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Luglug noodles
Luglug noodles Photos: Jeff Marini

Bayan Ko

It was a banner year for unlikely fusion cuisine. Much like Jennifer Kim has done at Passerotto, husband-and-wife duo Lawrence Letrero and Raquel Quadreny have managed to invent an entirely new culinary category at this dainty eatery: in this case, a Filipino-Cuban mash-up, a nod to their respective heritages. True, there’s a fair amount of common ground between the two cooking traditions to begin with — an obsession with all things pork, for one thing — but Letrero and Quadreny have found novel means of cross-pollination as well. The meaty richness of a pan-fried Cuban short-rib bistec is countered by a marinade made with calamansi, a citrus fruit native to the Philippines. A plate of lechón, the crispy pork that’s practically the Filipino national dish, gets a garlicky charge from a side of mojo sauce, Cuba’s go-to condiment. As you feast beneath a wall of whimsically arranged succulent plants, you’ll wish there were more places like Bayan Ko. For now, though, let’s consider ourselves lucky that we have even one.

Raquel Quadreny and Lawrence Letrero
Raquel Quadreny and Lawrence Letrero
Lumpia Shanghai
Lumpia Shanghai
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