Goldilocks - Cerritos
I need you to be aware of Magic Wok--which is, in my opinion, the best Filipino restaurant outside of the Philippines--because I'm now about to write about Goldilocks, which is like the Denny's.
Please don't take that last part as a knock against Goldilocks. It isn't. But it is quite like America's chain diner in many ways--it's lit brightly and has a similar corporate polish behind it. When you look around you get the sense the people who eat here aren't doing so because they're celebrating any sort of special occasion. Just at Denny's, they're here for sustenance.
I have a history with Goldilocks. My family and I had been going there since they were in a tiny location on Pioneer Street. We went specifically for their cakes. For a long time, if there's a birthday, it's usually a Goldilocks Black Forest beneath the candles.
But this visit was different. We stopped in to get a meal simply because we were in the area, and it turned out to be exactly the thing we needed--comfort food to sustain us and get our insides warm and cozy.
We ordered the sinigang, some pinakbet and a big pot of rice. We ladled the soup and its boiled vegetable contents into our own bowls, spooned some of that broth to moisten our rice, dribbled patis (fish sauce) onto the pork after we scraped them off the bone, and then we ate and ate, and slurped and slurped that tamarind-flavored pork elixir like it was the first hot soup we had in years.
There were more vegetable matter in this sinigang than there are in Magic Wok's. It was also the first time I saw taro in a restaurant sinigang, which is what I usually like to add in mine when I make it.
On the pinakbet, there were the usual assortment of pork, shrimp, bittermelon, pumpkin, green beans, eggplant, all shellacked in a funky gravy laced with the stinky-salty fermented shrimp paste called bagoong. I still prefer Magic Wok's rendition, but this was a very decent, very capable dish all the same.
During our meal we sat next to a poster that advertised that they had a $1.99 special on their pancit palabok (which I've described in previous posts as the Pinoy equivalent to pad Thai). We came back a few days later for it because we've never seen this meaty, saucy, and altogether satisfying mound of pork, fish and annatto-tinged wiggly noodles priced lower than $4. I think of it as Goldilocks' Grand Slam.
11489 South Street
Cerritos, CA 90703
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Foxfire - Anaheim Hills