For a rural northwestern North Dakota town, Williston has become a melting pot of cultures, both domestic and abroad, due to the unique economy of the region. Bringing an opportunity to be immersed in Filipino culture through dining, is a recently opened, one-of-a-kind restaurant.
Karinderya by Seb and Nik is the newest business to join Williston’s downtown. Priding themselves in authentic Filipino food, owners Ernesto and Jen Maximo are passionate about bringing a cultural diversification of cuisine from their home country to the area. With the closest brick-and-mortar Filipino restaurant in Canada or Minnesota, Karindarya by Nik and Seb is the first of its kind to North Dakota.
“We want the community to get to experience the authentic flavors of Filipino cuisine,” Jen said. “It makes us, as a Filipino people, proud of our roots.”
The Maximo’s explain that through colonization from different countries throughout the history of the Philippines, its food has become a mix of many cultures. Influences from the U.S., Spain, Britain, India, Indonesia, the South Pacific Islands, China, Japan and Mexico are blended in the dishes that have been curated for Karindarya by Seb and Nik’s menu.
“We find all of these little speckles of influence throughout our food,” Jen said. “Having a Filipino restaurant will teach our guests — the people of Williston and North Dakota — the beauty of our culture in terms of the food and getting people excited about it.”
Karindarya by Seb and Nik first opened its doors in Crosby, N.D., in March of 2023. The Maximo’s had been residents of the area for nearly a decade, as Jen worked as a speech pathologist at the Crosby school and Ernesto worked as a lab scientist at the hospital. Eventually growing their family by having their two sons, Sebastian and Nikolas, Karindarya’s namesakes, Jen and Ernesto decided to open a restaurant.
“I just craved (the food),” Ernesto said. “There are no Filipino restaurants here. You always miss something (about home), especially the food.”
With most of their customers coming from Williston, the Maximo’s decided to uproot and move their family, as well as their business. Now located at 8 West Broadway in the old GoGo Donuts store, the restaurant had its soft opening at the end of September that went better than they had expected.
To mirror Filipino culture, Karindarya by Seb and Nik’s menu is dotted with flavors from all over the world from Korean to Mexican and many in between.
“When I made the menu, I curated it to the local palate,” Ernesto said. “We know that not all of our dishes are as friendly to the local taste buds so I really thought of making the menu to satisfy the local palate.”
The dishes may not be as exotic as one may think and the spice level is tolerable and much less than that of Thai dishes. Adorning each table are three jars of Filipino condiments: a chili garlic oil, a mix of vinegar, onion and sugar and a soy sauce and calamansi concoction. A few of the most traditional items on the menu include the lumpia, a version of an egg roll, the pancit, a noodle dish, and the Filipino national dish of chicken adobo. Also offering Korean fried chicken as an Asian option and the chicken katsu, which is popular in Japan, dining at Karindarya by Seb and Nik goes from a dinner out to a cultural experience. There is also a variety of desserts, a Filipino breakfast dish, a quail egg appetizer and milk boba tea.
“Back in Asia, we consume our bobas with something salty or savory,” Ernesto said, “Boba plus chicken chops is the perfect combination.”
Karindarya by Seb and Nik is still hiring for servers. Their grand opening is set for Friday, Oct. 6 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. The restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday. To keep up with announcements, hours and updates, visit their Facebook page at Karindarya by Nik and Seb.