One of the things Filipino migrants miss most about our home country is food. Nothing beats the anticipation for Nanay [Mother] to finish cooking her special “adobo”, Lola’s [Grandma’s] homemade succulent “suman”, and Tatay’s [Dad’s] butchered “kaldereta”, perfect for festivities. Migrating to Australia, one will not fail to crave these homegrown delicacies. Look no further. “Kusina” has emerged to satiate your hunger.
Kusina, dubbed as “Canberra’s own slice of the Philippines,” is one of the best Filipino restaurants in Canberra today. A family-owned and managed restaurant, Head Chef Jonathan Ora, the owner, is not new in the restaurant business. He helped his father open the first Filipino restaurant in Port Philip.
Moreover, Jonathan was trained in the culinary arts at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. And later worked for them in their international premiere restaurants for close to ten years. Upon returning to Canberra, equipped with industry know-how, he pursued his dream of having his own restaurant showcasing the intricacies of the Filipino cuisine. The rest was history and Kusina was born.
Jonathan’s experience and training allowed him to develop a menu that appeals to both Filipino and Western palate. With food prepared in an open kitchen, Kusina or “Kitchen” in the Filipino language offers a wide variety of traditional Filipino food.
Start off with “Pancit Bihon”, the Philippines’ answer to dry ramen. Savor the flavor of the firm glass like noodles as the fusion of various vegetables, chicken, and pork brings you to a state of Umami.
Next, try the sinful “Sisig”. As the origin of the word means “salad”, this salad of pork innards boiled and grilled on a sizzling platter. The crunchy texture coupled with its delectable taste will give you guilty bites of pleasure.
Don’t forget to order their famous “Kare Kare”. A traditional Filipino stew with braised beef cheek, bok choy, eggplant, and snake beans in peanut based sauce. Served with special “Bagoong”, Marvel with the complexity of flavor with this pseudo-hearty meal. Surely, it will indulge you with its exquisite taste.
Lastly, end the day with the iconic “Halo Halo”. Literally translated as “mix mix”, it is a blend of shaved ice with Filipino-flavored “Gulaman” [Agar], Sweet Banana, “Nata de Coco” [Coconut Gel], Red Beans, and Leche Flan topped off Condensed Milk and Ube Ice Cream. The seemingly peculiar concoction surprisingly works. In every bite, you can taste the hint of every ingredient as you “mix mix” this dessert. IT IS PERFECTION.
Reviews of Kusina are mostly positive. Natasha Rudra of GoodFood.com.au even considered Kusina as one of “Canberra’s domestic treasures.” Fineeating.com describes the service in Kusina as “thoughtful, friendly, and attentive” and the dishes “interesting and unique.” The staff is friendly and accommodating.
Executive Chef Jonathan Ora and his family are often seen going around and interacting with the restaurant’s patrons. The place exudes the warmth of the Filipino people and the richness of the Filipino culture. In Kusina, dining feels like being welcomed to a Filipino home. It truly feels like coming home to Nanay’s warm cooking.
If it is not obvious enough, I highly recommend this restaurant. Do yourself a favor and go to Kusina!
Kusina is located in the southern part of the Cooleman Court shopping precinct. It is directly in front of the Whitney Place car park and is situated between the Weston Creek Community Centre and That Gelato Place.