One thing I have noticed is that in the US there is a celebration of young and emerging Asian American restaurateurs, and there is a growing number of these hip and trendy Asian American restaurants popping up all over the shop. I look at how this is celebrated and wonder why we Asian Australians fail to follow suit and celebrate everything and anything great and positive about being Asian Australians – after all, the Asian Americans are pros at doing this and that definitely helps with not only promotion but also spreading awareness of what peeps are doing.
So in saying that, let me start this celebration by talking about this Melbourne burger joint which is owned and operated by Filipino Australians who are now looking to franchising! Siblings – Jed, Dan and Kyne Soto were all originally living the Asian “model minority” dream and working in stable, full time jobs, but have given all that up to start their own hamburger restaurant in the Western suburbs of Melbourne with a starting capital of $50,000.
So in 2015, in the Melbourne Western suburb of Maribyrnong, the Soto brothers opened their small burger joint “ST BURGS”, and taking a punt in the food business knowing that many do not make it past their first year. 4 – 5 years later, their tiny restaurant has become something big with seats filling as soon as the doors open. But what makes their burgers different from the typical Australian burger joint is that their is pretty much Filipino inspired, and for those of us who love Filipino food know that this idea is already delicious in itself.
This is what co-owner Dan Soto told SBS News about their Filipino inspired burgers and why this is important for them:
“I would love to get the traditional Filipino food more known in the community that’s why we always try to incorporate those Filipino flavours into the burgers. We found a way to incorporate our mum’s recipe too. We’re trying to embrace our Filipino culture more now than before,”
“Every time a non-Filipino comes in and then they see our Filipino inspired menu such as Filipino fried chicken with spaghetti, they would say it’s an odd combo but we encourage them to try it. Whenever they try it, they’re shocked and they keep on eating,”
“With Filipino food, it’s kind of a hit and miss from experience. It depends on how and where you were raised. A lot of Filipinos say when they’re having Filipino food ‘my mum makes it differently’. What we’re after is that nostalgic feeling that when someone eats it, they’ll be like ‘it reminds me of home’ or ‘it brings me straight home’ that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”
“We all feel really good working together and each of us has our own part to play in the business. It’s definitely brought us closer than ever.”
It is always heartening to hear how Asian cuisine shapes identity and provides a sense of belonging, and the Soto brothers have definitely demonstrated this with their Filipino Australian burger joint. With meal names such as The Yum Durger, Adobo Shaker Fries, Durger Steak, Sinigang Wings, and Ube Shake and the famous sweet style spaghetti paired with chicken and gravy – you can’t get more Filipino Australian than that. In addition from their small joint in Maribyrnong, they now have 2 other stores – one in Werribee and one in Caroline Springs – all busy and bustling!
Any Melbournians tried the burger at “ST BURGS”? Please let us know and yes, we will be reaching out to the Soto brothers for an interview!
To read more, please check out the SBS article titled: Filipino siblings quit their corporate jobs to grill burgers. They’re now franchising
Images all via SBS News