Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Apr 20, 2005 12:38 AM

Hercules Little Philippines - Marylou's Homemade Delights

  • k

There was a recent mention on Chowhound about Sunflower Bakery in Hercules (link below). Since I was in the area I thought I’d check it out. To my surprise I found a number of Filipino restaurants and shops.

I haven’t tried any yet and was hoping that locals would post about what they like. The section is on Sycamore Avenue right at the foot of I-80.

Checking to see if there was any mention of Hercules restaurants on Chowhound (only WON THAI CUISINE), I found a post in 2002 that gave a link to Chronicle article that mentioned the growing Filipino population in Hercules.

The poster was hoping that would mean some good restaurants in the area. Looks like there might be. What I saw was a lot better than anything in Daly City … and it seemed everyone had crispy pata.

I have to say that except for a few items, Filipino is one of my least favorite cuisines because so much seems greasy and/or fried. It is probably my lack of familiarity with the food.

However, some of the food I saw today made me sit up and take notice … steam tables filled with a half dozen types of whole fish or heaped with fresh veggies. Bamboo steamers with all sorts of intriguing snacks wrapped in leaves.


(Link below. Nice pictures).
I’m guessing this is the best Filipino restaurant in the area.

Everything on the steam table looked wonderful. The baked and refrigerated goods were the freshest I’ve seen at any Bay Area Filipino restaurant. I asked if there was a menu and was told the menu changes every day relying on what was best at the market that day. The whole place just smelled delicious.


I went late in the afternoon and they were pretty much sold out. They had these intriguing little jars of cookies with unusual names and wrapped in paper like Italian amoretti. They say some of their specialties are Ensaymada, Mamon, Sans Rival, Brazo De Mercedes. I have no clue what some of this is.


Right next door to Sunshine bakery. The steam table had two types of whole milk fish, huge steamed tilapia, fried tilapia, whole mackerel and a lot of other items. You can also have items cooked to order like the baked or grilled mussels with cheese.

They were really helpful about explaining what the dishes were.

The other half of the store was a small grocery with a freezer running down the middle carrying Filipino frozen foods. There were also fresh balut eggs for sale. Didn’t realize the Filipinos were so fond of sardines. There were close to a dozen varieties. Instead of the little flat cans, they came in cans about the size of tomato paste.


This place had the least interesting steam table, but intriguing bamboo steamers with items wrapped in leaves. I bought two foliage bound packets for $1.

The cassava tasted like a sticky, starchy, gelatinous sweet potato. Interesting, but I wouldn’t buy it again. I’m not sure what the other item I had was, but it was pretty attractive. A long thin piece of salty sticky rice was wrapped in thin palm.


Coffee Shop with lots of pearl and tapioca teas. Just passed by and don’t know what else it has to offer. School just let out and it was a local hangout for the kids and was very crowded.


Well, not Filipino, but this chain restaurant was located next to MaryAnns.

I’m probably going to explore these places this weekend, so if there is anyone out there with suggestions, I’d appreciate it.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Mmmm...I wish I could join you in exploring these places, I grew up in the Philippines and have recently rediscovered an enjoyment for Pinoy food. Alas, I'm in the opposite end of the Bay Area. So if you explore these places, I hope I can atleast give you some suggestions:

    For hot foods the popular items that most people enjoy are pancit (the noodles, many different kinds), adobo (chicken or pork cooked in soy), lumpia (the fried kind), lechon and BBQ skewers. However, except for the BBQ skewers, these dishes are usually just ok at best, or flavorless if not. So I would suggest NOT ordering pancit, adobo, fried lumpia, or lechon. Though they are the "safest" things so some people like them. If you see BBQ skewers that look juicy and saucy, with blackened bits, go for them. If they look dry and old, pass. Goldilocks, various locations, have good BBQ sticks.

    So what are flavorful examples of Pinoy cuisine?

    Fresh Lumpia, or Lumpia Ubod is a crepe filled with fresh veggies (ubod is hearts of palm) and ground meat or shrimp and served with a sweet-ish sauce. Go light on the sauce if you don't like cornstarchy sweet sauces. Really good esp. if the place makes the wrapper fresh.

    Pinakbet (or Pakbet), a stew of veggies in a sauce of fermented shrimp paste (bago ong), is a favorite of mine but an aquired taste if you don't like the strong bagoong taste.

    Mongo (slow cooked mung beans in simple gravy) is a very basic dish but I like it because it's not greasy and I like mung beans. Usually has pieces of chicharon (pork rinds) cooked in, but doesn't seem as fatty as other pinoy dishes.

    Kare-kare is a stew of oxtail and tripe, with a sauce like a peanutty version of red mole. Really tasty if you like tripe.

    Kaldereta is a type of curry (well really, spicy stew), done with various meats or even goat, traditionally thickend with liver paste. Really tasty, but might be strange for some. Some may be spicy, some mild.

    And here's my favorite desserts/baked items:

    Sans rival - crispy/chewy merinque, luscious buttercream, and crunchy cashews...heaven in a little package. Some bakeries make them too sweet, but if you see it, try it just to see if they might be a perfect rendition.

    Halo-halo with scoop of ube (purple sweet potato) ice cream - I always get this wherever I see it. If you like those Vietnamese multicolored dessert drinks, this can sometimes top that. The mix of sweet beans, jellies, jackfruit, coconut milk, and ice cream is a real treat.

    Ensaymada - for a quick snack. Poufy bun like a brioche, with topped with cheese, sugar and I think margarine. The margarine isn't bad as it might sound, it's like a light layer to make the bun creamy.

    Polvoron - I think this might be a childhood thing, but I love these candies of compressed powdered milk and rice krispies. Wrapped in colored tissue paper.

    Oh, and I went to the Marylou website you linked, and saw the list of their sample menu & catering list. If they have rellenong bangus, consider it. It's milkish stuffed with fish meat, peas, raisins, and other things. I haven't had it often, but it's a specialty (usually $$$).

    I wish I could make this post more Bay Area specific, but the quality of dishes at steam table places are usually dependent on what's good that day, so it's hard to make specific restaurant suggestions. I think Marylou's sounds like a great place to start exploring, and hope you report back!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Alice Patis

      Thanks, Alice, for this informative post. I've been eating my very narrow selection of Filipino food for many years, and always had some trepidation about trying the unknown. It's the appearance, for me, as much as any other factor. Knowing a little more about the ingredients and preparation makes unfamiliar food less intimidating.

      Any good Pinoy food sites to recommend?

      1. re: Shep

        I'll post a reply to the General board, since we're out of Bay Area specifics now. Maybe others can add to it there.

      2. re: Alice Patis


        Thanks so much for taking time to post this information and the great link on the general board especially since I was my usual charming self when mentioning I didn't like Filipino food.

        Of course, I usually order all the 'safe' foods you mentioned. I'm really looking forward to trying fresh lumpia. One of these days I'll splurge and try halo halo.

        It gives me a better feel for what to order and what to expect when exploring the Hercules restaurants.

        After all the posts on the board, I am just finally going to have to try crispy pata. Marylou's had a picture of it.

        I've printed this list and some info I gleaned from the site you provided on the general board. I am now prepared to annoy the restaurant owners in Hercules with my questions. Poor Marylou's. Here I come.


        1. re: Krys

          While I've had my fair share of Filipino steam table food for lunch, I think my favorite meals have been breakfast. Arroz caldo or eggs and some type of sausage with garlic rice will jump start your day. The sausages would vary by the origin of the maker and many were housemade.

          At the mom and pop places, I liked to ask the owners about their background and have them pick the dishes from the steam table that were made the way their grandmother taught them. I quickly learned that the Pampangans take food very seriously and could talk your ear off.

      3. Nothing special about this place. Various Hawaiian plate lunches. It's great greasy hangover food in my opinion. I would try the Lau-Lau plate and stay away from the seafood selection. Most of them are from frozen seafood and fried until it's almost dried.

        Good luck!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Homecookin'

          For Hawaiian my family prefers Ohana BBQ in the Appian Center near Noah's Bagels. Better recipes and cooking originating from the Big Island. Ono chicken katsu.

          1. re: lomi


            I've seen good things about Ohana BBQ on the board before. I'll give the chicken katsu a try.

        2. The caramelized lumpia wrapper shattered when I bit into it. The bland plantain interior was a nice complement for the sweet exterior.

          “If you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back” said the owner. He kept his money.

          The grease the lumpia is fried in eventually does it in. This morning most of the crispy was gone. It was still tasty though. Eat ASAP.

          The next best thing were cellophane wrapped cookies in glass jars. They looked like colorfully wrapped Italian cookies. Who could resist a cookie one called Food of the Gods? There were also Polvoran and Empanaitas.


          Wrapped in orange cellophane these inch long turnovers were a favorite. The delicate crust was crimped and filled with a delicious nutty filling.

          Food for the Gods

          Wrapped in foil and then blue cellophane, perhaps the name had me anticipating more. The crumbly biscotti like cookie with finely chopped nuts and chocolate was very good … just not god worthy. Would buy again.


          A delicate, super crumbly cookie. Almost like nuts ground almost to a powder and barely held together. Looking around on the web it seems these have toasted flour, milk flour and either peanuts or something called pinipig. There are references that it is wrapped in papel de hapon. Don’t know if that was true of these, but they were wrapped in a white tissue like paper.

          Other baked goods we tried:


          Looking around on the web it seems that these are sweet rolls topped with with a blend of butter, sugar. The fresh, yeasty Ensaymada wrapped in clear cellophane was of the plain variety. It seems there are all sorts of fillings for this Filipino roll and some are even have shredded cheese on top of the sugary topping.

          Macapone Tart

          Nice buttery little coconut tart.


          A buttery little sponge cake wrapped in clear cellophane. I like this better that most of the Chinese versions of sponge cake because of the rich butteriness.

          Pan de siosa

          Not extremely sweet fluffy bread with a thin sugar icing.

          Leguna de Gato (cat’s tounge)

          Wafer thin, ladyfinger shaped shortbread type of cookies. The butter had an off taste.

          Looked good, but we didn’t try

          Sans Rival – A whole cake described as Meringue crusted cashew nut cake. Wish slices ere available.

          Cathedral Window – Ok, It amounted to a Filipino Jello like mold. The outside is white and cubes of colored gelatin show thru. It looked light. It looked pretty.

          Egg Pie - This brown topped pie looked really good but, like the other two desserts, it was really too much for Roberto alone and I’m taking, for the most part, tastes. I did scarf down that lumpia and the little paper wrapped cookies.


          A savory noodle dish. Didn't find much in English or any other language with this name, but Google, knowing better asked "did you mean Palabok?

          This link describes what it looks like

          "Palabok has thin rice noodles covered with a thick bright orange-colored crab and shrimp based sauce. The best part is the garnish beautifully arranged on top… green onions, sliced hardboiled egg, fried garlic, small crunchy bits of chicharones, minced cilantro, a dash of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice!"

          The bakery was crowded and people were snapping it up.

          Roberto was quite pleased with his weekend morning baked goods. I really liked this place and will go back.

          Sunflower Bakery

          1500 Sycamore Ave,
          Hercules, CA 94547
          (510) 799-1234


          Closed Mondays
          Tues – Fri 10 – 7
          Sat – Sun 9:30 - 5

          This link has some nice pictures of Filipino baked goods with descriptions. Actually the bakery (not Sunflower) has branches in SJ and Union City.


          4 Replies
          1. re: Krys

            The plantain (or often banana) in the lumpia wrapper is called a turon, I believe. After my first bite, I bought these everywhere I saw them.


            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Thanks for the info and the link.

              I had a version with jackfruit in it for lunch today at RSM today (too tired to write up).

              I haven't had these before and it seems that carmelized exterior is standard

              Was going to go to Marylou's, but they were closed. It was a good thing because I had no intention of going back to Vivian's. However, Roberto needed lunch and Vivian's was surprisingly very good.

              Anyway, thanks for the breakfast suggestion earlier. I like Jollibee's breakfast and I'm looking forward to trying a real Filipino breakfast at Maryanns.

              But these places really have some good fish and soup. Will write up tommorrow.


              1. re: Krys

                In Wednesday's Chronicle - a local Filipino grandmother with recipes including turon.

                Sort of the best recipes that I've seen while looking up stuff on the web and has nice descriptions of some of the dishes described in this post.

                Didn't know sinigang (sour soup) uses green tamarind. I never saw that before, but you can get it at the market mentioned in the article. It also talks about local suppliers of Filipino food.

                Ya know, I really didn't know where to put this one ... general / cooking. But it seems to have enough SF specific stuff to live here. If not, please direct me to correct board.


            2. re: Krys

              Other than tapioca teas, and flavored Black and Green iced teas, it was a pretty standard Cafe.

              However, the back wall had 8 comptures that you could use for free if you bought something. If anyone was waiting, the max time you could use the computer was half an hour. Also free wi-fi if you brought your own pc. Nice, if unexciting cafe with a couch in the back.

              The cranberry turkey sandwich I had was nothing special. Peerles coffee is available by the cup and by the bag.

              Creekside Cafe
              1581 Sycamore Dr
              Hercules, CA 94547

            3. Mason jars of a house canned green mango condiment sit on the counter. The menu changes from day to day because if it isn’t fresh or top quality, Marylou won’t make it.

              I asked if turon (banana lumpia) were available. They weren’t because the bananas were not at the exactly perfect stage of ripeness. Instead there was apple. Instead if a lumpia wrapper, I watched Marylou roll out the dough, slice the apples and then fry it to order. It was more like a thin honey coated turnover.

              Some items are cooked to order like the crispy pata which requires a 20 minute wait. Marylou believes the quality of this dish suffers if it sits under a heat lamp.

              However, most of the items are from the steam table. Two pans of huge whole fried fish were under a heat lamp.

              I thought I was selecting catfish steak with greens. The skin-on steak was served in a bowl with a pleasantly sour broth and collard greens. The catfish really did practically melt in my mouth and fell off the bone creating a catfish stew. Very, very good.

              We also tried:

              Plump meaty sausages with a light sweet glaze and mild spice to give them depth, not heat.

              Wonderful kebobs with a nice sweet sauce and a charred smokiness. The chicken was good, but the pork was the best.

              Something that was like a cross between egg fu yung and an omelet. The eggy, fu yung, exterior encased a ground beef and cubed potato filling. Very good. I think this is the torta that is served with garlic rice when Marylou serves breakfast on the weekend. It isn’t a bit greasy, so it was even good, if not better, cold.

              I was going to do a taste comparison of adobo from the three Filipino restaurants in the area. However another dish caught my eye, chicken asado. It was pieces of chicken in a thin tomato sauce. Good quality chicken and very tasty. They said that this dish isn’t commonly made in Filipino restaurants.

              A cooler held some desserts and sodas. I tried the Sarsi Sarsaparilla from the Philippines. It did have a nice sarsaparilla taste.

              Two women ordered the halo halo which looked fabulous. In the link below, the middle picture is what it looked like.

              The four indoor and two outdoor tables were filled at lunch time with a number of people dropping in for take out.

              The small café is brightly decorated in restrained primary colors. There are a few Filipino knick knacks on the wall. One wall has some beautiful framed recipes of food with recipes. There was a tasty looking picture of fresh lumpia. I asked if Marylou made this and was told only for catering since it was labor intensive.

              The restaurant is sunny with an uncluttered modern look. On top of the cooler is a statue of a golden carp and another of Maneki Neko the lucky cat. On the front wall, there is a shelf almost like the ones you see holding Buddha in some Chinese restaurants. Instead there is a statue of Jesus and a saint. You can see the kitchen area where three woman are busy cooking.

              The man at the counter wanted to know if I was familiar with Filipino food since I knew about turon. I said I was just learning. Then he asked how long I knew about turon.. I didn’t want to say “yesterday”, so I said recently. He helped me pronounce it correctly and was wonderfully helpful explaining the dishes.

              He was amused to see my print out of Filipino dishes (I’m such a food geek). He said that it contained a lot of names that were region specific. Marylou is Tagalog from the Southern Luzon and was told they have sweeter and coconut based dishes. The very informative man at the restaurant said many of the dishes are brought to a boil and then stewed a long time until tender, absorbing the sauces.

              From the link I found on regional Filipino food, it seems the three restaurants in the area might be serving the Tagalog community since I saw many of the dishes described for that region.


              Anyway the food fresher and lighter than I have had in the past. Of the three restaurants in the area, Marylou’s is my run away favorite. Though I haven’t eaten a lot of Filipino food, with the attention to quality and freshness, Marylou’s is the best I have ever eaten.


              13 Replies
              1. re: Krys


                What I like about RSM is there are usually a lot of fish based dishes in the steam table.

                The day I went, only the mackerel was not fried, so I ordered that. The foot long whole fish was stewed with onions, celery, tomato and some sort of tiny black bean. The flesh was firm and not at all oily or fishy. I never knew I liked mackerel.

                They also had turin (banana lumpia with jackfruit). The jackfruit, I think, gave it a nice slight sourness, but it was way too greasy. Fish and turin cost $3.

                I’ll be back to check out their fish. The staff is very helpful.

                VIVIAN'S KUSINA

                The chicken adobo was fall off the bone tender but it had a gamey taste like duck to it.

                There was a taro root dish that looked like dark creamed spinach. Roberto has been sharing most of these meals with me. He never says anything bad about food. However, the look on his face after he had a taste of the taro root, well, I had to hold back a laugh because I could see he thought it was just as awful as I did. It was very spicy which was nice. But there was this earthy strong taste that was extremely off putting. An acquired taste I guess.

                I really liked the Sinigang, a sour tamarind based soup. It was a very clean tasting broth with a bit of greens, almost like a non salty miso. Very good.

                We also had a piece of a whole firm white-fleshed fish that was in a sour vinegary sauce. It was ok.

                The pansit was very fresh and not greasy with nice fresh cabbage and carrots on top.

                The canned Calamansi juice, a type of citrus fruit, was nice, tasting like a cross between kiwi and guava.

                I don’t think I’ll be back here. They were the least helpful. Although the food was better than it appeared on my first visit, Marylou’s is just so much better.

                Well, now I have interest in exploring some of those Filipino restaurants in Vallejo that were posted about on the board a while back. How convenient that some of them are in the Chowhound SF guide and I don’t have to search the board for them.

                1. re: Krys

                  Vivian's Kusina:
                  The worst filipino I ever had, the staff are most unhelpful and unfriendly.
                  I am not coming back at all.

                  1. re: Krys

                    Hello there....I will be in the Bay Area starting tom for 11 long days on buss. and looking for VIVIAN's KUSINA. I am just wondering if you could e-mail me the address so I can google it. How far away is it from Pleasanton, CA?


                    1. re: joe

                      You've got a drive ahead of you....

                      Vivian's Kusina, 1511 Sycamore Ave Ste K, Hercules

                      It's in the Home Depot Center you see from 80 North just before the 4 East exit.

                  2. re: Krys

                    On Saturday and Sunday the table next to the steam table really is filled with Homemade Delights. For want of a better word, there are a few dim sum items.

                    I’ve never been a fan of steamed buns, but the sopia at Marylou’s changed my mind … well, at least for Marylou’s sopia.

                    They are twice the size of the Chinese bun and there is way more filling than bun. Sopia always seem to have whole egg yolk inside. The egg yolk and pieces of chicken were surrounded by lots of shredded pork. A tiny cup of a sweet brown sauce came with it and that’s what took the bun over the top. Very delicious.

                    The ensaymada was the lightest airiest sponge cake I have ever had with a sugar/butter/cheese topping that was as light and delicate as the cake.

                    I will use Marylou’s sopia and ensaymada as the standard by which I judge all others. She leaves Sunshine Bakery and San Pablo’s Valerio’s version very distant runners up.

                    Great bibingka, but I’ve never had one that wasn’t great. The cheese was saltier than most and I suspect it may actually be the water buffalo cheese due to Marylou’s attention to quality. I will have to ask. Saturday was not the day to ask questions as it was packed with Filipino people picking up their orders. Lot’s of Crispy Pata being sold.

                    Since it was too busy to ask questions, I got an unidentified dessert that was very good. It was like a thick flan with all sorts of delicious little pieces of fruit and topped with toasted coconut. Almost has a rice pudding with raisins taste. There was none of that left for breakfast tomorrow as Roberto and I polished it all off immediately.

                    The hopia (think moon cake) had a thick sweet cooked egg yolk interior. Just not a hopia / bean cake / moon cake fan. However as good a version as I’ve ever had.

                    Roberto and I split the breakfast plate – a big scoop of garlicky rice that wasn’t greasy, scrambled eggs that were more like a flat omelet, a slice of tomato and a delicious vinegary slice of cucumber. It came with a nice chewy skirt steak type of beef in rich beefy pan juices.

                    There were all sorts of coffee cake type of baked goods and puddings. The soda case had lots of flan.

                    Not only is the food the best Filipino food I have ever tried, but the owner is super great about explaining what I am eating. Even in today’s rush he took the time to explain about adding the sauce to the sopia.

                    Marylou’s is probably my favorite mom and pop restaurant in the area of any ethnicity.

                    I forgot hours in the previous post.

                    Closed Sunday
                    Monday – Friday noon – 7pm
                    Saturday – Sunday 8 am – 5pm

                    1. re: Krys

                      Sopia? Maybe you mean Siopao?

                      1. re:

                        Yes, indeed. Typo from my first taste of the bun. Just kept perpetuating it. No wonder I couldn't find any info on it. Thanks

                        Anyway, recipe a little bit of the origin.

                        "Siopao is a version of the Chinese Siu Bao -- or manapua, as it is known in Hawaii. It exemplifies the Chinese influence in Filipino cuisine, also reflected in lumpia (spring rolls), pancit (chow mein) and tocino (char-siu pork)."

                        Well, at least I know the name of steamed buns now in Chinese. However, Marylou's is the best I've tried anywhere of any nationality If you are in the area, I recommend checking them out. Probably only on weekends.


                        1. re: Krys

                          I'm really enjoying your posts of MaryLou's delights and all your posts & articles on pinoy food. I too was wondering what sopia was and was laughing when you said it's a typo (only because I was about to think that my whole life I've been calling those buns the wrong name). Of course siopao is even a "wrong name" as it's a pinoyization of cha siu bao, isn't it?

                          And you are really making my mouth water with the ensaymada. Your description makes it sound like a perfect version. But I like ensaymada with salty margarine, not butter (even though I am usually a butter kind of gal).

                          1. re: Alice Patis

                            Oh, I forgot to add a little nitpick: Ensaymada is like a filipino brioche, while mamon is like filipino sponge cake. So ensaymada is usually very fluffy, while mamon is spongey. Mmmm ensaymada....

                    2. re: Krys

                      Hot juicy pork encased in a crackling skin, what’s not to like.

                      I know you should use the garlicky sauce that comes with it, but I was just enjoying the pork too much. However the sauce did give that great taste similar to a pork roast with garlic cloves. The hoof is fried though. The haunch is hacked into four pieces with the hoof split in two. Never realized piggies had just sharp toe nails. I’ve never noticed them in pig’s feet dishes before. And yes, the best part is the meaty pieces above the hoof.

                      The owner advised me to eat it as soon as possible, within the hour. I would have to agree. I can’t imagine eating this after it’s been sitting under a heat lamp. Marylou’s, as mentioned before, fries them to order and there is a 20 – 30 minute wait.

                      Soooo, while I waited I finally tried the halo halo. Always thought that halo halo sounded awful awful with all those contrasting ingredients.

                      However, it was actually refreshing and fun to eat. There was something new … literally … in every bite, I chose a colorful scoop of ube ice cream to top the shaved ice that sat on top of a mixture of tiny pieces of flan, coconut pieces, three types of sweet beans, some noodly type of item, a dab of caramel (?) and much much more. I think a few pieces of lichee were involved, but I may be wrong.

                      The pancit was full of pieces of chicken, slices of mushroom, carrots, cabbage and celery. It was a perfect example of why Marylou’s is great. The mushrooms were meaty shitake mushrooms and they were generous. Even the carrots had flavor. I may be new to Filipino food, but pancit I know. This was a great version.

                      The beef siopao (steamed buns) was full of ground beef, sausage pieces and egg white and yolk. Again, that sweet brown sauce just improved the taste.

                      They had quite a selection of baked goods today and the pretty ube purple/ mango orange dessert. Very like Japanese mochi, it was made with mochiko (glutinous rice flour). The top layer was white and had a rich, deep coconut flavor. I’m usually not a fan of this type of dessert due to the texture, but the coconut flavor was so good and it was just so pretty.

                      I bought the bottled green papaya condiment which was a gingery sweet and sour type of chutney. Lots of finely shredded green papaya with ginger, raisins, onions, carrots, red peppers and probably other things I am unfamiliar with. Nice fresh ginger taste in every bite.

                      The fish today was some lovely looking salmon steaks and if I wasn’t so focused on the crispy pata, I would have had that.

                      To date, my favorites here are the catfish, the skewered pork, the steamed buns and any of the desserts.

                      Forget about the other places mentioned in this thread. They are good enough. However, with Marylou’s in the area, there’s no reason to go anywhere else.

                      Marylou’s was as busy at dinner time as on the weekends. There are also quite a few non Filipino customers who are in the know about the good food.

                      I guess that the word for Filipino dim sum is merienda. This link has a list of merienda with pictures and recipes including many snacks mentioned like siopao, halo halo, turon and polvoron, those cute little cookies wrapped in colorful paper.


                      1. re: Krys

                        Hi! This is actually my first time ever posting on Chow. Normally, I just rely on the articulate and thoughtful opinions of the Chowhound community to inform my own food journeys, but I had such a lovely experience at Marylou's last weekend that I'm moved to post.

                        I have a tendency, when confronted with Filipino food, to go a little Pork Mad, if you know what I mean. So, when my partner and I drove up to Hercules specifically to sample Marylou's (based on the good reviews here), I did just that. I didn't intend to... it just happened. Pork happens.

                        Anyway, let me say first (as others have already) that everything on the table looked super-fresh. Pancit, sinigang, a large tray of beautiful salmon steaks, sausages, skewers of chicken... Several dishes were switched out while we were sitting there. Art, the proprietor, was terrifically friendly to both me and my partner -- shook both our hands, introduced himself and took our names. He took the time, though things were flying around him, to explain whatever we wanted to ask, and he let us sample this and that.

                        But, as I was saying -- pork. We went with pork three ways. First, the dinuguan. Fantastic. Best dinuguan I've ever had. I find that blood-based stews can often be overly thick, almost claylike. Not this one. It was vibrant and rich, with just enough of a tang to lift it out of murkiness.

                        Second, we tried the adobo (which was pork AND chicken, but who's counting?). It was very nice. Not strong at all, which I find refreshing. Often, I think, adobos are overly-vinegared in an attempt at flavor (or to hide something). Not here. Very balanced, very tender.

                        Lastly, we had the lechon kawali. We were going to go for the crispy pata, but were in kind of a rush. Wow. Fantastic! This is the stuff. The accompanying sauce is lovely -- a not-too-sweet, not-too-sour sweet-and-sour sauce with a lot of flavor. But that lechon... Forget about it. Can one have a Porkasm? If so, I did.

                        The next day, we returned just to pick up some lumpia shanghai to bring to a party. They were crisp and lovely. And because I can resist anything but temptation, I picked up a bag of house-made chicharrones and a slab of bibingka to take home. Okay: best bibingka I've ever had. My mom is Filipina, and her Bibingka is legendary in our family. This one's better. (And I know I'm risking hellfire by saying that...)

                        I know this sounds like a lot of hyperbole, and I've gone on at the mouth a bit, but I really had a great experience at Marylou's and I wanted to effuse a little. The other Filipino places I've been to in the Bay Area are nice, and some have very good fare, but none had the freshness or... well... HEART that Marylou's food had. It's a humble place, but wow, it made me feel at home in both flavor and personability.

                        1. re: GapingMaw

                          Was hard to find this in with all the 3 year old stuff. Might be better to start a new thread and link to this one. I believe Krys is now rworange.

                          1. re: GapingMaw

                            That was very articulate. Hope you will post more. Thanks for the update on Marylou's. It is nice to keep these great places in Chow radar. And as wolfe mentioned my former posting name was krys

                        2. You have to try the caramel cake at Sunshine Bakery. It's very light, airy and not too sweet. Everytime I have this cake at a party, everyone asks about it and takes some home with them. I even have a friend who lives in Hillsborough who will drive all the way to Hercules for this cake.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: J.D.

                            i'm a longtime resident and Marylou's has the best food and good desserts, it would be better if ART had better people skills...he's too snobby with his customers and helpers, Chokos is trying too hard to please...they have to improve the taste and presentation ...all their food is dry....RSM is not good at all and Sunshine bakery has very good cakes and pastries