It should be no surprise to discover an authentic Filipino eatery in a cosmopolitan city such as Tulsa, and so I was serendipitously pleased to find this little place, Phil-Asia.
And, come to find out, Tulsa has been home to a very strong, close-knit Filipino community for years.
Having only opened a mere three weeks ago, this deli-store in the 3500 Center on south Sheridan seems to be well-stocked with Filipino items for sale and with hot meals native to the Philippines.
The dining area is small, tidy, and comfortable, and there is a large TV/karaoke set-up in a corner of the room which was silenced while we were here.
Menu items are served cafeteria style and change often. On this particularly Monday, my friend and I enjoyed dishes very new to us--in fact, I'm sure we never experienced these dishes before.
Each meal we had came with an ample helping of white rice, and we could select two dishes from more than four or five selections for $5.99 per meal. Also, Vegetables Lumpia and Shanghai Lumpia (a.k.a. eggrolls) are also available.
We selected an order of both types of Lumpia. The vegetable version was filled steamed vegetables, fried crisp and served hot. These long, narrow rolls came with vinegar dip. The Shanghai version was filled with pork, also fried crisp and served with a sweet/hot sauce.
For the main meal, I selected the Pork Menudo and the Munggo. I poured this Filipino stew of pork, garlic, onion, possibly other stew items such as potatoes as a thickener on the top of the white rice. The flavor was rich, meat tender, and very filling.
My friend had the Munngo, a light stew made with mung bean, the one generally used to produces bean sprouts. As the whole bean, these were cooked to the soft stage in chicken broth with seasonings, such as garlic and onion, a little oil and mulunggay leaves, a popular tree, the leaves of which are used like spinach. (They are packed with vitamin C and other minerals and have been eaten for centuries in India, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.)
He poured this stew-like dish over his rice, and enjoyed this very earthy dish.
We both tried the Chicken Pancit, which is a noodle dish using the very, very thin and almost transparent Pancit Bihon (a Chinese influence) noodle. This dish typically contains garlic, onion, scallions, julienned snow peas, shredded cabbage, and thinly sliced chicken. It was very light and refreshing.
Filipino food is heavily influenced by the Malaysians, Indonesians, Arabians, Indians, Spanish and Chinese who brought an assortment of spices and food plants to the Philippine islands.
Those who stayed handed down their own cooking methods which the natives used to improve or augment their indigenous ways. For example, the stews and rice-meat dishes are of Spanish influence, the noodles and lumpia are of Chinese descent.
Ultimately, the Filipino cuisine is much like the Filipino: a mixture of different cultures, Eastern and Western that forms one unique culture that is like yet unlike those that preceded it.
Phil-Asia Store and Eatery
3500 S. Sheridan
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