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Kamayan at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen

I love Lamesa. I wrote about it after my first media dinner there, here, and have been back a few times since. I attend lots of media dinners and there are only a handful of places that I return to on my own, and this is one of them so when the call came to try out their Kamayan dinner, I was all over it.

Kama, being the Filipino word for "hand" means that Kamayan roughly translates into "eat with your hands" and this is a traditional type of dinner that every Filipino will be familiar with. Served family style, the meal is placed on banana leaves at your table without cutlery or dishes. Keep in mind that it is a communal meal, so you want to make sure you are dining with people you like. If are you really squeamish about sharing food, I guess you could ask for utensils but that takes all of the fun out of it and you are probably better off skipping it.

This meal is tailor made for people like me, who want to taste at least a bite of everything on the table and, in fact, I am thinking of implementing a Kamayan policy at home this winter except that I am not sure how well a piping hot lamb stew would work without the benefit of a bowl and a spoon. Anyway, something to think about.

Even though it appears to be a haphazard mish mash of food just splayed out all over the place, it's not. When you watch them laying the meal out, you realize that there is a method to the madness and every person ends up with his/her dinner laid out nicely at his/her spot. There is crossover when it comes to scooping up extra rice and shellfish, but, for the most part, my entire dinner was there, in it's entirety - it just wasn't set out on plates and in bowls.

Using your hands, you scoop, dip and shovel all of this delicious stuff into your mouth and each bite is a bit different, depending on which sauces got caught up in each scoop. Every once in a while you get a big hit of hot sauce as a lovely surprise, or your third scoop of rice is suddenly tinged with a hint of salty bagoong. I loved the whole thing.

This would be so much fun with kids, for a celebration with family or a night out with close friends and a few cocktails and for $40/pp, you are certainly getting a lot of bang for your buck.
I had my handy new tripod all set up to capture the goings on

So, the low down:

You are seated at a table that is completely covered with fragrant banana leaves and after you order your drink, the chefs arrive with their supplies - brushes, tongs, squeeze bottles, bowls and spoons and get to work.

a fruit juice concoction that was as refreshing as it was lovely to start things off

Chef Rudy Boquila and his sous chef, Joash Dy, came out themselves and constructed our meal on our table, weaving everything in and around our drinks, while we watched. It is as much about the theatre of the event as the food you are about to eat.

patience, grasshopper. Soon it will all come together

First they paint on a thick smear of bagoong caramel that will sit under the green mango salad that will be plopped on top a little later on in the process. It's sweet, it's sticky with a base of fermented shrimp paste and it's delicious.

Next come dabs of garlic puree, followed by their own deep red hot sauce that they make in house and then the food starts to come. The green mango salad comes with some mango chutney, and a lettuce cup filled with chopped, crispy bits of meat, some pico de gallo and crispy fried noodles. This was one of my favourite items, by the way.

Joash dished out generous heaps of garlic fried rice in a wavy pattern the sort of snaked down the centre of the table and then they plopped down half of a pickled adobo egg in front of each diner - deceptively delicious.

tiny clams in a coconut sauce were highly prized finds nestled along the rice train

Mussels and clams cooked in coconut milk, grilled corn, baby bok choi and some cornbread are in there as well as Oxtail Kare-Kare (a traditional Filipino peanut sauce), adobo chicken wings and each person is also presented with one bangus fish that has been deboned and smoked.

A tiny shot glass of a gingery chicken broth is supposed to used as a palate cleanser throughout the meal and after I had tasted everything, I realized that there was dark green, salted, crispy fried kale. I almost passed it by (much like the pickled egg) but it ended up being another favourite thing.

You must run, not walk, to Lamesa to experience this amazing dinner and luckily for all of us, it is now a regular Sunday night offering. You really must make a reservation for the Kamayan dinner and if you want to watch a video , click here

Lamesa Filipino Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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