March 10th, 2013. Kumare – Filipino Group Dinner!
My lifegroup is a bunch that love to eat, and for the most part we are eager to try new things. Despite about one third of the group being Filipino we have never gone out for Filipino food and many of us are not familiar with the cuisine….so we planned a spontaneous Filipino food adventure!
Our resident experts suggested we go to Kumare in Richmond, a pretty reputable Filipino restaurant. Sunday dinner with my family of friends? Yes, please! Kumare is a clean restaurant/bakery accented with modern furnishings. Call me silly, but to me that is inviting 😀
The menu has great photos that help even novices to Filipino food navigate the cuisine!
Crispy Pata is an item that came highly recommended in Yelp reviews, so I definitely wanted us to order that. Crispy deep fried pork hock with a yummy dipping sauce, the skin was nice and crisp, and the bites had a nice marbling of fat throughout to add tenderness and flavor.
Of course no Asian meal is complete without rice…and what’s even better? Garlic Rice! The garlic definitely added more pizazz without being overpowering 🙂
Since this was one of the only times I didn’t really have any weight on the ordering when THIS came to the table I was quite kerflummoxed! Dinuguan is essentially a pork blood stew with chunks of pork simmering in a vinegar pork blood “gravy”. This dish is true Filipino soul food! It took all the courage in me to take a small bite of this…and I have to be honest I didn’t really like it. It was tangy and gloopy and it’s most definitely an acquired taste. The Filipinos at the table enjoyed it though, which means it must be pretty close to what they are familiar with!
Beef Caldreta is another stew, but in a tomato based creamy gravy with beef shank, bell peppers and potato. Because of the tomato based sauce and the large pieces of bell pepper this dish really brought a brightness to the mix. Really yummy with the rice, too!
The fun thing about Filipino food is the way they repeat words! Beef Kare Kare! True to it’s roots and not wasting any part of the animal this dish consists of oxtail, trip and tendon and the peanut sauce lends a subtle sweetness and creaminess that’s quite delightful 🙂
Sinigang is another staple Filipino dish and I can’t remember whether this one was pork or beef based, but it incorporated okra, eggplant and veggies in a sour tamarind soup base. This sour tamarind is such a signature flavor of Filipino cuisine and not like any other soup I’ve ever tasted!
Another popular dish is the Sizzling Sisig! Crispy pork face, red onion, chili and ginger on a sizzling hot plate with a raw egg on top! Now this was an exciting dish that employed the sense of smell, sight and audio. Mix mix that egg in with the aromatic pork and splash that wedge of lemon over everything and you have hot, crispy, zippy, bright and rich flavors bursting in your mouth! Loved this 😀
We were stuffed with dinner but the display case up front with such interesting looking desserts tempted us to stretch out stomachs some more! Halo Halo~~~ No, it’s not a greeting, it’s Filipino shaved ice! Assorted beans, jellies, jackfruit, sweet banana, leche flan, ube, and taro ice cream…the ultimate Filipino dessert!
I couldn’t resist the Sansrival: Almond meringue topped off with chopped almond. Now I’m usually not a fan of nuts, but this just looked so decadent and lovely! Layers and layers of airy but super rich meringue with the crunchy almond crumb, it was just the right amount of sweet and nutty, creamy and crunchy!
Finally, this purple dessert creation, Ube Macapuno Cake! It’s not a sweet dessert, but super moist, the cream is super light and the macapuno strings of jelly add a bit of texture. A nice way to conclude a big meal 🙂
How was the meal? Warm, communal, and adventurous! I would say that the act of sharing heightened the experience. Since we really ordered the full spectrum of Filipino cuisine I feel like I can go back and will be able to figure out what I want next time! It’s been a long while since I’ve been in the side of learning about a new food culture, so for me this was a great experience of taking a back seat and just enjoying exploring the flavors and offerings!