Slowly but surely Filipino cuisine is starting to grab the attention of Bay Area diners.
There is a lack of Filipino restaurants here and to be honest, I myself hadn’t had much exposure to the cuisine. One of the biggest openings in Oakland late last year was FOB Kitchen in the Temescal area. FOB Kitchen started off as a pop-up in San Francisco (I never made it there) in 2015 and they finally opened up their brick and mortar location and it’s been wildly successful.
I went on a Friday night around 6PM and just missed the dinner rush; they don’t take reservations but you can add your name to the Yelp waiting list when it’s busy. I was excited to finally taste the flavors of Filipino food which has influences from Chinese, Indian, and Spanish cuisine.
I’ve never tried or heard of this Filipino salad dish, ensalada talong, but it was really flavorful and refreshing. Essentially, it’s a marinated eggplant salad with crunchy jicama, salty sea beans, juicy cherry tomatoes, and crunchy rice cracker. Definitely get this to start off with.
Lumpia is probably the most well known Filipino dish and theirs was spot on. Crispy and light fried dough was stuffed with pork and water chestnut served with a sweet chili sauce. A crowd pleaser.
The last appetizer was tender fall off the bone ribs that just melted in my mouth. Seasoned with coffee, a coconut porter (robust beer with natural toasted coconut that has a malty flavor), and jufran (a “ketchup” made with banana), these ribs are not to be missed. Sticky, messy, and addictive.
For our main course, we had to try one of Philippine’s most traditional dishes, pork adobo. Braised pork with palm vinegar, salty soy, and seasoned with annatto (a spice that’s slightly sweet and peppery). I would have liked a little more salt and a longer braise for the pork but that’s me being nitpicky.
A simple side dish of sweet stewed kabocha squash in a delicious coconut broth.
Another traditional dish is this noodle dish of glass noodles and vegetables. I would have liked more vegetables but overall it was quite tasty.
We had to try some desserts and both were dishes I had never tried or heard of before.
Turon, a Filipino snack, is basically a sweet style “spring roll” that’s stuffed with banana and jackfruit. Served with creamy coconut flavored ice cream, this warm dessert hit the spot.
Another dish I’ve never heard of was suman, a gelatinous coconut rice cake that reminded me of Japanese mochi in a sense. This would have been spot on if the mango it was served with was perfectly ripe and sweet but it was a little underripe.
I’m so glad that I finally got to try FOB Kitchen after years of wanting to go to their popups! Everything from the vibe, the service, and the scrumptious food made for an enjoyable experience so my rating is an 8-8.5/10.