Tag Archives: asian food

A Triadfoodies Filipino Boodle-The Recap

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Lao Chef’s Table

Hi, foodies…

I want to make sure you get our recaps of our Chef’s Table when they happen…and …um…I might be a bit behind. But here’s a look at our event from May 6, with Lao Restaurant + Bar. It was an amazing evening of courses shared family style, as is the Lao tradition.  This story ran in YES! Weekly!  but of course I’m gonna lay it all out for you here too.

Fresh off YES! Weekly’s Triad’s Best, Lao Restaurant + Bar is basking in the glory of being named Best Restaurant in Guilford County. The Laotian restaurant opened with much anticipation and excitement last summer and they’ve feeling the love. What’s interesting is that for YEARS I’ve been saying a restaurant like Lao would kill it in Winston-Salem. Well, Greensboro beat WS to the punch and the city still remains the place to be for great Asian cuisine. 

Fifty guests of a recent sold out Chef’s Table at Lao prove that even further.  Here’s a little of how it went down (paraphrasing):

Me: I’d love to feature you at a Chef’s Table in the future.

Vonne: But I’m not a chef.

Me: It matters, not. This is about you, your restaurant and your delicious food.

Vonne: Let’s do it on Monday, May 6.

Me: Great!  (creates event, tickets go live, tickets sell quickly–all the while thinking “huh…they’re closed on Monday so that’s cool that she’s doing something special”)

Vonne the next morning (less than 12 hours later): Uh oh, I messed up. We’re closed on Mondays. Ooops. But maybe we can still do it, depending on ticket sales.

Me: Well, it’s sold out at 25 tickets so…now what?

Vonne: Add 25 more tickets!

And in the end the Lao Chef’s Table, with the additional 25 tickets, was sold in out 24 hours. So owner Vonne Keobouala closed her restaurant for all 53 of us as she and her team gave us an exclusive peek at some of her favorite Lao dishes. By the way, the restaurant is now open on Mondays.

Vonne Keobouala was born in Laos, which is in Southeast Asia between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. At age seven and as a result of the Vietnam war, her family moved to California.

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photo by Wong Kim

She grew up surrounded by a community who enjoyed their culture’s food. But as time went on, they adapted to the American way of life and eating. Still, Vonne says it has always been important to her to share the culture and cuisine of Southeast Asia.  When her brother, Matt “Jit” Lothakoun, moved to North Carolina, she followed soon after and they opened Simply Thai in Elon, with a focus on Thai food and sushi.  Ten years have passed and they have since expanded to a location in Jamestown. But it was the food of Laos that Vonne says needed celebrating. “Here, there are Asian restaurants. We see Chinese and Thai, but not the food of Laos, not the food of my mother. But I think people are ready to accept our cuisine. Food brings people together and we want to introduce our culture through our food.”

What makes Lao food different is the vibrant colors and unique textures of the dishes. The freshest herbs and produce make for meal that’s pleasing to the palate while you enjoy working with your hands. And that’s mostly how the guests at Chef’s Table enjoyed their meal. Hands washed, enjoying a family-style meal of lettuce wraps and other hand-held items that were crispy, crunchy, spicy, sticky and just tantalizing in so many ways.

Guests were greeted upon arrival with platters of Shrimp Crisps. They looked like colorful pork skins with a similar crispy texture but they were made with shrimp. They were great for snacking and conversation.

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Appetizer
Vegetable Spring Rolls & Sakoo Sai Moo
Tapioca dumpling pouches filled with pork peanuts, caramelized palm sugar and fried garlic

You can’t go wrong by starting out with the quintessential spring roll and Lao’s is one of the best around.  The Sakoo Sai Moo were sticky little dumplings with a little chili kick and we wrapped them in beautiful lettuce leaves for a fresh yet sticky, sweet, salty, spicy bite.

First Course (photo by Wong Kim)
Nam Khao
Lettuce wraps, crispy rice, coconut flakes, peanuts, sour pork, with fresh cilantro, green onions

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More eating with our hands. These wraps were similar to what you might find in a great Chinese restaurant with lots of cilantro and onions. The crispy rice in this dish helps it stand out.

Second Course
Chicken Laab
Chopped roasted chicken seasoned with spicy lime sauce and fresh herbs

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This popular Laotian larb was fantastic as well.  Served with a bowl of sticky rice, which acted as your vessel from hand to mouth. You made a bowl in your hand with the rice and placed the chicken mixture inside. If you like playing with your food, this dish is for you. “Laotians use sticky rice like bread,” Vonne told us.

Third Course
Lao Sausage & Beef Seen Lod
Jeow Dipping Sauce
Sticky rice

The sausage and beef may also play nicely as an appetizer. Like a Lao charcuterie board, the spicy sausage was so full of flavor and the Beef is considered to be like jerky.  The dish was served with more sticky rice and a delicious dipping sauce.

Fourth Course
Aom
Chicken Herbal stew with fresh dill, green long beans and Lao eggplant

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The description says it all. The stew was hot and herbaceous and filled with chunky chicken and veggies. Great for a cold day.

Dessert
Nom Vaan Lorm
Mixed flavored jellies, cantaloupe and corn, served in sweetened coconut milk

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Now this little dessert might read odd. Flavored jellies? Corn? But it was fantastic to me. It tasted like a coconut infused cereal milk. You know how Sugar Smacks taste? That’s what it reminded me of…but with the freshest of real fruit  mixed in.

To say that the Chef’s Table guests were stuffed and blown away is putting it mildly. And Vonne says she loves seeing the faces of happy customers enjoying the cuisine of family’s heritage.  “Seeing people come in, meeting them and knowing they are so happy to be here and enjoy the food and then they continue to support us…that’s the biggest reward.”

I just love her.

Lao Restaurant + Bar is located at 219-A South Elm Street, Greensboro.

Click here for my podcast with Vonne on the Triad Podcast Network