I’ve been meaning to try this place after it was recommended to me by Larry on this board a while ago, and after I mentioned it to someone in another thread, I figured I should eat finally eat here. This is a mini store/bakery with display cases jam packed with packaged snacks from the Philippines, and shrink wrapped baked items like kutsinta, sapin-sapin, cassava cake and a yummy looking bibingka. There’s a small steam tray set up. I didn’t see any pan de sal. There’s no menu board except one that had random Filipino foods listed like pancit, lumpia, halo-halo, etc. (without prices). I was a little hesitant by the emptiness at first, but the server/cashier/cook/owner (?) finally came out from the back to help me.
That day’s steam tray selection is shown in my pictures:
It’s 2 items plus rice for $4.99. I was excited about the Bangus (milkfish), one of my favorite fish when I lived in the Philippines but usually so boney, so when she told me it’s boneless, that was an easy pick. I was tempted by the crispy pata but then I’d be eating 2 deep fried meats so I went with the mussels & veggies in broth.
The bangus was of course not “hot & crispy just out of the frying pan”, but it did have some crisp, esp the tail and head. It had a salty lip smacking goodness with a hint of vinegar (?) or something in the meat. I used my fingers mostly and it wasn’t overly greasy. I love bangus because it’s mild (not fishy tasting), and this one had that “fresh” taste despite it being shipped frozen from the Philippines.
The mussels in broth was really good. Mussels a tad overcooked, but not smelly at all and I got 5 plump meats. The broth had a deepness and slight sweetness that tasted of chicken or pork stock, but I was told it was flavored just from the sauteed mussels and veggies. No MSG aftertaste. The veggies consisted of non-mushy squash-like chunks (chayote?), leafs of a green vegetable (like but not ong choy) and small tomato pieces. I really liked that broth. It had a very slight bite from ginger and and black pepper, and had very little fat but didn’t taste thin at all.
Rice was not dry and in big clumps like you usually see at Filipino eateries, instead the grains were moist and had a slight stickiness. Almost like the texture of sushi rice but with long grain if that makes any sense.
I also got a halo-halo to go after I saw someone order it and saw the big size. It’s got the highest ratio (and variety) of solids to liquids I’ve seen in a halo halo: mostly pinipig (puffed rice), but also lots of beans, jellies, coconut cubes, ground mung beans, ube chunks, soft jackfruit shreds, other unknown yummy stuff. Totally worth the $3.99.
I also found out on Tuesdays and Thursdays they have AYCE buffet for $5.99, and on those days there’s more selection (I think they add 2-4 more items to the choices). What a great deal. I wish I worked closer, I’d probably be here a lot.
Gold Tray Manila
5320 Monterey Hwy, San Jose
In the run-down looking strip mall with Ocean Palace restaurant