Santa Clarita rejoice! No more having to drive to the other valley to pick up Filipino food staples because as of this morning Island Pacific Market is OPEN!
That’s right. A dedicated Filipino market has officially opened in Canyon Country and if the scene this morning was any indication, it was a long time coming. I had conversations with people as I waited for my fish and every single person expressed what a relief it was to have local access to essential ingredients for preparing dinner. While I ate my amazing grilled fish, the woman seated next to me remarked that the food all reminded her of home, and that it was comfort food.
The reality is that Island Pacific is more than just a supermarket. It is what Vallarta is to the Latino community. A place that is about food, yes, but it is also about culture. And on their website, the mission is clear:
Island Pacific is a Filipino Supermarket serving the Filipino community but also aspiring to promote Filipino food to the rest of the world. We accomplish this by offering the finest and top of the line products in our stores because that’s what Filipino cooking is all about – you just never compromise with ingredients. We believe a country’s food is a fair reflection of its culture and we at Island Pacific will continuously showcase the colorful and rich Filipino tradition to the world through native foods culled from the different regions of the Philippines. We are very proud of our roots, our steadfast efforts to make it known, and we will continue to strive to be the best at what we do.
This is Island Pacific Seafood Market #21, and despite it being a supermarket chain, I can actually say it is locally owned and operated! That’s right! The CEO, Jeff Lim, and his family live in Valencia. They had been looking for the right time to open, and when the space became available, it all fell into place. And local residents can finally breathe a sign of relief.
He adds that because this store is so close to home, it has been playfully dubbed an “Island Pacific Lab” where they can experiment and try new things. In the plans? Culinary classes, an expanded fish selection, as well as a a bakery/coffee shop. It will be part of a full fledged food court that should be finished in time for their grand opening in February. They will also have vendors that will facilitate shipping packages to the Philippines as well as an outpost of the National Asian American Coalition.
Island Pacific Seafood Market is different than the bigger chains in town because they are able to cater to the needs of the community. They have been active on their social media, asking the people of Santa Clarita what they want to see on the shelves. And because they are still considered small, they are able to stock and get ingredients that people ask for. An example? There have been requests for water buffalo cheese, so they did some research and found a distributor in Northern California. Soon, they will be stocking it in store. So if you do have a request, ask. They are here for you.
Founded in 2000, their first store was the Panorama City location. The company has experienced steady growth in recent years, with stores open primarily in California, but they do have one store in Seattle and one in Las Vegas. I’m so glad they added Santa Clarita into the mix. This year alone they have opened 8 stores, and the reason they are able to open so quickly is because they’ve been fortunate enough to take over vacant markets. They opened up in a couple of former Fresh & Easy stores, and this location in Canyon Country was short lived mediterranean market or two. They cleaned the space, fixed the lighting situation, and really made the store come alive.
I’m no stranger to the Island Pacific brand…I actually spent a lot of time at the valley location throughout undergrad courtesy of my first love. My formative years were spent getting schooled in Filipino food and culture and those have been the lessons I’ve held onto, long after the relationship ended. The thought of having a local outpost of this market means lumpia and lechon will factor into the dinner rotation, and the calamansi juice will be flowing. You’ll now be able to get banana leaves and banana ketchup under the same roof.
Apart from the rows and rows of snacks and ingredients, there are two major draws to shopping at Island Pacific. The first being that if you purchase fish they will clean and fry it for you at no additional charge. Order your fish, get a number, finish your shopping, and come back to pick it up. Easy.
Second is their prepared food section. Tray after tray of fresh food featuring favorites like crispy lechon belly, rotisserie chicken, and perfectly grilled fish (and more) are available for there or to go. There is a big grill and the smell alone is enough to draw you in. They also have affordable party packages that I already saw people ordering. I’m probably going to pick something up for my Filipino in-laws come Christmas.
Speaking of ordering, you can order a whole lechon roll for $130 or $13/pound, but you have to preorder, and you might want to do that asap because the holidays are right around the corner.
One of the biggest questions we get over in the Santa Clarita Foodies group is where to buy sushi grade fish. Now, we can give you a definite answer. Island Pacific Seafood Market. You can buy the whole fish, or they will slice it dice it fry it, whatever you need.
I think 2016 was a very good year for food in Santa Clarita, and I can’t think of a more profound opening, one that means so much to the Pinoy community here in town, than the opening of Island Pacific Seafood Market. So thank you for opening up a location here. Thank you. Thank you. Now everyone can go get some fried fish, pandesal, puto, and ube cakes. You have all waited long enough. Although we’ll have to wait a little longer to get some Nathaniel’s ice cream (they are finishing up the freezer cases).
Island Pacific Seafood Market is located 19387 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country (TJ Maxx shopping center).