Filipino Food at Mora Asian Kitchen

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By David Hammond

For about a decade now, we've been told that "Filipino food is having a moment." To some extent, that moment continues at Oak Park restaurants Lola Tining's Cuisine and Mora Asian Kitchen

I wrote about Lola Tinings Cuisine, Oak Park's only full-on Filipino restaurant, in 2018. That small, charming place is still the only restaurant in the Village that offers a menu of strictly Filipino Food, and some exceptionally good food it is. Lechon kawali, for instance, is a relatively simple dish of pork belly cubes fried golden, and it requires major will power to push the plate away and boldly say "Enough!" (code for "Well, maybe just one more piece").

Mora Asian Kitchen offers pan-Asian cuisine, representative of many countries, including China, Japan, and the Philippines.  Of the Filipino offerings, there's pancit noodles, lumpia (eggrolls) and adobo (perhaps the most popular of the signature dishes of the Philippines) – we ordered these three dishes for takeout last weekend. 

Pancit noodles may be crisped up by pan frying or they may be soft like spaghetti.  Mora serves the softer, Canton-style noodles. What I liked most about the dish are the slivers of lap cheong, Cantonese sausage with a sweetness that comes from sugar and rosewater, and a depth of flavor provided by rice wine. The lap cheong crisps up nicely. The shrimp in this dish complement the little nuggets of pork belly, proving once again that crustaceans love the pig. 

Lumpia is a favorite on any Filipino table, tiny egg rolls about the size of an adult index finger, crisp on the outside and stuffed with ground pork, carrots, and garlic. There's a lot of pork meat in Filipino food, though beef is rare in Filipino recipes. Although fish is abundant in the Philippines (with over 7,000 islands, there's lots of fishing going on there), it's not easy to find fish and seafood at places that are not so hardcore Filipino as Lola Tining's Cuisine. 

Adobo Fried Rice is Mora's variation on the fundamental adobo recipe, which is basically a meat dish flavored with vinegar and usually seasoned with garlic and black pepper. The recipe varies family-to-family, and it's not unusual for adobo to taste a little different from house-to-house, restaurant-to-restaurant. What some Westerners may perceive as an intense vinegar flavor is modified at Mora with the rice, and anyone new to Filipino cuisine is likely to feel more comfortable with this version. 

In these times when few of us can travel, the ethnic diversity of Oak Park food –manifest at places like Mora's – makes it possible to go on little eating adventures that take us out of our regular routine and introduce us to the foods of other lands.

If you're buying for the whole family, with perhaps some picky eaters in the mix, a dish like the Adobo Fried Rice is good gateway grub, a very safe introduction to Filipino food, which though it may be having a moment, is still terra incognita to many of us.

If you do order from Mora Asian Kitchen, as with many other restaurants, you can use Uber Eats or some other third party delivery service. If you ask for curbside pick-up, however, the restaurant avoids additional expense. We recommend you go that route.

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