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Aug 15, 2010 03:32 PM

Patio Filipino Review (San Bruno)

Patio Filipino pretty much redefined what Filipino food can be for me. I’ve mostly had home-cooked Filipino food, which I’ve enjoyed, but always found a little too fatty and one-dimensional. At PF, flavors lean more Malaysian than Chinese, with a heavy use of shrimp paste, to excellent effect.

This restaurant garnered a mention in the 2009 Saveur reader-generated Top 100 list for its crispy pata. To be honest, I think the crispy pata at Bistro Luneta is better – it’s fried so expertly that the result tastes and feels like confit wrapped in chicharrones. Patio Filipino’s version is good, but parts of it were a bit tough and chewy for me.

On the other hand, their pancit and pork adobo left every other version I’ve had in the dust. I was surprised when my (Filipino-American) friends ordered it – I know they make it at home regularly, and I assumed home-style dishes like these were hard to improve on in a restaurant setting.

The pancit was so rich with shrimp paste it was flecked with black, its richness lightened with a generous squeeze of lemon. It was way more flavorful and satisfying than any version I’ve had before – I couldn’t stop eating it.

The pork adobo was a dark mahogany color, velvety soft, and had a flavor I couldn’t place – a subtle muskiness that I haven’t tasted before (I’m usually just conscious of vinegar, soy and garlic).

The seafood sinigang was very good as well – a sweet and sour seafood soup that reminded me of a Cambodian tamarind-based seafood soup I love.

I was somewhat less impressed with a coconut curry of string beans, squash, pork and shrimp, which tasted bland compared to the other dishes. The mixed appetizer plate was a good value (with 5 lumpianita, fried calamari, fried shrimp, and a giant pile of chicharrones, with 4 dipping sauces, it cost less than just an order of lumpianita plus an order of chicharrones, which had been our original plan) but I think the frying temperature was just a little low – everything was just a bit greasier than I’d like.

Overall, it was a really good meal, and inexpensive – with an enormous amount of leftovers, the tab came to $25/pp.

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  1. Nice review. I first heard of this restaurant on an episode of "Check Please Bay Area" Nice to have a CH review of it.

    1. Is this pancit with rice noodles, egg noodles or glass noodles?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cicely

        They were glass - they stuck together a little, but I prefer that to having too much oil to make them more slippery.

        1. re: Cicely

          Had a great meal there this past Saturday.
          The decor was nice without trying too hard to be upscale. Service could be more attentive-- pretty much had to wave waitstaff over for everything aside from the menus. Plus I thought reasonably priced for the food quality and atmosphere.

          chicharon bulaklak--the chicharons were delish. Very crispy and well paired with the vinegar and onion sauce. I wish I could get past the whole intestine thing though.
          tokwa't baboy--the tokwa't baboy was also great. Good acid and bite in the vinegar and soy sauce with onions and chiles. Also the first of many dishes topped with the salty goodness of lechon-like chunks.

          bangus sinigang--yummy! great balance of umami (patis?) and sour (tamarind)
          adobong kangkong--great texture still on the kangkong (tender, yet still toothsome) but I thought the adobo sauce was overkill, plus I didn't like the gelatinized texture of the sauce. This dish also included chunks of lechon.
          kare kare--very nutty (YUM!!). maybe they use ground peanuts rather than overly sweet, commercial peanut butter. the beef was very tender. and the bagoong was not straight out of the jar--not overly salty or funky, probably sauteed with onions and pork.
          escabeche--fish fillets were nothing special, but the sauce was nice with a light bite of spice from the chili peppers
          pork sisig--my husband was disappointed that there was no eyelashes to be found (he prefers the more authentic version with the whole head). It was moist and salty. I think the egg provided that texture the offal can give the dish without (my) fear of chomping down on non-muscle bits. We would have liked more onion and chilis.
          binagoongan rice--I was so excited to top my bagoong craving with this rice dish. As to be expected, it's pretty intense so I had to eat twice as much rice throughout my meal. This one to savor on its own, and plain steamed rice to accompany the sauces of all the other dishes. Unfortunately, I do prefer the version on Tribu Grill--more toppings and more sporadic bites of funk (mmm...) rather than throughout. (plus, dish #3 topped with lechon)

          Bottom line: great meal. definitely exciting menu. nice space, but make reservations because it's quite busy (nice to see non-Filipinos enjoying the food). definitely want to come again and tour more of the menu. and I may suggest skipping ordering lechon, you'll still get your fix of salty, crispy, "buttery" pork via other dishes.

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

          Tribu Cafe
          6501 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94608

          1. re: Cicely

            they only had Pancit Bihon or Canton (or a mix of the two) available.

          2. How is the ability of the staff to communicate? I can't eat soy sauce, but really want to try this place. I would need to figure out which menu items were OK.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jsaimd

              What does this mean? The staff speaks perfect English as do most filipinos. Avoid the adobo if you can't consume soy.

              1. re: myst

                Well there is speaking English and there is the ability to communicate about what is in the food. I have never been to a Filipino restaurant before because Asian is often hard to do. There has to be a willingness to check with the kitchen and for the kitchen to know their ingredients. I admit to being fairly ignorant as to the Filipino dining scene, although I always do my homework before I go so I know basically which dishes traditionally contain gluten.

            2. I wish I would have had time to check the chowhound recs before a last-minute order using eat24 after an airport dropoff around their 9:30 closing time (though Patio Filipino was on my radar since I heard they had good pancit about 8 years ago, so I have no excuse for not ordering that). I got the lechon kawali and the pinakbet to go. The lechon was fairly standard, crispy and not tough. They payed attention to the takeout situation and cut out the corners of the to-go container so it stayed crispy, rather than steaming itself. The lechon sauce was sweeter than I prefer, without much livery or peppery counterbalance.
              I hadn’t had pinakbet before, and though I was excited by the description of a shrimp paste flavored sauteed vegetable dish with bittermelon I was disappointed in the results. There was a lot of bittermelon relative to the other vegetables, and the whole dish was quite bitter. I wish it had a bit of acid, or more saltiness, and less of an overall stewed, bitter taste.