I was surprised that Calvin, who's missus is from Westminster, like Bun Mam, had never heard of Bun Mang Vit. They had to ask an aunt who knew all of these Vietnamese dishes. So a couple of months back, I was craving Bun Mang Vit again.
It seems that everytime I visit, something has changed at Tu Thanh. Still, it the Bun Mang Vit I'm after.
And while this was good; it wasn't quite as good as what I've had in the past. The duck was haphazardly cut, some slices too thick, others with slivers of bone. The flavor was still the same though. The broth was a bit lighter in flavor and seemed to have a bit more msg.....I still enjoy the rehydrated bamboo shoots.
When it comes down to it; perhaps it's the sauce that makes everything tick; the garlic-ginger-sweet-salty tones just brings things together.
Which is what it did for Calvin, who had never had Bun Mang Vit before.
The menu seems to be ever expanding here now.
Perhaps someday I'll try something different. But not on this day.
Tu Thanh 4804 University Ave. #A San Diego, CA 92105 Hours: Thurs - Tues 9am - 9pm Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Manila Fast Food and Desserts:
So, "FOY" (Friend of Yoso) and periodic commenter "SomTommy" sent me and email after my post on Mama Cinia asking me which Chicken Adobo I prefer; Manila Fast Food versus the rather new Mama Cinia. Hmmmm.....good question. Chicken Adbobo isn't usually the first thing I choose. So I decided to head on back to Manila Fast Food. I hadn't been there in a while. I got the combination with Chicken Adobo and, well, sisig of course.
As you can see, the portion size, typical of these "turo-turo" places was quite generous. That chicken adobo, other than being salty was pretty bland....no nice vinegar, nor black pepper flavors.
The sisig was, unlike previous visits, pretty weak. Too little vinegar, too little spice for my taste. Also, much too waxy in texture.
Kind of a bummer since the sisig, while not traditional, and the kaldereta kambing (which I haven't seen in a while here) were the dishes I enjoyed the most. I actually prefer the sisig at Mama Cinia to this.
Manila Fast Food and Desserts 8979 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
I was quite surprised when Christy's Bakery closed, after all they were pretty much a Mira Mesa institution having been in that spot for a quarter century. Then it seems like overnight Mama Cinia opened. I decided to drop by and check them out.
First off, I have to say I really like the folks here, so warm and friendly. They've really freshened up and renovated the interior too.
They've got a variety of typical combos from the steam table, desserts like halo-halo, and also serve Mami from 2pm.
I dropped by between meetings to pick up an early lunch on the way back to the office. A 2 item combo with Garlic Rice.
I was surprised to see Bicol Express, something I just don't see often enough at these turo-turo joints. The very ncie woman was surprised I knew what it was. I also got the sisig (of course).
First off, the rice was on the dry side and the garlic a bit burnt. I liked that the sisig wasn't your typical "San Diego sisig", which is basically lechon kawale. Loved all the nice bits of pork, nice textures, a bit smoky, but for my tastes, in need to more spice and vinegar.
I was pleasantly surprised at how tender the pork in the Bicol Express was; but it was really greasy, and lacking in spice and I would have appreciated more bagoong as it was fairly bland.
A week later, having to attend the same meeting, I decided to return. This time I got the two item combination, chicken adobo and kare kare, with pancit instead of rice; they didn't even charge me the $1 extra...perhaps they forgot. Again, it was a load of food.
The flavor of the pancit was decent; enough soy sauce for a change, but it was a bit mushy in texture. Much like the Bicol Express, I was impressed at how tender all the meat and other bits were in the Kare Kare, but it was really, really bland....even that bagoong wasn't enough. This was also a bit on the greasy side as well.
The pieces of the chicken adobo were quite large and this could have used a bit more vinegar as it was pretty salty and now that I think about it, I like mine with a good amount of black pepper as well. I actually enjoyed the potato the most.
I did enjoy the fact that all the food I got was quite hot; perhaps it was because of the time I got there. The people are ultra friendly, so I'll probably drop by again. Maybe one evening to try the Beef Mami, after all, it's been ages since I've had a decent one. The portions are quite generous, so I don't think you'll be leaving hungry here.
Mama Cinia Rice & Noodles 9178 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126 Hours: Wed - Sat, Mondays 9am - 8pm Sundays 9am - 4pm
And I was surprised to find that in addition to the simple, rather divey dining area.....
They've added additional seating out on the street, where there once were some 15 minute parking. They call it a Parklet and I rather like it.
I had my usual, the Garlic Chicken Wrap, now $7.25. You can tell I've been doing this blogging thing for a while....at the time of my first post on Mama's, the wrap was $4.99!
And while I had mentioned that the chicken in this wrap had gotten rather scarce back in 2012; there seemed to be even less of it on this day. And while I do enjoy the garlic paste and claim that it would make cardboard tasty, this is still a "chicken wrap". It just seemed to have less of everything, though the flatbread/wrap, made fresh on the "Sajj" was still warm when I opened it up and had a nice stretch to it.
It just didn't have enough filling. And as the saying goes; "Man does not live by bread alone".
I did notice another thing. I'd always thought that the "hot sauce" here tasted a lot like Louisiana style hot sauce. These days they leave the hot sauce dispenser out....it's Trappey's. I do like the way the hot sauce works with the wrap.
Mama's is one of those places that seems to have been around forever. We used to drop by every so often when we first moved to San Diego. A bit before my first post on the place in 2005, the place changed hands, to what seemed to be no detriment to the quality of the food. The folks here have always been pleasant. But it seems, at least in my mind, that the garlic chicken wrap has not aged well.
Mama's Bakery & Lebanese Deli 4237 Alabama St. San Diego, CA 92104
I've been having to work weekends sporadically over the last couple of months. On those days, because I'm able to take my sweet old time going into work, I'll often take the "really long route" to the office. On one of those mornings, I stopped by Pinoy Fiesta. Another place I haven't been to in a while.
I noticed that a pan of kare kare had just come out, so I got that....and in a moment of weakness, even though I didn't care for the sisig during previous visits, I decided to give it another shot.
Man, that kare kare was really bland and the meat super tough, not a fan. And while the flavor of the sisig wasn't bad this time around, denotes, though it could have had a bit more spice, it was ice cold and super waxy...."fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice......"
Still, nice folks, but I'll wait a while before coming back here.
I hadn't been down to National City in a while, at least it seemed that way. So this past weekend I headed down with no real plans, I actually was taking one of my scenic drives....you might like evergreens, giant redwoods, an ocean view.......for me, well, it's seeing a new turo-turo shop and the smell of sisig in the morning!
This one was a surprise; I was taking the 8th Street drive from the 5 and was shocked to see Conching was gone! After how many years? It was now something called Erlinda's Filipino Cuisine and Ice Cream Parlor.
Well, the interior looked the same, the food looked the same.......I decided to have a two item combo.
Now, I've cut down severely on my rice intake in recent years. I even asked them to go easy on the garlic rice....I didn't need too much. I guess this is going easy on the rice?
In retrospect, I should have just gotten pancit or nothing at all since the rice was terrible; mushy, the garlic burnt and bitter, and in dire need of seasoning.......
As you can see; it was pork adobo and sisig.
Once upon a time, Conching made one of my favorite versions of sisig, though it was terrible and disappointing the last time I had it. This version was good, not as good as the best I've had at Conching, but it was pretty close...it was still on the mushy side, but at least there was enough sour-salt-spice to make it enjoyable.
The adobo needed more vinegar and black pepper flavor and a ton less sodium as it was unpleasantly salty. In terms of texture it was fine, a couple of tough pieces, but adequately tender. It was just much too salty.....
I haven't been a real regular at Conching's over the years so I'm not sure if the cooks and staff are the same....based on the sisig, I'd venture that some if not most of the folks here are still the same Conching folks.
Anyway, there you have it....... RIP Conching.
Erlinda's Filipino Cuisine & Ice Cream Parlor 3400 E 8th St.Ste 115 National City, CA 91950
Man, the last two weeks have been brutal....call me a soft San Diegan, but I've been feeling the heat and humidity. I told Cathy that I wish it would just storm like crazy so this weather would break. No such luck so far!
Well, regardless of the weather, you've got to eat, right? So here's some of what we had during the last two weeks.
It had been a while and I was craving some Ebi Kakiage cold noodles, so Izakaya Sakura it was.
This time it was the cold udon version, which hit the spot.
This really hit the spot!
Though I could have done without having to listen to Wilson Phillips Greatest Hits throughout my meal....
Izakaya Sakura 3904 Convoy St #121 San Diego, CA 92111
The Original Sab E Lee:
Spicy Thai food is a natural for us during hot muggy weather.....not sure why.
A quick look at the steam table made selecting what I wanted easy.
The Beef Mechado was much more tender than the last time I had it. The flavor was also better, much more tangy flavor and decent salt. It was on the greasy side though.
The sisig was not bad; nice pungent, sour, spice, salt..... would have been nice to have a bit of crispness in it since it was typical "SD Sisig", left-over lechon kawale. But overall; no complaints, better than I've had recently.
Manila Fast Food and Desserts 8979 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Champions Mariscos Truck:
So, just as in the previous four weeks, I broke out the smoker during Labor Day weekend. I needed something fairly close by before I started the ribs, so I headed over to Champions Mariscos Truck in the parking lot of Toys R' Us on Morena.
Consomme might seem to be a bit much on a scortching day, but I can never turn it down. This was a bit too water for my taste, with a bit too much celery flavor. Not as good as my previous visits.
I went with the Arrachera y Camaron...the surf and turf taco. Not enough caramelization on the beef, but it was decently tender. The shrimp were moist and flavorful.
I decided to go with the Taco de Marlyn again.
Man, they really loaded this thing! Unlike my previous visit, it didn't seem to have too much queso...perhaps due to the amount of filling! All this "stuff" seemed to water down the flavor of the smoked fish though....but this wasn't too bad.
Champions Mariscos Truck - In the parking lot of Toys 'R Us on Morena Boulevard
So there you go....we may be overheatin', but we're still eatin'. Hope everyone is staying and keeping cool!
Everybody know's Tita's right? I mean, really, it's an establishment here in San Diego. Cynthia "aka" Tita, has created a little kingdom for herself here in San Diego, now with a couple of places on Plaza Boulevard. Many folks, myself included brave the crowds to stand in line and pick out the "turo turo" favorites from the ever replenished steam table, beef mechado, adobo, tortang talong..... As I mentioned in my first post back in 2005 and other posts, I've yet to be able to polish off an entire plate from the place in a single sitting. The portions are huge and in terms of value, it's good. But over the years, I've been going less and less. The lousy attitude of the workers, in addition to not really going after quantity anymore, means that I really haven't gotten a meal there in quite a while.
Now this is with a couple of caveats. My good friend MG will get me lunch from there once in a while. Also, I dropped by looking for sisig as I mentioned in this post. Why sisig? Well, my recollection was that Tita's sisig just wasn't very good. In fact, when FOY (Friend of Yoso) and fellow food blogger Kirbie did a post about Tita's which included the sisig in 2009, "MrM"(I hope you're doing well) and myself commented on how bad the sisig was at Tita's. To me it just wasn't the thing you ordered there. And yet.......Tita's was on one of those food shows and the sisig there blew up....suddenly, folks were saying how good it was. At first I was kind of irked because changing the recipe for the purpose of publicity is basically admitting that you knew your sisig wasn't very good all these years and you did nothing about it. Whatevers. The strange thing about the lousy service at Tita's.....I'm glad I don't speak Tagalog, because the body language and facial expressions of some of the workers makes me really happy to not understand what they're saying...on the other hand, I've met "Tita" a couple of times and she was the nicest person. Go figure.....
So I finally hit paydirt a couple of weeks ago and actually got sisig. First I need to clear some things up. If someone got off the plane from Pampanga this morning and hit up a couple spots for sisig in San Diego, they' be wondering "what the heck?" What we have here is basically use of leftover lechon kawale, not the delici-yoso pig head and parts that make up traditional sisig. Still, when done well, it's porky goodness.
The photo above in a nutshell goes a long way in explaining Tita's popularity. You can easily feed two, or maybe two and a half with this $7 plate of food.
I chose the pork adobo because it just came out of the kitchen and was steaming hot. It was decent, sour enough, salty, not overly tough, especially at this price point. Maybe lacking in the black pepper department a bit.
The sisig on the other hand was as bad as the version I had in 2002, except not as soupy.
Not enough salt, sour, spice, very waxy and greasy in texture. All the benefits of using leftover lechon kawale lost in it's sogginess. Throw in the below lukewarm temperature and this just wasn't my thing. Which has me scratching my head....this can't be what folks have been raving about since Andrew Zimmern "tweeted" about it - "Tita's sisig, best I have ever tasted . San Diego Philippine food is crazy good".
You want bang-for-the-buck to feed your starving student, Tita's is it. You want good sisig? If this is an indication, I don't think Tita's is it. There are a good number of dishes they do make which are better.... I'm wondering if they still make the pancit palabok to order?
Tita's Kitchenette 2720 East Plaza Boulevard National City, CA 91950
Here's more steam table goodness for your Thursday.
R & B Filipino Cuisine:
Being kind of off the beaten track, it's easy to forgot about R&B. One weekend I was driving around Mira Mesa and R&B suddenly came to mind. Not sure why....but it was enough for me to take that right turn on Camino Ruiz......
They were doing pretty good business when I arrived. Taking a quick glance at what was available, it was easy to make a decision.
The beef steak (bistek) had just come out and I recalled that I'd had the tapas on a previous visit and didn't think it was too bad. The meat was pretty tender considering it was pretty low grade round or sirloin. It was too salty for my taste and whatever citrus they had in this really didn't help balance things out. The worst was the flavor I can only describe as "scummy", that weird almost offal-blood like flavor of low grade meat cooked in its own scum.
I also got the sisig (duh), which was nicely flavored, decent vinegar and heat. It was just a bit too bitter and mushy, but not bad overall.
The folks here looked pretty beat on this day, but they were nice enough. I still haven't run into the hamonado my friend's husband recommends, so hopefully one day.
R & B Filipino Cuisine 11257 Camino Ruiz San Diego, CA 92126
Manila Fast Food and Desserts:
I can say with some confidence that Manila Fast Food is probably the busiest of the turo turo joints in the area. Being near Seafood City helps, there are always people in the place, which makes for decent turnover. Looking over things I went with the sisig and beef mechado, easy picks. Though they had just brought out the lechon, which I've had mixed success with here. After talking to Kirbie about her rather recent experiences with the lechon here.....I probably made the right choice.
The Beef Mechado was very mild, but at least it wasn't too salty. The stew quality beef was pretty tough. Overall, it could have used a bit more flavor, perhaps a bit of al onger cooking time.
I've always thought the sisig at MFF had a decent balance of flavor, the sour-salty-spicy. My problem was how watery, mushy, and waxy the whole deal was. Well, no complaints about texture this time around. Unfortunately, there seems to have been a trade off with regards to flavor. The usual bright tones of the dish, especially the spice was now AWOL. I guess you have to choose between flavor and texture with regards to MFFs sisig?
Manila Fast Food and Desserts 8979 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
Thanks for reading. I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!
Over the course of the last twelve weeks I managed to revisit a couple of turo turo places, which I'll post on over the next few weeks. Actually, I dropped by Tita's twice during this period, but they didn't have any sisig, so I decided not to wait in those massive lines. I've heard that they actually changed the sisig recipe when AZ(not you "AZ", the other AZ) visited; I always thought the sisig there was terrible. So it took a television thing to get them to make a better product? I guess even they knew their sisig wasn't up to par..... Well enough of that. Here's enough saturated fat for a week or so.
There was a time not too long ago, when I thought that Conching made some of the best turo turo sisig in San Diego. As of a couple of years ago, I felt that the sisig had slipped a bit. It just wasn't as good. Those thought were percolating in mi cabeza as I parked.
No matter how many times I visit, walking to the turo turo ("point point", a reference to steam table cuisine) counter, I can't help but be amused at the ice cream parlor look. Someone asked me to describe the interior once and the best I could come up with was "Farrell's meets patis". Because I had just come from the long lines and cold stares at Tita's, the stark emptiness of the place really made an impression. There were no other customers during my entire meal.
Looking over the steam table items, I saw something I never recalled seeing before, so I ordered it.
I guess it's the purple tinted red color that got me...plus this had slices of pork belly in it. Well, even more than the color, catching a whiff of it as I brought this to my table really got my nares out of the morning doldrums. I actually liked this; it was salty, in a good way, very savory, obviously from a good amount of bagoong alamang. It was also fairly spicy, a rarity in most Filipino dishes that I've had....the possible exception being bicol express and some versions of sisig. Still, I didn't know what the heck this was and the woman behind the counter wasn't in a particularly chatty mood, so I took a photo and sent it to my former coworker "MG". Who informed me that this was a dish with the catchy name of Binagoongang Baboy. The combination of pungent bagoong, garlic, chilies, tomato, and green bell peppers, adds up to salty-savory,tangy,spicy, and pretty delicious in my book. I have another dish to be on the look-out for in the future.
Of course I had the sisig.
Which was disappointing. Oh how the mighty has fallen. This was soggy, lacked vinegar, and had rather unpleasant bitterness to it.
On a positive note, I have a new dish to look out for. On the flip side, it seems that the sisig here has gone downhill. I asked MG when I saw her a couple of weeks later. She told me that the food at Conching hasn't been very good for the last six-eight months. Sad.
Conching's Cafe 3400 E 8th St.Ste 115 National City, CA 91950
Over the two years or so, my rice intake has really decreased. I'm not so sure if it's age, environment, or what. These days, Da' Boyz are the biggest consumers of rice in the household. It used to be that when we were on vacation, I'd be missing rice after a couple of days....but this time... nada. In fact, the Missus specifically asked me a couple of times if I was missing rice, and strangely I wasn't. And as a matter of fact, it wasn't rice that I was missing. So was rice still nice? After a couple of weeks, I had ample time to see with some revisits:
I hadn't been back around these parts since last year. The plate lunches here are still pretty much a bargain at around $6 - $6.50. And Mo will always try to make what you want. Even though it isn't on the menu per se, I wanted a Chicken Cutlet.....
Basically a chicken katsu plate with gravy....there's a whole scoop of...yes, rice under that chicken and gravy. It did hit the spot, though I wasn't able to finish it off. An acquaintance of mine just can't figure out why I like this..... the main issue being the chicken starts getting soggy under the gravy. Of course this person loves chicken katsudon??? Go figure....
The one complaint I may have about the plate is the mac salad.... I still think Mo needs to add more salt to it.... it's kind of bland for my taste.
Homestyle Hawaiian Island Style Food 7524 Mesa College Drive San Diego, CA 92111
Point Point Joint:
When you're in need a rice fix, one usually never needs to look further than a good old Filipino "turo-turo" (point-point) joint. And where better to go then a place actually named point-point joint, right? Actually, I wasn't intending a visit to PPJ...... earlier in the weekend, my good FOY (friend of yoso) TammyC just happened to mention sisig, which suddenly had me craving it. I initially went to Conching's since I really like their sisig. TammyC and I always joke about buying a tray of sisig for one of our potlucks, but we're afraid that we'd be the only ones who'll eat the stuff, which is not necessarily a good thing. You'll die with a smile on your face though! Anyway, Conching didn't have any sisig, and what they had looked terribly greasy on this day. I hadn't been to Point-Point in a couple of years, so I thought I'd drop by.
It had been about four years, but not much has changed. Seven bucks got me a huge plate of rice, three scoops of sisig, ginisang ampalaya thoughtfully put into a separate container, since I told the friendly woman (and surprised I order this, "OOOoooh, you like this?") I obviously wouldn't be able to finish off the whole thing. Along with the freebie sinigang.....
The lechon kawale used for the sisig had almost a jerky-like texture, I'm fairly certain it was fried twice. Not necessarily a bad thing since it didn't get soggy. I'd prefer it a bit more crisp.
There was a good ratio of pork to onions, but the flavor was very mild. I enjoy a more bracing sisig; a stronger vinegar flavor and more spice. Not bad, but nothing to write home about.
The bittermelon was strange.......
Both oily and bland, a strange adjective to use when a dish uses bittermelon. The bittermelon wasn't very strong in flavor, which sometimes is a plus. But in this case the dish had almost no flavor, too much "soup", and a oiliness that coated your tongue in a rather unpleasant way.
The sinigang at PPJ has always been pretty good. The Missus used to want this when She wasn't feeling well. This wasn't bad, but it had almost a pure vinegar flavor... almost like the vinegar hadn't been simmered.
Point-Point Restaurant 916 East 8th St National City, CA 91950
I guess in the end, rice is still nice (I'm sure you'll enjoy that AZ)..... I just don't have the capacity, nor crave it quite as much anymore....which may not be a bad thing.