Little Ongpin on No. 5 Road, Richmond

I had to go to Costco in Richmond to get some groceries on a weekday. Lorna came along with me as we wanted to go out for lunch after groceries shopping.

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Initially, we intended to go to a Chinese restaurant on Bridgeport Road but I missed the turn in and as I tried to find a way to turn back, I got further and further until No. 5 Road. So, we changed our plan and stopped at the strip mall on No. 5 and Cambie.  Moreover, I needed to get some minced ginger from Fruitcana. This is how we ended having lunch at Little Ongpin Restaurant.

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The customers here are mostly Filipinos. This is an indication that the food is authentic.

We ordered two dishes to share. The first was Squash, string beans and shrimp in coconut milk. This is not a curry dish but it’s cooked in coconut milk. The string beans are crunchy while the squash is creamy. Good contrasting texture.

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The dishes do not come with rice. So, we ordered two servings of rice. The rice came in a plate instead of a bowl.

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We asked for recommendation from the server and she recommended Mixed Seafood in coconut soup. The artificial crab claw was cute. We ended with two dishes with coconut milk and it was just too “lao” (not sure what is the appropriate English term to describe it).

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Little Ongpin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casa Pinoy Restaurant on Bridgeport Road, Richmond

Casa Pinoy has been on our list of places to go for a long while. Apparently, this restaurant has been in business since March 2011.

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Casa Pinoy is located on Bridgeport Road, in an industrial area. From the outside, it is a very unassuming place. It’s name indicates that it’s a Filipino restaurant.

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But, the sign above will let you that there are a variety of food that you can have here. I brought Arkensen and Nanzaro here merely for the variety of food that we can have. That way, everyone is happy.

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You can click on the menu above to have a larger view of their menu.

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We came on a Saturday afternoon. It was not busy. I guess it’s more busy during the week days when the work force around the area come out for lunch. This restaurant seats about 50.

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I had a coconut juice with pulp for $2.25. It came in a large can of 500ml. It is very refreshing with mild sweetness. The boys did not order a drink because they wanted to have the $1 McDonald’s ice coffee summer deal after lunch.

I came here for their Filipino dishes. I ordered the Chicken Inasal which was recommendation by the server. This is $8.99.

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It is grilled chicken marinated in coco vinegar, garlic and pepper. It is served with rice pilaf. The whole grilled chicken leg tastes better … Continue reading

Community Kitchen meets at Cucina Manila, Richmond

The Richmond Community Kitchens celebrate the end of the session with dining out. We decided to try Filipino cuisine at Cucina Manila in Richmond. There were 14 members attending this dining out from various kitchens like South Arm, Caring Place and Gilmore Park Church.

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Cucina Manila in located at the strip mall across Richmond Center where Staples is.

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Cucina Manila serves Filipino food on steam buffet table like those you see in food court. This is a self service restaurant where you help yourself with the cutleries, water and sauces.

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Although the food is served food court style, the setting is nicer than the food court.

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There is combo of 2 dishes with rice for $8.50. You can also order by the dish itself which comes with bigger serving for sharing. The price for the main dish ranges from $8 to $10. Dessert price is $2. You order and pay for the food at the counter.

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We ordered a lot of food to share. Linda, a volunteer in the Community Kitchen in charged of the ordering as she is from the Philippines. Some of the members asked her if she cooks similar dishes at home and she said she cooks most of the dishes and agrees to demonstrate some of the dishes in the community kitchen in future. We look forward to that.

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Here are the dishes that we tried. The above is … Continue reading

Butcher’s Best in the Richmond Centre

One of the things that Suanne and I like to do is to go for walks. Actually, I like to go for a run but Suanne, she refuses to run. She is a walker not a runner, she said.

She would always ask me to just run ahead but it’s no shiok (defined here) running alone. I am just too chatty to enjoy running alone. So I am forced to walk.

But when she walks, she is very atas (defined here) with me. She is always “si beh actsy” because she walks fast-fast. And I hate walking fast. Either I run or I stroll.

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Our favourite walk is around the Steveston area. We would usually drive to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard, park there and then walk west ward to the Garry Point Park. And if we want to we would turn north and walk along the Richmond Dykes.

That route is just perfect. It is not monotonous. We even walk past Steveston Village just in case we want to grab a bite. Or even to buy fresh fish from the docks. Or just people watching. Actually more of tourist watching than people watching.

Oh as you can see from the pictures above, they were taken two months ago. Just goes to show how far back my blogging had been these days.

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After the walk, we decided to go get some food for our lunchner (lunchner is just another name for dinch). The boys were not at home that weekend. It was one of those lazy slow weekends when we decided to take it easy and eat simply. No sit down dinner. Just buy something simple and eat at home in front of the TV.

We don’t go to the Richmond Centre a lot these days. During pre-chowtimes days, we hang out a lot here. We would have lunch quite a bit at the food court.

This time we are back because we wanted to blog about two things … Continue reading

Breakfast of Champion

Well. It is done. We have initiated the cutover procedures about an hour ago.

It was another early morning for me. Got into the office. Checked all the fury of emails from overnight. Everything fell in place. No big issues. Had a final status review with all team members from Atlanta and Dublin. Went thru readiness checklist. Checked off one item after another. Can hear team is drained from their voices. They gave their all. Can also sense they are relieved. Last minute industry news trickled in. Two more major Global DS announced they can’t cut over at 0000 GMT tonight. Woohoo … Looks like my company will be the first off the starting block. Can imagine there will be a press splash later today! This team should be proud. They beat the world.

After the final readiness meeting was over, cautioned team this is not over yet. Crafted an “RE030 Good To Go” email of overall status. Team recommends we are good. Cutover procedure was to start in 1 hour at 0000 TYO time. Will be a long 9 hour process in three waves ending at 0000 GMT.

Hit the send button. In a way, my role on RE030 is done. Transition from project to operations will be completed by end of day. I will be winding down this phase and kick off the next.

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It is always a surreal feeling at this point of the project. I feel like the center of the universe when the project was in the delivery phase. After this act of handover, it is no longer my baby. The other part of the company takes over. I had to step back while the cutover is in execution.

With time on my hand while the cutover us going on, I thought I give myself a treat. I thought I go have a breakfast of champions. Drove a few minutes to an industrial area. Very unlikely place for good food but this is certainly considered as the best there is for breakfast.

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Went to … Continue reading

Alk-O-Bar: A Filipino Resto By Heart

I was driving earlier on this week along Fraser on the way home. The traffic was crawling because of some hold up in the intersection. It just happened that my car was in front where T-Hut the Chiu Chow restaurant used to be.

The new red and black signboard caught my eye. Alk-O-Bar, it says. At a glance I thought that someone had turned this place into a bar and such an odd location too for bar. But because my car wasn’t going anyway and on closer look I saw pictures of food. I thought I just pull over to the empty parking space in front of the restaurant.

The signboard does not tell the whole story. Alk-O-Bar is not a bar. It is a restaurant. Most of all the other signs indicated that they serve western food. You know things like Shrimp Cocktail, Club House Sanwiches, Chicken Wrap, Burgers, Steak, Fish & Chip.

It was the other less conspicuous half of the menu that caught my interest. It was words like sisig, menudo, pancit, tapsilog, longsilog, arroz caldo, bistek, kare kare, embotido, daing na bangus, rellenong bangus. Gosh … I don’t even know what most of these are.

But I know this will interest some of our Filipino followers, particularly Crispy Lechon and Pinoy Gourmet. So I decided to come back to TOFTT (take one for the team). Maybe I should say that I am taking one for the Pinoys and Pinays.

BTW, is using the name Pinoy and Pinay to refer to Filipinos widely accepted these days? I thought it was such a endearing name but then I checked Wikipedia and found the following:

Pinoy was used for self-identification by the first wave of Filipinos going to the continental United States before World War II and has been used both in a pejorative sense as well as a term of endearment similar to Chicano.Both Pinoy and Pinay are still regarded as derogatory by some Filipinos though they are widely used and gaining mainstream usage

Sorry if I had used the name wrong but am trying to understand more. I guess Pinoy Gourmet is one of those who proudly carries the Pinoy name.

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So yesterday on the way home from work, I decided to drop by for lunch (yeah, I start work at insane hours and end work early too). I wasn’t expecting much from Alk-O-Bar because I couldn’t find anything of them on the internet.

Alk-O-Bar had pictures of their food plastered on the wall outside the restaurant. The pictures were bright and colorful but it wasn’t particularly clear and I couldn’t make out what it really was.

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Wow, they sure … Continue reading

Kumare Restaurant: About Time Vancouver Has A Fancier Filipino Restaurant

The Filipino community in Vancouver had been quietly growing over the years that not many of us realize. It might come as a surprise to some that Filipinos overtook China as Canada’s leading source of immigrants in the last couple of years.

This is a staggering statistic because if you compare the population of China (1.3 billion) and the Philippines (92 million), the percentage of Filipinos overseas is staggering. A total of 11% of the country’s population live and work outside of the country.

Yet with the such a large and growing community in Vancouver, the Filipino cuisine is so poorly represented here. You get lots of turo-turo (literally translated as “point-point”) restaurants all over town. But when one wants a nice, fancier sit down Filipino restaurants to entertain friends and guests, your best and perhaps only bet is Pinpin on Fraser.

Well, not anymore.

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There is a new kid in town. And it is about time Vancouver deserves fancier Filipino restaurant like Kumare.

We stumbled on Kumare very much by accident yesterday. It also happened that they were opened for the first time yesterday too. We had earlier planned to go for dinner at S&W Pepper House on No 3 Road in Richmond because we did not have spicy Sichuan food for some time already and we had enough materials to blog about. It was supposed to be our “off-day”.

As I was on Park Road and about to drive into the S&W Pepperhouse parking lot, we happened to see lights at the end of the strip mall. I remembered Crispy Lechon telling us about the impending opening of a new Filipino restaurant around this area and thought this might be it. Well it seems like they were opened for business which we found out later on they were opened for the first time yesterday. So this calls for a change of plans. Spicy food got to wait and we need to make this a “working day”, much to the chagrin of our boys. 🙂

“Why do you always have to blog? Why do you always have to blog, huh?”, asked Arkensen.

“Tough luck, buddy. Too bad you have food bloggers as your parents”, I smiled giving him the same answer to the same question whenever we go to a place not to his liking.

Nanzaro was just annoyed because he was gearing up for hot and spicy food the whole day and Filipino food is NEVER spicy. LOL!

BTW, take a look at the license plate of the car above.

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Kumare is certainly quite unlike all the Filipino restaurants you see in Metro Vancouver. It has that bright, modern look to it. Well, it is not quite the level of the fancier Chinese banquet halls but it is a move in the right direction. Here is a place that you could bring your friends to entertain them in fancier and elegant setting.

We were surprised to find that even though they had opened just for dinner that day, the place was almost full. I guess word gets around fast and perhaps there is such a pent up demand for a restaurant like this. Most of the diners appears to be Filipinos and so this is a good sign too.

The dining area seats 36 people with some room to expand with more tables in the future.

Service was prompt, friendly and eager. There were six people working the floor that day which we thought was a lot of people. I guess all hands were on deck on their opening day.

When we got seated, we were handed the menu in a pocket binder which they told us is still temporary. They told us that besides Filipino food, they incorporate some Thai cooking in the menu. The menu is simple and has all the familiar Filipino favourites in it. You can order most of the food either as a set (i.e. served on rice in a single plate) or you can have it served family style with rice ordered on the side. The prices are good too with most dishes between $7 and $9.

They even have a limited breakfast menu which is basically the “-silogs”, you know, dishes like long-silog, tap-silog, bang-silog and such. The suffix “silog” came from the sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg). All the breakfast items are $8.50.

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Even without looking at the menu, I already know what I want. The litmus test has got to be the national dish of the Philippines — the adobo. So I got this one called the Adobo Tostado which is $7.50.

This is braised pork served with mixed vegetables and garlic rice. The sauce on the pork has a very light vinegarish flavour which was delightful. I know some like it with sharper vinegar taste but this is perfect for me. I was thinking that the sauce would be excellent with some kind of … Continue reading

Fraser Park Restaurant — Hard to Find in Burnaby

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Complete Disclosure:
We did not pay for the food in this restaurant as Anton was expecting us.

“Difficult to find. Hard to forget.”

That is how I would sum up this place.

It is the character behind the Fraser Park Restaurant that I find very interesting. It is this interesting character of this place that the a popular TV show from the Food Network is going to feature this nondescript restaurant in the coming spring.

I just don’t know where to begin telling you about Anton and the Fraser Park Restaurant. LOL!

I wish there is a way you could meet Anton … get to know him and see what goes on inside his head and you will know what I mean.

I met Anton in his restaurant over a year ago. He first contacted me because he saw that I had been planning dinners (the 8GTCC dinners) and he thought that it was fun and wanted to talk about doing something like that. At one point, he was thinking of getting people to come together to cook together in a afternoon and the sitting down to enjoy the fruit of the labour. At another time, he was thinking of getting his chef friends together for a cook off and then invite people to come and pay-what-they-want. All for the love of food!

I like Anton. He did not come across to me as someone who would want to do this just for publicity for his restaurant. As a matter of fact, he told me way up front that he did not want me to write about his little restaurant because he has way enough customers already than he can handle.

That was then … one year ago. All that initial brainstorming was not carried through. He got busy and I got busy with other things in life. And I did not blog about the restaurant.

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Out of the blue, Anton wrote to me again. He was telling me that the TV show had identified his restaurant and planned to shoot in his restaurant over two days. I can’t tell you what the TV show is but I think some of you can guess which show it is. Don’t ask me because my lips are sealed.

Anton asked me if I could meet him so that he could pick my brains on what he needs to do to prepare for the TV shoot. It is not that I am an expert in this sort of things but I would love to go and catch up with Anton again and bring Suanne along to try his food.

So where is Anton’s restaurant? The Fraser Park Restaurant is not exactly unknown. Many people knows him and loves his simple authentic German food. It is located in an area you will least expect. As a matter of fact, it is one restaurant you will not go into if you saw it by chance.

And that is the beauty of it. Sometimes one should not judge a book by its cover. As I mentioned up front … it is the character that makes this restaurant that I think many people should experience. You might hate it … or you might just love it. I love it.

It is “difficult to find” as I said. Fraser Park is located way down the southern most part of Byrne Road in Burnaby. There is virtually nothing here except for lots of industrial buildings. Oh, I think there is also a correctional facility nearby too! There is also a nice park that I used to walk along after lunch when I was working in the area.

Outside the restaurant and in the general area, don’t be shocked with rusted cars and vans parked haphazardly around.

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Anton’s specialty is his German lunches. He is after all a master butcher and a master sausage maker. He studied food science in microbiology. So he knows his stuff. You can see his credentials on the walls inside the restaurant.

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He changes his menu every week and serves different things everyday. However, there are days that he will feature something standard because people loves that:

  • On Wednesday it is his famous German lunch
  • On Thursday it is lamb based
  • On Friday it is salmon day

We picked Wednesday to visit Anton because we wanted to eat his German lunch.

See the menu above. Don’t you just love him putting in a smattering of German words on his weekly menu? You can click on it to make it more readable. He emails the menu of the week out to his customers so that they can plan to come in for the specials of the week. It is hard to get bored with his food when he tries to vary it every day, every week.

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Anton is a crazy nut if you ask me. He is a perfectionist and he insists on making his food from … Continue reading

Pinoy Pork BBQ from Georgio’s

Updated: 29th Oct 2014; This restaurant is closed.

I am not sure why … not sure if it is coincidence or what.

You see, some of the most passionate foodies I know are of the Filipino heritage. It is strange because the Filipino cuisine is so under-represented in Metro Vancouver. If you think about it, Filipinos makes up a significant percentage of the visible minorities in our city. If I am not mistaken, they are the third largest minority group after the Chinese and the East Indians.

My impression is that Filipinos are shy and private people, event timid. As a people, they tend to blend into the fabrics of society rather than sticking to their own — unlike the Chinese and Koreans, for instance. While one may think that the Chinese are everywhere in the world, I think that in terms of sheer percentage of the Filipino population, there are more Filipinos living outside of the Philippines than the Chinese outside of China. The Chinese is just greater in numbers because of the sheer size of their population.

Yet, the Filipinos seems to have so small a voice compared to the other communities. But one thing I see too … they are proud of their heritage … and even more fiercely proud of their cuisine! Go ahead and ask any Pinoy. Ask them if the Chinese Roast Pig is better or the Filipino Lechon (see pictures) is better. They will go and describe to you twenty different ways why the lechon is more superior. He he he … if not for the fact that they are so mild mannered, they would probably say that the Chinese Roast Pig skin is laughable.

Ask them also about the Crispy Pata (see pictures). I bet they will tell you there is no equivalent in the world … and I have to agree to that.

While we would shirk from even looking at the balut (see pictures), let alone eat it, they might be thinking “What is the problem? It is delicious”. LOL!

I learned a lot about the Filipino people, the culture and cuisine only in the last year or two. I remember the first time I was properly introduced to the Filipino cuisine. It was Pinoy Gourmet who brought us to a feast at the Little Ongpin restaurant in Richmond. What a feast it was!

The Filipinos love their pigs! Many of their best food resolves around the pork.

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Pinoy Gourmet told me about the pork barbeque recently. The thing is, there is no Tagalog name for this pork on skewer. I think it is just called Pork BBQ. The Filipinos should coin an official name for this to make them uniquely Filipino.

I was quite intrigued by what he was telling me. I remembered the BBQ on skewers that I had in Little Ongpin and thought at that time how similar it is to the Malaysian Satay and at the same time I had to grudgingly admit it was better than the Malaysian version in some ways.

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The Filipino meat on skewers are definitely bigger than the satay … way bigger, way meatier. In terms of juiciness, they are are much more moist. What I like is that they uses pork. They have no religious inhibition to pork. Pork satay is virtually unheard of in Malaysia — he he he, no one dared to advertise they have PORK satay in Muslim Malaysia.

The only way that the Pinoy Pork BBQ is inferior to the Satay is the absence of the peanut sauce. LOL!

Oh … you will be shocked when I tell you what the secret ingredient is … Continue reading

Goto King Near the Joyce Skytrain station, Vancouver

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Full Disclosure
This blog post is written based upon a free meal provided by a chowtimes reader who has a connection to the owner of the restaurant. More details below.

Last Saturday we had eight chowtimes readers joining us for a lunch and learn. While Suanne and I were the one organizing this, it was Rey who picked up the tab for this.

Rey is an advocate for Filipino community and in the course of his community work, he has amassed some goodwill barter from the businesses of the Filipino community. One of this is with the Goto King restaurant on Joyce. Since he has a lot more credit accumulated than he could ever eat, he offered to donate some to eight chowtimes reader — which we accepted. After all, we could not resist this as long as it benefits our readers.

Frankly, we mulled over this unusual arrangements for some time because well, it was unusual. Having known Rey for sometime, I know his intentions and how he goes around helping people without asking anything in return. By sharing this with chowtimes readers, he is also able to further promote Filipino culture and food.

Then I thought about how our readers will perceive this because I know some of you would be suspicious about free stuff for chowtimes. This is not about a free lunch just for Suanne and I but it is more for our readers who are willing to come together to meet like minded foodies and learn too. I was also thinking that this would be a great opportunity to have multiple reviews done not just by me but also reviews directly from foodies, not food writers or bloggers. Just see how my thoughts compares with the rest.

Oh … I wish I did not have to go into this long lengthy preamble and having to explain this to everyone. But this is necessary since it involves free stuff — and it’s also an unusual arrangement. LOL!

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Goto King is located very near the Joyce Skytrain station. Goto King is actually opened by the Cucina Manila restaurant next door. Cucina Manila is a Filipino-Filipino restaurant while Goto King serves Chinese-Filipino fare. Rey briefly introduced Liberty, the owner of Cucina Manila, to us and later told us that Cucina Manila is on an expansion spree. There are plans to open a Filipino restaurant in Richmond and a lechon (similar to Chinese roast pork) restaurant a few doors away.

Goto King is actually the name of a popular food outlet (over 70 outlets) in the Philippines. However, the Goto King in Vancouver has no affiliation to the Philippines. He he he … that reminds me of the Ba Le Vietnamese sandwich name which you find all over North America. Anyway, Goto is not pronounced as “go to” but goh-toh. Go To in Tagalog means congee.

The Goto King restaurant is not very big. With 11 of us in total, we practically took up 1/3 of the restaurant. It was a busy day at the restaurant too as expected it being on a Saturday noon time. There wasn’t a line at the restaurant because they turn the table pretty fast.

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Goto King is not a gourmet restaurant. They serve day-to-day Filipino food. I would call this no-frills comfort food with reasonable prices.

It was a good thing we had Rey who explained every single item on the menu (and also gave us a primer on the Filipino community and culture). Without him doing this, we would not have known most of the items on the menu.

When I said no-frills, I mean no-frills. It is almost like Hawkers Delight — just cleaner, and slightly pricier. By that I mean that you get your own drinks from the cooler and they don’t come around clearing each plate as you finish it until you ask.

In Goto King you don’t get that “how is it going guys? The weather is beautiful today isn’t it?” kind of service, if you know what I mean. Here, they will stand by the table with pen on the order chit waiting for you to say what you want. Just an observation because we like exchanging pleasantries … LOL!

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Someone ordered the Shanghai Lumpia (deep fried spring rolls – 12 pcs) $5.95. They have several types on the menu (fresh lumpia too). The spring rolls are smaller than those you normally find else where and is served with garlic soy sauce and sweet chili sauce.

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I so wanted to order something else but seeing that everyone already staked their claim on the more delicious dishes, I went with Goto (congee). Only Jane and I had the congee. Jane has the real thing … the real Goto … the real one with tripe ($6). This is what Jane had to say:

Jane: I think it was more flavorful than the usual congee. The tripe was tender and good too, but some of the pieces were so soft and tasted like belly/fat. Maybe those were fat indeed? I’m not sure.

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I had the other version. It is called Arroz Caldo and has chicken primarily. Also $6, I find this congee filling and packed quite a bit of flavour as compared to the more bland Chinese version. I like that they have lots of ginger and chicken in it.

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The condiments on the table are fried garlic chips, fish sauce and soy sauce. We all like the fried garlic chips which many of us added to the rice and congee. The fish sauce is rather salty quite unlike those we had in Vietnamese restaurants.

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So I added lots of the fried garlic chips. Nice … real comfort food.

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A lot of us got the Sisig Pork  $7. It came served in a sizzling hot plate. This was what I was eye’ing for but what can I do right? LOL!

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It was topped with a raw egg. Not really knowing what to do, those of them who got this stared and waited for the egg to cook.

It didn’t cook.

The lady boss came around and asked everyone to stir the egg into the sisig — which everyone did immediately as the hot plate was cooling already.

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This is how the Sisig Pork looked like post-stirring and pre-eating.

And this is how Rodney (who knows Filipino food very well) and Marcia (who is new to Filipino food) has to say about the Sisig Pork:

Rodney: The Sisig dish is presented exactly the same on a sizzling platter. The outer skin is usually crunchier as Filipinos are generally fond of it being crunchy and more burned as this can also be eaten as a snack / appetizer (called “pulutan”) which is munched alongside the local beer.
Marcia: I had the crispy pork dish.  Tasty but not quite crispy enough and had some gristle.

Gristle? What does the work gristle mean, Marcia?

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Most of the rest including Suanne had the Chicken Inasal ($7).  It is marinated fried chicken served with garlic rice and pickled vegetable on the side.

The skin-on chicken is crisp and nicely fried. It was also a big meaty piece of it too.

Here is Rodney’s take on the Chicken Inasal. BTW, Rodney is apparently a big time food reviewer on Yelp.ca

Rodney: The Chicken Inasal is our first time to eat this dish, but then with the description that Rey provided being marinated overnight, I felt that it tasted bland. I could have just easily mistaken it as a Crispy Fried Chicken dish.

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I noticed that they serve a lot of rice with the food. That tall mound of rice adds up to quite a meal. I thought it was quite flavorful and with a dash of soy sauce and a bit more fried garlic chips, I could even eat this alone.

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With the 11 of us, we ended up ordering only four different types of main dishes. That is because most of us went for either the Sisig Pork or the Chicken Inasai.

The dessert part was a bit more varied. The Sapin-sapin above is $2.00. It is a colourful glutinous rice cake and very sticky … Continue reading