Former food truck duo at Filistix serve up Filipino flavour at its finest

In 2008, cousins Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafranca rolled on to Edmonton streets serving grilled skewered meat out of a food truck.

Their well-priced, Filipino-influenced food offerings soon attracted a loyal following of customers.

An offer to set up inside the Students’ Union Building on the University of Alberta campus allowed del Rosario and Canafranca to stay in business year-round.

It was a win-win for them and for the students who appreciated this tasty takeaway that didn’t gobble up their already meagre budgets.

But soon, people demanded more. Downtowners felt left out. Office workers in the Government Centre district wanted in on the food, too.

Del Rosario and Canafranca heeded their call.

We’re off to South East Asia next, to sample some traditional Filipino fare. 6:35

‘More addictive with each bite’ 

In June, they opened a modern, more grown-up Filistix close to the Legislature grounds. 

With full table service offering cocktails, breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends, this downtown location is all in. 

The menu features more noodle dishes, more curries and more of the ubiquitous garlic fried rice considered a staple in Filipino breakfasts.

Filistix skewers are seasoned with salt and pepper and then brushed with a sweet and savoury glaze while sizzling over coconut charcoal. (Twyla Campbell/CBC)

Sweet, sour and salty

The rice appears in the Big Brekkie alongside tocino (cured pork), a sunny side up egg and a handful of mesclun greens dressed in a calamansi patis vinaigrette. 

The orange-lime elements of the calamansi fruit are tempered by the saltiness of the patis (fish sauce).

The vinaigrette plays well with the bitterness of the greens, the richness of the egg, and the sweet and smoky flavours of the tocino, a red-hued, cured pork referred to often as Filipino bacon. 

The food of the Philippines is all about balance. Every dish requires equal measures of sweet, sour and salty. 

The food is also a product of many cultures. With influences from China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Spain, Japan and the Americas, Filipino food is the ultimate in fusion.

Take the pancit Canton for example, a dish of egg noodles combined with chicken, shrimp and cabbage, seasoned with calamansi.

It’s the Filipino version of chow mein and takes its name from the Hokkien word, pian i sit (meaning convenient food) and for Canton, the province in China. 

In mee goreng, noodles are stir-fried with chicken and shallots and seasoned with a sweet soy sauce called kecap manis and a blend of fried chili peppers, garlic and onions called sambal bajak.

It’s flavourful but not spicy — the kind of dish that becomes more addictive with each bite. 

The food at Filistix is meant to be shared, but you might want to order the mee goreng all for yourself. 

As for the skewered meats? They’re still as popular as they were 11 years ago. 

Chicken, beef, pork and lamb are seasoned with salt and pepper, then brushed with a sweet and savoury glaze while sizzling over coconut charcoal. Meat-free options of mushroom and vegetable skewers are simply seasoned with salt, pepper and a squirt of calamansi. 

Those skewers will never be taken off the menu. Without the “stix,” the name would have to change to Filifood, and really, why mess with a good thing?

Find the downtown location of Filistix at 10621 100th Ave.

You can hear Campbell’s reviews on Edmonton AM every second Friday. You can also see more of her reviews on her blog, Weird Wild and Wonderful, and can follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10.

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