It’s been a hard year for all restaurants, everywhere, though Los Angeles’s Filipino food scene has taken two particularly brutal blows as a result of the ongoing pandemic. First was the loss of Ma’am Sir, the nationally-acclaimed Pinoy spot on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, which ended its multi-year run back in August 2020. Now, LA is mourning the end of another staple in the genre: Lasa, the star almost four-year-old dinner spot at Chinatown’s Far East Plaza. The restaurant, known for its elevated fare served in a moody, mellow evening atmosphere, had for years been among the city’s best places not just for Filipino food, but for a meal period. The shop has turned into Lasita, a massively more casual takeout home for rotisserie chicken and natural wine.
As the name change implies this is a whole new concept, albeit with some familiar faces. Lasa co-founder Chase Valencia is still on to run operations and handle the front of house and drinks side of things, while former Lasa chef de cuisine (and Eater Young Guns winner) Nico de Leon is back from a stint in the Bay Area to oversee the kitchen. Chad Valencia, one-half of the now-closed Lasa, has amicably moved on to spend more time with his growing family. Last week, Chase Valencia informed Eater of the planned reconfiguration via email, saying:
Nico de Leon and I had been working on a Filipino rotisserie concept in the background, as we’ve both always been infatuated with the flavors of Filipino style rotisserie and lechon from our trips back to the Philippines. Even though it seems crazy to open a new concept right now... with the ever changing restaurant climate, this feels better suited for the times and a more sustainable business model beyond the pandemic, where we can still continue to celebrate the flavors we grew up with.
Brined and aromatics-stuffed birds run $14 for a half or $28 for a whole, along with pork belly lechon sold by the pound and sides like garlic fried rice. The opening menu, including dessert, is below.
The new Lasita still plans, as Valencia says, to celebrate the flavors of the Philippines, but with indoor dining still a ways off in Los Angeles County, it’s all about the takeout chicken. It’s ultimately a positive step forward for Valencia and de Leon, and for the Filipino food community overall, but one that comes with a certain amount of loss, as Los Angeles Times co-critic Bill Addison noted in a piece last week on Kuya Lord, a Filipino pop-up that operates out of a garage in La Cañada. Lasita is available for preorders and pickups now.