A taste of the Philippines

Philippine Asian Market and Cuisine offers unique ingredients

By Alandra Johnson / The Bulletin

Published Sep 22, 2006 at 05:00AM

The owners of Philippine Asian Market and Cuisine see their establishment as more than just a restaurant and market. They think this new Redmond business is helping bring together different parts of the Central Oregon community.

Co-owner Lester Sancho says he never realized how many people from the Philippines live in the local area. But now that he and co-owner Amor Garza, who both hail from the Philippines, opened the store and restaurant, they realize how large and influential the local Filipino community is.

But the new market and restaurant is attracting more than just former Philippine residents. Sancho says the Philippine Asian is also attracting many people who spent time in the Philippines, as well as customers from Hawaii, Thailand, Japan and other regions that serve Asian cuisine.

”It's a small world. It's really neat,” said Sancho.

He has spoken with World War II veterans who fondly recalled their time in the Philippines, as well as missionaries who traveled to the country decades ago.

”It's such a good, good story. We had a really good relationship with America and that continues,” said Sancho.

He and Garza dreamed of opening this kind of shop and restaurant for years, in part to fulfill their own longing for Filipino ingredients and cuisine. Both native Filipinos, they have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade and miss the food they grew up eating. Garza says she often traveled to Portland or Salem to buy groceries that she couldn't find locally.

Philippine Asian Market and Cuisine opened in late June. Garza and Sancho work full time at the restaurant and market while maintaining jobs in other professions at the same time. The pair says it is hard work, but worth the effort.

The modest market carries an assortment of hard-to-find ingredients, including coconut gel, shrimp crisps, imported eggplant, a variety of fish sauces and a root beer-like soda called Sarsi.

In addition to the market, Sancho and Garza also wanted to offer some fresh Filipino cuisine.

But while they wanted to provide unique experiences for customers, they also didn't want to exclude any populations, either.

”Our target market is everyone,” said Garza.

Sancho says the restaurant is becoming more popular with high school students because of its large portions and inexpensive prices. Customers can choose fried rice or noodles with one entree for $4.50, two entree selections for $5.50 or three for $6.50.

The cuisine comes from a blending of cultures, including American, Spanish and Japanese, according to Sancho. Popular dishes include Adobo, which is chicken or pork seasoned with garlic, onions, red wine and bay leaves. Some of the food offers familiar flavors, like teriyaki and sweet and sour. Other dishes are quite spicy, like the aptly named hot and spicy chicken, which is chicken spiced with chili peppers, carrots and red bell peppers.

Garza, who used to work in her parents' market and restaurant as a girl in the Philippines, says her favorite dish is beef caldereta, a Filipino take on beef stew. The flavorful sauce includes carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, onions, tomato sauce and special spices to give it a little kick.

Sancho says they also try to highlight the healthy aspects of the cuisine and use as little oil and salt as possible.

”It's not only healthy, but different,” said Sancho.

Sancho and Garza hope to begin offering beer and wine as well as catering services in the near future.

philippine asian market and cuisine

Location: 950 S.W. Veterans Way, Suite 102, Redmond

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday

Price Range: $4.50-$6.50

Alcoholic Beverages: No

Kids' Menu: No

Reservations: No

Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard

Contact: 923-2071