Restaurant Review: StarFish Filipino Eatery in Ocean Beach

by on March 22, 2021 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego, The Widder Curry

Restaurant Review

StarFish Filipino Eatery
1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Suite E
San Diego, CA 92107

By Judi Curry

I am always intrigued when a new ethnic restaurant opens nearby. I have long felt that Ocean Beach has enough Mexican, Pizza and Asian – read Japanese – restaurants and not enough “other” kinds.  I was thrilled to hear that a Filipino restaurant has now opened right on Sunset Cliffs.

When I was working at Job Corps in Imperial Beach, I had several instructors and secretaries that were Filipino.  When they brought in food for different occasions it was usually the first to go.  They could never make enough Lumpia to satisfy the staff – you have to know that I had over 130 staff members! – and the Pancit was the best I had ever tasted.  I “borrowed” Alicia’s recipe for Lumpia, and would spend hours cutting up the vegetables the way she taught me to but it never tasted as good as hers.

The pancit was interesting, because Alicia would put a layer of raw oysters on the top, and that stopped many of the staff from devouring the tasty dish.  Other staff members did not put any topping on theirs at all and they were the first to be finished!


Now we have a Filipino restaurant in Ocean Beach.  They have very limited hours – close their doors by 6:00 – which I am hoping will change as the pandemic decreases.  They sort of remind me of “Las Cuatros Milpas” because when they run out of food they close, and if what I sampled today is any indication, Starfish will run out of food quickly!

Currently, at least at this writing, they do not have dining in, but that may change in the next week or so. They have both curb side and home delivery available.

Their prices are low for today’s restaurant market – the lumpia for 5 pieces is $6.50; the Pancit was $10.  (It should be noted that delivery raises the cost slightly.)


So let’s get to the review.  I learned two things – don’t order as the restaurant is getting ready to close.  Although the lumpia was tasty – you could really taste the shrimp – it was overcooked slightly.  It didn’t have the texture that I have come to expect with lumpia.  A few seconds less cooking and it would have ranked as exceptional.

The second thing I learned is that I should have picked it up curbside instead of having it delivered, because it was slightly more costly than I had anticipated.

The pancit was delicious.  The veggies were cut small and thin; the noodles were cooked just the right amount of time. The plate was overflowing with everything that it was made with.  It was a winner and I would order it again without question.

And that brings up another pet peeve of mine – the container the pancit was in was a cardboard box. By the time I opened it it was soggy; a hole had developed along the side, etc.  I am all for doing away with plastic, but this is a very poor substitute. I do not like the taste of cardboard, and if I wasn’t careful when I removed it from the bag it would have fallen on to the floor.  Be careful when replateing it!

Over all, I was very happy with my meal.  My tenant tasted it also and had the same feelings I had – lumpia cooked a little bit too long; pancit delicious.  Welcome to the newest ethnic restaurant in Ocean Beach. You will do well here.

And for those of you that do not know about lumpia – let me give you my recipe, direct from the staff at SDJC:

1 pkg won-ton wrappers              3# pork or chicken, boneless, diced             1/2-3/4 lb. bean sprouts

1 head bok choy (or cabbage)     1 can water chestnuts, chopped                   2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped              1 can bamboo shoots, chopped                     1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped               1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Separate the boc choy stems from the leaves, separating the white part from the dark part. Fry the chicken. Add onions, and cook 2 additional minutes.  Add celery and carrots and cook for one minute more.  Add boc choy stems (or cabbage). Cook 2 minutes.  Add water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.  Cook 3 minutes. Add leafy part of boc choy and bean sprouts.  Cook 5 more minutes.  THEN

take 1-2 egg whites

Put 1-2 Tablespoons of the mixture on a wrapper.  (Hint: Put at top of wrapper and roll towards the other end.) Fold over sides – slightly.  Use egg white, undiluted, like glue, to hold wrapper closed.  Fry in 1/4″ oil.  Drain and serve with the following sauce  –  Use 2 parts soy sauce to 1 part apple cider vinegar.  Add garlic and mix well.)

soy sauce      apple cider vinegar     2 crushed cloves of garlic

And this, my friends, is why I prefer to purchase them than to make them!  Enjoy.




{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris March 22, 2021 at 2:32 pm

Interesting and I’ll definitely have to try this place. Unlike Mexican, Greek, Thai, Chinese, Italian, etc it’s pretty uncommon for Filipino restaurants to be in areas without a large Filipino population (which for San Diego means National City and Mira Mesa). The only place I can think of was Fredcel in City Heights which unfortunately closed about a month ago. Maybe I hit this place of this weekend.


Angie March 22, 2021 at 3:47 pm

I learned how to make lumpia from my grandmother’s next door neighbor when I was about 10 years old.
I adapted my own recipe too. I use ground turkey and use the “juice” from frying it to steam the veggies.
And I use water to seal them. It mixes with the powder that keeps the skins separated.

It definitely takes a long time to make.


Judi Curry March 22, 2021 at 4:23 pm

On the order form there was a comment section that one could fill out that went directly to the owner – Anna Hamilton. I told her about the oysters on my former staff members Pancit, and Anna took the time to answer me. And she told me something I want to pass on to you – She is investigating offering Crab and Lobster Lumpia rolls as well as Crab and Lobster fried rice! Yum! I can hardly wait!


Judi Curry March 23, 2021 at 10:28 am

Anna read my review and sent me a little more information I want to share with you. Doesn’t this sound like fun?
As far as hours go, effective today (March 23) I have switched to 12-7 pm. Except on Thursdays when we close at 4 pm. The reason being, Thursdays will soon be “reservations only” boodle fight or kamayan private dinners in the eatery. Max of 12 people per night. Reservations will be available online and announced on the web when we are ready to do it. The boodle fight nights will be from 6-830 pm on Thursdays. [A boodle fight is a meal that dispenses with cutlery and dishes. Diners instead practice kamayan, Filipino for “eating with the hands”. The food is placed on top of a long banana leaf-lined table and friends share the food. (Source Wikipedia). ]. The menu is chef’s choice but will compose of popular menu items that are currently featured as well as some chef-inspired dish for the evening. Of course, there will be hot steamed individual hand towels for use throughout dinner. And handwashing by diners before dinner will be mandatory.


Peter from South O March 23, 2021 at 12:17 pm

That sounds . . . absolutely HORRIBLE! Double-dipping is unsanitary.


Judi Curry March 23, 2021 at 3:09 pm

I think it sounds exciting, Peter. If sanitary conditions are met – and it sounds like they are – trying a different culture traditions only strengthens the knowledge of that culture.


Peter from South O March 25, 2021 at 10:36 am

I’ve traveled all over the World. Literally (3 circumnavigations in 12 years). That included the PI and the Middle East (I lived in KSA for two years) so I appreciate the variety of cuisines and cultural imperatives.

Communal dishes eaten solely with the hands are a horrible idea.

Anna’s response below reflects a rational approach to this, eliminating the communal touching. Her PREVIOUS description was the subject of my initial comment.


Anna Santos Hamilton March 24, 2021 at 7:41 am

Good morning. Thank you for the kind comments regarding Starfish Filipino Eatery.

Kamayan (or boodle fight) is a long-standing tradition in the Philippines. I understand the concern for sanitation etc. especially with the current situation we are facing with the pandemic.

There will be a “tweak” to the tradition — serving spoons/tongs and individual sauce containers will be provided. This ensures that the shared food on the table will not be touched with any of the diner’s hands. Anyone not comfortable with eating with bare hands may use disposable gloves which will be provided as well. And of course if they just want to join the dinner and not participate in the bare hands approach, utensils will be provided if requested. This way they can still share in the experience.

Kamayan is actually fun and very social. It’s usually a dinner shared with family or a group of close friends. It is a cultural experience worth trying.


Peter from South O March 25, 2021 at 10:39 am

Thanks for correcting that. I LOVE Fillipino food and the culture as well. Maskless servers, though . . .


Robyn Massey March 24, 2021 at 6:01 pm

I went by this evening around 5PM but I was dismayed to see that only one of the staff was wearing a mask. I left without ordering.


Anna Santos Hamilton March 25, 2021 at 4:40 pm

Hi, Peter. Thanks for the comment. Times sure have changed in many ways.

“Maskless servers” — I have discussed with staff and they understand the importance of the masking protocol. Although to be fair, when chefs are cooking food that’s cooked to order, there’s constant tasting and sampling going on to ensure the flavors are what we expect. This means when we are cooking 8 dishes at the same time it’s a bit challenging to keep removing the mask and putting it back on every second. But I understand the concern — especially with these trying times of the pandemic.

I’ve made sure that staff are very diligent with the hand washing, sanitizing stations and equipment, and of course the mask wearing. It’s unfortunate that the one “incident” would have made it sound as if Starfish condones the no-mask. To be clear, that is not the case.

Anyhow, thanks so much for feedback as usual. It is a learning curve but we will persevere and do right.

P.S. So happy to hear you’ve traveled to the Philippines as well.


Robyn Massey March 28, 2021 at 5:43 am

Thank you, Anna Santos Hamilton, for your response to my concern regarding staff masking. Bear in mind that they put each other at risk more than a customer who pops in and out.


Anna Santos Hamilton March 28, 2021 at 7:36 am

Hi, Robyn. Thank you as well. I agree with you 100%. Although I am vaccinated and staff are getting theirs as well, we continue to follow the protocol of masking and sanitation guidelines. I hope you return and try our food soon. :)


GML March 29, 2021 at 7:45 am

We picked up dinner last night (during all the police drama a half block down). The food was excellent and we will definitely be back. Had chicken/egg adobo, island garlic prawns, lumpia and cheesecake. Great to have something new and different in the neighborhood. Should also mention that everyone there was extremely friendly (and masked). Highly recommend this place based on our first experience.


triggerfinger March 29, 2021 at 7:38 pm

I tried it and loved the lumpia and chicken. I will be back! Glad to see the extended hours as well.


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