Here something I didn't know until recently, June 12th is Philippine Independence Day, which marks the day that the Declaration of Independence of the Philippines was signed in 1898. All these years, and I never knew this until recently. Of course, there are those who think it should be a different day, but understanding that all Filipino's I know are always up for a good time.....
So what better on this day than a post on that Filipino institution Goldilocks. No, not the Fairytale Goldilocks, but the very successful Goldilocks Bakeshop and Restaurant chain, which according to both the company website and Wikipedia was started out of an apartment in Makati City. Now with over 200 locations world-wide, I guess you could call this success story a real life fairytale. To be honest, when I first found out that Goldilocks was opening up a location with not only a bakery, but a restaurant as well in National City, I wasn't too excited. I've eaten at Goldilocks in Artesia, and also had "turo-turo"(steam table) food from the now defunct West Covina location, and had never been too impressed. However, the always reliable MG told me that the menu at Goldilocks had been revamped, and the food had improved. So recently, MG, MrB, and I descended upon Goldilocks. Goldilocks is located in the same strip mall as Seafood City(which has really been spruced up inside), Golden Chopsticks, Ohana Hawaiian BBQ, and Asian Noodles among others. There are times (think weekends) where this is a strong contender for most insane parking lot in San Diego.
The dining area of this location of Goldilocks is clean, though it was a bit smaller than it looks from the outside.
In what would be the first of many small missteps, we were basically ignored while waiting for a table. There was no else waiting, the place was empty, and the woman doing the seating was just standing ignoring us. Finally, without a word, the woman grabbed some menus and walked us to a table, where we were basically forgotten. After 15 minutes, MG tried to flag down one of the 6 or so workers, but was ignored. After another wait, another Server came by, and took our order, and disappeared. We had ordered drinks, but they never appeared.
Finally, when our first dish arrived, MG asked for water in Tagalog, and we received it soon after. Our first dish was the Beef Salpicao($8.49):
The very tender slices of beef, chopped peppers, and onions arrived on a sizzling plate, and was topped with a nice sprinkling of garlic. It was, however, strangely bland, and greasy.
A few minutes later our Sizzling Sisig($7.49) arrived:
This version of Sisig was quite bland as well; almost no vinegar flavor, nor spice, and the pork, though nice and fatty, was more greasy than rich. I liked the raw egg cracked on top of the pork, but I ended up adding a ton of vinegar, and even some salt, which I almost never do, to give this flavor.
Soon enough, our Crispy Pata ($13.49) arrived.
Though not a gargantuan version of the wonderful simmered, dried, than deep-fried pork leg dish(which is probably for the better), this was a nice rendition. And even if this version was lacking in the gelatinous goodness department, the skin was perfectly fried, and the meat amazingly moist. The sauce had a nice sour-tart-saltiness that I really enjoyed. I'd have this again.
At this point our biggest problem was that our rice had never arrived. We had ordered both steamed and Adobo Rice, and expected that the steamed rice would be arriving soon. How can you eat this without rice? After trying to flag down several people, MG finally found someone who would get us rice. But of course, our rice was still MIA. Meanwhile......
This location of Goldilocks features something they call "Pick A Pika", various menu items served in smaller portions a la Dim Sum. In fact, the dishes are wheeled around in a Dim Sum Cart.
And served in little bowls in Dim Sum Tins. All of the items(about 20 or so) are $3. It is nice because you can select from a good variety of items, and try out things you may not be sure of. Be aware, that even though it may sound like a bargain, the portion size of each dish is only 2-3 bites of food, so you can easily spend $18-$21 dollars. Especially if you don't get your rice.........
MG wanted to try what we both thought looked like Beef Mechado, but was actually Beef Kaldereta:
This was a winner, with a good beefy-tomato flavor. The beef was quite tender. MrB, MG, and I each had 1 bite.
MG had wanted me to try an Ilocano dish called Beef Pinapaitan, and this was a good way to try it.
I was told that "pait" means bitter, and they sure weren't kidding. Man, this was a puckery-bitter that elicited a "whoa" from me. MrB took the severe sour looks on MG's and my face as a signal that perhaps he should pass on this. A few days later, after doing some research, I found a Pinapaitan recipe, and one of the key ingredients of the dish is bile. The combination of sour and bitter was quite strong. I took this little sampling home for the Missus to try. Her reaction, "ouch"...yes, ouch. Must've been so bitter it was painful!
Meanwhile, we were still barely picking at our food. Why? We still had not gotten our steamed rice! In fact, after our Adobo Rice arrived, MG had to flag down one of the Servers and ask about our steamed rice.
I really enjoyed the Adobo Rice, nice hints of soy-black pepper-vinegar, with a small amount on diced chicken. I'd like this with a couple of easy over eggs. Finally, a few minutes after our Adobo rice arrived, we also received our steamed rice, and really dug in.
Overall, the food, if on the pricey side, was not bad, better than I expected. The service however, left much to be desired. There looked to be no table or section assignments, so things ended up occurring in a rather haphazard manner, with things slipping through the cracks. I'm not sure if I'll go back. Maybe your luck with the service will be better than ours.....still, who can refuse Crispy Pata.
1420 E. Plaza Boulevard
National City, CA 91950
Open 8am-8pm - Closed on Tuesdays