It’s been a wobbly ride for the Lasita team in the last year. The Far East Plaza Filipino restaurant, formerly known as Lasa, closed and re-concepted during the winter surge portion of the ongoing global pandemic, returning to life weeks later with its new name and more easygoing takeaway menu. The outlook — casual Filipino food done with California ingredients and lots of heart — remained the same even as brothers Chase and Chad Valencia decided to amicably split, leaving Chase to run the Lasita show with former Lasa chef de cuisine (and Eater Young Guns winner) Nico de Leon. And yet, through it all, the Lasita team is intent on keeping things very, very sunny.
Here comes the newest iteration of Lasita, a colorful dinnertime hideaway meant to evoke the serenity of a Philippine sunset. Preen, Inc., one of LA’s premier hospitality architecture firms (Tesse, Howlin’ Rays, Socalo, Odys + Penelope), managed to flip the space to include pared-down wooden booths and banquettes along with an oversized central table that can double as a family-style feasting station or a place for wine pours and stand-up gatherings among friends. There’s a casual rail along the window for elbow-to-elbow indoor dining like the old days, and lots of color and artistry in the artwork and hanging paper fixtures.
Much of the Lasita menu, with its focus on rotisserie-style chicken and pork lechon, remains in place, along with the colorful pours of natural wine, of course. There’s also pancit, roast pork sandwiches, smaller bar snacks, and bites of calamansi cream pie for dessert, each ideal for a warm summer evening in changing Chinatown, a neighborhood that has undergone its own generation of upheaval and uncertainty in the face of development and gentrification.
For those eager to return to what may (still) be Los Angeles’s best Filipino restaurant, Chase Valencia, Nico de Leon, and the Lasita team will be on-site starting tomorrow evening, keeping hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with Sunday hours from noon to 4 p.m.