It was billed as a pulutan pop-up, pulutan being the Philippines' class of beer-sopping snacks and nibbles, the small plates called izakaya dishes in Japan, though in the Philippines the approach is more humble, more barrio than bar. Pilz, a talented chef who took modern Filipino mobile earlier this spring when he rolled out Hapa SF, crossed genres and achieved a notable breakthrough.
Take his kinilaw ($10), a sort of crudo of Alaskan halibut, given a brief layover in citrus marinade. Pilz threaded fuschia bits of Frog Hollow pluots throughout. Bright, slightly tannic, and jammy: The outlines were unmistakably Filipino, the taste a distilled shot of Bay Area culinary ethos.Manresa's David Kinch) bears the shadow of star anise.
The pulutan weren't all delicate. Sisig (braised pork shoulder and other parts from a Long and Bailey farm pig, $8) shows up as taco filling at Hapa SF. On Saturday, Pilz piled it on rice. It was perfect: tender and chewy, a snarl of soy and lime and fresh chiles. Likewise Pilz's chicken adobo (made with leg-and-thigh joints sourced from Field to Family in Petaluma, $8) used a chef's technique to tweak a homely set piece so it had unexpected finesse, crisp skin and lithe flesh.
La Victoria's Jaime Maldonado organized the pop-up into three seatings. We showed at 7, part of a packed room of diners both Asian and not. Honestly? It was one of the most exciting meals we've had all year.