‘Kabayan’ on wheels


When I get homesick, I go to Woodside where I usually find a street lined with Filipino restaurants. It’s an area that is so culturally diverse yet I associate it more with Filipinos.

In Woodside, from the long stretch of Roosevelt Avenue, encompassing 63rd Street all the way through 69th Street, there are quite a number of restaurants that offer Filipino fare. At the corner of 63rd street and Roosevelt Avenue, there’s the global Filipino brand, Jollibee, famous for its fried chicken and noodles. Farther up, there’s another popular Filipino establishment, Red Ribbon, known for pastries.

And still, going closer to 69th Street, one can find several Filipino eateries that bring you closer to home. One of them is Kabayan, which has been in this part of New York for so many years. When I am too tired to make a home-cooked meal, I visit Kabayan to satiate myself with a plethora of delicacies and genuine Filipino meals like “kare-kare”, oxtail slow-cooked and dipped in rich peanut sauce; “dinuguan”, a pork stew, sometimes with animal entrails, boiled in vinegar and pork blood; “sisig”, a spicy meal composed of chopped grilled pork ears, liver, fat, onion, pepper, scullion, garlic, among others.

I have not visited in a long time. But it turns out that if I were in Manhattan, I may not have to go to Woodside to eat at Kabayan. After all, they do deliver in the city. And, they have a rolling store! It was perchance that I found it when I accompanied my bff to her doctor’s appointment at Columbia University hospital.

We were heading to one of the buildings when lo and behold, there it was, the yellow van. My eyes rolled in jubilation, somewhat. When I saw the menu, and the store’s name, I felt a jolt of nostalgia. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here. I felt joy in my heart when I saw something Filipino.

There is nothing much to say other than I will have to reconsider my diet plans. After all, Kabayan is becoming ubiquitous as are other Filipino restaurants. Now with a Kabayan rolling store in the city, Filipinos now have another option to experience a truly home-cooked Filipino meal without having to go far. Kabayan is just around the corner.

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