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Kabayan - My Filipino refuge in Upton Park - London

j
JFores Dec 6, 2012 01:00 PM

I like South Asian food a lot. I eat it constantly and I can generally do that, but I am always on the look out for anything else in my general area. A lovely little African place (if "in the back of a taxi office" sums up hole in the wall then it was one) called Mama G's came and went in under two weeks. A similar African place lasted literally days. In short, nothing stays open around here if it isn't South Asian, a breakfast cafe or one Green Streets two Caribbean businesses.

And then I spotted Kabayan! Located just off Green Street and virtually oppoosit the West Ham stadium, this place has filled a lovely niche in my area. The cuisine is Filipino and it is done shockingly well for a place where the menu also includes bacon sandwiches, an array of English breakfasts and burgers. The entire enterprise is family run from front to back and the Filipino dishes are really shockingly good given the setting.

I have only been twice, but I ordered the following over those meals.

Bihon Gisado with Prawns - This was the first thing I had here and it tempted me further into the menu on my next visit. It was a shot in the dark. An extremely simple Filipino noodle dish with pork, spring onions, vermicelli, dried fish flakes, and various other ingredients. It was light and well produced with talented cooking that left the noodles (and every other ingredient) perfectly cooked.

Palabok - They say they only have a limited number of this dish each day, but I had no problem ordering it at random late last night. This is one of the signature noodle dishes of the Philippines and it is made up of a tremendous array of ingredients; crunchy pork belly, crispily fried pork mince, dried fish, anchovies, fish flakes, hard boiled eggs, spring onions, and so on. All of the above is topped with a thick orange sauce which cut the saltiness and fishiness of the other ingredients. This was a really rich lovely noodle dish. Well done and an absolutely huge (borderline unfinishable by one human) portion for 5.20.

Beef Kare Kare - Another immense and extremely delicious portion of food for a very low price. Perfectly cooked chunks of beef with shockingly tender tripe given the time they had to cook it came immersed in a rich peanut based stew. Very tasty and very similar to African maffe. Massive chunks of aubergine were perfectly cooked while both the courgettes and green beans remained perfectly crisp. Served with a delicious home made pickle like accompaniment which tasted like Indian pickles without the harshness

All in all great stuff. Possibly not destination eating, but this place has been dish for dish competitive with some pretty good Filipino restaurants in Queens. The cooking is largely done by the family grandmother and the overall environment is nice; I went in on an evening to find basically the entire family hanging out around the restaurant.

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  1. j
    JFores Dec 6, 2012 01:01 PM

    Palabok and kare kare

     
     
    1 Reply
    1. re: JFores
      k
      klyeoh Dec 7, 2012 05:49 AM

      Oh yum! Pancit Palabok is my all-time fave Filipino noodle dish!! All the different textures and flavors in one dish :-)

    2. Paprikaboy Jan 22, 2013 12:18 PM

      This is right near my old office and I went a couple of times when it first opened last year. I wasn't that impressed, had the adobo and then the pork ribs.
      Went back a couple of weeks ago and they had palabok on which I hadn't seen before.
      Glad I gave it another go as It was really tasty dish and worth going back for.

      1. t
        tlpchow May 20, 2013 05:43 AM

        Long time lurker, first time poster.

        Had the palabok at Kabayan yesterday and I was very, very impressed. Quite possibly better than my grandma's version. It thoroughly satiated my desire for some home cooked food.

        Had the empanadas - these were less successful but were still finished. Also had the halo halo - it was missing some of my favorite toppings (ube ice cream, leche flan) but nevertheless was a very good version indeed.

        It's a bit of a trek for me but I'll definitely be returning to sample more of the expansive menu.

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