Text and images by Krisha Valle, The Netherlands
Iconic Filipino food found its home in one of Europe’s iconic street markets, Albert Cuypmarkt
Albert Cuypmarkt is an Amsterdam staple since 1905 for both locals and tourists. It is located at the heart of De Pijp, a location known for its vibrant streets lined with hip restaurants and bars. It is a market that is home to over 200 independent stalls and it is to no surprise that Kusinang Pinoy fits right in with the Albert Cuypmarkt scene.
Kusinang Pinoy, although blends right in with the international scene that Albert Cuypmarkt carries, also stands out as no other stall sells traditional Filipino food. It is for this distinctive reason that Kusinang Pinoy has piqued the interest of many.
In Amsterdam’s famous Albert Cuypmarkt, on weekdays and Saturdays, the street is lined with over hundreds of stalls, each one selling something unique whether it be food, clothing, jewelry, or home décor. But specifically, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the market features Amsterdam’s first karinderya-style eatery, Kusinang Pinoy.
Despite there being many other food stalls, each one contributing to the international food scene that Albert Cuypmarkt carries, Kusinang Pinoy still has locals flocking and tourists turning their heads to have a taste of their fresh and home-cooked meals. On days when their karinderya is up and ready to serve, the market is filled with delicious smells of traditional Filipino food like adobo, bistek Tagalog, sinigang, pancit, and their signature food staple, suman.
If you choose to sit down and have a taste of one their dishes, it is without fail that it will instantly transport you to the narrow streets of the Philippines as if you were eating in an actual karinderya. However, it’s not only the food that will transport you, but also the warm-feeling that Kusinang Pinoy brings. Everything that makes Kusinang Pinoy what it is, the food and the warmth, is made possible by Gheline Polinar-Wijnhoven.
Gheline, originally from Davao, always loves to cook. Her talents in the kitchen were honed early on in life and have only progressed since. Now, having lived in The Netherlands for over ten years with her husband and two children, her love for cooking and Filipino food has culminated to asking herself the question of, “so why don’t I start my own restaurant?”
In May 2021, alongside many others during the pandemic, Gheline turned her dream into a business. She dreamt of sharing the traditional Filipino food culture to the people of her second home - The Netherlands. With the help of her family, this dream became a reality through Kusinang Pinoy. The locals have welcomed the unique taste of traditional Filipino food as Gheline made sure not to alter its traditional flavors. However, she did choose to cater to the different dietary restrictions that people may have. For example, perfecting her gluten-free Filipino-style curry. Kusinang Pinoy has also become a haven for other Filipino-owned small businesses by selling baked-goods prepared by other Filipinos living in The Netherlands.
Today, after two years since Kusinang Pinoy started, its stall has become an Albert Cuypmarkt staple and is in the works of becoming a proper restaurant. Slowly but surely, Gheline is transforming Kusinang Pinoy into what it was created to be, a restaurant that aims to “bring the Filipino culture through food into the West.” So, if you ever find yourself in Albert Cuypmarkt, look out for the flag with three yellow stars and a sun, and you’ll find yourself having a warm and hearty meal, and surely a good conversation on the side.