Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Project Eats 2017 Meet the Vendor: Eemas Cuisine

The Jersey City Project's Project Eats 2017 is back on 6/24 and 6/25 with new vendors and returning favorites, all ready to serve up some delicious, indulgent eats. To help get you ready, I'm excited to be collaborating with The Jersey City Project to spotlight some of the vendors from this year's Project Eats, learning more about their business, their food, and what they love about Jersey City.  

This week, we're focusing on some favorite Jersey City vendors. Get to know Eemas Cuisine who made their debut at Project: EATS two years ago and have a remained a constant crowd-pleaser since.
Photo courtesy of The Jersey City Project
Tell me about Eemas - how did it get started?
Simply put, I missed Hawaiian food from living out west so I decided to not only make it for myself but for all of you. However, the long story is that Eemas Cuisine started out as a food stand concept that highlighted regional American cuisine. I wanted to feature various menus like Tex-Mex, Southern Comfort, New England-Style, Bayou Fare, and, Hawaiian to lead the way. After Project: EATS in 2015, our inaugural vending event, the people of Jersey City and those who waited in our long lines decided that it’d probably be best that we stuck to the American island’s cuisine or “grind.” For those who don’t know, “eemas” actually means “delicious.” I literally try to remind everyone when I add #eemasmeansdelicious to all my Instagram posts. It's slang form of the Ilocano, a Northern Filipino dialect, word “naimas” - it was only fitting to name the stand as such. I am Ilocano and it is the second most spoken language in the Hawaiian Islands after English. Coincidence? Maybe not. 

What inspires your recipes and your food?
I try to utilize my extensive research of indulging in this delicious cuisine while I lived out in the desert. Did you know that Las Vegas was coined the ninth island? Out in Sin City, I met some amazing Hawaiians who convinced me that their island grind can be or was more delicious than that of the Philippines. The jury is still out on that one. 

Traveling between Southern Nevada, California, and Hawaii, I immediately grew an affinity for the simplicity of the food. I use my knowledge of my own heritage and that of what I learned living out west to inspire my dishes. It was only fitting that this year, I have rebranded EC to feature “Hawaiian & Filipino Inspired Eats.”

You're a frequent and very popular vendor in Jersey City - what keeps bringing you back?
Well until recently, like I mean last month, I ONLY vended in Jersey City. As a small business, I believe that when you respect and treat a community with kindness, an open mind, and delicious food, they return the favor (over and over again). Jersey City has been returning the favor for the past 2 years and I couldn’t be more grateful. The community of eaters and vendors alike live with a sense of shared fate. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. Well, JC continued to deliver time and time again.

What’s your favorite part of participating in Project: Eats?
Feeding the masses of course! Kristen & the JCP bring together a unique group of vendors that attract a very special kind of customer - the foodie. I vend only for the reason to share my food with others. What better place to do so but in the heart of this amazing city?! If I could do this for free and if the city allowed me to, I would sling my musubis and eats every single day for the year. But alas, I have a growing 12yo young lady and I enjoy eating - both of which don’t come cheap. 

Are there any other vendors you’re particularly excited to try or that you really enjoy?
I want to try Aces Wings. I am a sucker for chicken wings, Now, you know that we do a fried chicken wing and you know its delicious beyond compare (Ed. Note - some of the best wings ever) but I hear these are crispy and oh, so good. Listen, I am a chef second to being professional eater - I beckon the call of “eemas” eats whether it was my own or from other amazing talented folk. Oh, and Milk, Sugar, Love - DUH!

Do you have a personal menu favorite?
This year, I’m finally debuting my Filipino Street Eats which is featuring my favorite menu item - a Fried Fish Ball Skewer. You can encounter many street vendors in the Philippines selling these fried balls. The second best part of it is that you dip the skewer in your choice of a homemade sweet, tangy, or spicy sauce before you enjoy these light, slightly crisp but tender fish delights. We’ll be doing the dipping but trust me, it’s the closest you’ll find to being on the streets of Manila. Side note: My favorite musubi will have to be the Tempeh Katsu. However, I have to promote my new menu item for this question.

What would you recommend to someone trying Eemas for the first time?
Just as we ask at the stand, “Have you ever had a musubi before? If not, you have to go with the Spam Musubi. I know you may be hesitant but if you eat pork and are willing to have your mind blown, trust us and go traditional.” Other than that, I do like to advise Project: EATS goers to get to our stand as early as possible. We tend to have long lines and its probably because we handle each item with care and precision. Honestly, we make each item “to-order; and they are all hand-pressed and sauced. So please have patience, get your crew together, make a plan of attack, and send one person in line to order for everybody. Until then, Mahalo & Salamat!

Some excellent advice. Thank you so much to Eemas for the interview and history and make sure to check out their Eemas eats this Saturday and Sunday!

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