It's been years since the last time I visited the Philippines. Although I usually have Filipino food at home, I have never been to a Filipino restaurant here in Toronto. All that changed today when I, with a few buddies, visited this little spot near the intersection of Don Mills and York Mills called Casa Manila. It felt like "home" the moment I walked in the restaurant. The interior setup was very welcoming with Filipino ornaments displayed all over. The set up was very simple, tables and chairs set up nicely around the restaurant and the dried leaves decor on the wall made it more Filipino. The wait staff was very friendly as well. We were greeted by, I think, the owner of the restaurant who also walked us to our table.
We started off with a glass of Sarsi (Filipino root beer) and man it was good! It reminded me of my days growing up in the Philippines drinking it almost everyday after school. We also had some "Lumpiang Shanghai" (Chicken/Pork spring rolls). I was quick to choose "Daing na Bangus" (panfried boneless milkfish marinated in citrus) as my main since I haven't had this dish in so long. I ordered the dish with a bowl of garlic fried rice. My two other friends, being non-Filipino, took some time deciding and I had to explain to them what the dishes were. Eventually they decided to get "Pancit Palabok" (a Filipino style noodle) and "Kare Kare" (Beef with peanut butter sauce). They pretty much based their decisions on the pictures but I assured them that they made the right choice.
As the food came to our table, we took a few photos before eating and man the taste was awesome! My Daing na Bangus was cooked perfectly and tasted just like it was from home. I ate the fish with the garlic fried rice and it felt like home. My friends ate the Palabok and the Kare Kare and both liked the dishes very much. One of them had trouble figuring out how to eat Kare Kare but with a few suggestions from yours truly, everything went very well. We finished our main completely satisfied and then it was time for desert.
We all decided to get "Halo-Halo." Halo-Halo is a famous Filipino desert which is basically a mix of a little bit of everything desert. It's mostly crushed ice drizzled with sweet milk topped with red beans, bananas, "leche flan" (Filipino custard cake), purple yam, coconut gel, jellybeans, ube ice cream. The word "halo" means mix in Filipino which explains this desert's delicious set up. I haven't had Halo-Halo for at least 5 years and having it after such a long time was the best feeling ever. My friend who had it for the first time said it was like "heaven in a bowl." You can easily eat all the toppings and just be left with the crushed ice but even that was awesome! The sweet milk mixes in well with the melting ice pellets giving it an awesome sweet taste. It was 0 degrees today when we ate this and we froze our faces eating this stuff but it was worth it! Definitely going to be consuming this desert more often when the summer season starts.
Overall, Casa Manila is a cozy little place in the heart of North York giving Filipinos the chance to taste restaurant quality Filipino food and others to try and see what Filipino food is all about. Casa Manila is definitely my little Philippines.
3/30/2012 10:31:18 pm

Thank you Angelo for your sweet article! It makes all the hard work worth it. Everything you wrote is why I was crazy enough to buy the restaurant. Please come in for a free halo halo so I can meet you.
Mabuhay! Mila Nabor Cuachon

6/7/2012 05:06:47 am

Your restaurant is fantastic!
Been a few weeks ago and plan to return soon.

I'm not even Filipino!

Not too many of these restaurants around the city, I've been to 3 and yours is definitely the best so far.

4/19/2012 05:55:00 pm

It's good to know that there are existing Filipino food restaurants out there. Thanks for the wonderful article! You just made me hungry. Hehe. I'm now craving for palabok and bangus. :)


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