Last week, I got to attend the very first vegetarian kamayan "hand to mouth" dinner at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen. According to co-owner and GM, Les Sabilano:
We are hosting this special dinner because it is important to us that vegetarian diners never feel like an afterthought during their experience at Lamesa, so what better way to show that than a dedicated night. Also, typically, Filipino food is not associated with healthy eating. We strongly believe that this no longer has to be the case.
Highlighting existing vegetarian items on the menu. Les feels those items, carefully designed by Chef Daniel Cancino, are a star of this season's menu. On the banana leaves this evening were:
- the above Humba lettuce wrap made with tofu (Humba is traditionally a pork dish similar to adobo)
- a green maalat (briny) salad
- devilled egg paksiw
- the can't-miss garlic fried rice
- ginataan cauliflower coated in sriracha
- adobong talong (an adobo style eggplant dish)
- broccolini kare kare (traditionally made with oxtail)
- sweet roasted kalabasa (a tropical winter squash)
- okra pakbet
- sweet soy bok choy
- kalabasa corn bread, which was super moist due to the squash
All of this was accompanied by four sauces - coconut dill ranch, soy garlic purée, sawsawan gel and a beautifully flavoured, house-made mango scotch bonnet pepper sauce that even I could handle. Lamesa will be bottling and selling the hot sauce in time for the holidays, so stop by and ask for "Dat's Hot, Mang".
If you think that a meat-free dinner can't be satisfying, I strongly suggest you visit Lamesa on a Sunday evening and let them prove you wrong. I was positively stuffed by the end of the meal and could only have a bite of each of the desserts. And that is something, considering how much I love their ube flan. Not only are the portions generous, but the variety and strength of flavours in all the items in this kamayan are such that you won't miss meat for one second.
In addition to the vegetarian kamayan, you can partake in the regular omnivore version and a soon-come pescatarian version. Kamayans take place at Lamesa every Sunday from 5-9 and reservations are recommended.