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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
So I added lots of the fried garlic chips. Nice … real comfort food.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 … (more…)