This new Prairie Trail restaurant is bringing Filipino and Pakistani food to Ankeny
A mother and son team from Winthrop, Iowa recently announced that their hot sauce is about to become a national brand. Available in four different hot pepper flavors, this sauce is bringing the heat and some recognition to the state of Iowa. Brian Taylor Carlson/The Register
Every family dish comes with a story or a memory.
Some recipes are passed down through generations or transported across time, oceans and borders. And some recipes make it onto the menus of local restaurants, ready to create new memories.
That's the case with Lola's Fine Kitchen, which will open its doors for a soft opening on June 19 and a grand opening about 30 days later in Ankeny's Prairie Trail development.
The 55-seat restaurant will feature both Pakistani and Filipino specialties with the option to blend the two regional cuisines together into customizable, fusion-style dishes.
"I'm really excited about taking our mom's recipes that we know and love and presenting them," said Hannah Elliott, 40, chef and managing partner of Lola's Fine Kitchen. "What's so cool about it is that you can eat this food every day. It's food that makes you feel good."
Lola's Fine Kitchen is the brainchild of the Shah family, including Elliott's brother, Taufeek, and her mother, Carmelita — or "Lola," as the family calls her.
The Shah family is behind Lola's Fine Hot Sauce, a local hot sauce line that launched about three years ago and has been growing quickly into an international company. The hot sauces are based on Lola's family recipes.
The name "Lola" is used by many in the Filipino culture for the beloved and much-respected matriarch, or grandmother, of the family. And for Lola to feed you is considered a great honor.
"Everybody wants to be around her, around mom, because she's magnetic," Elliott said. "Everything she does is nourishing, whether it's food or advice."
After finishing medical school in the Philippines, Carmelita Shah immigrated to the U.S. in 1973 and has practiced family medicine for over 35 years at Winthrop Medical Clinic while raising her three children.
Elliott said the entire menu is based on dishes that her family grew up eating and she wants to bring those flavors and tastes to the entire metro.
This fast-casual restaurant is all about honoring personal choices: diners can choose the base of their bowl, fill it, pick a side, sauce it up and top it off.
Pick the bowl:
Bowl bases, fillings and toppings include something for everyone — with low-carb, vegan and gluten-free options:
- Pancit — Stir-fried mung bean noodles with vegetables
- Biriyani — Basmati rice pilaf with almonds, dried fruit and warm spices
- Jasmine rice
- Toasted garlic cauliflower and quinoa "rice"
- Cabbage noodle pancit — A low-carb option
And if you don't want a bowl, you can order the roti instead — two homemade tortilla-style Pakistani bread made from whole wheat, filled and topped with Sisig Slaw or Paki Piko (descriptions below).
Choose the filling:
- Filipino chicken adobo — Grilled chicken breast with a sweet soy-vinegar sauce
- Sisig pork — Roasted crispy pork with a sweet and sour citrus glaze
- Tandoori chicken — Grilled chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon and warm spices
- Lamb and beef kebab mini-meatballs
- Chana masala — A savory tomato and chickpea stew
- Fried sweet potato and chickpea fritters
- Longanisa pork meatballs — Sweet and savory Filipino pork sausage
- Mung Daal — Lentils stewed in veggie broth and herbs
- Crispy diced chicken or tofu
Side dishes range from roasted sweet potatoes, crispy broccoli, garlic green beans and Asian quick pickles — cucumbers and red onion in a sesame vinaigrette. A few unique options include the Sisig Slaw, a dressed cabbage and veggie slaw, and the Paki Pico, a raw vegetable salad tossed with cilantro chimichurri that's popular in Pakistan.
Sauce it and top it:
There are almost 20 different sauces, flavorings and toppings to add heat or sweet to your dish including chutneys, achar (mango pickles) and, of course, the entire line of Lola's Fine Hot Sauce. You can even have it topped with a fried egg or garlic.
Appetizers of fried samosas served with a chutney trio are available, as are Lola's Lumpia — Filipino-style egg rolls filled with ground beef, carrots and green onion and served with a sweet chili sauce and sisig slaw.
There's even a kid-friendly menu with chicken or tofu nuggets, cheese roti, mini bowls or roti tacos, and chocolate-banana roti with granola. All kids' meals will be served with vegetables or fruit and noodles or rice.
Lola's will also feature craft and domestic beer and wine, including a collaborative beer with Mistress Brewing Company made with Lola's Fine Hot Sauce.
Desserts include refreshers like shaved ice with flavored syrups, or step it up with a halo halo instead — shaved ice doused with sweetened condensed milk and a choice of coconut jellies, ube (purple yam) ice cream or mango.
Try the crispy turons (fried banana- and jackfruit-filled spring rolls dusted with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with Noah's chocolate ganache) or the light and airy leche flan cake bites. Traditional halwa (seasonal) and kheer will also be available.
Lola's Fine Kitchen
Location: 1615 S.W. Main St., Ste. 106, Ankeny
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed Mondays.