As Long Island reaches Asian-food overload, the cuisine of the Philippines remains a rarity. As of May 27, Kabayan Grill in East Meadow joins the very brief list of LI’s Filipino restaurants (among them, Manila Hut in Hempstead, Guiradelco in Westbury and Asian One Best in Ronkonkoma).
Kabayan Grill, which takes over the old Taco Bell on Front Street, is the first LI outpost of Kabayan: Authentic Filipino Cuisine, which operates two locations in Woodside, Queens. In Tagalog, the Filipino language, “Kabayan” means “fellow countrymen.”
The menu provides a fine introduction to the cuisine of the Philippines. Starters include fresh lumpia (stuffed crepes, $8.95), ukoy (vegetable-shrimp fritters, $8.95) and tokwa’t baboy (fried tofu with braised pig ear, $8.95). Noodle dishes include palabok (steamed rice noodles with shrimp sauce, crushed pork rinds and egg, $9.95) and pancit lomi (egg noodle soup with mixed seafood, $8.95). Mains include marinated milkfish with garlic and vinegar ($12.95), Filipino barbecued chicken with vinegar dip ($7.95), and lechon kawali (deep-fried pork belly with liver sauce, $9.95).
Pig and pig parts are much esteemed in Filipino cooking. Not for the faint of heart (but delicious nonetheless) is sisig, finely chopped pork shoulder, jowl and ear with hot pepper and lemon ($12.95). For $195, Kabayan will prepare a whole 25-pound pig for you and your friends. If you don’t like bones, a whole rolled belly (think Filipino porchetta) is $110.
Or go for the kamayan (“eaten with hands”) feast: three appetizers, one soup, eight mains for $32.95 a person (minimum four people).
Kabayan Grill is at 1634 Front St., East Meadow, 516-500-9574