I’m a big fan of Filipino food so when Carin de Ria showed up on the local restaurant scene in downtown Encinitas next door to the Potato Shack I was thrilled. It’s another ingredient in the melting pot of cuisine in coastal North County and it’s a welcome addition.
I’ve made several trips since and it has become one of those places I will add to my regular visit list. I knew the basics of Filipino food but wanted to further my knowledge so I sat down with owner Archie Soria to learn more. I should also point out that Archie has teamed up with the talented chef Marlaw Seraspi who came from Open House prior to this and was the executive chef at Craftsman. He touches on that relationship in our conversation:
Lick the Plate:
Are you and your wife from the Philippines? If so, what part?
Yes, we are both from the Philippines. My wife’s mom is from the northern part of the country. Both my parents are from the south. We both grew up in Manila.
What were your early food memories of growing up there, some favorites that stick out?
Growing up I can remember our weekday family dinners always had some sort of stew or soup on the table. We never had raw salads, but grilled eggplant, grilled okra and tomatoes were mainstays on most of our meals. Bigger family gatherings, I remember, were always a feast. The spread on those occasions would almost always include pancit, grilled meats, flan and fruit salad with freshly grated coconut.
What dishes on your menu would you consider distinctly Filipino?
I would consider chicharon and adobo distinctly Filipino. In a culture that loves food and hates waste, these dishes stand out. Our dishes are a product of our history, our need to make good out of everything we have (literally each and every single part of each fowl, pig, cow, etc.) and the need to preserve it (we don’t use a lot of fresh herbs and use vinegar loosely because of its taste and self-preserving quality). Chicharon (fried pork rind) that crackles when dipped in vinegar with garlic and celebrates our love for tart and salty snacking / grub food.
Our adobo (stew with vinegar, soy sauce and dried bay leaves), whether it be pork, chicken or beef, always delivers a delicate balance between salty, sweet and sour flavors.
I am a huge fan of lumpia and yours is especially good. Tell me about that dish and how you make it.
These are our local version of the fried Chinese egg roll just that our wrapper is of a thinner pastry. Our classic lumpia has pork, jicama, carrots and cabbages. We hand-roll each and every single one of those.
One of my favorite chefs, Marlaw Seraspi, has come on board with you and that makes me very happy. Tell me about that relationship and how he will be contributing.
I met Marlaw through a common friend. After chatting with him back and forth about my vision and concept, we realized that we’re both going for the same goal … we want to introduce the cuisine to the mainstream. So he’s coming in to help me streamline and enhance the dishes, collaborate on new menu items, be consistent and improve the dining experience in all three restaurants as we continue to grow our cuisine to the mainstream. We’re still in the early stages of our friendship but who knows what will come out of this, hopefully it’ll be a win win situation for us.
For those unfamiliar with your cuisine, what dishes would you suggest for a first-time visitor?
I always suggest the adobo or pork skewers unless they’re vegetarian, then I offer the vegetarian pancit. For groups, I love offering the family feast because it gives them variety and they get to taste most of our top sellers like the lumpia, pancit, stews and barbecue in one visit.
And finally, I had Halo Halo for the first time and it was really good. Can you explain that dessert and what goes into it?
Halo Halo means mix mix in Filipino. Our summers back home are very humid and hot and this is the ultimate dessert for that kind of scenario. It is made of shaved ice, milk, candied bananas, sweet potatoes, coconut, agar-agar, ube (sweet potato), flan, ice cream, topped with toasted rice. It is indeed a concoction of all sorts, and best enjoyed when mixed all together.
Get some Filipino goodness at 124 W. I Street, Encinitas. Carry out is also available. Call (760) 557-4873 or visit www.thecarinderiacompany.com
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Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lick-the-plate.com