Authentic Filipino Cuisine?
Cusina ni Mutya
10708 98 Street
Cusina ni Mutya has recently opened at 10708 98 Street, occupying the former Vietnamese restaurant Ninh Kieu. To try it out, a friend of mine and I went to lunch there. Most dishes on the menu were categorized by a Philippine province or region and had ample descriptions and pictures. In addition, there were sizzling dishes and Pancit (Filipino for noodles). The choices were heavy on the protein (fish, chicken, and pork in particular) and light on the vegetables, even as sides.
When we were ready to order, our server strongly steered my co-diner away from the “pork adobo” to “sizzling, flaming chicken.” Likewise she really urged me to the sizzling dishes, but I stuck to my guns and ordered “bicol express” pork, thinking it might be more authentic. Why she thought we wouldn’t like our choices, I don’t know, unless she suspected that Western diners may not care for authentic Filipino food. All the mains were approximately $12.95 -$15.95, but the $2.25 for a dollop of rice was excessive.
The rice and my pork came almost immediately. However, we had to wait more than five minutes for the other entree. The pork dish was certainly not skimpy in size with numerous bite-sized pieces of firm meat (with the occasional bit of grizzle or fat). There were hints of internal organ tastes, with the saltiness that comes with canned soups. The rice tamed it somewhat, but I did yearn for some veggies.
The chicken dish looked to be what the “Western food” at a Chinese restaurant would be: fried chicken wings with some nondescript sauce and a side of frozen mixed vegetables. It was served on a hot iron plate to sizzle, but the taste didn’t match the presentation. It was very heavy on the salt, and otherwise not very tasty.
We were looking forward to trying what seemed to be a signature Filipino dessert, but since it took ten minutes of looking for the server before we even got our bill, we opted to go to the DQ a few blocks away for a Blizzard instead.
I would be curious to hear from members of the Filipino community about the degree of authenticity and their take on the quality of the food. My friend and I, both rather adventurous eaters, would have to be talked into a second visit.