My boyfriend and I love all-you-can-eat sushi (which we fondly call “AYCE sushi” like other Torontonians), but we weren’t too excited about going on a sushi date so soon after New Year’s. You’d think that restaurants would begin emptying out after the first weekend of January, but nope! Trying to figure out an alternative to get us by until the sushi zones we know and love calmed down again, we came across Tinuno. Tinuno is a Filipino restaurant that boasts about its $15 “feasts,” and its homey feel and food. Intrigued, my boyfriend and I set out to St. James Town to find out more.
Tinuno surprised me the minute I walked through the door, not because everything smelled absolutely amazing, but because everything smelled delicious and smoky. But the good kind of smoky, not like everything was on fire. Apparently, the word “tinuno” is Pinoy for grilling. Everything at Tinuno is cooked on a grill, and it’s all authentic—you won’t find any anglicized Pinoy food here! While the restaurant didn’t have much in the way of seating and wasn’t as flashy as a lot of other restaurants in the area, the interior is perfect for sitting town and indulging in a feast all on your own.
The food counter has options from fish, squid, and pork belly to choose from, as well as a few desserts to take a look at. The kamyan feast, which you eat with your hands, is served on banana leaves covered in sticky rice. You get all sorts of tasty goodies, including sides like plantains and spring rolls. They had a delicious mango salad that cut through the meat perfectly, and I couldn’t get enough of it. To finish our meals, my boyfriend and I split a halo-halo, which is a mixture of condensed milk and ice, filled with fruit jelly, red bean, and fruit. It’s a bit like bubble tea, but without the tapioca and much more colourful.
Overall, I think Tinuno is an amazing restaurant that you have to visit if you’re in the city, especially if you’ve never had Filipino food before. Neither my boyfriend nor I are Pinoy, but everyone treated us like family and took the time to explain all the different foods to us. For $15 a person, it’s an amazing deal that’s perfect for students and travelers alike. To learn more about Tinuno, visit them in person on 31 Howard St., or check out their website here.