Kawayan, Filipino restaurant in Berkeley
As far as I know this is the first and only Filipino place in Berkeley. I think the nexus of Filipino Cuisine is in Vallejo, I've never been. There is a Filipino place in the Pacific East Mall in Richmond, but I've only gawked at it. Disclaimer: I know very little about Filipino food.
They've only been open a few days. It was formerly a place called Elephant (I think), hence the huge Ganesh (the elephant god) that adorns one wall. They have a lunch buffet, but we went for dinner. There are a few sidewalk tables.
Very much a family operation (Mom is the cook). Low-key, inexpensive. The dishes are $6 to $7. The two of us had three dishes the pork adobo, pancit, and fried tilapia. The pancit (noodles) was rather plain. The adobo was very good, with five huge chunks of tender pork spareribs ("adobo" is a traditional dish, with a mixture of soy and vinegar as the main seasonings, also available with chicken). The tilapia was very nicely fried, moist, tasty.
If you are a vegetarian, or even if you crave some vegetable items, you are out of luck here.
We shared a flan for dessert. It was quite good. Not like other flans I've had. Two slices of a rather firm custard in a caramel sauce. The custard was made of eggs and condensed milk.
Corkage is zero (they are applying for a liquor license).
www.kawayanfilipinocuisine.com (but the website is not active as of this posting).
2134 Oxford Street
Berkeley CA 94704
This place actually just expanded its menu, which is now available on the website.
I tried the lumpia, which comes with a sweet-and-sour-sauce and makes the perfect deep-fried-deliciousness appetizer, as well as the pork adobo for which I can second the endorsement...really flavorful and good.
re: Agent 510
It's funny-- it's the conceit of most folks that their own cuisine is best homemade, and who would disabuse them of this? Except that my wife is the flip in the family, she hates to cook, and I do all the cooking--even the filipino cuisines which--frankly--comes out better when I do it, and I'm a 'good ol' white boy'.
I think it will be a 'good thing' to have a flilipino restaurant in town--at least when the locals who are familiar with the food get a craving, they won't have to travel all that far.
CAVEAT: I'm Filipino and just about every Filipino I know believes that the best Filipino food is dished out at home. So maybe I'm too critical?
I just came back from lunch there. I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed but not so much so that I won't go back to try again.
I'd been craving longsilog for awhile (didn't want to make it myself) and this really didn't do much to satisfy it. The fried egg was overdone (not their fault; I didn't specify my preference); the garlic fried rice was indeed fried but aside from the smattering of fried garlic on top of it, lacked any depth of flavor of its own; the longanisa wasn't greasy but was missing the well carmelized bits that I love so much. In fact, the sausages were bordering on dry and as a result, not nearly as tasty as I thought they should be.
One of the things that confounded me about the plate was it was garnished with a slice of tomato, a cucumber and a few random bits of canned pineapple. It seemed out of place and did nothing to enhance the dish, especially the pineapple. Maybe atchara would have been a better choice? All in all, their longsilog wasn't horrible per se but it was... soulless? ... I guess is the word. I don't know.
I think I'll come back with my mom and sister so we can get more dishes of theirs and compare. For now, I'll stay clear of the rice plates. The prices for their dishes look decent and from what I saw on another patron's table, their portions look to be just right for the price.
I prefer the lonsilog that I've had at breakfast at Eva's market in Pinole. Only around $3.00. It's pretty greasy, but a satisfying cheap breakfast.
I liked the Adobo at Kawayan better than the lonsilog or pancit, though I think I prefer it a bit more tart.
Eva's Meal Stop & Mini Mart
2511 San Pablo Ave, Pinole, CA 94564
Filipinos are darned good at those cheap, greasy breakfasts ;) Bad for the heart, good for the soul. ;)
I grew up in Hercules/Pinole and the Filipino food you get from those places are leaps and bounds above Kawayan. I'll be going back to check out their entrees but I have to admit, I'm not expecting too much.