One of the least prominent cuisines in Singapore is probably Filipino cuisine. I’ve personally never tried filipino cuisine, and my filipino colleagues haven’t had proper filipino food since they left their motherland (Jollibee doesn’t count).
So today I decided to take my filipino colleagues, Raymond and Ardhel, out to lunch, for REAL filipino food and at the same time, have them do a comparison of the standard of filipino food in Singapore to the ones they have back home.
I’ve already done a bit of research on 3 of the best, crowd-favourite places for filipino cuisine. It should come as no surprise that they’re all in Lucky Plaza.
The first place we went to was the highly-acclaimed Inasal Restaurant.
A good part of the restaurant is hidden behind a tiny store-front. The actual entrance to the restaurant is down a corridor to the side of the store-front.
We ordered the Pork Kare-Kare ($8.25) and Sisig ($11)
A little background – Kare-Kare is a savoury peanut meat stew while Sisig is a dish made with diced parts of pig’s head, liver, and seasoned with lime and chilli peppers.
I was a little confused because as far as I know, beef was usually used in Kare-Kare, and not pork. But it was small issue.
The Pork Kare-Kare came with a side of Bagoong (fermented fish paste). Firstly, the gravy of the Kare-Kare was like a watery, savoury peanut sauce. While I’m not irked by it, it certainly was an unusual taste.
The pork, however, fared much better. It was so tender, it disintegrated the moment my jaws closed. And paired with the gravy, the dish finally made sense.
Now, I was informed that I should put a tiny bit of Bagoong on the pork and have it with the gravy, and so I did. All I can say is, mind-blowing.
The Bagoong is basically a pure force of salty umami, hence the tiny amount. Have this sparingly.
Next, the Pork Sisig. It was a little disappointing. Raymond and Ardhel were expecting to hear sizzling. But the only sound the Sisig made was when the hotplate hit the table.
“I mean, it’s called Sizzling Sisig for a reason.” – Ardhel, 6 July 2018.
So points off for the lack of sizzle.
Apparently, some Sisigs are also crispy because crispy pork crackling is added into it for texture. But this version uses diced parts of pig’s head and presented uniform textures. And it didn’t help that it was a little bland because there was no chilli or lime given.
However, the Sisig came with a small bowl of Bulalo Soup.
Bulalo is the filipino version of Soup Tulang and it’s a clear soup that packs so much umami, it’s almost unbelievable because it doesn’t look rich.
Overall, Ardhel rated the food at Inasal Restaurant a 3.5/5 and Raymond gave it a 3/5.
Points were taken off because the Sisig wasn’t sizzling, and the Kare-Kare was a little heavier on taste.
Address: 304 Orchard Road, #04-49/50/51 Lucky Plaza, Singapore, 238863
Opening Hours: Daily: 10am – 8.30pm
Contact no.: 6733 2752
Kabayan Restaurant is situated in a corner to the left of the escalator on the third level of Lucky Plaza.
The whole restaurant resembles a canteen of sorts, with 2 counters right inside, one of which is a huge glass display of all the dishes they’re serving.
Once again, we ordered the Kare-Kare ($4) and Sisig ($6.50).
The Kare-Kare here uses beef and comes served with a side of Alamang (fermented shrimp paste). Unfortunately, it was too dry and tough. The gravy was smoother and milder than the one we had at Inasal Restaurant though the portion leaves more to be desired.
The Alamang, though splendid, did nothing for the texture of the beef.
Next, the Sisig here is a feast for the stomach AND the eyes.
It was a beautiful sizzling plate of Sisig, and it was closer to authentic Sisig, served with chilli and lime and also more substantial, thanks to the addition of chopped pork belly for additional textures.
Ardhel and Raymond loved this Sisig and they even packed one more to go.
Finally, the Sisig was served with a bowl of Sinigang – a soup made with tamarind, either pork, beef, chicken or prawns, and fish sauce. It tastes exactly like Sze Chuan Vegetable soup to me.
Overall, both Ardhel and Raymond rated the food at Kabayan Restaurant, 4/5.
Kabayan Filipino Restaurant
Address: 304 Orchard Road, #03-25 Lucky Plaza, Singapore, 238863
Opening Hours: Daily: 9am – 9pm
Contact no.: 6738 0921
Kamayan Pinoy is a stall in the Asian Food Mall. It’s not an actual mall. It’s just the name of the food court in Lucky Plaza’s basement.
No prizes for guessing what we ordered, once again. It’s for fair comparison.
Right off the bat, the Sisig here is terrible. It’s pre-cooked and just scooped onto a plate upon order. There was no egg, chilli, lime or SIZZLE. The dish was chunky but extremely bland. Don’t order it.
Next, the Beef Kare-Kare here was a surprise. We were expecting a small bowl but it was a huge pan.
And the taste was even more surprising, maybe because our expectations were at a new low after tasting the Sisig, but the Beef Kare-Kare here was extremely tender and the gravy was smooth and mild, with a strong taste of peanut butter.
It was by far the best Kare-Kare we’ve had so far.
Overall, Ardhel rated the food at Kamayan Pinoy a 3.5/5 and Raymond gave it a 3/5. The salvation lies in their Beef Kare-Kare. It’s a must-try.
Address: Lucky Plaza, Basement 2, Asian Food Mall, 304 Orchard Road, Singapore 238863
Singapore’s Filipino cuisine is pretty decent, with some establishments presenting dishes that makes filipinos feel at home.
If you’re looking for great Sisig, Kabayan Restaurant is your best bet, for just $6.50 a plate, it also comes with rice so you’re set for a filling lunch. Though we’ve heard of issues with freshness and consistency, it’s still one of the cheapest places offering filipino cuisine.
But if you’re with company and you’re craving Kare-Kare, Kamayan Pinoy serves up one of the best in Singapore.
But all in all, if you’re looking for great filipino food, Kabayan Restaurant is where you should go.
(Header Image Source: DiscoverSG)