Cairnlea Town Centre, 100 Furlong Rd, Cairnlea. Phone 8390 1346
In its relatively short life, Consider The Sauce has written about just two Filipino eateries – Kabayan and Kowloon House.
Yet because of the nifty, superb blogging platform provided by wordpress.com, and some additional data from StatCounter, I know for a fact that the entries on both those Filipino western suburbs joints, along with Filipino food and restaurants in general, generates more interest and search engine terms than just about anything else.
The interest comes from all over the world, but mostly from the Philippines – of course! – and Melbourne.
And each time we’ve been to Kabayan, one or more of the Filipino customers has made inquiries:
“Do you like Filipino food?”
“Are you enjoying your meal?”
That interest and intrigue mirrors my own as I set off to check out the newly revamped and reopened Kabayan.
It’s been moved around the corner to larger premises that allow the incorporation of a modest grocery section.
Other than that, much seems the same as on our previous visit.
This time, though, I give the grilled-to-order meals a miss and try my luck with the pot food arrayed in the bain marie.
And this time, thanks to a young Filipino man who talks me through the dishes available, I have a good idea of what I’m eating.
Here’s the deal – two dishes with rice for $9.50.
I settle on afritada and paksiw.
The chicken afritada is a braise/stew affair, with chook pieces on the bone and vegetables in a reddish sauce/gravy. It’s a sweet dish with a dash of the piquant about it – thus making it a little like your old-school Cantonese sweet-and-sour concoction, but much wetter.
It’s OK, but the chicken pieces are of negligible flavour.
The paksiw is something else entirely.
From what I’ve since learnt, paksiw is apparently a vinegar-based stew, in my case of pork. The various recipes and info I find online make it sound interesting.
I wish what’s on my plate was half so appealing.
The dish has some tasty gravy that nevertheless seems bereft of vinegar zing, some fine and tender pork – but, oh my, there’s soooooo much fat.
In at least a couple of different contexts – traditional roast pork crackling and Chinese roast meats – I am usually easily swayed into enjoying such decadence.
But in this dish, there is nothing at all crackly or crunchy or alluring about the fat and skin – it’s all flabby, revolting, and mixed in with the sauce/gravy
After eating what meat there is, I leave more than half the dish on my plate.
And so I depart Kabayan once more feeling that I am missing something, that I am simply not “getting it”.
Ah well, maybe that’s the way it’s meant to be – still, I find it surprising.
I am far from the most courageous diner around, but I like or love a wide range of cooking that ranges from the Mediterranean and the Middle East to the farthest reaches of East and South Asia.
Given that, I’ve been thinking Filipino food should be a natural fit.
But based on my very limited experience, the textures and flavours – not to mention the fat content! – are just too rich and unappealing for my palate.
Kabayan does fine grilled-to-order meals, of course, but at $12+ even those seem a stretch, given I can easily grab some Viet dishes that are similar, have more vegie contrasts and trimmings, and are cheaper and tastier.
And maybe that’s the rub right there …
Perhaps not so incoincidentally, as I am writing this Ms Baklover – reviewing First Taste at Footscray Food Blog – has opined:
My palate is heavily skewed towards fresh, light Vietnamese, Malaysian and South Indian flavours.
And, I suspect, the very reason I am struggling with Filipino food.
To be honest even filipino’s like myself don’t think too much about filipino restaurants and takeaway. They just seem to take the cheap short cut and make our food look horribly bad lol. Filipino food is best when you eat it at someone’s house 🙂
Hi Marine! Thanks, mate, that’s good to know! Or rather, that’s reassuring – I’ll keep it in and not pass judgment on Filipino food. Is it better at festivals like the annual fiesta?
I was laughing about your story. im a filipino and I guess you’ve picked a wrong dish. But I understand besides its not your food you usually eat. Lol. The next time you eat there just order sonething on grill. And I heard they have a new dish called “chicken inasal”, I cant wait to try it men, im pretty sure you’ll love that. Cheers…
Hi Larry! It’s cool you got chuckle out of it. It was meant to be honest rather than hateful. And I’m sure I’ll meet a Filipino dish that rocks my world some day!
yeah.. I’m very sure there is a Filipino food that rocks your world. I’m planning to try there “chicken inasal”, this one is very popular in my country. I really miss eating that. Everytime I go to any city in the philippines, I always eat in Mang Inasal. here’s the link so you have an idea what you eating… http://www.manginasal.com/
Hmmm, that looks good! As advised, it seems the grills are the way to go. Also, from what I’ve been told on several occasions, the key is having Filipino mum. I had a slinky super Filipino desert at yesterday’s Harmony Feast in Maidstone – review coming some time this afternoon!
Filipino food is at its best when you eat at a traditional pinoy’s house. I swear. Don’t eat commercialized crap. The reason why pinoy food isn’t that famous abroad. The good cooks are hiding away and the authentic, appetizing recipes are just for families only.
I agreed with chiara. Filipino dishes is best eaten inside a filipino house. Especially the most famous sinigang and adobo, i guess 98% of filipino knows how to cook that meal. Anyway, I hope that you will still give it a try and don’t give up just yet with our food because I am telling you, haven’t taste the best yet. if you want to learn some filipino food you can visit my website http://thehapitraveler.blogspot.com and you can also email me and I will be happy to teach you some. = )
Thanks, Happy! Yes, a lot of people have commented along those lines. I was looking for ward to the last Filipino Fiesta here in Melbourne, but was ill when it came around. Maybe next time. I certainly am willing to try Filipino food again. Interestingly, despite my negative experiences, the Filipino reviews here on Consider The Sauce continue to be among the most read and visited. And Filipino food in general generates a lot of search engine action. I’ll be checking your site out!
i don’t know, i don’t cook but i’d rather cook than eat in any of these
Filipino restaurants. There was one good Filipino restaurant in Sydney in the late 70’s. But in Melbourne, nalulugi because they try to economise on ingredients and everything. Not because someone can cook at home can thrive in this business. Fresh ingredients, good customer service, cleanliness. Very important. And of course, masarap.
I had been there yesterday I almost pay her $23.00 more luckily I was watching this girl and I told her to do the addition again and it comes out almost $40.00. Anyway my point is make sure you ask them first the prices before you order and ask for a receipts .
Well that will be it .I will cook Filipino Foods from now on. I cooked better. Bad experience.
So happy have pilipino foods and grocery here,i want to know if they have a pilipino restaurant a d groceries in geelong victoria..thank you very much..