Doesn't quite make sense, does it? A couple of months back, while grabbing something to go it occurred to me that there's quite a few places that have been around for years that I'd eaten at, but had never done posts on. These places are mainly convenience stops for me, places I don't usually visit. For a few, it had been over a decade......like Karihan for example. Karihan is one of those "old school" turo-turo joints that have been around forever. I hadn't been here since maybe right after we moved to San Diego. First off, the parking at Grove Plaza can be pretty terrible, but that doesn't mean I hadn't tried visiting in the past. I recall huge portions of rather mediocre food, except for the Kare-Kare which I thought was decent.
So made up my mind to do this pseudo-revisit......man, they don't use MSG here....so says the sign dated 11/09! And when did that Japanese looking booth thingy arrive in the dining area?
So, I recall someone commenting on a post from a now defunct restaurant saying the Karihan made some good lechon kawale, so I got that with some Kare-Kare and Pancit ($8). Man, this plate was even larger than I remembered.
Good lord, how can anyone polish off all this food? Look at all that lechon.....
I found the pancit to be very bland, though the texture of the noodles wasn't too bad. I should have just gotten rice, though it might have fed us for a week! The skin on the lechon was hard as rock and the meat quite dry. The Kare-Kare had a nice piece of tender oxtail meat on top, no tripe, a few small pieces of pork hock, and the rest of it was mostly bone, the texture a bit on the gluey side, a nice amount of green beans, but one tiny piece of eggplant, and this was on the bland side as well. I was searching for any trace of savory flavor that I enjoy in a good Kare-Kare. No amount of bagoong could revive it. I don't recall things being quite this bad before?
Has the arms race for portion size caused this? I mean, Tita's is a few yards away? Kind of sad; the young ladies working here were a lot friendlier than I recalled. I'd say this place is definitely for the quantity over quality set. MG once told me that "Karihan" meant something like "Cafeteria" in Tagalog. On this occasion it was that all right......but not in a good way.
Karihan Filipino Food
2220 E Plaza Blvd
National City, CA 91950