A couple of revisits for you.
During the short week between Christmas and New Year, I decided to take Calvin and JohnF out for lunch. We usually eat along the rather close confines of Kearny Mesa....but this was the Holiday Season, so why not relax a bit (even though they had to stay at work even longer on this day)? John is from NorCal and Filipino.....the big joke with him is that when it comes to food, he says, I'm "more Filipino" than he is. He is also a pretty big eater, so I thought a visit to Villa Manila would be fun.
Ordering was to the point; bagoong rice (sorry no photo, though JohnF said his wife loved the leftovers), and of course Crispy Pata (a small portion).
From the looks I didn't think this was going to be as good as previous versions I've had here. But man, this was worth the "meat sweats". The skin was crisp, all that gelatinous goodness was there, the meat was moist, what more could you ask for?
I had to order the Bicol Express....which is not quite what is used to be.
There's not quite the same amount of bagoong alamang, so the flavor while still on the salty side, doesn't have as much of that savory finish. The pork is still tender, though the portion size has gotten smaller.
And then there is the Nilagang Baka, the beef shank soup. Calvin, whose Missus is Vietnamese really enjoyed the beefiness of the broth. You should have seen the look on his face when they came to refill the broth!
Overall, still a nice meal. Even though VM is not quite what it was before.
500 East 8th Street
National City, CA 91950
So, the Missus didn't believe me when I said that Zarlitos made some decent poke. But an interesting thing happened. During the nice Bitter Brothers Anniversary dinner, Candice mentioned the poke at Zarlitos to the folks sitting with us. Turns out it was Keoni Simmons (and yes, his dad is from Hawaii), who confirmed my belief that the poke Zarlitos makes is legit. And so that conversation with the Missus went on as we headed to Hogetsu Bakery. So She relented and we decided on stopping at Zarlitos.
Where she proceeded to eat a pound of poke. Now, even though I make Spicy Tuna Poke for the Missus, I'm not a big fan. The Missus enjoyed the version here.
First off, the quality of the fish is decent, no fibrous "suji". I think this would do fairly well "back home". These days, I put a bit of wasabi in my spicy tuna poke and that's what the Missus was missing....no major complaints on this though.
The Limu poke was a bit more problematic. The fish was of decent quality, but there was too much sesame oil in this...and yes, it wasn't salty enough...when was the last time I mentioned something not having enough NaCl?
Also, this version of "limu" poke used wakame....I mean, really? Even Poke Etc down the street used Limu Kohu. Still, this was much better than those "Chi-Poke" places that have sprung up everywhere.
Of course the Missus needed some rice; so I ordered the Longsilog.
Which was passable.
Zarlitos Family Restaurant
505 East 8th St.
National City, CA 91950