Filipino pop-up Kamayan ATL plans to officially open as a full-service restaurant on Buford Highway in June. Located in Asian Square near Mamak, it will serve traditional fare inspired by the heritage of owners Mia Orino and Carlo Gan.
“We want the menu and vibe to reflect what we would eat in the Philippines,” Orino says. “I’m very rustic. It’s like, Oh you came to your auntie’s home [for dinner]. It’s about the legacy.”
Childhood friends-turned-romantic couple, Orino and Gan launched Kamayan ATL pop-ups in 2018. They’ve become well-known in the city for their Kamayan feasts, catered brunches, and more recently, turo turo (a quick service, meat-and-three-style meal). These engagements will continue after the brick-and-mortar location opens to the public, but on a more limited basis.
Operated by a primarily female, Filipino staff, Kamayan will serve dinner Wednesday through Sunday and weekend brunch. It will serve comforting items like lumpia (fried spring rolls), barbecue skewers, sisig (pork and chicken liver), and ube flan cake. Brunch offerings will include silog (garlic fried rice, sunny side up egg, and meat or seafood), as well as ube chicken and waffles. A section of the menu will feature items cooked in coconut milk to reflect the region of the Philippines where Orino’s parents grew up.
Though Atlanta has seen a recent flux of Filipino food from places like Estrellita and Three Lolas Bake Shop, Orino says Kamayan is unique. “We [emigrated] as adults, so our palate is different,” she says. “Carlo and I have been friends since we were 12. A lot of dishes are a collaboration between the two of us, [like one] inspired by a favorite from the corner bakery we’d go to after class.”
“Kamayan is a love story between the two of us and Filipino cuisine.”
Though most menu items will cost $10-$20, select specials—like lechon (roast pig)—may come with a higher price tag. The communal Kamayan spread may be offered once a week.
Kamayan ATL does not have a bar or a liquor license. Beverages will be seasonal and reflect popular Filipino drinks, such as fresh juice, boba and tapioca teas, and halo halo shaved ice.
“We’re going for tropical—we’re a tropical country, and I lived in Hawaii for 10-12 years,” Orino says.
As such, the space will feature low, rattan tables with banana leaves on them. In the center of the 55-seat dining room is a 20-seat bahay kubo, or traditional bamboo house.
“Everything reflects my family as an immigrant family. I have so many memories I want to incorporate in our little space,” Orino says.
To further her mission to carry on the Filipino heritage, Orino is launching a program called Kamayan Kids. It will offer free classes and workshops that educate kids about the Philippines. “It’s our space to be about more than just food,” Orino says.