Sucka-Free Sisig: On Our New Website & The Discovery of “San Francisco Style Sisig”
Travel is about the discovery of unknown frontiers, outside and inside ourselves. Learning the things we didn’t know we didn’t know. Often, these new lessons illuminate what we already practice, and can offer refreshed perspectives on how we approach our work.
Evan K sat down with Plinth Agency — Señor Sisig’s partners in web design — to discuss the new Señor Sisig website, and they discussed a brief story from Evan’s a recent visit to the Philippines, where Evan found a surprising taste of something very familiar.
“So, of course, I went out to eat a lot, check out what’s going on with the scene in The Philippines. And I went to a dive bar that had kind of a Mexican menu, and they had a menu item called “San Francisco-style Sisig.” And my reaction was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing, I’m all the way in the PI right now, and they are identifying our work as a legitimate style of Sisig, as San Francisco-style Sisig.’ So it was a humbling moment to see something that we started, using the pork shoulder to make Sisig, not just traveling around the world, but getting respect in The Philippines itself. You can call it San Francisco-style Sisig, or Señor Sisig,” Evan said.
For both Evan and Desi Danganan, Creative Director at Plinth Agency, seeing Señor Sisig blossom from a Bay Area staple to a site of culinary influence is a proud moment, not just as a Filipino San Franciscan, but as someone with deep experience in the restaurant and hospitality business.
“Señor Sisig already has a very high consciousness in terms of how they fit in Bay Area culture. And from the Plinth team’s days operating Poleng Lounge, we’ve learned as restaurant owners what it takes to create unique brands, and we’re excited to be able to apply some of the best practices we've learned to help expand the Señor Sisig brand. They really are the premier food truck brand in the Bay Area, particularly because of how they’re leading the charge of creating new fusion iterations of Filipino food,” Desi said.
Poleng Lounge was a key spot in the early days of the Filipino food scene, when momentum was just starting to coalesce around businesses like Señor Sisig. In fact, Evan himself once performed on the Poleng stage as part of a hip-hop show (with a broken leg!), and he cites the dining component of Poleng as both a fond memory and a key motivator for partnering with Plinth Agency.
“Poleng was one of the pioneers to take Filipino food and do it outside of its traditional form. I remember how they wanted to test Sisig’s popularity, and so they ran it as a secret menu item. And in getting to know Desi, I’ve found he has similar values of wanting to spark the minds of other entrepreneurs and chefs, influencing different parts of the world and building off one another’s creations. And telling the story of how Señor Sisig is doing that is really important to me with this new site,” Evan said.
Enter Marco Jastillana and Dre Sibayan — the Plinth creatives on the Señor Sisig site tasked with communicating that story. It’s a complex task that they say requires sensitivity to Señor Sisig’s existing culture, leveraging what works by adding nuance.
“With the illustrative type I did for Señor Sisig, I wanted to emphasize a hand-painted, old-school vibe. One thing Evan talked about when we were trying to get to the roots of the brand in the is that we wanted to convey an element of fun and cool — the way the employees interact with customers, the culture of the line, the music they play, it’s all reflective of who they are as a brand. So really, we’re charged with how to emphasize that cool without saying ‘Hey, we are cool.' And for an operation like Señor Sisig, ‘cool’ doesn’t just mean coming across as casual and laid-back — it’s just as much about representing that they’re legit about sourcing ingredients, and diligent about the craft of the food,” Dre said.
“Filipino food is really on-trend right now, and there are a lot of brands competing for space in peoples’ minds. And given the scene in San Francisco today, there really is something special about Señor Sisig, because they are from the City and they are very proud of it. It’s an attitude that can’t be imitated, and that separates them. And one of the biggest insights Evan had was that we wanted to make sure we used language and slang that people normally use. So you can see how their brand has such a strong sense of authenticity, and by communicating it clearly, it allows people to recognize that Señor Sisig is a hybrid, next-generation thing, and the audience knows to expect something that’s true to San Francisco, but still different and new,” Marco said.
By serving food that represents the sucka-free history of San Francisco — while still engaging the City’s new population of transplants — Señor Sisig has created a dedicated following that’s growing every day. And with Filipino flavors at the heart of the menu, both Desi and Evan stress the importance of the evolution of the brand as times continue to change.
“There certainly has been a reawakening of the Filipino people in terms of being proud of their cuisine. And it’s gaining in popularity in the realm of culinary arts. Chefs today are like the new DJs, and as Filipino food gets more popular, the flavors and approaches will turn into a subculture itself. I see new perspectives on Filipino food that emerge that aren’t even Filipino. It’s a lot like hip hop culture — and I think Evan is a great example of that,” Desi said.
“Your website is like your book. And it really feels like we’re all on the same page, and it’s cool to create something that represents each brand in particular. In that way, it really feels like Plinth is very selective in who they work with, and it feels like they will always be invested as a group. It’s a real team environment that emphasizes being true to your story, and that’s really important to us at Señor Sisig,” Evan said.