The first time I ever savored the smoky sweet porcine marvel that is Filipino BBQ was at Ihawan in Woodside, in the shadow of the 7 train in the neighborhood known as Little Manila.
Last week I ventured out in the bitter cold to try some pinoy style grilling that’s as good as and perhaps even better than Ihawan’s. It was grilled on the street by Bad for Business Popups, brainchild of journeyman Chef Francis Maling. The street in question none other than Roosevelt Avenue hard by the 61st Woodside subway stop on the mighty International Express, aka the 7 train.
I’ve been meaning to try Francis’ BBQ for quite some time and I’m glad I finally made it. His pork BBQ is decidedly cheffed up, benefiting from a marinade in soy sauce, banana ketchup, and vinegar followed by a three-step process: an initial grilling, a quick steam in banana leaves, and a final kiss of the flames as he brushes on his homemade sauce. I didn’t try the chicken, but I’m sure it’s excellent. I did however grab a duo of ruddy hued hot dogs capped off with marshmallows, which Maling says is a nod to Filipino birthday parties for kids. The day’s special was his twist on Peruvian anticuchos, grilled beef heart in a bulgogi marinade.
Maling has been operating his fly by the seat of the pants popup since January of 2021. Much as I like to joke that his promotional strategy of announcing each popup a day or so beforehand via Instagram is the reason behind the name “Bad for Business Popups,” Maling said there is a deeper meaning coupled with a mission to build awareness for street vendors who can’t get licenses.“I came up with the name cos when it comes to business a lot of people look for profits before people [but] I’m trying to think about the community,” he said. “I’m trying to think about the safety of the workers, people’s livelihoods not just the money aspect of it.”
As I am writing this I received a notification on my phone that Maling’s little BBQ stand will be open today Feb. 1 from 1 p.m. until he runs out and Thursday from 1 p.m. This week’s special is a burger from Burger Machine, BBQ on Foccacia by @nextlevelpizza.
“It’s barbecue for the community,” Maling said. “This is essentially barbecue for Woodside, I grew up here.” Oh, and in case you are wondering Maling’s favorite Filipino BBQ is the O.G. Ihawan.