24 April 2023

Five minutes with Jay and Kim, Lolo and Lola

| James Day
Kim and Jay wear Lolo and Lola t shirts

Kim Cudia and Jay Prieto of Lolo and Lola. Photo: James Day

Who are you and what is your business?
We are Jay Prieto and Kim Cudia, the owners of Lolo and Lola. We are both originally from the southern part of the Philippines in Luzon.

Kim: We like to think that Lolo and Lola is home to all Filipinos in Canberra.

Jay: And for non-Filipinos who want a glimpse into our culture and cuisine, this is the place to go.

What’s a dish that you make that best sums up what your venue does?
Kim: Adobo, it’s the national dish of the Philippines. Normally it is cooked in vinegar to prolong shelf life, as back home, refrigeration is not widely available. It’s a bit sweet, salty, sour and has some umami, which sums up all the flavours of the Philippines.

Jay: Through the years, it kind of evolved … all the flavours of the adobo we have now, you can see the history of the Philippines is in it as well.

Bowl of pork and mushroom adobo on a wooden table.

Pork and mushroom adobo, a dish regularly served at Lolo and Lola. Photo: Kim Cudia.

Favourite Cuisine?
Jay: Filipino and then Spanish because of its huge influence on our own cuisine. You see a lot of the same cooking methods and flavours in each.

An ingredient you can’t live without?
Kim: Garlic, it’s the ingredient that gives life to every Filipino dish. Sometimes we encounter customers who are allergic to it and I tell them that they came to the wrong restaurant! The holy trinity of Filipino cooking is garlic (lots of it!), tomatoes and onions.

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Who is your biggest culinary influence?
Kim: Our grandparents. We named the restaurant after them.

Jay: Lolos are grandfathers and Lolas are grandmothers.

Kim: When we were featured on the cooking show ‘A Taste of the Philippines’, I made a recipe my grandmother taught me called Kinamatisang Manok. It is native Filipino chicken cooked in tomatoes, so it is very Spanish and Filipino.

Many dishes on table

Dishes on the menu at Lolo and Lola. Photo: Lolo and Lola.

What’s inspiring you right now?
Kim: Our daughter, Lexi, and all the younger generation of Filipino-Australians. We do what we do not just to celebrate and share our culture and heritage with the world, but also because we would like to pass on our culinary traditions to the next generation and preserve our way of life.

What do you wish people understood about your job?
Jay: That it’s not easy or a glamorous job. It takes a lot of patience, perseverance and hard work.

Kim: You also have to be crazy!

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Where do you dine out in Canberra for comfort food?
Kim: We normally go to CBD Dumpling House. It’s cheap, fast, tasty and very direct.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?
Jay: Actually, on our days off, we prefer to just rest and cook for ourselves.

What’s your go-to coffee?
Kim: Kapeng barako, which we serve here. The latter word in Spanish means ‘masculine’ or ‘strong’. We have a vendor who sends the roasted beans directly to us from the Philippines. We’re the only ones to do that in Canberra.

Filipino style bowl of noodles and prawns

Lolo and Lola serve authentic Filipino food. Photo: Lolo and Lola.

Where would you take out-of-town visitors to show off the best of Canberra?
Jay: When it is on, ‘The Forage’. It’s a street food market with all the different cuisines of Canberra in one spot and we’ll be there this year in June.

Who do you admire in the Canberra food scene?
Kim: Andrew Anh Duong, the owner of Ms Van’s in Civic.

Jay: We started together at the Westside Acton Park market. His dedication to representing the best of Vietnamese food is really inspiring.

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Where are you travelling next?
Kim: I’d like to go back and really explore more of Spain. We went last year but didn’t have enough time there. My grandfather is Spanish, and I speak the language fluently.

Where are you excited to eat next?
Kim: I’d like to go home to immerse myself in the cuisine of the Mindanao region of the Philippines. It is predominantly Muslim and uses very different spices from the rest of the country as it has had the least amount of Spanish influence.

Miss Van’s owner, Andrew Duong. Photo: Rohan Thompson, Pew Pew Studio.

What are your top recipe tips?
Kim: You have to always cook with your heart; otherwise, it’s not worth eating.

Jay: Then use your brain to understand what you’re cooking! Every recipe represents culture and tradition, so if you have an understanding of it, you can execute your recipe a lot better.

Lolo and Lola is located at Watson Shops, 3 Watson Place. It is open for dinner from 5 pm to 8 pm Thursday to Sunday, and for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm on weekends. Follow Lolo and Lola on Facebook, Instagram, and their website.

Original Article published by James Day on Riotact.

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