Monthly Archives: March 2012

MY BINONDO GIRL … Philippines’ Chinatown

Walking through the busy streets of Binondo will remind you of the typical Chinatown in every country in the world you have visited.  One interesting fact is that it is the oldest Chinatown in the world built in 1594.  My initial knowledge of this place dates back in Kindergarten in St. Mary’s Academy  when we were told that Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo (founder  of the Religious of Virgin Mary) resided in this place. Aside from her, Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz also has his roots here.   So we are treading the grounds of the blessed …

Contrary to its name which means “mountainous” … nothing of that sort can be found but instead  mounds of  Chinese goodies   that would make you want to buy even if it was not planned or needed abound.   It is home to the many delights of tongue and the feast of colours.

Baby Dragon Fruit

Sea Cucumber  

And  my search for the more popular restaurants in Binondo led me to these …
QUIKSNACK

Quik Snack @ Carvajal St

Category                                : Indonesian-Chinese

Address                                 : Carvajal St., Binondo Manila

Telephone Number             : 0918-9030446

Website                 : www.tjioethecaterer.ph

Other Services                     : Catering

Parking                                   : none

It is a quaint restaurant along the street of Carvajal.  I chanced upon the good-looking Operations Manager of the place who is Edwin Tjioe ( pronounced as Choo ) Tan and was told that this was established in 1967 by his grandmother, Pilar.

with the Operations Manager, Edwin Tan

It prides itself with the Indonesian – Chinese cuisine.  Everyone is friendly and accommodating.  Not your spic and span place but everything about it makes it authentic.  Makes it real.

 

The Kitchen

It is a place where parts of your conversation will be drowned with endless chatter and the clanging of the utensils.  This is not a dating place when you have to be cute and whisper sweet nothings to each other.  This is a place for friends who enjoy simplicity and for couples together for 7 years and above.  The place is your typical , practical Chinese restaurant with abundance of good food.  The waiter who attended to us never wrote our order … taking everything from his memory but failed to remember the Bihon Sate.  Very casual. I like the noise … it makes it authentic.  I love the smell … it makes me look forward to good things to come.

Binondo Food Trippers

FOODIE’S ORDER:

(*) LUMPIANG SARIWA– Php 80.00  My mom’s favourite and the search for the best one is still on-going but EUREKA! I have found it. I was never a fan but this one – I like!  It will be served without having to properly introduce itself and say , “eat me, I’m good” … in fact, I should call it unassuming.  As you peel off the plastic wrap … the crepe-like wrapper is smooth without dominating the whole dish and  inside the lumpia is  a symphony of delicious goodness and identifying it would lead to a kaleidoscope of ingredients that in the end you won’t bother to find out … you just have to finish it.

Lumpiang Sariwa ( Fresh Spring Roll )

 (*) NILASING NA HIPON – Php 85.00 . It is so crunchy and tasty and you would wonder, is the shrimp drunk or I wanna get a sub-zero and get  myself drunk as well.  Whether dipped in vinegar or as is … best drunken shrimp I’ve met one fine noon.

Nilasing na Hipon

KUTCHAY AH – Php 40.00 .  It is big for an empanada but small for a calzone. It is their take on that  bread with the almost the same ingredients as the lumpiang sariwa inside.  This is one good take-out food to bring home.  Just heat in your oven.

Kutchay Ah

 
NOODLE SOUP MISUA RENION – Php 110 . A hot bowl of misua with the twist – how about KIDNEY for the main ingredient? How does it taste? Good … almost akin to liver and lengua in one meat.  There is something about the caramelized onion and the leeks that ties in flavor of this soup.
 

NOODLE SOUP MISUA RENION

OYSTER OMELETTE – Php 180.  This you have to eat with plain rice.  Oysters that never knew the word : scarcity.  It is an abundance of oysters wrapped in scrambled egg. 
 

Oyster Omelette

 
BIHON SATE – The dish we almost missed because the waiter forgot we ordered it. This is their “must-order”, the specialty of the house. This is the same reason why they are serving Indo-Chinese food. It is   deceiving though … there is a spicy kick ready to unravel as it touches your tongue.  Odd for a pancit to be spicy … but it is and it won’t even dare hide its true flavour.
 

Bihon Sate

TASTY DUMPLINGS
 

Facade of Taste Dumplings

 
Category                              : Chinese

Address                                : 629 Ongpin St. Binondo, Manila

                                             : 960 Masangkay, Binondo, Manila
Branch                                 : 583 NS Amoranto St., Quezon City

Telephone Number             : 02-242-5195

Business Hours                     : 10am – 9pm M, T, W, Th, F, Sat

                                                :  8am –  9pm Sun

Other Services                     : Delivery

Parking                                   : none

Modern design with ample space for loads of people.  A quick stop for snacks or hurried lunch. Waiters would clean the floor while you are eating. Needs to beef-up on  customer orientation.

Inside Tasty Dumplings  

 
FOODIE’S ORDER:

PORK CHOP RICE – PHp 105 – big slab of pork chop meat fit for someone with huge appetite.  The batter makes it good.  Meat is tender.

(*) SILVER ROLL BREAD – Php 45 – deep fried … making outside a bit crunchy and inside   texture  resembles a siopao.

Silver Roll Bread

 HONGMA – Php 140 – tastes like pata tim .  This goes well with the silver roll bread.  One is not complete without the other.

Hongma

FRIED OR STEAMED DUMPLINGS –  Php 82 – inside the dumpling pouch is ground meat – too grounded it lacks texture .  I’m not into it.
 

Fried Dumplings

 

Steamed Dumplings

(*) WINTER MELON JUICE –  Php 45. It is from the “kundol” extract … reminds me of gulaman and vanilla

Winter Melon Juice

 DALANGHITA JUICE – Php 45 . Citrus drink – Filipino lemonade

Dalanghita Juice

THE PRESIDENT’S TEA HOUSE

Category                                : Chinese

Address                                 : 809 Salazar St., Binondo, Manila

Branch                                   : SM MOA, Entertainment Mall, Central Business Park Bay Blvd.,
                                               Bay City,Pasay City

Telephone Number             : (02) 246-9082

Business Hours                     : 6:30am – 10pm  Daily

Other Services                     : Delivery

Parking                                   : ample ( in a vacant lot a few steps away )

There would always be a 1st love – this is mine when it comes to Binondo restaurants. It has the ambiance of the food chaos  and authentic taste of old Chinatown.  It is not a place that you would want to be cozy and cute, the loud ruckus of chit-chat and the chopstick gestures would likely tell you … this is home to a lot of regulars. There is also a dimsum cart parading inside the tea house.  Yes, no interior designer put an effort in making this one of the best designed restaurants in the Philippines but it has its charm, even better than the one in MOA which was obviously thought of and paid for to look good.  Though MOA’s Branch charm is the tropical feel , one of those emotions one would feel when eating by the shore.  It is like being on a vacation.

FOODIE’S ORDER:

(*) HOT PRAWN SALAD Php 390. This is a combination of crunchy fried prawns  and fruit salad with loads of mayonnaise.  This is so rich but eating this will make you forget to count the calories and just eat it with utter abandon.  This is throwing your resolves to the wind.  This is a must!

Hot Prawn Salad

(*) MINCED PORK LETTUCE Php 270. This is a Chinese appetizer.  The ice berg lettuce and ground pork (cooked with water chestnut, oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, cilantro, hoisin and soy) will be served separately .  You eat it by placing  the ground pork on a piece of lettuce and add hoisin sauce.  This could drip so watch out and protect your Sunday’s best. This is good. This is really good!

Minced Pork w/ Lettuce

BIRTHDAY NOODLES Php 220.  Chinese (Yi Mein) noodles with fresh spinach, sesame oil, vegetable stock, dark soy sauce , cornstarch , salt , chives and vegetables. This is your typical pancit but authentic birthday noodles in China is not cooked this way.  I am not big on this.

Trivia: Eating these noodles is lucky as the long strands of noodles symbolize a long life.  When eating the noodles, don’t break the noodles using the chopsticks or fork, but instead chew on the noodles when they are inside the mouth.

YANG CHOW FRIED RICE Php 200. Rice cooked in egg with carrots, peas, pork, shrimp and chives. I don’t know any Chinese restaurant in the Philippines that cook this in another manner. You can request to remove the shrimp or pork if you like. 

Trivia: This is from Eastern China.  While some are cooked with soy sauce and oyster sauce to give it the darker color, this one is not dark.

 

Yang Chow Fried Rice

 

MIXED VEGETABLES . The typical vegetables included in mixed vegetable platter are cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, French beans and peas with Chinese sauces sautéed together. It lacks the crunch that I look for in vegetables. Too soiled for me.
 

Mixed Vegetables

SIOMAI Php 80. It is a Dimsum with  pork and shrimp ( mixed with carrot, egg , spring onion and flour as the filling)  This is usually cooked by steaming and served with soy sauce and calamansi juice.  Don;pt forget the chili sauce- which is staple for me in this food , it can make or break it.

 

Trivia: It is best to drink tea in-between meals – about 2 hours after you have eaten. Are there good things about drinking tea with meals? Tea blocks absorption of nutrients. Drinking tea can help you lose weight!

 

FREE Tea in most Chinese Restaurants

PRESIDENT RESTAURANT

 
 
 
Category                                : Cantonese

Address                                 : 746-750 Ongpin St Santa Cruz, Manila

Telephone Number             : (02) 244 7235

Business Hours                     : 10am – 11pm  Daily

Parking                                   : none in front

This holds the pride of being the oldest restaurant in Chinatown.  This is in no way related to The President’s Tea House though it is just a stone throw away from the place.  Unlike the former, this depicts grandeur and opulence.  This used to be a theater in the bygone days  as seen in its vastness and high ceilinged structure.  The staff is in Chinese outfits.  This is often the venue for celebrations and it is practical to go there in a group of 12 for the typical Chinese Lauriat.  These are 10 dishes from appetizer to dessert served on a Lazy Susan or served one at a time.  This usually lasts for 2-3 hours so don’t eat fast … savor each food and avoid the Yang Chow Rice to have room for the other Chinese goodness.

FOODIE’S ORDER:

(*) FRIED FROGS . This is one of my favorites.  Sounds queasy? Actually it is not.  It has always been compared to chicken but this is better for nibblers like me. 

(*) MINCED PORK LETTUCE Php 360.  Tastes just as good as the Tea House’s  but pay a higher price for the ambiance.

STEAMED EEL W/ BLACK BEAN AND CHILI . A must they said.  I maybe adventurous with frogs … but this one is not my cup of tea.

(*) MANGO TAPIOCA . My favourite Chinese dessert.  Mango puree with small  tapioca (sago) and shaved ice. A lovely ending.

WILD BOARS MEAT and HORSE MEAT are also available. 

Sihk Faahn! Eat!

 

 

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BISTRO RAVIOLI

My love affair with Italian food is what you can call … “always been there, though we never married each other”.  I could never be an Italian but I would always say I’m an Italiano – half Ita and half Ilocano (though I’m neither) .  It is a staple in my long line of food journeys.  It is what makes me happy in times of depression.  It is home to my tired soul because it gives me familiarity and sense of belongingness.
 
Category                              : Italian
Address                                : 2nd Floor, South Wing Main Mall, SM Mall of Asia
Branches                              : 2nd Floor, Midtown Wing, Robinsons Place Ermita Ground Level
                                                  : Robinsons Galleria Foodcourt
Telephone Number          : 804 0577
Other Services                     : Parties
Parking                                   : MOA Parking Lot
 

“ The goodness of fresh pasta and brick oven-baked pizza “
 

The Bistro Ravioli’s location is good with an ample amount of foot traffic.  It is one place that you will always bump into when in MOA.  It is a modern bistro with a minimalist touch.  I specially love the writings on the walls with quotes from Bellini, Sophia Loren and Julia Child. Exceptional is the good service geared towards customer satisfaction.

FOODIE’S ORDER

MARGHERITA – Php 280 – My very basic favourite pizza and with so much Margherita consumed in my lifetime … I know a good one at my 1st bite.  For its price, I can get something better.  Most of the time, it is in the crust … it is my pizza core. If it fails there … it will have a hard time recovering.  Because it is brick oven-baked … they didn’t manage to burn it like some of the brick oven-baked pizza I know. 

 

Pizza Margherita

SAUSAGE RAGU – Php 390 – they used fettuccine (rolled flat then cut in  6.5 mm)  Most of the noodles where smothered with the red pasta sauce. There is a generous amount of sausage and greens that usually go with your typical ragu.  It was recommended by the server, I wonder why.

 

Sausage Ragu

Trivia: According to the food dictionary Ragu is a staple of northern Italy’s Bologna. It is a meat sauce that is typically served with pasta. Though different than the French ragout both are derived from the verb ragoûter , which means “to stimulate the appetite.” Ragu usually contains ground beef, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, white wine and seasonings.

SPINACH AND FETA CHEESE IN PASTA SAUCE RAVIOLI – Php 210 – These are spinach and feta cheese filled pasta with sauce.  Ravioli should indeed be made from fresh pasta … I can’t think of any better way.  The price got in the way.  To be able to serve it that way, the amount of filling was sacrificed.  Losing what is essential.

 

SPINACH AND FETA CHEESE IN PASTA SAUCE RAVIOLI

 

 Trivia: Ravioli is a typical Italian filled pasta. Mentions of Ravioli in history dates back in the 14th century in Venice and Tuscany.

It will always be a price war in this arena. They made it affordable and it equated with the taste.  With the emergence of the many “Italian” Restaurants … there will be a handful that can combine authenticity and taste. Much to my chagrin, it is indeed just a handful.

 

 

 

BAWAI’S … PRIVATE VIETNAMESE HIDEAWAY

As my love affair with food continues … I would compare this to a love that is hidden but is very special indeed. It is the kind of love that you hide from the prying eyes … hidden beneath the sheets. It is the kind that you hold on to, the break from the ennui of a life you normally have.

The Road Sign

The Facade

BAN (Banh, might be typo error in their menu) DA LON – Php 25 – Pandan and yellow mung bean cake smothered with coconut paste and sesame seeds. This is made of tapioca starch, rice cake and coconut milk. It lacks something … it would have been wonderful if there are sweet dessicated coconut or latik on top.

Trivia: Ban Da Lon literally means pig skin cake. Not in any way related to the dessert.

This was recommended to me by a colleague, fellow book enthusiast and new friend, Bong Cauilan. Knowing that I love food and places and writing about it – he recommended something special. So special that you can’t just walk in and eat. You have to reserve to taste the Vietnamese goodness. Why is Vietnam close to my heart? My twin sister, Nicole, is half Vietnamese. But my familiarity with the food and my never ending confusion with the names don’t match though.

Stairs Leading to the Dining Area

Front Yard

The Backyard

Bawai means grandmother in Vietnam. There is also a love story behind the place. Yong (a Vietnamese) fell in love and married Virgilio (a Filipino) and settled in the Philippines. The house is actually their home in one of Tagaytay’s retirement community. Yong is a great cook and because of that they opened a portion of their restaurant to strangers to partake in her meals. To date, the cook is their son Victor Tatlonghari (not in any way related to Zsa-Zsa’s estranged husband).

The ambiance is very private. When we went there, there were just 3 groups/pairs. It is a perfect hideaway. I was thinking of an old house but it is not. It might also be nice to have traces of Vietnamese decor to add to the “feel”. The servers are in uniform which is a nice touch. I like the chairs. Everything is white, crisp and dainty. You can even see cows from the window grazing on the grass.

Cows at the Backdrop

Wash Area

Category : Vietnamese

Address : Brgy. Bukal, Silang Cavite

Telephone Number : 0920-9722924

STRICTLY BY RESERVATION ONLY

Parking : you may bring your cars and your neighbors’ J

The journey begins by reserving the date and pre-orders are required so that they can prepare well ahead of time. And I have discovered, everything was cooked to its ultimate perfection through slow cooking. Everything that you will eat will slide off the bone with an easiness that you can never imagine.

How to get there:

Coming from the highway from Sta. Rosa, turn right at the National Highway (Tagaytay Ridge), driving towards the Tagaytay Rotonda. . Turn right at Lagusan Drive. The landmark of this right turn is the signage for the Dominican House of Prayer and Chateau Hestia (in bright yellow) . Just follow the Chateau Hestia signage because they are neighbours. Continue driving along Lagusan Drive, passing SHIM International School and Doña Leoncia Country Homes. Turn right at Brgy. Bukal (Purok 5). We missed the house but once you see Chateau Hestia, you’d know. Bawai is at your left.

FOODIE’S ORDER:

(*) GOI CUON (and the complicated names start) – Php 160 (3 pcs per order ) Glazed Pork and Shrimp with vegetable fresh roll . This is the traditional spring roll of Vietnam. This is rolled in banh trang ( rice paper ) and inside it is a mixture of green leaf lettuce, shrimp, glazed pork , chives, mint and bun ( rice vermicelli ) . This comes with a brown sauce called nuoc cham ( combination of hoisin and water ) . Layering would be the greens, a little above is the shrimp, then pork and then the vermicelli. When rolling, the shrimp will be seen through the opaque rice wrapper. Healthy – that comes to mind while eating this because of its freshness and simplicity.

GOI CUON

BO – Php 235 . Traditional Beef Noodle Soup . My favourite is Pho Hoa’s. This is my 2nd one. The soup is so hot that it is so apt for the cool Tagaytay weather. Mixture of beef , cilantro, banh pho noodles (rice sticks) , onions, scallions, bean sprouts and mint leaves. While I was used to eating the soup with the garnishes on the side like the bean sprouts , mints, chillies and lemon wedges, this doesn’t have that style in serving. Everything else is mixed together. They just serve it with hoisin and chilli sauce. It could have been served the way I have always known it. Whether it is authentic Vietnamese or not, it adds to the drama.

Trivia: Pho Bo is beef noodle soup. This is associated with the city of Hanoi.

Pho Bo

(*) COM SUON CHA – Php 295 – Grilled pork liempo with mushroom egg tart served with greens and rice. This is my top pick. This is almost like eating fish because of its tenderness. This is meat-falling-off-the-bone scenario. This is so tender that the fat part of the liempo literally melts in your mouth. It tastes so good that I think the rice serving is not enough. There goes my diet outside the cool midday delight. The mushroom egg tart is something new but reminded me of the Japanese egg omelette , Tamagoyaki without the mushroom.

COM SUON CHA

GA KHO GUNG – Php 285 – Spicy Ginger Glazed Chicken with herbs, shaved cabbage and steamed rice. This is akin to our adobo and tinola in one. Again that quality of tenderness that makes you wonder, how long does it take to reach that utter tenderness without being soggy? This is cooked with honey and coconut soda – caramelized. While this is the recipe that you could cook in a hurry … this was the last one to arrive on our table.

GA KHO GUNG

BO KHO – Php 305 – 12 spices, slow cooked beef stew with carrots or a choice of steamed rice or rice noodles. Eaten in both ways, this dish is perfect. This is a comfort food. What are the 12 spices? Here goes (from research, I’m not sure if it is the same with theirs) : paprika, lemongrass, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon, clove, ground pepper, shallots, garlic, annatto seed oil, ginger and bay leaf. Hmmm, need I say more? Without a slow cooker simmering will take 4 hours or more.

Trivia: Bo Kho is the ultimate breakfast food in Vietnam.

Bo Kho

CA NUONG XA OT – Php 385 – Grilled lemon grass glazed dory fillet with julienned mangoes, cold salad and steamed rice. Traditionally this is done by marinating the fish in a flavouring paste of lemongrass, shallot, fish sauce and madras-style curry powder then grilled. One thing though, the fish doesn’t taste fresh … like it has been frozen then cooked. The meat tends to fall off too easily which is not good for fish meat. The salad is good though.

CA NUONG XA OT

Banh Da Lon

ICED PANDAN TEA – Php 65 – This is simply iced tea with pandan flavour. Served with the green colored pandan syrup is at the bottom of the drink. Stir well.

ICED PANDAN TEA

ICED TAMARIND TEA – Php 95 – This is a new one for me. This has seeds of tamarind at the bottom. Worth a try.

ICED TAMARIND TEA

(*) FOODIE’S CHOICE

Will I ever go back there? Yes. But knowing now that the food is good for sharing, I will order less. I would have loved to meet the owners to have a better story on the background. If you want privacy … this is your place. The place is good for 30 persons and I would like to assume that they accept small gatherings. This is not your everyday fast food Vietnamese dishes. The food is eaten with the same speed as the cooking is done … slow. Take your time. Bask in the ambiance. The French do it that way, Vietnam has been under the French influence way in the 1800s , right?

Simple. Private. Bawai’s.

The Foodie Amidst Family and Friends

BAWAI’S … PRIVATE VIETNAMESE HIDEAWAY

As my love affair with food continues … I would compare this to a love that is hidden but is very special indeed. It is the kind of love that you hide from the prying eyes … hidden beneath the sheets. It is the kind that you hold on to, the break from the ennui of a life you normally have.

The Road Sign

The Facade

BAN (Banh, might be typo error in their menu) DA LON – Php 25 – Pandan and yellow mung bean cake smothered with coconut paste and sesame seeds. This is made of tapioca starch, rice cake and coconut milk. It lacks something … it would have been wonderful if there are sweet dessicated coconut or latik on top.

Trivia: Ban Da Lon literally means pig skin cake. Not in any way related to the dessert.

This was recommended to me by a colleague, fellow book enthusiast and new friend, Bong Cauilan. Knowing that I love food and places and writing about it – he recommended something special. So special that you can’t just walk in and eat. You have to reserve to taste the Vietnamese goodness. Why is Vietnam close to my heart? My twin sister, Nicole, is half Vietnamese. But my familiarity with the food and my never ending confusion with the names don’t match though.

Stairs Leading to the Dining Area

Front Yard

The Backyard

Bawai means grandmother in Vietnam. There is also a love story behind the place. Yong (a Vietnamese) fell in love and married Virgilio (a Filipino) and settled in the Philippines. The house is actually their home in one of Tagaytay’s retirement community. Yong is a great cook and because of that they opened a portion of their restaurant to strangers to partake in her meals. To date, the cook is their son Victor Tatlonghari (not in any way related to Zsa-Zsa’s estranged husband).

The ambiance is very private. When we went there, there were just 3 groups/pairs. It is a perfect hideaway. I was thinking of an old house but it is not. It might also be nice to have traces of Vietnamese decor to add to the “feel”. The servers are in uniform which is a nice touch. I like the chairs. Everything is white, crisp and dainty. You can even see cows from the window grazing on the grass.

Cows at the Backdrop

Wash Area

Category : Vietnamese

Address : Brgy. Bukal, Silang Cavite

Telephone Number : 0920-9722924

STRICTLY BY RESERVATION ONLY

Parking : you may bring your cars and your neighbors’ J

The journey begins by reserving the date and pre-orders are required so that they can prepare well ahead of time. And I have discovered, everything was cooked to its ultimate perfection through slow cooking. Everything that you will eat will slide off the bone with an easiness that you can never imagine.

How to get there:

Coming from the highway from Sta. Rosa, turn right at the National Highway (Tagaytay Ridge), driving towards the Tagaytay Rotonda. . Turn right at Lagusan Drive. The landmark of this right turn is the signage for the Dominican House of Prayer and Chateau Hestia (in bright yellow) . Just follow the Chateau Hestia signage because they are neighbours. Continue driving along Lagusan Drive, passing SHIM International School and Doña Leoncia Country Homes. Turn right at Brgy. Bukal (Purok 5). We missed the house but once you see Chateau Hestia, you’d know. Bawai is at your left.

FOODIE’S ORDER:

(*) GOI CUON (and the complicated names start) – Php 160 (3 pcs per order ) Glazed Pork and Shrimp with vegetable fresh roll . This is the traditional spring roll of Vietnam. This is rolled in banh trang ( rice paper ) and inside it is a mixture of green leaf lettuce, shrimp, glazed pork , chives, mint and bun ( rice vermicelli ) . This comes with a brown sauce called nuoc cham ( combination of hoisin and water ) . Layering would be the greens, a little above is the shrimp, then pork and then the vermicelli. When rolling, the shrimp will be seen through the opaque rice wrapper. Healthy – that comes to mind while eating this because of its freshness and simplicity.

GOI CUON

BO – Php 235 . Traditional Beef Noodle Soup . My favourite is Pho Hoa’s. This is my 2nd one. The soup is so hot that it is so apt for the cool Tagaytay weather. Mixture of beef , cilantro, banh pho noodles (rice sticks) , onions, scallions, bean sprouts and mint leaves. While I was used to eating the soup with the garnishes on the side like the bean sprouts , mints, chillies and lemon wedges, this doesn’t have that style in serving. Everything else is mixed together. They just serve it with hoisin and chilli sauce. It could have been served the way I have always known it. Whether it is authentic Vietnamese or not, it adds to the drama.

Trivia: Pho Bo is beef noodle soup. This is associated with the city of Hanoi.

Pho Bo

(*) COM SUON CHA – Php 295 – Grilled pork liempo with mushroom egg tart served with greens and rice. This is my top pick. This is almost like eating fish because of its tenderness. This is meat-falling-off-the-bone scenario. This is so tender that the fat part of the liempo literally melts in your mouth. It tastes so good that I think the rice serving is not enough. There goes my diet outside the cool midday delight. The mushroom egg tart is something new but reminded me of the Japanese egg omelette , Tamagoyaki without the mushroom.

COM SUON CHA

GA KHO GUNG – Php 285 – Spicy Ginger Glazed Chicken with herbs, shaved cabbage and steamed rice. This is akin to our adobo and tinola in one. Again that quality of tenderness that makes you wonder, how long does it take to reach that utter tenderness without being soggy? This is cooked with honey and coconut soda – caramelized. While this is the recipe that you could cook in a hurry … this was the last one to arrive on our table.

GA KHO GUNG

BO KHO – Php 305 – 12 spices, slow cooked beef stew with carrots or a choice of steamed rice or rice noodles. Eaten in both ways, this dish is perfect. This is a comfort food. What are the 12 spices? Here goes (from research, I’m not sure if it is the same with theirs) : paprika, lemongrass, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon, clove, ground pepper, shallots, garlic, annatto seed oil, ginger and bay leaf. Hmmm, need I say more? Without a slow cooker simmering will take 4 hours or more.

Trivia: Bo Kho is the ultimate breakfast food in Vietnam.

Bo Kho

CA NUONG XA OT – Php 385 – Grilled lemon grass glazed dory fillet with julienned mangoes, cold salad and steamed rice. Traditionally this is done by marinating the fish in a flavouring paste of lemongrass, shallot, fish sauce and madras-style curry powder then grilled. One thing though, the fish doesn’t taste fresh … like it has been frozen then cooked. The meat tends to fall off too easily which is not good for fish meat. The salad is good though.

CA NUONG XA OT

Banh Da Lon

ICED PANDAN TEA – Php 65 – This is simply iced tea with pandan flavour. Served with the green colored pandan syrup is at the bottom of the drink. Stir well.

ICED PANDAN TEA

ICED TAMARIND TEA – Php 95 – This is a new one for me. This has seeds of tamarind at the bottom. Worth a try.

ICED TAMARIND TEA

(*) FOODIE’S CHOICE

Will I ever go back there? Yes. But knowing now that the food is good for sharing, I will order less. I would have loved to meet the owners to have a better story on the background. If you want privacy … this is your place. The place is good for 30 persons and I would like to assume that they accept small gatherings. This is not your everyday fast food Vietnamese dishes. The food is eaten with the same speed as the cooking is done … slow. Take your time. Bask in the ambiance. The French do it that way, Vietnam has been under the French influence way in the 1800s , right?

Simple. Private. Bawai’s.

The Foodie Amidst Family and Friends

DON LIMONE … il mio piccolo paradiso italiano (my little Italian paradise)

Italy … my piece of heaven on earth.  Everything about it is associated with my love for food and the arts.  Yes! …  the vineyards of Langhe, Piedmont … the land of Il Padrino (The Godfather) Sicily … Roma , the seat of Christianity … Da Vinci, Gucci, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana,  Fendi, Moschino, Max Mara and my new love, Ferragamo … pasta, pizza, lasagna, focaccia, cheese and gelato. The list goes on and I can never get enough of Italy.

Trivia: According to one of the more common explanations, the term Italia, from Latin: Italia, was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning “land of young cattle”  The bull was a symbol of the southern Italian tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Social War. Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus states this account together with the legend that Italy was named after Italus, mentioned also by Aristotle and Thucydides. – wiki

And in one of our numerous unplanned search for food for the soul … we passed by and U-turned for an Italian looking restaurant … with the word … cheesecake and limone catching our attention. 

This place opened early this year .  Owned and managed by , Ms. Betty.  Her love for cooking and travel inspired her to have her own ristorante to showcase her cooking prowess and to share to everyone her love for this passion.  Life is about living your passion , right? Her hubby is a chef as well.

Facade of Don Limone

The Signage that Made me Turn my Car Around

Category : Italian
Address : 199 Aguirre, BF Homes, Paranaque City, Philippines
Telephone Number: (02) 3451803 / 0932-8732316
Email Add : info@donlimone.com
Parking : limited …  in front of the restaurant

A scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast, limoncello and kisses shared on a Positano beach with a gorgeous tall Italian man - scene from "Under the Tuscan Sun" - as seen on one of the pictures on the wall

Limone Sul Garda

Trivia: Limone sul Garda, the lovely town on the Western banks of Lake Garda (province of Brescia) with less than one thousand inhabitants, recently took the international spotlight for the “longevity protein” found in the blood of several of its citizens. Limone, which is nestled in between the mountains and the lake, has always been an isolated frontier. Precisely this isolation, combined with a series of fortunate and fortuitous episodes, determined the birth of the famous “elixir” in the blood of the locals. The protein in the blood of these people from Limone behaves in an anomalous but beneficial way: it quickly removes fats from the arteries and takes them to the liver, where they are eliminated, which protects against arteriosclerosis and heart attack. – visitlemonesurgarda

Foodie’s Order:

House Wine with Cheese Platter – Php 399

House Red Wine in Carafe

2 Kinds of Cheese : Mozzarella and Cheddar with slices of apples.  Served with a saucer of olives and feta cheese w/ olive oil ( good!) and the best item in the platter is the Pistaccio nuts w/ just a hint of lemon in it (superb!)

Cheese Platter

Rucio Red Wine – semi sweet wine from the vineyard of Felix Solis in Spain

Rucio Red Wine

Limoncello – Php 95 – my 1st but definitely not my last! Highly recommended. It is a pale yellow sweet lemon liqueur made famous in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. It’s a specialty digestif of the Amalfi Coast, the Gulf of Naples, Sardinia, Capri and Sicily.

Limoncello

Limoncello Recipe: ( not the recipe of Don Limone)

It’s fairly easy to make. All it takes are lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar. In Italy it’s often homemade with grappa or a 96 per cent alcohol. Vodka, at only 46 per cent alcohol, won’t fully extract the oils from the peel.

Every limoncello lover seems to have their own recipe. This recipe is  not too sweet, but have also had one made with twice as much sugar.

8 Lemons    

1 750 ml bottle Vodka, 100-proof        

2 cups Sugar    

2 cups Water    

Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest.

Use 100-proof vodka — the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.

Scrub lemons well with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any residue of pesticides or carnauba wax. Pat the lemons dry.

Carefully zest the lemons so there is no white pith on the peel. The pith, which is the white part underneath the rind is bitter and could ruin your limoncello.

Pour half a bottle of vodka into a large two-litre glass container, reserving the other half for later. Add the lemon zest. Cover jar and let sit at room temperature for two weeks in a cool dark place. It can sit longer — the longer it rests, the better it tastes.

On day 15, combine sugar and water in a large pan. Cook about 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the limoncello mixture. Add the remaining vodka. Give it a good swirl and leave it alone for another two weeks. Finally, strain the liqueur, discarding lemon zest. Bottle and store in the freezer until ready to serve. It’s good with soda or tonic or just sipped by itself. Makes 11/2 litres. – windsorstar

Limoncello & Under the Tuscan Sun

TAPAS –  selected starters / appetizers

Trivia : Spanish word meaning “to cover ” . This is not of Italian origin. 

According to legend, the tapas tradition began when king Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns would not be allowed to serve wine to customers unless it was accompanied by a small snack or “tapa”.

According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry. – wiki

1. Olives and Almonds – black and green olive mix with almonds with EVOO and a tinge of lemon

2. Omelette – egg with mushroom and chives

3. Fish cut into small squares cooked in oil until golden brown and topped with slices of black olives

4. Potato Salad with shredded chicken – this is yummy!

5. Pizzetas – small pizzas in pepperoni and cheese flavor

6. Green Salad – this is good ! – tomatoes, basil, rice, goat cheese

7. Potato Wedges – fried potatoes with basil

8. Meatball Al Forno -Php 195-  this one is also good.  I’m not a meatball fan but this one is the tastiest by far that I have tasted.  This has been smothered with pomodoro sauce and cheese  Great! The Casalinga pasta must be good as well.

9. Hummus en Fuego – hummus will always remind me of a Greek Restaurant in Rockwell called Mati .  It is where my love affair with this dip began – Php 165 – roasted garlic on top with hot pepper infused olive oil, herbs, olives, cheese served with bread.

Trivia: The English word hummus comes from Turkish humus meaning the hummus food dip or spread, which in turn comes from Arabic حمّص ḥummuṣ, in turn derived from ḥimmaṣ “chickpeas” – wiki

10. Carrot Sticks – unbelievably good! – potatoes served in EVOO with lemon .

11. Small Meat roll with ham generously covered with tomato sauce and cheese.

Tapas

El Greco Pizza – Php 395 – EVOO ( extra virgin olive oil), Feta Cheese, Pesto, caramelized onion, cranberry, fresh herbs, mozzarella, Don Limone’s hot honey  – This is differently superb.  Sweet.  Dough is made from scratch so you have to wait for awhile to taste this pizza.  The Don Limone’s hot honey is also a must when biting into each slice of pizza.

El Greco and DL's Hot Honey

Margherita Pizza – this will always be my fave pizza and the search is on for the best tasting one .  This is of the same good tasting dough but with tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil .  This goes well with the DL’s Hot Honey. But I will always opt for the classic chili pepper flakes for this pizza.

Trivia: Its history begins in 1889, when Queen Margherita, accompanied by her husband Umberto I, took an inspection tour of the Italian Kingdom. During the travels around Italy she saw many people, especially the peasants, eating this large, flat bread.Curious, the queen ordered her guards to bring one of these pizza breads.

The Queen loved the bread and would eat it every time she was out amongst the people, wich caused some consternation in Court. It was not seemly for a Queen to dine with peasant’s food. The Queen summoned the Chef Raffaele Esposito from his pizzeria to the royal palace, ordered him to bake a selection of pizzas for her pleasure. To honor the Queen, Raffaele decided to make a very special pizza just for her. He baked a pizza topped with tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese and fresh basil (to represent the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green) and called it ‘Pizza Margherita’ – source: amalfi coast villas

Pizza Margherita

Pollo Pesto – Php 245 – roasted chicken breast, mushroom and black olives folded in their homemade pesto sauce with grated parmesan cheese served with bread. 

Pollo Pesto

Safron and Date Cheesecake – Php 255 per slice – I’m no fan of cheesecakes but my bestfriend, Essie,  is.  But I have tasted cheesecakes from across the land and this one is …. squisito! Not your run-of-the-mill kind … creamy and full of flavor … and wonderfully different. Odd combination defying the usual . .. treading the road less travelled.   This is a must! Served with slivers of dark chocolate (bringing in the contrast) , slices of lemon and strawberry syrup creatively presented on a watermelon rind.

Trivia: The citrulline which exists in watermelon (especially in the rind) is a known stimulator of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is thought to relax and expand blood vessels, much like the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, and may even increase libido. – wiki

Safron and Date Cheesecake

Safron is known as a spice that contributes to the yellow color  of food  … this has always been associated with the notes – haylike and sweet.  Dates are edible sweet fruits .  Two things common to them : sweetness and Persia.

Pomegranate Raspberry Cheesecake – Php 255 -combining the rich tang of pomegranate and the sweet taste of raspberry creating a fruity infusion.  Same creamy cheesecake base that we love.  This is served with lemons, apples and slivers of dark chocolate with swirls of raspberry syrup on top.

Pomegranate Raspberry Cheesecake

The Foodie with the owner, Ms. Betty Tadayon, and bestfriend , Essie

Given the Italian ambiance , it had me at Buonasera! It is wonderfully quiet … people are warm and obliging.  Food is great. Wine is even better.  Whenever you are in BF Homes, Paranaque … have a taste of Italy at Don Limone … who knows you might also find your Marcello in this place. 

“Mangiamo!”  … Let’s eat!

ABE … where good friends dine

Abe is a Capampangan word for friend, companion and getting together.  It is also the nickname of the beloved son of Pampanga , Emilio Aguilar Cruz, a writer, painter, editor , connoisseur, bon vivant and legendary eater outer.  Come to think of it … I wannna be described this way.

Abe by Nick Joaquin

 Category : Filipino Food
Address : Abe , Ground Floor, Serendra, Retailer Area,  Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Philippines / Branch: Trinoma/MOA
Telephone Number: 856-0526/856-7696
Operation Hours : Mon-Sun 11am – 3pm / 6pm – 11pm ( Reservation is a must! )
Parking: Ample

Facade of Abe

Foodie’s Orders:

Squid Tactics – Lightly fried in properly batter and spices –  A good start but we had to order additional sauce because there isn’t much.  Servers are generous though.

Squid Tactics

Sinigang na Bangus Belly with Ripe Guava – Php 399 – Another style of sinigang with crushed fruit of guava and sour broth – Reminiscent of my  lunches with Mom in Bulacan.  Since this is belly , I miss the fish head of the Bangus,  which of course isn’t a sight to behold in a fine restaurant

Sinigang na Bangus Belly with Ripe Guava

Laing w/ Tinapa – Php 255 – gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk with a distinctive taste of smoked fish  

Laing w/ Tinapa

Gising-Gising – Php 240. – Chili lovers delight, red hot chili peppers and kangkong simmered in coconut milk. Fire extinguisher on hand! – nah, for tongues like mine, this isn’t spicy enough. 

Gising Gising

Nanay’s Pochero– Php 475 – Alya Honasan Mom boils leftover Christmas ham bits and bones in the broth to make it more yummy – another “back to basic” dish with a twist .

Nanay's Pochero

Crispy Tadyang D’ Original Mickey Fenix – Php 495 –  A Bistro Remedios original, marinated beef ribs deep-fried to delicious crispiness. Widely copied but in vain. – Not crispy enough for me.

Crispy Tadyang D' Original Mickey Fenix

Knockout Knuckle – Php 595 –  By unanimous decision, this Ang Hang take on the traditional fried crispy pata, won the heart of food writer Madbur Jaffrey’s foodie  family – yes I’m into bones – a dog in my past life?

Knockout Knuckle

Pastel de Lengua – No Filipino fiesta would be complete without this tender ox tongue dish on the table – not as spectacular as the ones I’ve tasted

Pastel de Lengua

Dilis Rice – this bagged the crown of my best food in this restaurant … fried rice topped with dilis done in different way as we know dilis … not crunchy … with tausi .   This will kiss your non-carbo diet good-bye! The best!

Dilis Rice

Mango Crepes – mango inside crepes smothered with sauce

Mango Crepes

Sikreto ni Maria – Php 165 –  suman , mango, coconut milk and ice cream – one good dessert!

Sikreto ni Maria

Claude’s Dream – buco pandan w/ vanilla  ice cream

Claude's Dream

 This is a reputable Pinoy Resto –  a member of the LJC group – the owners of Cafe Adriatico, Cafe Havana, Larry’s Cafe, Bistro Remedios, Fely J’s Kitchen, Lorenzo’s  Way, Abe Farm and La Mer Catering.   This is the kind of place where you bring your balikbayan friends and relatives.  This is classic “ulam” in an ambiance that is very old Pinoy with a minimalist touch.  You will be surrounded by pictures of bygone eras and bits and pieces of the past . 

Interior

Blast from the Past

Pictures in Sepia

Indeed , everything about it revolves around friendship  – delightful recipe contribution of friends.  This is one good place to dine … with friends.

The Foodie Among Friends

SAM WON GARDEN … HEART & SEOUL

My visit to Seoul took my heart by a mouthful of Bibimbap. The Philippines is so lucky to have numerous Korean restaurants … and Koreans … to choose from. It was a not a gastronomic trip that I had pre-planned … we judged the restaurant by the number of cars parked. And the name sounded like the famous Sam Wong . And voila! It was a good choice.

Sam Won Garden

Category : Korean Food
Address : Sam Won Garden, 226 Aguirre cor J. Ramirez, BF Homes, Paranaque City, Philippines
Telephone Number: 825-1144
Operationg Hours : Mon-Sun 10am-10pm
Parking: Ample

Inside the restaurant are 2 sections: 1) typical chairs and table 2) seats on the floor

Inside the Sam Won

Trivia: Traditionally when dining, Koreans sit on cushions on the floor and eat from a low table. The floor is generally heated by the ondol under floor heating system, so it is comfortable. This custom is still common at a lot of restaurants in Korea. The dining area in a restaurant is generally on a raised platform, which visitors should remove their shoes before stepping on to. These days most restaurants also have a table-and-chairs option in case visitors feel uncomfortable sitting on the floor. (Korea-Be Inspired)

There are also silver tubings hanging on the ceiling … they are individual exhaust systems for each table.

Individual Exhaust System

FOODIE’S ORDERS:

COLD BARLEY TEA – house tea

Yey, it's free!

USAMGYUP ( Grilled Beef Belly ) – Php 330 is commonly known as a Korean Barbeque. It consists of strips of beef belly (Samgyupsal cut- thinly sliced) and is often served as an evening meal.

GALBI ( Grilled Short Ribs ) – Php 330. Beef meat w/ ribs.

Grilling the Beef Belly

Foodie’s Tip: Beef Belly is better than the beef ribs.

BANCHAN ( KOREAN SIDE DISHES)

Trivia: Banchan (pronounced “bon-chon”) is the term for Korean side dishes.  These are  at least a half dozen of in small portions, enhancing the meal with different tastes and textures.  These are for FREE!

soybean paste (ssamjang) dipping sauce with fresh garlic

Nuts cooked in sugar . Yum!

Kimchi

Kimchi – napa cabbage fermented for months in vinegar, red chili peppers and salt. It  gives off a spicy and sour flavor.  The kick !

Gaeran Mari

Gaeran Mari are rolled omelettes –  egg mix of green onions, garlic and peppers are spread thin on a large pan, folded, and cut into half-inch wide pieces

Jeon

Jeon – pancake-like dishes made of fish with flour batter or coated with egg batter then deep-fried in oil. 

Trivia:  There is a sweet dessert variety called hwajeon, which means “flower jeon”. Jeon is an important dish during jesasang (ancestor worship) and janchi (festival).

Sigeumchi Namul

Sigeumchi Namul – blanched spinach mixed with sesame oil and soy sauce. Some are served w/ sesame seeds but not this one.

Baby Potatoes cooked in sugar

Mixed Veggies - less spicy

Steamed Tofu

Thinly sliced Radish - an alternative to the lettuce as a wrap

Lettuce and Sesame Leaves - used as wraps

How to Eat Korean Barbeque:

1.  Heat grill plate  ( usually the servers do this ). Some restaurants give you the option that they will grill the meat in the kitchen.  But I find it grilling in front of me more authentic.

2. Grill until the meat until light brown.

3. On the lettuce leaf or radish , put a piece of grilled pork, garlic, dipping sauce or paste, and other banchan of your choice.

4. Fold the lettuce with fillings and add some dipping sauce. Some would also put in the rice . But I always prefer not doing this.

5. Eat it like a lettuce wrap.

The best part about this is combining different side dishes with each new wrap, creating a different gastronomic experience every time. Banchan is also meant to be shared, enhancing the communal feel of the Korean dinner table. 

And because this is spicy … it goes well with …

Jinro's Soju

Trivia: Jinro is a distiller in South Korea founded in 1924.  They use temperature sensitive paper on their bottle label. A tab in the shape of a frog (the company’s mascot) is white when the bottle is warm and becomes blue when the bottle is cold, indicating that the soju is ready to drink. ( wiki)

Jinro’s Soju Php 180 . This one will definitely give you a good kick.  This tastes like vodka but slightly sweeter so a bottle can be shared.  This is consumed neat meaning “straight-up” (if you can) .

Eating Korean food … meant to be shared … good for the  heart and Seoul.  In fact it is dubbed as one of the most nutritious food in the planet. Enjoy!

The Foodie w/ the one her Seoul loves