A new-ish addition to the Haebangchon eating scene is Kusina, which opened in March 2012 with the unveiling of this intriguing temporary banner on the main HBC drag, just down from what was then the Family Mart. By happy coincidence I was on my way for a barely-deserved beach holiday in Cebu the following week, so I rounded up my tame Filipino friend Jan and a couple of other volunteers to see what it might have to offer.
The interior is warm and inviting, as you can see from the blurry photo above. The menu is varied, with pork and chicken dishes predominating. There is another menu page with a choice of vegetable dishes, but I didn’t take a photo of that because life is too short to spend taking photos of photos of vegetables.
As you can see from the menu, the dishes are reasonably priced, but be warned that the portions are small – if you’re in a group, you’ll want to order at least one menu item per person, and perhaps even more if there are hungry people with you. We ordered a selection, and I think it’s fair to say that everything was good. The caldereta was my favourite, large chunks of beef in a thick tomato stew that I could have eaten at least three portions of. Also excellent was the chicken adobo, cooked with soy and spices and quite simply delicious and very addictive.
There was no pork available on the evening that we visited, so we had the sinigang with large king prawns instead, and that was very nicely cooked as well – the sauce a bit sour for my tastes, but very well received by the others at the table.
There’s also a range of juices and shakes on offer, and (more importantly, for my purposes) pretty reasonably priced San Miguel at 3,500 won per bottle. For some unaccountable reason we didn’t have dessert – not sure why – but they all looked pretty good as well.
Kusina is nice. If you’ve never had Filipino food, then you should know that the food is not at all spicy but full of flavour – some familiar, some a little less so. Our Filipino diner pronounced it authentic – perhaps not quite like home, but he had been there twice in the preceding couple of weeks, so it was clearly working for him.
In total, our bill for five dishes and some drinks came to 12,000 won per head, and I’d have very happily have ordered the same again as soon as we had finished. For those with more normal-sized appetites, one of those dishes with rice would make a great lunch, possibly with a bit of cake at the end. The friendly manager told me that they are open from 9am through until late.
- Category: Filipino
- Price: $$$$ ($$$$ if you have a big appetite)
- Must try: Beef caldereta
- Subway: Noksapyeong exit 2
- Directions: Kusina is on the main strip in Haebangchon, just before Jacoby’s and the CU Mart as you come up the hill. Come out of Noksapyeong station exit 2 and walk up alongside the main road until you see kimchi pots to your left, which marks the entrance to HBC. Walk up the road until you start getting to the shops and restaurants. Kusina is on your left above Casablanca – you’ll see the sign on the first floor (what Koreans would call the second floor!), and the entrance is on the right hand side, just off the main road, marked with a little sign. If you get as far as Jacoby’s, you’ve gone too far.
[insert Google map of restaurant]