I’m always eager to try new food, so when my friend Gina mentioned how she had an amazing Filipino feast at a place called Mama Nita’s Binalot Filipino Cuisine, I knew I had to try it!
My interest was really piqued when Gina said the feast at Mama Nita’s was a family-style meal where food was laid out on the table (over banana leaves) and you had to use your hands to scoop and eat the food, sharing with your tablemates. Fun!
Mama Nita’s Binalot Filipino Cuisine is located in south Edmonton (Mill Woods area) at 1519 Lakewood Rd W. Their specialty is this family-style Filipino meal called a “Boodle Feast.”
The restaurant describes its Boodle Feast like this:
A military way of eating originally practiced by the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets, where long tables are prepared and food is spread over banana leaves or old newspapers. Eaten with bare hands, as symbol of fraternity and equality. In Philippine usage, the boodle fight is a military academy terminology for “eating combat” or “attack the food”. The boodle fight is usually prepared in celebration after a successful event or for a special occasion.
The bare hands aspect of a Boodle Feast reminds me a lot of some Ethiopian dining experiences I’ve had (at Abyssinia Ethiopian and Walia Ethiopian), but this Filipino “attack the food” meal definitely stands out on its own.
This type of meal is not only delicious, but really quite an experience.
First they lay out the banana leaves.
Then they lay out the rice.
Then they bring out the meat. We ordered the ‘Original Boodle Feast’ which included grilled pork belly, pork adobo, longanisa Filipino sweet sausage, BBQ chicken, fried tilapia, and ‘daing na bangus’ milkfish marinated in vinegar as our meats.
Finally they add different vegetables all around the rice and proteins, from end-to-end of the table-long platter. You can also do add-ons, like fried egg (which of course, we did!)
The Original Boodle Feast is enough food for 7-10 people at a cost of $119.99. If you have at least 7 people, you’re looking at about $18 per person, or even cheaper if you have up to 10 people! You can also get a Boodle Feast for just two people ($23 per person) or 3-6 people ($17 per person).
Prices change slightly if you order the Turf Boodle Feast (which includes spring rolls, crispy pata, beef bistek in place of some of the proteins from the Original Feast), or you can do a Surf Boodle where you’ll get grilled mussels, breaded calamari, and grileld shrimp and squid in addition to the fish. (You can also add seafood onto any of the Feasts you pick).
Our group loved trying Mama Nita’s Boodle Feast! Everything was so flavourful. The only slightly negative note was that we found the okra to be a bit on the slimy side, but its overall texture still really good (I actually really love okra in soup!) It was also a bit messy/challenging without any cutlery or even really any napkins (I think that’s part of the experience though lol).
We weren’t celebrating a specific occasion that night, more so just catching up with friends and satisfying food cravings, but it certainly felt like a celebration – which I guess is the whole point.
There were a couple other tables there when we went, that were celebrating birthdays – so it definitely also makes sense as a celebration/occasion meal.
In addition to the Boodle Feast, Gina ordered a Filipino soup called a Sinigang, which is a delicious sour soup that really gave a great flavour/texture break from all the Boodle meat.
It reminded me a lot of the Vietnamese sour soup Canh Chua, which also uses a tamarind-flavoured broth and is delicious!
We all thought the price points for a Boodle Feast is so great, given the amount of food you get. There was so much food we couldn’t even finish our meal! We had to get boxes of takeout (but were pretty happy with the dent we managed to make on the feast).
If you’re looking for a different and delicious dining experience, I’d highly recommend getting the Boodle Feast from Mama Nita’s. My experience with Filipino food overall is quite limited so far, so I felt like I really dived in with this Boodle Feast. It is a spectacular display of rice, meat, and vegetables atop banana leaves, and makes the saying “you eat with your eyes” ring true too. It’s as good and as filling as it looks!
— Linda Hoang ? (@lindork) May 20, 2017
If you’re not interested in the Boodle Feast, Mama Nita’s also has individual dishes you can order too, which might be worth a trip back for sure (check out their full menu here) though you can tell this family-style, hands-on, table-long feast is definitely a big attraction for this restaurant and certainly a specialty. Though beyond Mama Nita’s, there’s actually quite a few Filipino restaurants in Edmonton that I’m looking forward to trying.
Note: As you probably gathered, germaphobes probably would not love the Boodle Feast, given it’s hands-on nature. But if you’re willing to push past that, you won’t regret it. Another note: they also have a Calgary location! And a final note: they do catering and also look to have a pretty well-used take-out/pick-up window option too.
So have you been to Mama Nita’s Filipino Cuisine?!
Did you try the Boodle Feast? What did you think??