Lolo’s Authentic Filipino Cuisine celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 25, 2020. They offered diners complimentary appetizers that included pancit, sisig, lumpia, mochi chicken and a variety of tasty, house-made sauces. Disco lights speckled the dining room as patrons enjoyed smiles, laughter and delicious Filipino food.
Change is a rolling tide
My wife and I were eager to reconnect with Lorry and Todd Shirey, co-owners of Lolo’s. The couple also co-owned Reno’s beloved and since departed restaurant, Manila Bakery & Café.
I very much enjoyed Manila Bakery & Café (MBC), so needless to say, I was bummed when the restaurant went under.
I had the opportunity to speak with Lorry and Todd the night before the grand opening of Lolo’s. I asked them why they were forced to close MBC. They shared a look, and then they explained that their business partnership at MBC unfortunately turned south.
They also shared that they sold their food truck, Bubba Q’d, to another couple following their dream of serving food and making people happy.
Many will recognize the restaurant space that Lolo’s now inhabits as the space formerly occupied by Naan & Kabab.
In preparation of the opening of Lolo’s, Lorry and Todd encountered and pushed past a variety of obstacles. For one, they needed to change up the kitchen, so it felt like their own. Acquiring the requisite licensing has also been a hassle. They plan to offer patrons the option to sing karaoke at the restaurant. I was surprised to learn that establishments that offer karaoke must acquire a cabaret license, and it’s no easy process. Lolo’s will become Reno’s fourth karaoke host, but not until March.
The couple also plans to debut speed dating, service worker night and karaoke competitions for our local first responders.
Madness in the best way possible at Lolo’s
The grand opening on Saturday the 25th was a sight to see. The house was packed just before 4 p.m.
Lorry saw us walk in and popped out of the kitchen to say hello, and to snag us a table. The servers had their hands full, and understandably so. Diners were smiling, laughing and floating in and out of the small buffet area. I spotted Todd behind the front counter alongside some disposable plates and utensils. I said hi to Todd, and he confirmed that we were free to serve ourselves. A server popped by shortly thereafter to take our drink order.
We happily fixed ourselves up with some pancit bihon (bihon denoting rice noodles), sisig, lumpia shanghai and mochi chicken.
The noodles were excellent, tasting of soy sauce, garlic, carrot, celery and onion.
The sisig was also fantastic. For anyone unfamiliar, this Filipino staple consists of pan-fried minced pork, chicken liver, citrus (calamansi or lime), onions and bell pepper. The liver adds a little funk, but generally, the dish tastes like fatty, crispy pork and a fair shake of acidity.
The dainty, fried lumpia halves tasted of soy sauce, pork, carrots, onions and celery. They were crisp, delicate and tasty in Lorry’s sweet and sour sauce.
The mochi chicken was such a treat. Lorry dredges chicken breast strips in rice flour and then fries them until deep, golden brown. She serves it with a mango, jalapeño and cilantro sauce. The chicken seemed to have been marinated in soy sauce and something sweet. The mochi chicken is wonderful by itself, but when you dip it in Lorry’s secret green sauce, it’s a revelation.
I think Lorry remembered that I raved about her fried chicken at MBC, so she cooked us a special small batch during our meal. Fresh out of the fryer, it’s seriously so good. The chicken is juicy and the breading is simple, crispy and a pure delight.
Round 2 at Lolo’s: entrées
I very well could have let this review rest with the tasty appetizers that we ate at the grand opening, but I really wanted to return to explore at least some of Lorry’s new entrées.
We returned to Lolo’s on the Monday after their grand opening. We ordered the Palabok for $10 and Tito Yeyet’s Ginisang Sayote for $12.
The Palabok consisted of shrimp paste gravy on a bed of thin noodles topped with pork, chicharron, boiled egg and a wedge of lemon. The presentation of this dish was attractive with the noodles sitting atop deep green banana leaves. The pork pieces were tender, and the gravy was really savory. I enjoyed that the egg was partly jammy on the inside. So many Filipino dishes are great on their own, and then you can really customize them with wonderful condiments. Some splashes of chili infused vinegar made a great dish even more enjoyable.
Tito Yeyet’s Ginisang Sayote included pork sauteed in fish sauce with garlic, onions and sayote.
The dish is served with white rice. The rice was a little overdone for my preference. The menu describes the pork as crispy, but it was served tender and juicy within a delicious, funky broth. Tomatoes were also in the broth. Sayote is a type of squash known by other names including chayote, mirliton, pear squash and others.
Fish sauce is definitely a divisive flavor. I love it in most applications, and I loved it here, too. I hadn’t previously tried sayote. The texture reminded me of cantaloupe and the flavor reminded me of yellow squash mixed with asparagus. Some sayote pieces still had their rind, and those were a little tough. Most pieces, though, had that really nice melon-type texture. I’m unashamed to admit that I slurped the bowl clean.
Tagalog terms and parting words
Tagalog is one of the two official languages of the Philippines (English is the second). That said, there are quite a few other languages and regional dialects spoken there. My family from Tacloban, for example, speaks Bisaya. I don’t speak Tagalog or Bisaya.
Some Tagalog words that English speakers may not recognize throughout the restaurant include: tita (aunt), tito (uncle), lolo (grandfather), lola (grandmother), Mabuhay! (Come alive!) and Kababayan Tuloy Po Kaya (Friends, come on in.).
Family is one of the core values in Filipino households. At Lolo’s, you can see family photos hanging on the walls. Lorry’s mother lent a hand during the opening. Lorry spoke fondly of her lolo and lola during our interview. Menu items at Lolo’s pay homage to staff relatives. It’s easy to see that family is paramount to Lorry and Todd. I feel warm and welcome at Lolo’s Authentic Filipino Cuisine, and I bet you will, too.
Lolo’s Authentic Filipino Cuisine’s Details
Visit Lolo’s at 2740 S. Virginia St., Reno, Nev. 89502. Call in your catering inquiries to 775-825-3113. Visit them online at lolosreno.wixsite.com/food. According to their to-go menu, regular service is Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. They offer a buffet on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kyle Young is a local freelance writer. He offers content writing, blog posts, copywriting, and editing services. His current writing foci are food, cooking, and the oddities native to Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. He gained some food chops while working as a dishwasher, line-cook, and food-truck operator. He learned quality control, imports/exports, and logistics at a local spice and seasoning manufacturer. When not hustling as a writer, he plays Scrabble, cooks, wrangles three pups, and attends live music/comedy with his wife.