Niño’s Lamesita is a Filipino influenced restaurant which is part of the Oaks Embassy complex on North Terrace, just opposite the Adelaide Convention Centre.
The name, which is Spanish in origin, reflects the Philippines history of colonization by Spain in the 16th Century and translates into “small boy at a small table”, in English. The use of the word “small”, however, does not mean you won’t enjoy a deliciously large choice of hearty dishes.
Owners Mark, Maria and John have chosen a seasonal menu with a distinct Filipino focus, infused with other South East Asian taste delights from Japan, China and Malaysia. There are several menus for different times of the day and these also cater for dessert and drink specialties and there are plenty of foods and drinks to choose from for all tastes and desires.
Mark and Maria sat down with me for a chat and I asked them what inspired them to open and what aspects of Filipino culture they wished to share in their restaurant. Mark said that a lot of people in Australia don’t know any Filipino food or have not had a chance to try it so it was an obvious choice to focus on Filipino dishes. Maria added that many Australians are aware of Japanese, Chinese and other South East Asian dishes but many don’t even realise that the Philippines has a distinct and proud cuisine of its own. Both Mark and Maria added that at Niño’s Lamesita the idea is not to focus on strict interpretations of Filipino food but to add some variety and other South East Asian elements into traditional Filipino dishes. The team are also dedicated to using local South Australian produce in their cooking. In the Philippines some meats, such as duck, are not as common so the Niño’s team have chosen to vary some dishes to include a more local produce element.
For the entrée I tried the Niño’s Entrée Platter. Four taste sensations were served with a white vinegar sauce. The Platter included a mini lumpia sariwa which is an assortment of finely cut vegetables wrapped in a delicate pancake. It also included a small sisig cup of lightly crumbed pork in a cup shaped lettuce leaf and a quail egg in a fluffy batter. The fourth item in the Entrée Platter was an empanada filled with beans and onion pieces. My favourite item in the Entrée Platter was the quail egg which immediately struck my palate with its incredible freshness and the fluffy, light batter it was wrapped in. I also enjoyed the small sisig cup as a forerunner of what was to come and drizzled with the kalamansi (a small orange-like fruit) there was a subtle spice flavour that came to the fore. The lampia sariwa was ever so fresh and the vegetables wrapped within were not over powered by the pancake wrap, but rather, enhanced by it and this settled well on my palette. The empanada reminded me of the similar Indian samosa and lightly spiced but still gentle and the batter added a perfect balance to the mix.
My main dish was the Duck Adobo – a variant on a staple dish of the Philippines. The Adobo dish in the Philippines would mostly use chicken as they are much more easily sought, than duck, however Mark said the choice of duck added a unique twist on the dish. The dish consists of braised duck legs cooked in a traditional soy and vinegar broth on top of bed of onion and crushed potato. The duck meat fell off the bone easily and the soy and vinegar juis added a distinctly Filipino zest to the dish. Duck can be a sometimes difficult and dry meat to work with but the team at Niño’s Lamesita have created a true delight here with the Duck Adobo.
For something light I tried the Pork Sisig. This is also a staple dish of the Philippines where pork is a commonly used meat. The serving size was perfect apt and definitely a great choice for those looking for a quick and light meal. The dish would also be a great introduction to Filipino cuisine for those who have never tried it before. The kalamansi drizzled over the pork, coupled with the white wine vinegar sauce and a dash of chilli created a perfect taste sensation. The team at Niño’s have really captured the authenticity of one of the Philippines national dishes and this is a dish I’d encourage even the most unsure person, to try – you won’t be disappointed.
Soon enough it was time to try a dessert from Niño’s Lamesita “Matamis” (sweets) menu. For this I chose the Turon Surprise, a slight deviation from my usual favourite Filipino dessert dish of Halo Halo, which Niño’s also does. The Turon Surprise is a dish of lightly fried banana and jackfruit slices wrapped in a spring roll like wrapper dusted with brown sugar and accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Despite its super-sweet, sugary tasting description, the Turon Surprise was a tasty and balanced dessert to eat and not overpoweringly sweet as some desserts can tend to be. The banana and jack fruit flavours were distinct and fresh and combining the slices with the ice cream topped off a fantastic choice.
Niño’s Lamesita can be found at 104 North Terrace, Adelaide right next door to the Oaks Embassy Hotel complex and opposite the Adelaide Convention Centre.
Breakfast 7am – 11am Monday to Sunday
Lunch 11:30am – 3pm Monday to Sunday
Dinner 5:30pm – 9pm Monday to Thursday and Sunday
Dinner 5:30pm – 10pm Friday & Saturday
Costs of Menu items: $$
Paid parking available at nearby Blyth Street or Hindley Street or alight at the Adelaide Railway Station Tram Stop along North Terrace.