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Filipino soul food.. finds a home at this casual Long Beach restaurant

Filipino soul food.. finds a home at this casual Long Beach restaurant


Together, the dishes are a still life of saturated color, the kind of photogenic cooking that pops on Instagram, but the reality is even more vivid. The Scotch eggs have a salty crispiness that gives way to the delicate flesh of the egg. The waffles, earthy and sweet, are dense yet miraculously elastic. The halo-halo parfait is luxuriously creamy and fruity, more nourishing than indulgent.

A member of Boral’s family recently described these dishes as “millennial Filipino food,” a catchy label that he says captures the spirit and youthfulness of his first-generation, Filipino American cooking.

But he prefers to call it “Filipino soul food” — cooking grounded in the foods he grew up eating around the family table, channeled through the sensibilities of a self-taught chef with a predilection for big, bombastic flavors.

In the years before Bebot (the word is Tagalog slang for “babe” or “chick”), Boral, who operates the restaurant with his mother, Rose, started serving Filipino-inspired brunch dishes as part of a roving pop-up project called Rice & Shine. After years of peripatetic pop-up cooking — including hosting elaborate, family-style Kamayan dinners, a 36-course dinner series inspired by the music of the Wu-Tang Clan, and a short-term takeover of Charles Olalia’s Rice Bar in downtown L.A. — Boral settled into a light-filled, 40-seat storefront at the edge of Long Beach’s 4th Street Corridor in August.

Long wooden tables run down the middle of the minimally decorated counter-service restaurant, which is accented with the blue, red and bright yellow of the Philippine national flag. The daily changing menu is divided into “new school” and “old school” sections, a bifurcation that reflects dueling impulses: the desire to pay tribute to traditional Filipino cooking and a restive need for creative expression.

Many of the most compelling dishes are on the “new school” side of the menu. Sinigang lumpia, Boral’s take on the sweet-sour Filipino stew, is re-imagined as a crisp, cigar-shaped roll filled with minced pork, rice and vegetables. Each bite, irreproachably crunchy, delivers a fresh jolt of citrus and tamarind.

Pancit, the classic Filipino stir-fried noodle dish, is re-created as a creamy, carbonara-like wheat noodle dish spiked with shrimp, salty nubs of Spam and chile flakes sprinkled on top like glitter. A vegan version boosted with citrus, soy and mushrooms achieves deep, concentrated umami flavor.

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