Filipino food cart offers traditional tastes

Rusty Rae/News-Register ## April Smithburg operates her food truck, April’s Kusina, in the Grocery Outlet parking lot. Working with her sister, Precious Gould, she serves traditional Filipino cuisine.

If April Smithburg still lived in the Philippines, she wouldn’t cook much.

In his native country, men are traditionally the cooks. The women keep the house, look after the children and perform other tasks.

But April met an American, Josh Smithburg, on Facebook; fell in love and moved to Oregon to marry him in 2014. She started making favorite Filipino dishes that she had watched her father and brother cook at home.

Its specialties include lumpia, the Filipino version of a spring roll.

She started selling the rolls, which are filled with minced meat, vegetables or shrimp, and soon attracted customers from all over Yamhill County. They loved the lumpia so much that they were willing to drive to her house in Willamina to pick them up.

“Why not try a food truck?” asked her husband.

He helped her get a shiny silver truck and set it up late last summer in the food cart next to Grocery Outlet on Hwy 99W in McMinnville.

April’s Kusina sits next to a Japanese food truck, Oishi Hibachi Express, Bobablast and three Mexican food carts, Delia’s Tacos, Cocos Tacos and Antojitos La Gordita

The owners of Kate’s Thai Cuisine, a popular McMinnville food truck located at 12th and Adams streets, served as mentors.

“I love Kate’s fried rice,” April said. “Reminds me of home.”

The April Kusina, marked with a bright yellow, red and blue sign, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Business has been brisk, the Smithburgs said.

April is joined in the wagon by her sister, Precious Gould, who has moved to the United States to marry one of Josh’s colleagues at Sheridan Correctional Facility.

The two women work side by side, with April cooking and Precious greeting customers and taking orders.

Although they skip some ingredients that Americans might not like, such as fish sauce, they serve a variety of popular dishes in their hometown of Zambales in the northern Philippines: chicken or pork adobo, pancit, grilled pork skewers, fried rice and other traditional foods.

Pancit offers rice noodles under savory meat and vegetables.

Adobo is meat cooked for a long time in a mixture of vinegar, garlic and Filipino soy sauce. Like the other starters, it comes with rice, something Filipinos eat every day.

In fact, April said, “we eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Filipinos also eat a traditional pastry for breakfast, pan de sal. April plans to add this to the menu, along with more desserts and soups.

When she moved to the United States, she was surprised to see how little rice Americans eat and how much they prefer bread and potatoes. She prefers rice.

Other cultural differences she noticed were that the United States is less religious than the Philippines, where northerners are predominantly Catholic and southerners are Muslim.

Perhaps the most popular items on the menu are the famous April lumpia, which can be bought separately or paired with full dinners.

She makes the buns by hand, grinding the meat, mixing it with vegetables and rolling it in thin wraps before frying it. It is labor intensive; doing a lot hurts her back, she said, joking about the pain of getting older.

Besides making food from scratch and running April’s Kusina, she spends time with her three children, a girl almost 7 years old and boys 5 and 2 years old.

“They eat American food. They love bread,” she noted.

April also spends time gardening, growing vegetables like eggplant and Asian long beans. She loved gardening even before she learned to cook, she says. She grew up helping her mother with planting and harvesting.

She and her husband are also involved in the organization of American Legion Riders motorcycles at Willamina Post 4211.

It’s a busy life, but she loves it, she says. Especially when diners try Filipino food for the first time and say they love it, and when they return to April’s Kusina.

The truck offers flavors of the world

Taste of the World-McMinnville, like April’s Kusina, also offers Filipino food. In addition, this food truck located at 12th Street and Lafayette Avenue, also offers American and Mexican dishes.

The menu lists several burgers, burritos, tacos, and quesadillas, as well as Filipino adobo and other meat and vegetable dishes served with rice or noodles. Lumpia are also available on the side or with entrances.

Le Goût du Monde is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit his Facebook page, or pre-order by calling 503-550-3481 or 971-901-2454.