The San Francisco Filipino Restaurant With A 'Secret' Menu

Growing up stateside doesn't mean that the flavors of your native home don't find their way into your very dreams and aspirations. This is the case for Francis Ang, who, with his wife Dian, inspires San Francisco's restaurant scene with the allure of bright, colorful, and irresistible Filipino dishes intertwined with the best of California's fresh ingredients in their new restaurant, Abacá.

The brains behind the acclaimed pop-up restaurant Pinoy Heritage, the Angs hope to honor their Filipino heritage with a passionate cuisine, introducing dishes they discovered in their multiple trips to the Philippines. On a discovery tour in 2016, the Angs traveled across the nation for six months studying their food and culture, they explain on their Pinoy Heritage page. Upon return, Francis introduced the vibrancy he had discovered in the Philippines at his home restaurant in San Francisco, resulting in the restaurant's rise to the San Francisco's Chronicle Top 100 of the Year list in 2019. Francis had already been named People's Best New Pastry Chef by Food & Wine and made it on Zagat's list of "30 under 30." Now the Angs have Abacá, the first brick-and-mortar place of their own, according to KQED.

Look to the back of the menu

Housed inside the new Kimpton Hotel in Fisherman's Wharf, the open and airy space envelopes you with light thanks to a large skylight above the 33-seat dining room, per Eater. Their name is a nod to the strong plant fiber "abacá" used to weave the baskets that are decoratively hanging around the restaurant — a reminder that the Philippine bond is just as strong (via Resy).

The menu highlights Filipino favorites like noodles and rice with miso apple and fried pork belly. Ang also uses non-traditional dishes like a peach salad with a smoked fish herb sauce as the dressing (via KQED). Their exciting cocktails explode with flavor, inspired by southeast Asia — pandan (an herbaceous tropical plant) and tamarind, says Eater. Ube (a purple yam) colors one of their cocktails an electric purple.

If a menu like this isn't exciting enough, Abacá has a secret. A QR code on the back of the menu titled with the hint "psst," leads the diner to a hidden menu. This menu contains some of Ang's favorite family snacks like duck hearts and pig's tail (via NY Times). Family dining is characteristic of Filipino culture. The secret menu and the portion sizes of the dishes all point to Ang's desire for guests to "nibble and taste and share" like they would at a family table (via San Francisco Magazine). With all this creativity and authenticity, diners and magazines alike are screaming, "tara na!" (Let's go!)