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Tito Ron's Filipino-Caribbean

by - April 20, 2016

Tito Ron’s has been operating since May 2015, and in a short period, they became an established food vendor at several summer food festivals. My first encounter with their lumpia dessert was at the inaugural Sweetery Toronto last summer. At that event, I got to enjoy their deep-fried coconut bae lumpia. Tito Ron’s has now expanded their business into an actual storefront where people can enjoy a well crafted menu of Filipino-Caribbean dishes. They recently acquired a space in the food court at 214 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market through a successful Kickstarter campaign. The restaurant opened earlier this March with great fanfare, and they have been selling out of lumpias on several occasions since their opening.

The restaurant is run by Chef Tristen Petate and her fiancĂ©, Mike McFarlane. Their business and love story can be read on their KickStarter page here. So, who is Tito Ron? The name derives as an homage to Tristen Petate's father, Ronald Petate, who was a strong inspiration to the self-taught chef. Additionally, Tito is the tagalog word for “Uncle”, and is used as a respective term for elders, so that's how the Tito Ron's name came to be.

Tito Ron’s offers Filipino cuisine with Caribbean influences to their food. There are several ingredients and methods of cooking that are relatively common between the two cuisine, so they incorporate well together. Some commonly used ingredients that both cuisine use include pineapples, coconuts, cassava, tamarind and plantains. Many of the these ingredients are prominently used at Tito Ron’s. Their menu offers a great number of sweet and savory options of Filipino-Caribbean fusion dishes at affordable prices. 

 A couple of weeks ago, a couple of bloggers were invited to attend an intimate media preview, and were treated to several items from their menu.  

 The first dish that we sampled was the Jerk Chicken Adobo Lumpia - fresh chicken thighs are marinated in Jerk Seasoning and then cooked in Filipino Adobo sauce, wrapped in a spring roll pastry and deep fried until golden brown. Served topped with our tropical hot sauce (pickled papaya, pineapple, scotch bonnet) and achara (pickled pineapple slaw). Philippine adobo is a popular dish in Philippine cuisine, and is often associated as the "unofficial national dish". So, it was only natural to create a lumpia using the adobo method of cooking. The saltiness of the adobo sauce complements the spice of the jerk chicken well making it a formidable combination.

Another fusion lumpia roll is the Channa Lumpia - Channa, a chickpea mixture cooked in Caribbean curry, is rolled into a lumpia and deep fried until golden brown. Served topped with our sweet tamarind bbq sauce and achara. This particular lumpia roll is both veterinarian and vegan-friendly.

One of the rice dishes offered at Tito Ron's is the Lechon Kawali - Filipino fried pork belly. Fresh pork belly with skin, salt cured in house and fried crispy to order. Served with salted tomatoes and white rice and topped with extra crispy fried pig skin. The portion that we received was sample size, as the full dish contained a lot more fried pork belly. Personally, I enjoyed the crispiness of the cured pork, as they double fry the skin to ensure that the texture is extra crispy.

 The Tocino - Filipino sweet cured pork. Ours is made from fresh pork shoulder sliced thin and marinated for days in a mixture of sweet, salty and savoury elements before being fried hot to order. Served on rice or on sliders (on a Caribbean Tennis Roll) with salted tomatoes and our Pinoy Max Sauce (Garlic Aioli, Banana Ketchup, Achara Relish) was a favorite among the bloggers. The cured pork had a sweet hint of pineapple, which greatly added to the flavor profile.

I am a huge fan of Tito Ron’s dessert spring rolls (lumpia), as they're not overly sweet. The first dessert that we tried was the Purple Plantain Lumpia - Ube Halaya filled dessert lumpia. Topped with Mango Condensed milk drizzle and plantain chip butter crumble. Traditionally, this is a popular snack food among Filipinos, and is often filled with different fruit filling. However, Tito Ron's has provided a more creative take on it by topping it with plantain chip butter crumble.

We also tried the Sweet Potato Pudding Lumpia - Sweet potato filled dessert lumpia. Topped with Spiced Coconut Caramel drizzle and plantain chip butter crumble, which contained a nice helping of sweet potato filing. This is a mash of two cultures, as sweet potato pudding is a popular dessert in the Philippines and Caribbean.

Tito Ron’s hours are from 12 pm to 8 pm every Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday). Many thanks to Alice, Tristen Petate and Mike McFarlane for having me!

 Address: 214 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L8


Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Tito Ron's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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