For a better understanding of the Modern Filipino cuisine moment Southern California is currently eating, visit the old school. Visit Manila Kusina Grill in Mission Viejo, a turo turo restaurant serving up soulful dishes that inspires the new generation of Pinoy chefs while keeping the lolas and manongs happy.
In steaming trays sit seemingly simple but ridiculously complex meals like relyenong bangus (milkfish stuffed with carrots, fish meat, garlic, onion, tomato and lightly fried), succulent crispy pata, and an army of silogs, a Filipino breakfast platter that involves garlic rice, fried eggs and your choice of meat. These are all great introductions to the uninitiated, but make sure to order the beauty that is the kinilaw shrimp — Filipino ceviche.
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The raw shrimp is marinated in coconut vinegar and enhanced with calamansi for a sharp tart-sweet finish. It’s then mixed with fresh ginger, green onion, red bell pepper, thinly sliced serrano chilis and topped with tender slivers of mango—spectacular. May more Filipino restaurants settle in South County, North County—the world!
Manila Kusina, 25571 Jeronimo Rd., Ste. 1, Mission Viejo, (949) 461-0113.