Welcome to Bahay Kubo, the newest restaurant in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The brainchild of co-founders Allan Pineda and Eejay Chua, Bahay Kubo brings a unique concept and fresh flavours to the Atrium at the Albert. We spoke with Allan Pineda, the Filipino-Canadian Chef and Co-owner, to learn more about the neighbourhood’s latest addition.
The Bahay Kubo story began when Allan and Eejay started a speakeasy series called Bahay Kubo Tiki Bar at the old Pemby toward the end of 2021. It was a hit, and they did a second series in 2022. While casually buying some tiki items, the seller asked Allan what he would do with them. He said he wanted to open a tiki-style place one day, and he was directed to Dave from the Albert. After pitching their idea and concept, Bahay Kubo was created as a residency in the space in collaboration with the Albert Hotel. It was a moment of kismet for Allan, who used to run the Kimchi Cafe on Albert right across the street. They are glad to be back in the neighbourhood, with Chef Eejay running the kitchen, menu development, and staffing while Chef Allan manages the front of the house, reservations, event planning, and logistics.
Bahay Kubo (meaning bamboo, stilt house, or Nipa Hut in Tagalog) is modelled after bamboo houses in the Philippines and other countries. The restaurant is full of personality, with tons of unique and kitschy decor lining the walls. The colourful lighting and rich smells reflect a playful Asian Street Market vibe, and you’ll see decor influences from Filipino homes in the 80s-90s.
On the menu, you’ll find food with a strong Filipino influence that also pulls flavours from Southeast Asia and the South Pacific—basically, anywhere that has the bamboo homes that are the restaurant’s namesake.
If you want some tips on what to order, Allan recommends the Tuna and Salmon Kinalaw. Their version of ceviche, this dish is in-demand and looks beautiful on the plate. Another crowd-pleaser is the Spam fries. Spam is popular in some Asian countries and is huge in Hawaii, so naturally, Bahay Kubo had to include a dish honouring this staple. For dessert, their Ube Lumpia is a star and draws influence from one of Allan’s first dishes made in culinary school in the early 2000s. You could also try the mochi waffle dessert, a rice flour waffle with the chewy consistency of Asian Mochi dishes.
At Bahay Kubo, Chef Allan and Chef Eejay aim to provide a safe space for the Filipino community while educating all people about Filipino food and culture. They plan to start community programming, youth initiatives, workshops, and seminars in the future.
Community is a focus for the restaurant, which makes sense when you look at Allan’s passion for community involvement. Aside from the restaurant, he is busy with various events and pop-up dinners around the world. He co-founded and helps run the Fried Chicken Festival, a pop-up series called Baon Manila Nights since 2014, and is also an executive director of a non-profit called Kultivation Festival, a new three-day Filipino festival at the end of August that highlights food, art, music, dance, and education with a strong youth and community component. Allan is also a food judge for competitions and festivals, a five-year food truck war judge, and helps with ManyFest.
The team at Bahay Kubo is excited to be open in the Exchange District, a focal point and destination in Winnipeg. You can visit the restaurant Wednesday-Saturday starting at 5 pm, and soon you’ll be able to join them for Sunday brunch.
Follow along on Instagram at @bahaykubowpg to stay up-to-date on upcoming events, open mic nights, workshops, seminars and Kultivation Fest 2023 programming.