"Filipino food has been making waves in the global food scene the last few years, and we checked out the newest addition to the Oslo Asian food market"
In the great pantheon of global cuisine, Filipino doesn't rank too highly on my personal scale. Having traversed the country from Luzon to Mindanao, from Siargao to Palawan, i've eaten all sorts of national and regional dishes served by smiling hosts. What seems to repeat no matter where you go in the country, is the locals fondness for sweetness.
Their ketchup is the sweetest I have ever tried. The tomato sauces you buy at grocery stores to make a simple pasta sauce at your hostel, is fully laden with more sugar than a candy bar. Something seems to resonate with the Filipino people that draws them to this obscenely unhealthy product.
This happens to be one of the main reasons I avoid Filipino food, I much prefer sour-tart-bitter-salty-spicy-umami flavours over sweet. I barely even eat desserts. Therefore it was with mild trepidation that I agreed to try Kain, a former mainstay at Oslo Street Food that moved 50 meters down the road to it's own brick and mortar.
We were welcomed by a friendly chef who seated us and left us to ponder the short menu. Kinilaw was ordered to share as a starter, a pork adobo and beef tapa to follow.
Our kinilaw arrived and we both dug in. Chunks of seafood cured in citrus (much like Peru's famous ceviche), brunoise of apple, a tiny tiny touch of chilli (should amp this up) and red onion, cucumber and a cucumber dressing. Whilst the texture and components were all prepared nicely, and the presentation was spot on, there was a touch too many sour-bitter notes without anything to really balance it out, so it ate a bit lopsided. Nice start tho to awaken the palate.
My beef tapa was tasty. Fresh coriander, egg yolk, jalapenos and fried leeks added different counter-parts to the tender beef. Again, remnants of the heavy sugar hand came creeping back in but this is definitely a personal preference and not a mistake by the chef.
My companions pork adobo was the winner of the two mains. Succulent pork, pickled vegetables to add relief to the fatty meat, all combined to make a solid dish. You can't hate on a soft boiled egg can you?
The service was casual and friendly, the presentation of the dishes was a step up from the regular Oslo Asian food scene at that price-point, and the overall ambience was a sleek, minimalist restaurant. For what they are trying to achieve, Kain are offering people an honest look into the field of Filipino cuisine, something that many Norwegians are probably completely ignorant of. For my personal tastes I prefer dishes from their neighboring countries more, but that is not a slight on what they are achieving here.
I sincerely hope this restaurant does well and they manage to build up a loyal clientele, I really think they deserve their spot in the Oslo food rainbow.
"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"