Nestled next to a laundromat on a quiet strip in the middle of the island is Sampaguita Fil-Am restaurant. I’ve been wanting to check this place out since spotting it way back. These types of unassuming, out of the way spots always intrigue me in a treasure hunt type of way. So when it got pulled from our restaurant challenge bucket I got excited by the possibilities ahead. Like this could be the hidden gem on the island! The kind of place I’ll kick myself for not having come to sooner. The underdog waiting for it’s moment.
Oh boy… it kills me to say it, but it just wasn’t it.
And it’s even harder to say that after we were greeted so warmly by the lovely ladies who worked there. But I just didn’t really like the food. And I kinda like most food. But not so much this time around. Sorry nice ladies!
BUT there’s a silver lining here… I am just one opinion amongst a family of four. The typically picky one in our group (ahem, Jack) threw a curve ball when he said he would go back FOR SURE and rated his meal with triple-quadrupal thumbs up. Elise seemed indifferent though mowed down her Adobo and Mike said “Yep, just like the cafeteria at our Manila fab.”
So really, what do I know.
Everything was lukewarm at its hottest. Cold Chicharones are kinda gnarly. Lots of the dishes were swimming in grease. Overall most of the dishes I tried tasted kinda bland.
Jack loved the Nilagang Baka (Beef Stew in Clear Broth). In typical Jack style, he gravitated towards: beef, potatoes, rice. He gets a variation of this at most restaurants. He liked this version more than most. The Halo Halo dessert was also a hit.
Pork Adobo and rice were her favorites. She also loved the act of eating the Halo Halo. She kept calling it fishing as she searched the dessert with her spoon for beans and pieces of coconut.
Mike travels to the Philippines often and has eaten many a meal just like this. The choices, the flavors, even the small white plastic bowls used to serve the meal all felt familiar. He liked it ok, a similar feeling he has when eating in the Philippines. It’s ok.
So, and please no offense to my Filipino friends, it did get me thinking why this cuisine just hasn’t taken off like other Asian foods in our area. California has one of the largest Filipino populations in the country yet you rarely see or hear of Filipino restaurants. Why is this?
This isn’t the end Filipino food, I don’t give up that easily. I do want to figure you out. I’ll be seeking out answers (and further attempts) to find what I like about you.
Sampaguita Fil-Am Cuisine
1216 Lincoln Ave
(between Bay St & Sherman St)
Alameda, CA 94501