Enjoying a taste of the Philippines doesn’t have to mean crossing an ocean for the people of the Grand Strand. Now you can just cross part of Conway and drive down S.C. 707 for a few blocks to reach Estella’s Filipino Cuisine. In the Kris Krossing shopping center, this fledging restaurant is working hard to bring authentic and homemade Filipino food to the area.
Just like most major countries, the Philippines has differences in food depending on the region, including influences from neighboring countries and foreign cultures. A few people may find dishes similar to Thai food, while some may recognize Spanish roots in others.
Preemptively stopping most questions in their tracks, Estella’s, at 3320 4th Avenue, Conway, has large pictures of menu items on the wall around the register. Plus on the counter is another menu with more details of the dishes and ingredients involved. The rest of the décor is almost entirely hand painted signs with heartwarming messages that really nail a homey feeling.
This personal atmosphere continues when customers are greeted by the owner and cook, who promptly invites guests to explore the menu. Once queries are laid to rest and orders placed, she begins to prepare the food immediately. The kitchen is separate from the dining area but open enough to watch the magic happen.
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Because everything is prepared upon order and with usually only one person doing the cooking, customers should come expecting a wait. However this also means that the food comes out piping hot, especially the lumpia, fried spring rolls, which are so delicious it’s hard to wait for them to cool down.
Estella’s also provides the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, adobo, and the savory tinola, both of which she makes with chicken. The two meals come out in bowls with a plate of rice with only a spoon and fork to pull the tender chicken from the bone. Her variation of tinola comes with some vegetables like spinach in a comforting broth that goes great with white rice.
Pancit sotanghon is a dish made with cellophane noodles stir fried with pork and vegetables for a filling and almost familiar taste. Estella’s also has a few simple hibachi plates for those who would prefer to ease themselves in. To top of the experience, guests can enjoy some halo-halo, a fruity dessert with shredded coconut and coconut gel.
Sometimes Estella’s runs out of ingredients needed to make a meal, and for special orders the restaurant asks that guests call ahead. Despite the slight wait and occasional unavailability, the prices are a bargain for the amount and quality of food. Even those unfamiliar with the island cuisine will surely find something to enjoy.
If You Eat
What | Estella’s Filipino Cuisine
Where | 3320 4th Avenue, Conway
Hours | 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Information | estellascuisine.wixsite.com/estellas, 843-488-4525