When you think of Asian food, several options usually come to mind, like Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian and Indian. But not Filipino food. In fact, unless you are of Filipino background (like me) or married to one (like my husband), you may not have even eaten Filipino food in your life.
Filipino cuisine is composed of the food and cooking styles of the over 100 diverse indigenous language groups of the Philippine Islands, mixed with the influences of trade with the Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Malaysians, Indonesians, and of course, the Spanish, who colonised the islands for over 400 years. Some popular Filipino dishes and desserts include lechon (whole roasted pig), lumpia (spring rolls), longganisa (a sweet or spicy sausage), pancit (noodles), adobo (usually chicken or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce), leche flan (a caramel pudding), bibingka (a hot rice cake), puto (sweet steamed rice cakes prepared in many different sizes and colours), and ube ice cream (ice cream made out of a purple yam, my favourite!).
I've been eating Filipino food all my life, and still do (thanks, mum!). And I'm so happy to learn that Filipino cuisine is now slowly establishing itself as a force to be reckoned with. Filipino restaurants can now be found in many cities (including Canberra), and according to American culinary expert and food writer Andrew Zimmern, it's just going to get more and more popular.
If you would like a taste of the Philippines, here are three places to feast in Canberra.
KUSINA Kusina is located within Coolemon Court at Weston Creek. Kusina offers a wide variety of dishes on the menu, including kaldereta (sizzling beef short rib, potatoes, peas, and carrots in a rich tomato sauce), chicken curry, sinigang (a traditional sour soup) and kare kare (a traditional Filipino stew with braised beef cheek, bok choy, eggplant, and snake beans in peanut sauce). And of course, rice is served with every dish, because Filipinos eat rice with everything! Kusina also offers what is perhaps the most unique Filipino dining experience anywhere: the hugely popular Boodle feast, for groups of 4 or more. A Boodle feast involves an arrangement of delicious dishes served on a banana leaf platform surrounding a central mountain of rice. No cutlery is provided, so you must eat the traditional Filipino way-with your hands! Boodle feasts are held on the first Sunday of every month. $40 per person.
Kusina is open from 11.00am-2.30pm, and 5.00pm-9.00pm, Monday to Sunday. Every Monday from 5-9pm is known as Monday "All You Can Eat" Madness. Cost is $28 per person. And kids aged up to 8 years can eat for FREE from Tues-Sun before 7pm.
For more information or to make your reservation, visit www.kusina.com.au or call 62 888 461.
DELIKASE Delikase Filipino Cuisine is located in Nicholls, offering home cooked style Filipino meals. The menu offers all the classic favourites such as lechon, adobo, sinigang and beef caldereta. But it also offers a whole lechon (spit-roasted suckling pig) on weekends only for $25. (For your information, whole lechon is usually traditionally served in the Philippines during special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, and also during festival times and Christmas).
The spacious venue at Delikase caters for parties. Delikase also holds special events such as a karaoke open night, a bingo bonanza, and a BBQ and beers event.
Delikase is located at 39 O'Hanlon Place, Nicholls.
Opening hours are Wed-Sun 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM and from 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM. Closed Mon and Tues.
A home delivery service is available Fri-Sun for Canberra residents living northside.
LOLO AND LOLA FILIPINO EATERY
This hugely popular Filipino restaurant first started out of a shipping container at the former Westside Acton Village. In July 2017, it opened the doors of its own premises at the Watson shops for the very first time.
Lolo and Lola offers a rotating menu that changes monthly. And don't worry, you are sure to find delicious dishes and flavours that will suit your taste. Indeed, as I write this, the current menu offers a mouthwatering selection of temptations including pork bagnet (crispy fried pork belly), bistek tagalog (sautéed beef slices with red onions and dipped in soy-calamansi sauce), and leche flan (crème caramel, Filipino style).
A special feature of Lolo and Lola's is the Merienda Cena, or Filipino afternoon tea. The Merienda Cena is a monthly celebration of Philippine flavours, featuring classic and contemporary delightful treats. It's held on the last Sunday of every month from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. Cost is $39 per person. Bookings are essential.
Lolo and Lola is located at 3 Watson Place, Watson.
Opening hours are:
Wednesday and Thursday 5.00pm-9.00pm (dinner only)
Friday and Saturday 11.30am-2.30pm (lunch), 5.00pm-9.00pm (dinner)
Sunday 11.00am-3.00pm (lunch only).
Lolo and Lola is a no booking eatery (except for the monthly Filipino afternoon tea)). You just turn up during their opening hours. If there is a wait for a table, they will contact you via mobile as soon as a table is free and ready for you.