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A taste of the Philippines: Bemidji-based food truck provides Filipino cuisine

Dennice Alia, of the Golden Sun food truck, scoops fried rice on Wednesday at the Mississippi Music series in Bemidji. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 1 / 4
Renzo Alia makes egg rolls on Wednesday in the Golden Sun food truck. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 2 / 4
Renzo and Dennice Alia help a customer on Wednesday in their food truck Golden Sun. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 3 / 4
Customers order food at Golden Sun on Wednesday at Paul Bunyan Park during the Mississippi Music series. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 4 / 4

BEMIDJI—Everyone was a fan of their egg rolls.

Whenever Dennice and Renzo Alia took them to different potlucks and socials, they'd always get rave reviews. And that's when the idea began to form.

After enough encouragement, Renzo and Dennice decided to bring a little bit of their homeland to the streets of northern Minnesota when they opened their food truck "Golden Sun," and began serving Filipino cuisine.

"Everyone loves my egg rolls, and they were like 'you should open a restaurant,'" Dennice said. "And one day we were like, 'you know what, let's do a food truck.'"

Since then, they both quit their former jobs to take on their new business venture. The Bemidji-based couple now takes their food to different communities around the northwoods, exposing midwesterners to a selection of food they may have never tried before.

Although their space is confined to the interior of the truck, they haven't compromised the authenticity of their food. The couple, both natives of the Philippines, even drive down to the Twin Cities to purchase their ingredients at an ethnic market.

Renzo and Dennice Alia help a customer on Wednesday in their food truck Golden Sun. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)What their food truck lacks in size compared to a full restaurant, it makes up for in mobility. The couple has been driving the truck around the area, and they've created a schedule so their customers can know where to find them on any given day.

On Fridays and Saturdays, they're in Bemidji. On Mondays, they're in Walker. On Thursdays, they're in Cass Lake. They also cater for events.

Both happy with the way the business has turned out over the last couple months, they say they'd eventually like to expand and look for additional possibilities.

Golden Sun is the latest of several new Asian offerings to the Bemidji area over the last few years after Tara Thai, Slurp Ramen, and soon-to-be-open Wasabi of Bemidji moved into the downtown area. However, both Renzo and Dennice think their customers will notice something rather unique in their Filipino menu.

Renzo said some of their customers are trying Filipino food for the first time.

"Our food is not spicy at all. It's not similar to Chinese, Japanese or (any other) kind of Asian food," Renzo said.

Even similar food their customers may have tried elsewhere will probably taste a little bit different. For example, Dennice said the egg roll wraps are a little thinner, giving them a crispy quality.

Their menu includes items such as adobo, which is "pork braised in vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and special Filipino seasonings." Renzo said adobo is like the "national food."

They also offer something called Pancit Bihon, which is rice noodles "cooked with carrots, cabbage, shallots, and Filipino seasonings." And—of course—they also serve their egg rolls. Multiple kinds of egg rolls, in fact.

"In the Philippines, you have a lot of different kinds of egg rolls," Dennice said. "It's like a street food in the Philippines."

Even the business' name is a combination of the couple's cooking and nationality. They fused the ideal color of their famed egg rolls with the sun emblem from their country's flag to arrive at the name "Golden Sun."

"That's how we know it's cooked, when it's golden brown," Dennice said of their egg rolls.

Jordan Shearer

Jordan Shearer covers crime and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. A Rochester native and Bemidji State grad, he previously spent several years in western Nebraska writing for the Keith County News. Follow him on Twitter @Jmanassa

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