I've been craving for Pantalan for the longest time but with the increase in gas prices, it's been really impractical to go to Manila JUST for Pantalan. Until now...
Our purpose to go the the Manila area was not actually to go to Pantalan but to visit the annual WOFEX (World Food Expo). I guess it was carved in destiny that we would get to eat at Pantalan and finally satisfy my intense craving for this restaurant. When we reached the World Trade Center - the venue for the WOFEX 2008, we were surprised to see that there were so many people in line. We began to have second thoughts in actually going. Dwelling upon the fact that if we didn't go, we would have wasted time and gas in traveling to Manila. We had to make the most of our long journey...
We didn't want to go home yet just in case we change our minds and push through with our original plan. We were cruising on Roxas Boulevard trying to think of something to do when Panatalan popped in my mind. It was not that hot outside so al fresco by the bay for lunch might be nice but most of all, to finally get to eat at Pantalan again after a long time. Sad though that there were no bamboo shells available, we had to settle for clams. It had the same flavor though cause I asked it to be cooked with chili and tausi (fermented beans). We really enjoyed this dish with all its spiciness and chinese cuisine taste. This dish alone can be a complete meal by the bay, but we were hungry for more.
We next decided on some steamed suahe or shrimps. Again a dish that was not available because the shrimps hasn't been delivered yet. We opted for prawns instead of the suahe since until now I adhere to what my mother would always tell me. Count my blessings and be contented with what is given to you. The sauhe arrived in the middle of ravaging through the steamed prawns. Lucky us. Good thing the prawns were very good. Perfectly cooked. Was a bit bland but we dipped it in some light soy sauce which gave it the right saltiness, sweetness, and flavor. This dish was heaven in itself but if we had gotten the suahe instead, it would be as if we've gone to heaven ten-folds.
As a soup dish, we decided on some Bouillabaisse Soup. A mix of seafood in a cream based soup. One of my favorite soups in the world. Pantalan's version was not the best but I love it! The creaminess and the milky flavor is indeed up my alley. I love the variety of seafood they had inside the soup. We had a bit of everything: shrimps, fish, clams, squid, and mussels although we wished they could have added crab also to the mix. The fish and the mussels were a bit fishy but the rest were really fresh and well cooked.
To wash everything down, my editor and I ordered some buko juice straight from the tree. It had a lot of juice in it that it would overflow everytime your obsessive-compulsive tendencies would make you fix the straw to point at yourself. It was really a funny sight. On the downside though, it had too much juice that it apparently lost all its meat. The meat left was a sort of goo stuck on the coconut's interior instead of the normal white coconut meat.
Our Pantalan lunch was indeed something to remember. The weather was perfect. The food, as always, superb.
August 3, 2008 Chinese Cafe (Kam Hong Street) North Point, Hong Kong
The best Wonton Mien I've ever tasted. The soup was very tasty but that's because of the MSG overload so it was really nothing special. The best thing about the noodle soup was the noodles itself. The noodles were really good, borderline crunchy. They had a bite to it but not too hard that it'll graze your mouth's interior. The noodles were soft enough to chew but tough enough to give it some texture. You have to try it for yourself to actually experience what I'm saying. It is definitely different writing something than experiencing it first hand.
I've seen an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on Hong Kong and the dying art of authentic noodle making. This made me see the noodles in a different light. Making very good noodles via the ancient method is indeed a dying art and involves much hard work. Sad though that people have been too lazy to continue this very "manual" art. Machines have replaced actual hands-on creation. As a result, great noodles are hard to find nowadays, so being able to experience some awesome noodles during our last day in Hong Kong was a real treat!
August 3, 2008 Street Food Stand Times Square, Hong Kong
I just love streetfood! I think Taiwan has the best streetfood but Hong Kong can surely give Taiwan a run for its money. See for yourselves...
Mini Siomai - Perfect with soy sauce dipping. Eat it while it's hot to complete the whole experience! :)
Hotdog - My favorite Chinese streetfood. I never miss eating this even in Taiwan and China streetfood outlets. The best thing with the hotdog is the chewy exterior, soft and tasty interior, and most of all, the mustard. I love the mustard they use. It is the perfect accompaniment to the hotdog. Very spicy. Very good.
Whenever we're in Hong Kong, we never fail to go to Café De Coral. This has been our refuge. Our resting ground from all that walking and shopping. I will never forget one cold, rainy night in Hong Kong when we didn't know what to eat and were so cold to even think. The first restaurant we saw was Café De Coral and so we entered. We were surprised with so many people eating inside, heeding shelter from the coldness of the Hong Kong night. One of the best meals I've ever had in Hong Kong was in Café De Coral. I vividly remember what we ate that night: Mutton and Tofu Skin Hotpot! The mutton was really tender and the soup was really flavorful. To top it all off, it had one of my favorite add-ons there is: tofu skin! You can just imagine the enjoyment we had while eating this and drinking the hot soup. We really felt warm and very capable of walking around through the cold night for some more late-night shopping.
Eversince that moment, I vowed eating at Café De Coral everytime I'm in Hong Kong. It was a part of the actually Hong Kong schedule now, a must! This time I was with Aileen and it was her first time in Café De Coral. We ordered their special for the day, a steak meal. We should have ordered the famed Baked Porkchops in addition to the steak meal but we were afraid we wouldn't be able to finish everything. Café De Coral offers huge servings. Much like City'super, they offer very affordable meals. Their food may not be actually THE BEST but it will very much get you through those hunger pains. They have various recipes they use in perfect timing with the weather or with holidays. It seems that Café De Coral answers my craving all the time. Oh did I mention they have the best Nia Cha (Milk Tea) in Hong Kong also?
Café De Coral has comforted me once in a time of need and in return, I always make it a point to include her in the Hong Kong eating experience!
August 2, 2008 City'super (Times Square) Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
After a morning of shopping, what better way to recharge and rest your weary legs with some City'super food. City'super is a foodcourt area found inside malls in Hong Kong which serves a variety of dishes. They serve Asian, American, and Indian cuisine. My brother and I would always go to City'super for lunch or snacks after a long day of shopping.
My favorite in City'super is food by Curry-In-A-Hurry. They serve Indian cuisine, obviously, and is really authentic. Even the kneading of the roti is done by Indians. I love their roti meal. It includes your choice of lamb, chicken, or beef curry. Vegetable siding. And my favorite roti. The way you eat it is to dip the warm roti into the curry sauce, bite into it, and cherish all the spices playing inside your mouth. The lamb, in the case of my order, is just icing on the cake. The real meal is the roti itself and of course, the very flavorful curry. One of my best comfort meals in Hong Kong...
Aileen got the Lunchbox set from the Korean fast food: Lee Fa Yuen Express. Me and my brother usually eats from this fast food outlet also but most of the time, we order the noodle soups. It comes in a very big serving and is a good accompaniment with the Curry-In-A-Hurry meal. What we love about Lee Fa Yuen is the fact that they have good kimchi and their meals are very affordable. Very big serving, very yummy, and very cheap.
We love City'super. It gives you great choices. It's easy to order even if you don't know Cantonese because most understand English and some Mandarin already. The servings are very large. The prices very affordable. The best part is, after eating at City'super, you'll not only feel recharged but will, even after eating so much, still have enough money for more shopping...
Back then, I was raving about how cheap the Cebu Pacific flights were and even suggested to others to fly Cebu Pacific. They had the cheapest flights and made their competitors lower their prices too. The market became really competitive which is really good for us consumers.
I take it back! Cebu Pacific is CRAP! DO NOT FLY CEBU PACIFIC!
August 1, 2008. Our flight to Hong Kong was at 7:10pm. It was delayed for almost an hour. This is a normal occurrence so I was fine at this point. Mid-air, the pilot announces technical difficulty so we had to come back to Manila for the plane to be replaced or fixed. I was still laughing at this time since I had no reason to blow my top off, yet. It was really not anybody's fault anyway. Back at the arrival gate, we were greeted with staff that didn't know anything (or they just didn't want to answer to anybody). Questions weren't being answered. Is there another plane available? What was going to happen to us? Will we rebook? Refund? I was getting a little pissed at this time. Nobody wanted to give us answers and no manager was in sight to do so. Worst thing, they didn't give us any blankets or REAL food. I mean, everybody was getting pissed, you could at least give some blankets or food to comfort people, right? No answers, no blankets, no food. At this point, you can just imagine how much I wanted to just cancel our trip. We really didn't NEED to go to Hong Kong anyway. So, I asked the staff if I could refund the tickets instead. They said I could but I would only get 50% back... Unfair right? What about the expenses incurred in travelling to the airport? What about the Php 1,620 airport tax (which is actually a hidden charge with zero fares)? What about the Php 750 terminal fee? Don't we have the right to get all that back? In the end, we had no choice but to swallow our prides and take the next flight out. The replacement plane boarded at 1:00am. After 9 hours of waiting, we were relieved to finally be departing. But this isn't the end of my story...
While boarding, I sarcastically (yes, I did this on purpose) told the plane staff and pilot that I hope they checked the plane this time to prevent from going back yet again. I then proceeded to my seat and buckled my seatbelt. I thought that the issue was over when the head flight attendant went over to my seat and asked me if I really wanted to take the flight. I told her I had no choice, obviously. She then continued to reprimand me for my comment earlier. The nerve right? I mean, she could have let it go and took the blow. I didn't feel like arguing anymore so I listened to her, said my piece, and finished the conversation. I was hungry and sleepy, I didn't feel like doing anything anymore.
Mid-air, I didn't take any food. Even if they gave away INSTANT NOODLES (yes, only INSTANT NOODLES) in the plane. I didn't want to be in debt to these morons.
Hey Mr. Lance Gokongwei! Your service is crap! Your staff are stupid! Then again, cheap flights equal cheap service. Come to think of it, what am I ranting about? It was my fault all along. I never should have flown Cebu Pacific in the first place.
It's time everyone flies Cebu Pacific. Count me out!