One of my most recent addictions is tasting courses. It’s one meal, multiple dishes and plenty of variety, which is what anyone who loves to eat would enjoy. This past weekend, I went to Francis A’s (chef and owner of Pinoy Heritage) pop up event to try 8 courses of his California/Filipino creations. I was totally down when I read that he used to work at Gary Danko (one of my favorite SF restaurants), and seeing what delicious items was on the menu. I made a reservation on Feastly.com, and snagged the last couple of seats. Good thing I’m not a procrastinator when it comes to food!
While driving down 3rd St. in San Francisco was a nightmare, the meal was totally worth coming for. We even found street parking for 50 cents an hour (if you don’t know, that’s a steal)! I pretty much thought that everything was delicious and hope that I don’t overuse that word.
Course 1 – Appetizer
Aside from roasted beets, I have no idea what any other ingredient was was nor know how to pronounce them. Regardless, it was a delicious start to the meal and just made me excited for what was to come. Apparently, the shell is made of puffed rice and unsweetened chocolate, and it’s topped with homemade cheese, roasted beets and smoked fish. This first course was a nice savory dish with nice crispy texture from the puffed rice, silkiness from the cheese, and juiciness from the perfectly ripe vegetables.
Course 2 – Small Plate
As a seafood and soup lover (among many other food, haha), this was was the perfect combination for a second course. Arroz Caldo is rice porridge and this was mixed with green garlic which is where this dish gets its color. Underneath the pepper-y tasting leaf lies a serving of fresh Dungeness crab. The flavor of this dish as a whole was on the lighter side, but still managed to have bursts of amazing crab, garlic and dashi flavor. This was definitely one of my favorites of the night and as much as I wanted another serving, I knew there was going to be more delicious-ness to come.
Course 3 – Small Plate
Another thing I love is noodles and these did not disappoint at all! I love that they were handmade, soft, chewy and cooked to perfection. I also love the light curry flavor that had a hint of coconut. The noodles were complimented with spring veggies of asparagus and english peas which were fresh and cooked to perfection as well. They could have just made the portion a little bigger and just served it as my entree as this was one of my favorites as well.
Course 4 – Small Plate
The pork belly portion was a little intimidating considering how full I was already after only 3 dishes! Damn my metabolism for slowing down after I turned 25. I still managed to eat most of it as it was cooked perfectly and it tasted so good with the tangy sauce. The pork was a bit on the leaner side and though I usually like my pork belly a little fattier, I appreciated that it was still juicy and was really tender. I really like the vegetables as well as it balanced out eating a huge chunk of meat.
Course 5 – Small Plate
I was the only one that figured out that the carrot goes with the rabbit. Sad, but clever. This was a fun dish to eat as we got to eat with our hands. The first skewer was a longganisa skewer that we swirled in the vinegar and quail egg for flavor. The skewer had great flavor when it was alone, but got a good kick of tanginess when dipped in the sauce. The second skewer (middle) was a marinated leg. The meat was a little tougher, but still tender and was jam packed with soy and vinegar flavor. The third skewer of the loin was a little gamey, which I like. The tomato salsa that they made helped balance out the bold flavors in each of the skewers. The carrot was really good as well. I loved how they kept the stem as part of the decoration for the plate, and the seeds and spices on top added a nice crunch to the perfectly cooked carrot.
Course 6 – Dessert
This dessert reminded me of the mango sticky rice when I was in Thailand, but with a modern twist. The bottom is coconut tapioca, while a mango gel lies on top. It was interesting to taste the softness of the tapioca and the coolness of the mango gel together in addition to the pieces of sweet and tart pomelo. I thought this was really creative and really liked all the flavor combinations together.
Course 7 – Dessert
This dessert wins for best presentation and most textures in a dish. There’s so many components of this dessert with the silky banana cremeux and strawberries, the crunchy fried design on top, the softness of the cream and the lightness of the (unsweetened) chocolate foam. They all tasted great separately and all the flavors managed to balance well when they were all combined.
Course 8 – Dessert
To end the meal was the softest piece of mochi dusted with black sesame. It reminded me of a dinner mint and the small portion was a great way to end.
I loved the creativity of each dish, the beauty in presentation, the freshness of all the vegetables, the different textures of the ingredients, and the perfection in how everything was cooked. Thanks Francis A. and team for a delicious dinner. I totally recommend to this to anyone who wants to try a modern approach to Filipino food. I will be back at his bar pop-up because he mentioned something about chicken wings and I’m really just a simple girl and that was enough to get me to want to go to another pop up event.