Filipino Bistro comes to Hillcrest

Former Bivouac Ciderworks chef DJ Tangalin is announcing his debut solo restaurant, a modern Filipino bistro called Maya Eatery that he hopes to open by the end of May; it will be the first of several concepts created with business partner Archie Soria, who owns Filipino eateries in North County. 

San Diego has one of the country’s largest Filipino-American populations, but the modern Filipino food movement, led by some of the most exciting restaurants across the nation — from Lasa and Ma’am Sir in Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. hotspot Bad Saint and Maharlika in New York City — has yet to truly take hold here. Last spring, Tangalin was part of a sold-out Filipino food event in San Diego, which showcased the sheer number of talented chefs of Filipino heritage currently cooking in our city. 

Chef DJ Tangalin

Born in the Philippines, Tangalin moved to Hawaii in his teens and then to New Jersey for culinary school, subsequently staging in acclaimed kitchens, from Le Bernardin and Volt on the East Coast to Coi and Cyrus in the Bay Area, before landing in San Diego where he cooked at Whisknladle and JRDN Restaurant. In 2016, Tangalin took on the executive chef position at Tidal at Paradise Point, where he began to infuse Filipino flavors and ingredients into his dishes and amassed a following within the local Filipino community. He continued to develop that style of cuisine at Bivouac Ciderworks, which was Editor’s Choice for Bar and Food Combo of the Year in the 2018 Eater Awards and was a Readers’ Choice winner for Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year. 

This Saturday, April 6, he’s cooking the first of several pop-ups designed to give a preview of his plans for Maya Eatery; the night’s dishes include raw fish with kalamansi and fish sauce, ensalada with rambutan vinaigrette, and chicken inasal with sweet and sour bread sauce. Tangalin is in the process of securing a permanent restaurant location in the Hillcrest area. 

Translating to “little birds”, Maya evokes both freedom and nostalgia for the chef, who says his menu will feature new versions of Filipino classics as well as creations that combine time-honored flavors, including housemade fish sauce and fermented shrimp paste, with his culinary background and training in French technique.