“There will come a time when I can welcome you again,” Fil-Am chef Charles Olalia wrote on his Instagram account.
Food & Drink Restaurants

Goodbye to L.A.’s celebrated Filipino restaurant famous for its ‘masterful’ adobo

This way out, ma’am sir. 
ANCX | Sep 02 2020

It was a short run but filled with sweet triumphs. Ma’am Sir, Charles Olalia’s Los Angeles restaurant that was his ode to his childhood in Manila, just closed after two years. “Thank you to all. It was a pleasure to have welcomed you once upon a time,” Olalia wrote on Instagram, a post that opened with a photo of a maneki-neko (Japanese waving cat) and followed by images of some of his kitchen staff. 

“There will come a time when I can welcome you again. There will come a time when I can celebrate your birthdays with you. There will come a time I will meet your babies again. As generic as it sounds, I may have closed this chapter, but I gained family in you all,” the chef wrote in closing. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It all started with a wish. I wished for a place where Lucas can run and play, a place where people can come and enjoy Filipino cuisine, and an overall beautiful restaurant for the community to gather. Ma’am sir fulfilled that for me and so much more. Ma’am sir was my home. God listened to my prayers and blessed us with this place. Today we close @maamsirla. Thank you to all. It was a pleasure to have welcomed you once upon a time. There will come a time when I can welcome you again. There will come a time when I can celebrate your birthdays with you. There will come a time I will meet your babies again. As generic as it sounds, I may have closed this chapter, but I gained family in you all. Thank you @maamsirla. Salamat sa inyong Lahat. Mabuhay ang Filipino.

A post shared by Charles Olalia (@charlesolalia) on

It was indeed a chapter worth marking. Before Ma’am Sir, Olalia was coming from running Downtown LA’s rice-bowl joint Rice Bar and working at the kitchen of the sophisticated and high-end Patina. Ma’am Sir gave him the chance to do his take on Filipino food, and it was received very well. Timeout gave it a four-star review, GQ named it one of the best restaurants in America, and the breezy, beachy resto also made it to the Los Angeles Times list of 101 Best Restaurants twice. The LA Times critic called Olalia’s adobo “masterful,” and the resto itself charismatic. And then, of course, there was Eater’s nod, picking it as one of the “18 hottest restaurants in LA right now.”

Ma’am Sir was known for its take on kare-kare, sisig, that masterful chicken adobo, and the “Happy birthday chicken,” the chef’s wink to Jollibee’s Chickenjoy. After visiting Ma’am Sir in 2018, ANCX’s then executive editor Ces Drilon wrote, “I still dream about Olalia’s dishes. I especially long for the Shrimp Deviled Eggs described on the menu as Palabok-Egg Salad and Celery Hearts. It had the punch of Pancit Palabok’s intense flavor in one bite. It was so elegantly presented compared to the saucy mess over bihon noodles that we know back here. The same goodness, without the carbs.” 

Baked mussels

Before announcing its closure, the restaurant tried to survive in the pandemic, according to Eater, offering bento boxes, a version of the Pinoy concept of “baon.” Ultimately, the place just didn’t have enough al fresco space to keep the business afloat. 

“It all started with a wish,” Olalia wrote in his goodbye note on Instagram. “I wished for a place where people can come and enjoy Filipino cuisine, and an overall beautiful restaurant for the community to gather. Ma’am Sir fulfilled that for me and so much more. Ma’am Sir was my home. God listened to my prayers and blessed us with this place.”

Meanwhile, it’s time for Olalia to take a break, and think of his next wish.