New Filipino Restaurant in Toronto

"It's not my first time eating Filipino food," I told my waiter when he asked me if I was familiar with the cuisine. It wasn't technically my first time, but it might as well have been. 

I volunteered in the Filipino community for 4 years, and was blessed to eat the food of many Tiya's (aunts) at potlucks and get-togethers. There was always pork, chicken, rice, and noodles, and although it was delicious, it doesn't come anywhere near to how good La Mesa was. 

During Summerlicious, La Mesa had a condensed menu where you could choose an appetizer, a main, and a dessert for a total of $28. For the quality and quantity of the food, the girls and I thought it was a very reasonable price. 

Of  course, we couldn't not order some cocktails. On the right, Anna got the "Lolo Cool J" which had bourbon, ginger, pineapple syrup, and lemon. It was refreshing, crisp, and the ginger flavour wasn't too spicy or overwhelming. On the left, I got the "Tita Baby", which had mango juice, malibu, and baileys. Although I really enjoyed it, I struggled to taste the mango flavour. I wish there had been more, mango because it ended up tasting just like a baileys/malibu mix (which wasn't bad, but where was the mango I was promised?!).

Once I saw "crispy pork belly" on the menu, there was no deliberation on what I should order as an appetizer. Topped with pickled papaya, cucumber, aioli, and mint, it was the perfect combination of juicy and crispy pork along with the refreshing and sweet taste of the toppings. I probably could have eaten 20 of these lettuce wraps. Kaylin and Anna got "Pancit Canton" which were egg noodles doused in a super flavourful and slightly spicy sauce. Also an exceptional choice. 

The chicken adobo piqued all of our interests, so the 4 of us ordered it as our main. Served with a glaze as well as a chimichurri sauce, it was a startling bouquet of flavours. The chimichurri sauce simultaneously tasted foreign and familiar, and I couldn't decided whether I loved or hated the strong parsley taste. On its own, it would have been too much, but paired with everything else on the plate, it worked magic to my taste buds.

Dessert time! Not gonna lie, I was pretty full at this point. I had the banana con yelo, and almost every bite included a taste of delicious caramelized bananas. The server warned us that Filipino desserts are sweeter than normal. Anna had the full experience of the sweetness with her purple yam custard, but we had a hint of it as well in our ice cream. 

Although this photo was technically taken before our dinner, it's representative of exactly how we walked off all those calories - playing Pokemon Go. 

I can't wait to come back to La Mesa when Summerlicious is over and order a bunch of different plates to the table so I can try as much as possible everything. They also have a special Hand to Mouth menu where you can order a set meal for $40 every Sunday evening that's served on banana leaves and eaten without cutlery. Sounds like an experience I'd definitely like to try!