Saturday, July 26, 2014

H. Home Food Finds

Today was like any other Friday, busy, tiresome but a good day to either celebrate or end the week.  For us it was just those kind of awesome gastronomic finds that are spontaneous and unforetold.  

It's one of those days when I don't need to prepare dinner or even care what the kids would want for dinner.  Kuya is off to spend the night at his friends house, Ate was on her way home and the two girls were at their Tita Len's, enjoying hot noodles and bonding with the cuz over loom band creations. While us, husband and the foodie wifey headed off somewhere far where there is no traffic, no rowdy crowds spending their week-long income for some drinking sesh and no waiting for hours for our food to be served.

Nope, we did't go to Tagaytay, hell, not even Antipolo (traffic din kaya sa Julia Vargas going to Cainta).
Actually, I have two restos in mind, Silantro or El Chupacabra.  We wanted a heavy dinner but we can't afford to spend much, since I have plans on spending a bit a a newly opened organic thingy in BGC.

We went to Dona Soledad Avenue, Paranaque.  There, we didn't know any food joint that we might like.
It's the road where SM Bicutan is and I only knew one establishment on that area- Luxe Aura Nail Spa.  We just drove along the road searching for a nice place to eat, we were famished for it was passed 9 pm.  On the first bend of the road on the right side is a quaint and bright eatery, which was semi full.  But we passed by it and went on looking forward.

We almost reached the end of the road when we saw a newly opened restaurant but they decided to close up shop early, boo, we didn't make it, and I'm uber hungry.  Along the way we found cool bakeshops and tea shops but that wasn't what we were after, do we?  I would to check them out and blog about them.

We don't have a choice but to turn back and search again, though I insisted to go this place I initially saw.  I always look for a place being filled up with customers, it means their food is good.

H. Home Food Finds was where we had landed.  Upon entering, we noticed that the only seats available was the long table at the glass window facing the street.  We didn't mind for again, I was uber hungry.

After quickly scanning their simple menu, I had the time to look all over the meager and narrow-spaced diner.  

Look how quirky the place is, it didn't showcase any design concept, the owners have just hanged all their collections all over the place.  From mugs, toys down to signs and many more.  We're guessing the owners didn't think much of how the place would look like, I'm not sure if the OC-kind of people would stay long.  
Then again, we didn't mind, we were hungry.

Not long, our orders came, though we saw only two staff working about, and the place is highly romanticized with the aroma coming from the dishes that were being cooked in their kitchen.  It is the place I would want to be intoxicated with (with the aroma that is).

My order, Peking Chicken over Rice (P 175) came first, and I'm one happy camper.   I can't begin to describe how delicious the meat were spiced up and flavored.  What sets it apart from all the other Chinese-styled chicken I tasted was its Pecking sauce.  They do have Peking duck as well.  With that said, you also have the option to have it over noodles instead of rice.  

The "Peking Sauce" also known as tián miàn jiàng (sweet wheat sauce), according to my research can be a combination of the following: soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, cornstarch, Shaoxing wine (or dry Sherry), and a bit of sesame oil.  

Bhogs had another of their best-seller, the Crispy Duck over rice (P 278).  He actually have ordered it over a hot noodle soup but they ran out of noodles.  He kept on telling me he loved it's tender and juicy duck meat.  We rarely eat duck for financial reasons of course, and also for some culinary reasons as well, knowing hoe hard it is to cook with that meat.  The sauce clinging to the duck meat was tangy and slightly sweet yet still was different, not the sweet-sour sauce we would  usually have.  I can taste a hint of fruity notes on the sauce as well. 

We concluded dinner with an order of their house-made buchi.

I love that everything were freshly cooked and prepared with plating and presentation to match those in high-end Chinese restos in the mall.  It's like a piece of Hongkong or Binondo in Paranaque.

I love discovering diners like this, unpretentious, simple menu with home-cooked dishes on a homey ambiance, lastly away from the hurly-burly night life in the metro.  Will be coming back for the noodles and the Jelly fish salad.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Family's Great Palawan Escape: Puerto Princesa (Part two/Food Tour)

One of the most beguiling quality of Palawan is it's culinary offerings.  During our travel in Puerto Princesa a food tour around the city is part of the adventure.  I can not utter enough of my love for the country's cleanest and a top tourist-friendly city, even if I have to share every  bits and pieces of our three-days stay there.

Read about the first part of our journey at the link provided below

Having to go around, scour and taste the city's cuisine is part and parcel of our tour, so I have collated some of the places where we had eaten and bought food.  Having known Palawan-being the last frontier, to be rich in diverse and exotic dishes, I also shared some of my experiences on them, hoping though this won't eek you out of discovering what Palawan has to offer.

1. Haim Chicken Inato

Haim Chicken Inato first opened its doors in January 17, 1999, introducing Palawan’s take on the famous Bacolod dish called “chicken inasal.” Palawan’s version was dubbed “chicken inato,” which roughly translates to “this is our chicken or chicken natin ito".

Haim Chicken Inato, Palawan’s pioneer in the grilled chicken business, popularized the dish with its tender and succulent chicken barbecue offering, marinated in a sweet and tangy sauce and grilled to perfection. 

Chicken inato fast became a favorite among locals and tourists and remains the restaurant’s signature and best-selling dish. It is also highly recommended on TripAdvisor Palawan restaurant reviews.

Haim Chicken Inato’s specialty is a generous serving of a whole leg or wing (your choice) on a skewer paired with pickled unripe papaya and rice. You can always eat this with a spoon and fork or knife, but the best way to enjoy this juicy and tasty dish is to use your hands!

Right after we got off the plane, we took a tricycle and asked the driver to take us to the nearest restaurant open, it was 8 in the morning when we landed.  Kuya "Driver" took us to Haim Chicken Inato which is inside Balay Inato.  Whenever we travel, I would include places to have our meals on our itinerary, but this time, I laid my trusts on the friendly people of Puerto Princesa.  What was nice also is that they speak Tagalog so it wasn't hard to get along with them.

Can you see the excitement on my family's faces, when we reached Haim?

Aside from the wide variety of their menu, every hut is an eye-candy inside.  One of the owner's children have made the whole place as a showroom for his paintings.

After dropping our bags off at Deep Forest Garden Inn, we headed to Haim which is only 5 minutes away and roughly 10 minutes away from the airport.

Of course we ordered their Chicken Inato. What they said on their website describing their best-seller hold true.  We loved it to bits.

It was still breakfast so most of us got breakfast platters which was huge in serving.

I, however got Palawan's version of danggit, with rice and scrambled egg.  Compared to Cebu's, their danggit is not sun-dried and preserved, here fresh danggit is butterflied, seasoned with salt and deep fried to crisp.  It was enough to last me till lunch probably.  We all had another serving of hot chocos and coffee.

*** MEALS START FROM P 100 to P 300 per head

2.  Croc Meat at the cafeteria of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center

Well,we thought we can take the city by our hand, it was small, you can actually wander about towns after towns with jeepney rides or private vehicles but we opted to have a tricycle tour us around.  You can check our itinerary on our first day here: The Family's Great Palawan Escape: Puerto Princesa (Part One).

But I was wrong.  By 1 pm, the kids got so tired from all the ride and walking.  Out last stop on the tricycle city tour was at The Crocodile Farm or Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.  Aside from saying hi to huge crocodiles and their baby counterparts, we also had a 25 minutes trek around the forest/conservatory to see Palawan's rare animals.

At the end of the trail was a line of stores selling souvenir items and pasalubong, it was scorching hot that day, good thing we brought bottled waters and these shops have given us shades, and we had a little shopping for pasalubongs.  

With all that we were able to accomplish on the city tour, it made us a little hungry, also taking note of what our driver advised us - try crocodile meat at the center's cafeteria.

So we all did, well, except Dana who had Chicken Adobo.

According to the croc meat and croc akin supplier, there are a lot of health benefits from eating croc meats. It is low in fats and cholesterol, it's good for treating asthma and also best for diabetics.  The best of it all is that it's an aphrodisiac, so what else could hold you back from eating croc meats?

We ordered Croc Sisig and Croc Tapa.  The meat they supply in the canteen is already pre-seasoned and pre- packed so they only need to cook it and serve it the customers.

If you don't know that you are being served with croc meat, you won't actually taste the difference, though its texture is a cross between chicken and pork.  Surprisingly, it's tender and flavored enough.  Yep, we liked it.  They actually have a store in the town proper of Puerto Princesa and we were thinking of buying to take to Manila but we failed.

***MEALS START FROM P40 TO P150 per head.

3. Boodle at the Bay Walk

Yes, they too have their own version of "paluto"

***BOODLE MEALS START FROM P 300 (Good for 1 to 2 persons) TO P 500 (Good for 3 to 5 persons)

4.  Tamilok at the nearby restaurant at Sabang Port

After our tour at the Underground River also known as St. Paul Subterranean River National Park, we had our buffet lunch and Gusto Grill resto.  It was included to the tour package that we paid for.  Lunch was enough though not something you would really be happy about.  However, we were told that you can order Tamilok there.  A sampling cost us about P 110 for a mere 5 tamilok served with vinegar for dipping.  

I had ostrich meat and croc meat at Gen. San and also at Cagayan de Oro and to add to my exotic gastronomic wanderings, I had frogs, crickets, locusts, "itlog ng bayawak" and now, some worms.

To understand what I just had, I looked in to Wikipedia.  It explained that tamilok is the local name for this shipworm, a group of saltwater clams with long, soft, naked bodies. These are marine bivalve mollusks in the family Teredinidae, hence the common name of Teredo worms, or to be more specific in moniker, the “termites of the sea”.  They are notorious for boring into and eventually destroying wood that is immersed in sea water, including wooden piers, and ships, drilling passages by means of a pair of very small shells borne at one end, with which they strongly nibble their way through. They are also found in rotting wood, and mangrove areas.

I did it!  I ate Tamilok.  I actually ate two and hubs ate all that's left.  Though, I think I got to eat the longest one and it almost made me upchuck it while on the way back to our hotel.

Does that look horribly funny?  He didn't want to eat but I made him do it for the experience.  I hope I'm not being a bad wife...

Now, I dare you try it!

5.  Gypsy's Lair Art Cafe

After a hefty meal and an adventuresome at that, on our way back to our hotel from our Underground River tour, we made a pit stop at Mercado de San Miguel.  We traveled with foreigners with their Filipina GF's and they insisted on having coffee and buying pearls and whatnot.
I was not in the mood for shopping for I would want to lie a cold bed and get some zzz.   But then, as we were waiting for the others, my son showed me a very attractive spot just in front where we are parked.  I didn't hesitate to come closer and my kids where asking for some munchies anyway, so we went in.

Then lo and daughter, taking up Fine Arts, have found her cute niche.

Gypsy's Lair is a Boho designed cafe who somehow got stuck to Halloween season.  It's actually two spots rented as a whole.  I'm guessing they might have extended from one place to another. just don't know which was rented first.  

Outside really embodies a gypsy's lifestyle, with the colors, design, embellishments and they too hosts events such as palm reading, fortune-telling or maybe some witchcraft (who knows?).  

We found the cafe very interesting even though they serve only a few pastries, there are vintage and artsy knick-knacks in every nooks and cranny.  I was more curious however on the other side of the cafe.  My kids was shy to come in, but I let myself in, guided them through and asked one of the staff if I can take photos.  Yey! 

It was dimly lit when we were there and they were kind enough to open the lights for us to see the whole place.  I swear for a minute there, I thought I was at a museum, a haunting museum.  The art installation, displayed collections of old dolls (with creepy eyes), paintings and the interiors says a lot about the place.  I don't want to say it, but it was my daughter's style, freakish, wicked but expresses so loudly of the artist/s art.

They do serve meals, btw, sorry that I wasn't able to check out the menu, but we saw a big family enjoying an al fresco dining just outside the pumpkin-colored lair.

Us, we just got these, mini cakes, tiramisu and panna cotta, and a package of berry flavored  French Macarons.

On that same compound, you will find some other places to either have coffee (or other refreshments) or a heavy meal.  On the other side you can find the famous Sky Box restaurant, which according to travelers serves great burgers.  Beside it is Isla Casoy de Palawan.  

I was hoping to go back to Isla Casoy to buy an alternative to Peanut Butter, the Casoy Butter spread and to buy savory roasted casoy.  It is also where you can buy Casoy Tarts which is really yummy.  I have actually horded bagfuls of cashew nuts or kasuy (casoy).  Bought a half a kilo of plain roasted on our way to Sabang Port and have been eating it all-throughout the day.  Palawan is the main source of cashews and theirs is the cheapest but of highest nut quality so I bought a lot!  I even made a Pesto out of it!

I was supposed to buy Bhogs a casoy-coffee concoction but we were pressed for time.  Here is one sample from another travel blog.

Cashew Frappe
Credit from photo source
***MEALS AT GYPSY'S and  ISLA CASOY START FROM P150 TO 300 per head.

6. Hukad sa Golden Cowrie

It was our second and last night in Puerto Princesa and we still had no decent place to have a lovely dinner to make a food blog post that's worth sharing.  However there is place called One Manalo Complex which we always pass by to-and-fro our hotel.  In that compound I saw a restaurant, my first look at Hukad’s classy façade of slanting brick posts, metal lamps, and glass walls, made me think of it as high-end in both quality and price.  But it took me a lot of courage to convince Bhogs to have dinner there, since we had a failed attempt dining at Ka Lui.

What surprised us was that, yes, undoubtedly, quality is topnotch, but the dishes are priced affordably! A place that looks like this typically has menu prices starting at P300 per dish but at Hukad’s giant menu right by the doorway, you’ll find prices as low as P98!

According to the wait-staff, they've just opened last January of this year.  Originating in Cebu and eventually branching out to Davao and other parts of the Philippines, Hukad is fast becoming a household name when it comes to excellent Filipino food.

The menu with my daughter's tanned hand.

Loving their ceiling fan.   
 On that night we had Crispy Pork Kare-Kare

It's a deconstructed Kare Kare with pork prepared the Crispy Pata way.  A huge plate was served before us with the veggies, the pork, the sauce and even their version of bagoong alamang separately.  Presentation was stunning and the taste was above and beyond excellent.  Let me enumerate how I like this dish, first the meat.  It was crackling but not oily and the inside was cooked through and what amazed us, even my daughters, was that it was tender and juice on the inside.  Another plus factor is the sauce.If I can remember it right, they used cashews (kasuy) instead of peanuts in the sauce, but it was indeed better tasting than peanuts also the flavoring was just right, not salty.  Third would be the quality of the vegetables, as you can see, they are simmered enough, who else hates overcooked veggies?  Well, you won't find that here in Hukad.

The girls initially wanted the Calamares, but unfortunately, they are out of it for the day.  Their next choice was the Fried Tuna Fingers served with garlic mayo and atsara.

The girls allowed us to have one so I can tell how it is.  Bhogs and I managed to share with it.  My girls loved it!  It's Tuna rolled in batter and panko, then deep fried to crisp.

To go together with our choice viands, we ordered a bowl of meatless Bulalo.  Even though it doesn't have bone marrow or the meat, it still was packed with beefy flavor and again, the veggies were still a bit crisp.

Every order is good for sharing, to about three persons, because serving is huge.  So I guess this is one of the great food joints here in Puerto Princesa where there is ease in dining without having to wait for a slot even during dinner time.

***MEALS START FROM P 300 above, but can be split with a buddy.

Oh!  I just realized that One Manalo Place is a posh BnB (Bed and breakfast), I could have chosen this place for our accommodation, perhaps on our next visit.

Located at Manalo Ext. Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BGC Eats 2014: A BGC Tour for Passionate Stomachs

It's back and with a vengeance!
Surrender yourself to Chef JJ Yulo and the gang as they take you to places not only of interests around Bonifacio Global Center but also of epic gustatory experience. 

Four restaurants, four experts, one delicious food tour for passionate stomachs!

Last year, was a fun fare when foodies from all walks of life joined together exploring the foodie destination, that is BGC, with the event to highlight some of the top-notched restaurants, cafe and bars, dubbed as BGC Eats.  A couple of restaurants where brought to the mass' light and have shared a communal concept with the participants, the love for dining out.

This time, BGC Eats 2014 will again come about with a line of interesting features that harmonize with things all about food.   This year's BGC food tour will be held on the following dates (July 26, August 2, August 9, and August 16) along with special concepts and workshops.

Again hosted by the Big Brother in the foodie market, the charming Chef  JJ Yulo.  However, the tour evolved, making it more educational and interesting, just like how BGC would want to showcase it's little progressive town not only in the fields of business but also in arts, recreation and of course dining.  BGC's promo is also to catch more of the attention of those who are looking for a place to live where they can be near to all the commodities of modern and easy living.  Taguig City has truly evolved and BGC has been its capital mover and shaker.

Chef JJ will be joined by four professionals in their own fields, thus no tour is said to have a similar one.  Listed below are the only FOUR tours available with the corresponding topic of interest and Chef JJ's partner in crime.

Tour 1 (July 26) is Science
 Artha Ting, a Science geek from The Mind Museum will be there to scientifically explain the processes involved in the food or dishes that will be featured.

Tour 2 (August 2) is Photography
Meet Mylene Chung, the genious behind's lovely food photos.  Get infected with her wits and skills in shooting that food's perfect angle, and make your way to be one of the great IGers (Instagram users).

Tour 3 (August 9) is Drink Pairings
One of the topics in gastronomy that seemed to be overlooked most of the times is paring your dish with a beverage, including wines.   Good thing they were able to tap Enderun's assistant dean of Hospitality Management.  Bel Castro will  share some tricks on how to enjoy your meals better with the perfect drink to match it with.  However, this is only PG 18 (only for 18 years and above only).

Tour 4 (August 16) is Healthy Eats
This tour is perfect for vegetarians or for those looking for healthier options when eating out.  Denise Celdran of Edgy Veggie will be your guide.

How to get a ticket for BGC Eats 2014:

1. Shop and Claim – Two (2) tickets will be given for every minimum single receipt purchase of P2,000 at any BGC establishments. All purchases from the following establishment:  Bonifacio High Street, The Fort Entertainment Center, Crossroads, Bonifacio Stopover, One and Two Parkade and the Mind Museum are eligible. Eligible dates of purchase must be between July 21, 2014 to August 16, 2014 only.

2. Hello BGCitizen – One (1) free ticket will be given to BGCitizen upon proof of residence, employment or enrollment.

3. Straight Purchase – Tickets are prized at P1,500 each and can be purchased 15 minutes before the tour at the meeting point.

Gentle reminders for those who have slots:

The Tour starts at exactly 3pm and will run for around 2.5 to 3 hours.Late comers will forfeit their tickets.
Meet up point is at the Hop On, Hop Off Bus Stop which will be at 9th avenue, in front of Krispy Kreme.
Maximum of 34 participants per tour date.
Tickets can claimed at the Bonifacio High Street Central Concierge from 11am to 8pm starting July 21, 2014.
For more details, you can contact Martha Asuncion at or (02) 818-3601 loc. 3207

To get a glimpse of what you may expect on the tour dates, I was able to participate the media tour, were the BGC Hop on Hop off bus took us to certain points of fun and art at BGC.  We were also brought to 3 different places where we were able to savor some of the offerings from Gustare, Prost and Mind Museum.  Thanks to Artha for being our alive Google representative giving us facts behind the science of pastries, sausages and adapting to climate change.

First stop was Gustare, I’ve actually heard a lot of good things about this place but was never able to find it. It is located behind The Goose Station, both house in W Tower, a couple of buildings away from VASK. Gustare is owned by Ginny de Guzman, former owner of Sugar House, which started out as a commissary for outsourced desserts. It has evolved to be so much more, an experimental space with ready to eat food, cakes and even host private dinners.

Gustare photos

With the restaurant manager of Prost

Chef Ian Carandang at the exhibit hallway of Mind Museum serving his Nut Milk Ice cream to a patron

 With moi, is the creator of The Apocalypse Project of Mind Museum.

Do read my super adventurous epicurean delight at the Future Feast press event.

Will be doing separate posts of the three tour venues.  Hurry it starts already this coming Saturday.

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