Kalsada (Saint Paul, MN)

Filipino food has not by and large been very visible in the Twin Cities metro until recently. This is not a surprise when you consider that as per a January 2016 report from the Minnesota State Demographic Center, the numbers of Filipinos in Minnesota—whether foreign-born or not—is relatively low: 14,100 people at the time the report was published. Compare to 184,100 for Mexican, 66,800 for Hmong,  46,300 for Somali, 44,800 for Indian (from India), 29,800 for Vietnamese and 29,400 for Chinese. Of course, population numbers alone don’t account for this lack of visibility. The number of Ethiopians is only a few thousand higher than the number of Filipinos and there are lots and lots of Ethiopian restaurants in the Twin Cities, many of them popular with more than just an in-group clientele. The secondary issue here is probably that Filipino food does not have a very high profile in the US more broadly and so there has perhaps not been that “call” for it from out-culture groups. That is, so far. Continue reading

Pandemic Takeout 58: The Deli at Asian Mart (Burnsville, MN)

Some 10 days ago I had a report on Asian Mart, a Filipino grocery in Burnsville, MN. I noted in that report that they have a deli in the rear that is currently offering takeout-only on the weekends (though I suppose this may soon change with the mask mandates changing). Today I have a review for you of some food picked up from that deli this past weekend and eaten on our deck with some of the usual crew we’ve been eating with through the pandemic. They have a limited selection of dishes on offer, and it’s not the place to go to if you’re looking for vegetarian fare, but everything we got was very tasty indeed. Herewith the details. Continue reading

Lat14 (Golden Valley, MN)

As I recently noted, the last few years have seen a dramatic upswing in high-end Twin Cities restaurants featuring the cuisines of minority communities. If—as I observed—in the case of Mexican cuisine(s) this phenomenon seems to involve mostly non-Mexican chefs and restaurateurs, in the case of Southeast Asian cuisines the situation is different. Young Joni, whose chef Ann Kim won the Beard award for “Best Chef: Midwest” this year, is probably the most celebrated of these restaurants. Hai Hai, whose chef Christina Nguyen, was nominated for the same award, is not too far behind. (For what it’s worth, we enjoyed our meal at Hai Hai a lot more than our meal at Young Joni.) Lat14, which opened last year in Golden Valley, is the most recent entry in the broad genre. We were there with friends a few weeks ago, and ate a goodly portion of the menu. Here is my review of that meal. Continue reading

Pinoy Fusion (Saint Paul)

The categories “food truck” and “fusion” are usually ones I go out of my way to avoid but I ate food from a food truck named Pinoy Fusion anyway. I heard tell of it in a brief discussion of Twin Cities Filipino restaurants on the moribund Minnesota forum on Chowhound and this past weekend we finally got around to trying it out. And the food was quite good. The caveat, of course, is that this is Filipino food, which means that most of it is rich and fatty and salty and sweet to the point of being cloying. (I don’t mean to give the impression that I know a lot about Filipino food—pretty much everything I know is drawn from Jessica Hagedorn’s excellent novel, Dogeaters, which uses food as a metaphor for the decadence of aspects of life in the Philippines in the Marcos era, and from conversations with a few friends of Filipino origin. Which is to say that I know next to nothing about it and you shouldn’t take any of this as an informed guide to the cuisine.)  Continue reading