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young chef realises his dream


When you climb the stairs to Kusina Bar and Grill you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the contemporary décor and open plan design. Young restaurateurs Raphael and Wing spent months of hard yakka renovating this space and the result is impressive! They have created an atmosphere that is warm yet contemporary with vaulted ceilings & simple furnishings.

Chef Raphael is one of 13 children who grew up in a busy household in the Philippines and according to him, they always seemed to be in the kitchen cooking or prepping the next meal to share at the table with family. Everyone had to pitch in and do their bit. This is where his love of cooking began.

Our meal at Kusina reminded me a bit of a family banquet actually with all of the dishes presented at the same time so we could take our time, (talk foodie stuff with the chef)and savour each flavour combination.

Dish one was Pork Belly ($14.50) marinated in pineapple juice and beer then grilled and served with house made Kimchi and Nam Jim (a salty & sweet Thai dressing). This is soft, (there is no crackling top) flavoursome and melt in your mouth delicious. The house made Kimchi added some crunch and the Nam Jim a hint of fresh chilli bite.

Next a whole barramundi ($28.50) stuffed with an assortment of fresh ingredients like lemon grass, pandan leaves and galangal (galangal is a member of the tropical ginger family and has a sharp, strong aroma) the fish is then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled with the skin on. This was perfectly cooked and super fresh. Heavy on the lemongrass, but I love the stuff so I really enjoyed this dish.

Dish 3 Paprika Prawns ($23.50). Extra-large Australian prawns marinated in garlic & paprika then grilled skin on. These were peppery but not hot and had a refreshing hint of coriander & lime.

Dish 4 and our absolute favourite Bones n Ribs ($18).These ribs were seriously good!! Chinese wine, sesame oil, coriander root, soy, honey all combined to create a really unique flavour. We would definitely order these again.

Some steamed rice and a crunchy papaya salad with a piquant dressing of palm sugar, fish sauce & chilli was the perfect accompaniment to our feast which I have to say was above our expectations. We loved it!

The venue is licensed and has a selection of beers and a couple of house wines (limited) to choose from. They are BYO friendly so feel free to take your own and pay a small corkage fee.

We can assure you that the “Kusina”(Filipino for kitchen) is the heart of this little restaurant and we would encourage you to give Kusina Asian Grill a try & support this passionate young chef who has gambled big on his dream.

Find them at Level 1 – 417 Ruthven St Upstairs (entrance to restaurant is near Bailey’s) Phone 45891174 for bookings