Whenever my handsome Pinoy friend misses home, he comes to Balai Kainan, a Filipino version of cai fan (economical rice). Unassuming with makeshift tables, way too cramp, it is worth coming for the fantastic Filipino food.
For $5, you get any 2 dishes and a drink. This means, if you like, you can get 2 whole fish.
Not in a deep-fried fishy mood that day, I had stewed pork belly and mixed vegetables. The pork belly was spectacular. It was similar to the Chinese style with salty fermented black bean but it had something extra, crushed fresh black pepper, which was sprinkled sparingly. Suddenly you bite into a grain of pepper and the flavors burst in your mouth and you keep eating, longing to meet the next pepper in the pork. The mixed vegetables, pumpkin, eggplant and long bean, was in a goo-ey, starchy sauce, which I normally wouldn’t like, but it was so tasty that I drank up the sauce.
Comparing this version to Singapore’s cai fan, it is He-Man before and after the transformation, and by the power of Grayskull, the Filipino version is muscled, bold and strong. Highly recommended.
304 Orchard Road
#04-24 Lucky Plaza
Rating: 4.000/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.