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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Barkadas hosts traditional Filipino ‘boodle fight’ feast

Comin’ at you with something COMPLETELY different today, and I’m not just talking about another new restaurant in town. This week’s Food Guy share is about an already-popular place that treated friends and family to a unique culinary experience.

"Boodle Fight" feast at Barkadas
"Boodle Fight" feast at Barkadas

I was sipping a frosty brew at Short Story in downtown Charleston last week when I happened to run into one of the owners of Barkadas, the neat little Filipino-fusion bistro at the bottom of Fort Hill in Charleston.


Chef Cordell Gilliam at Barkadas
Chef Cordell Gilliam at Barkadas

After shooting the breeze a bit, he asked me if I would like to come to a “boodle fight” the restaurant was having on Sunday.


A boodle what, I asked, with visions of Spam-wielding Filipino wrasslers dancing in my head. We both chuckled a bit before he went on to explain this very special Filipino food tradition.


Also known as a kamayan feast, which means “with the hands,” a boodle fight is a communal Filipino meal in which mounds of food are placed on banana leaves down a long table and eaten with bare hands, without utensils, while standing up around the table.


It’s rooted in military tradition, since Filipino soldiers did not have plates or utensils come mealtime. After the food was placed on the table, soldiers would gather around shoulder-to-shoulder and wait for the senior officer to chant this command – “Ready on the left. Ready on the right. Commence boodle fight!” – before digging in.


Pancit noodles with shrimp and veggies
Pancit noodles with shrimp and veggies

Literally, with their hands.


Although there were no military commands barked out at Barkadas Sunday night, the restaurant’s owners invited a couple dozen of their friends and family to enjoy a traditional boodle fight feast, complete with plastic gloves for those who wanted to skip the plates and forks.


Flanked by mounds and mounds of steamed white and Spam-flecked rice along the sides – and colorful fresh fruit at both ends – a long table was filled to the brim with fried lumpia, roasted salmon, marinated shrimp, grilled pork, chicken adobo, pancit noodles with shrimp and snow peas, fresh-roasted corn on the cob and more.


Not only was the food incredibly delicious, but my wife and I (who are both decidedly NOT Filipino) felt like part of their extended family. The fellowship warmed my heart and the evening was truly special.


Roasted salmon at Barkadas
Roasted salmon at Barkadas

So why am I telling you about an awesome private event that you have no real way of enjoying now? Because soon, maybe you can.


Although Barkadas is not making any promises, their boodle fight was such a hit that they’re tossing around the idea of opening it up to the public every now and then or offering it for private parties you can book at the restaurant.


I think this delicious “fight” would be a huge hit – and I’d be one of the first in line to book one!

Tidewater serving National Seafood Month specials


Tidewater Grill at Charleston Town Center is celebrating National Seafood Month with special chef-featured appetizer and entrée pairings through the end of the month.


Marinated shrimp from Barkadas
Marinated shrimp from Barkadas

Last week’s duo was Cajun-fried oysters followed by Adobo-rubbed mahi with chimichurri and Mexican street corn.


And here’s what you can look forward to next.


Now through Oct. 16 you can try crab fritters with Cajun remoulade, followed by scallops with five-spice squash puree, bourbon-bacon jam and broccolini.


From Oct. 17-23 you’ll find smoked fish dip with roasted corn salsa and crispy tortilla chips, paired with broiled salmon with scallions, sesame, furikake rice and miso-glazed veggies.


Finally, Oct. 24-30 brings crispy noodle-wrapped shrimp with pineapple-cucumber salsa and orange-chili sauce, followed by Seafood Newburg featuring shrimp, lobster, scallops, sherry cream sauce, carrots, potatoes and a crispy puff pastry.


Food Truck Wednesdays return to Slack Plaza


Pork and shrimp and corn, oh my!
Pork and shrimp and corn, oh my!

Charleston’s “Food Truck Wednesdays” will continue through the rest of October, with a variety of food trucks setting up around City Center at Slack Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. those days.


Participating trucks include Bayou Classics, Big Marv’s Café, Butch’s Lemonade, Carol’s Soul to Soul, Jo Jo’s Tacos, M.R. Poppins, Mountain Juice, Nellita’s Cocina and the Shape Shop Café.



Slack Plaza is located between Summers and Laidley streets in downtown Charleston, directly across from Brawley Walkway and Fife St. Brewing.


Chicken adobo from Barkadas
Chicken adobo from Barkadas

• • •


Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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