I don't expect to catch up on a year's worth of personal blogging in a matter of days. I also can't justify discussing a neighborhood in Northern California when the general theme of this blog is Orange County. But right now, I don't mind. I'm always up here for the holidays, and dishing about any meal is better than not dishing at all. So I will talk about my local neighborhood center, King Plaza.
Located very close to Skyline Boulevard, locals may equate this center as the place where Classic Bowl is. That is true, but it also holds a number of food options. Not to completely disregard Classic (I've played many a game growing up), more than one friend has given a glowing review of their snack bar calamari. Just sayin'. And my old DJ friend Keith Okada even has a nightclub there, so even more of a reason to linger -- especially if you like your old school mixes.
Taking up the most real estate is Manila Oriental Market (or MOM, if you're seeking a pun). Think 99 Ranch, but less corporate. Steam tables towards the front, fish mongers in the back, lots of produce off to the side. Maybe the shelves reach higher, or the aisles narrower, but they carry some serious inventory. If you're cooking Asian/Pacific Islander anything, look no further. My mom doesn't bother with most grocery stores besides this, unless it's called Costco. Only piece of advice: avoid the parking lot, if possible. Park around the perimeter of the square, unless you are that patient with searching for a spot. I'm more concerned about dinging my car or getting into a fender bender. The extra five minutes walking does a body good. I grab some chicken thighs, brown sugar, tamarind soda, fruit cocktail, almond jello mix, and sweetened soy milk before cutting across the lot.
Tucked into a corner is Toast Deli. It used to be Grain, and used to sell burritos. This is now, and they are surviving with their concept of bulky sandwich options. Is it Vietnamese or Filipino? It pulls a Kogi and does both with their adaptations of banh mi stuffed with standard Filipino fare. The favorite is their sisig surprise, shown above. Pork, egg, onion, jalapeno, spread and toasty bread. If I ate this in high school, I think I would've appreciated the cuisine sooner. It's perfect on a chilly Daly City afternoon, which is most of the time. Its salty/crunchy/spicy personality makes me happy I don't need a fork or rice to enjoy good eats. Cramped dining quarters mean take-out is ideal, but not necessary. Although if watching MTV and blaring r&b bothers you, I suggest calling ahead. I've started making this a ritual when I visit home, and the owner is always there to say hello (or good-bye, if he's making a delivery).
My last stop for this visit is Valerio's Tropical Bake Shop. Along the same part of strip mall, this is where everyone stocks up on carbs. The aroma of baking wafts from the back and surrounds their display cases and metal racks in this standing room only space. If there's fruit or vegetable present, it's wrapped and baked in pastry, if at all. All the wares are enclosed in cello or boxed in clear containers, so there's no question what you're getting. Need some pan de sal, de leche, or de ube? Got it. Chicken empanadas glow golden, smaller than Argentinean versions, but nonetheless are filled with meaty goodness.Those are my snack of choice. Unless you're a regular, don't expect customer service. Folks go in here knowing what they want, and if they don't, yay for plain labeling with English translation. I like going here after Toast so my impulsive nature doesn't take over.
King Plaza has changed over the years. My usual route (in my childhood/tweens/teens) consisted of bowling a few games with a side of fries for sustenance, walking across the street for a lunch slice of pepperoni in the pizza joint, and finishing off at Phil Mart for some coin purse candies. It was my home turf then, and it still provides my essentials now, as I lug my plastic bags into the boot of my car.
King Plaza is flanked by Callan Boulevard, Warwick Street, Shipley Avenue and King Drive in Daly City. It is off Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard). Wear a jacket, and I already warned you about parking.