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Kain Na Tayo! Manila Flavours (Niagara Falls, ON)

The one thing I miss the most in my move out here to the Buckeye State is my family, and more specifically, the proximity to my family. Throughout most of my life, my immediate family has been at worse only a few hours drive away. Nowadays, it's more like several hours away by way of airplane, making getting together in person more of a rare occurrence.

This is why I was especially thrilled when my parents were able to travel here for their first visit ever to this region. Along with the in-laws meeting each other for the first time ever (which went swimmingly well, like my spouse and I thought it would), we acted as erstwhile tour guide for them during their stay. This included a little road trip to both the American and Canadian sides of the Niagara Falls area.

Food has always played an important role at family gatherings big and small in both our families. My side of the family naturally puts a Filipino flair into this equation, and it seemed natural to try to capture that during this trip if at all possible. Luckily, I was able to scout out Manila Flavours, a gem of an eatery operating on the outskirts of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Located in what seems to be a smallish and otherwise unremarkable strip mall, a pretty expansive area greeted us as we walked through Manila Flavours' distinctive red door entrance on a weekday night. The space reminded me of other similar-type Filipino restaurants I was familiar with back in Northern California: there was enough space to easily handle large gatherings, a stage for a live band, and the equipment for karaoke festivities (in fact, a few off-duty workers dropped by during our stay to warble out some tunes.)

From top left (counterclockwise): Sisig, Pancit, Bistek,
the bar area and some wall decor
While Manila Flavours also has Vietnamese standards on their menu, we were here for the Filipino dishes this night. It didn't hurt that the restaurant owners were from Pampanga, one of the regions in the Philippines renowned for its cuisine. We took our time with the menu; it would be easy to over-order here, with the menu containing numerous dishes we were familiar with. In the end, we whittled it down to an appetizer, a plate of white rice, and three of their mains.

For an appetizer, we ordered the Shanghai Lumpia pork eggrolls (15 for $8.95; all prices in Canadian Dollars); these tasty finger food items were happily devoured by everyone prior to our main dishes to arrive.

The two heartier dishes, the Sisig (fried bits of pork parts in chilies, served sizzling in an iron pan; $10.95) and the Bistek Pinoy (thinly sliced strips steak fried up with onions, garlic, soy sauce and lemon or (typically) calamansi juice: $11.95), were quite delectable and universally enjoyed by everyone.

The third dish, the Pancit Guisado (essentially a Filipino chow mein; $11.95) ended up on the bland side. However, a couple squeezes of the provided lemon slices (something that would pretty common regardless) and the judicious addition of soy sauce fixed that issue easily.

Our hosts were quite gracious, appreciative that we had traveled from so far to seek out their restaurant. Take out is also available; several customers came in throughout the night to pickup their phone-in orders.

As we ended up discovering, the Ontario side of Niagara Falls has a number of eateries overpriced for the quality of food provided, especially as you get the closer you get to the falls itself. Based on our experience, Manila Flavours does a fine job with producing tasty Filipino cuisine standards and is worth seeking out by locals living in and visitors to this border town.

2017 Update: All indications (Google, Facebook, etc.) are that Manila Flavours has closed permanently.

Manila Flavours
McLeod Plaza
7000 McLeod Rd (Google Maps)
Niagara Falls, ON L2G7K3
(289) 296-4418

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