Passion for Pork

Casa Pinoy – Try the Dinuguan (pork blood stew)!

Mijune - Monday, August 18, 2014

Restaurant: Casa Pinoy
Cuisine: Filipino/Greek/American/Breakfast
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond)
Address: 101 – 11911 Bridgeport Road
WB Bridgeport Rd FS No. 5 Rd
Price Range: $10-20 (average bill closer to $10)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 3 (based on what I tried)
Service: 4
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 3
Additional comments:

  • Filipino operated/owned
  • Family operated/owned
  • Filipino cuisine
  • Greek & American options
  • Quick/Casual
  • Spacious/Clean
  • Family friendly
  • Kid friendly options
  • Budget friendly/Cheap eats
  • Catering available
  • Free parking
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Open daily 10am-8pm

**Recommendations: Chicken Inasal, Dinguan if you’ve never tried it. Filipino food. Or wait… was it? It’s called “Casa Pinoy” which is certainly Filipino, but what’s this “sandwiches, calamari, BBQ, fish n’ chips” stuff I see on their sign?! It was either going to be Westernized Filipino food or Filipino-style American-Greek food. I’m not really keen on either, but I was given the recommendation to come check it out. I’ve also driven by it a few times and although it’s not a full house, the space is pretty big and there are Filipino locals dining inside. A sign of legitimacy? Perhaps, but there was only one way to find out. They closed at 8pm which is pretty early for a Filipino restaurant which serves dinner too. I was the last table and I was in at around 7:50pm and they still insisted and welcomed me to stay. It was spacious and assumingly clean, and the set up looked like a restaurant focused on catering – which they do. It’s a Filipino family owned and operated restaurant and the owners were really friendly. It almost makes it so much harder to write these things when they are, but when they asked for honest feedback, I said everything I would write on here. They were really receptive and for that reason alone I would come back and support the business. They offer Western and Filipino style breakfasts even though they open at 10am. I guess they go by Filipino time… The menu was pretty big and about half of it was Greek, Italian and American food. I was a bit nervous. It was one of those “we do it all” places. I didn’t come here for burgers, lasagne and calamari, but it all made sense when I remembered the previous restaurant was Isaac & Agatha.

It was a Greek restaurant and catering business before it turned into Casa Pinoy so I have a feeling they kept some menu items to satisfy the loyal clientele. It’s located in an industrial area of Richmond, BC which includes furniture warehouses, auto repair shops and small businesses, so I’m sure they have to cater to a lunch time crowd with more standard and basic offerings.

The burgers are made in house though and for all I know it could be actually very good, but I wasn’t as interested in the Western food as much as I was in the Filipino food. And that’s more like it! I can’t say I’m too familiar with Filipino food although I have been to the Philippines and been to Filipino parties and banquets. That doesn’t really mean anything though. I didn’t grow up with it and I’m still exploring and learning more about the cuisine.

The first time I blogged about it was at Kumare – see my Fililipino Cuisine 101 post, but I have tried a few other Filipino restaurants and foods in Metro Vancouver. Regardless I’m still on training wheels and I prefer going to Filipino restaurants with Filipino friends who can guide me.

For the most part Filipino cuisine is influenced by many Asian and Latin cultures. It’s normally rather simple, quite rich and heavy, pork focused, and served family style. Vinegar is used in many of the stews because traditionally it would allow the dish to keep for longer.

The pork dishes will usually use the whole hog including the head and cheaper cuts are also valued and nothing goes to waste. Since cheaper cuts are tougher many of their dishes are braised or come in stews. There is also a significant amount of barbeque and deep frying and although there are healthy options, I wouldn’t call it particularly a healthy cuisine. It is good though.

I ordered some classic Filipino dishes which were a bit hit and miss. It was all made in house and the prices were very affordable, although Filipino food should always be pretty cheap. It’s really not a fancy cuisine and the ingredients are inexpensive for the most part. Although I never expect excellent produce at small ethnic restaurants, this was a bit below what I would consider standard.

The food is traditional, but the ingredients and flavours might not be as “authentic”. It’s not my favourite Filipino restaurant based on what I tried, but it was decent, quick, casual and very affordable. There were some execution issues and it was food that you just know they make better at home. Even though I was the last table the food and service was in no way rushed, but it was just very average although people seem to love it.

Generally, it seems like this is considered one of the better Filipino restaurants in Metro Vancouver, but there isn’t a lot of options for it either. I haven’t tried enough to say, but I did like Kumare better based on what I tried. However the owners at Casa Pinoy were lovely people and I would come back purely based on that, but I’d just be a bit selective with my order.

On the table: Seafood Palabok3/6 (Good)

  • Rice noodle dish with flavourful shrimp sauce. Garnished with crispy pork crackling, sliced egg, drizzled with kalamansi (Filipino lemon) and fresh green onions $8.99
  • This was a recommended favourite.
  • It’s pretty much Filipino style seafood spaghetti and it’s a very popular Filipino dish.
  • I think I expected more seafood, but for $8.99 maybe I shouldn’t have.
  • It came with 3 shrimps and then some diced up salmon that was overcooked. The seafood was frozen, but I expected that.
  • Traditionally it would be smoked dried fish rather than salmon, but I’m assuming this is the same salmon used for their salmon burger.
  • It was sprinkled with crushed pork cracklings which were like croutons and then a hard boiled egg which was slightly overcooked.
  • The noodles were slippery, soft and semi chewy rice noodles and the shrimp sauce I found very mild and I could taste a bit of butter in it too.
  • It tasted like a savoury garlic and onion butter sauce with shrimp bouillon melted into it. It didn’t have a very shrimpy flavour though.
  • It was served with some fresh kalamansi juice on the side which made it more legit. Most places would just serve it with lemon.
  • Kalamansi is like the love child of  lemon and orange and it’s very sour, but more flavourful than lemons.
  • The lemon cut the richness and brightened up the dish giving it a refreshing and tangy element.
  • If you like Pad Thai there is a chance you will like this. It’s different, but it shares similarities even though this one has no peanuts, tamarind or spice.

Dinuguan3/6 (Okay-Good)

  • Filipino creamy stewed pork. Served with white rice $6.99
  • I’m a fan of Dinuguan and it’s one of the most popular and traditional Filipino foods to Filipino people.
  • The description is very vague as to likely not scare the majority of people off. Dinuguan is a pork blood stew.
  • I’m not keen on Taiwanese or Cantonese versions of solidified pork blood, but I like it when it’s melted down like this.
  • I’ve had Dinuguan a few times, but this wasn’t my favourite because the meat was slightly dry and the sauce was almost extra sour.
  • The stew is made with vinegar so it is intentionally sour, but this was just more so than most.
  • It was a tangy, rich, creamy gravy made from melted down pork’s blood and it had a gritty texture to it.
  • It was almost like the texture of black bean sauce and it’s a bit starchy.
  • It didn’t taste like pork’s blood and there was not even that iron like aftertaste.
  • The pork pieces are supposed to be pig’s head, but this was all shoulder and/or pork butt.
  • The pork was braised in the stew for a while and it was very tender, but just on the drier side. The sauce helped.
  • It’s a bit acquired and you have to like sour food and meaty flavours to appreciate this.
  • Try it! Just give it a shot! Worse come to wise is you don’t like it and you lose $6.99… really not so bad.
  • I also recommend trying the one at Kumare – see here.