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.
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.
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.
The flavor of fresh garlic was quite strong, and a tad too much for me.
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.
500 East 8th Street
National City, CA