Monday, October 29, 2012

Sari Sari: Louisville's Filipino Feast

There are times when I honestly think that I can travel farther in Louisville than I might ever be able to in real life. I have been bitten by the travel bug, but every second there is more to see (and taste and smell and...) than a lifetime can handle! Now, I'm not backing away from the challenge, but it is nice to know that I can find cuisine from all corners of the globe right down the street. We have the opportunity to share the most important cultural thread, in my opinion, and that is how we choose to nourish ourselves with the ingredients available. If you can find a place that gives you the taste of a home away from home, while maintaining the authenticity inherent in the food's history and culture, then you have hit the jackpot. This has happened on many occasions during my mealtime wanderings around Louisville, and Sari Sari is, without a doubt, one of those destinations.

After teaching a lunch hour Spanish class I had quite an appetite to tame before heading off to Flamenco. I jogged into Sari Sari from the rainy weather after the lunch rush (I'm still eating on Spanish time: lunch at 1 or 2 PM) and saw a couple tables occupied with both laughing patrons and others quietly discussing perhaps more serious matters. I asked the waiter if I could just sit anywhere--he then proceeded to look around saying, "Oh no all the tables are taken, but we can invite you to sit indian-style on the floor and I'll bring you the list of specials... just kidding! Take a seat wherever you want!". I love Louisville. Period.

I sat down at a colorful table tiled in blue, yellow, and red. There was a little carrier of condiments with chili oil, what I could identify by smell as a teriyaki-chili sauce, and a collection of utensils and napkins. I was promptly greeted with a menu and a copy of the day's specials. You all should know that I am a true lover of daily specials, particularly when I am trying out a restaurant for the first time, so I went for the most tantalizing of the three: Crab and Eggplant Coconut Curry. Right? I could eat the name alone and be satisfied, but they didn't stop there-- the main dish is introduced by a Butternut Squash Pasta Soup. On top of everything, unsweetened iced tea comes with your meal!!! I feel like this place was designed for me.

Literally flew from the chef's hands to my table
So I sit back and open my iBooks app to catch up on a bit of light reading while I waited for my food to come up, but I was surprised by a steaming cup of soup flying out of the kitchen just minutes after I received my tall glass of iced tea. I immediately took out my notepad and dove in.

I can't tell you the last time I paused before I took a first bite (usually I involuntarily dive into whatever I am eating), but this soup was rocking my sensory world. The scent of spices and vegetables wafted from my colorful spoonful and enveloped my head in an orchestra of flavors. The best part of spicy, warm food is that your body starts reacting to that heat before it even touches your tongue. When I finally did get around to eating those spoonfuls of smooth Butternut Squash and Pasta soup, I was delighted by the comfortable heat and the flavors that were allowed to accompany such spice. It is perfect to battle allergy season, which I and every other Louisvillian suffer from at one time or another, and a lovely way to appetize the coming entrée.

Have you ever seen crab like that in Louisville? I haven't.
The Crab and Eggplant Coconut Curry came presented with a side of jasmine rice and red beans. A more gorgeous lunch combination may very well only exist at Sari Sari, and I was very thankful. The curry was full of gorgeous painted eggplant, jalapeños, fresh and abundant lumps of crab, and an amalgam of vegetables that made a well-balanced curry. The jalapeño heat is notable throughout the curry, but when you crunch into the actual jalapeño pepper you get that pure sweet flavor hidden behind all of the heat--a state rarely attained, and which I fully appreciated. Finally, the Filipino red beans and rice were soothing to my tingling mouth, and rounded out the meal well.

I left that lunch ready to tackle the day. I was so happy to have finally made my trip to experience this authentic Filipino eatery, especially welcome on a rainy and cold day. The service was prompt and Louisville-friendly, the space was cozy and full of fun art and salsa music, and the food- Oh, the food- was leaps and bounds beyond what I could have imagined.

Not a bad trip to the Philippines, and for less than $10!

I highly recommend you check out this restaurant. I noticed that they have an open dinner buffet on Friday's from 5.30-9.30...worth a try!

Sari Sari
2339 Frankfort Ave.
Louisville, KY
Phone: (502)894.0585

Also: A bio was published in Insider Louisville to introduce my two food columns, Juice and Inside the Kitchen. Check it out! I'm beyond excited!!

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