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Victoria has a thriving Filipino community and there are great spots to enjoy a Filipino meal or shop for ingredients, from ube to crispy pork belly!

Words and photos


If you’re new to Filipino cuisine, don’t despair — there are several city spots to explore Filipino flavours, from simple street food to traditional family fare.

According to restaurant industry watchers, Filipino food is “the next big thing” so new restaurants and bakeries in Victoria are right on trend, along with the local grocers offering imported Filipino products and take-away specialities.

The Bayanihan Centre downtown, run by the non-profit Victoria Filipino Canadian Association, is a social and cultural hub for the Filipino community. Look for their Filipino food cart at outdoor events and occasional homestyle take-out meals, especially during Filipino Heritage Month events in June.



Downtown diners can take a seat at the small bar at Ate*A Restaurant, to learn about Filipino food from Jonna Deutscher and Keem Herrera, the chefs behind their ever-changing menu.

It’s a modern fusion of Filipino flavours, nose-to-tail Filipino street food, with a local twist. Beyond the purple ube buns for sandwiches and lumpia burgers, there’s kinilaw, a Filipino ceviche with smoked sablefish, and Pancit Ramen, homemade alkaline noodles with side stripe shrimp, summer squash and chives. They also celebrate the Filipino love of all-day dining at Ate (AH-tay), with breakfast and brunch dishes featuring ube pancakes and eggs with their pork patties, longangisa sausage, fried rice and atchara, the pickled green papaya served with many meals.

Modern Filipino street food from the chefs at Ate
Benjamin's Cafe in Esquimalt offers dining and prepared Filipino takeout meals from the freezers


Friendly Benjamin’s Café in Esquimalt is the place for authentic, all-day Filipino fare. Chef Ervin Maliwanag and his wife Lorian opened Benjamin’s (named for their son) in 2023, building on a business catering to the local Filipino community and Ervin’s experience as a chef in Singapore.

Now it’s the largest Filipino restaurant on the island and attracts diners from as far away as the prairies, he says.

Benjamin’s serves silog breakfasts featuring garlic rice with eggs and beef, pork or chicken, and purple ube pancakes, topped with their own rich purple yam jam and strings of tender coconut macapuno.

Beef silog breakfast with crispy rice and ube pancakes with young coconut

Kare Kare peanut curry with crispy pork

Don’t miss their perfectly crispy Pork Lechon, served on its own or in their Kare Kare peanut curry sauce, with bok choy, green beans and eggplant, and signature dish, chopped pork or tuna sisig, with onions and spicy aioli. Chicken Adobo and Beef Kaldereta stew are other traditional faves and, as Lorian reminds me, their crispy lumpia appetizer goes with everything.

Brazo de Mercedes meringues aat Benjamin's

To finish your meal, there are airy Brazo de Mercedes meringues, filled plain or ube-infused custard, and sweet Halo-Halo Royale dessert — a kind of OTT Filipino sundae — made with layers of purple ube ice cream, banana, jackfruit, tapioca pearls, jellies and crispy cereal. Ervin is a baker of lovely Filipino cakes, egg custard pies and leche flan, too, and you’ll find their freezers filled with house made atchara, lumpia, ready to fry at home, Pinoy Lasagna, soups plus other family-style takeaway dishes.



Several Filipino food stores combine groceries with take-out food, so a tour of these small shops is a great way to try some imported Filipino products and homestyle specialties.

The ABR Store downtown on Blanchard Street offers an array of groceries, from fresh fruits and vegetables to breads, frozen meats, canned goods, sweets and snack foods. You might find fresh malunggay (moringa) and taro leaves, fresh purple yam tubers (ube) or powdered ube and artificial ube extract for baking vivid purple pastries. The aisles are packed with other imports, too, whether jars of sweet purple yam jam (halaya), boxes of ube polovron (a Filipino shortbread cookie) or the rather addictive vegetarian “chichcarron” chips made from dehydrated green peas and flavoured, Filipino style, with palm vinegar.

On Douglas Street, you’ll find Casa Philippine Cuisine, a tiny takeaway and convenience store with a menu that ranges from Bopis of minced beef heart and BBQ pork skewers to fried smelt with calamari, and few tables among the grocery shelves.

Filipino Mart is further down on Douglas, another popular grocer for dry and frozen goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other Filipino fare. Or try Inasal House, a small grocery and take-out spot in Saanich, for char grilled Chicken Inasal with yellow rice, Beef Caldereta Stew or rice noodle Pancit to go.

The specialty is crispy lechon (stuffed,rolled and roasted pork belly) at Jempoy's Lechon

There’s a small selection of imported Filipino products at Jempoy’s Lechon, too, but the real draw here is the tender Cebu-style pork belly, marinated, rolled with lemon grass and roasted with crispy crackling, sold by the piece or the pound to take away with traditional gravy, vinegar sauce and green papaya pickle on the side.

Tinapay Atbp bakery café is right next door, offering Spanish bread, tender pandesal bread rolls (some made with the addition of ube or cheese filling), ensymada (sweet buns topped with cheese), purple egg custard pies, or nutty Sans Rival cakes.

Ensaymada buns frosted with ube cream

You’ll find a similar selection of Filipino pastries and desserts at Friends & Family Bake in Chinatown, including kababayan muffins, twisted bicho doughnuts, ube Ensaymada buns frosted with purple ube cream and leche flan.

And for an exotic treat from the freezer, look for Keem Herrera’s Ice Keem, a line of Filipino ice cream flavours (purple ube, durian, Madagascar vanilla). Find tubs at city grocers or meet Keem, peddling her Ice Keem cart, at summer festivals.

©Cinda Chavich 2024


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