XelaWho’s ear-the-ground correspondent, Alex Mac, brings you the stories behind the famous faces you see around town in Xela. This month he spoke to Luis, proprietor of the world famous Taiwanese Empanada shop just across the road from the Yoga House. A tried a true go-to of Xela’s hungover and hungry, these guys really know how to satisfy a craving…
So Luis, you’re originally from Taiwan, right? So how did you end up in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala?
Well about 18 years ago my son came here to study medicine at the San Carlos University and he said Xela would be a great place for me and his mother to move. So the following year, we did!
Wow, that’s quite a move. So when did you start the empanada shop?
Pretty much straight away when we got here. We needed to make some cash and I knew how to cook.
So how did the famous Taiwanese Empanada come about?
I invented it when we started the store. I guess it just made sense. Guatemala, Taiwan, Empanadas, Chilli Oil. It just all came together.
And you’ve got a team of young Guatemalan ladies working with you, do you all speak Taiwanese together?
Ah, they’ve been here a couple of years and are picking it up well. Probably more than my Spanish!
So how is it different living here in Xela not Taiwan? Do you go back to visit?
It’s a lot better here, I love it here. I go back to visit each year or two but this is my home, where I have my business and my family.
So there’s another Taiwanese restaurant that just opened up in town. Do you know them?
Yeah, we’re mates. It’s a small (extremely small) Taiwanese community here in Xela so everyone knows everyone.
You guys look like you have a good time working here (everyone is laughing uncontrollably). What’s the funniest thing that has happened here at the shop?
We’re always laughing together. When someone drops the empanada batter it’s really funny and it takes us a while to stop laughing and get back to work.
That’s awesome. Anything else to add?
I’ll give you whatever you want to eat for free if you marry one of the girls.
Errr… (a couple of the girls had to leave the room as they were crying so hard with laughter).
Thanks heaps Luis. I’ve been coming here for 5 years and you keep on dishing out the best, and spiciest Q3 treats in Xela. I’ll skip the marriage today and just take 3 empanadas with extra chilli to go thanks… Orale and xiè xie n?!