Authentic Filipino food is something we could always use more of, and a new-ish Filipino restaurant on Folsom Street in SOMA, Pampalasa is, by its own description, “rustic.” It’s the kind of food your lola used to make.
[jump] Situated on the ground-floor of a three-story building that very obviously used to be zoned for residential at the time it was built, Pampalasa (“spice”) is the goldenrod-hued result of a semi-successful Kickstarter that yielded some $7,000 that isn’t shy of blaring hip-hop in the open kitchen. There’s very little on the menu that might act as a gateway drug for people unaccustomed to Filipino cuisine — that is not a terrible thing! — although there are contemporary California touches like the encouragement to add a fried egg to the garlic rice bowls (“SILOG IT!!”).
Among those options is a chicken adobo, a tortang talong (grilled eggplant omelet with sautéed spinach), and a gulay (tempura bok choi, sweet roasted eggplant, and sweet potato slices with coconut sauce). But for those who can never get enough pork belly, there is lechon kawali, a fantastic, lightly garlicky dish with bagoong (partly fermented fish) over garlic rice. Not only is there Mang Tomas (the “all-purpose,” liver-based yellow-labeled sauce that is quickly becoming one of my favorite condiments), but it’s presented with the lechon kawali automatically, along with chili sauce and a truly fantastic black garlic vinegar that makes pork come alive. If it sounds like a little too much garlic, it’s actually a very well-balanced lunch, the spartantly seasoned bok choi and tomatoes keeping things even.
Pampalasa has lunch and brunch covered, with dinner on the way. An outdoor patio, still in the under-construction phase at the moment, will likely make brunch even better, especially with such excellent savory options on a stretch of Folsom that’s otherwise cafes, cafes, cafes.
Pampalasa, 1261 Folsom, 415-590-3251