A new generation of chefs is putting a fresh spin on the country’s cuisine
In a strip mall in L.A.’s Chinatown, Alvin Cailan is grilling chicken and slathering it with a citrusy annatto baste. He’s at Unit 120, his restaurant incubator, though he’s better known as chef-owner of the West’s wildly popular Eggslut restaurants.
Unit 120 is closed to the public today, but rap music thrums inside the kitchen while Chad Valencia of Lasa restaurant seasons pancit noodles and Isa Fabro layers a mango dessert. The chefs, all Filipino Americans, are creating an off-the-menu dinner for family and friends that highlights some of their projects at Unit 120—and the new direction of Filipino cooking.
“It’s like a clubhouse for chefs, with a mission,” Cailan explains about the small space. Here, cooks can try out long-term residencies, pop-ups, even a single dish—without committing to a brick-and-mortar business.