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Jun 25, 2008 11:10 AM

Tamarind - Levi's - Casa Manila: Filipino Food

A group of us is looking for a Filipino dinner - doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to have tables and chairs where the 5 of us can sit together to catch up. Have read the reviews and board entries on Casa Manila, but have come across references to Tamarind (Younge and Bloor) and Levi's Filipino Fiesta (Vic Park and Eglinton). Is Levi's a restaurant or a market/take-out place?

Can anyone help out either with these places or others?

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  1. Just reviving this old thread as I've had two nice meals at Casa Manila.

    The first one, a year ago, we had Beef Kare-Kare, Pork Sisig and Pancit Canton. Food was a little too rich for two of us, but tasty enough.

    Last night we had more people and ordered the following: Sizzling Garlic Shrimp, Pork Adobo, Fried Pork Belly, Squash and Long beans in Coconut, Pancit Canton, and Halo Halo for dessert. We were very happy with the meal. The pork in the adobo is quite fatty but really tender, the sauce with the vegetable dish is rich and addictive and the fried pork belly has a great crispy skin. The noodles are just done well, nicely spiced and not greasy with an assortment of shrimp, pork and veg. Halo Halo is shaved ice topped with ice cream, sweet beans, puffed rice, jello like preserves etc. and soaked with condensed milk. You mix it all together - very refreshing.

    Service was fine and they were very accommodating to my four year old son - giving him stickers and candies after the meal. The restaurant is nicely decorated and they have a patio at the front.

    The total, with a San Miguel and a glass of wine, was $106. We had a $20 Groupon that we used to bring it down to $86.

    Definitely worth checking out if you want to try Filipino food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mariecollins

      I have also had two great meals at Casa Manila recently. Both were lunches and both times, we wound up with too much food, but took one for the team and managed to stuff ourselves silly.

      On our first visit, my husband and I ordered from the lunch menu. We shared Chicken Adobo, Pinakbet and an off-menu pan-fried eggplant and egg dish. All three were very tasty, especially with the garlic rice. The Pinakbet was the standout at this meal, with its colourful array of vegetables, mixed with pork and shrimp. The Chicken Adobo was super tender, garlicky-good, but perhaps a touch heavy on the salt. I crave that garlic rice regularly. The eggplant was a good dish too, especially with the vinegar dipping sauce. A second dipping sauce was provided for it, but it was a very sweet, thin ketchupy condiment that didn't appeal to either of us. I'd much rather have something spicy than sweet, but I don't think Filipino cuisine features much spicy heat.

      For our second visit, we veered from the lunch menu and tried the Tamarind Soup (with milkfish), Kare Kare (oxtail) and Mixed Pancit, all from the regular menu. All three dishes were quite large and should probably be shared by four people, rather than two, with perhaps a fourth dish added, for variety. The soup was good, but didn't blow my mind. I'd try a different soup next time. The Mixed Pancit was delicious. It is a mix of rice and egg noodles, chicken, shrimp and vegetables. The Kare Kare was the standout, because the oxtail was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the peanutty sauce was so decadent. Again, it was really too rich for two eaters, but we pigged out.

      I think if we have lunch there next time, I'd stick to the lunch offerings to keep portion control in check, since I clearly can't exercise my own, LOL. Should our next visit be at dinner time, we'd take two more friends and share dishes, or else take three or four more friends and try the Kamayan menu (eat-with-your-hands menu) that features 5 main dishes to share and 5 individual dessert portions.

    2. The best is Max's of Manila in the north west corner plaza at Dufferin & Steeles. It is much larger than Casa Manila and very busy!!!! If you want really great Filipino cuisine, this is it. I would say to keep it simple, because of a hundred visits, I would choose this place say 95 times and the remaining 3 times to Casa Manila and 2 times to Lamesa on Queen St. West, a different and small venue. It is superb!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jar

        Really!?! I will have to check it out. Thank you for offering a totally different option, Jar.

        1. re: 1sweetpea

          1sweetpea do check out Max's Of Manila, they have their own website and have heard that a second larger location is in the plans for Scarborough??? So many outstanding items, but one dish that stands out is by far the best Kare Kare I ever had, a rich very pleasant sauce. Depending where you are seated, on one wall they have a copy of the original first menu with prices in pesos,,,, then you could eat like a queen for the equivalent of say $2!!!!

        2. re: Jar

          this is great as I live just down the street from dufferin and steeles.

          Was just checking out the website...they don't make chicken asado or chicken abodo :(

          1. re: C mac

            C Mac, they may make it for you if you ask, but Max's of Manila is most famous for that roasted chicken with crispy skin, so it may be logical for limitation of other chicken offerings while they concentrate on executing very well on the remaining menu!

            1. re: Jar

              cool, thanks for the info. I'll drop by and check it out as I love chicken asado. I tried making a while back, turned out okay but not quite the same.

        3. If you're looking for a place downtown I highly recommend LaMesa at Queen and Bathurst. It's a modern take on Filipno food/fusion

          Also recommend Max's ... if you have room for dessert skip the Halo Halo and try the Ube Creme Decadence (Purple Yam Panacott)