Posts Tagged ‘chinese food

17
Nov
13

PENANG | THANK YOU TO MY MALAYSIAN FAMILIES!

Sometimes, random moments happen that you wish you could freeze and savor them longer, before they become a beautiful memory. :)

On my last hours in Penang (prior heading to Kuala Lumpur for 3 days, then finally off to Manila after living and working in Malaysia as a Medical Lecturer for 3 years), I am very grateful to be with not one, but two Malaysian families, who unbelievably did so much for us. Call me sentimental fool or anything, but I was literally moved to tears with their gestures until the very last minute I spent in Butterworth.

Despite I humbly denied and simply thanked them for their offer to help us haul more than 100 kilos of luggages and whatnot, they even personally volunteered to drive us (my mom, maternal aunt and I) to the bus station that night.

My apartment-owner, Mr. Loh with his wife and mother-in-law arrived after 9PM of October 16th. He came not only to collect the keys to his apartment that served as my second home for 2 years (I lived in another on my first year in Malaysia), but he generously helped me carry loads to the other block, where one of the few of my closest friends and Filipino colleague, Dr. Jane stays.

I requested Dr. Jane to kindly facilitate the pick-up of some of our things, as we underestimated what needs to be sent home via LBC courier (Weeks before that, we already sent 2 biggest LBC boxes home, and the 32″ LCD TV, but we needed to unload further, hence, we left our things for another LBC box to my colleague that night for pick up from Penang, and we had to pay and send another huge LBC box to Manila via LBC-Kuala Lumpur branch).

Mr. Loh was there to help.

He left his family at his apartment and helped us carry our loads to the two taxi cabs we rented.

As the lift went down from 10th floor to the ground, it dramatically opened to the sight of Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael who were already standing there, waiting to go up to meet us.

Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael were Gabby’s former school Principal and teachers in Butterworth. Words could not express my personal gratitude to them, as they did so much beyond anyone’s expectations. They were there with me all throughout my difficulties in Penang.

I told Mr. Loh that although we really appreciate his offer for him to drive us to the bus station (which Ms. Jasmine and Mr. Michael also offered), we found it better to take 2 taxi cabs instead, so they can go home early. I bid him goodbye and thanked him well. Vividly, I recall his last words were about welcoming me again in his home, if and when chance allows me to revisit Penang.

While Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael followed our taxi cabs to the Penang Sentral bus station and stayed with us until past 12 midnight.

Yes, they stayed with us until few minutes past midnight.

When it started to rain, we told them they may want to go home, as our bus was already late to our 12:15AM Penang-KL-trip.

They brought us Coke, and even asked if we wanted some sandwiches to bring to our night trip.

More than what they provided me and my family, the couple also gave me ang pao, chocolates and tea bags to take home.

These were the things  that happened as we departed Penang. But for 2 years that I’ve known them, Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael extended support and concern, at most of the time without me asking, despite and in spite of everything. God bless them more so they can continue to be a blessing to others! 

I shall never forget these people for as long as I live. They were neither hypocrites nor judgmental people. They’re my family in Malaysia.

Picture this – When our bus arrived at the station before 1AM, the rain became more intense.

I carried our bags and luggages one by one and arranged them inside the compartment. It was raining hard. In spite of the fact that my aunt held an umbrella and tried her best to assist me, I became fully soaked. I quickly found my seat inside the airconditioned bus, with my entire self dripping. Chilling.

I waited for two hours until the bus reached its stopover for passengers’ bladder break in Ipoh. It took me two hours before I get to change to dry and clean clothes. It was the longest two hours of my life.

Two days before that unforgettable night, Mr. Loh and his family fetched us from our apartment, brought us to a a local Chinese restaurant and treated us to a very modest and heartwarming dinner.

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The very first frog dish I ate! Not bad. Actually, tasteful!

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Delicious tofu dish, Crispy lemon chicken, Grouper fish dish, and a fish soup. Everything satisfying!
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Mr. Loh (in black shirt), his daughter (in pink shirt), Mrs. Loh and her parents. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

A week before the dinner treat from Mr. Loh and his family, my other Malaysian family, Ms. Jasmine and Sir Michael brought us to a similar feast in one of their favorite local Chinese eatery. It was overwhelming!

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Ms. Jasmine, Sir Michael and me.

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From left to right:  My maternal aunt, my one & only mom, and Ms. Jasmine.

There are more stories between me and my Malaysian families in Penang, that made me a better person now.

So if there’s one special reason to go back to Penang in the near future, it’s to see them again and thank them once more.

>><<

26
Apr
13

RANDOM MEMORIES, HAPPY THOUGHTS FROM MALACCA

Malacca is as colorful as her trishaws.
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That shine bright like diamonds at dusk.
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Malacca is sweeter than her cendol.
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Dare I say it’s tastier than Jalan Penang’s.
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It was in Malacca we wore Malaysia as Baba-Nyonya.
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Spent (pa-) cute bonding moments.
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Inspired to pose for more photos.
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As we discovered Church of St. Paul Ruins as a nice backdrop.
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Despite the dirty lens problem, ikr. :(
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Clicks, clicks and more clicks…
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Here, Cristina’s men in plaid.
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That historic ruins on a hill witnessed how my lovely wife looked more chica than ever! Agree? lol
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Almost every corner, picturesque!
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We had no dull moments.
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Loved her river cruise…
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Those colors of Melaka River are charming at day…
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Enchanting and romantic at night…
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In spite of the fact that Stadhuys Museum was closed…
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We roamed around others and found valor and heroism…
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And because the Malaccan sun was nearly unbearable, we found comfort inside airconditioned museums…
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Where royalties and dignitaries used to dine…
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Over and beyond her culture and heritage spots, undeniably, it’s the Malaccan food and unique Peranakan tastes that lure people over.
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Finally sampled Chicken Rice Balls, Malaccan Roasted Chicken and Pork, Tofu in Oyster Sauce, even Western bites of course!
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Our appreciation for few visual arts fused with incredibly cool ambiance was heightened at The Baboon House Malacca…
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Time stood still at Hereen Street…
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Where hugs and joy reigned.
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Certainly melted our worries away…
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Saw more fascinating things being sold at the touristy and famous, Jonker Street…
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Where beautiful is an understatement…
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Where unique tastes and traditional collide…
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Malacca, you brought so much fun!
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We’ll create happier memories next time! Until then!

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

17
Apr
13

MELAKA! MALACCA! FOOD PORN!

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*My family – Tina & Gabby at Restoran Famosa, Jonker Street, Malacca

Our three days and two nights unplanned trip to Malacca was made memorable not only because of the sights that we enjoyed exploring for the very first time but more so,  tasting its local dishes and a few personal favorites.  So many foods, so little time! I wished I did a little research prior to the trip and of course, it could’ve been better if we stayed longer. Nonetheless, we’re grateful and wouldn’t mind traveling 7 hours from our current base in Penang to revisit Melaka when time, chance and budget allow.

To say that Malacca is a food haven is absolutely an understatement. Similar to George Town, Penang, Malacca is a gastronomic paradise! Almost every corner has something to delight even the ones with most discriminating taste. Here’s this blog’s usual shameless display of what we feasted…

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*Chicken Rice Balls from a restaurant in Melaka Sentral Bus Station

The moment we arrived in Melaka Sentral via 2-hour-and-19-ringgit-bus-ride from Larkin Bus Station in Johor Bahru, Tina, Gabby and I decided to do the first in the list of our priorities. EAT! While the kiddo was busy buying his 7-11 slurpee and I attended to our luggage and backpacks, the wifey scouted a few restaurants inside the bus station complex and selected one. That awesome moment happened! The very first time for us to eat Chicken Rice Balls that, correct me if I’m wrong, uniquely Melaka.

I’m guessing those rice balls paired with steamed chicken meat, were boiled in chicken stock. I liked it, Tina did not. To each his own.

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*Chicken Chop and Noodle dish with name that slipped my memory but with a delicious taste to remember! Naks!

After several minutes and camera clicks in front of Christ Church Melaka, we crossed the street and saw this stall by the Melaka River selling freshly fried Spiral Potatoes. It was 3-ringgit and sour cream flavored happiness for Gabby! :D

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*Savoring his Sour and Cream Spiral Potato from Melaka!

Second day was Easter Sunday and after having simple but incredibly charming dining experience at The Baboon House Malacca (blog post HERE!), we effortlessly killed time by doing crazy things (Tina was Instagramming) and sipping milk teas and iced blended fruity drinks from Ochado. Refreshing! Best, they got free and fast wifi too! :D

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*I left a mark on the graffitti wall. :)

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*Instagram moment! :)

Go try Ochado whenever you find yourself in Melaka! It’s easy to spot as it’s located at the corner where Jonker Street begins.

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*Cappuccino, Mocha and Iced Blended Chocolate from Casa Del Rio Cafe.

After dinner at Restoran Famosa in Jonker Street, we opted to stretch more our last night in Melaka. We walked and walked and next time we knew, we were all seated inside the very romantic and hip, Casa Del Rio Cafe.

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*Romantic and relaxing ambiance by the Malacca River.

Located by the Melaka River, in the facade of the premier hotel, Casa Del Rio, we were never intimidated by its stylish and inviting interiors; surprisingly, prices were even pocket-friendly than our favorite Starbucks Coffee. The menu’s promising too! They serve breakfast meals, lunch and even steamboat buffet for dinner.

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*Hollywood legends and icons on the walls! If only walls could talk…. Don’t you just love this corner?

Tina had cappuccino, Mocha for me, Iced Blended Chocoalte for Gabby. They also have cakes and other dishes but we’re very satiated with the dinner we had at Restoran Famosa.

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Just before sitting inside Casa Del Rio Cafe, we had our dinner at Restoran Famosa along Jonker Street. Here’s what we ordered :

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*Beancurd in Oyster Sauce.

Tina found it too salty while it’s fine with my palates. I also liked the consistency of the beancurd!

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*Roasted Chicken.

Either roasted or steamed, ayam or chicken is almost obligatory to eat when you’re anywhere in Malaysia.

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*Chicken Rice Balls from Restoran Famosa

They’ve got smaller versions of Chicken Rice Balls compared to the ones we had in Melaka Sentral. Restoran Famosa’s menu had it at 30 sen (cents) each.

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*Pork Barbecue.

It was a consensus decision to order Roasted Pork. When we did, the waitress told us, “Finished!”  The next best thing was to order the second best, BBQ. It was a different flavor compared to BBQ we have in Manila. It was like the common pork asado or Chinese pork something in Chinatown eateries in our country.

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*A simple Easter Sunday Malaccan Family Feast! :)

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*My plate!

No Malaysian meal is complete without chilli sauce!

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*Hotta! Hotta!

The highlight of our Malaccan food tripping was to taste their version of Cendol. To start with, I loved it. I fell in love it on the first scoop! Sorry Cendol in Penang Road, I liked you but Melaka Cendol won my heart and taste buds! Presentation-wise, each bowl looks clean and hygienic, the ingredients composed of red beans, finely shaved ice and that green thingy-cendol, were all better tasting than, dare I say, the one in Jalan Penang.

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The difference lies on their use of Gula (sugar) Melaka…
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Caramelized Gula Melaka in coconut milk : Killer combination! It reminded me of muscovado or unrefined brown sugar from my country. Sarap! Sedap! Delicious!
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*Yummy!!!

We loved everything we ate in Melaka! We cannot wait to go back to eat more! :D
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*Follow Tina on Ig @teenasantos, follow me on Ig @iamdocgelo ;)

This is NOT a sponsored post.

*This Melaka Blog Series includes :

 

 

07
Apr
13

PENANG’S NYONYA CUISINE FROM PEARLY KEE

My Nyonya dinner plate at  Pearly Kee's home
One of my Saturday dinner plates prepared by Ms. Pearly Kee. Yes, that’s blue rice on my plate. :)

“Peranakan or Nonya cuisine combines Chinese, Malay and other influences into a unique blend.

Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malays. The old Malay word nonya (also spelled nyonya), a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing (part “madame” and part “auntie”), has come to refer to the cuisine of the Perakanans.” via Wiki

As a Filipino living and working in Penang for almost three years now, I always feel privileged and pleased whenever my family and I are invited and welcomed by Malaysian friends to spend memorable moments with them. It’s priceless when local people make us feel at ease, more so, when they offer and share something about their own culture, tradition and lifestyle.

Last Saturday, 6th April 2013, in her very own abode tucked in a quiet corner of Pulau Tikus, Ms. Pearly Kee greeted us with warmest smile, together with her equally admirable husband, Mr. Chandra who voluntarily picked us up and drove us back to the bus station near their place. Generosity, although rarity nowadays, is always appreciated!

Tina, Gabby and I were invited by Ms. Pearly via email several weeks ago to partake in the Nyonya Dinner at her humble home where she also conducts Penang Nyonya Cooking Classes. Despite the almost entire-day-of-non-stop-raining which is a bit unusual in Penang and in spite of the fact that my lovely wife failed to join us for some weekend chores and other things to be done at our own apartment, Gabby and I managed to arrived few minutes over the 7:30PM call time and enjoyed what Aunty Pearly prepared that led our Filipino palates’ to an official introduction to Nyonya cuisine.

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Gabby with Aunty Pearly Kee and  husband, Uncle Chandra. Thank you for inviting us!

I read that Ms. Pearly learned her Nyonya cooking expertise from her grandmother and she’s actively passing it on to anyone interested in joining her culinary sessions. Famous and respected as one of Penang’s food ambassadors, we first met Ms. Pearly during one of her Penang Home Cooking classes when we visited Tropical Spice Garden (blog post Here!). She was even thoughtful to include the link of my blog post about Tropical Spice Garden when she sent her invitation to us. That was a nice gesture of her. Thank you, Ms. Pearly!

Here’s a rundown of the Nyonya dishes that Ms. Pearly Kee prepared for her guests.
Blue Rice by Pearly Kee
Blue Rice : Aromatic, fascinating and uniquely flavorful as it looks!

If you must know, my family and I forgot to sample a similar Malaysian rice dish, Nasi Kerabu (blue rice) when we visited Kota Bharu in Kelantan back in 2011. Tina got to taste it recently when one of her colleagues in the clinic brought her a bungkus; she liked and craved for it after, even raving about it to me. Imagine my excitement when Gabby and I saw that Aunty Pearly included Blue Rice side by side with the common boiled white rice on her spread that evening. I was a happy man when I got a chance to taste it finally! Lucky me!

With its interesting color and aroma, this Blue Rice was made as such, according to Ms. Pearly, because of the use of the blue flower called Bunga Telang, which in English sounds cheeky, clitoria. Tee hee!  :P

Sambal Goreng by  Pearly Kee
Sambal Goreng. I loved this, not only because I’m a sucker for prawns but this one’s textured, rich and delicious.

Prawns cooked in white sauce, cashews, lemon grass, tamarind and coconut cream served with chili sauce and cucumber, Sambal Goreng stimulated my palates so well. I loved, loved, loved it!

Kerabu Vegetables (Thai Influence) by Pearly Kee
Kerabu Vegetable (Thai Influence). Another favorite from what we savored.

I have no word to explain why Gabby and I were not seduced by the soup in the spread, not because it didn’t look interesting to us, of course not, but probably there were a number of  dishes on the spread to try that were all very new to us. One of them was the Kerabu Vegetable or Veggie Salad with Thai Influence.

What made this salad so fascinating? Ms. Pearly creatively used seromi, instead of the usual greens that are frequently tossed in commercially available salads. She even informed us during the friendly chat over dinner that she brings a volume of seromi that’s commonly grown near rice paddies in Penang, whenever she visits her friends in Singapore. She combined seromi  Sayur Rumi or Pigwort Watercress with four angle beans or kacang botol, shallots and bunga kantan or torch ginger finely shredded with sweet thai sauce. The addition of pineapple tidbits also gave flare on this Kerabu Vegetable! It was so flavorful, I had to go back to the buffet spread for another serving! :)

Curry Kapitan by Pearly Kee
Curry Kapitan. Surprisingly, not spicy. Just tasteful with a fascinating story behind its name. Ask Pearly!

Chicken cooked with lemon grass, fresh tumeric, galangal and fresh red chillies, Curry Kapitan is as wonderful as the story behind its name.

Surprisingly, Gabby, who as I mentioned as a little picky eater, liked Curry Kapitan. I wasn’t expecting my boy to favor it as we both thought that it’s hot and spicy with its red orange thick sauce but we were wrong. The chicken was perfectly cooked in a mildly spiced sauce. Tolerable flavor for our tastebuds. Gabby and I had two servings of this dish too! Need I say more? ;)

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Of all Nyonya dishes, I regret I forgot to sample this. We all need to be prosperous, right? :D

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Ju Hu Char. Best eaten wrapped in leaves. I liked this too!

Ju hu char is a perfect appetizer made up of mixed stir-fried vegetables eaten with lettuce leaves and a bit of ‘sambal’ or chilli paste. I had two servings as well. Burp!

5 Spiced Pork Roll by Pearly Kee
5 Spiced Pork Roll. Even the picky-eater in Gabby liked this!

Gabby and I also gave our thumbs-up to this pork rolls. It reminded me of our very own longganisa or our local sausages that have a lot of varieties in the Philippines. I only wished it tasted smoked and more garlicky but I guess it’s not its flavor. We liked it, nontheless.

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Spices and more at Pearly’s kitchen cum cooking class area.

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Who’s excited to sample Nyonya cakes and tropical fruits? :)

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Jackfruit and Rose Apple also known as Jambu Air.

Nyonya Kuih and Jackfruit Slices
Nyonya Kuihs and Jackfruit Slices.

Dessert spread may be simple but also a must-try. Although it wasn’t my first time to try Nyonya Kuihs or Nyonya cakes in colorful slices, we didn’t pass it up. We had it with jackfruit slices which is one of our favorite fibrous fruits, and we washed down everything with a refreshing drink prepared by Ms. Pearly made of pineapples and passion fruits (grown in her lawn) garnished with strawberry slices (not in photo). It was so good, again I had two servings, err, glasses! :)

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Yes, that’s Durian made into a sweetened dessert with tiny tapioca.

God knows my family and I are not fond of Durian as Malaysians and other Filipinos do; still Gabby and I tried to taste this Durian made into a sweet puree by Ms. Pearly. No force or coercion was done in tasting it, we did it freely, hehehe!

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At this point, Gabby and I were already satiated and satisfied! Thank you, Ms. Pearly & Mr. Chandra!

The other guests of Ms. Pearly, both expatriates and local friends who made it that evening….
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Ms. Pearly Kee and her invited guests in her home in Penang.

It was another family-food-fun occasion for us! Thank you, Ms. Pearly Kee for everything! It was a pleasure meeting one of the gems of Penang! Hope to see you again in the near future!
At Pearly Kee's Home
Articles from broadsheets, magazines & online are remarkable proofs that Pearly is loved and respected in Penang.

Get to know more of Ms. Pearly Kee and her Penang Home Cooking Classes via the following links :

Websites : Penang-Homecooking-Class  via  Packages of Penang Nyonya Cooking : My Island Penang.Com | Twitter : @PgHomecooking | Facebook : Pearly Homecooks and Pearly Kee on fb.  You may also register HERE! and state your preferred date and number of guests.

Should you feel interested in contacting Ms. Pearly Kee, kindly give my regards to her & tell her you read about her and her expertise in Nyonya Cooking on this blog. Thank you! :)

>><<

23
Nov
12

DINING CHINESE

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Greetings from Shanghai, China!

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Did those Chinese silk lanterns,  crimson red velvet lounge seats and chairs and gorgeous porcelain fool you? The greetings’ too ambitious, I know. But who knows? Day will come that I’ll get to bring my feet and my family to China too. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’m sharing here my honest review of my Chinese lunch at Chynna restaurant in Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur. I hope they won’t ban me from dining there again after this post! *cue prayers here*  This post isn’t a rant but a constructive criticism and a challenge to improve.

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How to get there? I took a cab from Bukit Bintang to KL Sentral where Hilton Hotel is located. When I was already inside the taxi driven by a friendly Malaysian-lady-driver who thankfully, used her taxi meter on our route (fyi, it’s unspoken rule in Kuala Lumpur that taking taxi cabs isn’t always metered by those opportunitistic divers), it popped in my mind that I could have taken the monorail from Bukit Bintang directly to KL Sentral which costs much cheaper of course (around 2 ringgit only instead of the metered taxi ride of RM15). It was useless to entertain regret so I took the monorail for my return to Bukit Bintang after my lunch; however it’s a-15-minute-walk from KL Sentral to the monorail station, nonetheless worth it.

What did I sample? I’m a dim sum monster so it got to be dim sum of course!!!

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Because I was attending an exclusive food tasting tour at Feast Village, Starhill Gallery at 3PM that day, I chose to eat light. And that’s how I defined a light meal *snickers*  ~Four Season Platter, Siew Mai (or for us Filipinos, siomai!) and the biggest Chicken pao I’ve eaten! I could have ordered hot tea but I was disappointed after I learned that Chynna’s Tea Master was on his day off. If you’ve noticed my photo of their dim sum open kitchen above, the tea pot with a long nose is eye-catching, isn’t it? Since their Tea Master’s out that day, I missed out his Kung Fu moves when serving hot Chinese tea.  Thus, I washed everything down with chilled fresh Orange juice (not in photo).

AMBIANCE vs SUBSTANCE

Did Chynna impress me? As I wanted to indulge something extraordinary other than the usual fastfood and hawker meals, I opted to try this Chinese restaurant initially to experience its beautiful ambiance. I was immediately drawn onto its interiors the very moment I saw it on Hilton’s website.  And true enough, it’s more pleasing to the eyes up close! The mood inside Chynna restaurant exudes extreme elegance. The cost of the food on the menu’s another affordable luxury; highly competitive with the common restaurants outside hotels. The staff’s friendly, quick and efficient.

Everything’s at its finest even the food presentation but not its taste.

Disappointed without witnessing the Kung Fu moves of their Tea Master, I felt the same too when Chynna’s dim sums tasted stuffed with extenders! I may be wrong and Chynna may deny it but what I ordered tasted all bland! Sure, they provided two sauces to go with them but a delicious dim sum is delicious sans anything.  I know my palate so well. I know how authentic dim sum tastes like. As mentioned in my previous posts, despite I’ve never been to China yet, I think eating dim sums from hawker food stalls and five-star-hotel restaurants in all our trips to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand (we even had dim sum buffet in Bangkok recently) and even in Manila Chinatown and in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur itself makes me no-authority but at least my gustatory sense has been familiar with quality dim sums. Admittedly, I only sampled a few dim sum from Chynna in Hilton-KL however, it really didn’t hit the mark! Perhaps, noodles, soups and fish, chicken and meat dishes from their menu are all wonderful but remain to be tasted. That’s a good reason to try Chynna again next time.

Although it means nothing to me because I’m a non-smoker, you might be interested that Chynna has private dining rooms where smoking is permitted.

CHYNNA | 5th Level Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur | www.hilton.com

*This is not a sponsored post.

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

*GOOD NEWS : To those who read & follow my blog, I’ll appreciate if you could drop a line or two about my blogging via ths link :http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1157/beyond-toxicity; this is in line with the BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS run by ExpatsBlog.com. Maraming salamat po! :)

20
Nov
12

MY DELICIOUS AFTERNOON AT FEAST VILLAGE, STARHILL GALLERY

16 November 2012. Friday. I finished early at around 10AM at the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur after I applied for renewal of my passport so I hailed a taxi cab and went my way to Starhill Gallery in Bukit Bintang.

If California has Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills,

And Tokyo has Ginza

Singapore has Orchard Road,

Kuala Lumpur has Bukit Bintang

(and luckily, I’ve been to these places already!)

I was nearly tachycardic (increased heart rate) because of excitement as it’s my very first time to be in Starhill Gallery.  I wanted to check out the place way ahead of the scheduled 3PM-6PM exclusive food-tasting-tour in Feast Village that they generously arranged for me. How could you say no to the luxurious food & beverage outlet group whose restaurants were recently visited by Tiger Woods and Michael Bolton? The blogger in me was ultimately happy! :D

This is Pavilion Mall right across Starhill Gallery; it’s all dressed up for the Yuletide Season!

Pavilion Mall

This part of Kuala Lumpur is accessible by car, monorail, taxi cabs and via free rides on GO KL-shuttle buses that drop off passengers right in front of Starhill Gallery.

free shuttle bus in Kuala Lumpur

I have been to Pavilion Mall a few times over but never dared cross the street and set foot in Starhill Gallery. Why? Its uniquely beautiful crystal and star-like structure is quite intimidating! Wrong notion, I know. Obviously, Starhill Gallery houses the most luxurious and expensive brands of fashionable clothes, watch & jewerly shops, furnitures and sublime dining.

Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur

Detail shot of that intimidating impressive exteriors…

Starhill Gallery Kuala Lumpur

So it’s true that there’s more than meets the eye! I’ve proven that the Feast Village in Starhill Gallery offers some sophisticated dishes that even the most budget-conscious-foodies would not pass up. As I’ve tried some of them, I found that prices are reasonable and competitive; even a little cheaper than the others. At one point during my conversation with the staff of Starhill Gallery that weekend, I descibed some of the meals on the menus as an affordable luxury! Savory dishes enjoyed amidst priceless ambiance -it’s a pure bliss! :)

There’s no argument that Starhill Gallery defines opulence and indulgence…

starhill gallery, kuala lumpur
starhill gallery, kuala lumpur
starhill tea salon
feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

As I strolled and absorbed the pleasant ambiance, I took some initial captures.

feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

Then I left and came back few minutes before 3PM. The casual but exclusive food-tasting-tour in 3 of Feast Village signature restaruants was scheduled to begin at LuK Yu Tea House.

luk yu tea house
luk yu tea house, feast village, starhill gallery
luk yu tea house
luk yu tea house

Luk Yu Tea House in Feast Village, Starhill Gallery has the must-try-Chinese teas and authentic Hong Kong dim sums and other Chinese favorites on their menu.

My chopstick skills were so ready!

luk yu tea

Ms. Rachel who invited me to this digestive-feast-sampling at Feast Village informed me beforehand that she won’t be able to join me due to some important office matters however, she asked their beautiful and uber charming intern from England to accompany me that afternoon.

*Cue drum roll* Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, meet my host that weekend afternoon,  the 20-year-old Georgia who’s having the time of her life in Malaysia…

at feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

Lovely is an understatement to describe this young lady. She’s so spontaneous; our conversation went beyond the food we sampled together at Feast Village. I was so fascinated how she shared a bit of her personal side and was grateful that she made my afternoon in Starhill Gallery more engaging and fun! She’s lucky to have me as their only guest that Friday, oops, actually it’s the other way around -I am fortunate to experience the food sampling with her! :)

Still at Luk Yu Tea House…

dim sums at luk yu tea house

I’m no food connoisseur but I know my palate so well. I have tasted authentic dim sum in four trips to Hong Kong and have been acquainted with the most delicious ones in Chinatown in Manila, Penang and Singapore. And the affordable (repeat : affordable!) dim sums in Luk Yu Tea House doesn’t disappoint. They satisfied the dim sum monster in me. :)

dim sums at luk yu tea house

We savored Steam Crystal Prawn Dumpling (Har Kau / Hakao), Deep Fried Prawn & Mango Roll and Steamed Chicken & Prawn Dumpling (Siew Mai) plus even the thinly sliced pickled & sweet papaya as appetizer (not in photo) tasted so well too! Every bite was deliciously paired with mildly aromatic Lily and Jasmine Tea, Luk Yu Tea House’s signature tea! It’s heavenly!

lily and jasmine tea
tea
lily and jasmine tea

Then Georgia and I thanked the Luk Yu Tea House manager, Melinda and walked our way to the next restaurant, Shook!

shook!

“Shook! is an exciting restaurant concept and the first of its kind that opened in Malaysia right here at Starhill Gallery. The menu flirts with seasonal trends and boasts an adventurous fusion of east and west with Japanese, Chinese Wok, Italian and Western Grill show kitchens.

The restaurant is popular with the crowd and it boasts a fanciful ambience, good food and live jazz music. A magnificent walk-in cellar holds over 3,000 bottles of some of the world’s most outstanding wines, including the world’s largest vertical collection of Chateau Mouton Rothschild Artist Label series, featuring every vintage from 1945 to 1997 in both standard and magnum bottles. Also available are European wines from the signature Shook! label.” ~Sourced via www.starhillgallery.com

I regret the fact that I forgot to click my camera on that amazing and enviable cellar where a variety of the best wines from all over the globe are housed. My jaw almost dropped while Mr. Raj, the main man of Shook! was explaining to me this and that. From their excellent collection of wines, he briefly showed me some of the private function rooms that can be reserved by guest for a customized-dining.

Can you imagine yourself dining in those Giorgio Armani seats?

shook!

Here’s one of their function room, all set for a private dinner that weekend.

shook!

We took few steps back to our table at Shook! and what they’ve prepared for us were all ready. Et voila!

Wagyu Beef Cheek (Italian spread of Shook!). Enriched with Goose Liver Butter served with Gratin of Charlotte, Leek and Roblochon.

Wagyu Beef Cheek

It felt effortless when I dunk my fork and used my knife to cut a piece of that Wagyu dish after it was served on my plate because every piece of it was apparently cooked to perfection! It’s the most tender beef cuts I’ve ever tasted. I want to cry that very moment actually! It was that delicious!!! I promised myself to bring Tina and Gabby to Shook! soon!!!

side dishes

Georgia was raving about Shook’s award-winning-Chinese-dish called, Snow White Dancing Prawn. Together, we asked Mr. Raj why it’s called as such and we got a somewhat logical answer-“the moment you put the prawn in your mouth, they’ll dance to your stomach” I cannot agree more! What makes it so wonderful is its thin and light batter. Most tempura-dishes are thickly drowned in flour mixture making the prawn almost tasteless but not this Dancing Prawn dish. Its overall taste would make you crave for more! Trust me, it tastes way better than it looks on my photo. My capture doesn’t do it justice.

dancing prawn

From the grill section of Shook!, behold the Roasted Barramundi…

roasted barramundi (grill)

I bet even the most discening palates would agree with this Roasted Barramundi. :)

shook!

And from their Japanese spread, we sampled Spider Maki made up of Soft Shell Crab Tempura. The name of the maki needs no explanation. Hands down to this! Hallelujah!

spider maki

At around half hour past 4PM, Georgia escorted me to the 3rd and last restaurant that I got to try from Starhill Gallery – the Starhill Tea Salon.

starhill tea salon
starhill tea salon
sts

As Malaysians like all English men love tea and scones and some other pastries, it’s not surprising that Starhill Gallery puts up its own Starhill Tea Salon where the very best collection of teas from most parts of the world are available. Almost stuffed, I was still prepared for some tea time! Bring it on! ;)

tea
tea cups starhill gallery
starhill jewel tea

We had two tea variants. First was STS’ signature tea called Starhill Jewel and the second one’s called, Grand Wedding. While the latter has a stronger flavor, I highly recommend the Starhill Jewel Tea! Its subtle floral aroma makes it a perfect pair with any slice of cake or pastry. Talking about sweets, a delightful feast must end with tempting desserts. The staff of Starhill Tea Salon walked us toward their cake counter. Everything’s mouthwatering and the difficult part was choosing. She had Chocolate Mousse …

chocolate mousse

while I tried a Fruity Cheesecake.

fruity cheesecake

Just before we ended our tea time, I’ve finally met the one responsible for my invite to Starhill Gallery Feast Village; I was grateful Ms. Rachel took a few minutes out of her busy schedule at work to see and meet me. I was glad to personally thanked her and Georgia of course, for everything. The afternoon was so surreal! They even gave me some special takeaway -a couple of exclusive Starhill Gallery magazines, a 100-ringgit voucher and a box of macarons that I all brought home to Tina and Gabby! Thank you so much, Starhill Gallery! I shall bring my family there soon!

macarons
macarons

Have I told you that Starhill Gallery consists of not only 3 but 16 food places –There’s the most beautiful bar that I’ve laid my eyes on -Village Bar (blog post here : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/17/village-bar-an-underground-fantasy/), Luk Yu Tea House, Shook!, Starhill Tea Salon, Gonbei San, Spice of India, Tarbush, Pak Loh Chiu Chow, Sentidos, Enak, Angus House, Ah Yip Herbal Soup, Kor Yo Won, Jogoya, Jake’s Charbroil Steaks and Fisherman’s Cove. Some of these restaurants I photographed…

Village Bar

1

The Vietnamese restaurant I failed to get the name.

vietnamese restaurant

Then there’s that restaurant made of bamboos shaped like a gorgoues boat…

feast village starhill gallery
fisherman's cove

It’s called Fisherman’s Cove where the famous Malaysian Chef Wan cooks his specialties. Most of them are freshest live fish from their aquarium.

fisherman cove feast village

Even the tandas or toilets in Feast Village is a must-see! :)

toilet

It was truly an unforgettable experience for me; certainly an extraordinary gastronomic and visual feasts! For the nth time that I’m mentioning in this blog post, I shall bring Tina and Gabby here soon! It’s all worth it!

feast village, starhill gallery, kuala lumpur

*This is a sponsored post. Special thanks goes to Ms. Rachel, Ms. Georgia and all the amazing staff of Feast Village in Starhill Gallery. Thank you so much! Terima Kasih! And as we say in Tagalog, MARAMING SALAMAT po! :)

STARHILL GALLERY |  181 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | www.starhillgallery.com

*This Luxurious Kuala Lumpur Blog Series includes :

*GOOD NEWS : To those who read & follow my blog, I’ll appreciate if you could drop a line or two about my blogging via ths link :http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1157/beyond-toxicity; this is in line with the BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS run by ExpatsBlog.com. Maraming salamat po! :)

__________________

04
Sep
12

BANGKOK 2012 SERIES : HEICHINROU

Flashback to January of 2004, Tina and I flew to Bangkok and spent honeymoon in Amari Watergate Hotel. Nine months and few days after, Gabby was born.
amari
Fast forward to August of 2012, we went back to Amari Watergate Bangkok with Gabby. :)
tina & gabby at amari watergate lobby
gelo & gabby at amari watergate bangkok august 2012
amari watergate bangkok august 2012

Weeks before we left Penang for Bangkok for a few day break, I emailed Amari Watergate to inquire about the rates of their buffet in one of their restaurants where Tina and I spent our first meals together as married couple, the Promenade. Unfortunately, the Filipino hotel staff who promptly replied to my query informed me that Promenade is closed on the dates I specified. He recommeded another restaurant in Amari Watergate that serves eat-all-you-want-lunch, the Heichinrou.

heichinrou bangkok

Located at 5th level of Amari Watergate Hotel, the Cantonese restaurant, Heichinrou that actually originated from Yokohama has been keeping its branches in Japan, Hong Kong and this one in Thailand. I was told they’re offering a Dimsum Buffet and ya ol know that eat-all-you-can dining is such a kryptonite to me and my family and dimsums are one of our favorites. So I asked Tina if she wants to try Heichinrou in Amari and with its reasonable price, we both gave it a nod!
chinese rickshaw
heichinrou bangkok, amari watergate
entrance to heichinrou
heichinrou menu
Despite the fact we failed to eat again in Promenade for the reason that they’re preparing for a reserved function that day, it was a nice coincidence that we were led to sit in Heichinrou in a table with a view overlooking Promenande, exactly the place where Tina and I had breakfast buffet 8 years ago.
overlooking promenade
We seldom engage in ala-carte-buffet where you can order all you want and everything from the menu is unlimited to your stomach’s content. :) We liked it actually. We didn’t have to check the spread and queue. Time was spent in pure indulgence!
chopsticks

Soon after the senior staff of the restaurant handed us the menu, everything was served to our table less the dessert. I didn’t remember asking him to do it but no regrets, no complaints. We certainly loved it! :)
dimsum love
It wasn’t overwheling; it was lovely!
dimsum galore
We started with Sweet Corn Soup with Crabmeat. It was impressive! Thick and tasteful just like what I want in my Chinese soup. There’s generous servings of real crabmeat too! When the staff asked me if I want another serving of the soup, my knees became too weak to say no! :D Then we tried Steamed Barbecued Pork Bun. Delicious! We call it Asado Siopao in the Philippines!
siopao

If you must know, whenever we have buffet-dining, we rarely order drinks and frequently go for just a glass of cold water to wash everything down. We usually make sure to have less intake of sugar-rich beverages from a glass of iced tea or soda but this Heichinrou Dimsum Buffet was an exception. Gabby and I ordered Fanta Orange and thought it went well with those yummies. ;)

Steamed Spare Ribs
spareribs
Fried Noodles with Shredded Chicken
unusual noodle dish
Steamed Cream Buns…
pao
Deep Fried Spring Rolls
fried rolls
Steamed Fresh Shrimp Dumplings, Steamed Pork Crab Egg Dumplings, Steamed Bean Curd Skin Flakes with Oyster Sauce
dimsum dimsum!
The only dish that I didn’t like (Tina agreed) was the Deep Fried Taro Dumpling; it wasn’t greasy and it looked fine but it’s just me – I am biased to savoring taro as an iced pudding :)
taro puff

The dessert from this buffet menu set was heavenly. Deviating from the common mango and tapioca; Heichinrou Dimsum Lunch Buffet offered Chilled Sago and Cantaloupe Melon topped with Coconut Cream. I had two servings. Need I say more? :)
melon sago

One may find it so peculiar to enjoy dimsum in the land of Pad Thai but it’s a great breather from all street-food-and-spicy-eats. All in all, we’re delighted with Heichinrou Dimsum Buffet and it felt really wonderful going back to a place that etched a memory in us. ;)
daddy's boy heichinrou bangkok
characters! chinese characters!
gabby and tina heichinrou bangkok

*This is NOT a sponsored post. ;) For details and contact information about Amari Watergate Hotel in Bangkok and Heichinrou, visit there website by clicking THIS!

This Blog’s Bangkok 2012 Series includes :

12
Aug
12

15 YEAR FLASHBACK AT DIN TAI FUNG

Catching up with someone whom you have not seen for several years is like watching again your favorite movie or TV show that you grew up with; it certainly brings back memories of the old days.

I’m glad I gave a nod to my college classmate’s invitation to meet her and her family in Singapore. And because my 4D3N trip was packed, I had to arrange the schedule and ask Rochel (or Rocel to us back in college; I didn’t know her name suffered from a glitch in birth certificate documentation) if it’s fine to have  an early dinner with them on my last day in the Lion City before I head back to Changi Airport to catch my 10:40PM flight back to Penang. She candidly agreed, so I met her and her husband at the facade of Raffles City Mall that sunny Sunday afternoon on mid-July. Meeting her after 1997 seemed like going through a time machine in a heart beat.

It actually felt like we’re back to one of our classrooms inside the Science Building or in the canteen of Far Eastern University in Manila (that we fondly called, Tayuman because we’re only provided then with cocktail tables less the seats, so we’re used to eat standing, hence we coined, Tayu-man!). Rochel and I were classmates from 1993 to 1997 when we’re taking up Bachelor of Science in Biology; we belonged to 2 different sets of friends (or in the Philippines, we call it barkada) -she’s with all-female-barkada who were all very studious in every sense of the word (I actually described her group to her husband as nerds to seriously mean their unparalleled devotion to studies, they’re mentally competitive!). We lost contact after graduation. It was only few months back that I found her on facebook.

It’s unbelievable how we squeezed 15 years in a casual and friendly dinner at Din Tai Fung. One thing’s sure -it’s always nice and easy to talk about those college days; everything sounded like they all happened just yesterday. Those were the years with less worries and almost no priority, at least for me.

din tai fung raffles city singapore

Fifteen years went by and I heard nothing about Rochel. While waiting for our food, I did not expect that she would ask me about how studying Medicine was like. At that moment, I wasn’t sure whether she went to Med school or not; worse, I was clueless that Rochel became quite depressed soon after her father told her that her dream of becoming a doctor had to be shelve due to their financial difficulty back then.

I told Rochel, she never missed a thing.

She and her husband have been very blessed and they’re financially stable now in a country more progressive than one could imagine.

I think that’s all that matters.

We both believe that Lord has His ways of leading us to our own paths as we live our own lives.

And Rochel’s gratitude to God for everything that happened in her life is inspiring! :)

Not that I regret becoming a General Physician and a Lecturer of 8 years but going through Medical school robbed me of my social life -anyone who went through the same path could attest. Attending special occasions like birthdays, holiday celebrations and reunions like Christmas and New Year’s day were not always possible during those gruelling years in Medicine; it was books before anything else. A lot of things were sacrificed, tons of efforts were exerted. In my case, there were times that I felt I had studied enough but everything seemed like the lyrics of a James Ingram’s classic song, “I did my best but I guess my best wasn’t good enough!”. :) Days got even tougher when we’re having those unforgettable 24-36 hour duties in various private and public hospitals for 2 consecutive years (4th year in clerkship, and another year in completing Post-Graduate Medical Internship). It was all about efforts and sleepless nights in exchange of 2 letters added to your surname after graduation, plus a license after passing the board exams and registration. Nonetheless, if there’s one thing I am most thankful of my years in Medicine was the day I met my lovely wife (yeeehaaa!).

Some of Rochel’s bestfriends  even went to Residency or Post-Graduate trainings and became specialists. She continued sharing a piece of her life by relaying that during those times that most of our college batchmates and I were in Med School, she worked and earned money to send herself to study another field that offers a more lucrative career. She studied computers and all about Information Technology. She landed a job in the Lion City; made a beautiful family and the rest, as they say is history.

Cliche as it may sound but there are reasons for everything.

We have different fates.

We live different lives. :)

 And everything is attributed to a cause greater than ourselves.

This is Rocel and her husband, Alvin. Rochel has been based in Singapore for 6 years now and the couple have been doing great on their jobs. They have one beautiful daughter, Audrey who was left at home with the nanny during our dinner. Despite my time was limited, our meeting was warmer than what we chow down! They gave me a paper bag with 4 bottles of Belacahan and Chinchalok Chilli sauces and even sent me recipes of how to use the sauces.  According to Rochel, she noted that my wife Tina, loves to cook. The gesture was really thoughtful!  Thanks for the dinner treat, guys! It was delicious! Hope to meet you again when my family and I get to visit Singapore again. :)

rocel + alvin

On a lighter note, here’s a run-down of what we savored on that early dinner at Din Tai Fung.

Rocel ordered Stir-fried Spinach with Garlic

*”A deceptively simple dish made with only premium young, tender shoots. Every batch of specially selected vegetables is almost identical in length and quality, and is cut with precision before being tossed in the wok with just a teaspoon of sunflower oil.”

spinach

She also had Fried Rice with Shrimps & Eggs 虾仁蛋饭

“*An extremely popular dish, the ingredients are pared down to simple rice, shrimps, eggs, and spring onions, creating a taste of familiar comfort. Each plate is of a certain weight and minimal seasoning is used so that the natural fragrance of the eggs and spring onions shines through.”

shrimp fried rice din tai fung

Rocel’s husband, Alvin simply had Beef Noodles

beef noodles din tai fung

And as I sincerely trusted their taste, so I submitted myself to their choices for me to sample…

Truffle Xiao Long Bao 松露小笼包

*”A paragon of fine taste, an award-winning steamed dumplings laden with the finest truffles. Served only to foreign dignitaries and very special guests in Taiwan, bask in the fine aroma of truffles.”

See how the Art of Making Din Tai Fung’s Legendary Xiao Long Bao HERE!

truffle xiao long bao

Fried Rice with Fried Pork Chop

“*Munch away on this scrumptious dish of deeply marinated pork chop, which is deep-fried to perfection. The meat is juicy and tender, making for a wholesome gastronomic experience at Din Tai Fung.”

pork chop din tai fung

It’s fifteen years after graduation and I never expected a simple reunion would be in Singapore. Looking back, it’s a wonderful feeling that we passed those days of going through college and eating our food while standing in the canteen during recess and lunch breaks.

rocel quibic alvin and gelo at din tai fung singapore

PS : I personally asked Rochel to review the draft of this blog post prior publishing in this site. I’m glad she gave me a green light and a happy note! Thank you so much, Rochel! May you and Alvin receive more blessings for you to continue to be a blessings to others!   :D

———–

Locate Din Tai Fung in Singapore HERE! and in Malaysia HERE!

23
Feb
12

OUR HONG KONG DISNEYLAND TRIP 2012 : ARRIVAL & LUNCH


DOCGELO  X  MICKEY MOUSE

FAMILY.FOOD.FUN @ the Happiest Place on Earth!

Similar to a shot of  adrenaline, the thought of revisiting Hong Kong Disneyland increases the heart beat and quickens the pulse, at least for Tina, Gabby and me. :D It’s incredibly different and NOT physiologically tiring but a special feeling of excitement that my family and I would love to go through over and over again, despite and inspite of everything!  Hong Kong Disneyland has that positively addicting charm that effortlessly draws the young and equally attracts the young-at-hearts! It’s a Nirvana for family bonding, food indulgence and lots of fun! :D

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND : DEFINITELY,  A  STRESS ANTIDOTE

Before Tina, Gabby and I immersed ourselves in a worry-free-three-day-and-two-night-fun-filled-vacation in Hong Kong Disneyland, we had to travel a day before from our current place in Butterworth, Penang to Kuala Lumpur to catch our flight earliest in the morning. We all thought it’s wise to travel via KL if you’re coming from Malaysia because the trip from Penang would take us to Hong Kong International Airport at around half hour past 8 in the evening hence, we’ll lose a day. :( Either we go a day earlier  to Hong Kong which will be more expensive or take the alternative route of via Kuala Lumpur.  We opted the latter. However, since we didn’t reserve a flight from Penang to Malaysia’s capital city  because of  steeper cost (read: we are 3), we chose to take the 5-hour-road trip via the public tourist bus from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya, Kuala Lumpur, then with our luggage and bags in tow, we hailed a taxi cab from Puduraya Bus Station to KL Sentral where buses that take passengers to KL-LCCT airport are parked.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal at around 8 in the evening of Thursday via Aerobus after an hour trip from KL Sentral.  My family and I had to spend the night inside food and coffee shops. After our quick family dinner and some coffee for Tina and me, chocolate frap for Gabby, we found a corner inside LCCT and called it a night (Actually, it was only Gabby who slept for few hours; Tina and I rarely shut our eyes).  And few hours after midnight, we took turns in taking showers, changed into new clothes and queued to check in at 4 in the morning.

Some may find our travel very stressful but believe me, we’ve experienced more difficult instances than you could imagine.  So this Hong Kong Disneyland trip is definitely a stress antidote for me and my family. We cannot thank the good Lord enough for such opportunity! :D

We took the flight from KUL to HK at 6:45AM, Friday, February 17, 2012 and arrived at HKIA 4 hours after. Before I slept in my seat, I accomplished the Immigration Arrival forms for Tina, Gabby and myself as what I used to do on our few travels.

That long travel to Kuala Lumpur from Penang and finally to Hong Kong, those frequent air pockets and lack of sleep were absolutely NOT enough to kill our excitement and enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth!

Finally, we set foot again at one of the biggest and most impressive terminals in the world! Sweet! :D

Hong Kong Disneyland, here we come! :D

Passing through HK Immigration was a breeze, so did the luggage pick up from the conveyor belt. I wish all terminals particularly that of the Philippines would have such remarkable efficiency. Upon arrival at the HKIA lobby, we trooped immediately to the Train Information Counter. Our initial game plan was to take the MTR from the airport to our hotel but after learning that the waiting and transfer period from one train to the other will take us around an hour, we decided to take a cab.

After paying the metered taxi HKD 150, we arrived at the hotel lobby all in one piece. Yahoooo!!!

DISNEY’S  HOLLYWOOD HOTEL : FAMILY FRIENDLY!

From its exteriors that reflects similarities with Pan Pacific Auditorium, the art-deco theme reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood echoes to the interiors of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel to every detail in the lobby and in its rooms.

And since it’s Disneyland Resorts, the head of Mickey Mouse with other Disney figures including Minnie Mouse’s of course, are a constant decor. Wonderful!!!

Tina and I have lately developed the appreciation for boutique and themed hotels. It’s nice to see how people put so much attention to details. The first sight of the lobby of Disney’s Hollywood Hotel was definitely a feast to our senses!

 

Just before those bilateral lifts take Disney’s Hollywood Hotel guests to their rooms, the Disney magic manifests with the voice of Mickey Mouse no less, welcoming everyone to their room-level, night and day. So cool! :) It makes you think that Mickey Mouse doesn’t sleep too! *kidding*

Certainly, the glass etching on the doors of the lifts also has the same Hollywood art-deco theme and to make it distinctly Disney’s, there are so many Mickey Mouse embedded on it. Can you spot some?

 

We’re checked in at the 8th level where the view’s fantastic! The blurry hazy skyline at the backdrop confirmed that we’re about to experience a misty cool Hong Kong climate despite the clock already hit 12 noon. And coming from the tropical state of Penang, that for me, was so inviting! Thankfully, we didn’t have any downpour, God is really great! :D

 

The view from our room offers a relaxing sight of Lantau island, its bay stretching to South China Sea and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel’s swimming pool. Can you feel the cool atmosphere despite the clock hit 12 noon? It’s Hong Kong, baby! ;-)

Another view from our window gives you a glimpse of how Disney’s Hollywood Hotel back lot looks like…

I wish I’ve photographed it too at night. Some other time perhaps (that’s another little reason to go back!).

Tina and I basically want few essentials in a hotel room; just nice and comfy bed and pillows to provide us a restful sleep, an insect-free-airconditioned and clean room, toilet and bath and Disney’s Hollywood Hotel doesn’t disappoint. Its theme is continuously obvious. The play of colors are vibrant and definitely puts everyone into the Disneyland euphoric mood! :D

I guess each room with a twin-deluxe beds has a black and white cartoon of Mickey and Minnie from one of their movies.

How sweet it was to sleep with worries and stress far from your cerebrum.

A little while later, Gabby felt so at home!

From Malaysia to Hong Kong, this 7-year-old-Filipino kid loves his Disney cartoons!

It may not be the most spacious toilet and bath that we had experienced but nonetheless, its cleanliness and the generous volume of towels are truly noteworthy. It’s expected that Disney Hollywood Hotel would be family-friendly and we proved it correctly. How many hotels have thought of providing kid-sized slippers? This hotel has it making Gabby simply delighted. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and some wipes and cotton buds are provided in a pack inside 3 paper cups capped with Mickey Mouse ears.  Even the toilet is richly themed! :D

And again, the little artsy details made us smile and utter, “so cute!” :D

Cast members (or those who work for Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Hotels) are amazingly creative at these towel crafts. They even refill it everyday in different colors and adorable animal and alien-designs. We brought home some pieces, actually! ;-)

Riding the theme park’s own resort shuttle buses for FREE was definitely convenience in its truest sense of the word. After checking in and quick freshening up in our room at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, we went to the resorts’ other hotel, Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel for the much needed lunch.

The HK Disneyland Resorts Shuttle Buses take passengers for FREE from the theme park to Disneyland Hotel then to Disney Hollywood Hotel in 10 minute interval. It spells convenience particularly when you’re traveling with kids. It’s so nice when you’re worry-free of going back to the hotel and theme park or hopping to a restaurant located at either of Disney hotels.

Experiencing two hotels of Hong Kong Disneyland was so awesome! Both hotels have unique themes, one takes you back in time to Hollywood’s golden years and the other is lavishly Victorian-inspired.

HONG KONG DISNEYLAND HOTEL : ENTICINGLY ELEGANT!

We saw luxury and sophistication at every corner of Disneyland Hotel… Our little-big boy, Gabby’s so amazed! I wonder what other kids think of  Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Surely, most of them believe that it’s a magical mansion!

what a gorgeous pair of chandeliers!

Everything’s so fanciful!  Even the men’s toilet melted all my worries away, haha! :D

While Tina and Gabby were checking out the merchandise at the hotel’s souvenir shop, I walked towards the concierge and didn’t pass the chance of capturing the framed paintings hanging at the back of the counters.

I asked permission from the Cast Members who are at the reception prior to snapping my cam; made me smile when they gave me a nod.

Aren’t these paintings fascinating?  I remember the Mark Twain’s steamboat that we saw in Disneyland Anaheim on the next painting.

Those bursts of colors are too beautiful in my eyes!

Sincere to their work place, I noticed Cast Members of Hong Kong Disneyland Park and Resorts are all service-oriented, warm and friendly. Just when I was thinking for someone who could snap a photo of us, one male hotel staff offered to take our family pic even without asking him. That’s marvelous! :D

Look at my very own Minnie. Lovely, isn’t she? :)

The hedge maze in the garden of Disneyland Hotel fronting South China Sea really caught Gabby’s attention.

Did Gabby and I try and finish the maze? Find out on my succeeding posts! :D

Meanwhile, can you spot Mickey Mouse’s profile on this green maze?

LUNCH at CRYSTAL LOTUS RESTAURANT, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND HOTEL.

What warmed our souls and filled our stomachs after that long tiring trip from Butterworth, Penang to Puduraya and KL Sentral in Kuala Lumpur, to Kuala Lumpur-Low Cost Carrier Terminal to Hong Kong International Airport then finally to Hong Kong Disneyland apart from seeing Mickey Mouse again at the theme park was a sumptuous and divine Chinese cuisine at Crystal Lotus Restaurant.

With rich, classy and exceptional ambience, coupled with prompt and attentive service and a delightful menu, Crystal Lotus Restaurant is the best option when you feel like indulging in some Chinese favorites with Disneyland’s kiddie appeal.

Modern and sophisticated Oriental ambience of Crystal Lotus Restaurant. We’re so blessed to have experienced it.

Tina, Gabby and I met a few bunch of Filipinos who own blog sites too; Mom and Lifestyle blogger, ThammieSy, Fashion bloggers Laureen Uy and Kryz Uy of Break My Style and KryzUy.com respectively, Foodie blogger, Leslie of Shoot First Eat Later, and travel blogger Gael of The Pinay Solo Backpacker. We communed with our families and friends and with delicious gastronomic treats at this luxurious room.

Crystal Lotus Restaurant brought our taste buds to a variety of Chinese dishes that we all happily took in.

stunningly gorgeous chandeliers

Now, let your eyes feast on the set meal we savored….you might need tissues to wipe your keyboard when you drooled! *kidding!* A glass of ice cold water beside you might be helpful. :D

If it’s Chinese, there must be Jasmine Tea.

We started our delicious dimsum lunch with Roasted Suckling Pig with Cucumber and Sweetened Paste in Steamed and Piggy Mask Buns…

Crisp and flavorful. I’m in heaven! ;-)

Family bonding comes in different packages. At this moment, it came with authentic Chinese cum Disney’s culinary. :P

 Next on the menu brought to our table was Disney Dim Sum Platter. Consisting of Three Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Bun, Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Bun, Mickey’s Glutinous Seafood Pancake which Gabby liked so much! :D

Eating Dim Sum has never been this cute! :D  It took me several minutes to take them with chopsticks and bite, haha!

I see harmony in steam basket, haha! Then I gave these 2 cute buns a peaceful death via taking them in, LOL!

Pink ears or orange ones? Doesn’t matter, both are appetizingly delicious!

Then came Braised Seafood Soup with Crab Roe. This warm soup dish won my palate! Tina liked it too.

D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S

The meal got more interesting when the next dish was brought in. It’s called Wok Fried Chicken and Longan with Sweet Sour Sauce.

My palate is familiar with the fusion of pineapples and chicken meat in a dish but with longan, it must be fascinating! And it is!

With Wok-Fried Shrimps and Disney Root Vegetables, Disneyland and Crystal Lotus Restaurant really know how to make vegetables and seafoods appealing to kids. The dish to me is so impressive!

You know how some children have aversion to veggies and making the ingredients of this dish cut into Mickey Mouse’s gloves and head is pure brilliance!

Who says eating veggies is never fun?

Blessings continued to pour on our table with this golden crab dish…

This one really brought out the kid in me. I was in awe with the plating of this crab dish. Indeed, a crab plated in gold, hehe!

Flip the golden shell of this crustacean plate et voila…

Baked Tasmanian Crab Meat Fried Rice in Whole Crab Shell : Eating crab has never been this edgy!

And of course, a meal isn’t complete without a sweet ending. Crystal Lotus prepared and offered us Chilled “Mickey’s” Red Bean Honey Pudding and Chilled Mickey’s Green Tea Jelly. 

Gabby like these desserts and so did Tina. As for me, I like the fusion of textures and its light flavors.

Must take a detail shot… :D

Did I mention that we EACH received a full course meal? What Gabby cannot finish, Daddy Gelo’s there to rescue. hehehe! Immediately after our very first meal at Hong Kong Disneyland, I thought I gained a few more pounds! Who wouldn’t with such hearty Dim Sum lunch set?  :D

It’s not on a daily basis that we get to eat Disney-themed Dim Sum nor a crab dish on a golden crab shell and of course, not everyone is given the chance to have such indulgence in very sophisticated food place thus, Tina, Gabby and I are grateful for this great dining experience. THANK YOU, LORD FOR ALL OF YOUR BLESSINGS! THANK YOU, HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel : Such a Magical Dreamy Place!

After our sublime Oriental lunch at Crystal Lotus, we headed directly to the Hong Kong Disneyland Park via the resort’s shuttle bus. We got our fast passes to Space Mountain, Astro Blasters and The Adventure of Winnie the Pooh rides and tickets to the theme park for 2 days!  Excitement soared the highest! :D All that and a lot more in the part 2 of this blog series! Stay tuned! :D

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*for more information about Hong Kong Disneyland Park, Crystal Lotus Restaurant, Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and Disneyland Hotel, kindly visit the theme park website at http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com

This Blog Series Includes :

15
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 FOOD TRIP

Our Christmas Break 2011 Series includes :

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Foreword : You might need a glass of cold water when you browse this post. You have been warned, haha! :D  *Most dishes are NON-HALAL too. Obviously, this is another gastronomic entry however, allow me to remind you again that I am not blogging food exclusively, but family and fun too. Go ahead, indulge and feast your eyes! :D

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The Christmas season in my country is all about family togetherness, friendly celebrations and homecoming particularly to those Filipinos who are residing and working abroad. Yuletide is such a perfect time for all those fun pursuits. It’s such a big blessing for us to be able to come home again after almost 2 year of being an expat-family here in Penang. Our hearts and stomachs remain loyal to the Philippines indubitably.

The following photos with brief descriptions essay some of the fantastic digestive feasts we savored with our families and friends during the entire 21 day-break (including holidays and weekends) we had in Manila.  Don’t ask me about their calories, we’re not counting, haha! :D

At Via Mare in Greenbelt 3, Tina, Gabby and I enjoyed Filipino dishes….

Crispy Binagoongang Baboy served with Pakbet side dish (Crispy Pork Belly with Shrimp Paste and veggies).

Via Mare's Beef Caldereta was Tina's choice; sarap! :D

Our late-lunch-heavy-merienda included…

Wild Mushroom Soup for Gabby

Puto Maya : glutinous rice served with panutsa syrup and riped mangoes.

Gabby's personal preference : Shooters-a trio of guinumis, mais con yelo and halo-halo. The kid has his own taste, do you agree?

Via Mare's famous Bibingka : buttery, fluffy and served with salted egg (or kesong puti) delicious!

It’s only every Yuletide season when leaves of poinsettias become vividly red; lovely, aren’t they?

And poinsettias are lovelier at the facade of Manila Peninsula. :D

…where Gabby was overwhelmed with holiday cheers

…where we dined with one of our good friends of almost 2 decades, LG who also stands as one of Gabby’s dutiful godparents.

At the LOBBY of the Manila Peninsula, dinner included another set of Filipino favorites…

Kare Kare (Ox Tail and Veggies in Peanut Sauce served with Shrimp Paste) : one of my favorites!

Pancit Guisado

Lechon Kawali

And an Oreo-flavored sundae dessert for Gabby

Moving on to our other indulgence, at the Podium in Ortigas, we were treated to a Chinese dinner by my dad-in-law at …

I am proud to belong to a beautiful family…oh yes, that’s something to be proud of!

Must have soup…

then a prawn dish selected  from the menu by my sister-in-law.

And despite no one’s celebrating a birthday (except for Baby Jesus!), must have Birthday Noodles…

Tender slices of beef and mushroom on a bed of broccoli’s always a winner for me. :D

Hakao or shrimp dumpling cannot be missed.

Our beloved kid ordered Four Seasons to wash down everything. Have I told you he has his own taste? :)

Gabby and his cousin, Raphael loved the dinner.

Then one lovely weekday afternoon, we found ourselves in the middle of Ayala Triangle in Makati City.

At last, after having a long thread at the inbox in facebook, we finally arranged a meet up with our good blogger-friends around the area of their offices in Makati City.  The lunch was set initially at Banapple, however the place was packed, so we had to look for Plan B : Wee Nam Kee.

It’s our (Tina, Gabby and I)  first time to dine at this Singaporean-inspired food place, where Hainanese Chicken Rice is the bestseller.

Hainanese Chicken cooked two ways : Steamed and Roasted; sarap pareho! And we ordered LARGE! haha :D

Dyan, one of the most bubbly blog buddy I have suggested we try Cereal Prawns when we visited Singapore last year. However, we didn’t have the chance back then, and luckily, it’s available to sample at Wee Nam Kee. Another yummy!

Here are our pretty lunch dates at Wee Nam Kee :

Tina & Gabby with blog buddies, Marian, Dyan and Grace

And we had another version of Birthday Noodle. Sarap din! :D

Two days before our flight back to Penang, I attended to the invitation of Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks a personal FREE Big Binondo Food Wok along with other BIG TIME food bloggers (read : For the nth time, this may be a food post but I am not into an exclusive food blogging).  After that almost 4 hours for pigging out at Manila Chinatown, I hurried to meet my family and my sister-in-law with our Med school classmates and great friends, also godparents to Gabby –doc Shiny and doc Mitch at Peking Garden, TriNoma Mall in Quezon City.

At around half hour past 6 in the evening when I arrived, they’ve already ordered and all I had to do is eat. But because I just came from another food trip, I was still satiated and had more appetite in catching up with them and our lost times.

On our table at Peking Garden :

Forgive me, I failed to get the names of the dishes from the menu; as I mentioned, I arrived when there were already food on the table. :D

Spareribs, obviously. It tasted better than it looks.

Fried chicken that’s nothing special to rave about.

They also selected Yang Chow Fried Rice and yes, Birthday Noodle again. However, if I can call the attention of Peking Garden with this post, or the concerned diners in the TriNoma branch, then I’d like to ask them the reason why their waitresses have to get the used plates from their diners’ table IMMEDIATELY, as in, IN A SNAP, iyong tipong hindi pa tapos kumain, kinukuha na ang plato. Why?  Never do that to your paying customers, okay?  I believe it’s disrespect. Why in a hurry? May lakad kayo? LOL! I swear, of all the food places I’ve featured here on my blog, my family and I will never set foot in Peking Garden TriNoma ever again, seriously.

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There was no lack of excitement in all the moments amidst gastronomic feasts we shared with our families and friends. Our vacation was made complete with such wonderful experiences. We look forward again to another holiday when we can extremely stretch the time to bond with our love ones. :D

08
Jan
12

CHRISTMAS BREAK 2011 DAY 19 : OUR BIG BINONDO FOOD WOK!

Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :

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04th January 2012, Wednesday.  In our last stop of our Binondo food trip inside Sa Lido Panciteria, one of the senior Chinese men seated at the table where I passed by to exit, called my attention and asked me, “Pogi, Pogi, saan ba lalabas iyang piniktyuran nyo, sa ‘NO RESERVATIONS’ ni ANTHONY BOURDAIN?“…..Me : “…po?  …In an instant, Ivan Man Dy approached him and explained that we will do some blog posts about it and not TV.

That moment reminded me that I was fortunate to be one of those who was tour-guided by Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks just like what he did with Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations. I was silently smiling as I walked down the stairs out of that restaurant.

After Tina, my father-in-law (who’s now back in the US) and I attended Ivan’s invitation for him to tour us inside Malacanang Palace last December, he invited me and my family again for his Big Binondo Food Wok which I haven’t tried. Despite I have been to Ongpin Street and the rest of Binondo isn’t new to me, I was thrilled with the idea of going through the laterals of Manila again but this time, on a guided tour by the no-less than the main man himself of Old Manila Walks. He set the date to 4th of January, told me it would be his personal food tour of Binondo for us, and we’ll not be joining the other tourist.

Our vacation days went by and sadly at our last week in Pinas right after New Year, Gabby and I acquired cough manifested with fever :(. We’ve started on medications but as of this posting, we still have residual signs and symptoms. Because of this plus a handful of clearances that we had to secure from local government offices and our PRC license renewal, I almost turned down Ivan’s Binondo invitation. But things fell into places that I (and Gabby) felt better the night before the scheduled walking tour, and our documents were secured in a day. Thus, I was able to join the group of big time foodies (believe me, ako lang ang small time). I left my VERY OWN “BINONDO GIRL” at home to take care of our son and start packing our luggage back to Penang.

I was the last one to arrived at 1PM meet-up at the lobby of Binondo Church; thank God I was never late. We wasted no time and walked our way towards Carvajal Street….

One of the quintessential laterals of Binondo, Carvajal Street.

With lots of fruits, some carts with veggies, sun dried and smoked fish, some eateries and a bookstore, Carvajal Street is a long and narrow fascinating lateral of Binondo. It was my first time there, actually!

Our first stop was Quick Snack…Lesson: Do not underestimate simplicity of the signboard, food may blow your taste buds away! hehehe. :D

Ivan mentioned we’re in for 3 of his personal favorite food places in Binondo that he doesn’t include in his usual tours; reason : will eat up time of his walking tour.

At Quick Snack, Ivan stuffed us with what he called appetizers….

This Tofu Dish is SURREAL! ...ang sarap!

My favorite was this tofu dish. I like its crisp and crunchy coating because it’s fried but remained soft inside. The sauce was simple but to die-for.

Also on our table were plateful of kuchay empanada. I’ve tasted kuchay dumplings both steamed and fried from another Binondo eatery, Dong Bei, but never a kuchay empanada. It was interestingly good.

Kuchay Empanada.

Oyster cake is one of the hawker dishes in George Town and the rest of Pulau Pinang however, in my 18 months of living and working here, I haven’t dared try it yet. I never thought that Binondo would give my palate a sample of this seafood delight. It reminded me of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pie.

Oyster cake

Tsinoy cuisine would not be complete without a noodle dish.

What was told by Ivan as a light merienda cum appetizer turned out to be a heavy one; we’re all stuffed at our first stop!  Then we walked towards the end of Carvajal which is Nueva Street, a spot in Binondo where paper, stationaries or school supplies and uniforms of all colleges and universities are being sold, in retail and in bulk. We entered a hopia place, one that’s familiar to me and my family other than Eng Bee Tin…

What's your flavor? Tell me, what's youf flavor. ... haha! :)

Inside Holand Hopia, Ivan quickly showed us the different flavors of hopia which are ALL being sampled in his Big Binondo Food Wok. He also featured some other delights that are must-have for the Chinese New Year celebration. Case in point, the tikoy or that glutinous rice cake. Apparently, it symbolizes unity and oneness, but now, tikoy is being brought to the next level with its impressive variant and flavor. Have you ever tried dunking your fork at a tikoy beautifully shaped as a kois? One of our former Tsinoy Nursing student before gifted me and Tina a box of it with a pair of kois-shaped tikoy. It took us days to stare at it and to decide whether to eat or not. :)

As my fellow bloggers’ eyes roamed around the small food shop, the moment became nostalgic when my eyes spotted those peanut-caoated angpaw. It reminded me of my maternal grandmother who raised us; angpaw was her favorite and I used to buy her a pack as pasalubong before.

Tikoy became so versatile in flavors. There’s that Ube and Mango tikoy. Have you tried these flavors?

Tsinoys or Filipinos in general are naturally innovative. They usually never run out of new ideas to introduce to the market. Inisde Holand Hopia, I first found HOPTIKS, a fusion of hopia and tikoy all in one! How amazing!

After Nueva Street, we found our way to Ongpin. We saw that famous peculiar street sign again at the corner of Salazar and Ongpin. I asked Ivan the reason why the first letter N of Ongpin was inverted, he replied it must be out of carelessness or plain stupidity. Regardless of the reason, it remains to be the most photographed street sign in Metro Manila.

Ivan pointed out to us the original hopia in Ongpin comes from this simple and unassuming bakery…

The old Tsinoy couple gave Ivan sample of their old-school hopia that’s still wrapped in red Japanese paper.

It’s obvious that Binondo is an interesting community at the heart of Manila. There’s food, there’s culture and heritage and there’s history. At a new age building where Sweethearts Balloons (for parties and all) and other establishments are located, this National Historic signage is posted that an ordinary Ongpin-goer would not easily noticed. The sign deserves a second look.

From Salazar and Benavidez Streets, we strolled towards the second restaurant, ROSSO. Here, Ivan wanted all of us to sample a uniquely delicious offering of a hot pot – Sichuan style!

Most of us are familiar with Yakimix, Tong Yang and other Hot Pots in the Metro but having it Sichuan style is totally different.  We began to order two variants –spareribs and chicken.  They were severd in stew. Ivan explained that the difference lies not only on the taste; as Sichuan is known to be spicy, spicier, spiciest, haha! but also on how you eat it. In the usual hot pot even here in Penang, you eat the broth with everything on it. In Rosso’s Sichuan style hot pot, you eat first the stewed meat then a new soup base would be pour before you mix the other ingredients. Quite interesting!

The sparerib stew was so delicious, I preferred it over chicken.

Ivan asked all the members of our group to order ingredients for our hot pot. The unanimous favorite is the cheese ball (a fishball like with melted cheese inside, yummy!).

Deliciously good! :D

Another Sichuan dish that was served was Sichuan water cooked beef that’s so tender and flavorful…

But if there’s one thing that would make me go back to Binondo and eat at Rosso again, it’s this dish –Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork. This plate made me crave for a double cup of steamed rice!!! It was that good! There’s a burst of flavors in my mouth that pleasantly stimulated everything in my palate. It’s one of the best pork dishes I’ve tasted!

Then as we were almost struggling to eat more, Ivan brought us all to our final stop -Sa Lido Restaurant.

The second floor of that bank promises a coffee-panciteria area perfectly fit for Chinese men discussing their families and businesses with their old time friends.  If Starbucks Coffee didn’t hit Manila by storm, this type of panciteria would be the best option.

As I have surrendered to Rosso’s Sichuan Twice Cooked Pork as the best tasting food for that day, I thought twice when I tried Lido’s Pork Asado.  The slice of meat cooked in wood fire oven effortlessly melted in my mouth and offered its smoky delicious taste. I also considered this as the best Pork Asado in town. You will definitely like it even sans sauce or gravy. Two thumbs up and a must-try! :D

Ever heard and tasted HOTOTAI? I’ve long heard of this soup dish but never have tried it until last week. Thanks Ivan, it was heavenly!

Hototai’s tasteful until its last drop. :)

Ivan never forgot to order his favorite siomai.

Asado buns and Camaron rebosado, anyone?

Again, a Chinese cuisine is never complete without anything to represent longevity. Ang sarap ng Lo Mee na to!

Lido serves one of the best coffee in town. I can’t choose between coffee and tea so I had them both.

And what a glorious day of eating Chinese food it was and so perfect to end it sweetly with Lychee and almond dessert. Yummy!

We ended our half day Binondo Food Wok with our gastric pits overflowing. Thank you so much, Ivan Man Dy and Old Manila Walks for that sumptuous treat! We truly enjoyed it. :D

For the readers and followers out there who would like to experience Binondo in its most colorful and delicious ways, I highly suggest you join Old Manila Walks Big Binondo Food Wok on Chinese New Year. You’ll get a taste and stuffed yourself with Chinese cuisine, stroll with the dancing dragons and lions, and immerse with the diversity of Manila Chinatown has to offer with the best tour guide in town, Ivan Man Dy no less.  Below are the details of what’s in store for you.

the BIG Binondo Food WOK (Chinese New Year Edition):

Nibbling Our Way Through Chinatown

January 21 (Saturday) @ 1:00 PM- 5:30  PM (approx)
January 22 (Sunday) @ 8:00 AM-12: 30 PM (approx)

@: 2:00 PM-6:00 PM (approx)

January 23 (Monday 1st day CNY) @ 8:00 AM-12:30 P.M. (approx)

新年快樂

Happy Lunar Near Year!

恭喜發財

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

"Oh yes, its that time of the year again when we BINGE ourselves silly as we welcome the the Lunar New Year with a BIG, BIG BITE! It's the BEST time of the year to do the BIG Binondo Food WOK as the year of the rabbit hops away and we ROAR into the year for the Dragon!

So what are you waiting for? Let us paint the town RED, join in the festivities(while filling up our stomachs!) as we usher in the Lunar New Year in Chinatown!

Rate: P1,500.00/head (inclusive of tasting menu and lotsa fun and surprises!)
      **Slots limited.Book early!

And if you happen to be participating this wonderful tour and/or would refer this to your friends/relatives, please don’t forget to tell Ivan you read it here on my blog.  Maraming Salamat po!  *wink*

09
Dec
11

HONG KONG

How would you react if and when your weekend morning’s greeted by this message?

yee-haa! :)

I am a strong believer of the cliche that “best things in life are free!”  And you?

That message simply made my Friday morning. I immediately emailed the sender and noticed her email address and company’s name are both from Malaysia. I got an “out-of-office-automated-reply” but few seconds after that, I received an actual email-response from Ms. Jaclyn. What even delighted me was the fact that she mentioned that the blogger’s wife and 2 kids (I only have Gabby now) will be sponsored too. Ang husay! :) Tara, let’s go! :)

If you must know, I have been with famous Filipino bloggers and media people, the lovely couple of hanna and vince whose names were mentioned on the email-invite when we went to (my lone sponsored trip) that Grecian-inspired, lavishly beautiful beach resort in Northern Luzon last year; it was days before I went to Penang (peek at my blog post about Thunderbird Resorts,HERE! ). And after reaching home, I sent a PM to hanna and she confirmed that Ms. Jaclyn is actually her friend and the invite is legit. Now, I am really EXCITED! I hope it pushes through because it’ll be a great treat for GABBY! It’s been 4 years since the 3 of us went to HK Disneyland.

Talking about Hong Kong, I remember we enjoyed an early dinner in a Hong Kong-themed restaurant here in the island of Penang months ago.

With casual but stylish ambiance, CANTON-i in Queensbay Mall is simply charming.

bird cages used as lights adorn the ceiling of Canton-i.

When Chinese, it must be RED! I like the red-painted walls and ceiling infused with those white gorgeous floral and butterfly and dragonfly panels. It definitely draws attraction and makes diners more eager to eat! That auspicious color seems to be so enigmatic! :)

Appetizer was nutty.

Canton-i has a sister-company, another Shanghainese food place with branch on the same mall called Dragon-i (view our dining experience at Dragon-i HERE!)

My bowl : the photo can't give justice to how good it was.

While Tina shared a wanton-soupy noodle bowl with Gabby…

And apparently, we’re keeping a love affair with dimsum…

One of our favorites : Hakao or shrimp dumplings.

Siomai-mommy! :)

fish roe-delight on shrimp-pork siomai

Let’s see next year if we’ll take our love for dimsum back to HK….*crossed fingers*

family over Chinese food = simply awesome!

07
Sep
11

CHINATOWN, SINGAPORE

On a limited budget and with only enthusiasm and a game plan to spend more time & lots of fun with my family in my pocket, I brought Tina and Gabby to Singapore.  On our second day in the Lion City, we headed to Chinatown ! :)

 

After checking out at 12 noon from Quincy Hotel where we stayed the first day, we hopped on the bus along Orchard Road and alighted at Bencoolen Street. We transferred to a more affordable hotel (which deserves a separate post) and more accessible to our itineraries. And like what we did the first day, we just left our luggage to the hotel room and utilized the rest of the day in exploring Singapore.

I am grateful that former colleagues and online buddies (credits at the end of this post) suggested one of Singapore’s most helpful websites particularly for tourists and first timers on the island like us (read: without gadgets with GPS). The site gives you details on your trip from point A to point B from mode/s of transportation (either by bus, train, taxi cab), estimated total  travel time(including waiting and walk time), to total fare (click the link and be enlightened!).

http://gothere.sg/

The Lion City’s transport system is impressively efficient.

I googled http://gothere.sg/ and lifted details of our itineraries for the remaining days of our stay. We walked through the train station from our hotel,  purchased MRT cards from the touch-screen machines (with refundable deposit of S$1 on top of our fares) in the subway.

Subways of Singapore are clearly wider than Tokyo or it might be just me. But creativity is present at every turn in Singapore, so apparent in the mosaics and murals in the train stations…

We told him but I’m not sure if Gabby realized the thought that we were literally underground when we boarded the train. 

The Dhoby Ghaught MRT station bound to Harbourfront was just few minutes-and-one-train-ride away to Pagoda Street, Chinatown.

Upon getting off the subway, we were in awe and together we uttered, “WOW” in amazement! Our eyes feasted on a burst of colors…

I read from online reviews of tourists that Singapore has the cleanest Chinatown in the globe, knowing the city implements strictest rules on fines and penalties (read : thousands of dollars), everyone is disciplined regardless of the place in Sg.

One doesn’t need to be Chinese to expect to see mostly reds in any Chinatown…

or Oriental lanterns that doesn’t fail to fascinate…

Souvenir items cost usually 3 for S$10… I got a nod from Tina in purchasing fridge magnets we bought for 6 for S$10. :)

Of all the things being sold in the stalls of Chinatown, I found these glass balls most interesting. Agree?  Do you know what they call these?

Few steps more and another surprise (well, not actually, I included it in our itinerary) caught our eyes…

“The Sri Mariamman Temple is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. It is an agamic temple, built in the Dravidian style. Located at No. 244 South Bridge Road, in the downtown Chinatown district, the temple serves mainly South Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporeans in the city-state. Due to its architectural and historical significance, the temple has been gazetted a National Monument and is a major tourist attraction.”  –Wiki

A lion and holy cow guard the roofs of Sri Mariamman Temple…

Fantastic sight amidst the high noon…

The doors to this Hindu temple…

We opted not to go inside the Sri Mariamman Temple, we continued walking in Chinatown.  We spotted the famous Ann Siang Hill…

Vivid colors paint the structures built in Ann Siang Hill. Unfortunately, my wife and kid didn’t want to explore it so we went on walking to Sago Street and reached the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. After a Hindu temple comes a Buddhist temple… both equally stunning!

If the exteriors of Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is magnificent, the inside’s trully awesome! I’m almost lost of superlatives to describe its interiors,haha! :)

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”–Buddha.

I’m left speechless.

Almost right across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a famous hawker food place, Maxwell.

When in Singapore, must try Singaporean foods! Our late snack-early dinner were made  of noodles….

Maxwell’s Tian Tian Chicken House became a word of mouth when Anthony Bourdain gave it a thumbs up.  It’s famous for one of my favorite chicken dish –Hainanese Chicken Rice…(believe me, this plate tasted so much better than it looks on photo)

The rice was cooked with chicken broth and seasoning, it’s delicious sans ulam.

For drinks, a fellow blogger, Dyan and former colleague Gina who’s based in Singapore never failed to remind us not to forget to try water chestnut. We’re obedient. I bought a cup, it tasted like sweet pandan; refreshingly good!  I took a photo on a whim…

Then we felt it’s time to bid Chinatown goodbye…

but can’t pass the chance without a photo-ops with this Buddha statue…

We finally found our way back to the subway and rode the MRT again.  We had Starbucks Coffee break in a mall on way to our hotel (not in photo) and called it one fine day. :)

 

Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Singapore.

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Beyond Toxicity’s Singapore Blog series includes:

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*Thank you to fellow bloggers, Dyanie (she did my initial itinerary!), Cza (recommended the other hotel we stayed in), Chyng, Sards , Dom/Dong Ho, Annevdns, Bambi (all of their blog posts about Singapore and replies to my queries served helpful references for this trip) and former colleagues, Ms. Gina (who provided useful links online about her work place), Dr. D. and former student, Lea for replying to my questions about the city we all like.

15
Aug
11

HOT POT. CHINESE FONDUE. SHABU-SHABU. STEAMBOAT!

If gastronomic indulgence is a sin, then my family and I are always guilty as charged, hahaha! :)

pass the vinegar, please! yum!

Apparently, gluttony is one of the deadliest sins, but gastronomic indulgence isn’t. I believe when you only try to please your palates with a digestive feast without eating excessively, you are just being a foodie.

Enough with the defenses. Great foods are really meant to be enjoyed and the moment becomes instantly priceless when you share delightful dishes with your love ones.

If not for one of my few valued senior colleagues who generously shared his affordable eating discovery with his family here in Penang, we wouldn’t sample it too.

Along one of the busiest thoroughfares in George Town, Penang is Jalan Macalister (or Macalister Road); it is one of the places in this part of Malaysia where hawker food stalls and restaurants can be found almost side by side. With tough but “healthy” and delicious competition, one of the establishments that was referred to us by my senior fellow is Town Steamboat Restaurant. He only had good words about this eat-all-want-food place; his family’s satisfaction was enough for us to give it a try.

Popular among Asian countries, Steamboat also known with so many names like Shabu-shabu because of some Japanese influence, Chinese Fondue, or Hotpot if claypot was used, requires no skill in cooking but creativity in combining various slices of raw meat -pork, beef, fish, seafoods, veggies, noodles and other interesting ingredients simmered in a pot of boiling stock, cooked directly on the dining table and readily served hot!

tender beef strips cooked slowly on butter and sinigang na hipon or prawn on sour broth simmered to almost perfection!

 I think the affordability of the buffet in Town Steamboat Restaurant is difficult to top with its wide and varied delicious spread. The flavors are almost infinite!

Other than bottomless ice cream, ais kacang (say, ays ka-chang!), the Malaysian version of Filipino Halo-halo or vise-versa served with red bean, nuts and shaved ice…pastries and other sweets, Town Steamboat Restaurant has a  dimsum corner where you can take a volume of steamed goodies!

They got me on this one; I am sucker for dimsum and dumplings!  ….And you?

Drinks from orange, grape and lychee juices, Chinese tea and my favorite, iced cold soya are all available as bottomless and via self-service; it’s all inclusive!

after a hearty meal, must drink tea.

 You’ll never go wrong with a casual atmosphere… 
 
 
…unless you make a big deal out of an overly exposed cooking gas beside your dining table, hahaha!  
 
I think the exposed cooking gas tanks are nothing to these hungry pack…
 
 
Admittedly, I didn’t like the red and spicy broth that they also serve; we prefer the plain soup as base for our steamboat; it’s most appropriate in cooking sour broth or our very own Sinigang!
 
 
This is more we like it….
 

except those with hypersensitivity to it, who doesn't like sinigang na hipon? imagine a Filipino dish personally cooked in a Chinese-Malaysian restaurant! Sarap! Ang saya!

 
Heeding my colleague’s advice, we brought our very own, Knorr Sinigang na may Gabi Recipe Mix which made our Steamboat more appetizingly good! Now, if only Knorr could sponsor and send us here lots of their goodies, we’ll be more than grateful! Because Philippine products are rare here in Penang, can someone refer this blog post to makers of Knorr mixes? Paging Knorr Sinigang Mix, hehe!
 

We brought the mix, baby!

 
We’re definitely spending another gastronomic feast here when we find a chance…
—————————–
The first time we dined at Town Steamboat Restaurant, I only paid RM 49 (PhP 686) for the three of us –Tina, Gabby and me. Then several weeks ago, when my parents came over, we paid around RM 80 (PhP 1120) as lower rates are charged to senior citizens (age 55 and up) and only RM 4.90 (PhP 69) for kids of Gabby’s age and height. It was really a great deal! Now, if only YAKIMIX (which post continuously gives me highest blog hits per day!) or Tong Yang in Manila can top this restaurant with its price, more Filipinos back home can enjoy good food with their families and friends. But I know, YAKIMIX‘s edge are its smokeless grill, airconditioned and more comfortable ambience. 
 
——————————
Town Steamboat Restaurant. 
63 Macalister Road (slightly opposite UMNO building)
10400 George Town, Penang, Malaysia.
 
12
Jun
11

DINING IN G CAFE, G HOTEL, PENANG

In the heart of one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, where century-old structures fused harmoniously with modern and restored ones, a gorgeous hotel stands proud and celebrates its contemporary and stylish designs with non-intimidating ambience.
Saturday, 11 June 2011.  When you’re living an expat life with your wife and kid and you both work 5 days a week with a daily routine that can be almost utterly boring (read : home-work-home-work routine), you strongly need to be creative in spicing up your weekends to break and prevent monotony.
 
Last Saturday, Tina, Gabby and I woke up at 5AM to go to an event that I will post next.  After being sun-kissed, walked up and downhill and felt fatigued, we decided to reward ourselves by trying out the buffet lunch at G Cafe at the lobby of G Hotel located in Persiaran Gurney, Penang.
 
Tina, being modestly frugal as she is, reminded me to be conscious of our budget.  So after we all went to the toilet to freshen up, I approached the counter at the entrance of the restaurant to inquire the rates of their buffet. We were keeping our options in mind in case the price is beyond our taste.
 
At around half hour before noon, a friendly and courteous banquet manager spoke to me and informed me that their International buffet lunch on a Saturday for adult costs RM 52++ (PhP 743++ or USD 17++) inclusive of free flow of fresh fruit beverages, coffee and tea, and kids of Gabby’s age eat for free. Well, that sounded like music to my ears! The price is definitely a steal and imagine, our little-big boy would eat for free! We gave it a nod and reserved a table for three at 12 noon.  
The cool and edgy atmosphere at the lobby is spontaneous. Other than the use of various wonderful and comfortable seats, I like the air of having tall ceiling and the presence of glass walls to stimulate appreciation of huge trees and lush greens outside surrounding Gurney Mall. Yes, if you are familiar with Greenbelt Mall in Makati, Philippines, G Hotel in Gurney Drive Penang reminds me of home.
 
The interiors of G Cafe also boasts of simple lines, repeated circles and other geometric patterns which are also apparent in the use of modern yet ergonomic chairs and tables.  
 
The use of those striking royal blue drop lights on the walls somewhat like echoes and matches with the drinking glasses of the same hue; isn’t it nice?
Who would not want a breather from the usual homecooked dishes, or worst, the repeated consumption of fastfood value meals? Luxury sometimes, comes reasonably affordable as we always keep in mind that our pocket dictates indulgence need not to be expensive.
 
Who would not want to dine under these lights?
Without idea of being rushed (as in quick bites every breakfast and that 1-hour lunch breaks at the office except on Fridays, 12-2:30PM) and most importantly, dining comfortably with your family with foods you love eating, the experience was truly divine!  
And so Tina, Gabby and I took our taste buds to another gastronomic adventure at this sumptuous lunch buffet at G Cafe.
 
I started with their creamy corn soup; i like its light buttery taste with thick and textured consistency. 
Salad comes next : My plate had prawn salad, cheese, mix salad (tossed with crab sticks) and one of my favorites, potato salad… everything was superb! the prawn salad’s flavor wasn’t overpowering; it wasn’t too spicy, neither too oily. Sarap! it was like a perfect prelude to this wonderful dining experience. 
I tell you, I can eat this seafood plate everyday! hahaha! :D
Although there were no sushi and sashimi, which God knows I am biased with (Japanese foods are only offered every Thursday nights at G Cafe as of present), and notable absence of carving stations except for some Peking duck and smoked chicken,  Tina and I concluded that when you enjoy every bite, everything seems to be complete.
 
At the spread, these burst of colors reminded me of my favorite season of the year, Christmas!
Defensively, we know buffet plates should not be stuffed with most from the spread to effortlessly look like you’re eating as if there’s no tomorrow, hahaha! but Tina had this plate because she wanted to share those dishes she preferred with me and Gabby, isn’t that sweet? :D
My wife recommends this Chinese prawn dish and comments,“It feels like eating in Ongpin (Manila’s Chinatown).”   My palate dictates that it’s the sesame oil that makes most Chinese foods taste Chinese.  I miss having some dimsum and dumplings, though.
You can never go wrong with Peking Duck and smoked chicken with honey syrup… Yum! :D  *unless you’re allergic to it*
Baked vegetables, spring rolls and calamares, anyone?
Delightful desserts!
Irresistible temptations!
Guinataan! Wow! :D
As I’ve always stated it, the world is so incomplete without ice cream, agree?
 
Fibers are essential, we know.
And coffee is a must to end our meals.
 
Above all, my family is happy. It was indeed, a happy weekend!
Tina and I were so impressed at their highly efficient wait staff. Our glasses were refilled with freshly squeezed fruit punch promptly, attended to our needs in a blink making their service almost impeccable!
 
I almost forgot to tell you that Amex credit card holders receive 15% discount  on top of the reasonable cost of this lunch buffet. :) We only paid RM102 (PhP 1,458 or USD 33.7) for two plates as Gabby ate for free, I know it’s the usual price of one buffet plate in some hotels when I left Manila last year, so it was truly a steal!
 
It won’t be our last time to dine at G Cafe in G Hotel, definitely.
I wish to bring back my family there to experience their room and amenities too someday.
After all, the view from their 300+ rooms include priceless sight of Penang bay and the tourist-famous Gurney boulevard. *wishful thinking*
——————————-
G Cafe, G Hotel
168A Persiaran Gurney 10250 Penang, Malaysia
Tel +604-2380000
22
Mar
11

THEIR FIRST FEW DAYS IN PENANG

Je suis tellement heureuse pour vous. Dis bonjour à Ma’am Santos :)

Que Dieu vous bénisse toujours :)

(I’m so happy for you. Say hello to Ma’am Santos :) May God bless you always) -This was one of the several comments I’ve received on facebook after I’ve posted a photo of my son and wife’s arrival in Penang International Airport last Saturday. Those words came from my wife’s student, Myeen, who’s born in Belgium and raised in France.  Pinas but spent her 10 years in Belgium and had traveled France and some countries in Europe. I always have my widest smile every time she posts comments on French; such a beautiful language I wish I could learn. Won’t you be happy if others are happy for you and your family as well?

20 March 2011, Sunday : On board the ferry that takes us to and from Butterworth to Penang Island; ferry takes approx 12 minute ride; kinda relaxing for me unless there's inevitable little isolated hassles. (tingnan nyo si ate, nakatingin sa mag-ina ko, hehe!)

And so I became the happiest man alive on the day I finally brought my family to Penang. They’ll be staying here with me until God knows when.They arrived safely from Manila to Kuala Lumpur via Cebu Pacific (4-hour-flight) then had another flight from KL to Penang via Air Asia (about an hour-flight). I saw them coming out of Penang Airport at around 6:10PM last Saturday. That moment was surreal!

We’re all thankful to the Lord for despite the vertigo episodes that Tina was having during their entire flight until they reached Penang (imagine, she fainted down to her knees in front of the immigration officer at Kuala Lumpur-LCCT airport) plus the fact that she was only one to carry all the 37 kg of check-in luggages and 13 kg of handful of cabin-bags, not to forget that the rains (only) poured from heavens when we’re already in the cab enroute to our condo, they arrived safe and sound. God was indeed good all the time!

Tina wanted to hear mass the next day but I knew there’s no scheduled English mass last Sunday at the parish where I frequent so we postponed it the following weekend.

We hopped onto Rapid Penang bus, hit the roads to the jetty, transferred to the ferry then took bus again to the Island. (Cest la vie for we’re still living in Penang mainland, but before August hopefully, we get to transfer to a new place in the Island itself).

I took them to Queensbay Mall, one of my favorite malls in Penang Island where I usually spend my days off inside its coffee shops and cinemas. Tina and Gabby only had one chance to go to Queensbay during their 2-week-break here last December.

At the Queens food court, we feasted on Beef Fried Rice, Yee Mee noodle dish, peanut and lotus balls (aka buchi) and Too Foo Far in brown sugar, of in Pinas we call it, taho less tapioca or sago. Sarap kumain pagkasalo pamilya!

Then we watched the movie that had Johnny Depp’s voice, Rango…

Rango : "No man can walk out on his own story."

It wasn’t difficult to like Rango for the three of us are all followers of most Johnny Depp’s kiddie-movies. The fantastic visuals and spectacular scenes plus the splendid voices rendered to the animated cast made the movie truly entertaining. Rango, like most contemporary cartoons is filled with matured themes and quotes that kids might find to early to absorb. Like how many kids can easily grasp the importance of a hero finding his true self? Nonetheless, I saw Gabby smiled and laughed at few chase scenes and that was enough for me as I start to fill in those days that we’re away from each other.

The following day after my work hours, we visited few of our colleague-friends’ home-away-from-home.

Gabby, striking his seriously wacky pose at the hallway of the condo we visited.

It’s so comforting that my fellow MD lecturers welcomed my family to their living rooms (actually, i personally requested if we can peek in at their condos for Tina to have an idea of how Pulau Pinang urban living looks like). You don’t have idea how hard it is to live as an expat with barely friends and relatives you have lived with since you existed until you become one.

Chance led me to discover the song that’s so apt for our present family status.

I honestly don’t know who Bruno Mars is and am completely clueless with his music until I stumbled upon this wonderful song that speaks my thoughts exactly. Please do yourself a favor, click the video and sing to your heart’s delight! Let me know of what you think.

Tina and I are aware that we took the big leap as we begin to live and thrive here in Penang that’s absolutely far from our own comfort zones. We’re taking one day at a time; hopefully in God’s will, we may be able to become happier, healthier as we begin our new life here.

What’s most important now is we’re one family again.

God bless all our loved ones!

———————o

10
Mar
11

THE ANTHOLOGY OF CHAR KOAY TEOW

For the past 7 months of being an expat here in Penang, there’s a little emptiness that I feel without my usual noodle or pasta fix (drama!). I long for Pancit Malabon or even palabok among our local noodle dishes; pesto and seafood marinara for pasta (When I asked my colleagues if they’ve spotted pesto bottles in groceries here, they candidly replied, “Walang pesto dito, peste madami! *pun intended*).  

The void was filled by my new-found-preference to this delicious Malaysian noodle dish called Char Koay Teow

“Char Koay Teow is probably the most popular hawker food among the locals. The dish uses flat noodles of roughly one centimeter in width. The noodles are fried in an iron cast wok over very high heat. The wok is preheated for few seconds over strong fire. Oil is added to the wok followed by small amount of minced garlic and fresh prawns. The prawns are fried until semi-cooked. Noodles are added, followed by a dash of seasoned soy sauce, bean sprouts, eggs and chives. The last ingredient to be added is the cockles as it’s usually eaten medium cooked. The perfect Fried Kway Teow should never be too wet or too dry. The superb taste of this dish is a combination of the strong ingredients and the sweetness of the prawns. It is best eaten immediately when served. A basic plate should cost between RM 3.50 to RM 4.50 and the spiciness depends on the amount of chili paste. This may not be a halal dish as some vendors use lard.” –sourced via Penang Food Trail George Town and Northern Region.

Here’s another version of Char Koay Teow that I ate few weeks ago at a Chinese eatery called 211 near Prangin Mall in George Town. Surprisingly, it’s non-greasy unlike the others, rich in flavors and textures, sarap! :D

With my huge appetite and unparalleled love to eat, I usually couple Char Koay Teow with another carbohydrate plate, the usual Fried Rice. I did it 3x in 3 weeks now, is it bad? :D hahaha!

Another take on Fried Rice from other Chinese eatery here; I like its smokey flavor!

yum! :D  It can stand sans viand!

This is me. Whenever I find something I like, I can eat it almost everyday without complain until such time that I’ll (re)discover a better option. 

Have you tried Char Koay Teow? Does it appeal to you anyway?

What are your cravings now?

————————————————o

PS : I still miss Pancit Malabon! :P

23
Feb
11

CONFESSIONS OF A DIM SUM MONSTER

Admittedly, I love to eat, who doesn’t? And few of my favorites are basically Asian dishes, obviously because of my roots. Other than Filipino food, I like Japanese! Sushi, sashimi, tempura and teppanyaki which I have tasted as authentic as it gets when I was in Tokyo for 2 weeks last year. From Pinoy and Japanese gastromic delights, I also love Chinese food! Yang chow fried rice, Peking Duck, some Schezuan dishes and yes, dim sum and dumplings!

Can you honestly differentiate a dim sum from a dumpling? Certainly, I cannot until this post (or perhaps when I blogged about them few years ago). It only proves that I haven’t started dwelling in the food that I eat the way a righteous foodie should be. (google translate : I only love to eat but too lazy to read!).

“Dim sum is a Cantonese term for a type of Chinesedish that involves small individual portions of food, usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Going for dim sum is usually known in Cantonese as going to “drink tea” (yum cha, 飲茶). (Sourced via  Wiki)


“Dumplings are cooked balls of dough.They are based on flour, potatoes, bread, or matzoh, and may include meat, fish, or sweets. They may be cooked by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying, or baking. They may have a filling, or there may be other ingredients mixed into the dough. Dumplings may be sweet or spicy. They can be eaten by themselves, in soups or stews, with gravy, or in any other way. While some dumplings resemble solid water boiled doughs, such as gnocchi, others such as wontons resemble meatballs with a thin dough covering.” (Sourced via  Wiki)

As an expat for 7 months now, I am still in the process of absorbing everything in my new ground and that includes diversity of everything. Penang celebrates the presence of its 3 predominant races -Malays, Indians and Chinese. And indubitably, with their religions and cultures, food also varies and offers quaint appeal to everyone’s taste buds.

I have been keeping my love affair with Chinese food long before I decided to work here in Penang.

And so I heard that there’s a cheap but authentically great dim sum place tucked in Butterworth called Orient Precious Restaurant, which is actually an upscale side street eatery (or in Pinas we call it, “turo-turo“) but to me and the rest of my fellows, a haven of irresistible dim sums. However, I regret the fact that I passed on the first chance to sample them for I didn’t join my colleague-friends who came in troop (15+ of them!) when they dined there last week. It was because I was waiting for a Skype conversation with my family.

Sunday came and a suggestion from my housemates was raised that I should try it and come with them. And so I did. But luck wasn’t on my side because we found out that Orient Precious Restaurant is closed every Sunday evening.

Last night (Tuesday, 22 February), we decided to go there again and finally, we’re not disappointed.

Here’s my shameless display of what I pig-out :

FIRST ROUND!

After several minutes of waiting for the second serving…

ROUND TWO!

Burp! :P

Plus, I ordered an enormous Bola-bola siopao as takeaway which I had for breakfast the next day.

Was everything worth my RM 22.60 (PhP 316.40) ?  You bet!

That scallop-dim sum in thick soup and those seafood siomai and others which I didn’t bother to ask the names, are so tasteful that it can give the Chinese-restaurant and eateries in Ongpin and Binondo Streets in Manila, or even in Hong Kong a run for their money.

We’re all ready to go but one of my friends asked me to photograph the only pet in sight that evening in that the dim sum place…

Of all living creatures, I hate to see cats in food places that serve dim sum and dumplings, don’t you? If you’re Pinoy like me and you’re familiar with that running joke associating those yummies with those furry pets, you know what I mean, hahaha!

_____________________________o

18
Feb
11

I ATE FRIED DEVIL

Comfort food means…

  • Ice cream.
  • Chocolates.
  • Pizza with lotsa cheese toppings.
  • Potato chips.
  • and the list goes on…

In stressful and manic times, I find solace in scooping a favorite flavor of ice cream or savoring a bar of dark chocolate and everything becomes OK in a heartbeat.

Last weekend, I never thought my feet will bring me again to a small restaurant in Plaza Gurney to try a snack set for the second time. Perhaps, because it took me 7 months of waiting for my craving for that warm and tasteful congee to be satisfied and this Chinese food place called, “I Love Yoo” which has a branch also at the food court of Queensbay Mall, Penang doesn’t disappoint.

Congee with scallop + Yoo tiao, chilled soya drink and Seasame peanut balls

This set of comfort food is different for it’s rich in history.

Just before eating those deeply fried bread called ‘Yoo tiaw’ by dunking it piece a by piece on the congee,poster about it on the restaurant’s wall caught my attention.

“Legend has it that the Yoo tiao is first created during the Song dynasty by two people. It was previously known as “chua kwai”, loosely translated- fried devil.

How did it all begin? It all started with a murder conspiracy.

Jealous of the dynasty’s most loyal and devoted General- Yu Fei, Grand councilor Qin Kuai and his wife plotted and schemed and murdered the General at Fengboting. This injustice attracted a massive public outcry.

At that time, there was a food vendor that sold fried foodstuff. Hearing about the wrongful death of the General, the food vendor, in his rage, immediately sculpted miniatures of two people -one to represent the Grand Councilor and the other to represent his wife –from dough. Twisting them together with their backs facing each other, he then threw the dough into the wok filled with hot oil and shouted, “Come see, Kuai, being deep fried!” “Come see, Kuai, being deep fried!”.

When passers-by heard about Kuai being deep fried, they crowded around his stall and knew who those two figures represented. As they ate, they continued with the chanting and yelled out to others, “Come see, Kuai, being deep fried!”.

The Yoo tiao may come fro origins such as this, but this delicious Chinese snack lived on through the ages and can now be found everywhere in the world. There is a saying that goes, “Wherever the Chinese are, there you’d find, Yoo tiao.”

I have never been fascinated with a snack’s origin until I’ve tasted Yoo tiao.

Have you?

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! God bless.

15
Dec
10

FAMILY’S FIRST FEAST in PENANG : DRAGON-i

It was already 11AM last Saturday when we arrived at our penthouse from Penang Airport. We only dropped off my wife and kid’s luggage and bags, took shower and off we went to my favorite mall in this part of Malaysia; where else but Queensbay Mall.

Since it was already more than 2 hours past noon time, the priority in our agenda on Tina and Gabby’s first day in Penang was to seek gastronomic indulgence.

I took them at a Shanghainese restaurant called DRAGON-i.

The casual and non-intimidating food place is located at the centermost portion of the mall on its 2nd floor, overlooking the glorious bay and that 42-km magnificence, Penang bridge.

Boiled peanuts for appetizer…

Hand-pulled noodles mixed with flavorful soy sauce and seafoods; delicious!

Fried rice with fried pork chops. This pair didn’t satisfy Tina, perhaps because it wasn’t that crispy or was a bit oily for her.

Gabby and I were amused with this dimsum filled with red mung bean. Aren’t they too cute for words?

He also ordered soup-filled steamed crab and seafood dumpling, XiaoLongBao.
(Xiaolong = small steaming basket)

Shrimp siomai, anyone?

Whether enjoying street foods (at hawkers in Gurney Drive, Penang) or dining somewhere with more relaxed ambiance, or simply eating meals at the comfort of your own dining tables, what matters most is spending time with your loved ones. Agree? :D

———————————————–o

09
Nov
10

LAST WEEK’S FOOD PORN

I certainly know that being a non-smoker and a very occasional alcoholic drinker doesn’t give me enough license to pig-out every now and then. And as a medical practitioner and a lecturer at that, I completely understand those long term consequences -health wise.  But what can I do?  Resistance is as they say, futile when the opportunity presents itself. :D

Most of my housemates here in Penang follow a diet/gym regimen (we live in a penthouse where ground floor has swimming pool, gym and sauna); one of them doesn’t eat rice but only oatmeal on most of his meals. Admittedly, unlike them, I am stubborn to start a healthier lifestyle. Yes, you can accuse me of not practicing what I preach but at least I am happy.  There’s nothing to be alarmed of as of this moment anyway. *bad defense*

Don’t get me wrong, I also eat veggies particularly those dishes that my friends cook at home. I walk with them a few meters daily to and fro bus stops; we stroll several hours in malls on weekends so I am not actually that couch potato. But whenever we find time to go out after work or more frequently during weekends and holidays, we cannot avoid eating what we’d like to eat.

Here are few of those yummies my friends and I savored last week…

Six-cheese-pizza from Pizza Hut, Prangin Mall, Georgetown, Penang; who doesn’t like pizza?

Nando’s Mild Peri-peri chicken from Sunway Carnival Mall...sarap! :D

The first and last time I got to sample Nando’s 24-hour-marinated peri chicken was back in 2005 when we had a 7-week-vacation in Auckland, New Zealand.  Its taste is truly remarkable to the palate….

Spaghetti topped with ebi tempura from Pizza Hut, Prangin Mall, Georgetown…

Eggs Ben with fresh salad from the CBTL, Queensbay Mall… an all-day-breakfast treat served with Cafe Americano…

and Cantonense Kway Teow mixed with beehon from our favorite Pinoy-Malaysian owned food kiosk at the foodcourt of Queensbay Mall…It was my cheapest meal last week at RM 5.90 (PhP 82.60) but the most delightful!

Can you blame me for being a foodie ? :D

Senang Makan (Happy eating!) from Penang!

————————————————————————————o

 

05
Sep
10

ON A SATURDAY NIGHT

docgelo in penang with kim chiu?

My wife will kill me for this! …*kidding* :D

Her name is Beatrice, a 20-year-old beautiful and lovely lass who has a striking resemblance with the famous Filipina actress, Kim Chiu. Beatrice sings and plays with her keyboard in Wok City KTV and ‘Restoran’ in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

From Justin Bieber’s song, “Baby” to a more complex ballads like Titanic’s theme, “My Heart Will Go On” and other pop and love songs, Beatrice sang them well alternately with some Chinese songs sang by the other musician.

Together, they set the mood on stage while my colleagues and I went for a hot pot dinner buffet in response to an invitation by one of our fellows’ good friends who have been living in Malaysia for 6 years now.

The casual table that reminded me of Yakimix in Manila and Don.K! in Tokyo

The spread had these delightful ingredients of Chinese steamboat…

My first plate that I loaded into the cooking broth with chopsticks…

Good music, warm and best-tasting soup with freshest prawns and dimsums, seasoned pork, beef, fish, chicken and even deer meat slices, eat-all-you-want-Nestle ice cream and free-flowing drinks all for only RM 25 (PhP 350) per pax,  what more can you ask for?

Oh yes, not to forget to bring good company!

We’re all satiated! …Burp! …Oink, oink! :)

After that sumptuous dinner, we’re brought to Auto City, a bazaar-restaurant-place in Seberang Perai, Penang.

Shopping is always an inevitable temptation but most of us resisted. I for one just noted that this place opens daily at 5pm to midnight; good enough reason to go back.

To Bel and her husband and to Anna of course, thank you for inviting all of us! Indeed, it was a fun night to unwind. We need to have more of this; it certainly deviates our homesickness. Bonding has become a therapy for us, don’t you agree?

To my wife, Tina, it was only for photo-op, honey! You also love Kim Chiu, don’t you? :D

———————————-<@

Restoran Wok City BBQ*Steamboat*Buffet*Karaoke, 3212-G, Jalan Kampung Baru, Pusat Perniagaan Maju Utama, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

04
Aug
10

I MISS ADOBO

It has only been 5 days since I left Manila to work as a medical lecturer here in Penang, Malaysia but I miss Pinoy food so much. Although my palate has welcomed spicy and flavorful foods from Malaysia, still nothing beats Pinoy dishes of course.

Here are some of my gastronomic adventures to date.

SEAFOOD FRIED RICE, RM 6.5 (PhP 91).

SIZZLING CHICKEN BLACK PEPPER RICE, RM 6.5 (PhP 91).

KFC in Pinas tastes a lot better than in Penang :(  But I like the Chicken rice (similar to what you have in Hainanese Chicken).  This set cost me RM 11.50 (PhP 161) including that Milo Chocolate Ice Cream that fell bland on my taste.

There were 2 nights that we enjoyed simple dinner in Gurney Drive and Kepala Batas where hawkers predominate those places; we chow down foods that we’re not-so-hygienic despite the authentic good tastes.

I guess it takes guts and will power to savor these street foods. *Pikit-mata muna sa Hepatitis A and Gastroenteritis. (note: those 2 dinner were not eventful health-wise, Thank God!).


So far, I like MEE GORENG, CHICKEN & SEAFOOD BALLS, CHAR KEOW TEOW, BEEF KEBAB, NASI LEMAK, CHICKEN SATAY.  It’s always exciting to taste new gastronomic stimuli; can’t wait to experience the other dishes.

At George Town, one of the UNESCO World Heritage City, we had lunch at a cheap Chinese restaurant where I had YONG TAU FU, a soup based dish similar to Shabu-Shabu.

I had this YONG TAU FU for RM 11.50 (PhP 161) price inclusive of a cold glass of watermelon juice.

To balance the spice, desserts are a must.  One time, my friends and I went to a mall near Queensbay and we indulge in cakes from Secret Recipe. Food from their menu are better than the ones in Manila however, service is otherwise.  On top of our bill, we were also charged with RM 0.5 (PhP 7) for a glass of tap water, plus service charge and tax. Nonetheless, the cakes are to die-for.

CHOCOLATE INDULGENCE, RM 6.5 (PhP 91).

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE, RM 6.5 (PhP 91)

Food, grocery items, veggies, seafood and other commodities are so affordable in Penang compared to Philippines but like most Pinoy abroad would feel, I certainly miss our very own dishes savored with the presence of our family in the comforts of our very own home. :)

19
May
10

KING BEE AND THINGS LESS PRICEY

In this day and age, observance of frugality and prudence is absolutely important or at least for our family.  Stretching our domestic budget has always been an effort between my wife and I; we cut on other expenses but we don’t compromise food.  We always prioritize Gabby’s fortified powdered milk, his chocolate drink, multivitamins, sometimes his favorite cereals too. We don’t dine out as frequent as before and if we do, we choose affordable and family-friendly food places. We always try to seek value-for-money.

There were 2 new things we experienced last Sunday.   First was attending mass at 6 in the evening; we always hear mid-morning masses except last week.  Both Tina and I had to do household chores in the morning and stuffs she had to finish for work,  so we opted to skip our routine and decided to go to Christ the King Church in E. Rodriguez  Avenue, Quezon City at dusk.  Then after the Mass, it was also our first time to eat at KING BEE Chinese Food.

We’ve been seeing its newly opened branch right across that church for some time now but haven’t tried it until last Sunday.  I’ve already heard raves about King Bee from my dad who already tried their Antipolo Branch with my aunts and uncles early this year.  Tina and I thought it was like another Chinese fast food but we only knew that it is not when we’re already inside ordering our dinner.

When the waiter handed us the menu, we found out that prices are within reached; and because entrees come in sizes- S, M, & L, it’s even more reasonable than other long-established Chinese restaurants that we frequent.  Plus it’s nice that they still offer Opening Promo of 20% off on all of their dimsums at 8 in the evening.  We came almost an hour before 8 but the staff told us that we can already avail of the discount.

Look at how we maximized our PhP 547 (net, inclusive of tax) with dimsums, seafood fried noodle dish and a glass of sago and black gulaman.

In a glimpse :  DIMSUMS that we savored :)

In toto :

SEA KING ROLL…

I’m lost for words to express how delightful this dimsum is!

PORK SIOMAI…tasteful!

HAKAO…it’s a must whenever we dine Chinese!

Gabby liked the shrimp dumpling or hakao. He just loved forking those plump and juicy shrimps! Delicious! Certainly, a personal favorite! :)

ASADO SIOPAO…

The buns are the softest! Its filling has unique taste compared to usual Asado siopao. Yummy!

What’s dimsum and dumplings without chili + soy + calamansi ?

Usual Chinese resto freebie :  house tea…aids in digestion, of course and saves you on ordering beverages :)

SEASONAL SEAFOOD  FRIED NOODLES…

We only had the small order (you can opt for medium or large) but surprisingly came with generous ingredients!

mix it up, and voila!

Gabby enjoyed a glass of SAGO & BLACK GULAMAN…

Can you blame me if I fell in love and will forever love these killer smiles?  Love ko ‘to :

Thank you Lord for all the blessingsbig and small! :)

Tina and I agreed that King Bee Chinese Food is authentic in taste; affordable in price; quick and polite in service with casual ambiance. It’s like eating in Manila Chinatown without the hassles of traffic! We’ll definitely try their other dishes on our future visits.

For menu, price, branches and other details of King Bee, click –> THIS.

29
Apr
10

ANOTHER MEAL AT MANN HANN

There’s never a dull moment for my family when it’s chow time.  Whether we’re enjoying home-cooked dishes or dining out, our choices remain simple. 

And one of our favorite mall-based restaurants is Mann Hann.  We like it for their unpretentious Chinese dishes with Pinoy taste and their casual and never intimidating ambiance.

Upon browsing my files, I found pictures of our late lunch from Mann Hann in TriNoma several weeks ago. 

Although it drizzled a bit today at some places in the Metro, it’s still Summer and Halo-Halo is just perfect whether for lunch, an afternoon snack or for some, even as an after dinner dessert.

Any guess who among us requested for Halo-Halo that time?

I remember Tina suggested a noodle dish, so we opted for Seafood Chami…

  

It’s a little greasy but the taste is just flavorful!

We also had that much required Yang Chow Fried Rice for extra Carbo-loading… (for what? nothing, LOL! we just felt we like to eat fried rice even if we’re having noodle dish too! Mann Hann’s version doesn’t disappoint).

That time, we passed on one of our Mann Hann favorites, Spicy Squid which is always serve with Chinese Bagoong (now, I’m craving!), and favored another crunchy delight, Lechon Macau…

I know, I know… you’re counting the calories and cholesterol levels!  OK, we’re guilty of savoring those sinful foods! LOL!  But we also try to eat fruit and veggies on a daily basis; lots of them, actually to help washed out those artery-clogging lipids *defensive*.

 And yes, Gabby had one of his comfort foods…

  

Why do we like Mann Hann? Gabby’s smile says it all.

———————————–<@

Mann Hann / TriNoma Mall, Quezon City (also located in other malls).

03
Mar
10

SIOMAI MAMI + CRISPY PIENCIT CANTON

:D Can you remember the day you learned to eat with chopsticks ? 

I must admit I’m jologs a late-bloomer; I was already in my pre-med back in the mid 90s when I started using chopsticks when eating Chinese and until now I am not an expert. I mean, i still prefer spoon and fork particularly when eating fried rice. What about you? 

Tina and I smiled our widest again when Gabby enjoyed a bowl of siomai-mami using chopsticks. It wasn’t his first time to use a pair but previously, he would just poke kani tempura with them and that’s it.  But last weekend’s eat-out was really a milestone for him as he almost finished the entire bowl of mami with his chopsticks.

We had our late lunch at MA CHICKEN MAMI HOUSE in TriNoma last Sunday. It’s one of those small food places near the cinemas of that mall.  We only had light meals before we hit the grocery.

Although with barely 4 to 6 tables, we noticed people coming in to buy siopao and siomai to-go, and some to dine in.  I thought it was a positive sign that we’re in for a good meal.

We sat comfortably and noticed the laminated menu on our table.  Tina can’t help but ask the waitress about the spelling of PANCIT (a local-Chinese noodle dish) on their menu.

 

The waitress smiled and told us she didn’t know either. Was it wrongly spelled? Can anyone tell ? I’m too lazy to google. :)  At least it really caught our attention to give it a try. 

So we ordered CRISPY PIENCIT CANTON (PhP 168) served with 2 FRIED BUNS (other option was to have it steamed but since we’re having BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO (PhP 48) too, we opted our buns fried; turned out to be nice; not that oily. :D We like it –a bit crispy outside and soft inside. The Crispy PIENCIT Canton’s also distinctly yummy! :)

I ordered SIOMAI-MAMI (PhP 68) because I wanted to sip a warm broth but when it was served, our son gave it a look and asked me if he can have it. Who am I to say NO? :)

Their siopao’s smaller than the usual size but nonetheless worth a try. The filling has slices of mushroom (we like mushrooms!) that made it more flavorful. Sarap but too small for my appetite. :)

And since it has been months since the 3 of us vowed not to drink sodas anymore, we settled to their RED and BLACK GULAMAN (PhP 68 per glass) which were both refreshing.

With affordable and delicious meals, Ma Chicken Mami House deserves more visits from us. 

It’s so nice to find a slice of Binondo in Quezon City. :)

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!

10
Feb
10

PRELUDE TO CHINESE NEW YEAR

After an afternoon at the zoo, my wife suggested for us to have an early dinner in a restaurant an eatery in Ongpin last weekend;  I was too weak to resist! :D  

We went first to Sta Cruz Church, said our prayers and crossed the street.  It’s hard not to appreciate the beauty of Carriedo fountain (note to self : keep on dreaming for Europe).  However, just like Manila Zoo, I heard it’s also wailing for some maintenance and preservation.

Then we strolled from Sta Cruz Church to Manila Chinatown and  finally reached a hole-in-the-wall-Chinese fastfood.  Thank Heavens, we immediately spotted an empty table; an unusual sight at this very busy eatery.

Since our heartbeats increased after walking, first thing we ordered was something to chill us down. This fastfood’s version of Hong Kong Iced Tea is a champion! :D  It has finely shaved ice with thin slices of lemons that made it tasteful.  At PhP 50, it’s so refreshingly good and affordable too that I almost ordered another glass.   Tina reminded me that we’re observing utmost prudence on the budget, so I settled with the hot tea on the house; I smiled and did not complain. 

We saw chinky-eyed customers flocking in non stop;  a strong indication that this food place really serves best-tasting Chinese treats.  We didn’t waste time and told the wait staff our orders… And voila, less than 10 minutes, they arrived on our tables…

SIOMAI .   One of the best, if not the best-tasting siomai I’ve tasted!. It’s gloriously delicious.

Amen! :D

BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO is one of our common favorites.  Tina’s biased with Kowloon’s; I can’t blame her. But even Gabby liked the soft white bun of this fastfood’s siopao! The filling is its edge in contrast to other versions.  It has salted egg, strips of mushrooms, and a giant meat ball that’s so flavorful.

While we’re happy to try those 2 dimsums at its finest tastes, the next dishes suffered comparison from our favorite Chinese food places.

 

SHRIMP CHEONG CHONG FAN.  Tina and I had our initial taste bud’s exposure to this shrimp rice rolls 5 years ago in NZ.  Since then, it became our favorite. We usually order it whenever we eat Chinese. We love the version from LE CHING’S TEA HOUSE in Greenhills Shopesville and TirNoma and Shrimp Cheong fan from EMERALD GARDEN CHINESE RESTAURANT  in Roxas Blvd.  And because we’re used to generous servings of plump shrimps and its thick rice rolls from Le Ching, we’re a bit disappointed with this fastfood’s Cheong Chong fan. 

We barely tasted the shrimps because they were too small for bites; the rice rolls were too limp and thin, like the fountain and the zoo begging for improvement. :D  The saving glory was its sweet and salty soy sauce.

We also ordered rice toppings…

STEAMED CHICKEN MUSHROOM RICE (left) and SPARERIBS RICE TOPPINGS (right)

“Lasang Tinola” , my wife commented. :(  Tina, Gabby and I love Chicken Mushroom Rice, but again, our reference  was that of Le Ching’s so we find it quite different; gingery to be exact.  But I must state that their chicken serving is more generous.

I had the Spareribs Rice Toppings; ’twas fine. I was satisfied. :D I may order it again next time we visit…

It would be unfair if we won’t visit WAI YING again in Binondo to try their other yummies. I know a few more dine-in here would lead to its inclusion to the list of our favorites.  

:D Have you tried Wai Ying ? What’s your favorite from their menu?

:D Do you have plans already to celebrate this year’s CHINESE NEW YEAR VALENTINE’S ?

Last year, we had a blast; view HERE! and  HERE (you want to click it, don’t you? LOL)

For this year, I already have something in mind but we’ll keep it cheap simple; we’re CELEBRATING LOVE everyday anyway! :D 

——————————————————

WAI YING,927 Benavidez Street, Binondo Manila (From Sta Cruz’ Church go straight to Ongpin then turn right to Salazar Street (where President’s Tea House is located, then right again to Benavidez St).

12
Jan
10

SIXTY, THIRTY AND ELEVEN

I’d like to officially welcome our dad in their senior citizen’s club as he turned 60 last Sunday!  :D  Wow, Tina and I are only 4 years more than half your age!  You’re blessed to have stayed happy and , oh well -healthy at your age. 

If you must know, our groovy dad, a.k.a. Lolo Ben to Gabby or Lolo Benruh (with an H) to himself (his name is his pet name-spelled backward, gets?) still rides a cool mountain bike and takes uphill and downhill trails in San Mateo, Montalban, Antipolo all the way up to Manila with my cousin, Etot, and my 3rd brother, Mac who always celebrates his birthday with my dad and turned exactly half his age.  Happy 60th daddy, and 30th to you Mac!  Belated Happy 11th birthday to my nephew, Joshua! God bless everyone in our family! Hep hep, hooray! :D

Because of this, my second brother, Capt. Michael (a private licensed aviator) -dad to Joshua, hosted a very casual and intimate dinner with his wife, Sheila and daughter KC for our lively clan (or at least a fraction of it).  They’ve reserved 60 – 70 seats in LUYONG, one of the established names in the panciteria business in Marikina City.

The spread was simple yet satisfying.  Per table, there were bowl of hot sweet corn soup, platters of fish fillet in sweet and sour sauce, freshest greens in chopsuey, pancit canton, lumpiang shanghai and lechon-kawali plus home-made ice cream! :D

The celebrators in red and yellow shirts with my son, Gabby, my nieces -Kelly and KC.

There were no party games, program or balloons.  Just ordinary dining, chit-chat and fun talks as if everyone was dearly missed!  :D

It could have been complete with my mom who’s in UAE with my cousins.  Nonetheless, the presence of everyone who attended made it extra-special! :D 

:D  How do you celebrate your love one’s birthday ?

 

03
Jan
10

ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE YEAR (PART 2)

we had some Chinese eats where else but in…

Did you notice the first letter N in the road sign?  It’s been there since God knows when, but no one exerts effort to correct it. Was it done intentionally to draw attention?  The little OC in me always kicks in whenever I see this in oNgpin, can someone enlighten me?  :D 

After my generous balikbayang-biyanan bought his Chinese medicine for arthritis (read : I have no idea what snake-bone-capsules can do to arthralgia or joint pains), we went straight to a food place to fill in our hungry tummies..

Upon seeing the first floor of the resto so packed because it was noon time, we headed to its second floor and occupied an 8-seater round table.  After few minutes, our orders came…

We passed on dimsum and dumplings and opted for thick Chinese soup and that complimentary house tea.

 

CRAB MEAT and SWEET CORN THICK SOUP, PhP 220+ for regular, PhP 357+ for medium, PhP 600+ for large order.  Since it was a lunch treat of my dad-in-law, I never had a chance to secure the receipt. 

Our benefactor (a.k.a dad-in-law) asked the waiter if they’re using artificial crab sticks or the real thing in their crab meat soup, and the waiter was honest enough to reply it’s really crab meat; thus the order.  As expected, it was satisfying!  I always love Chinese soup for its consistency more than taste.

Next to arrive on our table…

FRIED HOFAN with BEEF and SOY SAUCE.  This reminds me of Little Asia’s version (along Tomas Morato) but this resto’s hofan is oilier than the others. Although I have to admit I like the satay flavor of the entire dish! :D  And did I tell you that the beef strips are sooo tender and yummy?

Then came…stuffed CHEF’S SPECIALTIES!

TOFU (left).  I’m not sure who among us ordered this, but it’s absolutely delicious! ’twas so sublime with a surprise stuffing of mushroom and I think pork bits.

According to my in-law, there’s a resto in California that only serves dishes made of tofu! Can imagine how versatile and healthy this soya is?  FYI, if post-operative patients have no renal problems (read :BUN, Crea, Ammonia levels =normal), we recommend soya, tofu, taho intake to enhance wound healing other than vitamin C and Zinc (oops, am I too medical now?)

FRIED SEAFOOD ROLL (right). My wife, Tina ordered these rolls. They’re crunchy outside with stuffing of  bits of what esle but seafoods and some carrots in thin mayo somewhat like a seafood salad inside.  I like it but would not order on our next visit just to try other dishes  for it’s not the plate you’ll crave for over and over.

Gabby had a glass of iced tea and three of us had black gulaman, bottomless. :D

No one among us was interested in yang chow or other fried rice last weekend so we only had few cups of plain rice (honestly, i only had half a cup)  with our last plate…

MANDARIN CHICKEN.  It’s similar to Lemon Chicken but pineapples and oranges with sesame seeds were used instead of lemons to glaze the crispy coated chicken. 

I know President along Onpin Street itself, is far better than President Tea House located in Salazar Street, Binondo but the latter is more affordable which offers casual dining while the former has the finest of everything.  We may have dined at the cheaper resto nevertheless, it was indeed one beautiful Saturday lunch with the family! 

:D Have you tried President and/or President Tea House in Ongpin ? 

:D Have you tasted BINONDO in MAKATI  ?

:D I’ll try to bring my family soon to WAI YING, which I heard is also c0-owned by the people behind President.

:D  Do you know that the year of the TIGER will officially usher on Valentine’s Day that falls on a Sunday?

:D  Kita-kitz  sa Ongpin and dare to wear red on V-day to CHASE THOSE DRAGONS  once more ? 

:) Let’s see.

————-

PS :  You may click the last photo on the right to make it bigger and view 2 beggars with kids following my balikbayang-biyanan in green asking for some coins. Ugh! When can we be more than third world ?

09
Dec
09

HALF-BLOOD CHINESE (PART 2)

We love Chinese foods. :D

It would probably require me or my wife, Tina (or worse, wait for our son, Gabby who’s only in Kindergarten) to enroll in culinary school (which we love to do in the near future) or to have several attempts at home-cooking before we can come up from scratch, a perfectly prepared and steamed dimsum! 

We value money. :D

How do you stretch your budget nowadays on food without compromising your own cravings?  Your thoughts may be relative with mine –either you cook at home, or eat out at those food places where figures on the menu won’t injure the pockets.

We love value-for-money Chinese foods! :D

We’re just glad that we have finally tried EMERALD GARDEN right across US Embassy and beside Bayview Park Hotel in Roxas Blvd., Manila. Yes, you read it right; it was only yesterday that we’ve experienced what we’ve been missing!  We’ve proven truth to a few posts about how this restaurant offers affordability coupled with great tasting dishes!

This Chinese restaurant is unique on its own.  When we entered Emerald Garden, we were politely greeted by the wait staff who immediately led us to our table. Gabby liked its spacious dining area that’s far from being intimidating. Emerald Garden, in fact has a homey-casual ambiance without pretentious decors whatsoever.  We also noticed that all servers, neatly clad in office attire-looking uniforms, were generally geriatric ‘matured’ compared to other restaurants’. We took that as a plus points on them for being focused and attentive, most of all friendly to their clients.

On our table :

FRIED CRAB STICKS, PhP 140 +  and HAKAO, PhP 75+

One of Gabby’s favorite finger foods (at least for him) is kani tempura in Japanese or  fried crabsticks for Chinese; so automatically, in the absence of pizza that he also likes, this should be ordered.  Emerald’s version is simple, logically priced and more importantly, it satisfied gabby’s picky appetite.

I love almost anything with shrimps, so Hakao is also a must for us when dining Chinese.  Tina and I shared similar views on Emerald’s Shrimp dumplings : they were only 3 compared to other restos that serve 4 per order; their Hakao’s wrappers were a bit dry but at least they came with those plump shrimps!

It was only 2005 during our 7-week-vacation in Auckland, New Zealand when Tina and I first tasted steamed dumplings called Cheong fan after we enjoyed a lunch treat by one of my cousin’s relatives.  After the first bite, it has always been one of those Oriental dishes we look in a menu. But sadly, not all Chinese restaurants here offer Shrimp Rice Rolls a.k.a Shrimp Cheong fan.  We haven’t explored the rest of the Metro’s food places yet but I only know of Le Ching’s Tea House and Gloria Maris that serve these shrimp goodies until we truly fell in love with Emerald Garden’s.  

SHRIMP RICE ROLLS, (I forgot it’s exact price but probably more or less PhP 75+ too).  Believe me, they actually taste greater than how they look in my photos.  The wrappers were not-too-thin-neither-too-thick;  they’re almost perfect in consistency.  Its sauce isn’t too salty nor too sweet.  

Despite our instant infatuation for Emerald Garden’s Shrimp Rice Rolls, most of its loyal patrons would never let a dining experience pass without having SIOPAO!    

BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO, small PhP 30; large PhP 85.  We were still lucky to order even the small ones at nearly 2 in the afternoon for we heard they easily ran out of these great steamed yummies especially the large siopaos as early as few minutes after 7AM (Emerald Garden opens at 7AM; closes at 2PM and reopens for dinner at 6PM onwards). 

I cannot blame them. These Bola-Bola Siopao are really delicious! The buns were the softest like that of Kowloon’s.  The filling has those chives but surprisingly not overpowering and just flavorful!  We would not mind having these for breakfast!

After stating my 2-cents worth about some yummies from Emerald Garden, our votes also go to this noodle dish that sky-rocketted our palates to other planets, LOL :D 

EMERALD FRIED NOODLES, small PhP 140 (also available in medium & large orders).   Look at those fuchsia colored quailed eggs that are far from being usually orange!   Aren’t they enticingly different?  This Fried Noodle dish has generous volume of veggies and very tender breaded meat, all cut into strings and mixed with its tasteful  thick sauce!  The noodle itself was so good sans other ingredients making this as one of the best I’ve tasted! …Excuse me, I’m salivating as I post this. :D

In one phrase, it was absolutely, heaven on a plate! :D 

How many restaurants can serve all these or at least similar dishes for less than PhP 700 all in ?

Before me paying the bill, my wife with her sweet smile asked me if there’s Emerald Garden branch near our place in Quezon City; an evidence that this resto won even Tina’s discriminating taste :D 

We’re going back, definitely!

:D Have you tried dining at Emerald Garden?  What dishes do you like best?

:D Where do you go on your usual Chinese food craving?

————————————

EMERALD GARDEN, 1140 Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Manila.

PS : Why do you think Tina, Gabby and I had to be in Manila on a Tuesday afternoon ?  Abangan! :D

09
Dec
09

HALF-BLOOD CHINESE (PART 1)

One of the simple pleasures in life that I am enjoying is having a wife whose appetite  cravings mimics mine :D  I am blessed with Tina being a foodie in her own right and you can blame genetics, for our  5-year-old-would-be-chef-son, Gabby has already developed his own preference too.

Other than Japanese, Italian and  Pinoy foods, we like Chinese!  It has always been a topic of our usual talks that both Tina and I can probably thrive either in Hong Kong, Mainland China or best, Japan basically because of our love for Asian foods. :D  At times, I would imagine how wonderful it is to live near Binondo and Ongpin Streets in Sta. Cruz, Manila where access to authentic oriental cuisine is just a step away.  On the otherhand, I am also disillusioned with the daily traffic in that heart of Manila which is considered as one of its busiest business districts. When we miss going to Hong Kong or at least Ongpin, we’re just grateful for the many restaurants around the Metro that more or less offer the same menu. :D

I don’t know about you but we like dimsum and dumplings; we love hot thick soup; peking duck and lots of flavorful fried rice! (we’re not eating it anyway on a daily basis and perhaps like you, we go easy on salt and cholesterol intake too, lol) :D 

Sometimes when we’re in the mood, it would only take an eye-to-eye  between me and Tina to  know we’re craving for Chinese! :D  Need I say more?

It only took exactly 7-day apart when we last enjoyed 2 of our favorite Chinese food places -Superbowl of China and Flavors of China.

On November 30, Tina, Gabby and I had dinner at Flavors of China in Tomas Morato…On our table : 

Complimentary SHRIMP CRACKERS (Gabby’s favorite; he always asks for a refill!), SEAFOOD BEANCURD SOUP, PhP 175+ (We just love this soup! affordable yummy!), FLAVORS of CHINA SEAFOOD FRIED RICE, PhP 190+ (We like it for its smoked taste plus can you resist those fish roe on top of flavorful fried rice with what else but shrimps and scallops?),  BEEF BROCCOLI FLOWER, PhP 215+ (its thick soyed sauce and freshly blanched and crisp broccoli makes it so delicious!), BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO, PhP 75+ (it may not be the best siopao in town but it doesn’t disappoint too), STEAMED SHARKSFIN, PhP 85+.  and we had 2 glasses of riped mango shake at PhP 65 each. 

We were looking for SHRIMP DUMPLINGS or HAKAO in their menu but we’re told by the waiter that they already dephase it :(

On November 23, we had a lazy afternoon but a very fulfilling early dinner at SUPERBOWL OF CHINA in Gateway Mall :D

Not in the photo : Complimentary Prawn Crackers.  Our SBC favorites : SUPERBOWL LEMON CHICKEN, PhP 260+ (it’s our favorite version to date),  LECHON MACAU, PhP 205+ (Tina dislikes the sauce; biased with this restaurant’s ),  YANG CHOW FRIED RICE, PhP 199+, and our best order whenever we dine at SBC : TAHO, PhP 70+ that comes with the usual tapioca and caramel sauce! :D  Bottomless Lemonade, PhP 79+ completed the meal.

As you may know, Taho is rich in protein! Simply satisfying! :D

I am missing DONG BEI DUMPLINGS in Yuchengco Street!  Note to self : I have to bring my family to Ongpin whenever possible.

It has also been years since we last dined at Gloria Maris.

Of course, there’s always our other favorite, MANN HANN  and the affordable LUK YUEN and LE CHING TEA HOUSE.

UPNEXT : my post on EMERALD GARDEN RESTAURANT :D

:D Do you like Chinese dishes ?  What are your favorites ?

————————————————–

:D SUPERBOWL OF CHINA -Gateway Mall, Level 3 Unit 323 Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Quezon City.

:D FLAVORS OF CHINA – 170 Tomas Morato Avenue St Thomas Square, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City.

08
Jul
09

IN THE NAME OF PURPLE

I accompanied my wife Tina to NBI in Carriedo, Manila to claim her clearance this morning.  And since we’re already few steps away from Ongpin Street in Binondo, we decided to take our lunch at some chinese eatery that we have never tried yet. 

OK, to be honest- as early as last night, I was really excited to go with her because I know we’ll drop by Ongpin (gluttonous grin, he he he).  In fact, I even found time to surf the net and google some restaurants in Binondo area to find a best place to eat Chinese yummies.  I have drooled at some blogs that featured delectable dimsums and other Oriental dishes. 

But we end up with a rice and noodle house that for unknown reason, I didn’t find in my search engine (or I never thought of searching).  As we walked through the Manila Chinatown, Tina and I looked left and right to so many authentic Chinese restaurants but admittedly, it was her who suggested to try Mr. Ube as we passed its sidewalk from Sta. Cruz Church to Binondo. 

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So without any expectations but great lunch, I walked in with her to the small but so pleasant Chinese rice and noodle house called Mr. Ube.   It is also owned by Mr. Gerry Chua, the maker of my favorite hopia or mung bean what else but  ENG BEE TIN!   As far as I know, it was Mr. Chua who first introduced hopia ube in Manila.

Because of the restaurant’s name, the interiors of Mr. Ube is of course made of purple cushioned seats that came in good contrast with the yellow painted walls. It also has glass walls that created an illusion of space. 

Service was good.  Prices were more than reasonable. The range of the prices of noodles and soups and rice toppings are from PhP 90 to PhP 110.  Side dishes of some dimsums and other oriental treats range from PhP 45 to PhP 85.  Beverages cost from PhP 25 to less than PhP 50.  How affordable was that ?

So we ordered…

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MAKI MI, PhP 110.    This was Tina’s choice.  Sarap!  The noodles were tasty, the meat slices were tender, its soup was thick and served hot.  The bowl was huge enough to be shared by a couple.

What’s best with Mr. Ube’s dishes besides its affordable prices is the fact that they claim they use all natural ingredients, without MSG (although some local features stated there’s no harm in using MSG, but probably if excessive) and they use their own noodles made from scratch using Japanese technology.  Yes, Japanese technology was used to prepare Chinese dishes!

The next photos include the free stock and the sweet and sour sauce to the plate I had…

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my delicious lunch today was…

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LECHON MACAU, PhP 110.   It’s one of the rice toppings in Mr. Ube and I liked it. It was crispy and crunchy and flavorful.  The taste was deliciously different from the few lechon macau that I’ve tasted from other Chinese restaurants. Plus again, the price was so budget-friendly.

And what’s a visit to Mr. Ube without trying to taste not tha hopia ube but  one of its steamed dumplings – SIOPAO!

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No, this purple bun didn’t have ube filling but ground pork and salted egg.  Although I also eat  asado siopao, we usually favor BOLA-BOLA SIOPAO. 

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It was a good choice to have our lunch in Mr. Ube.  I know now another place in Binondo where my stomach will be content.

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19
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 4

After having an overdose of Pinoy arts, culture and heritage for less than an hour at the National Museum last Sunday,  I decided to go to Binondo, Manila to have my late lunch in Chinatown.  Another visit in that stretch of Manila populated mostly by Chinese and Chinese-Filipinos or Tsinoys  who basically are merchants and businessmen,  gave me added sense of appreciation to one of the earliest commercial districts in the country.  Commerce, religion and culture are apparently rich in this part of Manila. 

First stop: Binondo Church a.k.a  MINOR BASILICA & NATIONAL SHRINE of SAN LORENZO RUIZ 

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As sourced from Wikipilinas :

Founded by the Dominican priests in 1596, Binondo Church is one of the oldest places of Christian worship in the Philippines. It was administered by the Secular Priests in 1768, returned to Dominican Administration in 1822 and back to Secular Priests in 1898.

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The Binondo Church is located in front of a plaza and across Juan Luna Street which go through the busy Divisoria markets.

I LOVE FOUNTAINS.  I like seeing and hearing drizzle of water.  I like architecture. 

Binondo’s fountain at the Plaza de San Lorenzo Ruiz, although far from the grandiose Fontana di Trevi  in Rome that I long to visit one day, is a beauty on its own. I just hope that it will be well maintained and preserved by the local government coupled with observance of cleanliness from the by-standers and passers-by.

4  

ONGPIN  STREET

On the right side of Binondo Church is Ongpin Street, which takes you to Manila Chinatown.  Taking a stroll from Binondo to Sta Cruz has been my once-in-a-while habit done whenever I feel like having enough of malls and a breather between work and home.  Last  time I went to Ongpin was during the Chinese New Year celebration.  It felt good to revisit.

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 The sidewalks of Ongpin Street do not only offer Chinese restaurants and eateries but more colorful sights to behold.

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But then again, I am bias to gastronomic treats from Chinatown… I go to Ongpin for authentic dimsums, noodles, and other Chinese dishes plus that ENG BEE TIN HOPIA or mung beans! Sarap! Even our relatives in Auckland,New Zealand now in Melbourne, Australia only wanted those as pasalubong last time we visited them. 

I don’t have hyperuricemia or gouty arthritis yet, LOL, so there’s still time to enjoy those hopia. Do you like hopia ? What flavors do you crave ? There a lot now offered in Eng bee tin – ube, pork, pandan, etc… but my greatest favorite is the red mung beans!  So I bought some for myself and as pasalubong to my wife Tina and son Gabby. My 4-year-old son loves it too. 

Each 4 red mung beans / hopia packed in colored coded plastic is sold at PhP 32.

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The sidestreets also have other good buys such as fruits, fancy chinese accessories and other oriental ornaments…

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Other than Vigan in Ilocos Sur (a cobblestoned streets with colonial houses that were built long before Spanish period in the Philippines, a must-visit-UNESCO heritage city – province at the far north of the Philippines), it’s in Intramuros and Binondo areas where one can still see kalesas

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I only failed to ask the kucheros how much would it cost per ride within Chinatown and I haven’t tried it yet. Probably when I go back when my mood and Manila weather jive…

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If God’s will years from now, since Tina and I already decided to build our dream home with contemporary Asian interiors and architecture, I wish to have a pair of Fu lions a.k.a. Chinese guardian lion statues believed to have mystic powers that have traditionally stood in front of Chinese temples, Imperial palaces, emperors’ tombs, and entrances of homes and offices since the rule of different dynasties until present times. 

The Fu /Foo lions always come in pair – the male playing a ball and the female lion statue with her cub.

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At the end of a 15-minute-walk from Binondo to Ongpin in Chinatown, it pays to visit Sta. Cruz Church. In front of the Sta Cruz Church is the Carriedo fountain.  It should have been more pleasing if not for those electric cables that go haywire as a clear proof that Manila is a city in a third-world country and that begs for much improvement. The fountain too is gradually degraded by the moss or fungi that grow in its glory. Sayang! Mas matanda pa ata sa lola ko itong Carriedo Fountain…

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The end of my lunch date with Manila’s sunshine was capped by a short visit to Sta. Cruz Church…

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I always pass by this church on way home from work but seldom get to visit for the hurry to beat the rush hour traffic.  What makes Sta. Cruz Church beautiful isn’t only its exterior but the main altar.  It’s made of colorful mosaic of a lamb shedding its blood flowing to the Holy Host.  It’s an artistic representation of  Kordero ng Diyos (lamb of God) or God the Father’s Son who gave His life for our salvation. The altar is so poetic. 

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I am familiar with this since childhood whenever we’re brought by our parents here for our annual Visita Iglesia every Holy Week…

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Even the doors of Sta Cruz Church have inclinations to chinese arts.

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I enjoyed my three hours of being alone in Manila last Sunday. It was perfect to start a new work week.

18
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 3

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A visit to Ongpin Street isn’t complete without tasting authentic Chinese cuisine.

NIDO SOUP, anyone? It was a bit sad when the waitress told me that it won’t be served with boiled quail eggs because they’re unavailable last Sunday afternoon when I ordered.  Nevertheless,  I wasn’t disappointed; the soup was thick and delish!  Affordable too, at PhP  80.

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I LOVE SEAFOODS!  I can eat this everyday, LOL. 

SHRIMP with MUSHROOM… served with thick buttery soy sauce.  PhP 90.

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SCALLOPS with BROCCOLI… thick buttery soy sauce plus a dose of calcium-rich broccoli, so yummy!  also cheap at PhP 110.

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I’ve tried Dong Bei kuchay dumplings (view former blog post), enjoyed and regarded it as one of the best steamed dumplings but my my palate is craving for more oriental yummies.  I’ve  eaten in Hap Chan, MXT and the President’s tea house before but never tried the chinese food fastfood or carinderia in the ESTERO until yesterday, Sunday. 

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Opo… Ongpin Street a.k.a Manila Chinatown Estero or canal!  Eateries literally located beside that canal offers sumptuous but affordable and authentic Chinese cuisine.   Would you dare yourself to eat on those food stalls with red painted walls literally located beside an estero? 

To be honest, I expected worse:  to eat a la carte dishes while being disgusted with unpleasant estero aroma, LOL. however my expectations were not met but was truly delighted with the experience. 

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This is a marker on the ONGPIN NORTH BRIDGE shown above which is few steps from the ESTERO FASTOOD.

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The yummy food above were prepared, cooked and served here : ESTERO FASTFOOD, and real fast!  They also have menu, mind you…

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Inspite of its location beside an estero, the small eateries there were packed with hungry stomachs, Pinoys and foreigners too, who all craved for great food at cheap prices.  Hey, if  Chef Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations show got a taste of  Ongpin food few months ago, I think it’s a must-try for all Pinoys to visit Manila Chinatown too.  I did’t get any gastrointestinal symptoms afterwards anyway.  LOL.

17
May
09

MANILA EXPLORED PART 1

This will be a three-part-or-so- chronicles of my extraordinary Sunday afternoon spent in OLD Manila for few hours…

Late this morning, after reading the Sunday’s broadsheets, I felt terribly bored and wanted to do something outside the comforts of home.  So I told my wife Tina and my son Gabby that I needed to go out for a few hours to spend time with myself.  It was a perfect timing since she, on the otherhand, didn’t like to go somewhere today, for no reason but to rest and enjoy the weekend.  

I think it’s healthy for our own stomach soul if we find time, even once a week, to spend a part of our day alone.  Magmuni-muni ba…  And so I took a train LRT line 2 ride from our place in Quezon City and headed to Recto station.   I just needed to do something as a break from my usual weekday activity, as tomorrow Monday will be a new start of  another work week… I knew I had to, ehem, hmmm.. eat something uncommon from my daily diet. LOL… So I went to Binondo, Manila and finally found the best kuchay dumplings in Yuchengco Street, that’s the first street on the left, after few steps from Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Lorenzo Ruiz  a.k.a.  Binondo Church.  The small comfort food place is known as DONG BEI DUMPLING…  

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Have you tasted any kuchay dumplings ?

Are you familiar with kuchay or CHIVES ?  Here’s how it looks like and its difference from spring onions…

CHIVES / KUCHAY                                                       SPRING ONIONS

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As sourced from Vegetarianism & Vegetarian Nutrition :
Chives have similar properties to other allium vegetables, except that chives are milder, since they have fewer sulfur compounds. While garlic or onions are well documented to possess anticancer, anticlotting, hypolipidemic, antibacterial, antiviral, and decongestant properties, chives could be expected to possess similar, but substantially attenuated, characteristics.

Population studies have shown that a higher intake of allium vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of several types of cancers. The organosulfur compounds they contain inhibit tumor growth and cell proliferation, and arrest the cell cycle in tumor cells. Allium vegetables, including chives, especially have a protective effect against both esophageal and stomach cancer as well as prostate cancer. The highest antioxidant activity in chives is observed in the leaves, which are also rich in flavonoids.

There are no side effects or dangers from the use of chives. However, large quantities may cause stomach irritation.”

And so these are the kuchay dumplings from DONG BEI DUMPLING…The wrappers have that soft chewy consistency and the stuffings were so tasty! sarapppp!!!

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I’ve tasted this kind from other chinese restaurant in a mall before, but IMO, the DONG BEI kuchay dumplings do not have that overpowering-taste, neither it has aftertaste.

Their dumplings are freshly made upon order. The thin dumpling wrappers are of special recipe made from scratch using flour that became dough in a matter of seconds, prepared in front of customers.  The friendly service crew of that small air-conditioned food haven were so accomodating and allowed me to take photos of them while doing my order…

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Here’s DONG BEI DUMPLINGS menu simply posted on one of the walls covering their small kitchen…

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The kutchay dumplings are best when dipped in their soy and chili sauce… I finished a plate of 10 assorted dumplings (5 kuchay, 2 pork, 3 shrimp+kuchay) for PhP 100.  I had another order for my take-away/to-go/take-out/take-home for my wife……   Burp!

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Now I’m confident to say that I’ve tasted one of the best dumplings in Manila. The kuchay dumplings of Dong Bei is really one of the many reasons why a trip to Binondo is really worth it.

15
May
09

DO YOU DIG 168?

The other day, my wife Tina and I went to Ylaya Street in Divisoria where textiles are cheaper than you can imagine, to buy what else but cloths.  We want to update our wardrobes so we bought materials for her uniforms and my blazer which we wear at work.  We’re sending it to our costurera / tailor who usually does our workwear for the longest time.

But just before spotting that immaculate uniform and suit materials, we went first to 168 mall.  Have you been to 168 in Soler Street?  It’s an airconditioned haven of cheap finds and a paradise to hagglers.  Most of the items for sale are from nearby Asian countries where labor, just like here in Pinas, is cheap !  We go to 168 mall usually to buy party needs -from invites, to party hats,  balloons to loot bags and giveaways!  We go to 168 mall and Juan Luna Street in Divisoria for nice finds like towels, socks, handkerchiefs in good quality but of  lesser price.  Onions and garlic and other farm goodies such as broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and fruits are also sold in the sidewalks of Divisoria.  However, the disadvantages of going to Divisoria are the traffic (so I suggest you commute or take LRT/MRT), the snatchers (no-wearing of anything that sparkles, lol), and the fetid streets ofcourse. Nonetheless, I’ve seen Madame Imelda Marcos herself before at Tutuban mall, and what I’ve seen on news on TV that she also went to 168;   the likes of Tessa Prieto-Valdez too, is a self-confessed  Divisoria shopper.  

Just when Divisoria shoppers are in need of quick bites, there’s a huge foodcourt  in 168 mall, now with commercially known fastfoods (McDonald’s, Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowking, Tokyo Tokyo, Reyes BBQ etc.) other than food stalls that can only be found in that Chinese-populated district.  During our last visit, we dined for few minutes at an uncommon fastfood, not only to experience again 168 food, but primarily to fill in our hyperactive stomachs then, and made sure that we”ll be loaded in time for traffic going home.  

Tina and I shared these Divisoria yummies, lol …

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 Although I have preference for Ferrino’s and Kamayan’s, the bibingka (rice cake) of Aldrino’s in 168 mall is a must-try.  Though it doesn’t have muscovado sugar, instead has the usual refined white sugar, coconut shavings and butter, nevertheless, it has the right melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and slices of salted egg that provides contrast to its sweetness.   

We had two orders of Aldrino’s bibingka at PhP 60 each.

 

 

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See the crowd ?  Despite the long queue for ordering, and the wait to forever before you can have your food, the photo speaks for itself that this stall at the foodcourt of 168 mall sells hotcakes, err, chinese menu that most shoppers crave for. So we also lined up not only to experience what others are having but to have a break from the commonest fastfood food.

CHAMI, PhP  110 (thick delicious noodles! sarap!)            

CRABMEAT SIOMAI, PhP 60.  (loser : too much extender and artificial crab flavor)                                            

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Have you been to Divisoria ?  How’s your experience in shopping there ?

05
May
09

SUPER BOWL of CHINA

img_09652This is another Chinese restaurant that we frequent in malls.  They serve nice oriental dishes crisp and fast.  After eating at most of their branches for several times(we already tried Megamall in Ortigas, Promenade in Greenhills, Glorietta, Greenbelt (Big Buddha) in Makati, Trinoma, Eastwood in Quezon City)  Tina, Gabby and I already singled out their branch in Gateway Mall is the friendliest, especially the lady manager (on the chubby-side, sorry, can’t recall her name yet after dining there countless times) she who always take note if our orders were all given promptly and if the food tastes OK… Other than taste of dishes, service counts a lot.  My personal disappointment is only with their price, it became a little steeper than usual.  I can tell because there was a time last year that we ate at SBC, Gateway Mall almost once-to-twice a month. (I don’t know, there might have been drugs on the food that why we’re kind of addicted to it before -kidding on the drugs!)  Take it as one of the effects of global financial crisis?  huh? 

Nevertheless, resistance is futile, especially when one of our friends was craving for chinese, lol.

Last Friday, May 01, when most people were enjoying the holiday/Labor day at the beach or somewhere else, Tina, I and Gabby went to Trinoma Mall after checking out from our bed and breakfast stay at  Manila Pavilion to watch X-men Origins : Wolverine with two of our best friends.  At around past 4PM we bought tickets for 6:10PM screening then headed to SBC for an early dinner.  These are few of our favorites …

My son and I always like their freebie : a wooden bowl of PRAWN CRACKERS (refillable too!)

We had SEAFOOD BEANCURD SOUP, PhP 95 per order but I failed click my cam on those two bowls.

DIMSUM COMBINATION PLATTER , PhP 255    SUPER BOWL LEMON CHICKEN, PhP 250. img_09711  img_09761

YANG CHOW FRIED RICE, PhP 195.     DEEP FRIED CUTTLEFISH with SPICY SALT, PhP 280.

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And for desserts :   MANGO SAGO, PhP 80  and CRISPY BANANA BALLS, PhP 80.

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And Lipton Lemon/Red Iced Teas/Lemonade, bottomless, PhP 75.

Burp!

———————-

Super Bowl of China, Trinoma

Unit 1135 Activity Center

Corner North EDSA, TriNoma

Tel No : (63-2) 916-6891.

For more details, click this.

18
Apr
09

MANN HANN

You know that a restaurant serves yummiest and reasonably priced foods when diners need to queue and wait for a table during lunch and dinner. Luckily for the three of us (my wife Tina, son Gabby & I), even if we arrived at exactly 12 noon today, we didn’t have to wait that long as we revisited Mann Hann in TriNoma mall, Quezon City.

Among the many chinese restaurants in the Metro, Mann Hann is one of our favorites. We already had lunches and dinners with our families and friends at their branches in SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia and ofcourse, TriNoma. Ambiance in all of its branches, is plain and simple, unpretentious, very unlikely other oriental restos. The entrees in Mann Hann’s menu have distinct taste served within few minutes after you made the order, by courteous and efficient staff.

And these are among our favorites :
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LECHON MACAU, PhP 205. Crisp, deep fried pork belly.

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SPICY SQUID, PhP 215. Not-so-spicy, tender slices of fried squid with bagoong & calamansi dip.

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YANG CHOW FRIED RICE, PhP 195.

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LECHE FLAN, PhP 50. for Gabby. We also had WONTON SOUP, PhP 125
and a liter of HONEY LEMON ICED TEA, PhP 100.

BURP!

————————————–
MANN HANN
Unit 1007 Level M1 TriNoma
North Ave., cor EDSA, PAGASA,
Quezon City
Tel/fax : (63-2) 901 3133

11
Apr
09

BINONDO in MAKATI

Yes, you read it right… Binondo is now in Makati.
Binondo’s famous PRESIDENT TEA HOUSE is now offering its best chinese eats
in foodcourt of Glorietta 4, in Ayala Center Makati.

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This afternoon of Black Saturday (a day before Easter) we headed to Glorietta Mall in Makati to see a movie but since we haven’t eaten our lunch yet, & undecided where to dine, we immediately hit the foodcourt. And ofcourse, Tina, I & even Gabby agreed for us to order our late lunch from PRESIDENT…

Affordable combo meals that satisfied our chinese food craving…
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Yang chow fried rice, fried calamares, & sweet & sour pork, with blanched veggies & fried prawn crackers + iced tea for PhP 145 ( steal !)

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Yang chow fried rice, fried calamares & beef with brocolli with blanched veggies & fried prawn crackers + iced tea for PhP 145…

Dim sum is sold at PhP 65 per tray… how’s that?
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We chose crab siomai & mini pao with sauces to spice ‘em up…
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Burp !

President Tea House
3rd floor Food Choices
Glorietta 4, Ayala Center,
Ayala, Makati City

other branches : Binondo, ATC/Alabang Town Center, SM Mall of Asia.

02
Apr
09

FOOD TRIP

Both Tina & I were off from work so we brought Gabby to Greenhills today
& had lunch at Le Ching Tea House in Shoppesville.

Le Ching Tea House offers very affordable but authentic chinese dishes.
It’s a good place to munch on comfort food if you dig chinese.

Anyway, here’s a peek of what we had for lunch today….

beef wanton noodle soup

beef wanton noodle soup

The steamed dumpling that is uncommon in most local chinese resto here can be enjoyed in Le Ching.

eye love shrimp cheongfan

eye love shrimp cheongfan

As written in Wikipedia, and I quote:
“Dim sum (literally meaning “touch the heart”) is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea. It is usually served in the mornings until noon time at Chinese restaurants and at specialty dim sum eateries where typical dishes are available throughout the day. Dishes come in small portions and may include meat, seafood, and vegetables, as well as desserts and fruit. The items are usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Yum cha (literally “tea drinking”) is the term used to describe the dining session, especially in contemporary Cantonese.”

Another bestseller dimsum from Le Ching is their Bola-bola siopao..

bola-bola siopao : savor every bite !

bola-bola siopao : savor every bite !

Then we had another favorite dumpling, hakao or shrimp dumpling…
In Le Ching, the shrimp is generous per serving, less of extenders.
Tina ordered chicken mushroom rice, I ate spareribs rice
which were both rice toppings
served in little aluminum bowls (that looks like smallarinola, lol)

more delish with chili soy sauce + calamansi !

more delish with chili soy sauce + calamansi !

Burp!

The entire meal only cost us PhP 642, inclusive of taxes & charges
& a can of dalandan soda, a bottle of soya milk & a glass of iced tea.
Cheap, right?
Good food need not always be expensive.

Le Ching Tea House
8-10 Level A, Shoppesville Arcade
Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila.
___________________

Before we left the house this morning,
I received another package sent by my wife’s aunt (again) from London
who came home recently for short vacation & asked prescription from me.
It was my second package from her that contained sweet treats.
These were the contents of her gratis…

thanks, Tita Marie !

thanks, Tita Marie !

19
Mar
09

WE’RE IN HEAT!

No, my wife isn’t ovulating now, lol.
Neither one of us has fever.

I’m so glad with our dinner last night, well, not quite.

The HAPPY PART :
My wife Tina, our 4-year-old son Gabby & I got a chance to dine with my sister-in-law Doc Bibs and her hubby Nurse/Chef Jun with their baby Raphael. We seldom see each other, blame our busy schedules. It was recharging after a long day at work seeing a 14-month-old kid eating adult foods with a big appetite. =)

The NOT-SO-HAPPY PART :
I was disappointed with the buffet stations at HEAT, Edsa Shagri-la Hotel.
Most of my favorites were not included in the menu.
I know it’s bad to compare open-kitchen-dining in hotels since they all have something special to offer but I can’t help it. =( Last February we got to try Circles Events Cafe Buffet in Makati Shangri-la Hotel and only last Sunday we were delighted in Dusit Thani’s Family Sunday Brunch (see my previous posts) and last night’s dinner in Heat just didn’t top my list, sorry.

is it ON or OFF ?

is it ON or OFF ?

The CAST :
Gabby & I…

we had no choice but to smile for the cam =)

we had no choice but to smile for the cam =)

I & Tina…

the queen and I.

the queen and I.

my in-laws

my in-laws

The PLOT :

enough reason to try dining at HEAT

enough reason to try dining at HEAT

The HORS D’OEUVRE :

cold cuts, anyone?

cold cuts, anyone?

salad in waiting

salad in waiting

another shot

another shot

a closer look

a closer look

ANTIPASTI…

cheese, dips and lots of them

cheese, dips and lots of them

want some carbo-loading?

want some carbo-loading?

more of appetizers...

more of appetizers...

The JAPANESE STATION :
Although it looks good on photos, it actually lacked lots of things essential for it to be more interesting.
I asked the staff if there’s SUKIYAKI (read: 3 days ago I tasted the best Sukiyaki in Umu of Dusit Thani (refer to previous post) with the most tender beef & perfectly seasoned soup; there was none in Heat.
Next thing I looked for : TAMAGO ROLLS but for the second time I was unsuccessful.
Then I asked for TEPPANYAKI station and it didn’t surprise me to know that again there was none.
I was also craving for EBI & KANI TEMPURA but I only found MIXED TEMPURA which were mostly VEGGIES
at the ORIENTAL/CHINESE section where Peking Ducks are also served.

I asked the staffs at that station : “Sir, Do you have EBI and KANI TEMPURA?”
Two of them replied : “NAKAHALO NA PO DYAN

where in the pile of those MIXED TEMPURA are EBI & KANI ?

where in the pile of those MIXED TEMPURA are EBI & KANI ?

Paging the management of HEAT :
There’s always room for improvement and I think your resto has lots of potentials,
in all fairness.
You would’nt want be SECOND BEST
to either Circles of Makati Shangri-la,
Umu, Tosca, Benjarong & Basix of Dusit Thani or
to our yet-to-be-experienced : SOFITEL’S SPIRAL, right?

At anyhow, we enjoyed each other’s company.
For now, feast your eyes on what Heat has to offer :

turning japanese!

turning japanese!

jap station : take 2!

jap station : take 2!

where are the tamago rolls? grrr...!!!

where are the tamago rolls? grrr...!!!

will you dip them in wasabi?

will you dip them in wasabi?

My ANTITHESIS to HEAT’S JAPANESE SPREAD…

eyeLOVEthoseCHOPSTICKS!!!

eyeLOVEthoseCHOPSTICKS!!!

Tina had her share…

MINIMALISM

MINIMALISM

Near or part (?) of the japanese station are the seafoods.
Tina’s seafood plate :

there were different sauces to spice 'em up.

there were different sauces to spice 'em up.

That plate was mine :

SURF and TURF, baby!

SURF and TURF, baby!

Those yummies came from these…

seafood calling

seafood calling

can anyone identify the other seafood beside those crabs? it looks like mussels but are not.

can anyone identify the other seafood beside those crabs? it looks like mussels but are not.

more of iodine & calcium-rich seafoods...

more of iodine & calcium-rich seafoods...

The CARVING STATION :

bovine pleasures

bovine pleasures

bloody hell, it's medium rare! i prefer well-done.

bloody hell, it's medium rare! i prefer well-done.

CHINESE FOODS:

one of Beijing's famous dish : PEKING DUCK

one of Beijing's famous dish : PEKING DUCK

STEAMED DELIGHTS

STEAMED DELIGHTS

Tina’s oriental choices…

my wife's dimsum & dumplings, peking duck & corn & crab soup

my wife's dimsum & dumplings, peking duck & corn & crab soup

And my chinese food on a jap plate…wow, mali!

i intentionally did not match the colors of my chopsticks, aren't they an eye-candy?

i intentionally did not match the colors of my chopsticks, aren't they an eye-candy?

oriental dishes : i want!

oriental dishes : i want!

much needed break in betweet stations called for roughage

much needed break in betweet stations called for roughage

MOVING ON…
There was also a MEDITERRANEAN STATION
where curried beef, chicken etc were up for grabs but we resisted.

persian treats

persian treats

instead, Tina opted to try the lamb chops, grilled fish, shrimp & veggies…

this plate looks delish!

this plate looks delish!

while I went to queue at the NOODLE STATION…
The line was short and the people waiting were pleasant. =)
After the noodle-lady handed a bowl to me when I was the one next in line, I got to choose my noodle : from vermicelli, flat noodles, egg noodles etc.. then the add-ons from leafy veggies to chicken/pork/beef strips and ofcourse the soup-stock. I had a mixture of chicken broth and spicy shrimp with a little bit of everything and voila…

i had to say the noodle-lady was so efficient & friendly =)

i had to say the noodle-lady was so efficient & friendly =)

choices of veggies and noodles (there's the canister of colored chopsticks again!)

choices of veggies and noodles (there's the canister of colored chopsticks again!)

This was the result of my select-all-that-apply-ingredients-to-my-noodles :

my own D-I-Y hot soup : not bad!

my own D-I-Y hot soup : not bad!

AND NOW, PRESENTING…
HEAT’S OWN VERSION OF
“SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE…”

sweet treats

sweet treats

The selection of desserts was a sight to behold. However, in my own opinion, the tastes were not that impressive as they look like. Some were bland and most have the same gustatory stimuli…

they're wow for the sight but not for my taste buds, sorry

they're wow for the sight but not for my taste buds, sorry

more than meets the eye? err, taste buds?

more than meets the eye? err, taste buds?

But I found mango pastries/tarts delicious…

i admit i liked those yellow ones...

i admit i liked those yellow ones...

My sweet tooth called for these…

i tasted 'em all !  =)

i tasted 'em all ! =)

Never to miss the two chocolate fountains…

do you prefer it white ?

do you prefer it white ?

or do you like it dark ?

or do you like it dark ?

Tina only had few of them…

few were chosen

few were chosen

want some churros or creme brulee perhaps?

want some churros or creme brulee perhaps?

I was looking for MUSCOVADO or at least the usual brown or white sugar to couple my bibingka but again there was none! Sayang!

bibingka   a.k.a. rice cakes

bibingka a.k.a. rice cakes

my bibingka tasted odd without sugar (muscovado) =(

my bibingka tasted odd without sugar (muscovado) =(

Halo-halo station for those up with “heat”…

summer won't be complete without these

summer won't be complete without these

There was no teppanyaki station at the japanese section but the teppan was seen for frying ice cream…

fried ice cream

fried ice cream

A wooden canister of TAHO was near the churros and creme brulee station…

doc bibs tried some taho...=)

doc bibs tried some taho...=)

peculiar combination : taho & churros =)

peculiar combination : taho & churros =)

Gabby's sweeter than those treats =)

Gabby's sweeter than those treats =)

Nevertheless, that dinner was memorable only because we had fun eating together

one for the books

one for the books

but I still do wish that there would be great improvements in HEAT.
There should always be value-for-money!
Oh, I forgot, we ordered HEAT ICED TEA JAR
unknowingly (because we did not ask and did not check the menu)
for a whopping price of PhP600 !
We paid PhP 1,210 per pax plus service charge PhP 544
plus VAT 12% PhP 652.80
plus L.tax Food PhP 53.24
plus L.Tax Bev PhP 18
These made me insomniac that night!
tsk tsk tsk =(
It’s very unlikely with other HOTELS that offer OPEN-KITCHEN DINING BUFFET
on a NETT CHARGE! (Dusit Thani’s Sunday Brunch offers buffet inclusive of drinks : iced cold green teas, lemon grass juice, 2 kinds of wines plus freebies for kids).

What was good with HEAT : Buffet comes with FREE COFFEE / HOT TEA.
Kids below 5 (?) also eat for free.

FYI HEAT stands for HEALTHY EATING AMAZING TASTE.
was it really amazing?
ugh, c’mom!

HEAT
Edsa Shangri-La, Manila
1 Garden Way, Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong 1650, Metro Manila

28
Feb
09

ONE PROUD DADDY

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God is really BEST! We were only praying this morning for Gabby not to forget his lines as he go up on stage to deliver his 2-stanza-poem entitled, “For My Country” but He made it possible for my son to win 3rd place out of 51 Nursery students, of two sections, mostly 3 1/2 to 4 years of age, in 2009 Twinkle Toes Academy’s Declamation contest held at the auditorium of Stella Maris College, Quezon City.

Not that the venue was far from our place, in fact it’s only 5-minute-drive, perhaps we were only excited for Gabby’s first scholastic/extra-curricular activity so we woke up at four in the morning to prepare for the 7:30AM call time as stated in the school’s memo to parents, that Twinkle Toes Academy teachers intended to promptly start the contest at eight. True enough we were the earliest birds at the venue, we got there an hour before their call time; at least we never rushed for we’re not late and got ample time to smile for the cam…

Gabby & my lovely wife, Tina…
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Gabby looked even more contest-ready when he wore his Barong complete with buri hat and met his classmates who were also geared up for the competition. I was telling my parents who sat with us at the auditorium that I don’t remember having such activity as early as preschool. Kids now really take one-step ahead in all aspects compared to our generation who were mostly brought up timid & shy, unaware of public speaking & who mostly lacked self confidence during those wonder years…

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That’s MY BOY!!!
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GABBY with his classmates/co-contestants…
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the new cast of Going bulilit, err Sesame Street…Batibot???!!! we wish!
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BACKTRACK last December, just before they had their Holiday break, teachers distributed randomly, the different poems to each kids for them to memorize. That’s when Gabby started reciting his piece even during showers.

FOR MY COUNTRY
I surely love my country,
the land in which I live.
And to my own dear homeland,
my trust & faith, I give.

But just to love my country
is not all that I should do.
I must be strong & noble,
courteous, brave & true.
Being a Filipino,
that’s all I should do.

Here’s the video of his award-winning piece, “FOR MY COUNTRY”…

After the 51 nursery pupils declamed with some went up the stage with not only costumes but backdrops & props, there was a 20-minute break before the program host gave the floor to the 71 preparatory kids’ declamation contest. And about an hour before noon time, we just found ourselves walking Gabby to the stage to accept his 2-feet trophy. It was really an amazing experience. Imagine, an achiever at an early age. We can’t help but be proud of him. He’s the champion for us.

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This one’s for the books, err blog!!!
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And Gabby’s equally proud Lola & Lolo (my parents!)…
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Then my parents gave their apo a VICTORIOUS lunch treat at Super Bowl of China in Gateway Mall…
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We munched on DIMSUM PLATTER…
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BEEF with BROCOLLI, YANG CHOW FRIED RICE…
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CRISPY LEMON CHICKEN…
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and a bucket of TAHO for Gabby…
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YOUR MOM & I ARE REALLY PROUD OF YOU, SON!
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21
Feb
09

LE CHING TEA HOUSE

One of our favorite, very affordable chinese resto is Le Ching Tea House in Greenhills. It’s well known for most hungry shoppers who look for quick & tasty meals particularly for Le Ching’s rice toppings. The ambiance isn’t best but the menu always satisfies our cravings for chicken mushroom rice (others like spareribs rice which is also good!), hakao (shrimp dumplings) with generous ingredients, and our very own favorite their shrimp cheong-fan but it’s only available in the morning in Le Ching and quite hard to find in other chinese resto except one in in Auckland, New Zealand when we where there, haven’t seen & tried it in HK (Can someone tell me wherelse can we find shrimp cheong-fan?, I’ll appreciate it, really.) Le Ching has another branch on the same site few steps away from its original resto, it’s called “Le Ching too” and another in Trinoma foodcourt. But our favorite is the original branch in Shoppesville, Greenhills.

Here’s our latest merienda in Le Ching Tea House in Shoppesville last 17 Feb… I had halo-halo congee, hakao & Tina had beef wanton noodle, bola-bola siopao hong-kong style…BTW, their food is greatest when you add some of their chili sauce + calamansi & soy sauce = yummy!

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Le Ching Tea House
66-67 Level A, Shoppesville Arcade
Greenhills, San Juan City, Metro Manila

15
Feb
09

TASTING the WORLD @ CIRCLES!

My wife, Tina prefers dining somewhere rather than receiving flowers or anything mushy from her ex-boyfriend, ehem, that’s me, her husband for five years now :D  We don’t usually go out on a date during Valentine’s ever since, not only because she dislikes the part, but I, too don’t give in to cupid’s requests for it’s just too traffic everywhere when it’s hearts’ day.

But this year, we decided to celebrate it a couple of days earlier; not with flowers, neither a movie-date but with most interesting thing that we do as a couple, and that is enjoying good food and savoring best dining experience. It need not to be expensive, but for the ocassion, I went out my way to plan ahead for the budget was quite steep compared to our usual eat-outs.

We went to CIRCLES EVENTS CAFE in Makati Shangri-la with our four-year-old son, Gabby. I must say, I surrendered to the fact that CIRCLES offers one of the best, if not the BEST open-kitchen-hotel-buffets here in Manila. It’s comparable to buffets in hotels abroad. I remember the buffets in hotels in Vegas that I had with my family several years back. Circles buffet is similar to those, or perhaps even better. One can truly TASTE THE WORLD at CIRCLES for its varied international cuisines. There were Asian- Chinese, Japanese, Filipino stretch, there’s also Mediterranean food section, American and ofcourse the sweetest section is left for the gustatory cravings.

The price of PhP 1,639.40 net per pax is a bit expensive, but it’s reasonable in Circles! I’m not a culinary or a food expert, but I did appreciate how a dish in every stations at Circles buffet had been prepared with so much effort to stimulate not only the palate but the eyes as well.

I ran out of superlatives to describe how delicious the buffet in Circles is. It’s simply superb! Highly recommended! I’m just so glad that Tina & Gabby liked it too.

Here are the photos of our gluttonous romantic early valentine’s date that we enjoyed to the fullest and we can’t resist but to plan for our next visit…c”,)

The lobby of Makati Shangri-la Hotel…

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My son Gabby, who at the age of four, dreams of becoming a chef, as he sometimes watches Iron Chef on cable, now begins his exposure to the art of cooking and sublime dining…

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The signage of SINFULLY CIRCLES bakeshop & patisserie at the entrance of CIRCLE EVENT CAFE…

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Now, the food stations. Beginning with CHINESE CUISINE… dimsum, dumplings steamed or fried, cooked to perfection! Simply divine…

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JAPANESE section offers freshly prepared seafoods – from steamed lobster & tiger prawns, seasoned huge mussels, oysters to maki, sushi, sashimi and other jap rolls…appetizingly delicious!

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the MEDITERRANEAN food section…

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Care for some CHICKEN SHAWARMA? Freshly made by the Persian chef as you make your request…

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A portion of CIRCLES EVENT CAFE’s CARVING STATION…tender every bite…

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The most attractive section of the buffet… Make sure there’s still a gastric room for most of these treats…SWEETEST TO NONE!

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Don’t they look heavenly? CAKES were refilled swiftly by efficient and friendly staff…

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CHOCOLATE FONDUE…

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Now, these were our plates…

Tomato soup : creamy!

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My first plate : fresh cold salad, bread and butter…

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My chinese-asian platter : steamed sea bass, fried chicken dumpling, vegetable/kuchay dumpling, ebi tempura, pork siomai …

img_3681

Tina’s Asian plate : tiger prawns and lobster, dumplings and Japanese rolls…

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my seafood and jap preference… i so like the plate! The mussels are to die-for! I just can’t explain its herb-seasoned taste, simply superb!

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my attempt to try Mediterranean dishes : chicken shawarma, mutter paneer, naan, roti chanai, and there was also chicken kadai… spicy curries galore!

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while Tina opted to mix Persian shawarma and American beef steak and veggies…

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Now, let me show you the best part of our dinner : DESSERTS!

This was my first platter of sweetest things from Circles.
Makes me salivate and gives me reason to forget hassles,worries,whathaveyou…sigh ^_^

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Tina’s desserts…

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We tried to be subtle for the camera first, resisting the immediate sweet temptations for few seconds…

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Can’t get enough of those sweets…

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while Gabby was content with those sweet treats…

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Before asking for the bill, we requested a waiter to take a shot for us…

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We didn’t get to taste pizza, pasta, and other dishes for we were full already. It will give us reason to go back and experience again the joy of dining at Circles Event Cafe…
It was one of those few shared moments when eating was never a necessity but a pleasure!

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What made our Valentine’s this year extra-special was the fact that we are complete and happy.

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I SO LOVE YOU ITY & GABBY !!!

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02
Feb
09

first try at MONGKOK and CERAMIC PAINTING

It was unplanned but we surely enjoyed it.

Tina, Gabby & I went to Megamall last Sunday just to pick up the package from my 22-year-old sister-in-law based in San Leandro, California which she sent via her friend who went home to Manila for a reason. We got the package of branded shirts -Gap & Lacoste for my son Gabby and Lancome makeup & kit for my wife Tina at little past 11AM. Then we decided to go to Shangri-la mall for our lunch. Initially, I’d like to treat my family to Pepper Lunch at the basement of the mall but found long queue of hungry stomachs so we opted to eat somewherelse. We found our seats at Mongkok dimsum & dumplings at 6th level of Shangri-la mall. It was our first time to taste Kuchay dumplings and we like it!

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After enjoying another chinese eat-out, our feet brought us to a lower level where a ceramic shop called Color Me Mine is located. Few seconds after and we’re seated at a table of that shop painting a ceramic candle holder that we selected from their shelves.

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It was so cool! It was not only Gabby who had fun, but we all did. I haven’t done any art work since God knows when. (Believe or not, I used to collect medals from poster-making contests back in High School) And it was so RELAXING to enjoy selecting colors, doing paint-stencils in between, and just having bonding with my wife & kid.

One of the staff of Color Me Mine-Shangri-la was accomodating to my querries about the process that the ceramic art work will undergo after being painted by their clients. Customers will paint a ceramic of choice (price range from PHP300 plus up) with unlimited colors (for only PHP 180). The fee is inclusive of the unlimited (?)hour of stay (we stayed for more than 3 hours), paint, materials such as brushes, bowl of water, sponge, use of electric hair dryer and for the process that takes 10 days to complete after painted ceramic has been submitted to them. Once painting is finished, client submits it to the counter, pays fees and wait for 10 days before he can claim the art work. The 10-day waiting period is for the staff to glaze and bake the painted ceramic that will make it look as the client’s own ceramic masterpiece.
Claiming it on a specified date gives as another reason to try painting new ceramic(s) and enjoy another fun-filled art activity with my family.

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Color Me Mine, franchise holder of a US-based company, has branches at Trinoma in Quezon City, Greenbelt-3 in Makati and Bonifacio High St. at the Fort both inside Hobbes, but the largest inventory is still at Shangri-la. Call 6870801 for information.

25
Jan
09

UNLEASH the CHINESE in ME…

Kung hei fat choi!  It’s Chinese New Year again!  

I’m a 100% Pinoy but sometimes I do wish to be born as a Tsinoy (Filipino-chinese).

                                             

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I’m always fascinated with anything chinese; from oriental crafts to architecture,  to culture and yes, chinese FOOD!  I always tell my wife that I can probably live & thrive in Hong Kong and other parts of China because of my  “chinese inclinations”.  

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2142460281_87ddae835d3I & my wife simply love eating chinese (besides italian & some jap) -from those steamed or fried dimsum & dumplings, noodles, szechuan and lemon chicken, sweet and sour whatever, thick richly flavored soups, to hopia and tikoy, black chinese jellies and other gustatory chinese cravings.  hmmm, makes me want to rush to a nearest favorite chinese resto…   My list of favorite local chinese eateries includes Mann Hann, Superbowl of China / Big Buddha, Flavors of China, Le Ching (in Greenhills & Trinoma; love their shrimp cheon fan that is to-die-for, LOL!).   I’ve also blogged before the cheapest chinese buffet in Tramway Garden Buffet located at Timog Ave, Q.C.   ( I & my wife’s next target is to taste the chinese delights from one of the cuisines offered in the buffet of Sprial in Sofitel Philippine Plaza which I heard is one of the best in the buffet around the metro).

 

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I also like Chinese Astrology but did not become that religious fanatic of what the stars say about a day or the year ahead.  I remember growing up with my mom who used to scan her daily horoscope from the broadsheets and learning from her that being born on the year of the dragon and under the sign of virgo explains the reason why I’m a bit perfectionist at most things. Like my mom, I do not allow horoscope or anything from chinese astrology run my life nor depend on them solely.  It’s only as interesting as chinese cuisine.

My interest in anything chinese was noticeable during our wedding.  I’m not that superstitious but I knew then that choosing an 8th day as our wedding day won’t hurt for in fact chinese belief says that the number 8 means INFINITY.   So we selected the 1st month of the year and it’s 8th day 5 years ago as our anniversary date.  My wife & I had something oriental on the menu at the reception and had changed into chinese shirt & cheongsam before our 1st dance as an official couple.

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      longevity, wealth, love & happines 

Tina & I also wish to build our dream house hopefully in the near future  in contemporary oriental / asian theme with those chinese lanterns all over and chopsticks and nice sets of porcelain in the cupboards.       sigh  (*o*)

28
Sep
08

CHEAPEST CHINESE BUFFET

Two days ago, my mom suggested over the phone that Tina and I should try eating at Tramway Garden Buffet in Timog Avenue,  Quezon City.   Inspite of the fact that we’re on a tight budget these days, we still love to eat good food, and we live quite near the place so I decided to bring my family there.

Tramway Garden Buffet serves chinese food, around 14 of them I guess, includes dimsum, dumplings, fried chicken, some chinese-cooked veggies, sweet and sour pork, chinese-cooked fish, and others with two types of soups and a salad bar with fresh fruits and guinatan. They mixed Chinese with Filipino dishes even Japanese for they also serve California Maki beside their butchi.   

Advantage over other buffets : CHEAPEST at  P199/pax inclusive of VAT and no service charge. Sunday buffets are at a higher price of P300 plus for it includes Peking Duck, Roasted pork, shrimps & other seafoods.   

Disadvantages compared to other buffets : Since the buffet price is so cheap, the place is chaotic at dinner (they also serve lunch).   Smiles and courtesy of the staff are not as cheap as the buffet price.  I’m not sure if they’re so stressed out that night when we ate dinner but there should be no excuses for courtesy if one works in a restaurant or any other people-businesses where smiles to customers are mandatory.

Taste review :  I haven’t heard of any buffet cheaper than P199 but when it comes to taste,  I must admit my gastronomic craving was satisfied.  Taste of the entire buffet is good enough for its price, but it should be improved to be at par with the others.  

Tramway Garden Buffet is at #65 Timog Ave, Quezon City near the old Ozone Disco.




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