Friday, August 7, 2009

Kawali Grill

Kamusta! That's "Hello"/"How are you?" in Tagalog, one of the Filipino dialects. Sorry, but I'm not fluent in the language, nor do I understand it, so that's the extent of my Tagalog (well, I know a couple of other words too). My parents never really spoke it while growing up.
Anyway, I'd like to review a Filipino restaurant that I've been to on several occasions located on Rainier Avenue, called Kawali Grill. This restaurant serves up both American and Filipino dishes. So, here we go:

The building itself is a fairly small rectangle. The exterior is not really uniform in the sense that the decorations and fonts don't really flow that well. There are multi-colored pennants hanging over the top of the roof all along the building. But, who cares about what the building looks like, right? It's all about the food. Let's go inside.

When you first enter, you see a "bar" at the front counter. However, if you look closely, it's not really a bar, but more like a place to store excess dishes and kitchen supplies. The service, initially, was very attentive and promptly greeted and seated us (I picked up my mom and took her out to lunch) at a table of our choice. The interior wasn't anything out of the ordinary. The ceiling had inlets that resembled the sky (see pic) and there was a flat screen TV at the far end that only showed The Filipino Channel which happens to always show a Filipino game show called "Wow Wow Wee!" It's supposed to be a family show but,'ll have to check it out for yourself. I mean, I liked it! =)

The menu has many basic Filipino dishes, like pancit and lechon, along with some specialty ones like kare kare. On another page you'll also find American food like burgers and such. We decided to go with pancit (a favorite of many) and lechon (roasted pork; also another favorite of many).

After ordering, I should have taken a look at my watch because it seemed like an eternity before we were revisted by the waitress for our water and our food. But finally, our food arrived and it was time to get to eating. The pancit was pretty good. It was made just like all other pancits with mixed chopped vegetables and small pieces of chinese sausage. The lechon was what I was waiting for because that's usually one of my favorites. The lechon there was chopped up nicely and was very fresh. They served it along with a small bowl of rice, a little side of green beans, and a sweet liver/brown sugar dipping sauce that normally accompanies this dish. It was definitely the highlight of the lunch.

As you can see from the dessert menu, there were a couple of really tasty choices. I've actually tried the halo-halo and leche flan on past visits, but no dessert this time. I'm sure the bibingka (which is another one of my favorites) is also pretty tasty.

Anyway, on to the review using my 5-doughnut rating system:
  • Service, 1.5 doughnuts= Sorry, but other than the prompt seating at the very beginning, I'm going to have to score low in this category. After they took our order, they forgot my drink (I got a Filipino lemon drink called calamansi.....which I never got) and our water. We had to flag them down to get their attention and they just brought water and not my calmansi, so I just said....forget it. Plus, we must have waited for close to half an hour before getting our food. It always sucks when you see the waitress come out with a tray and it goes to another table. :(
  • Atmosphere/Location, 2.5 doughnuts= Nothing spectacular here. Our table kept rocking back and forth because it was uneven, and the chairs were simple vinyl chairs. It was located in a normal place right off of Rainier Ave. It's very easy to find.
  • Food Presentation, 3 doughnuts= The lechon dish was very well presented, I thought. The lechon was sitting on a bed of lettuce and the beans, white rice, and brown sauce all added a nice contrast and overall presentation. There's not much you can do with the pancit dish but to add slices of lemon and maybe garnish with scallions, which they did.
  • Taste, 3.5 doughnuts= Again, I'm going to play up the lechon dish because I love that dish. Like I said, it was pretty fresh and meaty. The skin was just the way I like it....nice and crunchy. The sauce was a great compliment to the dish as well. The pancit was just like any other pancit dish really. It was still good though.
  • Cost/Value, 2 doughnuts= I think they could definitely knock off a few bucks from each dish. Each dish on the menu nears $10 a pop, so I think besides the lechon dish, it's not a very good value.
  • Originality, 2 doughnuts= I can't really think of anything too original in this restaurant. There are actually a couple of Filipino joints in the city, so I can't really play that card. I guess I can give them some originality with decorating the building's exterior. I do like being able to check out The Filipino Channel in restaurants like this, since it's not a common thing to watch here.
  • Overall, 2.5 doughnuts= I love Filipino food (I'd better....I'm Filipino!), and this was not too bad. I'll eventually get to reviewing my favorite Filipino restaurant, but that's outside the city all the way down south in Lakewood. Anyway, I think if the service was a bit more attentive/expedient, it would have made the experience a little more enjoyable. I think the price of the dishes also hurt their chances for a slightly higher score. Overall, I still give it a thumbs up. So, go grab a bite over there.

If you'd like to check out their online menus, their website is: I'm looking forward to trying their Filipino breakfast and dinner dishes. Enjoy!


Lechon Kawali on Foodista

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