If you’ve been following us in our Facebook page (you should if you still don’t btw), we’ve been eating at Filipino restaurants for the past months. We’re so proud that there are already a lot of Filipino restaurants in Riyadh. Of course by now you know of the classics: Blue Ribbon Restaurant, La Paz Batchoy, Peak, Goodah SOS, etc. but there is a growing need for more options! We’re glad that our prayers are being heeded and for the past few months, new restaurants that are highlighting Filipino cuisine have opened up. That’s why you see our page being invaded by pictures of kare-kare, chicken inasal, bulalo, and more!
Filipino cuisine (pagkaing Pilipino) is very complex. It gets its inspiration from a lot of countries and regions so there’s no standard flavor for every dish or viand. It is influenced by Chinese, Spanish, American and Indian cuisines. Growing up, I was used to Ilokano dishes because I grew up in La Union, one of the provinces in the Ilocos region. It’s funny actually because I don’t like eating vegetables and yet popular Ilokano dishes like pinakbet and dinengdeng are made up primarily of vegetables. I’m also half Bicolano, with my father hailing from Camarines Sur in the Bicol region, that’s why I’m partial to spicy food like bicol express and laing. But what I really dream right now is to go on a food trip in Pampanga. Kapampangans, like our very own Jel (Shoegarfreeruby), are known to be very good cooks. There are just so many delicious Filipino food and we say that proudly because it’s true (we’re not being biased).
For newbies on Filipino cuisine, we wrote about the Top 5 Filipino Foods You’ll Find in Riyadh a while back. You may want to read that first so you know which dishes you might want to order when visiting these newer restaurants. We’ll also suggest some dishes worth ordering after each restaurant in this list. Tara, kain tayo! (Let’s eat!)
1. Kapitana Restaurant
Kapitana is not the newest Filipino restaurant in the block. They opened a year back or so but we’re still including the restaurant here because it’s fairly new compared to other classic Filipino restaurants in the city. If you ask us what Filipino restaurant we frequent, we’ll say “Kapitana” just because it’s the nearest one to our location and also, we have pinpointed our faves in their menu already. If we want something fast, delicious, and reliable, Kapitana it is! Like most Filipino restaurants in Riyadh, their restaurant is small and bare but clean and organized. They have a mural of a Philippine landscape scene and it gives a nice touch and vibe to the place. Their staff are friendly. Sometimes the food requires some minutes of waiting. My husband is in love with their Bangsilog (fried marinated milkfish, egg, and fried rice); it’s his favorite. He always orders it every time we go to Kapitana. Like every time! Hindi masyadong obvious na favorite nya. Reina and I like a lot of their dishes. I love their deconstructed kare-kare which has a sweet peanut sauce and crunchy veggies! I also like their bangus sisig. Reina always order their adobo rice. And of course, their halo-halo is the best halo-halo in Riyadh! The secret is their finely-shaved ice and the presence of melon, which is unusual in the usual halo-halo. It makes it unique.
What To Order: Bangsilog, Tapsilog, Kare-Kare, Adobo Rice, Bangus Sisig, Halo-Halo
Abu Bakr AlRazi Street, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2. Fiestahan Asian Cuisine Restaurant
Honestly, our first visit to Fiestahan Restaurant wasn’t that great. I saw that a new Filipino restaurant opened in the Al Jazeera Shopping Center in Suleimania. Curious as to why they opened in that area (I forgot there are hospitals in this area), I urged my husband to come with me and have dinner there. So we went and was surprised to see that the restaurant was not really a “restaurant” per se. They have a kitchen set-up inside with their tables and chairs out in the open. I thought they didn’t have a family section because their set-up was looking more like a singles section. However, we were told that we can actually eat in the open and that their dining space is for both. And so my husband, being a fan of bangsilog, ordered that and I went for kalderetang kambing as suggested by their wait staff. They also offered unlimited a mango orange juice then. My husband didn’t like their bangsilog because the fish had a mostly sour flavor, maybe from the vinegar it was marinated in. The kaldereta was okay but I couldn’t find a lot of meat in the dish of bones.
Our second visit was a lot better because we got to try more of their dishes. I am now in love with their Fresh Lumpia and Chicken Barbecue! We also like their muted version of Tom Yum which is perfect for kids too (it’s not authentic tom yum but a Filipinized version). Their Bulalo is also good; a bit salty so you have to pair it with rice. Good thing, they offer unlimited rice! Their staff are friendly and they recommend dishes if you ask them what’s good to order.
What To Order: Fresh Lumpia, Chicken Barbecue (in sticks), Tom Yum, Orange Juice
Fiestahan Asian Cuisine
First Floor, AlJazeera Supermarket,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Operating Hours: 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM
3. Islas Resto & Grill
This restaurant features the concept we’ve all been waiting for here in Riyadh… boodle fight! A boodle food setting sees Filipino dishes arranged in a banana leaf. Basically, it comprises of rice in the middle then grilled meats and seafood, vegetables, eggs and sauces arranged around the rice. It encourages eaters to bond and share.
Usually, we use the “kamayan” method is eating during boodle fights. That means we use our hands in getting food and putting it in our mouths. We were excited to try this on the day of our visit to Islas only to be told that their LPG ran out so some of the dishes that are cooked using LPG are not available. We can only try their grilled dishes so we just asked them to arrange the grilled stuff boodle style. Our banana leaf came with stuffed bangus (milkfish), grilled squid, chicken inasal (grilled chicken), eggplants, salted egg and various sauces and condiments. I don’t know if it’s the boodle style that gave us so much gusto while eating. It was a fun concept and we finished almost everything! The food were tasty and we love how we can mix and match our own sauces to the grilled meats and seafood. Islas has different boodle sets that fit various budgets and number of persons from SR 199 up. Islas have ala carte dishes too. We’ve received mixed reviews after our post went live in our Facebook page but we can’t deny the fact how much we like that the concept of boodle fight is already available in Riyadh.
What To Order: Island Boodle Fight Sets, Sago’t Gulaman
Islas Resto & Grill
First Floor, AlJazeera Supermarket
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
4. Kubo Food Express
If you’re looking for Filipino restaurants, you’ll find them all huddled in Batha. It makes sense because there are a lot of Filipinos who go to Batha on a daily basis, especially on the weekend. Kubo Food Express is the newest addition. Their restaurant is not in the usual place you’ll find these restaurants but in a newly-renovated area. I like how they embraced their “kubo” theme and worked their interiors with that concept. It’s like entering a bahay kubo complete with bamboo designs. A bahay kubo doesn’t have an aquarium though, haha. Anyway, we tried a lot of dishes in Kubo Food Express. Their food have a “home-cooked” feel and taste to them. They’re also very filling!
Their Pinaupong Manok was interesting (literal eh!) but we’re not used to the spices in it. Their kare-kare has a nice, thick sauce but next time I’ll order the meat version instead. Their chicken inasal is sweet and tender. The tom yum is very rich but the strips of ginger and other ingredients annoyed Reina; she recommended for them to strain it so that it will not interfere with the warm, sour broth. Their have an extensive menu of Filipino dishes which you can try when visiting Batha for your “something new” every day.
What To Order: Kare-Kare, Chicken Inasal/BBQ, Bulalo
Kubo Food Express
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
T: +966-11-401 3111
5. Pasalubong Restaurant and Bakery
Located at the food court of the new Vilagio Mall in Batha, Pasalubong Restaurant is an eatery that enforces the “turo-turo” (point to what you want) system of ordering food. A buffet of Filipino dishes are laid out for selection and for a mere 18 SAR, you have the option to choose two kinds of main dishes and get one cup of rice, unlimited soup and a bottled water. Not a shabby deal if you ask me. Their claim to fame is their Kalderetang Kambing, Kilawin na Isda and Bulalo. I definitely enjoyed their Bulalo and I appreciate how clear its soup is. The meat was also tender and the veggies weren’t soggy. I also like their ginataang manok and siomai. Perhaps the only trade off in their price range is that everything is served in diposable plastics.
As for their bakery items, they live up to their namesake of “pasalubong” because there are so many bread and pastry options up for grabs. What caught our tastebuds the most (and the main reason I keep coming back to this shop personally) is their Buchi! Oooh, just thinking about those buchis again has got me wanting to run over their shop this minute! But I digress. In case you have not yet discovered the awesomeness of a buchi, it is essentially a round, deep-fried rice cake with a sweet bean paste filling. However, in Pasalubong they use ube (purple yam) instead of the traditional mung bean paste. And it is hands down, D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S. If you’re Pinoy and dreaming of our local bakery items, they have it all here: from Bitso Bitso, Biko, Spanish Bread, Hopia, Kabayans, Kutsinta…you name it, they most likeky have it.
What To Order: Bulalo, Kilawin, Siomai, Buchi
Pasalubong Restaurant and Bakery
Food Court, Vilagio Mall, Batha
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
T: +966-11-409 2148 / +966-11-435-3298
Speaking of Batha (which has become somewhat of the place to be lately), there are other notable Filipino restaurants that you must try whilst there. For a more formal restaurant feel, there’s Cusina Restaurant at the 1st floor of the Electron Buiding. They have a wide range of menu items as well, including Japanese and Chinese dishes. They occassionaly hold eat-all-you-can buffets and also offer catering services for special events. Call them at 011 405 6262. Meanwhile, for taste of chicken inasal that is worth your money and shall satisfy your appetite, Aling Inasal is your best bet. They do have limited seating in the family section but we’ve heard that they might be opening a bigger branch soon that’s closer to the city center. For now, you can spot them across the Skyfreight office in Batha.
There you have it, you now you know where to get your next Filipino food fix!