A restaurant in a Fisherman’s Wharf hotel isn’t a likely place for destination-worthy dining in the City, but that is indeed the case with chef Francis Ang’s stellar Filipino-Californian cooking at Abacá. Savvy San Francisco diners have followed Ang for years — from his acclaimed tenure as pastry chef at Fifth Floor to the Pinoy Heritage pop-up that he and his wife, Dian, were inspired to start after a 2013 visit to the Philippines. When a massive typhoon left them stranded there, although resources were scarce, the couple used their chef skills to help feed the community. Upon returning to San Francisco, they held a fundraiser for those affected by the typhoon. Its overwhelming success confirmed the local interest in learning more about Filipino cuisine.
Pinoy Heritage set the stage for Abacá, where an early signature dish is the pancit composed of handmade noodles, smoked scallops, king trumpet mushrooms, seasonal vegetables and XO bagoong (shrimp paste). The springy noodles and tender scallops are tied together by a tangy scallop jus and a fume-based sauce full of briny and umami notes. The presentation includes half a calamansi — grown in Ang’s grandmother’s backyard — for guests to add a citrusy spritz. Sorry clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, but Abacá’s pancit is now the leading culinary reason to visit the wharf.
Wine and cocktail pairings: Abacá recommends the 2019 Nuo Vermentino from Sardinia as the pancit’s wine partner. A bright, mineral-forward local white like the Gewürztraminer from Windchaser or Maître de Chai’s Kierkegaard Chenin Blanc would also work well. However, the optimal pairing is the Local Word, Abacá’s riff on the classic gin- and green Chartreuse–based Last Word cocktail with the subtle addition of absinthe, pineapple and calamansi.