Twitter Handle: @CasaManilaTO
Address: 879 York Mills Rd. Toronto, ON
When I visited: February 2015, dinner, menu tasting (Winterlicious and regular menu)
Having recently visited the Philippines, I was craving some of the signature dishes such as the crispy lechon (roast pork), sisig (minced meat dish) and the refreshing halo halo dessert. Casa Manila really hit the spot with my cravings and brought me back on vacation!
Having tried Casa Manila at the Toronto Food Festival two years back, I was impressed by the variety and quality of their dishes, and was honoured to be invited for a tasting at the restaurant.
The restaurant is located at York Mills and Don Mills area with plenty of parking at the back of the plaza. Inside, the decor had many warm accents with a true feel of being in the tropics.
I give the restaurant a 5/5 for Winterlicious value with the $18 lunch and $25 dinner. Having been to a several Winterlicious restaurants over the years, many restaurants create menu items that are not on their regular menu. Casa Manila not only offered dishes that were offered on their regular menu, the offerings were extensive! With excellent service, the servers were more than happy to explain the offerings. The owners were around to meet and greet with many new and returning customers, a reminder that the restaurant is family owned. Mila, the owner was genuine and an absolute pleasure to meet.
Fortunately, my husband, baby and I were able to sample several items on the Winterlicious menu and on their regular menu. We enjoyed everything! It feels better knowing that the restaurant does not use MSG and minimizes oil and sodium in their dishes.
Here were the starters:
Crispy chicken skin. The skin was first cooked and infused with lemon and lemongrass, which also removes the impurities, before crisped to perfection. This was one of my favourite starters!
Chicken rice soup (arrox caldo) which had a congee type consistency and really hit the spot during the cold weather.
Chicken BBQ skewer (tinhuhog aa Kawayan) with housemade BBQ sauce. The meat was tender and soy based sauce was a nice glaze for the meat.
Calamare rings (pritong calamares) where light and crispy.
Spring Rolls (lumpiang Shanghai)-These spring rolls may be tiny but the inside was packed with meat!
The Casa Manila Salad (Sariwang Gulay Casa Manila)- the pickled papaya salad was my favourite starter. It was the perfect sweet and citrusy balance to the meal.
For the Mains:
I got to sample a small dish of the garlic adobe chicken. I could not go to a Filipino restaurant and not try the famous dish. Having tried many home cooked versions, this sauce was a stand out. It reminded me of a Chinese sweet and sour spare ribs sauce, with more in-depth flavour. If you love sauce and rice, this is your dish.
The crispy pork belly (lechon kawali)- Not for those on a diet, but it was worth every bite for the crispy skin. The Winterlicious portion was generous with garlic rice, green beans, eggplant and the papaya salad.
Peanut stew (kare kare) with oxtail, green beans and eggplant. This was one of my favourite dishes in the Philippines and I was so happy that Casa Manila offered it. The oxtail was tender and the peanut sauce had the right consistency.
I recommend with the meal to choose one of their many drink selections and desserts. We had the chocolate and taro cake, taro (ube) shake and the famous halo halo dessert. The shaved iced dessert with huge with tons of fun bites like coconut shavings, jelly, flan and house made taro ice cream.
Filipino food is underrepresented in Toronto, and it is time that should change. Casa Manila should be on everyone’s must visit list for delicious, filling and healthy eats. Even more exciting is that their sauces were made from scratch and will be available for purchase in the near future. Stay tuned on my blog for more details on how you can get your hands on the sauces, and bring home the flavours of the Philippines.
* The meal was complimentary but the opinions in the post are entirely my own.