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#foodbeast Culture Features FOODBEAST Restaurants

For Los Angeles’ Best Filipino BBQ, Look No Further Than Tony’s BBQ

“The sauce is the secret,” divulged Tony with a sparkle in his eye, followed by a hearty laugh. You could just tell right off the bat that this man loved to serve his food to people. I don’t blame him. If I made Filipino-style barbecue as good as Tony does, then I’d have my own popular joint like him.

He’s right, though. The sauce really is the hook. The all at once deep, flavorful, and sweet glaze is a major feature on most of its grilled items like pork and chicken skewers and grilled liempo (pork belly). And though pretty much every item at Tony’s West Covina restaurant is worth a try, you really must start at his grilled tuna collar.

Foodbeast Costa Spyrou describes its uniqueness with accurate eloquence, as Filipino chef Ralph Degala took him for a visit to Tony’s Barbecue and Bibingkinitan, to put him on to this delicious wonder. And while you’re watching the latest Foodbeast adventure above, take note to make room for all the other goods that Costa and Ralph ordered, trust.

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Adventures Cravings Culture Pop-Ups

Some Of The Best Filipino Food In LA Is From This Underground Pop-Up

Just when I thought that I, a Filipino, considered myself to be well familiar with all that my culture’s cuisine had to offer, I was introduced to Lord Maynard Llera, who pleasantly extended my Filipino food horizons past lumpia Shanghai, adobo, and sinigang.

Pancit habhab? Inihaw na sugpo sa aligue? Lucenachon? Such dishes seemed foreign to me, which I at first admitted sheepishly. And having to search through Los Angeles to familiarize myself with these region-specific dishes would likely have been a needle meets haystack scenario. But I thought to myself that swallowing my pride and hubris would go well with all that Chef Llera was about to cook up.

So here I was enjoying such delicacies, which Llera identifies as Southern Tagalog cuisine, all in one meal. The coolest part is that it all came with the if-you-know-you-know type vibe of an underground pop-up.

Llord Maynard Llera

I had to do some digging as to what exactly Southern Taglog cuisine was, which includes a love affair with deep-fried, smoked, and grilled meats and recipes that focus on simple, straight-forward cooking.

Llera, who is the former culinary director at the The Hwood Group, an LA-based hospitality and lifestyle company responsible for a number of upscale nightlife and restaurant venues in the city, cut his teeth in fine dining, boasting a pedigree that translates to the technique-driven cooking that’s indicative of his underground pop-up, Kuya Lord. All of which is done at his home in La Cañada Flintridge, a tranquil, hillside suburb in Los Angeles.

Chef Llera is joyful in putting me on to his offerings, whether they be flavorful stir-fry noodles from the Lucban municipality in the Quezon Province or terrifically crisp, slow roasted pork belly done in the style of Lucena, his hometown. Grilled Hiramasa collar, a Yellowtail Kingfish, is smoky and robust. Java rice, a vibrant hue of 9am sunshine, is rich with garlic and annatto flavors. By the end of the meal, I’m pretty sure my face turned into the mind-blown emoji.

Kuya Lord’s menu is often rotating, a testament to the prowess of Chef Llera, and gives much reason to keep coming back for rare Filipino delights done his way. Make sure to follow the pop-up on Instagram to get the most up-to-date info on menu offerings and availability.

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Cravings Culture Features Restaurants

LA Filipino Restaurant Selling Whole Kamayan Feast Kits To Recreate At Home

The Filipino practice of kamayan essentially ditches the utensils and lets diners get into the meal by eating with their bare hands. Such a technique is the usual call to action when faced with a Filipino feast known as a boodle fight, which is a large communal spread presented on banana leaves. Dishes making up the bounty consist of traditional favorites like fried fish, grilled veggies, fresh mangoes and tomatoes, lumpia Shanghai, crispy pork belly lechon, and various barbecued meats.

This extravagant meal is usually experienced at large family parties and gatherings or in restaurant settings, but now, a whole kamayan feast can be your next weeknight dinner thanks to take-home meal kits from Silog, a Filipino restaurant in Torrance, California.

kamayan feast

“We want to continue to promote our culture through our food. Since food heals everything, it’s perfect for this unprecedented quarantine time,” states chef and owner, Lemuel Guiyab. “If people can’t go out yet and gather in restaurants, it’s all good, we can still provide everything they need for a kamayan feast right in their own home.”

To order, reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance, with a minimum order good for four adults at $39.95 per person. The sumptuous feast is for sure a fun and unique dining experience that you can have at home to spice things up from the usual or if you have a special occasion you’d like to celebrate with the family.

kamayan

 

Photos: Nicole Daphne
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#foodbeast Adventures Cravings Culture Features FOODBEAST Opinion Restaurants Video

Taste The Details: Why Is Filipino-American Food Overlooked?

Chicken adobo. Lumpia. Leche Flan. These are all traditional Filipino dishes that are getting remixed through the lens of Filipino -merican chefs. And though it’s drawing skepticism from Filipinos themselves, while still having to prove itself to the mainstream, Filipino-American cuisine is poised to overcome such obstacles.

Growing up, busting out my lunch of kare-kare with a dash of bagoong didn’t exactly draw kids closer to me, eager to trade up with one of their Lunchables creations. Which is fair, not many really find ox-tail in a peanut stew with a dash of fish paste to be appetizing. But these days, folks have more adventurous palates and are being exposed to Filipino food that has a touch of “growing up in America” generously added to it.

In this latest episode of Taste the Details, walk with me as I explore the friction between traditional and modern Filipino cuisine. This new generation of Filipino-American chefs are cooking up their interpretations of the traditional Filipino food they grew up eating — and pissing off our lolas in the process.

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#foodbeast Culture Features Film/Television FOODBEAST

‘Ulam: Main Dish’ Is the First Filipino Food Documentary To Be Distributed Worldwide

ULAM: Main Dish – Official Trailer #2 (HD) from Alexandra Cuerdo on Vimeo.

It’s pretty safe to say that over the past couple of years, Filipino cuisine and culture have continued to sizzle slowly into the hearts of America’s dinner table.  Highlighting this cultural shift is Ulam: Main Dish, a documentary that shows the true “underdog of Asian cuisines’” rise to center stage — and is the first Filipino food documentary to be distributed worldwide through Hulu

Aside from the love that late greats Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain have heralded in regards to Filipino food, the rest of the world was slow to take notice. Regardless, its voice grew louder, its proponents adjusted to the contemporary dining climate, and its ascent rose high enough to the point that it could no longer be denied.  

Ulam: Main Dish is a documentary by filmmaker Alexandra Cuerdo staging how the cuisine moved beyond being known for lumpia and ube to become a phenomenon, all through the efforts of a handful of celebrated Filipino-American chefs and restaurateurs like Alvin Cailan (Eggslut, The Usual), Chase & Chad Valencia (LASA), Johneric & Christina Concordia (The Park’s Finest), and Nicole Ponseca (Maharlika, Jeepney) to name a few.

The film is a compelling confrontation of the issues that come inherent with representing an authentic Filipino culture and cuisine within an American community — but ultimately, is a celebration of the representation and validation that the Filipino people and advocates of the cuisine have longed for. 

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Culture Fast Food Video

YouTubers Successfully Recreate Jollibee At Home [WATCH]

Ah, Jollibee. Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad memory at the popular Filipino fast food chain. The problem is my cravings will never outweigh the rising costs of gas. Can’t keep driving out for miles every time the Jollibee hunger strikes. If only I knew how to make it at home.

Popular YouTube cooking channel HellthyJunkFood channeled the essence of Jollibee and recreated three of the chain’s most popular items: Jolly Spaghetti, Jolly Hotdog, and the Chickenjoy.

Because most fast food chains keep their recipes pretty close to the vest, hosts JP and Julia try their best to get as close as they can to the actual dishes based on their experience recreating popular fast food items and the descriptions provided by the Filipino chain.

If you’re itching to try this at home, you can find the recipes here.

Just watching this makes me yearn for a trip to Jollibee, as a statue of the pleasant, comely bumblebee waves me inside the doors, the smell of fried chicken and burgers welcoming me, luring me to the register.

Visually, I think they nailed the execution. The sound of that first crunch is also music to our ears.

Our only disappointment was that they don’t show you how to make Jollibee’s incredibly addicting gravy.  Though that’s fair, because if I knew how to make that liquid gold at home, I’d never leave the house.

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#foodbeast Cravings Culture Features FOODBEAST Restaurants Video

Utensils Not Necessary For This Massive Filipino ‘Kamayan’ Feast

A kamayan style dinner in Filipino cuisine is one where utensils are not used and an extraordinary amount of food is eaten with one’s hands only. The impressive spread is served on top of banana leaves and can feature a decadent list of Filipino dishes that range from crispy fried pork belly (lechon kawali) to sweet cured sausages (longanisa) to a whole fried tilapia. Such tasty items rest atop a mountain of rice and make for a true eye-gasm on its incredible presentation alone.

Though this setup sounds like something out of your deepest cravings and wildest food fantasies, such a lavish feast can be found at MFK By Aysee in Anaheim, California. The modern Filipino restaurant serves up kamayan feasts on the regular, accommodating large parties to fulfill their insatiable appetites.

Served up by Chef Henry Pineda, the kamayan feast at MFK By Aysee is the perfect meal for your whole crew. Squad goals are easily met with one giant kamayan spread. Just imagine gathering up a proper band of hungry foodies, all with the singular objective to go HAM on the festive gala of gluttony laid before you.

Yeah, I know, I’m drooling, too.

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Sweets Tastemade/Snapchat

10 Sweet Ube Desserts You Need Right About Now

Ube seems to be every foodie’s new obsession, and with good reason. If you’re not sure what it is, ube is basically a purple yam, similar to a sweet potato, most notably found in Filipino cuisine. While ube tastes amazing and is extremely versatile to cook with, the veggie’s claim to fame is its beautiful purple hue. The stuff can make anything look good. Because ube deserves to be in your life if it isn’t already, here are some of our favorite ube desserts.

Ube Donut


See what we mean about the beautiful color? It’s so rare to find natural foods this vivid without any food dye, but ube has defied all odds. Manila Social Club in NYC started making these donuts and everyone went wild. We would literally hop on a plane and fly across the country for a dozen of these without any shame.

Ube Brioche Ice Cream Sandwich


Dear Lord, we can barely comprehend the amazingness that is in front of us. If you’re wondering, and you should be, this is ube ice cream toasted into a brioche bun with shiso granola and a little coconut dulce de leche for good measure. Yet another infectious concoction out of New York City. What’s in the water over there? The city sure knows its sweets.

Ube Velvet Whoopie Pie

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These are Ube whoopie pies. The cake is ube velvet, as opposed to red velvet, and the cream is ube gelato. That’s three delicious layers of ube in one amazing dessert. You know, this looks oddly similar to Sunday nights when we do meal prep. Oh, what a world it would be to eat ube whoopie pies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Ube Coffee Cake

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Okay, guys. This is ube coffee cake, so that means we’ve officially found a sweet ube treat that’s acceptable to eat for breakfast. This luscious goodie is topped with a coconut sugar walnut crumble, just for that added crunch. With that beautiful hue, how could you say no?

Ube Leche Flan Cupcake


To any known deity in the universe, all we ask of you is that some day we will be able to experience the deliciousness that is this ube cupcake. We would also like to point out that this little beauty is topped with leche flan instead of frosting. That’s just how Cafe 86, a Filipino joint located in Southern California, rolls.

Flores de Ube

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While we mentioned ube is commonly found in Filipino cuisine, none of the sweets we’ve listed so far are traditional applications of the ube. That ends here with these incredible Flores de Ube. Word on the street is you can get three of these these sweet, tasty rolls for only $1.99 at Valerio’s Tropical Bake Shop in Daly City, CA. Use whatever train, plane, or automobile to get there, stat.

Ube NiceCream


Sure, we’ve heard of “Nicecream.” It’s basically frozen bananas that somehow magically adopt the taste and texture of ice cream after being blended together. But we have never seen Ube Nicecream. Now you can indulge in a sweet ube treat that is, dare we say, actually healthy for you. Plus, if you have a blender, this will be a piece of cake to make.

Ube Upside Down Pie


Okay, so this basically looks like heaven in a jar. What is it, you ask? Well, this is an upside down ube pie with a graham cracker Greek yogurt crumble. Pineapple upside down cake is pretty visually stunning as is, but it might have some competition here. That gorgeous shade of purple just can’t be beat.

Ube Cinnamon Roll


Everyone loves cinnamon rolls. They’re the quintessential Sunday morning breakfast. We’ve spent so many weekend mornings curled up with a cup of coffee and a warm, sticky cinnamon roll, you don’t even want to know. It just doesn’t get better than that. Well, maybe we spoke too soon. This ube cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting and caramelized coconut sugar is definitely way better.

Ube Bread Pudding


Wow, this is absurd. We didn’t think anything could top Cafe 86’s ube cupcake with leche flan, but that was before we discovered their ube bread pudding with ube ice cream. What the heck. Just look how dense and delicious that bread pudding looks. And don’t even get us started on the ice cream. Drool.