Sunday Smorgasburg


An all-you-can-eat was called smorgasbord when I was still the budding foodie in an apple haircut (or was it a mushroom?). The word became passé and buffet was in. That was in the Philippines.

Fast forward to today, I meet Smorgasburg in Downtown Los Angeles, an offshoot of the once a week open-air food market in New York, Smorgasburg, dubbed the Woodstock of eating by the NY Times.

Smorgasburg LA, which likewise attracts loads and loads of foodies, is a mammoth market at the back of the now defunct American Apparel headquarters, open on Sundays only since 2016. Under the Cali sunshine, it’s impossible to meet all the passionate artisans, crafters, chefs, visionaries, future entrepreneurs, fellow food lovers from all walks of life and ages.


So on my first Smorgasburg adventure, I had lobster from Lobsterdamus, and Ericke had Hawaiian shrimps from Shrimp Daddy.


The garlic noodles that came with my grilled lobster with Cajun butter sauce was supergood, tasting exactly like the “anemic” pancit in Ilocos. If I go back again to Smorgasburg, I’m going to get the same noodles, noodles only for 6 bucks, everything planted in my head!

I’ve already heard good things about Ensaymada Project, but never had one. I intended to try the bestselling ube, but was sold out. Queso de bola made me forget the slight dismay.


We bought more than a dozen. Quezo de bola and classic cheese with beautiful texture, were so good. I don’t like fancy ensaymada so much, but the salted caramel and mocha nutella, especially when warmed, were really nice with coffee.

Seeing a kababayan in a muticultural locale enlivened me because a lovely dimension of the Filipino food culture gets represented. The next natural thing to do, a photo with owner Chari Heredia-Reyes, a pretty and pleasant lady who happens to be related to the Savellanos of Ilocos Sur.


When in LA, Smorgasburg is the place to be for a single-day food exploration. All in all, there are 65 vendors. There’s beer at the bar and the ice cream alley is worth checking out. Don’t forget!

Till my next post. Bye.


Ma’am/Sir opens in Silver Lake


Lucky to have walked in with success to the barely three-week old Ma’am/Sir in uberhip Silver Lake.

For someone who has lived or visited the Philippines, ma’am and sir automatically follow every greeting to the point of amusement. Respect like hospitality is ingrained in the Filipino culture. For all that, a very cute name for a trendy Filipino food spot in Los Angeles showcasing the audacious flavors of the Philippine Islands.

Chef Charles Olalia, formerly of Patina, a Michelin star rated French restaurant at the Disney Concert Hall, among his other previous training grounds, creates contemporary Filipino fare inspired by his Kapangpangan roots. His sweet longaniza and pancit luglug, dishes I’ve tried at his thriving RiceBar on 7th Street in Downtown Los Angeles surpass even the best back home.


Pinoy Baby Boomers and also Gen Xers can relate to hanged framed magazine pages with basketball stars of the Philippine MICAA era, iconic Larry Mumar, Francis Arnaiz, Bogs Adornado, and Jaworski, to name a few.


When trying a place for the very first time, I always end up overordering. I was expecting the Ilocos empanada as inspo behind the Impossible Empanada coz it sounded like the empanada I grew up with, what with a longaniza and shredded papaya filling? Nonetheless satisfying, it arrived in a flaky pastry shell, more like the Spanish-influenced traditional Filipino empanada, yet with a unique longaniza and papaya atchara fill.


Kare-Kare comes, of course, with the essential bagoong (fish paste). It brings out the very best in oxtail stew, and white rice is the best accompaniment for this rich kind of ulam.


I was happiest with my banana-mango bibingka (sticky rice cake), very traditional with its texture and overall taste. The fancy Chantilly cream and edible flowers make the otherwise plain-looking bibingka luxurious.

Fil-Ams in the gentrified Silver Lake and Echo Park neighborhoods, not to mention the Historic Filipinotown, can’t be happier with the arrival of Ma’am/Sir. And all the ma’ams and sirs wanting to explore vibrant Filipino culture, or who have already embraced Filipino cookery.


LA’s République


I’ve already posted about the newest baby of chefs Walter and Margarita Manzke’s Sari Sari Store, at the Los Angeles Grand Central Market, and its modern Filipino menu, which is attracting Angelenos and tourists alike. Now, here’s my latest visit (in fact, just an hour back) at République, their posh space on La Brea. The Manzkes are also part owners of Wildflour Cafe + Bakery in the Philippines. Btw, reclaimed wood from the Philippines provides an old world charm.


The last time I was there, I had croque madame and sticky bomb (yummy!). With an extensive brunch menu, I couldn’t decide what to get, so had breakfast like I’m not going back again. Got two toasts — the popular mushroom toast with house-cured ham, egg and gruyere cheese, and burrata and bacon toast, with poached egg, avocado and jalapeño. Both were delicious, making my Monday a great start of a new week. Finished with a glass of iced Vietnamese latte.

Bought some goodies from the bakery.

Hope to also have dinner here soon.


My next post is all about the latest Filipino spot in LA