Filipino With a Flair

Most Filipino restaurants in the South Bay tend to be little cafeterialike places where you select prepared dishes from a steam table. For a more formal Filipino dining experience, you have only a few choices, the most notable being Pinausukan in Gardena.

The comfortable dining room is decorated in shades of green, accented by imported Filipino bamboo chairs with flowered seat pads. White lace curtains frame a row of windows and one wall is adorned with modern art.

Among the appetizers at this six-year-old establishment are kilawing hipon ($6.95), a spicy shrimp sauteed with onions, vinegar, ginger and hot pepper, and lumpia Shanghai ($4.95), the familiar Filipino egg rolls with ground pork and vegetables.

The soups include sinigang ($8.95), tart with tamarind and made with chicken or fish.

Guisadong talong ($5.75) is Japanese eggplant sauteed with tomatoes, onions, garlic and small shrimp. It's a popular accompaniment to crispy pata ($11.95), otherwise known as deep-fried pig's knuckle. Pata may sound about as appealing as a flat tire on the Cross Bronx Expressway at midnight, but slice away the thin outer layer of fried fat and you'll find loads of tender pork meat.

A large portion of the menu is devoted to seafood. The ginataang mix ($12.95) features mussels, squid, shrimp, clams and crab sauteed in coconut milk with ginger. Pinausukan hito ($11.75) is a grilled catfish with okra and eggplant.

At lunch, daily specials are offered such as a heaping plate of pancit bihun ($4.95), thin rice noodles sauteed with pork, shrimp and shredded vegetables. The Canton pancit is similar, but with thicker noodles.

Pinausukan is at 1828 W. Rosecrans Ave., Gardena. (310) 323-7354. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight.

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