First Look

The Titas of Bahay Dallas Kick Off Their Kamayan Supper Club

The Kamayan Supper Club spread.
The Kamayan Supper Club spread. Felicia Lopez
The Kamayan Supper Club by Bahay Dallas is not your ordinary dinner party. Yes, you can expect a super long table, free-flowing food and beautiful ambiance, but the Filipino-centric menu, unique presentation and eating with your bare hands (kamayan-style) are what set it apart from the rest.
click to enlarge The titas of Dallas: Sarah Rañola, Denise Apigo and Paloma Hinahon - PALOMA HINAHON
The titas of Dallas: Sarah Rañola, Denise Apigo and Paloma Hinahon
Paloma Hinahon
Bahay Dallas is a Filipino pop-up born out of quarantine. After participating in the Filipino Food Festival in March 2020, chefs Sarah Rañola, Denise Apigo and event coordinator Paloma Hinahon saw the enormous turnout as evidence of the city’s interest in Filipino cuisine. These "titas," which is a term similar to aunt or family friend, knew there was an opportunity for more.

“We feel that Dallas is on the brink of something very exciting. The metroplex is hungry for this kind of food,” Hinahon says.

While offering pop-ups and meal kits since their launch during the summer of 2020, Bahay Dallas also hosts fun and unique events. One notable event was their celebration of National Lumpia Day at a tattoo shop (lumpia is a kind of Filipino spring roll).

Also, at the premiere of Yellow Rose at Texas Theatre — a film about a Filipina teen in a small Texas town — they served “Texapino” dishes including sinigang pork nachos, monggo chili with bibingka cornbread and s’mores champorado.

Now, Bahay Dallas is offering a new experience with their Kamayan Supper Club series where guests feast on a variety of meats, noodles, rice, vegetables, fruits, drinks and dessert.

Having enjoyed Bahay’s food in the past, I wasn’t sure what to expect at this event. After arriving just outside The Room at Commerce near Fair Park, we met others going to the supper club. They too had refrained from eating lunch in preparation for the night’s festivities.
click to enlarge The Kamayan Supper Club dinners are held at The Room on Commerce near Fair Park. - FELICIA LOPEZ
The Kamayan Supper Club dinners are held at The Room on Commerce near Fair Park.
Felicia Lopez
Soon enough, we were greeted by Hinahon who cheerfully led us up to the second floor. The aromas of something wonderful led the way to an unmarked door where a beautiful 6 o’clock sunset shined through the windows.

The ambiance can be described like TLC’s album CrazySexyCool: Crazy came from the little kitchen where the massive dinner was being prepared; sexy being the modern loft, sultry R&B music and natural light on the brick walls; cool, like the relaxed vibes among the dinner guests as they met and mingled.

We kicked off the night with a golden cocktail hour, a tropical rum drink and appetizers served in bamboo boats. Bistek (citrus-soy marinated beef and onions) and kinilaw (fish ceviche in coconut milk) were both served on Skyflake crackers, a classic Filipino merienda (afternoon snack).

The word “kamayan” means “hand” in Tagalog and this meal is entirely eaten with your hands. No plates, no utensils; no problem, all the fun. Once we got the cue to be seated, we were all given a warm towel to clean our hands.
click to enlarge A Champagne toast before starting the feast. - FELICIA LOPEZ
A Champagne toast before starting the feast.
Felicia Lopez
The titas started staging the food on the table, which was covered in dark green banana leaves. The initially bare table was soon lush and colorful; a work of art. A sunset Champagne toast kicked off the dinner, and we dug in with our hands.

Among the spread was fresh ingredients like bok choy, lemon and lime wedges, orange slices, guava and dragonfruit, mango and starfruit along with heaping mountains of pancit bihon, steamed rice and lumpia.

The main attractions were perfectly grilled branzino, succulent lemongrass chicken wings, crispy and tender lechon kawali, savory garlic butter shrimp and fall-off-the-bone adobo glazed ribs. Sasawan (spiced vinegar sauce) served in small bowls was a great accompaniment to the meat.
click to enlarge The titas give a quick tutorial on the proper way to eat kamayan style. - FELICIA LOPEZ
The titas give a quick tutorial on the proper way to eat kamayan style.
Felicia Lopez
It may seem strange to enjoy a dinner party with complete strangers, let alone sharing food where hands are your only tools. But when the common denominator among everyone is a love of food, it is only natural that good conversation and laughter comes out of this shared experience. While reaching out for my next lumpia and lechon kawali, I found myself in an engaging conversation with a couple across the table about our very deep love for our pets (picture exchanges included). The musician at the head of the table told us about his pre-pandemic travels across Asia while also staying busy at his home base in Dallas.
click to enlarge The final course was the classic Filipino dessert, halo-halo. - FELICIA LOPEZ
The final course was the classic Filipino dessert, halo-halo.
Felicia Lopez
We ended the meal with halo-halo, a classic Filipino dessert. Bahay’s version comes with shaved ice, ube, macapuno, ice cream, lychee and corn flakes. The juxtaposition of textures between smooth, icy, chewy and crunchy was a sweet way to close out the night.

In true tita fashion, we were encouraged to bring home baon (to-go boxes) perfect for lunch the next day (or if you’re like me, a second dinner a few hours later). We also had a few sips with their Tito Arnie Palmer, a blend of iced tea and calamansi juice.

It is a known fact that Filipinos love to entertain, cook and look after their loved ones. The kamayan dinner hosted by the Pinays of Bahay Dallas is not only a testament to that but also a love letter to Filipino culture. Great food and hospitality are truly part of their DNA. The titas of Dallas definitely pulled out all the stops for this special night and we’re excited for the next one.

Bahay’s next kamayan dinner is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 14, at The Room on Commerce (4118 Commerce St., No. 211) and reservations are now open for 14 lucky seats. Check out their Instagram for updates on future dinners, including one scheduled for December and then two a month starting in 2022.
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Felicia Lopez is a contributing writer for the Observer, previously of Southern California and now eating her way through the greater Dallas area. She is a data nerd by trade and a dessert enthusiast at heart.