Got a craving for deep-fried pork knuckle (crispy pata) or purple yam ice cream with all the fixings (halo-halo)? The best Filipino food in the Bay Area is concentrated on the Peninsula, and hounds all have their favorites.
“The trick is to find out which restaurant does which dishes well,” says pilinut. She calls
Tribu Grill her favorite Filipino restaurant, and says it offers a dizzying list of dishes to order:
• Chicken inasal, or chicken marinated in citrus, garlic, lemongrass, vinegar, and achiote oil and grilled
• Bagoong rice, which puts a Filipino spin on a Thai dish with shrimp-paste rice tipped with green mango, pork, egg, and tomato
• Crispy pata
• Sisig, a.k.a. “sizzling pig’s face”
• Daing na bangus, fried marinated milkfish
• Filipino-style barbecue pork and chicken
• Bibingka, sweet baked rice cake
However, she adds, Tribu’s kare-kare (oxtail stew) and pinakbet (vegetable stew) aren’t thrilling.
Pilinut’s mom likes the crispy pata at Patio Filipino, which also offers a nice binagoong baboy, or deep-fried pork belly cooked with shrimp paste. EnderWiggin puts in a vote for the bone marrow soup and crispy lechon (fried pork), and sfbing loves the oxtail calderata with olives, and the halo-halo, an unusual version that comes stuffed in a coconut. But avoid the paella, pilinut says, unless you enjoy the taste of Knorr/Maggi bottled seasoning.
Alimango is hotlipshoagie’s favorite. Word is the coconut crab is delicious, with the delicate flavor of crab standing up to the assertive coconut. But the food is markedly better on weekdays; the place doesn’t seem to be adequately staffed for weekends.
Toppings Too Restaurant is a no-frills place with delicious, fresh-tasting food, says pushslice, who recommends the laing (coconut-cooked taro leaves), sisig, and diniguan, pork stew with blood. Fried pork belly (inihaw na liempo) is really good, adds westcoaststyle. For dessert, try cold taho (bean curd, syrup, and tapioca). The Union City location is more of a takeout joint, while Toppings Restaurant in South San Francisco/Daly City has plenty of tables and seating.
Good Bites Cafe in Belmont has quick, inexpensive lunches. Arroz caldo, a Filipino-style rice porridge, and chicken or pork adobo are the real thing, says pilinut, and so are the Filipino breakfasts with garlic rice, really good fried eggs, and choice of milkfish, longanisa sausage, and even Spam.
Finally, there’s a certain primal satisfaction to tearing into deep-fried meats, which abound in Filipino cuisine. EnderWiggin likes the crispy pata and crispy fried beef ribs at Max’s of the Philippines.
Tribu Grill [Peninsula]
235 El Camino Real, San Bruno
Patio Filipino [Peninsula]
1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno
3708 South El Camino Real, San Mateo
Toppings Too Restaurant [East Bay]
3910 Smith Street, Union City
Toppings Restaurant [South San Francisco]
2215 Gellert Boulevard, South San Francisco
Good Bites Cafe [Peninsula]
1504 El Camino Real, Belmont
Max’s of the Philippines [South San Francisco]
1155 El Camino Real, South San Francisco
Board Link: Filipino food - best around the bay?