In the 30 years since Sherwin Resurreccion emigrated from the Philippines to Minnesota, he knew of only one restaurant he could go to for a taste of home (Cora’s, a wings joint in St. Paul).
Now, with the recent opening of his full-service south Minneapolis restaurant Apoy, plus the addition of a food truck and a Filipino/Mexican restaurant in Frogtown, Resurreccion has seen his native cuisine begin to take off in his second home. (In 2009, a downtown Minneapolis restaurant named Subo made a splash, but didn't last long unfortunately.)
“The Minnesotan palate has evolved,” said Resurreccion, who opened Apoy last month in the Kingfield neighborhood with his brother, Shawn Nafstad, and chef Curt Rademacher. Resurreccion also operates a food truck, Funfare Global Street Eats.
“I think it was high time Minnesota started learning what Filipino food is,” he said, “because I find it very delicious and so do my friends when I cook it for them.”
The cuisine draws upon ingredients and practices from several other countries. “A lot of our basic ingredients are Spanish, from the influence of colonization for 300 years,” Resurreccion explained. “But we use Asian cooking techniques: pickling from Korea and Japan, stir fry from the west in China and Thailand, noodle dishes and root vegetables from down in Indonesia and Singapore.”
At Apoy, which means “fire” in Tagalog, the menu includes Filipino staples like sisig — pork belly, cheeks and ears, sautéed with ginger, garlic and chili. “It’s one of those quintessential dishes that Filipinos eat while they’re drinking,” Resurreccion said.
And pancit — rice and egg noodles with shrimp. Or halo halo — a dessert of shaved ice topped with evaporated milk, candied chickpeas and fruit.
“All of these ingredients I grew up with, watching my mom cook, helping my aunts and my grandma cook,” Resurreccion said. “They’re very near and dear to my heart.”
They’re also dear to the many Filipinos who have walked through Apoy’s doors since it opened in September. They’ve come from around Minnesota and as far as Iowa and Wisconsin; many had been longing for a taste of the Philippines.
“It is absolutely heartwarming to us that they travel that far,” said Resurreccion (theater fans might recognize his name from his acting work on local stages).
Plenty of non-Filipinos have been coming in to try something new, too. Dinuguan, a pig’s blood soup with pork intestines, has proven to be surprisingly popular.
“I’ll see maybe 3 or 4 non-Filipinos order that any given night,” he said. “That really puts a smile on my face. It’s a wonderful way to know someone else’s culture through food.”
4301 Nicollet Av., Minneapolis