The Filipino community in Vancouver had been quietly growing over the years that not many of us realize. It might come as a surprise to some that Filipinos overtook China as Canada’s leading source of immigrants in the last couple of years.
This is a staggering statistic because if you compare the population of China (1.3 billion) and the Philippines (92 million), the percentage of Filipinos overseas is staggering. A total of 11% of the country’s population live and work outside of the country.
Yet with the such a large and growing community in Vancouver, the Filipino cuisine is so poorly represented here. You get lots of turo-turo (literally translated as “point-point”) restaurants all over town. But when one wants a nice, fancier sit down Filipino restaurants to entertain friends and guests, your best and perhaps only bet is Pinpin on Fraser.
Well, not anymore.
There is a new kid in town. And it is about time Vancouver deserves fancier Filipino restaurant like Kumare.
We stumbled on Kumare very much by accident yesterday. It also happened that they were opened for the first time yesterday too. We had earlier planned to go for dinner at S&W Pepper House on No 3 Road in Richmond because we did not have spicy Sichuan food for some time already and we had enough materials to blog about. It was supposed to be our “off-day”.
As I was on Park Road and about to drive into the S&W Pepperhouse parking lot, we happened to see lights at the end of the strip mall. I remembered Crispy Lechon telling us about the impending opening of a new Filipino restaurant around this area and thought this might be it. Well it seems like they were opened for business which we found out later on they were opened for the first time yesterday. So this calls for a change of plans. Spicy food got to wait and we need to make this a “working day”, much to the chagrin of our boys. :-)
“Why do you always have to blog? Why do you always have to blog, huh?”, asked Arkensen.
“Tough luck, buddy. Too bad you have food bloggers as your parents”, I smiled giving him the same answer to the same question whenever we go to a place not to his liking.
Nanzaro was just annoyed because he was gearing up for hot and spicy food the whole day and Filipino food is NEVER spicy. LOL!
BTW, take a look at the license plate of the car above.
Kumare is certainly quite unlike all the Filipino restaurants you see in Metro Vancouver. It has that bright, modern look to it. Well, it is not quite the level of the fancier Chinese banquet halls but it is a move in the right direction. Here is a place that you could bring your friends to entertain them in fancier and elegant setting.
We were surprised to find that even though they had opened just for dinner that day, the place was almost full. I guess word gets around fast and perhaps there is such a pent up demand for a restaurant like this. Most of the diners appears to be Filipinos and so this is a good sign too.
The dining area seats 36 people with some room to expand with more tables in the future.
Service was prompt, friendly and eager. There were six people working the floor that day which we thought was a lot of people. I guess all hands were on deck on their opening day.
When we got seated, we were handed the menu in a pocket binder which they told us is still temporary. They told us that besides Filipino food, they incorporate some Thai cooking in the menu. The menu is simple and has all the familiar Filipino favourites in it. You can order most of the food either as a set (i.e. served on rice in a single plate) or you can have it served family style with rice ordered on the side. The prices are good too with most dishes between $7 and $9.
They even have a limited breakfast menu which is basically the “-silogs”, you know, dishes like long-silog, tap-silog, bang-silog and such. The suffix “silog” came from the sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg). All the breakfast items are $8.50.
Even without looking at the menu, I already know what I want. The litmus test has got to be the national dish of the Philippines — the adobo. So I got this one called the Adobo Tostado which is $7.50.
This is braised pork served with mixed vegetables and garlic rice. The sauce on the pork has a very light vinegarish flavour which was delightful. I know some like it with sharper vinegar taste but this is perfect for me. I was thinking that the sauce would be excellent with some kind of … bread (like roti) to wipe the bowl clean. This is thumbs up for me.
The adobo came with garlic rice and mixed vegetables. Suanne said that the rice was very garlicky but I thought it would be better if it is a tad more garlicky and a bit drier. Maybe I am gravitating to the Chinese way of making it. :-) Anyway, making this is simple and Suanne wants to share the recipe here with you.
Suanne ordered the Chicken Pandan ($8) because the waitress told us that this is a popular dish. She told us that this is more of a Thai dish than a Filipino one but I am not sure if she meant the pad thai or if the chicken pandan is also Thai.
This is such a delightful dish and to us this is the best dish of the night. The chicken is wrapped in pandan leaves and served with one of the best tasting pad thai we had.
The pad Thai smells good and has some charring (good ‘wok hei’). Look at the picture below. Oh yum!
Besides green onions, bean sprouts and peanuts, it also has eggs clinging on to the pad thai. The portion is generous for this one.
The Chicken Pandan is a bit tricky …
… it did not taste quite good. I mean the pandan leaves wasn’t tasty or anything like that.
So I had to discard the pandan leaves. I am not sure why the vegetable doesn’t taste good at all. ;-)
The two pieces of boneless chicken thigh is deep fried with the pandan leaves. This, my dears, is excellente. Best eaten with the hands. It is super juicy and the meat was not only tender, there were quite a bit of meat to it too. OMG! You gotta try this dish. You won’t be disappointed.
Well, other than that, they gotta make the pandan leaves more tasty. ;-)
Arkensen had the Chicken Karekare ($7.50). When we ordered this, the waiter repeated our order and he said “Chicken Curry”. Good thing I caught that he did not say “Chicken Kare-Kare” because curry is one dish you do not want to order in a Filipino restaurant. Filipino is not used to spiciness in their food.
This is chicken braised in peanut sauce, served with steamed rice and a side of shrimp paste. The chicken had a mild shrimp paste flavour but not pronounced. It is accompanied with long beans and eggplant. The serving is not very big as you can see with just a few pieces of chicken. But then this is only $7.50.
Arkensen’s meal comes with steamed rice and a side of mixed vegetables comprised of red and green bell peppers, baby corns, button mushrooms, celery and carrots. There is nothing fancy here.
I thought Nanzaro’s choice was pretty disappointing. He ordered the Lumpiang Shanghai for $7.50. I kept telling him this is only spring rolls but he is a big boy now and no one tells him what to order and what not to order.
This is crispy spring rolls served with pancit canton. There are 5 narrow pieces of crispy spring rolls filled with meat served with sweet chili sauce. Nanzaro said the noodles was flavourful. I did not try it but that’s what he said.
I was saying that the spring roll was filled with meat and that it is a narrow tube. Not enough kick for me. This is more like a snack than a dinner item to me.
The most important section in any Filipino menu is the Pork section. Filipinos love their pork dishes and they do it very well. They are also very proud of their pork dishes too. Dishes like Sisig, Bicol Express and Crispy Pata comes to mind. So yeah, we gotta try something from the Pork section.
Their crispy pata is $9.
The deep fried pork hock served with a side of spiced vinegar soy sauce. The vinegar soy sauce does virtually nothing to the taste of the pork but the pork is excellent … succulent, soft, moist and all that. The best part? The crispy skin with a layer of fat underneath it. Heavenly. Someday I am gonna pay for all these kind of food.
The prices are not bad right? Good thing is that they accept credit cards too.
I am rooting for Kumare to be a success story. I want to see the Filipino culinary scene grow and flourish like the other ethnic cuisines like Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Koreans and Indians.
The owners worked the floor that day. They chatted with every table and also came to chat with us. Mary is one half of the owner who is the face to the restaurant who later introduced us to Diane who is the person behind the food and the kitchen.
They are “co-mothers” and that is what the word Kumare means. Mary and Diane are god mother to each other’s daughters who are also working in this restaurant. I thought it is a very nice and apt name.
BTW, I did not take a picture of their temporary in-restaurant menu but below is their party trays menu for take-out. Click on them to show it larger.
Alex sent us a link to their video review of Kumare. This is interesting … emjoy: