Above: The beef and lamb meatball bowl, samosa and eggrolls, Sisig roasted pork bowl, and an assortment of chutneys and sauces.
The food at Lola’s Fine Kitchen in Ankeny is inspired by the mother of co-owners Taufeek Shah and Hannah Elliot. Their mother is Filipino, and their paternal grandmother is Pakistani. For many of us, that might be a head-scratcher. What, exactly, will come to the table?
It helps to know how to order: Approach this venue as you would Noodles and Company (though with higher expectations). That is, it’s a build-your-bowl kind of place. Start with your base of choice (such as mung bean noodles, rice pilaf, cabbage or quinoa-cauliflower), then add protein (adobo, tandoori, or crispy chicken; lentils; marinated pork; or lamb and beef meatballs) or vegetable fritters. Add a choice of side from the numerous veggie, pickle and salad options, and then choose from among a dozen sauces, such as green chutney, mango chutney, fire sauce or sweet chili sauce.
What you’ll get is the gratification of traditional, age-old recipes with the energy and freshness of a contemporary chef.
Still, if ordering all that sounds a little complicated, you can always go for a pre-designed bowl. I was thrilled with the beef and lamb meatball bowl, with green and red chutney, rice pilaf and Paki Pico, a chutney-dressed salad of cucumber, tomato and onion.
There’s just so much to explore here that the best advice I can offer the first-time visitor is to be sure to order a round of samosa for the table. Filled with spiced potatoes, sweet potatoes and peas, these fried savory pastries come with a selection of chutneys and sauces, allowing you to seize on a favorite in the most pleasurable of ways. I personally discovered that I’ll never head here without getting something with green chutney; the vivid cilantro, parsley and mint sauce goes with everything.
Lola’s Fine Kitchen is at 1615 S.W. Main St., Suite 106, Ankeny; 515-289-9302; lolasfinekitchen.com.
Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.