little asia eats:
BY: LOUISE ALLYN PALMA
Located just a few minutes outside of Sherbourne Station - an easy walk for anyone that might be slightly directionally challenged. The exterior of 'Tinuno" stands out amongst the slightly drab, colourless neighbourhood it's situated in. Already, the mood is set for a Philippine food experience. The exterior of the restaurant immediately struck as a makeshift 'bahay kubo' translated as nipa hut, a traditional straw house made in the rural/ provincial Philippine regions.
Entering, there was a bit of surprise that settled since the interior seemed so tight. But realization set in, as the atmosphere was warm, and cozy.
It was meant to feel like a family-style set up, which was clear.
Banana leaves were laid across the table, as we began to set up for our documentary. On the spread of banana leaves a mango salad and orange slice, were placed for each person. Invited to film in the back, chefs were grilling food fresh in front of our eyes. Co-owner Gerald Aquintey said they never cook the food beforehand. They begin cooking once customers come in (which is why they usually confirm with reservations first, so they can prepare the food beforehand for the time that the company would arrive) to keep the food fresh enough and served hot.
Eggplant, milkfish, squid on the grill while mussels and shrimp were being stir-fried. Alongside with slices of pork belly, and pork BBQ skewers, our eyes widened at the feast that was to come.
Hover your mouse on the photo to the left to find out which food was which!
For a full Filipino experience, don't use the plastic gloves - they offer them for customers if they have hygiene concerns but they suggest not using gloves.
For our co-creators who have not had kamayan, they were excited for their first experience.
The garlic fried rice was laid upon the banana leaves first, then the grilled meats and seafood and veggies.
Then we were able to dig in.
Not much seasoning was used for the food, the pure taste of the smokey flavour of the grill came through the food. While keeping the fresh tastes of the milkfish, and pork belly - it was a wonderful experience. You can even come for their all day breakfast, with classic Filipino breakfast dishes: affordable & so yummy - the menu is to the right! For $15 per person, you're definitely going to walk out of there with a happy tummy.
"It was amazing to experience the freedom of eating just with hands. I also loved that they were encouraging newcomers who have never tried (kamayan) before." - Jessica
31 Howard Street, Toronto ON
If you want to experience eating with your hands in a completely open environment, without judgement and high quality homestyle grilled cooking at anytime of the year - go to Tinuno! The service and hospitality of the employees and owners, will make you want to return.
Photography by: Louise Allyn Palma (top and bottom), Nida Zafar (middle)