Kusina will be taken over by new management. See their Facebook and Twitter for details and updates
Gather a group together for a cultural celebration
The term "Boodle Feast" has an interesting history. It started as a tradition in the Philippines military, where officers and cadets would eat together, regardless of their rank and enjoy a meal together. Traditionally banana leaves would be laid out on a central table and a range of seafood, pork, chicken, rice and fresh vegetables would be gathered in the middle for to all share. Strictly no knives or forks were used, everyone would eat with their hands. Although the name is actually "Boodle Fight", as everyone would start together and fight for the food, it is now described as a "Boodle Feast" as that is the only way it can be described - a succulent, healthy, decadent feast.
Kusina Filipino restaurant at Weston Creek offer a "Boodle Feast" on the last Sunday of every month, for both lunch and dinner - see here for details. As the price isn't cheap (at $38 per adult), our family waited for a special occasion and booked a table with friends to enjoy this popular event. When we received a confirmation text to remind us to "get your Boodle on" and the feast is a "cutlery free event - requests on the day will have to be, ever so politely, declined" - we knew we were in for an experience to remember!
When we first arrived at Kusina, which is located at the front of Cooleman Court Shopping Centre in Weston Creek, diners were already inside laughing and enjoying their food. The restaurant is small but welcoming as soon as you walk in, making you feel part of a larger family straight away. What caught our eye, were the banana leaf "placemats" positioned at each setting and small bowls of water with lemon, to wash fingers during the meal. After a warm welcome we sat down, ordered some drinks and waited for our Boodle Feast to arrive. The beauty of this monthly event is that you don't need to choose anything off the menu, the feast is already picked and just waiting to be delivered.
As you can see above, the feast is certainly a feast! As our platter was delivered, our friendly waitress pointed out the name of each dish, with half a chicken cut up and drizzled with a creamy tomato sauce, slow cooked pork, BBQ corn cobs, pork ribs dipped in signature soy sauce, cold chicken and cucumber glass noodle salad, huge marinated deep fried prawns with chilli, marinated salmon, rice and pork crackling.
Although it feels un-natural at first to be just reaching in and picking up rice and noodles with your fingers, you soon get used to the feeling in your quest to try something new. The salmon, in particular, was moist and flaking apart and the noodle salad was a tasty addition to eat between sticky pork and the melt-in-your-mouth chicken. The prawns were the first to go and the mound of rice was mainly untouched, as we found ourselves getting full (but not uncomfortably full) on the surrounding delicacies. Each dish was a discovery of culture and flavour.
Our young daughter enjoyed trying new dishes, however she mainly ate the chicken, rice and BBQ corn. Kids are more than welcome to join the feast, with children under 3 years of age free, kids aged between 4 - 12 cost their age x 2, then teenagers 13 and over are charged at the adult price (confirm both adult and children's prices before you book, as they are subject to change).
On our visit, we had been sitting at the table for awhile, having a rest at the end of our feast, when a lady stopped by the table to ask us how we enjoyed our experience. We learnt afterwards that she was one of the owners Leilani, part of the brother and sister team that run this family restaurant. When we commented on the beautiful array of choices, she said that they went for a whole year of Boodle Feasts without ever repeating a same dish - meaning people could come back each month and try something new. Now, five years after they first opened, they have gained a strong following with locals and visitors alike, as Canberra's first Filipino, family friendly restaurant.
Examples of Boodle Feasts from previous months...Source: Kusina Facebook
As we got ourselves ready to go, we were offered some takeaway containers and tongs, to take home any food left on the banana leaves - which made for a decadent "mini Boodle Feast" for lunch the next day! If you are booking a Boodle Feast for dinner, it is good value for what you receive. If you went to a restaurant in Canberra for dinner you would pay at least $38 per person for an entree and main meal - and only be half as full as when you leave Kusina.
If you would like to try something different for a special occasion, with a cultural history and an array of delicious flavours bombarding your tastebuds, then book a succulent Boodle Feast at Kusina. Pick your dining companions wisely however - as a "Boodle Feast" could easily turn into a good-natured "Boodle Fight"!
All these happy smiles can't be wrong! Source: Original photos from Kusina Facebook