Chicken and Pumpkin

Have to wake up early again today because Christian’s new baby toy needs some pampering. It was more than OK since he treated me to a hearty lunch in Holy Cow after.

Chicken fillet with creamy parmesan sauce sprinkled with thyme with grilled veggies and Java rice

I could begin an affair with this pumpkin soup. It’s so thick, and creamy, and hot. My tongue was parched but my soul was warmth. I’m getting “poetic” just thinking about it. 😛

Spidey Saturday

We watched The Amazing Spiderman last Saturday, and boy, it really is amazing. I think Andrew Garfield did a better job at being Spiderman than Tobey Maguire. Tobey can look such a retard sometimes. Christian’s words, not mine. And Emma Stone IS Emma Stone. That girl can never do anything wrong even if she looks like a crying Powerpuff Girl or an enamored goldfish. She’s just the perfect combination of cute and hot. The visual effects are stunning as expected. If there’s a sequel, I will definitely watch.

Anyway, here are some other highlights of my Saturday.

We had our dinner at Mr. Kurosawa because we were both craving for ramen. This is a Euro-Japanese fusion restaurant that has a very good ambiance. I especially loved the wall art decor and brick walls. One thing that I don’t love is the red light beside our seats. It’s kinda distracting, although it has done it’s fair share in making the pictures that I took appear special. 😀

We had the Shoyu seafood ramen as recommended by the waiter. One order is good enough for two so you can just ask the waiter to split the soup into smaller bowls. Christian ordered the Spider Roll, which is a nice coincidence to the movie. What set it apart from the other rolls that I had before are the crunchy crablets inside. Never mind my allergies, they tasted really good. It got me into thinking on why this roll was named as such.  Hmm.. I also got myself a platter of bacon-wrapped dory. And yes, I loved it!!! Come on! Bacon and dory? What’s not to like? 😀

Over dinner, we had this little quiz wherein we will take turns into acting one epic scene from a famous movie and the other one would guess. Titanic’s “I’m flying Jack!”, The Matrix’s slow-mo-dodge-the-bullet-scene, and LOTR’s Frodo-accidentally-catching-the-ring-with-his-index-finger (again in slow mo) were the firsts to make the cut. We prolly looked like a bunch of dorks sitting by the corner of the resto but we didn’t really care. We were having fun. 😀

We finished dinner early so we had a good one and a half hour extra time before the movie started. We just strolled around doing some window shopping and I snapping pictures along the way.

Hope you had a nice weekend, too! 🙂

First Taste of Binondo

Going to Binondo on a Sunday is a very good idea. The streets are almost empty so you can freely roam around at your own pace, take pictures in the middle, and just do your thing without the usual pack of people crowding the place. I missed the usual hustle and bustle of its Chinatown but it was actually good. It was a lazy Sunday after all.

Babes and I trying to be fancy in the middle of Chinatown.

We planned on having the ultimate food trip and start with brunch but failed. We arrived there at past 1PM already and everyone’s damn hungry. Our first stop was at Ying Ying Tea House where we ordered a sumptuous feast of a lunch.

And by sumptuous and feast, I meant this!

(1) Beef Hofan – Flat noodles with tender beef strips and sesame seeds; (2) Yang Chow; (3) Salt and Chili Squid; (4) Soy Chicken – goes well with the green pickle-ish thingy there.

But it doesn’t end there. I have to make a separate collage for two of my favorites: Shrimp Hot Salad and Hakaw (shrimp dumplings). I was hoarding them like a pig from the others. Haha! Yes, I am the ultimate takaw hakaw. @_@

The food were all delicious and the price are perfectly acceptable for the taste and the quality of service. Our first set arrived in less than 30 minutes (which was good since we were all starving at that time). There is unlimited house tea and the waiter who served us even gave some tips on what dishes and servings to order. I like it when waiters are honest with their advice. Makes me think that they are not only into the profit that the resto will get but the satisfaction of the customers, too.

Post-dinner photo op by the sticky stairs

Because we were so full, we decided to skip dessert or any kind of munchies and go to 168 instead. 168 is a popular mall in Divisoria just a few blocks from Binondo’s Chinatown. It is a mine of very cheap but amazing items. I will write about it more the next time I visit. 😉

Going back to the food, we headed to Eng Bee Tin after 3 hours of 168 scouring to buy some take-home goodies. There were rows of flavored hopia (filled pastry), mochi, milk teas, and Chinese food items that I grew up with as a kid.

“Fake communion time!”: These are thin sweet flakes that look very similar to the Catholic host.

Is this the Chinese Dora? 😀

After that, we went to the adjacent restaurant, Tasty Dumplings, for our last hurrah. Their wintermelon iced tea is good, and it only costs 45 PHP. Babes and I shared the tossed noodles with porkchop meal. Babes was crazy about the porkchop but it was just OK for me.

Tossed noodles look just like the usual spaghetti pasta and is served with a pickle-ish garnish and oil-based sauce. It is served separate from the soup but you can opt to combine them later, like what we did here. 🙂

Even though we were only able to visit three stores, the overall foodie experience in Binondo has been superb. I will definitely go back and visit the other dumpling houses and get more wintermelon iced tea. And yes, it will be still be on a Sunday. 😉


With Le Masters

My last day in Bicol was spent with my family. We celebrated Father’s Day over a simple lunch in Embarcadero de Legazpi. This is one of the new commercial hubs located by the city’s port. The place is a refreshing take on the usual mall restos that us, Bicolanos, are so used to.

Meet my brother, Buba. When we were kids we look so much alike that some of our friends would call us twins. But no, we have a 1-year difference. 😀

Lunch was a feast but I’m posting here my favorite dishes. Don’t get us wrong. We ordered some veggies too, but the Pinakbet (mixed vegetables simmered in fish paste) is a disappointment. Such a sucker since we always order a plate when we dine out as a family. Anyway, the grilled pusit (squid) is on top of my list followed by the crispy sisig (various parts of a pig’s head chopped and seasoned with calamansi and pepper). The grilled blue marlin belly and liempo (pork belly) are also good.

And here are my folks, whom my siblings and I fondly call “The Masters”. Aside from Father’s Day, we also celebrated their 28th Wedding Anniversary. I admire my parents so much because they are simple-minded, humble people who are still very much in love. While growing up, I always wanted to experience the thing that they have. My mom would usually act so excited when he hears my dad arriving after work. And my dad would usually troll around and try to evade her before giving her a kiss. Mushy, I know, but it’s something that is really hard to find these days.

Funny that I don’t exactly know their love story. I’ll make it a point to ask them next time we have our family bonding time.

As I’ve said, my vacation in Bicol was short but very sweet. Just a few nights ago, I found myself crying like a kid because I was missing them so much. 😦

It’s really hard to have a post-vacation depression. I know. I just made that up. But it’s going to be true. Just you wait. Haha! 😉

I can’t wait for next Bicol vacation with them. For sure, it’ll be much longer. 🙂

Bicol Road Trip

I was mostly awake during our road trip to Bicol, which is quite a miracle actually given my travel sleep streak. Anyway, it was good because I was able to observe the places that we passed through more.

The trip has not been easy. We experienced heavy traffic along the Alabang area and there were so many road construction sites in Quezon. The normally 8-hr trip was extended to 10. Still, the province has been a very welcoming sight. This is the view that greeted me when I woke from my short nap. This was taken in Gumaca, Quezon, I think.

It was already past 10AM when we arrived at Bicol proper so we decided to take brunch in CWC. It’s this wakeboarding site in Camarines Sur, popular to both tourists and locals. The lack of people has been refreshing. The last time I’ve been there, the place was overflowing with people and everyone was in a ‘summer party’ mood. 😉

Their clubhouse serve some mean quesadilla. I would have eaten them all if not for my queasy stomach. Always gets it when I do long travels.

It was rainy as usual but I was happy to be back. It was a short and sweet 2 day vacation with my family and friends. I will tell you more about it next time. 😉

Down the Doughnut Hole We Go

It is National Doughnut Day in the US and although I live across the globe, let me talk about my recent ‘happy place’ discovery: JCo Donuts and Coffee. There are only 2 branches open in the Philippines right now and I am very lucky that one of them is just a few blocks away from my house. It’s in Megamall Strip B by the way if you want to check it out. The other one is in SM Mall of Asia.

Like most coffee shops, the place is cozy enough for meet-up with friends and after dinner dates. In our case, this was the highlight of our weekly Sundate after searching the mall for hardware stuff and watching a not-so-appealing-movie. What’s interesting is that while you’re at the counter queue, you can actually see the crew prepare the doughnuts, arranging them beautifully in trays. It’s such a gastronomic delight!

I got the Matcha green tea with almond and Christian settled for blueberry . I love the softness of the dough and how it tasted and smelled so fresh. It actually reminded me of Cello’s, another doughnut place that I love.

The crunchy almond shavings perfectly complimented the creaminess of the Matcha green tea spread. Christian was not so crazy about it, though. I can still remember his grimace when he took a bite. Haha!

These round darlings only cost 40 – 50 pesos each. Not bad considering the taste, quality, and currently, it’s novelty. I am quite excited to go back and try the other delectable flavors, and even the other yummy-looking dessert that they offer: savory sandwiches, frozen fat-free yogurt, and coffee-based beverages.

How about you, what’s your doughnut story? 🙂

Sister Sundate

 

Since I spent half of my Saturday sleeping and the other half cleaning the condo, I decided to spend my Sunday with my sister, Nikki. I was in dire need of actual socializing! Christian also joined us in our Karate Kid dinner where I had gyoza and tofu. The gyoza was so yummy, we had to order another plate.

We had Caramia gelato for dessert — all Nikki’s treat. 🙂 My tiramisu and her mint & choco gelato are equally good. But Christian’s mango and hibiscus is something else. My guy has such weird, old-fashioned even, taste sometimes.

The night was capped by me staring at the beautiful Supermoon. Tried to document it using my phone camera but it just couldn’t capture how amazing it looked in the night sky.

A Taste of Summer

I’ve been secretly whining about not having any plans this summer. Yes, I’m getting a bit jealous of all those kids having an awesome beach getaway and posting all those fabulous pics on Facebook.

So… I was really thankful when Christian tagged me along to his friends’ weekend plans. We started with a sumptuous dinner at Trinity in Dampa, Macapagal. Seafood galore, oh yeah! I don’t have decent pictures of the actual dishes that we ate but they were all good. I especially liked the calamares, spicy buttered crab, and baked mussels with cheese. Never mind that I have an unpredictable come-and-go seafood allergy — I bought 4 pieces of anti-histamine with me so that prevented me from looking like a midget Shrek and scaring Christian’s friends.

After dinner, we headed to Mariott Hotel where we would stay overnight; courtesy of Omar, who’s back for a short vacation from SG. It was a fun night of booze, juicy chismis-I-mean-stories, and a crazy game of Jenga.

Jenga level ridiculous!

In the morning, we went to take a swim in the pool and experience some of the hotel’s amenities. It was such a nice feeling being out there in the sun (even without sunblock!), just wading around in 4-ft deep water, and looking at the picturesque view from the deck.

What kind of idiot brings only half of her bikini pair? ME!!! Omar was sweet enough to toss me his SG marathon singlet so that I will be allowed to swim. and yeah, tying a knot at the seam makes it more acceptable. 😀
I was the only girl left in the group in the morning so I went solo here. It was kinda scary especially in the steam room (upper right). It was so dark and constricted — I felt like a lab rat lost in a dark, mint-smelling maze. :S

In the afternoon, we went to the adjacent Newport Cinema to watch The Avengers. The line was crazy! Funny thing is, we went over there the night before to buy tickets in advance. Christian and I both gave up when we say how long the queue was and decided that we’d buy the next day. But oh well, it was the same story in the morning.

The Saturday night line was way longer than this one.

Upon watching, I understood the fuss. The Avengers is a must-see. If you haven’t watch it yet, go check it out for yourself.

Sunday was capped by a dinner in Kimono Ken in Shang and me sprawling in my roomie’s bed, taking a good rest after a long, fun-filled weekend.

Happy Sushi Day!

I was doing my usual net surf when I came across this article from one of my favorite food blogs right now. Sushi-fanatic or not, take your time to read this. It’s interesting and very informative.

I had my first encounter with sushi when one of my closest friends, Mils, invited me to her birthday dinner. I forgot the name of the restaurant but one of the dishes served was a plateful of tuna sushi that I looked at with apprehension. I’m not used to Japanese food at that time, much more, eat something raw. But her mom, Tita Glenda, was gracious enough to encourage me to pick one and eat it. I still remember her exact words when I asked her if it is, in any way, disgusting: Not at all. It just melts in your mouth.

She is right.

From that time on, I exposed myself to more types of sushi whenever I eat in a Japanese resto. My all-time favorite, and probably the most common to all, is maki. It never fails to give me a tummy satisfaction whenever I’m hungry. There’s also this good visual experience that you get whenever you are served with a sushi plate. They are always prepared and arranged beautifully that you can’t resist taking pictures before you take a bite.

Here are some of my sushi experiences:

Sushi Platter from Little Tokyo (photo grabbed from Janine)

Little Tokyo is this small semi-village of restaurants that serve authentic Japanese food. It is around the Pasong Tamo area, near the Makati Cinema Square.

This is one of the best sushi platter that I have ever tasted. Ever! Everything is fresh and the rice is so Japanese-y good. Not one of those pseudo ones that disintegrates so fast when you bite into them.

I just don’t have the guts to eat the one in the middle. That white fish is a bit scaly (scaly scary!). But the rest are oh-so-good!!!

Sushi Fusion Nation

Shake Maki is a strip of salmon on top of your usual maki. California Maki is the most common, with mango and crab stick inside. Dynamite Maki consists of diced salmon mixed with spicy mayo and tobiko on top, with cruncy eel wrapped inside the rice and seaweed. Not a big fan of the eel so I just push it away from my plate. But the salmon and spicy mayo is really good.

The JSC Sushi Platter from Omakase consist of Jurassic, Seabreeze, and Crazy Maki. Thus, the name. The Jurassic Maki is the one with the eel on top (top right). It has a signature crunchy feel to it but I find it quite malansa because of the eel. The Seabreeze is the one with the tuna strip (top left) while The Crazy Maki at the  bottom has both tuna and salmon inside. I liked it because it’s a bit spicy.

Kimono Maki from Kimono Ken

One recent discovery is the Kimono Maki or Ebi Tempura Maki from Kimono Ken. It looks like a whole piece of ebi tempura was inserted into a line of maki. The plating is something that you don’t see everyday. I liked how the shrimp tail protudes at the end. 🙂

It has the usual ingredients: mango dice, cucumber, tuna, and seaweed strip. What made it special is the chunk of ebi tempura with a dash of spicy mayo. Yum!

There goes my notable sushi experiences.  And since yesterday was supposed to be a rice-ball day, I would like to offer my  (late) happy maki face plate to the sushi deities.