The latest stop on my Filipino chow trail came from a mention on the Vallejo Bites discussion forum.
On weekdays the doors dont open until 11AM, and the eager crowd that gathers waiting for the first rush was an impressive sight. Glancing at the price board, the pricing here was set at premium levels, comparable to CMC, so I started to get excited that Andrea might be something special too. The spacious interior was clean and well-lit with a good amount of seating.
The steam table offered up a larger assortment than the other places in town, and the pork and chicken skewers ($1.75 each) were just coming off the grill. The pork ones looked so sticky and nicely charred, and smelled so great, I added one to my order. I stuck with the classics kare kare and sinigang na isda for my two-item combo plate with rice. On the way to the cash register, I snagged a piece of leche flan, which surprisingly had some heft to it. Good thing, as it was a shock to see it rung up as $5! Total bill was $12 and change, which is getting up there for lunch.
The sinigang na isda had a zingily tart broth flavored with tamarind. The fish was a bit overcooked and not as smooth in texture as CMCs, not were the flavorings as subtle. Yet, this was still delicious. The kare kare (oxtail in peanut sauce) version here had some nice hunks of beautifully honeycombed tripe, as well as bok choy, eggplant, spinach and Chinese long beans. The oxtails themselves were a bit meager and the peanut sauce had a heavy richness but was monotonal. Then I remembered that the clerk had slipped a little container of bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) into my bag. Adding a bit of this gave the dish some magic. The bbq pork skewer was every bit as tasty as it looked and was moist and succulent highly recommended.
My favorite thing was the dessert leche flan. Velvety smooth and dense in the mouth, with nary a bubble to be seen, and tasting of both evaporated and sweetened condensed milks. The texture was so thick and heavy, it was almost fudgelike. The caramel syrup was deeply colored and well toward burnt. I had to park this in the office fridge to work on over three days, because it was too rich to eat in one sitting. I got my $5 worth from this sweetie.
A few days after trying Andrea for the first time, I overheard a couple in Santa Rosa talking enthusiastically about a Filipino place theyd found in Vallejo. I was nosy enough to interrupt and ask them where. The Tongan man told me that it was his regular place to buy lechon for his churchs luaus, better than any hed found in Daly City, and that hed liked everything else hed tried there.
1109 Maple Ave.
(strip mall behind Kragen on Spring Road)