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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?

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Bistro Luneta
615 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94401

Patio Filipino
1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

Gerry's Grill
31005 Courthouse Dr, Union City, CA 94587

Alimango
3708 S El, Camino Real San Mateo, CA

Toppings Too Restaurant
3910 Smith St, Union City, CA 94587

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  1. While I've not been there yet, Tribu in San Bruno seems quite popular with 'hounds. Have you tried it?
    http://www.chow.com/places/4662

    3 Replies
    1. 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.

      1. re: hotlipshoagie

        I like Ongpin, but I think it may fall into your "overly greasy" category. But if you're on a hunt, you should definitely try it.

        1. re: hotlipshoagie

          A Fil-Am colleague took me to Kuya's a few weeks ago. Nice comfy environ, but the food's pretty pedestrian. The sisig is yuks - looked undercooked!

      2. 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!).

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        Sinugba
        2055 Gellert Blvd Ste 5, Daly City, CA 94015

        Toppings Restaurant
        2215 Gellert Blvd S, San Francisco, CA

        6 Replies
        1. re: westcoaststyle

          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.

          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            In Oakland, I hear good things but have yet to try...

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            Bistro de Manila
            365 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612

          2. re: westcoaststyle

            Thanks for the update on Sinugba - I'd been there a few years ago when it was open late and was recommended only for late night drinking food. I'll have to give it a try again.

            1. re: westcoaststyle

              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.

              1. re: westcoaststyle

                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.

                1. re: rln

                  After internet search, learned the Senorita Bread is part of Star Bread Bakery, located in Ling Nam. They are in Vallejo and Fairfield as well.

                  http://www.starbreadbakery.com/

              2. 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.

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                Max's of the Philippines Restaurant
                1155 El, Camino Real S San Francisco, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: EnderWiggin

                  I'm not usually a fan of halo-halo, but Patio's version stuffed in the coconut is a noncrispy nonpiggy thing that they do well. Also, I love Patio's oxtail caldereta with olives.

                2. Tried Mana in San Mateo recently hoping for a great Lumpia and Adobo. But both were really average and a bit expensive. But its new and will try again in a month or so.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: moto roboto

                    Any recs for South Bay or Peninsula? I would love to find some kare-kare!

                    1. re: sandrachang

                      In Milpitas- there's Kalesa. It's actually pretty good and you don't have to drive all the way to daly city.

                      In Daly City I like ihaw ihaw too. Good portions. Good food.
                      Or Henry's- good food with entertainment

                      1. re: rosiella1

                        I second Kalesa in Milpitas. Hearty portion sizes, good value for what you pay and it tastes great.

                  2. 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
                    (650) 592-4837

                    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.