Filipino food going global and hip, finally | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Filipino food may finally be getting its due attention stateside.

In Huffington Post’s roundup of 2011’s top new foods, “Nouveau Filipino” made it to the list, citing the chicken adobo taco of Adobo Hobo, a food truck in San Francisco, as well as New York’s Maharlika restaurant’s spicy arroz caldo, as among the dishes giving Pinoy cuisine a “hipster update” and an introduction to those largely unfamiliar with it.

Describe balut or sisig to non-Filipinos and they’re instantly intimidated, if not altogether disgusted. Filipino food to non-Filipinos is largely strange and offbeat—“far-out,” the Huff Post describes it—that it can never seem to take off in popularity in the same way as other Asian cuisine have. But the efforts of ethnic Filipino restaurateurs in the US may be changing that impression by serving Pinoy food cooked using classical techniques. In short, your lowly adobo gentrified.

In November, the New York Times featured Maharlika, a former pop-up restaurant (pop-ups are temporary eateries hosted in private homes or other restos to give exposure to new chefs or other culinary concepts), owned by three Fil-Ams that have found a permanent home in the East Village. (The NYT writer’s mother, incidentally, is from the Philippines.)

The Huff Post also links to another website ( about Maharlika, which it featured in June when it was a mere pop-up serving brunch of 7-Up-cured pork tocino; the abovementioned arroz caldo with, it writes with mirth, cow stomach; a dish called eggs Imelda that looks oddly like eggs Benedict, the quintessential American brunch fare. The similarity ends in the poached eggs, however: The dish is served on laing-topped pan de sal, with the large head of a grilled prawn sticking out on one side!

“…in terms of far-out food, it’s hard to beat Filipino,” even compared to “funky” Korean cuisine, writes Endless Simmer. Too wild, apparently, that its writers chickened out when finally faced with the balut.

For a time, Filipino food had quite a moment when Cendrillon in Manhattan was still around. The Filipino owners served Pan-Asian nouveau cuisine and got a lot of press. (They have since opened a new restaurant called Purple Yam in Brooklyn.)

In recent years, there have been new hip places in New York that are giving Pinoy food a second wind. There are, for instance, Umi Nom and Kuma Inn by a Daniel Bouloud-trained chef who spent summers with maternal relatives in the Philippines (he also worked at Cendrillon). Like Maharlika, they were both featured in NYT and New York magazine. Cheche V. Moral

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.