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Apr 29, 2013 05:29 PM

Can we get more Filipino food popularized than just adobo and sisig?

When I'm here I crave things like chicken afritada (without the hotdogs), Fil-Chinese fish and tausi, ginataang dalag, tilapia in mustasa and gata, sinigang sa miso, sinanglay, KBL (kadyos baboy langka), ginataang munggo with kangkong/ginisang munggo, chicken binakol, etc. I know a lot of it is due to lack of ingredients, but I'd like to see more true diversity. We have so many diverse flavors in our cuisine (plus many regional variations per province) but all I've seen being commonly promoted is adobo and beerhouse food...which is a shame since when I introduce non-Filipinos to this other food, they usually like the flavors quite a bit. There is a great deal of coconut milk, use of chili (but less so than our Southeast Asian neighbors), banana blossom, bamboo shoots/SE Asian vegetables, succulent seafood, that I believe would win the cuisine more fans if only it were available.

Restaurant recommendations for veg-heavy, less-greasy Filipino favorites would be welcome.

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  1. Interesting that you should post this today- I was just reading another thread on the subject over the weekend. There' s a wide range of opinions on why there aren't more Filipino restaurants in the US.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Samalicious

      It really is a shame, since we have such a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in our cuisine. Lots of Malay, Chinese and Indian flavors that immigrants and settlers localized/adopted to fit local ingredients and merged with our indigenous food. Certainly not just summed up by adobo, sisig, siopao, lechon, lumpia and pancit. :) I would equate the adobo thing to having American cuisine constantly represented by meatloaf. (I guess I never did like your regular adobo, but I miss humba with banana blossoms, star anise, peppercorns, palm sugar, vinegar, soy and black beans/

    2. I love crispy pata and pancit but garlic rice with a fried egg makes my day.
      Expand my horizons, please.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cynsa

        "but garlic rice with a fried egg makes my day"

        add longanisa to your fried egg and garlic fried rice and you've got yourself a traditional filipino breakfast!

        1. re: majordanby

          Tinapa na bangus, with chili vinegar. And of course a mango and suman, with tsokolate.

      2. Thanks for making this post-- compared to other cuisines, there's not a tremendous amount of information on Filipino food on this board.

        Do any Filipino community dinners or festivals serve those healthier and fresher dishes?

        Do any of the Filipino places in Daly City have lighter dishes? What are people's take on that Spanish-Filipino place Patio Filipino?

        3 Replies
        1. re: hyperbowler

          Regarding festivals, the tendency is to feed as many people with as much food as you can, so organizers tend to go for easy, quick meals. Not the healthiest of options. I'd say the equivalent is serving spaghetti and hotdogs at a children's party. Kind of like that :)

          Though at family gatherings, and special occasions like weddings, more mature/adult people's birthdays, better delicacies are served since it's a private and special gathering. My mom likes to cook huge batches of pancit molo (dumpling soup, derived from the Chinese, very delicate and light and flavored with green onion and cilantro) and tilapia wrapped in leaves and with coconut milk.

          I don't know much about Daly City, sorry.

          1. re: Halcyonwing

            I think we would all love to come to your mom's table...

          2. re: hyperbowler

            I also like to show this link, which showcases only native cuisine from my mother's province -- just to give an example of how varied and flavorful Filipino food can be even within just one region. While the plating here is modern the recipes are authentic (with the exception of the salmon perhaps).


          3. Though I've spent most of my life in the Philippines, and have traveled to quite a few places there, I am always astonished at what I don't know about the cuisine. Growing up in the capital Manila, one would think that a broad range of delicacies was available--and it is--the range is just not broad enough.

            For instance, in your list of dishes, I've had afritada (no hotdogs), fish with tausi, ginisang munggo, and chicken binakol. I've heard tell of sinanglay, and kadios baboy langka. The rest of the dishes, doubtless exist in regional cuisines, but I've never heard of them, much less tasted them. It may be that my Tagalog roots didn't give me much opportunity to explore other regions' foods, though from what I know of it (obviously not enough) Ilonggo cuisine would probably rate as my favorite.

            Perhaps it is because dishes are the vocabulary of every regional cuisine--and people from differing provinces are most comfortable communicating in the few words they have in common--that we seem to repeat ourselves with lumpia, pancit, and adobo.

            But to attempt to answer your question, yes, I'm sure we can get something other than adobo and sisig popularized, but it will take a long time, a couple of phenomenally successful Filipino restaurants, and Filipino food fans willing to spread the word--and the food, ultimately, by cooking it and sharing it.

            What might be the most informative and enjoyable blog on Filipino food (and one of the best food blogs out there, period.) is Jun-blog:
            I came to his website thanks to a non-Filipino hound, rwcfoodie, one of the chowhounds who, without realizing it, gives me the guilts for not doing enough to introduce them to the really good stuff from my homeland simply because I'm too lazy to cook it.

            I wish I could point you in the direction of a restaurant that serves the kind of food you seek. Unfortunately, in my limited experience with Filipino restaurants here, we're still stuck with the gateway dishes. If you ever find a restaurant that comes close to what you are looking for, please let us know!

            1 Reply
            1. re: pilinut

              I love reading through the recipes on Jun's blog. And yes Ilonggo food is quite good. My mother is from Iloilo and she says they've always traditionally eaten very fresh ingredients, plenty of seafood and vegetables (their family owned a rice plantation/farm and several fishing boats, and while pork and beef were part of the diet, it didn't take center stage. I'm not sure if you have had "laswa," the ubiquitous malunggay and okra dish.)

              You must have some kadios, it's a once-in-while treat that can be made here (the bean appears to be known as the pigeon pea, red gram, or Congo pea and should be found in Indian markets, and there are also kamote tops available locally. About the only ingredient missing would be the "batuan" or sour seeds;not sure what could replace them. I'll ask for the family recipe sometime and post it if you like.

              (Also, saw your post about Fil-Chinese food. I miss it quite a bit as well!)

            2. Aren't there Filipino restaurants in Daly City near the Cow Palace? I thought there was Filipino community down there and years ago there was a restaurant right across the street from the Cow.

              I did go to one place which is on the Embarcadero down towards the ballpark. I assume it is authentic because I attended the wake for a Filipino friend put on by his family there. I think they just served the usual suspects, but I recall the adobo being very good.

              Also there seems to be a Filipino community in Hercules/Pinole. There was a place on San Pablo Ave in downtown Pinole and another in a shopping mall that is anchored by a Lucky's? in Hercules. There's a McDonald's at the head of the mall.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                Daly City has the largest number of pilipinos per capita in the US. Other areas in the bay area with large filipino communities include Milpitas, Union City, Vallejo.

                Find a seafood city and a valerios, that city probably has a large filipino community.

                1. re: majordanby

                  I don't routinely go to Daly City or the East Bay, but if there is a recommendation for a restaurant that doesn't just serve the adobo/sisig/longsilog and tapas etc. then I think I will check it out. I have relatives in Union City and spent some of my childhood there, but don't recall anywhere that fits what I was looking for.