WEST JORDAN, Utah — When it comes to finding Filipino food in the Salt Lake Valley, BFF Turon is your best friend.
The restaurant opened in December and is the only place in Salt Lake devoted to dishing up Philippine cuisine after a number of similar eateries went out of business in recent years.
“Now it’s time,” BFF Turon co-owner Edna Rubi said. “‘Cause the population of Filipinos and Filipinos at heart in Utah is growing tremendously, and there’s a big demand right now.”
Why has Filipino food struggled to find a place here while its thrived in other parts of the country?
“Um,” diner Bradley Butterfield said. “I’m not sure. I think the situation here in Utah — it seems like there’s always the Italian restaurants and the Mexican or Tex-Mex.”
It’s a question many struggle to answer.
“Er,” another diner, Ferdie Burdeos, said. “I think one of the main reasons why it’s been difficult for (Filipino food) is because there’s not a lot of Filipinos around here.”
Whatever the reason may be, BFF Turon’s owners are determined to bring “lutong Pinoy” back to Salt Lake for good, believing they have the recipe for longevity.
“Dinesign namin ng parang Panda Express — turo-turo para madali ang order ng mga customer,” co-owner Nowie Ballesteros said.
[Translation: We designed it to be like Panda Express so it’s easy for customers to order.]
So far, their plan is working. Although BFF Turon has only been open for two months, its owners say their restaurant’s customer base is rapidly growing.
“A lot of return customers, and that’s what we like,” co-owner Sonia Aquino said. “I mean, we love to see new faces, but the return customers, when they come back and bring more friends, more family members, that’s when we know that ‘Oh, so they really like our food.’”
That makes BFF Turon’s owners believe they can establish a long-lasting Filipino restaurant and, in the process, help Philippine cuisine finally find a permanent home in Salt Lake.