With Filipino restaurant, Groton couple seeks to fill void
Groton — Raymond and Prescilla Go knew it was a gamble to open a restaurant that has an unfamiliar format and serves cuisine unfamiliar to many in the area, but a month and a half in they're feeling good.
Prescilla said their customer base so far is about 40 percent Filipino, but they've been coaxing the other 60 percent into trying dishes new to them, like pork blood stew. As it turns out, they like it and return for more.
"They could be African-American, or white American; it doesn't matter to them," Prescilla said.
The couple opened Raymond's Pinoy Kusina at 928 Poquonnock Road, formerly Snotea Caffe, at the end of August. "Pinoy" is a demonym for Filipinos and their culture, while "kusina" is Filipino for kitchen.
Raymond is the primary cook, while Prescilla works full-time as a nurse.
They immigrated from Dumaguete, a city in the Philippines, in 2006. Prescilla said she was petitioned to come to the U.S. because of a shortage of nurses.
Raymond was a stay-at-home dad — their kids are now 13 and 11 — and started learning how to cook. He said they decided to open the restaurant for a change, and because there are a lot of Filipinos in the area but no Filipino restaurants. The family lives in Groton.
The eatery is set up as a cafeteria, with the option to take the food out or sit at one of the 24 chairs. Meals are $6.99 for noodles or rice and one meat, and $8.99 with two meats.
There's bistek, or beef steak with soy sauce and vinegar. Pancit is rice noodles with veggies. There's lechon kawali, or deep-fried pork belly. There's lumpia, or spring rolls.
Raymond noted that each dish takes an hour or more to make and "we're not in a hurry. When we cook it takes time."
The combination of his time-consuming methods, goal for everything to be fresh, and desire for customers to not get bored means there are different dishes on different days, and varying availability within each day.
Raymond said he might keep five or six dishes the same every day but switch up the rest.
And if stew runs out at 3 p.m., he won't make more, because then he would have leftovers and he doesn't want to serve leftover food the next day.
Raymond's Pinoy Kusina is never open past 6 p.m., which Prescilla said is because family is a priority for them and they want to have dinner with their kids.
Along with the savory options, a colorful dessert option is the Halo-halo, a shaved-ice sundae that translates as "mix-mix."
Topped with ice cream, it includes jackfruit, coconut, banana, corn flakes, kaong (palm fruit) and ube halaya (a dessert made from purple yam). So basically every bite is a sweet surprise.
The establishment has elements here and there meant to make Filipino patrons feel at home, between the TV programming and the presence of the newspaper Pinas.
For the Go family, opening the restaurant fits in well with how Prescilla describes the nature of Filipinos when it comes to food: "You don't just cook for yourself; you cook a lot and you bring it to work."
What: Raymond's Pinoy Kusina
Where: 928 Poquonnock Road, Groton
Owners: Raymond and Prescilla Go
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More information: (860) 440-8157