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San Francisco’s pop-up of the year is Filipino |

Food and Leisure

San Francisco’s pop-up of the year is Filipino

IN BETWEEN DEADLINES - Cheryl Tiu - The Philippine Star
San Franciscoâs pop-up of the year is Filipino
A sampling of some of Pinoy Heritage’s small plates served at cocktail bars Pacific Cocktail Haven and Anina, where they pop up five to six times a month
Photo by Francis Ang

From tasting menus to kamayan nights, Pinoy Heritage, founded as a reaction to Typhoon Yolanda, has been making waves in the Bay Area.

At the end of every year, the Eater Awards recognizes establishments across the 24 cities it is present in that “have taken their cities by storm.” These are the restaurants that “emerged as community hubs, the bars that became destinations, the pop-ups that made waves, and the chefs who made an impact on the local dining scene and perhaps beyond.”

Their version of the tinolang halaan turns the clam broth into a custard. Photo by Anna Voloshyna

In San Francisco, the 2018 Eater Pop-Up of The Year is Pinoy Heritage, which won both the editor’s choice and reader’s choice awards.

Born out of Typhoon Yolanda

Pinoy Heritage is a contemporary Filipino pop-up founded by husband-and-wife Francis and Dian Ang as a reaction to a catastrophe.

Lechon pork belly, which they braise before frying to a crisp.

“In 2013, we were visiting Dian’s family in Eastern Samar when Typhoon Yolanda hit,” Francis shared. “Borongan, where we were, was one of the few towns that survived. We did what we could to help onsite, then came back to San Francisco and did a fundraiser with 100-percent Filipino food. It was so well-received that it made us realize what we wanted to do with our careers.” Prior to that, Francis had cut his teeth at the two-Michelin-starred Taj Campton Place (he still designs their pastry menus to this date), as well as Gary Danko (whom he trained under personally), Fifth Floor, Dirty Habit and Copenhagen Bakery.

Today, Diane runs the front of house and puts together their private events, while Francis and the newest member of the team, their kumare Danica Aviles, take care of the back of house.

From bar chow to tasting menus to kamayan nights

“What we do blends the flavor profiles from our heritage and travels, highlighting the amazing ingredients available in California, greatly influenced by our personal experiences from the restaurants we worked at,” explains Francis. “We shop at the farmer’s market three to four times a week. We are constantly inspired by the farmers and the season’s availability.”

The Pinoy Heritage team: Francis Ang, Danica Aviles, Dian Ang and baby Dominique

Their pop-ups take on multiple formats: 1) eight-course tasting menus that reinterpret classic Filipino dishes with technique, i.e., lumpiang sariwa made with buckwheat crepe topped with spring vegetables; tinolang halaan’s clam broth turned into a custard, dressing the clams in candied Meyer lemon and served with dill oil (held on Saturdays at Mestiza Taqueria); 2) kamayan dinners, where tables are lined with banana leaves and guests are encouraged to eat a spread of laid-out dishes like laing chouquette with sturgeon caviar to four-hours-smoked lechon belly and lechon manok with their hands (held every last Saturday at Mestiza Taqueria); and 3) small plates at cocktail bars, where they serve up dishes like sisig fried rice, inihaw skewers and ngo hiong smoked ribs (held five to six times a month at Pacific Cocktail Haven or Anina).

“We don’t play it safe,” adds Francis. “Even if we are just two cooks, we won’t shy away from a 13-course dinner. We go all out and never use ‘We’re a pop-up’ as an excuse to give anything less than a full restaurant experience.”

A rising star Chef

And this has certainly not gone unnoticed. The San Francisco Chronicle named Francis one of their 2018 Rising Star Chefs, whom they believe “will influence — and lead — tomorrow’s restaurant industry.”

An elevated version of lumpiang sariwa: Buckwheat crepe with spring vegetables, crispy tofu and black garlic

Pinoy Heritage was also named by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association as the 2018 Exceptional Non-Brick and Mortar Restaurant of the Year. 

Having flown the Philippine flag so high in 2018, what are their plans for 2019?

“We will be working hard to establish a brick-and-mortar,” Francis shared, adding that they are due for another culinary research trip to the Philippines, and are planning to eat and cook their way through Mindanao soon.

Sisig fried rice Photo by Melissa de Mata

“We’ve also welcomed a new addition to the family, our son Dominique. Expect a sighting or two from our little chef, and of course, we will be doing what we do best: cooking adventures, unique and satisfying Filipino food for you all.”

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For more information on Pinoy Heritage, visit their website at, their Instagram @pinoyheritage, Facebook page at Pinoyheritagepopup or email

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