Lola’s by MFK Brings Modern Filipino Brunch to Orange County
One of the most exciting restaurants to open in Orange County this year is Lola’s by MFK in Anaheim. Once you’ve experienced its Kamayan feast served in both breakfast and soon dinner formats you’ll understand how special it is. Its Kamayan Feast is a traditional Filipino cultural culinary experience that’s fun and delicious for everyone. The food comes out family-style and is plated on banana leaves that cover the entire table. All of the traditional dishes are decoratively placed around a bed of rice for everyone to share.
It includes Garlic Rice / Six Entrees / Lumpia / Ensaldang Kamatis (Tomato salad with fried garlic, chopped red onions, cracked pepper) / Assorted dipping sauces /Fresh Mangos & Oranges / Fried Garlic crumble /Scallions / Banana leaves / Sunnyside up eggs
Entrees include Chicken Tocino / Longanisa / Corned Beef / Spam /Vegan Spam / Bacon / Lechon / Beef Tapa /Chicken Adobo / Portuguese sausage.
The opening of Lola’s by MFK will be a triumph in many ways for Chef Henry Pineda, who nearly left the restaurant industry after a fire burned down his first location during the second shutdown of the pandemic.
With Lola’s by MFK taking over the former CaliVino Wine Pub off Katella Avenue next door to Angel Stadium, Pineda, 31, is celebrating his mother’s Filipino and father’s Guatemalan roots through the lens of his favorite meal.
“Every year on my birthday we don’t go to dinner, we go to breakfast,” said Pineda, who grew up in L.A. and moved to Anaheim when he was six. “Breakfast was always the meal where my family ate together. My dad worked the graveyard shift and would just be coming home right before my mom was about to head out.”
Pineda has worked in restaurants since 18 at Mama Cozza’s in Anaheim. He’s also cooked at Orange Hill in Orange; ADYA in Anaheim; Starfish in Laguna Beach; Shabu Shabu in Santa Ana; Smoking Ribs in Garden Grove; and The Penthouse inside The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica. Pineda opened MFK by Aysee’s original location on the border of Anaheim and Buena Park in 2016 at age 26.
That restaurant burned down one night in September 2020 when a fire spontaneously broke out.
“There were so many emotions. Watching your dreams, everything you worked hard for in your life, go up in flames. It was tough,” Pineda said. “But it was a blessing in disguise, it was the first time that my wife and I were able to spend time with each other, not working. Every small business owner knows you’re there 7 days a week. We had missed a lot of birthdays, family events.
“We didn’t know if we wanted to open up another restaurant because of the work it took and the time it took away from being with our family,” he continued. “We have family in Samoa and the Philippines. We were looking up farmer programs in Hawaii. Then we got the opportunity from SteelCraft with a fully-equipped kitchen. We were looking for a sign and this felt like it was it.”
In 2021, Pineda with his business partners wife Amanda “Panda” Pineda and brother Nicko Pineda reopened MFK by Aysee, their “Modern Filipino Kitchen” serving carryout and Kamayan feasts. MFK by Aysee is an homage to their grandma and aunt’s restaurant Aysee, which is famous for its crispy pork sisig, in the city of Pasig, in Manila, Luzon, Philippines.
Though the pandemic has impacted operations with staffing shortages and unpredictable business due to the different variants of COVID-19, Pineda knew it was the right time to open Lola’s once he found the former CaliVino space in Anaheim.
“My original plan for MFK was full service, so this is really full circle for me,” Pineda said. “Lola means ‘grandmother’ in Tagalog. It really embodies what we’re about. Both of my grandmas sold food from their homes to make a living. This name continues that tradition in our family.”
Lola’s by MFK will be open 7 days a week with Breakfast from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Dinner (to be phased in at a later date Thursday-Sunday) starting at 5 p.m. nightly.
The dinner menu will be similar to the original MFK by Aysee, with more freedom to explore new ideas for Pineda.
“One of the dishes I want to have is Chicken Adobo Mole, another is Filipino Ceviche topped with uni,” he said. “What makes this menu special is that its items I always wanted to do but felt like I couldn’t execute in the spaces we were in previously.”
The Kamayan, a traditional Filipino feast that MFK by Aysee has become known for, will be served in both breakfast and dinner formats at the restaurant; no reservation is required. The breakfast version will feature a mound of garlic rice, lumpia, eggs, and breakfast meats.
Pineda—who just returned from the Philippines on a family vacation before the opening—envisions Lola’s as a celebration of tradition and culture perfect for hanging out, date nights, celebrations, or before local concerts and sporting events.
“Lola’s is a huge jump for us,” Pineda said. “We went from a strip mall in Anaheim to a prime location next to Angel Stadium.”
2410 E Katella Ave, Anaheim. (714) 363-3335
Image Courtesy Knife & Spork PR