I don't know why it never occurred to me that Filipino turo-turo (“point-point”) food is a perfect fit for a mall food court. You almost never see Filipino food in malls, even though you see takes on Chinese, Japanese and Hawaiian.
Laguna Hills Mall's creepy upstairs food court (it's the only thing
upstairs, and it's just plain dark and weird) has a lot of shuttered posts, but of the five places open, one had a long line:
Pinoy Pam's Best, a Filipino steam-tray restaurant that could have been
any of our local places (Manila Groove, Kapit Bahay, etc.).
I'd already eaten lunch, so I can't tell you whether the food was any
good, but it certainly looked and smelled appetizing: a couple of types
of pancit (stir-fried noodles that put lo mein to shame), fish in
coconut milk, afritada, lechon kawali, chicken adobo, bitter melon, and a station for fried
goods — whole fish, lumpia Shanghai and turon (fried banana egg rolls). They were serving ube shakes made to order, as well. I asked some folks who were eating the food what they thought; they said it wasn't mom's cooking, but nothing is.
There are thousands of Filipino-Americans in Orange County; why are there not more Filipino food in malls to give
the Japanese and Hawaiian steam-tray restaurants a
run for their money?