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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Year in Food: Filipino Finds Its Voice

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Sisig from Hapa SF, a breakthrough dish in Filipino cuisine's breakthrough year. - JUN BELEN
  • Jun Belen
  • Sisig from Hapa SF, a breakthrough dish in Filipino cuisine's breakthrough year.

Twelve months, ten storylines: It's SFoodie's annual look back at the year in food.

click to enlarge Hapa SF's William Pilz. - GIL RIEGO JR.
  • Gil Riego Jr.
  • Hapa SF's William Pilz.

For years, Filipino cuisine was banished to the perimeter of mainstream, the victim of isolation, misconception, or the stubborn residue of America's 100-year-old judgment of the Philippine Islands as backward. The cuisine's limbo has been particularly hard to understand here in the Bay Area, where awareness of lumpia and adobo has seeped into even the palest regions of the outer 'burbs. There were glimmers of Filipino food's crossover prior to 2010, of course (anyone recall that Frances' predecessor at 3870 17th Street was a mod Filipino bistro?), even though nothing quite sparked. But in 2010 two factors converged to put Filipino on the Bay Area map once and for all.

First was the expansion of Filipino mobile vendors, starting with William Pilz's launch of Hapa SF in April, followed in June by Evan Kidera and Gil Payumo's Señor Sisig ― two trucks that probably wouldn't have been possible without the popularity of Adobo Hobo and Lumpia Cart, street vendors who emerged from the Mission's tweet-food wave of 2009.

Amy Besa of Brooklyn's Purple Yam, cooking a demo at the Filipino Flavors symposium in May. - JUN BELEN
  • Jun Belen
  • Amy Besa of Brooklyn's Purple Yam, cooking a demo at the Filipino Flavors symposium in May.

The second factor? The energy swirling around May's Filipino Flavors symposium, organized by the Asian Culinary Forum. The symposium's panel (Tim Luym and Kelly Degala among them) on the future of Filipino food gave SFoodie blogger and Jun-Blog creator Jun Belen a sense of optimism that the cuisine of kare-kare and sinigang had broken through the mainstream bubble. That led to excitement about the Kulinarya cooking competition, followed by William Pilz's stellar pulutan pop-up, followed by the launch of Jay-Ar Pugao's No Worries vegan Filipino place, followed by ....

Other 2010 trends:
- Local Media Explodes
- Big-Ticket Dining Surges

- Pizza Pizza Pizza Pizza

- Vegan Goes Mainstream

- Cocktails Get More Respect

- DIY Revolution

- Coffee Seeps Farther

- Street Food Gets Serious

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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