People often ask where (and what) I’ve eaten recently, so in response, I’ve been posting photos of some of the tastiest dishes from my favorite restaurants under the category You Asked For It. You can find these and more on my Instagram account, @ethnojunkie.
Lately, I’ve been craving Filipino food (one of my favorite cuisines) and one restaurant that excels at its execution is Kabayan. Woodside, Queens is home to two Kabayan outposts along with numerous other Filipino eateries; it’s a veritable Little Manila. At these establishments, you’ll typically find a steam table laden with delicious (and often unidentified) offerings; diners queue up alongside and request portions of whatever strikes their fancy. If you know the names of the dishes, you can simply ask for what you want; if you don’t, just point and ask questions. As a matter of fact, there’s even a name for this procedure, turo-turo, which means “point-point” in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. Of course, you can always order from the menu as we did on this visit.
Here are a few favorites (to be supplemented soon since I’m about to bring another group there).
(Click photos to enlarge.)
Spanish mackerel ceviche, a perfect way to begin a Filipino feast.
Laing looks like creamed spinach, but the flavor is completely different: it’s made from taro leaves and coconut milk. Gotta get your greens, right?
Two kinds of rice accompany our repast, Garlic Rice and Binagoongan Rice (made with shrimp paste, mango and scallions). I can’t decide which I like better – that’s why I always get them both!
Ginataang Langka is unripened jackfruit with pork and coconut milk, because even a vegetable side dish needs pork!
Kabayan offers an assortment of noodle dishes; this one is Palabok, steamed rice noodles lurking under a cover of shrimp sauce, garnished with hard-boiled egg, crumbled crispy pork rinds (of course!) and scallions.
This sizzling pork dish is made from pig’s ear, jowl, ear, shoulder, and ear (did I mention ear?) and is one of the best renditions I’ve had of this Filipino favorite. Kabayon also does other sizzling sensations such as squid, seafood, pork chop, steak, shrimp, and bangus, milkfish that pops up everywhere in Filipino cuisine.
Chicken with ginger in coconut milk.
Stewed goat with chick peas and peppers.
I saved the best for last: the undisputed king of crispy deep-fried porky goodness, Lechon Kawali, fried pork belly with a vinegar garlic dipping sauce. A must-have.
Kabayan is located at 69-12 Roosevelt Avenue and at 49-12 Queens Boulevard in Woodside, Queens. Both are easily accessible by subway.