Whenever someone asks me, “what’s your favourite beach you’ve visited on your travels,” I immediately respond, “without a doubt the isle of Boracay in the Philippines.” They always look a bit stunned. They expect to hear Bali, Borneo or Bora Bora. The Philippines is full of surprises.
It was the Fall of 2008 and I had just wrapped up a 12 month work contract in Seoul Korea. I bid the land of bibimbap adieu and hopped on a flight to Cebu, spending the next month backpacking through the colonial cathedrals of Cebu, chocolate hills of Bohol, turquoise waters in Boracay, cosmopolitan Manila and hiking to the picturesque, ancient rice terraces in Banaue.
Filipino cuisine is a curious creature, a culinary tradition developed by local cooks who live throughout the nations 7000+ islands. If you’re enjoying your first Filipino feast you’ll notice influences from Malaysia, China, Spain and America…an edible adventure which showcases the unique history of southeast Asia’s diamond in the ruff.
Filipino food has officially reared its head at home. On Queen Street West, Chef Daniel Cancino serves up his own unique interpretation of his favourite flavours at Lamesa Filipino Kitchen. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the Philippines, Cancino has been in love with the aromas and flavours of home cooked Filly food since he was a young boy. Before taking on the role as Head Chef at Lamesa he worked in some of Toronto’s finest kitchens: Hudson Kitchen, Kanto, The Thompson Hotel and Union.
His interpretation for Filipino flavours is refreshing. Toronto foodies who are keen to pop their Filipino cherry should head here first to familiarize yourself with citrus splashed tuna, crispy pork belly with sawsawan, heart warming arroz caldo and black garlic adorned chicken adobo. Thai and Vietnamese restaurants have triumphed here for far too long. It’s high time we switch up our southeast Asian cravings!
1) Tuna Kinilaw | albacore tuna, coconut, avocado, calamansi, shrimp chips
2) Lechon Kawali | crispy pork belly, pickled papaya, sawsawan
3) Squash Arroz Caldo | butternut squash, congee, ginger, chive, brussel sprout, garlic, poached egg, miso
4) Pancit Canton | egg noodle, soy, sesame, mint, mushroom, snow pea
5) Chicken Adobo | seared chicken thigh, soy vinegar jus, black garlic, chimichurri