Since Carlo Lamagna opened Magna Kusina in 2019, both the chef and restaurant have garnered praise on local and national levels for their modern spins on classic Filipino dishes. Next, Lamagna intends to familiarize Portlanders with another facet of Filipino cuisine: lechon. Magna Kubo, a lechoneria — or restaurant that specializes in rotisserie meats — will arrive in Beaverton this spring, as first reported by the Oregonian.
The chef’s latest project is informed by memories that are deeply personal to him, pulling from his experiences living in the Philippines as a teenager, and symbols emblematic of the country itself. “In the Philippines, there are these little carts that just have a bunch of rotisserie meats on there,” Lamagna says. “Lechon is usually associated with a whole pig, but in the Philippines, lechon is a kind of cooking technique.”
At Kubo’s downtown Beaverton restaurant, meats like lemongrass-marinated chicken and smoked brisket will develop a succulent interior and crispy skin in a Brazilian-style rotisserie, which is able to accommodate large quantities of proteins. With this style of Filipino cuisine, Lamagna will try to replicate a cherished childhood experience.
“One of the biggest treats for us was to go to the chicken place, it’s called Andok’s,” Lamagna says. “A lot of people know a dish called inasal, which is this grilled chicken. My specific memory hearkens to the rotisserie style, which is that of Andok’s. It just hits different for me.”
On the lighter side, the restaurant will also serve whole fish, sticking to locally sourced varieties like Oregon rockfish and rainbow trout. In contrast to Kusina, Kubo will have counter service and a more casual feel. Meals can be ordered for takeaway, and the restaurant is looking to tap into Beaverton’s lunch scene with items like rice bowls.
Although meat will be the star of the show, the restaurant’s side dishes will also play an important role, with diners building their meals from different parts of the menu. For example, the restaurant will sell pancit Canton, made with egg noodles, as well as dishes like laing, taro leaves cooked in coconut milk, and pinakbet, a sauteed mixed vegetable dish. Visitors can also expect soups, like the characteristically sour sinigang, beef soup bulalo, and rotating specials like dinuguan, a rich stew made with pork blood and offal.
Filipino flavors will extend to the restaurant’s cocktails, which are in the works from Magna’s bar manager Sean Brosnihan. Lamagna anticipates some form of calamansi spritz, pandan-focused cocktails, and tamarind infusions. The restaurant is also planning on offering batched bottled cocktails to go.
Lamagna’s business partner and sous chef Kevin Balonso will oversee the new restaurant, while longtime Magna employees Danté Fernandez, Roberto Almodovar, and Lester Cabigting — also known as the Wild Rice Boys — have been made minor partners. “To be able to give these guys opportunities to grow and be able to say they have ownership is really important to me,” Lamagna says. “A lot of people out there right now talk about community and family and how they take care of their staff, but oftentimes, they don’t put their money where their mouth is.”
The restaurant’s name, Kubo, comes from the Tagalog word for “hut.” The folk song “Bahay Kubo” is named after the Indigenous style of stilt house, a prominent symbol in the Philippines. The song’s lyrics describe ingredients on a farm, which hits a core memory for Lamagna.
“It’s just had such a deep meaning for us [and] speaks volumes to what we’re trying to do in this specific space.” Lamagna says. “Many summers were spent at my grandma’s place at the hut and the farm, just hanging out. It’s really important for all of us to be able to bring that home feeling back to the people that are here that have left the Philippines or that grew up here and are looking for a connection. We want to make people feel at home and realize that this is our version of home cooking.”
Magna Kubo will open at 12406 SW Broadway Street.