Connect with us

Food & Drink

Bonifacio offers guests hands-on dining experience serving Filipino Kamayan

Avatar

Published

on

Remember when your mother told you not to eat with your hands? During Kamayan, a traditional dinner held on the last Monday of every month at modern Filipino restaurant Bonifacio, you can disregard that rule. The word kamayan literally means “with hands” in Filipino, and guests are invited to dig in. Before the grand opening of Bonifacio, the restaurant held its first Kamayan for the staff’s close relatives and friends, curating a dining experience filled with food and the spirit of community.

“Kamayan has always held a special place in my heart. Before I could hold a spoon and fork, my mom fed me by hand. Even after I could hold a spoon and fork, this was still my preferred way to eat fish and rice,” said Bonifacio owner, Krizzia Yanga. She admits that some foods taste better when forgoing utensils. “I like to think of the Kamayan table as an altar to community.”

Attending each Kamayan with her mother, Yanga ensures that each dinner lives up to its word-of-mouth expectations. She shares stories about her visits to the Philippines, gives guests practical tips on how they can eat with their hands, and curates an easing playlist.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Bonifacio also hosts Boodle Nights (a play on “boodle fights”, a Filipino military-style of eating) every Thursday and Sunday night as another communal event, one that’s built connections across the table. “At our very first Boodle Night, before it was a weekly staple, a family walked in, shared a table with strangers, and left saying, ‘I think we just met the people we would trust with our kids if anything ever happens to us,’” Yanga said. “While this was the most unique expression of it, over and over, we have seen people come to the table as strangers, and leave as friends.”

While both are regularly held at Bonifacio, there are still noteworthy differences between Boodle Nights and Kamayan. A ticketed event, the menu for Kamayan is usually pre-set and thematic, (past events have been gluten-free, seafood, and regional cuisine) to engage the staff with guests. On the flipside, Boodle Nights are suited for guests who are interested in Kamayan, but need more flexibility in attending. Boodle Nights also have dedicated servers, rather than being communal. With an a la carte menu, Boodle Nights have a customizable spread, giving way to a more casual dining experience that is friendly to those with dietary restrictions.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Kamayan attendees can expect to feast on Inihaw na Liempo, a grilled marinated pork belly dish, and Inasal na Manok, grilled chicken marinated in annatto, lemongrass, garlic, and lemon. Debuted at a regional cuisine Kamayan, Yanga credits Pyanggang Manok—a chicken dish braised in tumeric, lemongrass, onion and more specialty seasonings—as a dinner standout. “My mom comes from a small island in the southern Philippines, much closer geographically and culturally to Malaysia than Manila. Because of this, the food in that region is much different than mainstream Filipino food and is a rare find even in the Philippines. After [adding Pyanggang Manok] to our regular menu, it quickly became one of our most popular dishes,” Yanga said.

An unexpected part of Kamayan may be the focus of connection, but it’s also a welcome change from ordinary dining experiences. For those hesitant to eat with their hands, the tradition may encourage guests to put down their phones and relax in the Kamayan atmosphere. Once guests begin to eat, there’s a commitment to finishing the courses and being attentive to others. Yanga is also interested in and changing thoughts on societal norms, especially conversations involving Filipino cuisine.

“Columbus is a diverse city, but if you’re not careful, you can live your entire life here without meeting anyone different from you. From food trucks and mom-and-pop shops to fine dining, the influence of Columbus immigrants can be felt everywhere, in subtle and obvious ways. But you might have to step out of your comfort zone to get to know your neighbors and try their food,” Yanga says. “There are plenty of big names in Columbus who are genuinely pushing for international cuisine. The folks behind North Market are a prime example of people using their influence to highlight international cuisine and immigrant communities. And of course, we are excited for the opportunity to represent Filipino cuisine at Budd Dairy Food Hall.”

Rather than being misrepresented, Yanga finds that Filipino food can often be underrepresented, creating a barrier in which Americans can have a misconception of Filipino cuisine as being monolithic. While Filipino visibility in mainstream culture deserves an increase in representation, American palates can be shifted when informed about Filipino food, art and experiences. Kamayan is just a start, but it’s a promising one.

“I hope that, if nothing else, Bonifacio shows folks that there are people behind the cuisine with incredible stories to tell. It can be easy to get caught up in the hype when a new cuisine has become mainstream, but there are people who have been eating and making this food for generations and food is just one part of their story,” Yanga said. “Find experiences and spaces that are inclusive, but not explicitly created for you, and learn to be a guest at someone else’s house. Walk into those experiences with curiosity and humility, with an open heart and mind.

Bonifacio is located at 1577 King Ave.

Continue Reading
Comments

Food & Drink

What it’s like to work at Buckeye Donuts for 24 hours straight

Avatar

Published

on

It was late. I didn’t plan it. It just happened. It always just happens, right? I don’t recall many of the details, but I know I left happy and satisfied, with a big smile on my face. From that moment on, I was in love—with Buckeye Donut that is.

For the uninitiated (assuming there are any of you out there) Buckeye Donuts is a 24 hour restaurant located in the campus area, on High Street. It’s a place to grab a quick meal on the cheap. But for a Columbus girl like me, Buckeye Donuts is so much more than just a place to eat. It’s a local institution. Nothing says “home” to me more than driving down High Street and spotting its big, red sign with the picture of a giant donut on it.

Buckeye Donuts is a gathering place to sit and talk about the weather, politics, or just about anything else on your mind over a plate of some very satisfying, down home comfort food. Eat there often enough, and the staff will start treating you like family.

So, one day, when my editor magazine came up with the idea to write about some of Columbus’ finest round the clock institutions, I shared my idea: I would try my hand at working there—for 24 hours straight! “Go for it,” he said. Somehow, the good folks at Buckeye Donut agreed, and before I knew it, I was there, ready to make it happen.

First Shift
“Go wash up or put some gloves on,” says Jimmy, the owner of my new place of employment for the next 24 hours. I chose the first option and headed off to the bathroom at the back of the kitchen, where I scrubbed like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator. Beats a pair of latex gloves, two sizes too big for my hands.

7:00am
1970’s disco pours out of the sound system. The percolator pops in time to the beat as coffee bubbles out onto the burner. Bacon and eggs hiss and sizzle on the grill. Cookware clatters. Above the chaos, Jimmy’s mom Tula shouts out orders in Greek. It’s busy and the breakfast crowd is full of regulars. Jimmy introduces me to one named Johnny Boy. Johnny Boy has eaten there every day—sometimes twice a day—since the place opened in the 1970’s. He drinks ten coffees a day and eats four donuts.

7:30am
I meet Yanni, the head baker. He has been working here since 1977. He holds out a floury hand for me to shake. He is a master donut maker and
the backbone of the operation. I also meet Victor and Miguel, the first shift cooks. They are master chefs in their own right and their grill game shows it. I can already tell they will be great teachers.

8:00am
Jimmy asks me if I am ready to try my hand at preparing a couple of orders. Um, no. He convinces me to frost some freshly baked Buckeye Donuts instead. The iconic item is a crowd favorite, along with newer offerings like the maple bacon cream filled variety. Beside me, dough is being rolled out in giant sheets and glazes of all sorts are being prepared in vats. Frosting donuts seems simple enough: fill a spoon and spread. It melts on contact and oozes down the sides and onto the countertop, leaving me with a chocolate mess. Yanni comes to my rescue.

8:30am
I switch to the grill and squirt a generous amount of liquid butter (literally the grease that keeps the wheels of Buckeye Donut spinning) onto the surface. My first hash browns look decent but I flub the omelet flip, so into the trash can it goes. Victor nudges me aside and prepares a textbook version.

10:30am
The restaurant slows down enough for Jimmy to give me a crash course on sandwich prep. I do my best to turn out gyros, Philly steak and Greek sausage. After rolling five or six, I feel like I’ve got the hang of it. At least, if I’m making one order at a time.

11:00am
Lunch break. I have the falafel wrap—a pita filled with grilled veggies, onion, lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce. It’s pretty good, but the falafel is overcooked and the wrap comes undone, causing some to land in my lap. I’ve got no one to blame but myself—I made it.

12:30pm
The lunch rush is in full swing. Johnny boy is back, along with another regular, known as Yanni the Maintenance Guy. He got this name because he fixes things at the restaurant as often as he eats there. Jimmy pauses from his orders long enough to tell me the story about the time Andy, a nightshift manager who happens to live upstairs, passed out drunk with his shower running. Water came pouring through the kitchen ceiling right in the middle of donut production. It was Yanni who came and saved the day.

Second Shift
16 hours to go! My feet hurt and my face is greasy but thanks to all the donuts I’ve sampled, my blood sugar is soaring and I’m feeling pretty damn good.

5:00pm
The dinner crowd has begun to arrive and Dave and Gary, the second shift cooks are getting ready for action. “Want to clean the grill” Dave asks? Ugh. I roll up my sleeves and do it. Shower please!

6:00pm
Some other important customers have arrived. My kids. One laughs. The other two look shocked. Do I look that bad? I serve them perfectly formed glazed donuts and milk – no doubt the best ones I have made all day.

6:30pm
The dinner rush is still going strong. The next order is mine and I’m shaking. Seating is limited, so the goal is always to get people in and out quick. I give it my best shot.

7:30pm
My best friend shows up and I fix her a perfect veggie wrap and fries. She is impressed. Thank goodness somebody is!

Third Shift
It’s getting late and I’m getting nervous. Not too much longer before the crazies start coming. During a brief lull, the night crew takes a moment to tell me about the time a baller limo pulled up at 2am and Prince got out. “He spent half an hour in the bathroom and then ordered donuts for his entire entourage,” they explained.

11pm
The calm before the storm. As I brace myself for the bar rush, I remember that today just happens to be Friday the 13th. I start thinking about every horrible thing my friends and I did to restaurant employees back when we were teenagers. My karma is coming for me. I can feel it. I pray silently that Curtis, Bunny and the rest of the late crew will have my back.

Midnight
I dare not sit down for fear of falling asleep. I start to open my heart and mind to the coming chaos. I need it. It’s my only hope of staying awake.

2am
The witching hour is well in the rearview. And just like that, they start to come. The talk is louder and orders crazier than during the day. There are tables full of booze soaked college students. Laughter rings out and F-bombs fly. The place is packed and I help out in the kitchen. My wraps are Instagram-worthy! Bring it on!

3am
An OSU t-shirt wearing kid orders and a few minutes later, his food is in his lap He is hunched over. I have come to call this the Buckeye Donut lean. He’s pale and in bad shape. Gary, the late cook fixes him a new plate, on the house. Once he gets some of it in his stomach, his color improves and smiles woozily at his friends. Thankfully, it all stays in his belly and he and his wasted buddies hit the door. All hail Gary, the savior of the night shift.

4 am
The late rush is over and the staff receives deliveries. Yanni is back and donut production is in full swing again. Overall, it was a pretty tame night. No fights or thrown food. Everyone who works at Buckeye Donuts has stories. “Back in the old days, the cops would typically come rolling in around midnight, and the ambulance would get here by two,” Gary explains. But for now, all is well.

5-6am
This period is little more in my memory now than a distant and faded spell of delirium punctuated by black coffee. I recall my ramblings on a litany of subjects ranging from the bizarre to the intellectual only because I’ve recorded them in voice memo.

7am
I made it! 24 hours at Buckeye Donut! Jimmy is back and he slaps me a high five. I stumble to the bathroom sink where I had scrubbed in the morning before, splash water on my grease soaked face and somehow manage to drive home.

After 24 hours on the inside, I can still say that Buckeye Donut is one of my favorite places to eat. Why? Because its more than just a place to grab food. It’s an experience. It’s filled with people from all walks of life, all looking for a little bit of happiness and community—like a microcosm of the city itself. And although its not always perfect, it’s a beautiful thing. Just ask Jimmy.

Oh, and if you have never been there, get going! Trust me, you will never forget your first time.

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

“Eco-chic” healthy eats restaurant opening in Easton

614now Staff

Published

on

Searching for the truth? Find it at Easton's newest restaurant.

True Food Kitchen is a relaxed, "eco-chic," health-conscious food chain opening at 4052 Worth Ave. this spring, according to the company website.

Without sacrificing flavor, creativity, or indulgence, True Food Kitchen offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-friendly options on its brunch, lunch, and dinner menus.

Guests can enjoy their gluten-friendly Lasagna Bolognese or vegetarian pizza from the bright dining area or outdoor covered patio.

Craving a cold libation with your meal? Hit up the scratch bar featuring fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, seasonal cocktails, local beer, and wine.

To learn more about True Food Kitchen Columbus, click here.

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Tastebud Traveling: Free tasting event coming to North Market

614now Staff

Published

on

Take a family tastebud trip with the return of Kalamata’s Kitchen Tasting Tour at the North Market this weekend.

Kalamata’s Kitchen will kick off a 12-month, 12-city tasting tour in Columbus on Saturday, February 22. This premier event for kids and families will feature tasty bites from North Market vendors representing food from around the world.

According to a release, every child participant is treated like a VIP as they discover new foods and learn about unique perspectives from celebrated chefs. Kids receive a VIP badge and a Food Adventure Passport that is stamped each time they try a new food. They will also have the opportunity to meet Sarah Thomas, co-founder and author of the Kalamata’s Kitchen book series.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit kalamataskitchen.com and/or northmarket.com.

Continue Reading

No mo’ FOMO

Missing out sucks. That's why our daily email is so important. You'll be up-to-date on the latest happenings and things to do in Cbus + be the first to snag our daily giveaways

Shop Now!

The Magazines

X