Posts Tagged ‘Filipino food




It only took me 20 minutes and twenty-two Philippine pesos on a single public-utility-jeepney ride from our place in Pasig City to reach Angono, Rizal.  Although it sounded quite near and convenient, I did not have any idea where to alight! I only remembered from what I googled, that the Higantes Festival parade would start at 7AM, Sunday, 17 November 2013,  in front of Angono Elementary School. Good thing, luck was on my side because a young family with grandparents were also on their way to the same town fiesta, sat beside me. I got off the jeepney when they did.

Just before 7AM, I found myself standing in front of World War II monument at the junction in Angono. The driver dropped off almost half of his passengers there, as the road going to Angono Elementary School was closed for the event. After few meters of walking, I smiled when I finally saw numerous Higantes, or giant paper mache on queue for the parade. It certainly brought back simple and happy memories of celebrating fiestas during my childhood years.


Towering at ten to twelve feet, with diameter of about four to five feet, Higantes are made of paper mache for their heads, and bamboos and colorful textiles for their trunks. They usually add fun to almost all fiestas around the Philippines, but it is in Angono where the tradition started. History states that these Higantes originated as a creative means of protest of Filipino farmers and land tillers against their Spanish landlords during the colonial era. That explains why these Higantes have hands placed high up on their waists, they used to be the effigies of arrogant hacienderos before.

An awesome surprise treat for me was to see and photograph little pretty kids that were dressed in costumes of mermaids, fishermen and parehadoras (group of young girls holding paddles and wearing bakya or traditional wooden slippers); they were all in the parade at Higantes Festival as reminders that Angono was once a fishing village and that its town people were blessed with abundance of Laguna Lake.


And so my Sunday morning was made with infectious kiddie smiles and a lot variations of Higantes from computer-game-inspired, Plants versus Zombies…


Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal…


More animated characters…


Local town’s cosplayers…


Even the famous Filipino comedian-host, Vice Ganda was made into a Higantes!


Like almost all fiestas in the country, the parade started with a lively marching bands…


Fiestas are commonly celebrated in honor of Catholic saints, and in Angono, it’s the feast day of Saint Pope Clement I or locally known as San Clemente. Higantes Festival is held a week before the feast day of San Clemente, that’s usually celebrated every November 22-23.

After I stationed myself to a spot where I watched the parade pass by, I walked my way down to the town’s municipal building.

The relief-structures of “Si Malakas at Si Maganda” fronting the municipal building of Angono, Rizal.

Since I am not familiar with the place, I asked bystanders and a few policemen of the directions to the San Clemente Church. It’s easy as I was told to stroll down where the parade was going.

The narrow street en route to the San Clemente Church was lined by concrete walls in parallel, with sculptures and murals depicting local lives and other artistic creations of homegrown artists of Angono. This urban municipality would never been dubbed as Arts Capital of the Philippines for nothing. Angono is home to two National Artists, namely Lucio San Pedro for music and Carlos “Botong” Francisco for the arts. It is also in this humble town where Angono Petroglyphs, the oldest art work identified in the Philippines, can be found (not in photo).

Finally, I uttered prayers of thanksgiving, asked for forgiveness and blessings inside San Clemente Church.

Outside, under the heat of the mid-morning sun, the Higantes Festival parade was still on-going. I caught myself with mouth-wide-open, at the sight of local men and women in their geriatric years, taking photos of the parade using modern tablets and smart phones.

I was in awe at the efforts employed by all participants, specially the boys and men who were carrying those Higantes, and of course, all the children and the old ones who were wearing traditional attires and costumes for the parade. Hats off to them who continue to pass this traditional celebration to the next generations.

Most people who visit Angono, Rizal also drop by the famous Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery.  Of course, I did not let the chance to pass without sampling something from their menu. It only took me 5-minute-tricycle ride to get there.

Apparently, 3 Higantes from the parade were from the restaurant owners. I saw them how they disassemble the Higantes before keeping them inside the gallery. Amazing!


The facade’s inviting with lush greens…

Inside, I found the restaurant quaint and fascinating…

The view where I sat…
Paper Mache : Local women with children, cooking local rice cakes, bibingka and puto-bumbong.

Balaw-Balaw Restaurant is known for local and exotic dishes from Angono. I forgot to bring my daredevil and adventurous attitude when it comes to food (as if I have one!), thus I only settled to personal favorites – Halo-halo to beat the heat, Balaw-balaw Seafood fried rice -that appealed to me as a meal-in-one, and a fresh mango juice to wash everything down.

By its huge serving, I had more than half of the Balaw-Balaw Seafood fried rice as my take-away, and shared it immediately for lunch at home. Everything’s OK but certainly not the best compared to what I’ve tasted. To be fair, there’s a lot of Filipino dishes on the menu to choose from and perhaps, a single visit to this restaurant with minimal orders would not be enough to have a fair food review.

The restaurant houses an art gallery too.


The craftmanship of Angono…

A visit to their toilet with a 45 degree turn to the right will give you this view…


More beautiful sculptures and art works installed at the other room of the art gallery…


Half day wasn’t enough to understand, enjoy and savor an entire town’s culture, tradition, food and celebration. But I reckon that I had fun nonetheless.

Have you been to Angono, Rizal? How was your experience attending Higantes Festival? Have you tried dining at Balaw-Balaw Restaurant?


San Clement Church | Baranggay Poblacion Ibaba, Angono, Rizal.

Angono Elementary School | M.L. Quezon Avenue, Barangay San Isidro, Angono, Rizal.

Balaw Balaw Specialty Restaurant and Art Gallery| #16 Doña Justa St., Doña Subd., PH1, Angono, Rizal. (this is not a sponsored post).




max's dessert sampler
Dessert Sampler.  Believe me, it’s more toothsome than it looks!

That enticing sampler platter came with sweet portions of :

  • Ube Creme Decadence (smooth, light and creamy eggless custard filled with purple yam or ube jam and topped by ube cake crumbs),
  • Buco Pandan (Coconut and pandan strips, green jelly cubes or gulaman and tapioca).
  • Leche Flan (Creme caramel),
  • Cream Brownie Ala Mode topped with vanilla ice cream.

max's chopsuey

max's chicken sisig
Chicken Sisig.

max's kare kare
Kare-kare (Beef or Ox tail Stew in Peanut Sauce).

max's fried chicken
Spring Fried Chicken.

max's adobo fried rice
Adobo Fried Rice.

my family
Daddy, my brother, Mac, Mommy and me.

When the Overseas Filipino Worker in me came home last month, the happiest parts of my body were my tongue and my stomach! Although we cooked and ate Filipino dishes at our apartment in Penang, nothing beats eating everything you want in the Philippines!

As you may know, Filipino restaurants almost don’t exist in Penang, so you cannot blame me if I had so much craving for authentic Pinoy favorites.  That craving was satisfied a few days after I got home from Malaysia when I had weekend lunch with my parents, and one of my brothers in a Filipino restaurant that’s not only considered a family favorite but also default choice on rare occasions that we go out.

We simply indulged over Chopsuey, Sizzling Chicken Sisig, Kare-kare which is on top of my list of favorites, a signature Spring Fried Chicken, and my brother, Mac suggested we have to sample Adobo Fried Rice (fried rice with soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, tomatoes and salted egg slices) that I found delicious too, although I thought it’s a bit heavy when paired with those viands, thus we also ordered cups of plain rice. Carbo-loading, I know! It was a hearty lunch just before we glue our eyes watching the movie, Thor, The Dark World.

If you’re from the Philippines too, I bet you’re so familiar with my family’s default choice of food place! Can you name it? Do we have the same favorite? What are your favorite Pinoy dishes?




It matters not to me to visit the same place again because obviously, memories and experiences will be different.  On my 5th trip to Singapore last October 12-14, 2013, I visited Gardens by the Bay again and thankfully, I was privileged to play tour guide to my mom and aunt.  Despite our limited travel budget, and the fact that the three of us endured a 9-hour-bus-trip over night from Penang to Johor Bahru and a more-or-less-an-hour-Immigration-proceedings and bus transfers at the borders of Malaysia and Singapore the following day, plus another 45 minutes MRT and taxi rides to our hotel, we’re grateful as we’re blessed with a fine weather that afternoon and we’re able to bring our feet to appreciate those man-made Supertrees and Mother Nature’s flower power!

Flower power!

The Supertrees of Gardens by the bay, Singapore. They looked lovelier the second time around!

During my first visit to Gardens by the bay last year, I was toured by Gina, a Filipino good friend who’s more like the sister-I-never-had,  based in Singapore. She’s generous to voluntarily treat me to Flower Dome & Cloud Forest; then we had late lunch at Marina Bay Sands after. So when I got the chance, I didn’t hesitate to pay it forward to my relatives.  After all, they’re the ones who were there in Penang who helped me for a month with their own hands, to pack 3 years of my life. Touring them to one of Lion City’s must-visit places was nothing compared to the love, concern and understanding they showed, in spite and despite of.

It’s nice to visit a place the second time around, you’ll be able to see improvements and changes. Immediately after crossing the pedestrian bridge from Marina Bay Sands, we rode the shuttle for Sg$2 (US$ 1.60) per pax, roundtrip (although we only rode it once as service was only until 5PM and we stayed longer), to save the feet of my geriatric guests from walking. The shuttle ride took us to the ticketing booth of Gardens by the bay.

Women in the mirror: My mom wearing purple and her only sibling, my aunt on floral.


Tickets for foreigners for both Flower Dome & Cloud Forest still cost the same as last year’s;  Sg$ 28 (US$22.50) per pax. I first brought them to Flower Dome.

In 2012, I mentioned in my blog post on this site and in my review at Tripadvisor that it’s practical and sufficient enough to pay entrance fee to just one of the airconditioned domes and it’s better to choose Flower Dome over Cloud Forest.  I’m taking that all back.  Having seen Gardens by the bay for the second time proved to me that they have themes every season, or perhaps every month that could instantly make a returning tourist marvel once more. It’s all worth it, I think.



On our recent visit, the theme was all about Indian’s Festival of Light,  Deepavali or Diwali.


And my travel companions enjoyed posing all the way! They indulged actually! :)

The Flower Dome was filled with Malaysian mums, pompoms and other blooms appropriate for Diwali.


I cannot express into words how my family wonder in awe, particularly my mom who’s always in love with flowers of any size and color.  They found every corner, every petal, every spot a photo-opportunity! Really, the display was amazing!

Aside from the Deepavali-inspired flowers, there were the staples, like the roses and among them, this variegated species of white & red rose really caught my eye!


Flowers, flowers, and more flowers…


Amidst all those manicured flora inside Flower Dome, I fall in love with these vividly colored foliage.
These leaves do look unusually gorgeous, don’t they?

Smiles and more smiles…
ANS_5026 ANS_4872

After enjoying our time from 3PM-5PM at Flower Dome, we felt the need to load our tummies. So prior going to the next-door-dome, the Cloud Forest, we went out to look for something to eat. We found comfort at Texas Chicken fast food inside the Supertree Grove Restaurants.


Grabbing bites from huge servings of crispy fried chicken from Texas Chicken brought back memories from my lunch breaks of my college years. I wondered whatever happened to Texas Chicken (and A&W) that they had to terminate business in Manila; good thing that neighboring Southeast Asian countries still keep them.  I digress.  Anyway, after we became satiated with delicious fastfood meals, we went back and admired the other garden dome that I usually describe as Avatar-ish, Cloud Forest.

Stepping inside the cool-moist-conservatory, visitors will be delighted to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, misty atmosphere and lush biodiversity that showcase pitcher plants, orchids, begonias, bromeliads, ferns, even crystals and many more. There are lifts to take tourists to various levels of that man-made-mountain forest.

The child in me instantly noticed the addition of a wonderful forest village with railway stations and mobile choo choo train! I only wished my son, Gabby had enjoyed it with me. Perhaps, in the near future visits, who knows.


Of all people, I was a fool to deny the fact that my mom and aunt have lesser stamina and horsepower to tolerate miles of walking that afternoon. I indirectly and unintentionally tortured their calf muscles and feet and deliberately tested their temper in walking several miles back to Marina Bay Sands via its basement walkway. My goal : for all of us to eat dinner at Rasapura Food court that’s located at the terminal end of MBS’ ground floor and walk back to MRT to our hotel in Orchard Road. Fatigue, muscle aches, haywire moods and a perception that ‘Singapore is all about walking’ dawned upon them.  Everything was charged to their first-time-experience in the Lion City. I bet they enjoyed nonetheless!


We traveled far via bus from Penang and we’re about to go home to Manila in a couple of weeks, and considering I had an option to let them sample Hainanese Chicken Rice and Singapore Laksa, we all gave in to our Filipino stomachs’ cravings. Kare-kare, Pork Barbecue, Pakbet, Pancit Bihon, Sour Broth Soup from Gerry’s Grill and ice cold Coke were definitely satisfying!

Filipino all-time-favorite dishes!

From the Rasapura Food court of Marina Bays Sands, we dragged our very tired feet to the MRT and alighted at what I perceived as outer space, hahaha!
Ion Orchard Mall, Orchard Road.

The entire afternoon of seeing the Lord’s most colorful creations, inside the world’s most beautiful man-made garden domes with my mom and aunt was truly an experience of a lifetime for the three of us!  I never imagined that I could bring them to Singapore, but opportunity presented itself and we could only be grateful for everything!

I already experienced traveling and touring alone and admittedly, it offered self-discoveries and a lot other opportunities. However, bringing other feet to other places, particularly new to them;  knowing that you could share the good times and bad times with them as well, is a must do for everyone whenever possible.
Their smiles say it all!

*This NOT a sponsored blog post.

My visit to Gardens by the bay in 2012 blogged here :

Gardens by the bay | 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953 | website :

How to get to Gardens by the bay (sourced from their website).

MRT & Bus

Via the Circle Line:

  • Alight at Bayfront MRT Station (CE1)
  • Take Exit B and follow the underground linkway
  • Exit and cross the Dragonfly Bridge or Meadow Bridge into Gardens by the Bay

Via the North South / Circle Line:

  • Alight at Marina Bay MRT Station (NS27/CE2)
  • Take Exit A and hop onto bus service 400
  • Alight 4 stops later at the bus stop along Marina Gardens Drive




tokwa, kape, lugaw
puto, dinuguan, chicharon
pancit malabon at pichi-pichi

My parents prepared a simple feast to celebrate my youngest brother’s 28th birthday (who’s presently based in UAE) last September 17th, and my 37th birthday today, September 18th.  I thank the good and forgiving Lord for blessing me with a loving and understanding immediate family.  God knows we’ve been through a lot but at the end of the day, I remain their eldest son and brother, and that relationship rules over our individual flaws.  That alone, is more than enough reason to celebrate life.

PS : I love you, Gabby! Always remember that I love you so much, son!




“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
~ George A. Moore

A fruit stand in Jenny’s Rosario, Pasig City.

Street scenes I saw when I secured Overseas Employment Certificate/Exit Clearance from POEA in EDSA.

Chowking, Robinson’s Metroeast. I shared the table with my parents prior watching the movie, OTJ.

Shots from LRT in Recto, Manila.

My mom and aunt walking with their long umbrellas. They accompanied me to Quiapo & Divisoria.

Despite its busy surrounding, Quiapo Church never fails to remind me that God is merciful and forgiving.
At Php 16 per piece, this lumpia from Globe Lumpia House in Raon, Quiapo, Manila is one of the best I’ve tasted!
My mom, together with my maternal aunt bought me half a kilo of Excelente ham. Perfect with pandesal!
Then they brought me to Kim Chong Tin Hopia Factory, the oldest in Manila. Hopia munggo is to die for!

Escolta, Manila.

The fountain in front of Sta Cruz Church, Manila.

At Lucky Chinatown Mall. Also new to me were 999 Mall, Puregold and a few others. Divisoria, we meet again!

Lunch at 168 Mall foodcourt.

In my darkest moments, I found my way home.

I thank the merciful Lord for few people who have been helping me to move on, despite and in spite of.

I shall return to my present work in Penang, Malaysia soon.




For five years of this blog’s existence, few loyal readers have witnessed how the love for food binds my family and I together. Tina, Gabby and I certainly love to eat! And our tastebuds have the same preferences either dining out or just eating within the comforts of our home.  Although I know how to perk up some tasteful dishes too, the credit goes to my loving wife who devotes so much of her TIME and EFFORTS not only at work but at the kitchen department to fill up our tummies with not just mediocre cooking but feasts that we usually crave for!

Here are some of her masterpieces, at least for Gabby and me!

This dish has shrimps, green bell pepper in light and sweet soy sauce, if not oyster sauce. It’s too delicious, I forgot to ask her what it’s called! :D

shrimps in oyster sauce

Vanhouten, sometimes Cadbury Chocolate Chamorado at Tuyo is one of our comfort foods! Even Gabby became biased with Champorado at Tuyo!  Yes, our 8-year-old kiddo loves tuyo, he eats it also sans champorado but with rice and dips its shredded bits on vinegar!  Regardless of the weather -rainy days or even when the sun is out; for breakfast or as late afternoon snack, this combo remains a personal favorite!

champorado at tuyo

Ebi Tempura and Chicken Cordon Bleu. All.From.Scratch!

prawn tempura and chicken cordon bleu
ebi tempura
prawn tempura

This one needs no introduction. Pass the vinegar, please! And let’s eat with bare hands, c’mmon! ;)


Bistek Tagalog with Blanched Veggies. I’m salivating now.

beef steak and blanched veggies

Some photographed pasta dishes the past months include this Crispy Noodle…

crispy noodles

and the classic Creamy Carbonara with homemade Garlic Bread that she made for our birthdays (Gabby’s last October, and mine’s September). While Gabby dislikes bacon and only wants the pasta and the creamy cheesy buttery sauce, I love it up to its last bacon bits. LOL! :P

creamy carbonara with home made garlic bread

For dessert, Maja Blanca con Maiz

maja blanca maiz

For someone like Tina who doesn’t have formal background in culinary arts, and for Gabby and me, those dishes are already superb despite its few imperfections. As mentioned, hours are usually spent in preparing them. Time and efforts for the family are always priceless!

With those few compiled food photos, one of my suntok-sa-buwan-wishes of putting up our very own food place someday lives on. Let’s see if it will materialize someday. Who knows what destiny brings? I am only sure of the fact that we love food and we like to eat – a lot!!!


Part 1 of this blog’s series here : My Wife’s Culinary Prowess




For almost 2 years of being an Overseas Filipino Worker here in Malaysia, I have been grateful to have been exposed to a gastronomic diversity available here in Penang and to a few states that we’ve been to. However, my native tongue remains to be Filipino thus apparently, it craves for Filipino dishes every  now and then. And unlike other countries where Filipino restaurants, stores and even groceries spring like mushrooms, we rarely have those here in Penang. :( So Tina, my mom and I always make an effort to go to the public market here (read : I do the marketing almost every weekend), prepare, cook so we could eat Filipino dishes we love right from the little kitchen of our humble abode here in Butterworth. Despite we’re thankful to have the means to do so, nothing replaces the unique feeling of dining what you love in the comforts of your own home.

And while browsing my files, I found the following photos that made my craving even worse. Can you blame me? See for yourself. ;)

Halo-Halo!!! This one’s from Mang Inasal, but I also love Razon’s version too.

Dulcinea’s Churros Con Chocolate : Not actually Filipino but one of those that surely completes an afternoon snack or merienda!

Taro Taro and Taro Ice from Quickly. With the advent of a huge variety of milk tea, Tina and I still love Quickly! Gabby likes it too of course! I’m not sure if a kiosk of Quickly exists somewhere here in Penang. Too lazy to google.

This should have been Puto’t Dinuguan but Mang Inasal’s upgraded version has it as Toasted Pandesal and Dinuguan. Sarap! Sedap! :D

Jollibee’s Spaghetti and Palabok Fiesta! Need I say more? ;)

This was from Via Mare in Greenbelt Mall, Makati; but any ordinary suman and mangga is always a winner tandem for me!

Junkies, yeah! :P

Starbucks Coffee branches are available in most states of Malaysia including Penang. But call me biased, Caramel Macchiato and Banoffee Pie taste more delicious in Pinas. #homesicknesskicksin! :D

One of foodcourt favorite combo back home : World Chicken! My default choice is usually a plate of Pasta in Pesto sauce, Potato Salad and of course, Grilled Chicken Fillet with Ranch sauce! Sarap! Sedap! :)

Bibingka with lotsa butter, sugar & coconut shavings! Whether bibingka-tinda-sa-kanto- or that-little-high-end-Via Mare, a bibingka is always a bibingka! hahaha! #lostforsuperlatives!

And a lot more to mention! :D  Do we have the same cravings?



Our Christmas Break 2011 Series includes :


28 December 2011, Wednesday.  To be honest, I extremely enjoyed our trip to my in-law’s farm!  Our entire day spent there was definitely a breather from the common mall ratting and absolutely far from our usual work-home-routine.  Inhaling fresh air and savoring cool mountain breeze was definitely a fantastic treat for all of us.

The whopping 4.6 hectares of farm of various crops owned by my brother-in-law and his family is located at Boso-Boso, Antipolo Rizal.  A roughly an hour and a half drive from Pasig City and Ortigas took us to this beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of the urban life.

Meet one of their farm caretakers….

who lives in this paradise…

The place reminded me of  my maternal grandmother’s hometown, Barangay Halayhay, Tanza, Cavite where we used to visit every Summer of our growing up years; where houses were built separately from their toilets (the ones that require you to walk before you pee or poop) and where life is incredibly simple.

Aren’t these puppies, despite the lack of breed (or so called, askal aspin or asong pinoy) and a dumalaga so fit for Tinola, too cute for words? :)

The farm has a family house too where toilet is much comfortable. (There’s our Tita/Ninang sa Kasal on the photo).

Seeing a white cow grazing in grass doesn’t happen on a daily basis –definitely another treat! :)

Next photo reveals how my father-in-law who came home for the holidays from Missouri attempted to enjoy fishing.

And our Tito/Ninong sa Kasal became too busy too snapping his camera at this nature’s best. BTW, this is the bahay-kubo where we ate our sumptuous lunch. Very Nice! Cool eh?!

Another shot of that beautiful bahay-kubo…

One of the abundant crops are coconuts. Photo below exhibits Gabby’s amazement on how Kuya Boyet, one of the farm caretakers climbed and tried his best to get us freshest coconuts.

Coke and distilled water were rivaled by delicious coconut juice and pulp. Thirst-quenching!

Sarap ng buco, lalo na libre! :)

Other than coconuts, rice, some mangoes, there are also grapefruit trees. I’m not sure but it tastes and looks like grapefruit and tastes like pomelo as well.

Abot-kamay ang mga prutas! :)

Meet Gabby’s cousin, Raphael (left), the heir to this farm. :D

Look what’s cooking…

Preparation always comes before success. And my sister in law prepared and cooked on the spot a very tasteful Sinigang na buto-buto!  The tender meat almost effortlessly fall off from its bones. The sour broth  and the veggies were just perfect! Sarap! Success! :D

Here she is, doc bibsy, a.k.a. my former classmate in med school and Tina’s sister; that makes her my sister-in-law who happens to be the haciendera of this vast farm. Sarap ng buco, bibsy! :D

Tina and Gabby obviously enjoyed it too…

Jun, my brother-in-law and owner of this farm provided one of the best tasting barbecued liempo (pork belly). His recipe –a marinade of mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Imagine, it was my first time to eat liempo sans soy sauce and vinegar. Ang sarap!!!

While the adults were busy cooking, the kiddos were having their own business.

Another addition to our feast that afternoon was 2 kilo-takeaway/takeout by my dad-in-law enroute to the farm; its packaging says, Malutong. Masarap. Masaya! :D

tadaaaaa…. (nagsebo na kasi malamig sa farm!)

More artery-clogging delights : Crab fat, bagoong, salted eggs. Extra rice, please! :)

Tina must have her favorite green mangoes that she personally sliced into pieces.

It was Gabby’s first time to eat on banana leaves and it has been a while for me.

The lunch at the farm was surreal.

Shameless display of my plate, err, leaf. :)


Gabby : “Daddy, how do we use this cable car?”

Me. : “CABLE CAR?!!? What cable car?”   Then I looked around and found an old swing. :D Kids loved it!

To Jun, Bibs and Raphael, Papa Chito, Tito Mars and Tita Emma, thank you so much for that fun afternoon at the farm! Wonderful! :D

Despite we spent a day WITHOUT mobile signal, NO WIFI, no cable TV because the farm is located uphill the barangay in Antipolo City, the experience was still memorable. Food. Family Bonding. Nature. Surreal!

The 4.6 hectare private farm is on the planning stage of progress, either to keep it as crop-producing farm and/or part of it will be converted to a resort. Regardless, it’s a clear gem from Mother Nature. :D



Our Christmas Break 2011 Blog Series includes :


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)


Happy Lunar Near Year!


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*



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.


How did you start your 2011?

My family and I had totally different New Year’s eve. For the very first time in my 34 years of existence, I defied family tradition, superstition and beliefs about New Year celebration. We never had fireworks and firecrackers. We didn’t have 13 round fruits on the dining table that were supposed to symbolize 12 fruitful months and a surplus for the incoming year. We didn’t prepare any home-cooked meals neither bought dishes or cakes from restaurants or fast foods even as take-away.  Perhaps because Tina, Gabby and I just came home from Malaysia a day after Christmas and we became so busy allowing time to just pass by. Nonetheless, I extremely enjoyed my days off with my family. :D

Few hours before the clock strikes midnight last New Year’s eve, Tina, Gabby and I spent simple dinner at Sulu Hotel in Quezon City with my wife’s balikbayan dad who checked in there for his holiday here from Missouri.

During my vacation, we also got a chance to visit my dad and brothers in Pasig City and had dinner with them too. 

The three of us watched  2 Pinoy movies (comedy and horror flicks), dined and strolled in malls I truly missed (Greenbelt, Glorietta, Gateway and TriNoma) and really savored my week-long break from work.

Before I report back to work in Penang early next week, I’d like to share with you the foods that I am extremely pleased to eat again after 5 months of being abroad.

Our very first meal after we got home  from the airport : Pandesal at goto…

Tina, Gabby and I arrived on 26th December from (Penang via)  Kuala Lumpur  at around 6AM after we were fetched by my 2 brothers from NAIA terminal 3.  We walked to Kawilihan bakery (the best bakery in Anonas/Chico Streets, QC) and bought a supot (brown bag) of  pandesal and goto for me! Sarap! miss na miss e!  Pandesal never tasted that delicious!

Reyes Barbecue, Glorietta Makati… Five months of no pork barbecue was worth the wait! 


Christmas season in Pinas won’t be complete without bibingka (rice cakes). This one was from a stall near Greenbelt chapel. We also had Ferino’s, one of the best tasting bibingka in town.

I am more of bibingka fan rather than puto-bumbong (purple rice cakes steamed from bamboo poles; do you like them both?).

Pancit Malabon :  I’d count the days until I can enjoy you again…

 Crispy Pata and Kare-kare from Dencio’s …classic Pinoy favorites.


And yesterday, my sister-in-law invited us for a dinner treat with Tina’s balikbayan-dad at Dampa in Libis, Quezon City.

Other than those calcium and iodine -rich yummies, my dad-in-law also missed Dinuguan, so he ordered one…

Of course it was seafoods galore!  We had Tiger-Prawn Tempura, Sweet and Sour Lapu-lapu,

Halaan (clam) soup … deliciously soothing!

I cannot imagine a world without baked scallops! hehehe!

Among those sumptuous treats I had with my family in Manila, these two are the ones to be missed…

Purefoods hotdogs (you know that we have raw pork meat in Penang, even various ham but there’s only beef and chicken-dogs).

And, it would take time again before I can dunk my fork at those crispiest Chicken Joy and delightful Spaghetti from Jollibee. I’ll also surely miss that Yum burger and Peach Mango pie… Can someone put up a Jollibee branch in Butterworth, please… hehehe..

On one of our meals at home, Tina prepared Crab meat Siomai, beautifully steamed and was perfectly tasteful but I forgot to capture them in photos *toinks!*

Despite the fact that Penang has been considered as food capital of Malaysia and I and my family and friends are lucky to experience their diverse gastronomic flavors, my palate still belongs to Pinoy foods. :D

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we’ll have Tuyo, Itlog na Pula at Kamatis and Sinangag for breakfast. :P

Happy 2011, everyone!  May we all have a more blessed year.

Here’s to more blog posts about Family.Food and Fun!





31 August 2010, Tuesday, Holiday in Malaysia– My colleagues and I finally indulged in Filipino dishes that we all miss the most!  Exactly a month and a day since we left Manila for work in a medical university here in Penang, Malaysia, it was only yesterday that we feasted on foods that are so familiar to our palates.

Our casual get-together was intended to express our gratitude to our kababayan who brought us here.  She took the effort in orienting us to simple things in Penang, from gradual introduction of culture and beliefs to taking public transportations (bus, ferry, cab) and going to food places, shopping malls and of course, she’s our own mediator to our bosses.  And for all of those, we’re extremely grateful. :)  Because almost half of us have moved in already to our permanent accomodation, it was also a sort of house warming for all.  Our simple party was held at our condo in Butterworth.

We originally planned to have lechon which can be ordered from Chinese restaurateurs and eatery owners here but upon learning that the price of one roasted pig cost around RM 700 (PhP 9,800), the doctors who were in charge for the dishes instantly considered a more sumptuous options…

Pampagana : itlog na pula, hilaw na mangga at bagoong, kamatis at nilagang talong.

Pangunahing Ulam : Sinigang na BABOY! at Halabos na hipon…

Kilawing baboy at Kare-Kare!

Spaghetti at Ginataang Hipon at talong…

Panghimagas : mga prutas -mansanas, kahel at ubas; ginataang langka (not in the photo).

Thank you to Drs. JS and RM for preparing and cooking the feast; this can be addicting! :)  To the rest of the MD-lecturers who came, when will be our next party?  To Miss LMM, maraming salamat! :)

May the good Lord bless us and our families more so we can continue to be a blessing to others.

Certainly, we all miss our families back home and everything about Pinas but bonding ourselves together surely lessens the homesickness.




26 July 2010, Monday–THUNDERBIRD RESORTS, a Santorini-inspired piece of paradise in La Union, Philippines offers infinite possibilities.  Beyond its Mediterranean architecture and interiors that provides leisure and recreation, it’s a foodie’s heaven.

I had the privilege of experiencing the world-class resort and savoring the food with 9 other passionate Filipino bloggers as we gave in to the resorts’ irresistible invitation to a 3-day-FREE accomodation and tour.

After 6 hour-trip from our meeting place in Makati City to the resort itself at Poro Point,  we were brought first to VEGAS CAFE; a restaurant and bar adjacent to the FIESTA CASINO of  THUNDERBIRD RESORTS. It was indeed a fitting feast 3 days before I submit myself to a whole new universe as I begin to work as a medical college lecturer abroad.

I smiled from ear to ear when I learned that we’ll be having an order-and-eat-what-you-want meals during our stay.  How can you resist  such prelude to indulgence? :)  Best of all, everything’s FREE (thank you, TBR!).


Ala Carte LUNCH at VEGAS CAFE, TBRPhilippines

A basket of freshly baked breads and butter…

CHEF’S SALAD, PhP 250+ Iceberg lettuce topped with strips of Swiss cheese, chicken, beef, & your own choice of dressing. Surprisingly, the serving was humongous! Larger than anyone’s appetite. :)

SEAFOOD CHOWDER SOUP, PhP 150+, One of the BEST tasting chowder I’ve ever tasted.

SUSHI-SASHIMI COMBO, PhP 750+ This was my personal choice for lunch. Beautiful, isn’t it?  :) Yummy too!

BULGOGI, PhP 385+ a Korean dish made of thinly sliced beef marinated in slightly sweetened soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic.

SEAFOOD MEDLEY (left), PhP 480+ Grilled prawns, salmon and dory. SURF and TURF (right), PhP 500+

I washed down my Japanese treat by savoring a tall glass of ripe mango shake…

Desserts, anyone?

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE (left), PhP 200;  Puree of pumpkin with cream. PANACOTTA (right), PhP 200 Italian rum and milk pudding.

Then I and other fellow bloggers had a cup of brewed coffee.

End of lunch.  Burp! :)

Let’s move on to OUR DINNER on the same day.

At around 8PM, all of  the 10 invited bloggers were shuttled to the Vegas Cafe again after a relaxing afternoon at our cozy and spacious deluxe rooms. Dinner was ala carte again and we’re not complaining. :)

Everyone agreed to mostly Pinoy and few Asian dishes for our sumptuous supper.

CRAB and CORN SOUP (left)POTATO SALAD and SEAFOOD PENNE PASTA (right) from the spread.

KARE-KARE, a personal favorite; however I want the peanut sauce creamier and thicker.

CRISPY PATA. Let’s not talk about calorie count, ok?  Indulge, whenever possible. LOL! :)

Thai dishes, anyone?

KHAO PAD (left) and PAD THAI (right).

SINIGANG na SUGPO, another classic Pinoy favorite. The more sour, the better.


After dinner, half of the group decided to burn the calories by strolling the distance of about several meters from  Vegas Cafe to the hotel. Perhaps, most of them absorbed the thoughts I shared about digestion and food intake.

A glorious morning came the next day and I thought I woke up in Greece. :)

We were advised to take a heavy buffet-breakfast at OLIVES, the restaurant located near the lobby, enough for us to last for the scheduled City tour that day.

Few minutes after I had those 2 plates, a glass of fresh four seasons juice and a cup of coffee, we headed to our La Union City Tour (last part of this blog series).

We had a long but fun day that we savored every minute in places we’ve been to.  We were brought to a locally famous and quaint hole-in-wall restaurant in San Fernando City. It’s called HALO-HALO DE ILOKO which boasts of, what else but Halo-Halo and other Ilocano dishes.

This late merienda was another new stimuli for my palate.

clockwise : OKOY TIKYOSKO, PhP 85+ : shrimps, sprouted monggo, squash, malunggay leaves. It was a vegetarian feast. HALO-HALO de Iloko, around P135+ : has all the ingredients plus a bit of strawberry that wasn’t found in my glass. :( EMPAREDADOS or Native Hamburger/Sandwich PhP 80+. It’s a pair of fried buns with Vigan longganisa, mayonnaise filling.

That was indeed a satisfying heavy merienda.

After which, we were brought back to the hotel and since my fellow blogger and I have to leave that night for Manila while the rest of the group still had their 3rd day at the Casino the next day, we were offered to try pizza at OLIVES before being heading home.

Wood fire-baked pizza…

We tried PIZZA ILOKANO, PhP 400+ (left): Tomato concasse, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, Vigan longganisa, tocino, tuna and onion.and PIZZA QUATTRO STAGIONI, PhP 470+ (right) : Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, parma ham, fresh mushrooms, and mozzarella.

Good food.

Enticing place.

Great company.

One passion.

Thank you, THUNDERBIRD RESORTS and to my fellow Pinoy bloggers–Ann, Kristel, Betty, Sol, Hanna, Vince, Estan, Oggie and Ferdz, it’s a pleasure to have dined with all of you in these digestive feasts :)  Burp!


THUNDERBIRD RESORTS, Poro Point Freeport Zone, San Fernando City, La Union, Philippines.

Makati office : 24/F Salcedo Towers 168 HV Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City 1227.  Tel No# (63-2) 886-5555.


Special thanks to the warmest people of TBR especially to Ms. Nica Serrano.

Up next :  San Fernando City and Luna, La Union Bloggers’ Tour.



For most married couples, dealing with difficult in-laws is always an issue. Thank God that I don’t have to worry about that thought because I am blessed (I believe so does Tina) with nice and warm “second family.”

Tina’s mom and her brother came home from San Leandro, California last Saturday for a month-long vacation here. They have to attend to some social gatherings and facilitate process of some insurance documents.

We’re thankful that despite the haziness and almost zero visibility in NAIA terminal 1 on the day of their arrival, their flight wasn’t diverted to other local airports unlike the others.

My mother-in-law who has been living and working in California for more than 5 years now, is usually mistaken by most people in the U.S. not as a Filipino or any other Asian woman, but as Spanish and/or Latin-American because of her natural and ageless physical and inner beauty.  Tina, I and her siblings would agree that their mom is prettier than them!  What made her even more simply attractive is her pleasant disposition in life; that includes being my biyanan. She’s really cool, inside-out. :)

Needless to say, she’s easy to get along with. And so am I. :)   That is why when she requested her daughters (my wife included) her preferred food for their arrival dinner, we didn’t think twice to obliged. After all, what she wished to savor as they reached home were those all-time-favorite Pinoy foods that I’m guessing she dearly missed.

clockwise from top left : bagoong, hilaw na mangga, adobong pusit, saging pang-himagas, pork sinigang, pritong tilapia fillet.

That Adobong Pusit and Pork Sinigang were only substitutes to my mom-in-law’s original request : Alupihang Dagat or Mantis Shrimp that wasn’t available when we went to Nepa Q-Mart to buy.

Have you tasted Alupihang Dagat already?  I haven’t.

And did they like the dinner we prepare?  Of course! :)

For married people who read this, how are you with your in-laws?  Are you the same with one of my long-time friends who call hers as “out-laws!” ? lol!



Banana cue,  Turon…

Camote cue,   Maruyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…….

Two teenage girls who are siblings, carry huge plastic-covered bilao, walk on streets and sell these very Pinoy comfort foods in our neighborhood.   I can’t help but admire their early exposure and dedication to work  just to support their studies and perhaps their family too.  Tina and I always remind Gabby how blessed he is and for him to be always grateful for big and small blessings.    

Whenever we hear their long shouts of  the names of those caramelized and gooey native delicacies even on a Sunday afternoon, we often feel obliged to buy and savor these sweet skewered treats.  

Prices range from PhP 7 -12;  not bad for a Turon (not in the photo) even cooked with strips of Jackfruit.  Yum! :D 

Banana cue, Camote cue and Carioca for merienda…

Our simple pleasures are made of these. :)


Know more of our favorite merienda –> HERE



I am home now!  :D  I had to cut my Tokyo trip shorter to a couple of weeks instead of 30 days because of an internal problem that I’m not in control and I cannot share publicly.  I never failed any training because there was none for me to begin with.  Nonetheless,  I have experienced the worse and the best of Tokyo and will continue to share them here on the coming days.

TOKYO DISNEYSEA will be my next post so be sure to visit my site again.  To my kind readers, I’ll swing to your blog soon.

For now, I’m sharing you the things that happened yesterday…

Tina herself, did the  rescheduling of my flight with PAL last Sunday in less than 5 minutes.  I had enjoyed my 1-hour trip from Tokyo to Narita Airport terminal 2 via the very efficient Narita Express.  Ticket from Shinagawa to the airport costs Y3,310 (PhP  1,655).

Some people told me that flights are fully booked until April but these pictures will speak for themselves…

It’s Holy Week and time to reflect on things so I’ll try to avoid rants…Moving on..

My meal at 36,000 feet before heading home…

Beef stew with blanched carrots and okra;  served with Japanese noodle soup, bread and butter and mung bread; orange juice and coffee.

The flight went OK except for bumpy descent and hassle of an hour of waiting for my luggage at the NAIA terminal 2.  To PAL : improvement is much needed!

Traffic at EDSA was minimal so I reached our place in Quezon City in less time I expected.  I just dropped off my luggage and bags at home and headed straight to Gabby’s big day…

I can’t imagine myself missing this moment.  I brought to the graduation venue Gabby’s most requested pasalubong; PSP with 4 gig memory stick which I bought from AKIHABARA ELECTRIC TOWN.  A 3rd honorable mention-Kindergarten graduate and a very adorable son deserves more than this.

After the event, we had simple dinner at KKK in SM Cubao… I was craving for Pinoy food for 2 weeks and these were very comforting…

The smart kid requested for Halo-halo…

We shared Nilagang Bulalo, Buko Pandan Juice, Halo-Halo Mestiza, Kaning Puti and Kare-Kareng Baka ng KKK…

Nothing beats the comfort of being HOME. :D

Time to avoid meat...Have a blessed Holy Week everyone!

Stay tuned for my next posts : TOKYO DISNEYSEA and so much more about Tokyo…




In response to a colleague’s invitation for lunch, we headed to Glorietta 3 about a couple of weeks ago.  I+Tina=Gabby were treated to one of our favorite pig-out places : Dad’s Ultimate Buffet (includes Saisaki + Kamayan). 

We noticed they’ve changed their old blue plates for the crossover/ultimate buffet to immaculate white. I’m not sure if it’s only for that day or only for that branch.  Nevertheless, the eat-all-you-want spread remains the same–satisfyingly good for affordable price than others.

These were digested several days before Ash Wednesday. *defensive*

If you’re Catholic like us, do you also observe little sacrifices like porkless days during Lent ?   We usually avoid meat on Ash Wednesday, and all the Fridays that follows until Black Saturday.  Our menu during Fridays of Lent typically consists of Ginisang Monggo, Paksiw na Bangus, Chopsuey, Fresh or Fried Lumpia, Tinapa, Ginisang Mais or Suam, Lugaw+egg and the like.  Last year, Tina prepared Lumpiang Shanghai using Tilapia fillet instead of ground pork.   We don’t skip meals or fast literally; we only lessen our intake. Then of course, we try to feast again on Easter!  What about you?  What do you eat during Holy Week ?



Truth is, we went to Legazpi Village in Makati just across Greenbelt 5 to try a colleague’s suggestion –for us to subject Gabby to a VTR in a talent/modelling agency for TVC (read : TV commercials).  Oops, let me clear that out :  Gabby only had his photos taken and did a VTR; no casting calls yet, people! :D  Of course we’ll let you know if he’ll be doing something beyond ordinary. (Well, you know for Tina and I, he’ll always be our GREATEST KID!) We just took a chance; brought him in and we’re glad that our little boy liked it!  He told us he was asked in the VTR room to smile, turn right, then left, turn the camera and smile, state his name, school and age and smile again.  If there would be no calls for a go-see or whatnot, then there’s no harm, just plain fun! :D

After few more steps from the agency, Tina, Gabby and I with one of our friends found ourselves seated comfortably here…


Who says you cannot eat breakfast in the afternoon?  In Mr. Jones, some of our favorite morning starters are served all day! (Wala lang yatang tuyo, tinapa, danggit at itlog na pula’t kamatis, hehehe)

It was our first time to try Mr. Jones, a considerably newer food place  an upscale diner at Greenbelt 5 that’s  related  to Museum Cafe (also in Greenbelt), Chelsea Market Cafe (in Serendra) and Momo Cafe (Eastwood Mall and Robinson’s Place).  According to the wait staff, Mr. Jones serves breakfast-all-day beginning 11AM.

So at around 3PM, I was enjoying one of the most delicious TAPA in town…


U.S. BEEF RIBCAP “TAPA & GARLIC OVERLOAD” , Php 295+.  Servings in Mr. Jones are HUGE!  Sharing is inevitable! :D Take my word on it : it’s one of the yummiest breakfast plate I had :D The beef tapa were sliced as thin as bacon strips, so flavorful that it can still stimulate your palate sans vinegar and achara(pickled papaya)!  But the achara and a little-sweet vinegar also add up to the experience!  That tapa and garlic overload rests on a bed of garlic rice… Ahhhhhh…  ang SARAP!  :D 

The eggs can be cooked the way-you-want. I asked the smiley waitress what’s best, and she recommended scrambled. Actually, I don’t mind whether it’s sunny-side-up or scrambled. But it seemed like the staff really knows their stuffs. :D


Surely, it deserves a second try on our future visits! It’s that good! :D

For our commercial model-to-be  cute kid, he enjoyed sipping heavenly milkshakes from a tall glass and a canister…

CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE, PhP 175+ This tasted like blended chocolate ice cream and we liked it! Gabby loved it.  What we liked about it? They serve you even the extra-blended shake in a canister if the glass is already full.  It felt like you had 2 for the price of 1. :D 

Tina and our friend shared  a huge plate of….

MAC N CHEESE, PhP 350+. We noticed the use of 3 different pasta : rigatoni, penne and macaroni all fused into one dish; creamy and cheesy with bacon bits and mushroom.  It was OK but would not sky-rocket you to outer space. :( 

Just look at the evidence that Mr. Jones’ Tapa and Garlic overload is really a must-try :

Whether Gabby will soon nail a bit player part in a TVC or NOT, we’re considering going back to Mr. Jones whenever possible if only for that tapa and to try their other breakfast-all-day menu! :D


:D  What are your favorite breakfast meals ?



:) FAMILY + FEAST + FUN = Sundays never get better than this! 

Yesterday, January 24, just before the clock strikes 12 noon, my wife, Tina with our son Gabby and I were already at the venue to attend my paternal Lola Tentay’s 90th birthday celebration with almost all of our relatives from my dad’s side.

Yes, there was the queen of the Pinoy feasts ~ lechon (roasted pork), courtesy of my cousin, Dr. CSM from New Jersey and a simple lunch buffet to everyone’s delight.  Check out my glutton’s plate, lol :D  (click photos to drool more  enlarge)

My dad got the lechon plate for us to share :D  Nevermind the cholesterol content; a reunion like this doesn’t happen on a daily basis!

Our Tita/Ninang Glo with her husband, Tito George who both came home from LA, Ca sponsored and provided us color-coded T-shirts with embroidered logo for the occasion. Yellow for all apo (grandchildren) and mga apo sa tuhod (great-grandchildren) and red shirts for all of Inang Tentay’s children.  The venue :  Calumpang Gymnasium in Marikina City. 

Who would have thought that this gym was deluged few months ago by the unforgettable Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)?  The Calumpang gymnasium is located literally along the Marikina River…

The simple spread was provided by a relative-caterer, Martha’s Plate.  The feast was unpretentious; nothing fancy but deliciously satisfying! :D


There were Chicken-Shrimp Sotanghon, Fresh Lumpia, Fish Fillet, Chicken Pastel, Beef Morcon, and of course, a cake!  Everyone had Buco-Pandan for dessert (which I forgot to capture).

After lunch, our balikbayan-uncle hosted the program with more than greetings and well wishes for our Lola but fun parlor games too! There were games for everyone!  Even the guests participated and all had nothing but cheers and widest smiles!  BTW, Gabby had his share on stage with his 5-stanza poem that garnered applause. Tina and I are so proud of him! :D


The reunion-birthday party could have been happier if all our love ones abroad could come home especially my mom in UAE; and our relatives whom we visited in NZ before but now all living more comfortably in Melbourne.  Nevertheless, it was indeed another family gathering to remember. 

We all went home with similar wishes for our good Lord to bless our Lola Tentay with more years to be with us.  

:) Aren’t you proud as a Filipino that we value family and family-ties?

Till our next family-bonding moments!



My family and I like Japanese and Italian foods but indubitably, we love Pinoy dishes the most!  Nothing beats the combination of rice and viands that are very Filipino. :D

In as much as we usually less favor anything that can be easily prepared at home, my wife, Tina with our son, Gabby and I still welcome the thought of eating ordinary Pinoy dishes in food places where we haven’t dined before or at least in restaurants that we have tried and tested  tasted that are known to satisfy our palates.

Few days ago, we had a chance to taste few of our favorites in a restaurant named after a group that sparked the revolution in Pinoy history…

KKK actually stands for Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangan na Katipunan  Kainan sa Kalye Kanluran because its pioneer restaurant is located at West Avenue, Quezon City.

The branch in SM-Mall of Asia is not that huge but it’s adequate enough to accomodate hungry diners’ cravings for our very own cuisine.

The interiors boasts of a poster of our national heroes appeared to be brainstorming over a grand feast. The walls were also adorned by woven bamboo-like material drooping gracefully.   

Upon receiving KKK’s simple laminated menu, I was ready to order two local dishes that I so love.  The first on my list was…

SINIGANG NA SUGPO, PhP 358+.  I’m one big shrimp/prawn fanatic! I like them buttered, grilled, steamed and yes, in sour stock with veggies. I guess other than the famous adobo (that I know originated from Mexico), sinigang is one viand that every Pinoy tongue is familiar with. And KKK’s version of Sinigang na Sugpo did not disappoint. The huge hot bowl contained 5 huge prawns to our delight! The veggies were still crunchy and were cooked with the plump prawns to almost perfection!

Here’s my lion share…aren’t those prawns a beauty? LOL! :D

My other all-time favorite Pinoy dish is Kare-Kare or Beef and ox tail in peanut sauce. I could have ordered it as well if I did not consider Tina’s choice….

KALDERETA SAN MIGUEL, PhP 280+.   It’s described in the menu as “baka niluto sa cervesa”.  Those beef cubes were so tender that once you dunk your fork into it, it shreds off effortlessly.  Its tomato sauce with carrots and potatoes stewed (with beer, hence the name?) to a creamy but not-so-thick base.  We only wish for its serving to be more than enough to meet one’s appetite :D

While Tina and I were sharing bowls of our comfort foods, Gabby was also enjoying his take on the sweets…

LECHE FLAN NA GATAS NG KALABAW, PhP 68+.     The use of Carabao’s milk made this dessert different from the usual leche flan, plus it’s  topped with macapuno strips.  Although Gabby had to asked me to scoop those macapuno strips out of the flan for he, I think, at an early age is a purist. :)

For our drinks, Tina had her usual serving of agua while Gabby and I ordered these..MANGO and BUCO JUICE!  I liked KKK’s  chilled coconut but I liked it better when the wait staff didn’t hesitate to give in to my request in a blink and made a small opening that gave me the moment to scrape its chewey soft pulp. And I tell you, I missed doing it when we were in Boracay last month. 

Other than the quantity of the Kaldereta, we’re happy with our lunch at KKK. :D  On our next visit, I’ll make sure we get to taste that Kare-Kareng Baka and I’ve heard that Adobo ni Jake Espesyal is another must-try. 

We join the owners and staff of KKK in saying yelling their battle cry- “Huwag matakot, Maki-Kain!!!” :D


KKK Comforts of Pinoy Food G/F Entertainment Mall SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City / Tel # (63-2)556-0755. with branches at Level 3, Midtown Wing, Robinson’s Place Manila / Tel # (63-2)567-2186.  Kainan sa Kalye Kanluran 74 West Ave., Quezon City /Tel # (63-2)371-9099.



One day, my family and I were enjoying  brunch at a luxurious hotel in Makati;  the next day we found ourselves having another extraordinary breakfast in a rustic quaint comfort food place in Marikina City. Regardless of the place we’re at, the important thing is we’re having family fun, fun, fun :D

I was surprised when my wife, Tina agreed to my suggestion that we’ve to try PAN de AMERIKANA for breakfast.  Even  it would take us approximately 20 to 30 minutes less traffic to get to its location at Concepcion, Marikina City from our place in Quezon City, we wouldn’t care less.  After seeing it on a local morning TV show and learning that it’s owned by the same family who runs the school I attended during my High School (OLOPSC), the more I became interested to try its 1950s wheat pandesal and other affordable yummies.

With empty stomachs, we hit the roads to Marikina and reached Pan Amerikana around 10AM.  Pan de Amerikana greeted us with its facade…


Where in the metro could you see a wooden windmill? LOL, only in Marikina! It’s really interesting!

The place isn’t only a bakery but an all-day restaurant as well.  It has lots of fascinating things that may amuse you while you dine or simply can provide you a venue to kill time by playing chess on tables or on the ground, literally.


There’s this giant chess set much to delight local tourists like us especially the kids.  It was a bigger chess set than the ones we saw in Island Cove Resort in Cavite early this year.  Gabby was really excited to get hold of those black and white pawns. 

At the counter, there are lots of regular-sized chess sets that diners can borrow for FREE after presenting a valid ID.


Do you play chess?  Shame on me, I don’t, LOL.   So when Gabby asked me to play with him, I thought we can just delay it until the day we both learn the game, LOL :D  For that moment, we just had it as props for photo-ops! hehehe :D


Pan de Amerikana boasts of not only chess sets but a distinctly Filipino ambiance…There’s an overload of arts and culture that is truly Pinoy! Look at the kalesa  parked near those bikes and a woven rattan hammock that’s so inviting.


Then there’s this antique grinder of something which led me clueless, if it’s a coconut grinder or an ice crusher. Can you please identify ?  I found this collectible old piece few steps next to Popeye! :D


There’s also that miniature  pugon or  brick-oven to depict where the famous pandesal are baked.  

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The dining area has laid back atmosphere.  It’s only provided with large units of electric fans, at times, it can become humid; the entire area is roofed so everyone is safe from inevitable downpour.  There’s also a place where dripping water serves as fountain…  


And did I mention already that the entire food place offers FREE WI-FI ACCESS? A lot of people across ages came in with their laptops and chargers doing school or perhaps office stuffs while having brunch.

As I went to the counter to order and pay for my food, I saw these striking things that can stimulate one’s interest : A tiny set of dining table and a small billboard with schedule of  activities offered by Pan de Amerikana. 


So did we try those 1950’s wheat Pandesal ? Of course!

IMG_3951PAN de AMERIKANA’S WHEAT PANDESAL, PhP 5.50 each.  It’s humongous! So rich and fibrous, very filling. We took them home as our afternoon snack. 

  PAN AMERIKANO (mega-sized pandesal) gained its popularity when the Americans arrived during the 1940’s. It looks like a giant baguette that was processed like the pandesal. It was during the 1960’s that it suddenly disappeared and was replaced with rectangular loaves. Then came the famous Nutri Bun (monay shaped bread -3 -5 times the size of the pandesal), which was a hit during the 1970’s.

More than that Harley Davidson on display and FOR SALE and the other things we saw at Pan de Amerikana, the one that really caught my attention was this wooden posting in front of the  big bike and a concrete bridge; figure out why….  :D


Although this restaurant observes self-service policy, there are wait staff who will bring your tray to your tables; so we were handed a customer-number that was creatively Pinoy!


We also tried their pandesal with chicken and sardines, at PhP 25 each.  Tina had the SARDINES PANDESAL,  I had the CHICKEN PANDESAL; equally must-try!


Gabby wanted ARROZ CALDO with EGG, PhP 28 and a cup of HOT CHOCOLATE, PhP 25…


The arrozcaldo was good, but Gabby failed to finish it. :(

Before going to this place, I’ve heard that two of its specialties are WAKNATOY, PhP 35/order; a dish similar to menudo and EVERLASTING, PhP 35/order; which is I’m more familiar with. Everlasting is Marikina’s own.  I grew up with that dish made of grounded pork with green peas, some hotdogs, boiled egg and carrots for garnishing; similar to embotido but steamed in an aluminum container.  My relatives in Calumpang, Marikina and my late Lola used to cooked the best Everlasting, even better than that of Pan de Amerikana which was a bit soggy and has a bit poor consistency.  Nevertheless, their version satisfied my craving for Everlasting!


The servings of each dish were good enough for a diner with regular appetite. And I must say the prices were very budget-friendly.  After feasting on my pandesal, I dunked my spoon and fork at Waknatoy and Everlasting and sipped brewed coffee, PhP 15/ cup, in between. 

Tina ‘s breakfast choice other than Sardines Pandesal was DAING NA BANGUS MEAL, PhP 48. 


She enjoyed that boneless dried milkfish with vinegar. Perfect meal to start a day!

There were also desserts like Halo-Halo, Saba con yelo and others but we’re just so full to try those sweets.

With Pan de Amerikana’s homey ambiance, friendly service, free-wi-fi access, and to top it all – most affordable food, Tina and I envied the people living within the area. After rising from their beds or coming home from schools or offices, they can just go straight to Pan de Amerikana and savor that family-friendly bonding moments. :D


PAN de AMERIKANA, 92 Ordoñez St., Corner Maroon Concepcion Dos (near World of Butterflies) Marikina City/ Tel # (63-2) 934-0667 and 475-2398. Branch : 118 Katipunan Ave., White Plains, Quezon City.




Believe me, it wasn’t intentional.  We did not plan to eat  pig-out at a Pinoy restaurant on a holiday in honor of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination some 26 years back. But it was not that bad after all.

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It has been half a decade since we last dined at one of Cabalen’s branches in a mall. I admit that my parents are the ones who prefer it just as they like other food places that offer Filipino cuisine.  I and my wife are not fond of going out just to eat the same food that we have at our own dining table at home. In short, we’re not fan of home-style cooking, sorry.  But I have high regard with those establishments that made efforts in putting Filipino cuisine upfront. My wife and I with our friends enjoy CLASSIC CUISINE PHILIPPINES or C2  and CHEF LAUDICO’S BISTRO FILIPINO.  Both of these restos offer Pinoy food as gourmet and with nice twists and taste.  And did I tell you that CAFE ADRIATICO’s    Lola Ising’s adobo and Lolo’s pancit canton binondo are to-die for? :D

We could have eaten our brunch last Friday, August 21 at a pizza and pasta resto, or a fastfood perhaps, but for no particular reason, our feet were drawn to Cabalen’s all-day-buffet and there was no regret. 

My starters were a bowl of  beef stock with corn,  fried crispy kangkong with mayo dip, some mango and tomato salsa with bagoong and a slice of red salted egg, some onion rings and pork and tofu a.k.a. tokwa’t baboy…


Not bad actually.  Even in Kamayan whenever we dine at Dad’s Ultimate Buffet that includes Saisaki and, yes, Kamayan, I do not miss to munch on those cripsy kangkong.  I also liked Cabalen’s mango-tomato-bagoong salsa. The green mangoes were chopped to bits, which for me was the best rather than having unriped mangoes in chunks.

One of the Pinoy dishes I cannot resist is Kare-kare or stewed beef in peanut sauce with bagoong (again).  I like the peanut buttery sauce and the VEGGIES : string beans and egg plants, cooked with ox tripe and ox tail …- Good Heavens, I am salivating now as I write this! :D  


My second plate had Pampanga’s bests — from tocino ( I hope they don’t use salt peter), longganisa and atchara or pickled papaya.  I had Kare-kare too, and of course garlic rice.  I like the distinct taste of Cabalen’s longganisa, it’s so flavorful. Isn’t it obvious that I like local version of sausages? lol. From Vigan’s to Lucban’s, I like garlicky longganisa paired with tomato salsa!  Man, I can eat it any time of the day! 


My wife’s plate had similar dishes from Cabalen’s buffet spread except she sampled their fried chicken which I avoided for I had eaten too many of them over the past weeks.

For our desserts, Gabby, Tina and I tried Cabalen’s guinataan and halo-halo.  What I like about the minimal dessert spread was the presence of a huge bottle of coconut milk or kakang-gata. It’s actually an ingredient of guinumis – local cold sweet treat of crushed ice with coco milk, gulaman and pininig or rice crispies.  You can also make your own guinumis from the spread at Cabalen.

Tina suggested we put coconut milk over halo-halo instead of the usual evaporated milk.  As an obedient husband and a food enthusiast, I surrendered to her craving.  She was right; halo halo’s better with coco milk as we enjoyed it! We just added syrup to taste.  

The guinataan was also great with those strips of jackfruit and sweetened bananas and generous amounts of small balls of tapioca. IMG_3367

Everything tasted OK except for the red gulaman of the halo-halo. It tasted like soap suds for goodness sake! I immediately called the attention of the waited and told him of our concern.  He immediately responded by removing the square bowl of red gulaman from the spread and I noticed he reported the incident to his manager.  We were in a hurry as we already paid our bills so we did not spend time bringing the matter to the manager. I appreciated the move of the wait staff.  

We did not plan to eat at Cabalen, but nevertheless, we enjoyed it.  What we intently did last holiday was honoring Ninoy and Cory’s ideations and contributions to Philippine democracy by simply wearing yellow that day. 

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Cabalen’s Eat  All You Can P298 per adult; half price for kids; located at most malls in the Metro.

But wait!  While I was getting my food from the spread, I noticed a distinctly Kapampangan dish that I learned from Kuya Kim Atienza’s report in TV Patrol World ( a local news ) that this was one of Ninoy Aquino’s favorites…


Do you eat KAMARO or cricket ?  No offense to all Kapampangan, but I don’t.   I call myself a food enthusiast but not a dare-devil and an adventurous as you are.

To each his own.  :D




It was like all the constellations of stars and the galaxy of planets in the entire universe conspired that our overdue plan to dine at SPIRAL in SOFITEL PHILIPPINE PLAZA MANILA  finally pushed through last Tuesday.

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It was another gastronomic experience; a real feast to the sense!

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Anorexia was never in my vocabulary but  food enthusiasm!  I am just grateful that I am married to a nurse who thinks and eats the same wavelength as I do.  :) And thank Heavens we’re blessed with a son who at his young age, already developed the appreciation for good food (He wants to become an iron chef someday).   My wife Tina, our four-year old-son Gabby and I have been to some of Manila’s remarkable open-kitchen-buffets in hotels and a mall  (click each item to view my previous posts)… 





It’s hard to compare one with the other because all of them are a delight to the senses.  I know that to spend more than usual these days is considered vulgar for the fact there’s global economic crisis, but life is damn too short to let these beautiful chances pass.  We’re just fortunate to experience these beyond words (gluttonous grin) :D   Going to open-kitchen-buffets in hotels has been a little scary for me, because it’s habit-forming, lol.  But can you blame me?  

I first learned about Sofitel’s SPRIAL Mad Mondays and Thrifty Tuesdays  50% discount promo from one of the blogs I follow.  And it was really a perfect timing to EAT, CELEBRATE and BE MERRY for one of our colleagues will depart to Riyadh next week to work as a medical practitioner; so it was like a despedida for her but on a dutch treat, (read : KKB / kanya-kanyang bayad, lol).


promo ad photo sourced from chuvaness.

Sofitel’s SPIRAL + 50% discount + family & friends =EUPHORIC BLISS!

Tina made the reservation for 5 adults and one kid (our son/their godson) exactly 7 days prior to our dinner date.  We met our friends and at around 4:30PM, we’re at Sofitel lobby already. Since we’re an hour and a half early before the buffet opens, we took Gabby at the pool side and had a stroll to while away time (scroll down to view former post below).


My wife reserved the best spot in Spiral – the Chinese section!  Since it was still unpacked with hungry stomachs,  I took time to roam and click my point-and-shoot cam  (note to self: I should save for a DSLR).  Below is the immediate view where we’re seated. Looks like Iron-Chef Kitchen-come-alive! (another note to self : Why didn’t I think of becoming a chef?  Life isn’t over yet)  :D


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Here’s my first plate…

8I spared the salads and grabbed some Oriental stuffs — steamed and fried dimsums and peking duck were really appetizing.  The wrappers of steamed dimsums were just perfect! It wasn’t too mushy.  Hakao or shrimp dumplings had generous fillings….I love those plump shrimps!  There were also those yummy chives or kuchay a.k.a. vegetable dumplings…Spiral’s siomai is also a must-try. Sarap!   …Here are Peking duck and some other Chinese roasts…

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Tina had some cheese, cold cuts and those delicious super-thin-crust pizza. I swear those pizza slices are to-die-for! I may have tasted only a piece but I surely know my palate. :) If there’s one reason to go back to Spiral, definitely it’s there pizza!11

After few laughs and bites, I had my second plate : California maki, Philadelphia rolls, tuna and salmon sashimi, and some crustaceans…


I was disappointed with the spreads where I got this plate. There were FEW choices of SUSHI. The New Zealand mussels tasted bland. (Read : I hate to compare but in CIRCLES EVENTS CAFE at MAKATI SHANGRI LA HOTEL, their mussels rock!!! ).  I like it flavorful with some herbs and spices, instead of just a squeeze of lemon.  And trust me, we’ve been to Auckland, New Zealand for seven week-vacation before, mussels there really are the biggest!  Despite my discontentment, my wife still sampled Spiral’s seafoods to taste it herself…


 Here are the spread of those shellfish and sashimi…

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Commercial muna :   While people across ages and colors begin to fill Spiral, guess who we spotted ?  There were few celebrities like Ali Alejandro (son of Hadji) and tables adjacent to us had a local basketball superstar Marlou Aquino who was towering at 6 feet 9 inches might, and seated behind him was Buddy Zabala, a band member of a legend in Pinoy Pop music what else but E-heads!  My wife was too shy to ask them a photo-op with Gabby and neither I have the nerves to do it, so I just took this photo while our son Gabby was busy with his desserts without disturbing anyone.


Moving on… Let’s turn more into Japanese with these sake display and some tempura…

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If you have read some of my previous posts, you probably know now that one of my favorites is SUKIYAKI… And Spiral’s does not disappoint.  It has the marbled tender beef slices, delicately thick glass noodles, warm delicious broth, some veggies and tofu, ahhh…just writing about it makes me drool… :D

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Our son likes KANI (crab) TEMPURA so much, but there was none; there was only EBI (shrimp)…


I like Spiral’s version of Ebi tempura, I guess my wife agrees as well. The batter was thin, wasn’t too oily. 

This was my surf and turf plate…24With some cold cuts and Chinese roasts, I had spoonful of paella with tiger prawn and sausages and 2 thin slices of roast beef.  I like paella while my wife doesn’t favor it.  Spiral’s paella’s also good as their roast beef;  however the mushroom sauce of the beef was less buttery.   


All of us were almost satiated but no one resisted the sweet treats…


My sis-in-law, doc bibs had this plate… A crepe of mixed berries served with a scoop of berry-flavored ice cream, and a slice of cheesecake with tropical fruit toppings.  I failed to taste the crepe but she told me that she didn’t like the berries-with-chocoalte drizzle medley .. “To each his own.”

Now, this was my sampler… isn’t it drool-worthy  gorgeous?  30

I like that pinkish dessert at the back of my platter; it’s called Sugarfree Raspberry Panacotta – simply sublime. 

It’s never disturbing to grab a bite at each sweets because most of them were sugar-free even tasted sugarless for real!  And what’s best with desserts of Spiral, they’re in tiny bite-sized servings so it allows you to consume more and more and taste more and more… lol :D 


This was Tina’s plate. That small pumpkin-shaped dessert was from the Chinese section; it’s made of glutinous rice somewhat like kakanin to us Pinoys. 

There were mostly cheesecakes which I like best.  But as I was looking for some variety they somewhat tasted similar. :(

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Gabby munched on these delectable treats on the left, while the photo on the right shows Sprial chocolate fondue – as if one is not enough! you have the options of dipping fruits and mallows at  melted white or usual chocolate! Two thumbs up according to our son. :)  

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We didn’t end the nice dinner without photo-op with doc shiny who will leave the country for FAR better earnings.


Note to doc shiny :  Good luck shine, bilangin mo na ang mga buhangin sa Riyadh, lol… Don’t forget to buy us Saudi Gold and more of it! Papicture ka din sa kamelyo, lol :)

Doctors All : my dates last Tuesday…

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With all of those delectable desserts and whatnot, nothing beats the sweetest smiles of my family.

LOVE KO ‘TO…. :)

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Till our next food adventure;  happy eating ! 

Burp :)

SOFITEL PHILIPPINE PLAZA SPIRAL, CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City / (63-2) 832-6988.

For Mad Mondays, Thrifty Tuesdays promo that runs until July 27-28, we spent PhP 1122 nett per pax. My son ate for FREE as per usual local hotel buffet ruling for kids age less than 5. :) Kids rule!!!




TAPSILOG - a popular all-day-meal for most Pinoys but usually served at breakfast consisting of dried or cured beef or tapa, fried garlic rice or sinangag and fried egg or pritong itlog – hence its name; commonly garnished with atsara or pickled green papaya.  It’s suggested to be dipped in vinegar with chili for that added spice.  

This became a staple food once during my medical clerkship rotations back in 2000 to 2001.  And eating it again after almost a decade from the same food joint was indeed nostalgic for me. 

As one of the lowest in the hierarchy of medical staff  then, I was tasked not once but several times in different hospitals to list down the orders of the medical team on duty, order it through phone call every single meal time within the 24-sometimes-36-hour-duty-duration after deciding where to call for a  delivery.  Usually, the chief resident if not his or her subordinates decides on where and what to eat.  I’m not sure if it was still part of the medical training but nonetheless, that experience whatever you call it, taught me somehow that ‘patience is really a virtue’ and the importance of flexibility in dealing with various people and most essentially, the value of practicality when need arises.  

You can just imagine that eating again in this locally established food joint that now reached the Link in Ayala Center, Makati was sort of a blast-from-the-past for me.   When my wife Tina told me that she wanted to try for the very first time this popular combo-meal, it felt like my clerkship days were just yesterday.


And since I became so familiar with the sweet and spicy taste of TAPA QUEEN, I ordered it last weekend and Tina opted for TAPA KING which has the original flavor.  Each cost PhP 125 now.  

Our son Gabby tried to finish his bowl of champorado but failed to do so.  When I tasted it myself, I honestly thought its simplest recipe needs improvement.  You can never fool kids with taste or anything; they’re just so honest. 

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The taste of TAPSILOG from TAPA KING has been the same through the years.  What I liked most about foods from  TAPA KING include the tenderness of the beef and that very Pinoy sense in every plate.  

TAPA KING, the Link, Ayala Center, Makati City / tel # (63-2) 816-7520/816-7533.



Warning : This post contains gastronomically stimulating photos and you may want to have a glass of water with you while you view. Enjoy…

I celebrated Father’s day with my wife, Tina and our son, Gabby for two consecutive days at two different venues.  Needless to say, I’ve got the happiest stomach last weekend!

After Gabby and I got sick of mild viral infection last week, this year’s Daddy’s day out had more meaning by being thankful that we both regained our health as if nothing happened.  It’s but logical to enjoy the weekend and savor another family bonding moment.  We attended anticipated mass last Saturday afternoon at Greenbelt Chapel  (that I’m posting after this entry) after our hearty lunch in Glorietta 3.   Amidst the countless restaurants in Makati, there’s one spot where Gabby loves kani tempura  the best… yes, our 4-year-old son already prefers crab tempura better than hotdogs and burgers!  So we usually have buffet brunch or dinner at one of the affordable buffets in the Metro, where else but…



That’s my first platter of sushi, tempura and few slices of sashimi from Saisaki.  Dad’s Ultimate Buffet includes Saisaki and Kamayan that offer Japanese and Pinoy food spreads respectively (and continental for Dad’s).  We always have these blue plates which also mean cross-over buffet or access to those 3 buffet sections. 

And just after finding our table at Saisaki, the manager on duty  (ispooting na ispooting in tux, LOL) asked us if we would like our Ebi tempura to be served at our table (so as to avoid stampede at the buffet spread-JOKE!), he got my approval ofcourse!  I was too weak to resist, LOL.


Then I walked through the open kitchen where I found my favorite Japanese soup Sukiyaki  (I’m not a fan of miso soup, sorry), while  Gabby opted for the thick and creamy seafood chowder from Kamayan.   Take your pick…

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Surprisingly,  SAISAKI was having a theme of SUSHI IN THE CITY (a delicious spoof of sex and the city series) so the spread of sushi and sashimi improved a lot better since we last dined there few months back.  The yummies were presented more stimulating to the palate and to eyes.  If you like these Japanese starters, feast your eyes on this spread… (I repeat : these plates were at spread, not on our table, LOL)

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There’s an art in every roll…

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It’s advisable to call and make a reservation for table/s  or at least to be early before the doors open at 11AM for lunch or at 6PM for dinner buffet.  We were just on time for lunch last Saturday and I’ve clicked my cam on those gastronomic delights.  Those tamago rolls (egg)  are one of my favorites, with California maki and other sushi. The tuna and salmon sashimi were just right at every slice, without that fishy after taste, they were really perfect for soyed wasabi! 

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By mere posting this I’m craving again for those yummy sushi!   Tina had her own preference, this was her plate… 8

I like that shredded crab sticks with Japanese sticky rice and generous slice of ripe mango wrapped in nori;  my wife shared it to me and it was really sarap!

Now if you don’t fancy those sushi and sashimi, I can’t blame you but you should know you’re missing the world, LOL, anyway, you might be interested with the other spread most especially the desserts…

Before those delightful sweets, let me show you the plate I didn’t finish… well, almost. I just stuffed and hid the few slices of left-overs with tissue papers and used chopsticks … This was my carnivorous-protein-rich platter from Dad’s and Kamayan… While on the right was my surprised gift from Enervon prime adult milk given by a promo lady.

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The roasted pig’s skin was crispy as expected. I also enjoyed the salty sweet ham from Dad’s but I was surprised that the staff in the carving station put 3 slices of ham on my plate when I only asked for one. I didn’t notice it because my eyes were glued to the other dishes, LOL.   So I failed to eat them all, sayang.  The roast beef was not that tender. I asked for 2 slices from the medium well-done part but still it didn’t pass my expectation. But the Lengua from Dad’s is always a winner for me.  The slices were far from having gum-consistency and the mushroom gravy was also perfect.  Tina also had ceasars salad from this spread which she shared with me. It’s healthy to eat fruits and veggies in between during buffet dining…

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There’s so much more food in Kamayan but we only had few bites of bibingka with muscovado and puto-bumbong…

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On with those desserts :  This was Gabby’s plate after he munched on those kani tempura.


His mom got those for him from these plates at the buffet…

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Tina and Gabby got scoops of ice cream in strawberry, mocha and chocolate flavors.  The scoops were also bottomless however we only had these cups and tasted other favorite sweet treats…


While Gabby was enjoying these bite-sized cakes and pastries, I got some fibrous fruits from Saisaki and Tina had Buco-pandan from Kamayan…

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When I paid the bill, I asked the manager to validate my DAD’S  HAPPY DINER card (which they hand in to customers after dining) and by doing so, we’ve completed 10 required signatures thus we’re already given one FREE BUFFET on our next visit (Mon-Thurs) before August 19.  Count few weeks and we’re off to Dad’s again, LOL.

After each buffet in Makati, whether it’s on Dad’s Saisaki Kamayan or in hotels (we’ve tried Dusit Thani and Shangri La’s Circles Events Cafe, you may want to hit my search engine here to view those posts) we always try to roam the entire Makati shopping district, LOL, to burn those calories and cholesterol we ingested.   So after that “ultimate” lunch, we strolled Landmark, Glorietta and Greenbelt which I’ll post next…




Ultimate Buffet costs PhP 590 for adults, half price for kids.



What can be more comforting during cold rainy weather than a warm bowl of congee with boiled egg served homemade by your love one, naks!    These were what my wife Tina prepared for me and our son Gabby the other day as our late afternoon snack.  Other than that irresistable rice porridge topped with crispy fried wonton wrappers and browned garlic, she also prepared and deep-fried vegetable rolls  a.k.a. pritong lumpia  with sour dip made of vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chopped onions and salt and pepper.  IMG_1731

A couple of hours after savoring this hearty snack, Tina served the dish I fondly call “Killing-Me-Softly” LOL.  IMG_1693The plate had pieces of deep-fried pigskin, a.k.a. crunchy chicharon or pork cracklings, and few chunks of deep-fried pork knuckle and pork leg a.k.a. as crispy pata.  She prepared it herself.  I know it isn’t healthy, and to say that it’s fatty is such an understatement, but what can I do?  Resistance is futile, LOL.  I was weak to say no!  It’s crunchy and cripsy and we don’t eat it daily anyway, LOL. We only eat it once in a blue moon (defensive!).

I just wish I had taken a lipid-lowering agent or could have ran a mile after that fatty dinner.  Eating vegetables and fiber-rich diet can also wash off excess cholesterol from the systems.

Another hit during rainy season, at least for us Pinoys, other than hot soups are champorado or chocolate porridge, with tuyo or fried fish and milk, freshly oven-baked pan de sal and a cup of coffee.

What are your cravings during “bed”-weather ?



I was extremely surprised seeing its size as I came home from work last night… IMG_1685Its size was overwhelming!

Its fragrance was pleasantly overpowering it lorded our entire space.2I only saw its fraction as my wife and our housemaid already sliced it into half… Imagine its entirety!

3Its sweet fruity scent emanated from its starchy and fibrous flesh.


Do you like jackfruit ?

Well, we do,  especially if it’s huge and sweet.  Best of all, it was given to us for free!



What dishes of jackfruit do you like?  What about the seeds, do you cook and/or eat them too?


It can be roasted just like chestnuts or simply eaten after few minutes of boiling.

Well, my wife Tina prepared a common merienda as our dessert last night : turon with langka.


Turon is a Filipino dessert made of banana and jackfruit wrapped in an eggroll wrapper.

With its multivatimins, antioxidants, potassium and fibers, I call it POWER TURON!



Have you tasted BIBINGKA SOUFFLE ?  If you haven’t, read on and enjoy…

“C2 serves the best Filipino food in the country today, bar none, and not just because the portions and the prices make it a steal. The food is good at any price.” – Teodoro L. Locsin, View Quarterly Magazine, Sept-to-Nov. 2006.

My wife Tina and I went to Megamall yesterday to while away time after goint to our costurera who lives quite near the area and does most of our uniforms and blazers. Ofcourse our malling won’t be complete without food!  It’s another chance to eat something new to our palate.  We walked straight to Mega Atrium at the mall’s third level, to look for a dining place that we haven’t tried before.  We’re looking to satisfy our late afternoon-early dinner craving – I just wanted something heavy and to taste something sweet. And after few minutes of being ambivalent, strolling from one resto to another, we read a poster with the above quote at the C2’s entrance. Found it was compelling, so we gave it a try.    


The interiors was simple, never intimidating, with mirrored walls to create an illusion of space, and contemporary colorful designs in the ceilings.  The menu was equally impressive!  We ordered these…

BAM-I,  PhP 260.  A combination of egg and rice noodles sauteed with shrimps, chicken and Chinese sausage. 


BAM- I is a dish from Nothern Mindanao and the Visayas, popular in the entire country as miki-bihon/miki-sotanghon(vermicelli) pancit.

GOTO,  PhP 120.   Homestyle porridge of ox-tripe topped with fried tofu, spring onions and garlic chips.


The fried diced tofu was served separately.  This goto was delicious but only good for one serving.

I’ve tried PANDAN ICED TEA, PhP 60, which had a cool refreshing taste far different from the usual iced tea flavors.  Sarap!!!   And it was served in a bamboo-like tall glass with pandan leaf and calamansi, nice!  My glass here was already half full because I immediately sipped it the moment it was served.   Also look at the seasoning per table – see how appetizing those sleek bottles of soy sauce, patis/fish sauce, and capsicum and garlic dipped in vinegar are.


And to capped the heavy All-day-merienda we had from C2, we also tried this…

BIBINGKA SOUFFLE,  PhP 145.  C2’s award-winning dessert – light and fluffy blend of coconut custard, salted egg, quezo de bola and toasted coconut…. IT WAS TRULY A WINNER! SARAP, A MUST-TRY!!!


How innovative! I never thought even with wildest imagination that bibingka (rice cake) can be recreated into a more modern delicious dessert.  I am so familiar with bibingka and have had tasted quite a number of recipes from various restos, but this one is so uncommon and new.  And the waiter politely asked us if it was our first time to try it, and if we already knew how it should be eaten.  He gladly demonstrated to us how C2’s Bibingka Souffle should be enjoyed.  Here’s how…

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We’re told to create a small opening at the bibingka, then pour its sauce which was a mixture of evaporated milk and toasted coconut. Allow few seconds for the mixture to settle inside the bibingka, for the salted egg and the coconut custard to absorb it. See how light and fluffy it is…


If there’s one best reason to come back for more C2 experience, it’s definitely this bibingka souffle. 


C2 Classic Cuisine Philippines, 3rd Level Mega Atrium, Building A, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City.  Tel #s (63-2) 470-1149,  470-1152.  They also have branches at the Ledge, Shangri La Mall, Mandaluyong City,  Powerplant Mall in Makati City, Robinson’s Place Manila, and soon to open Summit Ridge in Tagaytay City.



Apparently I am not content with our celebratory lunch date for mother’s day yesterday because the restaurant my wife and I chose was far from being impressive.  Totally wrong decision!  So I made an effort to convince her for us to try Cafe Adriatico in Gateway mall, Araneta Center this afternoon, to compensate for the bad experience we had yesterday.  This time, it was a sure winner!

Good thing we dined there to have our late merienda/early dinner on a Monday when it wasn’t packed.  We got to enjoy the ambiance and food before we went shopping for our weekly needs to a nearby grocery.

From the wide choices in the menu, to the interiors, to the VERY FRIENDLY and EFFICIENT SERVICE, I highly commend Cafe Adriatico, Gateway!  The wait-staff was courteous and attentive; everyone was smiling at us! Nice!

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It’s interiors from floor to ceiling is arresting!  The tables and chairs are so simple yet very comfortable.

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Freebies :  fish crackers                                           Fresh mango juice, PhP 75;   Iced tea PhP 55.

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Gabby had this PAN DE SAL with KESONG PUTI and butter, served with TSOKOLATE  E,  PhP 135.  The pair of pan de sal had its distinct taste, the kesong puti serving was ample, and the cup of hot chocolate with peanut buttery taste was a unique Pinoy alternative to coffee.

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Then I was excited to try Cafe Adriatico’s Lola Ising’s ADOBO  or Adobo rice as it’s called by Ms. CZVS of her widely-read blog where I discovered that this food place is amazing.  But she dines at its original Malate branch.  As I’ve stated, the ADOBO here is served at its best. Being the commonest Filipino dish, I guess it’s hard to serve it with a twist or at least to make it spunky but Cafe Adriatico was successful in doing so. Their adobo recipe is a must-try!  Spareribs were tenderized and served in a soyed rice with achara as side dish.



Tina wanted to eat noodles so she ordered pancit canton. It was again served with distinct TSINOY (Chinese-Pinoy/Filipino) taste.  While we’re savoring its taste, we wondered what ingredients were used for it to be that delicious. It’s another usual favorite yet it can impose as another gastronomic stimulant.



As we know our son’s preference for something sweet, Tina ordered LECHE FLAN for Gabby.  When I tasted it myself,  the flan didn’t appear to my palate as the usual egg yolk-milk-and-sugar, but it had a twist of having a lemony taste.  Sarap!  

Leche Flan, PhP 68.


Cafe Adriatico Gateway also serves breakfast as early as 7AM, I’m excited to try it and as well as the other entrees.



Cafe Adriatico-Gateway

G/F Gateway Mall, Araneta Center

Quezon City.

*Prices inclusive of 12% VAT but exclusive of 10% service charge.



I believe in anything creative and innovative especially if it’ll champion anything Pinoy. 


One of my college friends of 16 years and counting,  Rob  usually comes home every 3 months from his work abroad. Now that he’s here again, I and my wife Tina asked him with another best friend LG to try weekend brunch at  Chef Laudico BISTRO FILIPINO at the Fort.  When friends agreed, we made a reservation and the staff of the said resto immediately emailed me of the menu featuring more than 50 of their dishes.

The staff who received my reservation call told me that the weekend eat-all-you-can brunch which is offered at PhP 788 adults and PhP 488  for kids below 10 years old;  prices plus VAT and service charge,  all food served at plated half of their ala carte portions, starts at 10AM & ends at 3PM.  We came in early in full pack only to find out that they’ll open late at few minutes before  11AM.   So we strolled along the 3rd Avenue and  found this sculptured monument of fishermen as we crossed the street going to a common favorite fastfood for quick drinks and apple pies.  


Poetic, isn’t it ?   After few minutes, we headed back to the resto…


Somehow, I already had expectations from this restaurant that promotes Pinoy cuisine at its best not only because that I got the menu a day before in my Inbox, but I read tons of comments and saw some photos of its food posted on blogs.  There are positives but ofcourse, there also the opposites as cliche goes, “you can’t please everybody.”   My wife & son, 2 friends and I were a bit disappointed to its late opening yesterday.  Had the staff clearly emphasized that they’ll open at past 10:30AM or 11, then we could have arrived at a later time.  I guess punctuality is a must in service. 

Just the same, I also expected the best from what I’ve read about Bistro Filipino, my little fretting on its late opening was changed into amazement at the simple but inviting exteriors of the restaurant & its very romantic Filipino interiors.  First, I was drawn to its logo out of metallic sun & 3 stars; indeed very Pinoy, depicting features of the Philippine flag with a woven sawali  at its corner.  It looks tribal and yet very Pinoy.    EyeLikeIt!


The interiors is more dramatic than its exteriors ofcourse.  Its entrance alone is already attractive with capiz chandeliers to welcome you and sinamay drapes dividing the restaurant into 3 longitudinal dining areas.   


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The intricate details are spontaneous and consistent  to the small, clean toilets where Pinoy tribal arts served as damask stenciled prints that were sponge-painted on blue walls continuous to the ceiling; the toilets are not only well interiored but more importantly adequately equipped with essentials.  

The walls at the ends of each dining area are provided with huge antique-looking mirrors creating an illusion of distance and depth on the interiors of the resto.  Here’s the end with round mirror….  


Then here’s the wall with rectangular mirror…


I don’t know about you, but I like the middle area where we brunched.

Because we found our place under the green stars, figuratively.  

We were seated under this romantic black chandeliers with faux emeralds.


Now, the menu.  It’s creative and innovative.  It’s apparent that Chef Laudico Bistro Filipino attempts to elevate Philippine cuisine to where it should be.  I am not a chef and far from being a culinary arts expert but  I highly believe that our own dishes should be recognize as a global cuisine just like japanese, continental, chinese, thai, mideterranean  and others.  Bistro Filipino is one of those gourmet restos that serves well-prepared and high quality food however, improvement on taste of FEW dishes won’t hurt but will do more good.

So here are the dishes my wife, kid and 2 friends feasted on from Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino…

 img_0542            121 133SISIG BASKET :  ingenious serving of bite-sized pork sisig, with thin slice of quail egg at its bottom.

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TUNA KILAWIN ROLL :  raw and tangy!

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STUFFED FISH BALLS (left) :  nothing unusual, really.                    

PRITO FRIO (right) : a better version of okoy made special with shrimps, squid rings and another seafood i missed out.  It comes with 3 various dips that were uncommon to my palate.  I like this appetizer.  

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SHITAKE MUSHROOM SOUP (left) :  I don’t know about our best friends but my wife and I like this soup so much. There’s the distinguishing taste of the mushroom itself, sarap!

3 KINDS of MANGO SALAD (right) : I had this one and as a sucker for anything with mango, LOVE IT!


EGGPLANT TORTA with SPICY CRAB : my friend Rob  generously shared portion of his omelette to me and Tina.  Never expected tortang talong can go so gourmet!  Bravo! LOL.


GARDEN SALAD (with choice of dressing) :  LG had this one. Never tasted it, so no comment =)


US  ANGUS BEEF KARE-KARE :  I ordered this because I’m a huge Kare-kare fanatic; quite OK, only that beef was shredded, why?  


WAGYU and LENGUA ESTOFADO :   I, Tina & LG ordered this dish and I was so excited to grab my knife at the WAGYU BEEF but I think we’re one in saying that it’s probably (still) best eaten as a STEAK for not to be overpowered with the sauce.  I understand how estofado should taste and there’s nothing wrong with its sauce; only that we didn’t get to taste the WAGYU! Plus the lengua could have been sliced thinly and not served as an obvious chunk of ox tongue.  The sauce, the lengua all compete with the WAGYU, in the end nothing wins!  =(



SALMON  ESCABECHE  Sayang, only my friends tasted this plate.

When we called the waiter to order for something more, we all felt we’re all satiated but I myself was weak to resist the other dishes on the menu. So we tried some more…  It was time for the PASTA…

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PRAWNS and BURONG MUSTASA (left) : I had this plate. I highly commend Chef Roland Laudico for being so daring on using a very Filipino green with one of my favorite seafood (no one, for me, goes wrong with shrimps!) but I honestly cannot appreciate the pasta probably because I’m already full at that time, but my palate was craving for some kick at this pasta and found nothing.

CALAMARI with CRAB ROE (right) :  LG and my wife Tina had each share of this pasta. But Tina didn’t get to finish it so (not to avoid the PhP 100 fine for every unfinished plate, but it was again, sayang) she fast-break  it to my plate.  Again, I’m such a seafood lover and I’m someone who wouldn’t pass on something with shrimp, or squid, moreso with crabs! But this pasta has (for the lack of a better term) an overpowering taste (again!) plus we found it too DRY!  Don’t get me wrong, I like pasta whether it has tomato/cream/herb/oil-based sauce/s, but this was just too strong for me.  To each his own, right?      

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ALL SMILES for the GOURMET SILOG! : my wife Tina & our son Gabby.
US  ANGUS BEEF TAPA with GARLIC RICE stuffeed in TOMATOES with EGG with SALTED EGG CUCUMBER SALSA :  This one’s a winner for me!  TAPSILOG at its best! plus thanks to the chef-creator, I’ll make his salted egg and cucumber salsa a  home-baon-favorite !
Finally, the DESSERTS…. Usual Filipino sweets were never given such recognition until this resto gave it a best shot.
MAJA BLANCA CHEESECAKE :  I’m so easy to please and EyeLOVEthis!  Another ingenuity of Chef Laudico! Putting the common merienda maja blanca into cheesecake was really something!  But what caught my discriminating taste was the use of COCONUT JAM as its drizzle. Another MUST-TRY from this resto! TWO-THUMBS UP!
BANANA  Q  TART  :  Another creative innovation of a simple favorite Pinoy snack.  Never tasted this one, my friend Rob had his fork on this, but I think it’s also perfect to end a sumptuos buffet.
DECONSTRUCTED SANS RIVAL :  I am so familiar with the common sans rival but this one from Bistro Filipino was truly deconstructed. I think it’s a misnomer to call it sans rival for it tasted like macaroons or chewy sticky rice cake;  just sooooooooo far from the usual sans rival. I just didn’t get its taste, sorry.
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Just when all of us four were enjoying and discriminating the taste of this brunch, my son Gabby was having his time at these 2 choco-treats.  I just had them on photos, not on my palate. 
Our drinks included lemongrass iced tea, iced and hot tea, brewed coffee. The brunch also offers assorted sodas and sampaloc (tamarind) juice (gotta try it next time!).
I’m very particular at service of any establishment, especially when I know that they’re charging it on our bill. The staffs of Chef Laudico Bistro Filipino, in all fairness, were discreet in getting orders and courteous and polite but IMO, they should add their volume to compensate on the number of diners.  It was not only that they opened late
yesterday, but some of our beverages and food were also served late.  Again the biggest room in the world is IMPROVEMENT. 
Nevertheless, with its romantic FILIPINO INTERIORS, and some really tasteful innovation of PINOY FOOD especially the desserts and some entrees, I’d still bring my family and friends AGAIN to Chef Laudico BISTRO FILIPINO for us to enjoy other dishes on the menu.  It’s recommended for most balikbayans who are longing for Filipino cuisine with a twist.   
Medical Dose :  Ingestion of something rich with carbohydrates is the stimulus of INSULIN secretion from the beta cells of the pancreas.  Once an individual eats, his brain stimulates the Islets of Langerhans specifically the beta cells to release INSULIN to carry and transport the product of  catabolism(breakdown) of carbohydrates which are simple sugars or glucose towards liver cells or hepatocytes, muscle cells or myocytes, fat cells or adipocytes for it to be deposited as GLYCOGEN (stored glucose) in the process known as Glycogenesis.  Once EATING is BEYOND 2 HOURS, such as in BUFFET EATING, the individual develops HYPERGLYCEMIA or increase glucose level in the blood because the brain can only stimulate INSULIN SECRETION for only 60 to 90 minutes or less than 2 hours. 


My wife, Tina texted me this afternoon while she was on-way home from her 6am to 2pm shift in the Operating Room of a private hospital in Quezon City as a clinical instructor, to ask me if I wanted to try eating snacks at PenPen. We’ve been reading about this “comfort food place” from other blogs & we’d like to experience it ourselves. Since I’m enjoying the last day of my off from work, & my son Gabby also wanted to eat out (he’s craving for chocolate frapuccino of Starbucks Coffee, one of his favorite at his age of 4), we finally gave it a try.

I found PenPen as an upscale carinderia . The place can be spotted easily. It is a small airconditioned eatery located in a corner of a street from Tomas Morato in Quezon City where we live few kilometers away. The entire place, I guess, can only accomodate 30 to 40 people at its first floor (I’m not sure if they also allow dining upstairs) with 6 to 7 palo-china tables & chairs, which I like, they’re homey!  The yellow-painted walls are nearly bare except for few frames of the house specialties. Do not expect interiors similar or at par with other restos along Morato, you won’t find it in Pen pen. But as I have stated, it’s homey & comfy, perfect for barkadas (friends), small families who are looking for an affordable daily dining place.


PenPen offers Pinoy staples like pan de sal with choices of palaman (filling), crispiest liempo (deep-fried thinly sliced pork belly), & spicy bicol express (pork cooked in spicy coconut milk) to name a few of their specialties & other usual favorites. It’s owned by the wife of the veteran Philippine actor, Mr. Pen Medina (hence its name!) & their son, Ping, who’s a character actor in TV & most indie films, also helps out.

We tried PenPen’s crispiest liempo, PhP 125.


It’s cripiest, yes! but don’t expect that it’ll be served in a huge platter, LOL.
C’mmon, with prices of a kilo of pork & cooking oil nowadays, what can you expect from its serving?  You get what you pay for, of course. But I cannot say anything bad with its taste.  It’s saltiness is best dipped in vinegar & you’ll be sky-rocketted to the seventh heavens! Just be  careful with atherosclerosis, hypertension & other cardiovascular disorders that may result from too much intake of these fatty & salty foods. Ouch!

Then we ordered pan de sal which were so affordable at PhP 45 each.
I had the pan de sal with special home-made ham…

I like it ! It’s a breather from the usual hamburger of commercial fast foods.

But my wife Tina was a bit disappointed with her pan de sal with kesong puti (white cheese). The bread was good, but the slice of kesong puti was so thin she barely tasted it. Plus it was described in the menu to be served with pesto, but there was none. =(

Nonetheless, PenPen is better than other eateries around.
They also accept catering.
and to my surprise, Pen Pen  also offers wi-fi access!


105-C Scout Castor Street,
South Triangle, Quezon City.



I left the house the other day for some errands;
I needed to go early so I managed to eat breakfast late outside.
I found myself in BUTTER DINER which is a stone throw away
from Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

At first, I was skeptical to eat my first meal for that day there
for I saw some people drinking buckets of beer early in the morning.
Those guys probably just finished their work shift at a nearby call center.
Heck, my stomach was screaming for something
so I had this plate soon after I walked in to order…

four bacon strips, 2 scrambled eggs, french toasts with maple syrup & butter & a mug of hot brewed coffee

four bacon strips, 2 scrambled eggs, french toasts with maple syrup & butter & a mug of hot brewed coffee

this meal was decent enough for less than PhP 200 including charges.

It was my first time in BUTTER DINER but it existed since God knows when
at the ground floor of Shopwise in Araneta Center, Cubao.
The waiter had a smile & was friendly & quick to take the orders.


The interiors was hip, only if they have kept it more crisp & tidy.
There was a feeling of 70s to 80s era inside that small resto
where memorabilia from those years in Hollywood, both in music & movies
were used as decors on the wooden & glass walls.

red shoes as telephone ? mirror, mirror on the wall..

red shoes as telephone ? mirror, mirror on the wall..

A couple of hours after, I met my son Gabby & wife Tina
at Gateway mall before we hit the grocery.
It was lunch time then so we decided to eat.

fiesta rice, seasoned ground beef, fiesta salsa salad, potato bites with cheese sauce

fiesta rice, seasoned ground beef, fiesta salsa salad, potato bites with cheese sauce

PhP 129, another affordable meal !

It was OK but too plain for me.
Tina asked me if I wanted something for dessert.
I suggested Razon’s Halo-Halo.

summer in manila won't be complete without it

summer in manila won't be complete without it

PhP 73 per Halo-Halo.
Not bad for thinly crushed ice, which I so love
very unlikely of the other Halo-halo that taste like ice-pebbles, lol.
It only has leche flan, macapuno & sweet bananas as “halo”
making it uniquely Razon’s. =)


Butter Diner
G/F Shopwise Araneta Center Cubao
Tel # (63-2) 421-0030

Taco Bell
Ground floor & Level 3
Food Express, Gateway Mall
Araneta Center, Cubao

Razon’s of Guagua
Level 3 Food Express, Gateway Mall
Araneta Center, Cubao
Quezon City.



Yesterday, Tina & I decided to bring Gabby to
Dad’s, Saisaki, Kamayan’s Ultimate buffet in Glorietta.
It’s been awhile since we had those “blue plates” (read : used for crossover buffet).

I like their HAPPY DINER’s promo card that entitles the bearer to one FREE BUFFET after completing 10 validations. Being frequent patrons, we already claimed one free buffet few months ago & at present we only need one more “blue plate” to complete a new HAPPY DINER’s promo card.

Here’s a quick peek at what we had on those blue plates…

my plate

my plate

My first blue plate was almost full of jap rolls, kani tempura, tamago rolls,
& grilled pork slices & squid skewers…
I also had sukiyaki which was OK, hot
& was served with a smile from the jap cook station,
it was sweet and bit salty, with tender beef slices, glass noodles & some veggies
but that of Umu in Dusit Thani (read my former post) was to-die-for,
perfectly marbled beef served with delicious broth sent me to the seventh heavens.

my wife's

my wife's

Tina requested for EBI TEMPURA and one of the waiters brought this to our table…

to share

to share

I also had slices of Dad’s ham, roast beef, & lengua in mushroom sauce,
(fyi, I only eat lengua in Dad’s) coupled with paella…

carnivorous plate

carnivorous plate

Little bit of Asia…

asian mix : jap rice, roasted pork, crispy kangkong, sweet n spicy dilis

asian mix : jap rice, roasted pork, crispy kangkong, sweet n spicy dilis

Kamayan’s pride : Bibingka served with coconut shavings, margarine & muscovado..



Our four-year old son Gabby had these on his plate as starters…

immediately sweets!

immediately sweets!

Gabby also had one glass of refillable iced tea that came with a colorful fish stuffed toy.
All in all of our 3 blue plates (crossover buffet/dad’s ultimate buffet) + bottomless iced tea inclusive of all taxes & charges : PhP 1421.
(we only paid half price for Gabby).
It’s a steal, don’t you think?

Dad’s, Saisaki, Kamayan
2nd Floor, Glorietta 3
Ayala Center, Makati City
Tel # (63-2) 892-8897; 892-8898.



The morning after Gabby’s win from his declamation contest, Tina, Gabby & I went Eastwood City, Serendra & Bonifacio High Street just to have another weekend of family bonding.

We went to Something Fishy in Eastwood to avail of their buffet breakfast. It wasn’t our first time to dine there but after today, I’m not sure if it’ll be our last.



I & Tina are very picky on food taste & service. Both of us are very particular on courtesy and smiles from waiters & resto staff. It makes dining a better experience if all of the crew is as pleasant as the food they serve. The service crew & staff of Something Fishy Grill & Bar did not offer a smile or welcoming gestures except for their security guard who also serves as their door man. IMO, the food on the buffet table of Something fishy was not that impressive. It’s just too plain for me & ordinary or something like “you-only-get-your-money’s-worth” kind of thing. It’s perhaps one of the cheapest eat-all-you-want-breakfast at PhP 114 per pax, exclusive of drinks, inclusive of charges, offered from 12MN till 10AM. We gave it a second shot after our rush buffet breakfast there a couple of weeks ago thinking that there might be changes on the menu list or at least a little improvement. We were disappointed because we were wishful thinkers hoping there would be new addition to their buffet menu list, but there was none. There was NO corn cereals, bacon, ham, fresh fruits, fish fillet, longanisa, tocino, pan de sal & other Pinoy breakfast favorites. Although I admit there are many food choices offered at their breakfast buffet, the taste is just mediocre for me. The fried eggs contained NO salt at all or at least there should have been a salt & pepper at the tables, the daing na bangus was less salty as well, the beef tapa was too oily, the palabok (or was it pancit malabon) was too bland. The price is ofcourse affordable but it should not discount the taste or the food quality. I believe there is always room for improvement & I just wish this establishment will consider doing this.



Moving on from a not-so-impressive dining experience, we walked around Eastwood City & made Gabby pose for some photos before goint to Serendra…



Then at around 7:30AM we were in Boni High Street already. Since most of the shops there open at 11AM, we took a stroll, read the Sunday broadsheets (FYI, I read Manila Bulletin, PDI, Phil. Star every Sunday AM), did some people-watching, just enjoyed the morning….


Tina took this photo while I was scanning the papers & Gabby was busy with his gameboy…


care for some green telephones? these tubes conduct sounds from end to end…


The fountain that looks like something from outer space. I so like it. Neat and edgy !



Bonifacio High Street also has these unusual but creative & playful stuffs, something for kids and the kids at heart…



Wish we have puppy(ies) to walk here. We both wanted a PUG, but aren’t sure if we can maintain it.








If God wills it one day, Tina & I with our kid(s) will have our own place in Tagaytay or wherever, definitely we’ll find a space for this trellis…




We found a store that sells toys, mostly collectible items & I just love these YODA icon and bubble heads…



These are sold in this store…


Our bonding is not complete without getting a dose of caffeine from wherelse but Starbucks Coffee…

img_4116 img_4110 img_4117 img_4119 img_4123 img_4113

We allowed Gabby to stroll alone, even tested him of what he’ll do when we leave him. We left him walking ahead of us in Serendra & we hid from him. When he found out that we’re out of sight, he quickly ran back towards where we were. What a reflex from a 4-year-old kid. Tina & I were glad to see he did not cry nor panic given the situation.


This is one of Ramon Orlina’s glass sculpture masterpieces which serves as a fountain & Serendra’s public attraction…




We tried CUPCAKES by Sonja in Serendra for the first time & liked it !!! The place, though small, is attractive with retro interiors in pastel colors. The cupcakes are good as they look. But again there were no smiles or kind gestures from the staff. I feel sorry for them because they’re not as pleasant as their work place & work gears…









Tina had the PEPPERMINT PATTY cupcake, PhP 68 (the one with pink whip, the base was tasty but the cream whip was too sweet), Gabby had the VANILLA SUNSHINE cupcake, PhP 55 (the one with a powder blue whip), & I had the PISTACHIO BERRIES & CREAM, PhP 85 (the one with white whip & green cupcake with thin slices of strawberries in between); we all agreed it’s the BEST among the 3, so yummy, flavorful & not to sweet… I did not expect cupcakes can be this yummy!


img_4156 img_4158 img_4157 img_4160 img_4151



The fridge of Cupcakes by Sonja is so hip in its light blue color…


They bake their cupcakes just before store’s opening and flavor it with these sweet treats…


And just before going home, we went to a public toilet in Serendra right across where Cupcakes is located & Tina can’t resist but to document how Ayala management keeps everything at its best. Even restrooms are posh, similar to toilets of premium hotels, fully airconditioned, clean, well-maintained with supplies of tissues & liquid soap with sensors, even had a landscaping of some greens at the center…



All in all, we ended the 2nd month of the year grateful to the Lord for everything & we’re happy & hopeful to start the month of March. =)



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…


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…



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


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


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!



the MEDITERRANEAN food section…


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



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


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


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






Now, these were our plates…

Tomato soup : creamy!



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


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


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



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!


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


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


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 ^_^


Tina’s desserts…


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

img_3714 img_3715

Can’t get enough of those sweets…



while Gabby was content with those sweet treats…


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



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!



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





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