Celebrity vegan chef and restaurateur Reina Montenegro has teamed up with Filipinos restaurant Mama Go to bring vegan Filipino cuisine to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Starting next month, Mama Go’s airport locations will offer travelers an easy way to find vegetarian food on the go.
Mama Go will offer vegan dishes such as OmniPork Lumpia (eggless rolls filled with vegan pork); Tokino (cured mock pork); lechon kawali (vegan pork belly); Kare Kare (vegetables in peanut sauce with vegan shrimp paste); and a world-famous vegan leche flan.
Created by Lady Luck Gourmet, the founders of Mama Go are members of a famous Filipino bakery chain and have been in the Filipino restaurant business for over 50 years and in the airport restaurant business for over 20 years.
In 2020, it opened its new location at SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1 to share a taste of Filipino cuisine and culture. It is one of the highest rated restaurants in SFO with a 4.5-star rating and over 220 reviews on Yelp.
The partnership is part of a new community initiative led by Lady Luck Gourmet that will soon welcome other local businesses aimed at supporting and promoting the community. Owner Eva Chen spearheaded the project to improve local women-owned businesses. Montenegro was selected as their inaugural Community Partner.
“When you travel, the last thing you want to eat is ‘airport food,’ when you’re already far from home and away from your family and friends,” Montenegro tells VegNews.
“It will provide people [with] Healthy versions of traditional Filipino dishes, offering delicious comfort food while you’re away from home.”
Vegan Filipino Food in the Bay Area
Montenegro began his restaurant career in 2012 as a private chef and caterer. His catering business eventually led to a restaurant opening, and he soon operated three popular Phillips vegan restaurants in the Bay Area: Nick’s Kitchen, Nick’s on Grand, and Nick’s on Mission.
After closing all Nick’s locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montenegro dropped the Nick’s branding and launched Chef Reina, an online ordering food concept and brick-and-mortar storefront in Brisbane, CA, offering a menu of Filipino classics with a vegan twist. By Spin patrons are able to order online and also purchase care packages: bulk vegan “meat” by the pound to cook at home.
OmniPork comes to the US
In 2021, Chef Reyna became one of the first locations in the United States to serve OmniPork’s vegan lunch. OmniFoods launched OmniStrips (a vegan pork shoulder) as well as Vegan Luncheon (a plant-based version of Hormel’s Spam) under the OmniPork brand in Hong Kong.
At the restaurant, guests can choose from seven dishes featuring Omnipork products: Luncheon Meat Silag, Luncheon Meat Fried Rice, Luncheon Meat Musubi, Lumpia Shanghai, Misua Soup, Longaniza and Sweet and Sour Bola Bola (Vegan Meatball).
In addition to OmniPork items, Chef Reyna serves a variety of Filipino dishes like lechon, sisig, and pancit, along with breakfast dishes like bacon and corned beef silaug and ube pancakes on weekends. The menu also includes a touch of American fare, including the Impossible Burger, chicken sandwiches and BLTs.
OmniFoods founder David Yung, who is also a supporter of entrepreneur Montenegro and Chen, created vegan lunch meats from soybeans, wheat, beets and coconut oil to provide customers with a better choice with less sodium, nitrates and zero animal cruelty.
“Chef Reyna is eagerly awaiting OmniPork’s arrival in the US. I’m just thrilled that the opening of her restaurant coincides with our US launch,” Yeung said in a statement earlier.
“His culinary creativity and passion will surely bring a whole new plant-based experience to vegans and meat eaters,” he said.
When Chef Reyna started Montenegro in 2021, she always hoped to bring her dishes to a wider audience as part of her vision to make delicious vegan Filipino cuisine accessible to more people. The partnership with Mama Go, Montenegro says, brings her one step closer to her goal.
“I had an incredible time partnering with Lady Luck Gourmet to honor our culture, while offering a menu of Filipino favorites with a vegan spin,” said Montenegro. “When I opened Chef Reyna in 2021, I always hoped to bring my dishes nationwide and this partnership brings us one step closer to reaching a global community. I am honored to be their inaugural partner.”