Jun 14, 2024

Nuestro 88’s Paul Masbad included pancit canton in his menu because it’s one of his favourite foods.

Pancit canton, or wheat noodles stir fried with a medley of meats, seafood, and vegetables, is a popular dish in the Philippines.

It is such an integral part of Filipino cuisine that many restaurateurs outside the country have incorporated the fare in their menus.

One of them is Manila-born Paul Masbad, chef and owner of Nuestro 88 in the city of Kitchener in Ontario’s Waterloo region.

“I love the dish so much, I said I’m going to put it on the menu,” Masbad told food writer Andrew Coppolino.

For his part, Coppolino likes pancit canton that much that he mentioned the dish in two articles he has written about Nuestro 88.

“The pancit Canton noodles with sweet sausage and hoisin sauce are particularly good, blending Filipino and Chinese elements,” Coppolino wrote in a CBC piece on June 22 this year.

The Waterloo-based food writer also featured Nuestro 88 in a local paper earlier in the spring, and the piece was titled ‘Don't Skip This Dish: Pancit Canton at Nuestro 88’.

In the Kitchener Post story, Coppolino observed that the Chinese influence is “manifest” in pancit canton.

According to Coppolino, Masbad’s touch of adding Chinese sweet sausage “accentuates the dish and creates fullness and complexity”.

“It gives a contrast of sweet and salty,” Coppolino quoted Masbad saying. “And then we add a lime garnish for a boost of acidity.”

Coppolino is a food columnist with CBC Radio in Waterloo. According to his CBC profile,  Coppolino also contributes to Culinary Trends and Restaurant Report, which are magazines in the U.S.

Two other classic Filipino dishes were mentioned in the Kitchener Post story.

“Meaty lumpia spring rolls are a classic Filipino snack to which Masbad adds chorizo, jicama and paprika,” Coppolino wrote.

Then there’s adobo: “Delicious pork adobo is braised in citrus-soy reduction and served with jasmine rice, vegetables and chicharrón.”

Masbad told Coppolino: “A lot of these dishes are my memories.”

In the CBC piece, Coppolino recalled that Masbad has been a chef in other establishments in the Waterloo region for decades.

According to Coppolino, Masbad “cooks the food of his heritage and that of Evelyn, his Nicaraguan-born wife” in Nuestro 88.

“They each came to Canada in 1988, hence the signifier in the restaurant's name that roughly translates to ‘our year 88’,” Coppolino wrote.

The restaurant’s menu incorporates Filipino, Central American and Spanish ingredients, Masbad told Coppolino.

The Latin American influence is evident in ropa vieja Jinotega, or shredded beef named after Jinotega, which Coppolino noted as the Nicaraguan city where Masbad’s wife Evelyn was born.

Nuestro 88 is located at 4293 King Street East, Kitchener. For details: https://nuestro88.com/.

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