Taste of home

Jasmine Suarez

Photo by Nate Daly

Joining Butte County’s fleet of mobile eateries, Lola’s Filipino Cuisine was opened in January by Jasmine Suarez and her fiancé, Lehi Gange. Suarez tackles the marketing side of the operation and Gange is a food-industry veteran who also works at Japanese Blossoms in Chico. Gange had a vision of opening a Filipino food truck to share his mom’s recipes and his family’s culinary heritage with the community. Lola’s offers a handful of entrees, including soy-marinated, thin-sliced beef tapa; pork longanisa sausages; and the national dish of the Philippines, chicken adobo—a flavorful vinegar-braised dish that’s sweet, sour and salty. They also hand-roll lumpia, aka Filipino egg rolls. Based in Oroville, the food truck travels throughout the county. Find upcoming locations and times at facebook.com/lolasfilipinocuisine1418 or @lolasfilipinocuisine on Instagram. The CN&R recently caught up with Suarez outside of The Commons Social Empourium to find out more.

Who is Lola?

Lola is my fiancé’s mom. Lola means grandmother in Tagalog. She’s a tough critic, too. She’ll let us know if we get her recipe wrong and give us approval when our flavors are good to go. She approves.

What is your signature dish and what would you recommend for someone who has never tried Filipino food before?

You can’t go wrong with our lumpia. It’s the one thing I always tell people if they’re a little hesitant to give our food a try. I also recommend our chicken adobo. It’s a staple in the Filipino community. My favorite item would be our chicken cheese lumpia. It’s my go-to. I would go crazy whenever Lola would make lumpia, and I actually told her a couple days ago, “You know, I used to get so excited for your lumpia, but now I’m rolling it every single week and I’m getting kinda tired of it!” But the taste … I love it.

You also offer pre-packaged food that people can cook at home. Tell me about that.

Yes, we sell frozen lumpias by the dozen, which is an option for people that don’t have time to eat out or would prefer to cook themselves. You just heat up a little bit of oil and pan fry all sides of the egg roll until they are brown and crispy.

What have been the most rewarding and difficult aspects of operating a food truck?

Probably battling time. Time management is stressful, but it’s also the most fun for me because I like meeting deadlines. Needing to have stuff done in time for an event and getting it accomplished is rewarding. As far as difficulties, it has been a little bit of a challenge to find good places to park the truck, besides the breweries that have given us an opportunity. It’s been hard to get permission from businesses and find ideal locations for serving lunch, but we’re working on it.

What future plans do you have for Lola’s?

We’d like to open up a small family restaurant to serve traditional kamayan dinners laid out on banana leaves, with food in the middle. People come in, eat with their hands and share a meal. That’s definitely the goal.