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[Image via the Travel Channel]
Before Anthony Sinsay (Burlap, La Villa) leaves for Los Angeles, where he's rejoining Brian Marlarkey's Fabric of Social Dining restaurants and helping to head up the kitchen at the new Herringbone in the Mondrian hotel, Eater asked the San Diego native to curate a day of eating that highlights the best of the local Filipino food landscape.
Sinsay was a culinary tour guide for Andrew Zimmern when the Bizzare Foods America host was here filming his San Diego episode; after his visit, Zimmern declared Filipino food "the next big thing".
Here now, in his own words, is chef Sinsay describing his ideal day of eating:
I would start the day off at Valerio's Bakery in South San Diego. I would spend many mornings there getting fresh pan de sal or bitsou bitsou (a fried sugary filipino donut) with my mother.
For lunch, a favorite of mine is always Tita's Kitchenette in National City. Make sure to get there early enough because the sisig is a big seller and will sell out quickly. Also if they have it lechon kawali is always a good idea! Roasted pork served with a sauce of garlic, vinegar and a few pieces of offal for good measure is never a bad thing or a classic Filipino favorite, dinaguan, a stew of pork parts simmered with pork blood and chilis. As a kid we were introduced to it as "chocolate meat" because of its dark black color, as a way to trick us into eating it. By the time we were old enough to realize what it was, we had already acquired a taste for it.
As merienda my favorite snack is "ukoy", a shrimp and bean sprout fritter at Lisa's Filipino Cuisine (1210 E Plaza Blvd). It's crispy whole shrimp with bean sprouts fried and served with garlic vinegar or sukat bawang and if you're there you might as well grab some chicharrone manok (crispy fried chicken skins) as well.
Another favorite midday snack, at Gemmae Bake Shop in Mira Mesa, are crispy dilis, fried baby silver fish lso served with the Filipino "ketchup", sukat bawang. If youre in the mood for something a little sweeter, get the turrone, a sweet banana lumpia with a coating of caramelized sugar.
Kalye Hits in National City one of the places I took Andrew Zimmern for our filming of Bizzare Foods and it's a great night time spot. Filipino street food is the focus with clever names to the items, like "walkman" and "addidas" referring to pig ears and chicken feet respectively. Other items that are equally delicious but even more adventurous are the coagulated pork blood skewer or the intestine skewers of beef or pork.
To finish things off I always have to have a frozen treat of halo-halo from Conching's in National City. Shaved ice with evaporated milk, sweet beans, jackfruit, and tons of other garnishes topped with leche flan and a scoop of ube ice cream. To me, halo halo is not halo halo unless it turns purple from the ube (a purple yam).