2023, Best New Restaurants,

Bahay Kubo review


Neighbourhood:  Exchange District
Address:  48 Albert Street
Phone:  204-942-2775
Entrees:  $14 – $18

The decor is as subtle as the name, but if you’re a tiki enthusiast, you and your grass skirt will fit right in at Bahay Kubo in the Atrium. Thankfully, the fare here is as delicious to taste as the restaurant’s name is fun to say. 

The Filipino word means bamboo stilt hut, a symbol of resourcefulness and ingenuity in the Philippines. Drawing on their own Filipino and part Hawaiian heritage, chefs Allan Pineda and Eejay Chua turn traditional homestyle cultural dishes on their head injecting playful twists on Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim delicacies. And considering the culinary experience pairs a virtual vacation escape to the South Pacific, it deserves all the attention. A quick scan of the room indicates the fan base for escapism is not restricted to  nostalgic expats from the Pearl of the Orient. 

Festive drinks, a warm aesthetic, and friendly relaxed staff all play a part in the paradisical surroundings. Tiki-esque bamboo, appropriately evocative of a hut, covers wooden mask adorned walls. Twinkling white lights framing the glass ceiling above seashell lantern shades and greenery hanging in 1970s style macrame – transform the historic Royal Albert hotel atrium into a tropical hideaway. 

Here, picking your poison or elixir is a pleasure. Ube infused pina coladas and margaritas enlivened with sour tamarind are exceptional concoctions, reflecting the unbridled imaginations in the kitchen. 

With Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles crooning island vibes, drinks with wee umbrellas and tiki kitsch,  the setting fits the culinary journey that unveils. Start with spam fries, a satisfying snack that defies trends. Panko coated crisp sticks are oddly airy and light, and inexplicably delicious. 

Chicken adobo confit combines Filipino tastes with French technique. A golden crisped leg with thigh resting on a bed of garlic rice and mushrooms is a tangy, sweet, salty and spicy comfort dish loaded with umami. 

Pancit, a beloved Filipino noodle dish, veers from traditional. Skinny rice noodles are swapped for squid ink fettucine, twirled on the plate and topped with grilled jumbo shrimp. Soy -dipped boiled egg and fried rice paper riffing on pork chicharron compose an enticing elevated version.  

Arancini Kaldereta mashes the flavours associated with a mainstay Filipino beef stew and rice dish with classic Italian arancini, delivering an inventive vegetarian arancini served in a tangy tomato sauce loaded with carrots and bell peppers.

As an enduring symbol of the country’s rich heritage and as Winnipeg’s new tiki inspired resto-lounge, Bahay Kubo serves fun innovative fare in a convivial and amusing atmosphere. Take that feeling, coast into your dessert course of ube cheesecake lumpia or milo pot de crème and live the dream a few moments longer.