A month ago, I was fortunate to join a fellow Food Blogger, Pleasure Palate, and some of our mutual friends at Chef Yana Gilbuena’s latest Filipino Kamayan dinner in Los Angeles; a collaboration dinner with Filipino Filmmaker Bryan Alano and his project called Moving Portraits Project. Gilbuena is the traveling Filipina Gypsy Chef known her Salo Project Filipino Dinner Pop-ups. The dinners are to raise money and more awareness for the needy in the Philippines who are still affected by the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, in particular, the children.
Chef Yana Gilbuena is a self-taught chef and her Filipino-inspired dishes are Kamayan food. Kamayan food revolves around food that is meant to eat with hands. There are no utensils, no plates, and, technically speaking, all of the food is served on a layer of banana leaves that acts as an all-in-one plate/tablecloth. I’ve had my fair share of eating this way when I was growing up with plenty of messy moments. For my non-Filipino friends and the other non-Filipino dinner guests, it was a unique dining experience.
Our evening started with a Calamansi and Rum Punch. A deliciously refreshing drink that cooled and warmed you up at the same time. From our large communal table, I notice Chef Yana Gilbuena working feverishly with Chef AC Boral as her volunteer Sous Chef. Boral had completed his own Los Angeles Filipino Dinner Pop-up (Rice & Shine After Brunch) a little over a week ago. The entire dinner clan was an eclectic mix of people from all walk of life with one third of the guest of Filipino origin.
As the evening progressed, the food finally came out of the host’s kitchen. Chef Yana Gilbuena’s dinner theme of the evening was called Katawan; which is the word for body in Tagalog. The entire dinner was all pork; a nose-to-tail dinner.
Our first course was Sisig, a Filipino appetizer made with various pig parts. I absolutely enjoyed her version made with a pig’s head. The meat was juicy and tender especially the pig ears. Accompanying this appetizer was a Garlic Fried Rice that was perfumed with coconut.
Following the appetizer were three courses.
Humba – Pork Hock braised with Pineapples, Star Anise, and Banana Blossoms. This dish was very tasty and very rich with flavors. One does not always see this dish on menus of Filipino restaurants in Los Angeles so it was a real treat to have dined on this dish.
Mindanao Ribs – Pork spare ribs marinated in coconut sugar, soy, and Thai chilies. Loved these ribs.
Lechon Porchetta – Pork Belly roasted with lemongrass, garlic, and ginger.
Chef Yana Gilbuena’s Filipino dinner pop-up was the most true to Filipino cuisine that I’ve had the privilege of dining in Los Angeles as opposed to a reinterpretation of it. She takes Filipino food to another level of excellence and also out of the old school Turo-Turo style Filipino restaurants that canvas the Los Angeles area. I’m going to miss her food when she departs to South America on her new Filipino dinner pop-up travels, but I plan to follow her journey.
Follow Chef Yana Gilbuena on her next Salo Series Filipino Dinner Pop-up via: