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Kumain at Kuma Inn

March 13, 2012

Last Saturday I learned that the word Kumain in Filipino means to eat and eat we did at Kuma Inn.  Besides the clever word play on the name, the Filipino tapas restaurant also challenges a first-timer by hiding on the second floor accessible by an unmarked set of stairs next to the once again reopened Los Feliz on the corner of Ludlow and Delancey.  The first thing that caught my attention as I arrived upstairs in the restaurant was the burst of fragrant smell of spices and herbs being churned out by the open kitchen right by the hostess stand.  If I wasn’t hungry already, just the smells and sound of fire and wok alone would have had my stomach churning.

Once we were seated at a corner table of the small restaurant, the bottle of wine we brought along (Kuma Inn is a BYO) along with a flurry of orders went away with the waitress.  The best part of a tapas restaurant is that you can taste so many different dishes and here is what we had…

…sweet and rich Chinese sausage sauteed simply until the edges are crispy with a sweet and sour chili-lime sauce…

…savory pork shumais that really gave my sinus an unsuspecting punch with each bite…

…steamed buns filled with hearty braised pork (a special that I think is the closest to traditional pork buns yet)…

…tender grilled baby octopus just so right up my alley that I didn’t even notice the “missing” pickled bamboo shoots…

…deep-fried pork belly with smooth fatty portions melding into the meat and punctuated by crackling skin…

…finger-licking garlic and soy glazed wings…

…and an never ending bowl of garlic rice that was the perfect side for all the dishes we had ordered…

And of course, when the waitress came by again to offer us dessert, we could not refuse.  Why not?  Just a little martini glass of creamy smooth coconut lemon grass panna cotta to end the meal.  The lemon grass tamed the sweetness of coconut, making this one incredibly light dessert for a filling meal.

In a city where BYOs are not easy to find, a good BYO is even more of a treasure.  I guess that’s why they do have to hide it away a little out of sight above a busy neighorhood if only to control the crowds.

Kuma Inn | 113 Ludlow Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10002 | http://www.kumainn.com

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