02 June 2017

Discovering the culinary wonders of Hong Kong - Part 1 (Shangri-la Kowloon TST)

Hong Kong was the 2nd country I visited after Vietnam way back in 2013 and this country holds a special place in my heart. There is something about its alleyways and subways and little nooks and crannies that I find so endearing. I have explored HK a few more times since then and every time it is always a different and new experience for me.

For this visit, it was not about leisure but it was a working visit. Nevertheless, I still got to explore gustatory delights here and there. On one of those nights, me and my colleagues together with the boss had dinner at the Shangri-la in Kowloon in TST. We bee-lined for the Chinese restaurant and had a proper Chinese dinner.

Before we started our dinner and as soon as we had taken our seats, they brought us wonderful and fragrant hot tea to refresh us. 

For appetizers we had deep fried prawns with wasabi mayonnaise and salty egg yolk of which I had failed to take a picture of because we were on it right away and some century egg. These were one of the yummiest and smoothest century eggs I had ever tasted. Just thinking about it again makes my mouth water. We also had some marinated pork knuckle with soy sauce. These were also good and great pre dinner eats.

For the main course, of course, we had the Roasted Peking duck in 2 ways. First with the crispy skin wrapped together with vegetables and a dipping sauce and for me this was the highlight and everyone enjoyed it.

We were given colorful little mooncakes as dessert and it was the perfect ending for that meal.

Service was excellent and everything was just nice. Good to have dinner in places like this from time to time. I'd give it a 4/5. On another note, the Shang Palace here has been award 2 Michelin stars. ⭐⭐

On Summary:

Michelin Star - ⭐⭐
Service - 4/5
Food - 4/5
Ambiance - 5/5


13 April 2017

Subic Roadtrip and Foodtrip One Summer Weekend...

Subic is one of those places that are nearby yet, it has taken me ages to explore it. For one, I am not sure of how to commute and what interesting things to see there and I think it is better for when you have someone show you around. Well, one summer weekend, the work colleagues planned a Subic weekender trip with nothing on the agenda but lots of eating and eat we did.

Colleague AM had a caterer for a tita, and as luck would have it, we were fortunate enough to be there when they had several functions so we had so much food already in the house of colleague AM and I had one of the yummiest lechon outside of Cebu. We explored several places of interest in the once US army base that is Subic Bay. There were lots of duty free shops as well selling at good prices and clothing stores which were relatively cheap compared to their counterparts in the Metro. Subic is a gem for good deals for a lot of things. But what really stuck out were 2 very good restaurants we ate at.

The first restaurant we explored on our first and last night was Xtremely Xpresso Cafe. Apparently it is known as one of Subic's institutions standing out for its delicious food and reasonable prices.

I saw a lengua on the menu so I immediately gravitated toward it. I haven't had delicious lengua in a long time. This was great. Melt-in-your-mouth ox tongue slathered with delicious gravy paired with white rice amd served with steamed corn and carrots.

Colleague AM, being a fan of KPOP like me, ordered Korean beef ribs. This dish is one of those that I really like. It's sweet and savory at the same time and the beef ribs are oh so soft. She had rice to go with this as well.

AB ordered a chicken and mushroom steak dish with rice too and steamed vegetables at the side. 

Colleague L ordered a nut-pesto with seafood pasta which was cooked just right. 

We also ordered a platter of ribs which had a side serving of fries. The ribs were finger lickin' good.

And for our dessert we ordered the Giant Brownie. A brownie and ice cream tower all piled up with chocolate wafer sticks, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. We couldn't even finish this one and there were 4 of us.

For lunch the next day, we went to another Subic Institution - Meat Plus. They have steak cuts you can choose from and they were really good in quality and the price is one of the best parts about this resto. It won't burn a hole in your pocket. Aside from steaks, they also have a variety of other dishes you can choose from.

All of us got the New York steak though and we had it cooked to our liking because they will ask you at the counter while you are paying for your food how you would like it to be cooked. We got so full here and promised to go back and eat some more. This is one stop you shouldn't be missing in Subic.

Overall our Subic food adventure was 2 days well spent. We had good meals at great prices and the team bonding was added incentive too. Til next time Subic!


15 February 2017

Of Roadtrips and Lunch Stopovers in Provincial Towns - Patio Elmina in Dagupan

So it was one of those family get-aways with the kiddos and for this time we decided to go to a Luzon destination - Lingayen. And yes, before I forget to add, I did some early morning run along the gulf of Lingayen and it was exhilarating and I was able to photography some really great subjects early in the morning.

We were on our way back home to the busy-ness of the Metro but had to make a stopover on the road for some lunch grub and while we were busy checking out the restaurants along the road and looking at our phones to find nearby eating places when we happened to chance along Patio Elmina in Dagupan and they were situated along the highway. The exterior of the place was pretty much built of wood and so were the interiors. They had a koi pond as well and more old school designs inside.

Everyone was pretty happy with the food and we got to taste more "Luzon" dishes. Since everyone was already quite hungry we skipped on the appetizers and went right on ahead with the mains and other items. One of those interesting dishes we ordered was the "poqui poqui" and it really has a funny name. It's an Ilocano eggplant and egg dish and while it wasn't really aesthetically pleasing, it was one of the family pleasers. Aside from being healthy it really did taste quite good.

We also had some burong kanin. I think it is Kapampangan in nature. It is fermented rice and a famous and interesting dish. I think for some it is an acquired taste but others love it. This was one of our side dishes.

Then of course the tito's needed to order one of their favorites - Aligue Rice. Rice cooked with crab fat hence the color pale yellow. So sinful this one dish with all that crab fat. Personally I think it lacked some oommpph and more crab fat. It could be more tastier.

Then we had some "kalderetang kambing" which is basically stewed goat in tomato sauce and spices and they loaded the top with cheese. The goat was surprisingly really soft and flavorful and I liked this one very much. We used to eat a lot of goat when I was little and when we still lived in Cdeo so this was a very familiar taste for me.

We also ordered some bulalo but it was just so-so and a sizzling boneless battered bangus with gravy which everyone loved and then there was the lechon kawali which is kind of a staple. 

Overall the taste of the dishes was pretty ok and the prices were really not bad at all. This was a good stopover meal! Hearty and filling and best of all eaten in the company of family!


02 January 2017

On The Tummy Spot: PatisTito Garden Cafe in Laguna

A year and 1 day ago to date, this foodie and a few friends went road tripping through Laguna all the way to Lucena to attend a good friends' wedding. Of course we planned out our foodie stops and PatisTito Garden Cafe was foremost in our mind. Me and fellow foodie and amazing cook friend J, already mapped out the route we were taking a few weeks before the trip so that it would be seamless come road trip time. The first stop was of course this gorgeous garden cafe owned by the iconic couple Patis and Tito Tesoro of Pinoy barong fame.

Armed with Waze and big tummies we happily made our way on the road. It took some time but we were able to find it as well as asking for directions from people we chanced by on the road. Indeed it was kind of hard to find but when we got there we were fascinated with old school Filipino decor, wooden tables, and a garden meant to be enjoyed. It was outdoor/garden dining. We actually called ahead to reserve because we wanted one item on their menu that needed 24 hours ordering beforehand.

We started off with some appetizers. They had a lot of them but we got the combination platters because we wanted to try as many items as we could in their menu because we didn't know when we could ever visit this restaurant again. We had Combo A. It was a delightful fried combo of tasty pork and beef balls, ground pork with yummy cheese, and hearts of palm rolled up spring roll style with a dip of vinegar, chili sauce, and tomato sauce.

We also had their delicious and very refreshing Ensaladang Pako. It was a simple fern salad with slices of red egg, tomatoes, sprinkled with cheese, and slathered with their own dressing and this is one of those that I will always remember. Very local and very refreshing indeed.

In between courses, we happily explored the interesting surroundings filled with Filipino curios. It was like going back in time 50 or so years ago to really old school Filipino houses.

When our piece de resistance finally arrived, we all sat down to enjoy the meal. The menu item we had ordered beforehand was the Chicken Kinulob. This was basically slowly cooked chicken over a charcoal fire for a few hours together with some potatoes, carrots, bacon, tomatoes, and Spanish chorizo. The chicken became so tender and cooking over a charcoal fire inside a native "palayok" (ceramic pot) did wonders for the dish. Collective Ooohhhsss and Aaaaahhhss for this one! Good job PatisTito Garden Cafe.

Of course, we added one other dish to complement our chicken, we had their Kare-Kareng Dagat. This was equally delicious too. Pieces of seafood and vegetables cooked over a slow fire with the customary home made peanut sauce stew and with it came one of our collective favorites - "guinamos" (fish paste). Another winner. The fish paste didn't taste at all fishy and it was great to pair with the seafood and vegetable pieces of the dish.

A meal wouldn't be complete without dessert and of course there is always room for that course. We had very traditional dessert this time paired with their mangosteen coffee. We had their Turon con Latik. Banana and nangka slices rolled in spring roll wrapper, fried with brown sugar and served with some nata de coco. Yum! You can't get more traditional than that.

Overall we had a great and lovely time at this garden cafe. We don't know when the next visit would be but most assuredly it would be worth the trip.


15 October 2016

On The Tummy Spot: P.H.A.T Pho at Serendra

Ever since I had the chance to visit Vietnam a few years back, I have become a big-time fan of Vietnamese food that I try to eat it every chance I get but the quest for a decent Vietnamese restaurant here in Manila is not that easy. But there are a few here and there who can satisfy my cravings...

One of them would be P.H.A.T. Pho in Serendra. This Vietnamese joint is part of The Abaca Group of restaurants so I have high expectations and thankfully these were all met one Sunday lunchtime.

For starters I ordered one of my favorites - Goi Cuon with chilled shrimp. I can eat a handful of these in 1 sitting. These are rice paper wrapped rolls with vermicelli, peanuts, fresh herbs, daikon, carrots, mushrooms, and plump blanched shrimps with a nuc nam (sweet vinegary sauce - my fave), or the peanut sauce. I loved how it is so refreshing when you eat it and these ones from P.H.A.T. Pho were at least akin to the ones I had in Vietnam that just thinking about it makes me want to eat it again. I love these rice rolls!

My sister ordered herself the Saigon Baguette Banh Mi. A banh mi are the sandwich thingies in Vietnam. Very popular in Vietnam in the streetsides and everywhere, P.H.A.T. Pho's version pretty much stood up to its original counterpart. The baguette was crusty outside and soft in the inside. The sandwich layers had pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber slices, scrambled eggs, spring onions, cha lua, pressed meatballs, ham, and liver pate. The banh mi was so filling indeed and delicious as I was able to take a bite out of it.

Then we had P.H.A.T. Pho's noodle bowl-bun which was topped with grilled lemongrass pork and this was a bowl of amazing. Cold vermicelli noodles garnished with Vietnamese sausage, greens, cucumbers, crushed peanuts, daikon, pickled carrots, and fried shallots. This was just lovely! The pork was grilled just right and the flavors were amazing in this bowl. No need for rice, the cold vermicelli noodles were perfect. 

Lunch at P.H.A.T. Pho was great. I can't wait to eat there again! 



24 August 2016

On The Tummy Spot: Hole-In-The-Wall at Century City Mall

Just a few months ago, me and my other foodie friend SinfulBombs decided to meet up and explore a food place we had been talking about countless times. It was Hole-In-The-Wall at the Century City Mall in Makati. The concept was that of a cafeteria style common dining hall with several different food stalls offering different kinds of food and beverages. That alone got us excited because it meant we could try out different dishes in 1 sitting. (Yes, we love these kinds of eating places!)

So I went around and checked to see what kinds of food were being offered and finally decides on some of the Bad Bird's Corn and Coleslaw plate which had 2 pieces of chicken (you can have the spice level adjusted to safe, spicy, or chemical), corn on the cob (slathered with kewpie mayo, bonito flakes, cheese, and togarashi), and coleslaw. And since we were curious about the sweet potato waffles, we ordered them ala carte - 2 pieces of thin sweet potato waffles served with a dollop of luscious miso butter and maple syrup. 

We loved the umami fried chicken seasoned just right and really crisp on the outside but tender inside. The coleslaw was a perfect foil to the fried food plus the corn was just really yummy with the bonito flakes! I've heard the dirty rice plate is better so more reason to visit again.

Friend SinfulBombs had Mister Delicious’ Classic Corned Beef Reuben, a delightful stack of home made and chunky corned beef and sauerkrat, with a slab of emmental cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread. It was humungous to say the least and heavy. A sandwich meal indeed. We first paired our yummy eats with some refreshing craft ginger ale from Mister Delicious. It was I think around 750ml and because we liked it so much, we bought another bottle again after we emptied out the first one. Really a must-drink when in Hole-In-The-Wall.

Sister K came around after a while with the Mum and Z in toe and we ordered another batch of the Umami Bird's chicken plate plus another of Mister Delicious’ sandwich, this time the Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich - chunks and chunks of heavenly smoked pork, fresh coleslaw, and slathered with some tangy and sweet BBQ sauce. Another heavy sandwich masterpiece which the sister paired with ice cold coke!

Truly the Hole-In-The-Wall experience was a good one that this visit would be the first among many. They also have craft beers available in bottles and on tap in there. A nice place to just sit back and relax. There is a cookies and milk shop too for dessert and a healthy options stall for the green lovers.


04 August 2016

On The Tummy Spot: The Maisen Katsumabushi Tastexperience!

A few years back the Philippine Japanese restaurant market changed for the better with the addition of tonkatsu chains from Japan coming over and opening their branches here. I'd say they were very welcome additions for the foodie demographic. 

Some of the big chains are Yabu, Saboten, Maisen, Tonkatsu by Terazawa, and little mom and pop shops with authentic Japanese chefs or Japanese-trained chefs have also opened up their little tonkatsu places all over the PH. Needless to say tonkatsu is one of the many things I get immense pleasure from especially if the quality of the pork is great, the cabbage fresh, and the pickles lovely.

I think Maisen was the latest to open here with THE Ben Chan behind it and their first store opened in the posh Greenbelt location. 

One hot summer day when I was running errands and debating where to eat lunch solo, I decided to make myself comfortable at Maisen. I like the coziness of their interiors and the fact that when I was shown to my table, I was immediately offered either hot or cold house tea and a cold towel to refresh myself. I appreciate these little comforts. For me, it speaks about the thoughtfulness of the restaurant.

I was debating whether to get the Kurobuta tenderloin katsu set or just the plain tenderloin katsu set (which is what I normally get in tonkatsu restaurants) when I saw something interesting in the last few pages - one of Maisen's specials which was a Katsumabushi set. It included tenderloin bite-sized katsus over rice served together with dashi stock, onsen tamago, and a delightful variety of side condiments (sesame seeds, wasabi, and green onions) that I decided to just order it. I usually am quite visual with the food I order so this one caught my eye.

There are also instructions on how you can enjoy the Katsumabushi set so you needn't worry should you decide to try this out on your next tonkatsu craving. I tried to eat it in all the ways they instructed in the menu so I could figure out how I wanted to eat it. You can just eat it however way you want but the best one for me would be to put the rice and katsu piece in the bowl provided, sprinkle sesame seeds, dab a little of the wasabi, put some green onions, then pour the dashi stock on it. This was how I preferred it. One more thing I loved in this set was the Onsen tamago!! This foodie just has a penchant for eggs. ;)

I liked what I had here and I loved that the lunch crowd wasn't in yet so I got to enjoy my katsu in peace. Raring to go back to check out the quality of their other katsu sets to compare with my Yabu, Saboten, and Tonkatsu by Terazawa experience.


Discovering the culinary wonders of Hong Kong - Part 1 (Shangri-la Kowloon TST)

Hong Kong was the 2nd country I visited after Vietnam way back in 2013 and this country holds a special place in my heart. There is somethi...