Restaurants / Bars

These Chefs and Restaurants are Reintroducing Filipino Food to the World

October 2, 2019

A few years ago, chef, columnist and TV star Andrew Zimmern declared Filipino food as the next big thing. While it isn’t as ubiquitous as Korean has become after David Chang’s hybrid version hit the dining scene, it is definitely making its mark across the United States. The Filipino food movement abroad is spearheaded by young chefs rediscovering their heritage, desperate to share their cuisine with the world, whether through food trucks, stalls at food markets, or neighborhood restaurants. Slowly, the flavors of Filipino cuisine have become more and more popular; even chefs with no background or upbringing in the cuisine have adopted some of our flavors. NYC darling April Bloomfield, known for first bringing the gastropub to New York, held Filipino nights in The Spotted Pig, while hip LA chef Ilan Hall is serving up whole pig’s head with calamansi at his spot, The Gorbals. Here are just a few of these chefs and restaurants delivering Filipino food to the modern diner.

1. Pig and Khao

Growing up with a Filipina mother, Chef Leah Cohen was always inspired by the cuisine of Southeast Asia. After extensive travel in the region, Cohen was finally inspired to craft plates that were an ode to both her heritage and her time spent backpacking across cities.The food at Pig and Khao straddles the border between Thai and Filipino cuisine, with ingredients that reflect her Asian sensibilities. Known for their luxurious brunches, at Pig and Khao, Cohen fully embraces the flavors of Southeast Asia without holding back. There are more traditional takes such as sizzling sisig, champorado and longganisa, but the adobo enhanced with Szechuan peppercorns, and Bicol express with short rib are truly Cohen’s own.

Pig and Khao
68 Clinton Street,
New York, NY 10002

2. Ugly Kitchen

In a town with a pulsating nightlife and littered with one bar after the other, how does one make things different? Ugly Kitchen strays away from the norm by offering a gastropub in the East Village that is inspired by Asian and Filipino cuisine. Where else can you find a Weng-Weng in New York? Ugly Kitchen turns the traditional Filipino restaurant on its head, serving Kamayan dinners on several weekdays, and opening their doors to East Village wanderers into the early hours of the morning on the weekend. The place offers up some street snacks to soak up your Weng-Weng including balut (called Ugly Duckling here), deep fried isaw, and fishballs.

Ugly Kitchen
103 First Avenue
New York, NY 10003

3. Qui

Calling Paul Qui talented would be an understatement—the young chef has won a James Beard award, a season of Top Chef, and has been named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2014. Born in Manila, his approach to food is more modern, inspired by both Asian and European techniques and flavors. At his flagship restaurant Qui, the menu changes often, but his food is always a balance between his heritage and his culinary background. Food and Wine calls his dinuguan with gnocchi his quintessential dish, and Filipino-inspired peanut curry and adobo often make an appearance on his menu. While known for his refined style, Qui also operates a mini empire of food trucks and restaurants that serve everything from ramen to karaage to pork buns, called East Side King, with various locations across Austin .

1600 E 6th Street
Austin, Texas 78702

4. Pork Slope and Talde

Dale Talde has three restaurants in New York City, which is an incredible feat especially considering the frenetic beat of the city. No matter; Talde’s three establishments have earned critical acclaim, and the Filipino-American chef has built himself a steady following. While Pork Slope is more roadhouse-style Americana, the eponymous Talde is all about the Asian influence from the chef’s childhood and his experience at restaurants like Morimoto. There are Chinese-inspired dishes like pork dumplings and king crab fried rice, but Talde serves up a mean short rib kare kare and pork with atchara dish, too.

Pork Slope
247 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

369 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

5. Lumpia Shack Snackbar

First making a name for themselves in Brooklyn flea food market Smorgasburg, Lumpia Shack is run by Neil Syham and his wife, Angie Roca. They first started out serving just the famous snack at their stall, creating both fresh and fried versions of the rolls, tweaked only to reflect the fresh ingredients available during the season. Their brick-and-mortar establishment in the West Village serves their famous lumpia of course, but there is also an expanded and more extensive menu. There is sisig over rice, crispy pata fries, and Bicol Express made with chicken.

Lumpia Shack Snackbar
50 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10014

6. Maharlika, Jeepney

This list definitely wouldn’t be complete without the folks at Maharlika, which some credit as being one of the first of the modern Filipino restaurants in New York. Maharlika first started as a pop-up, becoming a full-fledged restaurant back in 2011. Since then, it has won various awards, including accolades for Enzo Lim’s cocktails. Its younger sister, Jeepney, has had its fair share of the spotlight, too, recently winning Time Out New York’s 2014 Battle of the Burger with their Chori Burger, a creation that comes with a slick of Maggi aioli and the essential Filipino condiment banana ketchup.

111 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

201 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003

7. Migrant Maui

Migrant Maui’s cuisine is exactly like its chef, Sheldon Simeon. The Filipino-American, who grew up in Hawaii, has been influenced by so many different cultures around him, turning his restaurant into a veritable melting pot. Hawaiian cuisine is formed from many others—the Island food of Polynesian settlers, the footprints of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Filipino immigrants among others—and this is what is reflected in Simeon’s cooking. On his appearance on cooking show Top Chef, Simeon won a challenge creating sinigang, which was an ode to his migrant roots. Here, the Filipino influence is just as pronounced, with a Tocino dish made of Sprite-marinated pork shoulder, and pancit noodles with pork belly, shrimp and achuete, appearing on the menu.

Migrant Maui
Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa
3700 Wailea Alanui Dr
Kihei, HI 96753

8. Lakwatsa

For those living in London, Filipino restaurants were usually only found in Filipino communities, and were almost always mom-and-pop shops that had weekend buffets and TFC playing on TV screens. Lakwatsa, located in Notting Hill, is really the first of its kind, offering up merienda to the growing number of young Filipinos moving to the capital. The tea lounge is a relaxing hangout, fitting in amongst the eclecticism of its neighborhood. The menu is short and simple, including lumpia, adobo rice balls, and their famous version of our halo-halo.

7 Blenheim Crescent
Notting Hill, London W11 2EE
United Kingdom<h/4>

Have you tried any of these places abroad? Who are your favorite international Filipino chefs? Do you think Filipino food has the ability to make it worldwide? Tell us what you think below!

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

2 comments in this post SHOW

2 responses to “These Chefs and Restaurants are Reintroducing Filipino Food to the World”

  1. Filipino food lover says:

    You need to check out Lamesa in Toronto Canada.

  2. Dustin says:

    Pork Slope has closed and Chef Dale Talde and Co. has opened Atlantic Social BK not to far away.

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