Villa Manila

Last week, Mr. K and I had dinner with Kirk of mmm-yoso and he suggested we meet at Villa Manila, a Filipino restaurant.

This was the first sit-down Filipino restaurant Mr. K and I have been to in San Diego, since most of the ones in the area are fast food set-ups. It was great to share a meal and catch-up.

Since he’s been here several times, we let him take charge of the ordering.

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Chicharron Bulaklak (deep fried intestines)

Usually intestines are thick and chewy, but these were very thin and crispy. The offal flavor was also very mild, and pretty much disappeared when dipped in vinegar. I actually had a hard time telling that these were intestines but they were a definite enjoyable snack to start the meal.

Crispy Pata (deep fried pork leg)

This wasn’t a great angle I captured and doesn’t do the dish justice. When made right, the skin is extremely crispy, followed by a chewy gelatinous layer and then moist pork meat. I thought the restaurant served a pretty good version here, though it was a little dry and not quite as memorable as the versions I’ve had at Mr. K’s family parties.

Ubod Fresh Lumpia

These were like crepes, filled with heart of palm, meat, other vegetables and served with a gravy-like sauce. It’s not like any other type of lumpia I’ve ever had before and I liked the refreshing mix of ingredients inside.

Bicol Express

This is an off-the-menu item and was one of my favorites of the night. The stew is made with pork, coconut milk, shrimp paste, garlic and chilis. Most Filipino dishes are not spicy, so I was surprised by the mild heat in this one, but it made the the dish quite enjoyable.

Nilagang Baka (beef shank soup)

The soup had onions, beef shank, cabbage, carrots, green beans, potatoes. There were so many ingredients that they brought out most of the broth in a separate bowl. This was a simple and satisfying, reminding me of the version I’ve had at Mr. K’s house before.

As if this wasn’t enough food for three, we also got two different kinds of rice.

Garlic rice

The flavor of fresh garlic was quite strong, and a tad too much for me.

Bagoong rice

The fermented shrimp paste added a nice pink hue to the rice but also made it a little salty. I preferred this one over the garlic though.

Overall we had a fun time here. The portions were generous, the service attentive. Since Kirk did the ordering, there wasn’t a bad dish in the bunch, but my favorite was definitely the Bicol Express. It was a delicious feast and of course the best part was the company.

On Thursday nights they also have Kamayan Night (a Filipino feast eaten with your hands), which I will have to come back and try at some point. You can read more about Kamayan Night here. And you can read Kirk’s previous Villa Manila visits here and here.

Villa Manila
500 East 8th Street
National City, CA
https://www.villamanila.com/
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14 comments on “Villa Manila”

  1. Hey Kirbie – It was so much fun (as always) catching up on things with the both of you…..it had been so long! We need to do this again soon. The both of you are such great company….since I constantly yack all the time.

  2. There are so few filipino sit down restaurants here compared to the dozens of chinese, japanese, korean, thai and vietnamese ones. I’ve only had chicken adobo, lumpia, and pancit so all these dishes sound interesting. Might not be bold enough to try the fried intestines but the stew and the fresh lumpia sound great 🙂

  3. Great round up of food! The last time I was there, the restaurant was Max’s Fried Chicken!

    The fresh lumpia (with hearts of palm) looks so good! My parents used to make their own wrappers. The sauce is made of broth, soy sauce, cornstarch and garlic. I’ve not have bagoong in my rice before, but I can imagine that would be pretty salty. I like it in my pinakbet though.

    I’ll have to try their food on Kamayna night one of these days! No utensils needed!

    • I was reminded of your pinkabet when we got the rice! Kirk told us about it being Max’s Fried Chicken. I really enjoyed the fresh lumpia.

  4. Forgot to mention that ‘bulaklak’ means ‘flower’ in Tagalog. Sounds so much prettier to say you are eating flowers than intestines! 🙂

    i meant to spell ‘kamayan’ earlier.

  5. I have never been to a sit down Filipino restaurant at home – I’m also used to just the fast food type places, or whatever my mom cooks. That fresh lumpia with the sauce on it looks so crazy! I’ve seen fresh lumpia before but never with sauce on it… I’d like to try that out, just because it’s different.

  6. Mary – usually when fresh lumpia is served, the sauce is on the side so it doesn’t get soggy.

    kirbie – the dish i had at my house when you came over was binagoongang baboy, a pork dish using bagoong. i didn’t have pinakbet since i wasn’t sure if people would eat bittermelon, okra and eggplant. the smell and taste of bagoong is certainly an acquired one! 🙂

  7. There was signage on the back: “Max’s: The House that Built Fried Chicken”. It was the first time I ever popped a U turn to get to a restaurant. Some friends told me they want to meet for lunch here one day soon…I can’t wait.

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