Filipino food - best around the bay?
I was looking for a nice dinner spot with good Filipino food. I tend to eschew places where the food is overtly greasy, which is a problem at many of the Filipino restaurants I've tried.
I've been to Alimango (also in San Mateo), which is my current favorite. Went on a weeekday, and the coconut crab was delicious - the coconut flavor did not overpower the delicate crabmeat flavor. Bangus was nicely done with dried egg slices on top. Pinakbet was delicious and probably the best I've had thus far in the Bay Area outside of someone's house. Pork sisig was not a standout but adeqately done with an egg cooking on the hotplate to cut the pork grease. I've gone back a few times and the food was worse on the weekends - I don't think they are adequately staffed for weekend crowds.
I've eaten at Patio Filipino a few years back but don't remember it being outstanding. Toppings Too in Union City has great food but it's more of a takeout place. I've been a fan of Bistro Luneta in San Mateo previously, but the food didn't have the same pop and fresh flavors last time I went. Gerry's Grill in Union City was ok for a lunch spot but not really worth the price for supper.
Obviously I have not explored Daly City very much. Any thoughts on your favorite Filipino food places?
615 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94401
1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
31005 Courthouse Dr, Union City, CA 94587
3708 S El, Camino Real San Mateo, CA
Toppings Too Restaurant
3910 Smith St, Union City, CA 94587
re: Melanie Wong
I've been - Tribu is a good place to go for fried food, fish, and meats but the noodles and vegetables have been hit or miss in the past for me.
I've been to Kuya's, Max's, and Sinugba as well. How is Ihaw Ihaw or Ongpin? Ongpin seems to get good reviews elsewhere as a no-nonsense good food place.
I was going to recommend Patio, but it looks like you've already been there!
You can try Toppings in Daly City (right next to Ling Nam Noodle House). It's much bigger than the one in Union City with plenty of tables and seating. The inihaw na liempo is sooo good.
Sinugba is also in Daly City (actually, it's pretty much up the street from Toppings). They changed ownership about 2 years ago, and since then it's gotten a lot better. I remember I ordered the sizzling sisig one time and when the owner came by and asked how it was, I said it was just OK but could be way better. I think he really took it to heart, because it was much better and definitely deserved the title of SIZZLING when I came back a few months later.
I haven't tried Tribu Grill in San Bruno, but I have also heard it is very popular (and good!).
2055 Gellert Blvd Ste 5, Daly City, CA 94015
2215 Gellert Blvd S, San Francisco, CA
Any places in the Berkeley/Oakland area?
Last week I was so desperate that I resorted to Chicken Adobo at the Alta Bates Cafeteria. It wasn't half bad. Afterwards a scoops of passionfruit and chicory candied walnut at Ici.
Last summer I attended a wake for a Filipino friend at Carmen's on the Embarcadero. I assume that the food was authentic, but then I'm no expert. II liked it enough to merit a return visit, but unfortunately they were on vacation.
Agree so much on Sinugba. I hadn't been there in years, so my baseline is different. But, today, got take out and the food is fresh, not oily! Enselandang Talong (eggplant salad) was great, and grilled chicken and grilled pork. Lumpia was ok, cooked well but filling seemed only carrots...
Nice, attentive service for take out. Going to try out other things and put them on our regular take out list. Prices are very good too.
Dropped by Ling Nam today just to look-- and their Senorita Bread is YUMMMY!!! I'm not sure if this is a traditional item, but it looks like they make it to order. W e waited at about 10 minutes after we ordered. Small, yeasty hot rolls, with butter or something and a slight sweetness. Really really good. The place doesn't look appealing to eat in but this Senorita Bread is a great take home thing.
I would suggest you go back to Patio again. I really like their Bone Marrow soup and their crispy pata and crispy lechon are awesome.
I also like Max's in South San Francisco. Besides their crispy pata and lechon kawali I love their crispy tadyang. Something about eating that in such a primal manner is so satisfying.
I really sound like a one dimensional Filipino food eater haha.
Max's of the Philippines Restaurant
1155 El, Camino Real S San Francisco, CA
The trick is to find out which restaurant does which dishes well. For instance, Tribu, which has been my favorite Filipino restaurant since it opened, has an excellent Chicken Inasal (grilled, marinated with citrus juice, garlic, lemongrass, vinegar, and achiote oil), delicious Bagoong Rice (cooked with shrimp paste and topped with egg, tomato, green mango, and pork--a Filipino take on a Thai dish), very good Crispy Pata, Sisig, Daing na Bangus (fried marinated milkfish), Filipino style barbecue pork and chicken, Bibingka (sweet baked rice cake), and Halo-Halo. Their Pancit Palabok (rice noodles with seafood sauce and chicharon) can compare with some of the better versions in Manila. On the other hand, heir Kare-Kare (oxtail stew) and Pinakbet (mixed vegetable stew) have been unexciting, and the Laing lacks the requisite heat. (I can't comment on any Sinigang anywhere as I am probably the only Filipino who has never learned to like the stuff.)
My mom likes Patio Filipino's Crispy Pata best, and they have a nice Binagoongang Baboy (chunks of crisp deep fried pork belly cooked with shrimp paste), and, as Sfbing mentioned earlier, they have an excellent Halo-Halo. (The Oxtail Caledereta sounds very good, too!) Do NOT order the paella, unless you have a perverse liking for that abhorrent Knorr or Maggi bottled seasoning.
For a quick, inexpensive lunch, I like Good Bites in Belmont on El Camino. The Arroz Caldo and Adobo (chicken and pork) are the real thing. They serve Filipino breakfasts (bangus, longganiza, tapa,--even Spam!--with garlic rice and really good fried eggs).
Good Bites (sorry, don't know how to link)
1504 El Camino Real
Belmont, CA 94002
I haven't been to Luneta recently because although the food was good, it seemed overpriced. I've been to Ongpin. Kuya's, and Max's one time each in the 8 years I've been here, and have never felt compelled to return. Another friend did echo the recommendation for Crispy Tadyang (fried beef ribs) at Max's, and the Sisig at Ongpin.
I haven't been to Gerry's Grill, but a seriously porkaholic friend drives all the way from Atherton to eat there, so I may give it a shot when I can round up enough company to make the trek worthwhile.
One vote here for Toppings Too...just for the food, though. it's crowded and you *will* take the smell home in your clothes.
But the food, imo, is better than Gerry's Grill and at least on par with Tribu. Last time we had the Laing, Dinuguan, Sisig (pork; wish they also did tuna sisig), Daing na Bangus. All delicious and fresh-tasting.
The Laing was not cooked spicy but did include chiles on top to add heat as desired. it also had crunchy chicharron 'breadcrumbs' sprinkled on top, which was a great touch.
cold Taho (bean curd, syrup, & tapioca) for dessert was a nice finish.
Sounds like a place I should try! (I guess the name, Toppings, didn't sound appealing. It makes me think of various gloppy brown things slopped on rice.) I love cold taho!
Am I being difficult re laing? I don't think it tastes nearly as good when the chillies are added AFTER cooking. It seems that the flavor is much deeper and better integrated when the chilies are cooked with the laing.
if i had the choice, i'd prefer the chiles cooked in also. but I can understand also that many folks don't enjoy 'ma-anghang' heat, and this is a dish served family-style. this way it's relatively easy to pick off the chiles before eating.
It's the same way with Bikol Xpress at some places ( like Gerry's). Not cooked spicy at all. IMO, this issue is more of a problem with BX than it is with Laing.
I see several members recommend Patio Filipino. I ate there for the first time a few months ago and CANNOT recommend it: service was slow and the food (sisig, kari-kari) was NOT worth the wait. Also, it seems more like a place to see and be seen than to eat: there were a lot of Hillsborough-type matrons around when we were there, and they were getting mucho attention from the wait staff, figured they must be regulars.
I WOULD recommend Kuya's. It is unpretentious, but good. I love Kuya Pong's Dessert! Home-made ube jam and macapuno candy. The adobo fried rice is so dee-lish!
Gerry's Grill has adobo shreds. First time I tried it, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. The last few times I've ordered it though, it hasn't been crispy at all. The crab fried rice was very good (while watching Pacquiao beat up De La Hoya).
I recommend Gerry's Grill for that sports bar atmosphere while still being able to eat Filipino Food. But like many chain "sports bars" like BJs or TGIFridays, the food isn't the reason to go.
Adobo crisps up when heated up in an oven, but not in a microwave. Perhaps they are taking the easy way out.
Personally, I prefer my adobo with a little bit of sauce, not dried to a crisp, simply because it seems tastier that way, but it's pretty easy to make crisp adobo, Just cook regular adobo until it falls to bits and the sauce dries up, spread the adobo on a baking sheet and bake at 250F- 300F to the desired degree of crispness.
I'd recommend Patio Filipino, but it seems that everyone has been having mixed feelings about the service. Despite that, I found the food to be very delicious. The tofu and pork sisig dishes, crispy binagoongan, and bistek tagalog are our favorites here.
Has anyone tried out Intramuros yet?
I've been to their bar/club/lounge, but have not tried their food at the restaurant.
there are 2 turo-turos in Alameda--I assume remnants of the Naval history. They're not fabulous (I love Tribu), but they help me with my fix (especially for longsilog and pancit palabok). I can't remember the names, but one is on Webster (near Tillie's) and the other is on Lincoln near Sherman (next to the laundrymat).
Went to Intramuros yesterday and enjoyed it very much. It's housed at a place I believe was a former old-school continental restaurant or steakhouse, the name escapes me. This is a very large, elegant restaurant with a main dining room, adjacent bar that has live entertainment at night, a banquet room, and patio dining. I'm no expert of Filipino cuisine, but this was the best I've had. Portions are huge and are meant to be shared, Chinese style. We had a delicious chicken verde soup with vegetables and papaya and pork and chicken adobo with plantains. The adobo was very different from others I've had, less vinegary taste and a dark sauce. With jasmine rice we were stuffed and had enough leftovers to take home. Bill, with two soft drinks and before tip, was about 27.00. Cuisine is described as Filipino and Spanish comfort food and there are several paella selections.
I went to Baby's Eatery and Palabok this weekend for turo-turo (take-out) after reading about it on Yelp. It's tiny, can barely stand in front of the counter, but they had lots of good things to eat. I settled on a combination of pinakbet (vegetable stew of green beans, squash, bitter melon, eggplant, in a tomato/shrimp paste sauce) and dinuguan (pork blood stew with garlic, vinegar and chili). And also got an okoi (shrimp and bean sprout fritter) and lumpia (spring roll) to go. Everything was delicious. Especially the dinuguan, which had nice chunks of pork - not alot of inside stuff, but great sauce. The okoi was crisp and flavorful, and they provided small containers of garlic vinegar as a condiment. It was a little initmidating to be there - the staff wasn't too friendly - although they were all munching on freshly fried turons (fried bananas covered in caramel syrup) - I wouldn't recommend eating there (there are only about 4 tables and it is very crowded), but to go it only set me back $9. No tummy rumbles, and it wasn't overly greasy.
Baby's Eatery and Palabok
4609 Mission Street (between Norton St. & San Juan Ave)
San Francisco 94112 (Excelsior)
Try Max's of the Philippines in South San Francisco.
I lived in the Philippines and my mom's family's Filipino, so if I go out and eat Filipino food it has to be really good since my family cooks Filipino meals on a regular basis. I know what the authentic stuff should taste like, and Max's is pretty good.
I had Max's sinigaang prawns recently, and it was very good. My only complaint is how oily their pancit tends to be..
Next to Max's a few shops down- my husband and I really liked Aunt Em's - a very small shop (no place to eat there). The enseymada was so fresh and good! I think the best I've had in the area.
She shopowner told me people love the cheese rolls. I liked it too but appreciated the enseymada more.
They sell a stuffed, roasted whole fish in foil. Will try that one day.
Auntie Em's Fine Foods & Pastries
1127 El Camino Real
South San Francisco, CA 94080
Thank you so much for posting the info for Auntie Em's! I've been searching so many threads looking for this place. I just tried that "whole fish in foil" last Christmas and I want to bring one to a new year's party. It was beyond great!
From what I hear, it's a very small spot near Max's, Karilagan, and KFC in South City. The ensamada is also very good. I haven't tried the cheese rolls but I will probably pick some up with I get the fish tonight- which is called relleno bangus. It's one of my favorite filipino dishes everrr!
I will love to hear about the fish. I happen to be visiting Manila last week and tried relleno bangus at Via Mare for the first time. I thought I might eat the whole thing... Delicious. If I get desperate and can't find a good version in SF, I might have to learn to cook it which looks very hard.
Just went to Ihaw Ihaw in San Bruno last Friday (a block away from Kuya's). We tried chicken tinola, grilled bungus, and Tortang talong (eggplant omelet with ground beef). Everything was delicious - the chicken tinola was the star of the show with crisp ginger taste and a good amount of marrow flavoring the soup, which had tons of meat. The grilled bangus was blackened on the skin side and perfectly cooked inside, moist and flavorful. The tortand talong was not greasy in the least, which was a worry since I'm not a fan of ground beef. It was served with banana ketchup. We ate at Ongpin a few weeks ago and Ihaw Ihaw was definitely much better.
There are many places that offer Filipino food, but it's rare to find a place that excels in 100% of their menu items. So here is just a list of my favorite Filipino foods and where I like to get them. Notice, not all places are "chowish" but they're good!:
Pork Sisig (not on sizzling plate), Pancit Miki-Bihon, & Kare Kare: Ongpin, SSF
Pork Sisig (on sizzling plate): Tribu, San Bruno
Tofu Sisig and Pinakbet: Intramuros, SSF
Fried Chicken: Max's of the Philippines, SSF
Dinuguan: Philippine Grocery's take-out counter, Daly City
Silogs: SuperStar/Gateway and Ling Nam (super cheap and super bad for you, but it's a guilty pleasure)
Grilled Liempo: Toppings (especially with Java rice), Daly City
Pinakbet: Inang's on Mission, Daly City
Pancit Bihon and Crispy Pata: Solita, SSF
Leche Flan: Intramuros, SSF
Coco Cha Cha (vanilla ice cream topped with candied yams, gulaman, pinipig, and coconut milk): Ongpin, SSF
*sigh* Nothing beats desserts in the Phils though! I would have to say that Ongpin and Intramuros are my favorite Filipino places right now.
Agreed. It is extremely rare to find a Filipino restaurant that hits it out of the park with every dish.
Some of my favorites off of the top of my head:
Best Overall: Ihaw Ihaw in San Bruno, which is best home cooking at a restaurant you'll ever taste. I think it gets underrated as folks flock to the more stylish Tribu, Intramuros, Patio Filipino, Bisto Luneta, etc. Beef nilaga, bistek, and rellenong talong are the best in the Bay. FYI -- Karilagan, Ongpin, and Ihaw Ihaw are all owned by the same family so the recipes are similar, which is why you find Coco Cha Cha at Ihaw Ihaw and Karilagan, for example. I think the Ongpin/Karilagan/Ihaw Ihaw resto group is the most consistent overall. I'd be happy with a meal from any of those spots any day.
Dinuguan: Hilda's Bake Shop in the Excelsior off of Mission. Thirty years after he closed his restaurant, people still rave about my Lolo's dinuguan, so there's a high bar there for me. And Hilda's pretty much meets it. Believe me: we did a dinuguan crawl one winter and Hilda's was head and shoulders above all. Also: the best hopia, and I thought I hated hopia. Absolutely amazing bundles of buttery, flaky, moist mung beany joy.
Sisig (with an egg cracked over it), Cebuano Pork Belly, Adobong Kang Kong, and Kinilaw: Poleng. A meal I would gladly order as my last if I was on Death Row. You have to ask for the special off-the menu Filipino stuff.
Pork Barbecue Silog: Sinugba. It's only dish that occasionally brings me back to that cold, damp, empty place that used to be hoppin' at all hours of the night when under the former management. The last time we went it was the WORST and rudest service ever. No wonder the young crowds started going to Lucky Chances. They plopped the to-go boxes down when our plates came even though they were 30 mins from closing.
Tuna Sisig: Tribu. The only dish I liked at this spot, which is very uneven.
Beef Tadyang and Green Tinola: Intramuros. Very classy spot, but not where I'd go if I want to get down and loud with a bunch of people (that's Ihaw Ihaw). I like the idea of the bibingka souffle, but its execution only made me crave the real thing more than this stylish little pouf.
Any baked good, especially whole wheat pan de sal, mini pan de ube, and ensaymada: Valerio's, various locations around the bay.
If you're going to the North Bay, it's all about Andrea's, and the Spanish bread at the Star bread bakery, in my opinion.
235 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066
1109 Maple Ave, Vallejo, CA 94591
Hilda's Mart & Bake Shop
145 Persia Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
40 Springstowne Ctr, Vallejo, CA 94591
San Bruno Ihaw Ihaw
422 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066
Intramuros Restaurant Bar & Lounge
101 Brentwood Dr, South San Francisco, CA 94080
Had dinner at Bistro Luneta last nite and we quite appreciated the chef's lighter/subtler take on Filipino cuisine, but without losing its essence.
- Ukoy: tempura-style shrimp & vegetable fritters with Visayan vinegar dip. Quite average tasting & could definitely have been crispier;
- Tokwa't Baboy: crusted soft tofu with grilled pork, served with soy-vinegar dressing. This dish was a revelation - the dressing provided a perfect match to the aromatic pork;
- Bistek Luneta, which was absolutely delicious: flat-iron grilled steak with a citrusy-soy sauce and mashed potatoes;
- Inasal: grilled chicken served with papaya pickles & salad greens.
- side-order of garlic fried rice.
The chef's lighter touch was evident throughout the meal. This was the first time I walked out of a Filipino restaurant feeling very satisfied and yet not over-satiated.
615 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94401
They do have a lighter touch (and smaller portions) than most Filipino places. Bistro Luneta also has the best crispy pata I've had in the Bay Area: deliciously crisp skin and--a rarity--moist, succulent meat. Other Filipino restaurants manage the crisp skin well enough, but the meat is often dried out or tasteless. (And though they could be heavier and tend to be rather greasy, I have to admit to a soft spot for their churros con chocolate.)
I've gotten to the point where my idea of a really good Filipino restaurant meal will compel me to drive from Tribu in San Bruno for sisig and fried bangus, to Mana in San Mateo for laing, over to Luneta for crispy pata, then back to Patio Filipino in Millbrae for halo-halo. Or maybe all the way up to Daly City for sylvanas. . .
Hmmm. Just rejoined after about 2 years' absence...so this is my first re-post.
Am surprised that no one has mentioned NAYONG FILIPINO (which I believe used to be part of the original Ongpin)-- this is the one on Whipple Road in Union City. It is a 'turo-turo' place but it is definitely NOT greasy. Also they do not use MSG; better value for the food than Gerry's Grill (altho ambiance is not as upscale). Also, the proprieters later est up the more upscale Kalesa in Milpitas.
Overall the food is good; I love their 'dinuguan.' And they also...OK...this review is kinda all-over-the-place...make an "ube" w/ macapuno bibingka. Flans are OK; sans rival is a little too delicate. They serve good pork ribs when you hit the right day; good binagoonang. Supposedly they make good "kare-kare" but I am not a big fan of that dish...and their "sisig' sells out fast. Am not a big sisig fan either.
THe tiny hole-in-the-wall Toppings too closeby is great for all its grilled dishes (especially the "Belly of the Bangus" one)...but as somebody said, you'll come out smelling of the grill. Well, whaddya expect from places under $10.00.
Valerio's Bakery is VERY mediocre; as is Goldilocks. The faux Red Ribbon still makes better, less greasy desserts. That's my report from the Hayward-Union City nexus. There are a few others (of similar calibre). If I didn't mention them here, it's because they aren't worth the time, $$ and effort.
BTW, is anybody organizing a French dinner outing in the EB- East Bay? I'd like to do one. Le Cote maybe?