Kirbie's Cravings

National City trip (Royal Mandarin, Lisa’s Filipino Cuisine, Niederfrank’s ice cream)

Royal Mandarin
1132 E Plaza Blvd, Ste 205
National City, CA 91950

(619) 477-4151

I never heard of salt and pepper wings until reading mmm-yoso. The post that particularly caught my attention was one where Kirk and friends did a wings challenge to determine who had the best wings.  A few weeks ago, Kirk alerted his readers that Royal Mandarin, one of the most famous spot for the salt and pepper wings had recently reopened. So of course, this was my opportunity to finally check out these salt and pepper wings.

When we arrived, there was quite a crowd waiting around for their party orders of wings. It reminded me a bit of King's Eggroll in the Bay Area, where there's always a crowd getting party platters of the eggrolls.  Bf whispered that we should have ordered ahead of time, but I had no idea what it would be like since we'd never been.

Lucky for us, we didn't have much of a wait. We placed an order for 30 wings, which is the smallest party tray available. The plan was to eat them later in the day, but I couldn't wait. I had to dig in to one right then and there.

The wings were very crispy. I don't know why, but I was surprised that there was literally a bunch of salt and some pepper flakes sprinkled on top. I had imagined a salt and pepper powder, similar to the one used in salt and pepper dishes at chinese restaurants. At first, all the salt threw me off. I don't really like salt crystals on my food. I pick off the salt on pretzels, fries, etc. I could have done without the salt on these wings, but they were still enjoyable. The pepper flakes were barely noticeable in the taste though.

The wings seemed to be a big hit with the family. They were easily finished off later that evening when I had dinner with the siblings.

Lisa's Filipino Cuisine
1210 E Plaza Blvd, Ste 410
National City, CA 91950
(619) 477-8718

While driving to Royal Mandarin, I noticed a grand opening sign for another restaurant in the plaza, Lisa's Filipino cuisine. I had no idea if it was supposed to be any good, but there was a decent sized crowd inside, so we decided to check it out.

The first thing I noticed was that the prices were a bit high compared to other places we usually go to. A 2 item combination with pancit was $6.50. However, the quantities are pretty big. We ordered our combos with pancit, and the only thing that went into the large container was pancit (they only put it in the large section of the divided 3 part container, but with nothing else in there, there was definitely more quantity than usual). The sides were then each given their own small containers. 

We didn't recognize most of the items being offered. There was a lot of me pointing and asking what everything was.  I opted to get the chicken adobo because I love chicken adobo. There were a couple of stews available and I wasn't sure which one to try. I avoided the one with raisins because I don't like the sweet ones. I saw one that is similar to the pork one I usually get at Manila Fastfood, so I decided not to get it because I wanted to try something else. There was one really large tray full of a stew that looked savory rather than sweet. I had no idea what kind of meat was in it, so I just pointed to it and said I wanted that one.

The girl serving us then said to BF, "it's kambing, are you sure you want it?" BF made a face. He turned to me, it's goat, do you still want it?  I gave him an incredulous look. I nodded my head excitedly. What luck! I had been wanting to try goat ever since Kirk told me it was available at Manila Fastfood, but on my last trip there, they had already run out. Here was a large serving tray recently made, full of goat.

While the girl got our two items ready, I noticed a bunch of people getting the bbq chicken or the bbq squid. We decided to try the squid. However, the girl then recommended this cooked squid dish, one I had been considering previously. She said it was really good and perhaps we should have that instead. She even gave us a sample. I liked it. It was basically grilled squid but mixed some other flavors and some onions and peppers. It had a lemony, sour taste to it. So we decided to get that instead.

I was tempted to get some desserts, like the ube rice dessert, but the package was really big and I'm the only one that really eats it.

I was pretty happy with the quantity of food we got, so even though the prices were slightly higher, I thought the quantity made up for it.

Another nice thing about this spot is that they had so much food still being made late in the day. Whenever I go to Manila Fastfood, we have to rush to get there early, or else they are usually out of everything around 4pm.

I wish I liked the taste as much as I liked everything else about this place. The pancit wasn't great. It was missing the flavors that make it taste like pancit. I don't really know how to explain this more since I've never made pancit myself.

The chicken adobo was alright, but I prefer the one at Manila Fastfood.

I did like the goat, but there wasn't much of it. It was mainly giant bones. This is my second time eating goat. The first time was at Ashoka the Great Indian buffet. I really enjoyed my first time, but i thought maybe it was a fluke. it was a lot more mild than I thought goat would taste. However, I liked this goat as well, so i guess I do enjoy eating goat. It is similar to lamb, but it is a bit gamier.

Here's the squid I mentioned earlier:

We were also given a free soup. We had goat, chicken and pork to choose from. I really wanted to try the goat, but since BF doesn't eat goat, we got the chicken after the girl recommended it. To my surprise, it was chicken with bitter melon. Lots of bitter melon. There were big chunks of bitter melon with seeds and all. BF wouldn't touch it. I like bitter melon, so I didn't mind. I was surprised that this was the recommended soup though.

Of course a trip to National City is not complete without a visit to Niederfrank's Ice Cream

Niederfrank's Ice Cream
726 A Ave
National City, CA 91950
(619) 477-0828

One of my favorite ice creams here is their blueberry one. I still had some at home though because last time I got a prepackaged quart of it. This time I stopped myself from buying more pints, and instead just got a cone of the Thai Tea ice cream, which I really enjoy too. It's a deep, dark orange and there are little bits of tea leaves in the ice cream.

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11 comments on “National City trip (Royal Mandarin, Lisa’s Filipino Cuisine, Niederfrank’s ice cream)”

  1. LOL Kirbie….. that stuff sprinkled liberally on top the wings may not be “salt”. ;o) I love Kaldereta Kambing…… I’m glad you like the flavor. There are many different versions of that dish…. supposedly Ilocanos make the best version.

  2. Thai tea ice cream!?! Oh yum…

  3. Ask for some Patis and/or Calamansi juice to go with your pansit. It can brighten the flavor of mediocre pansit. I am used to the home made stuff so most restaurant pansit needs it. =)

  4. hi kirbie – yeah, for pansit, you can squeeze lemon juice or better yet, calamansi juice.
    i’d been thinking about niederfranks recently. they have really good flavors. i tasted their ice cream at a filipino festival a few years back and i remember, with delight, that they had jackfruit ice cream.
    also, someof your food tray photos had a big chafing dish full of mysterious dark meat. well, if you ever see that again at any filipino take out joint, that is DINIGUAN, which is blood stew. try it, you migh like it. filipinos will sometimes call it ‘chocolate meat’ as a joke. ask your bf – he might know that reference. 🙂 but,yeah, diniguan with pork and hot peppers. my mom doesn’t make it anymore – it’s not very healthy.

  5. Crap, I don’t want to think about all the msg I ingested…
    Yes, I really liked the Kaldereta Kambing! I’m going to look for it everywhere I go now, especially now that I know the name.

  6. Yes. Definitely yum! Going to try making it myself. I bought some thai tea leaves.

  7. Thanks for the tip! Homemade Moroccan dishes and pansit? I want to eat at your home!

  8. I really enjoy the ice cream there. I’ve tried the jackfruit. I also tried a tamarind sorbet once. I’m surprised I haven’t seen pandan or ube flavors there, with such a large filipino community.
    Oh yes, chocolate meat! I’ve heard BF talk about it before. There is actually a chinese dish with pork blood. I’ve never had it in a filipino dish before though. I’ll have to try it next time.

  9. These salt & pepper wings are definitely a San Diego thing, and as you noticed, they get consumed quickly! We have a family party in a couple of weeks, and have been requested to bring Royal Mandarin’s wings. I’ve never been to Niederfranks so maybe I’ll have to pick up some ice cream when I get the wings.

  10. Oh, I definitely recommend stopping by Niederfranks! They have so many different flavors.

  11. Pingback: National City trip (Royal Mandarin, Lisa’s Filipino Cuisine, Niederfrank’s ice cream) | Online REL

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