Featured LEISURE

Cedric Catipon cooks up some exotic dishes

Cedric Catipon offers this tantalizing salmon dish as part of his Juanbachi menu at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (courtesy photo)

Cedric Catipon cooks up some exotic dishes

By Jill Alexander

Cedric Catipon loves to feed other people.

The 29-year-old is an associate server at a fine dining restaurant in the San Diego area as well as the owner of Juanbachi.

“Juan is a common name in my home country, the Philippines, and ‘Bachi’ is short for Hibachi which is a Japanese grilling method,” he said.

When he isn’t working a 30-40 hour week at the restaurant, he is selling a fusion of Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino eats at the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market on Thursdays.

“Some of what I sell includes beef short ribs (kalbi) which are famous in Hawaii, but I combine it with my Filipino marinade and finish it off with my Japanese sauce,” he said.

What makes Juanbachi eats different from the rest?

“My menu consists of food that I have loved eating/ordering my whole life from different restaurants, street food vendors, etc. and now I’m sharing my experiences through my small food business,” Catipon said.

All the recipes are his own and he’s “happy and proud that he has the opportunity to share those recipes with everyone to enjoy.”

In 2020, Catipon began selling Filipino dishes from home as his small businesses and customers would pick them up; however, then came the pandemic and the business lost traction.

“So, I moved to Colorado from San Francisco because I couldn’t find a job that pays well,” he said. “Because of COVID, everything was closing down in the restaurant industry. When everything was starting to go back to normal, I got the opportunity to move to San Diego and I took it.”

He tried to sell Filipino food from home again, but it was the same case; it would pick up for a few days but then stop.

“That’s when I realized I needed to be out there sharing my food with everyone. I developed my menu to consist of food that I really, really loved and showed it to a few people,” he said. “I  brought it to work to get feedback, and everyone who got to try the food loved it!” 

And Juanbachi was born.

On the menu

Today, he sells a plate that comes with the customer’s choice of sides between fried rice, white rice, salad or half and half, one choice of meat for $13.99, and a combo that comes with the customer’s choice of side between fried rice, white rice, salad or half and half, and two choices of meat for $15.99. All orders come with stir-fried veggies. He also has specialty items that are not included in the plate/combo option like the beef shawarma rice (Filipino style). For drinks, he makes taro horchata (dairy-free), mango milk, and strawberry milk.

“I have been selling at Scripps Ranch Farmers Market since October 2022, and that market is very special to me because it gave me my very first opportunity to finally be an official business,” he said. “It motivated me more than ever to continue improving my recipes and the experiences I share with my customers, from the order-taking process to enjoying the food they ordered.”

His long-term goal is to open a restaurant but for now, he’s OK with managing and cooking for Juanbachi, and working full-time at a fine dining restaurant in downtown San Diego.

“I have been in the food and beverage industry for at least 10 years now and I have a degree in hospitality management. I am right where I want to be,” he said.

Visit Cedric Catipon at Juanbachi’s booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market, held from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. each Thursday at 10045 Carroll Canyon Road.