It's not unusual for us (Mharie and her family and me) to end up at a Filipino restaurant because, although they cook mostly Filipino style at home, it's nice to have someone else do the work and clean up! Kulinarya is one of the few Filipino joints that we have not tried even though they've made their presence known in the foodie community. Best of all, while I feel like Filipino food tends to be as meat-centric as southern barbeque, Kulinarya has a vegan section to their menu! You may be able to see the handwritten Welcome Vegans sign in their front window.
Kulinarya - World Vegan Day
Located in one of the little strip malls behind Coquitlam Centre, parking can be challenging on the weekend. but we survived it. There is a skytrain station not too far away. I'll start with the vegan dishes that we ordered (because that is the point today) and then give you a taste of the more omnivorous dishes.
Fresh Lumpia is the first Filipino dish that I ever tried, probably 3 decades ago when I wondered unaccompanied into Galing-Galing formerly at Broadway and Granville. The sweet garlic sauce is what stood out most to me at the time and that has not changed. This version was filled with a lot of match stick cut vegetables including purple yam and sweet potato and provided some nice contrasting textures.
You wouldn't think that this dish, Pinakbet, would require a vegan version. It is basically all kinds of vegetables cooked in coconut milk but usually with the addition of shrimp paste. They have not just dropped the shrimp paste here but cook the vegetables in their special vegan sauce. I did not ask what the vegan sauce is but the basic flavours of the traditional dish were definitely there! Very good.
Finally, vegan Tofu Sisig was very good and a mile from the original. It is the sign of a responsible cuisine that no part of an animal is wasted and original sisig is made from pork head (sorry vegans reading this). This version is also responsible but in a different way. It came to the table sizzling, was a little spicy and had all the flavour of the traditional. Excellent. All in all, there are 10 vegan dishes on the menu. Well done., Kulinarya!
This next dish is Tartang Talong or eggplant omelette. I am fairly certain that this version is vegetarian although I did not ask and only nibbled around the edges when I was assured (by my lunch mates) that there was no ground pork (as there is quite often). Mharie makes this at home and I thought this one compared favourably.
Another dish that arrived sizzling was the Inihaw na Pusit (grilled squid) stuffed with onions, green onions and tomatoes. The gang seemed to approve of this dish as nothing was left by the end of the meal.
No omnivorous Filipino celebratory dinner would be complete without Lechon Kawali. Basically, deep-fried pork belly served with a dipping sauce. Crispy and delicious as you may guess.
Pancit Canton is another favourite. It is a sort of a version of chow mein and this one was pretty good. They do serve a vegan version at Kulinarya.
This is not a big restaurant (4 tables with social distancing measures in effect) and although they do not take reservations on the weekend, they pushed 2 tables together for us since we arrived at mid-afternoon on the weekend. Better to try take out if you are able. As we move into Fall. Mharie and I will be resorting to take out more and dine in less. Service was friendly and efficient and I am still so impressed by the whole vegan thing here. Well done!
Food 4 1/2 out of 5 (the whole vegan thing is a big deal!)
Comfort 3 1/2 out of 5
Service 4 out of 5
Value 4 out of 5
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