Chef Sinsay puts a pacific Northwest twist on Pancit by incorporating local produce like black garlic, snap peas, and foraged mushrooms.
Aubrie Pick

Chef Sinsay puts a pacific Northwest twist on Pancit by incorporating local produce like black garlic, snap peas, and foraged mushrooms.

3 Chefs Putting Their Expert Touch on Traditional Filipino Dishes

As Filipino foods become more common, these chefs are taking traditional dishes to new levels. 


Chef: Anthony Sinsay | Seattle, WA

Chef Anthony Sinsay’s first exposure to Filipino food was through his parents, who immigrated to Southern California in the 1960s. “I would hear stories from my parents and grandparents about how the dishes we cooked were adapted for the ingredients available to us here in the States,” he says. “They used to tell me about how different certain dishes would be if they just had this vegetable or fruit, because it tasted different ‘back home.’” Now, Sinsay’s Seattle restaurant Outlier combines American and Filipino cuisine in a way that he calls Pinoy adjacent.

Early in his cooking career, Sinsay looked up to European-trained chefs who equated Filipino food with home cooking rather than restaurant fare. “It wasn’t until I became an executive chef over a decade ago that I started to question why we couldn’t cook our own food,” he says. “It made me even more passionate about telling the stories of who I was and the food that shaped me.”

Now, when he serves Filipino dishes like pancit, he considers what the food will say. “I want to share with my children that who they are and their cultural identity is unequivocally good enough. To hold a sense of pride in who they are and where they come from,” Sinsay says.


Michael Harlan Turkell

Even before the proliferation of filipino cuisine, items like Adobo Chicken wings were crowd-pleasers.

Kuma Inn

Chef: King Phojanakong | New York, NY

Finding Kuma Inn’s tucked-away location on the second floor of an unmarked Manhattan building is an adventure in itself, but visitors to the cozy restaurant are rewarded with some of the best Filipino-Thai food in the city. With a Filipino mother and a Thai father, chef King Phojanakong grew up eating both cuisines and now blends the two on a creative, ever-changing menu.

“When I opened Kuma Inn in 2003, there weren’t too many types of restaurants preparing this type of food, but I’ve never met a person who didn’t like adobo,” Phojanakong says.

He’s excited by the increasing visibility of Filipino food in the U.S., noting that ingredients like calamansi are becoming more accessible; Trader Joe’s is even carrying an ube ice cream.

“Filipino food has existed in the U.S. since the Filipino diaspora through workers and immigrants. It helps in this age of food, cooking, and social media that everyone is in search of ‘new’ flavors, but we also have to keep in mind that we’ve been here for years and Filipino food is not just a fad.”


Craig Posta

Lechon menok may be common in the Philippines, but it’s a major draw for Cebu in Chicago.


Chef de cuisine: Malvin Tan | Chicago, IL

Family is at the center of Filipino culture so it goes to show that Cebu in Chicago is owned by three siblings. Malvin Tan serves as chef de cuisine; Cybill Tan is the pastry chef; and Marlon Tan runs the business side of things. At less than a year old (it opened in March), the Wicker Park café has already wooed guests and critics alike with hearty dishes that can only be described as a carnivore’s delight.

Although the restaurant bills itself as a purveyor of Asian fusion dining, the menu digs deep into regional specialties, specifically its namesake province. For example, Bam-i—a Cebuano take on one of the Philippines’ most celebrated entrées, pancit—features chicken, pork belly, Chinese sausage, shiitake mushroom, cabbage, and egg and glass noodles.

But the showstopper is the Cebu’s Lechon Manok: half a roasted chicken stuffed with red onion, calamansi, spring onion, star anise, and special seasoning and topped with a spiced dry rub. “This dish can be found in almost every street in the Philippines, particularly in Cebu, where we are from,” says Marlon Tan. “We wanted to bring it here in Chicago.”