Though it's hard to notice from a Miami point of view, Filipino fare is on a tear. Compared with many other cuisines, Filipino food excels at stunning visuals. A prime example is the dessert halo halo, or "mix mix" when translated from Tagalog. The family behind South Miami-Dade's long-standing Lan Pan-Asian Cafe will soon open Lan Halo Halo Snack Shack, offering the multicolored treat.
"Halo halo is the most fun, crazy concoction you can create with ice. In the Philippines, each place has its own combination, but it typically has a shaved-ice base topped with tropical fruits, condensed milk, jellies, beans, ice creams, flan, and more," co-owner Kazu Abe says. Abe's husband, Johnson Teh, was raised in the Philippines' capital, Manila, and will oversee the menu. "Our halo halo will focus on high-quality house-made ingredients and pure fruits for a less electric look but an overall better-flavored and uniquely delicious mixture," Abe explains.
The two offerings ($6.75 each) include the classic, with banana jam, flan, the purple yam called ube, red beans, lychee jelly, ube ice cream, and tapioca. The tropical version comes with strawberries, pineapple, coconut chips, lychee jelly, vanilla ice cream, and tapioca.
The menu also lists a trio of the Japanese shaved-ice snacks kakigori, along with poke and rice bowls, priced between $8 and $14.
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"We are looking to have a rotating menu that highlights exciting, flavorful food that is difficult to find in a convenient setting."
In 2012, TV food personality Andrew Zimmern proclaimed Filippino food the next great cuisine to be embraced by America. Vogue echoed that sentiment in 2017. North Florida boasts a sizable Filipino population. It's large enough, in fact, that the area is now home to a growing number of Jolibee restaurants, a fast-food chain beloved for its fried chicken (try the spicy version) and palabok, a dish for which thin rice noodles are covered in garlic sauce, crushed pork rind, shrimp, and egg.
However, Miami offers sparks of the cuisine if you know where to look. Find sisig — a sizzling platter of pork pieces topped with egg yolk — at North Miami Beach's Lutong Pinoy. South in Cutler Bay, Pampangueña specializes in the hearty, piquant pork stew sinigang. Occasionally, Roel Alcudia — chef and partner of Gregory's Diner — offers some of his Filipino cooking, and Pao by Paul Qui, located inside the bombastic Faena Hotel, hosted a kamayan (traditional Filipino feast) featuring a massive banana-leaf-veneered table topped with lechón, Wagyu beef, chicken inasal, and loup de mer, along with kimchee, ramps, grilled green onions, bok choy, mangoes, plantains, and pineapple.
Lan Halo Halo Snack Shack. 8352 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami; lanpanasian.com.