Tag Archives: Filipino

All About Calamansi fruit

Yesterday I was introduced to a completely new ingredient to me: calamansi fruit. These tiny citrus fruits are also known as kalamansi, calamondin and Philippines limes or lemons. They are extremely sour, and their juice is used instead of lemon or lime juice in Filipino and other southeast Asian cuisines. They do have a more orangy taste profile than lime, and a common substitute for their juice is a mixture of equal ratios of orange juice and lemon or lime juice (though I imagine the result will be less sour). Calamansi start out green, and turn orange when they are ripe. I don’t know that their taste changes much, however, the ones I got were mostly orange (see picture) but they were extremely sour.

Sun Tropics Chilled Calamansi Lime Nectar - 64 Fl. Oz. - Safeway

I came across them in a recipe for Ambonese fish, which called for their juice. I was excited to see that calamansi juice was available at my local big-chain supermarket, but disappointed when I got my order and found out that what they sell is actually calamansi nectar, a drink whose first and second ingredients are water and sugar. Basically, it’s a lemonade made with calamansi fruit instead. As a drink, it’s rather good. I liked it much better than lemonade though les than limeade. It did feel the particular brand I bought was rather watery, but perhaps in my old age I just need more intense flavors (I don’t have a problem with commercial limeade, however).

As much as I enjoyed the drink, I still needed to find calamansi which, fortunately, was an easy task in California. Not only do we have a large Filipino population which consume these fruits, but it seems that we have a good climate for growing them. I found several ads on Facebook Marketplace for people who had trees in their backyards and sold them for $4/lb.

However, I ended up buying these at a local Asian supermarket with a large Filipino selection. A 1/2 lb bag was $2.25 and it produced 1/3 cup of juice. So it is definitely more expensive than lime/lemon/orange juice. I think there might be commercial brands selling calamansi juice, but I didn’t think it was worth my time seeking them out at the local Asian markets.

Juicing the calamansi turned out to be very easy if a bit time consuming. You basically cut off the side with the stem and then squeeze them by hand into a strainer – they are full of seeds. Alternatively you could just squeeze them into a bowl and then strain the whole thing, I imagine. At least when they are ripe, they are very soft and very easy to squeeze.

I’m actually looking forward to find another dish that calls for these little fruit, they are that cute and fun to cook with. Meanwhile, I’ll just drink the calamansi-ade.

Zen’s Filipino Cuisine and Ihaw-Ihaw (BBQ) House – San Leandro – REVIEW

image borrowed' from Zen's

Jan 2012

I’ve returned to Zen’s many times since my original review. I think it’s by far the best deal for lunch in town, the food is delicious and the lunch buffet very nicely priced. It’s well worth the trip to the Marina.


May 2008 Review
Zen’s has been open for two years and I only read about it today, which tells you I’m not as in tune with the San Leandro restaurant “scene” as one might think. And a great pity it is, because if its buffet lunch is any indication, Zen may very well serve the best food in San Leandro.

I found the restaurant on TripAdvisor.com while looking for restaurants in San Leandro I might have missed. I suggested it to my friend Aamani, who I was meeting for lunch, and she was all for trying it – so we headed towards Doolittle in the hopes of finding it, which we did easily. It’s located in a strip mall, just off Fairway.

The little restaurant is pretty cute with a tiki-bar kind of feel. It has, however, two annoying flat screen TVs showing Filipino shows. They are very loud, making conversation difficult.

The buffet consisted of about 10 dishes, including a chicken soup, chicken and pork adobo, BBQ chicken, Filipino steak, chicken in a coconut sauce, and a few other dishes I don’t remember now. There was one noodle dish I didn’t try, and one green-bean dish. There was nothing else for vegetarians, so they may want to keep away.

Everything I tried was excellent, the meats were tender, flavorful and not exceedingly fatty. The sauces were full of flavor, the bbq chicken was delicious. My experience with Filipino food had been limited to adobos and lumpias, what I tasted seemed like a fusion of western and Asian foods – as you would expect.
According to its website, Zen’s is also open to dinner until very late. They have music and karaoke some nights, so you may want to call them if you are just going for the food. I know I’ll go back.

Zen’s Filipino Cuisine and Ihaw-Ihaw (BBQ) House

13876 Doolittle Drive
San Leandro, CA
510-351-3312
http://www.zensfilipinocuisine.com

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews