A few years ago, when I was still employed by THE PAPER THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED, I met a very nice lady with the Asia Society of Oklahoma who came to the U.S. from the Philippines. Again and again, she told me how Oklahoma City was missing out on some great food (and how many Filipinos were dreadfully homesick) because the metro didn’t have any Filipino restaurants.
Since then, we’ve seen the opening of Chibugan in Del City (which I heartily suggest you visit). But if the prospect of driving ten whole minutes is too much to bear, perhaps you’d be more inclined to visit a restaurant that comes to you. Or near you, at least.
Filipino Fusion opened in 2016 and it’s made believers of many mobile eating aficionados who hadn’t ever heard of Filipino food.
Honestly, a few years ago, the most I knew about the Philippines is that local nogoodniks Richard and Ryan Tate, of the defunct Tate Publishing company, swore up and down they weren’t going to outsource Oklahoma jobs there, then fired a bunch of employees at a prayer meeting and then outsourced a bunch of jobs there.
(It didn’t work out for the Tates, btw.)
I’m sure it wasn’t the reason the Tates tried to send a big chunk of their company overseas, but I hope they at least enjoyed some Filipino food while they were there. Especially considering what they’ll likely be eating in prison.
The very first thing you should order from Filipino Fusion are lumpia (three for $5, six for $9, ten for $15). I love fried spring rolls of almost every kind, but lumpia are exceptional for one big reason: they’re stuffed full of meat.
Veggies? Nope. These golden-fried cigars are full of flavorful pork. You can dip them in sweet chili sauce if you want, but they don’t need anything more than what they are to be wonderful.
I’m a sucker for stir-fried noodles (and noodles in general, honestly), so it wasn’t hard for me to land on chicken pancit ($8 small, $12 large). Get it without chicken if you’re that kind of weirdo, but the thin, chewy noodles with cabbage and carrots are a delight. They just feel so good to slurp down. The soy sauce gets cooked down and sticks to the noodles (and the marinated grilled chicken I love) for a truly satisfying meal.
I wasn’t planning to eat the green mussels from Filipino Fusion, mostly because that’s how a trio of witches I summoned in the woods told me I would die, but they were so good I had to take the chance.
Mussels are a special item, so don’t depend on them being there every time Filipino Fusion rolls out, but if they are, order them ASAP. The mussels are steamed in a broth of beer and Sriracha and served with tender onions and rice that soaks up all that liquid goodness. I know: eating shellfish from a food truck sounds dicey. But all I can tell you is, if this was “Top Gun,” these mussels could be my wingman anytime.
Another once-in-a-while dish, partially because they only have it sometimes and partially because eating it too much would definitely kill you, is lechon kawali.
Imagine a slab of bacon, but instead of being slice thinly and smoked, it was cut into chunks and deep fried. That’s lechon kawali and I am a fan.
The lechon at Filipino Fusion is the best I’ve ever had. Sometimes, lechon kawali can get over done and becomes tough. This was tender, with a layer of crispness over pork fat and meat that just melt as soon as you chew.
The sauce that comes with the dish is wonderful. I think you should try it before asking what’s in it, because I think a lot of people would just dismiss it out of hand without trying it first. It’s worth being brave for this one.
Pork adobo ($7 small, $10 large) is easy to love, especially for picky eaters. It’s pork shoulder cooked in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic until the tough connective tissue breaks down, so it’s supple and tender. It comes with rice. I don’t know. I like rice. This was just all-around tasty and it’s a nice, simple, straightforward meal.
The same goes for the barbecue bowl ($10), with Filipino-style barbecue chicken, stir-fried veggies and either steamed or garlic rice. This is really more of a grilled chicken with a nice glaze on it and everyone at my table was into it. If I’m ordering for my kids, this is what I’m getting for them while I dig into a big bowl of mussels.
Check their website to see when and where they'll be. A lot of food trucks start hibernating in the winter, but if you're lucky, you'll still find Filipino Fusion out on the streets, slinging lumpia and mussels with the best of them.