Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chicago Journals: La Filipiniana

My wife got home a half hour after I did and after freshening up, we headed back to the Cumberland Gap train station, this time heading to the lower level where the buses stopped. According to my map, around a half dozen buses terminated their route there and one of them was headed out to a mall in Niles where La Filipiniana was located. The buses showed up within minutes of our arrival and soon we were headed north through suburban Chicago.

If you ever want to find a certifiable crazy person, all you have to do is hop on to buses in some large city. It never takes too many bus rides to find one and this time, we found one on our very first trip. A lady sitting up in the front seat was chatting away with the bus driver while he nodded his head and drove. She started off telling him that she was fluent in about twenty different languages including Tagalog (my wife's native language) and other ones spanning the globe. However, the only one I ever heard her speak in was English.

She then went on to talk about the problems with every race probably offending everyone except the white Caucasians on the bus and those she merely embarrassed with her rantings. She had death threats against her by the Russian Mafia and the Chicago Crips. She explained to the black bus driver why blacks didn't fit in with society. Although there were several Indian looking people on the bus, she went off on Pakistani's and two immediately swiveled to look at her. I guess that is one way of telling the nationalities apart. She asked to get off between two stops and the bus driver immediately complied while the rest of us occupants gave a silent sigh of relief.

The only thing we knew about La Filipiniana was what we had read in a review that Geri linked to on her blog a long time ago. So when we walked into the large nicely decorated restaurant and only one other family was there, I began to worry a little. The Filipina waitress immediately came over with glasses of tobig (Tagalog for water) and menus. My wife, looking for something she doesn't make at home and can't get at nearby restaurants settled on Crispy Pata, the leg of a pig from hoof midway up to the "elbow" joint that has been boiled, battered and fried. I settled on Pork & Shrimp Pancit Miki, sautéed vegetables and shrimp served with thicker Chinese style noodles instead of more traditional rice noodles. As an appetizer, we got Siopau, a pork, and sausage mixture with a slice of duck egg steamed in a bun and served with a sweet sauce. It was all quickly delivered to our table and very delicious. By the time we finished, a third group of Filipinos had been seated in the restaurant so business was picking up. I'm guessing on weekends, this place would be full but on a Wednesday evening, light crowds are to be expected.

Though people weren't eating, strings of Filipinos were going inside the business right next door the entire time we were in La Filipiniana. That business turned out to be a Filipino grocery store that we checked out after we were done. I would have guessed that a store of that nature in urban Chicago would be large and well stocked but we found that our local store in rural Iowa had twice as much to choose from. We bought some coconut buns (the Tagalog names eludes me) and went off on our way.

We had gotten off the bus when we had spotted the restaurant but had to catch a different later running bus in order to make it back home since our first bus stopped running after 6:00 in the evening. That bus stopped in front of JC Penney’s at the mall. Since La Filipiniana was at a mall, I had assumed they were one and the same but now standing with full stomachs on the sidewalk, I wasn't so sure. Upon inspecting my map a little closer, I saw that there was another mall down the street a ways, how far, I wasn't sure. So we walked across the parking lot and started down the sidewalk when suddenly the same bus on the route we had initially ridden was coming towards us. I thought maybe it was returning to where ever they park at night since it was now 6:15 but it slowed down and stopped when we waved our hands. We were off towards the hotel and there was no crazy person to entertain us.

No comments: