Saipan was an important port-stop in the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade so it just made sense that a Filipino-Mexican restaurant finally opened on the island. It’s against this backdrop that Clint Albert of Eats Easy and John Saludez launched La Mesa Kusina last May 28.
Albert said La Mesa Kusina is a Filipino-Mexican fusion restaurant that draws inspiration more on the Filipino side but with Mexican-style cooking.
“It’s casual dining but with fast food branding. It’s called La Mesa because it means ‘table’ in Spanish, Filipino, and even Chamorro. The same with Kusina, which is obviously kitchen with a ‘C’ in Spanish and Chamorro and ‘K’ in Filipino. So, it’s basically a kitchen-to-table food,” he said.
And they’re not shy about explaining the heavy Filipino influence in their cooking even to a recent Mexican tourist.
“A legit Mexican lady came in and we told her ‘we’re more Filipino-inspired than Mexican so don’t get us wrong,’ but we were kind of scared. …But she liked the idea of changing it a little bit,” he said.
Saludez, a known food vlogger, said that partnering with Eats Easy was a no-brainer.
“They [Albert and Marco Santiago] have been in the food industry here for two to three years already. At the start…Clint [and I] were thinking what kind of restaurant should we open and Clint asked me why not Filipino and he also asked why not Mexican and I said, ‘Por qué no los dos’ (Why not both)?”
Having grown up in Sacramento, California, both Filipino and Mexican cuisine were always a big thing so it wasn’t hard to convince him to open a Filipino-Mexican restaurant.
“We’ve been getting great reception from the Saipan community. We really feel the love, especially from our neighbors from Mount Carmel to offices and establishments around Chalan Kanoa,” said Saludez.
Albert couldn’t agree more, adding that they were fortunate to have such a prime spot for La Mesa Kusina right in the middle of Chalan Kanoa.
“It was just a nice location and I told John, ‘Let’s do something here,’ when this location near Mt. Carmel Cathedral opened up. The market here is residential, with people from the south and students from all over the schools around.”
So far, La Mesa Kusina’s bestsellers are the ones recommended in the menu by its mascot, Hefe Dave. These are Fajita Tapa, Manong’s Cheesy Corn, Elotes, and churros for dessert.
Albert said La Mesa Kusina is still evolving and would love to get customers’ feedback all the time. They’re also very active on social media and thanked everyone who have so far re-shared their posts.
“Everyone should try La Mesa Kusina. Let us know how it is. Give us a thumbs up or thumbs down. We are open to any suggestion and comments as well. We’re happy to have everyone here and everyone’s welcome,” Albert said.
La Mesa Kusina is located beside CK Internet & Computer Shop, a stone’s throw away from the Archdiocese of Chalan Kanoa. It is open Monday-Saturday, from 11am to 10pm with last call at 9:30pm and can comfortably seat 28 patrons. For more information or for reservations, call (670) 234-6372.