It was around -15 °C outside when my boyfriend and I left home; and we both felt that the acute coldness was absorbing into our bone marrows. We were both craving for some warm and hearty food, where we somehow trekked through the bustling bus crowd to arrive at the most famous Downsview Filipino restaurant called, the Sampaguita Village.
We arrived at 2:10 p.m., hoping that the lunch rush would have calmed down. Surprisingly, the restaurant was jam packed with elders, parents, couples, teenagers and little kids. We both thought the wait for a table would be long, but after about ten minutes or so, the cashier promptly took us to a table.
We ordered Yang Chow Fried Rice, Pancit Sampaguita (stir fried noodles), Lechon Kawali (crispy pork belly), Pinakbet (stirfried mixed vegetables), and Sinigang (shrimp soup). While we were waiting for our food, we enjoyed ourselves with perfectly chilled Molson Canadians with surrounding sounds of laughter, and a faint melody in the background.
Food arrived promptly, and while I was busy taking photos of all the mouth watering food, my boyfriend would snatch pieces out of the Lechon Kawali dish with an adorable grin on his face. After dozens of captures, I was silently enjoying the different flavor profiles of each dishes. The Lechon Kawali pork skin was crispy in texture and dark gold in color, yet tender and juicy from the inside; and it was served along with a special house sauce. The Sinigang soup on the other hand, was an impeccable duet with the Lechon Kawali because it gave us a nice break from the fried pork, rice and noodles. The citrus lemon and sweet tamarind flavor from the soup allowed me to reminisce back in time to a happy childhood memory, where I plucked and ate from fresh tamarind trees back in Sri Lanka.
The mixed vegetable dish (Pinakbet) was accentuated in stir fried, dark green bitter flavors which contained long beans, bitter melon, okra, and other vegetables. While the flavors of this dish may not be acceptable to some; it is comparable to acquired flavors in western dishes such as caviar and beer.
Lastly, we tried ‘Halo Halo’: one of the most famous desserts among Filipinos. Even though it was blistering cold outside, I was determined to try one. The meaning of Halo Halo simply means ‘mixture of ingredients’ which can include evaporated milk, boiled sweet beans, cherries, jellies, shredded coconuts, and other sweet ingredients. Halo Halo, is then nicely topped off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This eye catching dessert was beautifully presented in a tall cup, and as the name suggested, all the ingredients should be thoroughly mixed prior to consumption in order to enjoy different texture and flavors from each spoonful.
Conclusively, Sampaguita Village showcased their delicious and interesting flavours, and textures of their traditional cuisine, which makes me want to come back and eat more with my friends and families.