Kuya Joe's Kitchen
Kuya Joe's is a Scarborough restaurant that serves up all of the Filipino staples like Kare Kare, Pancit Bihon, fried seafood and Miki ramen.
The small yet bright and welcoming space has a few tables and stools but is mostly geared toward takeout from the front counter.
On the wall opposite the counter, signs with white and orange lettering bearing the names of traditional Filipino dishes, line the wall.
The spot is a family-run establishment with Joerald Ramolete as the namesake of the restaurant and the one responsible for the signature dishes on the menu. His wife, Maria and their three children are also usually helping out.
Joe has been cooking for family and friends for more than 10 years after studying culinary arts in the Philippines back in 2006.
The menu is made up of all of Joe, Maria, and their kids' personal favourites, so food recommendations may change depending on who's behind the counter on any given day.
Their oldest daughter, Fae, would tell you to go for the Kare Kare ($20).
Although a Filipino staple, the oxtail stew is often only served on special occasions due to the intensive preparation process.
A stew of slow-cooked oxtail and beef tripe is prepared with garlic, onions, blanched eggplant, long beans, bok choy, and the oxtail stock is thickened with peanut butter and ground peanuts.
It's seasoned with fish sauce for taste and served with sauteed shrimp paste on the side to enhance the flavours even more.
Their son, Sean's pick is also an Ilocano favourite, Dinakdakan ($15). Pork cheek, ears and liver are seasoned with vinegar, mayo and salt and pepper for a creamy sour taste. It's traditionally cooked with pig brain instead of mayo.
With a lot of their dishes specifically famous in their hometown in the Philippines, Vigan, you won't find a lot of them at other Filipino restaurants in the city.
That's the case with Miki (regular: $8, special: $10) which is really only enjoyed in their home region. The Pinoy Ramen is a combination of pork bones, vegetables and spices that are marinated for 12 hours.
After the flavours are finished soaking in, pork meat, soft boiled eggs, fried pork belly and minced chives are served over the noodles.
Another dish native to their province is Longanisa (12 pieces: $8). The Pork Sausage is their sister-in-law's secret recipe and the same one used when they sold the sausages at a market stall in their hometown.
They also cook up a selection of BBQ skewers including chicken, pork and pork intestines ($3 per stick). The tender meat is generously coated in a sweet BBQ sauce.
To drink there's homemade Buko Pandan ($5). Made with condensed milk, evaporated milk, pandan jelly, coconut and tapioca pearls, it's truly worthy of mention.
Kuya Joe's Kitchen serves the classic Filipino favourites alongside harder to find dishes, making it easy to find a dish that suits your fancy.