Tito Ron's occupies a stall in the El Gordo food court at 214 Augusta. It's a Filipino-Caribbean stand from Tristen Petat and Michael McFarlane who quit their day jobs to work the food festival and pop-up circuit before landing these permanent digs in Kensington Market.
It's a walk-up operation where all the cooking happens just a few feet away from you. The sights, sounds and spirit of Kensington Market seem amplified here as the scents from various types of cuisine mingle about. There's nowhere to sit inside, but at the back of the food court there are a handful of tables .
The ube sundae starring popular-in-the-Philippines Magnolia brand ice cream has been a big hit this summer. At peak hours, the lineup snakes its way through food court and sometimes mixes with those waiting for a churro cone one stall over.
But there's more to this place than just ice cream. Staff are making a fresh batch of jerk chicken lumpia ($5 for six) when I walk up.
The crepe-thin cigars stuffed with spicy chopped chicken thighs take a bath in the fryer before being doused with a pineapple-papaya hot sauce laced with scotch bonnet peppers.
The chicken adobo roti ($10) is a beast. The traditional West Indian dhalpuri is a hearty meal on its own when filled with succulent stewed meat and steamed rice.
Tocino sliders sold in pairs are built on fluffy Caribbean tennis rolls, selected for their similarity to Filipino pandesal. The thinly sliced pork soaks up a pineapple, soy and garlic marinade over a three day period before it hits the flat top.
The sweetly caramelized meat is dressed with "Filipino Big Mac sauce," slices of salted tomatoes and atchara, a savoury papaya slaw.
The aforementioned ice cream sundae is a must. A scoop of ube ice cream and a scoop of halo halo (or macapuno, or jackfruit) is smothered in mango condensed milk and decorated with plantain chip crumble, hot ube-plantain spring rolls and few pillowy ube cookies.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.