Two sets of brothers, the four of them cousins to the others (got that?) with a serious love and respect for the food of their grandmother want to do Filipino food a little differently. That is, Filipino for everybody.
Having grown up on the east side of St. Paul, a few houses away from one another, they say the Filipino population in Minnesota is pretty scattered.
"Filipinos love suburban life," they say. (And because I spoke with Mike and Erick Ervas, and Ryan and Randy Limbag via conference call, I'm going to attribute all quotes to the four of them, like they're some polycephaly. Sorry about that, but that's the way it has to be.)
Anyway, they say Filipinos, unlike say, the southeast Asian Hmong or Vietnamese populations in the Twin Cites, don't exactly have an enclave. As a result, there aren't really any restaurants to speak of, since said restaurants usually start out serving their own populations. A few have come but then gone.
"Filipinos usually cook for themselves, and since we're not really concentrated, most people just cook at home. So we decided, let's make it a little different. Let's do it for everybody."
And everybody, get ready, because everybody is gonna love it. Why? because there's a little bit of everything to love.
The cluster of tiny islands spent three centuries under Spanish rule, and as a result the food takes on a formidable influence from that cuisine— lots and lots of pork, for instance, and a lot of garlic and acid in the form of citrus and vinegar. But then toss in the obvious Asian flavors, which include Chinese and Malay, and a whole world of salt, sour, sweet flavors come together for exxxtreme taste sensations.
The "unofficial" national dish is pulled chicken adobo, which the brothers Ervas and Limbag have dubbed chicken bao wow, and involves chicken cooked in soy sauce, copious garlic and spice. "It just fills the kitchen with this aroma," they swoon. "Every Filipino thinks they make the best chicken adobo." Naturally, these four think theirs is the best.
Or try their pork belly, which they've subbed for the more traditional pork face, grilled, chopped, crisped, and seasoned with a lot of piquant acid. "It's like bacon on steroids," they promise, and it's their biggest selling item.
So, now that I've got you wanting it, where are you going to get it? LolaRosa's doesn't have a storefront, yet, but that's the next move, or at the very least a food truck.
Right now, they're operating as a catering outfit, and popping up at various festivals, most recently at Little Mekong Night market, and coming up next at the 7th Street Live Festival on the east side's 7th Street between Forest and Minnehaha, August 21st from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. or at Urban Oasis on September 19th from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
And if all the tempting food doesn't inspire you, how about this: they say that through all this effort, they "Just want to make their grandma happy." Her name was Generosa's, and it's where they take their namesake. "Lola" means "grandma" in Filipino.
LolaRosa's Filipino/ Asian Fusion