Southern California claims one of the largest Filipino communities outside of the Philippines, and great Filipino food in LA has always been around -- just take a look at Bernie’s Teriyaki in Echo Park, Max’s in Glendale, or L.A. Rose Café in Hollywood.
The Philippines has absorbed a hodgepodge of foreign influence after centuries of trade and colonization, so the cuisine’s tough to categorize. “Most Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines have defining traits, but our cuisine is a mix of Chinese, Malaysian, Spanish, American, and indigenous flavors, techniques, and recipes,” explains General Manager Chase Valencia, who opened acclaimed Filipino restaurant LASA along with his brother, chef Chad. “Down south you’ve got curries and Islamic culture, while up north, it’s more seafood and pork-driven.” Then there are the “fear factor” dishes, like balut (fertilized duck egg) or dinuguan (pork blood stew), which play a role in skewing people’s perspectives.
If LASA’s early success is any proof, though, Los Angeles is ready to embrace Filipino food, and these seven restaurants are the perfect introduction, from the progressive and modern to the totally traditional.