I generally am game to eat any type of cuisine because hey, I love food! However, living in Vancouver does present some challenges and limitations. For instance, there are very few Filipino restaurants. Now that would not be unusual for say, Saskatoon, but very strange considering our large Filipino population. As mentioned before, my Filipino friends remark how most of their families just cook Filipino cuisine at home rather than going out to eat. Choobee, a Filipino food expert herself, decided to take it upon herself to drag me out to Kumare in Richmond (along with a few other friends). Call it Filipino food education on my part.
We started with the Ensalada consisting of tomatoes, onions and mango topped with shrimp paste. As you can imagine, the shrimp paste was pungent and salty while the mangoes were firm and tart. This was an interesting array of flavours which I personally didn't mind, but wasn't crazy about either. Arriving on a sizzling cast iron plate was the Sizzling Pork Sisig consisting of crispy pork face, onions, ginger, and an egg. Yes, pork face. It was definitely crispy, fatty and gelatinous with a mild onion flavour. Onto the Beef Kare Kare, it was made with oxtail, tripe, tendon, and assorted vegetables in a peanut sauce. I've had this a few times before and this one was pretty rich and thick. It was peanutty and mild while the meats were tender.
What's a visit to a Filipino restaurant without Crispy Pata? Well, it's a must order for me at least. The deep fried pork hock was very crispy, yet quite dry. It was predominately "porky" in flavour due in part to the abundance of fried pork fat. The requisite tangy and salty dip helped cut the heaviness of the meat. And after 2 pork dishes, why not go for more? So we went from pork hock to pork belly in the Inihaw na Liempo. I found this dish to be pretty boring since the pork belly itself was not really all that flavourful. It was fatty (of course) though, which added both texture and natural flavours. In terms of appearance I felt there just wasn't enough colour. Again, the vinegary soy dip helped add the necessary hit of acidity and saltiness.
Continuing on the hog train, we had the Tokwa't Baboy or tofu, crispy pork and onions in vinegar and soy sauce. With similar flavours to the 2 preceding dishes, it was both familiar and tasty. The fried pork belly was crispy, yet moist. Equally crispy, the tofu was still soft and moist on the inside. I liked this dish since the ingredients soaked up quite a bit of the appetizing sauce. On the topic of appetizing and once again pork, we had the BBQ Pork skewers. These, in my opinion, were executed very well. Aesthetically-speaking, the skewers exhibited a wonderful red hue with plenty of charring. The exterior was caramelized which translated into a sweet tasty bark. The interior of the meat was fatty and tender. Probably my favourite dish of the meal.
Now probably my least favourite item was the Bangus Belly Sinigang. This was a soup made of milkfish and mixed vegetables in a sour tamarind soup base. I found the bangus to be fishy while the soup itself was far too sour. I realize that this soup is meant to be sour, but this was a bit much (even with the awesome garlic rice). The last of our savoury items was the Seafood Palabok. It included thick noodles, mixed seafood ground in palabok sauce, tinapa, green onions, ground pork rinds and a hard boiled egg. I thought the noodles had a nice bite while being saucy at the same time. The whole thing naturally had a seafood taste to it, especially the tinapa.
By this point, I was pretty stuff and not really all that interested in dessert. But Choobee pulled her best Mijune impersonation (sans the heels) and ordered 3 items starting with the Halo-Halo. Translated, it means "mix" and that it was with assorted beans, jellies, sweetened banana, jackfruit, macapuno strings, leche flan, pinipig, ube halaya and ice cream. After combining all of the ingredients, I found this one to be not overly sweet and refreshing. Next up was the Leche Flan which looked like a creme caramel, but much denser due to the use of condensed milk and more egg yolks. This was very rich and sweet, hence I could only have a few bites.
Lastly, we tried the Sansrival which consisted of almond meringue topped off with tiny bits of chopped almond and butter cream. Again, I found this rather heavy (due to the cream) but it was not too sweet. Personally, I liked the Halo-Halo the best. In terms of the entire meal, I thought some of the dishes were very good while others I've either had better or I just wasn't that fond of. Yet overall, it was reasonably-price served in a fairly nice environment.
- Some good dishes
- Relatively nice dining space
- Lots of choice
- Service is a bit slow
- Some of the proteins are dry