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john_paul_manahan
05-16-2007, 07:01 PM
i decided to start up a Food Thread for those who adore food....

anyhow, i have a kinda urgent query...

i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...

yungha
05-21-2007, 01:55 PM
i think taco bell is way overrated. among tex-mex restos, i would rank taco bell 3rd after tia maria (#1) and nacho fast (#2).

Joescoundrel
05-21-2007, 02:33 PM
i think taco bell is way overrated. among tex-mex restos, i would rank taco bell 3rd after tia maria (#1)* and nacho fast (#2).


In this part of world, Yungha, I'd rather go with Mexicali, great nearly-authentic taste, very close to the California-Mexican fusion you'd get in LA, plus the portions are generous.

BigBlue
05-21-2007, 02:47 PM
of the few times that i've eaten at Mexicali (the branch in our building just closed recently), I dont get the same satisfaction that I get from eating at Cantina. For one, I was disappointed with their quesadilla, that they used plain cheddar (i was thinking they just used the local supermarket cheese), rather than the chewier types that give it much more flavor and definitely more fun.

WampumTribe
05-21-2007, 08:09 PM
My favorite eating spots noong college (circa mid-80s):

• AREA 2 — Kitchenette sa Peyups. One of those rare places where you can order half-of-this and half-of-that.
• PAMPAS — Short for "Pampanggueña's." Sa harap ng Ateneo, squeezed between two talyers. Genuine "Triple M" rating: Masarap, Mura at Marumi pa!
• KRUS NA LIGAS — Sa may "outskirts" ng UP. Sarah's and Gulod for hanging out; Kambingan for its very sumptuous but oh so spicy kaldereta.

No matter how long i overstayed sa Peyups, i never got into the "Rodic's" tradition. Nga pala, yung kainan sa swimming pool had on its menu an item called "It's Not What You Think." Sabi ng waiter, "Order at your own risk." Kung ano lang raw maisipan ng cook, yun na yun!

GHRanger
05-21-2007, 08:41 PM
i think taco bell is way overrated. among tex-mex restos, i would rank taco bell 3rd after tia maria (#1)* and nacho fast (#2).


To be quite honest, I still like Greenwich tacos... had them since I was a kid.

Would you believe here in Singapore, there's only one Taco Bell store (the place is shared with Pizza Hut and another fast food chain.) AND THEY DON'T HAVE ANY FRE@KIN' TACOS!!!!

chocoks77
05-21-2007, 09:03 PM
Nakakamiss yung Mang Siding at Aling Nene na resto sa Katipunan dati. Estela's goto in Marikina, the 90's Aysee at marami pang iba.

Baguio - Star Cafe, Slaughterhouse and Burnham Park karinderia.
Pampanga - Aling Lucing's Sisig and lechon manok, Aling Mila's crunchy sisig and lechon kawali, Tom Sawyer's sa Dau, A chicken place in Balibago that serves fried chicken which could rival KFC
Naga City - Bolofer's and SanFran carinderia

(to be continued...) Gutom ako bigla

yungha
05-22-2007, 10:11 AM
i think taco bell is way overrated. among tex-mex restos, i would rank taco bell 3rd after tia maria (#1)* and nacho fast (#2).


In this part of world, Yungha, I'd rather go with Mexicali, great nearly-authentic taste, very close to the California-Mexican fusion you'd get in LA, plus the portions are generous.


that's right, mexicali pa pala. i'd also rank mexicali ahead of taco bell. correct me if i'm wrong, but isn't nacho fast the only tex-mex that serves tortilla pizza? i don't know now but as recently as last year, a whole tortilla pizza cost P75 which is a real bargain because 1 serving is more than enough for a full meal for me.

JonarSabilano
05-22-2007, 10:39 AM
Naabutan ko pa 'yung panahong bottomless ang kanin sa Mang Jimmy's. Two years ago kasi, may bayad na -- PhP 10 para sa isang pinggan. Ngayon, libre na ulit, pero after a certain number of plates, magbabayad na.

Masarap ang turon sa Loyola School of Theology. Dinadayo pa namin 'yun dati. From Gonzaga, maglalakad kami hanggang covered court. Tapos, may shortcut sa likod ng Sonolux. Magha-hiking kami para sa turon at sago't gulaman. Ganda pa ng view.

Last year, a colleague of mine reserved a court at the college covered courts for our weekly games. Pagkatapos namin magpareserve sa PE department, he suddenly had the bright idea of dropping by Manang's for lunch. Kinabukasan, naghatak siya ng iba pang Atenista at nag-take out ng inihaw at dinala rito sa pantry namin. OK naman, masarap pa rin; pero mas masarap talaga ang liempo kapag nandoon ka talaga at nanonood ng mga nag-e-aerobics... ;D

Sam Miguel
05-22-2007, 12:20 PM
In the US there is a fixed rates of 15% for tips in restaurants.

I don't think we have that in our country though.

How much do you guys usually tip in a sit-down place?

Depending on where I am I usually leave a minimum of P20 to a maximum of P100, can't ever remember leaving more than a hundred bucks even at 5-star establishments like the restos in 5-star hotels.

Also, I always check the tax and service charges. Anytime those make up more than 20% of my total check I don't leave anything unless the wait staff did a really good job.

Places like the Binondo eateries, Mang Jimmy's, Aysee, the bulaluhan along Espana, I always leave P10-20. If I dined alone its just P10.

Places like TGI Friday's, Burgoo, Italianni's, Heaven and Eggs, Pancake House, Outback, Sentro, Dencio's, Gerry's I usually leave P20-50.

Place like Circles, Heat, the old Tempura Misono, Ginza, the old Bahia, Prince Albert I usually leave P100.

muddatrucker
05-23-2007, 02:54 PM
Places like the Binondo eateries, Mang Jimmy's, Aysee, the bulaluhan along Espana, I always leave P10-20. If I dined alone its just P10.
I usually just leave the coins in my change. Kung walang coins, no tip.


Places like TGI Friday's, Burgoo, Italianni's, Heaven and Eggs, Pancake House, Outback, Sentro, Dencio's, Gerry's I usually leave P20-50.
Me too, unless there are at least ten in our party. We usually leave a total of 100 if we split the tip.


Place like Circles, Heat, the old Tempura Misono, Ginza, the old Bahia, Prince Albert I usually leave P100.

I leave 100-200, depending on how satisfied I was with the meal.

john_paul_manahan
05-23-2007, 06:13 PM
i managed to watch 100% Pinoy one night which featured the classical Pinoy foods like lugaw, pares, and the ___silogs.

have you tried the ones they suggested?

i tried rodic's, though.... :)

chocoks77
05-23-2007, 08:54 PM
ONe of the best Tapsilog's i've tasted was a Filipino restaurant in Bahrain. Forgot the name of the place. I have also tasted crispy patang baka in Qatar because Pork is forbidden there.

BigBlue
05-23-2007, 09:06 PM
hmmm.. as an avid viewer of such channels as discovery T&L and lifestyle, i've always loved watching those travel food shows. one thing that always crosses my mind is what those hosts would say about filipino food.

watching other cultures, i am amazed at the diversity of food, like singapore in particular, which is a huge mix of cultures, resulting in unique and charming cuisine. malay and thai cuisine use a lot of different spices, giving distinct and varied character to their food. Anthony Bourdain is a favorite, since he loves going to the most common spots to eat, places where all the locals would flock to.

what about pinoy cuisine? madami naman tayong ipagmamalaki, im sure. but then I go to the local food court, and see each stall sell basically the same fare. pares stores have practically the same menu. are we so afraid of variety?

john_paul_manahan
05-23-2007, 10:12 PM
but different regions have different styles of cooking the same delicacy...

Gil_Andrews
05-25-2007, 10:20 PM
Best sisig for me is the one from Congo Grill and Trelli's in Quezon City.

Gil_Andrews
05-25-2007, 10:26 PM
Best longganiza is the one from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and Calumpit, Bulacan. Garlic and pepper lang ang timpla. Mas masarap pag tustado ng koonti. Kanin at kamatis with matching itlog na pula ang sawsawan ayos na! Wag ka lang didighay!

Nakakagutom!

bluewing
05-26-2007, 12:08 PM
In the US there is a fixed rates of 15% for tips in restaurants.

I don't think we have that in our country though.

How much do you guys usually tip in a sit-down place?

Depending on where I am I usually leave a minimum of P20 to a maximum of P100, can't ever remember leaving more than a hundred bucks even at 5-star establishments like the restos in 5-star hotels.

Also, I always check the tax and service charges. Anytime those make up more than 20% of my total check I don't leave anything unless the wait staff did a really good job.

Places like the Binondo eateries, Mang Jimmy's, Aysee, the bulaluhan along Espana, I always leave P10-20. If I dined alone its just P10.

Places like TGI Friday's, Burgoo, Italianni's, Heaven and Eggs, Pancake House, Outback, Sentro, Dencio's, Gerry's I usually leave P20-50.

Place like Circles, Heat, the old Tempura Misono, Ginza, the old Bahia, Prince Albert I usually leave P100.



ang rule ko talaga sa tipping ay:

pag basura ang serbisyo, walang tip. sisimutin ko kahit barya.

pero ang default tip ko talaga ay twenty pesos. i learned this from an old guy i had a business lunch with sa manila polo club. the guy's a freakin' billionaire pero nung bayaran na, bente lang talaga ang iniwan nya... to think ay madalas daw sya dun. i also learned that no matter where he eats, kahit mga 5 star hotel, bente lang talaga. so sabi ko sa sarili ko... "kung yung bilyonaryo nga bente lang e... ako pa?"

but when the service is better than average, or the waiter is more helpful than usual, or the waitress is very pleasant (read: maganda na mabait), i leave fifty bucks. for example, sa Abe (in serendra), there's this waitress na type na type ko... si loida. pag sya ang nag-serve, fifty pesos na yan...


pero may mga restaurant din ako na may mga suki akong waiter. tulad ni jess sa trellis at si JC sa outback. at least 100 pesos ang tip nila at diretso sa kamay nila mo ibinibigay (para di na paghatian). may added benefits kasi yan... napapadagdagan ang ulam, mabilis ang pagkain, laging puno ang iced tea, binabalik ko yung food kung di ko type ang pagkakaluto (at walang charge).

Kid Cubao
05-29-2007, 01:43 PM
but when the service is better than average, or the waiter is more helpful than usual, or the waitress is very pleasant (read: maganda na mabait), i leave fifty bucks. for example, sa Abe (in serendra), there's this waitress na type na type ko... si loida. pag sya ang nag-serve, fifty pesos na yan...

no kidding, man? may nakilala akong waitress na loida dati, nasa abe na pala.

bluewing
05-30-2007, 01:12 PM
but when the service is better than average, or the waiter is more helpful than usual, or the waitress is very pleasant (read: maganda na mabait), i leave fifty bucks. for example, sa Abe (in serendra), there's this waitress na type na type ko... si loida. pag sya ang nag-serve, fifty pesos na yan...

no kidding, man? may nakilala akong waitress na loida dati, nasa abe na pala.


i don't know if it's the same loida. but the loida i'm talking about is really pretty. sophisticated ang dating at hindi pa-cute sa customers, pero she smiles when she talks. at ang swabe nyang kumilos. refined na refined. mas maganda at nakakasindak pa sya kesa sa mga executive/lawyers/doctors na kilala ko. yung tipong maiinggit sa yo mga kabarkada mo kapag ipakilala mong nobya mo sya... i swear. papasa syang graduate ng exclusive universities.


ahhh... loida. makapag-Abe nga.

teka. magawa ngang 100 ang tip pag si loida ang assigned sa akin.

Wang-Bu
05-30-2007, 04:39 PM
Magaganda at hindi pa matataray ang mga waitress dati sa Tia Maria Remedios sa Malate. Madalas naming tambayan 'yon ng mga ibang Warriors nung mid hanggang late 1990's. Meron kasi silang Drink All You Can na promo dati, every night 'yon from 6-9pm, tapos 6-11pm naman kapag Thursdays. Fridays meron pang Latino Nights. Kapag Latino Nights nagda-dancer din ang mga waitress. Syota, este paborito ko nuon si Gina, malaking bulas, matangkad ng konti sa akin at tipo ni Anjanette Abayari, as in pwede siyang gamiting double ni AJ Abayari.

Tragis, parang biglang uminit ah... makapag-beer nga muna...

chocoks77
05-30-2007, 06:31 PM
Bukas, makapunta nga at makakain ng inihaw na liempo ni Manang.

atenean_blooded
05-30-2007, 06:53 PM
If you like Persian food, go to Arya, in Greenhills.

LION
05-30-2007, 07:24 PM
but when the service is better than average, or the waiter is more helpful than usual, or the waitress is very pleasant (read: maganda na mabait), i leave fifty bucks. for example, sa Abe (in serendra), there's this waitress na type na type ko... si loida. pag sya ang nag-serve, fifty pesos na yan...

no kidding, man? may nakilala akong waitress na loida dati, nasa abe na pala.


i don't know if it's the same loida. but the loida i'm talking about is really pretty. sophisticated ang dating at hindi pa-cute sa customers, pero she smiles when she talks. at ang swabe nyang kumilos. refined na refined. mas maganda at nakakasindak pa sya kesa sa mga executive/lawyers/doctors na kilala ko. yung tipong maiinggit sa yo mga kabarkada mo kapag ipakilala mong nobya mo sya... i swear. papasa syang graduate ng exclusive universities.


ahhh... loida. makapag-Abe nga.

teka. magawa ngang 100 ang tip pag si loida ang assigned sa akin.


Taragis, makapunta nga sa Abe bukas. Pag ok si loida, mag iiwan ako ng ninoy, kahit worth P400 lang ang order ko.

bluewing
05-30-2007, 08:04 PM
but when the service is better than average, or the waiter is more helpful than usual, or the waitress is very pleasant (read: maganda na mabait), i leave fifty bucks. for example, sa Abe (in serendra), there's this waitress na type na type ko... si loida. pag sya ang nag-serve, fifty pesos na yan...

no kidding, man? may nakilala akong waitress na loida dati, nasa abe na pala.


i don't know if it's the same loida. but the loida i'm talking about is really pretty. sophisticated ang dating at hindi pa-cute sa customers, pero she smiles when she talks. at ang swabe nyang kumilos. refined na refined. mas maganda at nakakasindak pa sya kesa sa mga executive/lawyers/doctors na kilala ko. yung tipong maiinggit sa yo mga kabarkada mo kapag ipakilala mong nobya mo sya... i swear. papasa syang graduate ng exclusive universities.


ahhh... loida. makapag-Abe nga.

teka. magawa ngang 100 ang tip pag si loida ang assigned sa akin.


Taragis, makapunta nga sa Abe bukas.* Pag ok si loida, mag iiwan ako ng ninoy, kahit worth P400 lang ang order ko.*


susme! kahit ako, di ako mag-iiwan ng ninoy, pre.

tip na yan para sa extra service eh!

LION
05-31-2007, 07:28 AM
Hahahaha. Ganun lang sa una pare, pa imress! pag nakuha na, kahit tip sa extra service di na kailangan. ;D

By the way, kung pagkain din lang pag uusapan maraming cafeteria sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo malapit sa logcom driving range kung saan ang specialty nila ay Ilokano dishes. May papaitang kambing, kaldereta, kinilaw, mga gulay, isda, adobo at kung ano ano pa na magugustuhan ng mga manginginom at mahilig sa ganitong klase ng pagkain.

Good food. Good price. Hindi nga lang tipong loida ang mga waitress nila.

Pagkatapos mag golf sa umaga diretso kayo dito at siguradong mapapakain kayo ng husto.

bluewing
05-31-2007, 12:02 PM
Hahahaha. Ganun lang sa una pare, pa imress!* pag nakuha na, kahit tip sa extra service di na kailangan.* * ;D*

By the way, kung pagkain din lang pag uusapan maraming cafeteria sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo malapit sa logcom driving range kung saan ang specialty nila ay Ilokano dishes.* May papaitang kambing, kaldereta, kinilaw, mga gulay, isda, adobo at kung ano ano pa na magugustuhan ng mga manginginom at mahilig sa ganitong klase ng pagkain.

Good food. Good price.* *Hindi nga lang tipong loida ang mga waitress nila.*

Pagkatapos mag golf sa umaga diretso kayo dito at siguradong mapapakain kayo ng husto.* *



madalas kami dito nung college. totoo ba na trellis din daw ang may-ari nito?

Wang-Bu
05-31-2007, 12:49 PM
Hahahaha. Ganun lang sa una pare, pa imress!* pag nakuha na, kahit tip sa extra service di na kailangan.* * ;D*

By the way, kung pagkain din lang pag uusapan maraming cafeteria sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo malapit sa logcom driving range kung saan ang specialty nila ay Ilokano dishes.* May papaitang kambing, kaldereta, kinilaw, mga gulay, isda, adobo at kung ano ano pa na magugustuhan ng mga manginginom at mahilig sa ganitong klase ng pagkain.

Good food. Good price.* *Hindi nga lang tipong loida ang mga waitress nila.*

Pagkatapos mag golf sa umaga diretso kayo dito at siguradong mapapakain kayo ng husto.* *



madalas kami dito nung college. totoo ba na trellis din daw ang may-ari nito?


Kung ito 'yung nasa may driving range na kahanay sa NDCP hindi Trellis ang may-ari, pero mga na-pirate mula sa Trellis ang mga tao dito. Kung matikman niyong sisig nila saktong-sakto sa sisg ng Trellis, ganun din sa kanilang crackling liempo at halaan and mushroom soup.

Kaya lang baka ibang lugar ang tinutukoy ni Sir Lion. Kasi ang alam kong masasarap ang pagkaing Ilokano at Kapampangan duon sa concessionaire row sa bandang loob na mismo, halos bungad nung EP Barrio ng GHQ. Ang tinatangkilik namin dun ay ang EDADES, na merong dinakdakan, kinilaw na baboy, kinilaw na pusit, samo't saring inihaw, at ang kanilang mga pamatay na potaheng kambing gaya ng kaldereta, kilawin, asado/adobo, papaitan. Meron din silang mga pambihirang ensalada gaya ng lato, ar-arusit, mga sariwang gulay-Ilokano na may burong-isda at iba't ibang style ng diningdeng. Andami pang magpala ng kanin, talagang pang-sundalo.

Natatawa nga lang ako at bihirang kumain dun ang mga Company-grade officer (Captain-pataas) kasi nahihiya silang makahalubilo ang mga sibilyan (gaya ko) at mga EP. Pero hindi naman nahihiyang magpa-takeout ang mga lintek. ;D

Isang dinakdakan, isang kilawing pusit, isang ensaladang lato, dalawang kanin, sabaw ng papaitan, isang 1.5 na softdrinks at dalawang yosi nasa P200 lang total.

bluewing
05-31-2007, 02:55 PM
yung sa may driving range nga ang tinutukoy ko.

sayang, di kami nadala nung kabarkada ko dun sa mga putaheng kambing. maarte kasi yung putrages na yun eh. wala naman kaming magagawa dahil sya ang nagyayaya at libre nya yon.

LION
05-31-2007, 03:10 PM
Hahahaha. Ganun lang sa una pare, pa imress!* pag nakuha na, kahit tip sa extra service di na kailangan.* * ;D*

By the way, kung pagkain din lang pag uusapan maraming cafeteria sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo malapit sa logcom driving range kung saan ang specialty nila ay Ilokano dishes.* May papaitang kambing, kaldereta, kinilaw, mga gulay, isda, adobo at kung ano ano pa na magugustuhan ng mga manginginom at mahilig sa ganitong klase ng pagkain.

Good food. Good price.* *Hindi nga lang tipong loida ang mga waitress nila.*

Pagkatapos mag golf sa umaga diretso kayo dito at siguradong mapapakain kayo ng husto.* *



madalas kami dito nung college. totoo ba na trellis din daw ang may-ari nito?


Kung ito 'yung nasa may driving range na kahanay sa NDCP hindi Trellis ang may-ari, pero mga na-pirate mula sa Trellis ang mga tao dito. Kung matikman niyong sisig nila saktong-sakto sa sisg ng Trellis, ganun din sa kanilang crackling liempo at halaan and mushroom soup.

Kaya lang baka ibang lugar ang tinutukoy ni Sir Lion. Kasi ang alam kong masasarap ang pagkaing Ilokano at Kapampangan duon sa concessionaire row sa bandang loob na mismo, halos bungad nung EP Barrio ng GHQ. Ang tinatangkilik namin dun ay ang EDADES, na merong dinakdakan, kinilaw na baboy, kinilaw na pusit, samo't saring inihaw, at ang kanilang mga pamatay na potaheng kambing gaya ng kaldereta, kilawin, asado/adobo, papaitan. Meron din silang mga pambihirang ensalada gaya ng lato, ar-arusit, mga sariwang gulay-Ilokano na may burong-isda at iba't ibang style ng diningdeng. Andami pang magpala ng kanin, talagang pang-sundalo.

Natatawa nga lang ako at bihirang kumain dun ang mga Company-grade officer (Captain-pataas) kasi nahihiya silang makahalubilo ang mga sibilyan (gaya ko) at mga EP. Pero hindi naman nahihiyang magpa-takeout ang mga lintek. ;D

Isang dinakdakan, isang kilawing pusit, isang ensaladang lato, dalawang kanin, sabaw ng papaitan, isang 1.5 na softdrinks at dalawang yosi nasa P200 lang total.


Nadale mo pareng Wang-bu. Yun nga, yung EDADES. Iba yung sa driving range. Yung ar - arusit (p?) nila ok din. Wala ngang high ranking officer na kumakain dun. Hanggang sarhento lang. Sina kapitan at colonel inuutusan na lang yung mga tao nila na mag take out. Dun sila kumakain sa officers' club.

Jaco D
06-01-2007, 05:58 AM
i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...


Victoria Court krispy pata.

Bennie Bangag
06-01-2007, 06:11 AM
another 80s classic: bazooka joe bubble gum ;D

JonarSabilano
06-01-2007, 10:11 AM
Hahahaha. Ganun lang sa una pare, pa imress!* pag nakuha na, kahit tip sa extra service di na kailangan.* * ;D*

By the way, kung pagkain din lang pag uusapan maraming cafeteria sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo malapit sa logcom driving range kung saan ang specialty nila ay Ilokano dishes.* May papaitang kambing, kaldereta, kinilaw, mga gulay, isda, adobo at kung ano ano pa na magugustuhan ng mga manginginom at mahilig sa ganitong klase ng pagkain.

Good food. Good price.* *Hindi nga lang tipong loida ang mga waitress nila.*

Pagkatapos mag golf sa umaga diretso kayo dito at siguradong mapapakain kayo ng husto.* *


Hindi pa ako nakakakain sa area ng LogCom, pero nakakain na ako sa carinderia malapit sa tennis court. OK lang naman. Open-air, mura ang pagkain, malamig ang beer.

Wang-Bu
06-01-2007, 11:03 AM
i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...


Victoria Court krispy pata.




Ay Apo! Pumunta ka lang sa Vivian's Tapsilogan sa may crossing ng Sta Lucia East, 'yung karsada patungong Marikina munisipyo, magsawa ka sa dami ng 80's na pagkain dun, sandmakmak na mga Si-Log pati mga bulalo, may utak at mata ng baka pa na bulalo.

JonarSabilano
06-01-2007, 11:08 AM
double post

JonarSabilano
06-01-2007, 11:08 AM
i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...


Victoria Court krispy pata.




Ay Apo! Pumunta ka lang sa Vivian's Tapsilogan sa may crossing ng Sta Lucia East, 'yung karsada patungong Marikina munisipyo, magsawa ka sa dami ng 80's na pagkain dun, sandmakmak na mga Si-Log pati mga bulalo, may utak at mata ng baka pa na bulalo.


Iisa lang ba ang may-ari ng Vivian's na ito at ng Vivian's sa Aurora?

bluewing
06-01-2007, 11:15 AM
i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...


Victoria Court krispy pata.




Ay Apo! Pumunta ka lang sa Vivian's Tapsilogan sa may crossing ng Sta Lucia East, 'yung karsada patungong Marikina munisipyo, magsawa ka sa dami ng 80's na pagkain dun, sandmakmak na mga Si-Log pati mga bulalo, may utak at mata ng baka pa na bulalo.



aba, madalas ka rin pala dun, pre.

ako man ay mahilig tumikim sa tapa ni vivian...

Sam Miguel
06-01-2007, 12:55 PM
i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...


Victoria Court krispy pata.




Ay Apo! Pumunta ka lang sa Vivian's Tapsilogan sa may crossing ng Sta Lucia East, 'yung karsada patungong Marikina munisipyo, magsawa ka sa dami ng 80's na pagkain dun, sandmakmak na mga Si-Log pati mga bulalo, may utak at mata ng baka pa na bulalo.


Iisa lang ba ang may-ari ng Vivian's na ito at ng Vivian's sa Aurora?


I believe the Vivian's at Aurora in the Proj 3 area is actually owned and operated by one of the children. Vivian's still offers some of the best Si-Log meals in town, and certainly the best value considering price-portion. However the one in Proj 3 does not seem to carry the cow eye and brain consommes that Wang-bu loves so much. I've only been able to get them at the one in Marikina.

christian
06-01-2007, 01:19 PM
For steak lovers, snackaroo in kamuning and the newly opened branch somewhere in kalayaan (beside trelli's) Hot Rocks in Libis and sa may Morato, cheap :)

LION
06-01-2007, 01:37 PM
i am looking for classic 80s Filipino food. can someone help me here? thanks...


Victoria Court krispy pata.




Ay Apo! Pumunta ka lang sa Vivian's Tapsilogan sa may crossing ng Sta Lucia East, 'yung karsada patungong Marikina munisipyo, magsawa ka sa dami ng 80's na pagkain dun, sandmakmak na mga Si-Log pati mga bulalo, may utak at mata ng baka pa na bulalo.


Ilokano ka kabsat?

Wang-Bu
06-01-2007, 06:11 PM
^^^ Basit laeng. 8)

Ang ermat ko kasi taga Ilokos Norte Sir Lion, pero dito na ako sinilang at nagkasungay, este nagkamalay sa Maynila. Tubong Sampaloc ako.

Kaya mahilig din ako sa mga inabraw, bulanglang, ar-arusit at siempre kambing at bagnet na sinawsaw sa pinagtimplang sukang Iloko na may konting padas.

Ngunit dahil tubong-Maynila ako mas mahilig ako sa mga pampabata gaya ng chicharon bulaklak, bulalo, goto na may mata at utak ng baka, crispy pata at tadyang, karekare na hitik sa twalya at bituka, pati na din sa adobong liempo na lumalangoy sa sariling mantika. Ang sawsawan sariwa at purong taba ng talangka. ;D

bluewing
06-02-2007, 10:09 AM
nakakgutom ang mga kwenot mo wang-bu...

pampabata rin ang kakainin ko mamayang tanghalian. na-enganyo ako sa mga inilista mo.

LION
06-02-2007, 04:00 PM
^^^ Basit laeng. 8)

Ang ermat ko kasi taga Ilokos Norte Sir Lion, pero dito na ako sinilang at nagkasungay, este nagkamalay sa Maynila. Tubong Sampaloc ako.

Kaya mahilig din ako sa mga inabraw, bulanglang, ar-arusit at siempre kambing at bagnet na sinawsaw sa pinagtimplang sukang Iloko na may konting padas.

Ngunit dahil tubong-Maynila ako mas mahilig ako sa mga pampabata gaya ng chicharon bulaklak, bulalo, goto na may mata at utak ng baka, crispy pata at tadyang, karekare na hitik sa twalya at bituka, pati na din sa adobong liempo na lumalangoy sa sariling mantika. Ang sawsawan sariwa at purong taba ng talangka. ;D


Ayos pareng Wang-bu. Idagdag mo na ring yung Sinanglaw na pinasikat ng mga taga Vigan.

It's good that you are back. :)

Joescoundrel
06-05-2007, 09:11 AM
Are there any cheap eats places in the Ortigas Center area, in the mold of the Jolli-Jeeps of the Makati Business District?

It's now my second week here and I am getting sick of fastfood takeout and building canteen food...

JonarSabilano
06-05-2007, 10:32 AM
^^^ Basit laeng. 8)

Ang ermat ko kasi taga Ilokos Norte Sir Lion, pero dito na ako sinilang at nagkasungay, este nagkamalay sa Maynila. Tubong Sampaloc ako.

Kaya mahilig din ako sa mga inabraw, bulanglang, ar-arusit at siempre kambing at bagnet na sinawsaw sa pinagtimplang sukang Iloko na may konting padas.

Ngunit dahil tubong-Maynila ako mas mahilig ako sa mga pampabata gaya ng chicharon bulaklak, bulalo, goto na may mata at utak ng baka, crispy pata at tadyang, karekare na hitik sa twalya at bituka, pati na din sa adobong liempo na lumalangoy sa sariling mantika. Ang sawsawan sariwa at purong taba ng talangka. ;D


Ayos pareng Wang-bu. Idagdag mo na ring yung Sinanglaw na pinasikat ng mga taga Vigan.

It's good that you are back.* *:)


'Yun pala ang pangalan ng nasubukan ko sa Vigan minsan...

bluewing
06-05-2007, 10:56 AM
Are there any cheap eats places in the Ortigas Center area, in the mold of the Jolli-Jeeps of the Makati Business District?

It's now my second week here and I am getting sick of fastfood takeout and building canteen food...


saang banda ka ba dyan manong joe? kung nandun ka sa may bandang metrowalk, pwede mong patawirin yung messenger mo para bumili ng yahoo barbecue. pwede rin namang utusan mong bumili doon sa dampa sa may home depot(kaso iluluto pa). so far ito ang pinaka-champion sa mga office lunch namin... ang madalas naming gawin ay utusan si messenger boy (let's call him erik) na bumili sa robinson supermarket ng inihaw na manok.

Joescoundrel
06-05-2007, 12:38 PM
Bluewing I am in Tektite's West Tower.

I have walked over to YooHoo three or four times now. There're these other cheap places but they're over at the Escriva Drive area, behind UA & P. In any event it is always quite an appetite-inducing walk for me...

JonarSabilano
06-05-2007, 12:55 PM
Bluewing I am in Tektite's West Tower.

I have walked over to YooHoo three or four times now. There're these other cheap places but they're over at the Escriva Drive area, behind UA & P. In any event it is always quite an appetite-inducing walk for me...


Sarado na ba 'yung parang outdoor foodcourt sa harap ng UA & P? Madalas kami doon dati.

5FootCarrot
06-05-2007, 01:19 PM
Napadaan ako doon sa area na yun a few weeks ago. Sarado na yung food court. :(

GHRanger
06-05-2007, 02:33 PM
When I used to work at Tektite, my friend frequented the PagIbig canteen. Kasi mura daw. I just ate on the fast food sa East PSE.

If you have time, sa may harap ng Ultra madaming kainan or sa Baranggay Kapitolyo.

Alam ko yung mga tipong Jolli Jeep lumalabas sa gabi to cater to the call centers. :)

JonarSabilano
06-05-2007, 03:04 PM
If you have time, sa may harap ng Ultra madaming kainan or sa Baranggay Kapitolyo.



One word: Aysee.

bluewing
06-05-2007, 04:07 PM
Bluewing I am in Tektite's West Tower.

I have walked over to YooHoo three or four times now. There're these other cheap places but they're over at the Escriva Drive area, behind UA & P. In any event it is always quite an appetite-inducing walk for me...


haha. yoohoo nga pala. yahoo kasi tawag dyan sa opis. hindi na nakorek.

suggestion lang manong joe. since may abilidad ka naman sa pagluluto. baka gusto mong magbaon na lamang. pag natikman yan ng mga kasama mo, sikat ka pa. pwede ka nang maninigil... ;D

Joescoundrel
06-05-2007, 06:01 PM
I normally have an eight-aspirin hangover in the morning so cooking is out of the question.

Thank you anyway for all the suggestions.

I think for now I'll stick to the fastfoods until I figure something out. Wala kasing microwave or refrigerator dito sa office, otherwise I'd just stock up on hotdogs and whatnot just to tide me over.

GHRanger
06-05-2007, 06:31 PM
If you have time, sa may harap ng Ultra madaming kainan or sa Baranggay Kapitolyo.



One word: Aysee.


Korek ka diyan sir! Sisig....

GHRanger
06-05-2007, 06:33 PM
I normally have an eight-aspirin hangover in the morning so cooking is out of the question.

Thank you anyway for all the suggestions.

I think for now I'll stick to the fastfoods until I figure something out. Wala kasing microwave or refrigerator dito sa office, otherwise I'd just stock up on hotdogs and whatnot just to tide me over.


Or just stock up sa siopao diyan sa may siopao house sa harap ng Ultra. (buhay pa ba iyon?)

Wang-Bu
06-11-2007, 04:30 PM
May kumpol ng mga maliliit at medyo mura na ring mga kainan dun sa may kanto halos ng Amethyst at Pearl (hindi 'yung mga sarado na sa tapat nung UA & P ha), mga lutong ulam at si-log at sizzling, mga typical na pagkaing carinderia. Pwede niyong subukan 'yon kung taga-Tektite kayo, wala pang limang minutong lakaran 'yon.

atenean_blooded
06-11-2007, 05:22 PM
Masarap yung SEx sa area ng Alabang/BF.

SEx = Sinangag Express.

Php39 lang, may tapsilog ka na.

Swak.

SEx lang dapat nang SEx.

atenean_blooded
06-11-2007, 06:04 PM
I was reading Joe's previous posts about making your own recovery meals, so I've decided to post a recipe that never fails to make me happy.

It uses chicken. Chicken thighs, because I'm never really satisfied by the flavor of breasts.



Blooded's Happy Chicken

You need:

- Two large chicken thighs (drumsticks optional)
- 1-2 cups full cream milk
- Butter
- Salt
- Pepper
- Rosemary (optional)
- EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)

You do:

1. Take the chicken and put them into a bowl. Pour the milk over them. Let sit for at least 15 minutes (30 minutes to an hour will also be good), turning on occassion to ensure an even soak.

2. Take a few small pats of butter, and squish them with a fork until they're workable. Swirl in a bit of EVOO. You can add rosemary if you want.

3. Take a pan for roasting in the oven. If you have a turbo broiler, you can use that too. If you're using an oven, preheat to around 350 degrees.

4. Take the butter-EVOO mixture. Lift the skin of the chicken slightly, and put some of the mixture into the little pocket that forms. Smear the rest on the surface of the chicken. With a tablespoon, baste the outside of the chicken with one last splash of the milk the chicken sat in. Season a bit with salt and pepper.

5. Cook the chicken in the oven/turbo broiler. Cooking time depends on the method chosen. Turn the chicken if necessary. You'll know you're done once the chicken skin turns the color of dark caramel, or a puddle of Cerveza Negra.
Just make sure it's cooked through.

6. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, doing one of the following steps. You may, at this point in time, opt to place a teaspoon of butter on the surface of the chicken, letting it melt.

7. Look at the bottom of your pan, and you'll see a small pool of grease and some drippings/burnt brown stuff. That stuff is GOOD. It's happiness.

So, what to do with that?

Option 1: Drain some of the oil off, place the pan/metal broiler bottom over medium heat, and then toss in some rice (anything from your leftover rice to fresh steamed rice will work), making sure everything's coated in the happy, fatty, chicken drippings stuff.

Option 2: Remove a wee bit of the oil. Place the pan/metal broiler bottom over medium heat, and toss in a clove of minced garlic, a minced small shallot, and a chicken cube (one of those knorr things). Scrape the bottom of the pan, add a bit of sifted flour (about 3/4 tablespoon will do), and start whisking. While whisking, add a bit of cream or milk if you want, and a small pat of butter to kick things up a notch. Salt lightly. Once you've got the gravy consistency you want, remove the cooking vessel from the heat. Turn the heat off.

8. Plate. Get a nice serving platter. Get artsy-fartsy with the gravy if you want, and then place the chicken on top. Serve with either the happy rice or plain rice (mashed potatoes/fries/polenta/deep fried polenta will work too).

If you're serving this for yourself and for someone else, get artsy-fartsy. And while you're at it, garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

9. Pair. The chicken itself will have a very simple flavor, as will the happy rice. Making the gravy makes things a bit more complex. So you'll have to find a drink to match the flavor of the meal.

I usually just have a bit of vodka and sprite with this, or a light beer (or lager). If I want something a bit more fun, I take a glass of Sarsi, and toss in a jigger of Cruzan coconut rum. Or if I want the dessert feeling early, I take a glass, fill it with ice, and pour in some sweet drink, like butterscotch vodka.

10. Enjoy. Make love, not war. This goes well with a nice conversation, or a nice TV show, or a DVD of the 2002 UAAP Basketball Championship.

Wang-Bu
06-11-2007, 06:32 PM
but different regions have different styles of cooking the same delicacy...


Siguro ang natatanging pagkain na tunay na sandamakmak ang uri ay ang adobo.

Sa bawat tahanan pihado may kanya-kanya silang diskarte sa pagluto ng adobo.

Ni hindi man lang tubong Pinoy ang adobo; ito ay isang uri ng potaheng Mexikano. Karne din ito na binabad sa isang marinada. Siempre para sa mga Mexikano ang babaran nila ay may mga samo't saring maaanghang na sili at paminta, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon. lemon at siempre TEQUILA! 8)

Ihaw na parang barbecue natin ang paraan ng pagluto nila, at ito'y ginagawang palaman sa tinapay.

Dito naman sa atin ang adobo ay kahit anong ginamitan ng pinaghalong suka, toyo, asin, paminta, bawang at dahon ng laurel. Kadalasan babaoy ang ginagamit, bagamat popular din ang manok, at siempre meron din pinaghalo ang dalawang uri ng karne.

Depende sa lugar maaaring timplahan o lahokan din ang adobo ng gata, sabaw ng buko, luyang dilaw, katas ng achuete at kung ano-ano pa. Nung araw ang adobong baboy ang katerno ng karekare, hindi ang bagoong. Buti hindi nagkamatayan ang mga ninuno natin kakakain ng karekare at adobo. ;D

bluewing
06-12-2007, 12:40 PM
da best ang taba.

taba ng barbecue, taba ng ham, taba sa spare ribs. basta wag yung taba na matigas at parang bloke na. kadiri na yon.

pero walang tatalo sa taba ng baka. taba ng baka da best. sa steak, masarap yung may kauntin taba. sa bulalo, pag walang taba, walang kwenta. panalo talaga ang taba ng baka....

john_paul_manahan
06-12-2007, 02:37 PM
tektite... kinda near my office...

sometimes, my officemates sell food / pasta here at the office. i know there is like a canteen behind the el pueblo in front of discovery suites.

nga pala, every saturday from 2am (i think) to lunchime, a portion of emerald ave is closed and a mini tiangge with good food. yummy.

Wang-Bu
06-13-2007, 11:50 AM
da best ang taba.

taba ng barbecue, taba ng ham, taba sa spare ribs. basta wag yung taba na matigas at parang bloke na. kadiri na yon.

pero walang tatalo sa taba ng baka. taba ng baka da best. sa steak, masarap yung may kauntin taba. sa bulalo, pag walang taba, walang kwenta. panalo talaga ang taba ng baka....


Nabanggit na rin lang ang taba at may namahagi ng recipe, ito ang turo sa'kin ng lola at nanay kong parehong Ilokana, ang Adobong Iloko:

kalahating kilong liempo na tinadtad na cubes, hindi kailangan saktong hugis basta hindi gaano nagkakalayo sa laki
isang malaki na buong local na bawang (siempre da best kung bawang ng Ilokos), tinadtad ng pino
kalahati ng malaking Sibuyas Tagaolg o pulang sibuyas
kalahating kutsarang buong paminta na dinikdik sa almires
kalahating kutsarang magaspang na asin (kung pwede 'yung mismong galing Ilocos o La Union)
kalahating kutsarang iodized patis
dalawang maliit na dahon ng laurel na kinuyumos sa kamay
dalawang kutsarang sukang Ilokos (pwede na rin ang kahit anong native na suka)

Dito hindi na kailangan ng mantika.

Magpainit ng kawali, as in mainit talaga. Ilagay ang liempo at isankutsa hanggang kumatas ang natural na tubig na mula sa laman ng baboy. Takban ang kawali at hinaan ang apoy hanggang sa minimum. Hayaan muna ng mga sampung minuto. Kapag narinig ng nagpuputukan ang liempo oras na upang sangkutsahin at haluing muli ang baboy. Taasan ng konti ang init para masigurong matosta ng husto ang baboy, mga lima hanggang pitong minutong pagsasangkutsa pa ito.

Ihasik at itimpla na ang asin, patis at suka. Hayaan muna ng mga dalawang minuto bago haluing muli. Ihuli ang paminta at laurel. Haluin muli. Lagyan ng 'di lalampas sa kalahating baso ng tubig at takban. Hinaan ang apoy at hayaan lang kumulo ng madalang ng sampo hanggang labindalawang minuto. Haluin pa ng huling beses, patayin ang init at ihain.

Mapapansin na hindi gaanong masabaw o masarsa ang adobong ito. Ganun talaga ang masarap at totoong Adobong Iloko. 8)

danny
06-20-2007, 01:23 AM
When I used to work at Tektite, my friend frequented the PagIbig canteen.* Kasi mura daw.* I just ate on the fast food sa East PSE.

If you have time, sa may harap ng Ultra madaming kainan or sa Baranggay Kapitolyo.

Alam ko yung mga tipong Jolli Jeep lumalabas sa gabi to cater to the call centers.* :)



PagIbig Canteen? hmmm. Hindi namin natunugan yan ah... When I worked* at Tektite, the alternative is SM foodcourt. ;D

Yup, madaming kainan diyan sa Kapitolyo. Aba may Jolli Jeep na din sa kabi.

Guys, there is this "shanty" kainan near ULTRA that serves papaitan and sisig. I forgot the name. Aysee? Ito din ba an tinutukoy niyo. Is it still there?

danny
06-20-2007, 01:35 AM
Are there any cheap eats places in the Ortigas Center area, in the mold of the Jolli-Jeeps of the Makati Business District?

It's now my second week here and I am getting sick of fastfood takeout and building canteen food...


Pareng joe, sa PCI Leasing diyan sa Corinthians may nagpupunta sa aming (nung nasa Leasing pa ako) jolli jeep. Nakaparada sa likod ng officers parking.

Magtataka lang nga sila kung sino ka. Kasi nga ang dating "exclusive" jolli jeep for PCI Leasing employees. ;D

Joescoundrel
06-21-2007, 06:11 PM
I found this whole bunch of cheap eats and totally non-fastfood places in the Rufo's Tapa cluster, thanks all for the tips.

bluewing
07-12-2007, 07:59 PM
sino rito ang kumakain ng fried rice at corned beef sa hapunan?


ako, thrilled na thrilled akong kumain ng corned beef at fried rice sa gabi. o kahit anong breakfast food. spam, eggs, ham, etc...

5FootCarrot
07-13-2007, 08:24 AM
Ako naman, minsan naghahanap ng non-breakfast food pag umaga. DIY breakfast kasi sa amin, kaya kung anuman ang pwede, kahit hindi conventionally pang-umaga - pizza, cake, tirang ulam - kinakain ko na.

JonarSabilano
07-13-2007, 08:40 AM
Guys, there is this "shanty" kainan near ULTRA that serves papaitan and sisig. I forgot the name. Aysee? Ito din ba an tinutukoy niyo. Is it still there?


Kung ang tinutukoy mong kainan ay nasa tabi ng entrance ng isang gated community malapit sa Barangay Oranbo, oo, Aysee ito.

Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood. Lifesaver iyon, actually. Doon ako bumibili ng pagkain kapag malayo-layo pa ang sweldo.

bluewing
07-13-2007, 12:02 PM
Ako naman, minsan naghahanap ng non-breakfast food pag umaga. DIY breakfast kasi sa amin, kaya kung anuman ang pwede, kahit hindi conventionally pang-umaga - pizza, cake, tirang ulam - kinakain ko na.



oo, okay din kumain ng non-brakfast food sa umaga. gaya ng adobong manok, beef steak, lechong kawali... panalo.




Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood.


saan doon? same price? same taste?

JonarSabilano
07-13-2007, 08:12 PM
Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood.

saan doon? same price? same taste?


Sa bridgeway. Katabi ng Cyberone. Pang-lunch ang size ng servings nila. May value meals din for PhP45, may kasama nang rice 'yun at nakalagay sa styrofoam. Puwede ka rin yatang mag-request ng sizzling plate. Dabest ang papaitan nila. Never fails to perk me up kapag masyadong malamig ang aircon sa opisina. Medyo masebo, pero what the heck. Kaya nga papaitan e.

bluewing
07-13-2007, 08:25 PM
Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood.

saan doon? same price? same taste?


Sa bridgeway. Katabi ng Cyberone. Pang-lunch ang size ng servings nila. May value meals din for PhP45, may kasama nang rice 'yun at nakalagay sa styrofoam. Puwede ka rin yatang mag-request ng sizzling plate. Dabest ang papaitan nila. Never fails to perk me up kapag masyadong malamig ang aircon sa opisina. Medyo masebo, pero what the heck. Kaya nga papaitan e.



sebo da best. lalo na sa papaitan...


langya ka, nag-crave ako. bukas ba sila nang hating-gabi?

JonarSabilano
07-13-2007, 08:30 PM
Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood.

saan doon? same price? same taste?


Sa bridgeway. Katabi ng Cyberone. Pang-lunch ang size ng servings nila. May value meals din for PhP45, may kasama nang rice 'yun at nakalagay sa styrofoam. Puwede ka rin yatang mag-request ng sizzling plate. Dabest ang papaitan nila. Never fails to perk me up kapag masyadong malamig ang aircon sa opisina. Medyo masebo, pero what the heck. Kaya nga papaitan e.



sebo da best. lalo na sa papaitan...


langya ka, nag-crave ako. bukas ba sila nang hating-gabi?


11am-9pm sila open. Bad trip nga e. May nagtitinda pa man din ng beer sa bridgeway...

bluewing
07-13-2007, 08:48 PM
Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood.

saan doon? same price? same taste?


Sa bridgeway. Katabi ng Cyberone. Pang-lunch ang size ng servings nila. May value meals din for PhP45, may kasama nang rice 'yun at nakalagay sa styrofoam. Puwede ka rin yatang mag-request ng sizzling plate. Dabest ang papaitan nila. Never fails to perk me up kapag masyadong malamig ang aircon sa opisina. Medyo masebo, pero what the heck. Kaya nga papaitan e.



sebo da best. lalo na sa papaitan...


langya ka, nag-crave ako. bukas ba sila nang hating-gabi?


11am-9pm sila open. Bad trip nga e. May nagtitinda pa man din ng beer sa bridgeway...



syet, di na ako aabot...

JonarSabilano
07-13-2007, 09:00 PM
Meron na rin palang Aysee sa Eastwood.

saan doon? same price? same taste?


Sa bridgeway. Katabi ng Cyberone. Pang-lunch ang size ng servings nila. May value meals din for PhP45, may kasama nang rice 'yun at nakalagay sa styrofoam. Puwede ka rin yatang mag-request ng sizzling plate. Dabest ang papaitan nila. Never fails to perk me up kapag masyadong malamig ang aircon sa opisina. Medyo masebo, pero what the heck. Kaya nga papaitan e.



sebo da best. lalo na sa papaitan...


langya ka, nag-crave ako. bukas ba sila nang hating-gabi?


11am-9pm sila open. Bad trip nga e. May nagtitinda pa man din ng beer sa bridgeway...



syet, di na ako aabot...


Oo nga e. Pagkamahal-mahal pa man din ng pagkain sa Eastwood.

Meron akong binibilhan dati sa tabi ng 7-11. "Food Street" ang tawag. Mura ang pagkain at mapakaraming choices. Umalis sila kasi gagawing call center ang building na 'yun. Lumipat sa Fashion Centrale, katabi ng Fitness First. Lintik, ang layo. Ang init pa kapag tanghali.

bluewing
07-13-2007, 09:35 PM
papasundo kasi si utol mamayang hating-gabi dyan. dadaanan ko pauwi. kung bukas pa sana, magmi-midnight snack ako ng sisig at papaitan. (patay)

oh well, something fishy na lang siguro. breakfast buffet. bukas na yon nang alas-12 di ba?

JonarSabilano
07-13-2007, 09:55 PM
papasundo kasi si utol mamayang hating-gabi dyan. dadaanan ko pauwi. kung bukas pa sana, magmi-midnight snack ako ng sisig at papaitan. (patay)

oh well, something fishy na lang siguro. breakfast buffet. bukas na yon nang alas-12 di ba?


Yup, meron na by 12. Ayos ang breakfast buffet nila. That is, huwag lang araw-arawin. Nakakaumay kasi. Pero kung paminsan-minsan lang, puwede na.

bluewing
07-16-2007, 12:32 PM
mga pare, alam nyo ba yung ulam na kung saan ang giniling ay nakalagay sa isang lanera (lalagyan ng leche flan) at ang timpla ay parang embotido?



ano ang tawag nyo doon?

sa amin kasi sa Marikna, everlasting ang tawag sa ulam na yon.

pero pag nababanggit ko ito sa ibang hindi taga-marikina (o kahit sa mga ibang taga-doon), either hindi sila familiar dito or hindi nila alam ang tawag...


so sa mga may-alam sa ulam na ito, ano tawag nyo dito?

Wang-Bu
07-16-2007, 05:09 PM
mga pare, alam nyo ba yung ulam na kung saan ang giniling ay nakalagay sa isang lanera (lalagyan ng leche flan) at ang timpla ay parang embotido?



ano ang tawag nyo doon?

sa amin kasi sa Marikna, everlasting ang tawag sa ulam na yon.

pero pag nababanggit ko ito sa ibang hindi taga-marikina (o kahit sa mga ibang taga-doon), either hindi sila familiar dito or hindi nila alam ang tawag...


so sa mga may-alam sa ulam na ito, ano tawag nyo dito?


Sir BlueWing ewan ko kung bakit ganyan ang tawag nila diyan sa Marikina.

Sa Malolos, Bulacan kung saan ko madalas makain ang potahe na 'yan mula pa sa pagkabata ang tawag nila diyan ay EMBOTIDO PAMPLINA. "Embotido" dahil nga naman mistulang embotido ang timpla at lahok niya: giniling, bawang, sibuyas, carrot, celery, chorizo de Bilbao o Gran Doblon o King Sue, dinikdik na itim na paminta, sariwang asin, dinurog na pandesal, konting gatas evaporada, sariwang itlog at depende sa bayan meron ding pasas and/or garbanzo and/or green peas and/or Vienna sausage. "Pamplina" dahil sa style ng pagluto na inilalagay sa llanera at steamed o kaya'y inilalagay sa pugon sabay ng mga pandesal na niluluto, hindi gaya ng usual na style na rolyo sa foil o dahon ng saging.

O diyata't iba talaga ang tawag nila diyan at iba din ang sinasabi ko...

bluewing
07-16-2007, 05:15 PM
salamat sa input mo, manong wang-bu.

ang sabi sa akin ng nnay ko ay hindi nya rin alam kung bakit everlasting ang tawag dyan dito sa amin. pero may teorya si inay kung bakit ito ang ibinansag ng matatanda. kasi raw ay matagal bago mapanis ang ulam na ito, dahil din siguro sa dami ng stages ng pagluluto. kumbaga, kahit na isang buwan sya sa ref, kaunting patong lang sa rice cooker, ok na sya. at dahil nga sa haba ng buhay nya, everlasting.

gayunpaman, duda ako sa tawag na yon. deep inside, alam kong hindi yon ang tawag dyan. kaya minabuti ko na ring ipagtanong. ang hirap din kasi ng magpapaliwanag pa ako sa tuwing may magtatanong kung ano yun.

5FootCarrot
07-16-2007, 06:30 PM
Maaaring pasaway yung nagbansag diyan ng "everlasting" kasi hinding-hindi yan nauubos sa bahay nila.

bluewing
07-16-2007, 09:42 PM
Maaaring pasaway yung nagbansag diyan ng "everlasting" kasi hinding-hindi yan nauubos sa bahay nila.


hahaha. nice theory pero i doubt it. ;D

pam-piyestang putahe kasi yan sa amin sa marikina. hindi naman mayayaman ang mga original dwellers ng marikina. karamihan sa kanila'y farmers at fisher-folk and yes, shoemakers. so yung mga ganyang ulam na hitik sa sahog, pang-special occasion lang. that being said, it's highly unlikely that hindi ito dudumuguin sa lamesa ng mga namimiyesta. :D

Wang-Bu
07-23-2007, 10:11 AM
Nag-lechon kami sa La Loma pagkatapos ng big win kontra Lasalle kahapon.

Kaya palang ubusin ang 25-kilo na lechon sa loob ng kalahating oras... :o

bluewing
07-23-2007, 11:56 AM
Nag-lechon kami sa La Loma pagkatapos ng big win kontra Lasalle kahapon.

Kaya palang ubusin ang 25-kilo na lechon sa loob ng kalahating oras... :o


walang paksiw?

Wang-Bu
08-01-2007, 04:23 PM
^^^ Walang natira Sir Wing, akala ko ultimo buto lalamunin, ayaw bitawan ni Kelvin 'yung isang paa ng lechon.

Naulit ito after nung UP game namin, kumuha na kami ng 35-KILO na lechon. No amount: limas pa din...

Wang-Bu
08-08-2007, 11:42 AM
Anong hotel buffet sa Ortigas area ang mas sulit: 'yung CROWNE o 'yung SHANGRILA?

Ibig sabihin base sa kanilang mga ihahain at presyo, sino ang masasabing kapag magbayad ka na ay hindi mo feeling na na-holdap ka. Tipong kahit P2,000 per person basta alam mo high quality ang pagkain bukod pa sa maaliwalas ang lugar at higit sa lahat hindi kupal ang mga waiter at ibang staff.

bluewing
08-08-2007, 12:45 PM
Anong hotel buffet sa Ortigas area ang mas sulit: 'yung CROWNE o 'yung SHANGRILA?

Ibig sabihin base sa kanilang mga ihahain at presyo, sino ang masasabing kapag magbayad ka na ay hindi mo feeling na na-holdap ka. Tipong kahit P2,000 per person basta alam mo high quality ang pagkain bukod pa sa maaliwalas ang lugar at higit sa lahat hindi kupal ang mga waiter at ibang staff.


manong Wang, para sa akin ay parehong panalo AT parehong hold-up dyan. pero kung minsan lang naman, ok lang kahit ano dyan. based on experience, parang mas okay sa crowne pag pamilya ang kasama mo, o kaya ay big groups. pero pag chicks ang kasama mo, parang mas ok sa shang. hindi ko alam kung bakit.

jkad
08-08-2007, 09:58 PM
My rule of thumb in tipping is to tip well (10% and over) at places which you plan to frequent.

At catered functions, give one waiter 100 pesos and avoid the long lines, damay pa buong table mo

Don't complain about the food before all your orders come out and don't be an asshole when you do complain, you never know what the waiters will do with your food, I've heard enough horror stories, plus don't plan to go back.

If you're ever in the US and plan to use the curbside luggage check-in (although not too many airports offer this anymore after 9/11) don't forget to tip 2 to 5 dollars per bag or risk not having your luggage arrive with you.

bluewing
08-09-2007, 02:17 AM
At catered functions, give one waiter 100 pesos and avoid the long lines, damay pa buong table mo



i also abide by this rule. una, wala talaga akong hilig pumila, lalo na't pagkain. it's either i wait hanggang umikli yung pila, o maghanap na lang ng kakampi kong waiter. since delikado nga naman minsan yung magpahuli, madalas ay nag-aabot na lang ako. like a few weeks ago, i attended a kabarkada's wedding. nataon na yung mga kabarkada kong kasama sa lamesa ay puro tamad din. so nag-abot kami dun sa isang waiter whom we found very efficient. kami lang ang lamesang may ice bucket, laging puno ang drinks, at mas marami pang tsibug sa lamesa namin kesa doon sa mga ninong. tipping well: it works!

atenean_blooded
08-09-2007, 10:56 AM
At catered functions, give one waiter 100 pesos and avoid the long lines, damay pa buong table mo



i also abide by this rule. una, wala talaga akong hilig pumila, lalo na't pagkain. it's either i wait hanggang umikli yung pila, o maghanap na lang ng kakampi kong waiter. since delikado nga naman minsan yung magpahuli, madalas ay nag-aabot na lang ako. like a few weeks ago, i attended a kabarkada's wedding. nataon na yung mga kabarkada kong kasama sa lamesa ay puro tamad din. so nag-abot kami dun sa isang waiter whom we found very efficient. kami lang ang lamesang may ice bucket, laging puno ang drinks, at mas marami pang tsibug sa lamesa namin kesa doon sa mga ninong. tipping well: it works!


Hindi na yata "tipping" yan e.

Tawag diyan, "corruption."


;D

Joescoundrel
08-09-2007, 03:11 PM
^^^ Or being smart. But then again SOME ARE SMARTER THAN OTHERS! ;D

atenean_blooded
08-09-2007, 03:18 PM
Hindi pala natin pwede bigyan ng tip yung mga NABRO refs. ;D

Oops. Back to topic.

bluewing
08-09-2007, 05:03 PM
At catered functions, give one waiter 100 pesos and avoid the long lines, damay pa buong table mo



i also abide by this rule. una, wala talaga akong hilig pumila, lalo na't pagkain. it's either i wait hanggang umikli yung pila, o maghanap na lang ng kakampi kong waiter. since delikado nga naman minsan yung magpahuli, madalas ay nag-aabot na lang ako. like a few weeks ago, i attended a kabarkada's wedding. nataon na yung mga kabarkada kong kasama sa lamesa ay puro tamad din. so nag-abot kami dun sa isang waiter whom we found very efficient. kami lang ang lamesang may ice bucket, laging puno ang drinks, at mas marami pang tsibug sa lamesa namin kesa doon sa mga ninong. tipping well: it works!


Hindi na yata "tipping" yan e.

Tawag diyan, "corruption."


;D


i think it's more like an investment... kumbaga, pumusta kami dun sa waiter namin. eh nagkataon na he delivered. everybody wins. ;D

Sam Miguel
08-13-2007, 11:30 AM
I wonder how much lechon Wang-bu's Warriors had this time... :-X

batangueño
08-13-2007, 03:51 PM
Lechon? Himalang hindi tumataba ang mga Warriors. Pwede bang malaman ang sikreto nila at nang mai-apply ko sa sarili ko? Lumalaki na kasi ang beer belly ko. :o ;D

toti_mendiola
08-13-2007, 04:03 PM
Secret ko eh "konting galaw galaw lang".

danny
08-14-2007, 03:50 AM
Secret ko eh "konting galaw galaw lang".


Yan ang matindi. Minsan sa halip na ikaw ang mag-tip, ikaw pa ang bibigyan ng tip. Kindat lang pwede na, mapalalke o babae man... Adonissssssss.. ;D Loko. :D


Guys, "review" naman sa mga resto na to:

1. Penang Hill -Malaysian
2. Cyma - Greek
3. Little Asia -Asian Fusion

Authentic ba ang mga yan?

Sam Miguel
08-14-2007, 11:22 AM
^^^ Danny, Cyma is not quite Greek but is close enough. To me it lacks that rustic-ness of real Greek food. It is actually a higher-end Mediterranean restaurant made for the Pinoy market, think of it as Mediterranean Cafe if that outfit had more money. The pita and humus are a little on the "mass market" side and the meats are still a little bland, not exactly Greek, not even New York Greek. Still, the place does try hard and seems to have an attentive and well-trained staff, and price-wise it is still a pretty good value for my wallet.

Little Asia is NOT Asian fusion, more like French-Vietnamese / British-Indian cuisine lacking the right kick. The usual cacophony of spices and herbs are all there but the chefs just do not seem to have that right mix in mind. The fragrances in real Asian fusion should be hanging constantly in the air, and the flavors remain in the palette not just hints thereof. Haven't been to the Malaysian place yet.

I don't know what it is with Pinoy palettes, or perhaps with Pinoy restaurateurs: they seem to always err on the side of blandness when it comes to preparing the food of other peoples and cultures. The only time I ever had a truly authentic kebab and gyro was when there were still a plethora of small Arabic restaraunts and hashish cafes in the Ermita area pre-Robinson's Place. All of the newer generation places like Med Cafe and Cyma and Istanbul, etc-etc, just aren't up to snuff, too matabang. Modern Vietnamese places like Pho Bac and those other restos with "Pho" in their names have the mint and cilantro and the peanut sauce and the fragrant vinegars, but they don't seem to have that kick. The last time I had an authentic Vietnamese meal it was at a small place in in Pasay along FB Harrison, and only because it was a Vietnamese family running it.

danny
08-17-2007, 06:34 AM
^^^ Danny, Cyma is not quite Greek but is close enough. To me it lacks that rustic-ness of real Greek food. It is actually a higher-end Mediterranean restaurant made for the Pinoy market, think of it as Mediterranean Cafe if that outfit had more money. The pita and humus are a little on the "mass market" side and the meats are still a little bland, not exactly Greek, not even New York Greek. Still, the place does try hard and seems to have an attentive and well-trained staff, and price-wise it is still a pretty good value for my wallet.

Little Asia is NOT Asian fusion, more like French-Vietnamese / British-Indian cuisine lacking the right kick. The usual cacophony of spices and herbs are all there but the chefs just do not seem to have that right mix in mind. The fragrances in real Asian fusion should be hanging constantly in the air, and the flavors remain in the palette not just hints thereof. Haven't been to the Malaysian place yet.

I don't know what it is with Pinoy palettes, or perhaps with Pinoy restaurateurs: they seem to always err on the side of blandness when it comes to preparing the food of other peoples and cultures. The only time I ever had a truly authentic kebab and gyro was when there were still a plethora of small Arabic restaraunts and hashish cafes in the Ermita area pre-Robinson's Place. All of the newer generation places like Med Cafe and Cyma and Istanbul, etc-etc, just aren't up to snuff, too matabang. Modern Vietnamese places like Pho Bac and those other restos with "Pho" in their names have the mint and cilantro and the peanut sauce and the fragrant vinegars, but they don't seem to have that kick. The last time I had an authentic Vietnamese meal it was at a small place in in Pasay along FB Harrison, and only because it was a Vietnamese family running it.* *


Thanks.

Hmmmm.. I think it's more of adjusting the taste to the Filipino palette which is on the "sweeter side". This is ok if you are in the fast food business. But for restaurants? Yeah something is really wrong.

If Cyma is simply a high-end Med Cafe serving the same bland food, I would rather go that old Greenhills stand serving shawarma. At least I know what to expect, the "bold" taste of mayonnaise and french fries on my shawarma. Opa! :D

Many Vietnamese restaurants out there are Vietnamese only in name. No intention of trying another one. I don't remember if they actually serve French/Vietnamese coffee.

BigBlue
08-17-2007, 10:51 AM
If Cyma is simply a high-end Med Cafe serving the same bland food, I would rather go that old Greenhills stand serving shawarma. At least I know what to expect, the "bold" taste of mayonnaise and french fries on my shawarma. Opa! :D



Are you talking about Food Channel? May stand na sila dito sa Eastwood. one of my favorite stalls out here actually.

Sam Miguel
08-17-2007, 11:46 AM
If Cyma is simply a high-end Med Cafe serving the same bland food, I would rather go that old Greenhills stand serving shawarma. At least I know what to expect, the "bold" taste of mayonnaise and french fries on my shawarma. Opa!* :D



Are you talking about Food Channel? May stand na sila dito sa Eastwood. one of my favorite stalls out here actually.



Food Channel, yeah, I LOVE that little stall, good value for money. Instead of a value meal at McDo I just get five or six of their shawarmas and buy a cold plastic bottle of soda and enjoy.

JonarSabilano
08-17-2007, 11:49 AM
Oks din ang shawarma-with-rice meal nila. Complete with fries and free sago't gulaman.

bluewing
08-17-2007, 10:32 PM
Mr. Kebab da best!

mukha pang elf sa lord of the rings yung may-ari.

atenean_blooded
08-18-2007, 01:57 AM
If you want good Persian food, blow your money on Arya, in Greenhills.


As nice as Mr. Kebab is (I mean, special chelo kebab, with extra rice, extra tomato, and extra butter at 3am after a wild night?), kapag nakatikim ka ng pagkain ng Arya, Mr. Kebab will never taste as good ever again.

danny
08-18-2007, 02:24 AM
Oks din ang shawarma-with-rice meal nila. Complete with fries and free sago't gulaman.


Ok di ba. No inhibitions. Just lamon. Sarap.

Arya?* Ok. I'll put that on my list. Thanks!

Joescoundrel
08-29-2007, 09:49 AM
Can anyone give me the rundown on PORTICO now?

When it was still a small and relatively unknown place in downtown Manila I liked the unpretentious and simple French and Fusion food. The wine list was no great shakes but they were relative bargains. I loved their preparations for foie gras and scallops, simple pan-seared then oven-finished stuff, sauces were rich but not overdone, seasoning and spicing were just so, herbs were not thrown hither and yon on your plate.

I wonder what they are like now that they've moved up to the Makati area?

JonarSabilano
08-29-2007, 03:56 PM
Re: Persian food, Behrouz is at the top of my list. Mas OK nga lang ang pagkain sa Timog branch nila kaysa dun sa Metrowalk.

mighty_lion
09-29-2007, 01:06 AM
First time ko nakapunta sa Crispy Creme sa Fort kanina out of the blue. They have four types of doughnut there named after UAAP teams namely, DLSU, ADMU, UST and UE. ;D

Naalala ko tuloy nung kalaban namin ang JRU nung second round. Me namimigay ng Hopia sa crowd para kainin.
This ADMU-DLSU series and UE vs whoever, you can do the same through Crispy Kreme doughnuts. ;D ;D

danny
09-29-2007, 01:30 AM
While Cripy Kreme is thriving in Manila, a lot of their branches in Eastern Canada went bankrupt. Their only branch in Western Canada is already on life support in just 12 months of operation. ;D

Jaco D
09-29-2007, 02:54 PM
Yup, tama ka diyan Danny-boy.* The Krispy Creme stores just vanished here in Toronto.* The irony of it all is that when the stores opened here a couple of years ago, the lines of people waiting to buy the doughnuts would snake out of the stores and go around the block.* The local police would sometimes post a squadcar in the parking lot beside a KK shop since fights would break out among patrons lining up for the product.* You could still find KK here but not through the proprietary stores -* sa kiosk-type outlets na lang.* Of course, di na siya fresh gaya ng dati.* Personally I never liked it.* Sobrang tamis for my taste.* Wala pa ring tatalo sa doughnut na nabibili sa panaderiya sa kanto sa atin.* Ipares mo ito sa malamig na Sarsi and you have something better than sex (well, not really, but you get my drift* ::)).

toti_mendiola
09-29-2007, 03:03 PM
Re: Persian food, Behrouz is at the top of my list. Mas OK nga lang ang pagkain sa Timog branch nila kaysa dun sa Metrowalk.


ay secondamosyon! Pero mas okay yung lumang hitsura ng puwesto nila nung di pa sila nagre renovate.

5FootCarrot
10-01-2007, 09:57 AM
The problem with Krispy Kreme is that they flooded the market with their product, so while people clamored for it in the beginning, nagsawa rin sila. I heard KK was in trouble as early as last year, hence the downsizing.

My mom likes the plain glazed KK's. I've never tried any other kind of donut of theirs. Sa tutoo lang, OK na sa akin yung chocolate frosted ng Mr. Donut/Dunkin' Donuts.

(I also have a food-related question - why do lizards love donut boxes so much? Before we learned to secure our donut boxes, we used to find them in there pretty regularly. It was an unpleasant surprise especially in the mornings when you're looking for breakfast.)

chocoks77
10-01-2007, 10:38 AM
(I also have a food-related question - why do lizards love donut boxes so much? Before we learned to secure our donut boxes, we used to find them in there pretty regularly. It was an unpleasant surprise especially in the mornings when you're looking for breakfast.)


Ewan ko lang pero ako I tried yung crocodile meat dito sa Davao city sa Riverwalk Grill right beside the Davao Crocodile Park. All I can say is SARAP!!! Texture is a cross between pork and chicken but oh so delicious

mighty_lion
10-01-2007, 10:43 AM
(I also have a food-related question - why do lizards love donut boxes so much? Before we learned to secure our donut boxes, we used to find them in there pretty regularly. It was an unpleasant surprise especially in the mornings when you're looking for breakfast.)


Ewan ko lang pero ako I tried yung crocodile meat dito sa Davao city sa Riverwalk Grill right beside the Davao Crocodile Park. All I can say is SARAP!!! Texture is a cross between pork and chicken but oh so delicious


Crocodile meat? Baka bayawak? Parang matigas ang crocodile para kainin ng tao. ;D

JonarSabilano
10-01-2007, 11:19 AM
Re: Persian food, Behrouz is at the top of my list. Mas OK nga lang ang pagkain sa Timog branch nila kaysa dun sa Metrowalk.


ay secondamosyon! Pero mas okay yung lumang hitsura ng puwesto nila nung di pa sila nagre renovate.


Oo nga e. Parang ang off. Pinoy ang motif pero Persian ang pagkain...

chocoks77
10-01-2007, 09:57 PM
(I also have a food-related question - why do lizards love donut boxes so much? Before we learned to secure our donut boxes, we used to find them in there pretty regularly. It was an unpleasant surprise especially in the mornings when you're looking for breakfast.)


Ewan ko lang pero ako I tried yung crocodile meat dito sa Davao city sa Riverwalk Grill right beside the Davao Crocodile Park. All I can say is SARAP!!! Texture is a cross between pork and chicken but oh so delicious


Crocodile meat? Baka bayawak? Parang matigas ang crocodile para kainin ng tao.* ;D


3yr old croc. tender yung meat niya pre.

mighty_lion
10-01-2007, 10:22 PM
(I also have a food-related question - why do lizards love donut boxes so much? Before we learned to secure our donut boxes, we used to find them in there pretty regularly. It was an unpleasant surprise especially in the mornings when you're looking for breakfast.)


Ewan ko lang pero ako I tried yung crocodile meat dito sa Davao city sa Riverwalk Grill right beside the Davao Crocodile Park. All I can say is SARAP!!! Texture is a cross between pork and chicken but oh so delicious


Crocodile meat? Baka bayawak? Parang matigas ang crocodile para kainin ng tao.* ;D


3yr old croc. tender yung meat niya pre.


I see. Ngayon lang ako nakarining nyan. Sobrang exotic food nga yan. ;D

danny
10-02-2007, 01:24 AM
Exotic food?

Diyan sa may papuntang Binangonan may exotic restaurant di ba? Bayawak at kung ano ano pa?

LION
10-02-2007, 08:24 AM
Yang KK na yan parang go nuts donuts din yan. Wala pang isang taon umay na ang mga tao. My son wants to go there just to get the free donut and the KK cap.

Try Abe in Serendra. Sarap! Ganda pa ng mga waitress. ;D

mighty_lion
10-02-2007, 08:41 AM
Yang KK na yan parang go nuts donuts din yan. Wala pang isang taon umay na ang mga tao.* My son wants to go there just to get the free donut and the KK cap.

Try Abe in Serendra. Sarap!* Ganda pa ng mga waitress.* *;D



Mapasimbahan hanggang pook pasyalan.
Basta usapang sexy at kagandahan
Kay Sir LION panalo tayo dyan.

;D ;D

toti_mendiola
10-02-2007, 12:30 PM
Exotic food?

Diyan sa may papuntang Binangonan may exotic restaurant di ba? Bayawak at kung ano ano pa?


Tama pare sa Rizal province marami niyan(morong and cardona pa lang nakakainan ko ng ganiyan). Pati na rin sa Quezon.

toti_mendiola
10-02-2007, 12:32 PM
Yang KK na yan parang go nuts donuts din yan. Wala pang isang taon umay na ang mga tao. My son wants to go there just to get the free donut and the KK cap.

Try Abe in Serendra. Sarap! Ganda pa ng mga waitress. ;D



Mapasimbahan hanggang pook pasyalan.
Basta usapang sexy at kagandahan
Kay Sir LION panalo tayo dyan.

;D ;D


Pare appreciative na tao lang yang si LION. ;D

chocoks77
10-02-2007, 01:35 PM
Exotic food?

Diyan sa may papuntang Binangonan may exotic restaurant di ba? Bayawak at kung ano ano pa?


Tama pare sa Rizal province marami niyan(morong and cardona pa lang nakakainan ko ng ganiyan). Pati na rin sa Quezon.


Sa Angono yung Balaw-Balaw restaurant. Masarap din dyan. Exotic foods such as bayawak at sawa. Ang may-ari niyan kaklase ko nung high school. Siya na yata ang cook dyan ang pangalan e Andre Vocalan.

bchoter
10-02-2007, 01:56 PM
I'm not sure if it's still there but there's this resto behind glo-ri in Sikatuna Village that serve exotic food when available. Adobong sawa or bayawak, tapang baboy damo o usa, etc. Ok din dati ang T-bone and rib eye steak nila. Fresh and hot off the grill.

toti_mendiola
10-02-2007, 02:26 PM
I'm not sure if it's still there but there's this resto behind glo-ri in Sikatuna Village that serve exotic food when available. Adobong sawa or bayawak, tapang baboy damo o usa, etc. Ok din dati ang T-bean steak nila. Fresh and hot off the grill.


Tama, muka ngang angono yung kinainan namin at hindi sa cardona. Tagal na kasi nun eh. Nasa SBC pa lang ako nung makipiyesta kami dun eh.

EDITED TO ADD:

Pag napunta ka ng RIZAL at pabalik ka na sa inyong lugar siguradong baon baon mo ang punto ng mga taga RIZAL.

LION
10-02-2007, 02:41 PM
^ Hindi naman hopia ang kinain nyo dun sa Rizal ha?

WampumTribe
10-03-2007, 01:22 AM
I'm not sure if it's still there but there's this resto behind glo-ri in Sikatuna Village that serve exotic food when available. Adobong sawa or bayawak, tapang baboy damo o usa, etc. Ok din dati ang T-bone and rib eye steak nila. Fresh and hot off the grill.


Sa TESDA Market sa Bicutan nakakabili ng tapang usa at baboy ramo. Every Saturday morning nga lang bukas yung palengke duon. OT: Oks pa yung quality ng mga pirated DVDs.

danny
10-03-2007, 01:27 AM
Sa Angono yung Balaw-Balaw restaurant. Masarap din dyan. Exotic foods such as bayawak at sawa. Ang may-ari niyan kaklase ko nung high school. Siya na yata ang cook dyan ang pangalan e Andre Vocalan.


Ayun! Balaw-Balaw. Salamat chocoks.


Lion, toti at mighty, huwag lang mga *exotic looking na mga babae. Talo tayo diyan. ;D

WampumTribe
10-03-2007, 01:30 AM
Sa Angono yung Balaw-Balaw restaurant. Masarap din dyan. Exotic foods such as bayawak at sawa. Ang may-ari niyan kaklase ko nung high school. Siya na yata ang cook dyan ang pangalan e Andre Vocalan.


Ayun! Balaw-Balaw. Salamat chocoks.


Lion, toti at mighty, huwag lang mga exotic looking na mga babae. Talo tayo diyan. ;D



Sa Grand Inihaw?

danny
10-03-2007, 01:33 AM
Sa Angono yung Balaw-Balaw restaurant. Masarap din dyan. Exotic foods such as bayawak at sawa. Ang may-ari niyan kaklase ko nung high school. Siya na yata ang cook dyan ang pangalan e Andre Vocalan.


Ayun! Balaw-Balaw. Salamat chocoks.


Lion, toti at mighty, huwag lang mga* exotic looking na mga babae. Talo tayo diyan. ;D


Sa Grand Inihaw?


Pare naman. Lahat ata ng uri ng "saksakan" nandyan na. :D

bchoter
10-03-2007, 11:39 AM
^ Sa Welcome? Buhay pa ba yan? May bulaluhan dating malapit jan... bandang PLDT. Bulalong lasang leather :D

LION
10-03-2007, 11:53 AM
^ Sa Welcome? Buhay pa ba yan? May bulaluhan dating malapit jan... bandang PLDT. Bulalong lasang leather :D


Based on experience? ;D

bchoter
10-03-2007, 12:00 PM
^ Minsan tumama sa ending ang ka sunog baga sa may blumentritt at nag ayang magpa-usaw. Wag na daw muna sa Jona's at nakasawa na. Maiba naman daw. Off we go. Amp! lasang cow hide. Iba pa rin ang aming bulalo sa Norte :D

mighty_lion
10-03-2007, 12:11 PM
^ Sa Welcome? Buhay pa ba yan? May bulaluhan dating malapit jan... bandang PLDT. Bulalong lasang leather :D


Depende kung anong buhay ang pinag-uusapan pareng bchoter. Balita ko meron nagseserve ng buhay na karne dyan pag-gabi. :D

bchoter
10-03-2007, 02:48 PM
^ Ah kaya pala kasama sa food thread ang Grand Inihaw. Kanina ko pa iniisip ang relevance niya sa thread. :D

toti_mendiola
10-03-2007, 07:02 PM
^ Sa Welcome? Buhay pa ba yan? May bulaluhan dating malapit jan... bandang PLDT. Bulalong lasang leather :D


Mas okay yung bulaluhan sa ramirez st. malapit din diyan sa welcome at e.rod. dati ang kasabay naming kumakain dun eh yung mga senior varsity basketball team ng baste at mga tricycle at taxi drivers.Ngayon ata sosyal na at pina renovate na rin.

bchoter
10-04-2007, 11:51 AM
^ Yung malapit sa Merlaco? Hindi ba Josefina yung street?

Mas ok nga don kesa dun sa old stalls near PLDT. Pero mejo lasang cowhide pa rin yung bulalo nila hehe :D

yungha
10-04-2007, 12:58 PM
hindi ako magaling mag-chopsticks, especially with dimsum. when i eat dimsum and there's no fork, i cheat by sticking one of the chopsticks into the dimsum. yun pala, acceptable yun. ginagawa rin yun even by chinese who are proficient in using chopsticks. pero di talaga ako nabubusog pag chopsticks ang gamit.

toti_mendiola
10-05-2007, 07:30 PM
^ Yung malapit sa Merlaco? Hindi ba Josefina yung street?

Mas ok nga don kesa dun sa old stalls near PLDT. Pero mejo lasang cowhide pa rin yung bulalo nila hehe :D


Pare mas malapit siya sa tuazon corner e.rod. San nga ba masarap ang bulalo dito sa kalakhang maynila?Puwera lang sa mga malalaking restawran.

Sam Miguel
10-12-2007, 04:09 PM
^ BULALUHAN SA RAMIREZ along (where else?) Ramirez Street in Quezon City, UDMC area. I like that their bulalo is of the sinigang variety and not the usual nilaga style, much more flavorful really.

aircanda
10-13-2007, 04:06 AM
cno mga taga tondo dito?
kung meron..
sino ang nakakaalam sa tapsilugan ni mang edwin..
ung sa tapat ng ICA-Manila? :) :D

toti_mendiola
10-15-2007, 12:30 AM
^ BULALUHAN SA RAMIREZ along (where else?) Ramirez Street in Quezon City, UDMC area. I like that their bulalo is of the sinigang variety and not the usual nilaga style, much more flavorful really.


iTo nga yung nabanggit ko. Pero mas okay pa rin nung hindi pa sila nagre renovate. Sarap na combination yung grilled pork chop at bulalo. Killing me softly ang dating sa katawan.

LION
10-15-2007, 07:53 AM
I'm not sure if it's still there but there's this resto behind glo-ri in Sikatuna Village that serve exotic food when available. Adobong sawa or bayawak, tapang baboy damo o usa, etc. Ok din dati ang T-bone and rib eye steak nila. Fresh and hot off the grill.


Molo's Grille maybe.

AnthonyServinio
10-15-2007, 11:02 AM
* * *I just had my first taste of Ostrich at a restaurant in Cagayan de Oro City.* It's just like beef!* Problem is that it's quite pricey at PHP540.00 a kilo.

LION
10-15-2007, 11:04 AM
^ Ha! You went to Cagayanon right in the heart of limketkai.

Tama ka. Ang sarap ng tapang ostrich dun. the meat is tender and tastes like beef. if you are on official business, price is not an issue. ;D

AnthonyServinio
10-15-2007, 11:10 AM
^ Ha! You went to Cagayanon right in the heart of limketkai.

Tama ka. Ang sarap ng tapang ostrich dun. the meat is tender and tastes like beef.* if you are on official business, price is not an issue.* *;D

THE name of the restaurant was Evergreen and yes, it's located right at the heart of Limketkai Center (near the main mall and the McDonald's).

It was a good deal at PHP198.00 -- an all-you-can eat Mongolian Barbecue that had Ostrich as one of the items on the menu.* I had several* bowls of Ostrich cooked in different ways.

LION
10-15-2007, 11:24 AM
^Hmmm. Cagayanon is located at the 2nd floor of a building (forgot the name) in that area. Di kaya nagpalit ng pangalan? Or maybe it is really a different establishment.

Anyway, we also ordered the ostrich egg out of curiosity (suicide pact). Tastes like............... an egg. ;D

AnthonyServinio
10-15-2007, 12:22 PM
^Hmmm. Cagayanon is located at the 2nd floor of a building (forgot the name) in that area.* Di kaya nagpalit ng pangalan? Or maybe it is really a different establishment.*

Anyway, we also ordered the ostrich egg* out of curiosity (suicide pact). Tastes like............... an egg.* * *;D

Actually, I think those restaurants have the same management because if you eat at Evergreen, they will also give you a menu (upon request) of Kagayanon and the Japanese restaurant. These three restaurants are right beside each other.

pachador
10-15-2007, 12:29 PM
wow, that ostrich meal is expensive. with the way the peso is appreciating against the dollar baka balang araw ay hindi na makakabakasyon mga fil-am sa pilipinas at instead ang taga pilipinas na ang mag-bakasyon ng madalas sa abroad.

Joescoundrel
09-09-2008, 08:42 AM
On a recent trip to Isabela I had native adobo-style ahas, smoky tapang usa, and savory ant eggs. With Ginebra San Miguel kwatro kantos of course. ;D

Joescoundrel
10-30-2008, 11:21 AM
One of the best things about the FMC: a food trip to Binondo after the games, such as at the famed Panciteria Manosa along Ongpin to have their superb Pancit Chami and Maki.

bchoter
10-30-2008, 01:54 PM
On a recent trip to Isabela I had native adobo-style ahas, smoky tapang usa, and savory ant eggs. With Ginebra San Miguel kwatro kantos of course. ;D
Me and Coolmanny might go on a road rip to the north last month of the year. We'll be in a lookout for tapang usa or baboy damo along Sta. Fe (word of caution, if it's too red in color it must be fake :D).

JonarSabilano
10-30-2008, 04:26 PM
^ At ako naman ay pupuntang Sagada.

Ano ba ang masarap dun, maliban sa special brownies? ;D

salsa caballero
10-31-2008, 12:10 AM
^ yung yoghurt at muesli sa inn na malapit sa ganduyan inn. Yummy. Also, there's this resto there called log cabin or forest house na reservations only. Sorry, I can't recall the name exactly, but it is very highly recommended for its earthy, european cuisine. Never been there myself but I will do so once I get my ass back to Sagada. That place above the clouds is really magical- mas feel ko kaysa Boracay. :)

Paul of Bataan
10-31-2008, 02:10 PM
^ At ako naman ay pupuntang Sagada.

Ano ba ang masarap dun, maliban sa special brownies? ;D


i highly recommend masferre cafe and inn, owned by the children of legendary sagada photographer eduardo masferre. while there, you can also view the framed pictures and lithographs of the proud cordillera people.

Joescoundrel
02-09-2009, 09:31 PM
To those from the localities in question, specifically Pampanga and the Ilocos: what is the difference between Sisig and Dinakdakan?

I've had many versions of both recipes and they look, feel and taste very close, as if there are no distinctions at all.

As far as my personal experiences go, there are only some subtle differences: authentic dinakdakan has brains to cream it up, not the egg used in sisig; dinakdakan as far as I have ever tasted does not use liver, unlike sisig; lastly, apparently only sisig is ever served on a sizzling plate; dinakdakan uses a good bit of ginger, which I have yet to taste as overtly in sisig...

Did I miss anything...? Maybe the locals can enlighten me on this one.

chocoks77
03-19-2009, 06:35 PM
Ano kaya ang hindi dapat palampasin kapag napagawi ka sa Spirals sa Sofitel?

Joescoundrel
03-19-2009, 07:42 PM
^ Pare ask them for uni sushi, they do not display it but will give you as much as you want if you ask for it at the sushi bar. You may also want to ask them for the unagi, same deal here, and the ama ebi sushi.

Of course you should not let the prime rib go, ask for a thick slice, about an inch thick, then ask them to season each side with salt and pepper then sear again on the griddle for about 10 seconds each, that makes it much much tastier.

Do not slather a bucket of gravy on the meat, just enough to sauce it good without it floating in a sea of gravy. Go for the pepper gravy if it is available, it is much better than their red wine reduction-style gravy.

chocoks77
03-19-2009, 09:56 PM
Salamat pare. Dapat siguro gutom na gutom ako pag punta ko dun no?

Joescoundrel
03-25-2009, 08:27 PM
^ A better idea would be to bring me along and have your Dad pay for our meal pare. ;D

chocoks77
03-26-2009, 06:38 AM
^Saturday lunch. Dun ang chibugan pre after ng binyag sa pook sambahan sa may Nunal ng Asya. Hahaha Mole of Asia. Next time na lang tayo sa 7 corners

Joescoundrel
03-26-2009, 04:24 PM
^ Basta sabihin mo kay Papa mo na siya taya because I didn't turn him in when he was drinking at the East Tower foodcourt before. ;D

bchoter
04-24-2009, 07:43 PM
Speaking of that nunal ng asya, Highland Steaks of the Tius is a must... kung may mag treat :D

LION
07-30-2009, 09:53 AM
Galilieo, an Italian restaurant located beside Reyes Gym in Mandaluyong, offers excellent pasta and pizza. The wine list is not that impressive though.

Despite the name, the restaurant's interior reminds you more of quaint swiss chalet restaurants with that distinct homey feeling.

danny
08-13-2009, 09:20 AM
^^^

Wood-fired brick oven pizza?

Dapat hindi mawawala ang Pinot Grigio at Chianti sa wine list.

Rowyn
12-30-2009, 03:10 PM
Actually, I like the food of the Filipino so I decided to learn about their style in cooking. So I am taking my tutorials about Filipino food. Fortunately, I have a little restaurant in my country.

_________________
Deep Fryer (http://www.katom.com)

salsa caballero
01-05-2010, 10:51 AM
Hi Rowyn,

What country are you from? It would be interesting to exchange notes about food.

Wang-Bu
01-05-2010, 02:33 PM
Actually, I like the food of the Filipino so I decided to learn about their style in cooking. So I am taking my tutorials about Filipino food. Fortunately, I have a little restaurant in my country.

_________________
Deep Fryer (http://www.katom.com)


Go to recipes thread here.

AnthonyServinio
11-27-2010, 12:50 AM
LINK: Brew Berry Cafe's Award-Winning Chicken Adobo (Cagayan de Oro City) (http://servssports.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/adobo-de-oro/)

LINK: Shawarma, Corn Dog and Taco Buffet At Triple-V (SM Megamall) (http://servssports.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/snack-three-times-better/)

LINK: Sizzling Baby Back Ribs of Dinersoft Cafe (Imus, Cavite) (http://servssports.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/ribs-so-soft-at-dinersoft/)

AnthonyServinio
02-14-2011, 07:47 PM
[size=3]LINK: Better value Chicken Inasal at Chomp Chomp! (http://servssports.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/better-deal-at-chomp-chomp/)

5FootCarrot
06-30-2011, 08:34 AM
Any recommendations for decent (preferably authentic) Mexican food in Metro Manila?

BigBlue
06-30-2011, 09:20 AM
Any recommendations for decent (preferably authentic) Mexican food in Metro Manila?


Ristra's just off Wilson, San Juan.

salsa caballero
06-30-2011, 10:50 AM
^ good call. They also have a branch at the Fort. IMHO, the best Mexican food in Manila.

Joescoundrel
07-01-2011, 08:58 AM
Had a chance to dine at Tong Yang Megamall with the wife and one of our Ninongs a couple nights back. It is still to my mind one of the best values in the city eating scene. For P585 net per person inclusive of drinks (which includes surprisingly fresh San Miguel draft beer), that's quite a steal. We gorged on the Japanese scallops, shrimp, assorted clams, lapulapu and blue marlin fillets, fish cakes, shrimp balls, broccoli rabe, bok choy, sliced beef, liempo, abalone mushroom and even some crab and some decent siomai.

I'm wondering though, how do you guys think this compares to Yaki Mix...?

xxiocebu
07-01-2011, 10:51 AM
Yaki Mix only tastes good if you get lucky in making your own marinade/mix.

Joescoundrel
07-01-2011, 01:04 PM
^ Ironically the non-grill items at Yaki Mix are top notch, from the sushi and sashimi to the salads and the prepared entrees like the crispy pata and the shrimp tempura. If you eat mostly the marinated beef and shrimp, and then a lot of the salmon and tuna sashimi, some of the ebi sushi, and some tempura and crispy pata, Yaki Mix would turn out to be a good enough value for P589 per person.

bchoter
07-04-2011, 03:15 AM
Authentic thai? Try dek-a along zobel roxas. The owner is part thai, whole hottie!

LION
07-04-2011, 11:26 AM
Authentic thai? Try dek-a along zobel roxas. The owner is part thai, whole hottie!


Is she there all the time?

bchoter
07-04-2011, 02:53 PM
Not sure about all the tine but she's thete everytime i go there ;). Authentic down to the accent...

danny
07-05-2011, 01:18 AM
Authentic thai? Try dek-a along zobel roxas. The owner is part thai, whole hottie!


Is she there all the time?


Pumunta na lang kasi ng Pat Pong Road ng matigil na. Magkano lang ba pamasahe sa Thailand.


Came back from Seattle and took a bite from Pearl Jam's favorite Mexican Resto. We were suppose to go to the Batali's salumeria (Yes the father of Mario Batali). Anak ng totoy naman, ang agang magsara. I would like to sample their lamb prosciutto and all their other stuff and compare it with SFs very best salumeria.

Daming Mexicano. Mapa New York o San Francisco, puro Mexicano...second language na nga nila ang Mexican.

:D

http://www.mamas.com/images/customers/pics/01.jpg



Here's a question for everyone.


If a Russian in Moscow will serve you Pancit Palabok, can you consider it authentic?

What makes a food authetic? Ingredients, cooking technique and the cook?

Sam Miguel
08-16-2012, 10:10 AM
^^^ Danny, I think for as long as the ingredients and technique are what they are supposed to be for the original recipe then the food is authentic. It is definitely my own narrow-mindedness, but if any ingredient is subsituted, or technique not followed, then definitely I cannot consider that authentic anymore. In the case of pancit palabok, it has to be real rice clear white noodles, not the so-called "egg noodles" the Caucasians love so much, or much less so spaghetti or capellini. The sauce has to be made from real shrimp stock, tinted to a red-orange hue with achuete oil (preferably, instead of achuete water), then thickened with giniling na bigas instead of corn starch or all-purpose flour, and seasoned with real Pinoy patis, not Thai or Viet fish sauce no matter how much some may protest that those taste better.

Sam Miguel
10-18-2012, 09:59 AM
Haru in Pasig proves that cooking ‘for Filipino tastes’ doesn’t mean being sloppy

Extremely well-executed tempura, ‘teppanyaki’ and ‘gyudon’–and it’s only on a dry run

By Clinton Palanca

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:15 am | Thursday, October 18th, 2012

While we were living abroad, huddling in the gray chill of late autumn as the dark nights drew in, a rose-colored apparition would manifest itself in our frost-bitten imaginations about sitting down to a smorgasbord of hearty Filipino fare, with long-lost friends sitting around the table in cheerful bonhomie.

And quite often this fantasy would be set in a place with cheerfully nostalgic lighting, filled with colored frilly trinkets and lace and old furniture, like a house decorated by a grandmother on an acid trip.

Not unlike, in fact, the interiors of Café Juanita, where most of these reunions would take place every December, or whenever we want a relaxing place to get together at any time during the year for the best kare-kare in town.

Pasig is the place one repairs to for comfort and blowing off steam, just as Makati is where one goes to try new restaurants and eat complicated food and see snazzy friends, and Maginhawa is where one goes when one is feeling introspective and hipstery and in the mood to play vinyl.

It’s a 25-minute drive from Makati on a weekday night, the same amount of time you’d spend looking for parking at The Fort. Aside from Café Juanita and Charlie’s Burgers on Capitol Drive, the best Korean restaurant in the city, Jang Ga Nae, is hidden in a small alleyway off Escriva Drive. It’s very raucous and slightly dingy and you’re unlikely to schmooze with fashionistas, but this is why one comes to Pasig: The food is good, the prices are reasonable, and you can let your guard down.

Newest addition

The newest addition to the roster of comfortable midrange restaurants is Haru, a Japanese restaurant that’s beside Café Juanita and run by the same owner, ‘Doc’ Boy Vazquez. It’s apparently this middle-age man who is responsible for the food, and perhaps even the décor, of Café Juanita.

For Haru he has gone for a minimalist aesthetic, at least by his standards, which still means that a chandelier appears out of nowhere and glass cherry blossoms wrap themselves around the lights. But it’s definitely brighter and more streamlined than its neighbor.

The menu, at first glance, seemed disappointingly abbreviated, given that Juanita’s menu has the scope of a Victorian novel, but the many empty laminated pages hinted at future additions. I hunted down the chef, the dignified Tom Yamasaki, and pried him out from behind the sushi bar.

“For now, dry run only,” he explained. “Then adding more items. Not for Japanese people, for Filipino people! I’ll put new dishes for Filipino taste. Japanese favorites. And my own inventions!’

Good selection

For the moment you may be disappointed that the menu doesn’t have the hardcore wobbly stuff that you find scribbled on the chalkboard at a joint in Little Tokyo. But the reason I felt this restaurant was worth a review was that what was there was very, very good.

And the “short” menu isn’t that short either: There’s a good selection of sashimi, of sushi rolls both traditional and “new world” (spicy salmon maki, dynamite roll, soft-shell crab), a decent list of ramen and udon, extremely well-executed tempura, teppanyaki, and rice topped with beef (gyudon) and breaded pork (katsudon).

It reminded me of Sugi before it got expensive and mediocre, or Kimpura before it became bland and oleaginous. As it turns out, the head chef is an alumnus of Sugi, as are several of the sous chefs. One of the perks of it being next door to Juanita is that one can order dessert from there, tempering the virtuousness of eating raw fish and rice with a decadent turon or buko pandan.

Different kinds

There’s enough space in the city for different kinds of Japanese restaurants to coexist: those hushed temples of authenticity where even the eggs are imported and the chef bursts into tears if you mix the wasabi into the soy sauce; fusion places where the chef is trying to do something interesting by twiddling with the basic Japanese vocabulary; and Japanese-for-Pinoy places like this one, where the rules are relaxed but the food adheres to a fairly high standard that the chef creates for himself: Cooking ‘for Filipino tastes’ doesn’t mean being sloppy.

The “short” menu is already worth driving to Pasig for. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the full menu has in store. One hopes, though, that the expanded repertoire does not lead to a diminution in quality.

In a city overflowing with Japanese restaurants, a consistently good one is still a mirage worth the apparition. Say Haru to a very promising newcomer.

Sam Miguel
10-18-2012, 10:08 AM
^^^ Haru's serving portions are tiny. I daresay only Jollibee has less rice in a single order. My wife and one of our Ninongs had dinner there some two weeks back. We had one of the Ramens, shrimp tempura, kiso (asohos) tempura, some sashimi, some rice. Those portions were all tiny. Plus the Ramen of the neighboring Ramen Cool is superior in every way. While the flavors and the techniques were all above-average in general, the tiny portions and the so-so Ramen kind of evened everything out.

james_hunt
10-18-2012, 05:57 PM
^^^ Haru's serving portions are tiny. I daresay only Jollibee has less rice in a single order. My wife and one of our Ninongs had dinner there some two weeks back. We had one of the Ramens, shrimp tempura, kiso (asohos) tempura, some sashimi, some rice. Those portions were all tiny. Plus the Ramen of the neighboring Ramen Cool is superior in every way. While the flavors and the techniques were all above-average in general, the tiny portions and the so-so Ramen kind of evened everything out.

Tiny portions you said? That's it, I'm not eating there. :)

Joescoundrel
11-06-2012, 11:09 AM
^ Pareng James, kumain din kami ni misis dun, tiny portions is an understatement. Kay Vicvic Villavicencio na lang ako. :)

Although if you are in our neighborhood in Kapitolyo maraming must-try, Milky-Sunny has a very good longsilog, Mad Mark's has that badass The Man Sandwich, and of course Three Sisters still has the best pork barbecue in Eastern Metro Manila.

If you're a breakfast guy try mo din ang breakfast platter ni Charlie, garantisado solb ang big eaters gaya natin.

Joescoundrel
11-07-2012, 04:28 PM
The steakhouse and sauce, a marriage with issues

The Washington Post Wednesday, November 7, 2:39 AM

In the universe of steakhouses, there’s a coverup going on. It has advanced way beyond horseradish cream and bearnaise.

The longtime owner of the Prime Rib in downtown Washington dismisses as passing fad the tendency of steakhouse restaurants to offer more and more sauces. It’s just another way for chefs to prove their value, says Buzz Beler. Nonetheless, he finds it troubling.

"Why would anyone continue purchasing USDA prime beef? You get the same flavor if you just make a ground-beef steak and then put the sauce on it.”

Steak sauces have been around, of course. Henderson William Brand created A.1. for King George IV in the 1820s, although for much of its history, the sauce was not steak-specific: “It’s A.1. Sauce — a favorite with men who love good things to eat,” proclaimed an ad in 1948.

Somewhere between the 1930s and the 1980s, the word “steak” got added to the name, and then there was a central purpose for the product, according to A.1. senior brand manager Sudheer Kosaraju. “We hear a lot of these sort of hoary conversations about A.1. not being used with the prime cuts of meat. But consumers, they use it on prime cuts of meat. That’s basically what our consumer research tells us.”

Tom Colicchio was a fan. “I grew up using A.1. The rare times we actually had steak at home, I liked it. I enjoyed it,” the celeb chef and “Top Chef” co-host admitted in a recent phone interview. When customers at his restaurants began requesting sauce, Colicchio decided to make his own. The house sauce at his Craft restaurants, he says, “is based on the original A.1., which had a lot of anchovy and tamarind and a sort of char flavor with a lot of background notes.”

It is delicious, and not inexpensive for a home cook to make. The shrewd businessman sells bottles of it via Williams-Sonoma.

Now it’s tough to find a traditional steakhouse that doesn’t offer some sauce. Besides A.1., Beler’s Prime Rib will pull out Heinz 57, Tabasco and Worcestershire upon request. Morton’s carries only A.1. and Heinz 57. One of Morton’s restaurant managers recently observed, with some attitude, that customers who ask for sauce are usually the ones who order their steaks medium-well or well-done. According to a manager at the Palm, “we get requests for all kinds of sauce, including ketchup, though more customers ask for A.1.,” which the steakhouse carries.

Ketchup, however, remains for many the final insult. Tensions over its use on steak can be traced back at least to Joseph Mitchell’s 1939 New Yorker essay on beefsteak dinners, “All You Can Hold for Five Bucks.”

“I don’t even know how to spell the word ‘ketchup,’ let alone want to put it on a steak,” says celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

Cleveland-based food writer Michael Ruhlman prefers his steak with shallots and butter, offering this assessment via e-mail: “I want to taste the meat, hot-seared on the outside, bloody and raw on the inside, a little sweetness from the shallot and extra succulence from the butter, but nothing that distracts from the chewy, juicy muscle of beef.”

Great steaks don’t need much, if any, embellishment, says Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema. He is not sauce-averse, however: “If a chef can whip up something that flatters a steak rather than masks its flavor, I’m game for trying it. A sauce based on mustard or butter and fresh herbs, for instance, can actually be a nice change of pace.”

And so there is beurre rouge at the Caucus Room, garlic-shallot butter sauce at the Capital Grille and brandy peppercorn at the Palm. J&G Steakhouse pours its own brand as well as soy-miso mustard and black pepper jam.

The choices expand and get edgier at Puck’s Cut steakhouse restaurants: wasabi-yuzu koshu butter and chimichurri. “I want to give people different experiences,” he says.

Michel Richard remembers the heydays of bearnaise and bordelaise. His Central downtown makes a fine hanger steak sauce with green peppercorns, mustard and concentrated veal stock. Yet the chef sees a motive in certain sauce applications.

“Ever notice how in Mexico the meat is often overdone and with a sauce?” he ponders while sitting at the Penn Quarter restaurant. “And the farther north you go, the less sauce they use, until you end up with steak tartare.”

Colicchio offers a more market-driven explanation for the sauce trend.

“Probably with the advent of chef-driven steakhouses, I think this is why it happened. I think part of it is, I do a steakhouse, Emeril does a steakhouse, Charlie Palmer does a steakhouse,” he says. “I think people are looking for just a little more than a perfectly cooked piece of meat on a plate.”

Sietsema agrees. “By itself, steak can be repetitive: Chew. Fat. Salt. Char. Repeat.”

Sam Miguel
11-28-2012, 09:50 AM
Danny and the Electric Kung Pao Pastrami Test

Why is that hungry mob of New Yorkers swarming outside that nondescript take-out place? Because inside, Danny Bowien is doing some of the most exuberant, radically flavored cooking in America right now. Brett Martin spends a long psychedelic night at Mission Chinese Food, where top chefs and world leaders split the salt-cod fried rice, the keg beer is free, and the chiles numb the tongue and blow the mind

by Brett Martin

December 2012


We were somewhere around mapo, on the edge of the catfish, when the peppercorns began to take hold. I remember saying something like, "Maybe I should slow down...," pushing a plate of Mongolian long beans into the cluttered center of the overburdened table. And suddenly the numb rush was upon me, a long, white, buzzy tunnel. At the end of it, I could still see the women across the table talking, but I could no longer quite make out the words. On the sound system, the Stones' "Shattered" sounded like it was being played through the blades of a helicopter. I reached for the cool-looking pinkish drink on the table and took a deep gulp, only to remember it was a michelada made of Bud Light spiked with smoked-clam juice, chile oil, and a rim of more crushed chiles and Sichuan peppercorns. I felt like a Looney Tunes character trying to quench the fire of a jalapeño with a nice draught of Tabasco. Peeling myself off the ceiling, I came down face-to-face with a leering bright-yellow forty-foot dragon. On the wall, a cavalry of luridly painted Red Chinese generals on horseback regarded me with bemused, pitying expressions.

It's fair to say that the only place in the universe I could have been was Mission Chinese Food, which opened on New York's Lower East Side in May, a fully realized version of the wildly popular San Francisco pop-up restaurant. It is a place that serves as a piece of performance art on the theme of the Food Moment—communal, theatrical, multiculturally adventurous—and feels in every way an Event. And it is a place, inside the kitchen and out, wholly animated by chef-owner Danny Bowien's intuitive, idiosyncratic culinary insights, not the least of which is that the dominant building blocks of Sichuan cuisine—Sichuan peppercorn, with the numbing property known as ma, and red chile, with fiery heat known as la, the yin and yang of a venerable centuries-old cuisine—are essentially drugs. They leave you coughing like a bong hit; buzzing like a line of coke; blasted skyward like a volleyball, and then spiked down into the dust, a speedball of spice.

Thus: a break. With runny nose and streaming eyes, I headed down a short flight of steps to the bathroom. I threw open the door and saw wood paneling, a painted totem pole, a pine branch, and, over the toilet, a framed yearbook photo of a smiling teenage girl. I had just enough time to think, "Is that Laura Palm—" when the door clicked shut behind me and the outside noise fell away, replaced with the unmistakable strains of the theme song to Twin Peaks. I had apparently stumbled through a wormhole and into a shrine to David Lynch's 1990 TV show. It was quiet and cool in there, and I thought I might like to stay a while, but already I could hear distant knocking. Back at the table, my companions were blissfully chatting on, apparently not having noticed I was gone. No point mentioning Laura, I thought. The poor bastards will see her soon enough.


···

Welcome to the Restaurant as Acid Test, a one-way ticket to Toontown. Bowien himself is not un-Bugs-Bunny-like: slight of frame, graceful in motion, slyly mischievous, floppy on top. His long hair, dyed the color of orange sherbet, and clear-framed glasses are on their way to becoming as iconic on the New York dining scene as Mario Batali's clogs or Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Prada pants. When the 30-year-old chef speaks, it's in quick, low-volume bursts—shy but passionate, halfway onto the next thing. He seems perpetually amused by the place he's found himself, and, in turn, it's easy to be amused by his quirky, alien presence. When he appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, demonstrating how to make hand-pulled noodles, it was like watching representatives of two very distant planets.

At the restaurant one Tuesday morning, he was wearing a black cable-knit cotton sweater, the skinniest of black jeans, and pointy patent leather shoes without socks. A recent Uniqlo ad depicting him in a puffy yellow jacket notwithstanding, Bowien tends to the monochromatic: all white in summer, all black the rest of the time. "I saw him wear a color once," chef de cuisine Zach Swemle says, sounding unsure of whether he had, in fact, imagined the whole thing. "I think it was a green scarf."

It being an hour between 10 a.m. and midnight and a day ending in y, Bowien has to pick his way through people patiently waiting on the sidewalk for their chance to descend the steps of the onetime Thai restaurant, make their way past a curtain and a keg of free beer for those still stuck outside, down a cluttered corridor, past the order windows that look onto the narrow kitchen, and into the dining room, where the dragon awaits. From the day that Mission Chinese opened, as pre-hyped a restaurant as New York has ever seen, the crowd around a beleaguered ash tree outside its sunken entrance has been an all-but-permanent fixture.

The night before had been as packed as ever, including, in no particular order: tourists, hipsters, hipsters with their tourist parents, couples on dates, people photographing every plate that emerged from the kitchen, a table of boisterous Wall Streeters from Bowien's home state of Oklahoma, the San Francisco-based folk-rock band Vetiver, and chef Magnus Nilsson, of the acclaimed Swedish restaurant Fäviken. At one point a large, serious-faced man in a suit and an earpiece swept through, giving the dining room a security inspection. Soon after entered David Chang, of Momofuku fame, dining with—yes, of course—Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank. Whether they discussed pork buns, fiscal policy, or the Hüsker Dü pounding over the speakers, it was hard to say.

Now the kitchen is back at it, working under conditions that would make a claustrophobe squirm. In a corridor perhaps five feet across, two blazing-hot woks put forth sizzling portions of intensely smoky thrice-cooked Benton's bacon; spiced chicken hearts in bright red Sichuan-peppercorn oil; innocent-looking fried rice, slicked with the funky hit of salt cod. Gnarled, sticky knobs of pigs' tails, braised in root beer and then battered like McNuggets, bubble happily in a deep fryer. Bowien hurries through, checking on how things are. He stops for a gentle, encouraging word to a new chef working the expediter's position who is confused about the final touches on a particular dish. He does the same with a Hispanic dishwasher charged with prepping bright green pea leaves, taking the knife and demonstrating the proper cut.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2012, 09:55 AM
( ^ Continued)

Another chef is tucked into a tight corner, plating the pickled and cold dishes—pig's-ear terrine, creamy--centered tea-smoked eggs, frighteningly addictive peanuts soaked in vinegar and dusted with garlic and anise—that are as vital to a Mission Chinese meal as the menu's more pyrotechnic punches. Still, gut-wrenching spiciness is the restaurant's most obvious calling card: The place routinely provokes gastrointestinal conversations of a candidness not usually heard outside of South Asian backpacker hostels. That the crowd is nevertheless so diverse speaks to another of Bowien's crucial insights: Americans love Chinese food. Not only the bounty of exciting ethnic Chinese cuisines we've been blessed with in recent years, but Chinese Food, capital C, capital F—the gloopy, greasy stuff, ordered off a wall of backlit photos or a Torah-length takeout menu, delivered in a white waxed--cardboard box with a wire handle. That stuff is as important to what is cooked at Mission Chinese as any other, more refined, source of inspiration. Bowien knows Americans love Chinese Food, in part because he loves Chinese Food. And if he has a particular genius, it's his natural, even naive conviction that what he loves, you will love, too. Developing the menu for the restaurant was in part a months-long excuse to order $100 worth of Chinese delivery a night. "My wife was finally like, 'Enough. No more research,' " he says.


···

Hot-and- sour pork dumplings. Bowien comes by his unusual approach to things honestly. He grew up in Oklahoma City, the adopted Korean child of white, churchgoing parents. (Though he could now find out who his birth parents were, he says he hasn't tried.) Bowien was popular, played the drums in various alternative bands, but was also aware of being different. "I was the one little Korean kid with long hair, growing up," he says. "Kids can be brutal." He got his first kitchen job at age 13, as a dishwasher in a Vietnamese restaurant, but also worked as a technician in an ophthalmologist's office. For a while, the two careers seemed equally plausible. Then, at 18, he went to visit friends who had relocated to San Francisco. "They were like, 'Hey, you should come out here. There's a lot of good food out here.' Because they knew I liked cooking," he says. Immediately upon landing, he went and tried Korean food for the first time. "I ate as much as I could eat all over San Francisco for five days, then I came back and told my dad I was moving."

After a spell in culinary school, he headed to New York. It did not go well. Living on a bare mattress in Williamsburg, subsisting on potatoes and eggs, he would bike every day to a fancy West Village Japanese-French restaurant and straight into the teeth of fine dining's most hierarchical, militaristic traditions. He was hazed mercilessly. "They were, like, throwing shit at me, yelling at me, telling me, 'Go hang yourself from the bridge on the fucking way home.' " Why did he think they targeted him? "Because I wasn't good, I guess. I wanted to be good, and I wasn't," he says. "But I also looked at those guys and thought, 'None of you guys have girlfriends! You're all miserable!' "

Bowien eventually landed in the kitchen of a Ligurian restaurant in San Francisco, under the tutelage of chef Paolo Laboa. And that is how, in April 2008, he wound up beneath the vaulted ceiling of the pink-marbled Salone del Maggior Consiglio at the Palazzo Ducale, in Genoa, Italy, onetime home of the doges. Chefs from across Italy and around the world had gathered there to compete in the final rounds of the Pesto World Championship. They were lined up behind tables stretching the length of the Salone, fifty to a side. Somewhere among them was Bowien, jet-lagged, confused, the only Asian face in the place, with a borrowed mortar and pestle, wondering exactly what the hell he was supposed to do.

Whether by design or because someone had dropped out, Laboa hadn't informed Bowien until the last -minute that he'd be competing, too. Now Danny stood there, -staring at the prescribed ingredients—basil, olive oil, sea salt, garlic, Pecorino, and pine nuts. He had made pesto in the restaurant, but only in five-gallon batches using a food processor, never with a mortar and pestle. All around him, chefs were sweating centuries of traditional training on how to do pesto the correct way. Bowien's mind instead went to what he dislikes about most pestos—how they separate into broken pools of oil surrounding herbal sludge, how the heat generated by a smashing pestle or whirring blade gives the basil a blasted, acrid taste. What, he thought, if I treat this more like a Spanish aioli—or, better yet, a vinaigrette? So he put the pine nuts, salt, and garlic in the mortar and started gently adding the oil and basil, using the pestle more like a whisk than a club. The result was shimmering, bright green, and fresh-tasting. Just before the judging, he tightened up the emulsion by folding in the cheese.

He won the damned thing.

"I just did it differently," he says. "If I had known I was going to do it, I probably would have been bugging my chef the whole time, 'Tell me how to do this right.' Instead there was nobody standing there telling me what to do." To Bowien, it was both what made it the hardest thing he'd ever done and the thing that made it possible, the thing that set him free.


···

In the few months he's been back in New York, Bowien has embraced the city's classic culinary institutions, particularly those of the Lower East Side, with the nostalgic fervor of an old Jewish man. He has marched his staff up Orchard Street to Katz's Deli for pastrami and down Houston for smoked fish at Russ & Daughters. Mission Chinese's most famous and, truth be told, gimmicky dish, sweet and spicy kung pao pastrami, functions as a demented hat tip to the neighborhood—though it did nothing to impress the Orthodox owner of the ancient corsets shop across the street from the restaurant, who was displeased to learn that nothing was kosher.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 08:59 AM
Pasta ‘chorizo,’ halibut in olive oil, brick-roasted spring chicken–classic dishes from a 24-year-old Chateau

A favorite of the late Onib Olmedo, the beef potence is served the classic way–flambéd and served with sauces

By Marge C. Enriquez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:12 pm | Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Aside from the great food and new menu, part of Chateau 1771’s charm is its history, the sense of place and the picturesque views of the gardens in Greenbelt 5.

On its 24th year, Ramon Ricardo Gutierrez, CEO of Chateau Group of Restaurants, recounts how it all began in the family-owned Malate Pensionne, where he set up a restaurant along his mother’s garden.

Rosie’s Garden Café immediately attracted backpackers and artists such as Onib Olmedo, Allan Cosio, Justin Nuyda, Manny Ariola, Gilda Cordero Fernando and BenCab.

Olmedo was a regular fixture as he escorted his daughter to nearby St. Scholastica’s. He sketched portraits of Gutierrez’s guests and played backgammon, with free meals at stake. The artist once owed Gutierrez 64 meals, so that he ended up giving him a painting.

Gutierrez now owns 34 expressionist works by the late artist.

“I didn’t like the weird faces. I asked him to make them more pleasant,” he recalls.

Olmedo created a series on Chateau’s waiters, scenes in France, instruments, dancers and people eating in cafés. As a tribute to the restaurant, he also captured the original Chateau 1771 in Malate. In another mural, Cosio and Olmeda painted the zeitgeist of Malate in the ’80s. Their works dominate the walls of the Greenbelt restaurant these days.

Lemony chicken

When Chateau 1771 moved to Ortigas, Olmedo continued to patronize the restaurant. Olmedo enjoyed pastas and the lemony chicken of Vicky-Rose Pacheco, the executive chef and chief operating officer of Chateau 1771 restaurants. In 1996, he took his dinner at the restaurant and looked longingly at his paintings. As he boarded the car, he shook hands with Gutierrez and told him to take care of his artworks.

At 6 a.m. the next day, Gutierrez was awakened by a call from Cosio. Olmedo had died of a stroke.

Gutierrez has other memories of the restaurant which will be compiled in a book when Chateau 1771 turns 25 next year. He cites the unity and resilience of the staff when Super Typhoon “Rosing” devastated Manila in 1995. At the restaurant, the roof was blown off and water cascaded from the stairs.

Although Gutierrez was out of the country, Pacheco manned the place. The maintenance crew bought plywood and fixed the roof. The waiters came to work to clean the place. By evening, it was business as usual.

“That shows the pagmamalasakit (concern) and the discipline of the staff,” says Gutierrez.

New menu

The star of Chateau 1771 is its new menu. Pacheco says the restaurant is using more organic products such as red and brown rice, whole wheat pasta and free-range chicken.

No longer a hearty meat-eater, she has prepared the likes of Valle Verde soup, a purée of fresh greens. For people with various tastes and dietary preferences, she recommends a tarte platter consisting of roasted vegetable terrine, tomato confit with thyme, goat cheese and cured gravlax.

“I removed the sea bass from the menu to be different from the rest. Even if it tastes good, it’s endangered,” she says.

In its place, she offers halibut, which is not scaly like the sea bass. The cooking approach is simple: poached in olive oil, the delicate flavor bolstered with tomato-orange marmalade and lent some drama with bay leaf, shallows and lemon zest for freshness.

Pacheco also transforms the plain trout into a trophy dish without any pretension. The trout is baked in its juices to highlight its clean taste.

“It’s more subtle and pinkish without the fishy smell,” she says. The trout is laden on a bed of lemon slices, dredged with olive oil, sprinkled with pecans for a little earthiness and seasoned with the penetrating flavor of thyme.

Versatile chicken

The vanilla brick spring chicken is roasted under bricks to make the skin crisp and fresh. The probiotic chicken (there are no antibiotics to keep disease at bay) has the same rundown of butter and garlic with a hint of vanilla bean.

“I love chicken because it’s versatile. It can be grilled, roasted, pan-fried, stuffed. The tips can be made into salpicao and the stuffing becomes morcon,” she says. “For the spring chicken, I grilled it under a brick to flatten it and make it crisp.”

She infuses Aklan oysters with a French profile of butter, tarty lemon and shallots, with bacon for saltiness to create subtly contrasting flavors.

The lamb cutlet, in its juicy and pink tenderness, is immersed in mint-basil-walnut pesto and infused with comforting roasted capsicum sauce. In keeping with tradition, it is served with marble potato salad and grilled peppers.

Since pork shoulder is not strong-tasting, it is braised gloriously in milk to pump up its natural flavors and enhanced with the sweetness of sage.

The diner is rewarded with a killer Valhorna chocolate ganache tart, swathed in light caramel sauce that plays against the bittersweetness of the French chocolate.

Comfort food

Although Pacheco wants to create an all-new repertoire to be different from the rest, she has been urged to keep the familiar but highly salable ones.

Since mushroom soup is a comfort food, Pacheco uses boletus mushroom, which is more potent than the portebello.

The pasta chorizo, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old Chateau 1771 classic. The pork sausage is customized for the restaurant, with spices imported from the Spain. Normally eaten as an appetizer, the chorizo is made into a pasta sauce which is tossed into whole wheat spaghetti.

A favorite of the late Olmedo, the beef potence is served the classic way—flambéd and served with sauces.

The lemony chicken caters to the Filipino penchant for sweet and sour flavors, and is served with garlicky fried brown rice.

Although Pacheco keeps the local market in mind, she still maintains classic traditions. Once, a French couple ordered lamb shanks which were served in cocottes (a shallow metal pot with handles). It struck a familiar chord with the foreigners, reminding them of home cooking.

Another hit among foreign diners is the duck. Instead of the usual confit, Pacheco cooks it for five hours and pampers it with ginger, white beans and tomato.

“The cooking here is all about freshness. We build flavors from scratch. I either make something original or use classic dishes in their real names. Like, osso buco is really veal shank.”

Chateau 1771 is at GB5: 7299760 to 61 and 0917-8626467.

Sam Miguel
12-13-2012, 09:00 AM
Peninsula Manila has new ice cream menu

It was two years in the making and includes triple ‘threat’ of chocolate truffle, vanilla almond and coffee almond called–Can’t Say No
By Tracey Paska

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:07 pm | Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Looking for some sweet chills in Manila’s balmy clime? Then take a seat at The Peninsula Manila Lobby and revel in ice cream desserts Frozen by the Sun.

Teaming with premier ice cream brand Selecta, the hotel recently debuted a revitalized roster of frosty treats featuring old favorites and new concoctions that are sure to be instant classics.

The updated menu was two years in the making, revealed Peninsula executive pastry chef Sebastien Cocquery-Beraud, who worked closely with executive chef Patrick Boucher and Selecta to choose just the right combination of flavors for each specialty sundae.

“It was a lot of tasting to match the ice creams [together and with garnishes], like the way a winemaker matches wine with food,” he explained.

The result is a delicious medley of the Lobby’s most popular standards and fresh original offerings like sweet-tart Berry Madness with blueberry marmalade and black currant coulis adding zest to creamy vanilla and strawberry ice cream.

For the health-conscious in search of a light yet still indulgent treat, there’s Summer Ice, composed of raspberry and mango sorbets, fruit salad ice cream, chunks of fresh fruit and finished with a delicately crisp caramel tuile.

But the breakout star may be the imperative Can’t Say No and its triple “threat” of chocolate truffle, vanilla almond and coffee almond ice creams embellished with thick chocolate curls. This tempting treat is already a favorite among The Peninsula Manila staff, including Chef Sebastien, who stated confidently, “I expect it to become one of our top sellers.”

If so, it will join a stellar selection of sundaes that have helped make The Lobby the de rigueur dessert destination in Manila for over 36 years.

Reinterpreting its much-loved menu meant not only introducing new creations but also preserving longtime favorites.

“Of course, we couldn’t change the bestsellers—we’d have a revolution by our clients,” teased assistant food and beverage manager Adam Lifshitz, referring to such tried and true frozen delights as the colorful Halo-Halo Harana.

This towering homage to the Filipino masterpiece of shaved ice is chockfull of sweet fillings and topped with creamy leche flan and Selecta Ube Royale ice cream, earning it the title “Best Legal High” from Time Magazine.

Also entrenched in guests’ affections are Pen Pals, a 19-scoop behemoth of ice cream and sorbet adorned with waffle sticks, maraschino cherries and other fresh fruits, presenting an epic eating challenge perfect for a group of friends; and The Nutty Pageboy, with its kid-appealing trio of chocolate, vanilla and double dutch ice cream girded with fluffy marshmallows and chocolate batons.

From banana splits to milkshakes, the new menu includes many more classic ice cream confections.

Inspired by the inner child in everyone, brought to delightful fruition by The Peninsula Manila and Selecta, and served in the most elegant of settings, Frozen by the Sun is certain to create warm memories for years to come.

Joescoundrel
12-14-2012, 02:44 PM
The looming hunger crisis

The Obamas and their guests will sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner 2012 that stars White House Thyme-Roasted Turkey.

November 22, 2012

The cost of a typical turkey-with-all-the-trimmings meal rose by about three cents this year. At less than $5 per serving, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner remains a bargain. It will be business as usual at most holiday tables: Pass the gravy and groan after having seconds.

Americans count on an abundant supply of affordable food. This year, as usual, it's there.

And next year? It's not so certain that farmers will be able to feed the planet's 7 billion inhabitants.

The summer drought across the U.S. heartland left corn and soybean supplies severely depleted. Russia and the Ukraine suffered from a dry summer too, cutting into wheat stockpiles. With production down and consumption still robust despite higher prices, global reserves of staple crops stand at critically low levels.

Alarms have sounded: The World Bank has issued a global hunger warning. The United Nations has said that another season of severe weather could trigger a widespread hunger crisis. There is no margin for unexpected events next year. And let's face it, practically every year brings unexpected events in agriculture.

For most people in wealthy countries, the looming food shortage is a remote concern. In poorer countries, though, shortages exact an insidious price. Families eat less nutritious food as a result of strained budgets. They might need to take children out of school or forgo medical care to ensure there is enough to eat. Mostly, they do without. As a result, high food prices threaten the health and well-being of millions of people. In the event of additional crop failures, unrest could follow, as it did during the Arab Spring of 2010-11 — which was triggered in part by bread riots.

What to do? For starters, America needs a sensible agricultural policy that reflects the high risk of a hunger crisis.

That begins with easing or eliminating the Renewable Fuel Standard, the requirement that a certain amount of biofuel go in the gasoline supply. As is, the Environmental Protection Agency is forcing blenders to dilute their fuel with 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2012, an amount set to rise to 15 billion gallons by 2015. Because ethanol is brewed from corn, the renewable fuel requirement diverts 40 percent of America's largest cash crop from food to fuel.

The EPA recently rejected petitions from at least 10 drought-stricken states for relief from the ethanol mandate. The livestock producers in these states continue to suffer severe hardship. Yet the EPA found no "severe economic harm" sufficient to justify waiving its arbitrary requirement. That decision defies common sense, yet it is consistent with the government's politically motivated program to assist favored constituents in the ethanol business.

This nation also should use its influence to promote free trade of agricultural products, so that no country closes its borders in a misguided effort to retain homegrown food at the cost of separating from the world marketplace.

As Congress considers the Farm Bill, its periodic renewal of agriculture-subsidy and food-stamp programs, it should slash unnecessary benefits for wealthy producers. Lawmakers especially need to back off a proposed expansion of federal crop insurance that would cost a fortune and deliver little benefit. At the same time, funding for agricultural research should be maintained or increased, so that America can continue pioneering new ways to feed the world — a critical goal as the population rises to an estimated 9 billion in 2050.

And, of course individuals can step up to make sure someone else gets fed. Nearly 2 million Illinois residents can't count on their next meal. Visits to food pantries served by the Greater Chicago Food Depository have shot up 85 percent in five years, including 1.4 million visits from July through September. As food prices have risen, especially for meat and dairy products sensitive to the cost of animal feed, food banks have felt more financial pressure.

Americans have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Decisions made now will go a long way to determining if the world has a bounty next year and in years to come.

Joescoundrel
12-19-2012, 09:29 AM
Singapore Airlines lets media in on its food and beverage innovations

By Maurice Arcache

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:07 am | Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Moi accepted without batting an eyelash the invitation of Singapore Airlines’ marketing manager Rita Dy to join 36 other media people in checking out the food and beverage innovations of Singapore Airlines.

We were all booked at the newly renovated Pan Pacific Hotel on Claymore Road, in the middle of Orchard Road, which has, would you believe, a mineral-water swimming pool.

First we had a customized series of tours of airline operations guided by Annabel Tan and Jill Ng. Then we had our tour of the food and beverage operations guided by Maggie Lim.

Different kitchens whipping different cuisines cater to 50,000 passengers a day. The cuisines cater to the specific countries where Singapore Airlines have destinations, dahlings.

We appreciated the process of ensuring quality standards to fulfill rules of hygiene and safety.

We found out the altitude affects one’s taste buds. So food processing and meals must take into consideration the altitude.

At the Training Kitchen, airline food and beverage manager Hermann Freidanck said the common notion that airline food is bad is a fallacy. “Airline food is not bad! It’s the airline that’s bad,” he said.

We moved on to the economy-class meals in the Western Kitchen. Here, he explained, “The food one gets is the exact portion of the tray.”

“We put great importance in quality standard, making sure everything is fresh,” Freidanck said. “We at SIA are proud to say that we do not serve cold food for our economy-class passengers, including the 6,000 omelettes we serve on our flights every day.”

We watched chefs going through the menus in different sections, before they were cooked by the kitchen staff and presented for approval by the master chef.

We made a stop at the Masize Blower tunnel that disinfects one’s body. All the dry items placed onboard an SIA flight must go through this area. This again is a measure to ensure hygiene.

What we witnessed was an intricate and painstaking process that over 1,500 employees in the Singapore Airport Terminal Services building undertake to ensure the best meals during flights, dahlings.

Later, we attended the book launching of Singapore Airlines’ chef Sam Leong’s “The Book the Cook,” after which we had a delectable lunch.

Leong was named the Chef of the Year at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards. He’s the chef and co-owner of Forest at Singapore Resorts World Sentosa. He’s known for his grasp of classic Singaporean Chinese cooking, making use of Asian and Western ingredients, and for his eye-popping presentation.

“It’s the freshness, the look and taste of what you are serving that are the key notes of what pleasurable dining is about,” Leong told us.

For appetizers, we had Seared Japanese Tuna with Sesame Sauce; Thai King Prawn with Green Mango Salad; and Scallops with Conpoy Chinese-style.

For soup, served was Cream of Potimarron and Mushroom Soup.

The main course we ate: Stuffed Morel with Chicken Mousse, Sautéed Wild Mushroom with Crushed Pink Peppercorn and Chives.

For dessert, we had White Chocolate Mousse layered with Almond Sponge, Chocolate Sacher Cake, Swiss Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Coulis.

Later we visited a cabin mockup where airline hostesses and stewards were trained.

We found out that the outfits of the airline stewardesses and stewards were designed by Givenchy.

At the makeup room, we learned that experts determine which color would go with a trainee’s skin tone. They also gave instructions on the proper hairstyles.

“When the training is over, and they become regulars, men and women are kept at the right weight; and they are [enjoined] to be well-groomed at all times,” said the instructress. “We emphasize the use of moisturizers before they go onboard, and they are urged to drink less water while airborne, to prevent their body from bloating.”

Trainees also undergo a wine workshop.

Later, at SIA’s commercial supplies division, we attended “Walking with the Masters,” SIA’s in-flight wine-selection event featuring three of the airline’s wine consultants.

Steven Spurrier is the author of the best-selling “Guide to French Wines” and winner of the Prix de L’Academie Internationale de Vin.

Jeannie Cho Lee is a wine critic and said to be the first Asian to be awarded the Master of Wine title. She won the Vinitaly Award in 2009 and holds a Certificat de Cuisine from Cordon Bleu and her love for food and wine inspired her to found AsianPalate.com, a site that celebrates the confluence of Asian foods and wines.

Michael Hill-Smith is the first Australian to pass the rigorous “Master of Wine” examination; he was awarded the Madame Bollinger Tasting Medal for his “outstanding wine-tasting skills.”

These three world-class wine-tasting and pairing masters make up Singapore Airlines’ prestigious panel of wine consultants; they are tasked with the selection of all wines served on SIA flights.

(To be continued)

Sam Miguel
01-03-2013, 02:48 PM
Fine-dining quality comfort food at affordable prices

By Carmencita S. Sioson

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:04 am | Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Stressful days usually call for some heavy chowtime or what my friends and I like to call consuelo de bobo. Instead of settling for the usual greasy fast food after a back-aching, mind-numbing day, a satisfying meal always sounds good; one that doesn’t entail the use of our credit cards sounds even better.

KXP (Kulinarya Experience) redefines fast casual dining in Metro Manila with its unpretentious menu selection of quality dishes at affordable prices.

“We just want to serve fine-dining quality comfort food that’s reasonably priced,” says president and CEO Carlo Mesina, one of the brains behind KXP, pioneer restaurant Kulinarya Kitchen and mother company Kulinarya Global.

The other progenitor and creative mind behind the brand is chef Patricia Mesina.

KXP, under Kulinarya Global which has been around for 13 years, first opened its doors in 2008 at the Midtown Wing of Robinsons Place Manila. Today, families, young professionals, and even students flock to the restaurant, which features an open kitchen for customers to see their food being prepared and cooked fresh.

“You deserve to have good food so the quality of food at KXP is the same as Kulinarya Kitchen but it’s more affordable since we don’t include service charge and the average price range is P200,” notes Patricia, who trained under the likes of chefs Gene Gonzalez and Jill Sandique.

She adds, “The dishes I’ve created are those I grew up with. Basically, they’re anchored on what you already know with some changes that I’ve made to make them innovative.”

KXP’s scrumptious seafood salad maki (of which I ordered seconds) is proof of Patricia’s knack for reinventing popular dishes.

A mix of bold but complementary flavors from Japanese and Chinese cuisines, the crabstick and seafood salad is wrapped in a crunchy breaded and deep-fried nori, creating a delightful play on textures. Topped with ebiko and mango coulis and drizzled with wasabi vinaigrette and soy-balsamic reduction, the dish gives you a familiar yet refreshing taste of the usual maki.

“We try to be innovative as much as we can and yet retain that quality comfort food people have come to love,” enthuses Patricia.

Another signature dish is KXP’s tender US Angus roast beef that takes five hours of slow cooking, and is coated with Kulinarya’s signature red wine sauce made from scratch.

“We use the basic French technique of making the sauce, which is to reduce the wine and basic beef stock until it’s at a minimum to make it potent and then mix it with herbs,” explains Patricia. “But I add two to three ingredients that make it different.”

KXP’s take on Beef Salpicao is the usual beef cubes sautéed in garlic but is again, doused with their “special sauce”.

The best part is that their succulent dishes are served within 10 minutes.

“It’s this quality but we wanted to bring it to those who can only afford a certain price range and are always on the go,” notes Carlo.

For those who are perpetually in a hurry but want to unwind, KXP also offers imported beer and canned wine.

“We also have more items to choose from so diners don’t get tired of having the same dish over and over again,” he adds.

Adhering to one of their principles of catering to everyone without scrimping on quality, KXP also offers rice meals in substantial portions.

One of their bestsellers includes a creamy Shrimp Thermidor baked rice dish that simply melts in your mouth.

“Filipinos look for something new but always go back to something they’re familiar with,” says Patricia.

For your quick fix of comfort food, staples like sliders (with sauces you can mix and match), chicken, and pizzas are also served at KXP.

Chicken lollipops are coated in the restaurant’s special batter and deep-fried until they’re crispy, and then tossed in an Asian buffalo-style sauce.

To end a good meal, dessert is always at the top of our list. KXP offers a wide range of sweet treats: from chocolate or caramel sundaes to specialty cakes and buko-pandan panna cotta, a definite must-try (take it from one who never liked coconut but devoured three servings).

“The restaurant scene is really exciting now. It only challenges us to come up with something better and different,” notes Carlo.

He adds, “We want to serve something to lift your spirits, especially after a hard day’s work.”

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 08:42 AM
From beloved ice cream parlor to gleaming high-end mall

Robinsons Magnolia recreates sweet memories by paying tribute to a favorite family haunt

By Joy Rojas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

12:09 am | Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

It was the place to be in the ’70s and ’80s, a Quezon City landmark families flocked to, regardless of where they lived, for irresistible scoops of the classic cobblers, parfaits and banana split.

Decades later, the spot where the Magnolia plant and Ice Cream House once stood is creating sweet memories for families again, this time as Robinsons Magnolia, a massive multi-story shopping arena located within what developers envision as a mixed-used property.

Acquired by Robinsons Land Corporation in 2006, the 108,000-sq m property situated in the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Doña Hemady Avenue is an exciting work in progress. Plans show provisions for the Magnolia Residences, a two-hectare community of four condominium towers with one- to three-bedroom units scheduled for completion in the middle of 2014.

For now, the attraction is the mall, a bright, wide-aisled four-level building that is home to both familiar and fresh names in local and international food, apparel, and footwear brands, as well as select specialty shops and services.

Affluent clientele

Given its proximity to residents in the New Manila area as well as those from the gated communities of Greenhills, where shopping centers are already aplenty, Robinsons Magnolia boasts an affluent clientele, a factor that’s making this mall thrive.

“It might not have the same foot traffic as the other Robinsons malls,” acknowledges Maria Carina C. Ventura, group property manager, “but the buying power is so much higher.”

Upscale brands and tenants aptly complement this crowd. US apparel and accessories brand Perry Ellis, says lease manager Jenalyn N Apostol, will open its first branch here, as will Lombardi’s, a restaurant from the Cravings group. And Stores Specialists, Inc.’s premium fashion and lifestyle brands figure prominently in one area of the mall.

“When we offered the spaces for lease in December 2011, all spots were filled by February 2012,” says Apostol.

While smaller next to Robinsons Galeria, Robinsons Place Manila and Robinsons Metro East, the 53,000-sqm Robinsons Magnolia, Ventura points out, is an improvement on its sister shopping centers. Note the vibrant tenant mix, better zoning of shops and ultra-modern design.

Even the food court, often dismissed as a meeting place for the masses, boasts an elevated ambiance: instead of the cafeteria style of service, casual-dining tenants are broken down into circular stations. Seats and tables, meanwhile, resemble those found in cozy restaurants.

“We may not be as big as the others, but we’re proud to say this is a complete mall,” says Ventura with a smile.

Big hit

Ironically, the big hit among Robinsons Magnolia’s guests is found outdoors. Steps away from the mall’s entrance, the al fresco area—all three levels of it—offers an inviting escape, with its refreshing gardens, relaxed setup and colorful restaurant choices.

An instant favorite: a revival of the Magnolia Ice Cream House. It’s now operated by Pierre Ching, the young entrepreneur behind Hainanese Delights and Skin Perfect Facial Center, and a loyal patron of the popular joint back in the day.

Excited when Magnolia maker San Miguel Corp. chose him to take charge of running the iconic ice cream parlor, Ching responded with a menu that includes generous and delicious servings of salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, and hot rice meals.

Understandably, it’s the ice cream that people come for, says Ching, and while he has developed new offerings, like the rich Stone Cold selection, customers still prefer the parfaits, Peach Melba, Dare Devil and Merry-Go-Round.

The bestseller, of course, is a favorite of Ching’s and countless other ice-cream lovers from all generations. “The Banana Split,” says Ching with a smile. “Everybody still craves for it.”

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 09:38 AM
A peek into the world’s weirdest restaurants

CULTURE VULTURE

By Therese Jamora-Garceau

(The Philippine Star) | Updated January 3, 2013 - 12:00am

Bob Blumer has been served beer by a monkey waiter, dined in a nudist pop-up restaurant, and sampled the food at an eatery that serves dogs — no, nothing so cruel as dog meat but a fine-dining establishment that caters exclusively to canines (masters are welcome but not provided for on the menu).

It’s all in a day’s work for Blumer, who braves the weird, the wacky, and sometimes wonderful as host of the new TLC series World’s Weirdest Restaurants, which will premiere in the Philippines on Monday night.

“We shot a total of 52 restaurants — a real spectrum,” Blumer said in a phone interview. “Some had really amazing food. Sometimes the environment just overwhelmed everything else and the food was secondary. And sometimes they were unbelievably weird and sometimes they were more wondrous than weird.”

Blumer will taste up to six dishes from every restaurant, including those serving pets (“[The food] was consumable for humans, just fairly bland,” he says. “I mean, it wasn’t that well spiced because I guess dogs aren’t into hot spices like I am”), even going so far as trying sautéed killer-bee larvae in Japan, but there is a limit to how much he will eat. After all, he gained 10 lbs. after shooting one season.

If there’s a surreal quality to Blumer’s exploits, maybe that’s because Blumer was also host of the Food Network’s Surreal Gourmet and Glutton for Punishment, breaking seven Guinness World Records for the latter show, like making the world’s biggest bowl of salsa.

An artist who’s illustrated his own cookbooks, Blumer can predict how foods and flavors will mix the way an artist can visualize what pigments result when mixing paints. A skilled cook, he also has no problem admitting that he never went to culinary school or had any formal training.

“Over the last 22 years, I’ve spent a lot of time in kitchens,” he says. “I’ll watch and learn a lot of techniques. I’ve also done the same thing in the wine world and taught myself a lot about wine. And so it’s like I’ve gone to my own self-styled culinary school. At this point of the game, I have all the confidence in the world. I mean, I often do throw-downs with chefs who’ve gone to culinary school and worked in kitchens for a long time, and I very often win.”

Below, Blumer talks about his favorite strange restaurants, his hatred for mushrooms and how the Philippines needs to be weirder if we want to merit a segment on World’s Weirdest Restaurants.

THE PHILIPPINE STAR: What qualifies a restaurant as weird?

BOB BLUMER: Mostly it’s the environment. Occasionally the food, but it’s really the theme of the restaurant or just the wackiness of the proprietor and what they do. For example, we did one restaurant that served dogs, as in the dogs were the customers. There was this crazy woman who made food for dogs and they all sat at tables and ate it. And it was really funny because she went to all this trouble to make this fancy food for dogs. And then she plated it like you’d plate food in a fancy restaurant, (under a) cloche, bring the plate to the table and lift the dome. And the first time I thought, Oh, well, the dog is going to look at the plate and think about what a beautiful presentation this is, and then start to nibble on something. But as soon as she would lift the lid, the dog would just hoover down everything in, like, five seconds. It was pretty funny.

What are your favorite weird restaurants?

We went to an izakaya just outside of Tokyo where macaque monkeys serve you your beer. I mean, how can you go wrong with beer and monkeys? Right there, they kind of had me. And as it happened, the food in that little izakaya was stunningly delicious. It was sort of a one- or two-person operation — the husband and wife — and the fish was all super-fresh. I learned how to make karaage, which is a deep-fried chicken balls, and it was just … it was very, very memorable.

And then there was a pop-up restaurant in New York City where all of the diners were naked. So that’s a hard one to forget.

As for bad food, there was actually one restaurant that didn’t make the cut because the food was so bad. It was a restaurant also in Tokyo where everything was made with mayonnaise, including the cocktails. And it wasn’t just a little dab of mayonnaise. It was, like, a big fat squirt of mayonnaise. And as it happened, the night that we went there was a big, big storm that was approaching and not a single person came to the restaurant. So between the bad food and not a single customer, that one just ended up on the cutting room floor.

How do you find these restaurants all over the world?

Well, some of them we found back in our days of traveling, while we were shooting Glutton for Punishment. Obviously there’s a lot of stuff out there on the Web. In fact, if you Google “weird restaurants” and go to any one of the number of sights that have listed them, between season one and season two, we’ve pretty well been to every single one of them.

Have you found any in the Philippines?

We haven’t been to the Philippines yet. What happens is when we travel to places that are far away, we need to find not one or two restaurants but at least four or six, so that we can justify going all the way there. Which isn’t to say that we might not find some, like if I’m not mistaken, there is one restaurant in the Philippines that has servers who are all little people.

Yes, it’s called Hobbit House.

So that’s under our radar, but we need to find a few more before we can commit to coming.

Well, if you had an enemy, which restaurant would you take him to?

That’s a good question. There is a torture restaurant in Lviv, in the Ukraine, where they have all these old torture devices. It’s a bit freaky and spooky, so I would definitely take him there.

And also, we did a place called Dick’s Last Resort in the States, and their whole shtick is that they abuse the customer. So you walk in and, if you’re a little bit balding, then they’ll start teasing you about the fact that you’re balding. They just yell at you and tease you and give you a hard time the whole night, and they expect a big tip at the end.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you wanted to impress a girl, which restaurant would you take her to?

Well, I could say the clothing-optional one, but that might conjure up the wrong notions. In Tokyo, we did the dog café and the cat café. Tokyo is such a big city with such small apartments that people can’t really keep pets, so if you want to show your sensitive side, you can go to one of these cafés and make nice to a cat or a dog. Actually, this season we also did a bunny restaurant. You get to play with bunnies. Some of the dishes come in bunny shapes, like a bunny head or with bunny ears.

Which country has the most number of weird restaurants and why do you think that is?

Well, that’s a really easy answer. The answer is Japan, and we’ve been there now for both seasons, and the first time we were there for three weeks, and the second time we were there for two weeks. I think that Japan is, to a certain degree, a repressed society where they’re very formal and proper on the exterior, but obviously any society that’s like that on the exterior has a lot going on inside their minds. I mean, I cannot remember the exact number but there is something like 2,050 maid restaurants, you know, the little French maids. Just that alone, and then all these other crazy, sort of high-concept theme restaurants. There is a fair degree of escapism that is involved in these restaurants where people like to get out of that sort of normal, polite world and go into a fantasy world for a short period of time.

Do you find that these restaurants actually last and flourish or do they tend to shut down after the novelty factor has worn off?

You’d be surprised sometimes. A lot of the Japanese restaurants that I’ve just referred to, for example, an Arabian-themed restaurant, a butler restaurant, a maid restaurant, an Alcatraz prison restaurant — a lot of them are owned by big companies and they’ve sort of changed theme restaurants. And then, for example, Modern Toilet, the infamous restaurant in Taiwan where they serve curry out of miniature toilet bowls — you’d think that that might just be a passing fad. But in fact, it’s a franchise. Like it’s so popular that there are several of them. Even that restaurant, Dick’s Last Resort, the one where they insult you, is also a franchise in America.

Is there any food that you would never eat?

In the name of making as entertaining a show as possible, I’ll try anything. I mean, in the first season I tried sautéed killer bee larva. I tried sautéed killer bees. I tried fried crickets. I ate balut when I was in the Philippines once. I ate the fugu that I prepared and detoxified myself in Osaka.

I hate mushrooms and I really don’t like truffles, though. You can ruin a meal for me by shaving $100 worth of truffles over it.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 09:47 AM
Sangkalan: ‘Lutong-bahay’ away from home

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 20, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - As a medical health representative, Carlos “Caloy” de Guzman was always on the road. Traveling around the country, he discovered new flavors, and he remembered each place he visited through its cuisine. It goes without saying that Caloy is passionate about food, and whatever he has tasted and loved, he is now sharing with us.

In 1987, Caloy and his wife put up a food stall in a supermarket. Tapsilog was the craze at the time, so they jumped on the tapsi bandwagon; but the couple wanted the dish to stay hot as it was eaten, which they solved by placing the tapsilog on a sizzling plate. Then Caloy thought of putting the food, soup, fork and spoon together on a sangkalan (Tagalog for chopping board) and serving the entire meal by its handle. This, Caloy notes, was the birth of Sangkalan restaurant.

After a few years, Caloy wanted to provide an experience completely different from what they offer at the food stall: casual dining where people are comfortably gathered around a table to eat and create memories. The first branch of Sangkalan opened on Visayas Avenue in 1991. In 1993 they found a spot on Scout Alabano in Quezon City, where the restaurant thrived and withstood the test of time. “Those who helped me when I opened this branch were my customers on Visayas, who became very close to me and even became my kumpares (close friends),” shares Caloy. “Now it is their children who come to the restaurant.”

Sangkalan serves traditional Filipino food and its bestsellers include ginataang kuhol, sinuglaw (a mixture of kinilaw and sinugba), tuna belly and adobong itik. It is open 24 hours and throughout the day, sees and serves a diverse group of people. At night, young professionals (many from call centers around the area) are there to enjoy a drink and listen to live bands. During lunch and dinnertime, the restaurant goes back to being a laid-back dining place for the family.

“I’m trying to keep up with the times,” says Caloy. “In 2005, we had a rebirth. When we reached our peak in that year, we changed the setup. Before, there were fountains outside to imitate the gardens in the province. Bumenta na ’yon,” he explains, “so we turned it into an open space where they could listen to and jam with a band at night. We made it look and feel younger without killing the homey ambience.”

The alfresco dining area is a hit among customers, but they could still go inside for a quiet meal. There are also special rooms they can reserve for special occasions. One of which is the music room that used to be a piano bar in the 1990s. “Back then my market was the older folks who liked to play the piano. Then my son said that the crowd is different now, so we transformed it into a videoke room, and it clicked!” says Caloy.

Despite the changes, one thing remains: the food. “People know Sangkalan because of the food,” says Caloy. It is what people come back for and what keeps them strong for 21 years.

As a restaurant owner who takes pride in the food he serves more than the profit he makes, Caloy aims to preserve the Sangkalan name and brand — to uphold Filipino cuisine and bring families together to share a great meal and moment in a place that feels like home.

* * *

Sangkalan Grill & Restaurant is located at No. 7 Scout Albano St. South Triangle, Quezon City. For reservations call 924-1866/928-4307 or visit them at their website at www.sangkalan.com.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 09:49 AM
Deconstructed sukiyaki and other thrills at Ryugin

IN YOUR FACE

By Marielle Santos-Po

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 20, 2012 - 12:00am

On my recent “babymoon” to Hong Kong I told my husband that I wasn’t going to have a dining plan; for some reason I wanted to wing it, which is quite uncharacteristic of me since each trip I take is usually a food trip wherein each meal is carefully mapped out. Surprised and confused, he completely supported my unusual idea, thinking that maybe I was going through an odd pregnancy phase. Well, that didn’t last too long. Soon after I discovered that the three-Michelin-star Ryugin of Japan opened their first international outpost in HK I just had to eat there. Never mind if I wasn’t allowed to eat raw sushi or sashimi (doctor’s orders), I had to convince my husband there was nothing to worry about, with the help of lengthy, Google-based research into several baby sites where I found out that a lot of Japanese women continue to eat raw fish even when knocked up, as long as it’s of the freshest and highest quality. Plus, my husband knows better than to say no to a pregnant woman — and a hungry one, if I may add.

Ryugin was opened in Roppongi in 2003 by chef and proprietor Seiji Yamamoto to “pursue the possibilities of Japanese cuisine.” By 2007 he garnered two Michelin stars and kept those stars four years in a row. This year, Ryugin received its third star and is ranked #20 in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in the World list. Chef Seiji Yamamoto may not be a celebrity chef, but it’s no surprise that he is revered by many, from Joel Robuchon and Ferran Adria to younger star chefs such as Graham Elliot and Wylie Dufresne, who’ve trekked their way to Tokyo to dine at his three-Michelin-star restaurant.

Last April chef Yamamoto opened on the 101st floor of ICC, Kowloon, bringing with him his protégé, Hideaki Sato, and five of his top apprentices to lead the Hong Kong outpost. There’s only one kaiseki menu available that is personally designed by Yamamoto himself and is executed perfectly by chef de cuisine Sato. The kaiseki menu changes every season and, of course, a tailor-made dining experience is also available by advance request.

Another favorite: Lightly torched Sarawa Japanese Spanish mackerel with shungiku and salmon caviar Our 12-course autumn kaiseki menu began with a chawan mushi of grilled shiitake mushroom, Kurumaebi shrimp, lily bulb, and ginko nuts. Unlike other chawan mushi that I’ve had before, this one had a deep brownish color because of the shiitake mushroom and was topped with roasted seaweed, which made it quite aromatic. It was so delicate and velvety in its consistency that the lily bulb and giant ginko nut added a whole lot of texture, which also gave it a nutty flavor. There was a touch of fresh wasabi as well to give it a little kick.

The mixed salad of Kegani crab and sea urchin from Hokkaido topped with black vinegar jelly of chrysanthemum was a winner. Being an uni lover, this one really hit the spot. Combined with a bit of avocado, which added to the richness of the dish and some diced cucumber that created a crunch, the second course was all about bringing out the freshness of its ingredients. The dish having a tinge of ginger conveyed the sweetness of the Kegani crab as well as the Hokkaido uni, especially when mixed together with the black vinegar jelly of chrysanthemum wherein it created this light, aromatic tartness to the whole dish. Next came the soup of abalone, prepared with premium broth, sesame lotus mochi and Shyougoin turnips. The star of this course was the deep-fried sesame lotus mochi, which was golden brown and slightly firm on the outside while being perfectly fluffy and cloudlike on the inside — I literally wanted a plate of it!

Another fave of mine was the lightly torched Sarawa Japanese-Spanish mackerel with shungiku and ikura — imagine medium-thick slices of Sarawa wrapped around grated radish soaked in ponzu sauce topped generously with salmon caviar and a bit of spring onions. The rich and salty flavor of the ikura combined with the citrusy tang of the ponzu highlighted the freshness of the Sarawa.

The sixth course was an Alfonsino marinated in yuzu-flavored white miso, served with an eggplant and endive confit, topped with shaved raw chestnuts. Although beautifully plated, it lacked oomph and seemed more blah. Maybe if the chestnuts had been roasted it would have given it more flavor. Overall it was a grilled, miso-marinated white fish.

The next course was a stellar hit! Although how could anyone go wrong with an A4 Matsusaka Wagyu beef sirloin? The sukiyaki of kuroge or Matsusaka Wagyu with onsen tamago was ethereal, more like a deconstructed sukiyaki. The egg was served separately and was slightly poached to avoid salmonella, to be used more like a dipping sauce instead of mixing it with the broth. The slightly thick Wagyu nesting in the semi-sweet sukiyaki broth served with roasted manji pepper and kujonegi was heavenly. I was savoring each bite and hoping that there were more slices of the beef, but after a while the A4 grade started to kick in and too much of it may not be such a great idea. I guess chef Seiji and chef Hideaki have definitely mastered the art of portioning as well.

Still high from the sukiyaki, I was quite glad that the next course was just rice. But this was no ordinary rice dish. Koshihikari rice was simmered in flavored dashi broth with minced chicken and mixed vegetables such as carrots and mushroom, as well as minced scrambled egg yolk topped with sancho leaves and served with pickled cabbage and miso soup. The complexity in taste of this rice dish made up for its simplicity — yes, it was just rice but the slightly sticky texture of the Koshihikari mixed with the simple essence of dashi and other ingredients created several layers of flavor that was just so savory, especially when topped with the sancho leaves. You’d think it was just a garnish but every ingredient had a purpose. It was my first time to try fresh sancho leaves and it’s definitely one of my faves now — the taste has a hint of lemon yet it’s still earthy and peppery at the same time.

Next was the cold Teuchi soba, which is handmade buckwheat noodles served with a pinch of fresh wasabi, which we were advised to mix with the noodles. The soba helped cleanse our palette as we readied ourselves for the dessert courses.

The first dessert was a Ryugin signature — 196 C Candy Pear and +99 C Pear Jam. This dessert was meant for us to enjoy “the contrast of temperatures.” The candy pear looked like a shiny porcelain ornament that we were advised to crack open with our spoon. It was filled with ice cream powder, on which our server then poured extremely hot pear jam that merged with the ice cream powder. It was an amazing dessert — the crunch of the candy pear combined with the ice cream powder and pear jam was such a great play on contrasts, not only in temperature but texture as well.

The last dessert course was the strawberry pudding with fresh strawberry compote that I enjoyed due to the natural sweetness of the fruit, as well as the creamy yet light pudding that was similar to panna cotta.

Last came the matcha, which was a warm cup of green tea with milk froth just to end our perfectly wonderful meal. I highly recommend a bottle of their Grand Vintage tea, which is made especially for chef Yamamoto to go with the kaiseki. The Grand Vintage tea is cold tea that is golden in color and is served in a wine glass so you can enjoy its aroma with every sip. It’s quite bold, so those sensitive to caffeine should be forewarned.

Chef Seiji Yamamoto’s Ryugin is beyond the definition of kaiseki. Though his dishes are deeply rooted in Japanese tradition, his execution is somewhat modern and his flavor combinations are quite complex and unique, creating different angles on the typical dish as he makes his own version that somehow enhances and allows his dishes to stand out even more strongly. His cuisine is all about contrasts — traditional yet innovative, humble yet ambitious, subtle yet bold.

* * *

Ryugin is at 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Rd. West, Kowloon, Hong Kong, tel. (852) 2302-0222.

Sam Miguel
01-04-2013, 09:59 AM
Star Café: Forever a star in Baguio

By Artemio A. Dumlao

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 20, 2012 - 12:00am

Star Café owners Donna and Joey Rufino: “All the presidents and their families never miss us when they go to Baguio,” Donna says. Star Café is along Session Road, Baguio City.

MANILA, Philippines - Star Café, a byword for locals and tourists alike, is not only an institution but also a living tradition.

A favorite, Star Café has endured the test of the taste buds through time. “People keep on coming back,” beam Joey and Donna Rufino, whose family owns the multi-awarded Chinese restaurant that closely weaves in the Filipino values of family, good nature and respect.

Star Café founder and Chinese scion Goo Chin always told us, “It is not the best recipe that will keep people here, it depends on if they like it.”

Goo Chin started Star Café in 1940. Seven decades later, the “quaint sanctuary” of “whoever customer” remains as it is. Always filled to the brim with its slightly over a dozen tables, clients come for family-filling Chinese dishes that are well-loved by Filipinos: lumpiang shanghai, camaron rebosado, camaron de hamon, pansit canton and bihon for the ala carte and set meals of Star Café Rice and Three Sisters Rice.

Their secret? “Continuity,” said William Wong, Goo Chin’s son, who migrated to Canada in the ’60s but was in town this month. “I saw a daughter of Justice Francisco Changco (who married former President Ferdinand Marcos and current Rep. Imelda Romualdez) and hurriedly asked for updates on Star Café,” he said.

Justice Changco was a contemporary of Judge Feliciano Belmonte Sr., father of Speaker “Sonny,” who served at a court in Itogon, Benguet. From Judge Belmonte, the next generation of Belmontes were Star Café lovers, too.

The Marcoses ate at Star Café whenever they were in Baguio, Donna Rufino said. “All presidents and their families never missed us when they went to Baguio,” she added.

But even the unknown customer is loved, the owners said. “That was how our father regarded everyone. He was down to earth. He treated every customer equal.”

Hence, from the famous to the less famous, Star Café has been with them, generation after generation. “We maintained a natural connection with our customers, hence the same tradition lives on,” Donna continued. They declined to open a new store in Glorietta, Makati, then. “Joey (my husband) said how can we look after the details and our customers as husband and wife if we have two?”

That was the deciding factor. Not the classy furniture, glassware, location or gastronomic goodness but the “connection with people in the restaurant.” Maybe because the “owners were always here,” Donna explained.

Day in and day out, the dynamic duo opened and closed Star Café along Session Road for decades and decades more.

In 2007, Star Café was chosen among the hundreds of restaurants in the country as one of the entrepreneurial success stories of Go Negosyo. In 2009, it was the only restaurant chosen during Baguio’s Centennial as “Baguio Builders.”

This is but fitting for Baguio’s oldest restaurant.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:22 AM
Fine dining’s trash-to-table movement

The Washington Post

Wednesday, January 9, 5:53 AM

Two decades ago — or even just a few years back, before the great economic calamity of 2008 — many of the featured ingredients on sous-chef Adam Brick’s tasting menu at Graffiato would have been found rotting in the trash. Pineapple skins. Lamb hearts. Egg shells. The tough little side muscle on a sea scallop that’s typically excised with extreme prejudice.

Back then, few self-respecting, chef-driven restaurants would have considered serving an ingredient such as beef tendon, the stuff often seen floating in a bowl of soup at suburban pho parlors. In the white-tablecloth world of fine dining, beef has always meant rib-eye or filet mignon, or perhaps sirloin if you’re really slumming it. But right there among Brick’s new dishes is a small plate of beef tendon, a tough connective tissue that requires prolonged heat to soften its collagen-rich fibers into something rich and gelatinous and delicious.

Once-scorned scraps help some daring chefs meet the bottom line.The tendon is just one of 12 courses that Brick has conceived for his $85 “Gems” tasting menu, which will be offered every Sunday and Monday starting Jan. 13 at the six-seat bar upstairs at Graffiato in Chinatown. The tendon, served on a split veal bone with a soft-scrambled egg infused with smoked marrow, will take its place among some of the other “gems” on Brick’s menu: diced lamb-heart tartare with smoked yogurt; halibut tail meat glazed with chicken-wing sauce; raw tuna marrow in a broth prepared with the fish’s roasted spine; fried chips made from purees of rice and those tough scallop muscles; an egg-shell meringue sprinkled over chocolate custard; a pineapple-skin semifreddo sitting in Thai-scented coconut water.

Eccentric on its own, Brick’s tasting menu is a departure in another way for Graffiato, the small-plates restaurant that former “Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella conceived as a kind of homage to his Italian-American roots in New Jersey. The multi-course menu is a tiny oasis of fine dining tucked into a place that trades on its clubby informality and the two-fisted, blue-collar drive of its celebrity chef. It’s like Graffiato’s own minibar, but with ingredients foraged from the garbage.

Once the “gems” menu is available to the public, it also will be the strutting, rock-star front man of the scrap trend already well underway at fine-dining restaurants in the area.

“If we don’t use all the byproducts,” says Cathal Armstrong, chef and owner at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, “there is no way that fine dining could survive.”

Armstrong will be the first to tell you that fine-dining temples have always kept a close eye on waste. In the early 1990s, he was a saucier at Vidalia, where chef and owner Jeff Buben had assembled a future all-star team that included Peter Smith (who would go on to helm the now-closed PS 7s) and Eric Ziebold (now leading City*Zen). Armstrong recalls that Buben required cooks to have a hotel pan at their station for scraps: perhaps the outer leaves of cauliflower or thyme stems or shrimp shells, stuff that often would be turned into stock.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:24 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Such a basic conservation philosophy has hardened into a rigid waste-nothing mind-set in recent years, Armstrong notes, as the sagging U.S. economy has delivered a one-two punch to high-end restaurants. Diners, the chef says, are loath these days to pay an extra dime for dinner, yet food costs continue to soar for the people who prepare and sell the meals. That often is why chefs embrace whole-animal butchery in their restaurants, where they can buy and break down entire carcasses, which are far cheaper than individual cuts of beef, pork or lamb.

But whole-animal cooking requires not just a line cook who knows how to butcher, but also a chef who knows how to turn off-cuts and byproducts into appealing dishes. Take, for example, the veal hearts from the Randall Lineback calves that Armstrong buys.

"Very often that’s a cut of meat that’s thrown in the trash can,” Armstrong says. “In nine out of 10 restaurants, no one is going to order veal heart.”

Instead of tossing those organs, however, Armstrong now brines them for a couple of days before slowly braising them until tender. He’ll then sell plates of the braised hearts to select customers who show an affinity for offal. At two dishes per veal heart, and two veal carcasses a month, Armstrong says those organ meats now generate an extra $100 instead of feeding rodents at the garbage dump. The chef performs a similar trick with veal testicles, which he treats as sweetbreads for the adventurous diner. He figures he earns about $20 per gonad. Perhaps that’s not an image you want to associate with Restaurant Eve, but those veal testicles help to keep the restaurant’s doors open.

Look around the local dining scene, and you can find similar whole-animal cooking at other restaurants, which are likewise devising ways to use byproducts beyond traditional stocks and charcuterie programs. Rogue 24 chef and owner R.J. Cooper, another Buben alumnus from Vidalia, pays $30 a pop for wild Scottish hares, which he breaks down into a number of components: the legs for rillettes, the bones for consomme, the loins for a poached-and-roasted dish, the ribs for a pint-size rack of rabbit. Cooper even soaks the whole hare in milk to extract the blood, which he’ll then turn into a parfait.

“You’ve got to learn how to use the whole animal to make any kind of profit” from those pricey hares, Cooper says.

The paradoxical thing about whole-animal programs is that some chefs don’t always buy whole animals. Sometimes, they buy them in pieces. This past summer, Logan Cox, chef at Ripple in Cleveland Park, bought yellowfin tuna collars, the bony section of the fish near the head that has long been a delicacy in Japan. He brined the collars, braised them and finally caramelized them under a salamander. He’d then sell the collars for $40 for two people. At one point, he was buying the collars for a mere $2 a pound (although clever fishmongers soon started upping the price once they realized the meat from the collarbone can be as rich and flavorful as meat from a bone-in steak).

“It’s the most intense umami flavor,” Cox says. “This meat is succulent and delicious. . . . This is easily the best part of the fish.”

Like Cox, Graffiato’s Brick routinely has to place special orders for oddball ingredients. His halibut tail is a prime example. A whole halibut could easily cost hundreds of dollars wholesale, which in turn would require that Graffiato find a way to generate hundreds more in revenue from that single fish. That isn’t going to happen at this small-plate emporium. So Brick, whose résumé includes stints at Aureole, Daniel and Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York, buys the tails from Samuels & Son Seafood. The vendor provides the tails with about three inches of extra flesh, perfect for picking up the gelatin on the bone. Likewise, Brick has to buy separate tuna spines to extract the marrow and individual pig’s heads to butcher the meat for his Sardinian gnocchetti with “pig snout” ragu.

Eola chef Daniel Singhofen can sometimes buy his young pigs with the head still attached — not that it makes it any easier to extract the brain, the part of the pig that’s routinely tossed away. The key for Singhofen is to buy heads without that single hole in the forehead, which indicates the pig was incapacitated with a captive bolt gun, rendering the brain unusable.

This is where the skill of a chef comes into play with whole-animal cooking. Through a lot of trial and error, Singhofen and his kitchen team have perfected a method for extracting the brain. It involves cracking the skull with a cleaver in two locations, and the cooks have to know exactly where to strike the skull, exactly how much pressure to apply and exactly the right angle at which they should brandish the knife.

Once the brain is removed, Singhofen will “cold poach” it, cube it and fold it into tortellini, which are then boiled and served with brown butter, butternut squash puree, crushed hazelnuts and sage. “Texturally,” the chef says, “it ends up being very much like a cheese tortellini.”

I’m reminded of the skills required to deal with whole, or even partial, animals as I’m butchering my own pig’s head on the counter of my Takoma Park kitchen. I bought the head for $20 at Harvey’s Market inside Union Market and now have Brick on the cellphone to walk me through the process, so that I can make his pig snout dish at home. As the sous-chef directs my cuts and I slowly, agonizingly, begin to peel the skin and fat and meat from the skull, I’m forced to literally feel my way around my poor subject’s head.

The reward for my work is two thick slabs of face meat and skin, each half in one continuous roll, from the top of the skull to the bottom of the jowl, far more than I’ll need for Brick’s dish. And there’s another benefit to butchering my own pig’s head: When I’m this intimate with the source of my food, I understand, deep in my bones, the desire to waste nothing.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:26 AM
Hoppin’ John, a New Year’s tradition born from slavery

The Washington Post Published: December 28, 2011

The hoppin’ John cassoulet on his New Year’s Eve menu at the Tabard Inn might give you the wrong impression about chef Paul Pelt. It might lead you to think that Pelt believes in random, mercurial luck. He doesn’t. The unusually taciturn cook — I’d call him shy if it weren’t for his occasional bursts of pointed humor — believes in divine providence over luck.

“I’ve bought lottery tickets and never won anything,” says the dreadlocked chef. “Last night we had our employee Christmas party. I’ve never won anything at the raffle.”

No, Pelt’s interest in one of the American South’s great superstitions — that annual ritual of eating black-eyed peas to bring good fortune for the new year — is purely culinary. “I don’t really believe in luck,” he deadpans. “I just like eating pork and beans.”

If you took a poll, many eaters would probably fall into Pelt’s camp. Few, I trust, expect to win the Powerball after devouring a dish of hoppin’ John swollen with slow-cooked black-eyed peas. I suspect any fascination over the dish is 1 part camp, 2 parts gustatory pleasure and 97 parts tradition. A desire for black-eyed peas around New Year’s does not automatically assume you believe in the Deep South version of Jack’s magic beans.

The good-luck tradition tied to black-eyed peas is a curious one, given the bean’s history. Like the people who first loved the legume, black-eyed peas were a product of the slave trade. The men and women of West Africa, who were dragged involuntarily to the United States, were sought for their knowledge of rice cultivation.

In their search for a profitable crop, Southern plantation owners “tried everything they could,” says food historian and cookbook author John Martin Taylor (a.k.a. “Hoppin’ John”), during a phone interview from his new home in Bulgaria. “Rice happened to do really well there. That’s what then effected the slave trade. They specifically brought West Africans from rice-growing regions.”

And those West Africans, the literature so often notes, brought their food with them — except they didn’t, as food writer John Thorne so eloquently points out in his now-classic essay on hoppin’ John in the “Serious Pig” collection (North Point Press, 1996): “The only thing Africans brought with them was their memories. If they were fortunate enough to have been taken along with other members of their own community and to stay with them (which rarely happened) — there was also the possibility of reestablishing out of these memories some truncated resemblance of former rituals and customs.”

It was in all likelihood the slave traders who started to import black-eyed peas to the United States as some sort of backhanded charitable act to appease their unhappy charges during the long and often deadly journeys across the Atlantic. In the American South, with both rice and black-eyed peas available, the natives of West Africa could prepare a dish that reminded them of home: a humble combination of rice and beans that eventually became known as hoppin’ John.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:28 AM
^^^ (Cont'd)

Much has been written about the origin of the name. Most of the theories, as Taylor wrote in a recent essay about the dish for Gastronomica, are merely “fake*lore,” because “they are based on neither fact nor historical record.” One such theory supposes the dish earned its name from children hopping around the table before they could eat their beans and rice. (Please.) Another describes a hobbled man by the name of Hoppin’ John who sold the dish on the streets of Charleston, S.C. Thorne believes the name is a corruption of the French term for pigeon peas, “pois a pigeon,” while the late food historian Karen Hess thought the name derived from “the old Persian bahatta kachang, meaning cooked rice and beans,” Taylor wrote in his essay.

If writers and scholars disagree on the origin of the name, at least they have something to argue about. There are virtually no established theories about how hoppin’ John came to symbolize good luck, or how eating it would provide good luck for the coming year. Some point to the notion that the peas resemble coins, which would be true if our pocket change looked like jellybeans. Others note that hoppin’ John typically is served with braised collard greens, which popularly symbolize paper money.

Taylor suggests that the tradition might (emphasis on “might”) have started during that fallow period between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when slaves were given time off. The harvest season was essentially over, the planting season yet to come. It was a good time to give thanks for past crops, Taylor says, and raise expectations for the coming season. Such a ritual could have developed into a good-luck tradition, with the slaves’ favorite dish of hoppin’ John as the centerpiece.

Then again, as Taylor notes, “a historian of belief systems, superstitions and traditions I’m not.”

The historian stands on firmer ground when discussing what, to me, is the most fascinating part of the hoppin’ John story: the dish’s migration from slave table to slave owner table. Taylor believes it was a natural evolution, given that slaves often served as cooks to the plantation owners. “These wealthy families, they weren’t eating the grand food” every night, the historian says. “They would have been eating hoppin’ John and corn pone and grains.”

Hoppin’ John has that ability to worm its way into your life, even if it wasn’t part of your family’s tradition. Perhaps the combination of rice and beans is so universal, so nutritious and so satisfying that, on some level, the human body just craves it. In one form or another, rice and beans can be found on tables from Africa and India (try the black-eyed peas and pumpkin dish at Passage to India in Bethesda) to the Caribbean and the American South.

Tabard Inn’s Pelt, 52, didn’t grow up eating hoppin’ John. He’s a Chicago native whose parents were born in the Second City. Southern cooking was not a regular part of his diet, even though Pelt’s grandparents, on both sides of the family, were from the South. Pelt moved to the District in 1973 to live with his father, who had a healthy appreciation for food and was known to prepare a plate of collard greens from time to time. Pelt fell into the restaurant business along Pennsylvania Avenue SE, busing tables, washing dishes and doing prep. Like so many in the industry back then, he worked his way onto the kitchen line.

Pelt eventually landed a cooking job in the 1990s at the Tabard Inn (the first of two runs for him there), where chefs Stacy Cosor and David Craig took the untrained cook under their wing. They encouraged him to read as many cookbooks as he could get his hands on. “I always liked cooking, but reading made me start thinking how American food got to be what it is — all the different influences on what we cook.”

The book that really deepened Pelt’s appreciation for Southern food was Heidi Haughy Cusick’s “Soul and Spice” (Chronicle Books, 1995). “It’s about the cooking of Africans in the Americas,” he says. “Around the same time I got that book, I went to Nigeria for the first time, for like three weeks. . . . That was really an eye-opener for me: just the history of how the slave trade affected what we eat and what people eat in the Caribbean, what people eat in Brazil and the American South.”

Many years later, Pelt is creating his own fusion of cultures with his hoppin’ John cassoulet, which combines African and American traditions with the classic French stew. Aside from substituting black-eyed peas for the more traditional cannelloni or flageolet beans in cassoulet, Pelt also puts a Southern twist on the proteins in the dish. He retains the Toulouse sausage and duck confit but replaces the lamb and roast pork with ham hocks and pork shanks. The result is a deep, smoky, satisfying winter dish: perfect, I’d say, for many other occasions besides New Year’s.

There’s just one ingredient missing from Pelt’s chef-driven hoppin’ John: the rice. He says the grains are a casualty of his multi-course New Year’s Eve meal. “Because it’s an appetizer,” he says about his cassoulet, “I don’t want to make it too filling.”

So given Pelt’s feelings about luck, will he include a mention of the hoppin’ John tradition on his New Year’s Eve menu at the Tabard Inn?

“I’ll tell the waiters the story: that people believe, or that people used to believe . . . that it’s good luck,” Pelt says. “But I won’t say, ‘Hey, it really is. You guys should eat some before you go out there tonight. You’ll make a lot of tips.’ ”

Sam Miguel
01-09-2013, 08:55 AM
5 so-called health foods you should avoid

By Katherine Tallmadge, Feb 28, 2012 02:15 PM EST

The Washington Post Published: February 28, 2012

Eating healthy can be harder than you think, thanks to an enterprising food industry that wants us to consume more than we need. That’s because our country’s agricultural system produces twice what most people require, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. This encourages creative marketing to unload the excess, much of it with minimal nutritional value. As a nutrition consultant, I know that words such as “low fat,” “high fiber,” “multigrain” and “natural” can fool even the most sophisticated customers into believing what they’re buying is healthful. So what can you do? First, make a habit of reading the ingredients list, not just the Nutrition Facts panel. And remember the following products worth resisting.

Reduced-fat peanut butter

The oil is the healthiest part of a nut, containing most of the nutrients, so there’s no advantage to taking it out. In fact, it’s worse because it robs the peanut butter of its health benefits. “Reduced-fat peanut butter has as many calories and more sugar than the regular,” says Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Instead: Buy regular peanut butter. Eating one or two ounces of nuts daily is associated with reductions in heart disease and cancer risk. A recent Harvard study showed that eating nuts is associated with lower body weights.

Enhanced water

Drinks such as Vitaminwater are essentially sugary drinks with a vitamin pill. They are “unequivocally harmful to health,” says Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Whether vitamins dissolved in water have any benefit will depend on who you are and whether you are already getting enough. . . . Some people may be getting too much of some vitamins and minerals if they add vitamin water on top of fortified foods and other supplements.” A recent Iowa Women’s Health Study found an association between certain commonly used vitamin and mineral supplements and increased death rates.

Instead: Drink water, ideally from the tap (“Eau du Potomac,” as it’s known locally). It’s the best drink for hydrating your body, is naturally calorie-free and contains fluoride to prevent tooth decay. No supplement matches the nutrients in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

Energy bars

The reputation of these bars, also known as meal replacement bars, is that they are healthy, aid in weight loss or help build muscle. In fact, they are calorie bombs: candy bars with vitamins, protein or fiber added. For most of them, sugar is either the first (predominant) or second ingredient.

Instead: Snack on fruit or veggies for weight loss and yogurt for muscle gain. If you’re hiking a long distance and want a healthful, nonperishable calorie bomb, try nuts and dried fruit.

Multigrain foods

Multigrain breads, crackers and cereals are often the most confusing foods. People see “multigrain” and think “whole grain.” That’s not necessarily so. This is an important distinction because people who eat whole grains have a lower incidence of diabetes, heart disease and cancers, and are less likely to be overweight compared with those who eat refined grains. Note that when “enriched wheat flour” is listed in the ingredients, that’s refined flour.

Instead: Be sure a whole grain, such as whole wheat, whole oats or brown rice, is the first and preferably the only grain in the ingredient list. A great example is a cereal listing whole rolled oats as the only grain. Alternatively, consider an egg for breakfast. “The huge amounts of refined starch and sugar that many people eat for breakfast, often thinking that this is the healthy choice, does far more damage to their well-being than an egg,” says Harvard’s Willett.

Non-fried chips and crackers

It’s easy to believe these foods are healthful because of labels such as “baked,” “low fat” or “gluten free.” But most are made with refined grain or starch, which provide plenty of calories and few nutrients. Popchips, for example, are a new product marketed as healthful. But the ingredients are highly refined potato flakes, starch, oil, salt and about 14 additional things. Pita chips, made with white flour, oil, salt and several more ingredients, are no better. To boot, research shows that too much refined grains and starches increases the risk for heart disease, cancers, diabetes and weight gain.

Instead: Try Wasa or Finn Crisp Original Rye crackers. They’re 100 percent whole grain and have little sodium. If you’d like a chip, try Terra Chips, made with sliced vegetables, or even a 100 percent whole grain chip fried in a healthy oil, such as olive or canola. Tortilla chips and SunChips are two examples. “Now that trans fats have been removed from most cooking oils, the healthiest part of potato chips is the fat,” Willett says. “And chips made of whole grains rather than potatoes, like Frito-Lay’s SunChips, can legitimately be considered a health food,” so long as you keep to the one-ounce serving size.

Tallmadge is a registered dietitian and the author of “Diet Simple” (LifeLine Press, 2011).

Sam Miguel
01-10-2013, 09:35 AM
Biz Buzz: Imitation, Greek-style

10:49 pm | Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s why you have senators “imitating” dead presidents’ speeches. You also have stall owners in Greenhills openly selling handbags copied from high-end luxury brands. But this practice apparently hasn’t spared the local restaurant industry.

Since it opened, this “Greek” kitchen in San Juan has been raising a few eyebrows among restaurateurs for having a menu that’s the exact replica of the more established Cyma of chef wunderkind Robby Goco and his partners, down to the Roka Salata (Greek rocket salad), which isn’t even an actual dish found in Greece, but the brainchild of Goco. (Chef Robby spent a year in Greece to study the cuisine. Even he admits that what he serves at Cyma isn’t authentic Greek but his interpretation of the cuisine, which actually works for the Filipino palate.)

The new restaurant’s appeal is that it serves the same Goco-created dishes at rock-bottom prices (which could also explain its chaotic waitstaff and seating services as per foodies who have eaten there, in contrast with Cyma’s staff quality and professional waitstaff service.)

What is disturbing, industry insiders note, is that not only has the upstart blatantly copied Cyma’s menu, but its owners have been trying to muscle their way into Cyma’s food supply as well. Two of Cyma’s food suppliers have already complained about the arrogant way the new restaurant’s owners have been demanding “the same ingredients you order for Cyma.”

In one case, a supplier tried to explain to the new restaurant’s owners that he couldn’t turn over Cyma’s ingredients as these were pre-ordered and already allocated. He encouraged them to order their own ingredients in advance. Insistent on getting their hands on Cyma’s pre-ordered ingredients, the new restaurant’s owners even tried to wave large wads of money in the faces of the suppliers, so to speak.

The food supplier politely turned down their offer and told them that “it’s not about the money, it’s about building relationships with our buyers.”

Meanwhile, the upstart is set to open branches in a mass-based shopping mall. If the mall owners care about ethical business practices, then they might have to steer clear of this new Greek kitchen.—Daxim L. Lucas

Sam Miguel
01-10-2013, 09:37 AM
‘Bringhe, morcon, dulce prenda, patku, barquillos’– Kapampangan specialties for the age of Instagram

By Irene C. Perez

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:46 am | Thursday, January 10th, 2013

A trip to Pampanga means being spoiled with home-cooked delicacies, usually from heirloom recipes. The province is home to sisig, grilled crisp and chopped, or traditionally stewed in vinegar. There’s also bringhe, the Tagalog paella.

Pampanga is also a top source of cured meat like tocino and longganisa, which are perfect with runny eggs and garlic fried rice any time of day.

Samsung Electonics Philippines recently brought us on a Pampanga food tour to rediscover Kapampangan cooking. Members of the media also took food shots using the new Samsung Galaxy Camera. The 16.3-megapixel, 3G-capable and Wi-Fi-ready cam runs on Android Jelly Bean, which means food photos could easily be uploaded on social-networking sites—a practice very popular especially on Twitter and the Instagram photo-sharing app.

The itinerary was prepared by Outereater Tours and Events led by Poch Joloran, a true-blue Kapampangan and also the operations manager of Everybody’s Café, where we had breakfast.

Slow-cooked ‘morcon’

Everybody’s Café in San Fernando is a popular Pampanga restaurant that has been serving home-style dishes alongside exotic items since the ’60s.

For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, longganisa and tapang kalabaw, which was surprisingly as tender as pork tocino.

Jorolan gave a tip on cooking longganisa: “If you want it extra sweet or hamonado, slice the longganisa first before frying so that it would caramelize.”

Restaurant owner Beth Jorolan, Poch’s mom, then served us slow-cooked morcon with quezo de bola and chorizo. The morcon is a smooth and tasty meat loaf cooked for hours; the drippings are made into a rich sauce meant to be slathered on the slices.

It was barely 10 a.m. but we already had a taste of the exotic with a serving of adobong kamaro or crickets with a woody taste. Another novel dish is Kilayin, pork meat and liver braised in vinegar à la adobo.

Nilagang manok at Alviz Farm in Sta. Rita

Our next stop was the home of Lillian Borromeo in Mexico. She is a cookbook author famous for making San Nicolas and dulce prenda cookies. According to Borromeo, these sweet treats were introduced by Chinese bakers in 1600s.

She showed how to make cookies from a dough made of butter, sugar, coconut milk, pork lard, cornstarch, uraro flour, baking powder and dayap rind. Borromeo said uraro flour spells the difference between store-bought butter cookies and San Nicolas cookies. It comes from processing arrow root, a ginger-like root crop.

Dulce prenda, meanwhile, are cookies filled with minatamis na kondol or sweetened wintermelon.

(San Nicolas cookies are sold at P200 per box of 12; dulce prenda is P300 per box of 12. Call tel. 0915-7730788.)

Alviz farm

Tucked in the suburbs of Santa Rita is a secret hideaway: Alviz Farm.

In the center of the sprawling farm is a wood-and-capiz country house overlooking a fish pond and rice fields. Home owner and cook Celi Alviz explained that the place was intended as a family rest house, a venue for gatherings.

“But our guests enjoyed what we served and, through word of mouth, visitors, mostly from Manila, started to book for destination breakfast and lunch,” Alviz said.

It is easy to understand why. Our lunch started with fresh labanos and tomato salad with vinaigrette dressing. This was followed by hearty nilagang manok soup, a cross between sinigang and tinola. The soup is made sweet with sliced corn and spiked with some sili leaves.

Tapang Kalabaw from Everybody’s Café in San Fernando

We also had pork asado and grilled tilapia, all downed with a refreshing glass of pandan-lemongrass iced tea.

The farm may be booked for events for a maximum of 100 guests. Small groups may also avail themselves of the breakfast buffet, which is a spread of tamales with pan de sal, tuyo with eggplant, dinuguan with puto, longganisa, tocino and daing na bangus; and fresh carabao’s milk. This is at P500 per head, for a minimum of 10 diners.

Other specialties are sisig and bringhe with yellow ginger or dilaw.

(Call tel. 0906-4491151 or e-mail araceli_alviz@gmail.com.)

‘Pasalubong’

A trip would not be complete without pasalubong. So we took a side trip to Sta. Rita to visit a house that doubles as a turones factory. Ramon Ocampo told us his family has been making turrones de casoy for generations. These are white wafers filled with nougat and crushed cashew nuts. The Ocampos also sell flaky sansrival and pastillas.

In another home, May Mercado demonstrated how to make barquillos. The batter, made of carabao’s milk, duck eggs, rice flour and dayap, is pressed into a customized crepe-maker and rolled using an iron stick.

A spin-off of the barquillos is barquiron, or barquillos filled with polvoron.

Mercado served us patku for merienda, local crepe filled with ground young coconut and wrapped in banana leaves.

At the end of a hot day on the road, a tall glass of creamy halo-halo was just appropriate. We dropped by Cabigting’s in Robinson’s Starmills to try out its best-selling white halo-halo. Among the ingredients are pastillas de leche, mashed beans and cream of corn, generously topped with shaved ice and evaporated milk.

Our last stop was Mely’s, an al fresco grill which serves sisig, chicken-tail barbecue and cold beer. Over dinner, Jorolan explained that he started the food tour to educate people on the richness of Kapampangan cooking and culture. Pampanga, after all, is frequently referred to as the “culinary capital of the Philippines.”

Food photos shared online helps a lot, too, he said. With Samsung Galaxy Cam’s Smart Pro Mode and 21X optical zoom lens, uploaded shots of sisig and halo-halo are sure to make anyone crave for Kapampangan novelties.

Call Outereater at tel. 0999-994 8634.

Sam Miguel
01-25-2013, 09:09 AM
Atelier 317: Unpretentious but pleasant; cozy and homey

It’s an alternative to the packed and over-commercialized restaurant scene

By Clinton Palanca

2:44 am | Thursday, January 24th, 2013

It’s difficult to say which is more worthy of opprobrium, pretentiousness and acting more sophisticated than one really is, or pretending to be more naïve than one actually is.

The former can make one cringe and bite one’s nails, but then really, who doesn’t want to be more glamorous, worldly and knowledgeable than one actually is? It’s every snob’s delight to show up a poseur. The latter, on the other hand, is much more complex and must be taken on a case-to-case basis.

It is, though, what I suspect is happening at the new restaurant Atelier 317, which comes with the unofficial subtitle “Stephanie Zubiri’s restaurant.” It would be otherwise difficult to muster the attention for a small bistro serving Filipino and international dishes on a side-street behind Rockwell, but because she’s who she is and has clearly marked the restaurant as being her brainchild, it’s immediately assumed to be glamorous and chic and sophisticated and a little bit intimidating, rather like her. Except that it isn’t. It’s informal and simple and unassuming. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Just to be perfectly clear, I’m very glad that Ms Zubiri, who has worn hats on both sides of the fence both as a magazine editor and now as a proprietor, is in the restaurant business. The food business has too many people rather like me in it: pot-bellied and cantankerous, jaded and spent, dour and fussy and full of niggles and complaints, so a bright young thing brimming with a wide gleaming smile that can charm and disarm has a unique opportunity in the business: the ability to do anything.

And thus the puzzle of the low-key but otherwise excellent Atelier 317. It does take tremendous courage to place yourself in the form of a restaurant for the world to judge, and any chef who puts her name to a restaurant, either literally or in the form of an instigator or imprimatur. I feel that Ms Zubiri has the clout and the resources to do something wildly ambitious, and that she could have, but the restaurant plays it safe. It plays it down. The interiors are charming and cozy, well-lit, absolutely tasteful, but very low-key.

The food was perfectly acceptable: molo soup that purportedly had foie gras in it (I couldn’t taste the foie gras, which was not at all unexpected at that price point, but it was otherwise excellent molo soup), a nice home-style pumpkin soup; grilled lamb was perfectly cooked and seasoned but just a little stringy, a problem with the Antipodean lamb that’s usually supplied to restaurants here. A fish dish whose name I can’t remember was like shepherd’s pie with fish rather than mince, served in a terrine.

Safe, unimposing

It was almost all very safe, unimposing, classic-with-a-twist stuff, largely Filipino with a northern Mediterranean lilt. The wine list was short and full of reasonably priced wines; the one we ordered was tinny and acrid so we sent it back; the maître d’ graciously replaced it with another (much better) at no extra charge. But the personal touches, the luxe, volupté and refinement that everyone whispered about when she was at her secret-but-not reservations-only restaurant at Palm Village, are missing from the scene.

Many of the off-notes, like the sub-par lamb, could have been improved by using a much more expensive cut and source, which would have driven the price up. But I would have paid for it, as would have most of the clientele there that night, I feel.

The meal we had was, on the whole, a pleasant experience, just a little on the side of expensive; but it’s within sight of the Rockwell Towers, so one doesn’t expect bargains around those parts. And I’ve always made it a point to champion small independent restaurants that serve unpretentious food, so why am I mildly disgruntled? Because while it’s not pretentious, it’s pretending to be something that it’s not. It’s dressed-down and accessible but it shouldn’t be. It’s homey but one doesn’t feel that it’s how she would eat at home. I wouldn’t know, though; I’ve never met Stephanie Zubiri, much less eaten at her home.

In the end, it’s unfair to judge a restaurant on anything other than its own intentions, and in this sense Atelier 317 succeeds; and I welcome this new addition as a cozy alternative to the packed and over-commercialized Rockwell restaurant scene. But I don’t think it’s Stephanie Zubiri’s restaurant; at least not yet. One day though, we hope, it will be.

Sam Miguel
01-28-2013, 10:13 AM
On Japan’s school lunch menu: A healthy meal, made from scratch

By Chico Harlan, Jan 26, 2013 11:39 PM EST

The Washington Post Published: January 27

In TOKYO — In Japan, school lunch means a regular meal, not one that harms your health. The food is grown locally and almost never frozen. There’s no mystery in front of the meat. From time to time, parents even call up with an unusual question: Can they get the recipes?

“Parents hear their kids talking about what they had for lunch,” said Tatsuji Shino, the principal at Umejima Elementary School in Tokyo, “and kids ask them to re-create the meals at home.”

Japan takes seriously both its food and its health and, as a result, its school lunches are a point of national pride — not a source of dismay. As other countries, including the United States, struggle to design school meals that are healthy, tasty and affordable, Japan has all but solved the puzzle, using a system that officials here describe as utterly common sense.

In the United States, where obesity rates have tripled over the past three decades, new legislation championed by Michelle Obama has pushed schools to debut menus with controversial calorie restrictions. But even the healthiest choices are generally provided by large agri-food companies, cooked off site, frozen and then reheated, and forced to compete in cafeterias with all things fried, salty and sweet.

Schools in Japan, by contrast, give children the sort of food they’d get at home, not at a stadium. The meals are often made from scratch. They’re balanced but hearty, heavy on rice and vegetables, fish and soups. The meals haven’t changed much in four decades.

Mealtime is a scene of communal duty: In both elementary and middle schools, students don white coats and caps and serve their classmates. Children eat in their classrooms. They get identical meals, and if they leave food untouched, they are out of luck: Their schools have no vending machines. Barring dietary restrictions, children in most districts can’t bring food to school, either, until they reach high school.

Japan’s system has an envious payoff — its kids are relatively healthy. According to government data, Japan’s child obesity rate, always among the world’s lowest, has declined for each of the past six years, a period during which the country has expanded its dietary education program.

Japan does struggle with childhood and adolescent eating disorders, and government data show a rise in the number of extremely skinny children. But there is virtually no malnutrition resulting from poverty. Japan’s children will live on average to 83, longer than those in any other country, according to the World Health Organization.

When it comes to food, Japan has some deeply ingrained advantages. Children are taught to eat what they are served, meaning they are prone to accept, rather than revolt against, the food on their plates. But Japan also invests heavily in cultivating this mind-set. Most schools employ nutritionists who, among other tasks, work with children who are picky or unhealthy eaters.

Though Japan’s central government sets basic nutritional guidelines, regulation is surprisingly minimal. Not every meal has to meet precise caloric guidelines. At many schools, a nutritionist draws up the recipes — no bureaucratic interference. Central government officials say they have ultimate authority to step in if schools are serving unhealthy food, but they can’t think of any examples where that actually happened.

Funding for lunches is handled locally, too: Municipalities pay for labor costs, but parents — billed monthly — pay for the ingredients, about $3 per meal, with reduced and free options for poorer families.

Notable is what’s lacking: You don’t see low-fat options. You don’t see dessert, other than fruit and yogurt. You occasionally see fried food, but in stark moderation. On a recent day at Umejima, kids were served the Japanese version of fried chicken, known as karaage. Each child was allowed one nugget.

Restaurant-worthy meals

Officials at Adachi Ward, in northern Tokyo, say they run a “fairly standard” school lunch program in the ward’s 71 elementary schools and 37 middle schools. And because this is food-obsessed Japan, those standard meals are restaurant-worthy; in fact, the ward publishes a full-color cookbook based on its best school meals.

District officials allow themselves to brag for just one reason, their success in cutting food waste to 5 percent. This follows the “Oishii Kyushoku,” or “Delicious School Lunch,” program they created five years ago to get kids more interested in what they were eating.

At Umejima, one of Adachi Ward’s schools, the hallway walls look like the pages of Bon Appetit magazine. Hand drawings of healthy lunches dreamed up by students hang near the principal’s office. There are charts of beans and spices. Then there’s the real food, which is chopped, diced and simmered every morning, beginning at 8 a.m., by a staff of 12. Shortly after noon, they’ll have meals for 760 students.

“Everything is cooked on site,” school nutritionist Kimii Fujii said. “We even make our own broth.”

Fujii has an expansive job — part educator, part chef and the point person for parent questions. Because of concerns about food contamination in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Fujii gives a daily account on the school Web site of where the lunch ingredients are coming from: the sardines from Hyogo, the carrots from Chiba, the bean sprouts from Tochigi.

She writes the recipes, changing them to reflect seasonal ingredients, and she’s realized, over the years, that kids will eat almost anything if you serve it to them right. They’ll eat hijiki, an earthy black seaweed, if you mix it with rice. They’ll eat small whole fish, heads and all, if they are lightly fried. Tofu is an easier bet, but just to be sure, it sometimes comes with minced pork.

Fujii doesn’t teach a class, but three or four times a year, classrooms come visit her for lunch — meaning they eat in the cafeteria, rather than their classrooms. This field trip comes with a small price: After the kids have served themselves the food, but before they can eat, they get a five-minute lecture about the items on their plates.

Lunchtime, on this particular day, begins with a call from the teacher.

“People in charge, please come up.”

Six third-graders put on their white sanitary smocks and caps and take their positions behind serving trays. One child eyes the thick reservoir of Sichuan tofu and wiggles his right arm, as if to warm up his ladling hand. A teacher shows the girl serving rice how much to give each of her classmates — between 160 and 180 grams.

“Is this okay?” the girl asks as the first student comes by.

When everybody sits back down, the lecture begins.

“Today’s meal is made up of various ingredients, but to fill you up, you have to eat everything fully,” Fujii told the class of third-graders. “If you finish this whole lunch, it means you are taking in 21 ingredients.”

One child interrupted.

“You have to eat a balanced meal.”

“That’s right,” Fujii said. “You can get full without vegetables, but we still need them. Why do we need them? Because they have Vitamin C, which makes you stronger.”

Eating as education

Japanese food, contrary to the common perception, isn’t automatically healthy; it includes crispy chicken, rich bowls of salty ramen with pork belly and battered and deep-fried tempura. But, like most cuisines, it can be healthy.

Japan began emphasizing healthy food for its students in the aftermath of World War II, when the government prioritized education and health as a way to catch up to the modernized West. For a decade after the war, school lunch food was still coming from international donations. Many older Japanese remember postwar school meals of powdered skim milk, bread and daikon radish. But by the 1970s, the school meal came to look much like the modern-day standard. These days, ethnic food (such as Korean or Italian) is mixed in once or twice per week.

Japanese government officials say no other country has copied Japan’s system of made-from-scratch meals eaten in classrooms, or even tried to.

“What is most difficult for me to explain is why we can do this and other countries cannot,” said Masahiro Oji, a government director of school health education.

Oji mentioned that last year he attended an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation workshop in Moscow on school lunch programs. Japan sent members of its education ministry, Oji said. Most other nations sent members from their agriculture or farm ministries.

“Japan’s standpoint is that school lunches are a part of education,” Oji said, “not a break from it.”

Yuki Oda contributed to this report.

Sam Miguel
01-30-2013, 08:38 AM
Hong Kong: home of world’s cheapest Michelin restaurants

By Aaron Tam

Agence France-Presse

1:16 am | Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

HONG KONG—After queuing on the street, diners are sat next to strangers in the cramped Hong Kong restaurant before rinsing their own cutlery. Welcome to the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred experience.

Ho Hung Kee (Ho Hung’s restaurant) was first awarded a coveted star in 2011 and on any given day is packed with local and foreign diners ordering bowls of wonton or fried flat noodles with beef for around HK$35—less than US$5.

Wontons, a traditional dish served in Hong Kong and in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong, are similar to dumplings but their skin uses less dough, into which succulent shrimp and pork servings are wrapped.

Like hundreds of other Hong Kong “tea restaurants” or “Cha chaan teng” in the Cantonese dialect, Ho Hung Kee also serves quick, simple dishes ranging from congee and fried rice to a selection of Western-style sandwiches.

Squeezing onto tables with strangers is a normal dining experience in the cramped restaurant that seats about 50, nestled between towers of retail in the teeming shopping district of Causeway Bay.

Humble street stall

Chefs start from 7 a.m. to batter shrimp and wrap wontons for the roughly 1,000 customers served daily at the family-run restaurant, which began life as a humble street stall in the 1940s before it opened up as a full shop in 1964.

Patty Ho, the daughter-in-law of the restaurant’s founders and its current owner, said she has stuck to original recipes because she wants customers to experience a “traditional eating culture”.

“More modern restaurants have already changed the culture of making wontons, where they only use shrimp, but we have continued to use our original recipe which includes pork, which preserves the meaty flavor,” Ho told AFP.

She believes that staying true to tradition was one of the reasons Ho Hung Kee was awarded a star.

“They must have recognized our methods,” she said of the anonymous Michelin inspectors. “The fact that such a local shop was awarded a Michelin star, it is a recognition of Hong Kong’s dining culture.”

Arriving early

Taiwanese diner Jerry Lin, 55, arrived at the restaurant early to avoid the lunchtime crowds.

“I have tried other Michelin restaurants in Shanghai, but this is a restaurant that is very accessible for normal people, we really like it,” he said.

“The price is great for a Michelin-starred restaurant and the taste is really good,” 45-year-old Riamida Ichsami from Indonesia said, while waiting outside Ho Hung Kee with her family five minutes after it opened.

Michelin guide’s international director Michael Ellis said it was a surprise for diners to discover inexpensive starred restaurants in the Asian financial hub, which is better known for its courting of expensive luxury experiences.

“To have a one-star experience for around HK$50 is something unique to Hong Kong,” Ellis told AFP. “You do have, at extremely affordable prices, just some absolutely stunning food.

“Obviously it’s going to be cramped quarters, you’re going to be waiting in line, you’ll rinse your eating utensils with hot tea before you eat.”

Ellis was speaking after Michelin awarded 10 new restaurants with a one-star rating in the fifth edition of its guide for Hong Kong and Macau for 2013, where the cachet of the star continues to carry allure for diners.

Cheap-priced

Ho Hung Kee, along with dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wan and Pang’s Kitchen, a new addition to the list, make up “the least expensive, most affordable starred experience” in the world, Ellis said, with dishes for as little as HK$30 to HK$60.

Tim Ho Wan is famous for its steamed dumplings and its barbecue pork bun, all staple dim sum selections, while Pang’s Kitchen serves home-style renditions of Cantonese cuisine with specialties including baked fish intestines in a clay pot and seasonal snake soup.

However, the guide is not without its critics, who question whether the most deserving eateries have been recognized or if the food quality of Hong Kong’s cheaper restaurants can compare to ones in Europe despite the price difference.

“I’ve eaten at the one-star Benoit in Paris, and it’s on another level, in terms of quality of food, service and ambience, to Tim Ho Wan,” wrote the South China Morning Post’s food and wine editor, Susan Jung, soon after the 2013 guide was launched in December.

23 countries in 3 continents

The Michelin guide has for more than a century recommended restaurants throughout Europe and now covers 23 countries across three continents.

It gives one star for “a very good restaurant in its category,” two for “excellent cooking, worth a detour,” and the top three stars for “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Hong Kong has four three-star restaurants.

“After our restaurant got one Michelin star, we have seen a lot more people come in, not just people from Southeast Asia, but people from Europe and the US have also increased,” Patty Ho said.

Ho Hung Kee has braved the city’s notoriously high rents to open a second branch in a gleaming shopping mall to handle the influx of customers who discovered the restaurant through the guidebook. The new branch offers a wider selection but at the same price range.

“We hope that by increasing the selection, customers will spend more,” she said.

Sam Miguel
01-31-2013, 08:06 AM
There’s a Turk in the kitchen

By Margaux Salcedo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

10:20 pm | Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

You would never imagine this setting in Makati’s red light district.

Lounge chairs fit for a country club or resort are laid out in the converted garage. Art promoting gay love is displayed on the walls. A flat TV screen presents what you fancy on cable TV. Adjacent to the kitchen is an air-conditioned red room for a private dinner.

And in the kitchen is a Turk whipping up recipes from home.

Truth be told, the place is a converted garage. You could be bitten by mosquitos. Recently the weather has been very friendly and cool but I think come May, you’ll want to wear your bathing suit.

The setting is not fancy but it has become pretty. The host has made the effort to make the setting beautiful and comfortable so that your experience is not just about the food but is also fun.

But the food manages nonetheless to steal the show. At Mehmet’s (talagang may “H” —“but nho, the ohwner ihs nhot Phinoy”) Turkish restaurant, you can expect authentic Turkish cuisine.

On my first visit, Mehmet very casually said, “You would need to pay around $4,000 for a Turkish chef to work here. But since I own this restaurant, you get authentic Turkish food for these (cheap) prices.”

Everything is made from scratch—the bread, the yoghurt, the kebabs, all made by chef-owner Mehmet Temizyurek himself, with love, especially the Iskender Kebab (sometimes called Kebap). You may or may not be familiar with this Turkish version of kebab; don’t expect it to be served on a stick. The meat is laid out on a plate: bite-sized pieces of lamb that punch your tongue with its flavor, lying on a bed of buttered bread and alongside a slab of sour yoghurt. Lezzetli!

They also have the usual Middle Eastern specialties: hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli— spelled slightly differently, presented slightly differently, but pretty much the same concept.

Then there are the kebabs on rice: hearty and spicy! Best of all, these are grilled in front of you, like in a barbecue party.

What’s new are the Italian influences, such as the kebabs on al dente pasta with butter, which make a curious combination, with a beautiful layering of herbs and spices nonetheless.

Instead of shawarma wraps, the restaurant which also calls itself a bakery, offers shawarma sandwiches. I believe there is wisdom in sticking to tradition. But do judge for yourself.

There are a lot of items that are frequently not on the menu, such as the baklava. But such are the birth pains of a small restaurant.

I would make my way to Mehmet’s veranda just for the Iskender Kebab/Kebap any day. It’s a great way to end the day, with a bottle of ice-cold Cerveza Negra.

Combos Bakery and Café/ Turkish Restaurant, 5911-B Matilde St., Barangay Poblacion, Makati. On Kalayaan Extension toward Makati Avenue from Rockwell Drive, turn right on street after Grilla. No reservations required. Cash only. Wheelchair accessible. Closed on Mondays.

Sam Miguel
02-05-2013, 11:47 AM
Last week the wife and I had dinner with one of our ninongs in Quezon City. As we were going to meet another set of frineds in the Scout area, the ninong brought us to Alba's along Morato.

Now I haven't been here in like seven or eight years, and the wife has only been to the one in Bel Air, and only twice some eight or nine years back, so it isn't like we don't know the place. Our ninong lives in Eastwood and of course had a lot of good things to say about that branch, although he'd been to the Morato branch only once a couple years back.

The ambience is still a lot like I remember, evoking an old Spanish-era house in the tropics, bahay na bato-style. Furniture was well-worn but still comfortable enough, and there was a kobancheros-type guitar trio serenading diners, an idea I never liked. Ever.

We all decided to have the buffet since it was all spread out already. On tap were pumpkin soup (good), various cold cuts (very good), a green salad (so-so), three pates - cheese, mushroom, some kind of green (all good), three appetizers - a fish croquette, meatballs, stewede tuna chunks of some kind (all good), two types of paella - Valenciana and a white kind (Valenciana was good, the white kind no so, underseasoned), callos (good), a fish fillet dish covered in cheese, French-style (so-so), chicken galantina (so-so to bad, underseasoned and tasted of wet cardboard), lengua (perfect texture but underseasoned therefor only so-so), caldereta (on the tough side but otherwise tasty, therefore so-so to good), a pasta dish with white sauce (bad), a scrawny side of roast beef (bad) with lumpy mashed potatoes (bad) and unheated gravy (bad), and of course cochinilla asado (good).

On the whole the entrees were not so good, not for anything else but because they were woefully underseasoned. It would have been easy enough to simply sprinkle a bit more salt and pepper on the lot of them during cooking. As it was all three of us wound up using Knorr seasoning, Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper throughout our meal.

Incredibly the starter selections were not bland at all, and were in fact pretty good, although of course the cold cuts are cured and some even smoked, so that takes care of any seasoning issues right there.

The Paella Valenciana is still pretty good, although I recommend you do sprinkle a bit of the available lime on it before eating, and if you can, do wait for the new one coming out of the kitchen, as the longer it sits at the buffet the more it dries out.

Save yourself the trouble and do not even bother with the white paella, the roast beef and its gross mash potatoes, and the pasta. Whoever is in charge of cooking those needs to leave the Alba's kitchen, if not the culinary world altogether.

The other entrees are not top-shelf but they are reasonably good, certainly not fatally bad like the above.

The cochinilla is still very good, very tender and not at all fatty unlike regular lechon. If only to maximize value I would recommend eating only the cochinilla, Valenciana and the cold cuts.

Ninong paid something north of P2,500 for all three of us inlcuding drinks and other charges. At that price point I think Alba's is seriously deluded. In fairness though the place looked like it was at 70% capacity that evening, including at least four long tables with parties of eight or more, and they all seemed to be genuinely happy to be there, and all of them had the buffet. I can't imagine they were happy about the spread.

I think they were there more out of habit than taste.

Sam Miguel
02-07-2013, 08:34 AM
Fresh oysters, caviar, foie gras, free-flowing champagne–it’s Sunday at Spiral

That is on top of the impressive feast offered by the 21 food ateliers of Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s flagship restaurant

By Pam Pastor

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:58 am | Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Few things can make me get up early on a Sunday morning. Spiral’s champagne brunch is one of them.

Since Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s flagship restaurant reopened in November last year, Spiral has been offering a weekly Sunday brunch with fresh Brittany oysters, caviar and free-flowing champagne and sparkling wines.

That is on top of the impressive feast from the restaurant’s 21 food ateliers—Salad and Appetizer, L’Écailler, Sushi Sashimi, L’Epicerie, Hot Japanese, French Stove, Rotisserie, Wood-fired Oven, Churrasco, North Indian, Asian Noodles, Peking Duck Oven, Chinese Wok, Steam Baskets, Filipino, Thai, Korean, La Boulangerie, La Patisserie, Chocolaterie and Creamery.

When we arrived at Sofitel last Sunday, the breakfast crowd had thinned out and the chefs were busy preparing their stations for brunch.

Organic vegetables and locally grown produce (executive chef Eric Costille brings in organic lettuce and herbs from Tagaytay) and an assortment of homemade dressings had been laid out in the Salad and Appetizer area.

There was a whole bar of fresh sushi and sashimi.

An entire room had been devoted to premium aged hams, smoked fish and many different cheeses from Europe. All kinds of breads were available at La Boulangerie—baguettes, croissants and more.

At the Hot Japanese atelier, sukiyaki, different kinds of tempura (shrimp, maya-maya, chicken breast and pork loin) and teppanyaki were waiting.

The French Stove was bustling with activity, just like the pizza and pasta stations.

Lamb leg, chicken, pork shoulder and beef prime rib were roasting at the Rotisserie while the Churrasco was ready with skewered steaks.

The North Indian atelier had a spread of rich and spicy offerings.

Asian food fans will enjoy the hand-pulled noodles, dim sum, Peking duck, roast pork and barbecue pork. There were Chinese, Korean and Thai dishes, too, from tom yum to bibimbap.

Filipino dishes like bulalo and adobo were also part of the lineup. Then we spotted something unique to Sundays at Sofitel: a Champagne station—two tables of champagne glasses and 12 different French champagnes and sparkling wines.

A bit of everything

Given the variety of choices, how does one decide what to eat (and drink)? “They must try a little bit of everything,” said Keith Pereira, Spiral’s operations manager.

And that’s what we did.

The buffet opened and people headed to the different food stations, with a number of them making a beeline for the champagne area.

My first stop was L’Epicerie, a heaven for cheese and cured ham lovers. Boursin, gruyere, tomme de savoie, manchego, reblochon, brie, camembert, parmesan—the list of cheeses went on and on. I chose a slice of reblochon and camembert to pair with my jamon serrano (like chocolates and massages, I like my cheeses mild).

I enjoyed my first plate with a glass of Moët & Chandon (Moët and Martini Asti were their most popular offerings, said the girl at the champagne station).

Next I headed to the steam baskets where I asked for two pieces of hakaw.

Crunchy favorites

I stopped by the Peking duck station for one duck in pancake, with melon instead of cucumber and a dollop of hoisin sauce. Then I added crunchy favorites to my plate—papadum and kropek from the North Indian and Asian stations.

I walked past the Filipino station and I heard a guy offer to two American tourists, “Sir, Filipino food?” I’m pretty sure they chose to try some bulalo.

As I was enjoying my second plate, a woman at the table beside ours said, “Nagpaluto ako ng foie gras.”

For my third plate, I went to French Stove where, sure enough, there was a chef pan-frying pieces of foie gras in front of a waiting crowd. I stood in line for a while until he put a couple of foie gras pieces onto a plate, drizzled them with sauce and heaped a spoonful of caramelized apples on the side before handing it to me. It was worth the wait.

Because I like my seafood hot and fully cooked, I picked up a couple of lobsters from L’Écailler and brought it over to the French station where they cooked it with garlic butter. Delicious. I ate the lobsters with a few spoonfuls of rich paella, which was also abundant with seafood.

Sweet spread

We were glad we saved room for dessert because Spiral’s sweet spread is a delight. There was a whole row of ice cream in delicious flavors, as well as jar upon jar of gummy candies that would make even the most jaded of adults feel like a kid again. There were also pastries and cakes of all kinds along with truffles and pralines. You could also customize crepes and bowls of halo-halo.

But for me, the true stars of the dessert atelier were the enormous chocolate fountains. Three kinds of chocolate flowed from them—chocolate, strawberry and white. You could choose from a variety of fruits, cookies and marshmallows to dip in them. I went for marshmallows covered with strawberry chocolate.

It was a really sweet way to end a fantastic meal.

Around us were families and friends—Filipino and foreign, in groups big and small, also enjoying Spiral’s brunch. We even spotted Joey de Leon with his wife and daughter.

It was past 3 p.m. by the time we left—stuffed and happy, ready for the rest of a beautiful Sunday.

Spiral’s Sunday brunch is from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Rates are P2,950+ for adults and P1,500+ for kids 4-11 years old. For reservations, call 8326988 and 5515555 ext. 6988; or e-mail fbreservations@sofitelmanila.com

Sam Miguel
02-13-2013, 08:21 AM
Fishman casts a different approach to fastfood dining

By Karen Boncocan

INQUIRER.net

6:52 pm | Monday, February 11th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — Gone are the days when eating seafood meant costly and lengthy dining experiences.

Squeezed in Bonifacio One Technology Center along Rizal Drive, an area lined with fastfood establishments, is a comfy fast casual dining place bidding time to shake up its competition–if it can call the usual fried chicken fastfood place a competition.

What Red Crab Group’s Fishman intends to do is reinvent the fastfood dining experience and introduce seafoods as an everyday fare. Imagine a seafood dish enough for two to three people delivered to your table in a jiffy.

Chef Peter Ayson said that this fast casual restaurant under Red Crab Group and Banana Leaf was his newest baby and his biggest challenge yet.

Having been involved in operations of seafood restaurants for a good six to seven years, he said Fishman was the result of his challenge unto himself to create a “refreshing” kind of fastfood establishment.

And refreshing is probably the best word to describe Fishman, from its under-the-sea inspired interior design and its colorful menus which were thought up by Ayson and Red Crab Group head Raymund Magdaluyo, and right down to its friendly staff and rather unusual dishes for a fastfood place.

“You eat not just to feel full but to feel refreshed, the question was, how do I make it fast?” he said, narrating how he came up with the idea of a fast casual restaurant serving seafood.

“This is my pioneer store, my trial store–and I’m still balancing how it’s going to work out. I had a five-month concept which I scrapped in the last minute; it was too safe, too plain. We scrapped the menu and came up with this, and the tuna sisig, the last dish I added became a hit,” he told INQUIRER.net.

He was referring to Fishman’s Spicy Tuna Sisig (P210), a bestseller according to the restaurant manager Jasmine Supe in a separate interview.

Fishman offers seafood dishes priced roughly over P100 to P300 and is packed during lunch time with customers lining up for plates filled with the classic fish and chips, the unusual dynamite fish lumpia, and tempura specials.

While coming up with an entirely different approach to fastfood was difficult, Ayson said the task proved to be a good payoff as it allowed him to be even more creative.

“I get to be creative, I want to be accepted (and I ask myself) can I create what I call ‘ecosog’ which stands for economically busog,” he said, saying that he has seafood delivered fresh daily and has also developed a system to ensure preparation was always fast.

An example was coming up with the restaurant’s Lenten specials which will be offered starting February 13. The menu for Lent comprises of stirfried seafood noodles with shrimp tempura, smoked bangus with salted egg, pinaputok na tilapia, and salmon belly teriyaki among other offerings.

“We try to stay away from grilled food and chose to pan fry (our dishes)” added Ayson, pointing out how so many fastfood chains have taken on grilled fastfood.

“Filipinos deserve to eat good food and that is what we can offer,” he said.

Fishman also plans to venture out to shopping malls this year with two new branches in the works and expand its target market from BGC’s residents and workers to mall goers.

Sam Miguel
02-18-2013, 01:08 PM
‘The goal isn’t to be No. 1,’ says Yellow Cab’s COO

By Joy Rojas

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:27 pm | Saturday, February 16th, 2013

In 2006, Roy Quejada was at a career crossroads. Having risen the ranks of a leading hamburger joint since he started as a service crew member when he was just a freshman in college, Quejada seemed destined to grow old with the fast-food company and was, in fact, in the running for training manager when he found himself in talks with the group behind Yellow Cab Pizza Co.

Before he could make a decision, fate stepped in and made it for him: the training manager post went to someone else, and Quejada went to work as operations manager for the pizza chain—a dream job if there ever was one. A regular customer of Yellow Cab’s St. Francis, Ortigas, branch, he was a fan of its food (the meat-loaded New York’s Finest is his favorite pizza variant) and the distinct look of the store, from its often-imitated exposed industrial ceiling, to the hip, New York vibe of its yellow, black and white interiors and cool Vespa-riding delivery boys.

Sitting inside Yellow Cab’s first branch, the recently renovated store in Makati Avenue, the boyish, bespectacled 41-year-old exclaims, “All the while, I thought it was an international brand!”

Quejada believes this proudly Pinoy pizza company which had 34 stores then to grow to its current 100 stores (and counting).

“If I didn’t see it that way, I would have stayed in my old job,” he admits. “But I saw how competitive the brand could be.”

Seven years later, Quejada (who became COO after Yellow Cab was acquired by the Pancake House group in 2010), is expected to attend the launch of the brand’s 100th branch in the Butterfly Garden of Newport City, Resorts World, this April. There’s now a Yellow Cab up north in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and one down south in Davao. And thanks to franchising, which the company is open to, there are even Yellow Cabs in Malaysia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. The objective, declares Quejada to colleagues during the company’s latest strategic meeting, “isn’t to be number one or the best. We just want to have more loyal customers. Our thrust is to improve our food, service and cleanliness on a day-to-day basis, and if we do that, customers will keep coming back. Loyalty is the goal,” he says.

“If we become number one, that’s a plus, a bonus to us.”

Brand-wise, the pizza chain that was the first to keep its stores operating 24 hours, seven days a week, is tweaking its image from a high-end hangout for special occasions to the restaurant you go to for everyday celebrations. On the glass wall of the Makati Avenue branch, an outline in white of a car plate with the catchphrase “Great Times, Great Pizza” sums up what Yellow Cab is all about.

“Research shows that people go to Yellow Cab for celebrations,” explains Quejada. “We want them to know that celebration doesn’t mean something as big as a graduation; it could mean getting recognized by your boss that day, or other causes for celebration from school or among friends.”

Yellow Cab marketing manager Coochy Mamaclay avers, “Management is more open to reaching out to the community. What’s important now is the experience of our customers. For 12 years, we’ve maintained the image of the brand and premium quality of our products, but this year, and in line with the opening of our 100th store and the company’s vision of customer engagement, we have a very big campaign to build customer loyalty.”

If there’s anything that ensures customer loyalty, it’s Yellow Cab’s products-pure innovation and value for money. After all, this is the chain behind “Dear Darla”—a thin-crust pizza with slices you roll in fresh arugula leaves and alfalfa sprouts. Yellow Cab is also the first to introduce the 18-inch pizza-huge, filling meals ranging from an affordable P630 (for an all-cheese pizza) to P815 (for the Anchovy Lovers or the ultimate sampler, Four Seasons). Light on the budget, the 18-incher feed as many as a dozen hungry people, making them a hit among office and school pals.

For his part, Quejada, who standardized training procedures for store operations during his first two years with the company, is constantly finding ways to enhance Yellow Cab’s service execution. Cashiers and servers are trained to become more customer-oriented, and with the opening of more branches in key areas of the city, the pizza company is gradually improving its delivery service.

He’s also focused on strengthening relationships, and not just with Yellow Cab’s customers. In his previous job, Quejada was known as a trouble shooter, the guy bosses sent to problematic stores to straighten out issues that dealt mostly with people. As a troubleshooter, the COO’s problem-solving style is simple—too simple, in fact, you’d think there was a catch to it. “My mentality is this,” says Quejada, “I always ask myself, ‘What is the problem in this situation and how can I solve it?’ Then I communicate the answer to the people involved. That’s it!”

Though the answer elicits reactions of surprise and disbelief, the COO has apparently settled enough conflicts to know his approach works. “You know, I realize that most of the problems, and not just in restaurant management, just require you to go back to the basics. All you have to do is ask yourself what the problem is and how best to solve it,” he says. “Managing expectations is one solution—don’t over promise. Adjusting to a current situation is another. Face the facts, and proactively deal with them. It actually just takes a couple of tweaks to solve something you’d initially think of as a huge deal,” he points out. “The simplicity of how you think can already solve a lot of problems.”

The rule applies to staff, as well. Noting the dynamic nature of people (some work better alone, others with a team), Quejada says the bottom line to all their woes is this: “People value relationships, they just want to be recognized and appreciated.”

And so, the COO who worked his way up from cleaning fast-food restrooms makes sure to engage in friendly conversations with Yellow Cab crew members during twice monthly visits to stores. As a leader, marketing manager Mamaclay describes Quejada as “very approachable,” and like Yellow Cab’s 100 branches, is readily accessible 24/7. During one particularly devastating typhoon, when all power lines were down and store managers could not be reached, frantic crew members were able to get a hold of Quejada. “Buti nalang sumagot ka!” they told him, relieved.

Acknowledging the unpredictability of running a restaurant, plus the fact that he is directly accountable for anything that happens in the branches, Quejada also admits, “I don’t look at my work as work. If I stop working, my life stops.”

Indeed, this COO appears to be working all the time. A voracious reader, he describes his house as a library filled with management and marketing books, from Stephen R. Covey’s timeless The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People; Jim Collins’ Good To Great and Great By Choice; to Robert Kaplan and David Norton’s Balanced Scorecard and The Execution Premium. Meanwhile, his wife, Abby, who was previously connected with a telecommunications service provider before she gave birth to their daughter, now 6, serves as his adviser of sorts. “She has an eye for marketing,” he says.

Still, it’s not like he doesn’t know how to relax and have a good time. Quejada, who was on the University of the Philippines’ volleyball team, now bikes and plays badminton and encourages Yellow Cab’s staff to be active in their own way.

The Quejadas also like to eat out, and when this COO takes his wife and daughter to Yellow Cab on the weekends, he isn’t on official business. Hot wings chicken, Spaghetti Alfredo, and his must-have New York’s Finest pizza are always what they order. “We love the food!” exclaims this loyal customer.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 08:54 AM
From Inquirer.net - - -

Dreaming of sushi with Jiro Ono

To mark their 23rd wedding anniversary, the Concepcion couple decided to experience Japan’s national treasure

2:58 am | Thursday, February 14th, 2013

(Author’s note: I am neither food writer, food critic nor food photographer. I am simply a writer who loves sushi.)

“Once you decide on your occupation you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job, you must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and the key to being regarded honorably. I’ve never once hated my job, I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it.”—Jiro Ono in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

Last year, I watched the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” I learned of Jiro Ono, a master sushi chef and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-star Michelin-awarded restaurant in Ginza, Tokyo. The Michelin guide awards one to three stars to a small number of restaurants of outstanding quality.

One star indicates “very good cuisine in its category”; two stars represent “excellent cuisine, worth a detour”; and a rare three stars are awarded to restaurants offering “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”

At age 86, Jiro Ono holds the Guinness record for being the oldest chef to be awarded three stars.

Watching the documentary, I was enthralled by how well-made the film is. Filmmaker David Gelb has given the world a wonderfully sweet symphony dedicated to the art of making sushi. From the freshest seafood to the best-quality rice, you are swept along on this journey of one man’s life quest to make the best sushi there is to be found.

In the film, Jiro says, “In order to make delicious food, you need to eat delicious food. The quality of ingredients is important, but one must develop a palate capable of discerning good and bad food. Without good taste, you can’t make good food.”

Jiro is a true shokunin—an artisan who strives to achieve perfection in his chosen craft. At 86, he is still constantly striving to be better than he already is, working each day, determined to make the perfect sushi.

Amazing food shots accompanied by classical music playing throughout the movie made me smile in anticipation of eating my next sushi meal. But more than that, I loved the simple wisdom of Jiro, things he would say throughout the film. His sense of humor had me laughing out loud at some of his lines, especially one quite funny but irreverent one he said in front of his parents’ graves!

Impossible

In late 2011, my husband and I opened Yabu, an authentic Japanese Katsu restaurant. Because of this, we have made a number of trips to Japan.

We go to immerse ourselves in Japanese culture or simply to see how restaurants are run, how disciplined and dedicated they are to their craft. We eat in as many different restaurants as we can, just to observe and taste.

“Jiro Dreams of Sushi” more than reinforced all the things we had come to know about Japanese culture and food preparation.

Prior to this, I had never heard of Jiro Ono. Yet when I was in Japan and would ask about him or his restaurant, faces would light up and they would speak almost reverently of him and his restaurant. I was told he has been declared a national treasure.

On a recent trip to Tokyo that coincided with our 23rd wedding anniversary, I planned to surprise my husband with a trip to Jiro’s restaurant, if I could swing it. It is normally booked months to a year in advance.

It’s a little 10-seater restaurant, no wonder it’s next to impossible to get a reservation here. It also turned out that Jiro’s is closed on a Sunday, our anniversary.

I asked the concierge at my hotel to inquire about lunch on Tuesday. Because it was Saturday, she doubted if I could get a reservation on such short notice. She made the call, then smiled and excitedly told me, “It’s miraculous that you can get a reservation! But first, I must tell you about their rules.”

1) You must be on time. They do not allow lateness.

2) There is no menu, it is all chef’s choice and you cannot make requests. A meal consists of 19 pieces of sushi, whatever is available fresh from the market that day. That is all.

3) No wearing perfume.

4) You must pay cash. (This is important to know because a meal at Jiro’s costs Y30,000 or roughly US$350 per person.)

5) No cancellations. If you cancel, there will be a Y15,000 cancellation fee.

6) The meal will last only approximately half an hour.

If the rules were okay with me, she would go ahead with the reservation. She added, “Jiro does not always make the sushi himself anymore, I am told, but he is at the restaurant every day.”

Experience

Not giving it a second thought, I made the reservation. After all, this was our anniversary meal. When I told my husband about it, he was thrilled. We were both excited.

Normally, I would not pay this price for a meal. My husband would be the first to say that I will always scrimp and save whenever I can. But this was special for us—not just a meal, but an experience.

Sukiyabashi Jiro is in the basement of a nondescript office building in Ginza. Directly across from the Sony building, around the corner from Gucci and a Nikon outlet, just down the road from Pritemps department store, near the most expensive real estate in the world. If you didn’t have exact directions, you could easily miss it.

Down a flight of stairs next to a store called The Suit Company which actually leads to the train station, a glass door on the left leads to the building’s basement and inside to the right is a simple glass-slatted door. This is Sukiyabashi Jiro.

When I walked into the restaurant, one of Jiro’s young apprentices approached, smiling, asking if we have a reservation. Upon giving our name, he nodded and gestured us inside to a smiling, friendly woman at the cash counter. She took our coats.

As I looked up, Jiro Ono was standing a few feet away. He turned and disappeared behind a curtain, only to reappear a few seconds later behind the sushi counter. I was so thrilled to see him begin preparations. We had hoped but had not expected to be served by Jiro himself.

The restaurant is very small. A sushi counter for 10 people lined one side, two tables against the wall in front of the sushi counter, and one table in front of the cashier. The dining area could not have been more than 30 sq m, small enough to be run only by Jiro, his son Yoshikazu, one shokunin, three apprentices and the woman cashier.

Apprentice

We were slightly early for our reservation so there were no other guests in the place. I raised my camera to take a photo, but the apprentice came and said politely, “No photos of place, only of the sushi.”

We were led to the first two chairs on the left and sat down. Another Japanese couple arrived and joined us, sitting a few seats to our right. They looked like a young married couple; the man was in a dark suit, a common sight in Tokyo, the woman in white sweater with pearls around her neck.

Soon after, one apprentice appeared with hot towels for our hands. He also put a little rubber liner on the table so I could rest my camera on it. He asked us what drinks we wanted. My husband opted for tea, and I, water.

The apprentice placed a printed list in front of us. In halted English he said, “This is menu today. Anything you do not like?” We both glanced through the list, some items unfamiliar to us. We both shook our heads, accepting the entire course. If we were to do this, we would do it right, chef’s choice all the way.

Of the two of us, I am the much less adventurous sushi lover, sticking to old sushi favorites. So, I whispered laughingly to my husband, “I’m nervous! What if there is something I don’t like?”

Before I could finish the thought, Jiro stood in front of us. He is of medium height, bald and bespectacled, a stern-looking man.

His stern look disappeared when I smiled at him and he smiled back. He bowed toward us in greeting, our heads bowing toward him in return. I was a little star-struck, I must admit. After all, Jiro has been called “the greatest sushi chef in the world.”

Dance in motion

Jiro then became completely focused and started working. Watching Jiro’s hands make sushi was like watching a graceful dance in motion. He twirled pieces of fish between his fingers quickly. He caressed the rice as he palmed it, his hands fisting around the rice forming a perfect shape.

It was a continuous dance with each preparation—a dip of fingers in the fresh wasabi, and then a dab of a brush in the soy sauce as he painted each sushi piece lovingly with his brush. He was the artist and this entire meal was his canvas.

He worked quietly and intently. He walked over and placed the first piece in front of me. It was hirame (halibut). The soy sauce brushed across the top and glistened in the light. It was time to have our first taste of Jiro’s famed sushi.

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 08:55 AM
^^^ (Cont'd )

‘Wow’

First thing I noticed when I picked up the sushi with my fingers was the temperature of the rice. It was neither hot nor cold, something like the temperature of my body.

I put the entire piece into my mouth in one bite. I closed my eyes in pleasure, and I could hear my husband say a muffled “wow” next to me.

Next thing I observed was how wonderfully soft the rice was, this special grade of grain made only available to Jiro from his supplier.

I felt the strong vinegar flavor and loved it immediately. The combination of just the right amount of rice, vinegar, wasabi and soy sauce blending with the perfect thickness of fish was incredible. It was the perfect piece of sushi, yet also the simplest—truly a study in contrasts. It was a wonderful start of our meal.

I smiled as I watched the Japanese couple next to us. The small, shy smile that appeared on the woman’s face as she closed her eyes eating the first piece said it all.

The rest of the sushi came in succession.

Holy tuna trinity

Sumi-ika is a glossy white squid with a nice chewy bite to it. But it was quite soft and tender. I do not normally eat squid sushi because of how tough it sometimes is, but I enjoyed this.

Buri, or young yellow tail sushi, was soft and melted in my mouth, its fishy flavor complemented well by the soy sauce and vinegar rice.

I have often heard foodies speak of the “holy trinity of tuna.” I never thought of tuna that way. But we do love it, so we were very excited when Jiro brought us the next three:

Akami (lean tuna), beautifully red, simple, soft, shining with a brush of soy sauce. It was amazingly good.

Chu-toro (semi-fatty tuna), pink in color, had a slight marbling of fat throughout. It melted in the mouth, its flavor delicious.

Oo-toro (fatty tuna) was undeniably the best of the three—covered in fatty marbling over its pink surface, and velvety smooth. Again it melted in the mouth. It was the best tuna we have ever eaten.

After a drink of water to cleanse my palate, Jiro brought out the next piece, a gleaming silver fish called kohada (gizzard shad). This was a cured fish that I thought was excellent! It was my first time to try it. The vinegar flavoring and texture reminded me a lot of Spanish boquerones.

I had never eaten akagai (ark shell), and when it was laid out in front of me, I hesitated for a moment. My husband ate his serving first and said, “Don’t worry, you’ll like it.” Slightly sweet, a little chewy, albeit a bit slimy, it tasted very good, indeed.

The next piece was brought to us by the apprentice. It was tako (boiled octopus). He said, “No soy sauce please. Salted.”

The slightly warm and tender octopus burst with flavor from the salt that Jiro flavored it with. It had a chewy, soft texture, no doubt the result of being massaged for 45 minutes as Jiro had taught his apprentices.

As the tenth piece of sushi came, I realize we had reached the halfway mark. The aji (jack mackerel) is a soft, fishy-tasting morsel that was equally good.

At this moment we noticed Jiro and his son Yoshikazu switch places. His son was now serving us. I thought, maybe this was for the benefit of the other customers, so Jiro can serve them as well.

By now there was another Japanese lady seated at the counter eating next to the Japanese couple. She spoke to Jiro every so often as she ate.

Boiled prawn

Yoshikazu served us the kuruma-ebi (boiled prawn). It was outstanding! Served in two parts, head and tail, the head was supposed to be eaten first. This prawn was supposedly cut in such a way as to preserve the flavor of the head. It was boiled only a few minutes before being served, so it was extremely fresh and flavorful, the texture perfect. We both loved it.

Sayori (needlefish) was a very different-looking fish with a stripe down the middle. It was soft, slightly fishy in taste, but very good.

Hamaguri (boiled clam) was a deliciously sweetened clam, glistening with sweet glaze, flawlessly cooked to give it a soft, slightly chewy texture. Wonderful!

Saba (mackerel) had a lovely vinegar flavoring and it was just delicious! No soy sauce needed to enjoy this.

Uni sushi

I am a late convert to the appreciation of uni (sea urchin). For many years, I didn’t like it. Whenever my husband would eat uni, I would pick at his piece and then taste it a bit. Not liking the strong taste, which was sometimes overly fishy or bitter, I convinced myself I really did not like it.

But in 2011, a day before the great Japan earthquake, I found myself in a little sushi place called Daiwa at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. A piece of uni sushi was served; I ate it and realized it was simply delicious. Unbelievably fresh and creamy. Nothing ever came close again. I had dreamt of that uni ever since.

At Jiro’s I watched excitedly as a small boxed tray filled with uni lay on the counter. It looked like little mountains of cream. A scooper came in and one perfect scoop of uni was laid on top of a bed of rice, wrapped in nori.

We picked up the entire roll and put it in our mouths. We smiled and alternately moaned in pleasure. The uni was fresh but ice-cold, so soft and creamy it was almost like a velvet mousse melting in your mouth.

The nori was perfectly crispy, hand-toasted over a flame grill earlier; the vinegared rice complemented the taste so impeccably.

But there really are no words to adequately describe Jiro’s uni sushi. I will dream of it for a long, long time.

Next, kobashira (baby scallops) was brought out, Jiro serving us again. On a bed of rice and wrapped in crunchy nori, sweet and slightly glazed with sauce, the baby scallops were tender and flavorful.

Ikura (salmon roe) was served next. I do not usually like ikura because of the extreme saltiness of the roe. Jiro must have some secret way of preparing this, because the salt level seemed very low. I loved the flavor that mingled with the rice and nori, as each ball burst in my mouth.

Best ‘anago’

After drinking water, I sadly realized there were only two pieces left, and my meal with Jiro would soon be over. But I waited with anticipation for the next piece, my absolute favorite of all, anago (sea eel).

One bite and again I found myself softly moaning in pleasure. Perfect texture, meaty and sweet, this was the best anago I’ve tasted, ever.

The last piece presented, a perfectly formed square tamago (egg), looked very different from others I have eaten. This was more cake-like in texture, and sweet. I liked it, though I thought it could be less sweet.

When the 19 pieces of sushi were served, the chefs exclaimed something in unison, like a signal that ended the meal. Jiro looked our way and nodded his head.

The entire meal took around 25 minutes. Though it seemed very quick, it did not feel rushed at all. I even had time to take a photo of each item as it was being served to us.

We ate at our own pace, savoring each bite, marveling at the flavors we were experiencing.

Perfect pacing

The pacing was perfect. As we finished each piece, a new one came out at almost the exact moment we were done chewing.

It is said that sushi must be eaten as soon as it is placed in front of you, because each ingredient is perfect at that very moment.

The apprentice watched us intently throughout the meal. If my glass of water was almost empty, he went to fill it up. If my husband’s tea was getting cold, he brought out a new steaming cup. He was very attentive and thorough. If my plate got dirty, he wiped it clean before the next piece arrived.

We ended the meal with full stomachs. When the apprentice asked if we wanted more, we regretfully declined, though I felt like kicking myself now for not having had one more piece of uni and anago.

After finishing our sushi, we were asked to transfer to the tables in front of the counter, leaving our space open for the second lunch seating.

The dessert was then served. One perfect slice of ice-cold, extremely sweet, juicy musk melon. Musk melon is said to be one of the most expensive kinds of melon in Japan. In Tokyo, a single melon can cost anywhere from Y5,000-Y40,000.

As we got up to leave, Jiro went outside with us. With a small smile he gestured for me to stand near him for a photo. The picture-taking done, he turned toward us and bowed, thanking us in Japanese.

Pure precision

I wished we could have spoken to him a bit, but there was the language barrier, and he had to go back in to serve his newly arrived customers.

So, was it worth the price? Was the experience worth all that?

The sushi definitely was outstanding. It was also the fastest, simplest, no-frills meal we have ever eaten. Yet in its simplicity was pure precision and excellence. It was, from beginning to end, a mesmerizing performance, a homage to the art of making sushi.

Having watched the documentary and knowing what a life quest this has been for Jiro, the 10 years it takes to apprentice under Jiro before one becomes a shokunin, how much preparation goes into making the rice, curing the fish, hand-toasting the nori, massaging the tako, all the flawless little details behind the scenes that contributed to this one perfectly thought-out meal, it certainly was more than worth it.

It was truly a sublime experience—the chance to meet Jiro, watch him work and have the honor of being served by him. This small, unassuming man who, at 86, is still on a life journey to achieve perfection in his craft. How inspiring is that?

Because of this one perfect meal, like Jiro, I will forever be dreaming of sushi.

(Information on the definition of shokunin is from “Japanese Woodworking Tools: Their Tradition, Spirit and Use” by Toshio Odate.)

Sam Miguel
02-19-2013, 11:14 AM
‘Paella,’ roast pork, pudding with ‘pili’ nuts served in a ‘mansion’

By Micky Fenix

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:28 am | Thursday, February 14th, 2013

My batchmates at the College of the Holy Spirit Manila felt like conspirators when we decided not to eat lunch in school during a recent grand reunion to celebrate its centennial. But only because there was an interesting alternative—La Cocina de Tita Moning.

It’s in a place called the Legarda Mansion, but it’s more like a stately old home and not the grandiose building which a “mansion” suggests.

On a tour of the house, my schoolmates sighed upon seeing the beautiful and well-preserved antique furniture—nobody makes these precious items anymore. We also thought of how much the Luna and Hidalgo paintings must now cost.

But how wonderful it was to be reminded of the old days when there were many such old houses in Manila’s San Miguel district.

Even Malacañang Palace was like an elegant old house to us then. Back in our school years, we used to tour the palace grounds with the presidential guards as our guides.

And so those days came back to us as our group waited to be seated at a long table set so elaborately that one blogger said it looked like “Downton Abbey,” the hit BBC production about a family that lived in one of the English country estates where dinner was always formal and people were dressed to the nines.

What we wore wasn’t formal but the service was—each course served for us to get as much or as little, Russian-style.

Suzette Montinola has taken the lead to preserve not only the Legarda ancestral house but also the family’s recipes. The “mansion” was home to her grandparents, Alejandro and Ramona Legarda. The recipes are her grandmother’s who never wanted to be called “lola” but GG for “glamorous grandmother.” Suzette wrote about it in her piece, “GG’s Table,” in the book “Slow Food: Philippine Culinary Traditions” (Anvil Publishing, 2005).

While the guests were thrilled about treasures and some secrets in the Legarda Mansion, the eating was certainly anticipated. Salsa monja—shallots cooked with bread crumbs and olives—was waiting to be placed on bread.

For the first course, some opted for the pumpkin soup—thick, creamy and filling. Those who preferred salad were treated to a sampler trio that included ripe papaya with cheese, kangkong with grilled pepper and caramelized walnuts, and grilled eggplant with salted egg.

Baked creamed spinach and roasted vegetables came next to accompany the succeeding two courses.

The paella arrived, looking hefty and studded with huge shrimps.

And then the main course was a choice of either roasted pork or lengua (beef tongue) in white wine.

My generation liked eating lengua, but many of our children are no longer familiar with the dish. Blame it on us for not cooking this slow food that takes a long time to tenderize and then to meld all the flavors.

For those who chose the pork, the plus was the glazed camote that was cooked perfectly and could be eaten by itself.

By the time the dessert, bread pudding, came, everyone looked too full to partake it. But I told everyone that this was the part that I most awaited because the pudding is about the best I’ve ever tasted—almost butter cake-like, then topped with caramelized pili nuts, each placed on the tips of toothpicks.

We had chosen the menu from quite a long list—one group featuring Filipino dishes such as tinola, dinuguan, kare-kare, sinigang and adobo. And there is an a la carte menu, though one is advised to call and reserve first. Minimum reservation is for two.

The quality of the cooking has been maintained because Suzette remembers the flavors and the love that went into her GG’s dishes. Her good intentions are backed by training since she studied hotel and restaurant management at the Ecole des Roches in Switzerland, and is now teaching at the Enderun Colleges apart from finishing her MBA.

When Alain Ducasse visited Manila, one lunch featured Filipino dishes. He asked me who took charge of the lunch and I said it was Suzette, who was also annotating. I added that she has a restaurant that does traditional dishes. Ducasse said that it was good that someone is doing that in the country.

But while tradition lives on at La Cocina de Tita Moning, Suzette still wants another way to preserve the dishes and the house, and that is by publishing a book. She has her photographs, stories and recipes. It’s just a matter of putting it together.

Visit lacocinadetitamoning.com or call 7342146.

E-mail the author at pinoyfood04@yahoo.com.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 09:30 AM
Now in Manila (and the first in Asia!), IHOP is more than just pancakes

Also in the menu: omelets—including several meatless options—burgers, appetizers, soups and salads, and dinner favorites

By Alex Y. Vergara

Philippine Daily Inquirer

3:04 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

IHOP may be known for its world-famous American-style pancakes, but the US-based restaurant chain has plenty to offer diners, including a range of hearty omelets, sandwiches and appetizers, which convinced restaurateur Archie Rodriguez to bring the brand to the Philippines.

After five long years of negotiations and planning, IHOP opened its first restaurant in the Philippines last week at the corner of 30th Street and 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City (BGC or better known as The Fort) in Taguig.

Known originally as International House of Pancakes when it opened its first outlet outside Los Angeles in 1955, IHOP now has over 1,500 restaurants in the US. It has also established a presence in Canada, Mexico and various parts of Latin America and the Middle East.

“Not only is this IHOP the first in the Philippines,” said Rodriguez. “It’s also the first IHOP in Asia.”

As president and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc., Rodriguez has also brought to the Philippines such iconic foreign restaurant and food chains as California Pizza Kitchen, Morelli’s, Gyu-Kaku and PF Chang’s.

“For the first year, we’re initially carrying IHOP’s core menu, which includes a wide selection of pancakes, waffles, omelets—including several tasty and meatless options—burgers, appetizers, soups and salads,” said Rodriguez.

Since IHOP is primarily a family-dining destination, Rodriguez and his team, six of whom trained with IHOP for three months in the US, have also beefed up their breakfast, combo meals and kiddie offerings.

This core group of six people has been responsible for training more people in the Philippines in the run-up to IHOP’s opening. Trainers and executives from the US, led by Ana Hernandez, IHOP’s director for international marketing, also flew to Manila from LA a week or so before opening to oversee and fine-tune the restaurant’s operations.

“What a good number of people perhaps don’t know is we also offer a great selection of omelets,” said Rodriguez. “Each omelet is prepared the way they do it in the US.”

This means every omelet dish regardless of the filling comes with a splash of IHOP’s exclusive buttermilk and wheat pancake batter for extra fluffiness. Depending on your choice, each order of omelet is served either with two buttermilk pancakes or mixed fruits in season.

Meat lovers are in for a big treat, with omelets such as Big Steak and Colorado seemingly cooked with them in mind. Served with a dollop of salsa, Big Steak consists of tender strips of steak, fresh green peppers, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and IHOP’s own “proprietary” hash browns.

“These are the same hash browns found in our breakfast plate,” said Hernandez. “They’re exclusive to IHOP. Every omelet offers layers of flavors.”

Colorado has almost the same ingredients as Big Steak, but in lieu of the strips of steak, it’s loaded with shredded beef, bacon, pork sausage and ham.

A healthier, but still “meaty” omelet option is the Chicken Fajita, which consists of grilled fajita chicken breast strips, fresh green peppers, onions and a blend of cheeses and salsa.

Vegetarians need not feel left out. IHOP also offers such meat-free omelets as Simple & Fit (made with all sorts of veggies, spices, cheeses and egg substitute), Spinach & Mushroom, and Garden.

Classic variants

All-time favorites include classic “Pancake Flavors” such as New York Cheesecake, Chocolate Chip, Cinn-a-Stack and Simple & Fit. The last consists of blueberry chip pancakes combined with healthy grains and nuts.

To add more fun to dining, kids can opt for the Funny Face, a huge chocolate-chip pancake with powdered sugar, maraschino cherry eyes and a whipped topping smile, or the Create-a-Face pancake.

What’s more, every item, down to IHOP’s hearty dinner favorites such as French Onion Pot Roast, Country Fried Steak and Fried Chicken Dinner, is served with a smile.

For added variety, IHOP also offers a range of fruit and Nutella crepes as well as French toasts topped either with strawberry or blueberry, and loaded with a sweet creamy filling. Servings may be hearty, but they’re far from humongous.

“Omelets in the US, for instance, are served in portions that work for the American market,” said Rodriguez. “We came up with the right sizes here, which we believe should be right for Filipinos.”

Apart for certain proprietary items exclusive to IHOP such as syrups and batter mixes, most of the rest of the ingredients are sourced locally.

“Specs-wise, if we can’t get, say, the right chicken size, then we would have to get it in the US,” said Rodriguez. “But we get most of our meat and produce locally.”

Open every day

IHOP’s two-story BGC branch can sit as many as 130 people, and is open every day. To serve late-night and early-morning crowds, the restaurant is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight the rest of the week.

“The first floor can sit only 20 people because I want the second floor to be the main dining area,” said Rodriguez.

The second floor’s glass-lined picture windows offer a refreshing view of BGC’s running park. Just being there in the morning, Rodriguez added, gives you a wonderful feeling.

DQA, a local architectural firm, was responsible for designing and building the restaurant based on specs set by IHOP’s head office.

Before the year is over, Rodriguez hopes to open three more IHOP restaurants in Metro Manila: Quezon City (in the Katipunan area), Greenhills and Alabang.

20-year dream

ANA Hernandez, IHOP’s director for international marketing, and Archie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Global Restarant Concepts, Inc.

Rodriguez’s dad, Jack Rodriguez Sr., also a restaurateur, partner and board member of the Bistro Group of Restaurants, had wanted to bring IHOP to the Philippines as early as 20 years ago. Since the older Rodriguez failed in his mission, he passed on the challenge to his son.

(The younger Rodriguez has nothing to do with Bistro’s operations, as the older company and Global are independent of each other.)

“My dad told me that this is a 20-year-old dream for him,” said Rodriguez. “He’s glad that it is finally coming true through me. Still, it took me five years to finally see it happen.”

What finally convinced IHOP in the US to enter the Philippine market? There were two main reasons, Hernandez said: when the company realized how huge the market’s potential is, and when they finally found a reliable partner in Global to effectively penetrate this market.

“For many years, we’ve had the vision and the interest of coming here to Asia, and reach out to more consumers,” she said. “But it was only when we got to know people from Global that we found the perfect partners.”

Iconic brand

For his part, Rodriguez is thankful for the trust and privilege of representing IHOP, which, in many ways, epitomizes the family-dining concept Global excels in. The innate culture of making people happy “by spreading” it internally and externally is what IHOP is all about.

“IHOP is an iconic brand,” he said. “They have a rich heritage that we’re now bringing here. The brand is about doing it right and sticking to tradition, which we understand. And they seem to appreciate our track record after being in business for 16 years.”

As concurrent head of InterDine, a subsidiary of Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc., Rodriguez can enter into joint ventures with other Southeast Asian companies in opening IHOP outlets within the region. In effect, he will be the sole representative of IHOP, as it continues to expand in this part of the world.

As one of the biggest restaurant companies in the world, DineEquity, the US-based company behind IHOP, is also behind the Applebee chain. Rodriguez wants to focus first on expanding IHOP’s presence in the region before adding more names to his growing list of global brands.

“Once I’ve opened at least 12 IHOP stores in the Philippines, which I hope would happen in less than three years, I could start looking and developing those countries I’ve reserved.”

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 09:32 AM
He cooked, cleared tables, washed dishes–‘lead by example,’ says Archie Rodriguez

By Alex Y. Vergara

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:58 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Some of Archie Rodriguez’s biggest critics every time he brings in a US-based restaurant chain to the Philippines are his close friends and family, including his stylish designer-wife Bea Valdes and their three kids.

“When they try the restaurants, Bea would sometimes tell me about certain design things that I need to improve on,” said Rodriguez, president and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc. (See main story.)

“Of course, she’s also quite vocal about the food’s quality. But my kids are the ultimate critics. If they like the food, chances are the restaurant would do well. If they don’t like it, I’d be very concerned.”

Valdes’ inputs, although welcome, are always said after the fact. Since both husband and wife have their respective business concerns, they try as much as possible not to discuss business matters at home. Instead, they spend their precious and few moments together talking about “normal” things involving family.

Apart from Rodriguez’s 12-year-old daughter with his former wife, he and Valdes have two kids of their own. Their youngest is less than a year old, while the older one is now 5.

There was a time when they used to discuss work-related matters at home. For a time, Rodriguez even helped Valdes’ fledgling bag business. The arrangement suited them well, but the couple found out later that not talking about cash flows and bottom lines proved healthier for their relationship.

“We find that we’re happier when we don’t talk about work because work can be serious,” he said.

Valdes’ sister Marga Trinidad is now the former’s business manager. But Rodriguez’s doors are always open should they need advice, especially on financial matters.

After being part of Global for the past 16 years now, bringing in such well-known and iconic US restaurant chains as California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), PF Chang’s and IHOP, to name a few, Rodriguez has plenty to offer fellow businessmen in terms of advice.

Although Rodriguez, 41, was exposed to various businesses his dad Jack Rodriguez Sr. was involved in, including the Bistro Group of Restaurants, he never worked for him. Neither was he as passionate as he is now with the restaurant business when he was younger.

“Except for Bistro, I sit on the board of our other companies,” said Rodriguez, who expressed the deepest admiration for his dad. “But I don’t run any of these companies. For the most part, I’m focused on Global. I also have partners here.”

Joint ventures

When he began carving out a career for himself in business at quite a young age, Rodriguez was into computers and information technology. He also had a number of joint ventures with friends, including former Sen. Miguel Zubiri, managing such local restaurant chains as Tequila Joe.

But it was his initial involvement with CPK that turned things around. After a three-month, hands-on involvement in operations—from taking down orders to cooking, clearing tables to washing dishes—Rodriguez fell in love with the business.

As one of the pillars behind Global, he could have delegated the dirty job to one of his subordinates. But being new to the business, Rodriguez wanted to learn firsthand by immersing himself in it. And the best way to learn the ropes, he insisted, is by starting at the bottom.

“I’m fortunate enough to have worked with a strong team,” he said. “One of the keys to success in business is having good people to support you. Apart from empowering and entrusting them to make the right decisions, you also have to lead by example. I work as hard as anybody even during weekends or any time of the day, if necessary.”

Rodriguez then slowly transitioned from IT to the food business. He hasn’t totally abandoned his love for digital technology, as one of the family’s businesses, apart from real estate, is a call center serving companies in the US, UK and Australia.

“But most of my waking hours are spent in the restaurant business,” he said.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 09:33 AM
The best Tokyo foodie places, according to Ambeth Ocampo

By Margaux Salcedo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:28 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Oh, Tokyo. You have earned my lifelong reverence. Your warm welcome (and toilet bowl seats); your culture of respect for labor and laborers; your intricate attention to detail from subway murals to sushi. You are a most beautiful balance of yin and yang, hot and cold, timeless beauty and radical creativity.

It’s also true that Tokyo is a mecca for hard-core foodies. But you will need a tour guide. Otherwise you can only go as far as pantomime can take you. And, worse for the foodie, you will end up going to tourist-y places that only scratch the surface of the flavors of Tokyo.

Happily for me, our tour guide was a historian—professor Ambeth Ocampo, no less. After having taught Rizal and Philippine history for almost a year now at a Tokyo university, he knows the ins and outs of the city, including its foodie nooks. His favorite joints:

For ramen—Tao in Ginza

You think you know ramen if you’ve tried Ukokkei or Tsukiji’s versions? Think again. The ramen at Tao in Ginza will forever erase all your impressions of ramen. Here the ramen was white. The broth felt creamy (even if there was no cream) and was not oily from pork fat at all.

But when you slurped, the strong flavors of pork bone in which it was boiled consumed you. The flavors of the broth also stuck to the noodles.

Proof that it is a place where ramen is revered: I went at the height of lunch on a Monday and the room was silent, with everyone focused on their ramen. They must be praying to it or something.

For sushi—Misaki-maru in Chiyoda-ko

Misaki-maru stands for the name of a fishing boat, and this shop also has a few other branches. But true to its name, the sushi tasted like its ingredients were just fished out of the sea. A bite of the sushi here will inevitably put a smile on your lips.

I witnessed a young boy of around 10 eat seven plates of sushi, and that was a light day. Ambeth said the boy is there almost every afternoon and can consume as much as 15 plates. He may be training his palate to become the next Jiro.

Do not leave Tokyo without having a bite of otoro (fatty tuna belly), whether from this joint or elsewhere. While our tuna was dark pink, this was light pink, almost like salmon. And it felt so delicate and buttery. The chef does not recommend that you dip it in soy sauce with wasabi, to appreciate it in its pure form.

For yakitori—Tengu in Chiyoda-ko

Dean Fumi Terada, a friend of Ambeth, brought us to this cool local joint. Truth be told, this was the place we could relate the most to.

First, the stingray reminded us of our squid flakes. Second, a sour blue eggplant left in salty water overnight was reminiscent of our achara. On sticks: bituka, puso, liver. Parang street food sa kanto. Except less oily. And finally, chicken skin. Also less oily than our version.

But everything was so delectable, and you would not feel like your cholesterol went on overdrive afterward. Oh, do try the yaki onigiri (roasted rice balls), which you can dip directly into the fabulous soy sauce; and also the karaage. Yum!

For tempura—Tsuna-hachi in Shinjuku

I got recommendations from three different people to check out Tenichi, which has branches in Ginza and beside Imperial Hotel. And I did go and loved it.

But Ambeth’s recommended tempura place was even better—and cheaper! Make sure you get seated by the counter so that you can watch the tempura master work his art. Both Tenichi and Tsuna-hachi offer light battered tempura, unlike what we are used to here. It goes through a massive cleansing process so your tempura does not feel like ukoy.

But while at Tenichi the seafood is already presented on a basket when you arrive, at Tsuna-hachi you can still see the seafood alive behind the counter. This is why when you bite into it, the meat of the seafood is still oh so juicy. And while the batter is light, the tail of the prawn is so crispy you can happily munch away.

As in Tenichi, the chef will indicate which items to have with tempura sauce and which ones to appreciate with just salt.

But at Tsuna-hachi, there was also a gorgeous wasabi salt that was addictive!

Finally, you can end your meal with tempura ice cream—the best vanilla ice cream there is, made right in their kitchen with vanilla beans and then fried like prawn tempura.

For Kobe—Seryna

This was recommended to me by the most gracious Bella Y., who I met through Sandy Daza and Cyrene de la Rosa two nights before I flew to Tokyo, and my father’s Japanese friend Mr. Hideo Nakahara.

I only have this to say: The Kobe sukiyaki here will hurt your pocket, but its flavors are priceless. It makes you finally understand why experts describe Kobe beef as “buttery.” Absolutely excellent.

For strawberries—The Perfect Fruit store, Ginza

“Make sure you try their white strawberries,” Bella Y. also advised. “Why are they white?” I asked.

I found a box at a store where Aleth Ocampo, private dining queen and sister of Ambeth, brought me. Six thousand yen for a box of 12! Namutla ata ang strawberry sa taas ng presyo kaya pumuti! But in the spirit of educating myself, I still bought a box.

The strawberries were larger than the ordinary ones, and perfectly red outside, almost like a painting. But once you sliced it in the middle, you saw it had a white spine. It was juicy in the most delicate way. Truly perfect—the Rolex of strawberries.

There is so much more to learn about and taste in Japan. Hopefully, Ambeth will have more finds to show us by our next visit!

Sam Miguel
02-28-2013, 10:27 AM
MANILA, Philippines - New World Makati Hotel offers its “Half on Half” buffet at P730 for lunch and P775 for dinner from Thursdays to Sundays at Café 1228. The buffet includes a wide variety of salads, appetizers, mains and desserts. The promo runs until March 31.

Monday and Tuesday evenings are ladies’ night at Bar Rouge from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; all ladies who order margaritas, mojitos, martinis and other chic drinks get two glasses for the price of one, or P385. The promo runs until March 31.

For information, call 811-6888, extension 3388.

Sam Miguel
03-20-2013, 11:16 AM
The $20 Diner: Kantutas Restaurant, meaty Bolivian fare in Wheaton

By Tim Carman, Mar 14, 2013 04:51 PM EDT

The Washington Post Published: March 15

Whatever you do while dining at Kan*tutas Restaurant do not, under any circumstance, ignore the tiny saucer of sauce that owner Maria Peredo drops off at your table at this meaty Bolivian outpost in Wheaton. A mix of parsley, cilantro, jalapenos, Jamaican peppers and, for all I know, a mysterious Andean elixir, the green salsa called llajua is the Javier Bardem of condiments: It improves everything it touches.

I came to this conclusion after serious scientific investigation into my costilla asada, a grilled beef short rib platter overflowing with rice, lime wedges, half a ripe avocado, a lightly dressed salad and a fried potato sawed in half. I tried the thinly sliced rib meat unadorned and savored its salt and char, its fire and flesh. Then I paired another bite with a small sliver of avocado, which was as cooling and lush as you’d expect. I continued mixing and matching the beef with all the elements on my plate, down to the white rice that had been blackened with the meat’s good, greasy drippings. (Allow me to add that these slickened grains have practically altered my geographic definition of dirty rice to somewhere below the equator.) Every bite offered its own pleasures, each as individual and colorful as a fresh twist of a kaleidoscope.

But when I topped the beef with Peredo’s version of llajua, the condiment unlocked some secret chamber of flavor. The salsa added more than a gentle application of heat. It added more than a high note of herbal fragrance. It seemed to heighten the flavors of the entire bite, as if the sauce were the Bolivian equivalent of Vietnamese nuoc mam, intensifying every ingredient with its umami alchemy.

Perhaps I may be pushing credibility to say that this transformation, this deepening of flavors, occurred every single time I scooped a small spoonful of the salsa onto a dish, whether a Bolivian peanut soup, a few bloated kernels of choclo (also known as Peruvian corn) or a carb-loaded platter of rice, baked potato and breaded beef called silpancho. More on this in a second.

First, I think it’s important to have an frank discussion about Bolivian food in general and Kantutas in particular. Both can present challenges to an unprepared diner. The cuisine itself is a B-grade splatter film for vegetarians. As a countryman once told me years ago, “If you don’t have meat in Bolivia, it’s like you don’t have anything to eat.” What’s more, given the Andes’ wealth of potatoes and the influx of Asian immigrants to South America, most plates are loaded with starches — rice, potatoes, fries, choclo, even pasta on occasion. The plates themselves virtually pant and heave under the weight of all those proteins and carbs. Best to come hungry.

As for Kantutas, a blue box of a restaurant with pan-flute or racy salsa videos on a constant loop on two flatscreens, it takes a loose approach to catering to the public. Its hours are posted on the window and on a Web page or two, but that’s no guarantee the place will be open. I know. Twice, I arrived during posted operating hours, and twice Kantutas was closed. Peredo encourages people to call before driving to Wheaton, advice that I wholeheartedly second, given that the restaurant tends to shutter early during the dinner hour if the kitchen has exhausted its supplies or the crowds have thinned.

Kantutas also has adopted a quirky strategy to menu planning. I have little confidence in my ability to break down what dishes are available during what days or on what lunar cycles or whatever formula Kantutas follows. The bottom line: Not all dishes are available daily, in large part because of the restaurant’s small staff and the large amount of work that goes into, say, the peanut soup (a creamy, understated pleasure — with french fries floating on the surface! — requires hours on the stove to cook down those pureed nuts).

Perhaps more important, Kantutas, for a number of operational reasons, opts not to sell the ubiquitous Bolivian snack, the saltena, the braided dough pocket that serves as an edible bowl for a buffet of liquidy ingredients. Instead, Peredo offers the deep-fried equivalent, the empanada tucumanas stuffed with beef or chicken and many of the typical saltena fillings, such as raisins, peas, olives and sliced boiled eggs. The appetizer is head-smackingly good, at once chewy, moist, savory and ever so piquant thanks to the spellbinding green sauce. The only thing missing are the chunks of potatoes — and the joy of eating a hot soup from a hollow of baked sweetened dough.

Other Bolivian staples are easily obtained, however, even if the staff may downplay them to non-natives. Like the charke, a salty, oven-dried beef served on a platter with dried corn, fried potato, hard-boiled eggs (really hard, as in green-gray yolks) and a dollop of fresh house-made cheese. Charke is often referred to as Bolivian jerky, but that’s deceiving; its texture is airier than those leathery beef belts in America. Charke also has more crunch, like the bovine form of shoestring potatoes. When paired with starchy corn, salty cheese and, yes, the green salsa, it’s a heady, multi-layered bite.

Don’t miss the anticuchos, whenever they’re available; the finely sliced beef heart is marinated and grilled to a salty (and peppery) succulence. The pollo a la plancha, or grilled chicken, will cause instant salivation, its glistening, thinly pounded breast meat seared to a golden, hypnotic hue. The dish that appears on most tables, though, is the silpancho, which makes sense in this (or any) economy. The platter probably has enough calories to sustain a classroom of high-metabolic rugrats for a week.

Still, whatever its nutritional deficiencies, silpancho is a superfood in my book, at least from its expert layering of flavors. The starchy rice base is complemented by the breaded beef, both blanketed in a rich yolk released from a stratum of fried eggs, all of which is mercifully elevated with an acidic blast of pico de gallo. Wash it down with a sweet horchata or chicha morada, and your day is complete. Management geeks might view the meal as vertically integrated.

And you know what sends silpancho over the top? Yes, that’s right: a healthy dose of Kantutas’s tableside salsa.

Sam Miguel
03-20-2013, 11:21 AM
^^^ By its name alone, this Bolivian restaurant will have Filipinos in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia areas lining up around the corner, hehehe...!

Sam Miguel
03-21-2013, 09:43 AM
In the ramen wars, here’s a serious contender in authenticity

By Clinton Palanca

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:21 am | Thursday, March 21st, 2013

This week I did something that I usually try very hard not to do: I went to a restaurant not because it was new and promised to be interesting, but because it was new and popular.

The Internet buzz pointed me in the direction of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen in the new Shangri-La Mall extension, and after trudging through endless empty corridors we found a long queue outside the restaurant that was composed mostly of the hype machine when it comes to a new restaurant: food bloggers and young families who like to be first in trying new places.

Although to call it a queue is being generous: It was a mob of growling, sullen groups who I’m sure are otherwise wonderful people in everyday life, but being made to wait in line for a seat in a restaurant taps into something deeply buried in the Filipino psyche, perhaps left over from the war years.

The staff at Ikkoryu has an embarrassing way of dealing with the cursing and bullying of the mob. They apologize profusely, then apologize again, and then bow deeply before you in supplication, like a penitent begging for mercy, so that one feels terribly guilty for daring to be impatient.

Rave reviews

Meanwhile, making the pilgrimage to Shangri-La was my own penitence for neglecting to make the trip to Alabang to weigh in on the rave reviews surrounding Ramen Yushoken. A place that markets itself as having its ramen created by the son of the Ramen God has set the bar very high for itself. But that’s too far south to go for ramen, even if it’s semi-divine ramen. So we drove north instead.

It wasn’t worth it, and the hour-long wait wasn’t worth it either. The tonkotsu broth, made from long-simmered pork bones, was faultless, redolent of the heady stink of a farmyard; no, really, it tastes much better than that sounds. The long-simmered broth is pungent yet creamy, an unexpected and winning combination, in the manner of an andouillette in cream sauce.

The side dishes are no better nor worse than one would find at the average Little Tokyo restaurant.

It’s hard to judge this restaurant on its own merits and appraise it separately from the ramen wars currently raging in Manila. It’s also difficult to form a dispassionate opinion that doesn’t take into account the considerably steep price of entry that comes from finding a parking space in the labyrinth that the increasingly inappropriately named Shangri-La has now become, and enduring the wait and the crush of obnoxious people incapable of forming an orderly queue.

If the restaurant were just another in the mall, which is probably what it will be in another few months, I would place it near the top of places to go to after a long shopping day, but not a place I would drive to visit. Within the context of the ramen wars, I think it’s a serious contender for the authenticity and purity of its broth, and anywhere that gives us options to escape the tyranny of Ukokkei’s caprices is worth celebrating.

Lukewarm response

Perhaps part of the reason for my lukewarm response is that I’m beginning to become just a bit skeptical of the madness surrounding ramen. When something perfectly innocent that I’ve always liked such as cupcakes, or macaroons (“macarons,” if one must be pedantic), or homemade ice-cream, or even tea, becomes a food fad, fueled by Internet hype and marketing, the question must be asked whether the momentary hype has enriched the food scene, educated our palates and enhanced our understanding.

In other words: Are we left with a better bowl of ramen and a better appreciation for it, or is it just a feast for food writers’ one-upmanship as competing restaurants hawk their claims of greater authenticity?

Ikkoryu serves a very decent bowl of ramen, but it is not the elixir of life, and I would recommend waiting for the crazy people to go away before dropping in for a light supper. I can’t wait for the ramen wars to be over, so that I can get back to enjoying my ramen.

Sam Miguel
03-21-2013, 09:44 AM
^^^ Ramen Cool in Kapitolyo, Pasig is still the best value for ramen in town, great broth, good noodles, great ingredients.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 08:34 AM
Ferran Adria dinner sells for $28K at HK auction

Associated Press

7:07 am | Thursday, April 4th, 2013

HONG KONG—A rare chance to dine with world-famous Spanish restaurateur Ferran Adria sold at auction Wednesday for 220,500 Hong Kong dollars ($28,270).

Bidding started at HK$40,000 ($5,000) for the meal with Adria, often cited as the planet’s most talented and imaginative chef. His now-closed restaurant elBulli was rated the world’s best five times by British magazine The Restaurant.

An online bidder beat out four others at the Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong with a winning bid of HK$180,000, not including a buyer’s premium of more than 20 percent.

The winner and three friends will eat with Adria and his brother at a restaurant in Barcelona and visit the premises of the elBulli restaurant, in Catalonia, Spain.

Another meal with the chef known for his creations in molecular gastronomy will be auctioned off April 26 in New York.

“Everybody knew there was just one chance to get this lot of spending time with the great chef Ferran Adria, in his hometown of Barcelona. And this will probably never happen again,” said Serena Sutcliffe, international head of wine at Sotheby’s.

After maintaining an exceptional Michelin three-star status for more than a decade, elBulli closed in July 2011.

Adria, who was in charge of the elBulli kitchen for 27 years, says the dinner offers a rare opportunity to discuss food and cooking ideas with him.

The proceeds of the auction will go to the elBulli Foundation, a project set up by Adria and business partner Juli Soler, which will turn the restaurant into an experimental center looking at the process of culinary innovation and creativity.

Sam Miguel
04-04-2013, 08:58 AM
Firecracker Roll, Jalapeño Popper, Negi Miso–Japanese essentials with a twist, and lots of family love

‘At first, people thought Roku is a franchise from abroad. I am glad to say it’s an original concept that we carefully and deliberately thought of’

By Vangie Baga-Reyes

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:53 am | Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Barely six months into the dining scene, Roku is already making a big buzz not only in its territory in Katipunan, but also in nearby Marikina, Pasig and Quezon City.

Lovers of Japanese food troop all the way to Roku to enjoy its sushi, maki, ramen, donburi and yakitori—everything listed on its well-thought-out menu.

Maki enthusiasts can’t get enough of the Firecracker Roll, spicy salmon maki with a strange crunchy bite. The spicy kick in the dish is a pleasant trick that enhances the fish’s richness and body.

The S.S. Roll is salmon skin and cream cheese maki topped with a fresh piece of salmon. Its goodness lies in the addition of crispy salmon skin inside the rolled rice, to add extra texture to the concoction.

The Roku Roll is a tender and refreshing filling of kani crowned with fresh tuna and salmon and delicately drizzled with Roku’s homemade sweet-spicy sauce. There’s also the Jalapeño

Popper, a fiery combo of jalapeño, cream cheese and salmon covered with crunchy tempura batter.

The wide selection of ramen, on the other hand—whether shoyu-based, miso-based or shio-based ramen—continues to attract Japanese food patrons to this 60-seater modern Japanese hub ensconced on the fifth floor of The Oracle Hotel and Residences along Katipunan Avenue, in front of the Ateneo de Manila University.

The Seafood Ramen is a shio-based ramen dressed up with clams, mussels, squid, shrimps, bok choy and leeks topped with spring onions; while the Roku Ramen is a shoyu-based ramen with a hefty serving of tender chashu pork, bok choy and egg topped with spring onions and nori.

The soup alone is rich and satisfying, with a mellowed flavor of secret herbs blending well with the noodles and meat.

But if you crave for an extra-hot and spicy bowl of soup, go for Negi Miso, a chili miso-based ramen with ground pork and veggies topped with scallions and spring onions. The spicy broth doesn’t set your mouth on fire, but its strong flavor remains in your palate.

Another menu highlight is the beef teppan, pan-seared chunks of beef with garlic ships—all quite tender, tasty and juicy.

Mother-and-daughter team

Roku is run by mother-and-daughter team Sheila and Milka Romero. Sheila is a seasoned restaurateur who used to operate classy restaurants like Azzurro and Chimes. She later shifted to home design and decor with a business called Beyond Bamboo. Then she put up Oracle Hotel, where Roku is housed.

Nineteen-year-old Milka, a third-year Management Economics student in Ateneo, has already shown interest in managing her own business. She’s also adept in marketing and creative design.

The blend of Sheila’s expertise and class and Milka’s energy and creativity is quite evident in their first venture together. Roku exudes elegance, style and comfort—perfect for casual gatherings with family and friends, business meetings or afternoon tête-à-têtes.

Roku’s modern look and feel sets it apart from other traditionally staid and somber Japanese restaurants. It has non-intimidating, non-fussy interiors, with bright lighting and comfortable seating. It uses shades of white and beige, which blend well with warm wood panels. A colorful and interesting anime artwork occupies one side of the wall.

The dining space can comfortably accommodate a large number of diners; the veranda overlooks the Ateneo green fields, for those who enjoy an al-fresco setting.

But if you look at the room closely, the focal point is not the anime artwork or the walls or the sushi counter, but the “six” floor-to-ceiling columns standing in the center of the room in black, white and orange, which apparently represent the Romero family.

Catchy name

Roku in Japanese means six. “We are six in the family,” says Milka. “And we all love Japanese food.”

Sheila, married to sportsman and businessman Mikee Romero, has four children. Milka is the eldest in the brood.

“I assigned Milka to come up with a catchy name,” adds Sheila. “I told her it has to be one word and the name alone would tell you what it sells. At first, people thought Roku is a franchise from abroad. I am glad to say it’s an original concept that we carefully and deliberately thought of.”

The Romeros enjoy traveling and eating out. So, it’s no surprise that Sheila and Milka want Roku to be a fun, family eating place that people can go to for bonding moments and get-togethers.

“Funny, we realized since we opened, it’s usually the children (students from nearby universities) who discover the place, and then they bring their parents with them. Then the whole family goes together and enjoys the sushi and ramen.”

In putting up Roku, Sheila and Milka made sure the business is run professionally. Mother and daughter traveled to and studied together in Japan, boning up on the basics of sushi-making at the Tokyo Sushi Academy for several days.

“The Japanese don’t teach you modern sushi, it’s always the traditional way, focusing on the freshness of the ingredients,” says Sheila.

“The school emphasizes quality and skills,” adds Milka. “But we Filipinos like to mix different things and put a modern twist. So, we’ve created a variety of interesting rolls like Jalapeño Popper and Firecracker Roll to perk up one’s tastes.”

Still, Roku makes it a point not to overwhelm the original flavors of Japanese food, such as its tempura, teriyaki dishes, gyoza, etc.

Family bonding

Sheila handles the operations while Milka does the concept and marketing for Roku. Both of them created every dish in the menu, including the soy-based sauces and desserts.

Milka concocted the Apple Pie Gyoza with sweet minced apple filling and served with vanilla ice cream on the side.

“We also make it a point that our prices are affordable,” says Milka. “Most of our clients are also students like me. We want to serve good-quality but affordable food.”

All Roku bowls, plates, glasses and utensils, incidentally, are custom-made from abroad.

Having been in the food business for quite sometime now, Sheila feels Roku is one of her legacies to her children, especially to Milka.

“This is her first venture in business,” says Sheila. “I don’t want her to be culture-shocked. I’ve been telling her all my experiences in the restaurant business. This is my sort of legacy to my kids. This is different this time, that I am passing everything on to my daughter. I am really happy that she’s interested.”

With all the hard work the mother and daughter put up in establishing Roku, the most important part for them remains their bond.

“At the end of the day, we bonded,” says Sheila. “We are like sisters. My children keep me young and energetic.”

“In totality, our bonding as a family is reflected in Roku,” says Milka. “It has become a family experience and, as a result, we want the restaurant to have a family atmosphere as well.”

Sam Miguel
05-16-2013, 08:31 AM
Salmon, shrimps, fish, crab–a festival of Norwegian bounty

By Micky Fenix

Philippine Daily Inquirer

1:42 am | Thursday, May 16th, 2013

It was years ago in Iloilo when I learned about how Norway and the Philippines were connected. It was at a resort where we ate the specialties of the province. On the beach, instead of swimmers, were a group of lifesavers. It was explained that those were students at John B. Lacson Maritime School, and the school was in partnership with Norway’s maritime industry.

I never forgot the connection. And so last week, there were several Norwegians at lunch, especially Capt. Ivar Thomasli, president of Philippines Norway Business Council, who said he was part of the board of the school.

But we were not to talk about merchant marines but of Norway seafood which has been growing in sales here, 41 percent in the past five years. And to have a taste of those at I’m Angus (Yakal Street, tel. 8403771), quite an unusual venue for a seafood lunch.

Cooking was this young Norwegian chef, Adrian Løvold, who will be doing his dishes until May 18.

First course

Smoked salmon seems a given for a festival of Norway cooking. It was the first course served with apple, cucumbers and tapioca, made to look like caviar by adding soya for that touch of black. I thought that was clever. Certainly cheaper than the real thing.

Norway shrimps were placed on toast for the second course with a horseradish mayonnaise and topped with tiny red fish eggs or caviar that was called løyrom. The Norwegians were stumped for a while when asked what fish the caviar comes from. Out came an iPhone and it turned out that the eggs are from a common white fish called sik. My bit of research revealed the scientific name, Coregonus lavaretus.

While eating pan-fried king crab in cauliflower cream, Lena Mari Steffensen of the Norwegian Seafood Council told the story of how king crab was introduced into Norway’s Barent Sea by Soviet scientists in the 1960s.

The crab is one of the country’s important products today. But because it was not indigenous to its waters, there have been studies conducted to determine the impact on the ecosystem.

Though not introduced into Japanese waters, salmon was introduced to the sushi menu and consequently changed Japanese cuisine.

Valued fish

Chef Adrian Løvold served salmon again, this time grilled, served with a brown butter emulsion, fennel seeds and asparagus. While taking part of this valued fish, we talked about how the Norwegians do the fish back home. Most of them like it grilled, seasoned with just salt and pepper, eaten with potatoes and sour cream. It was a time to share their comfort food—yes, always fish like salmon, cod and trout. But always the potatoes have to be there.

When the chef presented his dessert, it had mangoes (a Philippine contribution) with yoghurt, caramelized hazelnuts, sea salt and a sorbet of herbs such as coriander leaves. Quite refreshing.

White wines naturally fit into seafood pairing. We had Chateau Bonnet Blanc 2010, mostly made of sauvignon blanc, and a Sancere Les Fondettes Blanc 2012 which is pure sauvignon blanc. But the red wine, Pinot Noir Gran Reserva Queulat 2011 from Chile, proved great with salmon.

Løvold, at 26, has worked with the best chefs. He was a stage (unpaid intern) at The French Laundry of Thomas Keller. Mostly, he cooked for fellow Norwegians. There was Eyvind Hellstrøm, previously of Bagatelle in Oslo, whose book I rediscovered when I arranged my library featuring his way with seafood, heavily influenced by French chefs.

Løvold also worked for previous winners of Bocuse d’ Or— Odd Ival Solvold (bronze, 1997) and Mathias Dahigren (gold, 1997). He was the commis to Geir Skeie, when she competed and won the gold medal in 2009.

That is probably why Løvold intends to compete in the 2015 Bocuse d’ Or, this time as the main chef. The international live cooking competition was founded by Paul Bocuse. And the first Filipino to judge there was Glenda Barretto.

Food is culture

Knut-are S. Okstad, Counsellor of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, represented his ambassador, whose message to us at lunch was to remember that food is culture.

The Norwegian community will be celebrating Constitution Day on May 17, their independence day. How great that they have a Norwegian chef to make the celebration even better. Of course the drinking will be present with lots of skol (toast). We were served Linie Aquavit. It is a drink made from potatoes flavored with spices like anise, caraway and herbs like fennel and coriander.

It is unique because it is placed in casks, then put on board ships that sail from Norway to other countries, going south of the equator then back to Norway, passing through the equator again. It is an unusual process, taking four and a half months, the liquid moving with the waves and flavored with some of that salt air, to produce a unique aquavit.

As we drank our shot of Linie, it was a chance for me to tell Okstad about this drinking song, also with a lot of skol, that the German nuns taught us, about a sailor with a girl in every port. Why nuns would teach impressionable girls such a song and why I remember it after all these years is a mystery.

Joescoundrel
05-24-2013, 01:43 PM
If any of you are ever in the Kapitolyo area to try that new Vietnamese place along East Capitol Drive, let me save you the trouble and tell you that Ba Noi should instead be called HA RANG.

Portions are small for the price. A small bowl of "traditional beef stew" cost P350. I doubt there was even 100 grams of beef in that bowl (about the standard sit-down resto portion), and it tasted suspiciously like any typical beef pares.

The spring rolls (clear-fresh and fried) are pegged at P195 each, and again are tiny portions. Nothing special about them either, very typical flavor, with the clear-fresh rolls actually on the bland side.

Their pho, the national dish of Vietnam, had an insipid broth whose only saving grace was that it was piping hot. Again, to my mind the portion was tiny, probably no more than three-quarters what you would get at any other Vietnamese resto in the city.

Again, the flavors and textures and presentation were nothing special, certainly not a cut above the other Vietnamese places in the city, and thus only adding insult to the pricing injury. I tried it anyway hoping that perhaps something, anything, would justify the prices. Nothing doing.

Ikkoryu Ramen in Shangrila's new east wing is also expensive, but their ramen is so clearly a cut above the rest that paying premium pricing at Ikkoryu is just fine by me. Ba Noi is not in that league and therefore totally cannot justify their pricing as far as I am concerned.

If I had to spend for Vietnamese I'd rather go to Pho Bac or Pho Hoa, where at least the portions more closely justify the prices.

Ba Noi is simply harang.

Joescoundrel
05-30-2013, 02:46 PM
China’s Food Play Extends Its Reach, Already Mighty

By STEPHANIE STROM

Published: May 29, 2013

If you dined on tilapia recently, chances are it came from China. And that artificial vanilla you just used to make cookies? It, too, may have made the same long journey to your kitchen in the United States.

A growing amount of food commonly consumed by Americans — ranging from canned tuna and mandarin oranges to fresh mushrooms and apple juice — is now being imported from China. By the end of last year, the United States imported 4.1 billion pounds of food products from China, according to the Agriculture Department.

American imports of Chinese food products gained more attention on Wednesday, when Smithfield Foods, one of the biggest and oldest pork producers in the United States, agreed to sell itself to Shuanghui International, one of China’s largest meat processors.

The $4.7 billion deal amounts to the largest takeover to date of an American company by a Chinese one. Although Smithfield emphasized that the deal was intended to deliver more pork to China, not the reverse, it nonetheless prompted concern about China’s expanding role in the American food supply and the implications that might have for food safety in the United States.

“We are importing more and more food from China at the same time we are hearing more and more about food scandals involving Chinese companies,” said Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch who testified in Congress at a hearing on Chinese food imports. Food safety problems, like melamine deliberately put into pet foods and baby formula as well as unsafe levels of cadmium in rice, have plagued China. The latest episode involved fox, rat and mink meat that was doctored with gelatin, pigment and nitrates and sold as mutton.

“We should definitely give the Chinese an award for creativity in adulterating foods,” said Jeff Nelken, a food safety expert. “They are a great resource for counterfeited foods, like honey products that don’t seem to have any pollen in them.”

A 2009 study by the Agriculture Department concluded that while Chinese officials were working to improve food safety and the regulation of food production — requiring the small number of food exporters there to gain certification — imports from China were still problematic. “Monitoring the wide range of products and hazards that can arise at various points in the export chain is a challenge for Chinese and U.S. officials,” the report stated.

The United States government has continued to have concerns about Chinese food exports, with a Congressional hearing this month that was billed as “The Threat of China’s Unsafe Consumables” as the latest example. “The health and safety, not only of the United States and Europe but that of people around the world, has come to be dependent on the quality of goods imported from China,” Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who heads the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, said in opening the hearing. “Yet the task of inspecting and testing Chinese goods is beyond the ability of governments, considering the magnitude of that challenge.”

Imported foods sold in groceries and other food stores must be labeled with their country of origin, but a substantial portion of imports end up in restaurant and food service meals, where consumers have no idea of their source.

Additionally, once imported foods are processed in any way, such labeling is no longer required under government regulations.

Thus, frozen imported peas and carrots would require a label if packaged separately, but mixed together and sold in a single package, they do not need labeling, Ms. Lovera said. Fish fillets must carry labeling, but imported fish sticks or crab patties do not.

Many of the scandals over Chinese food stuffs imported to the United States have involved products that fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for monitoring seafoods and fruits and vegetables coming into the country.

Americans have long been eating foods imported from China, the world’s largest agricultural economy and one of the biggest exporters of agricultural products. China shipped 4.1 billion pounds of food to the United States last year, according to the Agriculture Department, including almost half of the apple juice, 80 percent of the tilapia and more than 10 percent of the frozen spinach eaten.

China is also a big source of ingredients used in food, like xylitol, a candy sweetener; artificial vanilla, soy sauce and folic acid.

China is not, however, allowed to export fresh pork or beef to the United States because it still has outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease.

The Smithfield announcement reminded many people of video footage this spring that showed thousands of pig carcasses floating down a river that supplies drinking water to Shanghai. The source of the floating pigs remains a mystery, but they were hailed as a sign that a Chinese government crackdown on people selling dead and diseased pigs for pork was working.

In 2011, Shuanghui itself got caught up in that enforcement effort, after Chinese officials found it selling pork laced with clenbuterol, a veterinary medicine banned for use in animals intended for human consumption.

Smithfield and Shuanghui on Wednesday emphasized that the deal aimed to increase the supply of high quality, safe pork to China.

James Roth, director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, said he had no concerns about food safety arising out of the deal because any pork processed in the United States would have to go through the Agriculture Department’s inspection systems. “They’re doing this to enhance exports to China because they need safe meat for their population, not to bring Chinese pork to the United States,” Professor Roth said.

Processed pork products like smoked hams, sausages and bacon could conceivably be imported from China, but only if they met standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health, which require cooking at high heats for a specific amount of time, he said.

China has been pressing for permission to export poultry, which does not contract hoof and mouth disease, to the United States for some time,

Neal Keppy, a farmer in Iowa who raises hogs from about three weeks of age until they are slaughtered, said he was confident that Smithfield under Chinese ownership would continue to produce high quality, safe pork products.

“What I think is more concerning is if China owns Smithfield, who knows if that pork will stay in this country if the food supply gets tight?” Mr. Keppy said. “In that case, a lot of pork will head for China instead of feeding U.S. mouths.”

He said he hoped regulators would keep that in mind as they reviewed the deal.

Sam Miguel
07-10-2013, 09:08 AM
Maple–when bigger doesn’t always mean better

By Clinton Palanca

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:58 pm | Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

The ultimate dream of almost any chef is to have that single, out-of-the-way restaurant that’s booked up months in advance and where people travel to rather than stop by. But if common sense and accountants had their way, these restaurants would never exist: They’re high-risk projects whose rewards are vanity and ego and self-fulfillment.

Find a good intersection and get yourself a Jollibee franchise, or better still, a gas station. Remember that the Buko King stand at the corner makes more money than El Bulli ever did.

Treading the cautious middle ground, and ultimately the most profitable, are restaurants to which customers are willing to come back again and again.

Apart from KFC, which powered my brain for lunch and dinner while living abroad, and which still has a strange pull to me, the restaurant where we end up with the family usually turns out to be Pancake House.

I didn’t know that Pancake House had anything to do with Maple when I decided to try the latter after a long time deriding its name. Why would anyone put up a restaurant named Maple, anyway? Are they Canadian? Do we have maple trees in this country?

My wife gently removed my ’70s-era, post-colonial nationalist hat from my head and the soapbox from beneath my feet and reasoned that if Filipinos born and bred could put up Ramen Yushoken or Wee Nam Kee, there’s no reason why someone so inclined should put up a North American-named and -themed restaurant.

All-day breakfast

Our former colonial masters, after all, left us with a taste for consuming gluttonous amounts of sugar, butter, eggs and meat, which is what one does at Maple. The governing idea behind the place is that one can have breakfast food at any time of the day or night, which is something I thoroughly agree with, because I feel that breakfast is a meal that happens far too early in the day to get up for.

There was a sneaky, roguish, transgressive frisson about having savory country pancakes, eggs Benedict, and prime rib tapa at 5:30 in the afternoon.

I can’t fault anything about the prime rib tapa, which is exactly what its name promises: the flavors of tapa without having to chew through overcooked brown wrinkled bits; prime rib that wasn’t just a browned slab of meat but juicy and spicy and served with relish and dip. It’s served with two eggs and a token spoonful or two of rice in case you want to sprinkle it over your protein.

The slab of meat is about as perfect as beef tapa can get. The eggs Bendict arrived as two impeccably poached eggs with smoky bacon and lovely soft pillows of starch, but suffered from the usual problem that yolk on fat on carbs with fried potatoes on the side sat very heavily in one’s stomach even after just a few bites, and there was far too much of it. The country pancakes, unfortunately, were a morass of fluff and grease and creamed butter and sticky, sickly-sweet syrup.

The food was delicious enough when it arrived, but we couldn’t finish any of the dishes and spent a bit of time in a stuporous state, probably when the fat content of our meal traveled upwards and replaced the blood flow to our brains.

Stimulated but not satisfied

Like sodas and junk food, which are carefully engineered to stimulate our senses in a complex manner but not enough to satisfy, one leaves Maple (after coming to one’s senses) feeling completely stuffed but with the weird feeling of not having eaten enough, as if someone else had eaten a large meal and then swapped it into your stomach, leaving you full yet wanting to eat.

But even as the food left me, or at least my stomach, puzzled and dissatisfied, it must be pleasing to at least some people because a branch has opened at Shangri-La Mall and the owners are hiring for yet another in Alabang; and it was buzzing and crowded even at an odd time to be having a meal.

But perhaps that’s what all-day breakfasts are all about: the subversiveness of eating when you want to, and of liberating breakfast food from the confines of breakfast. But ideally, the way to preserve the spirit of breakfast, but make it more so, is not to make it bigger, richer and sweeter, but to bring to it the refinement and discernment that chefs usually bring to a “proper” meal.

Maple makes a valiant attempt but goes overboard with the calories, cholesterol, and the gleaming but deadly syrup they use which is maple-flavored but definitely not maple, which is unfortunate for a restaurant that goes by that name.

Maple, as it turns out, is Pancake House gone extra-large, but unfortunately not extra-good. For the moment I’ll stick with our local branch of the original—and for dinner, I’ll eat a proper meal.

Joescoundrel
07-24-2013, 02:13 PM
NAV, the Thai restaurant across ACE Water Plaza in Kapitolyo is almost a good value (price - serving portion - palatability).

I was there last night with the wife and one of our ninongs. We had the wok-fried squid, beef rendang curry, pad thai noodles, shrimp fried rice, chicken satay, one of the tom soups. Our ninong paid a little over P1,500 all-in including drinks. Portions could have been at least 10% bigger, or prices should be slashed 10% less across the board.

The chicken satay of Ninak down the road near Goodyear Servitek is a level up better, and their tuyo fried rice (although I don't know if that's an apples-apples comparison) is better than the shrimp fried rice we had at NAV. Pad thai at NAV is definitely better though, two levels up at least, has that smoky, seared flavor I like, at dapat lang naman since si NAV ang Thai resto.

Also, my Pale Pilsen at NAV costs P50 a bottle, compared to P88 a bottle at Ninak. I suspect that might have something to do with the rent Ninak is paying for their bigger and more centrally-located space. Food prices are about par.

Sam Miguel
07-26-2013, 09:33 AM
Back to groceries

By Michael L. Tan

Philippine Daily Inquirer

11:28 pm | Thursday, July 25th, 2013

“Mamamalengke ako ngayon.” I’m going to the market today. There’s a certain déclassé tone to it, together with all the negative connotations of a palengke: wet, dirty, smelly, noisy.

But I still text that message to friends when they ask about my plans, because I do go to the palengke, except it’s the somewhat cleaner and not too smelly but still wet and noisy Farmers’ Market. I figured a market wouldn’t be a market if it were quiet and deodorized.

But life has become somewhat more complicated now that I’ve taken over my mother’s “hunting-gathering” duties, an anthropological term used to refer to the way people originally survived, having to hunt for, dig up, pick out and gather food crops, sometimes going quite a distance to find the food.

In the 21st century, it seems even urbanites may be going back to our hunting-gathering days. Even in the last century, which was not too long ago, I used to wonder why my mother would go off several times a week, half a day at times, for what she called “groceries.” My father would get especially irritated, demanding to know why she had to travel to Binondo and Divisoria, some 10 kilometers away from where they lived, to buy food.

My mother, ever patient, would just smile as she unpacked her latest foraged goods.

Now that I have to shop for groceries—being the only child here caring for my parents, and being a solo parent for my own children—I can see why we end up going back to ancient foraging days, checking out supermarkets and groceries and tiangge and convenience stores (e.g., 7-11 and Mini-Stop).

I thought about doing this column because the other day when I checked out a new Rustan’s supermarket on P. Guevarra in San Juan, I realized it was the fourth supermarket in an area with about a two-km radius. There’s Unimart in Greenhills, and on Shaw Boulevard, Puregold, Super 8 and SM. Coming up very soon and still within that two-km radius are a rebuilt Cherry’s and S&R.

All that’s happening because investors know there’s enough of a market, or rather market niches, out there.

Because I have to shop for so many people, some with particular health problems, I’m very particular about food quality. Fresh foods are still the best, which you have to get from a wet market, and even there you have to be on the lookout for bocha (“double-kill”), old stocks and other scams. With chicken and eggs, being a veterinarian and a public health specialist, I’m dogmatic about organic, and you won’t find that in the wet market. Unimart carries organic chicken and eggs, but not much else for other organic stuff.

Families have mixed tastes: My kids and parents are carnivores but I’m almost totally vegetarian and was excited about the new Rustan’s because other branches carry organic vegetables and other produce but the San Juan branch does not.

So I still go to Sugarloaf on Wilson Street, a small grocery-type organic outlet, with a still-small but growing selection. Problem is they’re closed on Sundays; fortunately, there are several tiangge, including one in Greenhills, where you can find healthy foods, but I go more often to Legaspi because they have more organic stuff, and you can sit down and order food for a leisurely breakfast or brunch.

Like my mother, I forage around different supermarkets, comparing the prices of foods and other “groceries.” I’m amazed, for example, at how a brand of adult diapers costs P208 in one supermarket and P292 in another that’s only two km away. The other one does not offer the brand at all. So, yes, I do end up with several groceries lists.

‘Hopia,’ ‘Mam Bert’

Back to San Juan, I’ve also realized that we have a growing number of groceries and specialty stores, responding to new niches. San Juan is becoming another Chinatown, with all kinds of Chinese-food outlets. I can name Wei Wang, Diao Eng Chay, Jaz, and Little Store, all in a one-km stretch, with many Chinese restaurants in between. I’m very suspicious about the safety of Chinese processed foods, especially from the mainland, but from time to time, I do go to these Chinese specialty stores for condiments, hopia, machang, tokwa, trepang and bokchoy, pechay, polonchay and all kinds of chay (vegetables).

Then there’s Santi’s farther up Wilson, which will now face some competition from Rustan’s regarding high-quality imported foods. I’m conscious about minimizing my family’s carbon footprint by not buying too many of these imported stuff, but I find it hard to resist when my son asks for cheese, baguettes and bagels from Santi’s. (The other day he asked, in correct French, for camembert with a silent “t,” to which the clerk responded by shouting to her colleague, “May Mam Bert pa ba tayo?”)

Remember when early supermarkets like Unimart and Cherry’s first appeared? People were thrilled with the idea that you could have a one-stop shopping place for all you needed. The larger supermarkets still offer, in addition to food, clothes, toys, school supplies, kitchen utensils, even hardware stuff.

But people’s needs have diversified, with malls reflecting that search for variety. So the malls now have all kinds of little shops, and then a supermarket that concentrates on the food.

I’m convinced that even as we see more and more supermarkets, we will see a return to groceries or, for the poor, to sari-sari stores and talipapa. I still go to Unimart even if it’s rundown and the checkout clerks are always struggling with antiquated cash registers that jam or Omron credit-card machines that don’t work. The reason I remain loyal to Unimart is that I recognize many of the staff from years back, some of them even able to address you by your first name. The old (literally) faces are a sign of good labor-management relations.

Other supermarkets change their staff every six months, keeping them forever on temporary status, so I’m not surprised if they’re not motivated at work… or worse. I am told the biggest losses in lower-end supermarkets, which tend to use contractual labor, are inside jobs—thefts by the supermarket staff.

The palengke and the smaller groceries and the tiangge attract people because of the special suki (literally in Chinese, No. 1 customer) relationships you build with vendors. When I venture out to Binondo, I end up in stores where the owners give the warmest welcome and the lowest prices, plus snacks and even a few freebies for my kids, recognizing me as “the son of Nene-chi (Elder Sister Nene).” What would have been a simple “groceries” trip can become quite nostalgic and emotional.

Rustan’s knows the importance of recreating that kind of ambience. Its newer outlets are small, more like oversized groceries, and some of its outlets have a special corner where you can buy gourmet soups and sandwiches to snack on and share with friends. We need more grocery-delicatessen-supermarkets like that, especially for the elderly.

Whether supermarkets or groceries, tiangge or the palengke or a “foodarama” (I hope Cherry’s keeps that name, from its Beatles-era branding), we do yearn for the sari-sari store days marked by spaces for renewing acquaintances and friendships, the boundaries blurred between buyers and sellers.

* * *

Joescoundrel
08-01-2013, 02:00 PM
Famous Restaurant Chains That Have All But Disappeared

By Michael B. Sauter and Alexander E. M. Hess | 24/7 Wall St. – 19 hours ago

Many of America’s once-great restaurant chains are now impossible to find. While McDonald’s and Subway locations continue to multiply, Howard Johnson’s and Chi-Chi’s are all but forgotten.

24/7 Wall St. relied on food industry consulting and research firm Technomic to identify famous American chain restaurants that have either completely vanished, moved overseas or have only a few locations left. In their heyday, these restaurants had hundreds, if not thousands, of locations. As of 2012, most of these once successful brands had just 25 stores or fewer across the country.

Most of the chains that make the list are casual dining restaurants like Chi-Chi’s and Ground Round. According to Technomic’s Vice President Darren Tristano, their troubles were due to increased competition from larger, more successful operations such as Applebee’s, TGIF, Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

“Those brands did better in terms of expansion, and set the bar much higher," Tristano said. "It’s really a combination of greater unit expansion. Those that couldn’t keep up and didn’t have the franchises or the financing struggled.”

Many of these restaurants experienced sudden declines in the early 1980s. Sambo’s was once a national brand with more than 1,000 locations. However, a combination of financial problems and a troubling association with racist imagery used in advertisements forced Sambo’s into bankruptcy and resulted in the closure of more than 400 locations.

For other chains, the troubles began much later. In the case of Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale, a slowing economy during the recession led to lower earnings and an inability of their parent company to service debt. As a result, the chains were liquidated with little warning.

Bennigan’s parent company, Metromedia Restaurant Group, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2008. All Steak & Ale locations were closed. The more than 200 Irish-themed locations dropped to just a few dozen. The company has emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership. While some are optimistic about the brand’s prospects, “recovery generally means you’ve hit bottom, but in their case, they’ve continued to close underperforming units,” Tristano warned.

To determine the famous restaurant chains that are now hard to find, 24/7 Wall St. identified brands that, according to Technomic, had hundreds of U.S. locations at their peak between the 1980s and 1990s and a national presence. As of 2012, these restaurant chains could have, at most, only a small number of locations.

These are famous restaurants chains that are hard to find.

1. Howard Johnson Restaurants
> Restaurants in 2012: 2
> Restaurants in 1980: 129
> Year founded: 1927

Howard Johnson’s was, for decades, one of the most well-recognized American businesses in the country. The franchise expanded from a single ice cream store located in Quincy, Mass., in 1927 to an empire of restaurants and hotels. By the 1970s, there were more than 1,000 Howard Johnson’s restaurants in the United States. Currently, there are only two restaurants in the entire country: one in Bangor, Me., and one in Lake Placid, N.Y. One of the factors contributing to the decline of the chain was the decline of the motel industry nationwide, according to Tristano. The chain has since shifted focus to its hotel division and now maintains properties across the world.

2. Mister Donut
> Restaurants in 2012: 0
> Restaurants in 1980: 835
> Year founded: 1955

Harry Winouker founded Mister Donut in 1955 after dismantling a failed business venture with his brother-in-law, Bill Rosenberg, the future founder of Dunkin' Donuts. By 1970, there were hundreds of franchised locations across the United States, and the brand was acquired by International Multifoods, at the time one of America's biggest food companies. In 1983, Japan’s Duskin Co. Ltd. bought the rights to Mister Donut for all of Asia. Since then, the brand has caught on in Japan, where it is the largest donut chain, with more than 1,100 stores. Worldwide, there are more than 10,000 Mister Donut stores. But as the brand expanded abroad, it vanished at home. Currently, there are no Mister Donut locations in the U.S., after most were acquired in 1990 by Dunkin' Donuts’ former parent company Allied-Lyons. “The growth of Starbucks and Dunkin' Brands, and their domination of the U.S. has certainly forced out Mister Donut, and other donut places,” said Tristano.

3. Steak & Ale
> Restaurants in 2012: 0
> Restaurants in 1980: 196
> Year founded: 1966

Steak & Ale was once, alongside Bennigan’s, part of Pillsbury’s chain restaurant holdings. In 1980, there were just under 200 Steak & Ale locations in the United States. But by 2008, that number had dropped to 50. That is when S&A Restaurant Corp., which ran the chain as well as Bennigan’s, filed for bankruptcy. Although Bennigan’s has been revitalized and continues to operate, Steak & Ale no longer exists. Both chains were conceived by Norman E. Brinker, who also helped to popularize Chili’s and built Brinker International Inc. (EAT), one of the nation’s largest food companies.

4. Chi-Chi’s
> Restaurants in 2012: 0
> Restaurants in 1980: 81
> Year founded: 1975

Chi-Chi’s was founded in Minneapolis in 1975 as a family-style Mexican restaurant. By 1985, the company had nearly 200 locations around the country. But, according to Tristano, the success of other Mexican-themed chains like Taco Bell and Chipotle began to chip away at the company’s success. In 2011, Chi-Chi’s filed for bankruptcy. At the time of the filing, the chain had roughly $100 million in debt. Shortly after the filing, a hepatitis A outbreak at a location resulted in several deaths. All franchise restaurants have since closed. However, “Chi-Chi’s still has their brand licensed for salsa and tortilla chips. So the brand is still around, even though they have no restaurants,” Tristano added.

5. Ground Round
> Restaurants in 2012: 25
> Restaurants in 1980: 177
> Year founded: 1969

Ground Round was founded as a pub-style restaurant in 1969 with a small menu and casual environment. The chain was once part of the 1,000 Howard Johnson’s stores. Now, the brand is owned by its own franchisees, who acquired the assets of Ground Round in a bankruptcy sale in 2004. As of 2012, there were just 25 locations nationwide, mostly in northern states, with four in North Dakota and seven in Minnesota. According to the Farmington Independent, a new Ground Round location will open in Farmington, Minn., in September. The restaurants were located primarily in more rural locations and were forced out by other national chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebees, according to Tristano.

6. Sambo’s
> Restaurants in 2012: 1
> Restaurants in 1980: 1,118
> Year founded: 1957

Sambo’s was named after its two founders, Sam Battistone and Newell “Bo” Bohnett. At one point the chain included 1,118 restaurants. However, many customers, especially in the Northeast, felt uncomfortable with the name and the company’s history. In its early marketing efforts, Sambo's used the principal character from Helen Bannerman’s 1899 book “Little Black Sambo," which has been widely criticized for promoting negative racial stereotypes. Issues of political correctness were damaging to the brand as early as the 1970s, Tristano said. The chain suffered from financial troubles and filed for bankruptcy in late 1981 after failing to restructure its debt. The first Sambo’s in Santa Barbara, which is owned by the founder’s grandson, remains in business.

7. Bennigans
> Restaurants in 2012: 32
> Restaurants in 1980: 40
> Year founded: 1976

Irish-American-themed restaurant Bennigan’s was founded in 1976. It was owned for a time by the Pillsbury Corp., which also owned Burger King. After finding success in the 1990s, Bennigan's began facing heavy competition from other casual family chain restaurants such as Chili’s, Applebee’s and TGIF. In 2008, Bennigan’s filed for bankruptcy and closed more than 200 franchises. Currently, there are just 32 Bennigan’s locations in the United States. But the company has come out of bankruptcy under new ownership, and there may be hope for the future of the restaurant chain. Tristano noted, however, that the chain was still closing its weakest-performing restaurants.

Joescoundrel
08-01-2013, 02:27 PM
At the New Franny's, Pizza (And More) That's Worth the Wait

By Alan Richman

July 29, 2013

You will wait for a table, as you always have, even though the new Franny's has double the capacity of the old one. On a recent Sunday afternoon, when nine empty two-top tables were set and ready for customers, a smiling hostess said we would be seated in 10 to 15 minutes. Only farm-to-table is ingrained in this restaurant's culture, not people to table.

It's been almost 10 years since Franny's opened in Brooklyn, a five-minute walk down Flatbush Ave. from its present location. Crowds gathered. Nothing much has changed, although now you can reserve for parties of eight to 12. Come to think of it, that's a lot that has changed.

Franny's is a spiritual cousin to Alice Waters's Chez Panisse, the Berkeley restaurant that more than 40 years ago changed how people thought about sustainable and seasonal food. Franny's is so principled and so cherished that NYC health inspectors genuflect upon entering.

When the original opened, people on this coast were just beginning to think about these concepts. These days everybody knows about that stuff, the organics and biodynamics, the buying locally and eating healthfully. While such passions have been matched by similarly themed establishments, Franny's remains the flagship. If its ideals aren't quite so revelatory any more, they remain as alluring as ever to those who mob the place.

The new Franny's has a bar, several dining areas, and a lot of inexpensive-looking wood-and-metal shelving stacked with cordwood for the pizza ovens, which are illogically but intriguingly bedecked with Mexican-style tiles. The walls are mostly white subway tile. My guest insisted that the blond-wood chairs where we finally were seated resembled the ones she was assigned in elementary school. She said the hard banquette where I sat reminded her of the bench in her childhood bedroom, which had a seat that flipped up so toys could be stored underneath.

Franny's has never been lovely. That hasn't changed. The black matte finish out front—what rappers call "murdered out" when they see it on automobiles—seems poorly chosen, but perhaps Franny's is out to attract a new generation of diners with fast cars.

On that first visit, during the 10-15 minute wait at the bar, my friend attracted substantial attention from a guy sitting on the other side of her. He even offered her a taste of his drink. That seemed a little racy for a wholesome spot like Franny's. Maybe the new generation has already arrived.

···

On my second visit, the bartender and I had an insightful conversation.

Him: What would you like?
Me: A cocktail. Not sweet. Not fruity. Very cold.

He made me a Pimm's No. 348, which you've never had before—348 is the street number for Franny's. It tasted gorgeously of cucumber, plus mint and lemon. Franny's makes syrups and infusions, squeezes fresh juices, does cocktails well.

Me: I refuse to pay only $12 for this drink. It's great. I want to pay double, like in Manhattan.
Him: Don't worry, there's already plenty of profit built in.

Should you not wish to drink while awaiting a table, I can suggest ways to pass the time. Walk downstairs to one of the rest rooms and count the rolls of toilet paper stacked there. Mine had 88. Or try deciphering the exceedingly ambitious, highly curated, all-Italian wine list.

It might be the geekiest list in America, incomprehensible to normal human life forms. I know something about wine, but I was lost amidst unknown names and unhelpful organization.

On visit three I brought a wine director for a restaurant group with me. She looked at the list and said, "I need an hour to figure this out." Franny's has no sommelier on the floor. The waiters try to assist, but they're overmatched. I asked one of them how diners navigate this, and she replied, "Fake it, ask for help, or order the cheapest bottle on the list."

Fear not. You can triumph. Transport your mind to a world beyond Pinot Grigio. Ignore vintage dates unless you're looking for a red over $100, and there are few of those. Look for a grape you might recognize—vermentino, kerner, dolcetto, nebbiolo. There's even Chardonnay. The 2009 Scaglione Barbera is a simple red of perfect clarity.

Do not be afraid to take chances. I did.

I picked out a pigato (that's a grape).The wine buyer for the restaurant, general manager Luca Pasquinelli, brought it over, explaining, "It's a little salty." Salty? Who ever heard of salty wine? Well, I'd found one. You could gargle with this wine.

Franny's service, by a staff dressed in dark shirts and jeans, is remarkable for such a casual and busy place. I asked for my appetizers, pasta, and pizza in three distinct courses, expecting to be told that they'd come out when the kitchen decided to send them out. That's the way it usually goes these days. Not here. The staff changes flatware between courses and sweeps up crumbs. It's informal service idealized.

From the time Franny's opened ten years ago, the owners, Andrew Feinberg and Francine (Franny) Stephens, have done everything admirably. The old Franny's wasn't just a symbol of a new era of eating, it was also at the forefront of a changing Brooklyn. It opened near the start of the 21st century and quickly displaced the beloved but somewhat dated Saul and Al di Là as the most representative restaurant of the borough. (Feinberg and Stephens's new place, which will be in the old Franny's location, is a bit of a throwback, a rustic trattoria to be called Marco's.)

Franny's original appetizers were precursors to the small-plates, shared-plates trend. They continue to be unfussy yet meticulously assembled and rarely anything but very good. (Well, the sad, droopy, slow-cooked romano beans seem to have been cooked too slowly.)

Irresistible items include any with sausage. The beef sausage served as an appetizer contains pork and cheese. The beef sausage on the pizza has neither, but they're not missed. Whenever sausage appears, order it. There's a crostini of wood-roasted pancetta with ramp butter, essentially crisp bacon on buttered toast. How can you improve on that? The warm pork-cheek and tongue terrine brought back memories of tongue as it tasted long ago in New York delicatessens. Of course, delicatessens back then didn't add pig parts to their beef tongue. Their loss.

My favorite dishes at Franny's do not spring from the earth.

Yet the dishes containing only vegetables are satisfying, at the least. The marinated cucumbers couldn't be crunchier. Wonderful fried polenta, crisp outside and soft within, is gorgeous, classically accessorized with ingredients that represent the flag of Italy—green (basil), red (tomatoes), white (soft crescenza cheese). Most dishes burst with marinated and fermented flavors, lots of garlic, almost as many herbs. You won't be bored.

Pastas tend to be excessively al dente. I'm still chewing on the rigatoni I had a week ago. The best version I tried was spaghetti with seabream, agretti (a firm, crisp, vibrant little green shoot), bread crumbs, and a hint of hot pepper. The only flaw? It didn't need the seabream, its featured ingredient. The desserts remain earnest. The gelato, made down the street at Bklyn Larder, is somewhat grainy. The best of them, the panna cotta, is a study in vanilla. The cannolo—that's a single cannoli—is crunchy and lemony.

The pizza is stunningly attractive, Neapolitan in appearance, with charred bubbles and a round, puffy rim. A few had overly chewy, slightly undercooked bottom crusts. When they come out thin and crisp in the center, they're among the best around. The pizza ovens are new, and adjusting to them appears to be a work in progress.

A perfect clam pizza boasted big, fat, fresh, out-of-the-shell littlenecks bathed in creamy clam juice, the most luscious cooked clams I've ever eaten that weren't fried. A tomato-garlic-olive-oil pizza boasted an abundance of fresh, sweet tomato sauce and first-rate olive oil.

As we know, Franny's is not really an Italian restaurant. It's an inspired interpretation of what one could be, but that final pie was a tour de force of classic Italian authenticity. More than any other dish, that was the one worth waiting for.

Joescoundrel
08-01-2013, 02:32 PM
One Man, 40 Courses: The Tasting Menu Marathon

Think endurance eating is only for the likes of Joey Chestnut and Man vs. Food? One gourmand tackles 40 dishes of regional Italian cuisine

by Andrew Nusca

July 4, 2013

When did restaurant meals become marathon events? Fine dining has long been a form of entertainment, with its twirling servers and momentous dessert carts. (See: any old-guard French restaurant.) But as the cult of the chef has grown, so have the stakes. It is no longer enough to enjoy a steak and a slice of cake on a Friday night with a couple of close friends. Today's near-religious obsession with food and the people who prepare it demands a perverse form of asceticism. It is to indulge like few are willing to do.

Looking to up the ante, I took on what could only be described as insanity: a 40-course, eight-hour meal centered on the cuisine of a little-celebrated Italian region.

Why did I do this? Have I become a gastronomic snob, unimpressed with a normal person's fine meal? Has the day-to-day of corporate cube-dwelling left me looking for literal fulfillment elsewhere?

Is it even about the food?

···

No one really knows where the name "La Panarda" came from. Some say the word is a portmanteau of the Italian words for bread ("pane") and lard ("lardo"). What's not up for debate: that the term denotes a meal of epic proportions.

La Panarda began as a special meal eaten by the peasants toiling in Italy's mountainous Abruzzo region. Tradition has it that the feast began after a mother successfully saved her newborn child from the jaws of a wolf by praying to a local saint, imploring that the predator leave the baby unharmed. The people of the village held a feast to celebrate, and continued doing so each year after that.

Most Americans know Abruzzo for the heavy damage it experienced after earthquakes rocked the region in 2009, damaging scores of medieval buildings. But far fewer are familiar with its cuisine, made from ingredients not often associated with the Italian palate: chili pepper, saffron, lamb, goat. Like its namesake region, Abruzzese cuisine is somewhat undiscovered on these shores—curious, since so many Americans with Italian ancestry can trace their lineage back to the area.

I am one of those Americans. My great-grandfather arrived at Ellis Island in 1920 from the tiny town of Rovere and set up shop in South Philadelphia. As generation replaced generation, and the family escaped to the suburbs, the old traditions were lost. Today, a family night out at an Italian restaurant might involve a trip to Olive Garden, where you can get "artisan" Parmesan Crusted Stuffed Chicken with a side of Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes for $25.

Le Virtù—that's "The Virtues" in Abruzzese dialect—opened its doors in 2007, just 10 blocks from the old family row home but decades since most of the city's Italians lived there. The restaurant's goal was simple: do things "the old way." In a sense, Le Virtù opened to remind the area's new residents of what was once there. And to wag a finger at those of us who have left and forgotten.

···

"Gargantuan." "Madness." "Not for the faint of heart or culinary dabbler." These are the words that Fred Cretarola, the co-manager of Le Virtù, uses to warn off the unserious when they inquire about this special meal, called "La Panarda." When I call to make a reservation, he replies "wear loose-fitting clothes" and makes an offhand comment that chef Joe Cicala "might make the portions smaller this time" for the 20 or so diners expected to participate. His message is clear: Amateurs need not apply.

"I'll take three seats," I say.

···

Fellow travelers. On the day of the feast, the sky is overcast and it's drizzling. It's a Sunday afternoon and the weather is a balmy 50 degrees—not quite the grueling winter weather that Philadelphia or Abruzzo is known for. Not that anyone's complaining.

The restaurant is eerily quiet when I and my two dining companions—my wife and a friend I'll call Bowie—arrive. It's just before 2 p.m. A few patrons linger at the bar, lazily toying with the highball glasses in front of them. But the glasses are not filled with gin or vodka—just water. This meal, advertised as seven hours long, will be nothing short of trench warfare for our digestive tracts. Everyone is playing it safe, even as the auburn-haired bartender needles them for doing so. "Come on, you can have a Campari and soda or something," she says with a grin.

After enough diners assemble—28 in all, 20 of them male—we take our seats in the dining room. Before us is a printed menu listing all 40 courses for the evening, sectioned into 10 sections: one set of hors d'oeuvres, three sets of appetizers, three sets of main courses, a palate-cleanser, a service of cheeses, and a service of dessert. Each service is paired with its own wine, eight in all, from the Cantina Frentana vineyard in Chieti.

The hollow ring of a sheep's bell draws our attention to the front. Fred's brother and co-owner Francis Cratil-Cretarola introduces the "curious little feast" we are about to partake in and explains that the longest-running example of it—the feast held for our brethren in Villavallelonga, L'Aquila—usually lasts over two days.

···

2:27 p.m.—The Meal Begins

Flutes of sparkling wine kick off the proceedings, accompanied by the first four courses: a deeply-fried "Jewish-style" artichoke; a salt cod fritter; a porchetta-stuffed olive; and a fried rice ball filled with gooey, piping hot mozzarella cheese. All come served on the same, small plate.

This is easy, I think. Four to a plate? We're golden.

"What, no bread?" I joke to my companions.

···

4:55 p.m.—9 of 40 Courses Complete

After a quick succession of small seafood dishes—cuttlefish, shrimp, and strips of roasted turbot—more bacala hits the table as our wine glasses are topped off with heavy pours. At this point, everyone is feeling good.

The procession of plates so far has been not unlike eating Spanish tapas: a little here, a little there. The diners in the room have begun to relax. And, as we sail through the second wave of meat and cheese appetizers, Bowie, a gourmand in his own right, is swooning, his eyes rolling upward with every bite and sip.

As we near the 17th course, a guy seated beside us from Phoenixville optimistically explains, "I feel less full than I did two courses ago!"

···

7:34 p.m.—22 of 40 Courses Complete

After plates of cured meats circulate the room, Chef Cicala carts out a hulking mound of timballo, a baked pasta dish, to applause and photos. It is, by all accounts, delicious, and servers spoon gooey hunks of it on each of our plates.

But the dishes keep coming. Twenty-three, long strands of fettucini in a lamb ragu; twenty-four, a floppy type of pasta called taccozelle with sausage, porcini mushrooms, black truffle and— intriguingly— saffron; twenty-five, a take on spaghetti and meatballs called "maccheroni alls chitarra in sugar teramana;" twenty-six, chestnut gnocchi in a ragu packed with shredded wild boar.

It is at this point that I set my fork down in defeat before my plate is clear. My wife and Bowie soldier on. "She's outrunning you," Phoenixville's wife exclaims. The female diner beside her holds her hand in the air for a high five: "Girl power!"

Bowie widens his eyes and gestures at my plate in protest of my poor performance. I peer at them sickly. My stomach is bulging. I am acutely aware of how wise I was to choose to wear a sweater.

···

Joescoundrel
08-01-2013, 02:33 PM
9:41 p.m.—27 of 40 Courses Complete

My wife's lead begins to erode by course number 28, a hunk of rabbit meat arranged in a spiral like porchetta. Her strategy to clean her plates is finally backfiring. "I have a stomach ache," she whimpers, leaning back in her chair. Bowie has a green tinge about him, but keeps on eating, determined.

"There were 35 courses last year, and the chef said only one guy finished," Bowie says in perverse reassurance.

10:04 p.m.—28 of 40 Courses Complete

"This is some tasty shit," Phoenixville's wife exclaims to no one in particular, having lost her inhibition after imbibing several glasses of wine. "We should order some grappa."

I look up and notice a handful of diners quietly putting on their coats and scarves and slipping away to the front of the house, where they pay their bills in shame and escape to the chilly night air. They have given up.

I slice a corner from each piece of meat to try it, then push it aside. I am absolutely wrecked.

We continue.

···

11:23 p.m.—32 of 40 Courses Complete

By the time dessert is served, only half the original number of diners remain the room. A plate of four cheeses emerges from the kitchen—an unscheduled surprise, bringing the meal's official number of courses to an unthinkable 41.

"I can't taste anything," Phoenixville moans, sullen.

As we finish our last bites, the clock strikes midnight. We have been eating for an unconscionable 10 hours. My wife and I sit back in agony as Bowie keeps working.

···

12:09 a.m.—41 of 41 Courses Complete

As Bowie takes his last bite, the remaining diners break into scattered applause. He is the only one who managed to finish every dish. Incredibly, he even snuck a few extra glasses and courses, occasionally cleaning up what I and my wife could not.

Chef Cicala comes over to our table and we introduce ourselves. Bowie tells him of his triumph. Cicala runs his hand through his short, dark hair and shakes his head in utter disbelief. "Jesus Christ," he replies. "You're the first."

···

12:28 a.m.

The night air is cool and wet. It's no longer raining. A blanket of Sunday silence has fallen over Passyunk Avenue, and as I glance westward as I walk out the door, I think about the old family row home a few blocks past Broad Street. After that meal, I probably couldn't fit through the front door.

Why the hell did I do this? To push my limits, to indulge in excess, to partake in an unusual communal experience that I can forever recall in conversation? Probably, surely and almost certainly, yes. But let's be honest: Just like the 26.2-mile running race from which it gets its name, this marathon meal was, at its core, about self-satisfaction and validation by others. No runner trains for months and then skips the actual race. Greatness, however nauseating, cannot be achieved without being publicly recognized. (High five, bro.)

With friends in tow to witness and partake, the challenge and triumph of taking the final bite of a 40-course gourmet meal is no different than reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro with a team of well-equipped, able-bodied companions. You, sir, are a card-carrying weekend warrior, and your mountain to climb is the massive pile of pasta before you.

Tough Mudder? Try a 41-course tasting menu instead.

Joescoundrel
09-11-2013, 09:47 AM
Rediscovering two full-fledged Spanish restaurants

By Clinton Palanca

1:15 am | Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Sometimes you find yourself eating at a restaurant that is so abysmal and so dire beyond redemption, that your entire paradigm of good and bad shifts downward a couple of notches. Restaurants that I had formerly deemed mediocre and unworthy suddenly shine like gilded beacons of culinary excellence by comparison.

Despite what people may think, I write only about restaurants that I like, or those that I wish could be better. And so, as Wittgenstein concluded, whereof one cannot speak, one must thereof be silent. Except to say that we ended up having a second dinner at Las Flores, a few blocks away.

Overdesigned

I didn’t write about Las Flores the first couples of times I went, because it seemed more of a bar than a restaurant and I felt it was too chic and overdesigned. It was also full of perfectly dressed people with natural tans and bouncy brown hair sipping their white sangrias from goldfish-bowl-shaped glasses and eating very expensive plates of next-to-nothing, which is what beautiful people tend to eat.

But last week, after plumbing the depths of gastronomic iniquity, we felt we needed a little glamour in our lives. Surprise—the beautiful people had long since flounced away to somewhere more fashionable, so the crowd at Las Flores turned out to be people who looked rather like ourselves, also in search of beautiful people, and equally disappointed to see us instead.

But with the lights turned down low, the décor didn’t seem like too much of a good thing, as it had looked before; and the menu, which had previously felt like a work in progress and a bit of an afterthought to the drinks, had been fully fleshed out. The drinks had been excellent and continued to be excellent, according to my resident expert on all things alcoholic, aka The Wife, though the sangrias were served this time in garden-variety tumblers instead of goldfish bowls.

Rare beast

I don’t know if my judgment was colored by traumatic experience, but the scallop ceviche with thin slices of ham, the plump and piquant gambas sizzling in olive oil and garlic, the little Angus beef burgers (they have a long name in Catalan, but they’re basically Angus beef burgers), and a salted chocolate mousse (again, it goes by a more exotic stripper name on the menu) hit the spot.

Las Flores might actually turn out to be that rare beast, a bar that actually has good food for people like me who don’t drink. I think the beautiful people are missing out.

But the really surprising food revelation of the week was a restaurant that has been around for a while, and I feel a little out of it for only rediscovering it now. We were in a porky mood, given recent political developments, and we needed some cochinilla to chew over the newest revelations.

I had been to Terry’s previously, with twentysomethings who ordered for us and insisted that the flaming pork sausage inside an earthenware pig was the highlight of the menu. I didn’t think much of it then and dismissed Terry’s, the restaurant, as an afterthought offshoot of Terry’s, the deli.

As it turned out, the flaming earthenware pig might be the low point of the menu, a crowd-pleaser that plays to twentysomethings who like the novel value of fire and charred charcuterie.

Scrumptious

Why, oh why, would you order a chorizo on fire when there are fresh-shucked oysters on the menu? There’s lengua, there are a variety of interesting croquettes, fabada asturiana, as well as cocido. We had pork, of course, the cochinilla “confit” with peaches. And for dessert, we had a couple of Russian tarts, which actually turned out to be a kind of meringue-less sans rival, absolutely scrumptious.

Inside Las Flores

The tables were well-spaced, the service was knowledgeable when it was necessary, and unobtrusive when we needed the space for conversation. Perhaps it was for the better that I didn’t know about this restaurant the whole year that I spent working at an office just a few doors down the road.

It’s the shock of the not-new: I am aware that I’m beating the drum for two relatively established establishments. Like a lot of other reviewers, I enjoy the thrill of chasing new openings and getting excited about clever new concepts and new dining places, and for this I’m willing to forgive waitstaff still fumbling with the menu or a newly trained chef still trying to find his or her voice in the kitchen. One of the hazards of the job is that I end up eating more bad food than any person should.

But how wonderful it is to discover, or to rediscover, two full-fledged Spanish restaurants in the span of a week, whose menus have been refined and tested and tweaked, their waitstaff confident and solicitous, and the cooking not dulled by boredom but honed by practice. And good food is solace that we may well need for the political maelstrom to come

Joescoundrel
09-12-2013, 10:54 AM
Authentic Vietnamese with a dash of joie de vivre

Posted on Thursday Sep 12th at 12:00am

CULTURE VULTURE

By Therese Jamora-Garceau

Food guru Anthony Bourdain has eaten all over the world and been hosted by some of the best chefs, but I’ve never heard him rave about a cuisine as much as he has about Vietnamese food: “It’s really tasty, flavorful, local, fresh, cheap, and just incredibly delicious and with a very low impact on the body. A bowl of pho in Vietnam is a hell of a lot better for you than a lot of the novelty food that you see on TV.”

As a noodle freak myself, I’m inclined to agree with him. Pho, with its rice noodles, clear broth, bean sprouts and lean protein, is probably the healthiest noodle soup you’ll ever try. Vietnamese food in general is healthy — abundant in vegetables and free from the high fat and sodium content of other cuisines.

You can see proof in the Vietnamese themselves. My husband, aunt and uncle have visited the country, and they say there are no overweight Vietnamese people. Not a single tubby one among the willowy bunch. My aunt and uncle joked that they were the only two fat people in the country. From now on, I think I will incorporate Vietnamese food much more often into my diet.

My favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Vietnam Food House, closed a while back, so news of La Petite Camille opening in Greenbelt 5 was extremely welcome. Most of our current Vietnamese eateries are so no-frills you wouldn’t want to take a date there, but there’s no danger of that at La Petite Camille. The name alone has a certain je ne sais quoi. Vietnam was a French colony, after all, from 1859 to 1954.

Restaurateur Richmond “Richie” Yang of Big Buddha Restaurants Inc., the group that also operates Chili’s, Nanbantei, Super Bowl of China and Yomenya Goemon, a Japanese spaghetti house, explains that La Petite Camille is actually a franchise from the San Francisco’s Bay Area in the United States. “My sister used to live there, so we used to travel there a lot,” he says.

Yang’s family (his father is George Yang of McDonald’s) liked the food so much they became regular customers. “The restaurant’s near the airport, so we’d stop by before and after we landed.”

The Yangs met the Vietnamese owners, who, as it happened, had lived in the Philippines for two years. “They were boat people from Vietnam who landed in Palawan waiting for their papers to go to the US,” Yang says. “They say there’s still a community of Vietnamese there who’ve assimilated here already. They eventually moved to the States (in 1992) and opened up this restaurant.”

The family matriarch and restaurant founder, Mama Phon (pronounced “Fong”), had accrued secret family recipes for the sauces and marinades that are used in La Petite Camille’s menu. She passed them on to the local kitchen staff, training them personally a month before La Petite Camille opened, and staying on to supervise for three months afterwards. So, although you’ll see a lot of familiar dishes on the menu, they all have Mama Phon’s special touch.

I taste it most in the barbecues: the Camille BBQ chicken and Saigon Style BBQ pork chops (both P325, good for two or three people) are already so flavorful you probably won’t need the dipping sauce served on the side.

Another dish rich in flavor is the Special Rice in Clay Pot (P270) — jasmine rice that absorbs all the goodness of the prawns, chicken, Chinese chorizo, onions, mushrooms, secret spices and sauce it’s cooked in. Since I love all-in-one type meals, this is a winner for me.

For appetizers I always order fresh rolls in an effort to be more healthy, though I have to admit La Petite Camille’s fried Imperial rolls (P270 for six pieces) are irresistibly delicious, cooked as they are in a minimal amount of oil.

The Vietnamese have a strong vegetarian tradition owing to their Buddhist roots, so LPC’s vegetable dishes aren’t mere afterthoughts but standouts in themselves. Start with the pomelo or green papaya salad, and don’t miss the Camille Special Eggplant with chicken, Chinese sausage, and dried shrimp, which is another complete meal you could have over lots of steamed rice.

Another thing I love about Vietnamese restaurants is their coffee — freshly brewed in an individual press, mixed with condensed milk and served hot or iced. Though this could qualify as dessert for me, don’t miss La Petite Camille’s Fried Banana with Ice Cream fritters and Pandan and Yellow Mung Bean, a meticulously made dessert that is the restaurant’s signature.

Located in Greenbelt 5, La Petite Camille has sunny, sophisticated interiors by Noel Bernardo that are conducive to group dining. Yang describes the original restaurant as “more a hole-in-the-wall,” but here they went for a French Colonial look to suit GB5’s upscale environment.

Prices are kept reasonable — on average, a check for a feast will cost you about P400 — because food costs are generally low. “Our raw materials are imported from Vietnam, like the noodles, hoisin and fish sauces,” Yang says. “Local patis has a stronger taste and the Vietnamese need a cleaner, more refined taste. But our vegetables are very good so they’re all sourced locally, and so are our meats.”

The Philippine branch is La Petite Camille’s first outside the United States. Yang, who’s always on the lookout for interesting brands to bring to the Philippines, says his criteria for opening is brands that are scalable. “They have to be casual dining but scalable to maybe five to 10 stores per brand.”

I can’t wait to try LPC’s pork banh mi, which is served after lunch as merienda, but of course, the quality of any Vietnamese restaurant is measured by its pho. In that aspect, La Petite Camille lives up to its slogan of “authentic Vietnamese cuisine with a dash of joie de vivre.” I love the clean but intense flavors of the Pho Combination — a mélange of raw and well-cooked beef, beef balls, herbs and rice noodles served with the usual mint-basil and bean sprouts on the side — simple perfection in a bowl. I’m sure even Anthony Bourdain would approve.

* * *

Joescoundrel
09-19-2013, 10:46 AM
Pig tales

By Micky Fenix

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:00 am | Thursday, September 19th, 2013

When the cochinillo (suckling pig) arrived at a recent party of friends, comments and jokes about the pork barrel issue ensued.

Poor pig, whose name has been dragged through the mud by the blatant misuse of public money by many of our representatives in government.

Still, no one wanted to miss tasting the beautiful piece of pork lying spread-eagled, its crisp skin so inviting. Such a small pig (between three and five kilos) actually feeds more people than you think—up to 10 for the regular size. I was told, though, that without the other dishes, sides and main, two hungry people can demolish one pig.

Of course, the next question was, who cooked this?

The cochinillo was ordered from Pimbrera de Barasoain (tel. 8442049, Nelda or Dante), a company owned by Conrad Calalang and his family.

Calalang had several successful restaurants in the 1990s, such as Seasons and Restoran Barasoain.

He has retired, but the family food business has been continued by his daughter, Vanna Calalang Severino.

Pimbrera at the San Antonio Plaza on McKinley Road, Makati City, also has Filipino food-to-go, a boon for “empty nest” homes in Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village. That way, the senior residents don’t have to cook just for two (tel. 7754128).

Pimbrera has been serving cochinillo for over 10 years now, said Calalang. Sourcing, though, is becoming a problem, and prices may have to keep increasing.

The best in Spain

Since he retired, Calalang has been traveling, attending cooking schools and eating in the best restaurants. He has sampled enough of the cochinillo in Spain to be able to rate the first three, he said. Madrid’s El Botin is third; Segovia’s Meson de Candido is second; and the best, he said, is Avila’s Asador de las Cubas in Arevalo.

I visited two of them. The head asador (master griller) at El Botin is Michael Alim, a Filipino.

In Segovia, Señor Alberto Candido was asked to do a take two because the photographer didn’t catch him throwing the plate after he cut the cochinillo with it. In Avila, I was more interested in the pastries produced there, and the chuleton, those huge steaks.

Another cochinillo deserved applause in a Christmas party of a magazine. While there were other excellent fare—a huge paella, deep-dish fabada, roast turkey with stuffing all cooked by the editor—the party automatically perked up when the cochinillo arrived.

Plate in hand, I did my take on Señor Candido, but without breaking the plate afterward.

The cochinillo was done by Tinee de Guzman in his brick oven. De Guzman is an entrepreneur and photographer who loves to eat, and enjoys experimenting with cooking such as “pizzas, roasted lamb, beef, 10-hour brined pork” in the brick oven that cooks his cochinillo over charcoal. This has led to this business, Cochinillo del Cielo (tel. 0999-8810810; 6330043). That’s a hint that his product should taste heavenly. The container is made of woven leaves shaped like a tampipi (native bag for clothes), and the pig is kept hot with a banana leaf blanket.

De Guzman has experimented with other versions of the suckling pig as done by different countries. And so he offers the Indonesian babi guling, prepared with many spices like turmeric, lemon grass, black pepper, garlic and coriander seeds. And he can do the Louisiana cochon de lait, which is flavored with garlic, white wine and the place’s famous hot sauce.

Of course, he also has the Filipino lechon de leche, the pig not splayed like the cochinillo but looking like a miniature, regular-sized lechon.

Four different stuffings

The lechon de leche was what we had when Asian Wall Street Journal and Saveur writer Robyn Eckhardt came to research on the roasted pig. The lechon was cooked excellently at Kamayan on Pasay Road, Makati, one of the few then that offered the dish on its menu.

At an indulgent dinner held at Dedet de la Fuente’s Pepita’s Kitchen, we “pigged out,” so to speak, because of the four kinds of lechon de leche offered, each one different because of the stuffing. There were also many other dishes before and in between the lechon that made my head, not to mention my stomach, spin.

So that evening two years ago, Pepita’s Kitchen served us a sisig stuffing for the Pinoy lechon; nut-rich rice stuffing for the Christmas lechon; potato with herb stuffing for the German lechon; and truffle oil-infused rice for the French lechon. Since then, I’ve been told, new stuffings are being offered (tel. 4254605).

But recently, Antonis Kouroutsavouris, a Greek chef, deboned a suckling pig, stuffed it with apples, tied it up to maintain its rounded self, cooked it slowly in the oven and cut each piece himself for guests. We had it at Aleth Ocampo’s home, where Margaux Salcedo invited a motley group for a dinner with fabulous wines. Ocampo’s place at Magallanes is open for private dining (tel. 8510204).

We may just hear of other small lechon versions after this—a better prospect than digesting all that pork barrel brouhaha.

Sam Miguel
09-26-2013, 09:20 AM
Sampling some of Shanghai’s hidden culinary gems

By Clinton Palanca

3:04 am | Thursday, September 26th, 2013

At the time when I learned how to travel, I started with a guide book. For my generation it was Lonely Planet and Let’s Go, just as it had been Fodor’s and Footprint Guides before that, all the way to the first English-language Baedeker Guide published in 1861. One read up on the history, civilization and customs of the country; visited the monuments; and went to the recommendations for hotels and restaurants with blind obedience.

No one uses travel guides anymore, it seems. Everyone cobbles together their travel information from the Internet, and instead of the authoritative dictums of the often-unnamed writers of the guidebooks, we get our information from Mrs N. of Brisbane, Australia, who screeches, “We had the most horrible experience with the service at this place!” or from VickyandMatt: “Great food, we had the meat with the brown sauce which was terrific!”

I hate Tripadvisor. I despise it with a passion and loathe its democratic, crowd-sourced opinions. And yet you can’t get away from it, because any restaurant that you look up on the web will eventually lead you to a review from Tripadvisor.

It was Tripadvisor that led us to dump after dump in Shanghai. I’ve been back to Shanghai many times since I spent summer there in 1985, when I queued up at bread lines with men in Mao suits, and bought dumplings and snapping turtle home for the family from the local market down Maoming Road.

I love Shanghai food even then—when produce was scarce and hygiene standards dubious—eating river eel and steamed dumplings at tables set out on the sidewalks. It’s been an ongoing, tumultuous love affair ever since, with brief encounters over the years like Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

I was at first horrified when the tranquil view across from the Bund was broken by construction cranes, but have now accepted that the skyscrapers of modern-day Pudong are there to stay.

My restaurant list was, naturally, a little out of date, so I turned online for answers. And this is how we found ourselves eating on our first night at Din Tai Fung, a grim, cafeteria-like place that Tripadvisor said had the best xiao long bao in Shanghai. Any branch of Crystal Jade in Hong Kong has better xiao long bao than the miserable, shriveled, oily buns we bravely plunged into.

Old-fashioned goodness

The next day I dragged the family to where people have been feasting on this iconic dish for decades, the Nanxiang Restaurant, a bustling haven of old-fashioned goodness. It has fancy abalone and shark’s fin xiao long bao, but all you need is the pork and hairy crab roe version—lots of it, and the engorged version without meat which you drink out of a straw.

We were there for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which meant that everyone was also there. Shanghai is about people—the city’s population is estimated at 25 million, and most of them seemed to be at the pedestrianized section of Nanjing Road. On the day we were there, there were also old men in silk pyjamas raiding the Shanghai Number One Food Store and turning the act of buying mooncakes into a scrum. Using my best kung fu, I managed to grab four mooncakes.

Unfortunately you’ll have to take my word for it that they were excellent. I have no idea what I was buying; I just went for what everyone else was grabbing.

Aged, fruity duck

Because everything was booked, the hotel staff apologized profusely that they couldn’t get us a reservation at Whampoa Club, M on the Bund, or The Plump Oyster, and we would have to settle for a second-rate restaurant called Old Beijing.

I liked it immediately—there were open windows that looked out onto the street, tables of drunken men, and families picking their teeth. Ancient, grouchy waiters brought over a young waitress to deal with us foreigners, and she guided us through the menu.

We had the best duck, aged and fruity; river prawns with hairy crab roe piled on top; stir-fried duck noodles; and a big jug of (warm) watermelon juice to wash it down. We ordered so much that other tables stood up and wandered over to watch us eat. The bill was the way I remembered it in China: unbelievably low.

At a certain point I stopped looking things up and depended more on the concierge and serendipity. We tried Yè Shanghai in the hip and trendy Xintiandi area, which was full of foreigners and overdressed Shanghainese. It was pleasant enough, above average, but a bit too stylized. Any Chinese restaurant with a vegetarian menu is suspect as far as I’m concerned.

Noodles, dumplings

One of our best finds was just behind the hotel, a little canteen where you got a table the old-fashioned way—by hovering annoyingly behind a group that looked like they were finishing up.

Yang’s Dumplings, as it turned out, was an institution in the city, with its thick fried dumplings bursting with soup and charred crisp skin, and large steaming bowls of mung bean noodles with tofu puffs and fish balls.

The restaurant is ranked No. 26 on Tripadvisor, with a bunch of mixed reviews, which doesn’t make it seem like a place one should seek out. And unless you’re staying at the Bund, you probably shouldn’t, because you’ll probably find something just as good (maybe not fried dumplings, but something else) in the back alleys near wherever you’re staying. It’s hard to get a truly bad meal in Shanghai, unless you slavishly obey Tripadvisor.

Know what you like

If you’re into glossy, mise-en-scène restaurants like in a Wong Kar-Wai movie, then a hotel concierge or a travel magazine list can help you out. But if you like loud, cheap, local Chinese restaurants and are willing to go head-to-head with an untranslated menu, then just talk to lots of people, preferably from there, keep walking and trusting your nose. It’s a world without experts now, and anyone can write a Tripadvisor review, especially people who know absolutely nothing about good Chinese food.

But only you know what you like, and the way we travel in the future will be more about creating and remembering one’s own version of a city from the multitude and vastness.

Sam Miguel
09-26-2013, 09:22 AM
US franchise becomes full-fledged Chinese resto

Only in the Philippines: P. F. Chang introduces 16 new dishes, including dim sum

By Alex Y. Vergara

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:59 am | Thursday, September 26th, 2013

In a move that seems to position it as a full-fledged Chinese restaurant, P. F. Chang’s recently beefed up its menu with 16 new dishes, including various classic dim sum offerings such as Xiao Long Bao, Radish Shrimp Dumplings, Lemon Grass Chicken Dumplings, Vegetarian Dumplings and Flaming Red (pork) Wontons.

If you can’t make up your mind and want to try them all, you can go for a sampling of all its dim sum dishes by ordering the Dim Sum Platter.

Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc., local partner of US-based P. F. Chang’s, initially positioned the restaurant chain as a “Chinese bistro” when it opened in the Philippines almost two years ago at Alabang Town Center. Less than a year later, a second branch opened at Bonifacio High Street.

Philippines-only menu

In keeping with P. F. Chang’s core identity, Global has also introduced a number of items that were inspired by the restaurant chain’s classic East-meets-West positioning such as Shrimp

Rolls, Tuna Tataki, Dynamite Chicken, Kakiage and Tofu Steak.

“For now, these new dishes are available only in the Philippines,” said Archie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts.

But it won’t be farfetched if P. F. Chang’s in the US soon offers a number of dishes developed by its Philippine partner. The company has always been receptive to new ideas to keep its diners interested.

Wider range of choices

This development also makes the Philippines, apart from the US, the only country where P. F. Chang’s offers dim sum. What’s more, Manila offers a wider range of dim sum choices than the US, which lists only chicken and pork dim sum on its menu.

And since a good number of Filipinos love to eat meat, Rodriguez and his team of chefs have also added Grilled Angus Flank Steak. The dish consists of a generous serving of US Angus steak, grilled, sliced and served with hoisin-glazed peaches and Chinese eggplant.

Chicken lovers also have an option with the new Cantonese-style Lemon Chicken. Consisting mainly of deep-fried chicken breast, the dish is served with broccoli and a sweet-sour citrus sauce.

A new noodle dish dubbed Sichuan Chicken Chow Fun consists of rice noodles stir-fried with minced chicken, Sichuan-preserved vegetables, black mushrooms and onions in a spicy sauce.

And in a further nod to P. F. Chang’s American heritage, Global has developed such desserts as Choco Buchi, traditional sesame-seed covered rice balls with chocolate filling, and Chang’s Apple Crunch.

The latter, which is part-turon and part-apple pie, consists of several crispy spring rolls with juicy Granny Smith apple filling topped with caramel sauce and served with vanilla ice cream.

If you want something lighter, you can go for Constantino Affogato, which is a scoop of vanilla ice cream paired with a shot of freshly brewed espresso and cinnamon syrup.

Choosing the best

Global originally had 35 dishes to present to P. F. Chang’s head office in Arizona. After almost two years in the restaurant scene, and with a third branch in Quezon City in the works, it needed new items either to add to its original menu or replace slow-moving ones such as lamb.

Rigo Rubalcava, culinary director of P. F. Chang’s, flew to Manila to meet with Rodriguez and his chefs and try the proposed dishes himself. He brought the number of dishes down by approving only 22.

When it was Rubalcava’s turn to present the dishes based on Global’s recipes to top management in Arizona, the number was further trimmed down to 16. No dish is served or added to the restaurant’s menu even for a limited time without prior approval.

“When it comes to running a restaurant, bringing a foreign brand to the Philippines is not as easy as it seems,” Rodriguez said. “Apart from keeping tabs on what items are moving, and what items are slow, we listen carefully to the market by constantly researching, developing and introducing new dishes that cater to diners’ changing taste.”

danny
10-02-2013, 03:23 AM
We don't need a P.F. Chang in the Philippines. We have killer Chinese restaurants all over the place. This "Chinese" resto is for the people in the American suburbs who have not tasted Chinese food.

Sam Miguel
10-11-2013, 09:38 AM
^^^ Danny, what is the best restaurant in the Chinatown of your city?

Here in the PI I still sometimes make the trip to Binondo to go to New Toho for their bituka halo and pata hamon along T Pinpin, and Global near the San Lorenzo Basilica at the end of Ongpin for maki-mi, machang, and goyong.

Sam Miguel
10-31-2013, 08:27 AM
Sichuan food that comes close, but needs extensive revising

By Clinton Palanca

3:10 am | Thursday, October 31st, 2013

There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t have good Chinese food in this country. It’s not as though it were something exotic like Japanese food, which is exacting and requires special skills and ingredients, but somehow we manage; and the bar, already set high, has been raised yet further in the last few years.

Our French and Italian restaurants are in decline, not for want of ingredients or skilled chefs, but of customers willing to pay for it done right. Chinese food should be a breeze. But it isn’t.

It may be because it’s held up to less exacting standards. After all, it’s just Chinese food, isn’t it? Just lots of oil and monosodium glutamate, a cheap way to feed a multitude in fluorescent-lit caverns called Happy Phoenix or Lucky Dragon, with large round tables and cutlery of dubious hygiene.

Regional food

It irks me when Chinese food is still thought of in these terms, and it annoys me even more when restaurant proprietors or chefs think about Chinese food this way, especially regional food, which occupies a more sacred space than a general “modern pan-Chinese” cuisine, which allows more room for interpretation and innovation.

Modern Sichuan Restaurant is sparkling with bright chandeliers and gleaming tableware, a world away from the dingy canteens of Binondo where the ceiling fans send a cascade of flies and patina of decades-old dust swirling onto the noodles.

It’s the kind of bustling but not over-contrived, upscale dining establishment that every Chinese city has these days, now more the rule than the exception.

“Modern Sichuan” is a fitting name, and it joins the other “modern” Chinese restaurants (not all by the same owner) that have sprung up in Manila.

Authentic, sophisticated

Because we’ve had such a long history of Chinese food in the Philippines, because Chinese labor is cheap (or at least less expensive, one would imagine, than its Japanese or French counterparts), and since we have such a large and discerning migrant community here, the standards ought to be high. At least as high as our standards for Japanese or French or Thai food.

This is not a cuisine that needs to be introduced. This is something that demands to be authentic and sophisticated and damn near perfect.

This restaurant fails in all three aspects. Not spectacularly or horribly, but just in a tired, deflated, mediocre way. Sichuan food, which isn’t just ordinary Chinese food with lots of chili added, is a complex and distinct regional cuisine that has become quite popular outside of China in recent years, because Sichuan and its neighboring province, Hunan, are some of the poorer regions in China and the migrants have been spilling out.

The poverty also explains the spice: All capsicum-based spice came from the New World via the Europeans, but it took hold in the poorest regions, where it could help push the rice down (in our case, the comparatively arid province of Bicol). The Sichuan peppercorn, though, is indigenous to the region, and has a numbing rather than fiery effect.

The judicious combination of the two, as well as specific and seemingly counterintuitive cooking techniques, such as “pulling” the meat through oil at low temperatures, make the region’s cuisine fairly unique and something of an acquired taste (but difficult to live without).

All wrong

A large part of the reason Modern Sichuan isn’t all it could be was the staff’s inability to guide us through the menu. We ended up ordering the “bestsellers” as well as a few dishes that I’d been hankering for.

The strips of fat meat and cucumber hung like laundry over a pole. The meal started sliding downwards with the arrival of the Sichuanese ma la frog—an imposing basin, somewhere between a hotpot and a stew, of hot oil with lots of chilies floating atop, through which you have to dig for the bits of meat, usually fish, or in this case, frog’s legs.

It wasn’t hot or oily enough, and they brought us soup bowls in case we wanted to drink the oil.

The frog’s legs were unusually plump and tender, but the spice was all wrong: blunt and in-your-face, rather than being woven in and enhancing the other flavors.

The eel, too, was good produce murdered by bad cooking: large bits, not full of bones as eel can be, but bland and seasoned indifferently.

Signature dessert

For dessert we had the watermelon sago, which was actually quite good, and the “signature” sweet potato, which was, well, a sweet potato. Or rather, four sweet potatoes, for P150. It’s not eye-wateringly expensive, but I know where the market is and I can boil my own. There was no sign of the cheese or condensed milk that it was rumored to have. If this is what the resto claims is its signature, I would have a second look at its identification.

In the end, the whole Sichuan aspect of it seems to be a bit of a gimmick to keep it from being just another Chinese restaurant, which actually shouldn’t have been a problem. Modern China has long been a classic in Glorietta and would have been equally welcome in Bonifacio Global City as well.

But to reduce Sichuan cuisine to a marketing ploy is to do great disservice to a rich culinary heritage, as well as put off newcomers whose first taste of Sichuanese food would be a misinformed muddle that has the names, but none of the real tastes of the province.

For those craving for their dose of fiery flavors, this comes tantalizingly close, but needs to be extensively revised before it can satisfy.

Sam Miguel
10-31-2013, 09:31 AM
UP Town Center: A foodie’s paradise

By Julie Cabatit-Alegre

(The Philippine Star) | Updated October 31, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The exclusive press tour at the UP Town Center, “a one-stop destination for exciting dining outlets,” was dubbed a “food crawl.”

Of the 28 merchants in the first phase of this newly opened Ayala Mall along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, 26 are restaurants. We were to sample 11 of these food establishments with different concepts, all within an otherwise uneventful first day of the week. In the end, it felt more like a marathon run.

First stop was Kos Ouzeri, which offers a variety of Greek dishes. What makes it different is that students of the culinary school First Gourmet Academy, with executive chef Mats Loo, prepare everything. If the moussaka we sampled was any indicator, you can expect to get the tastiest Greek dishes at Kos Ouzeri. The baby squids in olive oil were very good, too.

The Red Onion Café is a “Manila-based quick-service restaurant that focuses on serving authentic Taiwanese beef noodles and crispy dumplings in a modern, outdoor café-styled setting,” business partners Wen-Szu Lin and Mark Endaya explained. The red onion, a key ingredient in well-loved Taiwanese dishes, inspired the name, Wen-Szu Lin shared.

Scott Tan at Ginza Bairin showed us the best way to enjoy the “tender hire katsu with fragrant Japanese Koshihika rice, an intensely flavorful sauce of broth simmered for hours, and a double serving of golden farm-fresh eggs.” With its orange-hued runny yolk, the egg was perfectly done. If only for this, it’s certainly worth going back to.

At IHOP, we sampled their newest breakfast innovation, brioche French toast — “thick-cut slices of rich brioche bread soaked in a lightly sweetened vanilla batter and grilled to a delicate warm golden crispiness.” We tried the toasts with the new toppings, peaches with butter pecan as well as glazed strawberry. It does not have to be breakfast time to enjoy breakfast fare at IHOP.

The popular Torch Restaurant in Greenhills opened its second store at the UP Town Center, serving an eclectic mix of Japanese, Italian, and American comfort food as well as Filipino fusion. Among their bestsellers are the thin gourmet pizzas, sizzling marbled Angus steaks and various kinds of sushi rolls. We sampled the smoked salmon truffle sushi as well as the steak fondue, while business partners Michael Chua and Richard Tiu engaged us in pleasant conversation. The dragon fruit sangria was so good we had to have a second glass.

The owners of Burgoo and partner Miguel Aranaz have brought Bong Tong Kee, a Hainanese chicken restaurant in Singapore, to the Philippines. We sampled familiar dishes like Hainanese boiled chicken, crispy cereal prawns, and fried spareribs with Zhen Jiang sauce.

By the time we got to our seventh restaurant, Pinac, we were already feeling quite full, which was a pity because Pinac was one of the restaurants we would have wanted to enjoy a full meal at. Pinac is the Kapampangan word for “swamp,” owner Angel Pelayo-Ty explained. At Pinac they serve traditional Candaba cuisine using heirloom recipes. They use only fresh produce sourced from local farms in the old town of Candaba in Pampanga.

Pinac’s specialties include the Candaba longganisa, sisig, kare-kare, crispy pata, and crispy hito. We enjoyed the fresh pako salad, which had the usual salted eggs and tomato, but with the addition of slivers of green mango, cucumber, and flossed fried itik. The brazo de mais, which Angel said is usually served only during fiestas, was exceptional. If we were not feeling too full, we would have helped ourselves to more.

Casa Verde is a homegrown concept from Cebu, where it started 10 years ago. Its American-inspired hearty fare includes ribs, steaks, and burgers, said marketing officer and owner, Therese Anne Galang. It was way past lunchtime when we arrived but the place was still packed with diners enjoying the dishes with rice at three in the afternoon.

If you are a pork lover like Anthony Bourdain, then Tokyo Tonteki is the place for you. “We’re a pork steak concept on a hot plate,” said marketing manager Roberto Vallar. They also serve hamburgers made of pork as well as chicken steak done specially for the Philippine market. Naturally, their bestseller is the tonteki, or pork steak made with high-grade pork, spread out like a fan and served on a hot plate. “Despite its thickness, the pork meat is very soft, juicy and flavorful,” Vallar remarked.

One more Japanese place we visited was the Café Shibuya, which serves their signature honey toast, a dessert popularized in Shibuya, Japan. Their milkshakes use Ghirardelli chocolate. With that, how can you go wrong? As the sign says, “There is always room for dessert.”

Our last stop was at Highlands Coffee. This Vietnamese coffee chain serves traditional Vietnamese brewed coffee and espresso-based drinks. It was just the right way to cap our food marathon.

Sampling dishes from 11 restaurants in the span of six hours is no easy task. But hey, someone has to do it. At the restaurants at Ayala Malls’ UP Town Center, it was a real pleasure.

Sam Miguel
11-07-2013, 08:07 AM
Now, this is the ‘mother’ of all buffets

Again, VicVic Villavicencio thinks out of the box. World Buffet features the world’s best list, from all kinds of grill meats (Greek to Indian), global variants of salmon and tuna, curry choices, to our ‘pritchon’

By Marge C. Enriquez

3:21 am | Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Behind the granite counter, the server slices three-inch thick slabs of beef and pork before the customer. Tender and chewy, these grilled meats, called churrascos in Brazil, are on long skewers with juicy tomatoes.

The experience of a churrascaria, the Brazilian grill or steakhouse, is recreated at the SM Megamall branch of Dad’s, the restaurant famous for its copious buffet selection at an affordable price.

At Dad’s new World Buffet, diners can get grilled skewered meat cooked in various ways.

There’s the Indonesian satay with chicken and beef morsels, barbecued then bathed in a welcome treat of peanut sauce.

The Greek souvlakis—smaller skewers of tender cuts of beef and chicken—are marinated in white wine and lemony olive oil mixture.

The Indian lamb kebab is served with classic mint and coriander chutney, while the Greek lamb kebab is made zingy with lemon, olive oil and herbs.

In more familiar territory there’s the American hickory barbecue beef.

All the grill items are cooked slowly to allow the meat juices to dictate the flavors.

Trailblazing restaurateur Victor Vincent “VicVic” Villavicencio says Dad’s Restaurant is offering the whole world on your plate for only P748. This includes the Kamayan and Saisaki fare and its fruit shakes.

To celebrate Dad’s 20th anniversary and Villavicencio’s birthday this month, the Dad’s World Buffet will cost only P488 for lunch and P688 for dinner on weekdays. The P748 buffet is on weekends and holidays.

Best value

Villavicencio has been in the restaurant business since 1977, starting with the iconic Filipino restaurant Kamayan, followed by the phenomenal success that was Saisaki.

In 1993, Villavicencio introduced buffet dining at Dad’s at SM Megamall, which also integrated his restaurant concepts.

“When the buffet became popular, we folded our short-order restaurants into the buffet. We used to call it Dad’s Crossover because you paid a certain price for the Kamayan buffet, complete with the lechon, and a certain price for Saisaki. If you wanted the whole thing, there was another price. Through the years. we have added dishes, but we never told the public about it,” he explains.

“We now have world cuisine. For the first time, we have a full Chinese section, Greek food, Indonesian, a churrascaria, Malaysian, Thai, a tapas bar and paella. The number of food has increased, but as a matter of policy, we don’t do what other buffets do—when the price is high, the premium items are there; when the price is lower, the premium items are removed.

“If you make the buffet cheaper by removing expensive items, I think that’s a cop-out. In our case, whatever price we give you, it’s the same premium items every day. We discount to encourage you to come on those slow days. That’s all we did, discounted the price at certain times, but we never discounted the quantity of the food.”

With the introductory price of P748, Villavicencio says he’s giving customers value for money because the fee includes juices.

Typical of Villavicencio’s out-of-the-box thinking, there is no service charge since he believes it’s the restaurant’s job to serve guests with enthusiasm.

“I believe in value for money. I don’t like to hear P900 and P1,000. People go to a buffet for quality and choices at a reasonable price. But at a certain point, the prices have become unreasonable.

“Others will have a drink bar, but they won’t tell you until you find it. Here, we have Four Seasons, watermelon, mango, green mango, dalandan, buko pandan, carrot and banana shakes.

You can order four at the same time. We put the shakes in small glasses not because we are being stingy. If you like the shake, you can order another in a different flavor.

“Our drinks are bottomless and interchangeable. But we ask you to finish it. We are generous with our food. If you go around, we ask you to try it. We don’t hide it,” says Villavicencio.

He offers other perks. For every 10 buffet guests, one is free of charge (except for the P488 buffets). Birthday celebrators get free buffet.

Meats and seafoods

To get the new concept off the ground, the layout of Dad’s SM Megamall was made even more accessible to diners, with the food stations just a few meters away from the tables. The spaces between the stations are wide enough not only to avoid queues, but also to lure the diners.

The carving station is at the prime section. Crisp golden-skinned turkey (with stuffing in anticipation of Thanksgiving and Christmas) and the New Zealand roast leg of lamb with pinkish insides are a tempting sight.

Dad’s signature ham, glazed with mustard, cloves, citrus and caramel, is fresh and preservatives-free.

For dieters, the firm-fleshed mahi-mahi, its flavor stronger than whitefish, is seared and served with light tangy sauce.

There are also global variants for the salmon and tuna. In the seafood grill, the salmon is moist and meaty to satiate the hard-core carnivore, while the tuna is distinctively flaky and firm with a rich, powerful flavor.

Saisaki cooks the salmon and tuna tataki style, quickly seared and served mildly spicy.

The squids are tops: tapas-style, crispy-coated calamari; the classic Kamayan inihaw na pusit or stuffed grilled squid; and Dad’s squid with orange and lemon butter sauce.

There are also curry choices. Depending on the country of origin, the main ingredient is determined by the color—yellow for turmeric, green for green chilli and red for chilli powder.

The mild seafood massaman curry from Thailand is boiled in slightly sweet coconut milk, then thickened with peanuts and made flavorful with fish sauce and other spices that define Thai cuisine.

The Malaysian curry is dominated by coconut milk, more than the layering of red chillies, slowly cooked onions, lemon grass, a dash of turmeric and chunks of slowly braised beef and lamb.

Velvety and voluptuous, the Indian chicken curry delivers the most intricately blended and pungent spices of all.

The Thai station is a winner: crispy catfish fish (yampla duk phoo) with sweet sour dressing. The tom yam goong is a robust, clear sour soup with shrimps infused the delicate flavors of galangal, kaffir lime and lemongrass.

Comfort food

Dad’s selected the dishes that have made it to the World’s Best List.

The Singaporean Hainanese chicken interprets chicken rice with pandan, ginger, chilli oil and sweet soy sauce.

The Chinese section has the sharp, fast-fried dishes from Szechuan and the tender, slightly sweet Cantonese cuisine with its repertoire of noodles, soups, delicacies, mellow sauces, rotisserie meat, seafoods and dimsums.

In the Mexican section, you can make your own fajitas, grilled meat with side servings of bell pepper, bell pepper onion, guacamole, sour cream and salsa into a warm, flour tortilla.

Then there are the familiar Spanish food such as the lengua, hearty callos made with soft tripe, chicken relleno and the steamy pan of paella, topped with shrimp, lobster, mussels and cuttlefish.

The Italian lasagnas are either infused with tomato sauce and minced meat or béchamel sauce.

Going Americana, the buffalo wings are marinated in spicy sauce and cooked to a crisp with tender insides.

For the cool months, the thick and creamy seafood chowder with freshwater fish and shellfish is the ultimate comfort food, unless you want to head to Kamayan’s arroz caldo or the flavor-packed ginataan for merienda.

Next to the carving station, the Saisaki buffet is the most popular, with its wide array of sushi, sashimi, cold noodles and Japanese grilled items.

The Kamayan buffet has the classics—pritchon, kambing, kuhol, buro, freshly made halo-halo, puto bumbong and bibingka.

Villavicencio estimates that Kamayan offers some 70 entrées—achara not included. You pay P468 for entrees, P648 if desserts and drinks are included.

In exchange for Dad’s bounty, Villavicencio has one request: Be eco-friendly by avoiding leftovers on your plate.

Other Dad’s outlets will offer the World Cuisine next year: Glorietta in January; West Avenue in February; Padre Faura and Edsa in March.

Sam Miguel
11-28-2013, 10:28 AM
Getting a blast of the past through classic European cuisine

By Sandy Daza

Philippine Daily Inquirer

2:57 am | Thursday, November 28th, 2013

At an early age, I was exposed to fine French cuisine via our restaurant Au Bon Vivant on Leon Ma. Guererro Street, Ermita. At that time, I wasn’t aware of the quality of food I was eating. To us kids, it was ordinary fare.

It was only when we dined in other fine-dining restaurants here and abroad that we realized the food we were used to was actually very good.

As time passed, many new types of cuisine were born and new delicious dishes were created. Nouvelle Cuisine was one of them. It became a hit and almost all restaurants were doing it.

Fusion cuisine also came into the picture. Very interesting but I feel it is no longer as popular as before or it hasn’t lasted.

I like to compare the restaurant to a car. Today, many US car companies are going back to the classics—the Ford Thunderbird, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Beetle.

I have been asked by quite a few to resurrect Au Bon Vivant. I do know the recipes of that dining institution but feel that not all the dishes of the place will be a hit today. Lord willing, someday I will revive it.

But there are a few that will survive the change of time: our onion soup Gratinee, Chateaubriand Bearnaise, Poulet Grandmere, Boeuf Bourgignon and Almond Mousse.

Every time I come across such dishes in restaurants, I order them. There is nothing more satisfying than getting a blast of the past through food.

That is why comfort food is such a hit. It’s getting more difficult to find cuisine prepared and tasting the classic way. I prefer it this way.

Just a few days ago, I found one. From Cubao, take Edsa and make a right on Ayala in Makati. Right after that turn, make an immediate right in that street where Urdaneta apartments is (closed entrance of Urdaneta Village). Right there, you will find the Makati Garden Club, my latest discovery of fine European classic and Danish cuisine done the way I like it.

The restaurant is surrounded by a lovely garden which you walk across to get to this haven.

Sandwiches galore

Just reading the menu will make you realize you will be coming back to this place to try almost all of his dishes.

Samples of what I saw are: Open-Faced Sandwiches served with salad and choice of bread, homemade pumpernickel black, sourdough and whole-wheat bread.

Pink Roast Beef, Remoulade Sauce and Crispy Onions; Skagen Shrimp Cocktail and Caviar; Gravlax Cured Salmon with Dill Mustard Sauce; Pink Roast Lamb with Feta, Capers and Sun-dried Tomatoes; Goat Cheese Omelet with Arugula Salad; Curry Herring; Crab Cocktail—those are just the sandwiches.

I tried the Moules Baltazar, which consisted of Chilean mussels with wine and cream. These are to die for. Then I had a plate of pate, thinly cut parma ham and spicy tuna tartare with grated fresh horseradish on top.

The homemade baguette didn’t help me stick to my diet. The bread was crusty with a soft inside. With the butter, one just hums in satisfaction.

For our main, I tried the Ciopino Seafood Bake. This is a blend of various seafoods in a red tomato-based sauce and served with crusty bread.

Then I also had a Cassoulet de Maison with Braised Oxtail. The meat of the oxtail was sticky but fell off the bone. This brought me back to the meals I had in Carcasonne, France, where the Cassolet was served with large wooden spoons just like in the olden times. Sarap!

Finally, I tried Reindeer Tenderloin which was also delicious and even more tender than its beef counterpart. That was a first and pleasant experience.

For dessert, we had a simple but out of this world Crème Brûlée. Very good!

The other dishes I plan to return for are the steaks with Roquefort, Pepper Steak, the Rossini or steak topped with foie gras, Merlot-Braised Lamb Shank, Confit or Crispy Duck with Potatoes.

There are many dishes that will surprise you. And the chef prepares them the traditional way.

So the Makati Garden Club has just become my latest favorite restaurant. It brings me back to the cooking I have always loved. The food here will immediately make you think of your loved ones. I’m bringing my family here.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2014, 09:35 AM
For innovative Chinese cuisine, look to Hong Kong

By Clinton Palanca

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:57 am | Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Of all the explanations given for the lyrical beauty of tone from the violins made in Italy during the 16th and 17th centuries, the most convincing is not about a particular wood or secret technique, but an economic one.

There were more craftsmen making violins at the time, and more wealthy patrons willing to pay for them, so standards were high; and the most famous of them, Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri, were the best of an already high level of craftsmanship.

The same is true of the restaurant scene. Hong Kong has, at least since its affluence in the 1980s, possessed that combination of skilled artisans devoted to the craft of cooking, and wealthy patrons willing to support them, that makes the restaurant standard higher than elsewhere, their peaks of excellence truly outstanding.

It’s also one of those places that make the Long Night of the Palate, when one has children, slightly more bearable.

Overrated

We were duly warned, but we had to experience it to believe it: Once babies develop minds of their own, food and travel adventures become that much more difficult.

The wanderlust is just as strong for us parents, but we also have to consider the very high likelihood of the child needing to change nappies, throwing a tantrum, going on a sit-down strike, wandering off, getting carsick, or not being able to sleep without the dog.

Every time we go on a trip, we resolve not to travel again until our daughter is in her late teens; but in a few months we find ourselves booking another trip, and crossing our fingers that it’ll go better this time.

So, last Christmas, we went to Hong Kong. I suppose that it helps that everything looks fairly familiar, because around this time of year, most of them are, indeed, familiar. And children can actually eat well.

In London, families with children are relegated to a “ghetto” at the back of the restaurant, unless you go to a “family” restaurant, which are places with terrible food where parents who are in the Long Night of the Palate can go and have their children bawl at the table and throw ketchup at the wall without guilt.

But here, in a one-star Michelin restaurant, the children are at the front and center. They are given a glass of warm water and are expected to use chopsticks like everyone else.

I wasn’t terribly happy with our Yè Shanghai experience in Shanghai, but the family decided to give it another try, and we were pleasantly surprised. I still think it’s overrated and the prices are a little on the high side, but Chinese food has to move forward (as Thai food has done in recent years, and Filipino food in the last year or two). Yè Shanghai is just one of the many directions Chinese cuisine has taken, simplifying and distilling the flavors, and bringing various regional tastes together.

Discovery

But the real discovery of the trip was an enticing place with a mysterious name, M&C Duck. It’s bright and airy, with blond wood, cheerful wallpaper, and a long open kitchen running the length of the room.

At the front is a chef who skins and carves duck after duck that emerge from a large, cylindrical oven in the middle of the kitchen.

If Crystal Jade is all about dough and everything that it can be shaped into, from dumplings to noodles, M&C Duck is a rhapsody on the theme of duck.

It has duck on potato chips, little duck bites, duck with noodles, duck with wonton, and, of course, traditional Peking duck.

Most importantly, though, M&C Duck kept everything very casual, and made eating Peking duck less the equivalent of a gastronomic Iron Man.

It was not so long ago that, whether in Beijing or Hong Kong, you could order only a duck and not a portion of one, and one duck can be something of a challenge for even two determined eaters to get through; and you don’t get to eat anything else. Here, it’s one part of a meal, which is perfect.

M&C Duck’s other dishes were imaginative, interesting, and not bad at all. The feel of the place, even more than the quality of the food, is where I’d like to see Chinese food going: stylish without being pretentious; cozy and modern while still being authentic.

Of all the various types of cuisine in Manila, the one that has improved the least is Chinese; and this is not because there isn’t a market for it. I’m convinced that people are looking for good, sophisticated, authentic Chinese food, but restaurant owners are opening the umpteenth tapas place.

Modern Shanghai and Modern Sichuan are steps in the right direction (i.e., away from banquet rooms with huge round tables and greasy spoons), but the quality leaves much to be desired. Why are we not paying attention to this cuisine that is maturing by leaps and bounds across the world?

To return to the earlier analogy, the patrons are ready to buy a Stradivarius, but the craftsmen are making harmonicas.

Sam Miguel
01-09-2014, 09:41 AM
Vietnamese cuisine gets acculturated in Palawan

By Micky Fenix

Philippine Daily Inquirer

4:33 am | Thursday, January 9th, 2014

All that remains of the Vietnamese refugee camp in Palawan is a big hut that spells out “Vietville” at the entrance. But that’s not accurate. In the kitchen, there are two elderly Vietnamese ladies who cook the food served at the restaurant. And our waiter, “Jojo,” as he likes to call himself, is also Vietnamese.

I had so wanted to go to the camp during my first visit in the last decade of the old millennium. I wanted to see the herbs planted for the ingredients used in the cuisine such as sawtooth, mint and basil. But, at the time, the place was too far off downtown Puerto Princesa.

Fortunately, on my recent visit to Palawan, Vietville was on the way to Daluyon Resort in Sabang, our group’s final destination. Our host, Butch Tan Jr., wanted us to taste what is now part of Palawan’s cuisine.

Jojo introduced us to his mother, Le-thé Ngoc Minh, who was still doing her prep for the fresh lumpia (goi cuon) which we would have as appetizer. His aunt, Pham thé Anh, learned to cook from his mother, and the elderly duo did their Vietnamese dishes we had ordered. Most of the dishes were familiar to me, having ordered them at restaurants in Manila and in Ho Chi Minh City.

Spirit-reviving

We had two soups because we needed a stomach-warming first meal. The pho bo (beef noodles) was like a warm welcome to the province and a spirit-reviving dish, after the stress of travel and no proper breakfast due to the early morning flight. The other was a shrimp sour soup like our sinigang.

There was pork barbecue (thit nuong) and lapu-lapu in tausi, which, taken with rice, were quite filling. And to think we had another carbo loading because we just had to have the French bread with roasted pork (banh mi thit).

The French bread is baked by Jojo and we were so impressed by the texture and taste that we ordered some to take home. We were to pass by for the bread on the way back to the town from Sabang. Just place them in the freezer, Jojo said, and it can last a long time.

The bread didn’t last that long because the boys at home couldn’t get enough of them. But friends who got their share of the bread said it was still good after two months.

‘Chow lang’

I remembered another visit to Puerto Princesa when tricycle drivers told us that they liked to eat at Vietnamese restaurants because the food was cheap. One of the drivers brought us to Bona’s Chao Long Haus and Restaurant. It was one of the oldest, opened in 1995 by Nguyen Lan, who migrated to the United States after he sold the rights to the Bona family in 2000.

Chao Long turned out to be pho with its noodles, but the soup was orange in color because a daughter-in-law of the Bonas gave it a Chinese twist. The thing is, chao long is Vietnamese porridge, so the name is wrong. We asked Jojo of Vietville to explain, but his answer did not clear things up because he said the name came from Filipinos who said the soup was “Chow lang,” (only food).

Vietville Restaurant opened in 1996. Outside the dining area, what remains of what must have been a big camp are a smattering of houses, a gazebo that honors the Virgin Mary, and another one farther down that has a Buddha statue done by former Vietnamese camp habitués.

The elderly ladies in the kitchen told me that they sailed from Saigon on an American navy boat. One of them married a Filipino journalist she met during the Vietnam War, and she spelled out his name on my notebook. That’s probably why she decided to stay on.

Jojo’s mother seemed to like living in Puerto Princesa, and so made the temporary arrangement permanent.

The two cooks both have two children, who, we hope, will learn to cook from their parents and keep alive the lore that, once upon a time, there were Vietnamese refugees in Palawan.

There’s more of our Palawan sojourn next week, including Sabang that is near the Underground River. But, for me, the main attraction is Filipino food, Palawan dishes that were a surprise to find in a resort.

Sam Miguel
02-07-2014, 10:22 AM
Checking out the ramen scene–there’s no stopping the craze

By Clinton Palanca

12:51 am | Thursday, February 6th, 2014

How much can one really say about ramen?

As it turns out, a lot: There are people like David Chang, impresario and owner of Momofuku, who are obsessed with it. Ippudo, probably the most famous brand in the ramen franchise world, has been drawing crowds in the East Village since it opened, and is soon to open in Manila. There was a movie about it, “Tampopo,” in 1985.

Now there are books, magazine articles and an entire subculture around the elegant simplicity of a bowl of noodles in broth.

I think noodles in broth are about as perfect a meal as one can get, and I would be happy to eat it every day for the rest of my life. Except that I’m not so much into Japanese ramen as the Chinese version—with softer noodles and a light beef broth with long-simmered brisket. This is my obsession.

I also like the rice noodles one gets in roadside stalls in Bangkok, the fragrant Vietnamese pho, hot Singaporean laksa with cockles and a dollop of fermented fish paste, as well as a good batchoy.

So, I don’t dislike ramen, and won’t spend hours debating the origins of the flour and the exact proportions of the pork broth, either. And yet I don’t begrudge the people who have this pleasure because I feel there’s a difference between sashimi chopped randomly by an indifferent line cook, and the slices made by a sushi chef with years of experience.

I’m convinced that I can heed the difference between a “new old stock” Mullard ECC83 long plate vacuum tube and a Russian reissue. To each his own obsession.

Ramen Nagi

I tried out the newly opened Ramen Nagi on the top floor of SM Aura in Taguig; it was in the top league of ramen that one can get in the metropolis these days, though I would be hard-pressed or bluffing on how exactly to rate it in comparison with the others.

I ordered the Black King because it’s what everyone puts up on his Instagram, and when I tried slurping it in the accepted fashion to mix in the air while drinking it, I managed to burble black squid ink like a faulty ink-jet printer over everyone around me. So much for my noodle connoisseurship.

The Green King, which has pesto, is a little strange, but then so is a parmesan cheese topping or noodles in the shape of a burger.

Tonkotsu, the milky white broth made by boiling pork bones for days on end, was (to me, at least) as good as Ippudo’s, going by the branch in Silvercord Center in Hong Kong that I’ve been to.

Ramen Nagi’s interiors are cramped and not conducive to lingering, which fits in with the idea of a noodle bar as a quick stop (and also happens to increase turnover).

But one can always hop over to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf beside it, which has a pleasant, open-air patio, or saunter down to Paul for pastries.

Ogetsu Hime

There’s another restaurant on the same floor of SM Aura that has already received its share of press, Ogetsu Hime by the Villavicencio resto chain, which originally popularized Japanese food in this town with the Triple-V restaurants in the 1980s.

But you can put behind you the ideas about all-you-can-eat tempura and tuna maki that was all rice and no tuna; Ogetsu is decidedly high-end, with prices to match.

Some of the more abstruse inventions of sushi rolls don’t work well at all, especially the hot ones (chicken teriyaki with bechamel, for instance) that are cooked in foil and have to be reassembled on the table.

Of the nontraditional sushi rolls, the Ogetsu Hime roll is the one worth trying, though I might nitpick that it was slightly wonkily put together.

But the sukiyaki is perfect. I went for the version using the lower-priced US Prime Rib beef, which was carefully cooked on the table by the waitress, who put together a refined and well-judged dish rather than a haphazard, candy-sweet concoction.

Meanwhile, my cousin has opened a ramen restaurant. I mention this somewhat tentatively, because while I review restaurants that are run or created by good friends—and they know that I’m only showing them respect by being as honest as I can be—it’s the first time a close family member has opened a dining place.

It would be an extreme conflict of interest for me to review it, but I don’t feel the restaurant, which has several partners behind it, should be penalized by the misfortune of having one of its owners related to me.

So, I’ll put it out there for other reviewers and the public to judge, even as I say that I enjoyed my bowl of tonkotsu ramen and my black pig tonkatsu at Tampopo a great deal.

And that’s it for This Week In Ramen. Expect another update soon, because the trend shows no sign of stopping. Can someone please open a good pho or laksa joint to break the monotony, though?

Sam Miguel
02-07-2014, 10:23 AM
^^^ Si Clinton naman, just go to the Glorietta branch of Ling Nam and order the ever-brilliant beef mami.