There’s another Pop Up coming to Tooting Market this weekend and after the success of the last one, we just had to find out what this one was all about!
So what is your pop up?
It’s called Kusina ni Lola – Grandma’s kitchen, in memory of my Grandma Felising who passed away earlier this year. It’s a pop-up Filipino kitchen cooking traditional Filipino dishes that are favourites in our and in every Filipino home.
Why did you decide to set it up? The idea came to me when I was trying to look for a Filipino restaurant for my Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary. I didn’t think it would be quite a challenge to find one especially in London, but it was. I did eventually find Josephine’s in Goodge Street and there we had a lovely meal with Mum & Dad’s favourite dishes including boneless Bangus – milk fish that would have been painstakingly de-boned, grilled and served with a soy sauce, calamansi & chilli dip. We also used our hands to eat (kamayan), a tradition in the Philippines and trust me, it makes the food taste even better!
Until then, I didn’t realise how very little exposure Filipino cuisine has had in the UK food map and it inspired me to do something about it…maybe a little café or restaurant one day – but for a very long time, this idea remained as an idea mainly because I didn’t have a clue about where to start.
…but then came my very good friend Selina. I found out how she helped organise Santo Remedio’s Mexican Independence Day pop up event at Tooting Market. My husband and I went along with some friends and needless to say it was a hit! That night it became clear to me that a pop up was the perfect start to Kusina ni Lola and so here we are.
What makes your pop up so special/unique?
Finding Josephine’s was a few years ago now and I am pleased to see that since then, one or two more Filipino dining establishments have opened up. However, Filipino cuisine is still very much underrated and underexposed and this is what makes Kusina ni Lola unique. Since I started telling friends about Kusina ni Lola, they would never fail to ask what is Filipino cuisine? To which I would always say…’it’s a melting pot of flavours from all over the world.’ Filipino cuisine is like a history lesson through food. It’s hard to describe and definitely much better and more enjoyable to be there and taste!
Where can we normally find you?
For now, we will be popping up in London and Liverpool. Specific dates and venue will posted on our facebook and twitter pages.
Why did you choose Tooting? What makes it special?
Tooting is an exciting area. It’s always been known for its curry houses but it seems that new restaurants are popping up. Londoners are always looking for a new dining experience in new areas and so why not Tooting? The market is also a great venue to make you feel like you are far from London, tasting new flavours and having a different evening from the usual.
What is your signature/favourite dish and drink etc?
That’s a very difficult question for me. Every dish that I cook, I cook and share to family, friends and guests because they’re all delicious and I want them to experience the same pleasure that I get when I myself eat the dishes that I serve. They remind me of family gatherings and memories of when I was still living at home with Mum and Dad. However, my husband has one particular Filipino dish that is his all-time favourite – Munggo Guisado which we will be serving in Tooting Market on the 19th October. It’s a stew made of mung beans. It has a very earthy flavour cooked simply with onions, garlic and ginger. Traditionally it is cooked with strips of pork belly or chicken however at home, we cook it with vegetarian sausages and it’s delicious.
Why should we come and visit you?
If you’re looking for a new dining experience, one that will make you feel like you’re having dinner in someone’s home with platefuls of new flavours and aroma, then Kusina ni Lola is right up your street.
Aside from yourselves what are you favourite Pop Ups?
Pop ups are a new thing for me. I am currently based in Liverpool where the pop up craze has yet to reach. However, my experience at Santo Remedio has shown me how pop ups are a great way to learn about new culture and meet new friends, two things that the Liverpool crowd are always hungry for and I for one would certainly advocate for not just here in Liverpool but all over the country!
And finally what exciting events, news etc. have you got coming up?
Our next event after Tooting is back in Liverpool with Filipino dishes that are sure to keep you warm in the colder months ahead. Noodle soup with sardines and our very own version of congee – ‘arroz caldo’ – rice in chicken broth with chicken wings served with calamansi (Filipino lime) and crispy garlic croutons on top. How does that sound?
Check them out on Facebook or Twitter
Since the interview was published we have learnt that it is now sold out! But if you must visit a Pop Up or Supperclub this weekend, head over to Edible Experiences or Eat my world for some great ideas.