Seattle-based Filipino pop-up Baon Kainan will open a food cart in Portland on August 7

Ethan and Geri Leung moved to Portland for the same reason countless chefs from New York, San Francisco and Seattle did: to slow down. Ethan Leung, who previously cooked at Seattle’s lively hotel restaurant Ben Paris has lived the life of a chef in a demanding market: 12, 13, 14 hours a day, all under the heavy pressure of working in a traditional restaurant kitchen. Meanwhile, he and Geri Leung ran a Filipino pop-up, Baon Kainan, out of Ben Paris, cooking dishes like smoked salmon sinigang and ube panna cotta.

But after coming to visit Matta’s power couple, Richard and Sophia Le, the Leungs realized they wanted to do something for themselves on their terms, in a way that allowed them to live the life they wanted. wanted. “Seeing Matta doing what they do so well and still having a social life, being able to spend time together, it was really an eye opener for me,” Ethan Leung said. “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what this is about.'”

Very soon, Baon Kainan will land in Portland as a food cart, featuring gluten-free adobo chicken, kare-kare fries, and seasonal dishes like winter arroz caldo.

Baon Kainan is an exploration of the foods Ethan and Geri ate growing up as Filipino Americans. While Ethan turned to professional cooking after a short career in engineering, Geri grew up cooking at home for her younger brother, absorbing what she could from the Food Network and, in her own words, a ” scruffy old recipe binder”, including his mother’s Filipino dishes. After Ethan’s first year in the professional kitchen, he felt compelled to try the food he ate growing up through this new lens, and the two began to organize supper clubs for their friends and family. family. “Even though Ethan was creating menus, I was the tester for all the foods,” Geri explains. “I put an intimate touch to it; he had this fine dining experience, and I would bring it back.

When the Leungs talk about Baon Kainan — or Filipino cuisine in general — they often present their food as a departure from the homemade staples common to most Filipino families. The couple use the phrase “It’s not your tita’s cooking” in their Instagram bio, an acknowledgment that Baon Kainan’s food is not the classic take on any given Filipino dish, while fully respecting this traditional interpretation. “What we want to convey in food is that it’s our story; it’s our education,” says Geri Leung. “Yes, we are Filipinos, but we are Filipino Americans. We grew up on fast food, buffets, and pizza, so inevitably we’re going to honor the foods that we grew up on, but from Ethan’s training, my family’s food.

For example, the cart’s kare kare fries are a nod to Geri and Ethan’s university trips to Canada, where they devoured piles of poutine. The chef sears seasoned short ribs before braising them with carrots, onions, garlic, ginger and annatto. After three or four hours, Ethan combines the braising liquid with peanut butter and smothers the fries with the beef, vegetables and liquid. “We make the peanut stew with the braised beef as traditionally as possible, but to flip it, serve it over fries, it pays homage to our time in college,” says Ethan.

The rest of the menu will include gluten-free versions of chicken and mushroom adobo, made with tamari and broth, and a rotating selection of dishes like sinigang. The two also hope to offer desserts — the Seattle pop-up served things like ube brownies and ensaymadas — but the Leungs don’t want to bite off more than they can chew.

The Baon Kainan food cart will open August 7 at 4311 NE Prescott. Learn about Baon Kainan by following the Leungs instagram.

Updated July 29, 2021, 6:14 p.m.: This story has been updated to include the opening date and address of the food cart.

Baon Kainan [Official]
Baon Kainan [Instagram]