With a witty play of words on the Filipino term kubo, Cube-O Grill (pronounce as kub-o) is a native style, open-air restaurant mostly made mostly of beautiful hardwood materials. The restaurant serves Filipino cuisine. Their staple Cube-O Salo-salo platter has grilled goodies, beer food, vegetables and three kinds of rice (garlic anchovy, java and plain rice). A set meal best served to a group of friends and family coming from an exhilarating surf session or coming back from a trek at Tangadan Falls in La Union.
I think along with a lot of Filipinos, I grew up eating street foods. They are cheap, accessible, tasty and filling. The popular grilled isaw (chicken intestine) is a staple favorite on our table and we make sure to buy only from vendors we know. While street food is delicious, there can be sanitary concerns on how they are prepared and served. That’s why growing up, I toned down a bit on consuming them. That may be why my mouth was all agape when I plateful of isaw and other Filipino street food favorites were set on our table at Balwarte in Angono. I miss eating them. The place is a new family-owned restaurant in Angono serving Filipino street and comfort food in a simple and clean dine-in setting.
No fancy chefs here. Only creative street chefs (and some out-of-school youths) with natural talent in cooking. It doesn’t mean that the food isn’t fine-dine quality but the Filipino and street food served here at Street Chef Resto Bar in Mandaluyong is a product of a creative concoction. Co-owner Ajun Vellenzuella, who is an advocate of helping out out-of-school youths, encourages his cooks to find their unique flavor. The result is something surprisingly enjoyable.
Adding a dash of lively colors in the once Typhoon Yolanda stricken city of Tacloban is Chew Love. I chuck a soft laugh when I heard my tricycle driver say “Ang cute pala dito ah! (This place looks cute ah!)” when he finally found the place. Borne out from the ashes of the devastation of Tacloban, entrepreneur, Coke Young-Go, found opportunity from the rubble. Chew love is a product of pouring in her creative interest from fashion, food and photography. It’s hard not to miss this restaurant with its lovely European/Country inspired theme that’s a sure head turner.
Kabila may mean the “other side” or “across” in Tagalog, but don’t treat Kabila Filipino Bistro as an option. Sharing space with its sister restaurant, Museum Cafe, in the vicinity of the Ayala Museum in Makati, the Kabila Filipino Bistro, simply offers people yearning for Filipino food a simple but fresh alternative in a cozy fine dining space that’s bright, relaxing and have an unhurried feel.
Dalampasigan, a tagalog word which means “seashore” and it was something I was expecting to find when we arrived at Kainan sa Dalampasigan in Nasugbu, Batangas. There was no seashore nor a view of the sea but we weren’t disappointed. Instead, we found a gem of a restaurant, like a secret garden, breezy and exuding with Filipino hospitality and charm.
It’s always a delight to find good restaurants outside of the metro. Mrs Baker’s in Nueva Vizcaya is worthy a stop when traversing the roads to Tuguegarao or Banaue. This two-storey establishment with warm and homey interiors is owned by Chef Jehan Damasco who have competed on internationally pastry competitions. Established in 2010, Chef Jehan had cooked up a sumptuous menu of local favorites and international flavors that not only Nuvo Vizcayanos rave about but those fortunate visitors enough to have stumbled upon this gem of a resto. We went here twice when we were in Nueva Vizcaya and here’s to share some of our favorite dishes.
Watch out, America: according to the Huffington Post, Filipino food has “all the trappings of the next big ‘it-cuisine’”. Ten years ago it may have been difficult to find outside of major centres of Filipino immigration, but as people discover south-east Asia’s cozy home cooking, restaurants are popping up all over. Whether you’re taking a vacation to New York and want to find the best eats on your cheap holiday, or you grew up in the Philippines and miss the flavours of home, here are a few of the most popular Filipino restaurants in the US: