Paolo Dungca has long been pushing the boundaries of Filipino cuisine at places like the late Bad Saint and Wharf restaurant Kaliwa—and recently at his own string of pop-ups and restaurants, including the popular Pogiboy near Dupont Circle. Now, the rising star chef has expanded to Annandale with a new fast-casual concept: Sari Filipino Kusina, an all-day comfort food spot that opened over the weekend.
Dungca teamed up with Juan and Jeremy Canlas, the father/son owners of Supreme Barbeque, for the restaurant, which takes over the Braddock Road location of their local ‘cue chain. Dungca ran a Filipino barbecue pop-up there over the summer. The homestyle menu boasts a variety of grilled, barbecued, and smoked meats, including street-style skewers, rice bowls topped with smoked tocino ribs or lemongrass chicken, and family-style platters such as Tito Jan’s smoked brisket, sold by the half or full pound. For sides, Dungca dishes up a smoky mac n’ cheese and atchara pickles. Diners will also find homestyle plates like lumpia (spring rolls), pancit noodles, crispy pork sisig hash, or chicken adobo.
“We wanted to do something simple but good, nothing too cheffy,” says Dungca.
The name Sari nods to sarimanok, a mythical Filipino bird that symbolizes good fortune, and also to sari-sari convince stores. To that end, expats and home cooks can shop from a small grocery stocked with pantry ingredients, snacks, and other staples.
Next up for Dungca and the Canlas family: a brick-and-mortar location on H Street, Northeast for Hiraya—a finer dining Filipino concept that Dungca created and recently tested out at the Block in DC. The permanent spot takes over a two-story building (1248-1250 H Street, NE) and will house dual concepts: an all-day Filipino diner below a more polished restaurant for dinner. Expect an a la carte menu to start with creative bites like cassava cake with crab fat, lardo, and smoked trout roe.
“I think people are really interested in the growth of Filipino food, and the evolution of our heritage throughout the years,” says Dungca. “It’s nice to continue to share our story.”
Sari Filipino Kusina. 6920-J Braddock Rd., Annandale