Since becoming a food writer, the most common recommendation I get asked for is where to find good Filipino food in Seattle now that Ludi’s is closed. Normally I am asked this by Filipinos. My answer so far has been that I have no ideas beyond the Jollibee in the Southcenter Mall food court.
Fortunately, Chef Marcus Samuelsson—who is the only person in history to both cook for the POTUS (Barack Obama) and play hisself in a Scooby-Doo movie (Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost)—came to Seattle to answer that question for me.
In a recent interview, Samuelsson said he's been to our city countless times. "I love Seattle because all the nature reminds me of growing up in Sweden." He even owns a Sonics jersey. (RIP) But he had no idea that almost 3 percent of our population is Filipino until he started filming for the second season of No Passport Required. "With the show I'm always learning about new communities."
Of course, one of the first places they visited was Ludi’s. They apparently filmed in the summer before it shut down. He told me he heard about it closure, "it's sad but that's what happens in the restaurant industry."
Still, there are plenty of great Filipino places in Seattle, a few of which I'd actually dined at without realizing they were Filipino: Hood Famous Bakeshop, which should have been obvious due to the purple yam (ube) cheesecake, and the Knee High Stocking Co. on Capitol Hill. The latter is a prohibition-themed speakeasy bar that is less overtly Filipino. He also visits Archipelago, which has created their own style of "Pacific Northwest Progressive Filipino-American Cuisine." They most notably serve a gourmet meal on top of sardine cans as a tribute to the Filipino cannery workers who have been immigrating to Puget Sound for more than 100 years.
The episode also tackles the mystery of why Seattle doesn't have more Filipino restaurants: in the Filipino community, being good at cooking is extremely common. Because so many Filipinos cook, they don’t eat out as much. Much of the best food on the show is enjoyed inside people’s houses. At the end of our interview, Samuelsson told me that he liked everywhere he ate in Seattle, but eating a potluck with a local Filipino family “was one of my best experiences from the entire series.”
No Passport Required's second season starts tonight at 9 pm.