HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >


Anyone been to the new Filipino Resto at York Mills & Don Mills?

Filipino is mostly undiscovered territory for me.

This new place (formerly Kenny Rogers, Nanzan sushi used to be) looks clean, fresh, and new.

What's the word?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. stopped by about a week ago.
    Sign said open.
    The door was locked, but there were people inside.
    Seemed very odd.
    Looks sort of like a fast food place.
    Won't be fine dining but might be interesting.

    1. Tried casa Manilla last night.
      I was right it is a food court type of setup.
      Strictly a lunch or take out place.
      empty at 7:30, with the exception of a few take outs.
      large selection of Filipino food two mains and rice for $5.99
      we tasted the yellow curry chicken, rice noodles, eggplant with ground pork and fried, sliced pork hock,and meatballs.
      the food despite our selections being nuked were quite tasty, in fact the yellow curry chicken was quite tasty.
      the young couple who own the restaurant were charming, and explained each dish on the hot table in detail.
      alas, I don't believe they will succeed unless they change their formula, as our entire area is fast food heaven, and they will need to compete with Congee Queen, Tako Sushi, and all the rest of the plastic menu restaurants in the area.
      too bad, nice people.

      1. Thanks for the report, Erly.

        I am inclined to try the place out and support the owners; it sounds like the food is good. I'll try the yellow curry.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fwagra

          try dalisay filipino food located @ 800 steeles ave w unit a7-nw corner of bathurst and steeles.....they been in the business for 8 months

        2. I went to this place on Saturday last.

          I spoke to the owner; he's a nice guy who told me that they try to serve the more authentic Filipino fare on weekends.

          I surveyed the hot table. There were roasted whole pig's heads, a stew made of pork blood, a dish with pig heart and liver. And if you like tripe, this place may be for you. They all looked good enough, but I just couldn't.

          I settled on Pancit (a vermicelli noodle dish), lechon (pork), and Filipino sausages. The food was good. But, I'm not entirely sure that Filipino food is for me. They seem to really like fatty pork, which I don't. If this restaurant's food is truly authentic, (which I think it is), then perhaps Filipino food may pale in comparison to the cuisines of its neighbours. I felt that, while ok, the cuisines of almost all other Asian countries have much more to offer.

          Now, I caution, I am very ignorant with respect to Filipino food. I may be entirely wrong. If someone knows of another place with authentic and delicious Filipino food, I would like to try it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Fwagra

            You should try Remely's which is on the north side of Sheppard Ave E, b/w McCowan and Markham Rds, same plaza as Tim Horton's.

            Some healthier dishes include sinigang (which is a tamarind-based stew/soup made with pork or fish) and lumpiang sariwa aka fresh lumpia which is basically an unfried filipino spring roll. The wrapper is made from eggs, water, cornstarch, flour, and salt. Inside are fresh veggies.

            Probably you wouldn't be craving for a cold drink right now, but you can go back for halo-halo in summer. It's a cold drink with a variety of chewables like macapuno strings, coconut jelly, and red beans at the bottom. On top is loads of crushed ice. They pour evaporated? milk over the whole thing and on the very top is ube, leche flan, and ice cream.

            1. re: LikeTheWolf

              Hmmm... Remely's. Am not really sure how fresh the food is being served there. My friend bought rice porridge (arozcaldo) for take out and when he arrived at home it was already spoiled. Remely's in Scarborough and my friend is from Mississauga. I have been there several times though and I do have some favorites. I havent had food posining so thats a good sign!!! LOL

              Another Filipino fast food place you might want to try is "Angel Kiss". Major intersection is Don Mills and Eglinton. If youre heading south, its right after the Science Centre and its the Food Basic plaza is (its actually right across McDonalds). My co-worker had taken me several times and food was really good.

              1. re: bzookajoe

                Was in the plaza today and went to Remely's out of curiosity. It was busy, bright and clean, however the staff were quite rude (seemed only to me, and I was all smiles)? I bought a turon to try - didn't like it. Super greasy. There were a lot of Filipino's having lunch, I was the only non-Filipino, but being Chinese, I got a few odd stares, and not the friendly kind? Oh well.

            2. re: Fwagra

              Your report is quite accurate with regard to Filipino Food. I doubt there will be an attraction for most people to this cuisine. One read of your report should tell us something about the fact that the cuisine of the Philippines does not boast busy, highly desireable restaurants. While ther are a few interesting food items, the emphasis is on fatty pork! Interesting that the cuisines of the country's many small neighbours are much more interesting and accepted!!!!

            3. It's really too bad that there isn't an excellent Filipino resto in the GTA. I've always wanted to have a fairly decent sit-down place where the true beaty of Filipino cuisine could be showcased. Sadly none on the cafeteria style Filipino restaurants do the cuisine any justice. The food that they serve is ok, but nowhere near what a true Filipino feast would be like.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ctl98

                My family (when we're all together in the same relative area) used to eat at Mayette's on the Danforth. Not quite sure how far east they are, exactly... My mom and dad really loved that place. Plus, they'd order in bulk for occasion/events.

                Personally, I don't like Filipino food. I miss my mom's sinigang ng isda, though. I truly wish I had gotten the recipe from her when she was alive. Sometimes, I'll make lumpia (addictive, imo), my hubby likes pancit, and my kids love pandesal for breakfast. However, the other dishes like adobo, innards, food made with blood, etc. are just not appealing to me. But Mayette's is okay. Expensive though, but okay. When they're open, that is.

                1. re: sierramum

                  They are just before Coxwell on the north side.I think they
                  advertise a lunch buffett, that might be a goodime to try.

                  1. re: Leslieville

                    Mayette's has relocated a couple of times. She is now at a new space on Danforth just east of Pharmacy. I don't think she does the lunch buffet anymore.

              2. Try Ritz Diner (or Restaurant) on Donlands just south of O'Connor (south of Fresh from the Farm).

                It looks like a greasy spoon (which it used to be), but it is now run by a young-ish Filipino couple. Rico, the chef, is a proper trained chef and wife Marlene who works the front of the house on weekends is trained as a nutritionist. They have the usual diner fare but they also have a limited selection of Filipino food. Try some of the meat dishes -- Marlene or Rico will explain them -- but you must, if it's on the menu, also try the "laing" (lah'-ing), a taro leaf dish cooked in coconut milk. I usually have that with the fried tilapia dish. Yummy.

                Filipino cooking is actually very interesting and tasty. I don't know about the Casa Manila situation -- and apologies in advance to the proprietors if they are an exception to this observation -- but in my experience, too many Filipino "restaurants" are attempted by people who are not really chefs and with no experience in a commercial kitchen. When they open their business, they try to compete on the price point which usually means using less desirable cuts of meat and "fatty" ingredients. The other issue is that they also seem to cater to their own community rather than to a general population hence the pig blood and innards dish.

                Give Ritz' a try and let me know what you think. Hours are not the best -- they close early on weekdays (usually around 6:30) and on Sunday (they close at 3 pm). Your best bet is on a Saturday when it's open all day till about 6.

                2 Replies
                1. re: courgette

                  Hey this sounds interesting! We'll give this one a try and I'll report back.

                  1. re: courgette

                    They also serve Filipino breakfasts too. I recall seeing a handwritten menu in their window.

                  2. I have not tried it, but a Fillipino friend suggested Aristocrat on Wilson just west of Bathurst.
                    He tells me that there is no very great restaurant in Toronto, and he has tried them all, but this is a sit down restaurant, and he does enjoy the food.
                    This is where his family goes for dinner.

                    1. Was able to try Casa Manila the other day. Ive asked a friend of mine to join me. I think they have changed their menu since this board came out with some positive (and not so positive) reviews. I didnt see any innards or blood or gizzards in their menu. They do have the traditional "lechon kawali." The place is very clean and the staff were very nice as well. They answer questions and assist you right away. They just need to do something with the decor and the staff uniform, but of course thats another topic to discuss.

                      I am yet to try Ritz. Has anyone gone there already? Any feedbacks?

                      1. I must admit I am highly novel and unfamiliar with Filipino cuisine beyond pancit, adobo, lechon, and the yummy pork sausages. And this is despite the fact that I lived for several years in San Francisco, south of which (Daly City) is to Filipinos what Markham is to the Chinese poulation here.

                        There is just not a lot of Filipino restaurants around that offer a fine representative of the nuance and variety it has to offer. And those that exists are typically fast food or steam-table counter joints that offer the same type of things, many of which are greasy and pork-fat laden (not that I am complaining because I love pork fat but it short-changes the cuisine) that turns off many people. Even the quality of that is often so-so.

                        Even in Toronto where there is a sizeable Filipino poluation, it is hard pressed for most Torontonians to name a restaurant. There is this little take out joint downtown near St Jamestown that is rather disgusting (I once spotted a bug among the fried pork).

                        I asked a Filipino friend in LA - also with a hugh Filipino poluation - why this is so. He theorized that Filipinos don't like eating their own food outside - it is a home cooked affair and eating out is for other cuisines.

                        It does make sense. If your own people won't eat in your restaurant, you can't survive just on ethnic dining niche alone. Although it could be a vicious cycle because the less exposure the rest of us gets, the more it will stay in the exotic ethnic dining category and not break out into the more mainstream selection such as Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, etc.

                        Anyone else with thoughts?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ah123

                          i had a chance to try out the food at casa manila this past sunday. the place was packed and the food was great. i'm from LA originally but moved to toronto a few years ago. This place is by far the nicest i've seen. Apparently, they will be offering a full cooked to order menu shortly...based on popular demand. We'll see how this will unfold.

                          Overall, i'm pleased with this place. I'm pretty sure you all will like it too.

                          1. re: dark

                            we were at Casa Manila this past Sunday for lunch. there was a big party going on at the front of the resto (and they were using the hot table as buffet line), so we were ushered into the back end of the resto and we ordered ala-carte. Yes, you can now order ala-carte when you think the hot-plate combo option is not for you. We also learned that the owners are coming out with a new menu soon. Let's give the nice owners a chance.

                        2. I went a few days ago to Casa Milana (that's the name I think...) for lunch. They were VERY friendly and willing to explain what each thing was. I had their beef stew, yam leaves and rice...was tasty but not amazing. They also gave me a sample of their beef lung...definitely not something for me, but if you like liver etc. then you will like it...wasn't too strong so if I had to eat it I could....Definitely a casual place....line up, get your food, pay and then find a seat with your tray. As my mother always said "Try it you may like it"....it's not amazing, but good for a hearty lunch with a smile.

                          1. Filipino Food is not a cuisine to explore, while Pancit certainly does not contain a lot of fat, yes, there is a lot, because the fat fuels a populace that in many cases are short of funds. There is little to be excited about in the very modest flavouring of dishes. Much of the cuisine apart from terribly fatty pork, does follow Chinese cuisine in WonTon Soup, Spring Rolls, etc. I doubt there is a Filipino Vegetarian Restaurant in existence, certainly no Filipino restaurant of any kind of much interest. I think if you try a few more dishes, you'll see. Remely's is often mentioned, have a look there and this is top of the line in Toronto, again a cafeteria/take out. At least after looking, you can buy something like bread ( pandesal ) or some buns or something if the cooked food does nothing for you! Cuisines of many nearby Oriental countries are favoured more by most people, for many reasons!

                            1. so any other fili spots other than the "cafeteria-style" set-up?

                              i'd love to have a sit-down menu and try all this food out. the menus from casa manila and remely's look so good, but the cafeteria-style (outside of lunch hours) turns me off.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: afici0nad0

                                The Ritz on Donlands, the place mentioned above, is a sit-down albeit in a diner setting. It got a good review in the Toronto Star a couple of years ago.

                                310 Donlands Ave, Toronto, ON M4J3R9, CA

                              2. I am Filipina, and I am sorry to inform everyone that from my personal experience, there are no good Filipino restaurants. To truly experience really good filipino food, one would have to eat at a Filipino family's house, or a huge family gathering where everything is homecooked. I think the food in Filipino restaurants is unpalatable, for the most part.

                                The country does have a remarkably delicious cuisine, but it is unfortunate that there are no restaurants to showcase this.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: focioncroci

                                  you've sparked my curiosity. any theories as to why?

                                  i do know there is a large fili population in toronto/gta, so authenticity/access do not seem to likely culprits.


                                  1. re: afici0nad0

                                    traditional Filipinos do not typically dine out a lot and every family has a slight variation to each dish to the point that someone else's cooking tastes "wierd". some expect to have pansit cooked the way their mom prepared it.

                                  2. re: focioncroci

                                    As a filipino i think its somewhat true there are not many good restaurants, its true its just not like mom's cooking!
                                    But there are a couple chains that are growing.
                                    Jesse Jr has four locations now i believe, and the Brimley/Sheppard location is always packed after church on Sun.
                                    Also Tindahan (plaza west of Yonge/Steeles) is opening a 2nd location on the nw corner of Yonge/Steeles.
                                    Its a good sign if chains are growing and restaurants still exist, it used to be restos would close shortly after opening, i wish them much success!

                                  3. Remely's on Sheppard is a nice clean place, but the food is non-descript.

                                    Has anyone tried Jessie Jr. on Markham Rd. and Kingston Rd (located in a former Harvey's burger place). Serrves filipino fast food. Opened maybe six months ago, but I rarely see anyone eating inside...usually not an encouraging sign

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: Finnegan

                                      just happened to pass by this weekend while adventuring and went on in.

                                      i'll preface this with saying that my experience with filipino food is very very limited and so i'll relate what items tasted like but i can't say how it rates otherwise... i don't even know the proper names of what we ate. business is very slow there but everyone who comes in also takes it all to go, which could explain why you don't see people eating in.

                                      we got a combo plate that was 2 items with some rice. the menu was quite long with about 4 or 5 placards listing 5 or so items each. we ended up just pointing as a means of picking what we wanted. the lady behind the counter obliged our ignorance and suggested the adobo, but with so many options i wanted to try the more foreign looking items. one was a ground pork that was cooked and sort of swam in a oily red sauce with the typical medley of veg and a few split boiled quails eggs. the spicing of this was rather mild and unfortunately rather indistinct. it kind of reminded me of chinese comfort food.... specifically ground pork with eggplant that you pile on top of a bowl of rice and soak the rice with the sauce. usually not intensely flavoured. the other item we got for the combo looked like pork shoulder or hock slow cooked in a very sweet light brown sauce which i believe had tamarind and had these sort of corn husk looking strands in it that made it a touch more complex. the pork itself was actually cooked quite well and fell apart nicely. we also got this pancake-ish like item that was very orange and which we thought initially was made with dried shrimp but my adventuring companion identified it as some canned fermented crab or some such later on. it was barely crisp and quite flavourful in comparison to the other dishes but i could only handle a few bits. the last item we got was an awesomely candy/crispy caramel coated/wrapped plantain. it was wrapped in something that was like a piece of dense bread but had the crispy exterior. the vinegar garlic sauce it came with really just made it such a wonderful dish.

                                      everything was lukewarm at best and nothing looked old in the steam trays. the rice was actually pretty good for their fast food set-up. i don't know if filipino food is for me, but i wouldn't be adverse to going back there, everything in the trays really looked delicious. i did notice menudo on the menu though and am a touch confused as i thought that was more of a mexican thing.

                                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                        You've piqued my interest...I'll give it a try. What was the total cost?

                                        1. re: Finnegan

                                          it cost us just under $13 and the combo plate included a drink... the combo plate by itself was around $6 give or take 20-50 cents.

                                          their website is highly uninformative but hey, for a few more details you can check here: http://jessejr.net/

                                          btw, the pancake i mention is sort of reminiscent of korean pancakes in style. as in lots of shredded veg and what not sort of pulled together and then fried. just in case i wasn't very clear in the first post.

                                          1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                            I was wondering if this is anything like Jollytops on Wilson near Bathurst?

                                            1. re: dory

                                              couldn't tell you as i've never been to jollytops and as i mentioned before am a total novice a filipino food.

                                              1. re: dory

                                                Can anyone confirm if Jollytops has fried chicken like Jollibee? Or do they just sell filipino food? Can't tell on the website jollytops.ca.

                                                1. re: Little T

                                                  I think they do have fried chicken.

                                                  Whether it tastes like Jollibee I have no idea. I've sadly never been to a Jollibee.

                                                  1. re: magic

                                                    I don't know if you should be sad, I've been to a Jollibee in Manila and though it was years ago IMHO there wasn't anything "jolly" about the food. Very greasy (not juicy... I mean deep fryer greasy) and I didn't have a very good experience with their burgers either. You're better off going to McDonalds and a KFC.

                                                    1. re: scarberian

                                                      My Filipino friends have some very warm childhood memories from Jollibee so I'd still like to try..... :)

                                          2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                            It goes to show that it's not the cuisine that's the problem (filipino cuisine range from the simple to the complex with combinations of sweet, sour, and salty) it's the quality of the restos. Many of the filipino restaurants that are popping up are giving the cuisine a bad name. The food shouldn't be too oily and it should be served hot. That wrapped plantain is called "turon" and the wrapper shouldn't be like a dense bread, it should be thin and crispy. It seems the only way to get the best quality filipino food is to be invited to a filipino party at someone's home. You'll find the food is usually home made which means it's been cooked slowly and with more care. As another poster said, "There's nothing like mom's home cooking." If you're lucky you could end up at a filipino baptism and you'll get to try lecon (suckling pig).

                                            BTW as with any other culture, there are many variations of the same dishes. Try Barrio Fiesta on Sheppard just east of Markham Rd. in a plaza on the south side, or Cucina Manila at Pharmacy and Lawrence. They're both okay, better than most of the others mentioned here. Take a look at Anthony Bourdain's episode of "No Reservations : Philippines". It'll show you a glimpse of filipino cuisine.

                                            1. re: scarberian

                                              Very much agreed. I think it's the odd proliferation of poor quality cafeteria style restaurants that gives Filipino cuisine a bad name. I've been lucky enough to have homemade Filipino food that has been outstading, really super-interesting food. It all depends on who is cooking I guess. But to write this cuisine off as bad is just plain sad I think.

                                        2. I love Casa Manila. I work in the area and its in my top 3 lunch destinations. I've had terrible luck with filipino restaurants in the past, but I've always loved the home cooked blood stews, adobos and other things.

                                          The service is sweet, and the food is good and made with care. The best thing about the place, however, is the blithe disregard for normally accepted office rat cuisine. They don't dumb down the lunch table, so lung, liver, fish heads, bitter melon are all pretty common.

                                          Today for example they had a new dish, I can't remember the name, described as liver and pork stomach. Turned out not to be tripe as i hoped, but thin slices of stewed pork belly fat. I love the pork adobo, kare kare, bopis, stewed taro leaves in coconut milk, among many other things.

                                          Needless to say, I find the variety and novelty pretty stimulating for lunch. Its pretty heavy and greasy, so maybe not for everyone, but if you like stews, braised meats and offal, its good eats.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: DoNutAlter

                                            What's for lunch today at Casa Manila? There's a line up, that's never happend before.

                                            This looks new. Label says Barbeque Pork. Inquiries reveal that is called Sisig. Its diced, and doesn't taste like your normal barbeque pork. Its way more chewy, in a good way, and has a more pronounced charred flavour.

                                            Google reveals all on returning to the office, it is bbq pig's head and liver. Huzzah!

                                            1. re: DoNutAlter

                                              Pork sisig (although when mentioning "sisig" this is the variety normally associated with it) is usually made with parts from the pig's head. It's a Kampampangan recipe (from the Philippine province of Pampanga) where a pig's head is boiled to remove the hair and tenderize the meat. Then the ears and jowl meat are marinated in something sour like vinegar or lemon juice. Then they are diced and fried and served. It's quite delish =9 if done right. Now it should have a slight chew, but not chewy.

                                              Needless to say with the turn in the weather for the better I'll be breaking out my trusty Weber kettle drum and cooking me up some good old fashioned filipino bbq. Get the recipe online it's simple, but oh so good (make sure it's the one that uses 7UP)..

                                              1. re: scarberian

                                                My only experience with Filipino food was the Chicken Adobo a co-worker would bring in for me that his wife made because every time he brought it for lunch I would run to his office to find out what smelled so good! This was years ago and we no longer work together and I haven't had Chicken Adobo since.

                                                Seeing this thread I stopped by Ritz the other day and I wanted to like their Chicken and Ribs Adobo but it was not what I remembered... what I remember was pieces of dark meat chicken cooked with the skin on, it was sour and salty and dark and the skin was chewy and crispy. There were wonderful flavours of vinegar, soy, ginger and garlic... it reminded me of a sour and more flavourful and crispy version of Chinese Soy Chicken Wings...

                                                Of all the places listed here do any of them sell a Chicken Adobo like the one I am describing?

                                                1. re: LovelyAsia

                                                  I realize it's almost a year since you asked, but adobo is one of those dishes that's made differently by every Filipino out there. Some have coconut milk, some don't, not all have soy sauce, the soy sauce can be dark, light, whatever, the vinegars could be white, cider, red wine, sugar cane, etc. No restaurant will make them the same. It's an easy dish to make so try getting in touch w/ your ex co-worker to get the recipe.

                                          2. We tried Casa Manila on a Sunday for lunch. There was no-one in the restaurant except for us, it was around 12noon. Food was pretty tasty and great portion size. Prices were reasonable. The deep fried Pusit (squid) was delicious! Overall was pretty good.

                                            Casa Manila
                                            879 York Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3B1Y5, CA