Giovan Cuchapin and Mark Pascual, the talent behind the city’s ultra-popular Be More Pacific fusion food truck, has brought authentic Filipino food to Austin. At the new brick-and-mortar spot just off trending Anderson Lane, chefs Salvador “Buddy” Melgarejo and Tony Dominguez create flavorful interpretations of traditional Filipino fare, from fast-casual lunch offerings such as Adobo pork sliders to dinner entrées like roasted pork belly with lemongrass, green onion, and garlic. Located just above Suzi’s China Grill, Be More Pacific Filipino Kitchen and Bar is now open for lunch and dinner service.
Filipino food, which is essentially a fusion of Chinese, Indian, and Spanish cuisines—has been gaining ground across the country as restaurants on the East and West coasts garner accolades with their takes on offerings such as ukoy, adobong dilaw, and lumpia sariwa. Part of the draw is that the dishes are somewhat familiar, such as kare-kare, or oxtail stew, yet the melding of flavors—heavy on sour—taste new, fresh, and delightfully intricate.
Cuchapin and Pascual, both first generation Filipinos who met in college, couldn’t find the food in Austin that they grew up eating so began cooking it themselves—eventually opening a food truck in 2011 that became wildly successful. The business partners realized that the time is right now—much like the debut of Ramen Tatsu-Ya in 2012—to open a restaurant, expand the menu, and educate the city about authentic Filipino cuisine.
Melgarejo, who grew up in the Philippines and began cooking with his mother at an early age, brings that authenticity to Be More Pacific Filipino Kitchen and Bar. After graduating from culinary school, Melgarejo landed in the kitchen of a four-star hotel before going to work at his cousin’s Filipino restaurant, where he was head chef while also managing operations. In 2015, he moved from the Philippines to Houston, which eventually led him to Pascual, also a cousin.
Collaborating with Dominguez, who recently worked at La Condesa, Melgarejo has tweaked existing recipes, refined dishes and flavor combinations, and created a menu inspired by Filipino classics and comfort food, from Lumpia Shanghai (mini pork and shrimp egg rolls served with sweet chile sauce) and ukoy (shrimp fritters with sweet potato and spicy vinegar dipping sauce) to pinakbet (stewed mixed vegetables featuring bitter melon, served over steamed rice) and sisig (sizzling pork bits mixed with fresh onion and topped with fried egg).
Dessert dishes features halo-halo—which translates to mix-mix—a flavor and texture dream of fruit, jellies, flan, evaporated milk, and purple yam (ube) ice cream which was commissioned by Amy’s Ice Creams to create a creamier and more natural version of the popular ice cream.
Be More Pacific Filipino Kitchen is located at 7858 Shoal Creek Blvd., housed just above Suzi’s China Grill.
Tuesday – Friday lunch from 11 am – 2:30 pm, happy hour from 4 – 6:30 pm and Tuesday – Friday dinner from 5 – 10 pm, Saturday hours are 11 am to 11 pm. Closed Sunday & Monday. For more information about Be More Pacific Filipino Kitchen and Bar, go to bemorepacifickithchenandbar.