June 13, 2022

Mabuhay! A Visit to KABISERA


It may be the day after Philippine Independence Day (June 12, for those who were wondering), but my best friend Rachel & I are still excited to share our Mabuhay! posts for the year. This is a feature we've done nearly every single year since 2014 where we celebrate Filipino voices in literature & Filipino culture. This year, we're centering our posts around food - I'm doing a mini-feature on KABISERA (which is a new-to-us Filipino restaurant) and Rachel is sharing a ranking of our favorite ube desserts in NYC.

I'd never heard of KABISERA until Rachel suggested we go eat there a few weeks ago. I'm always down to try Filipino restaurants in the city, and I was especially excited that we were going for breakfast (because I harbor a very deep love and appreciation of Filipino breakfast ulam). Here are two fun facts about this restaurant (and its name) before I talk about our personal experience during our visit!

1. Kabisera, roughly translated into English, means "head of the table".

2. KABISERA states on their website that "good coffee and good food bring great hearts with great minds together". They're passionate about connecting with passionate individuals over cups of coffee and have teamed up with many individuals and organizations to empower and encourage others.

We were the first customers to come in and sit down to have a meal on the Saturday we visited. The vibe and decor were very reminiscent of my past experiences at smaller, family-owned restaurants in the Philippines. There were souvenirs and photographs for sale that represented the Philippines (always cool!), and of course, there were so many Filipino-inspired dishes on the menu.

We ended up ordering longsilogs (marinated sweet pork with garlic rice, sunny side up eggs, a side of tomato and onions and shrimp paste with vinegar for dipping), ube lattes and ube hopia and biko to share. We did end up having to wait a while for the main course, since the kitchen had just opened and the longganisa is freshly made. But it was worth it because the food was great! I was genuinely stuffed when we finished our main meals, to the point really where I couldn't even finish all our dessert picks. I definitely would recommend visiting this spot and I certainly plan to go back and try more dishes myself!

To wrap up this year's Mabuhay! post, we thought it would be fun to share a book rec and a book we'd like to read by a Filipino author. It was tough to narrow it down to one option for each category (which is really awesome honestly!), but here are my final picks.

I'd recommend reading Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. As the author herself pitched it in this Q&A - "An ambitious showgirl who dreams of fame and glory seizes her opportunity by joining a magicians competition—only to find that as romance blooms behinds the scenes, an unexpected danger also lurks behind the curtain." This YA fantasy debut is lush, whimsical and a whole lot of fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting swept up into Janella's magical story.
There are quite a few titles I'm excited to read, but Freddie vs. the Family Curse by Tracy Badua is the one I wanted to feature today. In this middle grade book, Freddie finds a family heirloom that supposedly will counter all of his bad luck... only to discover that the spirit of his ancestor is trapped in the amulet and the vengeful spirits that killed him are now after Freddie. It sounds like it's going to be a book filled with shenanigans and humor, and I'm truly excited to see how Tracy integrates Filipino culture and lore.

Don't forget to go check out Rachel's post!
And if you're interested in more Mabuhay! content from past years, you can click here.


Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)