Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Inaugural Dinner

No, no. We weren't invited to the Malacanang Palace reception.

I was really looking forward to our little Clark food trip with the DHRIM team but it got called off at the last minute. People backed out, the weather forecast looked grim, and I really just wanted to stay home and watch the inauguration on television. And I did just that.

Then at about 1 pm we found ourselves with nothing to do. So we thought we'd go for a little drive. Apalit, Pampanga's town fiesta today. Hmmm. Carry on. Then we suddenly decided to drive to Clark. Pedro wanted to get a few bottles of wine and I just didn't feel like cooking. I made a batch of homemade yoghurt last night thinking I might cook us some Indian curry but in the end I just wanted to sit down and be served.

Pedro was quite hungry when we got there so we decided to play it safe and go somewhere we already know. VFW Post Canteen it is! We thought we deserved a treat (Noynoy's inauguration today!) so we got a couple of beers and ordered food. Picture on top is Pedro's Burgundy Pot Roast with Mash and Corn. Below is my Homemade Meatloaf with Rice and Corn. They were both delicious, sorry for the crappy pictures.

Then dessert! I ordered the Short Stack, two pancakes with butter and syrup. And a cup of brewed coffee. Pedro had another bottle of SML and Cherry Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream.

I inhaled my pancakes so fast I didn't even get a chance to take a picture. Even Pedro's plate's picture is blurred. He literally was going to stab my hand when I attempted to get a bit of vanilla ice cream off his plate.

It was a very good inaugural meal indeed. Total: PhP 905.00. Not bad considering it includes desserts and beers.

I saw this bizarre thing on ANC the other day. Two kids, one from CCA Manila and the other from Enderun, explaining to the host their Inauguration Dinners. I thought Noynoy's team actually hired culinary students to do the food for the event. It turned out that they were just plugging their schools and presenting what they WOULD serve if they were hired by Noynoy's team.

The Enderun kid was very clever with his locally sourced ingredients and local flavour done to suit a more polished palate. The CCA boy, on the other hand, was going to serve Noynoy steak and chocolate tart. He even said that because the chocolate came from Belgium, it should be pronounced Tart Chokolah. Not sho-ko-lah but CHO-ko-lah . I love it when they are pretentious and not getting it right! I thought, you're serving food we can get from Burgoo during such an historic event? Come on.

VFW Canteen
381 Santol Rd. Cor Pinatubo St.
Clarkview Subdivision, Angeles City
(045) 892 2408

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Wensha Spa

I was a member of The Spa near Eastwood for the longest time so I never had to bother trying out new spas. I've been hearing about Wensha Spa from my friends and how they have a buffet thrown into the package. That really threw me off. So I planned about going there for the longest time and finally did when John came back from Morocco and I thought we'd give it a try.

Nothing like those Arab hammams John goes to in Morocco. Actually I'd be very interested to find out if there's any here in the Philippines. Anyway, the cheapest massage goes for PhP 680, which includes 6 hours in the facility, a buffet/shabu shabu and an hour massage. I wanted to try the Ventosa massage (yung may basong may apoy PhP 880) but I was told that the queue is quite long so I just got the most basic one.

Because it was Saturday night it was quite busy. There was a long list for the massage and I was starting to worry that we might get our massage in the morning already. Luckily I found the girl who has the list, chatted her up and John and I got in very quickly. Charm really goes a long way. Weheheheh.

I haven't had a massage for about a year and it felt awesome. It's like the world and its worries just melted away. The masseur used Ginger Oil and the pressure was just right. I still miss Remy my The Spa masseuse who knew exactly how to beat me up. Anyway...

After an hour, we proceeded to the buffet. They had quite a good spread. Rice, Fish fillet in some brown sauce, Chicken in some brown sauce, Pork in some brown sauce, Shabu Shabu ingredients, Ice cream, Iced tea and orange juice. Not bad. I mean, the food is the kind you eat in very uninspired restaurants, but after almost an hour on the wet floor and an hour of getting massaged we were starving. For PhP 680 it really was great value.

Wensha Spa is open 24/7 and is located beside Victoria Tower on the corner of Timog Ave and Quezon Blvd. I discovered a Fujimart next door, too!

Lan Zhou Laa Mien

One sweltering lunch hour we found ourselves in Masangkay Street in Binondo for some official business. We weren't anywhere near Binondo Church so the usual restaurants were out of the question. We just couldn't bear the thought of sitting in traffic nor walking in the heat. I had a look around and happened upon a glass window with a rather feisty guy making fresh noodles. He did it with such panache and expertise that we immediately decided to say f**k the heat and ordered two bowls of ramen.

It was the best ramen we've ever had. Give me your favourite instant noodle and it is nothing compared to this. Pedro got the Chicken one, I had the Beef Brisket. Delicious broth. It really makes a helluva difference if you slowly simmer the stock to get that depth of flavour. The table is set with different condiments including a bowl of freshly chopped cilantro and another bowl of chopped spring onions.

To find it, walk from Bambang Market (Bambang LRT Station) along Masangkay Street. This is the same street as Philippine Academy of Sakya and St Stephen. If you see the Bureau of Immigration Satellite office (left side) you're on the right track. From there, walk another 30 meters or so and you'll find it near a street corner.

Definitely worth the trip!

Friday, 18 June 2010

A Taste of Pretentious

Nothing would make me happier than to see this restaurant lose money and shut down.

I am reminded of this snob who used to work for Ayala Museum's Museum Cafe. They have the best cakes in Makati. I've tried Avocado, Chocnut, and a few others and they were soooo good.

One afternoon, I was with a friend hoping for a spot of lunch when we decided to eat there. It was 230 in the afternoon on a weekday so the restaurant was quite expectedly empty. There was nobody at the door so we made our way inside and sat at a table at the back. This guy (probably head waiter or even the restaurant manager, pale glutathione skin, goatee) was preparing to give us a masterclass on being a snob when he approached our table.

Snob: Do you have a reservation?

Me: (I stared at him then gave the room a scan.) Do we need one?

Snob: We prefer it if our diners make a reservation prior to showing up.

Me: I think you prefer it if you have diners. Get us the menu, prick.

Ok, I didn't really say prick. But he grudgingly got us the menu. I made it a point to leave a two-peso tip. Months later I saw him working at Chelsea Market Cafe in Serendra. Got fired, much? Or isa lang may-ari nung dalawa?

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


I hate going to World Trade Center. It's such as schlep. But since my children are competing in the Best Cheesecake Competition in this year's MAFBEX, I braved the heat and traffic and paid PhP50 pesos to get in and enjoy an enormous room full of gadgets, food equipment and free tastings!

Ok, here's the thing. It's great that St. Benilde is hosting the event. I think it's a fantastic experience for the students to help organize and carry out MAFBEX. But did they really have to get a random student group called The Managers to sing songs during intermission? I think I speak for everyone in that hall that awkward silence was preferable to this group's horrible singing. They were so bad that at one point they were even laughing at each other. While still performing.

When I tasted Bea and Kevin's Black Sesame Cheesecake and Matcha Ganache on Sable Breton, I knew it was a winner. And it was! It was delicious. Even Pedro agrees.

This one was from the team next to ours. Very pretty fruits and chocolate wedges. Very pretty indeed. Tasted like an average cheesecake, though.

I had my eye on this Orange Fantasy. It looked so promising. I would've infused a bit of Grand Marnier in the cheesecake and roasted the oranges a la plancha for a bit of smoky, tart effect.

This is the gayest Halo Halo theme ever. Reminds me of an Alma Moreno dance number.

Grade 2 Art project entitled "Tissue Holder ni Regine Velasquez."

My favourite design. Stenciled or hand-painted yata. Pretty average flavour, though.

Biggest disappointment. When you're presenting something this messy, you better make sure that the flavour will make up for it. It didn't. The use of Kapeng Barako was very promising, but the taste was truly forgettable.

Monday, 14 June 2010

VFW Canteen

I first read about VFW Canteen a couple of years ago in a blog which briefly mentioned the huge Eggs Benedict they serve. I've tried looking for it since but never had any success. I mentioned it to Gem one afternoon while driving to Angeles for a Kabigting merienda. She immediately texted her friend (who happens to be the Marketing Manager of Clark) who in turn did his snooping and finally found its address.

Armed with that, we drove to Clark one sunny Sunday morning in search for an enormous plate of brunch. The address sounded pretty straightforward but of course we got lost. We asked a few people around but nobody knew where Don Juico Ave. is. Eve the tricycle drivers didn't know. Don Juico turned out to be one of the largest streets just outside Clarkfield. I was really puzzled why nobody knew where it was.
After a few more minutes of driving around, we found the Fatboy Carwash landmark, made a right turn, and ended up immediately in front of the canteen. We got in and asked for the menu, which is available for download here.

The menu was quite extensive, and I got overly excited poring through it. In the end I chickened out and didn't order the Eggs Benedict. I wasn't sure if I can manage it on my own, and I hate wasting food. Pedro wanted something else so I decided to get the Shit on a Shingle (SOS) a wartime staple for GIs also known as Creamed Beef on Toast instead, which was wonderful. Two cups of real brewed coffee. Asked for the bill and it was pretty affordable for brunch for two. I was tempted to order dessert, or at least a stack of pancakes but I was too full to enjoy it. We'll just go back really soon!

Before leaving I went to the bathroom and realized that there was another room on the other side of it. It was a smoking bar, with an enormous flat screen TV showing CNN. At the bar and on the tables sat about a dozen white folks enjoying their Sunday brunch with beer and Bourbon Sour.

Definitely going back there! Join na!

VFW Post 2485 Post Canteen
Santol Rd. cor Pinatubo Street
045-892 2408

From the Friendship Gate, drive towards Fields Ave. Look for the tiny Fatboy Carwash (a couple of blocks after Zapata Mexican Resto) and turn right on the next street. It's about 30 metres from the corner.

New Orleans Bourbon Street Steaks and Oysters

That was one disappointing dinner.

We couldn't sit outside because there was a musical act on and like in many restaurants here in the Philippines the speakers were on full volume and it was really quite noisy. Grudgingly, we marched inside and sat on one of the booths. It was roomy and comfy. The decors were pleasant. Found it difficult to tell which ones are the waiters and which are customers looking for the toilets.

I started with gumbo soup, thinking of the huge bowl they serve at Gumbo's. It came in a tiny cup. The flavor was a bit of a blah. It tasted like microwaved frozen gumbo leftover from three days ago. Still hungry, I ordered the ribs and thought the one I always get from Rack's was much better. We also ordered the duck salad which had caramelized walnuts. Thought that was nice but for the price I expected more than three slices of duck breast. The dressing was spot on, though.

I get that the restaurant is trying to be a New Orleans themed restaurant. But really, they could have done more research on the food. It was ok at best, but factoring in the prices (pretty steep!) it's just not worth it.

Another restaurant observation. When I order beer, I expect it to be cold. And preferably served with a chilled glass. I don't want to drink cold beer straight from the bottle when I'm eating out. That's just crude. I prefer it in a chilled glass. Chilled, not full of ice. If I want beer and ice water I might as well stick to ice water. Why can't restaurants get this right?

See for yourself:
New Orleans Bourbon Street Steaks and Oyster
B6 Bonifacio High Street, Global City (856 4326)


Hands down the best lunch buffet under PhP 500.00!

I guess one can describe it as Japanese/Korean/Chinese meets the West. Not the place to go to if you don't feel like pigging out. And if you do, make sure you call to book a table. Leonard did an hour before we arrived so we had to wait for almost an hour to be seated. Very busy especially on weekends.

The best part is the barbecue. Dozens of fresh seafood, marinated meats, kebabs and veggies for the grill, and a wide array of ingredients for making dipping sauces. The desserts are ok. Highly recommend that you don't leave room for them.

Looking forward to the next trip when Chef Arnold takes me there!

Yakimix Branches:

Hobbies of Asia, Macapagal Blvd Pasay (387 8120 / 387 8112)
G/F SM Mall of Asia (836 1535 to 37)
Forum Bldg. 270 Tomas Morato Ave. (385 7500)

Scottish Shortbread

This is something so delicious and so easy to make that I would normally have it all the time except that I'm too old to be consuming sticks of butter on a regular basis. Having said that, the recipe calls for real butter, not margarine. Get the best butter you can get your hands on. Because it uses very few ingredients the quality of each can really make the difference.

175 gms unsalted butter, room temperature
225 gms all purpose flour... See more
60 gms rice flour
1/4 t salt
60 gms white sugar
2 T icing sugar, sifted
1/4 t vanilla extract
icing sugar for springkling

1. Sift all dry ingredients into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Beat butter for a minute until creamy. Add sugars and continue beating for another 1-2 mins until very light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat until totally incorporated.

3. Stir flour mixture into the creamed butter until well blended. Transfer to a lightly floured surface, knead lightly and transfer to the pan (I use silicon so no need to grease).

4. Bake in a preheated oven at 120C for 50-60 mins until pale golden and crisp. Cool on wire rack.

5. When stored properly, pwede sya for 2 months, pero hindi nga tumagal dahil nilantakan ng mga tao agad.

Kanin Club

I must say that part of the reason we rarely eat out these days is that from experience, most restaurants are quite disappointing and are seriously not worth the bother. So it was with trepidation that we drove to UP Ayala Technohub one sunny afternoon for lunch at Kanin Club. I thought I would die!

The food is excellent. The rice is not like Mang Jimmy's, which is obviously from the NFA. It looked and tasted like the Dinorado rice I get from Mindoro. We ordered Sigarilyas Express, Crispy Dinuguan and Crispy Tenga. The best and our favourite is the Sigarilyas.

I wish I could eat there everyday, but being older than I used to be (obvious ba?) the back of my neck has turned into a barometer for cholesterol and MSG (or Umami, as Rosebud would call it). I've been back there only once since that day, that time to try the Seafood Kare Kare. Best Kare Kare I've had for months. The bagoong is ulam on its own.

Funny enough both times we were there there's always a long table of Seniors eating and being merry. Former UP professors? First quarter storm blockmates? Frat and sorrority buddies? I just think it strange that they should catch up while eating food that could easily kill them on the spot.

Doing a bit of research, I found that Kanin Club has a Facebook Account. Like na!

Kanin Club Branches

Paseo de Sta. Rosa (049 544-0332)
Weekdays: 11am-2:30pm, 5-10pm
Weekends, Holidays: 11am-10pm

Westgate, Alabang (771-1400)
Weekdays: 11am-2:30pm, 5:30-10:30pm
Weekends, Holidays: 11am-10:30pm

UP-Technohub,QC (332-5978)
Daily: 11am-10pm

Makan Sutra

I have been wanting to go to Makan Sutra at the Manila Ocean Park because I was craving for some hawker-style Singaporean food so I dragged poor Pedro there a few months ago. We were deeply disappointed. At the time it felt like a punishment for being too poor to fly to Singapore to eat the real thing.

It was a Saturday so we assumed that the Aquarium area would be busy, and it really was. We also thought that it would be wise to start thinking about food just after lunch to avoid the huge crowds. So at a little bit after 1 pm we headed towards Makan Sutra. As soon as we entered the disappointments started.

First, there were signs saying no photography allowed so naturally I took the camera out and began taking pics. With my bulk nobody seemed to want to stop me from doing this. What is it about these shops which put up these idiotic signs? They really bring out the worst brat in all of us, don't you think? When I see the sign "Thank you for not sitting" on sofas and beds in furniture shops I always make it a point to sit on them. "No private reading" would of course make me want to open sealed magazines and books.

At this time we were getting quite peckish. We had a look around and decided to order a few things. Five "Out of stock" orders later, we were getting annoyed. And to me the worst possible thing is getting annoyed while starving. It was ridiculous. Saturday, very busy day, just after lunch hour and they are out of most things on their menu. At this point we sort of just gave up and asked the embarrassed attendants what they DO have and settled for those. We ended up with this:

The roti and curry plate was excellent, although tiny for its price. We thought the Chicken Rice would be a safe bet but it was greasy and was mostly chicken skin and oily rice. Kadiri. The Seafood Pasta was forgettable. Jollibee's sweet spaghetti with hotdogs is far more interesting. That dumpling thing with prawns and toasted garlic was rather nice albeit a bit dull. Beer was expensive.

The verdict: Never again. Overpriced, nothing special, disappointing. Sayang.

Kabigting's Halo Halo

It was one lazy summer afternoon when I decided to drive to San Fernando, Pampanga, for, um, nothing. I was walking around Robinson Starmills when I chanced upon a tiny halo halo place at the far side of the food court. I thought I'd give it a try. Little did I know that what I was eating was the famous Kabigting's Halo Halo. I immediately got hooked.

We at the DHRIM used to love Razon's and were thrilled when they opened a branch at UP Ayala Technohub. But we've only been there a couple of times, I think. We aren't really that fussed anymore with Razon's. Still trying to get the guys to try Banang's Halo Halo Ice Cream in San Juan but every time we drop by their ice cream machine is still under repair.

Kabigting's only have three branches: Robinson's Starmills in San Fernando, Marquee Mall in Angeles City and the original shop in Arayat, Pampanga. Far, but well worth the trip.

They also have pansit luglog (PhP 40/order) which is probably the best one I've ever had. Certainly better than Via Mare's.

We spoke to the guy running the Marquee Mall branch and he said they are open to franchising (PhP 400,000 per store) but I think these things should be kept small. I was watching a program on a French candy store in Brittany and the owner said that they have run the shop for three generations but never felt the need to make more than what they have always done. They never bothered buying machines to speed up production and are convinced that hand-made candies taste better. Quite agree! The more accessible a product is, the more common it becomes. Then it starts losing its charm. I hope the people behind Kabigting's would reconsider not to branch out and keep it a family business.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


Didn't mean to disappear for over a year. Well, I didn't really. My readers are people I see everyday, and there's even a question whether readers should be plural. Wehehehe.

Today, Pres. Al Gore is in Manila to deliver a lecture entitled "The Leader as Environment Steward." Very impressed with SM's initiative to go green. Every Wednesday they use brown paper bags at their supermarkets. The cashiers and baggers hate those brown bags. They break easily and when you're buying fresh chicken it has to be wrapped in plastic twice then double brown bags. Yay.

SM has really gone a long way from the glaring fluorescent lights reminiscent of Isetann Department Store Cubao, no? They have redecorated! Amazing what a simple shift to warm lighting makes.

And while SM is on a roll about making a difference, I just wish that they'd rethink their labor contractualization policy. It's great that they have all this concern for the environment, but a greater concern for their workers would be more appreciated, to be sure.