Filipino Restaurant Series: Cucina Manila

Cucina Manila: storefront

The third establishment on my Filipino dining wishlist was Cucina Manila, a turo-turo restaurant by Joyce Station.  It was highly praised by a colleague and a salsa dancing acquaintance, both of whom make their respective commutes from New Westminster and the West End to partake in its culinary offerings.

Inside Cucina Manila

It was hyped to be much better than Sandy’s Cuisine, the restaurant that has recently trumped Josephine’s Restaurant as my Filipino restaurant of choice.  Last weekend, my husband and I made the trip over to Cucina Manila to see just what was so extraordinary about this place.

Let’s start with the menudo, the pork stew that was once my favourite at Josephine’s and whose degradation I have been lamenting ever since.

Cucina Manila: menudo

While the quality was indeed better than the recipe currently being dished out at Josephine’s, it still doesn’t compare to my mom’s recipe, nor the one that I’ve secretly loved more than my mother’s by former Josephine’s chef, Mang Rene.

Cucina Manila: monggo

The other dishes we ordered were decent at best.  Both of us were let down that we had travelled all this way for food that we could have made better at home.  We also weren’t thrilled that there was no posted menu to speak of.  It quite intimidated my husband, who felt very conscious of his lack of Filipino vocabulary and his unfamilarity with the dishes that were on display.

Cucina Manila: turon

Hoping that our dining experience was just an off day, I took home an order of daing and kutsina to try out over the next few days.

Cucina Manila: daing

Daing is butterflied milkfish that’s been marinated in vinegar and garlic and fried till crispy.  It’s one of my favourite Filipino breakfast dishes, but cooking something this pungent at home would induce the wrath of all of our neighbours (not to mention my husband).  The daing from Cucina Manila did a good job of satisfying my breakfast craving, and was probably the best tasting item out of the ones we had sampled.

Cucina Manila: kutsinta

The kutsinta was passable.  It was by no means as good as the stuff my aunts have served us at the monthly Filipino potlucks we attend, but it was better than anything I could have made myself.

Would we come back and see if we’d like other dishes at Cucina Manila?  Probably not.  Perhaps I’m so used to how my family makes certain dishes that the style of cooking at Cucina Manila is simply not to my taste.  Perhaps my husband’s discomfort at feeling out of place and unwelcome as a non-Filipino was an impression I’ll have a hard time overcoming.  At any rate, Josephine’s and Sandy’s are much closer to our downtown abode and will likely continue to be our go-to places until I complete my tour of the other Filipino restaurants in the Lower Mainland.

Want to convince me otherwise?  Leave me a comment and let’s see if I can be persuaded to try Cucina Manila once more.

Cucina Manila
5179 Joyce Street | Vancouver
(604) 435-4508

Cucina Manila on Urbanspoon

Other blog reviews of Cucina Manila:

Filipino Restaurant Series to date:


    10 Replies to “Filipino Restaurant Series: Cucina Manila”

    1. @JMom: One day I will get around to making kutsinta from scratch! Yes, we are lucky that Vancouver has so many Filipinos that restaurants have an eager market. Still searching for one that does menudo the way my Mom can 🙂

    2. Hi there! Thanks for the linkback to my kutsinta experiment 🙂 You’re lucky to have so many Filipino food options! I have yet to find any Filipino restaurant in my area. I miss Pinoy food that I didn’t cook. lol!

    3. I have to say that after 2 not so great experiences here, we will not be going back.
      I HATE it when counter staff are lippy with me. Telling me that I said one thing when I very well know I’d said another. Like, please put the food in take out containers as we will take home what we don’t finish… I also tried to ask for a plastic bag from one of the cooks who’d, for some reason, come up to the front. Instead of taking the few steps to give me a plastic bag, he told me to go to the cash to get one!!!???%% What the hell is wrong with these morons?
      FYI- their Kare Kare is not made with oxtail as is traditional. They have decided to cheap out and make it with pork instead. No, you say. Just check out the pieces of pig skin attached to the bones first thought to be oxtail.
      This place has the most HORRIBLE service I have ever experienced in any restaurant environment. For $7.50 per dish and $1.50 for a bowl of steamed rice- THIS PLACE IS A TOTAL RIP OFF!
      Never again! And I will make sure to tell everyone I know.

      I miss Galing Galing too!

    4. Lived near the Cusina Manila in Joyce. Food is good but service is really bad. I feel sorry for the owner, I hope she knows that the people she employees makes her customers feel like they are nuisance when they are buying food.

    5. if you gonna ask me where the best filipino restaurant in BC?
      recados: taste? ok…presentation? good
      price? overpriced
      service? they dont know what thyre
      cucina manila: is good, but the portion is getting smaller & smaller…
      i like thier pancit palabok, kare kare is ok…
      i just had bicol express today, & it was good
      i dont know why u dont like cucina, but thier food is way much better than josephines…
      pin pin: for the last 2 years they changed the price for so many times, i think the chinese owner dont know how to run a good chinese restaurant business…
      thyre lucky they have ok food….
      & please tell the owner, to train the waiters how to serve food… what a waste…they dont know how to serve there…
      worst than some chinese resto…
      josephines: try to cook without too much FAT…
      goldilocks: Small portions & kinda pricy for that size of food….
      aling ining: just ok
      bulaluhan: hmmmmm so so


    6. seems to have gone a wee bit downhill since we tried it back in 2003 shortly after its opening ( ), but that happens alot with restaurants, filipino or not

      i am also looking forward to your reviews of the rest including pinpin; pinpin and rekados are my favs but of course i haven’t done a comprehensive survey

    7. With myself having a low familiarity with Filipino cuisine as your husband, I could totally feel his trepidation, lucky he had you to guide. Very interesting to see the array of offerings here, I didn’t know there was such a wide choice for Filipino food in the city, so enjoying your series on it. Love the image of the rice cake dessert, with the repeating pattern of circular images, thanks for sharing!

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