CASA MANILA

Casa Manila

I’ve always been curious about Filipino cuisine, mostly the lechon, but I’ve never really had the chance to explore and enjoy it. When I received an invitation for a blogger event at Casa Manila, I was excited. Once I found out dinner was going to be a family style Kamayan, where we pigged out with our hands, the excitement grew.

Disclaimer: All drinks and dishes were provided free of charge by the restaurant. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

Casa Manila Owner Mila hosted our dinner and explained how her passion for Filipino cuisine grew with each visit back home. She offered history on every dish, Filipino cuisine and her love for feeding her customers was palpable. Casa Manila strives to make Filipino food accessible to everyone with pictures of every dish in the menu, chicken and beef alternatives for traditionally pork based dishes, cooking with no added msg, creating food that’s high on flavour and low on salt.

Mila has also been working on ways for customers to bring Filipino flavours to their own kitchen with a line of traditional sauces and ice cream. That night, we were able to sample the Adobo (fat free, vegan), Creamy Coconut Ginger (No MSG, gluten free, vegan) and Savoury Peanut Sauce (No MSG, gluten free). All three sauces are made with natural ingredients and need to be refrigerated to minimize the use of preservatives.

The sauces can be used in cooking, simply stir fry your protein and vegetables before adding a dollop or as a dipping sauce for skewers. I brought home a bottle of the classic Adobo and have been using a spoonful to flavour noodles, so simple, so quick and so delicious.

Our feast began with Calamansi Mojitos and a can of Royal Tru, an orange soda by Coca-Cola company that is only available in the Philippines. The food at Casa Manila aimed to be authentic, like the kind you’d eat at your grandmother’s house. Like all grandmothers, Mila made sure we were stuffed, every time I thought the meal was done, another dish was brought out. Even when the Halo Halo dessert was served, there was more tea and ice cream.

We had two appetizers, a sour tamarind soup with lots of root vegetables and chicken cracklings. The chicken skin was crispy and topped with the light, tangy adobo sauce. Then it was time to prep for the Kamayan. The table was laid out with banana leaves, our “plates”, and we were provided large wooden spoons to scoop food from the middle platter closer to us. The giant platter of food came with:

Inihaw Baka – Sliced grilled beef ribs, had more tang and less sweet vs their Korean counterpart
Lechon Kawali – Crispy pork belly, very similar to Chinese roast pork but even crispier
Flying Tilapia – Deep fried whole tilapia with sides filleted into wings, this was amazing with the savoury peanut sauce, super crispy and tender
Hilaw Manga Insalada – Green mango salad

All of the meat sat on a bed of addictive garlic rice. The current price for the Kamayan meal is $26/person (minimum 4 order) and the platter is weighed for the number of people. There is also a wide variety of add-ons including Sizzling Pork Sisig. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night, crispy, covered in sauce and savoury.

After all that food, there was still Halo Halo, shaved ice topped with a dozen ingredients including fruits, sweet beans, custard, purple yam and Casa Manila’s own taro ice cream.

Our meal was a feast in every definition of the word with authentic flavours, rich sauces and a generous host.

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  • Gordon

    I had the worst experience here and waited 1.5 hours for that Kamayan meal. I’m quite shocked that they put cups into the coconut shells. They give us only the coconut shells and pulled drinks into it … SURPRISE … it leaks onto the tables … Note: I didn’t get paid or get any free meals from this restaurant.

    my blog: http://confessionsofatorontofoodie.blogspot.ca/