From the Filipino variety show humming in the background to the aroma of grilled beef wafting through the room, I felt like I stepped inside my cousin’s kitchen when I visited off Jarvis Avenue.
Filipino customers say they keep coming back to this restaurant nestled inside the Raley Shopping Center for pancit canton noodles with spring peas and shrimp, pork chunks and root vegetables swimming in the sour tamarind broth of sinigang na baboy and other dishes that remind them of home.
“This is my kitchen,” said customer Michael Reyes. “The ambience is good. The food is excellent and always fresh.”
Tipanan is a lunchtime destination for Reyes and his co-workers, including some who did not grow up with Filipino food.
“Crispy pata is a good one,” said Reyes’ co-worker, Jeff Vidal, referring to the deep-fried pork dish. “Inihaw na baboy is another one.”
For this entree, Tipanan cooks marinate pork pieces, grill them and serve them with rice.
Tipanan owner Zeny Nubla says her goal is to create a place where everyone feels like family.
“This is not sophisticated food. It’s homey,” Nubla said. “My customers here, I have seen them engaged, then married. Next, I see them when they’re pregnant and when they have kids.”
Like in my cousin’s kitchen, I work on my MacBook Pro while sampling Tipanan’s sisig, a mixture of fatty and crispy pork pieces, and white rice. At another table, a family is celebrating a birthday meal with crispy fish and ginataang kalabasa, squash and green beans cooked in coconut milk.
Filipino celebrities turned to Tipanan for a taste of home during a concert tour in May 2010. The restaurant hosted a party for pop star Sarah Geronimo and other Filipino singers following their show in San Jose.
This month marks Nubla’s one-year anniversary as Tipanan’s owner. She took over the restaurant after the previous owner retired to the Philippines.
Tipanan now needs another new owner.
Nubla put the restaurant on the market a few months ago. She says she needs time to take care of her family in Pleasanton and in the Philippines.
“I hope the new owner keeps this place as a Filipino restaurant,” Nubla said.