In the heart of downtown Vancouver is a quaint café serving food with a big Filipino heart. Called Herbs and Spices Café, the restaurant describes itself as “the daily real-life adventures of women who support each other through thick and thin.”

General Manager Matte Laurel shares with Canadian Filipino Net (CFNet) that the “women” mentioned in their website are made up of three sisters and their mom who raised them on her own. “Our mom came here in the early ‘70s by herself and worked hard to establish herself here.”

According to Laurel, the family decided on a downtown Vancouver location “to help promote Filipino cuisine to Vancouverites from all walks of life,”. Herbs and Spices Café, located on the ground floor of the Cathedral Place Building on 925 West Georgia Street, is open on weekdays for breakfast and lunch.

At the helm in the kitchen are husband and wife chef team of Charlie and Nellie Lopez serving up both Filipino and international dishes with buffets on certain days of the week. Filipino breakfast “silog” staples – bangsilog, tapsilog and longsilog – are popular among regular patrons. Also frequently requested both in the restaurant and for catering are the café’s beef caldereta (beef stew), pancit, lechon kawali (crispy pork belly) and kare-kare (oxtail stew).

Laurel tells CFNet that it is their chicken adobo in purple yam bread (ube pandesal) that is most popular.

Chicken adobo in purple yamChicken adobo in purple yam

“This signature dish is actually our mom’s original recipe,” Laurel proudly declares. Herbs and Spices Café generously shares this beloved family recipe with CFNet readers.

Chicken Adobo in Ube Pandesal Bun

Ingredients:
8 ounces plain leftover chicken, chopped to strips
Olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice (amount can be adjusted)
Black pepper
2 slices big tomato
Lettuce leaves
4 slices of ube bread
Fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Over medium heat in a saucepan with olive oil, saute the garlic. When it gets toasted, discard it.
  2. Saute the chicken, then add soy sauce, lemon and pepper. Adjust the amount of lemon to match your taste.
  3. On the ube bread, put some lettuce, a slice of tomato, the chicken adobo. Serve warm.

About the Author
Rachel Ramos-Reid started writing for magazines and newspapers when she was still a junior at the University of the Philippines’ Communication degree program majoring in Journalism. She continued to write in a public relations/corporate communications capacity in various private and government offices until moving out of the country in 1997 to work as Programme Officer for the arts and culture branch of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-SPAFA) in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of her term, Rachel found herself immigrating to Canada in the year 2000 and again searching for new beginnings. Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the North Island College’s Board of Governors in a part-time capacity.


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