Kamayan Night at Jeepney

12:08:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

The idea of stuffing our faces silly with nothing but our hands could sound archaic to those who are used to utensils and pre-portioned plates. Oh...all the germs and dirty hands! I am a firm believer in the notion of "big germs eat little germs" (it sounds better in Chinese 大菌吃小菌 ); a little bit of bacterium will only add to build immunity.

In reality, there are many cultures that have eaten with their bodily utensils for, probably, centuries. It isn't any less unmannered or uncultured, just a different set of customs: using only a specific hand, pinching rice with specific fingers, scooping meat in a particular way, and the list goes on. If the whole table does the same thing, then is it really weird anymore?

I would imagine everyone's inner kid would especially love this style of eatingso much freedom to lick the leftover sauces from your fingertips and savor every last bit. No one has to pretend to be neat and tidy either. The life!

lavlilacs Kamayan Night at Jeepney Filipino Gastropub

Jeepney is a Filipino Gastropub in New York City's East Village. They have normal plated service every day. On Wednesdays and Thursdays of the week, and if specially reserved otherwise, the restaurant offers what they call Kamayan Night. This does require an inquiry for reservation ahead of time via a dedicated form on their website. If the availability is right, they will reply via e-mail with a link to another form for a proper reservation. Then you and your party of 4+ could decide on what foods to pre-order.

Just to clarify, I know next to nothing about Filipino culture and cuisine so I could be slightly off. Kamayan style eating is synonymous with family and get-togethers. It is also a type of meal that is reserved for special occasions, but everyone is still familiar with. People gather around a table that uses banana leaves for tablecloths and ladened with rice, meats, veggies, and other finger foods. This was perfect for my friends and I because we were celebrating 2 birthdays and a new job.

Yelp reviews say that Kamayan Night is very popular; reservations made way in advance is highly recommended. We must have been quite lucky since I made the actual request for a reservation only a few days beforehand. It could also be that we chose a time earlier on in the night (6:30 PM). Communication with Jeepney was very speedy.

lavlilacs Kamayan Night at Jeepney Filipino Gastropub bar seating

Even on the Kamayan Nights, they have space for customers who want to order plates of food as well. There is quite a lot of bar seating and side-by-side chairs near the front of the restaurant.

lavlilacs Kamayan Night at Jeepney Filipino Gastropub food spread

The staff starts to assemble the dinner spread when they've confirmed most of your party arrived. It takes maybe around 15-20 minutes to have everything ready before everyone could sit. The waiter or waitress will hand out hot towels, explain each component, and how properly eat & dip foods Filipino style.

It might look like a mish-mash of food, but everything is placed with thought. The same grouping of food replicates 6 times down the row for our group of 6 diners. Everyone theoretically has their own area to cover but where is the fun in that when food is display this way? We gave little thought to sticking to what was in front of us and just picked whichever food we felt like eating, even if it meant dipping into "other's pile".

The below was the options we were given at the time. Jeepney might change some things up depending on availability and such.

Pulutan // Small Plates (Choice of 2)

Fried tripe - With spicy banana ketchup
Chicharon bulaklak - Crispy ruffle fat
Lumpiang Shanghai - Beef and pork, carrots, water chestnuts, xiao xing, rice paper
Tahong - Steamed mussels, tanglad, shallots, garlic, sili, San Miguel beer
Ukoy fritters - Julianned kamote, carrots, onions, rock shrimp
Banana ketchup ribs - Pork ribs, Filipino dry rub, spice banana barbeque glaze
Batangas bone marrow - Ginger, patis (supplement $2/person)

Ulam // Large Plates (Choice of 3)

Adobong hipon - Head on shrimp sauteed in garlic, ginger, vinegar & bay leaf
Inasal na manok - Roasted chicken marinated in lemongrass, calamansi, soy sauce & achuete butter
Bicol express - Slow-roasted pork shoulder, coconut milk, sili & bagoong
Dinuguan & puto - Boneless port sholder, beef blood, suka, sili, bay leaf, San Miguel lager, served with crispy puto pancake
Kare kare fried chicken - Boneless crispy chicken, peanut butters sauce, pickled long beans
Short rib pares - Braised short rib, star anise, caramelized onion, fried leek, eggplant a la plancha (supplement $4/person)
Dampa fry - Whole market fish, fried hard served with blistered chilies, scallions & escabeche (supplement $4/person)

Rice (Choice of 1)

Jasmine rice - plain rice
Garlic rice - Pinoy staple for garlic lovers with garlic chips (supplement $1/person)
Chino-Latino coconut - Coconut rice with toasted coconut flakes (supplement $2/person)


They offer a bunch of options for unlimited draft beer, cocktails, premium alcohol for $25-55/person. Since our group, in general, aren't heavy drinkers we chose to order drinks separately the day of.

Cost & Fees

Base cost: $45/person
Additional food supplemental fees: varies from $1 to $4/person per dish
NYC sales tax
20% service charges (18% tips + 2% admin fee)
Cancellation fee within 48 hours of reservation: 50% of total bill
Cancellation fee or no-show on day-of: 100% of total bill

Our total that night, including tax, service fee, and 1 supplemental food fee: $64/person

lavlilacs Kamayan Night at Jeepney Filipino Gastropub food spread names

I think the hardest part about Kamayan night is choosing which foods to order from their selection. It seems that no matter the party size, groups are limited to 2 "appetizers" and 3 "entrees". Everything they described just sounds so delicious. If it wasn't Kamayan Night, we could have easily ordered a few more of the "pulutan" and "ulam" dishes to share.

My friends all agreed that both the Banana Ketchup Ribs and Lumpiang Shanghai were bomb. The meat on the ribs completely fell off the bone and was very juicy and saucy. Where has banana ketchup been all our lives?? Even though it would have been nice to try some of the more unique appetizers, the lumpiang (spring rolls) gave a much-needed crunch amidst all the soft and tender meats.

Of the main meats we chose, favorites were pretty unanimous: Bicol Express, followed by Short Rib Pares, and then Kare Kare Fried Chicken. The slow-roasted pork shoulder (Bicol Express) had the right amount of sauce and the meat was amazingly tender. We loved covering the rice with that magical sauce. While we enjoyed the fall-apart braised short ribs, it would have been even better with more sauce. It wasn't lacking in flavor, but some pieces needed the extra juice and moisture. The fried chicken meat, on the other hand, was a tad too dry especially considering how large the each piece was.

If I were to ever eat at Jeepney again, not just for Kamayan but even for regular service, I would love to try their dampa fry (whole fried fish). It seems to be a pretty popular choice on Yelp and I noticed quite a lot of them on the service counter when we were eating that night.

The longanisa (sweet Filipino sausage), sweet orange-tinted bread (possible coconut flavored), cucumber salad, and Shanghai bok choy seem to be included no matter what sides and mains are chosen. Vinegar is recommended for dipping almost anything on the table into; it serves to cut the sweetness and grease. The sweet chili is typically reserved for the lumpiang.

lavlilacs Kamayan Night at Jeepney Filipino Gastropub halo halo

We were told a Filipino meal isn't complete without ube (purple sweet potato) and halo halo (mixed ice dessert with sweet beans, jello, and evaporated milk). There aren't any options for dessert with the Kamayan feast, but the Halo Halo was much appreciated after all the heavy foods. We were given 2 bowls to share amongst the 6 of us.

The staff even gave us a round of complimentary ube shots! It could have been that he knew someone in our group or because they found out we were celebrating multiple occasions that night.

My friends and I devoured a good 75% of the food on the table. We only had enough leftovers for 2 loosely packed boxes. I would definitely not recommend gorging until you are silly and delirious because we were seriously full that night for ages. It was harder to control how much we ate since the food was in a big 'ole pile. Just remember to pace it out and take smaller pinches of food instead of handfuls. No one will judge you for leaving a ton of food at the end. In fact, I think it is very appropriate in Filipino culture to have leftovers pack for home.