Category Archives: Smorgasbord

Tonchaya Drift: Bringing Osaka to the Fort Strip

fort strip restaurant

The ramen rage has been overly hyped, steering folks clear of the real Japanese goods and driving them to carb showdown. Truth is, the best Jap deals come in other jazzy forms – raw, for the adventurous and perky—and bringing the hype in from Osaka and not the big T—tokyo. Catch my drift?

blog review tonchaya

Tonchaya isn’t just that ramen place, it’s a whole Japanese kitchen and bar concept, so you can expect sushi chef and cocktails, and that snobby Tempura crunch we can never seem to copy at home. It’s also intriguingly artsy yet shambolically homey, every nook is filled with paintings, bottles and Japanese food symbols, you’ll find a comfort zone of your own. Even the sign on the kitchen entrance shows a white cat, so there’s something to claw about.

japanese restaurant review

Daily combos or promos are available which are lavishly posted on the walls, like buy-one-take-one tonkatsu Thursdays or maki days.

fort bonifacio japanese restaurant

With the sashimi chiller on display, it is given that maki, sushi and sashimi are abundantly offered and occupy heaps of meals in the menu. I could live on sashimi buffet and rave about it, and miss out on ramen—not the other way around! So good to actually see the fresh catch waiting to be ordered.

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Presented first were the usual Japanese appetizer staples. With that much rice on the first course, the white flag of satiation was close to being raised.

The maki was made of sticky rice, so there was not much crumbling going on. Some were a bit on the spicy side too so manage the wasabi on your dipping sauce—or enjoy them piping spicy!

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Here we have the Crunchy Crab Maki (the long rolls), Crunchy Salmon Maki and Crunchy Tuna Maki (looks like the former but has that dotted by a tuna speck).

maki bgc

And then I got confused with all the crunch going on, since I swear I thought it was called Spicy Tuna Maki! I guess I just made that up. Completing the package though, it was spicy, crunchy, a bit sticky and ultimately soy-worthy.

j.anne gonzales food blog

The Chirashidon 8 Kinds showcases various sashimi atop white rice, including Salmon, Tuna, Tamago, Ika, Mackerel, Kani, Ebi and Uni. With roughly two of each, you get the luxury of variety and whilst I never chanced upon the bestselling tamago, the mackerel and uni were mine to fill.

authentic japanese food philippines

 

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The Okonomiyaki looked like a vast pie of curly cabbage generosity. Cabbage, seafood, pork and sauces contributed to this abstract pie art, and bagged the title of crowd favorite. Beef Teppanyaki was another sizzling plate to watch out for, with veggies on the side to minimize the guilt.

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The Ebi Tempura was what you would expect—crisp and long—as a positive gastronomic virtue, nothing else. To describe the length on this one—the damn prawn couldn’t fit on the saucer, damn average saucer! Literally had tempura crumbs on my chin after every bite, and boy were those bites aplenty!

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Rice meals were just as abound in the menu, as heftily exemplified by the Chicken teriyaki and Seafood Gomuko Chahan, the latter being  a leviathan bowl of fried rice—the toppings can suffice as viands. Guaranteed burp—but then again, where’s the fun in just eating rice?

ramen fort bonifacio

Which is why for this hungry cat, a meal is never complete without noodles! Seafood Ramen was just the fix for a rainy evening. With the proper spice level and thick soup, the noodles were pleasantly chewy so each bite was packed with a zing. The seafood was also in abundance, so this should suffice as a meal on its own. Good for sharing, or for a hungry solo, why go for the boring ramen when you could have seafood on a sea of red? Oishi!

bgc restaurant review

With all those pescatorian slurps and bites, there was no room left for dessert. Sadly. Maybe next time.

There’s nothing like a cozy Japanese bar, the type where Naruto could just sit and slurp his noodles without a care in the world. Well Tonchaya’s a bit close to that—with just better paintings and seats.

For those planning to visit this place soon, Itadakimasu! Or better yet, call me. Lol. =P

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A Kuppa Opportuni-tea

BGC Restaurant coffee

Back in the day, I referred to Kuppa as Koopa – an unconscious tribute to the Super Mario Brothers boss. After realizing my linguistic folly, it took me time to adjust my long u to a curt sound and finally get it right. A Kuppa tea, if you please. Of course in Ken’s (Daniels) case, more of, a Cup of Earl Grey Hot Tea.

Now that I got past that video game reference, it was time to pay homage to the actual spot: Kuppa Roastery and Cafe, 31st cor. 4th, BGC. What better time to visit Kuppa than planning it alongside our interview with Fil-Brit Kaya FC/Azkals player Kenshiro Daniels. Ken, for short, is actually a regular at Kuppa, and so the so-called short walk to his usual hang-out would certainly be just “a day in the life of Ken.” Of course the opposite holds true for us northerners – and in hindsight, that was the onset of #MarioPH.

Kuppa is mostly glass and beside another K place. Ah, Kanteen, how can I forget?

Ken Daniels Interview

I had decided beforehand that I would order the Cristina Pizza because it contains a strange but friendly mix of toppings: mozzarella, balsamic, Gorgonzola, figs and grapes. Said to share with a friend, but sorry, I always go solo on pizza – and yes, I did finish it!

The pizza is not that gigantic, so a hungry person can finish a whole pie and still have room for dessert. Since the interview was running long, the Cristina was unaffected by the unyielding chilling temperature because the cheese just remained firm, which is all right for me. Unfortunately for those who hate sweet things on their food, the Cristina is not your kuppa tea. One taste and my brother almost spat a Cristina morsel on my face, screaming, “I hate figs!” I guess he wanted dessert instead.

He did go for the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza (forgot what it’s called exactly) and loved it till the last oily crumb. Swears my Cristina was the worst choice for a pizza lover and I wasted my evening chewing on figs. At least now I know how figs taste, and indeed, they are better topped on pies or oatmeal.

After Ken devoured his Vongole and Chicken Milanese, we advanced to dessert.

Kuppa desserts

 

j.anne gonzales blog

Chocolate Souffle and Devil’s Chocolate Cake. The Souffle would have gone perfectly with vanilla ice cream, those firm and sticky chocolate forkful of bites to be complemented with cool creamy vanilla. It could’ve done with more height, since one slice is never enough! On the other dish is the Chocolate Cake with layers of devilish fudge. Moist and cool, you will keep on digging it until you end up with an empty saucer.

Ah well, they did say good things don’t last forever – and in this case, 2 minutes.

Kenshiro’s the Man

Ken Daniels Azkal

The Kenshiro Daniels Interview lasted for a couple of hours, interspersed with sneaky pizza bites, text breaks and off-topic stories. Whilst this is for the Kaya FC Website, I reserve the right to post snippets and excerpts, as a form of consolation to me and my new sandals that got drenched on the way to McKinley.

Read about Ken Daniels here.

A little something about Kenny:

When faced with American-born, Filipino–British Kenshiro Daniels for the first time, the choice between bloke or dude, cola or tea, or even bummer or bugger—will clearly stand to boggle. Best to call the lad Kenny, give him a Hi-chew (if none, a high five can do), and ask about his favorite meme. With the wits of Heisenberg, don’t try fooling the 19-year-old Kaya FC player with fake accents and false facts on history—unless you can deflect his mean green fighting kicks.

Ken Daniels was quite the character to interview; he is young and carefree, yet sensible and endearing. The name “Kenshiro” came from the lead character his dad, actor Gary Daniels played, in the movie Fist of the North Star. If you Google “Ken”, it actually means “fist” in Japanese.

With an actor/retired kickboxer for a dad and a Filipina mom + 4 brothers, Ken may have had an interestingly shambolic and colourful childhood . Still, we can thank Manchester United for the “room”, as he ended up loving football and now plays for Kaya FC and the Azkals.

The Manchester United room was Ken’s room back home in Newport Beach. Studded with MUFC fixtures and flags, he literally grew up in Old Trafford with the Red Devils, whilst still enjoying Sinigang, c/o his mom. Now he enjoys walks to Kuppa, which is where the interview took place and boy am I glad that despite the pre-Mario rains and puddles, Kuppa was a comfortable place for the wet and weary. And Ken’s Earl Grey Tea.

The interview was long and best to read it at the Kaya FC Website, with the awesome artwork of @Mijigonzales.

And keep on supporting Kaya FC! That’s Ken and Miji’s team! #UnaKaya

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Hijo D’ Pita: I love cursing my food!

Z compound malingap

One change in the vowel sound and I’m doomed to censorship. Hijo D’ Pita’s name is such a bitch, since I’m always prone to saying the bad word—which admittedly I already am prone to doing on a daily basis.

the zone compound teacher's village

Hijo D’ Pita is in that Z Compound along Malingap St. which is the new hub for cheap street eats. I returned to the Z on a Sunday with high hopes of trying out Meshwe, which was disappointingly closed, so we ended up in the neighboring Hijo D’ Pita. The switch from Lebanese to Mexican was not that bad, since I had planned on ordering some kind of pita anyway.

UP village malingap st

Most of the menu items are pita-based, so we had the Classic Hijo Chili Beef Pita and the Hijo D’ Pita Chicken. Despite the impending darkness, it was wise to read through the menu, since the other chicken pita serving had bacon! Pita me!

Beef Chili Hijo de Pita

Chicken Hijo de Pita Malingap

So the basic Chicken Pita was mixed with its special sauce + condiments and tons of cucumber. The pita is more of a sandwich than a wrap, so expect it to come in a sandwich plastic bag and none of that foil-twist packaging. The side condiments come in the “sweet” side, even that dark sauce which I initially thought was hoisin.

nachos mexican malingap z compound

The Nachos are drizzled with substances that I found too hard to identify in the dark! I remember cucumber and carrot cubes and at least 3 sauces, plus nacho chips that were friendly to the bite.

NACHOS + PITA make the indefatigable combination, so I can’t complain, except that next time around, I would really like proper lighting, so that I would not have to use “flash” on my food.

They say that candle light dinner is romantic but I say that’s Hijo D’ P***!

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Le Ching and Other Smart Street Food Snacks

Le ching too  menu

If you grew up hearing Le Ching over and over, either you were a Greenhills kid, a shopaholic or just always hungry!

chinese food greenhills

Le Ching has become so popular with the local crowd, it refused to change its 80s scheme and instead, expanded as Le Ching Too—which is pretty much straightforward, not too innovative but acceptable, nevertheless.

With its #tbt vibe, it reminds me of my Goldilocks uniform which I sordidly miss, and when Pancake House at the GF of Shoppesville was the height of cool.

le ching shoppesville

For the longest time, I have ordered the Wanton noodle soup—pre-diet days while the father relished those Pork Spare Ribs on rice. However due to deathly August 2014 circumstances, we ended up ordering the most unusual combination.

Le Ching Seafood Roll

Le Ching Tofu

Trying to be adventurous I ended up with Steam Tofu and Seafood Roll. The seafood roll is uncanny and interesting but not that filling which made the steam tofu, the hunger buster in this combo!

chinese restaurant shoppesville

Hardly is the case that I would spy congee on the dinner table, but here it is. Best on a rainy day—but not for a toothache, case in point.

Having posted quite enthusiastically the Binondo series (1 and 2), Le Ching still persists as a tough Greenhills competitor, but its lack of veggie-friendly dishes cannot assure my constant craving in the future.

Since this post is about Le Ching, I have decided to cram in other related streetfood-like experiences, since it would be ludicrously tiring to individually post them.

Pares Retiro visayas ave

saba con yelo pares retiro

Pares Retiro is in my nearby ‘hood, but make no make no mistake of walking alone at night on that “red” side of Visayas Ave. Still, the signage of Pares Retiro is so Westernly amiable, you’d consider this a shelter from the dark side.

Whilst I don’t eat meat, I managed a photo of the beef pares which is supposed to be the best (well the customers all looked happy—or drunk?), and the Saba con Yelo, which is the only thing my appetite could afford, was expectedly milky and sweet—but better with more banana saba!

Mini Stop is our office staple convenience store, so it’s time to get to know its dessert entrees. Skip the cone and go for the Cookies and Cream Sundae—cookies (not sure if it’s Oreo—oh wait, I don’t think so), chocolate syrup and vanilla swirly ice cream—the works. For P25, why must you scrimp on something this cheap?

Isaw Tiendesitas
My first isaw experience can be credited to Tiendesitas. Shame on me for being a UP student and having my first taste so far from home (and at this age)!

Still that wee bite was hilariously death defying—I am sorry, street food aficionados—I think I shall stick to fish balls next time! :)

Quezo de bola cheesecake Elias

Lastly is that “not-so-cheap” Quezo de Bola Cheesecake from Elias, Robinson’s Magnolia. At P200 a slice, I was expecting drool-worthy experience that would haunt my dreams, but this one just was so-so and not something I would crave in my cheesecake list.

Which makes me wonder, what makes a quezo de bola cheesecake desirable? Is it the sharp flavor of cheese or crusty base? I had both—but maybe, maybe just next, I should have tea perhaps? Only Sisa would know

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Z Marks the Spot: The Backyard Reservoir

malingap st. z compound

For the longest time, I miserably could not find the Maginhawa St. joint, only to later discover the Z Compound on Malingap St. Interestingly, these street names have more in common aside from virtues and syllables—do guess—and intersect at the Bayan Tel building, which is a favorite family landmark.

the zone compound teacher's village

It is also a 5-second walk away from Pino, which is another friendly landmark. But of course, you can’t miss that bellowing yellow “Z” sign!

On a rainy Thursday night, the Z Compound was packed mainly with college students and yuppies. It’s a free-for-all place, a bit tough to find seats during peak hours—though you’ll be surprised to see the 2nd floor veranda on some restaurants.

Backyard reservoir menu

The Backyard Reservoir is somewhere in the core of the compound and looks artfully decorated yet still bearing that laid-back and outdoorsy guise.

It manages its slight menu in a chalkboard—but despite the seemingly short list—decisions are still hard to make with the deliriously pleasant sounding pizza and sandwich names! The iced tea looks awesome too–and tastes, fruity!

lazy black cat blog

 

Appetizers are the usual fried fares, but who can say no to mozzarella sticks?

The sticks are firm and packed with cheese, whilst the Curly Fries are reminiscent of the twister fries that everyone just loves. Careful not to eat too much or you’ll miss out on the main meals!

where to eat teacher's village

There are a handful of pizza names though the El Pago (homemade sausage) and Three Cheese Pesto stand out.

The El Pago lends a meaty touch to the thin crust. The Three Cheese Pesto has the right balance of herb and cheese atop the crust—even cold it tastes awesome.

Z compound teacher's village menu

The Sandwiches are crafted generously, the meat almost pouring out of the wheat bread (for the Pastrami and Ham, Egg & Cheese). Of course we could do with sidings, but with curly fries on the menu, this has been addressed.

The Tuna Melt is just freely pouring out with tuna, it is a perfectly balanced (and healthy) meal on its own. The meaty variants are just as chunky and heftily prepared.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for utensils to wolf down these gigantic beasts of bread!

jenina gonzales blog review

Pasta selections come in three: La Onioni, Marinara and Pesto Tuyo.

Whilst the Marinara can do a bit more with the sauce, the Pesto Tuyo is a sure winner. With the usual seafood twist to my favorite pesto, this pasta dish brings out comfort food to the fusion level.

Hungry diners can finish a bowl—but with the price range of the Backyard Reservoir, come on, do share. That’s the Backyard rule—and you still get change, for dessert.

* This fun field trip to the Z Compound was organized by #TeamAldous :)

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Bang Bang Bangkok

lazy black cat bangkok

My first time in Bangkok, Thailand and I swore on a sacred noodle that all meals would consist of pad thai. That was the pad thai plan, but of course, after 2 consecutive heavy noodle dishes and spotting McDonald’s and its local menu (which has Ovaltine!), it took me less than 24 hours to stray away from “the pad thai plan”.

Bangkok airport

Which was all right, I reckon.

As a warning though, my Bangkok post will be devoid of sights, markets (floating and dry) and other common scenes and attractions, because our priority was to shop and eat, and sightsee falls at the bottom of the list, even after, “Check out Boot’s drugstore”. Yes, that is normal for us.

Thai will be done

Bangkok Big C

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Despite the Php unfairly pitted again THB and USD, the meals in the Big C food court proved to be insanely cheap. For 50THB I got Stir Fried Noodles with Shrimp, and that equates to about Php75. The cheapest pad thai I have spotted in Manila has reached the Php100 level and the proportion of bean sprouts to noodles was “pro-vegetarian”.

Bangkok food court pad thai

Bangkok big c

The Tom Yum with Seafood was another food court feast—and without the word “spicy” appearing anywhere in the menu—was a safe choice! Filling as well, with its glass noodles.

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Other food court meals. And why there is French fries, can be attributed to the “pre-loaded card” that needs to be consumed, pronto.

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Seeing Ronald McDonald in a prayer pose necessitates more than one visit to McDonald’s Thailand, so I went there thrice. One for the Chicken McWrap, Choco Overload McFlurry and the Ovaltine Float. I could’ve eaten all three in one sitting, though.

chicken mcwrap

The McWrap was the tolerably spicy and chunky and “green”. With the sweet chili sauce, at first bite, all I could scream was sweeeet! But you get the hang of it. I wanted to buy another one for the airport but it rained so bad, I hoped and prayed there would be Mickey D’s in the airport. Nil.

The Mcflurry was typical and hideously sweet, while the Ovaltine Float took me ages to order because I can be so bad at hand gestures and “float” may have a different meaning in Bangkok. After 5 minutes of bickering with the English menu, finally I got it right. Or wait, the cashier did.

Bangkok mcdonald's thailand

KFC Thailand has a similar wrap but disguised as the usual Twister. It was not as satisfying. Good thing they serve egg tarts (plain and choco banana) which is probably the only cool thing about the Colonel’s franchise. Oh and that Shrimp Donut I never got to take a photo of!

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Bangkok KFC twister

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Another delightful wrap I encountered was the randomly placed Shawarma stand (Tombik Lavas) in Chatuchak. Unplanned and impulsive, I fell in line, ordered chicken shawarma and ate like a weary shopper—which I was. It was awesomely and flavorfully Persian, and I sat beside the condiments—that garlic sauce was life-saving!Bangkok20140823_121922

Bangkok chatuchak food

lazy black cat travel review

Shabu-shabu came as a “heated” lunch treat, in MK Restaurant, which unfortunately only has the tissue holder photo. Too bad! I sat away from my camera and in front of the balls—pardon my priorities—and now I suffer no memories of that sweltering experience and green noodles! Boo.

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Bangkok Arnoma Hotel

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Breakfast food in Arnoma Hotel was all right—buffet and certainly not bland. Fried noodles, muesli, homemade yogurt, salad and omelet (with mozza cheese) completed by power breakfast—though the rest found redemption in the beef stew and crispy bacon. Can’t blame them. Sometimes I wonder why the Thai don’t have much fried fish like our local daing or bangus—those would have gone terribly well with my eggs!

 

Western Cheats

Admittedly, not all meals were Orientally inspired, though not committed on purpose. Occasions when hunger pangs just stripped me of common sense, I had to yield to hunger and buy whatever was on sight.

In Terminal 2 (Manila Airport) alone, I succumbed to the Egg Sandwich of Café France—which was an unwise choice since it’s similar to the staple sandwich I create at home! Still, it was nice to have someone prepare it for me—with layers and lettuce. And in PAL, local ice cream was served, Ube ice cream to be more specific! #Tbt since I can’t remember the last time I ate Ube ice cream – or if I even have!Bangkok20140821_113129

In the Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok), still it was another sandwich escapade, the Chicken Pesto on Panini by Caffe Ritazza. I badly wanted to try The Pizza Company, but I had to buy the entire pie, and with my last remaining Baht, had only about 200THB for dinner. Hence, the Panini (plus pretzels and a banana muffin, not in photo).

Bangkok caffe ritazza

Drinks were abound in Bangkok streets, side streets and anywhere you can possibly get thirsty! I never got the chance to try the milk tea and street iced coffee, since I stocked our fridge with the local version of Yakult (with Stevia)!

Bangkok snacks

Bangkok black canyon coffee

However I could not pass the chance to try Black Canyon Coffee, which has 2 branches in Platinum Mall alone. Too tired and bored, I ordered something with vanilla ice cream on top, something like Matcha Frap with Ice Cream—but that’s not what it’s called. I remember something more glamorous like Matcha Frap Glacier. Glacier! How can I say no to that? Unlike local green tea fraps which pile on the sugar aspect, Black Canyon’s was on the icy side—which favors the sugar-averse like me. Icy and mildly sweet—toped with ice cream—the perfect glacier.

Bangkok baskin robbin

Last on the Western cheats is the inevitable sin, Baskin Robbins. There is something about its pink andbarren store that screams: Come on over weary traveler! Come and splurge I did—with the favorite Jamocha Almond and Strawberry scoops.

 

Bua wanna know?

Bangkok Bua Restaurant

The only properly documented meal was in Bua Restaurant (Soi Convent, Silom, BKK) which was strategically planned on a Friday night. Bua is located in that “red” part of town, but all I remember were shady cab drivers, nitrogen ice cream and a sports store.

Bangkok Bua Silom Convent

In Bua, we extravagantly celebrated our Thai survival by ordering whatever looked colorful and edible in the menu. It was an elaborate spread, mainly painted with seafood and sauces, with zealous waitresses who refilled my water whenever I waved my hand in need (which came too often).

Whilst I could no longer get into details and actually forgot the exact name of each dish, the pictures ought to suffice.

Bangkok silom What we loved about Bua was its Fried Thai Shrimp Cakes which were adorable soft and filled with shrimp in every bite!

Thailand where to eat

The Laksa with Shrimp would’ve been a runner up, had it not been too freakishly spicy, that I could no longer taste it properly—explaining my constant waving for water!

thailand jenina gonzales

The Pad Thai (with and without the egg nest) were all right, but I believe, more Bangkok adventures would unravel more delectably prepared noodle dishes.

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The Fried Fish was really just a normal dish, but was greatly enhanced by that extravagantly concocted sauce that looked more like salad than just a sauce. Together, the fish was elevated to flavorful seafood staple.

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Temple Run

Our trip to Bangkok was peppered with some sights, to at least make this post travel-worthy.

bangkok temple to visit

Bangkok at traimit gold buddha

A very brief and sheltered trip to Wat Traimit, Wat Pho, and Wat Benchamabophitr completed the tour—not to mention the random shopping destinations.

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The temples were awe-inspiring and expectedly, the weather humid and streaky.

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I did learn that my Buddha counterpart maintains the meditative pose, which is the opposite of the rebellious me.

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Bangkok wat traimit

Bangkok reclining buddha at pho

I bought the same statue but gave it away—and kept the standing Buddha with the hand gesture “stop”. Or does it mean peace?

 

Shop till you drop

Bangkok thailand travel

Chatuchak was accessed by train on both trips, so pardon me for saying that it was certainly an exhausting battle with the haggling, walking and getting lost—which happened 90% of the time.

Bangkok bts

Bangkok chatuchak

What made the solo trip worthwhile though was the shopping haul that ranged from the skull bag, cheap shirts and the beaded frog—oh, and that awesome shawarma! I got into an almost fight with a shake vendor so to keep the peace, ordered water instead.

The Bangkok experience was really an incomparable and unique encounter. There were surprises, communication blunders and near muay thai incidents—all sorted out with pad thai and milo candies at the end of the day.

Should I return to Bangkok, I will certainly ride the elephant and feed it a fish stick, while sitting on the meditative pose. If I succeed in that, then that’s as good as Nirvana for me.

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The Perfect Pint (Or in my case, Shake)

bar drinks bgc review

Misplaced and helplessly dry, I found myself trying to “conceal” my lack of liquor in The Perfect Pint (BGC). The name alone suggests what the place serves, and albeit there is an ice cream reference that perhaps only I could detect, The Perfect Pint is obviously more of a pub than a creamery.

where to go bgc

The placemat alone present a graphic process flow of beer drinking behavior and Beer 101 trivia. If I say my beer is stout and hoppy – you’d best nod your head and not laugh. And yes, there’s wheat as well. Look at that fiber potential.

j.anne gonzales blog

Being the strange one though, I ordered the closest thing to liquor that a no-beer drinker could possibly get her hands on, Grape Shake! It was gorgeously sweet with wee bits of grape peels floating all over the glass. It alternated as dessert as well, given the sugar fix.

gastropub bgc

Of course the arrogant one who could not find the Arrogant Bastard Ale went for the next thing on the list: IPA / India Pale Ale. In that huge glass of frothy perfection, even Taco Tuesday becomes The Tuesday. The Katipunan Signal No. 1 looked more like coke float with coffee hints – not too much appeal for the arrogant ones.

lazy black cat blog

The Fish and Chips were deep fried and went with the unusual sauce pairing, what seemed to be thick ranch/sour cream. While it was no malt vinegar, it was a comforting dish, and if only the sauce came in unlimited ceramic spoons – then I would say, come back for more!

Appetizer drinks fort bonifacio

The Buffalo Wings came with what we’d expect, bleu cheese on the side. This time, the bleu cheese consistency was watery, too thin to even coat the chicken. Oh and I almost forgot – it came with vegetable sticks – 3 minute carrot and celery sticks each! It wasn’t the best in the house, but looking at the pizza on the other table, hmmm.. I suppose the carbs might be the next hit!

 

 

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Walk the Tuk Tuk

tuktuk bayani rd.

Bangkok-bound next week, I have had this string of Pad Thai cravings that deserve restraining. Still, I can never say no to hunger. Add in the word “noodle” and all senses evaporate and reach for the nearest fork.

Which is why we discovered Tuk Tuk, this neighborhood hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. Al fresco in its garage atmosphere, it sits along Bayani Ave., Taguig, beside the neighborhood carwash. There is something very Ong Bak with the scenario but I will save the Thai references until after our BKK debut.

The thing about Tuk Tuk is that I think it was originally meant to be a spa place, but the owner found inspiration in the grocery, cleaned up the garage space and Sawatdee ka, let’s set up a restaurant!

thai restaurant taguig

Another funny thing is that it reminds me of Moonleaf, with the cork board and post its written by happy diners and frequent patrons. From the post it notes, I learned that the beef curry is the bomb, the servings are huge, and that the red chicken curry is best eaten with rice! We ordered the last item; let us see.

tom yum tuk tuk

For a hot day bordering on some rain, we ordered Tom Yum Soup because we were under the impression it was Tom Yum Noodle Soup. Instead we just got spicy-sour tamarind soup and a couple of shrimps, good for an appetizer but by no means a full meal. It’s something reminiscent of a Knorr commercial, so it reminded me more of red sinigang than a Thai dish.

thai taguig where to eat

The Pad Thai, as described by the server, contains only squid and shrimp, and came in with a calamansi slice and chopped peanuts. Typical of a pad thai dish but let me clarify, ONE shrimp. The serving is good for a mediocre person and I’ve seen larger servings such as that of Sen Lek’s, which is way cheaper. The first bite was enveloped with such sweetness, I wondered if I scooped the sugar side. Nope. It was sweet all throughout. If it was ever meant to be a sweet-sour-salty kind of dish, the cook may have forgotten the other palates or he feels he has the mission to spread sweetness to the world. Or maybe it was the pad thai mix?

tuk tuk red curry chicken

The Red Chicken Curry was well awaited because I wanted to bathe the pad thai with curry sauce—and counter that sugary presence! Unfortunately we can conclude that the chef intended to slaughter the world with sweetness, and the curry was more of sweet coconut curry than Thai-spicy-curry. The chicken bits were all right but the dish was awkwardly served on a plate—than a bowl—so it may have been a long, winding trip from the kitchen. Maybe the green curry would’ve been more curri-fied? We’ll never know.pad thai kit landmark

So much expectations, but then again, it’s just a hole in the wall eatery, a neighborhood joint, for those who forgot to visit the grocery or are too lazy to cook.

If you have a hankering for legit pad thai, you know where else to go… on the side though, the Landmark grocery has this pad thai kit! Have your own pad thai fill and add in your choice ingredients (no more pesky peanuts for me) and never complain about awful noodles ever again!

 

 

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Foodcourt Findings

For those on a budget or just too lazy to think, the #Foodcourt is just a gold mine for variety and cheap food, if you don’t mind the long lines and smoky hair scent. Yes I do like the occasional fresh-from-the-grill flavored shampoo.

I’m talking about the Glorietta Food Court which boasts of places like New Bombay, Pepper Lunch, Dulcelin, Gong ChaCheesecake Melliza, Sen Lek, World Chicken, and that Mongolian place - amongst others. It can get smoky and really crowded, but when you dine during off-peak hours and get to sit admiring the view behind the “G” of Glorietta, overlooking Glorietta 5, it’s actually scenic.

It might seem strange but my first Pepper Lunch experience was in the food court. The line was long and the pictures were stellar, so you know what that means: Let’s eat here! Of course with my dietary concerns, I could only order 10% of the entire selection, but that includes salmon and chicken, so consider it diverse enough. goodcourt glorietta

Pepper Lunch is perhaps targeted to people who like their plates hot with sizzling viand and hefty carbs. Other than that, there was barely flavor except for a dash of pepper, and even for a terrible cook as myself, am left to think that this is something easily replicated at home.

The salmon was all right, but those wee chicken slices have a lot more flavorful opportunities peeking underneath the oily stove.

And I did ask for a cup for my “saucy concoction”. I believe it was garlic + soy sauce = not much help. I leave Pepper Lunch to the hungry college boys.

 

On a separate occasion, when we were the first customers in Glorietta and happened to learn that the Food Court opens at 11 am, we were (un)fortunate to meet the opening of only a few tenants.

Sadly, only Palak Paneer and chicken curry were available in New Bombay, and the scene was not too enticing for someone who wanted cheese naan!

kakaw and veggies

Hence, we ended up where the old people were: El Presidente of Binondo. In short, food court Chinese food, with strong lighting and greasy aftertaste. And senior citizens – believe me – the cards were flying everywhere!

While I adore Binondo food, having speedy service in food court version was not too inspiring. The lemon chicken (no photo) was mango juice sweet, despite its huge serving. If properly heated, I may have eaten a bit more–but nothing can be done with that syrupy overcoat.

The assorted vegetables were all right though I spotted a few brown pechay leaves. Am guessing food court denizens are not receiving their required dose of greens!

dimsum el presidente binondo

Lastly, that beautiful dish of hakaw was undercooked! Being the first customers of the day has its drawback too!

Next time, leave the Binondo food trip in the actual Binondo!

As for New Bombay, open early!!

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Binondo Food Tripping 2

where to eat chinese food

The best food trips are spontaneous and random and can go as impulsive as just craving for downtown ramen – and look where the tide whirls us to – Binondo, Manila!

Good gracious, the powers of hunger and traffic-less Sunday! Well, generally breezy.

binondo eats

I have grown to have a penchant for the Binondo food, having mastered the one rule: Stop asking questions!

At the start, I inquisitively asked about meat content, of vegetarian dishes, about strange exotic names and Chinese translations.

Sometimes, it’s best to stay safe and look for common keywords: chicken/vegetable/seafood and opt for the un-adventurous sounding terms: soup, the easily dissected dumpling and my newfound discovery, misuaProblem solved, sans the angry dispute and broken China.

Binondo Food trip sincerity chinese restaurant

First stop on this second food tripping leg leads us to a famous Sincerity. I don’t know why, but people Sincerity seems to be a top-of-mind foodie destination. If any, Sincerity definitely does not relate to the honesty of the food and could be more of a feng shui thing – or simplicity if you must insist on a trait.

fried chicken binondo

where to eat binondo

Sincerity is best known for its breaded fried chicken, so let’s start with that. Tender juicy and sincerely oily with a bit of sweet, it’s the perfect comfort food! It’s delectable on its own, but do make sure to ask for spare napkin, especially if you like to eat with your fingers.

The catsup remained untouched because aside from not eating catsup, it just seemed irreverent to violate the original taste with bottled sauce.

sincerity binondo

Then came the Oyster Cake which was more of an Oyster omelette with a surprise, which Google, with its multitudinous posts, purports as a famous Taiwanese delicacy.

Having researched why “cake” assumed the title role came the simple fact that potato/tapioca starch is added to the egg mixture for that pudding-like consistency that I got so addicted to, I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day. A bit of a warning though, do not finish single-handedly unless your stomach can seriously stomach that much shellfish!

manila food trip

I seem to be following a strange order but this was another breakthrough order -which was actually the first to arrive! Duck Misua came with the thinnest, almost gone misua noodles which makes you want to slurp some more. Tastes like the perfect remedy for anyone under the weather or just craving for a bit of duck in soup form. It was gone in less than a minute, so it was hunger in pure sincerity.

Not very photogenic (honestly, it looked blehhh) but it was an awesome accompaniment to the entire Sincerity ensemble.

cafe mezzanine binondo

Next on the list was Cafe Mezzanine which sits atop Eng Bee Tin. Cafe Mezzanine, A Fireman’s Coffee Shop, has this CSR thing going on, since its sales are tied to the Manila firefighters, so eat and beat the fire! Or perhaps, fight hunger and fire – at the same time?! Okay, on to the food.

Since it was a diet-y day, the food ordered are not are grand as Sincerity but just as mouth watering.

binondo manila where to eat

Appetizers were the Super Tofu and Camaron Rebusado. These small items were affordable and came in angular plates. Nothing fancy but enough to keep you full, if you prefer a light meal.

binondo food trip noodles

The Kung Pao Chicken Noodles came as quite a surprise. I was a expecting a wee to medium serving based on the photo, but what came seemed to be an equivalent of 3 to 4 packs of instant noodles worth of egg noodles, topped with cabbage, carrot, peanuts and sweet chicken bits!

I had to pause for a moment – because the dish was all mine! Sweet and silky, it was an enhanced pancit canton with a sweet tinge. It was also enough to keep me full for the rest of the day – and have a free breakfast for the next morning. Sweet! 

manila binondo

And so another successful Binondo Food Trip! If you have the time, do visit the Binondo Church.

It may get stifling hot during mass or crowded days, but during off peak hours, you can marvel at the glorious ceiling, statues and all else God-made. Dessert no longer required.

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