I have been to few Filipino restaurants in the city. Not because I don’t appreciate their unique cuisine; but because it’s hard to find an authentic restaurant. Lucky for me, I was recently invited to a media event at Casa Manila with a table full of fellow bloggers for a family-style meal. The weather in Toronto has been so brutally cold, that this evening felt like the perfect tropical retreat.
In this setting; one may order dishes off a traditional menu or enjoy a dinner Kamayan-style, as we did, and were treated to a whole lot more than we’d been expecting. Owner, Mila Nabor-Cuachon, really made us feel welcome, gave us an in-depth understanding of the food and culture, and let us sample many dishes off the menu.
The table is lined with banana leaves, so no bags or devices on the table – got to keep it clean. A small station for handwashing is located right next to us, so convenient because we are about to embark on a food adventure. We started with a luscious Calamansi Mojito, made from this citrus that tastes like lime and tangerine. Next, beef tamarind soup – which was slightly sour.
Chicken cracklings, lightly dressed with Adobo topped with Mabuhay green papaya slaw – one of my all time favorite things. There is a store at Wilson and Bathurst, a Filipino bakery, that sells packaged chicken skins and I try and stop there for them as often as possible. Chicken skewers served with Mabuhay adobo, coconut ginger and savory peanut sauce. Thinly sliced grilled beef ribs infused with casa manila’s special marinade – Inihaw baka. Roasted pork is, as always unbelievable, served with seasoned vinegar and Mabuhay Lechon sauce. Flying tilapia, served full and completely deep-fried – earthy but nice. Mango salad is nice and cuts through the fat acting as a natural palette cleanser.
For dessert is the famous Halo halo Mix Mix, more than a dozen ingredients, finely shaved ice covered with a cream mixture, topped with fruits, sweet beans, custard, purple yam, puffed rice crowned with taro ice cream.