Kamayan is a Tagalog word meaning “using your hands.” In the Philippines, a Kamayan feast celebrates special occasions, from baptisms to anniversaries. In the United States, these meals help introduce people to Filipino culture, where everyone bonds over the experience of eating without utensils.
“It’s fun to get your hands messy,” Tayo diner Nina Chen says.
She picked through tender pieces of chicken adobo, braised in soy sauce, garlic, and vinegar. Other diners nibbled on juicy Filipino barbecue pork ribs and sweet purple ube puto — a.k.a. Filipino rice cakes — topped with coconut. The lechon kawali was a crowd favorite with its crispy pork skin and fatty meat.
“We tried a little bit of everything,” Tina Nguyen, another Tayo diner, says. “I really liked the lechon. I think the skin was so crispy. I liked how it stayed crispy the entire night.”
“This is one way Filipino cuisine can stand out from other Asian cuisines,” Lazaro says. “So you’re seeing the food, you're smelling the food, you're tasting the food, and you're also feeling the food. I think it helps connect you with your food at a more intimate level.”
From munching on plumb links of longganisa, or sweet Filipino sausage, to twisting off heads from Halabos na Hipon shrimp and sucking out the briny innards, Tayo’s Kamayan dinner was an epic affair that left everyone with full bellies, stuffed takeout boxes, and an appetite for more.
“I know that in a setting like this, people who prepare the food definitely take a lot of pride in what they do,” says Tayo diner Gage Lee. “So I was expecting them to put their honest, hard work into the food. I was rather impressed. This is phenomenal.”
Tayo's next Kamayan feast has not yet been scheduled. For more information, visit the Tayo website.