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Local Filipino Restaurants


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I never did get to go to Barrio Fiesta there, but the Barrio Fiestas over here in the PI are pretty good. Or maybe the Filipinos in Hawaii just don't find the need to put up any really good restaurants or their tongues aren't so conditioned to Filipino food anymore. Again- the 2nd district has the most Filipinos than any other state... so it still is something to wonder about.

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A bit off topic as far as local Filipino restaurants go but I came across the following article at OpinionJournal.com (on-line presence for the WSJ) and thought all of you might enjoy it.


It's quite clear the writer, Tunku Varadarajan, is a bit clueless (calling it "Philippine food"!) but makes some interesting observations. I'm always surprised by the way cuisines I'm familiar with are described by "virgins" to use Mr. V's term.

"Eat it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." TMJ Jr. R.I.P.

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Cendrillon considered to be one of the best Filipino restaurants in the world, if not the best. It's menu is actually very inventive and original, though it's not really in a self-consciously "fusion" sort of way. Never been there, though.

Tunku Varadarajan used to write a cricket column for the online version of CNN / Sports illustrated. . .

Sun-Ki Chai

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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  • 1 year later...
Yeah, maybe someone should contact the Barrio Fiesta management and ask why they haven't opened up a branch in Waipahu or someplace!

Thelma's Filipino Restaurant 808-677-0443 is already in Waipahu, Julie'z at the Marketplace at Kapolei. They both have a small turo-turo section but you can get dishes prepared well off the fairly long menu. Nothing close to what Mom used to make but then we have support the local Filipino eateries.

I do agree, Barrio Fiesta or Gerry' Grill are sorely needed in the Oahu, NJ/NY/PA/CT areas.

You have Barrio Fiestas in the West Coast? We have The Philippine Bread House and Maynila in Newark and Krystal's in Flushing. I miss Barrio Fiesta. I should make it a point to eat there when I go back to Manila in May.

Cendrillon is a very good restaurant but don't order any of the familiar dishes as it will not be the same. Ka Romy is a very talented chef but he cooks it his way. Not like your Nanay's but still quite tasty and well prepared.


"There is something uncanny in the noiseless rush of the cyclist, as he comes into view, passes by, and disappears."

Popular Science, 1891

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sk, I have raised the same question among my local Pinoy contacts and have received a variety of answers. I pass these on to you without confirmation.

First, I am told that the predominant origin of Filipino immigrants here in Hawaii is Ilocos Norte, a relatively rural area that is the northernmost province on the western shore of Luzon Island.

That would put Ilocos Norte a long way from Manila. Kaoshiung on the island of Taiwan would be equidistant.

It is characterized by agriculture and cottage industries. As you know, regional cooking styles in rural agrarian districts can be quite distinct and persons accustomed to those styles have greater reluctance to develop new tastes. "We know what we like"

Thus, it should not be surprising that the vast majority of Filipino restaurants established in Hawaii have Ilocano tastes and flavors, home cooking if you will. With this in mind, many Ilocano Filipinos in Hawaii tell me that they do not go to Filipino restaurants because "my mom (or grandmom) makes better food at home."

Contrast this with the Chinese situation in Hawaii. We have long since departed from the time where rural immigrant home cooking was the substantial offering of Chinese restaurants in Hawaii (although we still retain some nostalgic alternatives). Today's Chinese restaurants boast stoves with three times the heating capacity of Western stoves, producing food with "the breath of the wok" that is difficult or impossible to replicate at home. The food is a blend of Cantonese, Macanese, Hong Kong, Hakka, and Sichuan dishes.

Perhaps this is why local Ilocanos tell me that they go to Chinese restaurants when they celebrate birthdays, weddings, etc.

As for non-Filipinos, the rural agrarian Ilocano style presents a lot of braised vegetables and meats (with, shall I say, less usual cuts prominently featured).

You and I come out of a robust eating tradition that revels in such delicacies.

However, consider the words of Andy Bumatai:

"I love Japanese food. Everything is so artful, ingredients are placed just so. It looks so beautiflul, you don't want to eat it.

With Filipino food, on the other hand, it looks like somebody has already eaten it."

Have you been to the Maunakea Marketplace Food Court? There are a number of Ilocano food stalls and also one stall with Pangasinan cooking and another with Cebuano (Visayan) cooking. Lots of interesting dishes!

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