Eats by E Filipino Taco Tuesday Recap

Full disclosure: I was invited to attend Filipino Taco Tuesday with Chef Eric Pascual in Berekley, California. I was offered two tickets to the dinner in exchange for my opinion. These opinions are my own and do not represent Chef Eric Pascual or any affiliates.

Taco Tuesday is one of my favorite food celebrations that has been popularized in the 21st century. You might have a rough Monday and there are still a few days to go until the weekend and then Taco Tuesday comes in to save the week. Tacos, margaritas, and beer is always nice in my book.

Chef Eric Pascual and I have been connected online for a few years since he spent time in Tampa Bay in the past and followed me on social media. I actively watched the Filipino Food Movement in California and New York for years from Florida and saw him as a part of that movement.

Recently, Chef Eric Pascual relocated over to Berkeley to host his regular pop-ups and is starting over in a new part of California. He invited me to come check out one of his dinners for an article and I was more than happy to attend. The Filipino Taco Tuesday presents an appetizer, salad, numerous Filipino-inspired tacos, and dessert. His pop-ups are BYOW (Bring-Your-Own-Wine) for those who want to bring their own libations.

The evening started with lumpia. Both chicken and veggie were available and made well with a slightly spicy vinegar dip. The lumpia rolls were served on sharing platters for guests as a warm-up to the tacos.

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I enjoyed my lumpia with a Modelo beer which was a nice pairing.

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When it comes to lumpia, I judge a roll based on how packed the rolls are and how crispy the outside of the lumpia is without being too fried. Sometimes the problem with lumpia is dirty oil at restaurants that is being reused. Not the case at this dinner.

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The ingredients inside should be quality or you will most certainly taste it in every bite due to the wrapper not being as thick as an eggroll. I was happy with these lumpia rolls and felt like it was a good starter.

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Between courses a salad was prepared with organic greens, radishes, calamansi/sesame viaigrette, coconut/garlic croutons. Plenty of arugula greens were in the salad, which I enjoyed.

The Tacos

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The first taco was a Salmon Belly Sisig Taco. Sisig is one of my favorite Filipino foods and is usually made of pieces of pig ear on a sizzling platter, sometimes with an egg on-top. The Salmon Belly version took some elements of sisig and swapped it out for a salmon interpretation with tomato salsa, diced onions, peppers, and cilantro.

There was so many things going on in this taco that I couldn’t fully appreciate the salmon belly itself. In a way it reminded me a little of salmon sinigang. The taco was enjoyable, but not what I expected when reading the name of the taco on the menu.

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Next up was the Chicken Adobo Taco. Chicken Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and there are probably over 10,000+ recipes on how to prepare the dish since there are so many islands and tribes in the Philippines. It is one of the most difficult dishes to please a diner with due to all the variations.

This taco features vinegar, Tamari, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro. I expected a more soy-sauce heavy taste in this taco that was actually not too apparent here, maybe due to the Tamari use for gluten-free diners instead of soy sauce.  It reminded me more of a home-cooked chicken that my guest and I could both relate too. Delicious, but not what I expected.

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The third taco was a Veggie Taco with roasted tofu and mushrooms topped off with roasted tomato salsa, diced onions, and cilantro. This taco was really interesting and a nice middle of the way dish. I really liked the mushrooms, and am a huge fan of mushrooms in general.

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After the veggie taco the Braised Bistek Taco came out and this taco was truly the star taco of the night. The taste of Filipino Bistek was very apparent and the meat was very tender and flavorful with plenty of calamansi, garlic, tamari, black pepper, sauteed onions, tomato salsa, and cilantro.

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I would order this taco all night long. It was my favorite dish of the evening until a surprise dish was added to the menu.

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Chef Eric added a Kare-Kare Tostada to the menu made with organic peanut butter, bagoong shrimp paste, and 5-hour braised oxtail cooked in chicken stock. This was by far my favorite dish of the night and should certainly be added to the regular line-up of Chef Eric’s dinners.

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The taste of the Kare-Kare is so bold and the organic peanut butter does seem to really enhance the meat. Every time the meat touches your tongue, you get a nice feeling of flavor on the back. It isn’t traditional per se, but it is incredibly delicious. Between this and the Bistek Taco, I could eat Chef Eric’s food all night long.

Dessert

 

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Dinner ended with a Bibingka Churro Donuts. I love all three of these things so I was not surprised that it was amazing. I’ve only had bibingka once in the past with Chef Eric and it was flawless that time as well.

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The addition of a churro flavoring with cinnamon and sugar is genius. The strawberries on the side are a nice touch. The only thing I would add is maybe a dip on the side with chocolate, ube, or both. Either way still a great dish that I enjoyed.

Thus, the evening came to a filling and happy end. I asked Chef Eric to shoot a quick video with me so he could explain his background and why he does what he does. It can’t be easy to work as a pop-up chef, but Chef Eric has done this for years now and is very passionate about his craft. Hopefully he will find an audience in Berkeley that appreciates him and will support his food creations. I know I want to go back in the future for another dinner or happy hour.

If you want to check out Eats by E and the dinners by Chef Eric Pascual you can visit him online at eatsbye.com.

Follow Eats by E on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EatsByE/

Follow Eats by E on Feastly: http://eatfeastly.com/eatsbye/

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Vietnamese Coffee Pop-up: Kasama Cà Phê coming to SF

Filipino and Vietnamese culture is colliding with a Vietnamese coffee pop-up from Kasama Cà Phê coming to San Francisco starting on Sunday, February 17th at MAC’D (2127 Polk St.) and The Brew Coop (819 Valencia St.). The pop-up will also appear on Sunday, March 24th and Sunday, April 28th at the same locations.

Kasama is a reference to companionship or togetherness in Filipino culture and cà phê means coffee in Vietnamese.

The menu will consist of strong cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese iced coffee) and ube affogatos (Philippine purple yam ice cream topped with Vietnamese coffee).

Photos via kasamacaphe.com

Vietnamese coffee background

Vietnamese coffee dates back to the 19th century when French colonialists introduced coffee to the country according to BBC News. Most Vietnamese coffee is actually exported today rather than consumed in Vietnam itself and Vietnam was ranked 2nd in the world in 2017 for coffee exports behind Brazil. Recent reports suggest a rise in both the quality and quantity of Vietnamese coffee.

Vietnam is a major producer of Robusta coffee which has more caffeine and has a much more bitter flavor than the commonly-known and used Arabica beans. Robusta makes up at least 79% of Vietnamese coffee production according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs in 2016.

Robusta can be described as earthy, harsh, or grainy. Most consumers of Vietnamese coffee will add condensed milk to sweeten it from its bitter taste. Vietnamese coffee is something you’ll want to ease into if you’re not used to high caffeine coffee.

About the people behind Kasama Cà Phê

The owners of Kasama Cà Phê are first-generation Asian-Americans and are sourcing their coffee beans from Vietnam with a plan to offer coffee from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand in the future and a plan to focus on brewing techniques from Southeast Asia.

Most people probably consume Vietnamese coffee at Vietnamese restaurants or at home at the moment, it will be interesting to see how Kasama Cà Phê differentiates themselves to make it a worthwhile experience.

Find out more about Kasama Cà Phê at kasamacaphe.com

Orlando chefs host Filipino kamayan pop-up dinner

Three chefs in Orlando, Florida teamed up this past weekend to host a Filipino “kamayan” dinner called “Kamay or die” at The Guesthouse Bar on Mills Avenue.

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The chefs who hosted the event include:

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Kamayan is an eat-with-your-hands style feast that is popular in Filipino culture and has spread to the United States through a variety of pop-ups and restaurant dinners being held from California to New York City. Food is spread on banana leaves and no plates or silverware are traditionally provided.

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Dishes ranged from traditional Filipino food to Filipino-inspired food fare. Guesthouse bartenders served up Tiki cocktails to create a Pacific food feast experience.

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The menu included:

  • Rice
  • Adobo shrimp
  • Filipino style ribs
  • Whole fried snapper
  • Pinakbet
  • Bok choy
  • Baby octopus
  • Lechon Kawali (crispy fried pork belly)
  • Longanisa (Filipino sausage)
  • Lumpia (Filipino eggrolls)
  • Turon with vanilla ice cream covered in a purple ube coconut sauce

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Around 60 guests attended the feast. The chefs hope to host more events in the near-future.

Bloomberg noted last week that Filipino food is projected to have a great year in 2017 and Filipino food fans like myself are hopeful that this is just the beginning of Filipino dining to come.

San Francisco-based, Filipino-American, Chef Charleen recently won the Food Network show Chopped using Filipino cuisine to guide her to victory and winning the grand prize of $10,000.

Now to get some more Filipino food out west in Tampa Bay.

Photography courtesy of Jeff Kraus.