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Now that is a confusing title.  Hopefully, it will bring a few more eyes to this shorter than normal article. I’m writing it on a smart phone in hopes that some of the smart rubs off onto the words.

What’s it all about? you may be wondering.  Well, it’s about one of the favorite topics in the Philippine Culture – Food.  Life seems to revolve around food in the Philippines.  In Ilocos Norte  (and other bastions of Ilocandia), even the greeting to another loosely translates to, “Have you eaten, yet?”

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So here I sit, a half of the world away from Ilocandia and my beloved Pasuquin, poking the keyboard about food.

How did this come about?

There’s a little story involved and I hope you enjoy it.

THE BALIKBAYAN BOX MAN

Today, a rather dismal, wet Saturday, our friend at FOREX dropped by to pick up the first of what will probably be boxmany Balikbayan Boxes that we’ll send to the Philippines.  While writing up the paperwork, the agent asked us if we had heard of a new restaurant in the area. He piqued our interest, as restaurants in this area seem to open up new venues and permanently close others on a near-daily basis.

Baket ko (Asawa ko) [my Wife] broke into questioning him in Tagalog – I’m still quite the novice – and, from what I could gather, the new restaurant features an all Filipino cuisine.  Up went our collective eyebrows, and the address was immediately obtained.

Later in the afternoon, we headed out, just down the road, and sought respite in a home cooked merienda.

KAWALI FILIPINO CUISINE 

20150627_161118It only took us minutes to arrive at our new destination – thanks Google Maps with speaking directions!  We found Kawali Filipino Cuisine located on a prized end unit of a newer mini-strip mall type of business enterprises, just off the highway.

Here, I must admit that we passed right by it on our first attempt to locate it, but brought Google Maps to the rescue when we knew it was time. Of course, the ensuing blushed face and feelings of ineptitude set in immediately in the parking lot. All of those feelings vanished upon walking in.  The place was full of Pinay, Pinoy, Fil-Ams, and others who know how to eat.

The restaurant opened for business last May 16th, and appeared to be a crowd pleaser.  Offering both dine-in and carry-out fare, it was busy.

20150627_165534Like most startup businesses, there was that familiar sense of chaos – for both the new establishment and for its two new patrons.  Learning the ropes is definitely a shared task, and we set about to “fit in” and not look too overwhelmed.

20150627_165600Kawali is open for about six hours, six days a week, and we arrived a couple of hours before closing time – still it was traditional merienda time – and finding a seat after ordering our treat was a little bit of “back home” right here in the States.  Those who have encountered a Jollibee or ChowKing at lunch time know what I’m talking about.

My better half had pancit palabok , and I had shrimp and bitter melon with rice. Not bad at all.  Masarap.  Though not the high quality we’ve become accustomed to back in Ilocandia, it did hit the spot – I was satisfied. I topped things off with halo-halo while my partner continued to work on the huge serving she received.  All in all, the tab was less than $25, an extremely fair price considering the area and the new, unique cuisine we enjoyed.

Kawali still has a little way to go in decor, food preparation, and employee utilization.  I sense that it’s a family run operation with all family members trying their utmost to satisfy customers. I wonder if the family recognized a need in the local food service market and took on the endeavor to fill that need?

As I like to say, a good time was had by all. I’m sure that in a few more months there will be upgrades and improvements that will make the harshest critics “eat their words.”

If you’re ever in the Dayton-Fairborn, Ohio area, it’s worth the time and pera to visit this little bit of home.

Kawali Filipino Cuisine
1178 Kaufman Ave.
Fairborn, Ohio 45324
(937) 873-2400

(Did I say, “Masarap”?  O-o, po!)

 

PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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Tom Popp
5 years ago

Portland area, there is only one Filipino.restaurant. And they have a Food cart at 28th & Div. also. https://m.facebook.com/pages/Tambayan-Restaurant/117026835012435

MindanaoBob
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom Popp

Hi Tom, actually in the Portland “area” there is more than one! There is at least one Filipino restaurant in Vancouver, WA, which is part of the Portland metro area. 😉

Tom Popp
5 years ago

Ma sarap!

Jay
Jay
5 years ago

Hi Paul, We have a similar set up here in Raleigh called Filipino Express it is in a grocery called the Oriental Store, which is run by Filipinos. My wife only goes to that grocery every once and awhile. The prices there are higher than some of the other Asian markets in the area. My wife has eaten there and I had leftovers. It was OK, but I like my wife’s cooking better! My wife said the portions were small, which is saying something because she normally only eats a small amount and the prices are high. Sounds like you… Read more »

Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Hi Jay – I certainly hope that we did discover a real gem here – in the “Gem City” area (Dayton, Ohio is known as the “Gem City”) 😀 . It’s been a long, long time since a Filipino restaurant was in the local area. With Wright-Patterson AFB just down the road, the number of Philippine pallets was much greater during the years that Clark Air Base was part of the USAF, and those pallets were sated by “point-point joints” and the like. Like the Philippines of today, the WPAFB area reflects a Korean connection more than other regions of… Read more »

Denzil Browne
5 years ago

Here in Bahrain, we have a plethora of choices for Filipino food due to the number of Filipino workers. I even know of one restaurant that makes lechon (by special order). Still, there’s no place like home when it comes to food. I particularly like the freshly baked pandesal bread that we get in Cebu!

Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  Denzil Browne

Hi Denzil – Is your lechon in Bahrain lechon manok? It’s hard to think that lechon baboy exists in that area of the world. 😉

Enjoy the selections – hopefully, there will be a selection here (again).

ProfDon
ProfDon
5 years ago

Well looks like I will be the dreary economist in this Filipino food love in. I have worked in 46 countries and traveled in many more. The peoples of these countries have two things in common: they believe that their women are the most beautiful and their food is the most delicious. Filipinos are only correct on one of these points: Filipina’s beauty. I was taught to eat everything put on my plate. And that stricture has served me well here. Yes, I like some Philippine food, for example, kare kare with bagoong, kinilaw, rellenong bangus, binagoongan. But in general… Read more »

Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  ProfDon

Hi Prof – Maybe, perhaps, the Filipina beauty contest contestant who is willing to introduce foreigners to Filipino delicacies wasn’t talking about food! 😯 You forgot one ingredient in your list of flavor additives: vinegar! Though I eat and enjoy most dishes, there are a few that I just can’t put into my mouth. For those, I jokingly refer to them as being “non-food” items that are picked, overcooked, salted, and administered a heavy dose of vinegar in order to make it palatable to even the staunchest of abstainers. There are things in this world that are here to look… Read more »

AJ UK
AJ UK
5 years ago

Hi Paul I love Filipino food but there is a severe lack of it here in Singapore. I don’t mean the cheap rubbish ones in Lucky plaza either. There used to be an excellent restaurant in Marina Square called 7107 Flavours but this has since closed down. The food was fantastic and trhe service was excellent especially when our waiter from Visayas discovered that I could exchange a few pleasantries in his language. Apparently the restaurant moved and has now closed down all together. It’s a shame as it was Filipino food with a touch of class as well. I… Read more »

Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  AJ UK

Hi AJ – It’s quite difficult to run a successful Filipino cuisine restaurant in many regions outside of the Philippines, I believe. There are a lot of ingredients, seasonings, etc., that just are not available in many regions. Then, there’s the trained chefs and kitchen staff shortages, resulting in many Filipino restaurants being more “home-cooked” in nature rather than prepared by professionals.

Can’t complain whenever you find one – too many complaints could easily cause it to close. 😉

John Reyes
5 years ago

Hi Paul – I’m salivating here visualizing what you had for dinner at Kawali. You said, you had bitter melon and shrimp? Bitter melon is, of course, ampalaya in the vernacular. What you probably had was ginisang (sauteed) munggo, with bitter melon, spinach (I think), and shrimp. The dish is one of my favorites at the Manila Oriental in Springfield, VA. That is, when I’m in town. I was there yesterday for lunch. I had kombinasyon, they call it for pricing purposes. The kombinasyon is a combination of steamed rice and two choices of entrees. For the entrees, I had… Read more »

Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John – We may look the Manila Oriental up when we’re in the area. Living in Gaithersburg during the very early 1990s, we’d venture to Fort Washington quite often to visit a large Philippine store and restaurant combo. Always enjoyed it. Later in life, while living in Southern California, the selection was a little better, but not much. The Jollibee’s, Chow King’s, Max’s, Goldilocks’, Red Ribbon’s, and the like made up most of the selections. If you were lucky, you could discover a newly-opened turo-turo that has enough entrees to satisfy the crowds. btw, the dish that I enjoyed… Read more »

Denzil Browne
Denzil Browne
5 years ago

Hi Paul,
Sorry! I didn’t check your reply until today. Well, Bahrain is (I think) the only place in the Gulf where we can buy pork from certain supermarkets and restaurants – although this restaurant I mentioned claims to sell the whole bit (like the Philippines).

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