(NOTE: This place is now unfortunately out of business despite our beautiful article! We’ll miss it dearly. R.I.P.)
Sometimes there’s really no need to complicate things or make things more fancy just for the sake of it. The people at “Kababayan”, most likely the only Philippine restaurant in Lisbon, have realized this very well. The food is very traditional, reasonably priced, fresh and bursting with exotic flavors. If you’re in the mood to go for something exotic different from your average next door Indian or Chinese MSG-infused restaurant, give “Kababayan” a go. You won’t be disappointed.
The relative obscurity of Philippine cuisine and the rather hidden, “remote” location out in Campolide make “Kababayan” something of a niche. Once you enter however, you just find a family run business catering to local Filipino immigrants. The atmosphere is rather lovely: there’s the obligatory television in the back blurting out the most absurd kind of Philippine television programs and the bamboo hut on the side is just plain cute and makes the whole place very inviting.
Foodwise, it’s very simple, unadorned stuff but not any less delicious. The starters especially were exquisitely balanced: the mango tomato salad graciously walked the tightrope between sweet and sour whereas the shrimp fritters (which traditionally are made with fish) tasted ever so good dipped into the two vinegar sauces, one spicy and the other not which cut through the richness of the pataniscas ever so nicely.Equally as good were the main courses and had echoes of various other cuisines we are both familiar with. The “Ginataang Manok”, perfectly cooked pieces of chicken bathing in a delicate coconut broth, reminded us of Thai cuisine, though not as flowery or citrusy. The “Adobong Baboy”, a soy-infused stew of pork, was rich, dark and equally sour and salty and reminiscent of flavors you might find in Chinese cooking. All of this of course doesn’t mean that the food doesn’t stand on its own, because it does, it’s just that Philippine food is essentially a great big melting pot of many different types of cuisines (including also Spanish and American cuisine) and ingredients.“Kababayan” is most likely going to be a lot better in terms of quality and flavor than most of the cheap, bland Asian-themed restaurants you’re bound to come across in this city, most of which seemed to have toned down their food to a bland point of no return. Here at “Kababayan”, according to the chef, there’s very little changed in comparison to the traditional cuisine, except for the fact that he cut the meat into smaller pieces than he would back home, which is fine, were it not that the pork fillet – a difficult cut to get right – was a tad too dry.The two desserts we had – a coconut rice cake topped with sugar cane and a pudding made of cassava – were well made but not for us, a bit too sweet and gloopy. It’s always a bit hard to judge though because the general “Asian” interpretation of what a dessert is, is most of the time very different from what we’re used to. Leaving that and the otherwise rather soulless location of Campolide aside, “Kababayan” is a restaurant where we’ll happily come back to, to try out unusual but appetizing main courses such as the deep fried sea bass or the sea bass fillets with tamarind. “Kababayan” is a Tagalog word which means as much as “fellow Filipino, countryman, townmate” and in the space of the meal, we surely got a very yummy glimpse of what its like to eat like one.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun: 12h00-15h00 (buffet lunch); Tues-Sun: 19h00-23h00
Address: Rua Marquês de Fronteira, 173A, Campolide, Lisboa
Phone Number: +351 21 822 02 09
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