Since Lola Asiang’s brood was growing, she decided that since she was cooking for a lot of people already (the Reyes family had 13 children) might as well earn from all that effort.
Asiang quickly converted the ground floor of their house in Marquez de Comillas into an eatery that she called Lapu-Lapu. Early on she decided that she would always cook and serve delicious and affordable Filipino food.
Marquez de Comillas
Students from St. Theresa (across the street) would come in droves to sample Asiang’s specialties - pancit luglog, dinuguan with puto, lumpiang ubod and arroz caldo.
The Adobo Sandwich originated from the Reyes family habit of having picnics at Luneta. Because there was always a need for meals-on-the-go, Asiang would pack easy to get food for her family to eat. She observed that many of the stalls in Luneta were serving American fare like hotdogs and hamburgers so she thought to make a Filipino version. She decided to use chicken adobo as her “palaman.” Soon her native sandwiches became a hit that friends of her children and husband would intentionally stop by their picnic spot just to get the taste of it.
The Original Rolling Store
The popularity of her sandwiches in the park gave Asiang an idea for a “Rolling Food Store. “Much like the food trucks of today, they converted an old Ford car into a mobile canteen. The rolling food store would go around Luneta Park and the nearby areas serving the same food her family would eat during their picnics. By force of circumstance, the rolling store moved from Luneta to Dewey Blvd, now known as Roxas Blvd. Alex & Asiang decided to put up a restaurant in that same spot where it still stands today.
The Chicken Barbeque
The Aristocrat survived wartime through Asiang’s resourcefulness and food innovations. All these made Aristocrat the place to be, and soon there were new ventures including a branch in Cubao and Ermita and a beach resort in Las Piñas. But the beach resort posed a new kind of problem for Asiang: her cutlery rarely found their way back to her kitchen since diners would bring them to their beach huts. As a solution, she began to serve food barbecue-style, lessening the use of utensils. This small problem-solving experiment paved the way for one of Aristocrat’s beloved bestsellers - Chicken Barbecue, which is now paired with java rice and java sauce.
Mother of Filipino Cooking
Lola Asiang was recognized as the Mother of Filipino Cooking. Whenever Lola Asiang cooked for her customers, she put in the same love and care as though she were cooking for her own children. She believed that no matter the size of your budget, you can eat like an Aristocrat. That’s how Aristocrat has come to be for Filipinos - a welcoming home where hearty appetites and modest wallets are rewarded with quality food and good old feeling of family.
An Icon in Cultural History
It is no easy feat to survive 80 years in the food industry. The success of Aristocrat is attributed to the clear and simple vision of Asiang to serve quality Filipino comfort food. In recognition of the Aristocrat’s contribution to Philippine culture, a historical marker was installed on July 4, 2013 by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).