Hit R&B songstress H.E.R. and rapper Saweetie have always repped hard for their Filipino heritage, as both stars have Filipino mothers. On a recent IG Live this past February, they both broke down their top 3 Filipino foods.
Both started off showing their love for sinigang, a tamarind-based soup, followed by extra crispy lumpia, which are fried spring rolls. The two then cycle through some other popular dishes like adobo and kare kare, before seeming to settle on pancit, which make up a variety of noodle dishes, as the third.
Though they did seem to match up with their favorites, there was one Filipino food that Saweetie couldn’t make the connection with.
“I don’t like ube,” Saweetie sheepishly confessed.
“Aight, that’s one thing we don’t have in common,” laughed H.E.R.
Curious about Filipino food? Check out these massive Filipino food platters one restaurant is serving up.
The concept of a vegan lifestyle isn’t all that common in the Philippines, and though there is a burgeoning contingent of vegan Filipinos, there remains a dearth of vegan options in Filipino cuisine. That’s why my interest was piqued when I first started to hear the buzz around San & Wolves Bakeshop, which is the first all vegan Filipino bakeshop of its kind.
Owner Kym Estrada shared, “I’ve been vegan for a decade and I just wanted people to have a taste of my culture. I’ve met a lot of people like myself, and I thought to myself that I need to feed these people, because a lot of them would want the same things I want.”
Estrada pretty much makes everything from scratch, which then goes into the myriad of soy free, nut free, and palm oil free pastries. That level of control over foundational ingredients ensures a truly vegan product. Customers can get vegan versions of unique Filipino pastries like Ube Cinnamon Rolls, Chocolate Pandan Cake, and even Buko Pop-Tarts.
Check out the video above for a delicious dive into the vegan Filipino treats at San & Wolves Bakeshop.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.