Kumare Restaurant: About Time Vancouver Has A Fancier Filipino Restaurant


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The pad Thai smells good and has some charring (good ‘wok hei’). Look at the picture below. Oh yum!

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Besides green onions, bean sprouts and peanuts, it also has eggs clinging on to the pad thai. The portion is generous for this one.

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The Chicken Pandan is a bit tricky …

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… it did not taste quite good. I mean the pandan leaves wasn’t tasty or anything like that.

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So I had to discard the pandan leaves. I am not sure why the vegetable doesn’t taste good at all. 😉

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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. 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Kumare-Restaurant-Richmond-Menu-1Kumare-Restaurant-Richmond-Menu-2

Update 12-Jan-2011:

Alex sent us a link to their video review of Kumare. This is interesting … emjoy:

Kumare Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

170 thoughts on “Kumare Restaurant: About Time Vancouver Has A Fancier Filipino Restaurant

  1. Pingback: Wo Fung Noodle House on Park Road, Richmond |
  2. hi there it was nice reading your blog.. by the way the pandan leaves are really meant to be discarded.. they just wrap the chicken in pandan for the flavor.. 🙂

  3. Being a senior, i always read comments with a grain of salt. in social media, with tons of salt. if i want to try a new restaurant, i will spend time and money to try what they offer. and if i like them i will go back and try the other stuff as well.
    we must remember, each person has a different take on food and everything else. beauty is in the eye of the beholder, if you get my drift….

  4. Just dropping in to say hello – I’m a Fil/Am food blogger, cook and educator based in Sf and I hope to try Kumare the next time I get to go north! Live hearing about Filipino food spreading it’s roots in Van. Ps: this was likely answered in other comments, but pandanus is meant to be used to for flavor…not as a vegetable in it’s own right. If you ever get a chance to try fresh pandan tea, yum!

  5. Nope Simone. They are not part of a combo. They are full orders. I went there last week and its still the same. Small portions. Here is a picture of one of their full order dishes taken by a food blogger. As you can see they use this small oval dish for most of their dishes. You can pretty much gauge its size with the spoon in it.

  6. I ate dinner there too last Thursday night. It also wasnt that busy anymore. Maybe because it was on a weekday night. Anyway, I noticed some improvements in their menu. They now have more fish dishes (priced ones instead of the “market price” tag they had before). They also have soup in their menu such as sinigang which is a staple Filipino sour soup. I ordered pork barbq and their crispy fried daing na bangus (marinated milkfish). The fish was sooo good. It was a fairly large whole bangus (12.00 or 15.00 with green mango salad). It was also deboned which is definitely a big plus because the milkfish is a very boney fish. However, I noticed in the adjacent table that the portion size of their dishes remained the same, small size.

    They also have more Filipino baked goods and desserts displayed on the front counter. Overall a good meal with what we had ordered. Regarding the service, they are more attentive maybe because they are less busy now and you’re right Jeprox, the waitresses speak Tagalog now.

    • The portions are smaller because maybe they are COMBOS. I know this because we usually order many combos. We like these because it reminds us a bit like having TAPAS dishes, a little of many things. We don’t order the other servings because they are too big!

  7. so i visited kumare fr the 2nd time yesterday since its opening. i have noticed a few improvements. one thing that i noticed right away was that all the servers were speaking Tagalog behind the counter and our server also spoke to us in Tagalog! definitely a big improvement in my opinion – compared to 2 months ago.

    i also noticed that they’re not busy at all. not even half of the restuarant was filled up and it was lunch time. i’m guessing the “hype” have now gone down. Food was not bad, servings are still kind of small.

    there’s still room for imprevement. i’ll pay them a visit again in about 2 months. 🙂

  8. Ive been reading the post and frankly, I dont know why there are threads not relating to Kumare here… I dont think they deserve much publicity with the number of comments,,,, (well…until they change their portions! hehehe)…

    Maybe ben can create a discussion page instead ?

    Yes, tindahan have the best Menudo and Chicken Afritada…dont try their dinuguan,, its sweet, not authentic at all…

    Btw…this will be my last comment on this write up, until i go there again…

    • Hi Bulakz:

      I have heard that Kumare had responded to the feedback here and had increased their portions. I was told that in some cases it was doubled and they had also went out to purchase bigger platings. I have not personally verified it but it came from a very reliable source.

      As for a discussion page, yes, that is on my plate. I want to be careful how I introduce this change on chowtimes but I want to turn over focus to you, the readers, where you can initiate whatever discussion threads you want. It will be like a forum but in the end it will still be a blog centered around “Ben and Suanne”. I had done some experiments but clearly I need to test some more. I think you all will like it.

      Ben

      • I might go to Kumare tonight. I have a couple of friends who wants to try Filipino foods and Kumare is the closest with sit-down service. If we go, I will report back on the portion size and the service. Hopefully it has improved. As previously mentioned the chef in Kumare used to work in the Tindahan take-out kitchen. Somehow he was replaced by his brother who is still the chef in Tindahan. That was way before Kumare was opened.

  9. btw ben, there’s a take out Filipino place on Minoru (corner of Westminster Hwy) called Tindahan. it’s in the same small plaza as Mui Garden.

    • Yeah, I have heard of Tindahan. Never been there personally but maybe Suanne has. I always thought that they are just a grocery store for Filipino items. Ben

      • They have a small take-out counter in the back of the store. Another place with Filipino take-out is Aling Mary’s on Park Road, across Kumare.

        There’s a big dollar store beside Well Tea on Hazelbridge, can’t remember the name of the dollar store. It’s owned by Fil-Chi and they have a HUGE Filipino grocery items, as well general items from the Philippines.

      • Dollar Smart is the dollar store by well tea..they dont serve ready to eat food but hv variety of items, groceries are cheaper than tindahan….

        Aling MArys food is ok..i like their dinuguan..though portions are smaller than tindahan..I heard you can also order whole lechon there, I just dont know if it comes in whole pig that u hv to chop urself or its already chopped like the one in Parker Place….they also sell buns like ensaymada, taisan ,product of Red Ribbon, but u hv to buy the ones with the dates,, i bought a few times without as they said they stop doing it,,,and it got molds the next day…

      • sorry, i got mixed up aling marys and Cusina Manila…the above comments was for Cusina Manila……

        Aling marys? Hmmm… ive tried it. just ordinary taste dishes. not restaurant quality.. their food dont look good, mostly sitting on cold grease… i went there 2 days in a row one time, they had 2 same dishes as the day before,,,, i bet it was left over!..though you can order cooked lumpiang shanghai (spring rolls ) with sauce for $15 – 50 pieces..thats what i go in for..and their pandesal buns

  10. i don’t think i’ve ever seen a chowtimes article with so many comments. comments that start with food and turns into service and into IT issues. 🙂 🙂

  11. Hi Crispy Go to the website on Vancouver Coastal Health on restaurant inspections and read about L.O.At least thats true unlike the trolls imaginary posts.Yes it is scary to have your IP posted

  12. Hehehe Jeprox, Ben is just playing with us. He knows a lot about ip and other internet/computer stuff. His line of work is in IT too. If I were the person purporting to be Francis, Nikki and Mika I will change my ISP to Shaw from Telus to get a new ip address. That should teach them from doing what they did.

    • Serious, I am not. I know how to use an IP Locator to locate the city where the IP is located but definitely not a physical address. I tried researching this but I found out that only if you know someone working in the ISP will you be able to find out. Oh gosh … I better hide my IP. LOL! Ben

    • I should mention that having your street address and stuff doesnt really mean something will happen to you. I’m not evil enough to harm anyone. Same with doing harm to your computer through the ip address. I dont really do that but some other hacker may pick up yr ip and attack your PC. So let this be a lesson to everyone not to troll.

  13. Hi Ben.I got help from our office IT and We traced the address to Burnaby and I got the location with street view.Trolls beware of false posts,you will be found out.FYI I havent even been to Kumare,I just hate trolls

  14. Ben, its actually funny how both Nikki and Francis pretended but they maybe just angry young customers trying to warn people. I went to Kumare a few times and I got different servers but I do have to admit that their service sucked. It was pretty slow. Servers were rude. I might have taken a bit longer with the menu but it doesn’t mean that they can roll their eyes at me. Right? But anyway, I wouldn’t say that Kumare is the best filipino restaurant in town. I still have to say Little Ong-Pin makes you feel more at home and it has better food.

      • Unfortunate that folks find the time to write crap about a restaurant for no real good reason. It’s a bit sad to see given a restaurant is trying to establish a customer base and make a name for itself.

      • I’m guessing the person who posted the comments don’t know much about how the internet works, how websites/blogs work.

        Having your IP announced is similar to having your house keys given to a stranger. People out there with knowledge can do some nasty stuff to you when your IP is out in the open. So if I were you (mika, francis, nikki or whatever your name is), stop posting crap and get a life.

      • Jeprox you’re absolutely right. With that IP I was able to trace the location of that computer to an address in Burnaby. I won’t divulge that info here. Anyway, it is really unacceptable to bad mouth a restaurant by pretending to be customers posting comments. Ben, I’m glad you are keeping a watchful eye on the comments. In as much as a good feedback benefits a restaurant, a bad feedback and a fake bad feedback to boot will cost a restaurant some business. I have a feeling those fake commenters are related to Little Ongpin as one of them (Mika) was extolling Little Ongpin.

      • Hehehe … if that is the case, I will go write an ultra critical post about Little Ongpin and nitpick on every single thing (like asking for vinegar and exaggerating that no one wants to bring it to me FIVE times). No, I am just kidding … I have no idea if the troll is related to Little Ongpin but one has suspicion it did. 🙂

      • ben, there are many things you can do with an IP address. with the right tools and if you got the right people/connection – you can do a lot. 🙂

        you can do a DoS and other stuff with an IP.
        that is why i said having an IP out in the open is kinda like giving your house keys to a stranger.

      • @Elaine. Shhhh dont blow my cover. Thats why I use a pseudonym in the internet. I dont want to be identified. LOL.

    • Hi EVERYONE:

      I just want to call out the facts. I am not siding anyone at all. Both Nikki and Francis wrote negative comments about Kumare citing bad service. I had found that to be strange and full of holes (i.e. asking for vinegar for four times and each time ignored). Francis had just confirmed that he does not know Nikki.

      However, according to our records, BOTH Francis and Nikki posted their comments from the same IP address (i.e. 205.250.187.233). All comments from Nikki and Francis originated from the same computer. Proof me wrong but it does appear to me that both Nikki and Francis is the same person who is bent on smearing the name of Kumare. Again, I am not siding with anyone but I will not stand for this sort of things. I don’t care if this happens on Urbanspoon or Yelp or what but please respect my blog.

      I wonder if this is related to a competitor restaurant. If I know who that is … LOL!

      Ben

  15. My friends and I had the same experience as Nikki. Servers there are horrible. I went there the other week and there were around 4 other tables and I had a hard time flagging them down. SERVICE IS HORRIBLE AT KUMARE. I wouldn’t go back there again. No matter how good the food is. The service always matter when it comes to restaurants.

  16. Ben, well, of course I kept flagging them down and it took them a long time to come. They went on rolling the spoons and forks before they went to me. I had to flag them down at least 6 times to get me my water. Then I had to flag them down around 4 times to get me vinegar. It was absurd! I heard Kumare service sucked but I didn’t believe it until I actually went through their service.

    And, yes, crispy lechon. It was a weekday morning. which made it more absurd because they weren’t busy at all.

    • Hi Nikki: I felt that these kind of issues can be a quick fix by any restaurant. Flagging the waiter down FOUR times for a vinegar and not getting it when it was a slow time just doesn’t make sense to me. You call it absurd. I call your experience bizzare. Oh well … Ben

  17. I went to Kumare Thursday morning of February 17, 2011. Food was ok. Pin-pin is still better. What struck me the most was the servers were very rude to me. They either ignored what I asked for or completely forgot. I don’t think I’ll be coming back there anymore.

    • Hi Nikki: I see that you are a first time commenter. Could you describe more of the experience as what you said is too general? I thought that will help everyone understand the circumstances more. What did you do when you said the restaurant ignored what you asked for or completely forgot? Did you tell them and they still ignore you? I am trying to understand what you’re saying as I am sure other readers would too. Ben

      • There is really no excuse why you received poor service. You went on a weekday morning. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I dont think they are busy during breakfast service.

  18. The one and only time I went there, the young lady server couldnt understand any tagalog..
    and as for LIttle Ongpin.. i dont find it trying hard on their service. i go in and we are on first name basis..Joanne is the bubbly pinay who always takes good care of me..and my guests..it makes you feel at home..and though i dont expect other restaurants to do the same..i agree that filipino speaking servers would be a plus……you know when u go to a japanese restaurant and you hear servers speak in chinese? what is the first thing taht comes to your mind? …..i guess point taken!..

  19. In fairness to Kumare, their servers do respond back in Tagalog when you talk to them in Tagalog. But yeah, its still better to be greeted in your own language when you go into an ethnic restaurant.

    As for Little Ongpin, I do like their approach of greeting their Filipino customers in Tagalog. But sometimes, their good service becomes too “trying hard”. They have started greeting their customers with their first names. I went there twice in a row and in my last visit, they asked for my name. I bet I will be greeted with my name the next time I go there.

  20. True that not everyone in Vancouver is Filipino. Also true that not everyone in Vancouver is not Chinese, but when you visit a Chinese restaurant or store and you look like Chinese – what is the language that the server or store clerks use to communicate with you?? Chinese of course. Same thing would apply to a restaurant like Kumare. The first language they use to communicate with patrons should be Tagalog – providing the customer is Filipino or look like a Filipino. It’s common sense, if the person ordering is not Filipino or the table is a mix of Filipino and non-Filipino – obviously the server should use English first and adjust accordingly.

    When I was at Little Ongpin last weekend, two Filipino ladies and a caucasian guy walked in. Server greeted them in English and sat them down. One of the ladies ordered in Tagalog and the server proceeded to communicate with them in Tagalog. Our server was the owner herself who is Chinese. She wasn’t sure if we’re Filipinos or Koreans or Chinese… so what did she do? She started out in English with a mix of few Chinese words and Tagalog. We replied back the same way to let her know… yes, we ARE/can speak the language. This makes it feel “homier” for both parties involved.

    Since Kumare chose to have a Filipino business name and they’re main customer base are Filipinos – they should adapt and start using the language more to serve their customers. I believe their servers are mostly family members (kids of the owners) who grew up here and cannot really speak Tagalog fluently. I think this is why the use of Tagalog is limited. Hopefully it’ll change.

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