Chef Josh Espinosa's experience growing up as a Filipino-American shaped his style of cooking in a way that leveled up his creativity to the point of taking a random pop-up concept that stemmed from off-the-cuff ideas at parties to a full blown brick & mortar restaurant that's serving up some of the most exciting fusion food in Los Angeles. This is Sampa.
The melting pot of the city unlocked the inspo for one-of-a-kind Filipino dishes like kare-kare tamales, halo-halo tres leches cake, sinigang xiao long bao and palabok pasta agnolotti.
Fusion food usually is knocked for being convoluted and confused, the concept usually getting lost in the sauce and overthinking itself. For Chef Espinosa's cuisine at Sampa, whom he runs with good friend and co-founder Jenny Valles, it's clear that the vision was seen through with thoughtfulness, respect for ingredients and impeccable technique. The Filipino flavors are encapsulated within a high wire act of balancing creativity and execution, a clear testament to the cooking chops he's accrued within respected LA kitchens like Crustacean and Din Tai Fung.
Any diner should look no further than the Pasta Palabok that Chef Espinosa crafts with precision and finesse. Here Filipino palabok, a rice noodle dish made with shrimp stock, pork broth and ground pork, is transformed into an agnolotti dish that is awash in the dish's traditional flavors, creating a refreshing take that's just as much palate-pleasing as it is exciting.
One bite into the bottom lip-biting al dente of the fresh house made pasta and you find yourself already wanting to order the next dish on the menu, just to see how well Chef Espinosa will continue to expertly juggle his lived experience of being a Filipino-American, fine dining chef and creative mind.