Last month, we talked about pastry chef Kimberly Camara and how Kora’s halo-halo and maja blanca-inspired doughnuts drew an 800-person queue. If anything, that was proof of a market for Filipino food and how our cuisine is finding new ways to flourish despite the pandemic.
So, how else has the food scene grown since then? Through pop-ups, believe it or not.
Every weekend, Manhattan-based coffee shop Kabisera turns their patio into a platform for restaurant owners to set up shop and share their take on traditional and reinvented Filipino food for the past few weekends.
To ensure that their event drives business for all the pop-ups, Kabisera co-owner Augelyn Francisco makes sure that all of their menus complement each other.
“If you are collaborating [with] four or five pop-ups, you help each other, promote each other. It will become louder,” Francisco explained in an interview with Vice.
The rotating cast of vendors always attracts a crowd of hungry guests, and they’re not the only event to do so. There are numerous options for Filipino food pop-up events all over the city—all New Yorkers have to do is figure out which ones they want to visit.
One business that’s found its footing through these events is So Sarap. After co-founders VJ Navarro and Sebastien Shan were furloughed from their jobs, they began serving barbeque skewers and fish balls in a curbside cart. As of writing, the street food pop-up is booked for the entirety of October, with events in Manhattan and Queens.
“I think doing pop-ups is great because it’s a good way for us to help small businesses, or big businesses, that have been suffering and have been hit hard,” Shan added.
New York’s pop-up events have also encouraged businesses to explore different ways of sharing their food. This was the case with Lamon Lagok, whose owners were prepared to open a restaurant of their own. Now, they’re serving Filipino dishes paired with tiki drinks through pop-up events every two weeks.
“It’s just the spirit of COVID and hospitality where people try to help each other out,” said co-owner CJ Lapid. “It’s always a win-win thing for both parties: for us, for the establishment.”
Beyond showing Filipino-American businesses helping each other thrive during the pandemic, the rise of food pop-ups New York City is a sign that Filipino food should stop being described as “the next big thing.” The crowds at every pop-up event is a sign that our cuisine is a part of their community—and that they’ll be there to stay.
Header photo courtesy of Kabisera
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Writer: ANGELA PATRICIA SUACILLO