good! Usually when eating filipino food, you leave with a grease hangover but this place isn't like that. The food is delicious! You can get some traditional dishes as well as steak and salmon etc... We LOVED the pandan chicken - friend with coconut and other goodness. They also have pansit and the lumpia.. MMMmm Great Service too - everyone is really friendly!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mypokeypuppy

                                                It's actually in a neighborhood called Hillman City, but yes, very very good food. And REALLY lovely presentation, too.
                                                Kawali Grill's address:
                                                5300 Rainier Avenue South
                                                Seattle, WA 98118

                                              2. Wow, side dish's original question is so packed with potential it's very hard to cover the subject matter in a few sentences.

                                                I think in many ways, the notion that Filipinos are "embarassed" or the "ultimate U.S. wanabees" has a lot of truth behind them.

                                                At the turn of the century, after the Filipinos had won independence from Spain and established their own, recognized government under Emilio Aguinaldo, the United States then proceeded to wage war and conquer the Filipino "insurgents." Fighting within the Philippines continued through 1915. During this time, the United States sent "educators" to the Philippines to "teach" Filipinos the tenents of "democracy." Of course, this "education" was designed to subjugate the new Filipino as the "little brown brothers" the American conquerors saw them to be.

                                                It was this foundation of subservience that created the current Filipino condition of being an "American wannabe" and that anything "American" is "better" than their own.

                                                This is what separates the Filipino from his Asian counterparts in both the learning of language and perpetuation of both culture and cuisine when here in the United States. I believe it is this foundation which prevents Filipinos from believing in themselves and their culture enough to showcase it as the Thais, Koreans, Chinese and Japanese do today.

                                                1. I ran into Kawali Grill on my way back from the Department of Licensing on Rainier in Columbia City. This restaurant is superb. Although I only got an order of Tapsilog (marinated meat, two eggs, and garlic fried rice) and fresh lumpia (egg rolls), I can say I like this restaurant. The Tapsilog was freshly grilled and very tasty while the fresh lumpia was superb. I'm so glad this mom and pop restaurant opened up because I was getting sick of the turo-turo (cafeteria-style) restaurants that line Beacon Hill. My only wish is that it stays open late because there are no Filipino restaurants in the Seattle area that is open past 10pm.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Valleypinoy

                                                    >>My only wish is that it stays open late because there are no Filipino restaurants in the
                                                    >>Seattle area that is open past 10pm.

                                                    Well, Kawali Grill now has Filipino beer on the menu (San Miguel, Red Horse, etc.) so maybe they'll start staying open later? They might take the hint if we all start showing up at 9:45 pm and begin to order dinner at that time. ;-) OK, so that would not be nice for the staff, but you get my drift.

                                                  2. I can't and won't learn to cook. Where can I get Adobo? Even bad adobo is good...I think. And I live outside the city (in the foodie hell of Redmond)...anything east north south of seattle...is helpful.

                                                    1. this really IS an interesting string. let's see, what stands out? well, can Filipinos cook? are you crazy? Real Pinoy cooks can cook ANYTHING. I think becuz our food has evolved from some many influences, and also becuz when we learn to cook for our families growing up, we are taught to cook for the taste of the food. our earlier generations, who didn't have the opportunities for jobs that there are today, produced a LOT of cooks and chefs. assimilated? maybe in some things, but i know people who are "all american" in just about everything, EXCEPT for their food. they are dipping their microwave sandwiches in patis and lemon. and maybe we don't have that many restaurants becuz, like soul food, filipino food is very sophisticated and also personal and when it comes down to it, the pancit we like best is the one just like our mom (or dad) made when we were kidz (my absolute favorite is still the one my father made with long rice, hamburger, onion, fried garlic, lots of ginger . . . and frozen green peas -- but would you serve that to the public?). maybe it's a combination of several things other people have mentioned: the people who can burn do so at home and don't care about eating someone else's food; the people who are embarrassed by our culture wouldn't be caught dead eating rice with their fingers; the people who are so americanized that they would rather eat pizza. who's left to open a restaurant?

                                                        1. It's a cultural issue that stems from a variety of reasons. The Philippines were not yet a flourishing civilization when colonialization hit. Thus the cultural memory of its people will always be inexplicably linked to its colonizers. America has been a country for 200 years and we have arguments about what is American Cuisine. The Philippines were under Spanish rule for 400 years, but really took a liking to the US culture brought via Macarthur and the base at Olongapo.

                                                          I've never bought into the idea of letting home cooking drive restaurant cuisine. And yet that's all Filipinos ever claim as their own. Ask anyone where the best Filipino food is, and they'll all say, "My mom's house." That's great and all, but it isn't a restaurant.

                                                          The problem is that there's no pride involved in the creation of a restaurant, nor in its patronage. Tacos, sushi, ramen -- these are all forms of humble aspects of cuisine that are elevated due to owners and patrons who care. And that's the self-fulfilling prophecy with Filipino food, because a Pinoy will think that their family makes the best stuff, so why go out to a restaurant. Hence, the restaurants don't thrive, resulting in financial compromises which result in a dip in quality below that of what your family can make.

                                                          Where Filipino cuisine probably stands out best, I think, is actually in the realm of pastry and desserts. There, all the Chinese and Spanish and American influences conspire to make something really extraordinary. And the responses bear that out. Ask any Filipino who makes the best ube cake or bibingka, and you'll get answers beyond their own mothers.

                                                          If this doesn't give you any hints, look also into Hawaiian restaurants, which feature many similar aspects to Filipino food by way of cross-over, particularly in fried items like lumpia, or the very porky items like lechon.

                                                          What I'd like to see is more focused attempts at Filipino food, in the same way that a taco stand will not be an all-encompassing indicator of Mexican. Something along the lines of a restaurant that focuses solely on Filipino soups and stews. I would venture to say that a Filipino version of a soup bar would start getting people interested enough in the cuisine, which leads to a demand for other items, which leads to other places opening... see now you're getting it.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                            1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                              I would -- and I am very interested to start a humble-restaurant that focuses on Filipino food -- humble in the sense that -- the place (to start with) wont be that fancy (fine-dining) -- it will be more -- home'ish !!! -- but the food -- will be purely Filipino menu !!! --- i have yet to plan on how i should start -- and how much it will cost me! --- hehehe ...

                                                              but --- i totally agree on the idea of a Filipino restaurant --- focusing mainly on Filipino food! --- i soooooooooo am !!!


                                                              1. re: sev

                                                                Do it! Fresh lumpia, sinigang, bulalo, kare kare, morcon, chicken pork adobo, dinaguan, dishes with ampalaya, dishes with tinapa, inihaw na pusit ... and so much more. Just one secret: don't do it turo turo and with room temperature foods. Plate the dishes and serve hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                  Thanks to the recent post by Sam Fujisaka, I just discovered this interesting thread, which was started in December 2002. I lived in the Philippines for three years, from 1963 to 1966. I resided in Baguio City, but traveled extensively on the island of Luzon and also on the island of Mindinao. Perhaps the reason there are so few Filipino restaurants in most U.S. cities and towns is that Filipinos are, for the most part, home cooks, as Carmel pointed out earlier in this thread. In Baguio, there were a few Filipino restaurants, but they were outnumbered by Chinese restaurants. (See the post by Lani.) The Filipino restaurants that I’ve been to in the U.S., mostly in California and in Washington, have the following three characteristics:

                                                                  1. Steam-table buffets. Almost all the Filipino food I’ve encountered in the U.S. is served buffet style on a steam table, called turo-turo in the Philippines. Although stews and other “wet” food survive the steam table well, pancit and “dry” dishes like fried fish do not fare as well. In addition to the paucity of Filipino restaurants in general, I’ve never understood why there are virtually no full-service restaurants where you order off a menu and your food is prepared to order. When I lived in Baguio, the best Filipino restaurants there prepared food to order. So I heartily second Sam Fujisaka’s suggestion for a non-turo-turo Filipino restaurant.

                                                                  2. Dumbed-down flavors. As is the case with many Asian cuisines, there is an understandable tendency for a restaurant, at least one that relies primarily on white American patronage, to dumb down the authentic traditional flavors to make them acceptable to mainstream American palates. For example, I had some pinakbet at Lynn’s Kitchen in Poulsbo that included the critical element of bitter melon (ampalaya), but excluded the traditional element of fermented fish or shrimp paste (bugoong). When I asked the chef why she hadn’t included the bugoong, she replied that most Americans find its taste repulsive. If you opened an “authentic” Filipino restaurant in Seattle and served, say, dinuguan (pork blood stew), how much do you think you would sell? On the other hand, many of the authentic Thai restaurants in Los Angeles, where the customers are primarily Thais, serve dishes made with blood.

                                                                  3. Easy-to-prepare food. Some Filipino dishes are incredibly labor intensive and, given labor costs in the U.S., it becomes economically difficult to prepare them at a marketable price. An example is bangus relleno (rellenong bangus), a milkfish from which the meat of the fish is removed, leaving the skin in tact, marinating the head and skin, then removing the gadzillion fine feathery bones from the fish meat, flaking the meat, and then mixing it with onion, garlic, potato, carrot, and raisins, seasoned with kalamansi juice and soy sauce, then stuffing this mixture back into the fish skin and sewing up the fish before cooking it. The Manila Center Café in Tacoma prepares a version of this dish but charges $20 for it, by far the most expensive item on the menu. Most restaurants serving Filipino food are low-price places that limit their offerings to much easier-to-prepare dishes like pancit and adobo.

                                                                  I have eaten at a few Filipino restaurants in the Puget Sound area, but far from all of them. Given their small number, checking them all out is quite doable, and I’m going to start down this road. More later.

                                                                  1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                    You are right about how the three characteristics that most filipino restaurants have in the way they prsent the food. I have learned you can serve traditional filipino food at the same time main stream it for other ethinc groups without loseing the original flavor. Not to mention make it MSG free.You can also make labor intensive filipino food and still have a low labor cost and resonable food price. The high price of the food is not do to the labor but the cost of the ingredents in the recipe the labor is only a small factor and most labor intensive dishes can be done in a normal 8 hr shift. My parents a few years ago had a restaurant in which we cooked filipino food and i have tried different recipes that are labor intensive and its the ingredents and not the labor that makes it expensive. Seafood is the highest price item ingredent when cooking even local seafood can be high because thier sold at fish market value.

                                                              2. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                You are right that filipinos will not dine out. The next genration of filipino know only how to make the more modernize versions of filipino dishes. In truth some filipino only think of the Northern Luzon cooking since that the one they get most expoed to. There are about 6 major culinary regions in the Philippines three are on the Luzon, two in the Visayan Islands and Mindanao. I plan someday to open a restaurant that will expose everyone to all the regional cookings of the Philippines at the same time main stream the with the original flavors with a few subsitue due to department health rules.

                                                              3. >>Kusina Filipina - somewhere on Beacon hill

                                                                Kusina Filipina's address:
                                                                3201 Beacon Ave S Seattle 98144 (206-322-9433)

                                                                >>?name - take out stand in Pike Market

                                                                Their name is Oriental Mart (206-622-8488) and they are located just catty-corner from Rachel The Pig. They are right next to Shy Giant.

                                                                They now do have a place to sit down and eat, in case you do not want take-out..

                                                                1. I was recently in NJ - Raritan and was quite surprised to see that there were 4 Filipino places to eat in a 6 block radius. Alot of these places are catering businesses. Does anyone know of a place where I can order a whole Lechon in the Seattle area?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: WAFoodie

                                                                    Regarding ordering lechon in the Seattle area, try Fou Lee in Beacon Hill. They're pretty good. They don't deliver -- you have to pick it up. They also ask you whether you want your lechon chopped up or not and they charge an extra $10 if you want it chopped. Make sure you buy bottles of lechon sauce to go with it because I don't think they provide the sauce.

                                                                  2. If Filipino food is embarassing, humuliate me with lumpia!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: bourbongal

                                                                      Humiliate me more with bagaung and underground roast pig with lau lau

                                                                    2. I realize this is an ancient post, but since there's still some activity in this thread: the U-District Inay's has closed, and in its place is a new Filipino place with different management. Big improvement. Philippine Island Cuisine, I think it's called.

                                                                      1. i'm filipino and the 4th paragragh is all wrong but some do feel that way but most don't. But i know JOLLIBEE and it is said they are coming to seattle some day i miss that restaurant so much! I am so excited! It has mango pies,twirlie sundaes and ice cream,theres also burgers or the very and my favorite yummmy burger steak with gravy and filipino mushrooms there's also filipino spahgetti contests and good frenchfries and that is all but i do think there's chicken but i've never been there for three yrs.But that's all that i have got to say and the name is again JOLLIBEE.

                                                                        1. Replying to this old post. However for people who'd like to know, Rio's is no longer around. Too bad. I thought they were good. They made good sinigang. They were non turo turo.
                                                                          Inay's at Uajimaya is also no longer there. They're in Beacon Hill now but not at a new location -- it's further north on Beacon Avenue. Inay passed away and his son, Ernie, is running the show. Food is always good but portions tend to be small. Which brings up a beef about most Filipino restaurants. What the heck -- the prices are not cheap but the portions are meager. I feel like asking them -- is this the way you would feed your own family? Come on ... Filipino ingredients aren't expensive. Anyway, I love their palabok, dinuguan and halo halo (which comes in a bowl - not in soda fountain glasses). By the way I heard that on weekends they're not turo turo.
                                                                          Manila's Pride in Federal Way is very good but they really need to get rid of the steam tables. The food gets old sitting there for awhile. I like their halo halo and leche flan.
                                                                          I've eaten at Manila Center Diner in Tacoma. They don't have steam tables (not turo turo) but have food made to order. It's also good but I think that Filipina lady who was the owner that lived in Germany and made good cakes and pastries no longer runs it. It didn't seem the same as when she used to run it. It's good nevertheless.
                                                                          We really need to have good Filipino non turo turo restaurants in Seattle. I miss Barrio Fiesta in L.A. where you have white tablecloths, waitstaff dressed in barongs, and the food was good. I'm also not embarrassed to take Caucasians there. But hey it doesn't have to be like Barrio Fiesta but just get tired of food in steam trays.
                                                                          By the way, I heard of a Filipino restaurant in S. San Francisco called Intramuros. Heard about it while I was trolling the Journey band's website. Sounds classier than most Filipino restaurants I've been to. Will have to try when we go to the Bay area.

                                                                          Manila Center Diner
                                                                          1607 Center St, Tacoma, WA 98409

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jstiles2

                                                                            I think people really ought to consider that the Philippines have been conquered so many times by so many different countries, most recently by the U.S. This and the fact that the P.I.'s #1 export are "Nurses". This in mind, Filipino's here aspire to different goals and agendas than many of their asian counterparts (ps. sushi IS an art). I can't see my Real Estate Broker- mama saying she wants to open up a filipino restaurant. A Carehome, maybe...
                                                                            Also, I completely agree with the other thing: Filipino food is pretty relative. Regionally, the Philippine cuisine will never be the same. Your cousin's mom may cook differently from your Gramma, so yes, YOU may think your Gramma's pinakbet is second to none (actually I KNOW my gramma's is!) but your cousin may say uh-uh! This also applies when we talk about Tagalogs, Ilokanos, Visayans, etc.
                                                                            That being said, I gotta ask: Why hasn't anyone mentioned Kawali Grill?? That place is SUPER bomb!!! If you haven't, you really ought to go, go, go!!!
                                                                            I brought my friend there, and boy is she picky. She went safe and ordered lumpia. Then ordered another order.
                                                                            My husband (as white as they come) whom when I first met was not adventurous and about anything ethnic but sweet and sour chicken, has asked to go back many-a-time. Although he'll say,"Why don't you cook (insert item here)", I don't mind, cause I need me some filipino food.
                                                                            GOOOO to Kawali Grill quick!!!
                                                                            Seattle should be so fortunate.

                                                                            Kawali Grill
                                                                            5300 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

                                                                            1. re: jocon

                                                                              Thanks jocon. This is wonderful!! I will definitely have to make it over there quickly.

                                                                              1. re: jocon

                                                                                There are about 6 major culinary regions in the Philippines three are on the Luzon, two in the Visayan Islands and Mindanao. So depending on which region they came from thier is a different cooking style because in each regions thier are different resources avaliable to use in ones cooking also religion is another factor into what is cooked like in Mindanao. Most recipes that are served in some filipino restaurant is the more modernized recipes to try and expose filipino cooking to other ethnic groups. Also the filipino have the habit to do fusuion concept when it comes to food. But like you said many groups have step on Philippine soil. the three ethicty leaving the strongest mark in the Philippines is the chinesses, spanish and american and all that can be see from the food of the Philippines to the buildings in some areas and the people of the country of the Philippines.

                                                                              2. re: jstiles2

                                                                                A number of Filipino restaurant with the steam table concept have owners that may have the money to open a restaurant but have never tried eating at a classier type restaurant. The Filipino restaurant that are classier is run by a owner that has not only has money but experiances in the food services business. As for the portion size in some filipino restaurant is that they are trying to make the most money by giving smaller portion but these owner have no culinary background because if they calulate the cost of thier ingredents for the portion size. They can actully give a larger portion and still make money.

                                                                              3. Looking up places to eat in Marysville... came across a Filipino restaurant, "Marielle's Taste of Asia".

                                                                                Anyone try it yet? Reviews on the other website seem positive.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                  Marielle's is good. You might also try Sampaguita Fil-Am over on State Ave, they have been open for a year now.

                                                                                2. Filipino food is great, but most filipino restaurant and food establishment combine a verity store and take-out food. Most of the time with the exception of a few filipino restaurant they are cooking like they are in thier own home and add ingredints that other ethic groups see as gross. That is way ther's only a few restaurants also a number of pure blooded filipino who come to the US try to forget thier roots. Most people that will eat at a filipino restaurant is part filipino or filipino at heart. I'm pure filipino but i was born in hawaii. So from the filipino stand point i was too american so i was never close to my ethic roots till i majored in culinary arts and thur the food have gotten close to my ethic roots. I plan someday to establish a filipino restaurant that will bring the filipino food into mainstream popularty

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: KauaiKitty

                                                                                    Not sure if you are familiar with a restaurant that was quite successful in NYC called Cendrillon,run by a husband and wife team,Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, it offered a lighter,cleaner and perhaps more user friendly interpretation of Filipino food and only closed after being priced out of their neighborhood.
                                                                                    Romy and Amy have now opened Purple Yam in Brooklyn, and while some dishes have carried over from Cendrillon, they have decided that the new menu is more Asian Diverse,simply because Pinoys much rather eat traditional foods at home than have to indulge in public.Not so much embarrassed as out of their comfort zone is my feeling thus the proliferation of Turo Turo food service concept and dearth of actual restaurants.

                                                                                  2. From a marketing perspective one can position a filipino restaurant as follows

                                                                                    High-End: Caucasians who want exotic dining experiences
                                                                                    Medium to Low-End: Fast food, lunch type turo turo deals

                                                                                    I live in Boston, a low filipino count community area. I am interested in finding a way to Americanize Filipino food so as to compete with chinese, viet, or malaysian, make it more palatable to mainstream america (white, hispanic, blacks) and market it towards local university students. I think this is what filipino food needs, a rethinking of our model.

                                                                                    PM me if you want to discuss more.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: manilaguy

                                                                                      I WOULD TRY TO MAKE FILIPINO SOUL FOOD, JUST LIKE SOUTHERN FRIED FOOD IN AMERICA

                                                                                    2. Looks like Filipino food is less embarrassing, Seafood City - a chain Supermarket specializing in Filipino groceries has opened in Southcenter Mall. Wow! in a mall!


                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: dave_c

                                                                                        Went to Seafood City today and had a great time the produce looks beautiful the fish is fresh and so many varieties. The meat area also was lovely and so very cheap. This place is packed with Filipinos I think I was one of four non-Filipinos there. Its great seeing Seattle’s Pinoy community commining out of the shadows.
                                                                                        Also ate in one of the food vendors, had grilled squid, lechon, braised greens, and pansit… All delicious!!!! The Filipino lady standing in front of me in line to order (and there was a significant 20 minute or so line to order)was very helpful in helping me decided and told me she eats there every day! This is a great addition to the Seattle food scene.

                                                                                      2. I think the time is come, that filipino should step up their game when it comes to our own food, 3 of my uncle are sous chef in cruise ship they cook any kind of cuisine from mediterranean,asian, continental,south asian, and a lot more and im pretty sure theres a lot more better filipino chef out there all we need is to refresh the ingredients, use proper ingredients and discipline in cooking, this is my plan for the next 6 month or maybee next yr here in vancouver,bc, it's just hard to the right location because most property here goes up really high.

                                                                                        1. It has just been announced that Harvest Vine is "going Filipino" for one night -- Monday, October 4.

                                                                                          Fresh Prawn and Pork Lumpia
                                                                                          Longaniza House-Made Sausage
                                                                                          Sinigang Seafood in Soured Broth
                                                                                          Adobong Manok Chicken Stewed with Vinegar and Garlic
                                                                                          Lechon Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Liver Sauce
                                                                                          Halo Halo Parfait of Candied Beans, Fruit, Flan and Purple Yam Ice Cream

                                                                                          Monday, October 4th: 3 communal seatings
                                                                                          6:30pm, 20 guests in the open kitchen dining room
                                                                                          7:15pm, 20 guests in the first wine cellar dining room
                                                                                          8:00pm, 20 guests in the second wine cellar dining room

                                                                                          Cost is $65 per person plus beverages, tax and gratuity. For reservations, call The Harvest Vine: 206-320-9771


                                                                                          Harvest Vine
                                                                                          2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: voodoobec

                                                                                            Wow, thanks for the post voodoobec! I lived in the Philippines for three years, and have talked with the chef at Harvest Vine, Joey Serquinia, many times about doing a Filipino dinner. So I’ll be there for sure. It would be fun to see if we could pick one of the seatings to get a bunch of Chowhounds together for the event. These types of Chowhound gatherings are a tradition in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and perhaps elsewhere, but they haven’t yet caught on in Seattle. Maybe this could be an occasion to start such a tradition here in Seattle. It will be a little tricky, though, since this is a public event, and the number of available seats at any one seating will depend on how many other folks reserve seats prior to getting commitments from fellow Chowhounds. But, if it doesn’t work out to do a Chowhound event for this special Filipino dinner, I’ll try and put something together at another time at some interesting restaurant. Anyway, thanks again for the heads up.

                                                                                            1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                              I remembered reading this thread and thought that someone here might be interested. I like the idea of a meetup, but unfortunately, $65+ is a little high for my dining budget; I'm more of a Restaurant Week and Mobile Chowdown kind of gal...
                                                                                              Hope you enjoy it and be sure to report back!

                                                                                              1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                Tom, I can't make it to this particular event, but I like the idea of a CH gathering in general.

                                                                                                In LA or SF, how was this facilitated in practice? (it seems the Stasi might disfavor using this board to coordinate).

                                                                                                1. re: equinoise

                                                                                                  Information and guidelines about organizing chowhound meet-ups (“chowdowns”) is the last reply on “Chowhound Posting Etiquette” at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676... (captioned “For Organizers of Chowdowns and Other Real Life Meetups”). In San Francisco, there are several established regional mailing lists. See Ruth Lafler’s post at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6682.... The San Francisco Bay Area Board has lots of interesting reports of “chowdowns,” and I attended one of these at an Indian restaurant in San Rafael.

                                                                                              2. re: voodoobec

                                                                                                Sadly this meal was very disappointing! The food was less good then what I had at the Seafood City food court, for about 10x the price. And I love Filipino food.! Was so looking forward to what HV would do with it... I never thought I could say this about this cuisine but it was boring.

                                                                                                Lumpia were fine but nothing special.
                                                                                                Sinagang was Luke warm and all the fish was over cooked
                                                                                                Duck adobo needed salt and acid (this is a dish essentially comprised of vinegar and soy sauce)
                                                                                                Lechon was good but again no better than what you get elsewhere for cheaper)
                                                                                                Halo halo again nothing special

                                                                                                Service was lack luster
                                                                                                Plating was not interesting

                                                                                                I am honestly rather pissed about the whole experience. And I was really looking forward to this meal!

                                                                                                1. re: Charles

                                                                                                  Oh Charles, I'm so sorry to hear that. What a disappointment.

                                                                                                  1. re: Charles

                                                                                                    I agree with you 100 percent, Charles. I think the part-Filipino chef clearly tried hard and aimed high. But the result was hugely disappointing. All three seatings of the dinner last night sold out almost immediately after it was plugged by Angela Garbes on her Voracious blog. The question is, why would all these people (myself included) spend $65 per person (plus $25 for wine pairing) for standard Filipino dishes that would be a fraction of the cost at a Filipino restaurant? For this price, my expectations were soaring. But almost all of the dishes lacked the authentic flavors of traditional Filipino food – not that those laying down their cash at Harvest Vine for the experience seemed to either notice or care. For example, the planned chicken adobo was up-scaled to duck adobo. The duck was tasty enough, but if I had been served the dish at, say, Place Pigalle, under the moniker “Duck leg with tangy sauce,” I wouldn’t have recognized it as a Filipino preparation. It lacked the sharp bite of vinegar and the big hit of garlic typical of classic Filipino adobos. Likewise, the liver sauce used in many parts of the Philippines (although not typically in Cebu) for spit-roasted whole pig (lechon), which accompanied the pork-belly substituted at Harvest Vine for lechon, lacked the bite of black pepper and Filipino vinegar of the sauce I remember from the Philippines. The chef gets points for using the Filipino fish bangus (milkfish) in the sinigang, and there was some of the classic sourness of green sampaloc (tamarind) in the broth, even if the funkiness of the patis (fish sauce) was tamed down considerably. This tamed-down, up-scaled version of Filipino food at Harvest Vine was, perhaps, predictable given the targeted audience. But $65 per person??? To a sold-out house???

                                                                                                    1. re: toby2

                                                                                                      That dinner was a joke beyond all proportions! They should be ashamed of ripping off their customers like that. As has been stated earlier, $65+ tax, wine, and tip for horrid imitations of authentic Filipino food is a crime. Sadly, most of the diners did not seem to know or care.

                                                                                                      1. re: ihateveggies


                                                                                                        Sadly I must disagree, of the people at my communal table we all knew the food wasn’t good. And I was the only one who had had Filipino food before.

                                                                                                        Unfortunately we were never asked by the servers how things were… even as most of the food remind uneaten on our plates.

                                                                                                        The real shame is that this was an opportunity to introduce a complex cuisine to a sophisticated dining crowd who could have really gone on to extol its virtues, and maybe created a market for a mid range to fine dining Filipino restaurant.

                                                                                                        I do not think traditionally inexpensive ethnic food always needs to cheap. For example Café Azul from Portland served high end beautifully presented Mexican food that was well worth the price. I know that they got complaints that but when sourcing high quality ingredients food is going to be more expensive.

                                                                                                        The problem here was that the food was not as good as what can be gotten on the cheap. The Sinigang for example was tepid when it reached my table there is no excuse for tepid soup. Also I had to ask for fresh silverware. Never mind that my spoon had some sauce on it from the previous dish I was expected to eat my lukewarm soup with it! And why no knives on the table?

                                                                                                        When we left my husband said to me that this was the worst meal in this price range we had ever eaten, unfortunately I he was right, but if we had spent $10 it still would have been one of the low points in our dining lives.

                                                                                                        Obviously I am still upset about this meal not just the money wasted but the fact that many people in Seattle now must have a low opinion of one of the least understood, most complex cuisines I have ever had the good fortune to enjoy.

                                                                                                        1. re: Charles

                                                                                                          Although it won’t expose a broader population to Filipino cuisine, if you have reasonable cooking skills, you can cook many Filipino dishes at home without too much difficulty. That way, you can balance and adjust the ingredients and seasonings as necessary to produce authentic Filipino flavors. As many posts on this thread suggest, one reason that there aren’t more great Filipino restaurants is the tradition of eating home-cooked meals. And, now that there’s Seafood City in Southcenter, authentic Filipino ingredients are much easier to obtain.

                                                                                                          1. re: Charles

                                                                                                            After all the hullabaloo, It's disappointing to hear that this meal was a flop, not because it failed to represent the Filipino food of our memories, but because it just was not a good dining experience period. Filipino food is just as "Filipino" when dressed-up and only slightly resembling its more home-style forebears. As other posters have already said, Filipino food has evolved from a diverse and rich culinary tradition and it seemed that this type of event would be a step in evolving the food further. But when you fail to take care of your guests, then, that's just not very Filipino at all.

                                                                                                  2. I've spoken to a few other fellow FilAm friends and we all agree that when we're jonesing for Filipino food, we eat at home.

                                                                                                    Speaking for myself, when I go out to eat, I never consider eating Filipino food because I want to eat something different than what I can get from home. And when I mean home, I mean my Mother and Father's home cooking. Even when my folks come to town and we go out for a meal, we almost always go for Chinese/Japanese or Italian. Filipino is never a consideration.

                                                                                                    It is a matter of preference as well. I have eaten my fair share of Filipino food at "Auntie Parties" and I can only eat the safe standard fare: your pancits and your lumpias, because the preparation and subtleties of these dishes don't vary too greatly from chef to chef. Whereas every single Filipino household has their own way of cooking Sinigang, or Nilaga, or Adobo. You'll see all the Aunties and Uncles chowing down though, but I know for a fact they are all thinking the same thing: my version is better! Of course they would never admit it out of Filipino-politeness.

                                                                                                    As an example, for me, nothing compares to my Mother's Sinigang. In fact I save myself the trouble and steer away from other people's Sinigang when I am at an 'Auntie Party'. Don't get me wrong, I am sure they are all probably very delicious, but I am picky and I just prefer to have what I was raised on. If I am offered to eat when visiting a friend's house there is no choice but to accept, but in my mind, 9 times out of 10 I am thinking: "Mom's is better."

                                                                                                    Traditional Filipino food is quite labor and time intensive. Much of it is not a quick stir fry affair as you would get at a Chinese or Thai restaurant. When I think of traditional Filipino food, I think of stews: Sinigang, Nilaga, Kare Kare, Tinola, etc. and frankly when you see this food sitting in steaming trays like I've seen at some Filipino restaurants in town, it is very unappetizing to the uninitiated.

                                                                                                    The problem is that these restaurateurs are cooking these dishes like they do at home, one big serving in one big pot for their family. Many traditional Filipino dishes can be quite heavy, which I believe isn't what most people want on their plates when they go out to dine casually.

                                                                                                    My belief is that if they want to get the casual diner (the uninitiated) into the door, they will need to adapt their recipes/preparations so that these kinds of dishes can be prepared quickly and to-order. Which is a very challenging task because the complexity and flavor in traditional Filipino food comes from the slow cooking process involved in stews to begin with. Unfortunately it is not viable to have your diners wait patiently for a dish to be prepared/cooked the way it was meant to back home.

                                                                                                    That is not to say the task is impossible. I just think most of us can't be bothered to go through the effort because again, most if not all of us FilAms and first-generation Filipinos would prefer to eat at home. But is it worth dumbing down our culturally rich food for the sake of getting people to embrace it? Ask any Auntie and Uncle and they will tell you: Probably not, for the reasons stated above.

                                                                                                    Places like Kawali Grill are making great strides in bringing traditional Filipino food to the general masses though and for that I applaud them! Other than that, if you aren't Filipino and you want good Filipino food, make friends with a Filipino and ask to eat at their home, they would be more than happy to oblige!

                                                                                                    1. This thread never seems to get old. just wanted to share a story from the Filipino American National Historical Society conference that was in Seattle in 2011. I was part of a panel talking about mestizos and mestizas and how we relate to (and learn about) Filipino culture. i got to choose a name for the panel and it was called: Does Eating Adobo Make Me Filipino?

                                                                                                      It was a very large and very lively workshop and there was a lot of heated debate. But at the very end, one young woman talked about how she was trying to learn how to cook Filipino food from her lola and how it was making her understand more about that half of her cultural heritage. so, in the end, we decided that eating and appreciating Filipino food is a BIG part of what makes us Filipino.

                                                                                                      and it's not just the dishes, you know. It's like what Machina just posted about hospitality and always feeding guests. and it's about bringing your own to-go containers to your family dinners so you can take home lots of leftovers. shoot. it's about cooking enough food for 50 people when you are having 15 over, just to make sure there is plenty to eat and plenty to take home.

                                                                                                      you are all probably too young to know about this, but there was a wonderful little lunch counter in the Pike Place Market when i was a little girl in Seattle in the 1960s. It was just a hole in the wall and i don't even know if they cooked only Filipino food or had other kinds too. I just remember the taste of the diniguan. it was delicious! just like home made. but i think the cook was a manong who was a friend of my dad's -- so all they knew was home cooking, they just did it in a restaurant. i think that was the difference back then.

                                                                                                      1. A family member and I were discussing the failure of Filipino restaurants and our conclusion was that some workers can be very unwelcoming to new customers, especially those who may not appear Filipino. Filipino food is part of my childhood, but walking into such a restaurant is a gamble. Having a food service worker who won't even look their customers, asks them their purpose at the establishment, or appears to talk about them in Tagalog and laugh- it isn't even worth it. Restaurants that rely on a set of regular customers that throw parties every once in a while and eat the same food there occasionally that they can cook at home while giving poor customer service to new customers won't survive. Some non-Filipino people and the ambigiously raced half Filipinos love them some sisig, siopao, sinigang, mechado, dinuguan, too.

                                                                                                        1. If more genuine dishes from the provinces were cooked in the United States instead of boring reinventions of sisig, adobo and pancit, people would be more sold on the cuisine.


                                                                                                          By the way, I refuse to touch adobo as part of my boycott of it in favor of more complex native food. Except for adobong gizzard, but that's just because it's gizzard, not because of the way it's cooked.

                                                                                                          1. Now that this thread has come to the top again...
                                                                                                            I have a Filipino restaurant recommendation.

                                                                                                            Isla Manila (Northgate) is a new place that serves all you can eat Filipino food dim sum style. The place was also written up in the Seattle Weekly.

                                                                                                            I went with a few friends and we enjoyed the food. My Filipino friends were quite impressed with the food. Another plus is the food is cooked fresh and everyone was friendly.

                                                                                                            The downside.
                                                                                                            Due to the Seattle Weekly article the place has seen a big jump in business. The couple times I've dined at Isla Manila the kitchen struggling to keep up with the diners.

                                                                                                            Also, no takeout menu so no to-go orders.

                                                                                                            Overall, I enjoyed the food. A lot better than the steam table places I've gone tried. We approached dining there as we would dim sum - casual paced, hanging out with friends and catching up.

                                                                                                            Wish list - for pata to be on the menu.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                              North shore hawaiian BBQ and Kauai family restaurant, both in Seattle, also has some delicious Filipino food rotating on their menu. I usually order the adobo pork with lau lau combo plate with Mac salad and rice. It's Ono!

                                                                                                            2. Anyone looking for a good, home-cooked Filipino meal should check out Fil Cuisine in Kent. The place is nothing fancy. Looks like an old teriyaki place, with a counter for ordering. But the food is sit-down restaurant-quality. This is traditional Filipino food, nothing fusion. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and taste. Everything came out freshly cooked. If it were closer to us, we'd go often. This place has a lot of potential. I hope it stays!


                                                                                                              As for the original question, nothing about Filipino cuisine is embarrassing. My guess for the lack of stand-out Fil. restaurants is two-fold. One would be that Filipinos are not typically entrepreneurial by nature. Hard workers but not bold and daring like other Asian cultures to start their own business. Sounds like a rash generalization, but I believe has truth in it. In the Philippines, the top businessmen are of Chinese descent. Another reason would be that the more known Filipino dishes may be considered a bit too tamed compared to other Asian cuisines to stand out. Generally, nothing spicy, for example. The mix of Spanish, Chinese, and Malay influences may be preventing it to have a recognizable identity, something that all other popular Asian cuisines have (Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, even Indonesian, etc).

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: sweetercandy

                                                                                                                Has anyone tried Fil Cuisine? I went back and wasn't disappointed. (Skip their adobo though.)

                                                                                                                1. re: sweetercandy

                                                                                                                  After reading all the posts going back to 2007, I'm glad there is hope of getting some authentic Filipino food with the "right taste". We will be in Seattle area for a couple of weeks, and I know we will miss and crave Filipino food. In NYC also there are very few Filipino restaurants. A few have recently opened in Manhattan and either modernized the food or mixed the menu with some Thai and Vietnam food to attract patrons, since those cuisines are more popular with the general public. ( Pig and Khao is an example, Maharlika another). They have been successful in getting non-Pinoy to try Filipino food. I think that's a good think. Although the authenticity can be questioned, I think if more non-Filipinos get to try and like the food, we will find that more Filipino restaurants will be opening and not be so scarce. There will be less risk.
                                                                                                                  I will be trying Fil Cuisine when I'm in Seattle. Thanks for the recommendation

                                                                                                                2. I love Filipino food as well & wish there were many restaurants; there used to be Tommy's years ago downtown on 2nd & Washington & Miya's on MLK & Graham.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: JayeTee

                                                                                                                    I haven't tried it, but there's a new Filipino pop-up brought to you by the good folks at Kraken Congee. http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/951...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Brunhilde

                                                                                                                      Thanks, Brunhilde. I lived in the Philippines for three years long ago, and am anxious to check this out.

                                                                                                                  2. Here is a wonderful article with researched answers to this painful question. http://confluence.gallatin.nyu.edu/se...

                                                                                                                    The key paragraph with the answer, in my opinion, is this:

                                                                                                                    "Immigrants often struggle with finding a job in their new country for three major reasons: the degrees and licenses they earned back home are no longer valid; they have very little disposable income; and their knowledge of English is sometimes limited. Starting a business is usually one of the only options an immigrant has, and this pattern can be easily seen around our own city, with deli-markets owned by Koreans or cabs driven by immigrants from the Caribbean, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Specifically though, there is a long history of immigrants in the food industry because cooking requires little mastery of the English language and is often a trade people already know (Ray 2013). But because of Filipino’s status as “American nationals,” much of the professional training they receive in the Philippines is valid in the United States and, statistically-speaking, Filipinos have a better handle on English than many other Asian immigrant groups (Bayor 2011). With such a professional upper-hand, maybe taking a gamble on a small restaurant business seems foolish to many Filipinos."

                                                                                                                    Contrast this to the history of Chinese-American restaurants: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fo...

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: ericjay

                                                                                                                      I think there may be something to this. I grew up in Kitsap County, surrounded by Navy bases. There was a considerable Filipino population in my classrooms from junior high on up. I would say that the Filipino population has by and large succeeded in assimilating into American culture.

                                                                                                                      As a side note...my dad's cousin married a Filipino woman when he was overseas with the Navy. They lived in the next neighborhood over when I was growing up and she would babysit me when I was a little kid. I am now 35 years old and I still think about her lumpia and pancit. I want some right now.

                                                                                                                    2. I'm spending 3 weeks in Seattle on a workation-checking out the city and the area and of course the eating. I had to try the salmon collar soup at the Oriental Mart across from Pikes Market featured on Bizarre Foods. I loved the soup. The owners are Filipino and say their food is Filipino. I don't think I saw a mention about this place in the thread but I could easily have overlooked it. Any thoughts from the natives?

                                                                                                                      As an aside, I've been here a little over a week and haven't had anything to eat that was less than terrific. We've been to Umi Sake House, Serious Pie, Walrus and the Carpenter, a tasting thru Oriental Mart, Crumpet House, and Pike Chowder, take out of dungeness crab and roast duck, pork, and a few noodle dishes from Uwajimaya, and a weekend trip to Orcas Island and a good dinner at the New Leaf in Eastsound. Headed to Bainbridge on Thursday so I could use some suggestions, as well as Victoria for a night on Saturday where I could also use help. I'm considering Shiro's Sushi Friday but not sure how it is since the departure of the star chef from the Jiro Dreams of Sushi documentary.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: RevrendAndy

                                                                                                                        On Bainbridge Island, if you want some creative preparations, I'd recommend Hitchcock. I've had some wonderful dishes there, but I've also had a few dishes that have been pretty far off the mark. So consistency has been an issue. However, it's been quite awhile since I've eaten there, and hopefully the occasional lapses in the kitchen have been corrected. I'm a huge fan of Four Swallows. The menu there may not be as adventurous as Hitchcock, but the chef cooks with great care and finesse and I've never had a bad plate of food there. If you go to Four Swallows, be sure to have the mussels (the Spanish-inflected broth with sherry and smoked paprika is amazing!) and, for dessert, the butterscotch budino. Restaurant Marché has a justly revered local chef, Greg Atkinson (formerly a chef at Canlis), whose preparation of classic dishes (mussels with Pernod, trout meunière, grilled salmon) is consistently impeccable. He makes what is IMHO the best chicken liver paté in the greater Seattle area and his preparation of vegetables is especially exquisite. When I eat lunch at Marché, I often get the Market Vegetable Plate which consists of five vegetables prepared five ways. Hope this helps.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                                                                          Thanks for the help Tom but we went earlier than expected and weren't able to stay for dinner. Hitchcock looked really good. We ended up having a very good black bean chipotle soup at the art museum and the best quiche ever, potato cheddar, at Blackbird Bakery.

                                                                                                                      2. There's Filipino turo turo across from Pikes Pl. Market, in the back of the Asian food market. They have good bangus, dinaguan and more