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CHIBOG: A unique addition to the growing Filipino Food Movement in Victoria

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Raine Cabral-Laysico
Raine Cabral-Laysico
For comments or feedback, email Raine at rainecabral@gmail.com.

Walking into this restaurant, with its slick modern industrial interiors, you just know you’ll be in for a treat. Concrete, metal, and broody lighting makes place this an Instagrammer’s dream. 

The signage is bold and funky, traversing the left side of the wall all the way up to the ceiling. You just know that the owners did not come to play. Opened in 2020, Chibog is here to make a statement. 

The brainchild of the unstoppable trifecta – husband and wife duo, Janine Barican Le and Thuan Le and their business partner and Head Chef, Alex Yin. Chibog is unmistakably an iteration of what we Filipinos have longed for but never quite got—a modern restaurant poised to make its mark in the vibrant Melbourne food scene whilst retaining its identity as undeniably Filipino.

Chibog is a Tagalog slang – meaning to eat. Chibog na tayo. Let’s eat now.

When asked how Chibog came to be, Janine candidly mentioned that it was one drunken night that led to its genesis. They were hanging out with their good friend Alex and got to talking. Create something unique. Change the narrative when it comes to Filipino food. Be ambassadors of the Filipino culture. 

Growing up in the Philippines though, she did not realise how Western the Filipino palate has become with its American influence. It was only when she migrated to Australia with her family that she realised how colonial our mentality still was. 

Meeting Thuan and travelling the world with him, she always sought the ‘taste’ of home. And while there are other Filipino restaurants out there, she felt that there still was an untapped market that could cater to all nationalities, a decidedly Filipino restaurant appealing to all. 

Our culture has always been tied with our love for food. Janine always loved cooking for her family and she got compliments every time from friends and family alike. Food brings people together and our Filipino heritage is so rich with its myriad of influences. 

Now for all our talk of interiors, the main draw of Chibog, is of course, its food. With most of the dishes developed by Janine in her home kitchen, head chef, Alex Yin, transformed it and made minute adjustments to ensure that the quality remained the same. 

Chibog Filipino Restaurant in West Footscray, Victoria
PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog

Sampling the bounty of Chibog myself, the best dishes, in this writer’s humble opinion, are the kinilaw and ukoy.

Kinilaw is a tuna ceviche with coconut cream, cucumber, caviar and red onion. The flavours exploded in my mouth and would not let go. It was also one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever seen, very well presented. 

Ukoy was crispy and light. Coupled with the glorious cane vinegar, it left me wanting more. 

However, Janine advised that the Kansi was a best seller. Kansi is an Ilonggo dish which is a hybrid between a sinigang and bulalo, something that I am looking forward to trying next time. 

Chibog's Ukoy
Ukoy ~ sweet potato fritters with school prawns | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Chibog's Kinilaw
Kinilaw or tuna ceviche | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Chibog's Kansi
Kansi | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Laing - taro leaves, coconut milk, vegan prawns and chili | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Laing – taro leaves, coconut milk, vegan prawns and chili | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Various dishes from Chibog
PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Calamansi cocktail | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog
Calamansi cocktail | PHOTO CREDIT: Chibog

My husband, Michael, particularly rated the Choriburger- a burger with longganisa and beef patty whereas my brother, Kristoff, could not get enough of the Crispy Pata, carved for us by Thuan, one of the owners, and Janine’s husband. Some might call him the Viet Coco Martin. 

Drinks wise, the natural calamansi tea hit the spot and for the more adventurous, the Calamansi smash is made spectacular. Chibog had a Filipino mixologist develop Filipino cocktails. 

Each dish was beautifully presented, and you can just tell how passionate the Chibog team was in making the dining experience memorable. The service was unparalleled, and you felt taken care of.

There are big things in store for Chibog. Their long-term goal is to expand and bring the same passion for Filipino food to the Eastern suburbs and hopefully the rest of Australia.

Let me tell you now that Chibog did not disappoint. I invite you to experience awesomeness for yourself. 

Finally, a restaurant in the West that elevates Filipino food. 

Chibog is located at 553 Barkly St, West Footscray. For bookings, call 9078 4472. Follow their Instagram page: @chibogau or send an email to cheers@chibog.com.au.


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Raine Cabral-Laysico
Raine Cabral-Laysico
For comments or feedback, email Raine at rainecabral@gmail.com.

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