It’s So Sarap In NYC

Kabisera Cafe and So Sarap NYC are teaming up once again come summer of this year. Kabisera is known in the Lower East Side of Manhattan for its coffee, Pinoy pastries, and brunches; while So Sarap NYC is the game-changer in the Filipino street food pop-up scene.

Kabisera X So Sarap NYC 2021

So Sarap NYC founders Vj and Sebastien, together with Kabisera owners Augee and Joey, are cooking up something mind-blowing and yet very familiar Filipino street food treats that you won’t find anywhere in New York or America for that matter.

Its Instagram page @sosarapnyc teases a street food vendor of Mangga (Mango) and Bagoong (Shrimp paste). This is just one of the many vendor stalls you’ll discover when they roll out their roster of vendors along Allen Street in Lower Manhattan in a few weeks time.

According to Vice‘s Food and Culture correspondent, Bettina Makalintal, “New York’s new Filipino pop-up scene is proof of a model that sees success as a shared effort, rooted in collaboration instead of competition.”

It’s so true because the Bayanihan spirit that our forefathers have passed on to us is inherent in each Pinoy wherever they may be. The culture of helping one another, especially in trying times, such as this Coronavirus pandemic, is what makes the Filipino thrive and champion their hardships at the same time.

In the upcoming Kabisera X So Sarap NYC collaboration, you may again see your favorite Fishball, Isaw, Balut, Ice Candy, and Taho vendors, but do watch out for more exciting and new vendors in store for you. Tune in to @SoSarapNYC and @KabiseraNYC accounts for the latest updates, eksenas, and gimiks.

Imagine a Mangga at Bagoong vendor on the streets of Manhattan? It’s not impossible anymore. As So Sarap NYC describes it, “Mangga (mango) with “bagoong” is a go-to snacks of Filipinos. “Bagoong” is a Pinoy-style shrimp paste that has a distinct funk to it that many Filipinos are drawn to. It can be cooked in many ways and can leave a salty, sweet, tasty and very funky flavor in your palate.” Aren’t you salivating yet?

Hey Jersey, please stay on guard, too, as So Sarap NYC may be invading your neighborhood really soon. For reals.

Photo credits: Craig Nisperos @craignisperos

Kusinata: Back to Nature, Back to our Roots

The name Kusinata is a portmanteau word derived from the blend of words ‘Kusina’, which means kitchen, and ‘Ata’, one of the indigenous tribes in the Philippines. The Atas (or to some dialects: Aetas, Agta, or Ayta) are one of the earliest known settlers in the country. In the modern-day setting, they are living in mountainous areas around the archipelago.

This unique ethnic fusion concept was conceived from Chef Jay Grey’s college research paper about the indigenous peoples on the island of Negros. Now spearheading as Kusinata’s resident Chef de Cuisine, he works closely with our Ata brothers and sisters, providing them culinary skills training and jobs where they work as hosts, cooks, and servers, adding great value to Kusinata’s diverse and vibrant team.

Since it opened almost two years ago in the Municipality of Don Salvador Benedicto, they have become known for its ever-surprising, taste buds-teasing menu, thus their fearless introduction of transportive flavors, like the Tamalata, a redefined version of the Mexican Tamales and Shakshuka, their own take and style of this famous Mediterranean dish.

Kusinata’s advocacy is not only centered on the Ata indigenous people but also on supporting local produce, sustainability, and nature preservation. Kusinata is also tapping products from farms toiled by Atas to be used as ingredients for the restaurant’s food and beverages.

A weekend meal with the family at Kusinata is truly an amazing back-to-nature gastronomic experience whilst enjoying the majestic canvas of the Malatan-og Mountain and the Malatan-og Falls. They take early table reservations for Friday to Sunday, 8am – 5pm; but if you missed to book or you just happen to pass by the area, walk-ins are welcome too.

Location: Brgy. Kumaliskis, Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental
Reservations contact: 0995 915 9229
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kusinata/

Image credit: Kusinata

Silver Skies of Manggapuri

Last January, a convoy of high school classmates (now lifelong friends and brothers even), headed for a Recollection (spiritual retreat) at Manggapuri Villas in Don Salvador Benedicto, a quiet, mountainous town in the northern part of the province. We travelled for about thirty minutes from Bacolod City, where we assembled and had lunch.

For many of us, it was the first time we saw each other since March of ’95, our secondary school graduation from Don Bosco Technical Institute in Victorias City. While some stayed in Victorias and Bacolod, some went to universities in Manila and Cebu. We all sort of “moved on with our lives”. Over the last 25 years, we have traversed our own adventures, romances, sagas, soap operas, and fairy tales, so to speak. 

Quite a number of our batchmates are based overseas but we try to organize an occasional catch up over food and drinks either in Manila or in Bacolod. But that day, January 29, was no ordinary day. We have reunited once again after twenty-five years—our Silver jubilee. 

We weren’t complete though as others can only come later for the alumni homecoming and the unforgettable affair we organized in a hotel ballroom to pay tribute to our former mentors, which, to us, was the highlight event of what our batch has prepared for our turn to host.

The event we organized was entitled, “Our Teachers, Our Heroes.” It was a very rare moment that we got to party with our past teachers and they came in superheroes costume, too. There were fun games, contests, lucky draws (every one of them won something), singing, and dancing. We’re glad that they really enjoyed their time with us, but the truth is, we enjoyed it more. And as the title suggests, they are indeed our heroes and we will always be grateful to them. Always.

Manggapuri has spectacular views, that’s a given, but the hotel resort was most appropriate for our Recollection because of its undisturbed atmosphere and it has its own charming chapel on top of the property. One of the facilitators was also a batchmate of ours, and he invited two other priests to have a talk and share some modern life lessons from the scriptures before he officiated the mass. Saint John Bosco must be so proud.

The venue was booked entirely for our batch from afternoon until the morning of the following day. Manggapuri has seven rooms of varying sizes and it can comfortably accommodate up to 42 guests. It is a stunning venue for weddings, debuts, team buildings, staycations, and other special events. Guests are welcome to bring their own tents.

Another great and important facet of Manggapuri is, of course, the food. The kitchen crew is spearheaded by Chef Lito Manlait. He has been with the family of the owners of Manggapuri for over twenty years. All the dishes that were served for our merienda, dinner, and breakfast were simply delicious. Snaps to Chef Lito and his very friendly, accommodating, and helpful team.

Manggapuri faves: Tablea – which they grow in the family’s hacienda; Puto Maya – with hints of ginger, sugar, and salt; and the Beef Trotter in ginger and tanglad (lemongrass).

As mentioned earlier, that was no ordinary Recollection and get-together for all of us. We bonded together like brothers. Nobody was above anyone and everybody showed each other equal amount of love, acceptance, and respect–just as how Don Bosco treated the youth, all youth.

We were blessed with glorious weather, brilliant facilitators, terrific venue, picture-perfect skies and sunset, fantastic food and spirits, and the very memorable experience of togetherness while reminiscing all the happy, naughty, and funny high school memories. What a lovely celebration of friendship, love, and camaraderie! That won’t be the last time for sure.

Don Bosco – Victorias Batch 95 aims to continue its outreach programs and civic initiatives across the country. Find out more HERE.

Manggapuri Villas
Booking contact numbers: 034 2139282; 0917 3010599
Email: chiflores@msn.com

#KabiseraNYC: The not-so-new-kid in Lower East Side

Situated at the Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan, Kabisera Café is one of the most trendy cafes along Allen Street. It opened its doors in December of 2017 and it recently moved to a newer and bigger space (just right beside its previous spot which is now Angela’s Ice Cream & Desserts).
 
Kabisera still takes pride in its specialty coffees and other Kabisera-curated favorites such as: Iced Espresso Oat Latte, Almond Chaitado, Affogato, Ube Latte, Matchube (Matcha cum Ube), Golden Latte (Turmeric infused beverage), White Spice Mocha, Vitalitea and many more.
 
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It has become the go-to place by Lower East siders and tourists alike, either to hang out, dine or grab a to-go cuppa. “Our regulars know their coffee and we’re happy to slush their favorite beverage to jumpstart their day. It just feels great to become a part of their daily routine.”, shared Carla Mongado, Actor/Singer and part-time Barista at Kabisera.

The Menu

This Filipino-inspired cafe has pioneered in introducing the Purple Rice Bowl (Tofu bowl), Pork Longganisa Quesadilla and Chicken Adobo Panini in New York City. Their menu includes interesting fusion of contemporary and traditional Pinoy flavors. As for desserts, they have pastries like Lemon squares, Smores brownie, Pecan pie, Maja Blanca, Bibingka, Cassava cake and Ube ice cream which perfectly complement their food menu. Kabisera also features seasonal desserts such as Halo-halo, Frozen Brazo de Mercedes and Palitaw.


 
The Kamayan

Kabisera is also known for its successful Kamayan lunch and dinner parties. Kamayan is the Filipino traditional way of eating sans the knife and fork. The dishes are served on top of a banana leaf and it’s meant to be shared and enjoyed as a family or as a group. You may contact Kabisera for their available Kamayan packages or if you want to customize the menu and style for your feast.

 
For huge groups who need space for closed-door soirees, the place easily transforms from a cafe into an event venue with a seating capacity of 20 to 30 persons and a maximum room of 35 pax. Meetings and parties may be booked at least two or three days before the event schedule.

The Beans

Kabisera has teamed up with a roastery in Brooklyn to customize three coffee bean varieties: Kaulayaw, Silakbo and Dalisay. Kaulayaw is the balanced and smooth variety which they use for their espresso-based drinks. Silakbo is strong and full-bodied which make for their iced coffee, drip coffee and cold brew. The Dalisay roast is the fruity and sweet variety. Kabisera’s coffee beans come from Central and South America with its roastery in Brooklyn, New York.

The Heads of the Table

The term Kabisera means the head of the table. Hence, let’s introduce you to its heads of the table–the hospitable couple Augee and Joey. Augee aka Dj Chinita is the big wheel when it comes to the coffee, food and banquet departments while Joey takes care most of the purchasing and the physical attributes of the cafe. Together they formed an awesome lot of personable baristas and kitchen crew to take care of their customers.
 
When asked about what made them decide to open a Filipino cafe in Manhattan, Augee Francisco, owner of  Kabisera said, “I want Pinoy flavors to have a representation in the New York City’s food scene–in such a way that’s casual yet inventive and high quality yet affordable.”
 
 
Kabisera for Everyone
 
While it’s the first Filipino establishment in LES to introduce the Filipino hospitality to the neighbourhood, it has already gained patrons of diverse culture and ethnicity since it opened. Kabisera continues to embrace and respect everyone’s individuality as it is one with the Women and the LGBTQI community in the struggle for gender equality.
 
“It is a joy to be able to share with everyone who comes to Kabisera, what Filipino hospitality is like. As I always say, we value, respect and take good care of our customers, otherwise, we won’t be living this dream of ours now.”, Francisco added.
 
What they say about Kabisera
 
“I live on the other side of the street and there’s also a cafe near my apartment building but I choose to come to Kabisera because of the good service. They’re all friendly and they treat me like family.” — Nenad, Manager at The Box NYC

“I start my day at Kabisera with my cortado, perfectly prepared by genuinely friendly baristas.”, Hugo, LES Resident.

Visit and follow #KabiseraNYC on social media. For every coffee-based beverage you purchase, you get your loyalty card star-stamped and your fifth drink is free. Ask your barista for your own personalized card.

Kabisera Café
151 Allen St., Manhattan, New York City 10002
Contact: 929 920 8250; kabiserakape@gmail.com
 
Photo credits: Kabisera, Carla Mongado

Savouring Singapore: Happy Eats – A Holiday Roundup

Gula Melaka Log Cake by Sinpopo

 Gambas al pil pil by Sabio

Paella Negra con Sepia by FOC Sentosa

Cafe Latte by Patties & Wiches

Sakae Sushi

Sushi lunch package by Sakae Sushi

Hello Chocolate

Box full of Chocs by Hello Chocolate

Furama Hotel Singapore

Santa Log Cake by Furama Hotel

Violet Oon Singapore

Peranakan dishes by Violet Oon

Auchentoshan

Good Old Fashioned by Auchentoshan

蓼食う虫も好き好き (Tade kuu mushi mo sukizuki) Literally: There are even bugs that eat knotweed. Meaning: There’s no accounting for taste. / To each his own. (Kassandra)