By opening a Dupont Circle carry-out he’s describing as “Filipino fast fusion,” Jay Aceron wants to use bao buns and banh mi sandwiches as vehicles to introduce more people to his culture’s cuisine.
Since opening two weeks ago with a limited menu for lunch, the Flipside (1829 M Street NW) has been serving Chinese steamed buns, Vietnamese sandwiches, and rice bowls that can be customized with a lineup of meats holding in a rolling steam table. After taking that time to work out kinks in operations and solidify relationships with purveyors, Aceron is featuring a grand opening special tomorrow with free adobo bowls from 11 a.m. to 2 pm.
Naturally, the Flipside sells chicken adobo, which is cooked in vinegar and garlic and finished with a generous pour of soy sauce. Pork belly lechon will be a regular item, but Aceron is still working on finding the right source for pig products.
Fusion comes into play with a brisket cooked in the style of lechon. Aceron marinates the beef, cooks it on a rotisserie, and divvies it up into cubes or slices (depending on the cut) before finishing it with a sear. The Flipside makes a citrus-marinated butter chicken as a nod to the location’s former home as Bombay Express.
There are also roti “tacos” stuffed with shredded pork belly and a play on ensaymada, a sweet bread topped with melted cheese that’s popular in the Philippines. Aceron’s version is a “crack” doughnut, a sweet sandwich stuffed with cheddar cheese and smashed in a waffle iron. Aceron previously introduced the treat with his BaoDacious Buns pop-up.
Aceron plans to run the Flipside as a carry-out during the day and eventually host prix fixe dinners at night. Some of those, he says, will be pop-ups for other Filipino chefs to showcase regional cooking from the Southeast Asian country that comprises more than 7,000 islands.
A self-described military brat, Aceron was born in California and spent summers in the Philippines. His mother and his father, a retired U.S. Army captain, are from the capital city of Manila. As a teenager in D.C., Aceron helped his uncle open Filipino carry-outs.
“He always told me, “This is what you need, a small little carry-out. You’re open 6 [a.m.] to 2 [p.m.], and then you go home and enjoy the rest of your day,’” Aceron says of his uncle.
But considering the crowds for brunch and nightclubs, Aceron says he’s considering running the Flipside as a 24/7 joint. For late-night, he plans to role the steam table to the front of the restaurant to reduce crowds and sell sisig pizza. There’s an “emergency karaoke” mic for anyone who feels the need to burst into song.
While “flip” has historically been used as an ethnic slur against Filipinos, Aceron says he’s in the camp that’s reclaiming the term under a positive acronym: fun-loving island people.
“If I’m going to bring light to it, I’m going to bring it in a positive way,” he says.