The origin of Filipino comfort food: Hapag Kainan now under the management of Kasalos, Granville

Home » The origin of Filipino comfort food: Hapag Kainan now under the management of Kasalos, Granville

The history of Filipino-Australians goes back nearly 150 years with the first immigrants working as divers in Broome, Western Australia’s pearling industry, around the time many chose to leave the country during the Spanish occupation.

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Kasalo grocery (@kasalogranville) asian store and takeaway hot bar expands into next door’s HAPAG KAINAN (@hk_cafengrill) offering intimate casual dining experience for guests . You can read about the history of some the Filipinos favorite comfort foods and delve into its rich Euro-American culinary history that has shaped the dishes beloved by this family oriented warm natured culture. . . . . , , , , #kasalogranville #sydneyrestaurant #sydneychef #sydney #westernsydneyfood #sydneyfoodies #kasalogranville #kasalo #granville #parramattaeats #westernsydney #blacktowneats #filipinofood #filipino #filipinofoodmovement #caldaretta #baboy #lechon #dessert #bbq #meatlovers #porklovers #philippines #sydneyeats #sydneyfoodies #fcba #kamayan #angsarap #ausgoodfood #zomato . . . . . Music: Angelina Cruz with Iñigo Pascual – Paraiso

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It wasn’t until the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act that they would allow for skilled workers to migrate more than half a century later have we seen this community thrive to almost 250,000.

Filipino-Australian population by State residence (Source: ABS 2016 Census)


Many of the staples today will be commonly found in many Filipino family gatherings which will typically revolve around birthdays, graduations, religious holidays and other reasons to congregate.


Geographically, the archipelago of the Philippines is South East Asian, however the imprint of Euro-American rule through the centuries remains.  From the building of churches by the Spanish to the educational system established by the Americans.  Adding to that, the family oriented nature of the culture, the relationship with food is an emotional one and for many expats, one of nostalgia.

Snapshot 114HAPAG KAINAN (means ‘Dining Tables’ in English) and has been taken over by next door’s KASALO (which means ‘one who shares’) takeaway hot food bar which is also a Filipino grocery store with many of the Filipino cuisine’s secret herbs and spice mixes.   Husband and Wife team, Anna & Jerwin are at the helm and they’re taking their time getting to know and understand the customers they’ve inherited.  Naturally, they also have some big plans to expand on the menu taking diners to other regions of the Philippines yet to be explored in the mainstream.

Today’s visit is all about the comfort foods and crowd pleasers that many of you will fall in love with too.



The filipino style kebab is a common street food, slices of pork marinaded in a sweet BBQ sauce on a bamboo stick cooked on a grill, its combined with a slightly spiced vinaigrette.

The savoury thin crepe pastry is commonly served with a ground pork, minced onion, carrot and seasoned filling.  There are many variations but all have the same origin with the Chinese influence on the country shown in the history of this staple snack.


It’s a dish that comes from the Filipinos’ Spanish heritage, Caldareta / Kaldareta which is Spanish for  ‘cauldron’ traditionally used mutton and liverspread in a cheese, capsicum, chilli and tomato based sauce.  It’s taken many forms over the years but beef, chicken or goat is commonly the preferred choice of protein in modern times.   There are some similarities to a Brazilian / Portuguese style stroganoff which sometimes also use cheese in their sauces.


The origins of how this favorite past time of pork knuckle sand how it came to be is a little vague.   The Germans enjoyed this boiled and also with a crisp skin.   The most commonly told story is of a restauranteur who had a weakness for overfeeding his friends being scolded by his mother and only allowed to serve his non-paying friends discarded parts of the pig carkus.   Generations later, this has become one of the dishes served on special ocassions, is often the prized crown in a boodle feast and in London was once named the #1 dish in the Taste Atlas.


This northern manila dish uses a peanut sauce in the stew.  There’s a choice of oxtail, pork belly, pork hocks, pig feet, beef stew meat, offal or tripe. There are conflicting studies that claim its name is derived from some Indian origin, however the jury is still out. IMG_4463The nutty stew in the Filipino rendition  is paired with a shrimp paste (similar to an Indonesian sambal) that is added to taste.

This is a dish that has evolved from a ‘kinilaw’ (raw or ceviched dish).  Tokwa is chinese in origin referring to bean curd / tofu and here, everything is cooked to a crisp layering the crunch of spring onions, chilli peppers that flavour the vinegar, soy sauce and pork broth its tossed in.   Typically a snack or an accompaniment to the rice porridge and noodle dishes.



DESSERTS: $8 each

Halo Halo is typically a mixture of shaved ice, condensed milk, and lots of sweet toppings like jellies, beans, corn, candied fruit, fresh fruit, ube (yam) ice cream.  It’s a descendant of the Japanese Kakigori (sweet ice and sweet bean) dessert.    This was thanks to the American occupation of the Philippines in the mid 1800s and their introduction of ice and food imports from Japan before World War II.

Leche Flan is a heavier version of its original Spanish version which retains the same top layer of caramel and instead incorporates condensed milk into its mix.   The use of condensed milk most likely due to the tropical climate and a longer shelf life in comparison to normal pasteurised milk.

Turon is essentially a banana spring roll drizzled in caramel served hot as a snack or dessert.    In spanish the word ‘turon’ refers to something being wrapped.  A number of different fillings constitute Turon (eg. sweet potato, cheese, mango or coconut) but Turon is commonly served with a banana centre.

As the first born generations come of age, we are slowly seeing an intermingling of ideas unfold however, for the founding families, it is still the classics of common dishes found across many of this cuisine’s restaurants that evoke a sense of nostalgia of the homeland.  The time seems right for this in-house secret to be shared more into the mainstream exploring the full potential of its fusion applications in Western cooking.

Kasalo’s Grocery Store & Takeaway is right next door to Hapag Kainan which they now manage
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  1. Thanks so much, there’s so much potential in this space as Australia has a great love affair for asian dishes already!

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