Acclaimed Fil-Am restaurant Ma’am Sir has closed

The exterior of Ma’am Sir along Sunset Boulevard in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood | AJPress file photo by Christina M. Oriel

Los Angeles just lost one of its beloved modern Filipino American restaurants with the closure of Ma’am Sir along Sunset Boulevard, its chef and owner Charles Olalia announced on Friday, August 28.

Olalia took to Instagram to share the fate of his restaurant, which had occupied a 1,800-square-foot space in the Silver Lake neighborhood since June 2018.

“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,” the post said.

 

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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

The chef, who is originally from Pampanga, Philippines, was set to pursue a medical career but came to the United States in 2005 and ended up enrolling in a culinary program.

Trained in French cuisine and fine dining, Olalia’s experiences include The French Laundry, Patina (where he spent four years rising up from sous chef to chef de cuisine then to executive chef), and mar’sel at Terranea Resort.

In 2015, he began hosting pop-up, family-style dinners under the name A’postrophe where he had the chance to cook dishes he grew up eating. That led to Rice Bar, a seven-seat, 275-square-foot space in Downtown LA that received numerous recognitions, including a spot on late food critic Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list. (Rice Bar eventually closed in 2019 as Olalia wanted to focus more on the Silver Lake restaurant).

“This was my way of staking a claim in my own heritage and making it available to people the way I see it,” he told the Asian Journal in a previous interview.

Dishes on Ma’am Sir’s opening menu | AJPress file photo by Christina M. Oriel

In June 2018, he opened the doors of Ma’am Sir, which featured a menu that had instant favorites like the sea urchin lumpia to the Happy Birthday Chicken. It became a gathering place for the community to share family-style meals or meet up for a drink as the cocktail menu featured Filipino flavors and spirits. The spot early on earned its place on the Los Angeles Times“101 Restaurants We Love” and GQ’s “Best New Restaurants in America.”

As Ma’am Sir may be one of the latest restaurant casualties in LA, Olalia remained hopeful that he will welcome diners again in the future in another form.

“There will come a time when I can welcome you again,” he wrote, adding “As generic as it sounds, I may have closed this chapter, but I gained family in you all.”

He told the Asian Journal in 2018, “Every time I open a restaurant, I always want to create a community. I’d love for people to make us part of their lives.”

Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach her at christina@asianjournalinc.com.

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