'Bizarre Foods' host sees Pinoy food fad in US

Posted at 06/13/2012 1:34 PM | Updated as of 06/14/2012 2:48 PM
Lamb adobo, a sophisticated twist on an old Filipino favorite. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA, Philippines -- "Bizarre Foods" host Andrew Zimmern is predicting Filipino cuisine to be the next big thing among American diners.

Zimmern made the prediction an interview with the website of the US morning show "Today," which was published on Tuesday.

“I predict, two years from now, Filipino food will be what we will have been talking about for six months … I think that’s going to be the next big thing,” he told Today.com.

“I want to go on record — this is not something that’s hot now somewhere and will get hot everywhere else,” he said. “It’s just starting. I think it’s going to take another year and a half to get up to critical mass, but everybody loves Chinese food, Thai food, Japanese food, and it’s all been exploited."

"The Filipinos combined the best of all of that with Spanish technique. The Spanish were a colonial power there for 500 years, and they left behind adobo and cooking in vinegar — techniques that, applied to those tropical Asian ingredients, are miraculous,” he told the website.

Zimmern noted that there are many Filipino chefs currently working in San Diego, California. "I think it’ll creep up into Los Angeles and from there go around the rest of the country,” he said.

Zimmern, who visited the Philippines for an episode of "Bizarre Foods," which airs on the Travel Channel, has tried balut, crickets, stuffed frogs and even live worms.

He ate the famed Soup No. 5 at Balaw Balaw Restaurant in Angono, which is made from the butt and balls of a bull. He also tried the uok (giant coconut worms) and ginatang bilo-bilo.

At Kinabuch's Restaurant in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Zimmern ate the local seaweed lato, as well as snails cooked in coconut milk and panga ng tuna.

He also ate dinuguan, crickets cooked adobo-style and frog stuffed with pork at Everybody's Cafe in San Fernando, Pampanga.

The website described Filipino cuisine as having a variety of foreign influences, particularly Chinese (pancit, sinangag and lumpia), as well as Indonesian and Malaysian (the use of coconut milk and rice, particularly in desserts).

The website said the Spanish were responsible for bringing bay leaves, tomatoes and garlic, citing the longanisa and adobo.

Zimmern is not the only one predicting a Filipino food fad.

Early this year, New Media America, which describes itself as a group of 2,000 ethnic news organizations, said Filipino cuisine is "poised to break gastro ceiling."

"The Year of the Dragon will be the Year of the Adobo if some local foodies are predicting it right," the group said.

In New York, Maharlika Filipino Moderno restaurant landed on the “critics’ picks” of influential city guide magazine Time Out New York during its 2012 Food & Drink Awards.

The Today website also interviewed Cristina Quackenbush, the head chef and proprietor of Milkfish, a Filipino pop-up restaurant in New Orleans.

“I definitely think (Filipino food) is gaining popularity,” she told the website. “I have never encountered anyone that I have fed that did not like it!”