Restaurant: Kumare Restaurant
Last visited: May 21, 2011
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 8130 Park Rd
Price Range: $10 or less, $10-20
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4 (based on what I tried)
Service: 3 (friendly, but slow)
- Family owned and operated
- Authentic Filipino cuisine
- Some Filipino-Thai fusion dishes
- Filipino chefs/staff
- Chef trained in Filipino & Thai cuisine
- Attracts local Filipino community
- Generous portions
- Modern atmosphere
- Family friendly
- Under $10 daily lunch specials before 4pm
- Free parking
- Accepts Visa/MC/Debit
- Open daily 9:30am-9pm
**Recommendations: Dinuguan (Blood Stew), Inihaw Na Liempo (Grilled Pork Belly), Inihaw Na Panga Ng Tuna (Grilled Tuna Jaw), Bicol Express, Chicken Karekare, Kumare’s Rice and the Sansrival and Buko Pandan for dessert. Try the Halo Halo if you’ve never had it, just because it’s the classic Pinoy dessert. I’m very curious to try their mamons and other baked goods from their bakery.
Welcome to Filipino Cuisine 101. I’m definitely not a teacher in it, but it’s actually my first blog post for Filipino food so I’m pretty excited! I’ve had good Filipino food before, but I can’t say I’m too familiar with it, at least not from a “foodie” perspective. I was also really lucky to have a local show me a bit of the food scene in Cebu in the Philippines, but it was a long time ago. We have a selection of Filipino restaurants in Metro Vancouver, but I can’t say its popularity has grown to that of Chinese or Japanese, but I don’t know why… it’s damn good, but just make sure you’re not dieting.
Kumare is a relatively new restaurant and the name means “godmother”. It’s actually quite nice inside with a modern atmosphere and it was refreshing to see a non-divey, non-buffet, non-hole in the wall looking Filipino restaurant. (The culture does tend to love buffets though). There’s nothing wrong with dives, but there’s nothing wrong with clean and comfortable either.
The food is cheap (Filipino food should almost always be cheap in my opinion), the portions are generous (Filipino food should always come in big portions in my opinion), and it has an in house bakery (which is a huge bonus in my opinion). I also took pride knowing that I was one of the very few non-Filipinos in there… yes I’m not Filipino as you may have guessed. This place has already caught on to the Filipino community in Richmond and there’s steady traffic, which makes it more convincing.
I actually came here with my white friend who’s girlfriend is Filipino, so he knows his stuff to some degree. If any white guy has ever dated an Asian person, he knows that getting into the culture and with the parents is eating everything they offer you with no hesitations. So yeah, my friend is white and he showed me the “Filipino way” the best he could. It was great!
So what is Filipino cuisine? It’s pretty much a hybrid of a bunch of cuisines. It’s a combination of Malaysian, Chinese, Spanish, and of course barbeque, yes, barbeque is a culture and they love it! Therefore the idea of “authenticity” can get lost, so I’m not even going to compare the food at Kumare to “authentic” Filipino food. I’m just going to come at it from the angle of was it good, have I had better, and whether it’s similar or different from the original.
Kumare seems pretty authentic (I use that term lightly), but it’s not with everything. The chef here has some Thai cooking experience so you’ll even get some Thai flavours in a few dishes. The menu is extensive, but I was so happy with my first visit that I came back two days later just to make a bigger dent in the menu. Therefore this is a combination of two visits. It’s been a long time waiting for this post and some typical spring rolls and adobo chicken just wouldn’t do it justice. So here it is: Introduction 101 to Filipino Cuisine.
On the table:
- Crispy spring rolls served with pancit canton $7.50
- Yeah this is pretty “white man’s” dish, but I swear it’s probably the only one we ordered that was.
- It was the weakest too and that’s probably because it’s a Chinese inspired dish, hence the “canton” for Cantonese (?). I know they’re different styles, but I much rather have the traditional Chinese version which I find just tastes better.
- It’s Filipino style chow mien and that’s how they make it, but I found it a bit bland and “food court-ish” and it needed more soy sauce.
- The noodles are really soft and then it’s sauteed with carrots, celery, cured Chinese sausage, shrimps and some fatty pork pieces that were surprisingly dry.
- Yeah I don’t really care for spring rolls either, and this is another Chinese influenced dish, but Filipinos have made them their own.
- Filipino spring rolls get much better than this. These ones had so little meat in them and it just tasted like a tender juicy pork meatball and I lost all the vegetables.
- There was very little onions and carrots in it and they should be more stuffed and fatter.
- It was crispy, but very oily and then served with a side of sweet and sour dipping sauce.
- Minced pork served on a hot plate, topped with an egg $8
- This is a very typical and traditional Filipino dish and I learned that it’s ideal with beer. I could definitely see why! It’s a heart stopper. Literally.
- It’s uber rich and super greasy, but very delicious.
- The flavour is great, but the texture, not the flavour, is certainly acquired and catered to Asian people because it’s quite gelatinous, chewy, crunchy, crispy, creamy and also soft.
- It’s pretty fatty and oily and you mix it all up on the sizzling plate before eating it.
- The raw egg reminds me of the Chinese dish “Minced beef with raw egg on rice”, love that dish!
- Pork sisig is pretty much fried minced pork… head. So that explains the random textures as it includes the ear, cheek, snout and face, but there’s no organs in it. Actually sometimes there’s liver and tongue and I couldn’t tell if there was any in this though, but I didn’t taste any.
- The egg just binds it all together and it’s fried with shallots, onions and garlic so it smells great and the flavour is really aromatic, savoury and salty.
- It should be made with some kalamansi or lime juice and vinegar to “cut the grease”, but I couldn’t taste much of the tang at all and it just tasted like delicious savoury fried pork fat in garlic and soy sauce.
- Pork Blood Stew $7.50
- It’s a huge portion and one of the most traditional thing you could order at a Filipino restaurant.
- The only other time I’ve enjoyed pig’s blood so much was at Incanto – see Pig’s Blood Parpardelle. I just don’t like the Taiwanese of Cantonese version when it’s just slices of solidified pork blood.
- I was told that the Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew) is the true test of a good Filipino restaurant, it’s a must try for that reason alone. I know I’ve had this before, but I don’t remember liking it this much. I loved it!
- It’s a bit acquired and you have to like tangy food to appreciate this.
- The stew is made with vinegar so it’s a tangy rich, creamy gravy made from melted down pork’s blood.
- It kind of tastes like melted down tangy black bean sauce or pureed savoury red beans or refried beans.
- It has that starchy beany texture and it’s considered Pinoy soul food or comfort food!
- If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t have even guessed there’s pork’s blood in this. It doesn’t taste like pork’s blood and there’s not even that iron like aftertaste.
- The pork was incredibly tender with some lean pieces and some fattier pieces… this was all pieces of pig’s head again. Don’t let that scare you, as most of it tastes like pork’s belly.
- There were some lean pieces which tasted like shoulder that melted in your mouth and any fat wasn’t even that chewy and gelatinous but creamy and delicious!
- Trust me, I’m usually not enthusiastic on these ingredients (although I’ll eat it) and I just loved this, which should say a lot!
I ordered this on my first and second visit because I liked it so much! This is the lunch combo version for $6.50 (served weekdays until 4pm). The menu says it’s served with pandesal (homemade baked bun), but for some reason they served it with white rice instead. If it’s your first time, try it as a lunch combo since the portion is smaller.
- Lean pork cooked in spicy coconut milk $7.50
- This is not a traditional Bicol Express, but I’m going to take it for what it was and not what it’s supposed to be because it still tasted good.
- This was a very mild spiced curry, and it was a Thai style Bicol Express. The chef here has Thai cooking experience so this dish was more fusion than it was authentic.
- For a coconut milk curry sauce I found it quite thin and not that rich, but it was good.
- I could taste lemongrass which was the Thai influence, but it didn’t have the basil leaves or anything.
- The sauce was almost like a light and slightly tangy tomato coconut curry sauce that was quite familiar if you’ve had Thai food before.
- It was almost bordering on a Singaporean or Malaysian style curry.
- The highlight was the melt in your mouth, falling apart pieces of tender pork shoulder. Most of it was lean, with very little fatty trim if any, but they were just chunks of pork that just fell apart with the poke of your fork.
- It was a big portion with lots of pork that tasted like it was slow cooked and stewed all day.
- There should have been some beans in it as well though.
- Chicken + mixed vegetables in peanut sauce $9.50
- As a first time it’s a 5/6, but overall there are better versions, but I’m not sure where in Vancouver.
- They have chicken, beef and vegetable karekare, and I really wish they had it with pork. I should have ordered beef, because the dish is usually best with beef.
- This was the richest stew in terms of texture. It tasted like a creamy peanut butter stew with a hint of curry, but there are no peanut pieces in it and it’s smooth.
- It was ultra thick and velvety smooth like a bechamel or alfredo sauce.
- The sauce just tastes like smooth melted down peanut butter and a garlicky chicken stock with perhaps some fish sauce for the salt. I was surprised it wasn’t that sweet, and it really just tastes like peanut butter.
- The chicken was incredibly tender, moist, and juicy pieces of fatty boneless chicken thighs.
- The classic veggies to use are the long string beans, eggplant and baby bok choy, which was all in this version, except there were only 2-3 pieces of eggplant.
- Traditionally it should be made with toasted rice and even some banana hearts, but those weren’t in action here.
- The Chicken Karkare was served with a side of fermented shrimp paste which is the modern twist. It looks like XO sauce.
- No Asian cuisine would really serve this as a side because it’s a very potent and salty sauce that’s used in a dish and not served as a condiment.
- It’s very sharp, very salty, very strong and not spicy and you’re supposed to mix it in the karekare. It didn’t really do much, but just make it saltier.
- It’s served on the side because not everyone likes it. I love it, but it wasn’t necessary for the curry and I would have rather had it incorporated and infused into the peanut curry gravy. Cooking and frying shrimp paste brings out it’s flavour more.
- They use this shrimp paste to make their special Kumare’s Rice and it adds incredibly savoury flavour.
- Grilled pork belly $7.50
- This is another guilty and greasy Pinoy indulgence.
- How can you go wrong with thin strips of char-grilled pork belly?
- It was tender, very crispy with a nice crunchy bark from a sweet soy sauce glaze.
- It was well marinated and juicy pork belly. Of course there is fat, but it’s not chewy or gelatinous. They know how to BBQ!
- It’s served with a fresh tomato and red onion salsa which is supposed to balance out the dish, so it’s almost a salad. Tricks you into thinking it’s healthy.
- The sauce is a slightly sweet and very tangy garlic vinaigrette that aids in “cutting the grease”.
- I just ate this as a salad or you can just dip the greasy pork strips in the vinegar too.
- I actually wanted corn tortilla shells because it would make a great taco… it’s very food truck appropriate.
- Marinated jaw of tuna $10.50
- Oh god! This was one of my favourites here! I love the cheek of any fish, and I had no idea a tuna jaw gets this big! Mercury alert! But it’s too good to pass up.
- It was huge! It was barbequed perfectly and it had this sweet soy sauce glaze, similar to Teriyaki with perhaps a hint of curry in the marinade.
- It was grilled to perfection with a nice crispy charcoal crisp and flavour.
- The meat was incredibly moist, tender, juicy and flaky.
- Just cutting into it, it released even more savoury juices.
- There were two huge pieces of melt in your mouth cheek and every piece of meat was incredibly tender and flavourful.
- I wanted to eat the skin of the underside, but there were scales so that was unfortunate. I cleaned this to the bone! Amazing!! My favourite.
- It’s still quite greasy and oily, but again they have that garlic vinaigrette served along side to “cut the grease”. I admit, it does help remove the oil to some degree.
- Fried jasmine rice and shrimp paste S – $2.50 L – $6.00
- This was a huge family sized bowl of rice enough for at least 4 people.
- This was delicious fried rice! It’s Thai style.
- It’s fried with the savoury fermented shrimp paste, shallots and garlic and topped with raw green mango which is tart.
- This is probably one of the best “garlic fried rice” dishes you can have and the recipe is so simple.
- It’s very moist, chewy and almost like sticky rice and it’s easily enjoyed alone.
- It’s very aromatic, nutty and savoury with a slight shrimpy flavour.
I got to give it up to the Filipino mama’s. They can bake! It’s in their blood, like singing and dancing! But jokes aside, when I was in Cebu, for every five stores one would be a bakery… or a Jolibee. Being that I have a “soft spot” (literal and figurative) for bakeries I did do a lot of baked goods research while I was there! They call them “bake shops” there and they’re usually named after some lady, likely the owner. Goldilocks is the most popular in Vancouver, and I love them.
- Assorted beans, jellies, sweetened banana, jackfruit, macapuno string, leche flan, pinipig, ube halaya and ube ice cream $6.75
- This is the most typical Filipino dessert. A classic for a hot day.
- It usually looks like a colourful circus of ingredients, but this was a sophisticated halo halo.
- For a Halo Halo it’s probably a 4.5/6 because it’s a pretty fancy for one, but personally I’m not too keen on it so it was a 3.5/6 for me.
- I found this actually pretty pricey for this dessert. It’s also not as sweet as the really authentic ones I’ve had before, which is good because it’s already quite sweet.
- I’m not really a fan of these “beany” desserts and it’s very similar to the Malaysian Ice Cendol, Vietnamese Che, or the Taiwanese Shaved Ice desserts. I much rather have Frappe Bliss.
- Halo Halo is shaved ice with a whole bunch of canned ingredients, sweetened beans and coconut milk. There wasn’t much of the good stuff like sweetened banana or the jackfruit.
- The rest is a variety of sweetened beans, coconut pandan jellies, white tapioca pearls, which were too soft and overcooked and then some boiled sweet taro root.
- The home made leche flan square was a nice bonus though! It was really sweet and it tastes just like creme caramel.
- My favourite part was of course the ube ice cream which was nice and creamy.
- Ube chiffon cake + cream cheese frosting Slice $4.50 Whole $45
- Follow Me Foodie Tasty Twist: I’d order the ube ice cream alone (2 scoops for $3) and I’d eat it with this!
- It’s a popular Filipino birthday type of cake and homemade from their bakery.
- I’d recommend letting this come to room temperature so the frosting is creamier.
- I love taro, and they love taro there! The McDonald’s in the Philippines even has taro root pie and taro root sundaes.
- The cake was a bit dry from sitting in the fridge though.
- It’s not too sweet and has that powdered taro bubble tea flavour that I really like.
- It’s not too rich, but light and airy like sponge cake and the cream cheese frosting gives it a nice contrasting tang, but it still has a buttery dense base that I don’t like.
- In between the layers are pieces of fresh young coconut which I loved because it added moisture.
- The top had lots of crumbly dried coconut too and I do like the coconut and taro combination. I even get it in bubble teas.
- It’s aromatic and has a natural sweetness from the coconut and then a malted sweetness from the taro.
- Almond or cashew meringue + buttercream icing Slice: $4.50 Whole (small): $35 Whole (large): $45
- Again I recommend letting it come to room temperature so the buttercream is creamy.
- This is homemade from their bakery and it’s very good. It’s another typical Filipino cafe dessert.
- For a first timer it’s probably excellent, but for a Filipino Sansrival expert it might be just good compared to the one their grandmother makes.
- It tastes just like a Napoleon, but I like Napoleons better.
- There’s a ton of cashews which I loved and it’s very nutty, very buttery, sweet, but not overly sweet and still pretty light.
- I wish they toasted the cashews on top too for more intense flavour.
- This one just doesn’t have the flaky pastry sheets, instead the sheets are thin, cakey, almond meringue layers. It was a bit chewy like a crumbly chewy bar or cookie, but wasn’t wet at all.
- I’m not a fan of their buttercream icing tough, just like their cream cheese frosting on the ube cake.
- I’m not sure if they’re using a combination of shortening and butter, but it’s a bit greasy and very buttery, however traditionally it’s meant to be like that I guess.
- To see the best Sansrival I’ve had to date – see here.
- Shredded young coconut + pandan jelly $4.50
- Follow Me Foodie Tasty Twist: I’d order the ube ice cream alone (2 scoops for $3) and I’d eat it with this too! Coconut ice cream would be better if they had it.
- This was very cooling, light and refreshing.
- It tastes like a vanilla crushed ice dessert and it’s not too creamy or rich and it’s made with coconut milk.
- It has crushed ice and I could taste some vanilla extract in it and it’s reminiscent of a vanilla milkshake, but way less indulgent.
- There are strands of pandan jelly and also green cubes of coconut jelly in it.
- It’s light, sweet, very coco-nutty and aromatic from the pandan which is a bit lemony, floral and bright in flavour too.
- Pandan actually has a neutral flavour when it’s in this jelly form, but the actual herb is quite strong like lemongrass.
- This is perfect for a hot day, less indulgent and filling than a halo halo, but still more of a dessert than it is a drink for me.
- Pandan can also be used in cakes – see West 57th Pandan Cream Cheese Cake with Ice Cream.