14 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T 2L8 (Kensington Market)
Welcome to Tito Ron’s!
This power couple, Tristen Petate and Michael McFarlane, have made the culinary dream come true; to open up shop and sell their food to the masses. From humble beginnings of working food festivals across Toronto in 2015, to finally opening their shop in Kensington Market in 2016; these two have managed to open up shop in less than a years’ time. A common way to test the food scene waters is to start up in various food festivals held throughout Toronto. Tito Ron’s started with those rounds and that is how I (along with other Toronto foodies) got to know the two amazing owners. Tito Ron is the father of their Chef, Tristen Petate, and they started this business not only to sell and promote Filipino Food but also to help Tito Ron retire and rest his bones.
Who doesn’t love a good fusion?!
They have worked hard and created this concept of a fusion of Caribbean and Filipino Flavours that they hope will turn the heads of Torontonians and get Filipino food on the map! Once they’ve rallied a ton of support through the food festivals, they were able to open up shop in Kensington Market, a multicultural neighbourhood which is designated a National Historic Site of Canada. They always refer to their supporters as “Lumpia Lovers” (lumpia being Filipino Spring Rolls; #LumpiaLovers) as this is the dish that has started their reign.
Jerk Chicken Lumpia
One of their fusion Filipino/Caribbean babies is the Jerk Chicken Lumpia (pronounced Lume-pee-ah). That’s right, JERK CHICKEN SPRING ROLL! To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical as I LOVE a good jerk chicken and nothing can ever beat jerk chicken from Jamaica (amazing country to visit. by the way!). However these sticks explode with flavour! You get the flavours of the spices you expect from a great jerk with the crunch of the perfectly deep fried spring roll wrapper. To take it over the edge, dip these bad boys into a mix of their housemade hot sauce and lechon (pork) sauce and game over.
One of their best sellers (and definitely my favourite) is the Tocino Slider. This is their take on a Filipino dish, Filipino Bacon aka Tocino (pronounced Toe-see-no). They do offer this in a more traditional form (aka rice) but this is definitely a new take. Tocino is a cured pork which can be sweet or savoury; this is a childhood favourite of mine so the standards are up high! Tito Ron’s take on tocino is of the sweet variety which they prepare and cure in house! The sweetness that you can take away from it is pineapple which also adds a bit of a sour factor. The tocino is grilled on their flat top along with a pair of Caribbean tennis rolls which are used due to their near resemblance to the Filipino sweet buns, pandesal. The tocino is then placed on the bun sauced with their “Bic Mac” sauce and topped with a slice of salted tomato and housemade pickled carrot slaw. Just perfect. These sliders just encompass the essence of Filipino cuisine; it’s sweet, savoury, salty, sour, everything that Filipino dishes are!
For their first summer in Kensington Market, they have created the Turon Sundae. Want something that’s sweet, crunchy, cold, hot, yummy and everything under the sun? This is the treat for you!
The turon sundae was featured on BlogTO (an excellent source for the newest and upcoming in Toronto) in a video format with over 917K views! The Turon Sundae consists of 2 scoops of Magnolia ice cream (which, as co-owner Michael would refer to it as is the Häagen-Dazs ice cream of the Philippines). You have your choice of various flavours from mango to ube (purple yam) to cheese and corn, 3 of their Ube turon (sweet purple yam spring rolls), plantain chips, ube cookies, and mango condensed milk.
The ice cream combo I ordered is what Michael refers to as the “Pinoy Special”. I chose the ube and cheese and corn. Why is this referred to as the “Pinoy Special”? That’s because only Filipinos would be excited to have cheese and corn ice cream. So if you would like to be an honourary Filipino then be sure to get a taste of the cheese and corn ice cream! (Yes, you can ask for samples of the ice cream flavours to ensure you do enjoy it!)
Pro tip! Take the hot freshly deep fried turon and scoop it into the ice cream and all the toppings, for the perfect bite! Not only is this treat refreshing but it is also a pretty filling and satisfying snack!
If you’re ever in Toronto, definitely check out Tito Ron’s and the Kensington Market! You’ll be able to get a taste of our history and also a taste of the Philippines.