Whitehorse residents, rejoice — no longer will we have to make a run for the U.S. border every time we’re hit with a craving for pad thai or green curry. Nor will we have to wait for special occasions to get a taste of some Filipino specialties.
Thanks to local couple and business partners Viki Su and Leo Amador, the city will soon have a new brick-and-mortar restaurant specializing in Thai, Filipino and Western fusion cuisine, meaning Yukoners won’t need to make the trek all the way to Skagway’s Starfire restaurant to get a taste of some Southeast Asian cuisine.
Su and Amador are still putting the final touches on Chef Angelo, tucked into a space at Granger Mall that used to house a Chinese restaurant, but the couple said they hope to open their doors to diners in early June.
“There’s no Thai food, Filipino food in town and … opening a restaurant, (for us) it’s been a long dream,” Su said in an interview May 28.
“We’re just looking to open a restaurant for Thai food so people can come enjoy.”
This will be the couple’s first venture into the restaurant business, but they’re no strangers to the food scene. Amador went to chef school in the Philippines and has 12 years of professional cooking experience in both the Philippines and Canada under his belt. Amador’s late father, Angelo, was also a chef, and the restaurant is named in his honour.
“(Amador) loves to cook and I love to eat, so we just support each other to help with building up the restaurant,” Su said, adding that she will be helping with front-of-house duties like waitressing and welcoming customers.
The couple has also received help from people more familiar with the restaurant industry when it comes to navigating logistics and other behind-the-scenes work.
“The financials were a big challenge so far, to be honest, and this is our first restaurant and there’s a lot of things … that we don’t know, but there are people in-between helping us a lot,” Su said. “So yeah, like right now, there’s a lot of people helping us and supporting us so that’s why we’re at (where we are) now. We’re almost there.”
Chef Angelo’s menu will be divided into three sections based on the cuisine styles the kitchen will be serving up: the Thai section will include standards like green, red and yellow curries served with rice, pad thai, Thai beef salad, tom yum — a bright orange hot and sour soup typically featuring shrimp or pork — and spicy garlic-pepper shrimp.
On the Filipino side, customers will be able to order traditional chicken or pork-based favourites like crispy pata, made by boiling pork hock with herbs and spices and then deep-frying the cooked meat to give it a crispy outer layer. The meat is then served with a soy sauce and vinegar-based dip.
Another offering, and perhaps the most visually-impressive option Chef Angelo will be serving up, is the boodle fight, a meal derived from a military tradition where banana leaves are laid out across a table or large board, covered with a bed of steamed white rice and then topped with a variety of cooked vegetables, fish, meat and sauces. The meal, which has recently seen an explosion in popularity amongst civilians in both the Philippines and across North America, is intended to be eaten communally and using only the diners’ hands — traditionally, no cutlery or plates are involved.
Also on Chef Angelo’s menu, for those feeling a little bit less adventurous? Pizza.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Su said.
The restaurant is still awaiting the arrival of some furnishings, decoration and paperwork with the city to come through before it can open, but the response from community members so far has been positive and encouraging, Su said.
“So far, a lot of people are supporting us and they are asking us, ‘Oh, Thai food?’ They’re so excited for the Thai food because there’s not really a Thai food (option) in town,” she said.
Amador’s social media posts about Chef Angelo’s upcoming opening have also been well-received, particularly on the Canadian Filipino Association of The Yukon’s Facebook group and on Chef Angelo’s own Facebook page.
Although there’s no firm opening date for Chef Angelo yet, Su said that she and Amador are already feeling a little nervous about the big day.
“We don’t exactly know for the first day we (open), (whether) there will be nobody or (whether) there will be a lot, but we’re fully ready. We’re prepared for the first day,” she said.
“We’ll be happy if people come in (and they say), ‘Oh, we like your food, your good is food.’ Then, we’re satisfied. We’re not hoping (for) too much so far.”
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that Chef Angelo is not Whitehorse’s first Thai/Filipino restaurant.