Bayan Ko, Ravenwood’s new Cuban and Filipino mash up, opened over the weekend near the CTA’s Montrose Brown Line stop. The restaurant, from Raquel Quadreny and fiancé Lawrence Letrero, serves lumpia, ropa vieja, and more.
Letrero and Quadreny aren’t fusing dishes. Letrero said he felt both cultures have culinary traditions that naturally complement each other and aren’t out of place together when placed on the same menu. A full menu isn’t available yet, but they’re serving a Cubano with Nueske’s ham that’s hand pulled and marinated for 24 hours in mojo.
“It’s juicier that way,” said Quadreny.
Traditionally, Cubano bread is made with lard, but Quadreny wanted bread they could serve to vegetarians. They’ve got a special custom order of bread that won’t have lard but keeps it as authentic as possible.
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el cubano!! our pork shoulder is marinated in our house mojo sauce for 24 hrs and slow roasted. we let it cool in its own juices letting that moist goodness to redistribute into the pork. we never slice our pork, we hand pull it into edible chunks, we feel the pork stays juicier that way. we are using @nueskes smoked deli ham in our #cubansanwich and we’re getting our #cubanbread specially made for us from our friends @lafarinechicago, in other words.. it’s just not a sandwich to us @bayankochicago, we want to offer the best product possible to our guests! did we mention that we’re opening soon?! we cannot wait! #bayankochicago #ravenswood #cubanfood
The restaurant previewed dishes last month at a pop-up at Kimski in Bridgeport. One of the dishes was an uni and scallop pancit lug lug. The Tribune spoke with Letero and grabbed a few more menu details. It also serves Adobo chicken wings, halo halo, and more. The menu will rotate seasonally, Quadreny said.
The couple started noticing culinary similarities in their cultures when they started cooking for each other, said Quadreny, a Miami native. Both Cubans and Filipinos have an island culture with shared ingredients like plantains. Families also gather to enjoy soups and stews.
“We’re just reviving the food that our grandparents made,” Quadreny said.
Those abuelitas deserve more love as chefs, Quadreny said. “They can certainly roll and empanada better than any chef that I know,” she said.
They won’t have a full brunch menu — they want to keep it a lunch spot. But expect to see a few weekend specials. Perhaps an egg dish or something like an ensaymada which Quadreny likened to a Filipino cinnamon roll.
It’s a casual and family friendly setting inside the former Mad Love Rock ‘n Roll Noodle Emporium, but expect big flavors out of a small space. Bayan Ko is BYO and now open.
Bayan Ko, 1810 W. Montrose Avenue, (773) 698-6373 open 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.