Arts & Life

Union at Compound brings innovative Filipino cuisine to Long Beach

It’s easy to understand why Union, one of Long Beach’s hottest new restaurants, has received so much recognition since opening its doors in January.

Spearheaded by Chef Eugene Santiago, the menu features Filipino-forward dishes with Southeast Asian influences and California flair. Think pancit with black garlic butter and pork kare kare served over fluffy coconut rice.

Compound has a bar that is located in the back of the complex and features many alcoholic drinks for the visitors.
Compound has a bar that is located in the back of the complex and features many alcoholic drinks for the visitors. Photo credit: Mark Siquig

Other dishes like bao buns stuffed with juicy fried chicken, whole branzino smothered in nam jim sauce and crispy cauliflower tossed in tamarind dressing highlight the influences that Santiago honed at Baryo, his Southeast Asian fusion pop-up.

Through Baryo, Santiago has established residency at Union to continue his mission of reimagining Filipino food while simultaneously giving back to the surrounding area.

“What we’re trying to do with Baryo translates well with what Compound’s mission is,” Santiago said. “We share the same values in wanting to uplift the community and everyone around us by making it available to everyone. I think that is really important.”

Located in the historic Zaferia neighborhood, the restaurant is tucked away inside of Compound, a nonprofit cultural community hub with an adjacent art gallery. According to Compound founder Megan Tagliaferri, the space is meant to serve the surrounding community.

Compound Supervisor
Compound founder Megan Tagliaferri believes that the space is used to serve the community, stating that the partnership between Union and Baryo is an extension to the community. Photo credit: Mark Siquig

“Compound is an intersection in serving the community arts, wellness and community impact and I think that the partnership with Union and Baryo has been an extension of our community,” Tagliaferri said.

The sprawling indoor space is adorned with colorful artwork that stands out against the stark white walls and is accompanied by a sculpture garden that doubles as an outdoor dining area. Complete with high ceilings and a large neon sign above the entrance that reads “You Belong Here,” Union offers visitors a unique dining experience.

“Food allows connection and to enjoy a meal and be communal together,” Tagliaferri said when asked what the inspiration was for bringing Union to Compound.

Centered on uplifting the community, Compound hosts various talks and workshops that display the intersectionality of art, wellness and food. This emotionally driven work is equally important to Chef Santiago as he draws much of his culinary inspiration from his emotions, sharing that cooking is inherently done from the heart.

Tagliaferri recalled why she handpicked Santiago to bring Union at Compound to life, stating that his genuine heart-centered work, coupled with his culinary talents, reflected Compound’s overall mission.

For Santiago, Union has been an opportunity to better understand his Filipino heritage by showcasing his cultural background with classic French techniques that he learned during his time in culinary school. Often underrepresented in the culinary landscape, Filipino food is what continues to inspire Santiago to create the unique dishes found at Union.

Sourcing most ingredients locally, Union aims to not only support local businesses but to also serve food that lets in-season California produce shine. The menu will continually rotate according to what is in season to offer “what tastes best in the moment.”

Many other art pieces are scattered throughout the compound, and other commissions can be found outside as well.
Many other art pieces are scattered throughout the Compound, and other commissions can be found outside as well. Photo credit: Mark Siquig

Now offering brunch service on the weekends, Union hopes to continue serving patrons exciting food and great customer service that will keep them coming back for more.

Union is located at 1395 Coronado Ave. Long Beach, CA 90804. Their hours of operation are Wednesday to Friday from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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