Filipino cuisine has finally arrived in South Winnipeg.
Tito Boy Restaurant opened on October 29 in the Southglen Shopping Centre. The area has become a Winnipeg food haven in the past decade, with a solid selection of offerings from Korean, to Middle Eastern, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Indian–but strangely nothing representing the Philippines.
Living in the south I always need to venture out to Garden City, the Polo Park area, and The Maples for authentic Filipino cuisine (as you’ll find in my 2021 guide). So, when I heard the news of the opening of Tito Boy Restaurant in my neighbourhood, my gas tank was quite pleased.
According to the most recent statistics, 8.7 per cent of Winnipeg's population is Filipino, making it the highest percentage of any Canadian city, and one of the highest in North America. The Winnipeg Jets recently hosted a Filipino Heritage Night so wearing my Filipino Jets T-shirt was an obvious choice for my first visit to Tito Boy Restaurant.
When you enter the restaurant you're greeted with family pictures and huge sign that says "Kain Tayo" which means "Let's Eat!" in Tagalog. I met owner Jackie Wild who was beaming with pride and joy. I was welcomed like family to the warm space with its charming beachy decor. "Tito Boy" is the nickname of her dad, Agustin Doming, who also just opened a restaurant in Manila (Parañaque City), Philippines in 2021. Doming first immigrated to Winnipeg in the 1980s, working for 16 years in the health care industry. Now he commands the kitchen here, working with his daughter to create all his family recipes. For the father daughter duo, this is a dream come true.
Jackie prepared a special feast for me–a Kamayan dinner, which is a traditional Filipino method of eating with just your hands as the food is piled high and presented with dramatic effect on banana leaves. We started off with my favorite, Shanghai lumpia, which are small spring rolls stuffed with pork, water chestnuts, carrots and garlic, served with sweet chilli sauce. They were amazing and I cannot wait to bring them to my workplace potluck.
Jackie then laid out a bed of Tita Jean's fried rice and pancit bihon (thin rice noodles) accompanied by fresh papaya. Next came the chicken adobo and Philippine sweet BBQ skewers. The food is authentic and amazing; I could taste the love going into these dishes. Of course, I couldn't leave without trying the Philippine spaghetti featuring house-made longanisa (a sweet sausage that is like chorizo). This was the best version of this dish I have had, particularly because the sauce (which uses banana ketchup and brown sugar) wasn’t overtly sweet like other variations I’ve tried.
The feast was intense with no room for dessert but Jackie made sure to send me home with some fresh pandesal buns, locally made by Baker's Bowl Bakeshop. I was so impressed by the experience I had at Tito Boy Restaurant I'd like to thank Jackie Wild and family for hosting me. They also have a catering menu which I will look to order from for my next party. You have to add them on your new Winnipeg restaurants to check out list.
Tito Boy Restaurant is located at 730 St Anne's Road. Hours are Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Here's the website.