Trending: Filipino Cuisine

I like Filipino food, but it’s not one of my favorite foods. However, I have seen several Filipino restaurants pop up in the East Bay in the past year. I pass Kainbigan whenever I take 14th Avenue to get home. Speaking of pop up, Kainbigan started out as a weekly pop up before it moved to its current location in East Oakland. Last week I picked up some food from Kainbigan for dinner for myself.

I recently had bistek fried rice for the first time and liked it. It was on Kainbigan’s menu so I ordered it. It is essentially a fried rice with beef sirloin and onions flavored with soy and lemon. The dish was very flavorful, but a little bit on the greasy side.
I also wanted to try something different so ordered the garlic noodles topped with crispy adobo. Another very flavorful dish. The noodles and the pork together had a nice mix of textures. The portions of the fried rice and the noodles were very generous. I barely made a dent in either of them.
When I checked in at Kainbigan on the yelp app on my phone, I was able to redeem an offer for three free Shanghai lumpia. I easily polished these off dipping them in a Thai chili sauce.
My friend who also lives in the neighborhood happened to text me while I was waiting for my food. She is Filipino, a vegetarian, and a big fan of Kainbigan. She asked me to order her usual which is the fried chicken-less nuggets (made with soy) with rice and two fried eggs. It comes with a garlic sauce. The reason she likes Kainbigan is that this Filipino restaurant offers a couple of vegetarian options that other Filipino restaurants don’t.
I enjoy a balanced diet and realized that my dinner had no vegetables. I ended up having to make myself a side salad. It would be nice to see more vegetable options in Filipino cuisine.


DIY: Spam Musubi

I love spam. I’m not talking about unwanted emails, but the savory meat product in a can. When you pull it out of the can it is very pale and doesn’t look very appetizing. Once you slice it up and pan fry it, it glistens and transforms into something beautiful and tasty.
My favorite way to prepare spam is to make spam musubi. It is a simple snack food famous in Hawaii that only requires a few ingredients to prepare. In general, spam might be one of those foods that remain in your cabinet for an emergency situation. After all, it became popular in the early 1940’s when it was sent out to troops serving in WWII.

I sort of think of spam musubi as something to prepare when I put myself in an emergency situation (where I may not have access to food for hours). I have taken spam musubi with me on long hikes, flights across the country, and just yesterday for a scavenger hunt. Thinking about it, my first time having spam musubi was about twenty years ago when a college friend in San Diego made it for our road trip to Las Vegas.

Ingredients & equipment

  • 2 cups of uncooked medium grain rice
  • 1 can of spam
  • roasted seaweed sheets
  • jar of furikake rice seasoning
  • rice cooker
  • spam musubi mold
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    Wash rice thoroughly. I typically rinse the rice with water until it is no longer cloudy. Cook rice in approximately 2 1/4 cup of water in a rice cooker.

    In the meantime, prepare your spam by cutting into 8-10 slices. Heat a pan over stove top on medium and lay spam evenly on pan to heat until light brown and glistening on both sides.
    Once your rice is cooked, transfer to a large bowl to cool down. When completely cool, sprinkle furikake seasoning all through the rice. I buy the one with sesame seed, salt, sugar, and seaweed.
    Lay a sheet of seaweed (shiny side down) on a cutting board. Place your musubi mold in the center. My musubi mold makes double the amount and fits the seaweed sheets perfectly. If you have a single mold, you will need to cut your seaweed in half.
    Place about half an inch of the rice mixture evenly into the mold. Insert a layer of spam. Place another half inch of the rice mixture on top. Insert your musubi topper and press down while pulling mold up.
    Take the back side of the seaweed and wrap it forward. Using your finger, dab a little bit of water on the front of the seaweed to wrap and seal over.
    Turn the spam musubi over and cut into pieces. Repeat until you have used up your ingredients.


    Another Dim Sum Blog

    This is another blog post about dim sum. It’s a food that I am very familiar with because I grew up eating it and I continue to eat it to this day. I have had the pleasure of enjoying dim sum in Hong Kong, in Vancouver BC, in New York City, in Los Angeles, and of course San Francisco. My new favorite place for dim sum in San Francisco Chinatown is Lai Hong Lounge on Powell Street between Broadway and Vallejo Streets. The location holds a special place in my heart because it’s the neighborhood that I spent the first two years of my life before my family moved to Oakland. My family lived in an apartment directly across the street from Lai Hong Lounge.
    My last visit to Lai Hong Lounge was with my mother, grandmother, and five year old niece. I think three or four is a good number of people for dim sum because items usually come in three or four. But with four people, you can afford to order a few extra dishes and get a better variety.

    The most common items to order are the steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow) and steamed pork dumpling (sew mai). These are great for kids because they are very basic and not exotic in terms of flavor or ingredients. These were the first types of dim sum I ate as a kid. I know my niece liked them.
    Popular at Lai Hong Lounge is the baked barbecue pork buns (cha siu bao). It uses the dough of a steamed bun, but has a nice sweetened crust on top.
    My grandmother’s favorite dish is fried taro dumpling (woo gok). It’s crispy on the outside with a smooth taro and pork filling on the inside.
    The general public might be grossed out by the steamed chicken feet (fung jow), but it’s one of my favorites. It’s very tender and flavored with black bean sauce. I was surprised that my niece was a fan. I know when I was five I wouldn’t touch it.
    An item that my mother and grandmother ate was the beef tripe (ngau pak yip). To this day, I still won’t touch it.
    We also ordered the turnip cakes (law bok gow). This is something my grandmother used to make during Chinese holidays. It is steamed and then pan fried to give it a golden color and crisp.
    Another tasty dish we ordered was the rice rolls (cheung fun) with xo sauce (jeung). It’s a soft noodle with a spicy kick.
    My mom wanted steamed custard buns (lai wong bai). It’s always good to end with something sweet, so these buns act as a desert.
    I really like Lai Hong Lounge because the food is fresh and the prices are reasonable. I would definitely give dinner a try. Maybe have some Peking duck?

    Brotzeit Lokal: A Little Bit of Germany in Oakland

    In German, Brotzeit Lokal means pub snacks. In Oakland, you’ll find a restaurant with this name located by the Waterfront close to Jack London Square. I had dinner with friends about a month ago and went back for lunch last weekend.

    We were early so we ordered some German beer and the beer snack platter while we waited for our other friend to arrive. The platter had an interesting variety that included pickled vegetables, smoked peanuts, a pickled egg, a soft pretzel, and a cheese spread. The individual items were good, but it seemed like a hodgepodge.
    We were there early enough for the happy hour dollar oysters on the half shell so I ordered a few. For a dollar, they were pretty good. It would have been better if it was served with a mignonette sauce.
    For entrees, one of my friends ordered the fish and chips which was a beer battered rock cod. The fish was fresh and had a nice coating. I don’t know a lot of places to get fish and chips in the East Bay and thought this was a good option.
    I ordered the crispy chicken which came with brussels sprouts and french fries. Why did I order chicken? I think it’s because one of my favorite words is “crispy.” I did enjoy the crispy skin and the juicy meat, but the dish lacked some flavor.
    My other friend who joined us later ordered the brotzeit platter which had one of their homemade sausages and many of the items on our beer snack platter. The homemade sausage was the star of the plate. It was actually the star of the entire meal. It was what brought me back for lunch last week.
    It was a warm beautiful day when I returned to Brotzeit Lokal. I was able to sit out in the Biergarten and enjoy the views of the birds and the boats. I ordered the wurst on a bun, which was my choice of a homemade sausage with sauerkraut, pickled red onions and jalapeño. I got the bockwurst which is made with chicken, pork, white wine, chervil, and juniper. My friend ordered the knackwurst which is made with pork, beer and juniper. These hit the spot.
    Brotzeit Lokal is definitely a great place to enjoy beer, sausages, and a warm sunny day in Oakland.