Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oodles For Noodles

December 27, 2009
Yong-Kang Beef Noodle
Jinshan S. Road, Taipei

Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup is synonymous to Yong-Kang Beef Noodle. It's been a staple for everybody who knows good Taiwan noodles since 1963. Today, we got to taste it for ourselves:

At around lunch, a long line already can be seen outside the restaurant...

For appetizer, we had their famous Fen Zheng Pai Gu, which was steamed pork spareribs and yam mixed with broken rice. It can also be available in pork intestines instead of the usual pork spareribs. I must say that the intestines were better and more flavorful than the spareribs version. The dish had a bit of heat also that perfectly complemented the gamy flavor of the intestines. Indeed, it was something that opened up our palettes for the main dish.

Spareribs

Intestines

The noodles were amazing! I've tasted a lot of really good beef noodles in the Philippines but Yong-Kang was in another level. It was the epitome of authenticity! The noodles were handmade and perfect. The meat and the soup were really flavorful and hearty. Best damn beef noodles I've ever tasted, if I may say so...

Yong-Kang Beef Noodle is truly a Taiwan treasure. You should not miss this when you come visit Taiwan.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Poem

'Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse...


Happy Holidays! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Proudly Pinoy

3 months ago, I realized how lucky I was to be a Filipino. The unity the Filipinos showed during the time of nationwide tragedy was overwhelming! I was right there smack in the middle of things thinking to myself and believing that there is indeed still hope for the Philippines if we all continue to be as united as we were then. That Filipinos are resilient and they will pull through amidst any challenge. Ninoy Aquino, Efren Pe├▒aflorida Jr. and Manny Pacquiao... Filipino heroes! I was so happy to be a Filipino and to share in the limelight of these amazing people!

3 months after, I don't feel so proud anymore. Presidentiables showboating, Maguindanao Massacre, and Martial Law... how can you be proud of that?!? I don't get it... Don't these people get embarrassed of being the laughing stock of the world? Philippine Politics is a complete joke! A worldwide embarrassment! A circus! The only thing pulling the whole Philippines down as a nation.

Frustrated, I have given up on Politics! That is why I don't vote anymore and don't intend to vote ever! It's just a waste of my time and effort. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even if you put a decent human being there on the presidential seat... he/she will ultimately get corrupted by power and greed. That's just how the world goes. That's just how things happen. That's human nature. Indeed, everybody wants to change the world but nobody really wants to change themselves.

The Filipino is worth dying for, Ninoy?

Not in these times... I'm sorry!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wish Come True

After purchasing 9 "RED CUP" drinks and 8 "STANDARD" drinks for an average of Php 2,000...

We finally got one of the most expensive YEARLY PLANNERS in the WORLD...


Thanks to Nikki Castro, Chris Chung, and Gigi Chung for donating some of their stickers...

Certainly, one Christmas WISH that came true early for us!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Best In The World

November 21, 2009
CNT Lechon
Food Choices, Ayala Center Cebu

The best damn (fast food) roast pig in the world!

Cebu's CNT Lechon

I have yet to try the one Anthony Bourdain sampled when he visited the Philippines (presented by Market Manila) but will GLADLY settle with THIS for now...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ma-Oli Ang Pasko 2009

The season of Christmas has started...

It's Ma-Oli Ang Pasko once again!

Stay-tuned for upcoming prizes/surprises from Oliboy's Adventures...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Faux Asian Food

November 1, 2009
Makansutra Asian Food Village
Manila Ocean Park, Manila

5 words: Nothing beats the real thing.

Even after reading mixed reviews on Makansutra, we still decided to give it a try. Frankly, all that hype was for nothing. The only thing good about the experience was the ambiance/design of the place and the pricing.

Having been to Singapore and Malaysia, we decided to try out their specialties:

Teh Tarik - is literally "pulled tea" and I first sampled it when I was in Malaysia. We went to the country's "Little India" to try it in one of those side-street stalls. It was really nice , the tea was strong enough and the combination with the condensed milk was heavenly! What I loved about teh tarik was the frothy texture of the end product which was a result of the pulling process. In Makansutra however, the tea was a bit weak. At least, the mixture was prepared as authentically as possible.

Chicken Rice - the best is a close call between Singapore's and Hong Kong's... Makansutra's, on the other hand, is just so-so. Nothing really special. The only part of the meal that stood out was the rice itself. It was really flavorful and fragrant. That's it!

Ba Kut Teh - didn't taste AT ALL like original Ba Kut Teh. Can you imagine the free soup they give away in mall food courts when you order a sizzling meal? Like that, but worse! I even thought during the meal that they used the same soup base for all their soups here in the "food village".

Chicken Satay - the satay was very tasty but the curry was a bit too runny. We all were unanimous that this was the best dish on our table that night.

Nasi Lemak - was just ok and really far from it's authenticity. The chicken wing was really skinny and the meal looked really unappetizing. Mixing tiny samples of all the ingredients into one spoonful was really good though. It made you experience all the contrasting flavors in the dish in one bite. Individually nothing special but surprisingly nice combined.

Roti Prata - was not at all flat. In fact, it was quite thick. Not really a plus to a dish like this since roti requires the pancakes to be flat and flaky. The curry sauce was also a too runny and lacked the strong curry flavor.

Char Kway Teow - was (pardon the term) a poorman's version of the dish. All the classic ingredients were there but the dish tasted really different from what I had in Malaysia. This one tasted a bit too structured. A bit too "by-the-book". It was stir-fried noodles! When you eat it, the flavors should be all bonded together in one whole mess. This was the magic of true Char Kway Teow. Makansutra's version tasted like sweet soy sauce and it seemed like each ingredient had a world of it's own.

We also sampled some of the Thai cuisine, which was a huge mistake:

Tom Yum Soup - soup base was like the Ba Kut Teh but with a sour and fishy twist. Ordering this was a big waste of money.

Pad Thai - there are better Pad Thais out there than this one. Don't bother with this...

Come to think of it, Makansutra was not a complete waste of time... It was not a complete loss... Being disappointed with their dishes made me realize that I have indeed tried the best during my visits to Singapore and Malaysia. Thus, It is pointless to try it anywhere else...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Macau Series: Egg Tart

October 24, 2009
Streets Of Macau
(Adjacent to the A-Ma Temple)

When in Macau, you have to sample their famous

Egg Tarts

It's the best you'll ever taste,

I promise.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hong Kong Series: Hotpot Dinner

October 23, 2009
He Xing Hotpot (Woosung Street)
Jordan, Hong Kong

This is the favorite hotpot place of our family whenever we would go to Hong Kong. They serve one of the best geoduck sashimi/hotpot in town. 10 of us once ate HKD 3,000 worth of food from this restaurant in one sitting.

The last time we were in Hong Kong, we thought this restaurant had closed down but they told us that they were closed for operations once a week in order to cut costs. Hotpots are usually at their peak during the cold seasons so during the summer, this was how they would lower operating expenses.

We just got off the plane and met with one of my dad's oldest friends so we decided to have a light dinner. The ingredients of our hotpot night were as follows:

Biggest (damn) oyster I've ever seen - This was even bigger than the one we had in Tuen Mun! And I thought the oyster we had then was huge. This time, a piece almost occupied half of the plate. Crazy! I wonder if I'd see an even more gigantic oyster the next time I'm back in Hong Kong.

Lamb - Dad doesn't eat beef so he opted for lamb. Equally as good so I can't complain.

Tofu - For (healthy) protein, we decided on the tofu. It was very good with the soup we had. It added a different dimension to the soup which was in itself already flavorful.

Geoduck Sashimi - The geoduck's snout. It can be eaten raw and dipping it in Kikoman (with Wasabi, of course) or it can be ever so slightly blanched in the boiling hotpot. Eating is raw makes you taste all the natural flavor of the geoduck but blanching it in the hotpot makes it cook al dente. Any which way you prefer, it's still one of the best exotic delicacies found in Hong Kong.

Geoduck Hotpot - Innards of the geoduck that can be found inside the shell. This has too be cooked to kill of any bacteria consumed by the creature. It is almost the same in consistency with the roe of the scallop. The meat is sweet and very tender.

Hotpots are always great, not entirely 100% because of the place, but because of good company. And for a foodie like me, good food + good company is always gonna be a good experience that you will never forget.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Home. Food. Life.

October 16, 2009
The Frazzled Cook
Luna Mencias Street, Mandaluyong City

The 3 words on the title was what Frazzled Cook was all about. From the minds behind Fat Michael's comes this new restaurant just near my own home. So close that perhaps this can also be my second home.

Peruvian Hotpot - I really loved this dish... it reminded me of that great lamb stew (kaldereta) I tasted from my girlfriend's mom. It was definitely the epitome of home cooking and so was this dish. I liked the essence of the whole dish... how the lamb combined with the rich tomato sauce produced a gamy aftertaste which was really not as bad as it sounds. In fact, it gave personality to a simple dish. The tomato sauce was perfectly seasoned and the spices were really noticeable. The lamb meat was pretty tender and marinated properly. This was my favorite dish of the night.

Wagyu Salpicao - The beef was really tender. I am not exaggerating that the meat was like butter. I never really liked wagyu because of it's acquired flavor but I loved the Wagyu Salpicao at Frazzled. The dish was perfect over the rice but I would have preferred for it to have been plain. The viand was delicious enough and plain rice could have sufficed. I felt like a prodigal son to wagyu with this dish. Coming back to it definitely made me question my abstinence from wagyu...

Lengua - The sauce over the lengua cut was really flavorful. Sure, it needed more body to it but I think it actually served its purpose well. The ox tongue on the other hand was a bit tough for me. My sister liked it for it's bite but I personally prefer my lengua really tender. I would have loved it if it would have melted in my mouth like the Wagyu Salpicao instead of me chewing it.

Frazzled Cook reminded me of one thing: Nothing beats a home cooked meal. And the food was not the only thing homey about the restaurant, it has probably the best dining area I've ever seen. The coziness. The ambience. It was just like home. Chef Jude Mancuyas also went out of the kitchen to chat with us about his love for food and life in general. And yes, he was definitely one frazzled cook.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Typhoon Ondoy

September 26, 2009
Philippines

Worst flooding in years here in the Philippines.

And it's just signal number 1... the lowest...

Now in the state of calamity.

Mom and my sister are stuck in Marikina City... one of the most flooded cities right at this very moment of posting...

I blame people, I blame us... nature is getting her revenge!

I blame the government... drainage system here is the worst! It hasn't changed in years! It just got worse!

Sad thing is, I can't do anything but wait for the aftermath and try to help in any way I can.

Hopefully, we learn something from this tragedy... Hopefully, we start caring about the environment... Hopefully, we get our drainages fixed... Hopefully...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Ass' Split Second Of Fame

Source: http://www.gmanews.tv/story/172728/clearing-the-coast-a-born-to-be-wild-special-coverage

“Clearing the Coast" (A Born to be Wild special coverage)

Episode on September 23, 2009
Wednesday night, after Saksi

Each year in September, groups of people flock to the shores for a common purpose. Wearing shorts and wetsuits and carrying bags and tongs, they head out to the beach – not to swim or sunbathe – but to clean up the coast.

It’s coastal clean up month once again and the “wild boys" are off to another mission. This time, three adventurers hit the eco-trail. Doc Ferds Recio and Kiko Rustia are joined by non-other than fellow “wild man" Romi Garduce for an all-out clean-up of the ocean. Deployed to different coastal areas, they take part in making the seas a little bit cleaner, and a little bit safer for its residents.

They also trace the roots of the coastal problem and investigate the different sources of pollution in the water. What they find are shocking and challenging realities which will continue to threaten our seas long after each clean-up is done.

Don’t miss this special episode of Born to be Wild airing on Wednesday after Saksi!

From the GMA Channel 7 program Born To Be Wild: Clearing The Coast Episode

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dive Acacia: Clean-up 2009

September 12-13, 2009
Acacia Resort And Dive Center
Anilao, Batangas City

Dive Monsters Inc.,

Project Aware,

Acacia and many other sponsors

just concluded

The International Coastal and Underwater Clean-up 2009

A weekend of giving back to the sea...

Giving back to the environment...

While having fun doing it!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Aquino Legacy

They say the number 9 symbolize change.

Today September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the eldest son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino announced his candidacy for the Philippines' 2010 Election.

I'm a great admirer of the Aquino legacy (except for Kris) but I'm not that big a fan of Noynoy. He really did nothing as a senator. But we all know that he will ride the Aquino name to the presidency and he will win.

I guess I've got nothing to do but hope for the best. Hope that he doesn't become another rat. Hope that he inspires change.

And these questions lie: Who will be seated as the Vice President? Given the track record of the Philippines, that is the most powerful position one can have (after an impeachment). Will Noynoy beat his mother's record for the number of coup attempts? What will Kris Aquino's position be? Will his administration be another Kamag-anak (Relatives) Incorporated like what happened during his mother's administration wherein relatives get all the big contracts/businesses?

Kidding aside, I'm being pessimistic but deep inside I try real hard to still have faith. Faith that this country will eventually be at its potential. I love this country and I want the future generation to be proud of it also. Noynoy, you have the power to make this country great. Don't fail us. The whole country's hope lies on you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smash And Run

August 30, 2009
Greenhills
San Juan

Just got back from a good run around Greenhills for the Smash And Run sponsored by Sun Cellular together with Greenhills Shopping Center for the benefit of the St. John the Baptist Educational and Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

It was nice to see some Vmall tenants and GSC employees join the run but it would have been better if more people had registered. I had an unofficial time of 35 minutes 26 seconds for a 5k run and I'm glad I improved a little bit compared to the last race. The event could have been organized better but at least it was a change in scenery from the usual races at the Fort and UP Diliman.

I can't wait for the next race: the New Balance Power Run at the Fort on September 27, 2009. Hopefully, I'll improve my time once again. See you there! :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three Adjectives

August 22, 2010
The Fireplace and Wine Library
Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila

Beef Carpaccio - Sweet. Delicate. Sensual.

Millionaire's Salad - Fresh. Savory. Elite.

Rib-Eye Steak - Marbled. Tender. Succulent.

Lamb Chops with Ratatouille - Tender. Acidic. Robust.

Chocolate Mousse - Soft. Decadent. Creamy.

One of the best meals I've had in my life. A high-note goes to the salad which was so good and also the carpaccio. Frankly, three words can not fully immerse you into the experience that we had at Fireplace. You have to check it out for yourself.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Snakes On The Plane

The internet has been abuzz with scandals, million-peso dinners, and corruption...

But is she the only one to blame for the unchanging sad state the Philippines is in?

Or have we forgotten how she got there in the first place...

So vote wisely on May 2010...

Be it for the President, the Vice-President, or anybody in power...

We sure don't need any more snakes on the plane, right?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

This Is Keema

August 4, 2009
Keema Keema
Madison Square Pioneer
Mandaluyong City

It's been a staple on those spontaneous cravings of kebab to immediately proceed to our neighborhood Persian restaurant, Behrouz. In my opinion, they serve the best! Many kebab places have recently sprouted in different areas of the metro but nothing actually compares to Behrouz. Keema Keema is one of the new kebab places out there but instead of concentrating on their kebabs, their speciality is actually their keemas. Keemas are simply unformed kebabs which are sometimes used as fillings but served with rice in Keema Keema. Sadly, they were in the process of rewriting the recipe that the owner suggested not to order it yet, not until they have perfected it. We opted for some shish kebabs, ox brain, and some classic kebabs instead.

Shish Kebab Platter - A very affordable dish when you want to try everything. A smorgasbord of meat. The only downside to this order is that there is no "bottomless" rice included... The best meats here are the Chicken Shish Kebab and the Beef Kebab. The other meats could use a little more adjustments in taste but good nonetheless.

Ox Brain - The favorite dish of the evening. Well, actually my favorite dish in these types of establishments. Tried it once in Behrouz and immediately got hooked. This is amazing with the long-grain rice that they offer. Too bad Keema doesn't offer the long-grain rice in any of its dishes. Ox brain in Keema is kinda different because it is fried almost to a crisp. I personally like it softer and not really crispy. I prefer the more delicate and creamy texture. It tastes better that way.

Beef Kebab - I like Keema's version because the kebab is more formed compared to Behrouz. Behrouz's version is more crumbly which I really don't like. The taste is practically the same and the sauces that accompany it adds that extra punch. Again, the garlic sauce could use a little bit less sweetness for the garlic taste to come out. The rice they could replace with long-grain also to keep up with the overall theme.

Keema Keema was not bad. An affordable alternative to Behrouz. It may not exactly be AS GOOD AS but it was as close as one can possibly hope for. A few more tweaks on the recipes and the perfection of the keema recipe (which we'll try next time) would make this up-and-coming restaurant one of the premier destinations for those late-night alcohol-fueled food-lusts...

At the end of the meal, take one for the road...

They also serve imported beers, FYI! :)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

On Unity And Change

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow
...

Your life was an inspiration for democracy...
May your passing inspire UNITY and CHANGE in the Philippines once and for all.

Rest In Peace, Mrs. Cory Aquino
(1933-2009)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Run For Home

July 19, 2009
The Fort
Taguig City

Run for Home will help fund Habitat For Humanity’s on-going construction of houses in "Bayan Ni Juan in Calauan," a housing relocation site in Brgy. Dayap Calauan, Laguna under the Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig Project of ABS-CBN Foundation.

Run for Home is made possible in cooperation with Ayala Land and Bonifacio Global City, and supported by major sponsors Philippine Star and Adidas, as well as by 100 Plus, Fitness First, Intercontinental Manila, Photovendo and Timex. Run for Home's media partners include ABS-CBN, GMA, Barangay LS 97.1, 99.5RT, Wave 89.1, Monster Radio RX 93.1 and Jam 88.3, and the race is organized by Finish Line Inc.

Probably the most well-organized, most technologically-advanced run I've joined... It featured a timing chip for accurate time readings. So cool! :) It's really a different thing when big companies are sponsors of an event huh?

I did better on this run: 5k at 36 mins 24 secs (UNOFFICIAL)

Update:

Wow! The Globe Run website is awesome! You can easily find race photos and results just by typing your last name or bib number. Click here to see it.

OFFICIAL RESULTS

NAME: Oliver Castro
EVENT: 5 Km Run For Home
DATE: Sunday, July 19, 2009
BIB/DIV: 2806 / M 30-39
TIME: 37m:11s (gun) / 36m:40s (net)
AVERAGE SPEED: 8.2 KpH (5.1 MpH)

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Next Best Thing

July 16, 2009
Aubergine
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

The art of cooking. The beauty of presentation. The dining experience...

Creamy Mushroom In Puff Pastry (complimentary)

The appetizer reminded me of the cream of mushroom soup that we usually had canned in the sense of how it was really comforting. This time however, the mushrooms were fresher and the herbs infused made it really haute.

Buffalo Mozzarella, Sliced Parma Ham And Cantaloupe Melon
served with arugula and assorted summer leaves tossed in balsamic dressing

How can you go wrong with mozzarella and parma ham? Well, you can't! That's why the salad we had was to die for. The parma ham and mozzarella were amazing on its own but it steps on to another level when you put everything together. It was like all the different tastes and textures paraded inside my mouth like there was no tomorrow.

Prawn Tagliolini
with zucchini and tomatoes in a light mascarpone cheese sauce

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. Everything blended perfectly. The pasta was al dente and I loved how it tasted almost like my favorite e-fu noodles. I just love biting into a piece of pasta that has texture and toughness. The prawn was as fresh as it can be and it was cooked consistently and without error. They were also surprisingly abundant in the dish. I remember asking myself: "Fine dining doesn't usually have this much ingredients?" The sauce was also lovely. It had bits of zucchini which was perfect because I was craving for them for quite some time now. It also had this light sweet taste from the mascarpone cheese. This was a pretty unforgettable dish in my book.

Trio Of Grilled Australian Mulwarra Beef Tenderloin, Braised Veal Cheek, And Pan–Seared Duck Foie Gras
with Port wine glace, served with mousseline potatoes and vegetable cassoulet

Two things I liked about this dish was the tenderloin and of course, the foie gras. The beef was really tender and not at all stringy. Can't say it was that perfectly cooked but at least it was not THAT overcooked. Now foie gras (cooked well) is always good. The foie gras we had was not at all different. It was its usual buttery-delicate self, just the way we liked it. On the other hand, the veal was a bit stringy for me. The taste was great but the meat was kinda tough given that it was indeed veal. I guess the trio was just a duo for me...

Warm Chocolate Fondue Cake With Rosemary Ice Cream

The cake pretty amazing. The chocolate syrup oozing out of the warm fondue was a very appetizing sight. The warmth of the cake also contrasted with the frozen homemade ice cream which gave the dessert personality. The rosemary ice cream was a bit weird for us since we were used to rosemary in meats. Every spoon of the ice cream tasted like lamb chops or roast chicken to us. It definitely needs some getting used to but it's good.

After asking for the bill, we were greeted with a small plate of colorful macaroons as sort of like a parting gift. Thanks and complements to the Chef.

Aubergine is no Lolo Dad's but it surely came really close to it. The next best thing, wherein the food was superb and the service, excellent. And did I mention, it's less overpriced and much nearer (for us) compared to Lolo Dad's? After the whole experience, Aubergine is now one of my favorite restaurants in the metro.
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