Head Chef Guilbert Ferido outside of Bahay Kainan/Baboys in Carson, Calif. (Photo by Elijah Alavazo)
California State University, Long Beach

Bahay Kainan/BaBoys — A hidden destination offers an adventure in Filipino fusion

Next to an abandoned auto shop, tucked away at the back of a parking lot on bustling Carson Street, lies a Filipino fusion restaurant with a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. Its name is Bahay Kainan/BaBoys.

The hidden location in Carson is something that the chef, Guilbert Ferido, 26, said he appreciates.

“I could put hundreds of signs out there, put hundreds of lights, do neon signs, do whatever I can,” Guilbert Ferido said. “But at the same time, there’s a part of me that’s saying, ‘Let people find you.’ People should hear about it from other people’s mouths.”

During the lunch rush on a recent Friday, tables filled with customers of different ages and races, who spoke English and Tagalog, dined on replicas of food that resembled burgers, burritos and fries — but they weren’t, exactly.

The burgers had Filipino pork egg rolls instead of beef patties. The burritos were filled with tocilog, Filipino cured pork meat with fried egg and fried rice. And the fries were slathered over bistek — Filipino beefsteak.

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For Guilbert Ferido, Bahay Kainan — Tagalog for eating at home — refers to Filipino culture; baboys creates a double meaning by mixing the English word for boys with the Tagalog word for pork.

Together, he said, the name suggests the more modern fusion iteration of his parents’ Bahay Kainan catering service, which was located in the same place until Guilbert Ferido took it over in 2016.

The fusion menu creates a bridge to Filipino culture by twisting its food in American or Mexican menu items.

“I circulated the menu around something more nontraditional, because we’ve been doing traditional food through catering,” Guilbert Ferido said. “I was kind of sick of it.”

For example, the most popular dish, lumpia burger, changes up the typical American hamburger by replacing the beef patty with lumpia, a Filipino version of an eggroll; banana ketchup — sweet ketchup made with bananas, vinegar, spices and sometimes red dye; and Asian slaw made with lettuce.

Bistek onion rings is an amalgam of beef slices braised in soy sauce, onions and garlic.

The decor, too, mixes cultures and styles. The main bamboo counter overlooks simple wooden dining tables; across the counter is the kitchen.

That Friday, Guilbert Ferido scrambled around in the back cooking the food. A plastic fan slowly changed directions in a corner, sending a fresh flow of air into the non-air-conditioned interior.

An older woman came out of the kitchen, eyeing the patrons as she served each table. She glimpsed a new arrival and rushed back to the counter. It was Guilbert Ferido’s mother Elizabeth who helped serve the new customer. She founded the original catering business and now works alongside her son.

“Hello,” she said in Filipino-accented English with a smile. “What would you like to eat?”

Guilbert Ferido is the head chef and only chef at Bahay Kainan/BaBoys. Elizabeth, 57, and Guilbert Ferido’s father Guillermo, 62, work to maintain it; Guilbert Ferido’s brother Elezar, 23, comes in on occasion.

Elizabeth and Guillermo migrated from the Philippines in 1990 and wound up in an apartment in Long Beach where they cooked and

Next to an abandoned auto shop, tucked away at the back of a parking lot on bustling Carson Street, lies a Filipino fusion restaurant with a Cordon Bleu-trained chef. Its name is Bahay Kainan/BaBoys.

The hidden location in Carson is something that the chef, Guilbert Ferido, 26, said he appreciates.

“I could put hundreds of signs out there, put hundreds of lights, do neon signs, do whatever I can,” Guilbert Ferido said. “But at the same time, there’s a part of me that’s saying, ‘Let people find you.’ People should hear about it from other people’s mouths.”

During the lunch rush on a recent Friday, tables filled with customers of different ages and races, who spoke English and Tagalog, dined on replicas of food that resembled burgers, burritos and fries — but they weren’t, exactly.

The burgers had Filipino pork egg rolls instead of beef patties. The burritos were filled with tocilog, Filipino cured pork meat with fried egg and fried rice. And the fries were slathered over bistek — Filipino beefsteak.

For Guilbert Ferido, Bahay Kainan — Tagalog for eating at home — refers to Filipino culture; baboys creates a double meaning by mixing the English word for boys with the Tagalog word for pork.

Together, he said, the name suggests the more modern fusion iteration of his parents’ Bahay Kainan catering service, which was located in the same place until Guilbert Ferido took it over in 2016.

The fusion menu creates a bridge to Filipino culture by twisting its food in American or Mexican menu items.

“I circulated the menu around something more nontraditional, because we’ve been doing traditional food through catering,” Guilbert Ferido said. “I was kind of sick of it.”

For example, the most popular dish, lumpia burger, changes up the typical American hamburger by replacing the beef patty with lumpia, a Filipino version of an eggroll; banana ketchup — sweet ketchup made with bananas, vinegar, spices and sometimes red dye; and Asian slaw made with lettuce.

Bistek onion rings is an amalgam of beef slices braised in soy sauce, onions and garlic.

The decor, too, mixes cultures and styles. The main bamboo counter overlooks simple wooden dining tables; across the counter is the kitchen.

That Friday, Guilbert Ferido scrambled around in the back cooking the food. A plastic fan slowly changed directions in a corner, sending a fresh flow of air into the non-air-conditioned interior.

An older woman came out of the kitchen, eyeing the patrons as she served each table. She glimpsed a new arrival and rushed back to the counter. It was Guilbert Ferido’s mother Elizabeth who helped serve the new customer. She founded the original catering business and now works alongside her son.

“Hello,” she said in Filipino-accented English with a smile. “What would you like to eat?”

Guilbert Ferido is the head chef and only chef at Bahay Kainan/BaBoys. Elizabeth, 57, and Guilbert Ferido’s father Guillermo, 62, work to maintain it; Guilbert Ferido’s brother Elezar, 23, comes in on occasion.

Elizabeth and Guillermo migrated from the Philippines in 1990 and wound up in an apartment in Long Beach where they cooked and shared their food with their friends and neighbors.

They were known for their chicken relleno, or stuffed chicken. Soy sauce is poured over the chicken, which is stuffed with ground pork, mixed with raisins, garlic and other ingredients.

“It only started as a hobby,” Guillermo Ferido said. “We introduced our products to people and they seemed to like it, and so we would continue doing it.”

The couple saved up money to open the catering business on Carson Street to transition from cooking in their apartment by renting the space and adding a kitchen. Opened in 2001, it served only traditional Filipino food.

Guilbert Ferido began helping at age 10, to keep him busy while they worked. He mainly peeled and cut vegetables.

“In the beginning, I really hated it,” Guilbert Ferido said. “I hated the kitchen. I hated cooking. I hated being around the stove because it was something that was a constant thing.”

That was fine with his parents, who hoped to spare Guilbert the hard work, low pay and grueling schedule involved in running a restaurant. Guillermo Ferido works a second job as a certified nursing assistant to help make ends meet. They hoped Guilbert Ferido would pursue the medical field.

When Guilbert Ferido graduated from Carson High School in 2010, he enrolled at UC Riverside and began to study neuroscience. He said he never considered working in a restaurant.

But he lost interest in the field and dropped out in 2013. Soon, despite having hated the kitchen when he was young, he found that it was his calling to continue to cook.

He began to pursue a certificate in culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. During one of his classes, Guilbert Ferido was assigned to dissect the American burger and try to make it more interesting. He went home and saw his mother routinely rolling lumpias.

It gave him an idea.

Guilbert Ferido decided to include his Filipino culture in the stereotypical burger. He used the lumpia as a base and replacement for the beef patty and presented it to the class.

His teacher looked at the dish and was intrigued but didn’t taste it. Still, it sparked the idea of what became Bahay Kainan/BaBoys’ signature dish, the lumpia burger.

Guilbert Ferido graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2016. He initially wanted to start a food truck, but having researched the number of food trucks in the Los Angeles area, he was hesitant.

“I figured out my family had a real restaurant here since the beginning of my life,” Guilbert Ferido said. “And why not use it? It’s just sitting here. Why not put it to its full potential?”

So he officially became the head chef and revitalized it — changing the name and adding the fusion-style food and dine-in system in the building.

Elizabeth and Guillermo Ferido supported it all. With 17 other traditional Filipino food restaurants in Carson, they believed something new was needed. The restaurant opened Oct. 6, 2016.

“It’s his now,” Elizabeth Ferido said. “My husband and I are ready to retire.”

Guilbert Ferido said his goal is for Bahay Kainan/BaBoys’ menu to be attractive to all demographics, meeting their curiosity with just enough that’s familiar for them to dare trying something new.

Christina Salamante, 32, was visiting from Alameda in Northern California.

“Coming in here, there were not just Filipinos,” said Salamante, who was eating the sisig version of Tater Tots — crispy potato nuggets slathered in a mixture of chicken liver, citrus, onion and chile peppers and pig head. “Latinos, whites and different ethnicities. It gives them an introduction to our cuisine.”

On Yelp, Bahay Kainan/BaBoys has a 4 1/2 star rating among 149 reviews.

“It’s so, so good,” Dean M. from Santa Clarita wrote on Yelp. “Not greasy or oily, consistently delicious. I love this place. Try the Lumpia burger I promise you it will be your new fav.”

“Now this is the true definition of a ‘hole in the wall,’ ” wrote Christy N. from San Diego on Yelp. “[But] all the limitations of the place goes away pretty dang fast the moment you start eating. Holy smokes the food is delicious! The food is prepared fresh with quality ingredients. The menu is smaller but there’s a wide enough selection to try out tons of different things. They have options for tater tots or fries … Plus it feels great to support a family owned business with amazing food.”

Bahay Kainan/BaBoys is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

1 Comment

  • Reply 2019 summer internship revisited – HS Insider August 8, 2019 at 11:53 am

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