Kusina at Cooleman Court serves up modern Filipino cuisine, is a hub for Canberra’s Filipino community and has heaps of great value lunch specials.
Kusina is a restaurant I wish I’d discovered sooner. While I do most of my shopping at Cooleman Court, and it’s my go-to destination for Friday night takeaway, I’d somehow missed out on eating at Kusina (next to That Gelato Place) until last week.
Don’t repeat my mistake. The food is good, the atmosphere is warm and friendly and the prices, particularly for lunch, are very reasonable. There are Filipino newspapers to read while you wait, and signs at the front counter teach you how to say ‘welcome’ and ‘delicious’ in Tagalog.
Kusina has nine express lunch options for under $15, including tapsilog (marinated beef with sweet soy, garlic rice and a fried egg), noodle set (rice noodles, chicken and vegetables with skewered BBQ pork), and inihaw na liempo (grilled pork belly served with eggplant salad and rice). I never pass up an opportunity to try crispy pork belly, so I ordered the lechon set (crispy pork belly with papaya salad and plain or garlic rice, $14.50) to take away.
While the wait was a little longer than I had anticipated (15-20 minutes), the meal was really good value.
The pork belly and rice were packed into a deep Chinese food container, a generous serve of papaya salad was stuffed into a separate container and two small servings of sauce were included as well. Unless you’re a professional athlete or have two stomachs, you’d probably find it difficult to finish this one. I certainly did.
Pork belly is one of my favourite dishes, and I was impressed with Kusina’s effort. The crackling was crispy and the fat had rendered out so it didn’t taste greasy. I ordered towards the end of the lunch service, which is perhaps why parts of the meat were a little dry, but this was easily fixed by a quick dip in the delicious accompanying sauces.
I have high standards when it comes to pork belly, and I’d order this dish for lunch again. I’ve also heard good things about Kusina’s monthly boodle feast, which is an arrangement of Filipino dishes and rice served on a banana leaf, so I have plenty of reasons to go back for another visit.
What: Kusina Canberra
Where: Cooleman Court (facing the Whitney Place car park between That Gelato Place and the Weston Creek Community Centre)
Opening hours: 5pm to 9pm Monday and Tuesday, 11am to 2.30pm and 5pm to 9pm Wednesday to Sunday