The Monday-night event quickly sold out—so fast, in fact, that chefs AC Boral and Raquel “Roq” Jubran added another Family Feast pop-up dinner the following week to meet demand.
Boral, the founder of Rice & Shine Eats, a downtown Long Beach-based supper club, paired up with Jubran, chef/co-owner of Lasher’s Kitchen, to celebrate their shared culture and the foods from their childhoods. Held in October, Filipino-American History Month, the family-style dinner featured eight generous courses.
Locals will remember the original Lasher’s restaurant occupying a beautiful Craftsman-style house on Broadway for 16 years before closing in 2012 (that space is now the Attic). Since opening this year, Lasher’s Kitchen has nicely settled into its Second Street location with a modern, communal vibe: One long table in the center of the restaurant allows for large parties or multiple small groups to mingle, while neatly placed rows of tables and booths, dotted with throw pillows, line either side. It’s an ideal arrangement to host just such a Family Feast—and with music from DJ HoneyMee, who set up on the small outside patio and played mostly throwback pop, the setting soon filled with boisterous conversation like, well, a large family gathering.
Careful thought was put into the menu. The specialty drinks, both citrusy and light, included a passionfruit-and-blood-orange mimosa and a calamansi margarita. Common in the Philippines, the calamansi is a tart citrus fruit; Boral told his guests that the produce, however, was sourced from “a back yard in Bellflower.”
The meal, which also featured commentary from Boral, started with an artfully plated lumpiang sariwa: warm vegetable and tofu salad with sweet soy dressing and squid-ink tuile. Here, the traditional dish was deconstructed, with tuile taking the place of the usual unfried spring-roll wrapper, soft tofu anchoring an umami-bomb dressing; it was topped with delicately shaved radish and a pinch of microgreens. Next came Jubran’s pickled papaya salad, a cool rainbow of papaya, red onions and bracing ginger ribbons. Another side dish was a large scoop of a soft, starchy mixture of co-op-sourced jasmine and cotabato black rices. Both came with the verbal suggestion to save a little to enjoy with the upcoming meat courses. The next dish was a comfort standard, pancit canton, stir-fried egg noodles elevated with fat pieces of grain-laden tempeh.
Two meat entrées were prepared: first, chicken adobo, drumsticks and thighs cooked in a dark, salty brine of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic that rendered it tender; and second, a surprisingly addicting version of kare kare, succulent oxtail blanketed in a thick “peanut butter Bolognese” and plated alongside leafy Chinese broccoli. That’s right: Peanut. Butter. Bolognese.
Another two dishes followed for dessert. Filipino ambrosia came as a collection of candied fruit—including gemstones of pineapple, palm seeds and slivers of coconut—folded in a whipped mix of condensed milk, cream and coconut milk. Finally, fried plantains were sliced and dredged in thick sugar crystals, then served with a dense vanilla ice cream.
Boral and Jubran’s collaboration of modernized and homestyle Filipino recipes was a three-hour eating marathon. Each dish met that careful balance between childhood comfort food and something wholly new. Perhaps Filipino cuisine is the next to explode in Long Beach—at the least, Lasher’s Kitchen should consider adding oxtail to its regular menu.
Lasher’s Kitchen, 5295 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 343-7228; www.lasherskitchen.com.