Tindahan The Little Asian Store Reviews: My Authentic Tindahan Experience

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  • Post published:February 10, 2024
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Nestled amongst the beautiful Florida Keys, you’ll find a little slice of the Philippines at Tindahan the Little Asian Store in Big Pine Key. Owned and operated by Lhanli Plana Perez, a Filipina married to a Spanish-American, Tindahan offers an impressive selection of authentic Filipino goods to cure any pinoy’s homesickness.

As an avid food and travel writer, I was eager to check out Tindahan after stumbling upon some glowing Tindahan the little Asian store reviews online.

With few Filipino markets in the Florida Keys, Tindahan appeared to be a unique hub for hard-to-find Asian ingredients and snacks. I spent an afternoon exploring the shop, chatting with Lhanli, and sampling some of their specialties.

After my visit, I can confidently say that Tindahan lives up to the hype. Keep reading for my complete review, including their origin story, store offerings, my personal experience, and tips for your own visit.

About Tindahan The Little Asian Store

Tindahan, which means “store” in Tagalog, was born out of Lhanli’s own longing for a taste of home after moving from the Philippines to the United States.

Struggling with her own cravings for Filipino comfort foods, Lhanli had an epiphany: why not source hard-to-find products from her homeland to share with others who felt the same way? With the encouragement of her Spanish-American husband, Manny, the idea for Tindahan was formed.

What began as a small extension of Lhanli’s home soon blossomed into a brick-and-mortar storefront on Big Pine Key.

Lhanli personally travels to the Philippines to hand-select goods, then ships them back to Florida to stock Tindahan’s shelves. From canned sardines to purple yam hopia cakes, Lhanli carefully curates each item to share the flavors of Filipino cuisine she holds dear.

In addition to the retail shop, Tindahan also operates an online storefront through Shopify. This allows Lhanli to share her curated selection with pinoy cravers worldwide, not just in the Florida Keys. Between the two, Tindahan has become a go-to for authentic, hard-to-find Filipino foods in the region.

Tindahan The Little Asian Store Reviews: Tindahan Offerings

Tindahan The Little Asian Store

Stepping into Tindahan transports you to the Philippines with its impressive selection of goods. While small in square footage, they manage to pack a lot into the space. Here are some of the offerings you can expect:

Snacks & Sweets: Tindahan has an incredible selection of Filipino candies, chips, and baked goods. Some highlights are Hopia ube cakes, Skyflakes crackers, Mango and piattos chips, and more.

Canned Goods: Get your fix of corned beef, sardines, luncheon meats, and everyday ingredients like coconut milk.

Instant Noodles: Slurp down Lucky Me! pancit or la paz batchoy noodles for a quick, flavorful meal.

Fresh & Frozen Foods: Spring rolls, shrimp, milkfish, and other hard-to-find Filipino ingredients can be found in their freezers.

Beverages: Quench your thirst with popular drinks like Coke in glass bottles, Calamansi juice, San Miguel beer, and more.

Sauces & Seasonings: Essential flavors like banana ketchup, toyomansi, and patis fish sauce stock home pantries.

Personal Care: Lhanli sources skin-brightening soaps, whitening creams, and other beauty staples from Asian brands.

Beyond Filipino goods, Tindahan also stocks pan-Asian ingredients popular in the community, like Korean gochujang, Thai chilies, Japanese Kewpie mayo, and more. This makes it a one-stop shop for any Asian cooking project.

My Tindahan Experience

As a half-Filipina myself, I was giddy with excitement as I pulled into the Tindahan parking lot for the first time. Stepping inside, I was greeted by a warm “Mabuhay!” and the comforting aroma of soy sauce and vinegar.

Lhanli was restocking a shelf while simultaneously bouncing her toddler, the epitome of a multitasking mama. She immediately welcomed me and offered assistance finding anything, her enthusiasm infectious.

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I happily browsed the aisles, snapping photos of familiar favorites I hadn’t seen in ages, like Chowking noodles and tall cans of juicy Century Tuna. In the freezer section, I spotted treats like ube ice cream and bibingka rice cakes that transported me back to lively Filipino gatherings.

After compiling a basket brimming with goodies, I selected a fresh honeydew milk tea with boba pearls from their tea bar. The tea was refreshing with perfectly popped boba, hitting the spot on the hot Florida day.

Lhanli rang up my haul, carefully wrapping the fragile items as I peppered her with questions about the shop. Her passion for sharing Filipino culture and food was apparent.

I left not only with a bag of goodies but with a full heart and stomach. Getting to support a small business owners like Lhanli who are thoughtfully curating goods for our community is a special experience. While I stumbled upon Tindahan thanks to stellar online reviews, the in-person hospitality brought my visit to the next level.

Tips For Your Visit

If you’re hungry for a taste of the Philippines, here are my tips for planning the perfect Tindahan experience:

  • Check their Facebook page before visiting. Lhanli posts updates on new inventory arrivals and peak hours.
  • Have an idea of what you’re looking for. With the small retail space, this isn’t a leisurely browsing spot. Consider calling ahead for hard-to-find items.
  • Bring a cooler if you’re buying frozen goods or ice cream. The drive through the Keys can take time, so keep refrigerated items cool.
  • Chat with Lhanli! She’s a wealth of information on Filipino cuisine and is so friendly. Ask for recommendations if you’re new to the flavors.
  • Check the expiry dates of canned goods or dry items. Because Tindahan imports hard-to-find goods directly from the Philippines, some inventory may have shorter shelf life.
  • Order boba tea to sip while you shop! Customize your milk tea with flavors like ube or calamansi. The pearls are housemade with quality.
  • Have them vacuum-seal frozen meats or seafood. This keeps items fresh during the journey home.
  • Don’t be shy about special orders! If you’re searching for a beloved Filipino ingredient, Lhanli will do her best to source it.

For out-of-towners, Tindahan is worth planning your Keys itinerary around. And for locals, frequent visits are a must to snag new inventory arrivals. With her growing following, specialty items tend to sell out quickly!

Inside Scoop from Tindahan’s Founder

To provide a more insider perspective on Tindahan, I sat down with owner Lhanli Plana Perez to discuss her inspiration behind the business. Here are some insights straight from the founder herself:

On Starting Tindahan:

“Moving to Florida from the Philippines was a huge culture shock. I missed the taste of home so much! My husband suggested I start sourcing hard-to-find ingredients from Manila to satisfy my cravings. The business grew organically from my own longing for a piece of the Philippines.”

Must-Try Filipino Foods for Beginners:

“New to Filipino flavors? I recommend starting with pancit noodles, a halo-halo dessert, and sisig, a sizzling pork dish. Once your palette is accustomed to the sour and funky flavors, graduate to more adventurous eats like balut or dinuguan.”

Balancing Family and Business:

“Being a mompreneur is tough but rewarding! My husband and son are my constant companions in the store. We make it a family affair by cooking demo videos and spending time together. The flexibility to raise my son while sharing my culture is a dream.”

Source for Authentic Filipino Goods:

“I hand-select goods on yearly trips to Manila to bring the most authentic selection to Tindahan. I’ve partnered with small producers to bring exclusive products you won’t find anywhere else. Quality is so important to me.”

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Plans for Expansion:

“This is just the beginning! My goal is to open more brick-and-mortar in communities hungry for Filipino flavors across the country. I also plan to expand the online shop with island-wide shipping. Spreading awareness of amazing Filipino cuisine drives me.”

On Filipino Culture:

“It’s an honor to share a taste of the Philippines with every customer. food brings people together across cultures. The joy on Pinoy’s faces when they find a taste of home here is priceless. That is the best part of Tindahan for me.”

Lhanli’s passion shone through as we chatted about her Filipino heritage and plans for Tindahan. Speaking with her only solidified that supporting this small business supports a broader cultural education and community mission.

Tindahan The Little Asian Store Reviews: Products & Prices

To give you a better idea of Tindahan’s offerings, here is a sampling of current products along with pricing at the time of my visit:

  • Kraft Eden Cheese, 165g – $5.35
  • JBC Ding Dong Snack Mix, 3.5oz – $1.35
  • Jack n Jill Piattos Chips, Cheese, 1.76oz – $1.40
  • Maranao SkyFlakes Crackers, 32-count tin – $10.35
  • Regent Sweet Corn, 340g can – $1.65
  • Eng Bee Tin Hopia Ube, pack of 4 – $4.65
  • Mega Fried Sardines, 155g tin – $1.50
  • Choc Nut Peanut Chocolate, 2.64oz – $1.20
  • Kirei Yaegaru Japanese Rice Crackers – $1.75
  • Samyang Spicy Chicken Ramen – $2.75
  • Philippine Brand Dried Mangoes, 4oz – $4.15
  • Maranao Ube Dessert Halohalo Mix – $5.50
  • Marca Pina Piattos, 1.76oz – $1.25
  • Calamansi Juice, 12oz bottle -$3.50
  • Maggi Magic Sarap Seasoning, 8.47oz – $4.15
  • UFC Banana Catsup, 20oz – $4.55
  • Selecta Mango Swirl Ice Cream, 1 pint – $5.55
  • Red Horse Beer, 6 pack – $15.50
  • Milk Tea with Boba, 16oz – $5.75

Prices are pretty reasonable given many items are imported specialties. Sale prices are also frequently offered.

Popular Tindahan Menu Items

Beyond Filipino grocery items, Tindahan has gained a cult following for its beverage menu. They utilize high-quality ingredients to craft refreshing teas, coffees, and more. Here are some of their most popular menu items:

  • Milk Teas: Choose from taro, strawberry, Mango, matcha, Thai tea and other flavors. Customize with boba pearls or jellies.
  • Fruit Teas: Rambutan, lychee, calamansi, and melon teas tantalize tastebuds.
  • Coffee Drinks: Sip on classic brewed Kape Barako, Spanish lattes, or their signature Manny’s Cappuccino crafted from unique Indonesian beans.
  • Pinoy Iced Coffee: This sweetened coffee drink is quintessentially Filipino. They are made with sugar, coffee, and evaporated milk poured over ice.
  • Champorado: Indulge in this chocolatey rice porridge, a beloved Filipino comfort food. It is topped with evaporated milk.
  • Halo Halo: Their signature take on the iconic Filipino dessert with shaved ice, evaporated milk, and tropical toppings.
  • Ube Soft Serve: This vibrant purple yam ice cream is refreshing and beautifully hued. Available in cones or cups.

Tindahan receives consistent praise for its beverage program. Using quality ingredients and heritage recipes, they’ve perfected classics like milk tea with fresh boba alongside Filipino staples like Pinoy iced coffee. It’s a refreshing break while perusing the aisles!

My Takeaways & Recommendation

Stepping into the cheerful interior of Tindahan truly felt like a homecoming. As a Filipina raised overseas, stumbling upon Lhanli’s labor of love brought me immense pride and comfort. More than a place to stock up on staple goods from the motherland, Tindahan represents the tight-knit Filipino community sharing our culture.

Beyond the touching mission behind Tindahan, they follow through by offering top-notch service and quality goods carefully curated. Lhanli’s devotion ensures each item aligns with her standards – authenticity, freshness, competitive pricing, and exclusivity. Shopping at Tindahan guarantees satisfaction.

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If you find yourself in the Florida Keys, I wholeheartedly recommend a visit for pinoy and foodies alike. Pop into the charming shop, chat with Lhanli, and leave with a taste of the Philippines. Tindahan has earned its sterling reputation for good reason. No matter where you’re from, you’re sure to go with a full belly and even a fuller heart.

Conclusion on Tindahan The Little Asian Store Reviews

My visit to Tindahan The Little Asian Store gave me a profound appreciation for entrepreneur Lhanli Plana Perez’s mission. By launching Tindahan, Lhanli has created more than just another grocery store – she’s fostered human connection.

As an immigrant, I deeply related to Lhanli’s homesickness for Filipino flavors. Transporting favored tastes from your homeland provides comfort in unfamiliar surroundings. By sourcing hard-to-find pantry staples, snacks, and sweets directly from the Philippines, Tindahan allows Pinoy expats to savor the comforting tastes of back home.

Beyond the retail side, Tindahan represents cultural education and bridge building. Lhanli proudly shares the cuisine of her upbringing with every customer. Her store opens minds to the breadth and vibrancy of Filipino foodways. Each visit offers an immersive culinary encounter, from chatting with Lhanli to sipping silky Halo Halo.

Most inspiring is Lhanli’s commitment to family weaved into Tindahan’s origin story. Like many mompreneurs, Lhanli launched the business while raising her son. The flexibility of entrepreneurship allowed her to blend career and motherhood. Her toddler now grows up enveloped by his Filipino heritage. What a beautiful legacy to pass down.

By supporting small business owners like Lhanli, customers empower more than just their own pantry. We support dreams. We say yes to her mission by buying Lhanli’s homemade batchoy noodles or silken hopia cakes. With our dollars, we amplify and sustain the voices of immigrant entrepreneurs nationwide.

Wrapping Up

The overwhelming popularity and positive Tindahan The Little Asian store reviews reinforce that Lhanli is fulfilling a profound need. The community craves not just her curated selection of goods, but the sense of home she lovingly infuses into Tindahan.

As Lhanli continues growing her business in the coming years, I have no doubt Tindahan’s impact will also expand. More people around the world will get to savor the distinctive flavors of Filipino cuisine through her efforts. When they bite into a perfect mango hopia from Tindahan, Lhanli’s story becomes their own. Her online marketplace breaks geographical barriers, delivering comfort to pinoy across oceans.

If my glowing review has you itching for a taste of Tindahan, I highly recommend a pilgrimage. Support this remarkable woman-owned business by stopping into the Big Pine Key storefront or ordering online. Let the flavors transport you, as they did for me, through each morsel. A satisfied belly is only the beginning – at Tindahan, you’ll leave nourished in mind, body, and spirit.

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