Elevated, Casual Filipino Food at Sari Sari Store (Grand Central Market) - [Thoughts + Pics]


@Chowseeker1999 One good takeaway from the experience was that the staff was incredibly nice. I sat at the counter and watched the kitchen hustle, and chatted with the folks working the dessert station. That’s how I learned about their “sunshine” eggs. The Halo-Halo looked fantastic and everyone kept saying to pie was out-of-this-world good…but I’m not a coconut fan and there wasn’t enough time for dessert.


Are you Jonathan Gold?


You got me. I am really Jonathan Gold. I just pretend to be a GenX Indian woman here so no one figures it out. :wink:

I really don’t understand the “put an egg on it and it’ll automatically be better” trend. Sure, add an egg when it will truly elevate the dish, but it seems like a lot of places are putting them on things that don’t really need them, like a lot of salads. I don’t need a fried egg on my Caesar, TYVM.


I was fooled. :slight_smile:


most of the bowls at Sari Sari store are considered breakfast/brunch type food, so it usually comes with an egg. its usually “meat/protein” with eggs and rice (fried rice/garlic rice).

i’m sure you can request it without eggs.


Haha… I actually have had (tasted) the Sisig Fried Rice at Sari Sari Store. You’re right, it was much better than the underwhelming Lechon Manok (roasted chix). I wasn’t in a food mood that day, but will definitely go again and try some of the other dishes you posted. They’re trying to use elevated ingredients, plus we don’t have enough Filipino spots around, so…


Hi @TheCookie,

Ah nice! Did you like the Sisig Fried Rice overall? :slight_smile: Definitely give their Buko Pie (Coconut) a try and their Housemade Spam Rice a try if it’s on the menu.


Hi @Chowseeker1999 -

Well, I definitely liked it better than my own selection (Lechon Manok). As said, I wasn’t in a food mood - hot day, flies, can’t remember, but possibly hungover. But my overall impression was the couple of dishes we ordered were not homey or soulful. I’m not an expert, but I think of Filipino dishes as comforting, soulful.

Thanks to you, intrepid warrior, next time there I will go straight to their stall and give it another try.

P.S. I :heart: Coconut Pie.


Nice to see you back, @TheCookie!


Oh sweet… Thanks! After 6 months and 5 temporary locations… Yes 5, we are finally home. Lots of unpacking though.


I just had the Sisig fried rice today. I thought it was on the bland side but still good. It came to life with some of the sauces on the side. I strongly prefer the bowls at Ricebar based on my first visit.


Hah… I was thinking as we were discussing, that I will try more sauces next time.


Interesting, I had the opposite reaction. But it’s been a while since I hit Ricebar.


Lechon Kawali or Sisig?


Hi @frommtron,

I haven’t tried the Lechon Kawali yet (did they permanently add it to the menu now?), but if I get a chance this week, I’ll give you my thoughts. :slight_smile:


The Lechon Kawali was a special. I went with the sisig on a coin flip.
Doctoring with the vinegar, patis, and sriracha was necessary, but the end results were quite tasty.
I also got an avocado slush which was exactly how I would make it at home. Simple but just the right amount of condensed milk.
I didn’t regret not getting a “green” falafel wrap from Madcapra and that’s a big deal for me.
For GCM, it’s a great option!


Update 1:

We had errands to run in Downtown and decided to stop by Chef Margarita Manzke’s casual Filipino food stand again.

Sisig Fried Rice (Crispy Pig’s Head, Onions, Chilis, Garlic Rice, Fried Egg):

This was probably my favorite bowl from the menu previously, so I couldn’t wait to try it again. Taking a bite it’s got this decadent, seductive fatty backnote in every bite (from the Crispy Pig’s Head chunks sauteed into the Fried Rice). It’s porky, garlicky and just so satisfying. :blush:

It was a touch less fatty compared to last time, which is unfortunate, but also probably a bit healthier. :wink: Still very good. :slight_smile:

Halo Halo (Seasonal Granita, Leche Flan, Fresh Fall Fruit, Coconut Tapioca, Ice Cream):

As light and delicate as before: I love that Chef Margarita Manzke’s version of Halo Halo isn’t the crazy neon-artificial color & flavored versions seen at many other places. Just the core Housemade Coconut Tapioca, silky Leche Flan and Ice Cream combination is worth the price of admission, but adding in some Watermelon Granita (made from farmers market ingredients) elevates it even more.

Buko Pie (Coconut, Coconut, Coconut):

Just stupid good. :heart: It’s more creamy than last time and bursting with Coconut flavors. We devoured this in seconds. :sweat_smile:

Another Visit:

We were visiting friends in the area and decided to meet up at Grand Central Market.

(Special) Beef Tapa (Marinated Short Ribs, Garlic Rice, Pickled Fresno Chilies):

We saw the word “Short Rib” and immediately thought about Chef Walter Manzke’s succulent, tender Short Ribs at Republique, and thought, that it must be Chef Margarita Manzke doing her own take on that, so we quickly ordered that.

Unfortunately it turned out to be Flanken Cut Short Ribs (Korean BBQ Kalbi-style), and it was grilled in a similar fashion. They were OK, really tasting like a slightly modified version of Korean BBQ. The Short Ribs were meaty and fresh-tasting, but on the chewier side.

Lechon Kawali (Crispy Pork Belly, Atsara, Garlic Rice, Fried Egg):

This was much better! We’re so glad Chef Manzke decided to add this classic Filiino dish to the menu. The Crispy Pork Belly was indeed crispy on the outside skin, and with fatty & lean tender pieces of Pork underneath. Delicious! :blush:

Buko Pie (Coconut, Coconut, Coconut):

We had to get their amazing Buko Pie again on this visit. It was thankfully as consistent as the last 3 times we’ve had it. A light flaky crust, and every bite just exudes a multi-faceted blast of Coconut in the best possible way. It is SO GOOD! :heart: (and I don’t normally like Coconut that much.)

Sari Sari Store is definitely a worthy stop if you’re at Grand Central Market. It is one of the anchors of great food in that area filled with average to mediocre offerings. Give their Sisig Fried Rice (made with Crispy Pig’s Head, Garlic Rice) a try, or their Lechon Kawali. Their Arroz Caldo (Filipino Congee) is another standout, and if you ever see their Housemade Spam on the menu, order it for a completely elevated but soulful rendition that reflects Chef Margarita Manzke’s heritage and her formal culinary background from Spago, Patina and Melisse.

Sari Sari Store
(at Grand Central Market)
317 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (323) 320-4020



Went to GCM for the first time ever last night. (I know, I know I’m stuck in my Westside bubble. But I’ve now been downtown two weekends in a row so that’s something. Dinner last weekend at Officine Brera, which was excellent but also involved a lot of wine and catching up with old friends so no actual review.) Anyways, friend that I met up with there was also a first timer so based on what we’d read and heard we chose to split the Belcampo burger (so good) and the Pinoy BBQ at Sari Sari. Pork ribs were sweetish but not too sweet, fall off the bone but not overdone. Best part though was the garlic rice. I’m not usually a huge rice fan but I’d be very happy with a bowl of that topped with vegetables and an egg, forget the protein. Was tempted by the buko pie but friend isn’t a huge coconut fan so instead we went for a nightcap at the Varnish. I’ll be back for the buko pie though.


I’m curious why any carnivore would have a problem with pig head. This was SO delicious.


Most Americans are brought up eating cuts of meat that don’t stare back at them. The association of meat coming from a once living breathing animal is abruptly severed when neatly segmented cuts are displayed in foam trays at the market, or presented on a plate.

An acquaintance asked where she could get a good Chinese dinner around Van Nuys. She was born in and grew up in the US and in her early senior years. I recommended Sam Woo BBQ.

She came at me the next day, shocked that I would reccomend a place with whole chickens and ducks hanging behind glass, heads still attached. She never asked for another food rec again.