Many people credit Filipino food pop-up Kamayan ATL, owned by Mia Orino and Carlo Gan, for finally bringing country cuisine to the fore in Atlanta. And now, after three years of running Kamayan ATL as a pop-up and catering business, Orino and Gan plan to open it as a restaurant in December at the iconic Asian Square complex on Buford Highway in Doraville.
Located in the former Mary’s Fresh Juice space, Kamayan ATL will feature seating for up to 40 people and serve a rotating menu of dishes and regional specialties from the more than 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines. Filipino baked goods, such as ube piaya and buko peach mango pie, from Three Lolas Bake Shop will also be served, along with mid-afternoon snacks, halo-halo and freshly squeezed juices from the bar.
Orino and Gan want Kamayan ATL’s operations to be kept simple, opening five days a week as a counter-service restaurant, before eventually expanding to full-service catering. Pop-ups invade the kitchen on the two days the restaurant is closed.
Since the launch of Kamayan ATL in 2018, Orino and Gan have served traditional Filipino fare, comfort food and feasts at restaurants in Atlanta, including Lazy Betty and Ba Bellies, with platters of silog, lumpia, whole fish dishes, pancit bihon and pork. adobo.
“I’m going to be doing a lot of regional and obscure dishes, some that I’ve never really eaten before because there are so many islands,” Orino says of the restaurant’s menu. “It’s still lifelong learning for me, and it’s exciting to make a remote fuss that only five or 10,000 people know about. We just want to share these dishes on a bigger platform.
Earlier this year, the pair began appearing regularly at the outdoor mobile food park and chef’s market in the Pratt Pullman neighborhood in Kirkwood. But with the restaurant on the horizon and the catering ramping up as the holidays approach, Orino says they’re finishing the pop-up in the neighborhood.
While he originally planned to open Kamayan ATL in a century-old bungalow in Kirkwood with a koi pond that looked like the small koi pond at Orino’s childhood home in Manila, the cost of conversion and modernization of the property turned out to be too high. Instead, the design of the Asian Square restaurant calls for a scaled-down version of a bahay kudo in the dining room, a traditional Filipino house built from bamboo and other sustainable materials and then transported by neighbors to to its final location. Bamboo for the bahay kudo at Kamayan ATL will come from local residents and farms around Atlanta.
Designed as a community gathering space, the bahay kudo will accommodate 16 people. Orino says the structure pays homage to the community of diners and chefs who continue to support Kamayan ATL on his journey to becoming a restaurant.
“We didn’t start Kamayan ATL to make money. It was originally just to share our food and culture with the Atlanta community, ”says Orino. “It has become so much bigger than we imagined, and we are thrilled to represent the Filipino community and be part of the iconic Asian Square on Buford Highway.”
5150, route Buford, Doraville, kamayanatl.com. Follow on Instagram for updates.