Category: Food

The Barn by Tipsy Pig

UP Town Center is fast becoming a food lover’s  favorite destination. A lot of really good restaurants have long been serving customers here, like Mama Lou’s, Cafe Shibuya, Mad Mark’s, Backyard Kitchen, Casa Verde, Dulcelin, Silantro, Genki Sushi, and a lot more.
One such establishment that recently opened is The Barn by Tipsy Pig. Originally located in Capital Commons in Pasig, they opened their door in Katipunan November last year. They mostly serve Filipino food, with some pizza and pasta in the mix. The Barn drafts their own beer, and it goes without saying that they serve good “pulutan” to go with that beer.

 

Signature Burger – very juicy and the meat is cooked just right

 

 

Not your typical kare-kare, this one is made with crispy fried liempo underneath the steamed vegetables

 

 

 

My favorite – their version of pares made from premium beef, with garlic rice, of course!
Sebastian dip – spinach + crab meat + cheese = FTW
Nachos – pack a flavor and good enough for 4-5 persons
Sebastian’s salad – greens with candied walnuts and balsamic dressing, my kind of salad
Their signature dish, sisig tacos. So good one order is not enough
One of their house-brewed beer, Salted Caramel

 

 

 

Since it opened, The Barn by Tipsy Pig has been a regular hangout for us Katipunan moms, not only for the good food, but great ambiance and service.

 

Discover Desserts @ Hong Kong

Okay, so the real reason we came back to Hong Kong was because of the Hello Kitty popup grocery that would be closing by the end of May. It wasn’t even a question of whether I’d go back. As my daughter puts it, “You simply have to go there.” So there. I am an obedient mother.

 

But as it was already our second return to Hong Kong for the year, I was determined that we would not just shop the way we usually do, but also try to experience more of what the city had to offer in terms of food. I was glad to find some dessert gems that we would definitely go back to.

Dim Dimsum – The one that we tried was in Mongkok. Thank goodness there was only a short line outside the restaurant. It is just a tiny place with simple furnishings, but my friends (who were big dumpling fans) really enjoyed eating a lot of different food! I personally liked the presentation of their milk tea, and enjoyed my piggy salted egg custard and pineapple buns!

Filled with hot salted egg custard, these pig buns are cute AND yummeh!

The ice outside the milk tea keeps the drink cold, but doesn’t dilute the taste!
Oddies Foodies- Located at the Soho district, this dessert place serves egg waffles with gelato. The one we ordered had brownies pressed into it. They also had packed Nutella meringue which you could buy to give away to friends.

Egg waffles are a very popular dessert in HK
Taste Cafe in Macau – Ok, so technically, it’s not in Hong Kong, but if you have time, Macau also has very interesting places to eat in. Sadly, I don’t know the exact location of this place, but it is along Senado, when you attempt to walk to the ruins. They had a purple yam sandwich, that was really a dessert because apart from purple yam, it had condensed milk as a topping!

Taste served cold brew coffee in this beautiful container
I’m glad we explored a lot of eats in this trip! Happy travels =)

 

Dumaguete on the Cheap

This year, I made a promise to my family that we would explore the Philippines more. We are avid travellers, but sadly, we rarely choose to go around places in our own country because 1) it is hot most of the time and 2) it almost costs as much, or sometimes more than travelling to certain countries with more pleasant weather. But, I told myself that I wouldn’t make any excuses this time and really put the Philippines in our travel agenda.

Dumaguete was actually our second planned trip around the country. The first one was to the Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna, which was really just a day trip so I don’t have a story for that visit.

Dumaguete surprised me with its natural beauty and accessibility. There are so many gorgeous places to go to in this tiny island of just over a hundred thousand people. But, as we were newbies, we took the more expensive route and hired a tour guide. You can skip this part, and benefit from my experience by reading along and finding a more cost-effective way of going around Dumaguete.

Transportation

As I’ve said, all the major attractions in Dumaguete are just 30 minutes to an hour away from the main city, so if you’re travelling in a group, just hire a van. This will set you back Php 3,500 per day, but the van is very comfortable and can easily sit 9 people, ideal for families and groups of friends. If you’re on your own, best to hire your own motorcycle guy to bring you to different places. Of course, you have to risk it because Dumaguete doesn’t require helmets for motorcycle drivers and passengers (go figure).

Accommodations

Our hotel was located at the heart of the city, and I still think it’s a good idea to do that since all sights worth seeing are just walking distance from the hotel. Next time though, I would opt to book a hotel facing the Rizal Boulevard because 1) the scenery’s great. You’re overlooking the sea and the island of Siquijor; and 2) all the major restaurants are lined up along Rizal Boulevard.

Rizal Boulevard
The Places to Hit

Siliman University- Apart from being one of the oldest universities in the Philippines, it also boasts of its very own anthropological museum and the biggest library in Dumaguete. The library is open to the public, while there is a small fee for entering the museum.

The sprawling campus grounds of Siliman University
Rizal Boulevard- For anyone who enjoys eating, or hanging out, the boulevard is the best place to walk through. More on what you can eat in this area later.

Twin Lakes of Balinsasayao- Oh my, this is probably one of the most gorgeous places you can visit. It didn’t even take us thirty minutes to get her from the hotel. Once you arrive, you can take a boat to see both lakes from a viewing point.

Manjuyod Sandbar- I’ve been to the Honda Bay sandbar in Palawan, but it’s tiny compared to the 7 km sandbar of Manjuyod. White sand, clear waters, boatmen selling fresh buko, who can say no to this gorgeous location? After you get your fill of walking (if you don’t swim) or swimming, they’ll whisk you off to the middle of the ocean to look for dolphins! Then there’s lunch on the boat where copious amounts of crabs, shrimp and fish will be served.

Pulangbato Falls and Sulphur Mountains- Pulangbato waterfalls is another easy-to-reach place in Dumaguete. You can swim here, so do bring your bathing suits along. Very near it is a hot springs resort that gets its heat from the sulphur mountains. The water is really rusty, and the stones are a magnificent copper color!

Twinning in Pulangbato Waterfalls
Eats Time to Eat!

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention all the wonderful food that you can eat and bring home from Dumaguete.

Budbod sa Tanjay – A good thing to snack on, and a cheap pasalubong to take home is Dumaguete’s version of suman (sticky sweet rice). You can choose from just plain suman, suman with chocolate (the one I got) and suman with mango. This is normally served along the marketplace. If you want to take some home, I suggest you refrigerate it, or store in the freezer until you’re ready to eat. I usually fry mine once I take them out in the freezer. Yummy breakfast!

Panda Fried Ice Cream-Located at Maria Cristina St. (very near Siliman University), this treat is like eating a donut stuffed with ice cream. I really liked it!

 Sans Rival Cafe – You can get cheap meals here (some are not even Php 200 a plate), plus you can take home a box or two of their silvanas and sansrival. This, and many more restaurants are found along the Rizal boulevard. That’s it! I hope you learned a thing or two! Happy travels =)

Chocolate silvanas? Yes, please!

Sweet, Sweet Osaka

I ‘discovered’ Osaka in 2010, and since then, have made it a pilgrimage country, one that I keep religiously going back to on an almost yearly basis. Here are the top three reasons why I love Osaka:

  1. I love Osaka because it has a proliferation of Daiso/Seria stores, my favorite fabric stores and oodles and oodles of craft supplies. Yes, it might be weird for other people to see that this is my top reason to go back, what with Daiso stores being available here in the Philippines. But, guys! The Daiso stores here are Php 88! The Daiso stores in Japan are just Php 45-50 (depending on the exchange rate). Plus, the stuff available there are really not available here (particularly craft supplies!). So do you understand why it’s the first thing I go to when I arrive in Osaka? (I imagine people shaking their heads at me…hehehe.)
  2. I love Osaka because of the proximity of very interesting places surrounding it. It’s a train ride away from Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara! It’s the home of Universal Studios, the home of Harry Potter! It’s where the Kaiyukan Aquarium is! Castles, temples! They have it all!
  3. I love Osaka because of the food! Every time I’m there, I just have to order gyoza, katsu and karaage. Not the most adventurous set of meals, but I always get a kick out of how authentic the taste is. I have yet to find a gyoza place in the Philippines that can rival Osaka’s vendo gyoza, the cheapest gyoza you can find there! And the desserts are so plentiful! Methinks Japanese, like Filipinos, love their sweets.

So, on to my actual article. On this trip, we really wanted to sample more desserts. This was the first one I tried–a cream bun from Hop Chou ala Creme in the Shinsaibashi-Namba area. The outside looks like its hard bread, but looks can be deceiving! Inside is yummy, cool and creamy filling! I chose a chocolate-flavored one because you can’t go wrong with chocolate. The thing though is that it’s not heavy on the stomach, so you could be tempted to eat more than one bun. Plus there are many flavors to choose from, which is another temptation.
The next dessert I sampled was the waffle-on-a-stick at Maison de Gigi (Shinsaibashi Suji, Chuo-Ku). We each ordered our own flavor, and I again got the chocolate-flavored one, while Bumbum got the strawberry-flavored waffle. Okay, note that this was spring time in Osaka, which may have accounted for the waffle being a bit cold. But that said, the chocolate on mine was very good, dark (the way I like it) and the waffle had the sugar crystals that gave it a bit of crunch. Bumbum polished hers off in no time.
Finally, we ate the small cheesecake tarts in Pablo and the big premium one as well. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the premium cheesecake (too busy stuffing my face with it), but here is how it looks like:

*photo borrowed from http://mogmog.us/category/review/106/

I really loved the premium cheesecake with the creme brulee-esk top. Honestly, if left alone with this cake, I could probably finish off half of it. The burnt sugar top gives a wonderful flavor to this cheesecake.

I wish I could tell you that I ate more desserts, but sadly, I did not. After all, I’m always on a diet 😜

 

My Chow Down Rundown

My Chow Down Rundown

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating!  There have been a number of great food experiences in the past 3 months that I thought it best to quickly share them in one post.  So, here goes:

The brisket at Mighty Quinn’s.  I had the privilege of getting invited to a private tasting event a few days before its official opening.  It was a great experience to meet the man behind New York’s award-winning slow cooked barbecue, Hugh Mangum.  One thing else that had a lasting impression on me was the brisket.  Tender, moist, savory, with just the right amount of fat.  Need I say more?

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Rib Eye at Maria Luisa’s Garden Room.  This place is one of my favorites and I’ve written about their Scandinavian platter and cassoulet in the past.  But I’ve discovered their rib eye only recently…and they do it very well!

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Degustation at the Champagne Room. This place’s old-world ambiance and decadence is perfect for special occasions.  A must try is their degustation menu – with champagne of course!

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The Arroz Negro at Tomatito.  I knew this place was a must-try even before I stepped into its doors.  How could a restaurant from the same team behind Las Flores and Rambla not be great?  The very playful ambiance added to the experience.

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The Porterhouse at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse.  This was probably the biggest piece of meat I have ever had the chance to devour.  It was also a glorious, juicy, tasty, piece of monster meat!

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Yakiniuku at Urameshi-Ya.  I have been to Little Tokyo so many times but it was only recently that I discovered Urameshi-Ya.  Aside from really good yakiniku, I could not get over how good their rice was!  It was quite pricy for a bowl of rice (P120) but it was worth it!

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Mutton Rajwari Kofta at the Royal Indian Curry House.  This was the chef’s secret recipe – worth a try!

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Beef cubes with Garlic at Mandarin Sky Seafood & Shabu-shabu.  This dish made going out of my way to Banawe well worth the trip!

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I will end this jumbled post with this quote from Julia Child: “People who love to eat are always the best people.”

 

If Burgers are your Thing

If Burgers are your Thing

I’ve posted two articles about my recent Hong Kong trip, mostly to share its culinary highlights.  This will be my 3rd post of another culinary find.

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Before you conjure up images of haute Asian fusion cuisine, let me warn you that this is just about the plain old burger.  But if burgers are your thing and you happen to be in Hong Kong, then this place might be worth a visit.

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One thing I liked about Beef & Liberty was its location.  For the duration of my business trip, I was based in the very crowded Central business district so the departure to this gentrified area of old Wan Chai was refreshing.  Beef & Liberty was smack in the middle of this quirky and (do I dare say?) “hipster” neighborhood scattered with eclectic shops, trendy residential buildings, and unique bars and restaurants.

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This burger joint, which happens to be on the Michelin Guide, is known for its use of beef from grass-fed cattle raised by small farmers in Tasmania – supposedly in an area with the cleanest air in the world.  Now, I am very far from being a burger or beef connoisseur so these things have no bearing for me.  All I really care about is having a big fat juicy and tasty burger.

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Big, fat, and juicy – yes!  Plus points for juicy goodness dripping down my fingers.

Tasty – I’m a bit on the border on this because while I definitely taste the savory meat, I prefer mine on the salty side.  But that was quickly solved with a dash of salt.

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So is it really the best burger in HK as many food writers suggest?  I suppose until Shake Shack arrives they have the crown.

Beef & Liberty is located at 23 Wing Fung St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

If You Wanna Go Fancy in Hong Kong

If You Wanna Go Fancy in Hong Kong

When it comes to food, I usually gravitate towards the hole-in-the-walls and places people’s grandparents and great grandparents might have enjoyed.  That’s how influential Anthony Bourdain is in my life!

But the fashion-loving girl in me also craves the fancy-shmancy, posh, and even pretentious places that’s sometimes all about the ambiance than the food.  What can I say?  I am shallow in many ways.

So you can imagine how it’s extremely satisfying for me to find a place that combines these 2 elements in one restaurant.  I found it in Hong Kong’s Mott32.

I must admit, I first learned about this restaurant through a fashion editor who I admire greatly and who just happens to love food.  She also has a knack of finding restaurants that are very “editorial”, which I see all the time on her Instagram posts.  I was hooked on Mott32 the moment I saw her photo of the oriental/vintage/industrial décor.  It was so me!!!

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The décor, up close and personal, was more beautiful than the photos.  I fell in love with the silk embroidered walls which were reminiscent of old Chinese brocade.

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There was also a section of the restaurant whose walls were lined with old calligraphy brushes.  The effect was amazing!

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There was so much to take in!  Even the staircase leading down to the restaurant entrance was gorgeous.  There was that feeling of 1930’s Shanghai or Great Gatsby created by the lights, chains, and mirrored panels.  I was happy with the visual overload.

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Now on to the food…

I can say with confidence that the food in Mott32 is an equal match to its visual extravaganza.  The flavors and textures of the deceivingly simple dishes were truly notches higher than the usual Chinese fare.  Below were my favorites:

Signature Crispy Sugar Coated BBQ Iberico Pork Bun.  The bun is very similar in texture as that of the famous Tim Ho Wan but it was the filling that got me.  Although I appreciated Tim Ho Wan’s buns, their meat filling was too sweet for my taste.  This, however, was on the salty side which I highly prefer.

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Crab & Caviar, Iberico Pork Shanghainese Soup Dumplings.  This takes Xiaolongbao to a whole new level with the very tender and flavorful pork and soup and the decadence of the caviar

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BBQ Prime Iberico.  Sweet, tender, and oh so decadent.  It was actually difficult to finish even though we did not order a lot.

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Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Dried Scallops and Shrimp, Dong Guan Sausage.  Glad we ordered this because the bite in these cakes helped to balance the richness of our other orders.

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I loved this place so much that the only downside was the cost.  The food here, even the dimsum, was notably more expensive.  I would imagine that some people would not feel that this is worth the splurge.  But overall, I was satisfied with the experience.

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Mott32 is located at the basement of the historical Standard Chartered Bank Building, Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong.

One Lucky Goose

One Lucky Goose

On a recent business trip to Hong Kong, I was lucky to have stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant in the middle of the pulsating central business district.

 

I just came straight from the airport, ready to freshen up, when I found out my hotel room would take about an hour to get ready.  Faced with the unexpected idle time, I decided to explore the area right outside my hotel, which was actually the (in)famous party streeet Lan Kwai Fong.  So there I was, walking along the side streets and merrily observing the work crowd who seemed to be rushing through their lunch hour, when I spotted a long line in front of what looked like a very unassuming establishment with roasted meat on display.  I had no plans so I shrugged and thought I’d join in on the fun.  What have I got to lose?

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It was fate.

The stars aligned perfectly on that particularly warm lunch hour.  I would come face to face with the most delicious roasted duck I have ever tasted in my life!  Well, not exactly duck…but its close cousin the goose.

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The storefront was in Chinese characters so I learned while checking my GPS and waiting patiently in line that I was at Yat Lok Goose Restaurant – made famous for gaining a Michelin star.  I was still a bit wary though.  Places with long lines have a way of building expectation and disappointing me in the end…but not this one.

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The cramped space, unfriendly staff, and steep prices (HKD 165 for the goose thigh/leg) all made up for it.  The meat had the perfect combination of crispy skin, melt-in-your-mouth fat, and juicy and very flavorful meat all the way to the bone.  All it really needed was a hot bowl of rice and I was in heaven.

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I loved it so much that I went back for the same thing before heading to the airport.  I even brought a friend along!

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Yat Lok Restaurant is at G/F, 28 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong

 

In Search of the Perfect Pancake

I confess: I have a pancake addiction. I think I need a pancake intervention because of the level of obsession I have for these fluffy circles topped with butter and syrup. To satisfy my cravings, I have traveled far and wide in search of the most heavenly bite of pancake. And let me tell you, you don’t have to go very far. Hands down, for the price and consistency, Pancake House still gives all the places that I’ve been to a run for their money. But, as I also find it boring to eat in just one restaurant all the time, I have to have other options to get my pancake fix. Below are some of my suggestions.

Seattle’s Best, Makati

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Of all the chain coffee shops I’ve had the pleasure of eating in, I think Seattle’s (this was the one in Makati) offers the most complete breakfast. You can choose your sides (bacon, sausage, eggs, etc.). And their pancake is good enough (not great though–lacks in fluffiness). I’m a little bit partial to a complete package, and they gave single-serve butter…not the best partner for pancakes in my opinion. But, it’s priced competitively and the service is pretty fast, so I recommend it for those who just came out of work in the wee hours of the morning and would like a decent breakfast.

Mario’s, Quezon City

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As you can tell, this is a monster breakfast fit for a king! And the price is not bad at all…pretty affordable actually. They topped the pancake with whipped butter, and as you can also see from the picture, the pancakes are quite fluffy. So, it comes as no surprise that this is on my list, especially if you have guy companions because they will definitely enjoy the portions.

Eggs n’ Things, Fukuoka, Japan

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I first discovered Eggs n’ Things when we went to Hawaii some years back. It’s a breakfast chain store (like IHOP) but I think its origins are Japanese. So, when we came across it in Fukuoka, I just knew I had to order their pancakes (I had forgotten how they tasted like…it was so long ago =). As the picture shows, it was a very big meal. The slabs of bacon are thick and the eggs are a beautiful shade of orange. Whipped butter, check! Fluffiness, check! And yes, quite pricey! It’s not for everyday breakfast, but definitely a place to go to when you’re entertaining guests, or celebrating a special occasion.

Wild Flour, The Podium, Ortigas

wild-flourI saved the best for last! Wild Flour is known for its tasty concoctions, from sandwiches to meals and I have never eaten anything here that I didn’t immediately like. This pancake is way up there, level of Pancake House, great. It’s not whipped butter, but its salted butter on top of a sprinkling of confectioners sugar. Look at its glorious fluffiness. I don’t know how they achieve it, but these pancakes are as light and fluffy as clouds! Inside it is ricotta cheese, mmm. Makes me think all pancakes should have built-in ricotta cheese. I also love  that it’s partnered with caramelized banana (you know, to keep it healthy =). But since both are sweet, I still need to order a side of bacon. It is pricey, but so worth it!

Yeah, I need help. I’ve got pancakes on my mind!

Fukuoka Food Delights Part 2

ramenA food trip to Fukuoka would not be complete without ramen. Hubby researched that Ramen Stadium was a good place to pick our ramen meal, and so off we went! Ramen Stadium is a floor located inside a beautiful mall, called Canal City Mall, so yey to hitting two birds with one stone! As hubby is very sensitive to certain meats and veggies (no cabbage, beansprouts, potatoes and beef), we had to be extra careful in choosing our ramen. We went to Marufuku Ramen (I hope I got the name right…all signs were in Japanese) and selected via their vendo a Tonkotsu Ramen. Of course I’ve had these before so was really curious what the difference would be. For 800++ yen, we got a bowl with two pieces of chasu, kelp, an egg and nori on the side. We noted that the aroma of the ramen was a bit stronger than what we were used to. Methinks its because the chasu was smoked. It did not disappoint. The flavor of the broth was very rich, the chasu was so soft it was like chewing butter. Noodles were nicely cooked, not soft or soggy, rather on the firmer side. Even Brie polished off her plate! Maybe next time, we shall order more meat, but again for the price, quite a satisfying meal.

I’m sure it will also be worthwhile to visit the other famous ramen places at the Ramen Stadium, Canal City, Hakata.