Posts Tagged ‘Japanese food

29
Jun
13

HALF YEAR REPLAY : 2013

Looking back could strain the neck literally, but not when you realize that you have so much pleasant memories to be grateful for! When I painstakingly bent backward over my blog posts in the past 6 months, everything gradually flash back. The places we visited. The food we enjoyed. The people we met. The moments we experienced. 

It has been an overwhelming six months and I am so looking forward to greater things to come! 

JANUARY

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Chiang Mai Blog Series :

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Celebrations :  

FEBRUARY

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pinang peranakan mansion
jalan penang cendol
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MARCH

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Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
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penang's char koay teow from lorong selamat, george town, penang via docgelo.com
BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARD MITBCA 2013

APRIL

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malacca @ docgelo.com
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sunrise, chew jetty, george town, penang, malaysia
penang assam laksa @ pasar air itam
penang assam laksa @ pasar air itam
Sambal Goreng by  Pearly Kee
My Nyonya dinner plate at  Pearly Kee's home
 

MAY

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may 9 2013 743pm thursday
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JUNE

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Stay tuned as God willing, the next months will be more awesome! :)

16
Jun
13

JUNE 15, 2013 : ONE OF OUR HAPPIEST SATURDAYS

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Malacca Strait & George Town, Penang viewed from our little balcony last June 13, ’13, Thursday.

Two days before the Father’s Day weekend, Tina and I arrived home from our office, Gabby from school at late afternoon. We were all greeted by gusty winds and big waves from the Malacca Strait via our little balcony at our 11th floor apartment. Little did we know that scenes in Pulau Pinang were even worse as telecom tower, electric poles and numerous trees already fell to the streets in George Town, Penang. We sat and prayed together and tried to calm down Gabby who was too anxious of the sight and sound of seemingly impending storm. But for three 3 years of stay in this side of Malaysia, I know they don’t issue typhoon signals unlike in our country, The Philippines. And true enough what appeared to last as unfavorable weather for whole night, thankfully ended an hour or so. We were relieved.

The next day, we went to work again, and Gabby to school as usual with a sunshiny climate. The weather was confirmed to be Bipolar, perhaps, even Schizoid. :)  Tina didn’t rely on her instincts but googled the weather forecast online. No threat or warning to spoil our plans for the weekend. We were again relieved.  

Saturday came and we hopped on the bus at around 9AM, boarded the ferry at jetty in Penang Sentral and reached the island safely.

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All smiles aboard the ferry from Butterworth to George Town.

It was almost 10AM and (thankfully) the sun was shining its brightest. We strolled from jetty in Weld Quay to Gat Lebuh Armenian simply to see two of the 11 (soon to be established) new sets of murals with cats as theme.
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Cat mural #2 located at Gat Lebuh Armenian.  How do you like it?

Finally, we met Skippy,  the meow meow of the 11 cat murals in George Town. Have you seen a bigger cat mural than Skippy?

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Skippy the cat and the black rodent mural located at Gat Lebuh Armenian. :)

After few touristy things, we strolled our way to catch the bus at Lebuh Chulia or Chulia Street. We passed by one of the remarkable heritage sites in George Town, the clan house or kongsi of Cheah family with its newly installed gates. It looks grand as ever!

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Cheah Kongsi. Gates are open to welcome tourists at month-long George Town Festival 2013.

Rode the bus, got off Komtar and went up the 8th level of First Avenue Mall in George Town to buy movie tickets for afternoon screening. After which, we hurriedly went down and took the cab, despite the fact that our next destination can be reached by foot, we didn’t want to be late to our 11AM reservation to an eat-all-you-want-Asian restaurant in a mall that we’ve never been to.

Penang Times Square

With only lunch buffet at our initial game plan, we managed to make our weekend memorable again.

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My love. My life. :)

Haven Delights, Penang Times Square

It’s our first time at Penang Times Square and apparently, first time to dine at Haven Delights. Before someone makes a conclusion that everything here’s far from reasonable, let me be defensive in stating that it was Tina’s idea to buy discount-vouchers from groupon.my when she saw online that Asian Buffet in Haven Delights was on promosi. We only paid RM 56 (USD 17.96) for the buffet meals good for 2, and didn’t pay anything for Gabby as per text message of the manager of Haven Delights when he apologized to something I chose not to write about. After all, the misunderstanding was already settled and our eat-all-you-want-lunch turned out better than expected.

Similar to its adjacent buffet restaurant, TAO that we already sampled from another branch, Haven Delights offers a spread that includes free flow of fruit juices and iced green tea. Other than that, the rest is served upon order from their buffet menu. Surprisingly, we noticed Haven Delight’s buffet menu has wide variety to choose from. The interiors and overall ambiance aren’t cheap, although I suggest for them to have a better choice of house music that must go with the buffet theme. Nonetheless, those red lanterns, and cozy lights aptly set the mood for Asian gastronomic experience. To be honest, it wasn’t the best buffet we’ve sampled but for its price, it was an absoulte steal for the three of us! Happy Father’s Day to me! Happy me! :)

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It was also our very first time to purchase voucher at groupon.my and it was indeed a good buy!  At least, our first impressions were all nice. Now, on to business. If you’ve been following this blog for quite some time now, you know that I have been keeping a love affair with Japanese. I like how creative their dishes are; I appreciate how Japanese cuisine provides both art and sustenance. So when Tina told me that the restaurant she chose via groupon.my in Penang features Japanese food among other Asian delights, I gave it a nod in no time! :)

This is the rundown of what we tried from the buffet menu… Drum roll, please! :)

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Miso soup from the spread. Warm and nice.

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Mussels No. 1 as they called it but to us, they’re Baked Mussels. Cheesy. We liked!

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Szechuan Beef. Surprisingly tender, tasteful, everything’s right. Recommended!

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Temaki. Soft Shelled Crab & California Hand Roll. Gabby and I shared these two; thumbs up! :)

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Santen Sashimi. Sashimi, for as long as fresh, remains my favorite so I’m biased with this bowl.

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Motoyaki Scallops. Another must-try, another personal favorite but size of scallops was a bit disappointing.

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Salted Pepper Mantis. Go order this too at Haven Delights. Bite-sized goodness!

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Orange Pork Chop. We frequently order the Crispy Lemon Chicken from a Chinese restaurant back home; this one reminded us of that.

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My world revolves and rotates for Gabby & Tina. :)

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Ebi Sushi, Salmon Sushi. Need I say more?

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Mixed Tempura. There was no Ebi Tempura alone, so Gabby opted for the next best thing.

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Haven Special Maki, Smoked Eel Roll. Improvement on the maki-making would make it better.

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Eat, Pray, Love.

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Lamb Teriyaki over Japanese Rice from the spread. Tina’s plate -she said this combo was fine.

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Motoyaki Scallops, round two : 5 orders. Yum! Yummier if only they’re bigger.

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Ebi Mango Sushi and other delightful things on our table.

 
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Haven delights customers particularly during dinner could eat al fresco with the view of George Town’s streets and diversity. Case in point, the Catholic Church stands almost behind the Hindu Temple with no conflicts, whatsoever.
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Penang, we’ll surely miss you one day! Thank you for everything!

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One more shot, with the mighty, Komatar this time. It’s the tallest building in the island. Iconic, isn’t it?

Lunch buffet starts at 11:30PM with taking of the last orders from diners at 2PM.  We finished past 1PM. Burp! :) Just when I thought we’re heading back to First Avenue Mall to watch the 2:45PM screening of the newest remake of Superman movie, Man of Steel, we saw another restaurant that was featured on groupon.my called, Full House.

Gabby wanted dessert while Tina and I were craving for our caffeine doses. We gave in. We tried Full House too, for the very first time.

FullHouse Restaurant, Penang Times Square

It’s not difficult to be charmed with the space, interiors and menu of FullHouse. It’s a lifestyle store that also sells T-shirts and some novelty items to match the incredibly dainty epicurean experience. We only had coffee and for Gabby, a serving of creme brulee but dining at Full House felt like so fresh and pleasant. I predict that we’ll drop again to sample entrees and other offerings soon.

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Best thing that we do while waiting for orders : freeze the moments via photographs. And when the orders are served, take pictures again! It’s a habit hard to break. Can you blame Tina and I if the cups of our caffeine came with art?

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Latte for me. RM8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The cute coffee art made me smile, the taste made me satisfied.
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Cappuccino for Tina. RM 8.90++ (USD 2.85++). The blend passed Tina’s meticulous taste!
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Creme Brulee RM 10.90++ (USD 3.50++) and Choco Blended RM 9.90++ (USD 3.17++) for Gabby. :)
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We left Full House in Penang Times Square with wider smiles and happier tummies. We crossed the road and took a taxi cab again, in order not to be late at the 2:45PM screening of Man of Steel.

Man of Steel at First Avenue Mall

It has been several months since the three of us last watched a movie together, popcorn (and upcoming movie, Monster University’s) tumbler of Coke are a must! :)

 
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Before and after the Man of Steel movie, Gabby made a statement to us by saying,

Ben 10 is better than Superman; he got more powers!” 

Oh well, he grew up with his breed of animated characters and fictional heroes on screen but seriously, we all enjoyed this action-packed Superman movie. The treatment to the story and twist was made contemporary different from the previous ones.  I didn’t browse anything about it prior watching, so I was stunned to see Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Amy Adams casted as support to Henry Cavill’s iconic role. I was in awe in every second of the movie. We literally finished our caramel popcorn which unusually happens in other movies. It was that entertaining!

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What else can I say but I was happiest with my family that Saturday! I may not have everything but they’re my greatest blessings! :D

Till our next family bonding! Enjoy your celebrations, everyone!

*Haven Delights | No. 77-L1-34, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*FullHouse |No. 77-G-20-21,61-65, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato Keramat, 10150, Penang, My.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

07
Jun
13

JAPANESE DINNER + FRENCH DESSERTS IN SINGAPORE

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A taste of Paris in Singapore at Antoinette.

25 May 2013, Saturday. Singapore. Perhaps of all the posts I made about food on this blog, this one’s the most satiating because it’s filled with gratitude; the dinner happened because of a humble appreciation and ended giving all of us a perpetual inspiration.

I already forgot the date and the specific blog post where I randomly featured one of our ordinary family day outs, one weekend in Pizza Hut; it must be in Prangin Mall branch in George Town, Penang. If you must know, Pizza Hut and KFC are two of my family’s ultimate favorites. KFC’s an almost default fast food choice for Tina and I, particularly on Fridays when we have 2-and-a-half-hour-lunch-break, because a branch is located a few minutes away from where we currently work. While Gabby’s always delighted at Pizza Hut’s all cheese pizza deluxe, sans toppings, made with cheesy lava stuffed crust the same way he loves KFC and its gravy.

The said unsponsored blog post was incidentally read the Culinary Manager of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell for Northeast and Southeast Asia who happens to be a fellow Filipino based in Singapore (Bravo for his achievements, Mabuhay for his humility!).

I only learned that Dennis read it when he personally sent his words of thanks for blogging about Pizza Hut via email (I hope he’s fine about mentioning his name without his surname, as he begged off not to be publicized on this blog – the reason why I didn’t include our group photos together with Filipino foodie-couple bloggers now based in Singapore, Fran and Paul). Frankly, comments of readers on my posts are one of the reasons that fuel me to blog, more so, if readers and loyal blog followers would take efforts in sending me an email; it’s like icing on the cake! It’s something petty to others but very fulfilling to me.

Fast forward to my 6th blog anniversary post last May 8th 2013 where I blogged that my family and I were invited by two sponsors to revisit Singapore, Dennis emailed me again, but this time to invite us for dinner as according to him, it’s his way of appreciating my blog post about their product. Initially, the invite sounded like too good to be true because gratitude nowadays is a rarity but his act of kindness and generosity proved my cynicism was wrong. More than his professional achievements (he’s also a dentist, btw), we perceived him as someone who always keeps everything in a low-key, totally opposite of the magnitude of his status. And for that, we were blessed to have met a new friend who’s so inspiring!

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En route to our dinner, we saw an impressive Oriental mural at MRT Station, Tajong Pagar, Singapore.

He was even gracious to ask us of our food preferences and suggested choices of a Chinese, Japanese and French restaurants. We ended up with a simple but a happy and memorable dinner at Hakumai at International Plaza Building in Anson Road, and perfectly ended the night with sublime desserts in a very quintessential French dining place in Erskine Road, Antoinette.

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Like authentic dining places in Japan, Hakumai’s entrance is humble and unassuming.

We reached the place few minutes earlier of our 7PM reserved dinner at Hakumai via a very quick ride at MRT from Bugis.  Not long after, Dennis arrived, followed by our blogger friends -husband and wife, Paul and Fran Ang of www.frannywanny.com. The dinner was so casual, friendly and very welcoming! It was one of those nights you wish would happen again soon! It was that good! :D

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私の家族 (my family) : Gabby and Tina

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Hakumai’s appetizers : some tasteful salmon and blanched greens

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Gabby’s dinner : his favorite, Ebi Tempura; less the battered chili

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Hakumai Sushi Gozen. Tina’s beautiful bento came with 9 pcs of assorted Sushi, 4 pcs of Salmon Mentai Maki, Truffle Sauce Chawanmushi, Botan Jiru, Salad and Fruits, SGD 38++

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Sashimi Gozen. My delicious choice was served with Mixed Sashimi, Tempura Moriawase, Hot Soba, Truffle Sauce Chawanmushi, Salad and Fruits, SGD 29.80++

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Must have detail shot of my bento. Those sashimi were stunning! Fresh and tasteful.

Fran, Paul and our host, Dennis had varied choices as well that looked equally appetizing. I was personally awed by the fact Hakumai sources their fish for sashimi and sushi from no less than, Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. Not to forget that Hakumai’s  Singaporean Chef Gary, Dennis’ good friend, really prepared everything so well! Needless to say, we had nothing but one of our best dinners to date.

We washed down everything with iced green tea and soda for Gabby. Then Dennis generously asked us to pick a flavor of sorbet each.

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Sorbet from Hakumai. The hands-down-favorite was that tangy orange sorbet. I have no words to describe its uniquely unforgettable flavor!

After our dinner, Dennis took us to Antoinette for desserts. The place was small but the offerings were grand and divine!

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Ma famille (my family) : Gabby and Tina at Antoinette

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Le Macaron D’Antoinette.

“Antoinette : Milk chocolate earl grey tea ganache with raspberry confiture
Tahiti : Tahitian perfumed vanilla cream
Charlotte : Vanilla cream with strawberry coulis
Chloe : Citrus yogurt with yuzu
Britanny : Caramel with fleur de sel
Praline : Milk chocolate with crispy hazelnut biscuit
Pistachio : Pistachio cream with chopped pistachio
Rose : Rose petal cream
Violette : Violet flower cream
Sesame : Black sesame cream with toasted black and white sesame seed
Grand cru : Bitter dark chocolate
Passion : Milk chocolate passion fruit ganache” ~via www.antoinette.com.sg

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What we sampled from Antoinette, courtesy of Dennis…

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Macarons. Lavishly delicious!

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I wish I got this dessert’s name.  It looks so whimsical.

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Kyoto. Green tea mascarpone mousse, chestnut cremeux, almond cremble, green tea finger sponge.

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One of the richest chocolate slices I’ve tasted.

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Antoinette. Milk chocolate mousse, infused with earl grey tea, chocolate biscuit, dark chocolate earl grey tea cremeux, raspberry coulis, earl grey tea crumble.

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Hot Chocolate. We all had glasses of cold water while Gabby savored hot chocolate and Dennis his dose of caffeine.

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Strawberyy Shortcake. Japanese shortcake sponge, kirsch syrup, fresh strawberries, creme chantilly.

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We’re happy diners! Photo taken by Paul Ang, the better half of Fran. Thank you, Paul and Fran!

Words are not enough to thank Dennis. I am also pleased to introduce Tina and Gabby to Paul and Fran that night. It was really awesome! We hope to see them again in the near future! Thank you very much! :D

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

*Most photos on this post were taken by my lovely wife, Tina. :)

*Ingredients of what we sampled from Antoinette were sourced via  www.antoinette.com.sg while that of Hakumai were taken from their menu.

This post is a part of Singapore Blog Series May 2013 :

27
Mar
13

OUR FAMILY WEEKEND INDULGENCE AT EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

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A priceless scenic ocean view, a fantastic glimpse of Penang Bridge by the window and the warmest greetings on the nicest card welcomed my family and I last Saturday, 23rd March 2013, when we were invited to spend a usual weekend turned extraordinary one in Eastin Hotel Penang.

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One of the sweetest greeting cards I’ve ever received.

Accessibility is one of the best selling points of Eastin Hotel Penang. Whether you are coming from Penang International Airport, Penang Mainland or Seberang Prai via the iconic Penang Bridge, or one of Malaysia’s World Heritage Sites, George Town, Eastin Hotel Penang is just located a few minutes away either by public and tourist buses, private cars or ferry. Best, the hotel’s a stone throw away from hawker food stalls where the foodie in you can sample cheap and authentic local dishes from Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines (although you can also savor them from the hotel’s F&B outlets’ menu), and adjacently located with one of the island’s most visited and largest malls, Queensbay Mall!

With almost 3 years of working and living in Penang, it was only last weekend that we set foot in Eastin Hotel; I thought it was never too late to discover another gem in this side of Malaysia. We appreciate the invitation given by Eastin Hotel Penang for us to experience what makes them different and special from the rest.

From the hotel lobby, we were ushered by the most accomodating & friendliest staffs at the 11th floor and while on the lift, I had to ask them if all elevator units in the hotel are dimly lit. I got a positive response making me wish for a brighter lifts. Othe than that, excitement heightened.

It was a love at first sight! 

We loved EASTIN DELUXE SUITE!!! Our 8-year-old-son, Gabby’s the happiest! :)

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Jump for joy upon the sight of Eastin Deluxe Suite!

Now that blissful expression was taken before he opened the gifts from Eastin Hotel Penang. This defined how thoughtful and sweet the people behind this hotel are! Thank you very much! :)

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First adjective that popped out upon the sight of our 56-square-meter, one bedroom suite : Minimalist.

First impression : Wow! (I wished I invented post-its! Running joke between Tina & I from the movie, Romy & Michelle High School Reunion, lol!) The room surely will appeal to businessmen and leisure travelers. But did it meet our family’s expectations? Read on.

While I do not deny the fact that seeing something whimsical or edgy is sometimes fascinating,  having only what you need in the cleanest lines and tasteful interiors (without clutter and yes, without any plastic plants and floral curtains) is always fresh and rejuvenating.

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We certainly had one of our restful sleeps in Eastin Deluxe Suite’s comfortable king-size-bed. I liked the bed so much however, I wished the pillows are a bit firmer. But Tina & Gabby had no qualms about the feathery pillows; it must be me! hahaha! :)

With free and fast wifi access, apparently, Eastin Deluxe Suite is perfect for businessmen, honeymooners, a bunch of friends and yes, even family with kids! It certainly provides no-frill-comfort and convenience.

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The very spacious suite is equipped with a luxurious living area with a sofa that’s big enough to fit the hyperextended-me, a wardrobe that keeps a flat iron & an ironing board, a safe and a shoe rack; the room also has an LCD TV with cable channels (another unit is generously installed in the bedroom), and a complimentary bar.

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The room’s huge enough to offer a separate powder room where Tina reigned for two days, a full length mirror, a toilet, shower & bath that’s even the most discerning ones would give a thumbs-up.

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toilet & bath eastin hotel penang

I didn’t feel short with the bath tub. The size of the tub effortlessly accomodated the 5’7 1/2″ in me (don’t forget the half inch in height! i reckon! lol); I had slept 30 minutes in the tub, almost fully soaked in lukewarm water. It was so relaxing it nearly melted all my worries away!

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Go ahead, ask our son if he enjoyed the tub! :)

I also liked this little business corner at the living room. If only they have installed more than two sockets and a few more gadget plugs, it could’ve been better, nonetheless, it doesn’t disappoint.

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Actually, the nook became more impressive at night when Gabby lorded it like a boss!

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And just so you know, this one’s candid. Tee hee! :)

At few minutes past 5PM, we went to the lobby to meet again the Marketing & Communications people of Eastin Hotel Penang, Selene & Joanne. They exclusively toured my family and I for few minutes to some of Eastin Hotel Penang’s rooms and facilities. I must state, we enjoyed it as it doesn’t come on a daily basis!
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Far from being boring, the hallways display vibrant visual attractions via abstract paintings that are continuously echoed in various rooms at Eastin Hotel Penang.

Our first stop : The Deluxe Rooms with Hillview (and the other Deluxe Room with Seaview). These well appointed rooms apparently were designed to provide both function and ease to either businessmen, leisure travelers or families. With such contemporary style and amenities, one’s definite of a comfortable and delightful stay.

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Eastin Hotel Penang also has Friendly Suite Room, called as such because it’s built to cater to the needs of elderly and physically-challenged guests. Another room that’s remarkable with Eastin’s their Family Suite Room which at the time of our visit was occupied. Good to know, I told our hosts. Then there’s that Soho Duplex Room that has few similarities to Family Suite Room. Probably it’s unique in most, if not all premier hotels here in Penang. Let the succeeding photos defined how Soho Duplex Room looks like.

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Beautiful, isn’t it? (My family and the Soho Duplex Room!)

Expectedly, Eastin Hotel Penang also has a fitness center, a spa (not in photo) and a swimming pool.

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Located at the third level of the hotel, the swimming pool gives everyone a sweeping view of the skyline, roads leading to Penang International Airport and yes, Queensbay Mall! Did we take a dip? Negative. Not because we didn’t feel like it but Gabby preferred to savor our suite the next morning after the buffet breakfast; told you it was that relaxing! But the swimming pool looks really inviting!

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Passing through hallways of Eastin Hotel Penang, we saw some guests interviewing applicants for jobs, proving that Eastin caters to businessmen and the like. We also peeked at its function rooms and ballrooms where special events and momentous occasions are usually  celebrated.

After that brief hotel tour, we trooped to the Executive Lounge which is only accessible by hotel guests who upgrade their packages. With more soothing ambiance, wonderful view of the ocean, contemporary and minimalist interiors, and a shelf with reading materials from travel & fashion magazines to broadsheets can be savored over a free flowing cups of coffee or tea, sodas or wine and some cheese, English scones, sushi, bite-size pizza, cold cuts and more! Here’s a peek at our late afternoon tea time!

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Yum, yum, yum!

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The High Tea at the Executive Lounge is a great prelude to the delicious dinner buffet we had! Did I already mention that this spot also serves breakfast? Courteous & efficient staff, quick and attentive service. Delicious bites. Awesome, isn’t it?

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doc gelo gabby & tina at the executive lounge, eastin hotel penang
No captions needed; the smiles said it all!

Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang

JAPANESE DINNER BUFFET @ SWEZ BRASSERIE, EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

One of the highlights of our staycation at Eastin Hotel Penang was the Japanese Dinner Buffet hosted by none other than, Swez Brasserie’s Senior Sous Chef, Daniel Tan. Chef Daniel heads the Swez Brasserie where he and his team offer a wide variety of international and local favorites. It was a pleasure meeting him as Gabby desires to become a chef someday. Talking to the main man responsible for the sumptuous spread was such a nice opportunity. While Tina and Gabby were busy filling their dinner plates, Chef Daniel casually informed me that everything in the buffet is Halal making me more impressed as I somehow knew how challenging Japanese cuisine to be done with no pork or its derivatives (Read : No Pork Tonkatsu!). I told Chef Daniel that despite I’m far from being a food critic and a no authority in Japanese cuisine, my palates have tasted authentic Japanese dishes during my 14-day-trip in Tokyo back in 2005. The dinner buffet, to simply put it, was satisfyingly good! My family and I were pleased with what he and his team prepared. Bravo, Chef Daniel!

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Freshest sashimi! Yummy!!!

Sharkfin’s soup, sushi, sashimi and more!

Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
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Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang

How could you not be impressed with this Japanese themed eat-all-you-want dinner being offered every Saturdays in Swez Brasserie at Eastin Hotel Penang with OKONOMIYAKI (the so-called Japanese pizza), SOFT SHELLED CRABS that aren’t usual in other hotel buffets and so much more? Other than a variety of sushi and sashimi, they also have one of my ulitmate favorites, that sweet and salty beefy (they have chicken too) SUKIYAKI!!! :) Not to forget, Chef Daniel offered to do a platter of kani, ebi and veggie tempura for all of us after learning Gabby likes it!

Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Oishii!!! :D

Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Shameless display of one of my plates! Sukiyaki, Okonomiyaki, Unagi, Baked Oysters,  Salmon, and those Skewered Grilled Beef – so tasteful and very tender!

Desserts were Japanese themed too! There were mochi and some jelly balls of some sorts! Interestingly good!

Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang
Japanese Buffet, Swez Brasserie, Eastin Hotel Penang

We didn’t miss the opportunity to have a photo-op with Chef Daniel, a couple of friendly staffs of Swez Brasserie and the ladies behind the MarCom of Eastin Hotel Penang, Selene and Joanne. Thank you so much!

Senior Sous Chef Daniel Tan & Gabby
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THE LOBBY LOUNGE @ EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

Just when we thought the day was over, Selene and Joanne led us to the opposite end of the lobby where The Lobby Lounge is located. We met the manager of the bar, had some drinks from their menu (Mojito, Singapore Sling, Strawberry Ice Cream Blend and Kiwi mixed Shake), watched and met the Filipina singer after their set and absorbed all in and capped the night!

the lounge at eastin hotel penang
the lounge at eastin hotel penang
the lounge at eastin hotel penang
the lounge at eastin hotel penang
the lounge eastin hotel penang

BREAKFAST BUFFET @ SWEZ BRASSERIE, EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

We woke up with excitement to sample the breakfast offering! Good Sunday morning, Eastin!

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I was silently jumping for joy seeing two choices of congee (plain & seafood congee filled with shrimps and scallops) with several choices of toppings. Too perfect to warm my tummy!

breakfast buffet, eastin hotel penang

Char siew pao, prawn dumplings, and other dim sums, beef bacon strips, (and another favorite of Tina and me; drum roll please) smoked salmon, assorted fresh fruit slices, strawberry and mixed berries yoghurt, DIY-salad were some of the offerings on the spread we enjoyed. Gabby had fresh juices while the coffee addicts in Tina and I were truly satisfied.

breakfast buffet, eastin hotel penang
One of the best tasting Congee!

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breakfast buffet eastin hotel penang 3
breakfast buffet, eastin hotel penang
So many food, so little time! :D

breakfast buffet, eastin hotel penang

HIGH TEA | SUNDAY LUNCH BUFFET @ SWEZ BRASSERIE, EASTIN HOTEL PENANG

Our overnight staycation at Eastin Hotel Penang was nothing but pleasant accomodation and nearly non-stop gastronomic feasts! What a blessing! Few hours after a very heavy breakfast came lunch time! The 3 of us avoided rice intentionally to sample a little bit of almost everything from the High Tea spread.

High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
There were many local dishes featured in Swez Brasserie’s Sunday High Tea – Rendang, Curry, Nasi Lemak, Sotong & Udang Dishes, but my eyes were attracted to this Mixed Veggies while my palates loved their version of Chicken Satay that blended so well with its Peanut Sauce (some satay I’ve previously tasted had overpowering gingery taste; this one’s from Eastin tasted just fine). The Roasted Duck & Chicken were also must-sample! However, the Chicken Shawarma was a let down according to Tina.

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High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang

Plates for the three of us-self-proclaimed foodies!
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
Bow!

The Children’s Corner at Swez Brasserie’s High Tea | Lunch Buffet last Sunday was something commendable! Our kiddo’s happy with the “treasures” he found on that spread!

High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
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High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
Bubur Gandum (Wheat Sweet Porridge)-Malaysian equivalent to Philippine’s Guinataang Mais. LIKE!!!

I’m already so full but I wanted to sample their version of another popular Malaysian dessert – Ais Kacang (reminds me so much of the Filipino, Halo-halo). When I went to its station, the Assistant Sous Chef suggested to his junior to make a colorful Ais Kacang, something that will look extra pleasing to the cam. As per his instruction, my bowl of Ais Kacang was made of all the sweet ingredients on the table, and instead of having them under the dome of shaved ice, mine had everything as toppings! Beautiful!

High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang
High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang

Tina and I ended our unforgettable digestive feasts with a cup of coffee but I made mine more sinful. I tried to marry the coffee and ice cream stations and made an affogato instead of the usual dose of caffeine! :)

High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang

The people of Eastin Hotel were super generous, they even allowed us to avail of a late-check-out at 2PM!

High Tea, Sunday Eastin Hotel Penang

Despite our very short stay at Eastin Hotel Penang, our family felt so at ease with their hospitable and courteous service, comfortable and spacious room, guest-friendly amenities and very wide variety of delicious treats! Who says Eastin Hotel Penang is only for businessmen? It’s so family-friendly too!

Thank you very much, Eastin Hotel Penang!

We’re more than grateful with the experience!

My family and I can proudly say that we highly recommend Eastin Hotel Penang! :D

EASTIN HOTEL PENANG | 1 Solok Bayan Indah, Queensbay 11900  Bayan Lepas, Penang, Malaysia | www.eastinhotel-penang.com

>><<

*While this is a sponsored post, all words and opinions on this blog aren’t influenced and remain 100% my own.

Special thanks goes to Criz Lai of www.crizfood.com

09
Dec
12

THE 2012 OF BEYOND TOXICITY @ DOCGELO.COM

THANK YOU, 2012!

It’s only mid-December and the BEST SEASON, the BEST CELEBRATIONS are yet to come.

Despite all problems, challenges and daily hassles, counting blessings makes life more meaningful.

Words are not enough to express my gratitude for everything that happened to this personal passion called blogging.

Allow me to press the replay button, and sentimentally share with you once more

the vibrant and happy colors that made our family’s 2012 a kaleidoscope!

>>><<<

May 2012 : BEST EXPAT BLOG AWARDS from MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA

May 2012 BlogAwardsMay 2012 MITBCA

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/09/2012-ministry-of-tourism-malaysia-best-expat-blog/

January 2012 :  BATU CAVES, KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

January 2012 Batu Caves

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/01/27/caves-and-bears/

January 2012 :  PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS SKYBRIDGE VISIT

January 2012 Petronas Twin Towers

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/01/21/our-fun-homage-to-malaysias-magnificence/

February 2012 : HONG KONG DISNEYLAND THEME PARK & HOTEL SPONSORED TRIP

Feb 2012 HKDisney
February 2012 HK Disneyland
February 2012 Hong Kong Disneyland
February 2012 HKDL

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/02/23/our-hong-kong-disneyland-trip-2012-arrival-lunch/

http://docgelo.com/2012/02/27/our-hong-kong-disnyeland-trip-2012-spectacular-burst-of-colors/

http://docgelo.com/2012/03/01/our-hong-kong-disneyland-trip-2012-timeless-magic/

May 2012 : HAVING MY OWN DOMAIN + BLOG HEADER

blog header

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/25/happy-blogging/

May 2012 : AN INVITATION from @ SAKAE SUSHI, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG

May 2012 Sakae Sushi
May 2012 SS

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/28/love-affair-with-japanese-food-continues/

May 2012 :  INVITATION to PENANG SPICE TRAIL from MINISTRY OF TOURISM MALAYSIA PENANG BRANCH

May 2012 Penang Spice Trail

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/05/22/penang-spice-trail-enticing-sensory-experience/

June 2012 : SHOWCASING GEORGE TOWN, PENANG 

June 2012 Penang Street Art

June 2012 Street arts Penang
June 2012 GT
June 2012 Intro to George Town
June 2012 GT Penang

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/06/24/how-i-introduced-george-town-penang/

July 2012 : PHOTO PUBLISHED ON LONELY PLANET ASIA MAGAZINE

July 2012 LP
July 2012 Lonely Planet

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/07/17/surreal/

July 2012 : INVITATION from SINGAPORE BLOG AWARDS  | FAR EAST HOSPITALITY HOTELS -

OASIA HOTEL SPONSORED 3D2N ACCOMODATION

INVITATION from MARINA BAY SANDS SKYPARK | HARRY POTTER EXHIBITION -

ANDY WARHOL EXHIBITION

jULY 2012 MBS Sg a1 bar
July 2012 Sg MBS
July 2012 Sg Harry Potter
July 2012 Oasia
July 2012 Sg Blog Awards
cooled conservatories from sands skypark, marina bay sands
marina bay sands, gardens by the bay

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/25/oasia-my-oasis-in-singapore-2012/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/28/marina-bay-sands-my-awesome-experience/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/08/infinite-dose-of-spring-gardens-by-the-bay/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/05/singapore-on-greater-heights/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/27/a-bloggers-weekend-in-singapore-lah/

July 2012 : HARD ROCK HOTEL PENANG SPONSORED 3D2N ACCOMODATION

July 2012 HRHP
July 2012 HRHOTEL
July 2012 Hard Rock
July 2012 HRHP 2
July 2012 HRHP room
July 2012 HRHP 3

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/01/glorious-food-porn-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

http://docgelo.com/2012/07/31/our-rock-roll-family-weekend-hard-rock-hotel-penang/

 August 2012 : BANGKOK, THAILAND

photography inside tuk tukgrand palace 7
grand palace 10
grand palace 20
grand palace 21reclining buddha
reclining buddha
buddha's face in wat pho
mystic place bangkok 16
mystic place bangkok 4tina & gabby at amari watergate lobby
daddy's boy heichinrou bangkok

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/20/bangkok-series-2012-grand-palace/

http://docgelo.com/2012/09/01/bangkok-2012-series-golden-reclining-buddha/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/23/bangkok-2012-series-we-highly-recommend-mystic-place/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/25/bangkok-2012-series-chatuchak-weekend-market/

http://docgelo.com/2012/09/04/bangkok-2012-series-heichinrou/

http://docgelo.com/2012/08/28/bangkok-2012-series-penang-bangkok-penang-via-bus/

September 2012 : INVITATION from LEGOLAND MALAYSIA

1 legoland malaysia
137 legoland malaysia
60 legoland malaysia

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/09/22/our-legoland-malaysia-experience-2012/

September 2012 : SINGAPORE ONCE MORE WITH TINA & GABBY

july 2012 singapore

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/09/29/a-saturday-in-singapore/

October 2012 : FINALIST in PHOTO CONTEST @ CHINAHOUSE,

GEORGE TOWN, PENANG, MALAYSIA

chinahouse george town penang

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/11/we-got-free-brunch-chinahouse/

November 2012 : EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to FOOD TASTING @ FEAST VILLAGE,

STARHILL GALLERY.

SKYBAR @ TRADERS HOTEL | CHYNNA @ HILTON HOTEL | 7ATENINE @ ASCOTT  

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

2
10starhill tea salonpetronas twin towersANS_13927atenine

blog posts :

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/17/village-bar-an-underground-fantasy/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/20/my-delicious-afternoon-at-feast-village-starhill-gallery/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/14/intoxicating-views/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/24/7atenine/

http://docgelo.com/2012/11/23/dining-chinese/

November 2012 : SPONSORED AIRLINE FOOD REVIEW

November 2012 Airline Food Review

blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/11/26/malaysian-dishes-on-air-an-airline-food-review/

December 2012 : PHOTOSHOOT for FAMILY PORTRAIT @ MACALISTER MANSION, PENANG

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blog post : http://docgelo.com/2012/12/02/weekend-at-macalister-mansion/

We commissioned one of the brilliant Malaysian photographers from Penang to do our family photos on the first day of December for an hour of unlimited shots at a very reasonable cost and a week after, he posted these two teaser-proofs on his facebook account. The rest of the photos will be delivered in weeks time.

family portrait december 1 2012
family portrait

As of this blogging, I’m also waiting for the result of ExpatBlogs.Com Best Expat Blog Awards

of which my site is nominated and currently 3rd among 13 expat blogs in Malaysia

(blog post : http://docgelo.com/support-docgelo/).

I’m also excited to share my interview and blog feature on InterNations.Org based in Germany soon!

On a more serious note,

Thank you to those people who lifted our spirits during our lowest moments this year.

Thank you to those generous souls who helped us in so many ways during those trying times.

Thank you to my blog readers, followers and fellow bloggers who have been a constant inspiration.

Advance Happy Holidays! A Blessed Christmas And A More Prosperous New Year to all of us!

THANK YOU SO MUCH, LORD ALMIGHTY!

All Glory and Honor is Yours, Now and Forever!

>>><<<

This is also my entry to Weekly Photo Challenge : My 2012 In Pictures

09
Oct
12

CELEBRATORY FEAST : GABBY’S EIGHTH BIRTHDAY

It was already late evening of Friday, October 5th, 2012 when I got a chance to view the attached photos on my Inbox sent by Gabby’s teacher & school owner taken using her iphone. I smiled and I appreciated the concern, love and care expressed to our son by his generous and thoughtful Malaysian-Chinese teacher. Thank you so much, Ms. Jasmine! The photos showed Gabby and his teacher’s son eating burgers and fries in McDonald’s after school; a simple birthday treat yet so special to Gabby and to us!  Tina and I really found it so heartwarming!

OUR SON IS LOVED; WE’RE GRATEFUL! :)

gabby and ethan

Because his birthday falls on a weekday this year, Friday to be exact, we chose not to absent ourselves from work and school thus, another extraordinary weekend was brewed.

Little did we know that Gabby told his teacher the reason why he’s not having  that ceremonial birthday cake candle blowing over the usual birthday song singing with party hats, some pasta and loot bags in school like what he used to have back home (If you’ve been following this blog, you’re familiar with Gabby’s SPONGEBOB THEMED 5TH BIRTHDAY PARTY ) it’s because we planned to celebrate his 8th birthday the way we know how : BUFFET!!! :)

Long before his big day, we already talked and decided where to spend it; and among the hotels and restaurants we’ve tried, a unanimous decision was made : G Hotel at Gurney Drive, Penang!

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UNBIASED OPINION OF A NON-SPONSORED DINING

Among the few premier hotels and restaurants in Penang that my family and I have sampled, G Cafe in G Hotel has always been remarkably pleasant. We like its polite and quick service, great tasting dishes with a wide variety but not overwhelming, and its contemporary and edgy, elegant and sophisticated but non-intimidating ambiance. Not to forget its reasonable and affordable cost for an eat-all-you-want dining on lunch, high tea or dinner. They even made it more budget-friendly as we availed of the 15% discount offer that we got for being Rapid Penang Bus commuters. :) Best of all, G Cafe staff granted my request for a FREE birthday cake with a candle to blow for Gabby! They gave an instant nod without hesitation; many thanks to that! :D

There are other restaurants inside G Hotel and at G Cafe, there are two dining spots. It’s our third time to eat inside G Cafe’s airconditioned dining area and have not favored yet their open-air eating space.

So here’s where we sat and dined…
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And here’s a portion of their eat-all-you-want-spread that evening…
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I like their simple and minimalist display and fixtures that perfectly complemented the modern and somewhat masculine appeal of the entire all-day-dining-restaurant. I also think the use of BLUE tones in lighting and glasses excellent! It’s quite uncommon choice for restaurants yet so regal.

g cafe g hotel penang malaysia
G Cafe offers different themed dining every night and it was our second time to try their International Cuisine-BARBECUE NIGHT!
grilled prawns and meat g cafe g hotel penang
There were grilled prawns, grilled lamb, grilled fish, and grilled squid…
grilled goodies 2

Roasted lamb, anyone?
roasted lamb g cafe g hotel penang
Tina and I tried a few slices from the carving station but honestly, we’re not fanatics of lamb unlike the others despite G Cafe’s version was tender.

Usually, it’s a toss between salad and soup for me, I went for the latter first and enjoyed every spoonful of sweet corn and chicken soup! It was thick and superb! Really tasteful!

soup

But then again, I thought I am just a mere mortal and very weak to pass up on these yummies! Tee hee!
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I did not! We did not pass up on the salads. We had a little bit of everything!
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We liked the Smoked Duck Salad even though I was telling Tina how I missed G Cafe’s Prawn Salad (told you, they’ve variety every night!), the fusion of the smoked duck meat cut into strips and those mango and veggies in julienne cuts were an absolute match made in Penang! ;)

How about Smoked Salmon Salad that beautifully blended with those avocado cubes?
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Irresistible! Then you see more Hors d’oeuvre like different chunks and slices of cheese and biscuits…
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And then there’s this crunchy and sweet and a bit spicy dried fish called IKAN BILIS ISTIMEWA which to me was one of the most appetizing appetizers I’ve ever tasted! Or is it an entree? Hahaha!  FYI, istimewa means special!  It reminded me of  a locally dried fish back home called, Danggit, although it’s all salty and crunchy when fried, this Ikan Bilis Istimewa came with flavors and texture that burst every bite! Sarap! Sedap! It’s really something you’ll crave for! Delicious sans vinegar! I wish I had more servings!
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Meanwhile, here’s my salad plate…
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Tina’s seafood plate…
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Everything was fine particularly the salmon sashimi except for the scallops; they were flat and disappointing!
sushi and seafoods

While the birthday boy was certain of his choices…
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Our palates savored the sushi rolls too! I always profess my fascination to Japanese dishes. It’s amazing that they’re both art and nourishment at the same time! My love affair with sushi and sashimi makes me wonder if I’m half blood Japanese, hahaha!
sushi 1
sushi 4
sushi 2
sushi 3
Tina tried the Chicken Shawarma and Roasted Lamb. I tasted their version of Shawarma before and it didn’t impress my tastebuds. I’m still partial with similar Mediterranean favorite back home.
lamb and chicken shawarma
Tina’s plate filled with grilled stuffs…
grilled goodies 1
And here are my plates…
grilled goodies
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There were a lot more dishes on the spread and a noodle station that we failed to sample. Nonetheless, we made sure we reserved gastric space for desserts.

HYPERGLYCEMIA  : REDEFINED

desserts 0

In our third time to dine at G Cafe in G Hotel in our more than two years of being expatriates in Penang, we’re loving the fact that we have experienced the evolution of dessert offerings. Let the photos do the talking. Sweet, sweeter, sweetest! :D

desserts 8
desserts 9
desserts baskin robbins
Who knew my family and I could enjoy an eat-all-you-want Baskin Robbins ice cream? I don’t know about you, but for jologs like me, it’s a big deal already! A BIG PLUS for this buffet actually! ;)
So my sweet tooth became happier again with every scoop of Baskin Robbins included in the buffet spread. I had Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla which are two of my favorite flavors, I also had Strawberry Sherbet and Green Tea. I was content with just the scoops sans toppings and syrups. I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream or at least in this occasion.
desserts g cafe g hotel penang baskin robbins
While Tina was in bliss with her gummies toppings over her Baskin Robbins…
desserts g cafe g hotel penang baskin robbins 1
I wish all the sweets in the dessert spread had labels. Because there were none, I relied on my gustatory skills. These bite-sized cakes that tasted peanut butter at its creamiest earned my thumbs up!
desserts 10
Another must-try at G Cafe’s dessert spread is this beautiful pastry. Believe it or not, the filling inside those dark chocolate cream icings is a tiny strawberry –just imagine the tug-o-war of bitter-sweet taste of the dark chocolate against the sour-sweet taste of strawberry. The combination’s brilliant! Then each was sandwiched by a light chocolate meringue. Wonderful! The toothsome flavors and luxurious textures were so amazing! I’ll bring back my family there for these!
desserts 5
How about a munch-all-you-want macarons? Heavenly. Just heavenly.
desserts 3
The birthday boy loves cheesecake…We all do!
desserts 4
Mini Cupcakes, FTW!
desserts 6
I’m now lost for superlatives to describe these…*drooling*
desserts 7
desserts 2
desserts 1
One of Tina’s dessert plates… yes, one of them! :)
desserts g cafe g hotel penang 2
While here’s a shameless display of mine…
desserts g cafe g hotel penang 1
After a great and hearty meal, must have coffee.
coffee
And before you forget it’s Gabby’s 8th birthday celebration, here’s the documentation of that special moment…
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G Cafe at G Hotel became uberly generous again in granting my request to provide a FREE birthday cake with a candle for Gabby to blow. Thank you so much, G Cafe! …And just so you know, Gabby held the bread knife to slice his birthday cake just like a CIRUJANO would do an incision; we didn’t coach him to do so. :)
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The necessary family portrait…
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Happy 8th Birthday, son! WE LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!

___________________

*This is NOT a sponsored post for G Cafe at G Hotel, Penang. We wish! :D

 

05
Jul
12

DEFYING STRESS : YET ANOTHER FOOD PORN

We defy stress from a weeklong work and some bizaare challenges that come with living in another country by spending quality time together, either simply being lazy at home or going out on weekends. It breaks the monotony of our seemingly routinary lives here in Penang on weekdays (home-school-home for Gabby and home-work-home for Tina and me). Needless to say, we enjoy our togetherness longer every Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and during holidays, thus, we usually have efforts to make the most out of it (In Tagalog, SULIT!).

And whenever my family finds extra time and budget to go out, gastronomic adventures have been integral part of the fun! Frankly speaking, savoring good food has been therapeutic and a delightful measure to combat all the hassles away. Of course, the choice of food places and menu should always be unanimous among us!

Subway never fails to unleash the sandwich and cookie monsters in us. My family and I always opt to make our Subway sandwiches into a meal so that we get a cup of drink plus 2 cookies per sandwich, which we favor over a bag of Lays potato chips. Tina and Gabby love Chocolate and Double Chocolate cookies. While I also like their choices, I frequently go for Macadamia cookies; it’s deliciously good! Admittedly, Subway has been a favorite of the family. At reasonable and affordable cost, we get to savor freshness in every bite! :)

Before the clock hits 7PM when we watched Upin & Ipin, Live! at a carnival in AutoCity, Juru, Penang one Saturday, our tummies were filled by early dinner-cum-late-afternoon snack at Subway.  Gabby had Roast Chicken-no veggies, just mayonnaise (I know, he should eat greens and he usually does at home but not in Subway), Tina had Roast Beef while I chose Subway Melt and both of our sandwiches contained everything except Jalapeno and olives.

Dinner came at past 9PM. We had eat-all-you-want and this time we went Japanese! But because we only had reservation on the same day at around half hour past 5PM, the Japanese food place was already packed hence, we were assigned to a table at their open-air-area. It turned out to be a better option because Tina, Gabby and I got to watch a live band show plus Gabby experienced dining while his legs crossed. :)

Because we became preoccupied looking at the menu, we failed to note the name of the band. Toinks! :) However, Tina and I had a strong hint that the two lady lead singers are voices from the Philippines. We might be wrong of course, but the English accent that landed on our ears when they sang their repertoire almost confirmed it; we just failed and was too shy to ask. Nonetheless, they threw a remarkable performance of a variety of songs mostly from classic hits of Whitney Houston (Indaaaaaaay, will always love youuuuuuuhuhuuuuuu!) to the very now, Adele (Someone Like You) and so much more!

Tao Restaurant’s Japanese buffet specializes in ala-carte-eat-all-you-can. Simply put, food is only delivered on the table upon order. In a way, we liked it because it assures the freshness of the dishes compared to the ones found on a spread. We already experienced it once in Manila when we dined at Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino in Bonifacio Global City several years back.

These were the dishes from Tao that earned thumbs up from the 3 of us. :)

Temaki : Hand rolled Soft Shell Crab (2 orders), California and Smoked Salmon. They’re satisfyingly good, a visual treat too! This is why I love Japanese food -they’re both art and sustenance.

Ebi tempura : Gabby’s default choice. I didn’t sample it but by mere looking, the prawns had too much batter nonetheless, our son munched it happily!

Sushi Moriawase : Took me to heaven! :)

Sashimi Moriawase : Fresh cuts! …Salmon and tuna sashimi are happiness!

Fried Crabmeat with Cheese : The cheese lover in Gabby liked this.

Tina ordered Ika Spicy Age : A fried and crunchy-spicy squid dish. Just okay.

I think this is called Beef Bacon Skewer : We liked it too! :D

Salmon Teriyaki’s another just fine.

And if there’s one dish that’s worthy of visiting Tao again and again, it’s this Scallop thingy-I-forgot-its-name but never its taste! Toink-Toinks! :D

It’s creamy, sweet and spicy; what more can you ask for? WE LOVED IT! Tina and I consumed 3 plates!!! There you go!

And these were the ones that FAILED to stimulate our palates… :(

A bigger scallop-let-down-dish-so-unremarkable-i-didn’t-bother-to-note-its-name. Glass noodles and scallops fusion wasn’t good on this plate.

Pickled Papaya Salmon. #ayokonito.

Cheese-something. #anotherforgettable. Gabby, Tina and I are fond of cheese but this one didn’t hit the mark.

Beef Ribs that looked like pork chops had nothing to rave about. Sorry.

Ebi Fried Kani Mayo. I so love prawns, crabs and mayonnaise but the combination didn’t worked on this dish. #soggy #supersaturated

Tina ordered this Mushroom dish but I so believe my very own home cooked buttered garlic mushrooms is far better than this variety.

Lobster sandwich. I ordered this when I thought I was not struggling on satiation yet. The end point : I didn’t even taste it. #whatawaste!

My bad comments on several dishes from the menu of Tao impose a challenge for enhancement. I’ve to be honest and far from being biased on my review.  On a positive note, we loved Tao’s bottomless drinks (we only had iced tea, but Tiger beer was also free-flowing), and dessert included in the rates. The cost of the buffet for the three of us was reasonable; in fact, was only equivalent to half of an adult-rate in a hotel buffet in Manila. Another plus point of Tao was the courtesy of the wait staff. Prompt and friendly service without being pushy makes every dining experience commendable.

The raspberry flavored ice cream was such a wonderful ending to this meal! Tina and I loved it but Gabby passed it up.

I had an arrangement with our usual taxi cab driver to pick us up at around 11:30PM so while waiting, we had to give in to Gabby’s request for him to have his share of dessert. We left Tao before 11PM and walked few steps towards Starbucks Coffee.

Since Tina and I were so full, it was only Gabby who enjoyed his Chocolate Chip Frappuccino and Chocolate Marble Cheesecake.

For few minutes while waiting for our cab to take us home, I chanced upon this magazine inside the coffee shop that featured one of Malaysia’s pride, Penang-born-world-renowned-luxury handmade shoemaker, Prof. Dato’ Jimmy Choo. I’d like to end this lengthy family-food-fun blog post on one of Jimmy Choo’s quotes from that featured article…

Until our next stress-busting-family bonding! ;)

——————–

22
Jun
12

CARPE DIEM

As I wanted to seize the day with my family after we had lunch buffet at Flamingo Hotel  last weekend, we gave in to my son’s request to finally conquer Toys R Us at Gurney Plaza Mall…

Exhibit  A :  Ben 10 Ultimate Echo Echo

If you must know, Gabby has monthly earnings. Since we don’t have a car and our 11th-floor-seaview-appartment here in Penang comes with a car port, we’re having it leased by our neighbor for RM50 or almost PhP700 (USD 15.66) per month and the rental fee goes directly to Gabby’s toy fund personal savings. Whenever needed, I borrow money from Gabby too, so it becomes an emergency fund, hahaha!  (yes, the world revolves clockwise sometimes!) :)  But last weekend, opportunity presented itself when we found our feet inside Toys R Us and Gabby got hold of that Ben 10 Ultimate Echo Echo action figure for 70 ringgit (Too expensive if you ask me, but it has been a while since Gabby had a new toy so Tina and I allowed the boy to be happy, he saved the money anyway). He walked away from Toys R Us with Ultimate Echo Echo despite Tina and I were eyeing on those Avengers plushies at the backdrop, hahaha!

Exhibit  B : Gabby in long pants

Yes, our soon-to-be-8-year-old-kiddo bid temporary goodbye to his cropped pants (puruntongs) for denim long pants and corduroys.  He’s no longer a baby! *cue in crocodile tears*

Exhibit C :  Mangoes and Strawberries

We had afternoon coolers from Chatime; took some photos of course….And I believe my family can pass as Chatime’s ambassadors, don’t you think? hahaha! :D

Exhibit D :  Eating Japanese favorites for FREE!

We had our early dinner at Sakae Sushi in Gurney Mall and used our 50 ringgit (PhP 700) vouchers which I got when Tina and I attended the invitational Bloggers’ Event at Sakae Sushi First Avenue Mall (view blog post HERE).

Since Tina and I had already tasted Sakae Sushi’s 2012 newest menu during the Bloggers’ Event weeks ago, our choices for this early dinner were our personal favorites. My wife had Chicken Teriyaki which according to her was tender enough and tasteful however could have been better if they added more sauce on the rice toppings. Our wonder boy, Gabby had his default order of Ebi Tempura and had him smiled ear to ear. My mom savored grilled salmon with mentaiko mayo; the dish is called Salmon Mentaiyaki. And I opted for my favorite Japanese noodle dish, Sukiyaki. I liked it but sadly not as close as the authentic ones I’ve tasted in Tokyo back in 2010 (view blog post HERE get ready to drool, hehehe!)

Happiness from Tokyo 2010

Apparently, our family life isn’t perfect and challenges come and go. But come hell or high water, Tina and Gabby remain my life till I breathe my last.

*When did you last experienced moments you wanted to freeze?

Carpe Diem, everyone! ;)

28
May
12

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH JAPANESE FOOD CONTINUES

I may be a-die-hard-ADOBO-at-heart (read : my palates love Filipino dishes, apparently) but I have been keeping my love affair with sushi, sashimi and sukiyaki for the longest time, even prior to 2005 when I set foot in TOKYO and have savored authentic Japanese dishes for 14 unforgettable days (read it all here –> http://docgelo.com/2010/04/05/letters-about-tokyo-11-eating-japanese/ and the rest is on my sidebar). That being said, I may not be a connoiseur but I know my palates so well. I may not have expert knowledge on the Japanese cuisine but my taste buds can clearly perceive what it likes from otherwise.

Actually, to state that I love Japanese food is an understatement. I immensely adore how Japanese meals serve both as  art and sustenance. I appreciate the creative preparation to every dish. The unusual presentation of sushi and the exquisite skills exerted in slicing tuna and salmon and other fish for sashimi are impressively beautiful.

I conisder myself blessed because my current work place, Penang, boasts of unimaginable gastronomic diversity from its local community of Malay, Indian and Chinese, not to disregard the influences and fusion of Western cuisines and other Asian dishes like Japanese.

Last Sunday was one of my luckiest days! With my wife, Tina in tow, I attended an exclusive invitational Bloggers’ event at SAKAE SUSHI, First Avenue Mall, George Town, Penang. The event was hosted for food bloggers to sample the NEW MENU from Sakae Sushi.

The first couple of Beyond Toxicity were the very first to arrive at the event around 15 minutes before noon. Actually, we reached the mall early at few minutes past 10AM and had quick breakfast at our favorite coffee shop at the lobby; we really made sure not to be tardy for Sakae Sushi (read : we’re extremely excited, obviously). Then, we were friendly received by the staff and the Senior Marketing Manager herself, Ms. June. I have not been used to the fact that some people from Penang easily recognize my accent as someone from The Philippines (it always makes me wonder if my English sounds so weird with distinction…I digress) and Ms. June was not an exception. She candidly said with a smile, “I know, you’re from the Philippines!” She was warm enough to catch our attention as she casually explained  Sakae Sushi and its creative and constant innovative approaches when it comes to uplifting lifestyle dining experiences.  After Tina and I spent few minutes chatting with her, I took advantage of the moment with less diners yet inside the restaurant and took captures of what it has to offer. Not for long, Sakae Sushi was packed with hungry customers craving for Japanese food. :)

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT SAKAE SUSHI

  • Freshness and a wide variety of ingredients per dish makes it authentic.
  • Open-Kitchen-Cooking : I like seeing how my food is prepared. It’s entertaining! Plus, santitation must be non-negotiable. Look at my captures on the chefs preparing sushi and other goodies; they all looked like they’re inside an Operating Theater! Amazing! (I want to learn how to do sushi!)
  • Wide selection at affordable cost. Majority of dishes on the menu are HEALTHY too!
  • Quick, friendly and attentive service.
  • Use of technology : iPad as an interactive menu (order with a flick of a finger!), that sushi conveyor belt is just so Japanese!
  • Availability of FREE flowing hot tea, chopsticks, wasabi and soy sauce, tissue paper (a rarity in some food places in Penang!) right on the table –diners need NOT to ask for them! That spells convenience and customer-friendliness.
  • FAMILY FRIENDLY. They got kiddie meals too! :)

WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT SAKAE SUSHI

  • Limited space to walk around (I’ve been to 2 of its branches in Penang; both dining areas have small spaces or perhaps, I just think that with huge volume of patrons, Sakae Sushi definitely deserves a bigger area).
  • No “Irasshai mase!”-greetings.  Although the Sakae Sushi staff are always ready with smiles to greet you, and as much as I know Sakae Sushi presents Japanese food as CONTEMPORARY and edgy, I still wish they would greet diners in authentic Japanese greetings. Konnichiwa and a bow would be so wonderful! *just my 2-cents-worth*
  • Uniforms of service crew are not authentic. I like to see wait staff wearing traditional Japanese wear -Kimonos and wooden slippers, FTW!
  • Ambience is too casual; it’s OK for me but a choice between something ordinary and an authentic one, I would choose the latter any day.
  • Addicting choices that one would want to get hold of all sushi from the conveyor belt, or press every page from their iPad menu to sample everything! hehehe!

WHAT I THINK OF SAKAE SUSHI’S  NEW MENU THIS YEAR

Now, let’s get down to business. ;)

KAISEN SALAD

Tantalisingly fresh servings of prawns, tuna flakes, snow crab leg and assorted vegetables serve with creamy goma dressing.

I like this salad because it has greens and generous servings of my favorite seafoods perfectly complemented with a tasteful dressing. I want to order this again on our next visit! It’s that good! :)

And of course Japanese meal isn’t complete without either sushi or sashimi. To me a good sushi is something that screams FRESHNESS! Needless to say, I do NOT want my sushi to smell or taste fishy. A good sushi is not soggy; neither the fish or seafood is too hot or too cold when served. And Sakae Sushi’s selection doesn’t disappoint! :D

Look at that beauty. Awesome plate, is it not?

SAKAE BLOSSOM

Intricately-designed roll of tempting grilled salmon, shrimp roe, and mayonnaise on a delightful maki.

With Sakae Blossom, I have only one word to describe all of its ingredients : FAVORITE! …Need I say more?

HOTATE MENTAIYAKI

Succulent half shell scallops grilled with cod fish roe. 

I would chow down scallops any day rather than oysters. This Hotate Mentaiyaki could have been perfect for my taste if it’s more buttery and cheesy. It’s just me. ;)

EBI CREPE

Luscious roll consisting of whole cooked prawn with assorted vegetables and mayonnaise wrapped in a light crepe layer.

I like the light crepe as roll layer; it’s the next best thing to nori in my vocabulary. However, I prefer my prawn without shells and all.

SOFT SHELL CRAB MAKI

Mouth-watering maki creation of crispy soft shell crab, sweet beancurd, sushi rice and spicy mayonnaise.

 Soft shell crab + mayonnaise = another winner maki for me! :)

TINARI AVOCADO EBI

Succulent whole prawn mixed with delicious vegetables and salad dressing, wrapped in sweet beancurd skin.

The avocado makes it delicous!

HANA MAKI

Beatifully crafted flower rolls with delicate raw salmon petals and sushi rice centre topped with mayonnaise and a luxurious sprinkle of shrimp roe.

Hands down to Hana Maki. This to me tops the list of the newest offerings from Sakae Sushi. Tina also agrees. This one’s such a gorgeous sushi!  I can eat this Hana Maki everyday, any time, baby! :D

KAISEN PIRIKARA NABE

Appetising hotpot of prawns, cuttlefish, salmon, mushrooms, and assorted vegetables in flavorful kimchee soup.  

To be honest, I developed the aversion to anything with Kimchi (or kimchee as Sakae Sushi spells it). Don’t get me wrong, I’m still dreaming of taking my family to South Korea one Spring day someday but I don’t think I will like kimchi or anything with it. This Kaisen Pirikara Nabe, in all fairness, has a subtle taste, you may want to try it for yourself.

CURRY UDON

Japanese curry wheat noodles with chicken.

I also find it difficult to love curry. Sorry. Maybe because curry in Malaysia is so different with The Philippines’, ours back home is a milder and my tongue is as alien as I am here. Nonetheless, Sakae Sushi’s udon or wheat noodles in this soupy dish is to die for! I love that udon! :)

At this moment, my wife and I were almost struggling in being satiated. And it’s a delicous feeling of fullness, mind you! However, we could have not forgiven ourselves had we not sampled Sakae Sushi’s luxurious ice cream set…

Black Sesame.

Green Tea.

Dragon Fruit.

Passion Fruit.

LUSCIOUS!

The flavors are all interesting particularly Black Sesame and Dragon Fruit as it’s our  first time to taste such uniquely amazing ice cream and I have to cast my vote to that tangy and sweet Passion Fruit as my favorite among the flavors.

 

Thank you so much to SAKAE SUSHI @ First Avenue Mall branch, George Town, Penang!

We certainly enjoyed your new menu!

We’ll be back very soon.

Terima Kasih to Penangite bloggers, Vincent Yu and Willie Wah for the invite! :D

*If you’re in Penang, Malaysia, do drop by and try those yummies at Sakae Sushi, located at 4th level, First Avenue Mall. There are also other branches in Penang and other states in Malaysia. If you’re in other parts of Asia, you may savor Sakae Sushi in Singapore, Vietnam, China, Thailand, and the Philippines. :)

You may also check out Sakae Sushi’s website via http://www.sakaesushi.com.my and their facebook account for online contests and on going promotions via http://www.facebook.com/sakaesushi

Until this blog’s next episode of FAMILY.FOOD.and.FUN!

PS : You may be wondering about Gabby and her Mamita, for they’re not with us on this event. While Tina and I were devouring Sakae Sushi’s newest offerings, our 7-year-old son Gabby and his grandmother were glued watching Men In Black 3 in the same mall. We ate together before and after the event (yes, we do love to eat!), and did a little shopping for Gabby’s essentials. :)

12
May
12

BUKIT BINTANG, KUALA LUMPUR

If I have to narrow down my list of preferred places in Kuala Lumpur, other than the very iconic Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC-Suria Shopping Complex , I would definitely include Bukit Bintang in my personal must-visit-places-in KL-list. The first time we went there was during the Chinese New Year holiday this year and with so much fascination, my family and I promised to go back again. And every visit has been rewarding with tons of fun memories to cherish.

This upscale shopping and business district in Malaysia’s capital city is comparable to few favorites that I have been to. In so many ways, Bukit Bintang reminds me of Rodeo Drive in LA, Downtown Auckland in New Zealand, Shibuya and Ginza in Tokyo, Canton Road in Hong Kong, Orchard Road in Singapore and our very own Makati City back home. It may be on a smaller and simpler scale compared to those cosmopolitan places but overall, it’s such a vibrant and exciting venue to stroll, shop, dine around or simply while away time during a stay in Kuala Lumpur.

For someone who’s been living and working in a rather more laid back but utterly rich in heritage sites like Penang, a visit to Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur is and will always be refreshing! :)

***Photos were taken in the streets of Bukit Bintang and Pepper Lunch in Pavilion Mall where we savored our lunch last May 8th before heading to the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Awards. We wolf down Beef Pepper Rice (for Tina, Gabby and me-a plate each!) and Salmon Pepper Rice for my mom. Obviously, it’s not only Tina and I who love Pepper Lunch but it’s one of Gabby’s favorites -not only here in Malaysia (Can someone bring PL to Penang, please! The Pavilion Mall branch in Bukit Bintang is the only one in Malaysia as of the moment) but in Hong Kong and Manila of course!  While the small slice of sublime chocolate cake from Lavander (which we opted prior seeing a branch of Bread Talk) was my celebratory dessert I had as takeaway in the hotel to rejoice this blog’s 5th anniversary. :D

16
Mar
12

IN TUNG CHUNG

Parang Nasa MRT / LRT lang sa Pinas (less the stampede and the bomb threats! *no pun intended*)

Closed. Sarado. Tutup.

Siklistas are mall rats, train riders and bargain hunters too!

To the Left. To the Left

Finally, we reached the CityGate Outlets located at the terminal end of Tung Chung Station via what else but Hong Kong’s very efficient MTR lines (Mass Transit Railway). Although it’s just a ride away from Sunny Bay Station where we hopped off from that awesome Disneyland Resort Train Line, you know what a new place can do for some first-timers-unseasoned-travelers like us. Luckily, our feet didn’t get lost.

CityGate Outlets is one those must-visit spots in Hong Kong particularly when you only have limited time to kill or you’re on a hunt for some branded merchandise on a super bargain price (read : 50 – 70% off, which to us wasn’t a surprise because in malls in Penang, discounts also go as low as those during sale season).  As for us, our game plan for this short trip to CityGate was simply to see the place and while away time as we wait for our 5:45PM flight back to Malaysia. Oh, and to fill our tummies too!

KIDDIE TEMPTATIONS  AHEAD!

Amongst the many branded stores of rubber shoes, bags, clothes offering huge sale, nothing seemed so enticing (to someone whose wallet was well guarded because the budget is uber limited!) to us than this kiosk…

LEGO. Eye Candy to Gabby and Me. And you? Do you dig Lego too?

Gabby's eyes popped upon the sight of this kiosk filled with Lego goodies. While he was asking Tina and I to buy him at least a piece (read : he still has a new large box of Lego which he got as a gift from my father in law last holiday and he just received an exactly similar Lego-Light Buzzyear watch from one of our fellows in our HKDL trip) I held on to my wallet tight and kept my will power. Success! haha! And although those keychains are cute, I passed the chance of buying for I am not much into keychains.

The Star Wars Lego gift that Gabby got from his maternal Lolo last Christmas was as big as this. He has yet to explore and build it soon!

If you must know, I frequently rise up early and always beat my alarm clock- even weekends and holidays, mind you. I believe I don't need a large one as that in my old mobile still does the job perfectly. But these Lego-movie-themed alarm clocks were such an enormous temptations that greater will power to held on to the budget was a must! :) I know I only wanted them but don't need actually (why do we buy things often times we don't need anyway?) . But then again, they're so cute, aren't they? haha! :)

FOOD REPUBLIC,

CITYGATE OUTLETS,

 TUNG CHUNG, LANTAU ISLAND, HONG KONG.

Yes, Food Republic is the CityGate Outlets’ food court!  And I apologize for thinking that we might smell like the food they offer after eating inside; I was so wrong!  It must be a great food place for it’s almost packed when we arrived.

Thou shall not judge people by their hairstyles. There are 5 types in this shot, can you count them all? *snickers*

hip and edgy... i like the hoody more than the hair

It's a must when in Hong Kong

Ate, ano ginagawa nyo sa dim sum?

Bibili na sana ako Kuya, pero parang galit ka. Why?

HCR = Hainanese Chicken Rice is happiness. But we passed up because hawkers offer this in Penang anyway or perhaps, we're craving for something else.

Korea House : Tina's choice

Milo or Ovaltine? Guess.

Tina's Korean Lunch : A Bowl of Beef & Veggies. It was OK according to her.

I almost ordered a Korean Bento Box from that Korea House where Tina bought her lunch set but I decided to hop from one food stall to another and tried  to feel what my gastric mucosa’s craving was.

Food Republic’s made of various Asian cuisines -Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and my palate opted for a Japanese fastfood favorite!

Impeccable Teamwork : While a lady-crew tends the cashier, these two create our very own favorite that was sorely missed (read: it has been more than 2 years!) Japanese fastfood sizzling yummies in a few sec. However, because queues and orders pile up, customers and hungry diners like Gabby and I need to wait despite the two's perfectly coordinated moves in the kitchen.

They're making Gabby's lunch!

I know.

When in Hong Kong, one should savor Chinese dishes –dim sum, noodles, and anything cooked Cantonese or Sichuan.

But it has been years since we last enjoyed cooking our own food in a sizzling plate with lotsa butter and pepper on the rice meal.

We love Pepper Lunch! We miss their Shangri La Plaza and Powerplant Mall branches back home (We have not tried Greenbelt branch yet). We even won in one of PL’s promo contests years ago (CLICK THIS!). I know now that PL has a branch in Malaysia, but it’s in Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur! That’s 5 hour-away via bus ride from Penang. So when opportunity presented itself, Gabby and I didn’t think twice, we had PL Rice for our last lunch in Hong Kong!

Gabby's Pepper Lunch favorite : Beef Pepper Rice (I can still hear my boy saying, "Daddy ang sarap! Favorite ko ito!")

My Pepper Lunch Meal : Cut Steak and Hamburger Combo. With butter beneath and over the meat, plus that favorite HONEY BROWN SAUCE, a cup of Japanese rice seemed not enough! ANG SARAP!!! Miss na miss!

 We loved those moments in Tung Chung!

Before 3PM, we went back to Disney's Hollywood Hotel, collected our luggage and bags and rode a cab to the HKIA. Bye bye, Tung Chung! Bye bye Hong Kong. Thanks for the memories! They're one of our coolest! See you again in the near future! ;)

*PS : LEGOLAND MALAYSIA in Johor Bahru (near Singapore) opens end of 2012 (view HERE!)

06
Nov
11

SHANGRI-LA’S RASA SAYANG : A BLEEDING WOUND, A THOUGHTFUL STAFF, A DIGESTIVE FEAST PART 2

I have always thought that most of our priceless and happy moments together as a family are commonly shared over a meal. Either at home or whenever we dine out, great tasting foods have been essential in making the three of us more joyous. Most epicurean adventures that we celebrate, be it simple or otherwise have been a constant reminder too, that we’re so blessed on top of life’s challenges. 
On a lighter note, I am a strong believer of my personal beatitude, ‘Blessed are the people who consider food as their kryptonite for they will continuously seek strength to fight cravings for more toothsome dishes!’ LOL! :D However, I know most, if not all will instantly agree with me that resistance is remarkably futile if the spread includes the following….  

Mont Blanc

 Black Forest never presented this edgy…

Our 7-year-old wonder boy loves cheese and cheese cakes and so are we…

Gabby’s palatal exposure to wide array of digestive stimuli may hopefully contribute in his aspirations to become a chef, a hotelier and a restaurateur someday. So help us, God! :) 

Paris Brest

Strawberry Flan

Apparently, Chocolate Dome Cake…

Pralinosa Bavaroise…
 
And of course, Tiramisu….
Reservation was done over a phone call a week prior to this dinner-buffet. Spice Market Cafe in Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Batu Feringgi, Penang is usually packed even on weekdays, as we’re told, not only because of their on-going promotion (Yes, if it’s not a buy-one-free-one we could have not afford it, haha!) but more logically for their delightful dishes. 
No fresh floral arrangements, neither fancy balloons nor fruits. What could be more appropriate table centerpieces for Spice Market Cafe but mortar and pestle with dried herbs and spices.
Table for 3 please : Tina, Gabby & me :D
The three of us immediately became busy viewing the spread of the different live-cooking stations that represent a multi-cultural gastronomic feast : Continental, Indian, Japanese, Chinese and Malay.  Even Gabby had several trips to the buffet tables on his own. And after getting our individual preferences, we shared plates generously.
Without a clue, Tina’s scarred wound at the tip of her left ring finger was already bleeding; her table napkin was inevitably stained with drops of blood.
  • me: Ano nangyari? Bakit dumugo?  (What happened? Why did it bleed?)
  • Tina : Hindi ko napansin e.  (I didn’t notice.)

Then out of nowhere, Norizah, a short-haired pleasant female senior wait staff approached our table with utmost concern. She asked what happened and offered something she can do.

  • Tina : (smiling despite bleeding) “My wound is bleeding but I’m OK. Nothing to worry. I am a nurse and my husband is a doctor.”
  • me : (smiled and nodded at Norizah)
  • Norizah :  “You’re a nurse and he’s a doctor but you are my customers and I worry about you. Would you like me to bring something from the clinic?  I’ll go get some band-aid.”   

Right there and then, I wanted to give Norizah a “Natatanging Waitress Award.” (Outstanding Waitress Award) haha! :) Seriously, I could have told her that it’s our first time to experience such utmost thoughtfulness from a restaurant staff but Tina and I only thanked her for her impeccable service.

How many hotels, restaurants or any form of food places have thought of providing kids their own plates?  Isn’t this gesture sweet?

Because excitement was difficult to contain, Gabby filled his first plate with chilled scallops that he topped with what else but parmesan and cheese dressing. Cheesy overload on those delicious mollusks. Takaw mata man, Tina and I were there to eat his leftovers. Sarap!

There’s a bar that has various cheese offerings; celery and carrot sticks made available for dipping.

How do you like blue cheese?

Or emmental cheese perhaps?

There’s no wine for obvious reasons but breads made a great combination..

Now, let’s proceed to shameless display of plates :  I started with this few slices of cold cuts– chicken ham and that remarkably delicious smoked salmon, with bread and cheeses. We also enjoyed their thick and creamy corn soup.

Must have that detail shot, haha! :)

Second of my beatitude, “Blessed are the people who have no hypersensitivity, for theirs the kingdom of seafoods!”

I am a sucker for prawns and proof to this is the fact that I never miss out to buy prawns from the public market here every weekend (read : we’re lucky for it’s a lot cheaper here than in Pinas).  Tina usually cook it either with garlic and butter or just steamed and we’re on cloud 9 already! :)

Mussels on the otherhand, aren’t as common as shrimps here. :( If you must know, the sweet taste and humongous size of mussels that we’ve eaten when we were in Auckland, New Zealand back in 2005 for our memorable 7 week family vacation there remains to be unforgettable! We’re fortunate enough that the buffet of Spice Market Cafe has mussels but not as close as what we had in Auckland.

Then there were those another family favorite which Gabby had singled out…

Have you tasted yabbies?

We could have wash our hands and enjoyed them to bits but I for one had no extra room in my gastric pit…some other time, I guess haha! :)

Here’s my seafood plate…

Pity those who must take anti-histamines when they eat these glorious foods!

Moving on, the Chinese section’s essentials were present like noodle station…

It’s an experience watching the chef make hand-pulled noodles live! :) The force in kneading that dough as he stretched and slammed it to have less air was already an entertainment while eating!

Noodle soup must have other ingredients…

But where are the dimsum and dumplings? Did we miss it out? :(

I was silently jumping for bliss when I saw that there’s a Japanese station. It has been months since I’ve last squeezed a sushi between chopsticks.

Although to our dismay there were no ebi and crab tempura which are also Gabby’s favorites, we were happy to have freshest tuna and salmon sashimi, and some sushi…

The little-big boy really had his time…

I can eat this plateful of yummies everyday, haha! :)

I just recently found my love affair with some Indian foods, so I tried some chicken tandoori (but too spicy for my palates), papadum and roti, and one of the famous local grilled goodies here, chicken satay with peanut sauce…

I like their chicken satay but had an aversion to eat it with fresh onions. Usually, it’s eaten with cucumber and onion slices. Don’t you love these brass wares? I do!!! I wish when the time comes that we need to leave Malaysia, there would be extra money to buy these as souvenirs (O marami nyan sa Divisoria? LOL!) :)

Do you like lamb? I don’t because of its usual-after-taste that leaves you wanting to gargle non stop, hehe! But the slices of roasted lamb leg from this buffet made me reconsider it!

Beef dishes, as I know it, aren’t easy to prepare. It needs slow cooking for it to become tender and the beef medalions with mushrooms from Rasa Sayang doesn’t disappoint!

Peking Duck and  Char Siew Chicken were also sublime!

tastier and crunchier than it looks on photo!

Most foreigners and tourists would dig the local Malaysian favorites so for the desserts section, they’re offering ais kacang, cendol, ABC and more….(their version of our Filipino Halo-Halo!)

However, we didn’t try their version; perhaps, next time.

We've already tasted those green worm-like jellies made from rice flour and food coloring that are toppings of cendol from a hawker food stall in George Town before and we liked it! Grossly looking but will delight your palates!

Thankful to Gabby, he had the effort of going to the ice cream station to prepare a cup as Tina and I were already full that time.

Ice cream toppings and syrups never looked and tasted this great!

 Chef Gabby’s plating of ice cream…

Local Malaysian desserts were satiatingly good; our own versions we call them in Tagalog, kakanin…

Skewered for dipping…

One of this blog’s valued commenters (convictstock from Australia) mentioned before that their stay and dining in Rasa Sayang was made extraordinary because of their chocolate fondue. I agree but it would not hurt for Shangri-La Penang to double it with white chocolate fountain too! We have lots of hotels in the Philippines who offer it and it’s twice the fun of course!

Melted dark chocolate : so heavenly but wished there was white one too!

Gradually, Gabby’s having big ideas of what his kitchen, hotel and restaurant will all look like in the future as he picks up beautiful things and notes those he must avoid doing by his decent exposures to all this. It’s like (positive) brainwashing 101 or more like an early immersion for our kiddo. :) Salamat na lang, lagi may promosi! (We’re always grateful for promotions as buffets in hotels are made affordable!).

These FUNtastic looking sculptures out of some ingredients I guess, made Gabby and Tina the happiest people on that dining area that night. My family's addicted to Angry Birds as they left me still enjoying Plants vs Zombies, LOL!

 Thank you, Spice Market Cafe for putting up such dining decors for kids and kid-at-hearts!

Fresh fruits were also on the spread but not the same with fruit juices; you need to pay extra for a glass or two. :( It’s unlike other premier hotel-buffets we have tried here in Penang where beverages are included in their offering; that’s one little disadvantage for patrons of Rasa Sayang in our humble opinion.  

However, they uplifted our spirits when we learned that coffee is included in the buffet, yahoooo! Tina and I are just simple coffee-lovers! :)

One week prior to our dinner when I had phoned them to make a reservation, they told me that the 250-sitting capacity of the restaurant is almost filled. I just took the chance in requesting that if and when some guests back out for whatever reason, I’ll appreciate if they can accomodate us in for consideration that I am bringing Gabby and I was surprised on the eve of our indulgence, they did! They allowed us to sit inside the buffet dining area instead outside where they have nipa huts and more tables for diners. 

All in all, our first dining experience in Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa Spice Market Cafe was indeed, less ordinary. Admittedly, I personally had great expectations because of its name and reputation and they exceeded it, bar none! More than great tasting dishes, their friendly service to customers showed how they value their market over their business. And where else can you spot such impressive factors for the price of RM 185 nett (PhP 2,590 or USD 59) for the three of us (at RM 104+ : buy-one-free-one+kid’s half rate)? The cost is such a steal that one will be tempted to go back for more!  Visit their website for more details of their rates and promotions (http://www.shangri-la.com/)

Until our next family bonding moments! :)

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PART ONE : Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Spice Market Cafe Buffet

13
Mar
11

I LOVE JAPAN BECAUSE OF THESE

Honestly, I cannot get over the news about how Japan was inundated by that massive tsunami and jolted by that tremendous earthquake a couple of days ago.  I was ashamed of myself dwelling on my little personal and professional problems while people on the other side of the planet were fighting for survival against forces beyond their control.

I prayed and asked for forgiveness; asked for mercy for those deeply affected by the calamity. I immediately thought of my family who as of the moment, are miles away from me. I prayed for their safety and for the good Lord to continuously keep us in His divine care.

Perhaps, one of the reasons why I am deeply affected with what happened to Japan was because I was fortunate enough to experienced Tokyo last year. I have personally seen, heard, smelt, felt and tasted  Tokyo for 14 days!  It was indeed, remarkable 2 weeks of my life! Admittedly, I fell in love with the city and it’s so difficult to reconcile that its northern part was devastated by that natural tragedy.

It instantly came to mind that even the most progressive country has its own sufferings. And that nothing is spared when nature speaks its wrath.

I know Japanese people have been used to strong typhoons, frequent earthquakes and in history, even atomic bombings. How they managed to rise from all these adversities should inspire and motivate not only me but the rest of the globe.

I was hesitant to post something pleasant about how I love that city and that country with their culture and their food of course, but life has to move on. Thus, this entry.

Second to our very own local dishes back home, I love Japanese foods. As mentioned, I am lucky to have tasted authentic sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki and sukiyaki when I was in Tokyo. So everytime I see Japanese food stalls and restaurants wherever I go, I cannot help but crave for some bites. :D

About a couple of weeks ago, I went to one of the malls here in Penang that I frequent every weekend. And I did not resist the temptation of having Japanese for late lunch. Here was my set then…

Japan’s greatest contribution to gastronomic history : sushi!  

Other than sushi and sashimi, Yakult is the next best thing Japanese people introduced to the world!

This set meal came with soup+noodle bowl and a small cup of custard dessert as sweet ending!

Free small pitcher of iced cold green tea and drinking water to wash everything down.

 

I had that set meal from Sushi King in George Town, Penang…

Diners can directly get their sushi from the conveyor belt …

besides the set meal I had, I also opted to order ala carte. Sushi King’s Soft shelled crab temaki –delicious! :D

I ate this lunch set at the heart of Penang 2 weeks before that catastrophe happened in Japan.  At least, it reminds me of good memories I had from Tokyo; a breather from those actual photos of news online.

Japanese food. Japanese culture. Japanese innovation. Japanese people. Japanese way of life. These are the things I love about Japan. And so until after they rise on their feet from the devastation they had, they’ll be constantly in my prayers.  

So help us, God!

28
Nov
10

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH JAPANESE

Before my wife raises her eyebrow, I’m talking about food.  

Japanese food, baby. :)

When I was in Tokyo last summer, I had an affair with one of my favorite soups.  I savored it then more frequently than I can imagine.  The most authentic and the best Sukiyaki set that I’ve ever tasted was from a restaurant that I missed out to recall located in Yurakucho.

Other than its thinly marbled and juicy beef slices submerged in very tasteful broth, I liked it so much because I had it for free.  My Japanese acquaintances treated me for lunch and didn’t ask me to pay Y1000 (PhP 500) for that set.

Then again, there were days in Gotanda that I settled for its cheaper yet satiating version from Yoshinoya, Y500 (PhP 250).

Whenever my wife, our kid and I dine out in Japanese restaurants back home, I never fail to sample Sukiyaki of course.

From Umu at Dusit Thani Manila, the best Sukiyaki in town, in my opinion.

From Omakase at Il Terrazo (and Libis), Quezon City

 

From Zensho, Tomas Morato, Quezon City …

Enough with my drooling for Sukiyaki.

Last Saturday, my 2 housemate-friends brought me to SAKAE SUSHI to sample Japanese yummies from its branch at Plaza Gurney, Gurney Drive, Penang.

Ambience is  casual dining, non-intimidating.

 The most interesting part in this food place is the mini conveyor belt where you can simply grab your sushi cravings from.

  

Everything looks oishi!

Prices at Ringgit (RM1=PhP 14)…

We got some red plates…

Delicious sushi covered with generous serving of roe with cucumber slices and soft shelled crab filling. Sarap!

As I browsed their menu, I knew what I wanted.

If Sukiyaki won my heart over Miso soup, my favorite Temaki is Soft Shelled Crab!  It’s the best, I tell you!

Another goody from the conveyor belt : Soft Shelled Crab (can’t get enough!) with cheesy chili sauce on vermicelli.

Tempura Ramen for doc Ronnie…

doc Alvin chose to enjoy Chicken Katsu Don + Mochi balls…

But his ultimately divine dessert was chocolate and vanilla ice cream waffle called Chocholate Yaki…

You might thought I’d leave Sakae Sushi without sampling their Sukiyaki ?  Hell, no! hehehe.. :D

Sweet and salty. It wasn’t the best for me, but was good enough to satisfy my craving.

Sakae Sushi got branches all over Penang and 2 in Pinas too!

Tina loves  Japanese also, so does Gabby. He likes Kani and Ebi tempura. 

Bottom line of this post, it made me hungry and yes, I’m eager to bring my family to Japanese restaurants here in Penang.

We’ve got to wait until the 11th of December for that much awaited  reunion.

Till then.

Burp! :)

09
Aug
10

MY 2ND SUNDAY IN PENANG

Guess where my favorite Gola sneakers took me this Sunday morning?

on a ferry ride from butterworth, jetty to george town in penang island, RM 1.20 roundtrip.

We started the day at around 7:30AM by riding the college shuttle service bus along with some of  our International pre-medical students who are also members of the Catholic faith in a 30 minute ride to St. Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam, Penang Malaysia.

The church is beautifully located at the foot of a mountain thus, lush greens serve as its backdrop.

It’s so comforting that we now know the place of our Catholic community in a predominantly Muslim and Hindu country. One of my colleagues even found her Iglesia Ni Cristo church here.

After we heard our first ever Holy Mass in Malaysia, our service bus driver took us to a Chinese restaurant where they serve PORK!

After our 9 days of chicken, nasi lemak, and mee goreng, it’s was indeed an excitement for us to see this stall serving pork in a Halal community. For only RM 4 (PhP 56) per plate with rice, we have another reason to wake up early every Sunday morning other than to hear mass.

A  set of lechon kawali with asado sauce, rice and cold milo all for RM 6.50 (PhP 91).

Pork craving satisfied! :) Looking forward to next Sunday! :)

Our service bus took us back to the station in Kepala Batas then we headed off to Penang Island via public bus.  We took a bus for only RM 2.40 (PhP 33.60) from Kailan, Kepala Batas to Jetty in Butterworth where we had a 15-minute ferry ride to George Town.

We could have opted to ride the cab (teksi in Bahasa) from our place to Penang Island crossing the longest Malaysian bridge that serves as one of the landmarks of Penang, but it would cost us RM 35 and up; besides, riding a ferry in Penang isn’t that bad; it’s not congested and properly operated; it’s like our local RORO (roll in-roll out) back home where vehicles and people alight the vessel.

We arrived in George Town in Penang Island few minutes past 1PM. We took another ride via Rapid public bus to Queensbay where Jusco Mall, one of the largest malls in Penang was waiting for us to shop.

Can you resist a month-long storewide 50 to 70% SALE ON ALMOST ALL ITEMS? Teach me how! :)

Since we’re scheduled to move in to our permanent accomodation within the next few weeks, I prioritized buying some necessities like pillow, boltser, bedsheets for my queen-sized bed, some chips to nibble etc.

I bought 2 sets of bedsheets, one Nouvelle 250 thread count for only RM 29 (406) inclusive of queen-sized fitted sheet, 2 pillow and 1 bolster cases and a 330 thread count Momoji linen set originally priced at RM 149 down to RM 29.8. Now that’s a good buy or what?!

My colleagues and I cannot wait for the 30th of the month to have our first earned-Ringgit. It’s definite that after we send our remittances to our loved ones back home, we’ll surely buy more essentials for our new homes.

After eating Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng, Mee Goreng and other spicy Malaysian and Indian dishes, Sunday was a time for me to give in to my simple indulgence.

If you’ve been reading this blog for quite some time now, you’re surely familiar with my love affair with sushi. Imagine my smile from ear to ear when I saw a huge stall in Jusco Mall foodcourt that sells cheap but delightful sushi; didn’t think twice and bought one set for RM 8.80 (PhP 123.20).

It’s comparable to the authentic ones I’ve tasted in TOKYO last March.

Unagi set I had the last time we went to Jusco Mall, RM 11.80 (PhP 165.20).

Several hours of walks inside Jusco mall while my fellow medical educators were  watching movies for RM 10 (PhP 140), I found another craving…

AIS KACANG, their version of our local halo-halo, I enjoyed for RM 3.70 (PhP 51.80).

Although, ice was finely shaved, I like our halo-halo more because this has more nuts that sweets. I miss leche flan, ube jam, rice crispies in our halo-halo.

Final sweet temptation I had that day was a peach-mango flavored frozen swirl yogurt topped with almond flakes from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf; this one’s a bit pricey at RM 11.90 (PhP 166.60).

I may have been a glutton again yesterday but that’s because I made my taste buds ready for another spicy week ahead.

Now I’m missing my family again as I remember we usually go to church every Sunday and eat out together. Thanks to Skype for melting my homesickness away.

How’s your weekend?

Enjoy the rest of the week. God bless, everyone! :)

25
Jul
10

ASIAN INDULGENCE

My family and I have been busy the past few days attending to our friends and family gatherings. It’s always nice to reconnect with them especially when long and casual talks and delicious foods are involved.

Since my mom-in-law is here until end of this month, with my brother-in-law from San Leandro, California, there has been a lot of eat-outs almost every weekend since they arrived 3 weeks ago.

One blog-worthy feast we had was held at ZONG, at the Fort. For one, it was our first time to dine there that made me and my wife a bit excited to try their specialties that were much raved by its loyal patrons.

Sister-in-law sponsored this dinner making it more fun! LOL!

Finally, we got to taste the much talked about pan fried chicken cooked with salted egg and served on a bed of crispy prawn chips.

CHICKEN in SALTED EGG YOLK. Classic chicken leg quarters pan fried with salted egg. SARAP! I love how the chicken was fried to perfection and fused with saltiness of the red egg. It was heaven every bite! :)  Definitely, a-must-try!

clockwise : Yang Chow Fried Rice,  Braised E-Fu Birthday Noodles and Sauteed Beef and Broccoli in Black Pepper Sauce.

It was absolutely love at first bite at ZONG. :)  My wife and I like every dish we ordered. The Sauteed Beef and Broccoli in Black Pepper Sauce is another hit! I like its mild kick of spice perfectly blended with the crunchiness of the broccoli and the tenderness of the beef slices. Yum! :)

It’s a happy-sad feeling that I’ll be leaving this week for work in Malaysia but if given a chance again (when I come home) to choose from the countless food places at Bonifacio High Street, definitely, ZONG will be on top of my list.

Zong’s prices and menu here!

ZONG,  The Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila.

——————————–<@

Other than my in-laws, one of my long time friends of 17 years and counting is also home for his every-three-month-work break.  Rob (of SENSORY REPLAYS blog)  religiously treats Tina, Gabby and I with another great friend, LG for lunch or dinner every time he leaves his paramedic-work in  a rig  in Middle East.

The first of his treats (yes, there was second, and third recently which are worthy of another post soon) was at a Japanese restaurant that Tina and I so like.  It’s KIMONO KEN in Shangri la Plaza.

Long before my 14-day-TOKYO TRIP last March, my family and I have been keeping a love affair with Japanese foods. Just look at this blog’s right side bar, and you’ll note that we really frequent Japanese restos in the Metro.  Tina and Gabby like Ebi and Kani Tempura while my meal in Japanese food places isn’t complete without any of my favorite 3S : sushi, sashimi, sukiyaki.

Take a peek at our Kimono Ken feast…

SUSHI MORIAWASE

GRILLED SALMON and EBI TEMPURA

SEAFOOD YAKISOBA and SHOYU RAMEN

KANI TEMPURA and GOMOKU RAMEN

SUKIYAKI, another personal favorite!

Burp! :)

Nothing beats awesome moments with family and friends amidst gastronomic indulgence.

Enjoy your new week, everyone.

It’ll be a whole new universe for me beginning Thursday midnight this week as I take this blog and you (yes, you!) to my new work place as I teach in a Medical College in Penang, Malaysia.

05
Apr
10

LETTERS ABOUT TOKYO #11 : EATING JAPANESE

*WARNING :  This post can make you SALIVATE  &  FEEL VERY SATIATED! :D  Enjoy!

—————————————————————————————–<@

Dear Tina and Gabby,

My 14-day-stay in Tokyo could not be any happier if not for (my colleagues) our memorable weekends and these Japanese gastronomic delights.  You know how I like sushi and eating it as authentic as it gets was just divine! :)

My very first bite of sushi costs Y890 (PhP 445).   Funny that I have to share it with our head nurse, because we both didn’t know if it’s too pricey or not, since it was our first night in Tokyo then.

Luckily after we transferred accomodation, our colleagues told us of  a department store called Remy that sells all other things but most importantly  bread, sushi, salad, bento boxes and other food items at 30 –50% off every 8:30PM (and those aren’t expired yet; they just want to dispose everything within the day to keep things on shelves fresh).  Buying discounted food is one of the best things I have experienced in Tokyo (everything else other than Remy’s are expensive in Japan including train fares, particularly when you convert prices into pesos!).

These are some of my Remy purchases that kept my stomach full every dinner!

Each sushi set at Remy costs around Y480 –900+.   So it’s really a good buy when it’s discounted at night; although one has to wait until it’s labelled as such.

There’s this microwavable- Tonkatsu-set that was originally priced at Y480; then after 8:30PM, I bought it only at half of it’s price.  I had to keep most of my food spending for dinner on a low key for  the rest of my budget per day was allotted for water (yes, we even had to buy 2-liter-bottles of drinking water),  food for breakfast and lunch, laundry and laundry essentials,  pricey train fares  and other expenses.  Remember, Tokyo is the most expensive city in the world!  And EVERY MOVE IN TOKYO COSTS  A  YEN! 

At some nights,  I bought salad and a cup of dessert -sweet and fruity; in addition to my main dishes.

I love that salad set; it’s a combination of potato topped with kani strips, mac and cheese topped with boiled egg, and some cold salad made of cucumber and other veggie strips. I like it so much that I bought it for 3 or 4 times when I was there! :)

I like how Japanese are so keen on their calorie-intake.  Most if not all purchases, contain calorie counts to guide those diet-conscious consumers (not me! LOL!).   Like this Fish and Tamago bento that costs Y498 had 675 kilo calories.

I also found this bacon-wrapped rice so easy and convenient to eat; a real-whole-meal-in-one!  Not to mention it’s few of the things in Tokyo that comes in affordable price…

Their iced tea doesn’t taste that sweet even if it’s flavored.   But their coffee is something else, sarap! :)

Here are proofs that I also cooked and cooked and cooked in my room to save, save and save…

Ugh, the agony of staying abroad on a budget!  We all had to buy our own frying pan and syanse , cooking oil, soy sauce, some dozen eggs, (canned goods like spam for my colleagues) and chicken nuggets from convenient stores and groceries.

Still from Remy’s,  I was able to cook some Aussie Beef slices that I bought for a cheaper price (compared to local price in Manila).

Those rice patties wrapped with nori were already tasteful at Y120 (PhP 60) each at regular price;  I just can’t eat them sans ulam. :D

On one of those nights, I had Gyoza, Y260 (PhP 130)  and nothing more;  then the next night I had pig-out again by buying another microwavable dinner from Remy (I really love that store in Gotanda!).

That set on the right of 4-piece-fried chicken and fries (Y580) were so huge that I had it for dinner and breakfast too!

My lunch with my colleagues were also remarkable.

Rememeber I showed you this Sukiyaki set on one of my first letters to you…

This Sukiyaki set that costs Y1000 (PhP 500) was a lunch treat from the 2 Japanese guys I met there.  It’s one of the best-tasting Sukiyaki that I’ve tried.  Yummy!

Here are the other lunch sets that I had from a buffet spread of one of those restaurants…

One afternoon, I had salad, miso soup, desserts and an assorted tempura plate all for Y950 (PhP475 ).  Then another lunch time, I had salad again, miso soup, desserts and a burger steak plate all for Y850 (PhP 425).

In Tokyo,  one of their famous and affordable 24-hour fastfood chains, more like of our Jollibee or McDo here is Yoshinoya.  I know we haven’t eaten in Yoshinoya here in Manila, but my first take on it in Tokyo wasn’t that bad.  For a Y500 coin (PhP 250), you can have a set meal with Japanese tea in less than 5 minutes; really convenient especially on nights when I was too lazy to shop or cook for dinner (read : it was always single-digit-celsius when I was there; was always a “bed-weather” before and after dinner!).

Is it not too obvious that Sukiyaki is one of my favorites ? LOL! :D

Remember I told you that our colleagues also treated us in aYakiniku lunch buffet near Ginza Street; the resto is called Don.K! (pronounced by Japanese as donki).  It’s like Yakimix that we have sampled in SM Mall of Asia.  The price per head was just similar with Yakimix;  Buffet at Don.K! per pax costs Y1000 for lunch and Y3000 for dinner.

 At   TOKYO DISNEYLAND 

and  TOKYO DISNEYSEA , my late lunch and dinner sets were simple (but quite expensive too at Y790 and Y1450 with lunch box)

 

My last lunch at Tokyo was with Doc B.P.S  when we were in  Akihabara.   It was good that a day before my flight back home, he introduced me to a common Japanese eatery that requires diners to choose from a menu display of  plastic food on the window and pay via vendo machine (due to lack of cashiers); get the stub and hand it in at the counter…

I found this dining system very efficient and wish we could have the same here in Manila.

Katsudon at Y455 (PhP 227.50)  for my last lunch in Tokyo…

You may drool and burp now, hehehe!  :D

I may have had the best tasting sushi, sukiyaki and bento boxes in Tokyo, but every dining experience was still less without the two of you, naks!  :D

These foods may be authentic Japanese but nothing beats home-cooked foods shared together on our very own table.

I love you, ‘ney and Gabby.

Here’s to more simple indulgences together!

:D  Tatay-doc

—————————————————————————————–<@

To my Kind Readers,

There will be more of my Tokyo experience that I’ll share with you on my next posts .  Thanks for following this series.

-gelo

26
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #7 : YAKINIKU BUFFET

Edited : Thank you to this blog’s reader, Ms. Ces Orquiola, for identifying the Yakiniku Buffet featured on this post. I stand corrected, the name of the restaurant isn’t Don. K! but  Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten (literally “karne station” according to Ces) located at Ginza nine Building No. 3 B1, 8-10, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo point. Don.K! is the superstore that has this super size sign board. Not that I blame my Filipino colleagues then but they also called the buffet restaurant, Don K! Or I just missed out the name. Sorry readers! Thank you again Ces! I really appreciate the email! :)

Dear Tina and Gabby,

Of course, you’re the first 2 people I miss when we went here…

Don.K! (pronounced by Japanese as donki and not what we think) is a superstore where Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten, the  YAKINIKU buffet restaurant is housed at its basement, located near Ginza Street, Tokyo.

Gabby, remember when we dined at YAKIMIX at SM Mall of Asia few months back where you had fun time grilling our food on the spot ?  Don.K! Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten  is like that; however I find our local version of Yakiniku more Pinoy-family-friendly. Why?  The moment we’re on their long queue last Sunday and paid Y1000/pax (or PhP 500/pax;  I and nurse Ruth were treated by our consultants :D) , the wait staff immediately warned us that we only have ONE HOUR TO EAT. That applies to every table, FYI.

Yes, dining experience at Don. K! is limited to an hour only. Unlike in Yakimix where we started our dinner then at 5:30 PM and ended at almost 10PM, hahaha! (Erratum : Don.K!  Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten lunch buffet starts 10 or 11am and ends in 3pm; we arrived at past 1pm and had a table reserved; we  got in at around 2pm so we only got an hour left to eat. BUT IT’S NOT ONE HOUR DINING ONLY. Sorry).

But what can we do with Don.K! rules except to follow. Nevertheless, it was another remarkable gastronomic adventure!

On Don.K!‘s Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten’s spread…

Freshest & crisp greens with several dressings to choose from…

On my gluttonous plate …

I liked their potato salad; one of the best I’ve tasted so far.

Yakiniku literally means ‘grilled meat dishes’ ... Here are the large bowls of raw meat all waiting to be grilled…

I know Holy Week is just around the corner and we’ll miss eating all these until Easter.

There were also some noodle and rice dishes… I like the noodle with fresh bean sprouts… yummy!

Here’s what we got to grill…

Price for lunch buffet inclusive of drinks (sodas, juices, coffee) is Y1,000 but for dinner it’s a whopping Y3,000/pax!  I don’t have idea what Don.K! Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten serves for dinner but don’t you think it’s expensive compared to their lunch?

There were pork, chicken and fish to grill too but beef slices were on top of our list.  However, I didn’t see any sushi or sashimi at Don.K! Karunesutehsyon Ginzaten.

One of the doctors got samples of what he thought as chicken skin; only to find out that it wasn’t;  it’s some part of intestine, probably the omentum or something (read : chicharong bulaklak?).

Grilling time!

No Coke for me us, remember?  So I settled with Minute Maid OJ ….

The beef slices after grilling were delicious!  So tender I almost thought a friend’s statement about cows in Japan are given frequent massage to somehow ‘tenderized’ their meat (?) is true…

Although there was a chocolate fondue, and my colleagues enjoyed those huge mallows dipped in tasteful choco fountain, I favored peaches and pineapples for dessert!

Sarap ng lunch namin but again, it made me miss you more.  Kain tayo buffet ulit pag-uwi ko. :D

I miss you both; I love you.

:D Tatay-doc.

19
Mar
10

LETTERS FROM TOKYO #3 : MY FIRST BITES

Dear Tina+Gabby,

On my first break , my 2 Japanese trainers who are younger than me treated me for lunch across our work place at Yurakucho.

They’ve asked my favorite Japanese food and what else would that be but…

SUKIYAKI ! I was overwhelmed with joy, hahaha :)

After loooong hours at the center, I kept my first dinner in Tokyo simple yet another favorite…

SUSHI !

Then on my second day, I’ve been missing you more so I dwell on my homesickness by finding another set of comfort food…

My colleagues brought me to a restaurant that the name escaped my memory but the taste and the authentic experience remained remarkable… It’s a lunch set that’s composed of a salad bar, soup and an entree of choice; plus dessert –all for the price range of Y850–950 (PhP 425 –475).

If only for food, I’m loving Tokyo now.

ASSORTED TEMPURA! :)

My first meals could have been more satisfying if you’re here.

I miss you ‘ney and Gabby.

I love you.

Till my next letter;

:) tatay-doc.

23
Feb
10

BLUE TO WHITE

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 ?

24
Nov
09

SMOKELESS GRILL, SUSHI AND MORE!

Last week, everything was unplanned when my family and I had a glutton’s gastronomic adventure from breakfast at Starbucks Coffee and lunch at Filipino restaurant, KKK,  to ultimate dessert at  HAAGEN-DAZS and ending the day at YAKIMIX!  

My wife, Tina, our son, Gabby and I, all came with hungry tummies with my youngest brother, JC  for dinner to this buffet-and-grill-all-you-want-restaurant that we’ve been wanting to try for several weeks now.  Initially, we planned to try it months ago as we spotted Yakimix in their branch along Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City near those seaside-‘dampa’ restos. But unexpectedly, after long hours of strolling in SM-Mall of Asia last week, finding difficulties in deciding where to chow down from so many choices, we’re just lucky to find Yakimix’s  posters at the entrances of the mall as one of its newest food places. 

We had to wait for few minutes when we came to Yakimix-SM-MOA before 5:30PM as it re-opens in the evening.  When we’re ushered in to our table, we saw this impressively spacious buffet place…

This was just one view taken from where we’re seated. Another section is available to accomodate, more or less 60 to 70 pax inside and few more tables are outside catering to those who prefer al fresco dining.  Believe it or not, before we get to taste our first choices from the spread, the place was packed in a heartbeat…

I know you’ll agree with me that whenever an oriental food place is full of chinky-eyed diners, then it verifies the taste of Japanese and Chinese foods it offers. :D  That was so apparent when we dined at Yakimix; the more we got excited to try all dishes at the buffet table.

I got this plate filled with raw seafoods and marinated meat for us to cook in our smokeless grill at our table…

Soon after the wait staff smeared oil on the grill and turned it on, our little ‘chef’, Gabby became too busy :P

Obviously, our son enjoyed cooking for us :D  Look at his ‘masterpiece’…

We’ve tried Shabu-shabu few times before and still enjoyed Yakimix for it’s purely grilling pleasure.  Everything was browned by Gabby to almost perfection :D

There were more seasoned cut meats and seafoods on the buffet spread; skewers which we failed to sampled; there’s always a next time. :D

It may not be the best Sukiyaki in town but it satisfied my craving for that sweet and salty Japanese soup. For me, UMU in DUSIT THANI, Makati City serves the best Sukiyaki.  My brother, JC had the other bowl of Hot and Sour soup which was also just OK.

I got few sushi and two slices of sashimi :D

On Tina’s ONLY plate :  ebi tempura, fried unbattered prawns, california maki, bacon-wrapped shrimps,  crab sticks, mushroom and veggies,  and according to her, the best among she tasted from Yakimix were those “seafood balls” .  I cannot agree because I failed to bite at them :(

On my plate : almost the same thing but I got to try the noodles.  There were more on the spread that we passed on simply because we’re so satiated already. And unlike what you might be thinking, we don’t have bottomless gastric pits, LOL.  :D   There were just so many dishes, but so little time! :D

There were salad bar, fresh tropical fruits and yes, cakes and pastries too, mostly from Red Ribbon and Goldilocks. :)

On our table :

Yakimix offers Selecta Ice Cream included in the buffet! Gabby went several times to the dessert table for these ice cream sprinkles…

Although I found Yakimix’s dishes plain and ordinary,  it gets our nod because of its wide-array of choices, better traffic of diners and spacious ambiance.  Our drinks were refilled at an instant even without asking, but nothing special for the commonly tasting instant juices and iced tea.  Far from the other blog reviews of Yakimix-Macapagal branch,  service at SM-MOA was quick and friendly exceeding my expectations.  :)   Yakimix’s buffet costs half as hotel buffet prices and can surely give Dad’s Saisaki Kamayan Ultimate Buffet a stiff competition.

Another reason to give Yakimix a try :  where else can you find an eat-all-you-want-Selecta Ice Drops ? LOL :P

We’ll visit their branch in Tomas Morato, Quezon City whenever possible because it’s closer to our place. :D

Have you been to Yakimix?  How’s your experience ?  :)

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YAKIMIX /Unit 122-126 Ground Floor SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City /

Yakimix Weekend Buffet rate : PhP 580 per pax; bottomless drinks at PhP 55.

PS : Gabby ate for free :D (children below 4 feet get to dine free of charge)

03
Nov
09

EAT AND BE MERRY

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IMG_4963It’s not our first time to dine at JOHN AND YOKO in Greenbelt 5, Makati City.  We’re also quite familiar with the other themed restaurants within its group of companies-  MR. KUROSAWA  Euro-Japanese in Eastwood Mall and SUMO SAM in Shangri la (and other) malls as we’ve tried them a few times already.

John and Yoko, Cosmopolitan Japanese almost appears (and tastes) like the other two mentioned food places which are all co-owned by the local celebrity, Marvin Agustin.  They all feature union of the East and the West from their modern ambiance to whatever is served on the plate.     

The last time my wife, Tina, our preschooler son, Gabby and I ate there was a few months back.  I took pictures of what we enjoyed but unfortunately, I cluelessly pressed something on our cam that deleted every photos I had.  It taught me a lesson, big time! 

Last Saturday, after few hours of trick or treating, Gabby was finally convinced  that we had to munch something as our late lunch before he continues with his Halloween event at Greenbelt.  Thankfully, he and his mom agreed on John and Yoko and I was too weak to resist. :D 

It was our first time to try this dish last Saturday and we’re missing it already…   

2JAPAELLA, PhP 378+.   One of Spain’s well-loved dishes was twisted anew with generous slices of chicken teriyaki, bite sized chorizos, my favorite prawns topped with nori strips. These ingredients rest on the most flavorful rice I’ve tested. Japaella also won my wife’s discriminating taste; we’re one in saying that we’ll definitely have this again next time we visit John and Yoko. Did I tell you it comes in enormous serving that’s good for 3 pax?  But since it was just perfect for our appetite; I don’t think Tina and I would share it with other friend/s or relative/s, LOL :D

Gabby ordered one of his staples…3EBI TEMPURA, PhP 368+ /5 pieces.  Our son nearly finished the entire plate!  He had 4 out 5 of those battered prawns. He must be so tired and hungry then or it must have been that delicious for him, or he just really favored it over other Japanese yummies on our table. But I know he also likes kani (crab).  He enjoys dipping them on tempura sauce.  As for my two-cents worth, it may not be the best tempura in town but heck, Gabby was satisfied so we like this too.

4IKA LINGUINI IN TOMATO CREAM SAUCE, PhP 228+.  This was my brother’s choice and because of its large serving, of course he had no choice but to share it with us. :D  Crunchy fried squid served as toppings in creamy pasta; not bad…but where’s the tomato?

5CHISAU RICE, PhP 208+.  Tina ordered this bowl of rice+mushroom+chicken and nori strips. As she puts it, “Masarap naman.” but you know now that she likes my order better than this. :D

6ICED TEA in BLUE (Dalandan), RED (Calamansi), GREEN (Lime), PhP 108+ each/refillable servings.  I like my glasses in BLUE and its flavor doesn’t disappoint.

FOOD : A bit pricey as expected of Japanese restaurant, but Japaella will keep us coming back. We also appreciate the use of (heavy) stone wares as plates and serving platters.

AMBIANCE :  Although we like its cozy, dim lights with black and white film of Akira Kurosawa being projected on one of its wall the last time we visited;  it’s a bothering thought that it can be so congested and a bit noisy during peak hours.    

SERVICE : Now, allow me to be extra serious with this.  I certainly profess that this resto, along with SUMO SAM and MR. KUROSAWA  ULTIMATELY NEEDS IMPROVEMENT when it comes to this department.  Their wait staffs, although clad in sexy black uniforms, should attend vigorous trainings on PUBLIC RELATIONS and HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT.  Read : THEY’RE NOT SERVICE ORIENTED as they don’t offer smiles and are far from being family friendly compared to other restaurants of the same cuisine.  

We waited for several minutes before they attended to our requests with no signs of being apologetic whatsoever.  

I controlled my temper during and after we dined but it doesn’t mean I won’t blog  do anything about it.

WE ARE PAYING CUSTOMERS and DESERVE nothing but THE BEST SERVICE THAT ONE CAN OFFER. Gaano ba kamahal ang ngiti ngayon?  What’s with their 8% service charge if they’re not on their best foot during work? 

Let me remind all the UNfriendly wait staffs of John and Yoko that other than the dishes on the menu, SERVICE COUNTS A LOT in restaurant business.

As I’ve stated on this free and unpaid advertisement for John and Yoko,  WE LIKE THEIR FOOD BUT PLEASE, they have TO IMPROVE SERVICE….They have to… It’s never too late for change before they lose customers who are supposed to BE VALUED.

Eating should always be a happy activity especially with family.  It shouldn’t be less interesting.

We will revisit this resto whenever possible not only to grab a spoonful of that Japaella again :o  but particularly because  I am STILL optimistic that they’ll change for the better.  

 

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JOHN AND YOKO, 2F Space 205 Greenbelt5, Ayala Center, Makati City. For more of John and Yoko’s menu, click  here

21
Sep
09

DUSIT THANI : REVISITED

September 20, 2009 – Two days after my 33rd birthday, my wife, Tina gave me her present : a confirmed reservation for the two of us, with our son, Gabby who eats for FREE at Dusit Thani’s Family Sunday Brunch Buffet! It was our second time to experience such gastronomic adventure in 4 different themed restaurants of Dusit : Benjarong – Thai;  Basix -Asian-Continental;  Tosca-Italian;  Umu -Japanese; Our first dining experience of such epic proportions at Dusit was only last March and can be viewed here; it was such a blast, we had so much fun! :D 

After I have donated blood last Thursday at St. Luke’s Medical Center, as my humble charity work for my birthday, and revisited Bellini’s with my family on the day when I turned a year older, this buffet brunch is more than enough.  For the moment, life cannot be better than this! :D

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We both love Dusit; it’ll be forever memorable for the 2 of us, because 2 sections of its ballroom served as our wedding reception venue more than five years ago. And the brunch we had  six months back was so remarkable that we promised ourselves that we’ll try and explore other dishes some time.  We even spread the word about this Family Brunch Buffet to our colleagues and friends. :D

We arrived at the hotel lobby at 11AM exactly half an hour before buffet starts. After paying PhP 1450 nett per pax, the friendly staff gave our wrist bands that rendered access to those 4 fantastic restaurants in Dusit Thani.  We also got a chance to roam around the Japanese garden opposite Umu while waiting…

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We like those kois on the pond and that man-made waterfalls…

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We shot photos of Gabby at every ‘road signs’ heading to those 4 restos which he enjoyed so much! 

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Though she likes Basix, my wifey chose to reserved a table for 3 at Umu for she knows that I like the ambiance of that Japanese restaurant; not to disregard the fact that I’m excited to eat Umu’s teppanyaki again! 

Who can resist the beauty of Umu?

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Its contemporary Japanese interiors is so inviting.  With those wooden tablets in black with gold Japanese characters, and a sushi-sashimi station at the center, and a classy atmosphere, everyone is easily drawn to its charm.

After being ushered to our table by a purple-Kimono clad staff, Tina and Gabby went to Basix to get some yummies, while I walked straight to an area in Umu to get some of these…

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At the Teppanyaki section, you have the freedom to choose the ingredients you’d like the chef to grill for you at his teppan – from the freshest beef cubes which I skipped;  to thinly sliced veggies, bean sprouts, mushrooms, shelled tiger prawns, pink salmon and lapu-lapu…A dash of salt and pepper and other Oriental seasoning and oil, voila!  

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My teppanyaki plate from Umu is always a personal favorite! I just love how those fresh seafoods are grilled to perfection!

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I also got goodies that were deeply fried upon request :  prawn and bacon which was sooo good! and ham and cheese, eggplant on sticks. 

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I didn’t pass the chance to try another favorite from Umu : SUKIYAKI :D   Look how those bowls of very tender marbled beef and stock with veggies and soft tofu are prepared…

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The glass noodles were soft and thick; the soup itself was never too sweet, neither too salty… Sarap!

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Unlike Sukiyaki from other Japanese restos, Umu’s version doesn’t disappoint because of its almost fatless beef.  Isn’t it obvious that I really like Umu? LOL :D

Other delectable must-try are :  (from left to right)  Tamago rolls, Ika Karaage,  Salad, Cold Soba…

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What’s a Japanese restaurant without sushi and sashimi ?

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On way to Basix, there’s a lady dressed as Thailander who played the string instrument, Khim.

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Basix has this relaxed and cool ambiance…

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Tina and Gabby brought to our table at Umu this plate from Basix…

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I was informed by the chef at Umu’s Teppanyaki section that Ebi Tempura’s cooking was transferred to Basix.  Because it’s one of Gabby’s favorites, Tina got him generous servings of those battered shrimps. It’s not the best tempura we’ve tasted but nonetheless, OK.  The mussels from Basix were bordering from tasteful to bland;  still we favor Circles Events Cafe of Makati Shangri la when it comes to New Zealand Mussels. :D

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When I went to Basix, I got a slice of Roast Beef and 2 wrapped rolls of Peking Duck.  Peking Duck tasted fine, but I wish they can improve the Roast Beef’s mushroom gravy into a thicker consistency and making it more flavorful.

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There are tons of choices to choose from the spread at Basix;  the buffet duration of 11:30 AM to 3PM is just not enough! Too many food, so little time, LOL :D

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What makes Dusit Thani’s Sunday Family Crossover Brunch creatively unique compared to other Live-cooking / open-kitchen buffets in other hotels is that diners in Dusit can burn calories immediately after munching.  How? One has to walk from the base-station of choice (for us :Umu!) to the other 3 themed restos.  I view it as Dusit’s advantage rather than its opposite.  Diners may take the grand winding stairs, or on our case, who were tooooo lazy to walk, take the lifts to go to the mezzanine where Benjarong and Tosca are located.  At the lobby, there are interesting characters to cheer up kids and the kid-at-hearts –  just like this smiley stilt-walker who’s always ready for a photo-op :D

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Being a Thai hotel in Manila, it’s not surprising that Dusit Thani’s Benjarong boasts of ambiance that’s so elegant and enticing to the senses. The entrance to Benjarong has a wall adorned with ceramics that will lead you to the main dining area.

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But, I guess my palate isn’t partial to Thai dishes, whether mild, or super spicy. I only like their desserts.

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YAM SOM O : Pomelo Salad,  and YAM PLA DOOK FOO : Crispy Fried Catfish with Green Mango Salad 

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YAM SAI KRAWK BACON THOD : Spicy Bacon Wrapped Sausage

MEE KROB KRATHONG : Sweet and Sour Crispy Vermicelli in Pastry Cup.

My Thai plate had a bit of everything…

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I like those Thai sweet treats with coconut milk and glutinous rice…

KHANOM TAKO : Sweet Water Chestnut and Coconut Cream in Pandan Cup -> sarap!

KHANOM SOD SAI : Stuffed Glutinous Flour Ball with Grated Coconut and Sugar -> yum!

KHAO NIAO MAMUANG : Ripe Mango with Sticky Rice -> I love mangoes; i like rice! Tasted like bico.

Let’s leave Benjarong and allow me to take you to TOSCA, the Italian Restaurant of Dusit Thani in Makati…

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Tosca is noted for its sophistication and class… the atmosphere is made subdued and comfy by a musician who plays the piano while diners enjoy some of the best Italian cuisine…

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FREE FLOWING ITALIAN SPARKLING WINES, anyone ?  This is another edge of Dusit Thani’s buffet. In other hotels,  rates do not include beverages, but in Dusit, you can enjoy Italian wine flavored with either Dalandan or Raspberry to your hearts content! Other drinks available are Lemongrass Juice from Benjarong, Iced Green Tea from Umu, Dalandan and Raspberry Juices from Basix all in bottomless servings! Plus the staffs are always ready with smiles, which I most like!

There are wide array of food to be cooked and prepared upon request, from pasta to pizza, to salads and more. 

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I so wish our stomachs are bottomless too, LOL :D  We can only eat as much. :D

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I asked one of the chefs in Tosca to prepare me a personal-sized pizza. As he began to knead the dough I requested all toppings available except for olives. Tina and I aren’t fanatics of olives.  He politely told me to return after 5 minutes as he bakes my pizza.  It was delicious; the bread alone can stand sans toppings!  As I enjoyed the pizza freshly made from Tosca, I failed to savor other Italian dishes like that Turkey Breast Stuffed with raisins and sage on roasted tomato cream (photo beside pizza); it looks delicious as well.

One rule that Tina and I have learned from buffets :  MAKE ROOM FOR DESSERTS !

After my wife entrusted Gabby to the very accomodating staffs of KIDS’ STATION at the lobby, Tina and I became so busy with desserts… (Gabby opted to play and watch his favorite cartoons, Spongebob rather than stuffed his tummy like his parents, LOL).   We had ice cream from Tosca, as we look upon Gabby.   

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DESSERTS from TOSCA : DIVINE!

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DESSERTS from BASIX : SUBLIME!

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Care for some D-I-Y  HALO-HALO or CHOCOLATE FONDUE that tastes like Hershey’s?

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While Gabby became occupied with having his face painted for FREE, Tina and I sat at Basix and had blueberry and mango crepes!  I had mine topped with almond flakes.  

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BENJARONG SWEETS : EXQUISITE…

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DESSERTS from UMU :  TOOTHSOME…

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Half hour before 3PM, we took time to photograph Gabby with the friendly balloon-maker and the man on stilts…

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It was another memorable fun day with my family.  What a way to welcome my 33rd year!  The buffet was only icing on the cake;  I am so grateful to our good Lord for my family’s health and safety.  I am just thankful for having Tina and Gabby!  :D 

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We love Dusit Thani’s Sunday Family Crossover Brunch! :D

Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati City/Tel (63-2) 867-3333 Every Sunday 11:30 AM to 3:00PM/ PhP 1450 nett for adults/PhP 725 nett for children 6 to 12 years old.

19
Aug
09

HALF BLOOD JAPANESE

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With my usual craving partial to Japanese food, I wouldn’t mind being reborn even as a half-blood Japanese, lol :D

I noticed that my palate has been biased with Japanese food. I share this craving with my wife, Tina and our preschooler son, Gabby who favors kani tempura so much; he even enjoys eating it with bare clean hands and dipping it in tempura sauce.  Tina and I are partial not only to ebi and kani tempura but to sushi and sashimi and soups like sukiyaki and more.  

Over the past few weeks,  Tina usually comes home from work with 2-packs of takoyaki as her pasalubong to us.  And lately, if not Italian or Chinese, we’ve been dining out in Japanese restaurants – from HANA in Little Tokyo where we enjoyed sukiyaki plate, takoyaki and ramune or flavored ice shaving  to KAGURA also in Little Tokyo where we first tasted okonomiyaki.  We’re also loyal patrons of SAISAKI in Glorietta 3 and had tried ZENSHO  buffet in Tomas Morato.  Even fastfood stall like  KARATE KID did not disappoint my craving.  Of course, on the top of our list that we have tried is UMU in DUSIT THANI Hotel.  I swear, Umu’s one of the finest, that we have to experience it again soon.

Our last Sunday’s lunch was nevertheless, special.  We revisited KIMONO KEN; this time at the basement of Shangri la Mall in Mandaluyong City.  We first dined at this casual Japanese dining place a couple of years ago at SM The Block and since then, I’ve regarded it as one of those that offer best-tasting and affordable Japanese food.  

The pictures can only speak for itself, but the experience of tasting food and dining at Kimono Ken would be another story.  Service was fair, wait staffs were all attentive, courteous and quick.  Ambiance was always casual but with zen-inspired cleanliness and order.  With Kimono Ken’s great tasting food and value for money, without even charging extra charge for service,  they’re true to their tag line, Enticingly Japanese. For Less.

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KANI SALAD, PhP 160.   A  chilled plate of crunchy cut lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber topped with generous volume of shredded kani strips with fish roe tossed with flavorful dressing.  It’s simply a must-try!

I have been craving for a good-tasting seafood ramen for the past weeks now, and I was content with Kimono Ken’s GOMOKU RAMEN, PhP 200. 2

The serving was good for 2 to 3 persons; the salt-based soup perfectly blended well with the shrimps, boiled egg, some chicken slices and noodles.  The waitress even offered a small bottle of  chili powder as an optional spice.   Tina enjoyed this ramen too.  But I also liked her beef rice bowl served with fresh egg.

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GYUDON, PhP 195.  We both love eating Japanese rice.  It has thicker grains and sticky consistency when boiled; so flavorful when cooked or topped with dish like this.  Gyudon is a rice toppings of sweet-soyed beef with leeks and other ingredients that fused in that delicious bowl.  I’m lost for words to describe the wonderful experience of eating it. :D I can consider it another “I-can-eat-this-everyday!” -meal.

 Gabby ordered a glass of iced tea, PhP 40. And I’ve tried sipping KIMONO KEN’S SPECIAL, PhP 75.  

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KIMONO KEN’S SPECIAL is a slush mixed of orange and mango but the taste is more than that mango-orange; it’s not that tangy but sweet and refreshingly similar to four seasons.  I guess everything’s reasonably special in Kimono Ken.

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CHICKEN CHEESE ROLL, PhP 160.  With fried chicken rolls topped with melted cheese, how can you go wrong?

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MANGO TEMPURA A LA MODE, PhP 100.  This was Gabby’s plate.   He ate the ice cream but did not finish the mango tempura.  This was probably because  he’s used to crab tempura instead of mangoes, and he was also craving for his favorite fastfood meal – McDonald’s fried chicken happy meal that we gave him after eating at Kimono Ken.  Nevertheless, this dessert perfectly ended our hearty lunch last Sunday.  

Thank you God for another opportunity to enjoy Your blessings with my family.

How was the start of your week?  May we have great days ahead! :D

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KIMONO KEN, Garden Court LG Level, SHANGRI LA, Mandaluyong City.

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10
Aug
09

JAPANESE BREADS & MORE

IMG_3111This was my tray of Japanese baked goodies that I brought and paid at the counter of Dezaato Pan located at the corner of Tomas Morato and Roces Avenues in Quezon City.  I had them to-go as pasalubong for my son & his mom.  

Dezaato Pan provides free wi-fi access to dining clients. Breads are on display at a glass-topped wooden shelves that somehow prevents contamination of microscopic and air-borne pathogens. 

IMG_3115This is their edge over Breadtalk that has their breads exposed to air.  Another Dezaato Pan advantage is their price; the cost of each bread is  a lot cheaper than Breadtalk’s.  But we love Breadtalk.  We like their bread called FLOSS especially that CHEESE FLOSS; it’s always a must-buy whenever we’re at Breadtalk.  Nonetheless, Dezaato Pan’s goodies also tasted OK but some were not.   I don’t know, probably because my wife Tina and I are too biased with Breadtalk so when we tasted Dezaato Pan’s, it suffered criticisms from my wife’s meticulous taste.

However, if there’s one reason for me to go back to Dezaato Pan, it would be this bread…. I honestly liked this soft bread topped with salty delicious KATSUBUSHI or tuna flakes. The marriage between the buttery bread and its toppings really worked for my palate. :D  This bread is called RYOUSHI OISHI, PhP 42.  Sarap!

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Our son Gabby and I also liked ICHIGO DELIGHT.  It’s like a danish bread topped with strawberry jam; reasonably delicious at PhP 39. 

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I don’t know about your taste, but for me, the next two breads were not that good.  I failed to finish them, and my wife disliked them too.  The one of the left is called KING NIKU PORK NORI SESAME, PhP 45 and on the right is KANI & CORN ROLL BREAD, PhP 39.

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Other than breads, there were cakes too…

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Tina, Gabby and I liked the cakes from Dezaato Pan.. I bought a slice of TRIPLE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE, PhP 95.

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We also got to taste a slice of CARAMEL  GREEN CREPE, PhP 80.  It tasted and smelled like Jasmine flower; uniquely delicious.

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It has layers of different textures; predominantly soft and melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

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Surprisingly, Dezaato Pan also offers more than breads and cold & hot beverages. They also have gelato!!!   

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Those gelato are sold at PhP 70 per 100gms. Again, it’s cheaper than the other gelato but it will  have to wait until my next visit for me taste it.

The service staffs were friendly, and the wifi-ready dining area was comfortable enough to while away time.  There were lots of baked yummies that looked probably go well with coffee; i’ll try some more on my next visit. :D

DEZAATO PAN BREADS SWEETS CAFE, U-5 Thompson’s Square, Tomas Morato, Quezon City.

28
Jul
09

ABOUT LAST WEEKEND

IMG_2955Last Saturday, after a quick stop at my folks’ place in Pasig, I brought my family -Tina and Gabby to Eastwood Mall in Libis, Quezon City.   Look how crisp the interiors of the Eastwood Mall is…2Other  than having those functional and stylish lounges, Eastwood Mall boasts of having mall butlers clad in black suits who’ll offer to carry your paper bags throughout the duration of your shopping.  Although we haven’t bought anything yet from our previous visits there LOL :D,  and still to try the cinemas (we commonly go to the Eastwood City cinemas – haven’t watched a movie yet at Eastwood Mall cinemas),  we usually go there for few reasons :  to get a load of Starbucks, for my preschooler son to enjoy Timezone and what else but  to CHOW! 

Perhaps, next to Glorietta & Greenbelt in Makati, Shangri la mall in Mandaluyong,  and Gateway and TriNoma in QC, this Eastwood Mall is becoming one our favorites.  Why not?  it isn’t as crowded as Isetann Recto (patawa lang po). :D

Before deciding where and what to eat, we asked Gabby to pose as I click the cam.  He knew he had so many photos taken already from this site from our previous visits hence the awkward smile…

   

From its exteriors, a row of upscale restaurants always appear so inviting however last weekend, Mr. Kurosawa won our votes.

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It’s one of the chain of restaurants that the local celebrity Marvin Agustin partly owns.  One similarity between John and Yoko in Greenbelt 5, SUMO SAM in Shangri la and Power Plant Malls, with Mr. Kurosawa besides being contemporary-Japanese in the menu,  is the interiors.  All of these food places have hip and edgy atmosphere having subdued lighting, the evident constant use of purplish hues, and lots of things in black  which I like.  The servers too, wear dark sexy short dresses in heeled shoes/boots;  and you won’t expect any kimonos and obi belts just like in traditional Japanese resto. 

I like the idea of glowing Japanese posters up in the ceiling…

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My wife and I noticed food is basically the same.  Their menus probably only differ in covers, but has less variations.  I don’t know about your palate, but IMO, one thing is sure – the food in those three spots are delicious if you welcome a fusion of taste between the East and the West,  however a bit reasonably pricey.

We  keep coming back to  SUMO SAM  once in a while because I personally like this dish that we’ve also tried ordering at John and Yoko, now tasted the plate in Mr. Kurosawa —> SEAFOOD OMELET RICE, PhP 228. 

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Tina and I both agreed that Mr. Kurosawa’s version of Seafood Omelet Rice is BETTER than Sumo Sam and John and Yoko. The Japanese rice is stickier; the taste yummier.  Common among the 3 restos : generous servings for this dish.

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The serving was too large for our appetite (honestly) that we have to asked the wait staff for us to have it as to-go.  OK, I admit we have huge appetite but far from being gluttons we failed to finish this favorite because we sampled another hit from Mr. Kurosawa…

The pizza that we enjoyed after the last bite is  called IWO JIMA, PhP 279 …

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It’s thin crust pizza which I like, and what made it uniquely savory from most pizzas we’ve tasted was the presence of sweetest mango cubes as one of its toppings.  Imagine the saltiness from cheese had married the sweetness of mango bits. It’s Euro-Japanese on a plate!   That  one last slice I had came from this good-for-three servings…

IMG_2971If my taste buds served me right, the mango and cheese combo in IWO JIMA pizza was also mixed with cubes of chicken teriyaki and sesame seeds.  It’s so flavorful enough for you to forget worries of daily living, lol :D IMG_2979Another must-try from the menus of either Sumo Sam, John and Yoko and Mr. Kurosawa, are  the 3 -colored-iced teas.. They’re in green (lime), red (calamansi), and my favorite – in blue (dalandan)…

They’re refillable until whatever volume you can handle at PhP 108.

Apparently, we liked our merienda last Saturday; look how my wife and our son smiled after being satiated…:D

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MR. KUROSAWA, G/F Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City.

12
Jul
09

LITTLE TOKYO (PART TWO)

2This is the last of two-part-series of our Little Tokyo experience on a late Friday afternoon. 

If you’ve read my first entry below about these quaint Japanese restaurants ran by authentic Japanese chefs along Chino Roces (formerly Pasong Tamo) and Amorsolo Streets in Makati City, you have known that we first chowed down at Hana where we munched on Takoyaki  or octopus dumplings, Sukiyaki plate and our son Gabby enjoyed his flavored shaved ice Ramune.   This next post about Little Tokyo will show you our first experience of eating okonomiyaki at Kagura, the next-door-restaurant to Hana.  

 

 

 

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This is Kagura, one of the small restaurants inside Little Tokyo.  It was so apparent that the owner of this Japanese nook is a baseball fanatic for he/she incorporated all things about the sports in the interiors of Kagura; from miniature baseball bats, to baseball balls, even the boob tube near one end of the door was showing Japanese baseball game. 

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This is one of the three partitioned tables in Kagura where diners can sit comfortably with crossed legs or just let legs and feet dangle at the hole under the table once seated and enjoy the yummies.  But my wife Tina, our son Gabby and I opted to sit in the counter opposite this tables in front of those two chefs at the teppan (flat iron grill plate).  No worries because there was unobtrusive smoke out of the cooking process; diners won’t smell the same as the food they ordered.

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Kagura’s specialty is mainly OKONOMIYAKI or Japanese pancakes or some call it Japanese pizza that is cooked in front of the customer upon order.   In front of the teppan grill are tiny baseball player figures that made Gabby so preoccupied at looking at them while Tina and I were busy learning how to cook Okonomiyaki.

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We had one order of EGG & SHRIMP OKONOMIYAKI  (I forgot the price, but it’s less than PhP 300 because I paid PhP 320 for the bill including a can of regular Coke).   The other Okonomiyaki being fried on the photo above was for another diner, a Japanese ex-pat who ordered his pancake with noodles. One thing is sure at Little Tokyo according to the blogs I’ve read about it,  it’s usually packed by mostly Japanese nationals so one can be sure that those restaurants inside the compound are authentic in serving good food (although some may agree that most in their menu are a bit pricey, because I’ve stated on my previous post, diners pay not only for the food but the ambiance as well). 

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake coined from the words   okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked” (as in yakitori and yakisoba); I got that info from this source.  The batter was mixed with chopped veggies mainly cabbage strips and some shrimps, or you can have other seafoods such as squid rings and even bacon strips and noodles to be included as ingredients of your okonomiyaki- whichever way you want it cooked.

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Because we’re a bit satiated from eating Takoyaki, Sukiyaki plate that was served with rice from Hana, but can’t afford to miss the chance of trying to eat okonomiyaki as well,  we just ordered one egg and shrimp pancake but I personally asked for additional topping of  FISH FLAKES for additional PhP 35.  That makes Okonomiyaki different from Italian pizza which is usually topped by cheese…Our okonomiyaki was topped with mayonnaise drizzle, green nori (seaweed) powder and fish flakes before it was served on an iron pan.  

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I would say that I liked the first time experience of eating Okonomiyaki but I don’t think I can eat it on a daily basis. It was surprising to see the Japanese national next to where Gabby was seated to finished munching his order in a blink!  I like the way it was prepared, with seafood and egg on the batter and some veggies of course, it’s  a whole meal in one to be precise. But it would take probably a real Japanese blood to supply the stomach to have it as a favorite dish.  Nonetheless, I would order it again given the chance to be there (again) but as I’ve stated, not on an everyday basis.

The other things that caught our eyes inside Kagura were these interesting stuffs – bottles of Japanese wines, liquor and even SMB’s Cerveza Negra (which I heard from my wife’s soon-to-be US-Immigration lawyer’s talk from a seminar we attended that it was one of the ‘hard-to-find’ stuffs in the US that may be a prospect for some business minded people to import it from the PI).

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Should I recommend Little Tokyo to you? Absolutely! If you’re into Japanese food and would like to enjoy authentic Japanese dishes at small restaurants tucked inside a compound owned by Japanese chef, it’s worth the experience.

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Despite the traffic, and the hassle going to and out of it, I’m glad I’ve been to Little Tokyo! :P

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Kagura @ Little Tokyo, 2277 Chino Roces St., Makati City, tel # (63-2) 894-3856.

11
Jul
09

LITTLE TOKYO (PART ONE)

Yesterday, I successfully convinced my wife, Tina with our four-year-old son, Gabby, to come with me and experience a quaint area that I wanted to visit ever since I’ve read about it from random blogs. Since we all are self-proclaimed foodies, there was no effort on my part to be so compelling that the little compound of  small restaurants owned by Japanese chefs is really a must-see and a must-try.  

At half hour past 3 in the afternoon, Gabby and I went to Gateway Mall to meet Tina from work. After she arrived, we didn’t waste a minute and headed straight to Makati City.  The place was along Chino Roces, formerly Pasong Tamo and near Amorsolo Street. It has two entrances – one facing Plaza Fair/Makati Cinema Square (yes, they are still on operation, business must have been good, LOL !) and the other gate was at the other side of the street I failed to recall.  I was so happy that we went here…  

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On way there, my son curiously asked me if we need to fly airplane to reach Little Tokyo. :)   For people like us who haven’t been to Japan, this place is a nice find until one day that we get to tour and experience the ‘real thing’.  

My heart rate became slightly rapid when I saw the flame red torii  or  that traditional Japanese gate.  Needless to say, I was unobtrusively excited.  Even Gabby was eager to be there because it was totally different from our usual Glorietta-Greenbelt-Landmark-Glorietta-SM-routine that we usually do when we’re in Makati. 

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Little Tokyo in Makati is adjacent to so many Japanese restaurants, a spa and two exclusively Japanese groceries.  As soon as we walked through it, I was never surprised to see the small compound with a welcoming beautiful zen garden and an ambiance that brought us a slice of a city in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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It was a fresh experience to dine where ambiance is not only authentic but impressive.   

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There are seats and tables for al fresco dining from each restaurant.  But we preferred to eat inside and cross our legs in front of a Japanese table.  

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We tried two restaurants.  Yes, we dined there yesterday afternoon not once but twice :)  Our first stop was HANA

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Hana was the first resto at Little Tokyo that greeted us.  The waitresses clad in white blouses and black pants were courteous, even offered us the small VIP room at the end of the small Jap nook without an extra charge.  The small room had a flat screen TV on the wall, air condition unit, an exhaust fan, a table good for less than 10 people I guess and so I tried crossing my legs and sat on this…

10I like the print of this throw pillow or whatever they call it in Japan.  

Now, here are the yummies we ordered….

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Gabby was the first one to received his order.  It was RAMUNE, PhP 60.  It’s flavored finely shaved ice that reminded me of snow cone :)  It’s available in melon, peach, lemon, orange, strawberry, grape flavors and you may opt to add milk to it but our little boy wanted it plain. Gabby had his Ramune as the same color with his shirt and mind you, it was not wasabi flavor  :D  but bubble gum; it’s OK and wasn’t irritatingly sweet.  Gabby was happy with Ramune.  

13SUKIYAKI PLATE, PhP 250 

I’ve tasted the best Sukiyaki, IMO, from Umu -the Japanese restaurant in DUSIT THANI HOTEL’s FAMILY SUNDAY BRUNCH that we’ve tried few months ago but Hana’s SUKIYAKI PLATE was not disappointing. It was only unique from the usual Japanese soup served with the beef stock already mixed with ingredients all in one bowl.  Hana’s version was deliciously different having it on a dish instead of a  bowl, with all other common ingredients – thinly sliced beef ,  2 generous cubes of tofu, mushroom, and was topped with nori strips (sushi wrapper cut into pieces).    The beef slices were so tender, and the tofu was so delicious it actually tasted soya milk! (I know tofu is the sieved particle of soya milk but Hana’s tofu in its Sukiyaki has the softest consistency somewhat like a soft delectable gelatin).  The dish came with the sukiyaki broth in a separate bowl and a small bowl of rice that Tina and I shared. (We we’re saving space at our stomachs for other Jap goodies from the adjacent must-try resto :D). 

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Another first in our Japanese dining experience at Little Tokyo was eating TAKOYAKI or octopus dumplings.

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Based on my blog hopping weeks before we went there, Hana is noted for their TAKOYAKI so we didn’t pass the chance to try it ourselves. Takoyaki costs PhP 100 per plate of six, served 30 minutes upon order.  It’s cooked at an iron Takoyaki pan or pancake puffs pan by a Japanese chef  just outside Hana’s door.

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It’s soft outside with mushier consistency inside. Each ball of  Takoyaki has a tiny piece of octopus and its filling has gingery taste but far from overpowering. It was sprinkled with mayonnaise and Takoyaki sauce.  It was fresh to my palate but wasn’t unpleasant.

Hana and the other restos in Little Tokyo share public toilets within their compound.  The toilet for males was screaming for much-needed renovation but it was clean inside.  Service in Hana was fair;  the staff were courteous and attentive, but most food on the menu was a bit pricey.  And this is a general observation between Hana and Kagura (the two restos there that we sampled).  To be logical about it, diners are not only paying for the food but the ambiance and authenticity of the place.  It may not be a high-end Japanese dining place, but rest assure that it’s far from the Jap food in malls and fast foods that lack that Little Tokyo experience.     

HANA is at Little Tokyo 2277 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City.   

My next post will be about our first experience of eating OKONOMIYAKI or Japanese pancake from KAGURA, also at Little Tokyo (the next door resto to Hana).  :)  

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(singing mode…) I’m turning Japanese,  I really think so…

—————-> to be continued :)

24
Jun
09

ONE BUBBLY AFTERNOON

When it comes to dining out, my wife and I would often want something that we haven’t tried before, unless we’re not in the mood to be adventurous on food, we’ll just play it safe with some of our favorites.  Browsing the the net to scan reviews of food places is always helpful especially when we’re on a slightly tight budget.  After all, good food need not always to be pricey.

Some of our favorite comfort foods are sushi, sweet desserts such as cakes coupled with iced-cold beverages or coffee.  And all of these we found in one place called Bubble Tea – Tokyo Milk Tea Place. 

Bubble Tea, as of present has two branches at the Metro- one in SM Megamall and the other one that we’ve tried is located at SM The Block.   Bubble Tea offers a fusion of Japanese and Italian/continental dishes all  in one place.  Here’s a few peek of what we’ve tasted from Bubble Tea’s menu.

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I liked this Bubble Salad Sushi (PhP 125).  Since my wife was already satiated from our lunch with another resto, she only tasted one and I ate all remaining 3 sushi, hehehe…sarap!   It has glutinous Japanese rice, slices of mango and crab with chopped cucumber pieces wrapped in nori and topped with mayonaise-like dressing and fish roe; it appeared and tasted like an improved version of California maki.

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We were provided a huge cardboard menu by the friendly wait staff but we also went to the counter to check out other things to try.  Then our son Gabby pointed at his preferred cake at the counter so we ordered.  He’s a bit choosy when it comes to solid food so we usually give in to some of his requests.  He liked this Choco Royal (PhP 80).

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The Bubble Tea’s Choco Royal’s filling has soft-melt-in-your-mouth consistency from different textured chocolates. Gabby’s happy with it, he almost finished the entire serving.  IMG_2409

Ofcourse, what’s a visit to Bubble Tea without sampling their Milk Tea or shakes.  They’re called Bubble tea referring not to the frothy beverages but to those chewy tapioca.  My wife ordered Taro Milk Tea (PhP 85) with extra egg pudding (Php 15) while I tried Choco Milk Tea (PhP 75) with extra egg pudding as well.  We both liked the Taro Milk Tea for being flavorful and I personally prefer it over what I’ve ordered since it has that Jasmine tea aroma that came in perfect blend with the egg pudding and tapioca; it was really refreshing and offered a twist from similar taro pudding and drinks that we’ve tried before.

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Gabby looked excited to sip those two tall glasses of bubble milk teas..

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Other than the varied choices of milk teas and different flavors of iced cold beverages, Bubble Tea’s menu also has Oishi pizza, some choices of pasta and Japanese rice bowls. The service was quick, the staff were courteous and friendly with ready smiles to their clients and didn’t forget to bid us good bye as we left their resto that weekend afternoon.

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Bubble Tea  -Tokyo Milk Tea Place. G/F SM the Block, North EDSA, Q.C.

22
Jun
09

TATAY-DOC’S DAY!

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…

 

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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…

BURP!

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DAD’S ULTIMATE BUFFET include KAMAYAN & SAISAKI -GLORIETTA 3 MAKATI – (632) 892-8898. 

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

04
Jun
09

ZENSHO

Despite the weather today, my wife Tina and I braved the rains just to give in to our gastronomic craving – Japanese food buffet! .  We usually pass by this restaurant at Tomas Morato in Quezon City on our way home but  it took us some time to finally try dining at Zensho and today’s lunch was just perfect.

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Zensho’s lunch buffet is available from Mon. to Sun. at 11AM to 2:30pm for only PhP 485 ++ per pax.  What’s good with it, unlike the other buffet, the orders are served ala carte, even if you avail of the eat-all-you-want, so the yummy japanese foods can be enjoyed fresh and hot.   

We were guided to our table by the kimono-clad wait staff as Tina already made reservation few hours ago.  It’s a weekday so we expect that the place won’t be packed as much as we see it during weekends.  But we were wrong.  We arrived at 11AM with only few tables at Zensho occupied, but as clock ticked to lunch time, no table was left without diners.

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Japanese dining isn’t complete without hot tea. To maximize our dining pleasure as we might be satiated early with sweetened beverages and to improve peristalsis and digestion, we spared the drinks except for Zensho’s house tea. Talk about the art of buffet eating according to the book of docgelo, LOL.

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The first of our orders from the buffet menu was EBI KAKIAGE TEMPURA or mixed chopped shrimps and sliced vegetables.  The tempura breading was just right, deep-fried to perfection.

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From the Nabemono (鍋物, なべ物, nabe cooking pot + mono things, stuff, kinds) page in Zensho’s menu, I never missed to order SUKIYAKI.  My favorite Japanese soup made up of beef slices, tofu, noodles, vegetables flavored with dashi (cooking stocks)  shoyu (soy sauce), sugar and Japanese wine for that authentic Japanese food taste!  Zensho’s version of Sukiyaki has the basic tender beef slices and that sweet and salty taste.

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What’s a Japanese buffet without SASHIMI (刺身)? 

As late as High School, I remember then that I’m clueless with the difference between sashimi and sushi besides their spelling, LOL.  I can’t blame my parents who brought us not to these types of food places but to fastfood joints like McDonald’s, Jollibee, Goldilocks and to a favorite Filipino restaurant before – that UlamNilad in Cubao.  Now, I know better, LOL.  

Sashimi ofcourse is sliced fresh raw seafoods while sushi  is made of rice topped with ingredients such as seafood usually served rolled inside or around  nori  (dried and pressed layer sheets of seaweed or algae ) is called makizushi (巻き).

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SUSHISarap with WASABI (Japanese horseradish).!

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We also tried tons of beef dishes – SUKIYAKI STEAK and BEEF TERIYAKI.

Sukiyaki steak (left) was so delicious made of thinly sliced striploin.  Beef Teriyaki (right) was equally pleasing to the palate with sauteed beef  in Zensho’s teriyaki sauce.

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Two of Zensho’s house specialties were also notable as they were served identical – these were the OYSTER MOTOYAKI and PACIFIC SPECIAL.  Both were indistinct except for their basic ingredients. Oyster Motoyaki is made of baked oyster and Pacific Special consists of other seafoods.   Both can be eaten as appetizer, but I can’t deny the fact that they’re also best with Jap rice.

OYSTER  MOTOYAKI 

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They’re such a delight not only to the tongue but to the eyes as well. Look how Zensho served its house specialties… At the right end was our choice from the YAKIMESHI menu (japanese style fried rice cooked in the misono table with chopped vegetables, egg and seasoning) we chose a small bowl of SEAFOOD RICE.  It was delightful!

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PACIFIC SPECIAL equally looked and tasted buttery like OYSTER MOTOYAKI but it has other seafoods.  Yummy too!

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YASAI KANI SALAD, anyone ?  Those strips of artificial crab, tobiko (とびこ) or fish roe, cucumber and sweetest mango really made my day!

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CHICKEN YAKITORI 17

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EBI TEMPURA  also made our lunch complete. I can eat any shrimp dish daily, LOL.

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Burp !  Till our next digestive feast. Thanks for visiting.

19
May
09

FOODCOURT JAP FOOD

I was waiting for my wife at TriNoma mall after work last week for us to go grocery shopping when I got bored of roaming around and window shopping. I decided to eat something and found myself ordering japanese food at KARATE KID fastfood at the Landmark foodcourt in TriNoma.

About 3 months ago, I’ve tasted the best sukiyaki from UMU in Dusit Thani hotel in Makati City and posted that experience here  so I smiled the moment I spotted the menu of KARATE KID has it, or at least similar taste to it at a very affordable price.  I ordered SUKIYAKIDON, it’s sukiyaki served with rice at its bottom.

SUKIYAKIDON, PhP 99

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I became too excited with the price of their menu and ordered japanese roll yummies…I just thought that my wife Tina, who then was on her way to meet me in the Landmark foodcourt, can help me finish everything just in case I had too much already. So before she came, I was also enjoying these ….

KANI SUSHI, PhP 69 (very reasonable price!) 

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TONKATSU MAKI, PhP 75

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And to complete the meal, I had KIDO PUNCH TEA, 16 oz, with 1 free refill at only PhP 35!

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KARATE KID JAPANESE FASTFOOD, stall #7 Food Center Level, Ayala Triangle, North Mall, EDSA, Quezon City

06
May
09

PALENGKE

I’m off from work today and Gabby has been enjoying his cartoon-all-day-pre-school vacation, so we thought of fetching Tina from her work.  Her duty from O.R. ends at 2PM and since probably we’re looking for an alternative place other than going to the malls, coffee shops and restaurants, we decided to drop by a market in Quezon City which is a stone-throw away from (my former and) Tina’s workplace.

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Before hitting the famous market, it’s common along these streets to see locally made handicrafts, decors and furnitures inside and out of Dapitan Arcade. Even its sidewalks had these spread…

img_1015  img_1014

Then few steps from Dapitan Arcade is this …

img_1007  img_1008

Where  wrought-iron furnitures and tiffany chairs and ceramic and stonewares that I’m sure anyone can haggle for a cheaper price than somewhere else are all for sale…

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Ofcourse you know we went there not for these wonderful buys but certainly for something to satisfy our gastronomic cravings, lol.

Do you like kakanin  (rice cakes) ?

 

Puto,  Kutsinta  or  dimsum (kikiam and siomai) perhaps ?

 

What about jap rolls like california maki with some wasabi ?

 

These are sold in SUKI MARKET for very affordable prices.  The rice cakes are up for grab for only PhP 40 – 60 while  California maki and other jap rolls can be bought for price range of PhP 80 to PhP 350 (biggest bilao).  We bought and took home the medium sized bilao of these rolls (PhP 200) along with other nice-for-bites…

img_1023 

It would take probably two or more snack sessions before we finished all of these. We shared some to our household. =)

Have you been to Suki Market ?

01
Apr
09

BLUE PLATES

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..

yummy!

yummy!

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.

24
Mar
09

OOPS, WE ATE IT AGAIN!

Things are sweetest when we least expect it.
A couple of hours to lunch time today, my wife Tina asked me if it’s OK for us to go malling again since both of us were free from work and it’s kinda boring to just stay at home.
I suggested Powerplant mall in Rockwell after fetching Gabby from his school.
It was unplanned and I was too weak to resist so I easily gave in, lol.

What’s even nicer was when Tina asked me if I wanted to eat late lunch at Pepper Lunch.

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Wow, and we tried those Beef Pepper Rice for the 3rd time and got to flavor it with that honey brown sauce, which for me is to-die-for.
This lunch, it had to be DOUBLE BEEF pepper rice for me…(read: DOUBLE), lol.
It’s now official for us- it’s a favorite!

Pepper Lunch allows diners to complete the cooking by serving the ordered food in raw with butter at the center all in a very hot/sizzling plate (heated to 260’C). Once order is served, one should mix it, flip the food upside down to cook it just right. Then seasoned it with either garlic soy sauce or honey brown sauce or both…

double beef pepper rice :  more than meets the eye!

double beef pepper rice : more than meets the eye!

future chef Gabby putting on the honey brown sauce on my hot plate

future chef Gabby putting on the honey brown sauce on my hot plate

just the sight of it makes me hungry

just the sight of it makes me hungry

Three new things to our 3rd PL dining :
1. first time at PL Rockwell (1st 2 were at Shangri-la mall).
2. first to order sesame chicken salad.
3. first to order molten milk chocolate.

molten milk chocolate

molten milk chocolate

sesame chicken salad : shake, shake, shake!

sesame chicken salad : shake, shake, shake!

Subjectively, PL is affordable considering the tender tasty juicy beef and other steaks they offer are sourced abroad according to other blogs. As for our lunch…

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PEPPER LUNCH IS LOVE =)

aren't they sweet?

aren't they sweet?

Pepper Lunch Rockwell
Power Plant Mall
Rockwell Center
Makati City
tel # (63-2) 895-6185

Pepper Lunch Shangri-la
Garden Court level
Ortigas Center
Mandaluyong City
tel # (63-2) 631-6410

19
Mar
09

WE’RE IN HEAT!

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

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

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

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

is it ON or OFF ?

is it ON or OFF ?

The CAST :
Gabby & I…

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

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

I & Tina…

the queen and I.

the queen and I.

my in-laws

my in-laws

The PLOT :

enough reason to try dining at HEAT

enough reason to try dining at HEAT

The HORS D’OEUVRE :

cold cuts, anyone?

cold cuts, anyone?

salad in waiting

salad in waiting

another shot

another shot

a closer look

a closer look

ANTIPASTI…

cheese, dips and lots of them

cheese, dips and lots of them

want some carbo-loading?

want some carbo-loading?

more of appetizers...

more of appetizers...

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

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

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

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

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

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

turning japanese!

turning japanese!

jap station : take 2!

jap station : take 2!

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

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

will you dip them in wasabi?

will you dip them in wasabi?

My ANTITHESIS to HEAT’S JAPANESE SPREAD…

eyeLOVEthoseCHOPSTICKS!!!

eyeLOVEthoseCHOPSTICKS!!!

Tina had her share…

MINIMALISM

MINIMALISM

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

there were different sauces to spice 'em up.

there were different sauces to spice 'em up.

That plate was mine :

SURF and TURF, baby!

SURF and TURF, baby!

Those yummies came from these…

seafood calling

seafood calling

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

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

more of iodine & calcium-rich seafoods...

more of iodine & calcium-rich seafoods...

The CARVING STATION :

bovine pleasures

bovine pleasures

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

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

CHINESE FOODS:

one of Beijing's famous dish : PEKING DUCK

one of Beijing's famous dish : PEKING DUCK

STEAMED DELIGHTS

STEAMED DELIGHTS

Tina’s oriental choices…

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

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

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

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

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

oriental dishes : i want!

oriental dishes : i want!

much needed break in betweet stations called for roughage

much needed break in betweet stations called for roughage

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

persian treats

persian treats

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

this plate looks delish!

this plate looks delish!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sweet treats

sweet treats

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

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

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

more than meets the eye? err, taste buds?

more than meets the eye? err, taste buds?

But I found mango pastries/tarts delicious…

i admit i liked those yellow ones...

i admit i liked those yellow ones...

My sweet tooth called for these…

i tasted 'em all !  =)

i tasted 'em all ! =)

Never to miss the two chocolate fountains…

do you prefer it white ?

do you prefer it white ?

or do you like it dark ?

or do you like it dark ?

Tina only had few of them…

few were chosen

few were chosen

want some churros or creme brulee perhaps?

want some churros or creme brulee perhaps?

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

bibingka   a.k.a. rice cakes

bibingka a.k.a. rice cakes

my bibingka tasted odd without sugar (muscovado) =(

my bibingka tasted odd without sugar (muscovado) =(

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

summer won't be complete without these

summer won't be complete without these

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

fried ice cream

fried ice cream

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

doc bibs tried some taho...=)

doc bibs tried some taho...=)

peculiar combination : taho & churros =)

peculiar combination : taho & churros =)

Gabby's sweeter than those treats =)

Gabby's sweeter than those treats =)

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

one for the books

one for the books

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

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

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

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

16
Mar
09

DUSIT THANI’S BRUNCH : A FEAST FOR FAMILIES

Foreword : There’s a huge gap between gluttony and food enthusiasm.
It’s best to treat oneself to anything that is never a daily routine.

It was like an amazing race to four awesome buffet stations.
I am still into it until this post.
It was such an experience.

After dining at Circles Events Cafe buffet at Shangri-la Makati last February, this morning we headed to Makati to try the much talked about Family Sunday Brunch Buffet at Dusit Thani Hotel.

My 4-year-old son Gabby at the lobby of Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati

My 4-year-old son Gabby at the lobby of Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati

Tina & I miss Dusit Hotel. Our wedding reception was held there when it was still Dusit Hotel Nikko five years ago; we had it in its two of three grand ballrooms along with our more or less 200 guests. And so when I introduced Tina to the lunch buffet that the newly renovated Dusit offers every Sunday, she also became excited to go back and see changes that transformed Dusit Hotel Nikko into Dusit Thani now. We hopped blogs to blogs to read feedbacks and comments of diners who already tried it, we viewed photos taken from the four participating high-end restos before we push through with our gastronomic want.

These are the four participating restaurants in the Dusit Thani Family Sunday Brunch…

dusit

The cost of this digestive feast of epic proprotion is PhP 1450 nett inclusive of access to Umu, a japanese restaurant, Basix a Continental-Asian resto, Benjarong – thai and Tosca – Italian. Children 5 years old and below get to eat for FREE. And kids above 6 years of age get to have 50% discount. What makes it different from other EAT-ALL-YOU-WANT and OPEN-KITCHEN hotel dining is that in Dusit, it’s also DRINK-ALL-YOU-CAN complete with not only teas, juices but also wines!!! How good can it get? Plus, kids once fed and full already can be left SAFELY by enjoying parents at Dusit’s KID’S ZONE where they can watch cartoons, have face painting, coloring activities, play-dough and other arty crafts. The brunch buffet starts at 11:30AM until 3PM, enough for you to go through the four buffet stations either using the grand spiral staircase or the lift going from the lobby to the mezzanine where the other two restos (Benjarong and Tosca) are located. These things are well-thought of by the management, I guess, to cater to the Filipino Family bonding moments.

After paying at the cashier near the entrance to the lobby, the diners get to have these wristbands as passes to the four participating restos.

All for the glory of digestive feast and family bonding.

All for the glory of digestive feast and family bonding.

Directions to the restos are provided to diners by these road signs… clever huh!

question is : Where would you go first ?

question is : Where would you go first ?

Since we google the web first for info about this dining extravaganza, we decided to make UMU, the japanese restaurant as our dining “base” and had a table for three reserved under my name the night before our brunch.

follow our leader : To UMU !

follow our leader : To UMU !

I so like the interiors of UMU. In fact I was speechless when we entered it until we were guided to our table. It’s far different from the usual japanese-oriental restos. There are japanese caligraphies written on black tablets glued on the walls. The upholsteries of seats are in bright colors to blend with UMU’s cozy atmosphere overlooking Dusit’s jap garden.

UMU's fine oriental interiors

UMU

Here’s a closer look at those really cool jap wooden panels…isn’t it a beauty?

can someone translate?

can someone translate?

Tina, Gabby and I were seated in a table across this japanese roll station…

care for some maki and sushi? i want !

care for some maki and sushi? i want !

FOODIES : like father like son

FOODIES : like father like son

my lovely wife Tina to whom I share my life & my food enthusiasm.

my lovely wife Tina to whom I share my life & my food enthusiasm.

First plates of the first couple of this blog :

Tina's plate of some grilled tuna & skewers with jap rice

Tina

what's cooking here for doc gelo?

what

I started with jap soup : SUKIYAKI = yummy!

I started with jap soup : SUKIYAKI = yummy!

Gabby started with desserts immediately, why not?

Gabby started with desserts immediately, why not?

Those sweet treats came from this station :

sweets for sweet

sweets for sweet

Waiters at Umu offered glasses of iced cold green teas for reshrements before I and Gabby walked few steps from our table to Umu’s TEPPANYAKI station.

manong, puro seafoods pls! =)

manong, puro seafoods pls! =)

After choosing few pieces of tiger prawns, salmon, lapu-lapu and mung bean sprouts, i transferred my plate to the chef on the teppan.

TEPPAN = flat iron grill

TEPPAN = flat iron grill

my teppanyaki, sigh.

my teppanyaki, sigh.

Tina's teppanyaki plate. more veggies, plus beef & seafoods!

Tina

Other japanese yummies in Umu :

tamago rolls, shrimp cakes,tofu steak, kani sticks, mashed potato.

tamago rolls, shrimp cakes,tofu steak, kani sticks, mashed potato.

ebi tempura : a bit salty for us.

ebi tempura : a bit salty for us.

Then we asked the waiter at Umu to reserve the table for us and promised to come back from other stations after 15 minutes. As we went out of Umu, we found several things happening at the lobby. We made Gabby pose beside a pretty woman dressed in Thai playing good music with her Khim. We also saw 2 staffs geared in carnival attires : a man standing on stilts and a woman doing some balloon arts.

the beautiful lady dressed in thai was playing the string instrument, KHIM

the beautiful lady dressed in thai was playing the string instrument, KHIM

Gabby is tall for a four-year-old kid but his height is no best than this man's.

Gabby is tall for a four-year-old kid but his height is no best than this man

photo-op with the balloon maker

photo-op with the balloon maker

2nd pit stop : Benjarong, Dusit Thani's thai restaurant

2nd pit stop : Benjarong, Dusit Thani

Benjarong is at the mezzanine floor of Dusit Thani. One can take the grand spiral staircase or just the lift. The buffet spread of Bejarong is at the mezzanine lobby. I got myself some Thai delicacies and a glass of iced cold LEMONGRASS JUICE which I like!

the entrance to Benjarong

the entrance to Benjarong

inside Benjarong

inside Benjarong

We’re saving some more stomach-space for food from the other stations so we passed on the Pad Thai and curries and Thai soups but there are lots of them than you can imagine. A few more steps and cocktail tables and we saw Tosca, the Italian resto.

follow the leader to the next pit stop.

follow the leader to the next pit stop.

At Tosca, the very first buffet spread you’ll see has these sweet desserts…

resistance is futile!

resistance is futile!

A closer look at one of those : a cheesecake with dark chocolate…

never to miss this cheesecake.

never to miss this cheesecake.

Tina admired the taste of those little white cups with fruit toppings for what’s inside : FLAN.

one shot is not enough

one shot is not enough

chocolate mud pie topped with vanilla ice cream from Tosca

chocolate mud pie topped with vanilla ice cream from Tosca

want some cold cuts or bread?

want some cold cuts or bread?

freshly baked pizza as you request at the lobby of Tosca

freshly baked pizza as you request at the lobby of Tosca

Italian food goes well ofcourse with wine. Best about this, it's included in the Family Sunday Brunch. that's a big WOW!

Italian food goes well ofcourse with wine. Best about this, it

a little bit of everything : Mimosa and RasVery wines and flan from Tosca, a mocha sweet treat and rice-based pudding and a glass of lemongrass juice from Benjarong.

a little bit of everything : Mimosa and RasVery wines and flan from Tosca, a mocha sweet treat and rice-based pudding and a glass of lemongrass juice from Benjarong.

certainly not the least : Basix !

certainly not the least : Basix !

What’s in store for the buffet diners at Basix :

appetizers from Basix

appetizers from Basix

for seafood lover : a sight you can't resist

for seafood lover : a sight you can

Tina missed out to take photo of the baked Lapu-lapu that was also offered at the carving station of Basix

roast beef, anyone?

roast beef, anyone?

Can’t have enough of desserts? Here’s more :

sweets from Basix

sweets from Basix

Tina opted to try hot sweet crepe. Her choice : Blueberry, Strawberry & Mangoes.

want some crepes?

want some crepes?

After cooking for few minutes, we’re back in our table at Umu to enjoy the food we got from Basix.

mallows & grapes dipped in chocolate fountain, cheesecake and berries & mangoes crepe

mallows & grapes dipped in chocolate fountain, cheesecake and berries & mangoes crepe

my plate from Basix : Singaporean Chili crab, Seafood curry, Carbonara, Ham & Potato salad

my plate from Basix : Singaporean Chili crab, Seafood curry, Carbonara, Ham & Potato salad

more smiles for the cam, taken at Umu.

more smiles for the cam, taken at Umu.

Gabby was so excited to play at Kid Zone. So we endorsed him there while we headed for few more food hunting… While at the Mezzanine and enjoying Tosca and/or Benjarong, one can see how the little ones are doing at the Kid Zone where parents like us can leave their children to play, watch cartoons, have some face painting, do some art crafts like do-it-yourself colorful sand art in a bottle and photo frame to bring home as giveaways. What more can you ask for? The kids can be left safely under supervision of trained staff after the parent(s) signed info/instruction sheet. It was so professional of the staff to call me on my mobile 2x after i missed the first to inform me to fetch Gabby by 2:30PM.

kids are guaranteed safe in Dusit Thani's Kid Zone

kids are guaranteed safe in Dusit Thani

My wife Tina & our son Gabby with the carnival people of Dusit Thani

My wife Tina & our son Gabby with the carnival people of Dusit Thani

We left before 3PM and I must say it was an overwhelming experience to revisit Dusit Thani with such gastronomic pleasure.
Two thumbs up for it!
Sigh.

DUSIT THANI MANILA
Ayala Center, Makati City

eyeREALLYloveDusit =)
already missing UMU now…

14
Mar
09

SATURDAY FUN

I had a LOOOOOOOOONG Saturday with Ity (a.k.a my lovely wife Tina) & our son Gabby but it was again a whole lot of FUN… and LUCK!

The first of our agenda was to eat at Pepper Lunch in Shangri-la mall. Since my comment card to those awesome sizzling meals that we had before was chosen as one of those lucky ones last month, I received a text message early last week that I am entitled to a FREE Pepper Rice Meal on my next visit.

img_4317

Traffic was heavy on a late Saturday morning but nevertheless, we made it in whole piece to the mall & immediately hit the basement for another Do-It-Yourself dining experience. Before entering the fastfood, Ity already picked what she’ll order from the poster outside while I spotted the top man of PL himself, no less than Jeroen Van Straten. He doesn’t know me but he commented to my first post about PL. I just knew him from reading other blogs & ofcourse googling his wife’s chuvaness blog.

I was asked by the staff at the cashier to sign their list of lucky diners as I claimed my Beef Pepper Rice meal. After which, I ordered Ity’s preference. It was so sweet I only paid for Ity’s meal and I had mine FREE!
Honesty begets LUCK!

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Ity had COMBO CUT STEAK & HAMBURGER
(Php 280 if A La Carte, & PhP 355 with rice & drink)…
Look at how it’s served hot & fresh!
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A bit of mixing and “cooking” and voila, deliciously tender meal!
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The staff gave Gabby a balloon & a giveaway mobile accessory…
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My son had to pose with my lovely wife before eating…
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A couple of weeks ago I ate CHICKEN PEPPER RICE & liked it. But I just wanted to try other meal every new visit.
This was my PL plate : BEEF PEPPER RICE
(available at PhP 198 A La Carte, & PhP 235 if with coke).
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Here’s how it looked like after mixing & “cooking” it with the yummy honey brown sauce…
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Completely GONE AFTER THREE MINUTES !
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We agreed that we’ll definitely have future visits to Pepper Lunch soon.
Can’t wait.

PEPPER LUNCH Shangri-la Mall
Garden Court level, Mandaluyong.
(63-2) 631 6410

PEPPER LUNCH Rockwell
Power Plant Mall,
Rockwell Center, Makati City
(63-2) 895 6185

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Next thing we did was to walk to Megatrade Hall in Megamall to attend the 2nd day of the Nurse Expo as my colleagues in Allgen the Intelligent Review participated in the talks to attendees and had a booth complete with raffles & giveaways for valued nurses.

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This was the booth Allgen had where nurses trooped to inquire about how we make them NCLEX-RN & IELTS passers.
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Allgen people showed videos proving that we’re not only NCLEX-RN and IELTS review center but we do out-reach programs within our community such as medical mission and feeding programs enough to attest that we highly believe and support the potentials of Filipino nurses.
da

ALLGEN THE INTELLIGENT REVIEW
5/F TM Kalaw Center Building,
667 TM Kalaw Avenue, Manila
(63-2) 567-2749
+63918-4688222

http://www.allgen.net

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Then we strolled along Megamall, did some window shopping and few hours after, we decided to eat again. This time after sizzling japanese food for lunch, we had Hawaiian barbeque and rice (again!) for merienda. We had it at OHANA…

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I had HAWAIIAN CHICKEN and PORK BBQ COMBO (PhP 149),
MANGO and BANANA SMOOTHIES (PhP 65)
Exta HAWAIIAN RICE (PhP 22)
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Taste was not bad, but I just thought that Hawaiian BBQ was not that different from the usual grilled meat that we’ve been eating here. Never been to that part of US yet so I cannot distinguish authenticity =)

OHANA HAWAIIAN BBQ
2/F Bldg A, SM Megamall,
Mandaluyong

************************

Then right next to OHANA Hawaaian BBQ is KIDDY’S ART TOWN. It was already past 6PM but my son has still the energy and enthusiasm to do art works in this little kiosk for children.

First step: Select the design that the kiddy artist would like to color…
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Gabby chose the sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea :
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!
We were provided with a small tray with RUBBER COLORED PAINTS in squeezable tubes, some pieces of cotton buds, tissues & small sticks that were used to wipe colors beyond the outline. The chosen design was put in an aluminum plate.
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Look how SPONGEBOB acquired his colors from his artists….
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All we had to pay for the entire art work activity was the design that cost PhP 180, inclusive of everything. Kiddy’s art town even provides apron to little painters…
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And since the COLORED PAINTS used were RUBBER, a minute of heating in an ordinary microwave will complete the entire process…
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Presenting the final art work…
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We ended the day by sipping a dose of caffeine at Starbucks Coffee in the Atrium of Megamall. BTW, I was also given a stub 2 weeks ago at Starbucks Trinoma which automatically came out of the cashier register as I turned to be that day’s lucky coffee drinker entitled to have a free tall cup of any blend next visit after I did customer’s survey on-line. So my iced caramel macchiato yesterday was availed for FREE.
SOME GOOD THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE!!!

Having fun activities with family need not to be expensive; more importantly is to enjoy making memories.
Till our next family bonding! Thanks!

21
Feb
09

OUR LUNCH @ PEPPER LUNCH

Finally, we have tried eating at Pepper Lunch, the new upscale japanese fastfood located in Shangri-la & Powerplant malls. Considering it’s a Saturday and it’s almost 12PM when we got there, we’re bit lucky to find a no-queue-minute at Pepper Lunch Shangri-la, because usually, diners have to be on a waiting list since it’s always packed. But we found ourselves with a reserved table number handed in by a crew and already in the counter about to order. However, the table number (#75) assigned to us was a bit far from the counter and near at the end of the resto. Nevertheless, eating sizzling good food that we get to finish “cooking” is definitely a new exciting experience for us.

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Pepper lunch has 200 branches across Asia, and according to their website, a must-try are their Beef Pepper Rice and Shimofuri Pepper Steak from Australia (Shimofuri means “marbled”). The food is served on an electromagenetic round sizzling plate in its almost-cooked state; meaning Pepper Lunch allows the diner to complete the cooking by mixing it up and spicing it with either garlic soy or honey brown sauce (or both); I go for the honey brown sauce, Tina agrees. Food combo comes with a drink already.

Tina ordered Beef Pepper Rice served with coke (PhP 235).

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Beef is thinly sliced, making it very tender, perfectly seasoned with pepper & honey brown sauce…

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I tried Chicken Pepper Rice + coke (PhP 235) which is also good but I find Beef Pepper Rice better… IMO, this should have been priced a little cheaper, because chicken is cheaper than beef. I thought of it before ordering but still want to try just to compare the two plates.

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We ordered Kuromitsu or soft ice cream (PhP 39) for Gabby…

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One of the service crew gave Gabby their freebies for kids, a cell phone accessory. Sweet!

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And BTW, they also serve dinner too, hehehe…

PEPPER LUNCH
Garden Court Lower basement,
Shangri-La Plaza mall, Ortigas Center

Pepper Lunch Rockwell
Unit 041, The Concourse
Power Plant Mall
Rockwell Center, Makati
Tel. 895-6185

15
Feb
09

TASTING the WORLD @ CIRCLES!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lobby of Makati Shangri-la Hotel…

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

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

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

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

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the MEDITERRANEAN food section…

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

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

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

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

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CHOCOLATE FONDUE…

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Now, these were our plates…

Tomato soup : creamy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tina’s desserts…

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

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Can’t get enough of those sweets…

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while Gabby was content with those sweet treats…

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

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

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

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I SO LOVE YOU ITY & GABBY !!!

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