There Are More than 52 Things to Order at Hawai‘i’s First Filipino Food Week
20 restaurants on O‘ahu and Maui offer special Filipino dishes, many featuring coconut, June 9 through 15.
Chef ron de guzman's kinilaw is one of the items on stage restaurant's special filipino food week.
Photos: Kimber Shaw
Platters of tocino (a sweet cured pork) tacos and pork adobo slathered on pandesal, Filipino rolls, swirled around Stage Restaurant’s posh Cupola event space on Wednesday evening in Honolulu.
With soft curls pinned behind one ear with a jasmine flower, Miss Philippines Hawaiʻi, Lauren Cabrera, quietly tiptoed to the front of the room and stunned the audience with powerful performances of the national anthems of the Philippines and the United States and the state anthem of Hawaiʻi.
Welcome to Hawaiʻi’s first Filipino Food Week.
Restaurants on Oʻahu and Maui, both Filipino and non-Filipino, are putting the flavors of the Philippines front and center from June 9 to 15. The week coincides with the Philippines’ Independence Day, June 12.
Filipinos began immigrating to Hawaiʻi more than 100 years ago during the plantation era. They constitute the largest ethnic group here today and play a huge role in local culture. But historically, the cuisine has been largely relegated to Filipino restaurants in mostly Filipino communities.
This is starting to change. Celebrity chef Sheldon Simeon opened Lineage last year on Maui with a large portion of his menu dedicated to elevated Filipino family recipes. Chef Ron de Guzman honors his heritage with Filipino-inspired dishes such as braised pork adobo arancini at Stage Restaurant and Amuse Wine Bar. (Scroll down for the complete list of restaurants and menus.)
Filipino Food Week is designed to take these strides even further. The Philippine Consulate General created the event to inspire restaurants to use Filipino food products, and to generate wider appreciation for the flavors and culture, especially among locals with Filipino ancestry, said Vice Consul Andrea Christina Q. Caymo at the kickoff gathering.
The themed ingredient for the week is coconut. Participating restaurants must feature coconut in at least one dish. Whichever establishment sells the most specials this week will win two tickets to the Philippines, which includes an educational culinary tour.
De Guzman, whose family is from Pangasinan, a province in the northern Philippines, is offering a three-course tasting menu at Stage Restaurant.
The menu starts with an amuse bouche of lightly battered and fried anchovy served with a citrus aioli. It’s a riff on the Filipino dilis, fried anchovy or smelt—de Guzman likes to eat it over rice with a cold beer.
Next up is his version of kinilaw, a Spanish-inspired dish similar to ceviche from the southern Filipino province of Cebu. Slices of raw buttery Kona kampachi swim in a lime-kissed coconut milk broth studded with crunchy ogo, Big Island heart of palm, razor-thin slices of radish and Spanish onion with delicate micro shiso.
kare kare at stage restaurant.
From there, out comes a bowl of cozy kare kare—the stew is de Guzman’s favorite Filipino dish. He swaps the oxtail for short ribs and braises them in annatto, fish sauce, tomato and peanut butter. Taro leaves simmered in coconut milk with ong choy and shiitake mushrooms complete the dish along with a drizzle of fermented shrimp paste and ground peanuts for saltiness. Jasmine rice coated in crumbled crispy garlic and cilantro, a take on Filipino garlic rice, is served on the side.
Because Filipino dishes are mainly stews, soups and barbecue, they often are served simply in a bowl with rice. The food week has challenged de Guzman to rethink dishes and to deconstruct them into elegant plates.
“The hard thing about Filipino food is translating it to our type of dining experience,” de Guzman says. “The presentation part is the challenge.”
The dessert is by chef Cainan Sabey, whose grandparents came from Cebu. He is serving a coconut-leche flan that is as silky as slipping into satin sheets. Its garnish—mango caviar, a tiny bouquet of edible flowers and a mango-calamansi compote—bursts with the ripe sweetness of summer. A quenelle of calamansi-lime sherbet also rests in a soft mountain of coconut powder in the bowl.
“I’ve always liked Filipino desserts,” Sabey says.
Elena’s, a restaurant that specializes in homestyle Ilocano cuisine, from the Ilocos region in northern Philippines, does not usually include coconut on its menu. Co-owner Mellissa Cedillo explains that coconut is used only for desserts in this region north of Manila, where her family is from. So Elena’s contribution to Filipino Food Week is a coconut dessert sampler (see below) created by cooks Adel Flores, Yolanda Cadiz and Jowell Acob.
The restaurant’s name and recipes come from Cedillo’s mom, Elena. Elena taught Filipino immigrants how to cook and employed them as the restaurant’s staff. She empowered them to use their creativity in their dishes, which they showcase in their dessert sampler.
Tiano’s, which offers Filipino-American cuisine, will feature a four-course dinner (see menu below). Chef/owner Joel Navasca is from Cebu, where coconut is prevalent. He also will be serving kinilaw, made with fresh ‘ahi in a vibrant marinade of sweet vinegar, calamansi, ginger, Thai chiles, cucumber, tomato, sweet Maui onions and coconut milk.
Adriene-Joy Jataas, owner of Ubae bakeshop, grew up eating her grandma’s ube halaya, or ube jam, a dessert made from mashed purple yam. She opened Ubae after noticing that ube was not a well-known ingredient in Hawai‘i.
SEE ALSO: Best of HONOLULU 2018: Food
“Ube is such an important part of our culture, of our heritage, we hope that people see the color and see how vibrant it is and they get curious,” Jataas says. “We hope that, by trying ube, that it would open doors for them to try other Filipino food.”
Jataas is offering dairy-free coconut-ube soft serve ice cream and ube-coconut crinkle cookies.
If you would like to sample these and other special dishes and to learn more about Filipino cuisine this week, below is a list of participating restaurants and their menus. You also can join daily restaurant crawls in which Filipino Food Week ambassadors educate diners on Filipino cuisine, history and culture while you sample featured dishes. The consulate encourages diners to share their experiences and food pics on social media with hashtags: #FilipinoFoodWeekHawaii #FFW2019 #Pride4PH #itsmorefuninthePhilippines and follow @FilipinoFoodWeekHawaii on Facebook and Instagram.
Learn more at on their website at filipinofoodweekhawaii.com.
Café Julia at YWCA
June 12 to 14
Chicken adobo with rice and salad ($15)
Fried pork belly “Kawali-style” with rice and stewed Asian vegetables ($18)
1040 Richards St., (808) 533-3334, cafejuliahawaii.net
June 9 to 13
Family-style dinner, a minimum of two people, $50 a person:
Appetizer: vegetable lumpia with sweet-and-sour pineapple plum sauce and sinigang soup with pork ribs, tomato, onion, taro, long beans, chile and tamarind
Entrées: crispy tilapia with garlic patis dipping sauce; Filipino chicken curry with coconut milk, potatoes and bell pepper; stir-fried lechon with crispy basil steamed rice
Dessert: halo-halo with tapioca, coconut milk, red beans, jackfruit, ube and strawberry ice
1009 Kap‘iolani Blvd., (808) 585-0011, chefchai.com
Kamayan-style set menu for four people, $65 per person
Crispy pata (deep-fried pig knuckles)
Inihaw na panpano (grilled fish)
Dinuguan (meat simmered in rich gravy made of pig blood)
Inihaw na manok (grilled chicken)
Buko juice (young coconut juice with coconut pulp)
Special à la carte coconut dish: pork binagoongan
94-235 Hanawai Circle, Waipahu, (808) 677-2992, danasrestaurantwaipahu.com
Eating House 1849
Halo-halo with ube ice cream
2330 Kalākaua Ave., #322, (808) 924-1849, eatinghouse1849.com
Elena’s – Home of Finest Filipino Foods
Coconut dessert sampler
Ginataan, mochi and tapioca in warm coconut milk with sweet potato and coconut
Biko, sweet mochi-rice cake flavored with brown sugar and coconut
Dila dila, mochi-rice dessert covered in coconut milk and shredded coconut
94-866 Moloalo St., #D4A, Waipahu, (808) 676-8005, elenasrestaurant.com
Hale‘iwa Beach House
Rapsa Mojito: Light rum, mint leaves, sweet-and-sour mix, mango purée, coconut water and soda, garnished with mint leaf and a wedge of calamansi
Swabe Mai Tai: Mango purée, pineapple juice, coconut syrup, float of dark rum, garnished with pineapple, cherry and a wedge of calamansi
62-540 Kamehameha Highway, Haleʻiwa, (808) 637-3435, haleiwabeachhouse.com
Fresh-catch ginataang: fresh fish fried, then simmered in a spicy coconut milk sauce with malunggay (moringa), baby bok choy and pandan-steamed rice ($28)
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Level Three, (808) 951-3420, neimanmarcushawaii.com
Seafood binakol: Seafood simmered in coconut juice and lemongrass with assorted vegetables
Bicol Express: Deep-fried pork belly in shrimp paste seasoned with coconut milk
Chicken adobo sa gata: Adobo chicken with coconut milk
Buko pandan: Young coconut strips mixed with pandan leaf (screw pine) gelatin and tapioca in a fluffy cream sauce served with macapuno (coconut) ice cream and rice flakes
801 Dillingham Blvd., (808) 599-5033, and 24-300 Farrington Highway, Building F, Waipahu, (808) 676-1504, maxsrestaurantusa.com
Fresh Hawaiian fish ceviche (a take on kinilaw) with ‘Ai Manuahi Farms Tahitian lime, shaved young coconut, jalapeño and cilantro
1108 Auahi St., (808) 215-0022, merrimanshawaii.com
Adobo fried chicken
3434 Wai‘alae Ave., (808) 732-3838
Special tasting menu, $60 per person
Amuse bouche: dilis, fried anchovies with spicy aioli
First course: kinilaw, Kona kampachi, coconut milk, ogo, lime juice, fresh chile, onions
Second course: kare-kare-style braised beef short ribs with ong choy, shiitake mushrooms; laing, coconut-braised taro leaf; and jasmine rice
Dessert: Coconut flan with mango caviar, macerated mango, calamansi sherbet and coconut powder
1250 Kapi‘olani Blvd., (808) 237-5429, stagerestauranthawaii.com
Shareable four-course meal for two, $55 each
Tiano’s Chef Salad with coconut balsamic vinaigrette
‘Ahi kinilaw with coconut milk
Shareable fresh ‘ahi katsu with coconut and garlic aioli sauce over coconut-scented furikake jasmine rice
Banana lumpia topped with coconut-caramel sauce and served with a side of coconut-ube ice cream
91-1001 Kaimalie St., Suite B203, ‘Ewa Beach, (808) 689-9989, and 94-673 Kupuohi St., Waipahu, (808) 379-1160, mytianos.com
Tiki’s Bar & Grill
Coconut crepe cake: 20 crepes layered with whipped coconut crème garnished with fresh berries and tropical fruit coulis
2570 Kalākaua Ave., (808) 923-8454, tikisgrill.com
Ube-coconut crinkle cookies
Ube-coconut soft-serve ice cream
1284 Kalani St., (808) 439-3224, ubaehawaii.com
Won Kee Restaurant
Sweet-and-sour spare ribs
Pancit bihon, fried rice noodles
Suman, mochi rice cooked in coconut milk, with beans
Chin toi, or jin dui, with coconut
Kangkon (river spinach) with bagoong
100 N. Beretania St., #107, (808) 524-6477
Available at dinner
Seared ‘ahi ginataan, cooked in coconut milk: a family recipe passed down from chef Joey Macadangdang
143 Ipukula Way, Lahaina, joeyskitchenhimaui.com
Special coconut-based menu. Specific dishes TBA.
3750 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea, (808) 879-8800, lineagemaui.com
Kinilaw: Local Hawaiian fish marinated in coconut vinaigrette, chiles, radishes and tomato ($18)
Halo-halo: A mix of sweetened fruits topped with shaved ice, evaporated coconut milk, coconut ice cream, ube and leche flan (dairy-free and vegan) ($10)
286 Kupuohi St., Lahaina, (808) 667-5400, starnoodle.com
Tante’s Island Cuisine
Braised veal shank adobo with longanisa fried rice, adobong okra, skewered garlic shrimp, chile-coconut milk reduction with a side Caesar salad topped with anchovies ($25)
100 W. Ka‘ahumanu Ave., Kahului, (808) 877-0300, tantesislandcuisine.com
Coconut ‘ahi version of ginataang isda: pan-seared ‘ahi over hapa coconut rice with onion lomi.
360 Papa Place, Suite 116, Kahului, (808) 868-0753, tinroofmaui.com