Going in with a fork and a spoon in hand (not literally) as it is customary for many Filipinos, I tried a Filipino restaurant in Toronto for the first time for a Summerlicious event. Apparently, Filipinos are often seen using a spoon instead of a knife because a) the spoon was the first utensil ever created, so they stuck with that and b) the types of dishes they eat are bite sized and/or tender enough to easily break apart with a spoon. No need for a barbaric knife at the table, but that is subjective!
We went for a three course meal at Lamesa. For the first course, I tried sisig which is a sizzling pan dish that is made from the offal parts of an animal (or two). It mainly consists of pig’s head and chicken liver, but the variations of this dish today can also contain brains, ears or other unfamiliar animal body parts that you don’t normally see in a western dish. In this version, they added a fried egg with some fresh tomatoes and onions on the side as well as some mayonnaise on top. This dish might sound queasy to some, but it was very flavourful and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially the crunchy bits on the bottom. It was as enjoyable as those crunchy end pieces of a beautifully baked lasagna.
For the second course, the restaurant and my Filipino friends highly recommended fried bangus. Bangus is milk fish (don’t worry my lactose-intolerant friends, it’s safe to eat this!) with tamarind romesco, potato, radicchio and leek. It was quite interesting, to say the least. I’m not used to eating fish with so many bones (and this one was filled with plenty), but it was good. Sometimes you just have to fight to get the good stuff! Even if you are only equipped with a spoon and a fork. 🙂
For the last course, dessert! Ube is one of those ingredients that Filipinos love to eat. It’s a sweet purple yam that is used in many Filipino dishes, like cakes, pastries or in this case, custard. Like most Asian desserts, it was not ube-rly sweet (sorry, I couldn’t resist) but subtly so. The puffed rice cereal and tapioca added a different textural component to it and made it more fun to eat.
So overall, my thoughts on Filipino food? It’s good. There hasn’t been a craze that has caught on in Toronto for Filipino food (yet), like sushi or bubble tea, but perhaps it’s better to keep it that way. Some things are good to keep a secret.
669 Queen St West
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1E6