8130 Park Rd
According to statistics provided by the Poway Unified School District, the high school I went to is 14% Filipino. This is not surprising given the history of the Filipino diaspora in the United States and the proximity of my hometown neighborhood to former Naval AIr Station Miramar (now MCAS Miramar). However, the number of Filipinos in my community meant that I had a lot of exposure to Filipino food, though I would not claim to be an expert of any sort at Filipino cuisine.
Thus, when I knew that a friend of mine was joining me for a wonderful trip to Vancouver and Seattle, I wanted to see if there was a Filipino restaurant I could take him to so he could also see the wonderful delight Filipino food has given me over the course of my life. After asking local food aficionados on what good Filipino restaurants there were in Vancouver, my friend and I went to Kumare in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond (thankfully accessible by mass transit).
We sat down and looked over their menu of Filipino dishes. There were so many things I personally I wanted to order and taste, but the limited number in our party meant that we could order only a few dishes:
- Lumpia Shanghai – I loved lumpia when I grew up and I think they are better spring rolls than I’ve ever had at Chinese restaurants (aside from the delicious spring roll I had at Kirin for dim sum the day before). These lumpia were nice and came with a light sweet and sour sauce. While I do love pork, my minor gripe was that I actually wish there were carrots.
- Chicken Kare Kare – Kare Kare is traditionally made with oxtail, though we decided to order Kumare’s rendition with chicken. The kare kare had a light savory peanut, onion, and garlic flavor, though a bit thinner that I was used from renditions I have had at family events of my Filipino friends. The green beans and baby bok choy provided a nice, refreshing balance to the peanut stew and chicken.
- Pancit Bihon – My friend ended up not eating pancit bihon, which I ordered given that I find pancit bihon as a sort of comfort dish from my childhood. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the shrimp and other ingredients were mixed well. However, it was underseasoned and not as flavorful as renditions I was used. In retrospect, I probably should have ordered bistek tagalog (Filipino style steak) or inihaw na bangus (marinated grilled milkfish).
While the food was pretty good, service could have been a little better. First of all, the space could have used a better cooling system, especially air conditioning. While most homes in the northwest don’t typically have air conditioning, I do know most restaurants do and it would have been nice. While we did get glasses of water, unlike our experience at Kirin, it would have been nice to have a refill.
All in all, I was pretty satisfied with the food, though of course nothing is like eating home cooking. My friend seemed to enjoy the food as well, though perhaps I should have ordered a better third dish.