We get real hungry after strenuous activities in seawater, like butanding (whale shark) watching. There’s no scientific basis for that, except that’s what I’ve noticed since childhood. Maybe that’s just be. Now, if we’ll be talking about food after all the swimming after whale sharks, I’d say there’s enough basis to say that the food at the Kawnkita Restaurant tastes good.
Since this is Bicol, the local delicacy includes laing and Bicol Express. We’ve tried both recipes in Legaspi City, in two restaurants that came highly recommended (Waway’s and Colonial), but we haven’t found laing or Bicol Express that would bowl us off our feet. We ordered laing, which is better than Waway’s, and the fish fillet, which is delicious and obviously fresh.
The highlight is the kinunot. It’s like: “What a strange name . . . sounds real fishy . . . c’mon, let’s try it.” And so our culinary curiosity got the better of us. But this is not one of those situations when you say “curiosity often leads to trouble’, as what Alice said. The kinunot actually tastes great. Just like chicken.
The kinonot tastes like the special version of kinilaw, with gata (coconut milk). The kinunot is pagi (sting ray) cooked in coconut milk, chili and sigarilyas.
This part requires the help of Bicolanos or anyone who understands the dialect. I presume kinunot is derived from the manner of preparing this food. I haven’t seen how kinunot is cooked, but from the taste and texture, the meat seems to have been boiled.
The Bicolano term “Kunot“, the root word of kinunot, means “pinch” or “crimpled”, depending on the usage. Maybe they pinch the strips of string ray meat during processing, or crumple the meat with the gata.
I could be wrong, of course (most probably wrong). This requires your help. You kinonot experts out there speak up or forever hold you peace.
Kawnkita Restaurant is found in the Amor Farm Beach Resort. We tried to book a room in its duplex-time cottages. No luck, fully-booked. If we assume that even only half of those eating at Kawnkita are staying in Amor Beach Resort, it’s easy to see that this resort is fully booked.
We’ve settled in the carved wooden chairs, under the woven bamboo ceiling, enjoying the chewy kinunot. Another food for thought (pun intended), what’s the possible origin of the restaurant’s name, Kawnkita? Asking the staff would take out the challenge. The more I thought of it, the faster I pronounced the word, the clearer the probable origin became.
“Kaon” means “eat” and “kita” means “us”. Perhaps “kawn” is a play on “kaon”, a slang if you will. Kaonkita, assuming we’re right, means “let’s eat”. Now, enough of these mental calisthenics and on to the food at Kawnkita Restaurant. Enjoy.