Every so often I still miss home, maybe not as much as I did twelve years ago when I first moved to California. But I still do.

I remember my first few months at Stanford very well.  I had never been away from home, which made going to school and starting over, all on my own, even more difficult.  School wasn’t the hardest part.  Doing everything by myself, from cooking to doing my laundry, wasn’t hard either.  It was missing friends and family back home and making new ones here that were tougher.  A lot tougher. After my first quarter in school, I booked a flight to Manila and the day right after finals I flew back home to spend the holidays with my family.  That was probably one of my most memorable Christmases because it made me value and appreciate my family even more.

Twelve years passed by, in the blink of an eye, and I have made San Francisco my new home. But sometimes I still find myself stricken with fits of homesickness. I blame it on my mom’s cooking. Her saucy kaldereta ladled on top of a heap of warm steamed rice. Her salty adobo swimming in delicious pork and chicken fat. Her rich champorado with a swirl of evaporated milk and a side of crunchy fried dilis.

I blame it on Filipino food. Crispy, roasted red pig skin with a thick layer of melt-in-your-mouth salty pig fat. Crunchy, chewy sisig with a spritz of kalamansi and a sprinkle of chilies. Warm, fresh bibingka with a slice of salted duck egg wrapped in banana leaves. Sticky rice cakes topped with sweet fried coconut milk curd.

Since my mom is thousands of miles away, Filipino comfort food here in the Bay Area would have to suffice whenever I feel nostalgic about life in Manila. It’s another reason I love living in San Francisco. A plate of lechón is only a fifteen-minute-drive away at Tastebuds in San Bruno.

I can get my Max’s fried chicken fix anytime I want. It’s just down south of the city. And if I am craving for bibingka, there’s Tribu Grill to melt my homesickness away.


Lechon from Tastebuds

  • kililikinalum

    OMG! That picture of the roast pork is right on! That’s what it would look like if we were in Hawaii and I took a picture of it there – looking so yummy you just want to eat the LCD! You can see how crispy that skin is going to be and the meat looks just right – not dry!

  • http://www.jobostonisafoodie.blogspot.com Jo

    Oh my Jun! What a great selection! this doesn’t help since I’m starving! looking forward to seeing you again! =) your mom sounds like a phenomenal cook.

  • http://www.lepetitbrioche.blogspot.com/ Christa

    Oh my, I’m craving some bibingka with salted egg on top right now!

  • http://kitchen-confidante.com Liren

    Oh, I was already happy with that photo of the lechon (Tastebud’s lechon is a family favorite!), but then you got me with the bibingka. I remember always hoping to score the slice of bibingka that had the egg on it :) Now I know where to find some!

  • http://lemonsandanchovies.wordpress.com/ Jean

    Oh my gosh, I was just talking with my mom about her kaldereta. Nothing like Mom’s cooking, right? I live in the Stanford area so when I have a craving for good filipino food, I drive a short distance north to have a feast! If I could only reach into the computer screen to pick off a piece of that lechon skin…

  • http://www.impromptudiva.com/ skip to malou

    OMG JUN the lechon plate is calling my name. it’s been awhile too since I had Max’s chicken… craving level is elevated!!!! LOL! Btw, will be there in two weeks.. maybe a mEAT up?

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Hey Chris,
    If you ever have a craving for roast pig (like in Hawaii) Tastebuds is in San Bruno, very close to you!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you Chris, Jo, Christa, Liren, Jean, and Malou!
    I’m so glad to find friends in the blogosphere who share the same excitement seeing and eating Filipino food! Thanks, ladies!!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Hey Malou,
    I’m definitely up for a mEAT up! So many good places to try here in the Bay Area!! Looking forward to meeting you!

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  • http://psychosomaticaddictinsane.wordpress.com iya

    im THISCLOSE to licking that picture of lechon.

    daaaaammmmmmnnnnnn. *salivate*

  • http://shirmantan.wordpress.com Shirman

    After seeing those pictures and your food options in SF, I’m beginning to think i immigrated to the wrong city.

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Hey Iya,
    Go ahead and lick the screen! No one’s looking! :-)

  • MissTdJ

    Max’s fried chicken with banana ketchup and white rice ohhmygaaahhh *tulolaway*

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Sarap to the bones!! :-)

  • http://foundbaking.com Kathy Diaz (found baking)

    Ahhh! I am having Filipino foodgasm! I have not had bibingka since I flew back to the Philippines to show off Boracay to my husband. You are so lucky to have Tribu Grill. I mean there are a few options here in LA but not really authentic. OMG, I am drooling.

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Kathy for stopping by. And I don’t mean to rub it in but the bibingka was really really good! :-) Have you checked out the couple of Filipino street food vendors down there in LA? I’ve heard great things about them.

  • http://indonesia-eats.blogspot.com Pepy @Indonesia Eats

    Since our home country is a neighbour, we have very similar dish as “Bibingka”. The dish is a signature cake from North Sulawesi (the very closest province of Indonesia to the Philippines) which has a similar name too. We call it “Bobengka”

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  • http://www.lembestlechon.com paoyo

    It is lunch and everything looks yummy!