Casa Pinoy

Casa Pinoy (12)Restaurant: Casa Pinoy
Cuisine: Filipino/Greek/American/Breakfast
Last visited: August 21, 2012
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond)
Address: 101 – 11911 Bridgeport Road
Transit: WB Bridgeport Rd FS No. 5 Rd
Price Range: $10-20 (average bill closer to $10)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 3 (based on what I tried)
Service: 4
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Filipino operated/owned
  • Family operated/owned
  • Filipino cuisine
  • Greek & American options
  • Quick/Casual
  • Spacious/Clean
  • Family friendly
  • Kid friendly options
  • Budget friendly/Cheap eats
  • Catering available
  • Free parking
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Open daily 10am-8pm

**Recommendations: Chicken Inasal

Filipino food. Or wait… was it? It’s called “Casa Pinoy” which is certainly Filipino, but what’s this “sandwiches, calamari, BBQ, fish n’ chips” stuff I see on their sign?! It was either going to be Westernized Filipino food or Filipino-style American-Greek food. I’m not really keen on either, but I was given the recommendation to come check it out. I’ve also driven by it a few times and although it’s not a full house, the space is pretty big and there are Filipino locals dining inside. A sign of legitimacy? Perhaps, but there was only one way to find out.

They closed at 8pm which is pretty early for a Filipino restaurant which serves dinner too. I was the last table and I was in at around 7:50pm and they still insisted and welcomed me to stay. It was spacious and assumingly clean, and the set up looked like a restaurant focused on catering – which they do.

It’s a Filipino family owned and operated restaurant and the owners were really friendly. It almost makes it so much harder to write these things when they are, but when they asked for honest feedback, I said everything I would write on here. They were really receptive and for that reason alone I would come back and support the business.

They offer Western and Filipino style breakfasts even though they open at 10am. I guess they go by Filipino time…

The menu was pretty big and about half of it was Greek, Italian and American food. I was a bit nervous. It was one of those “we do it all” places. I didn’t come here for burgers, lasagne and calamari, but it all made sense when I remembered the previous restaurant was Isaac & Agatha. It was a Greek restaurant and catering business before it turned into Casa Pinoy so I have a feeling they kept some menu items to satisfy the loyal clientele.

It’s located in an industrial area of Richmond, BC which includes furniture warehouses, auto repair shops and small businesses, so I’m sure they have to cater to a lunch time crowd with more standard and basic offerings. The burgers are made in house though and for all I know it could be actually very good, but I wasn’t as interested in the Western food as much as I was in the Filipino food.

And that’s more like it! I can’t say I’m too familiar with Filipino food although I have been to the Philippines and been to Filipino parties and banquets. That doesn’t really mean anything though. I didn’t grow up with it and I’m still exploring and learning more about the cuisine.

The first time I blogged about it was at Kumare – see my Fililipino Cuisine 101 post, but I have tried a few other Filipino restaurants and foods in Metro Vancouver. Regardless I’m still on training wheels and I prefer going to Filipino restaurants with Filipino friends who can guide me.

For the most part Filipino cuisine is influenced by many Asian and Latin cultures. It’s normally rather simple, quite rich and heavy, pork focused, and served family style. Vinegar is used in many of the stews because traditionally it would allow the dish to keep for longer.

The pork dishes will usually use the whole hog including the head and cheaper cuts are also valued and nothing goes to waste. Since cheaper cuts are tougher many of their dishes are braised or come in stews. There is also a significant amount of barbeque and deep frying and although there are healthy options, I wouldn’t call it particularly a healthy cuisine. It is good though.

I ordered some classic Filipino dishes which were a bit hit and miss. It was all made in house and the prices were very affordable, although Filipino food should always be pretty cheap. It’s really not a fancy cuisine and the ingredients are inexpensive for the most part. Although I never expect excellent produce at small ethnic restaurants, this was a bit below what I would consider standard. The food is traditional, but the ingredients and flavours might not be as “authentic”.

It’s not my favourite Filipino restaurant based on what I tried, but it was decent, quick, casual and very affordable. There were some execution issues and it was food that you just know they make better at home. Even though I was the last table the food and service was in no way rushed, but it was just very average although people seem to love it.

Generally, it seems like this is considered one of the better Filipino restaurants in Metro Vancouver, but there isn’t a lot of options for it either. I haven’t tried enough to say, but I did like Kumare better based on what I tried. However the owners at Casa Pinoy were lovely people and I would come back purely based on that, but I’d just be a bit selective with my order.

On the table:

Seafood Palabok3/6 (Good)

  • Rice noodle dish with flavourful shrimp sauce. Garnished with crispy pork crackling, sliced egg, drizzled with kalamansi (Filipino lemon) and fresh green onions $8.99
  • This was a recommended favourite.
  • It’s pretty much Filipino style seafood spaghetti and it’s a very popular Filipino dish.
  • I think I expected more seafood, but for $8.99 maybe I shouldn’t have.
  • It came with 3 shrimps and then some diced up salmon that was overcooked. The seafood was frozen, but I expected that.
  • Traditionally it would be smoked dried fish rather than salmon, but I’m assuming this is the same salmon used for their salmon burger.
  • It was sprinkled with crushed pork cracklings which were like croutons and then a hard boiled egg which was slightly overcooked.
  • The noodles were slippery, soft and semi chewy rice noodles and the shrimp sauce I found very mild and I could taste a bit of butter in it too.
  • It tasted like a savoury garlic and onion butter sauce with shrimp bouillon melted into it. It didn’t have a very shrimpy flavour though.
  • It was served with some fresh kalamansi juice on the side which made it more legit. Most places would just serve it with lemon.
  • Kalamansi is like the love child of  lemon and orange and it’s very sour, but more flavourful than lemons.
  • The lemon cut the richness and brightened up the dish giving it a refreshing and tangy element.
  • If you like Pad Thai there is a chance you will like this. It’s different, but it shares similarities even though this one has no peanuts, tamarind or spice.
Dinuguan2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
  • Filipino creamy stewed pork. Served with white rice $6.99
  • I’m a fan of Dinuguan and it’s one of the most popular and traditional Filipino foods to Filipino people.
  • The description is very vague as to likely not scare the majority of people off. Dinuguan is a pork blood stew.
  • I’m not keen on Taiwanese or Cantonese versions of solidified pork blood, but I like it when it’s melted down like this.
  • I’ve had Dinuguan a few times, but this wasn’t my favourite because the meat was slightly dry and the sauce was almost extra sour.
  • The stew is made with vinegar so it is intentionally sour, but this was just more so than most.
  • It was a tangy, rich, creamy gravy made from melted down pork’s blood and it had a gritty texture to it.
  • It was almost like the texture of black bean sauce and it’s a bit starchy.
  • It didn’t taste like pork’s blood and there was not even that iron like aftertaste.
  • The pork pieces are supposed to be pig’s head, but this was all shoulder and/or pork butt.
  • The pork was braised in the stew for a while and it was very tender, but just on the drier side. The sauce helped.
  • It’s a bit acquired and you have to like sour food and meaty flavours to appreciate this.
  • I also recommend trying the one at Kumare – see here.
Kare Kare2.5/6 (Okay-Good)
  • Stewed beef sauteed in a smooth and creamy peanut butter mixed with veggies and tripe. Served with white rice. $7.99
  • The sauce was nice and creamy and had good colour and texture, but unfortunately it was very bland.
  • The vegetables weren’t cooked into the stew, but just neatly placed on top. This is considered neat for Filipino cuisine.
  • The classic veggies for Kare Kare are the long string beans, eggplant and baby bok choy, which was all in this version.
  • The eggplants were just steamed and tender, but bland.
  • The green beans weren’t great quality and the bok choy was boiled or steamed, but none of the veggies were seasoned.
  • The saving grace was the beef… and the shrimp paste on the side. It really needed the shrimp paste.
  • I love shrimp paste and if you want to know what “umami” is – that is umami! Savoury. Fish sauce and MSG is also umami.
  • Traditionally the beef in this dish should be oxtail and tripe, but they used brisket and tripe instead.
  • The brisket was very fatty though and while fat gives things flavour and is good, I don’t like my brisket as fatty as this one was.
  • Naturally the beef in this is fatty (as oxtail would be as well), but this was just a lot of fat.
  • The beef was incredibly tender though and almost falling apart in the dish from being braised for so long.
  • The tripe is naturally a bit chewy and gelatinous which I’ve never been too keen on, but for what it was, it wasn’t bad.
  • It was a thick, rich, creamy and smooth stew with a peanutty flavour, but there are no peanuts pieces or crumbs in it. There usually is not either.
  • The flavour was flat and  it didn’t extend beyond peanutty. I did like the Kare Kare at Kumare better – see here.
  • Traditionally it should be made with toasted rice and even some banana hearts, but those were not used in this one.
**Chicken Inasal4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)
  • Grilled chicken leg marinated in coco vinegar, garlic and pepper. Served with rice pilaf $8.99
  • This was the winning dish.
  • It came recommended and it sounded so ordinary to me, but they really nailed it.
  • It reminded me of Malaysian cuisine – see Nasi Bojari, but it is very popular in the Philippines.
  • The chicken was incredibly juicy and moist. Being dark meat it would be, but it was still cooked very well.
  • The marinade consists of garlic, lemongrass, kalamansi juice, coconut vinegar and other spices.
  • The grilled chicken was very aromatic, savoury, but not too salty and not spicy.
  • I could taste shrimp paste in the marinade and it was definitely the secret ingredient.
  • I would have liked more char grilled flavour, but it was still flavourful without the intense smokiness.
  • The skin was semi crispy and I would have preferred crispier.
  • Dipping the chicken into the vinegar just gave it a whole new dimension of flavour.
  • It was savoury, tangy, salty and a bit sweet and the sour vinegar dipping sauce just made the flavours pop.
  • The vinegar was almost like adding a squeeze of lemon, but with added savoury flavour.
  • The rice pilaf was made with smashed carrots, onions and bell peppers and it had a natural sweetness to it.
  • The rice was well cooked and not dry or spicy even though there was a chili pepper garnish on it.
  • There was also a side of veggies simply sautéed in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper on the side.
  • This was a quick and reliable dish and it would make a convenient and very satisfying no-fuss lunch or dinner.
  • If you’re nervous about trying Filipino food, just think of this as Nando’s. They’re different of course, but comparable in what they are.
Silvanas - 4/6 (Very good)
  • About $2.50
  • When I saw it in the chilled dessert display case I thought it was Polvoron and wondered why it was being refrigerated.
  • It wasn’t Polvoron, but the simplified or “cookie” version of Sans Rival (a layered Filipino cake).
  • Silvana is a chilled pastry, or a frozen cashew meringue cookie and they made them in house at Casa Pinoy.
  • It was a very rich and creamy frozen buttercream sandwiched between cashew meringue wafers.
  • The outer meringue layers were crisp like a macaron and they’re not flaky, but a bit chewy.
  • The longer they sit in the fridge the chewier the meringue gets and this is intentional, I actually like it a bit chewy.
  • The buttercream was obviously buttery and it was butter and not margarine.
  • It wasn’t too sweet, but it is very rich and you want to taste the buttercream in this.
  • I think the whole cookie was rolled in toasted flour and very finely ground cashew or wafer (?) crumbs so it had a slightly powdery exterior.
  • It was my first time trying a Silvana although I’ve had Sans Rival before – see my post for “the best” Sans Rival in Metro Vancouver.
  • I have no other Silvanas to compare to, but I enjoyed this and would order it again although I wouldn’t crave it.
  • My Filipino friend @wisemonkeyblog also recommended House of Silvanas in Daly City, CA for these.

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27 Comments

  • Crispy Lechon says:

    Wow you ordered dinuguan. Pretty brave of you.
    As for the karekare’s blandness, it is actually commonly done to under season it because it is eaten with the salty shrimp paste(bagoong).
    Veggies are cooked seperately to avoid getting mushy.
    Next time you visit, try their lengua de pastel. Its beef tounge cooked in buttery creamy sauce.

  • Crispy Lechon says:

    BTW, Goldilocks in Broadway also sells individually wrapped Sylvanas. Good if you have a craving for sans rival but don’t want to get a whole cake.

  • KimHo says:

    It was all made in house and the prices were very affordable, although Filipino food should always be pretty cheap.

    A lot of dishes/cuisines “ought to be cheap”; however, just because some chef made a tweak or because of some arbitrary reason, it is made expensive. Tacos, anybody? ;)

    It was one of those “we do it all” places.

    Alas, this is a sad reality from different cuisines, specially when people don’t know better. Why does a lot of non-Mexican restaurant serve tacos? Because a lot of people don’t know better and demand tacos when in a Latin restaurant. Why does non-Shanghaineses restaurant serve XLB? Because people demand it! But, in the end, as long as what they serve tastes good, that’s what matters, right? :)

  • Hungry Slif says:

    I’m bemused you to a Filipino restaurant before I did :-D
    You need to roadtrip to Kulinarya in PoCo – it’s soooo good!

    As for the varied menu – they service the industrial office crowd and it’s the best way to satisfy multiple masters and maximize appeal. The previous owners (Isaac and Agatha) went with the same approach. Weekends are when the families (theoretically) show up.

    I actually stumbled on a tiny little pizza/Greek hole-in-the-wall (I almost mean that literally) beside Pizzaria Barbarella that has the same approach. They have an adobo pizza that I am drooling to try.

  • fmed says:

    Chicken Inasal became the “it” dish about a decade ago. (Some attribute its popularity to a particular Filipino TV soap opera.)

    Believe it or not, margarine is the secret ingredient in a good Chicken Inasal – aficionados say that it has to be Star Margarine. (Filipinos are experts in using supermarket shortcuts…the secret to a good Filipino BBQ is the addition of Coke or Seven-Up in the marinade, for example).

  • Mijune says:

    @fmed – WE NEED TO GO EAT FILIPINO FOOD!! All eyes on Kulinarya! I’m in Asia Sept. 17 – Oct. 17 for a big food trip, but when I’m back… it’s on!!!! Thank you for making this post more valuable with your comment.

    Oh and I totally heard about that coke thing!!! My friend’s dad does it!! He’s Filipino… and the South thinks they invented Dr. Pepper pulled pork… well actually I guess they could have. Root beer and Dr. Pepper is the choice of pop used in BBQ in the States… ever tried with Filipino BBQ?

  • Linda says:

    mmmm speaking of filipino food, have you tried pinpin? apparently it’s THE go to place for filipino food :)

    i’ve always been so curious about filipino dishes and restaurants and never know what to order because i don’t have a gauge of what makes a good dish! you’ve made a good variety of choices here and i’ll definitely consider them when i do go to a filipino restaurant :) i hope whenever i do go, the food is authentic and amazing!

    ps, have a safe trip to asia!

  • fmed says:

    Fore sure Mijune. LMK when you are back.

    BTW – are you now packing a DSLR? (Nikon D40?) Good choice!

  • Mijune says:

    @fmed – WTF?!?! How can you tell?!?!?! hahahah! You’re good!!! Nikon DX with a HB 46 lens… whatever that means. I don’t even know how to use it although I love the quality of the photos! However I find it inconvenient to bring around to restaurants so I’m considering the Sony RX 100 or NEX 5! Thoughts?!?

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – pin pin is the classic cheap, greasy and good Filipino food place in Vancouver. Thank you darling for the wishes!!! I’ll try and answer to comments while I’m away! xo

  • fmed says:

    I started to notice DSLR-like characteristics in your photos. (specifically “bokeh” which Point and Shoots can’t do.) So I checked your pics’ EXIF info – sure enough you shot with a D40! (I still have a D40 – I gave it to my daughter a couple of years ago). You are actually using a 35mm f1.8 lens…which is a really good general purpose lens and pretty good for food shots.

    IMO, the Sony NEX5′s only look small if you don’t factor in their enormous lenses. The RX100 looks good and has a large sensor for a P&S…but I haven’t seen food shots done with it. I use a Lumix GF-2 with a 20mm f1.7 lens and I am very happy with it. The pics it takes have nice “bokeh” which is that slightly out-of-focus background that food bloggers covet.

    I actually think that two cameras are close to being ideal food blogging cameras: Lumix GX-1 with a 20mm 1.7 lens and the Canon G1X (which has a very large sensor for its size). They aren’t tiny, but they aren’t DSLR huge.

    (I also have a Nikon D5100 which I use occasionally and is really nice for a budget DSLR).

    Have a look at DP Review for a reviews of above cameras eg http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong1x

  • Mijune says:

    @Fmed – wow! Thanks Fernando! I really appreciate this! I know nothing about cameras so this is really helpful. Your shots are awesome and they totally look DSLR quality. I remember the Sans Rival pics! DSLRs are just so heavy and bulky to carry around and then the flash can be irritating to tables around me. Looks like I have some research to do before the shopping. Thank you again!

  • Mijune says:

    @Crispy Lechon – thanks for adding! I still liked the one at Kumare better though. I love beef tongue… I will definitely try that next time! :)

    I will also try the Sylvanas at Goldilocks! I love their polvorons!

    @KimHo – Supply and demand!

    @Hungry Slif – I know I know! Kulinarya is on my to-dine!!!! Heard so much about it! And yes everything you said is what I wrote in the intro too… cater to the area :)

    Let me know how adobo pizza is! I’m curious!

  • fmed says:

    Mijune. Good luck with your camera shopping. I buy all my gear at B&H Photo online or if you are ever in NYC, their candy store on 9th Ave near Penn Station. Cheap and shipping is fast.

    PS – I don’t use a flash for food photos so I don’t carry one. I find that the images look too flat and dimensionless as a flash on the hotshoe tends obliterates shadows. I prefer to crank the sensitivity (ISO) and use available light. My favourite food photographers all eschew flashes. Have a look at the work of Penny de los Santos who is the Saveur’s main photographer and photo editor. She uses only available light. And yeah – flashes are annoying.

  • LotusRapper says:

    Sigh ….. I’m still saving up to buy a Nikon D700 body (used) as my first DSLR. So that I can use it with my plethora of “analog” Nikon gear & lenses which I amassed over the years with my F90X and FE2 bodies.

    FWIW, Adorama and KEH Camera are good alternatives to B&H Photo.

    If closer to home, in Toronto I recommend Henry’s.

    In Seattle, I *highly* recommend Glazer’s.

  • KimHo says:

    Fernando, if lightning conditions of restaurants were appropriate for picture taking, I won’t bother bringing my Speedlight. However, that seldom is the case. In fact, I have been to several restaurants where it is so dark I even have problems reading the menu! In the case of Penny de los Santos, well, I am certain she will encounter the same challenges as a lot of us do if she was eating in a restaurant the same way we do. On that note, have you checked all the remarks from Sherman about trying to get a table near the windows to get better lightning? :)

    For purposes of blogging, I do not believe getting a higher end camera will do you any favour, specially if you don’t know how to read the manual; however, there will be challenges with lower end cameras, specially when it comes to low light situations. Heck, if I could get natural light all the time, I would go with a < $200 camera! Having said that, I am drooling at the announcement of the D600… And then there is the iPhone5 (I currently use a 3GS)… ARGH, limited $$$! :)

    As for flash, built in flash does not work for taking pictures of food. Just as you mention, it "burns" what you are trying to capture. That's why I seldom, if ever point the flash directly to the subject; rather, I point the flash to "bounce" the flash back. I am not certain nowadays a lot of people "care" others take pictures of the food (unless, of course, the setting is not adecuate for it). In a way, it feels as if people expect that to happen. Of course, if you are using an external flash and light bouncing (like me), you WILL attract some attention regardless!

  • LotusRapper says:

    “….. I do not believe getting a higher end camera will do you any favour, specially if you don’t know how to read the manual ….. ”

    @KH: I’m sure Mijune, Fmed or anyone else here can read them manuals. Deciphering the instructions and technical terms may be a whole other ball of wax ;-)

    Hey don’t get the new D600 before I do, it ain’t fair ! I’m tempted, since its price new (body only) is not that much more than a good used D700 body right now. And initial reviews appear positive:

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/d600.htm

    http://www.dpreview.com/previews/nikon-d600

    As to direct flash being too blunt and harsh, one old common trick (which I also do) is to layer some tissue paper (or wax/parchment paper) around the flash head, secure it with elastic bands and voila …… diffused lighting without having to bounce (moot anyways if nearby walls/ceiling are far away).

  • KimHo says:

    I have the odd feeling we are going off tangent and spamming this thread with camera related comments! :)

    LR, fmed, since both of you have mentioned B&H and Adorama, how has your experience been with customs? Unfortunately, my record on importing things to Canada via courier (be it Purolator or USPS or some other form) has been horrible. My record of getting “hit” but customs and other fees charged have been over 50%…

    You would be surprised at how often people skip the manual – let it be a camera or some other device (heck, I have been guilty of this!). Granted, it won’t turn you into Ansel Adams but, at least, it will tell you what each function is. Furthermore, you have no idea how often I have seen people using the SLR as a bulky P&S…

    Given you have been using a N/F90, that means you have FX lenses. If that’s the case, it makes perfect sense to get a FX camera such as the D600. As for myself, I have meant to upgrade my camera for a while; but, the D600 is not necessarily the logical next step. I do have one lens suitable for FX (an AF Nikkor 50mm) and that will work great and, eventually, I would get the 70-200mm (translation, $$$!!!!). However, to me, current dSLR has overstayed its welcome and, instead, the next logic step ought to be mirrorless. Alas, given the current ones still generate a lot of $$$, these will take a while before mirrorless will hit big.

  • fmed says:

    @KimHo – We’ll just have to agree to disagree on the subject of speed lights. Despite that fact that it allows you to take a technically “better” photo, I just don’t like the way it looks – bounced or otherwise. (FWIW, Off-camera remote triggered studio setups are a different matter – even then, I like the look of continuous lights better). For restaurant food-blogging, I much prefer to take my chances and go commando (so to speak). If none of my shots turn out – so be it.

    I’ve been a P&S-er for a long time and had preferred to leave my bulky DSLR at home. But these new smaller mirrorless cameras with the large sensors and good lenses will allow you to crank your sensitivity and get decent, usable shots in sub-optimal lighting conditions.

  • fmed says:

    @KimHo – I have had zero issues with customs. Gear I order from BHPhoto.com usually arrives within 3 or 4 days. It is still much cheaper to get it there even with the markups.

  • LotusRapper says:

    @Kim: I have more Nikkor AF-D lenses than one can shake a ….. monopod at ;-) Well, maybe not that many, about 8 or 9 last time I counted. My pride and jewel is the 85mm/f1.8 and the 60mm/f2.8 Micro Nikkor (unfortunately not the “S” version).

    Mirrorless …… yes the talk about them has been long-going. When will they hit consumer scale ….. anybody’s guess.

    Customs ….. well, last time I bought stuff from KEH and had them shipped was around 2005. I had them ship to a broker in Blaine, then picked it up there. Forget about specific customs, taxes, etc. but I do recall it was well worth it. And actually, generally I rarely buy brand-new photo gear, but spend inordinate amounts of time seeking the cream puffs of used gear. Except my F90X, that was new from HK.

  • LotusRapper says:

    ^ You’re right, we better stop our photog-spams !

  • fmed says:

    @KimHo and LR – if you want to take this off line (to not spam Mijune’s thread) contact me via my blog. But here is my last off-topic comment. My last order at BH Photo was for a Lumix 20mm lens ($360) and a neutral density filter ($14). Cost – $380-ish. Shipping $9, Duties – $58. Total – $440. For just the lens at London Drugs etc – $499.

  • fmed says:

    Sorry for polluting you thread Mijune! ;-)

  • LotusRapper says:

    Sorry Mijune ! :-)

  • Mijune says:

    @LR & @Fmed – lol go for it! It’s a blank canvas to talk about whatever!

  • b romey says:

    nice and clean place but very very slow to get the food-lunch time is nuts
    they need more staff at 11 to 1pm
    on the whole-clean and price is ok-servings are small
    i will eat here again

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