In a quandary about Kulinarya on the Drive
First impressions for Kulinarya on the Drive were all great! It opened promptly at 11 for our early lunch reservation. The restaurant was fresh and clean. Decor had a hip and modern Philippine vibe with great colours. The music was R&B from the last decade, which is a good thing! I think it was well done to fit into the Drive vibe. Once the food started to arrive, my quandary began.
We were a group of five so I took the opportunity to order a variety of dishes to share. I had to order my fav, sinigang na baboy, as I try it in almost every Filipino restaurant I go to. We also ordered binagoongan baboy, okay na okoy, spring rolls, tokwa/baboy, one order of tocilog, and steamed rice.
R. had the tocilog, which is a traditional Filipino breakfast combo that combines three parts, in this case the “to” being tocino (sweet cured fried pork with fat), “si” with the which is short for “sinangag” or fried rice, and “log” representing itlog, a fried egg. R. seemed to enjoyed it and finished almost all of it. I also liked the presentation in the cast iron pan.
Kulinarya’s large rice was an underwhelming portion given the $4 cost, so upon its arrival, we knew we immediately had to order another serving to feed our group. Next came the binagoongan baboy which is fried pork belly with green beans mixed with shrimp paste. I see now that the menu also says there is eggplant but as you’ll see from the pic there was no eggplant that came with our dish. I enjoyed the taste, very flavourful meat, not oily, with simple crispy beans, but again portion size was below average given this is a $16 dish!
The spring rolls had an interesting taste to them and my little one ate almost all of them so no complaints there. The tokwa/baboy was a good side dish. I enjoyed the peppery fried tofu but wished there was a bit more pork in proportion.
My main stomach grumble (avid readers know in my speak this means complaint) was with the sinigang na baboy. I normally love sour tamarind soup with pork and veggies. Not in this case, sadly. This dish was $15 and probably half the portion size of what other restaurants offer for the same price. In addition, this dish did include eggplant, but they fried it before adding it to the soup, so the change in texture, making the skin almost slick, turned me off. The broth was very fatty and I felt it long after lunch. The one highlight was the bok choy was crisp and cooked to perfection, but overall the dish receives a thumbs down.
I really hope costs of being on the Drive isn’t going to wreck it for this restaurant. Prices were too high for the portions being served and for Filipino food that I can enjoy and afford, there are definitely other options out there to be had.