Lina’s Kusina Cafe, Glebe

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Filipino food is new to me, and Lina’s Kusina Cafe in Glebe is where I took my first dip into Filipino cuisine.

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A few shop­fronts north of Glebe Point Rd on Parramatta Road, Lina’s Kusina Cafe is about a tiny a res­taur­ant as you can get, seat­ing only 12 people at max­im­um capacity.

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Every cus­tom­er starts off their meal with com­ple­ment­ary chick­en broth seasoned with ginger and shallots.

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To start, we share the Kusina Ensaladang Talong ($6.50), grilled Japanese egg­plant with diced tomato and onion in shrimp paste. While crunchy, the the fla­vour of onion over­powered the egg­plant and tomato, while the shrimp dress­ing mel­lowed their fresh­ness. The egg­plant itself was tender, although it lacked any smokey fla­vour. Honestly, N and I were expect­ing some­thing more brown, as you’d expect from grilled egg­plant in Japanese res­taur­ants, and were com­pletely sur­prised to have this at our table.

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I had my mind set on their chick­en inas­al (mar­in­ated chick­en mary­land) but it wasn’t avail­able when we vis­ited, so instead I try the Crispy Pata ($18.00), or whole deep fried pork hock served with spice and sauce on the side.

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I love pork, and the crack­ling here is just superb — thin and crispy with the slight­est lay­er of soft fat on the under­side. The meat itself was also juicy and fla­vour­some, while the vin­eg­ar with pickled cucum­ber helped cut through the heav­i­ness of the meat to help you eat more.

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T went for the Grilled Liempo ($12.90), or mar­in­aded pork belly with steamed rice (chips are an altern­at­ive option). T enjoyed the tender pork belly that was infused with deli­cious smokey fla­vours from the grill.

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N loves tofu, and tried the Tofu Sisig ($8.90), or fried tofu sauteed in gar­lic, onion and green chilli in mayo and oyster sauce. She enjoyed the heat from the pep­pers, which elev­ated the dish, but wasn’t too keen on the strong onion after­taste. The fried tofu itself was firm, without the mush­i­ness that usu­ally turns me off tofu, and the oozy egg added a nice ‘sauce’ to the dish.

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If Lina’s Kusina Cafe is any­thing to go by, Filipino food seems to be rather heavy-handed in their use of onion. While the food is decently priced, I’m not a great fan of onion, so that’s some­thing I’ll need to look into before try­ing Filipino food again.

Lina’s Kusina Cafe is at University Hall, 1÷212 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037.