Filipino food is scarce around town, and when Margarita and Jose Olivan saw a For Sale sign go up on a little building in their neighborhood, they decided to remedy the situation. The couple, born in the Philippines but American citizens for many years now, wanted to bring a touch of their native land to their neighbors.

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      They bought the building, and spent two years having it completely renovated. The result is their one-room restaurant, Rice ‘n Roll, predominately carryout, but with a few tables for those who’d rather stay.

       They call their menu “fusion Filipino” explains Margarita, the chief cook, because although it is authentically Filipino, she adjusted some of her family recipes to be more appealing to American tastes. For example, she says Filipinos like vinegar to a degree that others find too strong.  Garlic is toned down too, for the same reason.

      The fare is displayed cafeteria style behind a sheet of glass. As diners make their choices, the food is served, probably by the couples’ daughter, Hope-Marie, 20. Her two teenaged brothers help out when they can.

      A blackboard spells out the choices.  Also chalked on the board is “Word of the Day” in Tagalog with its English translation. It was salamat po (thank you) on the day I visited, part of the couples’ effort to reach out to their mostly non-Filipino customers.

     Diners may choose one of two portion sizes, also a nice touch. Choices range from crunchy and delicious vegetarian spring rolls, the larger eggrolls (lumpia) and barbecued pork or chicken on skewers with dipping sauces, to full-scale entrees including pancit (rice noodles sauteed with a blend of chicken, green beans and celery), and pork adobo, braised pork marinated in vinegar and soy sauce for the sweet/sour taste that characterizes Filipino food. A drawback is that the fare is put into styrofoam containers and plates.

    Prices are notably gentle, with nothing higher than $9.75, that for crispy pork belly.

    This offbeat spot has been open for just a year, and hopefully there will be a few more amenities as it settles in. For now, however, the warm welcome of the Olivan family for the adventurous diners who find their little restaurant outweighs the disposable containers, flimsy paper napkins and plastic utensils. 

Rice ‘n Roll

27751 Harper, St. Clair Shores

(586) 217-5947

Rating:  ★★ 

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Closed Sun.-Mon.

Prices: Sides $1.50-$4.50, entrees $7.10-$9.75, including rice, desserts $1.50-$5.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: No

Noise level: Low

Parking: Attached lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding

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