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The world of lumpia – from trucks to take-out

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on May 17, 2013 at 12:00 am | No Comments »
May 16, 2013 2:06 pm
Angel's Original lumpia from Northwest Lumpia. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer.
Angel’s Original lumpia from Northwest Lumpia. File photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer.

Call it the Filipino cousin of a Chinese egg roll – lumpia is a whole lot of flavor rolled up inside a wrapper so crispy, it practically shatters on impact. Here is a report on the popular food truck Lumpia World, which just opened its first storefront. I’ve also got snapshot reviews of a few other restaurants – stationary and mobile – serving lumpia and other Filipino dishes. Read on.

Inside Lumpia World

Lumpia World
Where: 1610 S. 341st Place, Federal Way, 253-371-7995
Also: Thursdays at the Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market
Facebook here. Twitter here.

Fans of the Filipino mobile restaurant Lumpia World no longer have to wait until Thursdays to get their fix of lumpia and adobo at the Broadway Tacoma Farmers Market. Instead, find Lumpia World operating on limited hours at a new brick-and-mortar restaurant in Federal Way. Owner Derrick Ellis opened the storefront last month at 1610 S. 341st Place. It’s a little tricky to find in the Spectra Plaza – just look for Carquest Auto Parts.

A four-piece lumpia combo with rice at Lumpia World.
A four-piece lumpia combo with rice at Lumpia World.

I stopped by the new Lumpia World and found a restaurant with a handful of tables and a similar menu to the mobile restaurant: soba soups ($5), four-piece lumpia plates with rice ($6), chicken katsu plates with macaroni salad ($8), four lumpias with pancit ($8) and adobo with rice ($6).

Lumpia World’s flavors go beyond traditional. The lemongrass chicken always has been a favorite, but the ginger pork on my last visit was a close second. Dessert at Lumpia World is possibly the best fried sweets you’ll ever eat. Order the banana lumpia with chocolate and caramel sauce.

Because Ellis is still operating his mobile restaurant at the Thursday Tacoma Farmers Market and a handful of Seattle area locations, the Federal Way restaurant has somewhat limited hours. Current hours are on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

Northwest Lumpia
Where: 1607 Center St., Tacoma, 253-341-0234, Facebook here
Hours: 11-2 p.m. weekdays (but check Facebook page for updates)

Northwest Lumpia is a serious niche restaurant, serving lumpia and nothing else at an unlikely location in the Nalley Valley, not far from the Atlas Foundry. The hours are short and sweet – 11-2 weekdays only.

Longtime locals will recognize Northwest Lumpia as the former home of Manila Center Diner. Northwest Lumpia owner Charles Marbas is the son of Angeles and Luz Marbas, who used to operate that restaurant. Charles and wife Rebecca  feature a menu deep with lumpia choices. Some are family recipes, others are fusion flavors from Mexico, Cuba and Japan. The lumpia are $1 each. They sell premade lumpia for events and also offer catering.

My favorites are Angel’s original and the mojo crillo, a flavorful spin on the Cuban pork dish. Don’t miss the sweet banana and brown sugar-stuffed lumpia.

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Big Boys Filipino Food Truck
Where: At various locations, but typically at 136 Stewart Road S.W. Pacific (Pierce County side of Pacific), 206-436-9424 (they previously were at 168 Stewart)
Hours: Check the Facebook page.
NOTE: The truck will be closed May 17-22

In a mostly industrial neighborhood in Pacific, diners will find a one-of-a-kind fusion Filipino truck. Big Boys opened last winter and has developed a following for its lumpia bites, Filipino fusion sandwiches and eggy Filipino burritos. Owner Nate Daep grew up in Pacific. He operates the truck with fiancee Melanie Querubin.

Lumpia bites are 10 for $5 at Big Boys.
Lumpia bites are 10 for $5 at Big Boys.

If you get anything there, make it the lumpia bites (10 for $5), but the tilapia sandwich ($6) made on pandesal sweet bread is another great find. The truck operates on a limited basis at 136 Stewart Road S.W. Recently, they’ve been traveling from Lakewood to Renton. They’re heading to Los Angeles now and won’t be back in service until May 22. Check their Facebook page for updates.

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