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David's Grill – Filipino in Vallejo

Melanie Wong | May 19, 200407:42 PM

David’s Grill opened last June. A restaurant and karaoke bar, it's open for lunch then stays late with food from steam table. Not sure what the “grill” refers to, perhaps it’s the Weber in the back where they make the kebabs. In fact, it was the aroma of the smoke from the grilling that first drew me in. The owner, Paz David, is a sweet grandmotherly woman. She is Pampangan and used to own a restaurant in Manila. There’s a little something extra in her cooking style, a special touch that makes traditional recipes more satisfying than the other Filipino places I’ve tried in this town.

Prices are rock bottom, the same as the take-out only places. One item with rice is $2.99 and two items with rice is $3.99. When you eat in, each selection is plated on an individual small dish and you’re given another dinner plate with two scoops of hot steamed rice. Mrs. David hovers to make sure you like everything. She has even picked up my plate to rewarm my food in the microwave when she suspects something has cooled off too much. On one rainy day, she offered me a complimentary cup of warming broth to take the chill off. It’s much like sitting at the family table in a private home and having grandma fuss over you. Recently, she’s been taking it a little easier now that the business is established and comes in mostly on the weekends.

Some of the things I’ve tried include:

liang – taro leaves, some minced pork, coconut milk, and a bit of chili spice for an unusual touch of piquancy, my favorite dish here

pork adobo – great balance and depth of flavor, spiced up with fresh ground pepper

menudo stew – but made with ground beef instead of beef cubes, frozen peas and carrots, tasty seasoning like the classic prep

dinuguan – the only thing I haven’t liked here, chunks of dryish stringy pork, seemed low on richness and overly sour, was not cooked by Mrs. David

sinigang – cross sections of earthy catfish and fresh mustard greens in tangy clear light broth accented with tamarind

pinakbet - sautéed Chinese long beans, kabocha, Japanese eggplant, bitter melon, and bits of salmon with a dried shrimp sauce

shish kebab ($1.75 each) – succulent pork on skewers with tasty sticky marinade grilled on the Weber

grilled pork spareribs – very meaty with black pepper spicing and sweet soy, some resistance to the bite yet tender

Mrs. David’s house version of pancit is a mix of sotanghon and canton pancit style using both wheat noodles and rice vermicelli. Studded with bits of roast pork, chicken, chicken liver, whole prawns, cabbage, shredded carrots, onion, dried shrimp, and pimento, it’s extra delicious. Only $2.50 per serving, the fully mounded small styro container serving of it must weigh close to a pound.

And, for dessert, there’s a big and beautiful turron. Very crackly and freshly fried, the ripe banana encased in a thin wrapper is glazed in dark, swarthy caramel.

David’s Grill
1906 Broadway
Tues-Sat, 10am-2am
Sunday, 10am-5pm & 8pm-2am

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