Food evolving – from truck to table

Filistix, one of the city’s first food trucks that turned into an on-campus food spot, is a new downtown restaurant, co-founded by Ariel del Rosario and Roel Cañafranca. We spoke with del Rosario to find out what brought Filistix to 100 Avenue and 106 Street.

It’s that hospitality quotient. Food is first and foremost at Filistix. Everything is meant to be shared family style, which is unique, not unique to Asian restaurants, but unique to crossover-type restaurants. Everybody shares. Big serving spoons. You get a big plate of fried rice and everybody shares and tastes.

It was two years ago that we started thinking about opening an off-campus site. The criteria for us choosing a spot was, we had to have [density]. The government district had that density. The area is starting to become more developed. I think in the next year or two, all of those buildings will be occupied or populated and it’s just going to bring more vibrancy to the area.

Initially, our idea was to do strictly Filipino street food, hence the name Fili for Filipino and Stix for skewers, meat on a stick. And that’s the quintessential Filipino-style street food. On every corner you see these little old ladies doing grilled skewers like satay in Malaysia or Indonesia. The inspiration came from that, but as circumstances changed, like us opening up on campus, we really had to evolve our menu so that it wasn’t just Filipino street food.

We had to tweak our recipes so they weren’t super traditional, so they were a little familiar. Even the presentation had to be a little more familiar. We want to introduce our version of our food. We’ve never claimed to be authentic in any way. We want to bridge the gap to people who don’t necessarily know what southeast Asian food really is. We want them to come in and feel the atmosphere and get a little glimpse of the culture.

We want to educate a little bit, introduce a little bit, where people come in and have good food, get drinks and enjoy the atmosphere in a super, super nicely designed space. We have cinderblocks and wood and plants and this really cool tiling on our ceiling that gives a sense that you’re not in Edmonton.