This Filipino restaurant is becoming one of the best food spots in California

Published July 26, 2022, 8:52 AM

by John Legaspi

Chef Francis Ang and his wife Dian’s Abacá restaurant is serving the best Filipino food in San Francisco

Food is among the best way to discover one’s culture. Each dish tells a story that is beyond just sustenance, making a novice diner part of a cultural experience. In San Francisco, California, a restaurant is taking people on a gastronomic journey to the Philippines with its special takes on Pinoy cuisine. 

Launched in August 2021, Abacá restaurant is one of the newest addition to the Bay Area’s list of Filipino food spots. Led by Chef Francis Ang and his wife Dian, the restaurant’s goal is to showcase “the beauty and vibrance of Filipino culture and cuisine” while “honoring old family recipes and flavors.”

Dian and Chef Francis Ang (Photo from @restaurantabaca)

This is not the first time the couple introduced Filpino food culture in the US. Their journey started in 2013 when they were stranded in the Philippines due to Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). During that time, Chef Francis and Dian put all their effort to feed the affected communities. And when they returned to San Francisco, they want to continue the bayanihan spirit by launching a fundraiser at Fifth Floor where they feature local cuisine. The people’s great response to the food served led to their eureka moment in pushing Filipino food globally. 

While he was born in San Francisco, Chef Francis spent some of his childhood years in the Philippines, which has done a lot when it comes to introducing him to Filipino cuisine thanks to his family’s kitchen in Manila. His wife Dian has been to the Philippines on many occasions, spending her time with her family in the province of Samar. In 2016, they decided to broaden their knowledge of Filipino cuisine and traveled the country for six months, “studying the local cuisine from origin to evolution.” This has led to the building of their Pinoy Heritage pop-up, and today with Abacá.

Abacá restaurant (Photos from @restaurantabaca)

Dubbed by San Francisco Chronicle as the “city’s first upscale Filipino restaurant,” Abacá is dedicated to serving nothing but great Filipino food crafted with the best ingredients sourced in California. “A lot of these recipes, it’s just us interpreting it into our own with California ingredients and produce and something we may have learned from like, literally, cooking with a tita on the street or somebody’s yaya,” Chef Francis tells Eater

Some of the restaurant’s stand-out dishes are its spin on the classic pancit with their in-house made noodles and the addition of scallops. Diners are also in for a good Filipino feast with its kanin offerings like their sisig fired rice, which we bet is paired the best with their Lola’s pork lumpia or their bite-sized skewer version of the longganisa. 

As for the sweets, Abacá serves a variety of bakes reminiscent of the ones Filipinos see in humble local bakeries like the pan de coco and ensaymada. The latter comes in two flavors, ube macapuno and truffle cheese. The restaurant’s bar is also spotlighting Filipino flavors like pandan, ube, calamansi, and even tamarind for their special cocktail. 

Currently, Abacá is recognized as one of the best new food spots in America by many publications and new sites such as Esquire, Infatuation San Francisco, and Eater. With its modern take on Filipino cuisine, we are sure Chef Francis and Dian’s restaurant will continue to be a food haven to many diners in the future, whether they are Filipinos or not.

Abacá restaurant is located inside the Kimpton Alton Hotel in San Francisco, California. 

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