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!
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.
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!
I’m glad we explored a lot of eats in this trip! Happy travels =)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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 =)
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:
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.)
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!
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:
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 😜
I was going to do a restaurant review of one of the many great places we ate at in our brief stay in Rome and Naples, but in my excitement to eat, I failed to take down where we actually ate. So, instead of doing that, I thought of just writing about the things I observed in the Italian way of preparing two of our favorite meals: pizza and pasta.
According to our guide, a pizzeria is the equivalent of Italian fastfood. Everywhere you look, especially when you’re in a major tourist spot, you will find a pizzeria. So, how do you know if it’s a good quality pizzeria? You observe who eats in it. If you find the people in it are mostly locals, then better step inside because you’re in for a treat.
The crust of authentic Italian pizza is always thin. So the thick ones we see in Pizza Hut and Shakey’s are probably the American version. Its sides are crispy because it is a little bit burnt, and it is always sloppy, with the cheese literally falling off it when you carry it to your mouth. Italian pizza is never served sliced. I failed to ask my guide why it wasn’t served sliced since they never give you a sharp enough knife to slice it, but methinks its meant to be torn, and not sliced. But don’t trust my word for it.
When you order pizza, the server will tell you that is meant for one person only, but they will give you an entire wheel of pizza, and not a slice. Although the crust is really thin, I still think that it is a little bit hard to finish on my own.
There are many lovely pasta dishes in Italy. What we see in most of the Italian restaurants we go to everywhere in the world are pretty standard in Italy. However, what I did notice that in all the restaurants that we went to, the noodles are consistently al dente. I don’t know if its because they make better pasta, but it is really cooked perfectly. Another thing I’ve observed is that their pasta is always bursting with flavor. And I think it has something to do with the many different spices they put in it, not to mention the copious amount of tomatoes. My daughter ordered a Pomodoro in Naples and it was filled with many small and pointy tomatoes that burst with flavor in every bite. And of course, let’s not forget about the cheese they put on the pasta. I think the ones we ate in all served freshly grated parmesan, which really does improve the taste. I don’t think I can eat pasta again without comparing it to the ones I had in Italy.
Yeah, I didn’t tell you I was going to mention this, but who would want to skip dessert? Like the Japanese swirly ice cream, you must not skip Italian gelatto. It is a mountain of heaven piled on a cone or a cup. It doesn’t hurt my throat, I don’t know why because I am notoriously weak in eating regular ice cream. I think all adults should try a limoncello as well. It is an alcoholic beverage that is made from lemons. I thought it was a perfect after meal drink to balance all the flavors of the meal.
Yeah, if that didn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will!
There’s always room for dessert, no? Right after having lunch at home, we decided we needed to go out. We decided to try out this neighborhood cafe (far from us!) that is getting a lot of good reviews.
Bien-Etre is a small sweets shop that sits about 10 people. When we arrived, there were already 3 couples seated and so we chose the bar seats where the drinks are being prepared. I think it was the first time Little A smelled coffee! It was wonderful but we aren’t coffee drinkers so we asked for really cold water instead.
There were about a dozen or so cakes and entremets to choose from. I chose 2 desserts and Little A chose hers. DrG doesn’t get to pick! Hahaha, oh well!
Little A’s choice is Harmonie. She likes that it’s purplish!
The innards. The raspberry mousse sandwiched between biscuit and chiffon cake layers then covered with blueberry mousse and blueberry glaze on top. The blueberry tartness was prominent which I think gave the cake a loud personality or else it’d be just a standard off the mill mousse cake. Oh, is it obvious? I’m not a fan of mousse based cake (except for Sugino’s!).
The Mille Feuille au Ceresis.
I was surprised that the layers were still crispy — Little A said, “It’s crunchy!” I felt that the custard cream was only there to hold the cherry and crust together. It would’ve been nicer if there was more of the cream but I think it’s the reason why the crust is still crisp. You can’t have it all. Nevertheless, delicious!
The third cake–Melon Shortcake. I suppose this is a seasonal treat instead of the standard Japanese strawberry shortcake. The cake was moist, the nama cream light and the melon sweet. I think A Tes Souhaits still makes the meanest shortcakes. But, this one is good enough!
It took a bit of a walk to get to this shop and it was so hot that day! We weren’t ready to go out of the airconed shop yet so we decided we can still make room for another dessert. We chose to have kakigori– never mind that we were still coughing. Shhhhh!
Kakigori is basically shaved ice topped with delicious fruits and sauces. I have tried going to kakigori-ya’s in the past but have always been shut down by DrG. He said, “But it’s ice!” I am proud to say I have converted him to a kakigori-liker (not an addict, not yet!).
We ordered the peach kakigori and was surprised to find ‘treasure’ inside. Hidden beneath the layer of peach, peach sauce and ice were crushed preserved plums! It was a nice contrast to the delicate dessert. I wish the peach cubes were chilled though. The ice is finely shaven– once you spoon it inside your mouth, it instantly melts!
There’s another patisserie to visit in the area, Asterisque. Come with us?
パティスリー ビヤンネートル BIEN-ÊTRE PÂTISSERIE
Address: 〒151-0064 Tokyo, Shibuya-ku, Uehara, １−２１−１０ 上原坂の上２１番館 １F
Bangkok is the foreign city I’ve visited the most – 6 times in the last decade. I think I could almost act as a tour guide, especially through the foodie destinations I’ve frequented. Each visit is always a great experience as Bangkok always has something for everyone – the culture vulture, the foodie, the shopaholic, the partyphile, the hipster, I mean everyone!
For this visit, as with my last few ones, I have tried to avoid the tourist-haunts and head for some of the unique places that appeal to my eccentric sensibilities. One place that fits the bill is a café called Puritan in the Ari district. This district reminds me a bit of the Maginhawa area in Quezon City, which is more residential than “city” and dotted with unique, cool, and unassuming shops and restaurants.
People who know me well know how much of a vintage junkie I am. I started early, at age 14, when wearing vintage was not a thing. My love for vintage has progressed from clothes, to small decorative items, to major household décor. So it’s really a no-brainer why I loved Puritan so much!
The place looks like a house of a cool collector – the kind of stuff I like. Think Iris Apfel transplanted to Bangkok. Or think 1998-version Great Expectations movie. They had a wild mix of paintings, chandeliers and other light fixtures, beautiful china, mismatched old world tables and chairs, all kinds of curios, with plants to brighten up the space. It was a perfect setting for a great cup of coffee and cake.
The cakes were a story all its own. Apparently, the baker and owner, who lives right above the café, bakes different cakes each day. So you will always have a pleasant surprise with every visit. Everything looked so tempting that it was a challenge to choose! We ended up getting a very rich dark chocolate with a selection of berries and a mousse-like cake with blackberries. Heaven!
The Puritan is not for everybody. But if you love vintage and are charmed with old the old-world and eccentric…then it’s not a bad idea to drop by when you’re in Bangkok.
Puritan is located at 39 Soi Ari 5, Samsennai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok
Watching tv one lazy day, I saw a pie place in Ginza being featured in the show. I didn’t catch the name though so I tried to google for pie places. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the one being featured. But, I found Qu’il Fait Bon which is apparently quite famous for its fruit tarts.
I find myself eating alone in restaurants more and more these days. I used to be shy about it, but now I don’t really mind. Just today, I had lunch at Dulcelin in UP Town Center.
I had one of their bestsellers, the Chicken Relleno. It’s chicken meatloaf with ham and vegetables and cheese and raisins. It was really good, all those flavors coming together in each bite. It’s especially good eaten with the fried rice. It comes with a slightly spicy mushroom gravy. Comfort food at it’s best. With it, I had strawberry shortcake, thank you very much.
I’d rather have real strawberries for my shortcake instead of jam or jelly on top. The strawberry cream was very generous though and the sponge cake was soft and fluffly. In the middle is their signature nutty crust you can find in their mango torte. I wish they’d sell just this crust in a bottle, like peanut brittle. I would have ordered the mango torte but I have a whole pie waiting at home.
As you can see I just had water, because you know, added calories.
Dulcelin is at the 2nd floor of UP Town Center, Katipunan, Quezon City.