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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tita's Kitchenette

So we went to Tita's Kitchenette 2 times in a row last week. I think it was Monday and Tuesday or Tuesday and Wednesday. I really don't remember. Anyway, Tita's Kitchenette is this Philippine restaurant in National City. You take the Plaza Blvd. exit of 805. You go left on Plaza, then it's a couple shopping centers down on the right. This place is the Super Cocina of Philippine cuisine. If you're not familiar with Super Cocina, this means that Tita's Kitchenette is an extremely wonderful restaurant.

Sorry for those of you who are avid readers who hang onto my every word. I have to tell the back story for each place for the newcomers and passersby so they know what I'm writing about. Each of my blog entries is like reading another Harry Potter book. "Summer was in full bloom on Privet Drive, and an awkward teenage boy was laying on his mattress on the floor in the dark cupboard under the stairs in the Dursley house. The boy's name was Harry Potter. He had been orphaned at a young age when the evil wizard Voldemort had killed his parents in an attempt to kill Harry."

Getting back to Tita's Kitchenette. My parents love it so much, I think they could eat there every other day for the rest of their lives if they had to. My parents are Philippine, if you don't know. That means that it's good Philippine grub....

So the first afternoon, we got there at 2:40 pm. I literally got home, walked in the door, then we walked out the door 10 minutes later and went to National City. So there wasn't many people there. And they were just changing over to fresh hotel pans of steaming meat dishes. Yeah, they are pretty much all meat. Some dishes have some veggies thrown in for flavor though. So there are maybe 15 different things to choose from, and in a combo you pick two with rice. So the FP stepped up to the plate first. I almost always make him order first. I just want as much time as possible to decide. So on this day, the FP got the pork adobo and the pork hocks kare kare. Those were classic cuisine as they always are at Tita's.

For those of you who ain't schooled on adobo:
It's a method of cooking meat. Basically you stew pork or chicken with soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, and whole black peppercorns. It is delicious as a heart attack. And not one of those wimpy little indigestion-like heart attacks. I'm talking about a full blown where-the-fuck-is-the-defibrilator kind of heart attack.

As for kare kare - it's usually oxtail or pork hocks with green beans and peanut stew. It's so good, especially if it's stewed long enough that you can actually pull that fatty meat off the bone and eat it, rather than gnaw on it for several minutes like a dog. The great thing about the kare kare at Tita's, is that the green beans are cooked perfectly. They are still bright green, yet they are tender, not all grey and mushy like canned green beans.

Getting back to the meal, I got the pork hocks kare kare and the chicken adobo. The chicken adobo was wonderful.

The second day we got there pretty much with the after school crowd, but it wasn't too busy still. That place is like a cafeteria anyway, get em in, get em out. So they had goat! We never saw goat there before, so that was exciting. The FP got that and the marinated steak with onions. I got my goat (ha ha huh ha) and the roast pork salad, and some pancit.

So the goat was pretty good, not great, though. It was in a rich sweet tomatoey sauce, kind of ketchupy. And a few chunks were a bit chewy. The dangerous thing about goat though, is that the bones splinter into teeny pieces. So you can't just chow down on it. You have to take dainty bites and chew thouroughly, so you can pick out the bones and discreetly spit them into your napkin.

The steak with onions was very dry and chewy. So very Pilipino style. I remember when I was growing up, my mom didn't know how to cook steak. I think she got lean cheap cuts and she cooked it to death. It was always a nightmare trying to saw through it and then masticate it for 5 minutes. As I got older, she learned how to make it more tender, she would tenderize it and maybe she got the better cuts of meat.

The pork salad was not nearly as good as usual. It seemed to be a bit old. What it is, is roast pork that's mixed with onions, green onions and stuff, but it's hot. Then I smother it in the garlic vinegar, so it tastes like a ceviche. But this pork seemed kind of old, maybe a little cold,maybe the skin wasn't as crunchy as usual. It was kind of congealed. But I ate it. I was hungry.

And then the pancit was just okay. It was made with bean thread noodle, and it had little bits of chicken and barely any vegetables. I guess I like pancit much more with cantonese noodles. But I ate it. It was all still pretty good. But you know, for $6 + change a combo plate, you can't really complain. And every restaurant has it's off day, or it's off hour or two. Every restaurant. Maybe even El Bulli in Spain.

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