Last night I had one of those meals that remind you of what life is supposed to be about.
My cousin Mel was in town for the weekend, so my sister Cori and I decided to take him to our favorite restaurant in the city, Kuma Inn. My buddy Rafi and Cori’s friend Jenny joined us, making a party of five.
Kuma Inn is a tiny, hidden spot in the Lower East Side that appears to be a converted railroad apartment on the second floor of a pre-war building. Kuma Inn specializes in small plates of expertly-made Asian fare, based on Filipino cuisine mixed with elements from Japan, China and southeast Asia. The place has just eight small tables and a kitchen that seems too small to turn out the huge variety of dishes that they serve. Cori is friends with the owner and most of the staff, so we were able to get a great table on a busy Saturday night.
We rolled in at around 9pm and started ordering dish after dish
after dish, washed down with wine and beer. First came seared scallops
that were buttery and tender, with just enough crispness on the
outside. Then came lechon kawali, thin slices of deep fried
pork belly perfectly paired with pickled veggies and a vinegary dip.
This was followed by pancit noodles with chinese sausage, seared ahi
tuna, summer rolls, grilled baby octopus, and pork adobo in steamed
buns. Each dish was better than the last, and we applauded them as
The host Bim came by toward the end of the meal and had a drink with
us. Then the chef Neal came out of the kitchen so that we could
congratulate him on an amazing meal. Friends from the neighborhood
dropped in, lots of toasts were offered, it became quite the party.
Finally, several hours and bottles of beer and wine later, we
stumbled out into the street, thoroughly satiated and happy. What a