It was a feeding frenzy. Originally posted in YES! Weekly…read it here.
Nearly forty, fabulous foodies gathered for a one-of-a-kind feast. A Chef’s Table at Asian BBQ & Grill that left us all ever so slightly painfully, but blissfully full on fellowship and Filipino cuisine, aka, hospitality. When owner Robert Lumbres said he wanted to be a part of the monthly dinner series, one would expect the traditional coursed out or family-style dinner.
But no. Rob wanted to share what he says is the ultimate showcase of Filipino hospitality. A traditional Kamayan Feast, also known as a Boodle. It’s the “luau” of the Philippines. Think long, community-style tables covered in banana leaves. And on the banana leaves…every type of food you can imagine. And dessert. No utensils allowed. Clean hands—a must. Gosh, what fun!
Asian BBQ & Grill opened earlier this year at 3230 Reynold Road in Winston-Salem. It is the first Asian restaurant serving traditional foods of the Philippines. From the much beloved lumpia (a slim, meat filled, spring roll that’s fried to crispy perfection. Also the most popular item) to BBQ chicken, chicken on a stick, pulled pork, fried rice and noodles. And the desserts? Mango, purple yam, aka Ube, ice cream; crispy spring rolls filled with soft, sweet plantains.
Robert says, “Filipino food is a medley of so many cultures. The Philippines has been conquered so many times we are now like our famous dessert halo halo, where you have a fusion of different flavors and textures. Our food has been influenced by Spain, China,India, Japan. Even the people and their names are a medley of all the countries.”
But it’s sharing and fellowship that they pride themselves on. “When you come to a Filipino’s home, expect to eat, because someone is always cooking,” Lumbers says. That was already quite evident at my first visit when Rob and his team just kept bringing out food ..at lunch.
Asian BBQ & Grill is a small restaurant and though there are some tables and chairs, it’s concept is set up to be very take-out friendly. It’s great if you don’t feel like cooking. The goal of the boodle was to not only share the experience, but give the diner a chance to try almost everything (and more). Rob said later, “Many people have never seen blue crabs so I thought that was a fun learning experience. The typical boodle is a medley of seafood, bbq, fruits and veggies- whatever is in season.”
When we walked into the restaurant, the tables were lined with banana leaves, but it wasn’t long before the culinary and service teams began diligently placing items on those tables. First, crispy whole tilapia. Then sticky rice, pork belly, pork bbq, chicken skewers, rice, mango, pineapple, bok choy. Also on the table, all the elements of a seafood boil, clams, mussels, shrimp, smoked sausage, corn. If that wasn’t enough, fried eggplant (prepared by Rob himself), whole crab. To say it was a huge amount of food is an understatement. Most of us were stuffed by the time we were presented with Mamon, a small cake deeply colored from purple yam but tasting very much like a vanilla cake, crispy fried plantains, mango ice cream, ube ice cream, and a few desserts that were snuck in that some of us didn’t even get to for being under the influence of food.
Barrie Podair of Winston-Salem has been to number of Chef’s Tables said she was full the next day after experience with Filipino food. “I expected to try a wide variety of food and it seemed like as soon as you stopped, it was like But wait! Here’s more!” She adds, “When you’ve never had the cuisine and don’t know what to order, it’s nice to have a little bit of everything. And having plates and using our hands is not weird to me at all, because I have a toddler.”
Ashley Creviston, who scored some last minute tickets from the waitlist said, “Feast doesn’t seem like a big enough word to describe this culinary spread. The lack of utensils certainly did not slow down our indulgence and the food seemed endless. It’s hard not to have a good time when you are literally elbow deep in some great Filipino cuisine.”
Because Asian BBQ doesn’t serve alcohol, Cellar 4201 Winery and Incendiary Brewing were brought in for drinks. Mary Haglund, owner of Mary’s Gourmet Diner, spent many years as a girl in the Philippines and was there to offer her support.
Looking at the aftermath, Rob said, “We like full. It’s our purpose.” Although he joked, “If Filipinos had been here, there would be only be banana leaves and shells remaining.”
Rob says the restaurant has been consistently busy and that catering is very popular as well. With the talent and leadership of Chef Ruth and Chef Rod, he hopes one day to open a larger restaurant with some hang out space. And anyone who wants to book a boodle, can now do so by reservation…we Chef’s Table foodies were the guinea pigs.
Later, Queen Mary said, “I had so much fun sharing my love for all things Filipino. The food, the people, the hospitality….Food brings us ALL together.”
Wanna go? Asian BBQ & Grill is located at 3230 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem. https://asianbbqandgrill.com
The next available Chef’s Table is a Triadfoodies Friendsgiving on Monday, November 18, 7:00pm at Providence Restaurant. Tickets are $50 and 100 percent of proceeds will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. Reserve tickets here.