914 E. 8th Street #202, National City
The Philippines is known for wild street foods. Balut (usually much younger and soupier than the Vietnamese fashion) is probably the most famous, but the list includes all manner of intense little skewered and barbecued meats, pastries, sweets, and the like. Kalye Hits (914 8th Street, National City with a new location freshly opened up in Hollywood), puts a roof over Filipino street food.
Kalye Hits is far from pretty. Dingy, yellow-tinged lighting gives the place an unsavory vibe, and the mini-mall surroundings aren’t exactly a first-rate neighborhood. Nevertheless, friendly employees have nothing but smiles for clueless newbies.
Oh, yeah, the restaurant also has a full-scale karaoke bar, complete with a house karaoke specialist who sings pop hits in a controlled mezzo-soprano before she walks the dining room urging guests to get up and sing. No big deal, right?
Kalye Hits’ BBQ skewers, just a couple dollars each, make the grisliest yakitori-style gizzards look like dainty little tea nibbles!
To name a few, there’s “Betamax,” cubes of congealed blood (in this case, pig); “Adidas,” chicken feet named after tennis shoes; pork and beef intestines; chicken livers; fish balls; sliced pig ears; and battered quail eggs called “kwek-kwek.”
Fair warning to ‘Kanos, the seafood stuff is fishy. It’s not your granny’s serene, flavorless surimi. The barbecued land meats, despite their offal-ish origins, are way more in tune with the flavors of conventional American barbecue. The sweet, sticky sauces cling to the charred meats, most of which incorporate some aspect of cartilaginous crunch, which is downright invigorating once you get past the initial aversion to eating something so...unconventional.
Beyond the skewered street snacks, there’s a whole menu of more substantial fare with sub-$15 prices on whole plates of meat and rice. Beef bulalo, a soup of marrow bones in rich broth, is the most compelling item on the menu, but the pancit and other dishes all deserve future investigation.
For such short money, Kalye Hits is totally worth a trip for the curious gastronome wanting to experience Filipino snacks in all their wild glory.