Filipino cuisine is known for its delicious utilization of fresh endemic ingredients, complex flavor combinations, and gastronomic ingenuity, and Chef Francis Ang's Abacá is successfully elevating these through creative, contemporary sophistication.
Delightfully situated within the Kimpton Alton in Fisherman's Wharf, stepping into Abacá after its wafting aromas entice you in immediately transports you into a tropical Filipino paradise, not only from their delectable offerings, but through their idyllic hanging foliage and friendly familial service. Chef Ang enhances this posh experience even further through his inventive modernization of familiar dishes and cocktails, creating a bright bucolic gathering space that is sleek as it is cozy and authentic.
Award-winning cuisine is nothing new to Chef Francis and his wife and co-owner Dian, having both previously led Abacá's sister restaurant Pinoy Heritage, which championed Eater's Best Pop-Up accolade. This is just one of many for the power couple, as both also have vast prior experience, with Dian previously at Alexander’s Steakhouse and La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, and Chef Ang earning both Zagat's 30 under 30 and Food & Wine’s “People’s Best Pastry Chef” while at Dirty Habit.
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Chef Ang originally arrived to San Francisco from Manila at age 19, which he then quickly enrolled into the City College of San Francisco’s culinary arts and hospitality studies program before securing a prominent role at the Michelin star Gary Danko. His natural prowess has since proliferated and become synonymous with titles of San Francisco Chronicle Rising Star Chef and more.
This unstoppable passion for providing refined cooking and honoring his cultural background has magnificently led to Abacá's current highly-coveted eminence. By revamping inherited family recipes with contemporary California essences, Abacá triumphantly exudes an intimate and upscale dining atmosphere in both ambience and through the tapas-style service.
"The idea was to have guests sharing and nibbling and tasting all different kinds of plates versus ordering one big entree at a time.” Chef Ang elucidates, referencing how the shareable portions recall traditional Filipino family style meals.
Freshness is also a major component of Filipino cuisine, which the classy restaurant seasonally uplifts through their playful renditions of Okoy, Vegetable Ngohiong Lumpia, and Gising Gising.
Other impeccable highlights of their menu include the Whole Branzino Relleno, rich Sisig Fried Rice, tender Beef Heart Kaldereta, and the Seafood Pancit, all of which are typical Filipino staples. All of these effortlessly pair with their refreshing cocktail menu as well, which also promote native tropical ingredients.
We highly recommend their vibrantly purple "Ube-Colada," showcasing the creamy and earthy vanilla notes of the increasingly popular Ube. The smoky Bang Bang Sinigang is also a fun drinkable version of the spicy and sour soup, here made with mezcal, tamarind, and smoked ginger.
Abacá's popular brunch and sweet morning panaderia also can't be missed, which continues to promote Filipino dishes of Tocino Silog, Torta Talong Quiche, and decadent pastries of Bibinka and Ube Macapuno Ensaymada. Having these with a hot cup of their coffee sourced from Oakland’s Mr. Espresso will truly set you up for a positive day of exploring the city, especially when luxuriously residing in the Kimpton Alton.
Abacá boasts 50 indoor seats and 28 on their stunningly radiant patio, and reservations are highly recommended. Whether you are trying Filipino cuisine for the first time, or desire a classic, yet swanky taste of home, this seaside hotspot is sure to impress and make you feel like family.
Photography by: Airam Dato/Unsplash