SW Las Vegas is home to Kulinarya and soon, Jollibee
LAS VEGAS –“Kung kakakain ka lang, sarapan mo na (If you’re going to eat, you might as well make it delicious),” said Emmy Praferosa who, along with husband Mike, owns Kulinarya Express Filipino Kitchen, the Filipino restaurant that Filipino residents frequent for their wide selection of authentic Filipino food in the city’s southwest section.
Located at 7960 S. Rainbow Blvd., the year-old Kulinarya looks forward to having more Filipino customers in the area not only for its delicious food but for the proximity of Jollibee (about 300 feet away or a 2-minute walk), which is opening its third outlet of the Filipino fast food chain Jollibee in this city on Christmas Day this year.
For Kulinarya to welcome Jollibee in the southwestsays a lot about the Filipino couple’s confidence in the Filipino food marketplace. This is not surprising since they have been in the food business in the city for nearly two decades; their other restaurant is Japanese fast-food chain Samurai Sam’s Teriyaki Grill.
They think Kulinarya shares something in common with Jollibee which means having a system that allows for quick serving of food, without sacrificing flavor and quality.
Emmy say they use only quality ingredients for its to-order and counter-style Filipino food, certainly a challenge when produced by volume. The restaurant sources from food distributor Sysco, where top restaurants in the area also get their food products.
Emmy studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas, the famed Paris culinary institution when it still had its Las Vegas branch. It was a rigorous program that, she says, required precision, attention to detail and top-notch quality.
Quality and detail are words you often hear from the couple. There are painstaking details in the large-scale murals of heroes, historical landmarks and cultural artifacts that serve as an empowering backdrop in the restaurant.
They certainly make for great conversation pieces but Filipinos like to focus on the eating part and true enough, even that rarest of features in a Filipino food spot–a see-through window to its high-grade kitchen–is hardly noticed. It offers customers a window to the food being cooked.
Following our sights from the see-through kitchen to the counter to the table and taking a sip of the broth or bite of the food, the quality ingredients seep through. A Tamarind soup broth makes use of Knorr tamarind instead of the other inferior mixes, but it’s there to notice for the discriminating eater when one slurps the broth.
Kare-Kare is as it’s should be: beef oxtail with generous heaps of peanut butter sauce and veggies; other restaurants scrimp on the ingredients and even meat, using the paw part instead. Binagoongan rice (to which shrimp paste is applied) comes mixed with mangoes and tomatoes.
Pork belly is oven-baked to crispy perfection but it’s to order ahead of time. With to-orders, the restaurant thrives on party tray orders with its wide assortment of food packages. For dessert, turon, with its combo of bananas and jackfruit (langka), is snapped up fast. And yes, it carries the favorite Filipino dessert, halo-halo.
For those who like to have their food fast, diners like that Kulinarya has them over the counter. Even barbecued foods are quickly served. Most of the diners can’t get enough of its “streat food”– kwek-kwek and isaw are the most popular orders here for only a dollar per skewer. In some occasions, Emmy whips up special orders outside of the menu.
There are those who go to Seafood City and Island Pacific for groceries and eat there as well, but many still go to Kulinarya. A Yelp reviewer put it this way: They (Kulinarya) know flavor. Chicken afritada (chicken served with tomato sauce), dinuguan (pork in blood stew) and pinakbet were indeed flavorful.
Kulinarya also offers huge servings than most Filipino restaurants aside from being more affordable. The breakfast meals are served with real garlic fried rice and sunny side eggs which make them even more satisfying than others that offer only plain white rice. This helps set them apart from Jollibee.
Filipino foodies in the area have two distinct choices now. Within a few feet of each other, they can satisfy their cravings for either Jollibee chickenjoy or authentic Filipino food at Kulinarya. Both take pride in offering outstanding customer service and for keeping their joints spotlessly clean. Jollibee is hugely popular now but Kulinarya has had its share of fame as well.
For Emmy and Mike who already have a successful Japanese food franchise in Samurai Sam’s Teriyaki Grill, Kulinarya does something else for them. It helps bring them closer to the community and for those looking to bond with other Filipinos, a place to meet and greet friends and familiar faces. Filipino singers Hajji Alejandro, Rey Valera, Marco Sison, some PBA players and the Kamikazee band have eaten here. On December 11, it will host a breakfast meet and greet with Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, the former Philippine National Police chief.
One could say that at Kulinarya, the food is the star. Everyone — celebrity or not — comes together here.
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