Tim Luym Planning New Restaurant That Looks Back at Poleng, Pushes Filipino Cuisine

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Carolyn Jung/Food Gal
Tim Luym.
​What's Tim Luym been doing since January, when Poleng Lounge closed?

Plotting the ascendancy of Filipino cuisine, mostly.

Luym cooked for Melissa Perello at Charles Nob Hill and Fifth Floor, but it was as chef of Poleng that he found his voice. Starting in 2006, his emphasis seemed to shift from Pan-Asian to straight-up Filipino, for an audience that came to be heavily weighted with non-Pinoys. Pork sisig, for instance ― a dish of sizzling bits from a chopped pig's head ― was once only on Poleng's "secret" menu. As the restaurant crossed over, sisig, chopped snout and all, came out. Along the way, Luym earned a nod from the Chronicle as a 2007 Rising Star Chef, same year he was a Beard nominee in the same category.

After wrapping up Poleng ― a casualty of the Great Recession ― Luym focused on consulting work. He'd already been working on Urban Picnic, Trang Nguyen's casual Financial District salad-and-sandwich shop. In March, Luym embarked on a two-week guest-chef stint for luxury cruise line Seabourn, on a ship traveling from Hong Kong to Singapore. "They actually invited me to do the Southeast Asia segment," Luym says, rattling off five-spice roast duck breast, the kinilaw ceviche from Poleng, green papaya salad.

Luym's currently immersed in planning for Attic, a restaurant scheduled to open late next month on B Street in San Mateo.

"It's pretty similar to what Poleng was doing," he says. "I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here." Like Poleng, the food is officially Pan-Asian, the ownership team a mix of veterans and restaurant first-timers. Still, Luym says he's trying to push the notion of more Filipino cuisine into the forefront. "The timing for Filipino cuisine is good right now," he says. "We want to keep the whole street-food scene here, trying to find new ways to focus on Filipino foods."

Luym has lined up a pantry full of uncommon Filipino imports, things like heirloom rice and coconut flour. He says one of the biggest challenges is to bring up the level of service in the dining room from suburban to city. He'll continue his consulting onsite at Attic after the restaurant opens. Before that happens, Luym makes a public appearance May 16 to talk about the future of Filipino food at the Asian Culinary Forum's Filipino Flavors symposium at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute near Civic Center.

And beyond Attic? "I feel that I still have a lot more to learn," Luym says. "I would really like to actually go back, and learn under another great chef, and broaden my horizons. Just take a step back."

Monday: A Q&A, where Luym talks about his inspiration, and reveals where he likes to eat out in the city.
Tuesday: Luym offers up one of his recipes.

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Urban Picnic

125 Kearny, San Francisco, CA

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