(Spanish speakers will notice that kalabasa is just a respelling of calabasa "squash" and of course the Philippines were a Spanish possession until the Spanish-American War of 1898.)
Also Thai-ish in tone is the BBQ chicken ($10.95) on a triad of skewers. The marinated flesh takes a nice blistering from the grill but remains juicy inside. For textural and flavor contrast the skewers are plated with a small heap of achara: threads of pickled carrot and papaya. We were offered white rice to go with this dish, asked for brown rice instead, and settled for garlic rice ($3.50). The garlic rice nonetheless turned out to be at least as brown as most brown rice, and quite a bit tastier. Scooped from its cantaloupe-size bowl, it made a nice bed for the chicken skewers and prawn curry alike and was quite good on its own.
Although in the matter of dessert I am now a subprime customer who as often as not is pleased to settle for some chamomile tea or nothing at all I still feel a slight thrill in proclaiming an excellent sweet. Palencia has one: it's the sans rival ($8) and looks like a peanut butter sandwich sliced in half and sexily posed. In fact, the sandwich consists of two layers of cashew meringue, separated by a narrow stratum of vanilla buttercream. It's unusual and irresistible; all it needs is a little color on the plate, a sprig of mint, a splash of berry coulis. A lump of vanilla ice cream, on the other hand as accompanies the turón ($8), a pair of crisp-fried crepes stuffed with bananas and jackfruit would be overkill, even rivalrous. *
Brunch: Sat.Sun., 25 p.m. Dinner: Tues.Sun., 510:30 p.m.
3870 17th St., SF
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