With only hope and perseverance to rely on, Angelina “Angie” De Andres opened Puerto Rico Bento Restaurant with her son Antonio Lastimado in 2012.
She originally took over another restaurant, but the doors closed because she could not afford payment. Nevertheless, De Andres saw a window of opportunity and decided to put up her own restaurant from the bottom up.
“We started a bento or take-out place with very limited items… our motto was ‘make simple food, excellent.’ Since we cannot afford to employ people, there were only the two of us and we worked side by side. Two years in the business, I had to go back to the Philippines and with the help of family and friends, my mother was able to manage and make the business grow,” Lastimado said.
“She did turo-turo style where customers point to the food they want and events catering. She would work from 3am to sunset and sometimes up to 10-11pm. The restaurant that she took over prior to our restaurant was offering bento food boxes that is why there’s ‘bento’ in the restaurant’s name and that carried on to the new restaurant. Later on, we had customers who wanted to dine-in and eat on plates that is how our current concept came to be,” Lastimado added.
Currently, De Andres is back in the Philippines and Lastimado together with his wife, Angelica, who is a culinary graduate from Northern Marianas Technical Institute and worked as a cook at Hyatt Regency Saipan, are managing the business.
“Aside from the best-tasting Filipino dishes that we offer, we are also known for our empanadas, lumpiang shanghai, and puto. We cook all the dishes like how we want it, capturing the true taste of Filipino food,” Angelica said.
“In terms of affordability, you can count on us. We cater to the working class—construction workers, government employees, and people in the private sector. For only $6 you get two choices, $4 for one choice, and if you only want the viand, it is $3.25. Our customers vary from locals, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, and so on,” she added.
Seafood, beef, pork, chicken, and pasta dishes in food party trays or special orders are also available for small or big events, parties or meetings.
“Customers can request a dish that is not included in our menu as long as we know how to cook it. We try our best to accommodate the needs of our customers,” Angelica said.
“One of the best compliments that we received was that we have the best Filipino food on island and that is coming from a local. Another compliment is when Japanese or Korean customers order party trays. It is nice to know that our food is being served in private parties and things like that inspire us to be the best that we can be,” she added.
According to Antonio, future plans include opening another branch. “We want to expand to another location and cater not only to locals, but also to tourists as we want them to eat the best-tasting Filipino food on island. We also want to try offering ala carte style but this we believe will happen at the right time,” he said
“We are in the phase in our business that we just want to be a part of the community and not all profit anymore. Helping and reaching out to share the traditions that my mother started. She was mindful of people who are in need,” he added.
Puerto Rico Bento Restaurant is located along Middle Road in Puerto Rico. For more information, send them a message on Facebook or call 285-0056 and 322-0007.