San Francisco’s first upscale Filipino restaurant ‘Abaca’ opens with great fanfare – CBS San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A highly anticipated Filipino restaurant made its debut in San Francisco – filling a big void in the Bay Area food scene.
Abaca, located inside the Kimpton Alton Hotel in Fisherman’s Wharf, is the city’s first upscale restaurant of its kind.
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The dining room was bustling and fully packed on Saturday night – packed with diners from near and far to get a taste of the Philippines.
“It’s really amazing, I drove two hours to get here and it’s like – there’s a twist,” said Monique Agatep of Carmel-by-the-Sea. “It’s Filipino and yet there is an element of surprise.”
Filipino-Chinese chef and owner Francis Ang has spent more than a decade working at gourmet restaurants in San Francisco, but this is the first time he’s put it all on the table.
“I mean the restaurant industry itself is really tough, and then playing very specific cuisine in it is even harder, and that’s why it took us 7 years to build this,” Ang said.
Ang’s team has made several trips over the years to the Philippines, where he grew up, to study food and cooking techniques from various regions.
Highlights of Abaca’s Philippine-California menu include Ube Colada, Sisig Fried Rice, and Coconut Milk Seafood Chowder.
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Abaca evolved from Ang’s pop-up hit Pinoy Heritage.
“I followed Francis’s career while he was doing his pop-ups, and I was looking at his menus, and as a food fan – I’ve been watching what he’s been doing for a while and I’m really impressed, and glad to see him finally have a brick and mortar, ”said restaurant Tom Williams of Daly City.
Ang hopes diners from all walks of life develop a new appreciation for cuisine.
“More knowledge about the culture – understand that Filipinos don’t have to be cheap,” he said. “We use high quality ingredients. We buy all the time at the farmer’s market.
Diners like Grace Gomez from Oakland took a special visit to San Francisco for an elevated experience.
“It’s exciting to have it mainstream, and in town, it’s major,” she said. “It pays homage to what I know. “
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Ang said he is working on adding a breakfast and brunch service to Abaca in the near future.