J.D. Crayne/Daily Journal
Tim Luym, center, is the chef at Attic in downtown San Mateo. The restaurant serves up traditional foods from Southeast Asia with a California twist.
If you’ve tried the Bo Luc Lac Shaking Beef or Sizzling Sisig at the Attic, you may already be a fan of the downtown San Mateo restaurant famous for mixing traditional Asian cuisine with a California twist.
The restaurant, bar and lounge opened on B Street in May 2010 by a group of San Mateo natives, including chef and consultant Tim Luym, who made a name for himself in San Francisco while serving as chef at the now-closed Poleng Lounge.
Poleng was famous for its blend of Filipino and street food influences and Attic follows in that tradition.
There are plenty of Japanese, Chinese, Thai and even Vietnamese restaurants in downtown San Mateo, he said, but none that offer a "modern” twist to the region’s classic dishes.
"We are looking at classic dishes in a California state of mind,” Lyum said.
Lyum just returned from a trip to the Philippines from where much of his street-food inspired dishes originate. Attic’s offerings lean more toward the flavors and spices of Southeast Asia with fresh ingredients found here in California, he said.
His travels help inspire a seasonal menu for the B Street restaurant, he said.
Lyum, 33, and his partners have also gone mobile, as their Windows-On-Wheels food trucks now serve a Filipino breakfast, Vietnamese noodle soup and other dishes from Southeast Asia. WOW looks to expand its offerings to also include Nepalese-inspired dishes, he said.
"It is a fun side project and we hope to build up the brand,” he said.
Lyum also has a lot of fun sampling his competitor’s food in downtown San Mateo, which has more than 120 restaurants with more opening soon.
"B Street is awesome,” he said. "There is great Brazilian food and probably the best ramen in the Bay Area. There is a good blend of food here. Almost anything I crave I can find on B Street. I’m surprised it doesn’t attract more attention.”
He noted Curry Up Now and the Pho Garden as being new additions to B Street that adds to the character of downtown.
Vault 164 at the corner of Second Avenue and B Street should also attract foodies downtown when it opens Monday, Jan. 9, Lyum said. Vault 164 is being opened by the owners of Max’s Bar and Restaurant in Burlingame and will feature contemporary and eclectic American fare in the old Crocker Bank Building that was formerly home to B Street Billiards.
Attic’s biggest problem, Lyum said, is the lack of parking downtown.
Lyum wasn’t always into cooking, in fact, he is a career changer who used to work for a high-tech company doing marketing work.
After he watched the movie "Office Space” he decided he wanted out of the cubicle life.
"I decided to pursue something better and there’s no looking back,” he said.
He considers cooking to be akin to making art, only you eat the finished product.
Lyum is happy to be working in the city he grew up in and said the food in the suburbs is as good as in San Francisco or any other big city.
"Just because it is in the suburbs doesn’t mean San Mateo can’t be a food destination,” he said.
To get to the restaurant, you must first enter Under Attic, a saloon on the ground floor of B Street that offers pre-dinner cocktails or post-dinner concoctions.
For more information on the restaurant, go to: www.atticrestaurant.com.
Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.