Monday, November 15, 2010

From Shanghai With Love

November 15, 2010
Lugang Cafe
Connecticut Street,
San Juan

A newly imported restaurant franchise opened its gates in Greenhills recently. Called Lugang Cafe, it had to adapt a different name since their original franchise name was already taken. Titles aside, we decided to give this new Chinese restaurant a try.

Probably, the best Xiao Long Bao I've tasted in the Philippines. Kinda reminds me of Din Tai Fung's famous soup buns. Forget the old Xiao Long Bao of Gloria Maris. Forget Su Zhou. Forget Crystal Jade. This is undoubtedly the best so far.

The Assorted Roast Platter is an array of classic roast dishes like Asado, Duck, Roast Pork, and Jellyfish. It's good but nothing really special.

I loved the White Chicken with Green Onions and Scallions. The succulent chicken meat was complemented by the generous topping of the salty green onions and scallions. A Cantonese style of cooking similar to the Hainanese Chicken but at par to its level of deliciousness.

For dessert, I wanted to try the Pearl Milk Tea but it was not available so I went with the Mango Ice Shaving. It lacked the strong mango flavor but really refreshing. I must admit, I am a sucker for slushes.

Apart from the amazing ambiance and posh interiors, Lugang Cafe boasts a wide variety of dishes close to the Chinese heart. The very heart that can power the restaurant in the best location possible: Greenhills. I can't claim to be an expert on Lugang already since I've only tried a couple of dishes but rest assured that I will be back. Mark my word.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

I've Been An Inconsistent Blogger

Dear Blog,

I know I've been neglecting you and I'm sorry for that. I'm not making excuses but you can blame it all on Facebook and Twitter. Well, mostly twitter nowadays. Been too busy talking to myself.

I will get back to you real soon. I miss you too, you know.

Love,
Oliboy

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Little Tokyo Series: Riozen

September 11, 2010
Riozen
2277 Chino Roces Avenue,
Makati City

Been craving some good, clean, authentic Japanese food lately and so we headed to Makati's Little Tokyo. Walking through the courtyard, you could immediately hear a crowd and smell the freshly made Takoyakis and Yakitoris. Being a lover of these Japanese sidestreet goodies, I wanted to try it out so we asked if we could order from them (Hana) even if we were seated at Riozen. They gladly said yes and we were excited.

Sadly, Riozen didn't have the Uni Sashimi so we ordered it also from Hana. So that's Yakitori, Takoyaki, and Uni from Hana and the rest from Riozen:

Katsu Curry - One of my favorite dishes in any Japanese menu but been eating it so much when I was a kid that I decided to stay away from it for so many years. I've been reminiscing about it and when I heard that this restaurant served one of the best curries, I just had to try it out. Riozen did not fail to step up to the plate. Unmoved from its pedestal, it still served probably the best curry I've tasted in years. Just thinking about it while now makes me salivate onto the keyboard. Pardon me while I wipe the drool from it. The pork cutlet was cooked perfectly but the heart of the dish was the curry sauce. Perfectly made, seasoned, and thick. Tasting it catapulted me to my childhood. A taste I vividly remember. Transporting me to my fondest childhood foodie memory.

Sukiyaki - The soup was a bit on the salty side. The meat was tender but inconsistently cooked. I honestly have had better Sukiyakis than this. Overall, it was just ok and really nothing as magical as I had hoped for after that curry dish.

Mixed Tempura - As an homage to the cuisine, we just had to order some Tempuras. You can't go to a Japanese restaurant without sampling one of these deep friend goodies. Sadly, Riozen's version was also not as good as I had hoped for. The batter was not that tasty compared to the ones we had at Konbini and is pretty normal given that this was Little Tokyo.

One out of three orders is pretty bad for a resto in the so-called "heart" of Japanese cuisine in the Philippines. Again, am I being to meticulous about this kind of cuisine since it is one of my favorites? Have my sampling of really authentic food from Japan heightened the standards of my lowly Filipino palette? In more ways than none, I am happy. Happy that my search is still not over and optimistic that after so many heartbreaks, I can once and for all find the one.

Little Tokyo Series: Hana

September 11, 2010
Hana
2277 Chino Roces Avenue,
Makati City

There was no Uni Sashimi at Riozen and since we were craving for it, we decided to get it from Hana.

The Uni was really sweet and succulent primarily because of its freshness. Sadly, there were bits of grainy parts. Apart from that, it could have been perfect.

The smell of grilling Yakitori grabbed us by the collar and we got some too.

They were perfectly cooked and generously salted. We asked for the Terriyaki sauce on the side so that it would not have dilapidated the raw flavor of the grilled innards. A bit pricey but awesome nonetheless.

People were talking about Hana as having one of the best Takoyaki so we had to try it.

They were indeed the best Takoyakis I've ever tasted. They were fried perfectly outside but creamy on the inside. The creaminess was not indicative of it being undercooked but of cooking to perfection. We could not get enough of it but were really stuffed with all the food.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sunday, September 05, 2010

We Want You!

September 4, 2010
Army Navy
Glorietta 5, Makati City

The burger was just ok. It's not something you would travel to great lengths for. I mean if you live in the area, this is awesome for the late night munchies. Other than that, I'd stick to my own friendly neighborhood burger joint for my stoner cravings.

The ice tea, on the other hand, is a different story. It is definitely one of a kind and nothing like I've tasted before. Freshly brewed Libertea Iced Tea which can quench the biggest thirsts. This, I would come back for because Army Navy is the only place that serves it exclusively.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cee Lo Green - Fuck You

Thought of this so many times but only Cee Lo Green had the balls to say it through music and eventually become the next youtube sensation.



Music is truly the language of the heart. Yes, even a broken one.

Update: After getting 4,214,018 views in just a week, Cee Lo Green releases the official video.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ramen's Top Dog

August 28, 2010
Ukkokei Ramen Ron
A. Arnaiz Avenue
Makati City

I feel that my search for the best ramen in town has ended. Unless someone points me to another place, Ukkokei gets my vote as top dog.

Ukkokei Miso Chasyu Ramen

Soup base was amazing. It was thick and robust in flavor. Ironically so much tastier but had less sting on my tongue. The miso-based ramen that I got was like nothing I've tasted before. I would bathe in it if I could.

The noodles was a bit too soggy for me. Personally, I prefer a lot more bite when it comes to my noodles. Imagine cooking cup noodles al dente, that's just the way I want it. The only downside to this dish, in my opinion.

The chasyu was fatty and thick.

I love how everything you would want from a good ramen dish, you could find at Ukkokei. Apart from the noodles, everything was perfect. Reaching the bottom of my bowl, I didn't want my meal to end so we made an additional order but this time with butter and corn. Adding butter to an already perfect dish is like the epitome of excess. Something this perfect definitely will not be good for you. But it was. It was beyond perfect. I swear, I thought I heard angels sing with every spoonful.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ramenholic

August 20, 2010
Ramen Bar
Eastwood Mall
Quezon City

The perfect cure for any Ramen craving:


Ramen Bar Special #1

Loved the noodles. They were very plump and had a bite to it. The soup base was tasty but I liked Konbini's better. Vetsin was kinda heavy. The Chasyu was really tender despite being thick.

As of today, Ramen Bar is the second best on my list. Since I've only tried 3, the search continues...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Secret Ingredient

August 18, 2010
Balkan Express
Jose Abad Santos Street
San Juan City

In the Yugoslavian film by director Branko Baletić, the Balkan Express was a group of con artists posing as musicians. The restaurant, on the other hand, is nowhere near being a poser.

Balkan Express is a restaurant that recently opened near our place and we were excited to try it out. Coming from the gym, we were definitely hungry. We ordered three of their dishes so that we could get a good sample of their food:

Pljeskavica - Their classic burger. It tasted really good but at first I was surprised by it's rubbery texture. Then I reminded myself that maybe, their version of the hamburger was this way. It tasted a bit peppery which I like and it was very filling. It brought back memories of eating a longganisa burger in Boracay, I don't know why. Not the best burger in the world but not bad at all!

Goulash - Beef stew with noodles. The soup was really soothing and it was coincidental that it was drizzling outside. Very good comfort food although a bit bland to my taste. That little sting of warmth and spice made it perfect in its own little way.

Chicken "Batak" - Grilled chicken with rice. One of their specialties, a juicy grilled boneless chicken with a very generous topping of mozzarella cheese. It's definitely a must try.

Do not get me wrong, the food isn't as mind blowing as one would expect but what it offered was a good combination of Serbian soul food and hospitality. Comfort food which, in my opinion, will truly remain unbeatable.

The dishes reminded me of something I had as a child and I'm not even Eastern European. Maybe that's the thing about all home-cooked meals in the world. Different in flavors, textures, and tastes but united by a single ingredient...

Heart.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Typhoon Crabs

August 12, 2010
Under The Bridge Spicy Crab
414~424 Jaffe Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

The phone rang. It was our friend Mon, who was now based in Hong Kong for work. He told us that we will be having dinner at this "chili crab" restaurant. This immediately sent my brain to an electrical frenzy. Could the "chili crab" he was referring to be the elusive "Typhoon Shelter Crab" we were looking for since watching that No Reservations episode in Hong Kong? I had no qualms about assuming this time. With the slightest possibility of retracing the steps of Anthony Bourdain, we didn't think twice in agreeing to the dinner destination.

(Photo by Aileen Tong)

The sight of the restaurant was like a beautiful sunrise rising from the horizon. The smell was intoxicating. It can, with no exaggeration, lead you to this place even without a map or GPS for the tech-savvy traveler. The restaurant was called the Under the Bridge Spicy Crab and as the name would suggest, it was located under one of Wan Chai's bridges (flyover). The Typhoon Shelter Crab originated from an area in the Hong Kong waters wherein fishermen would take shelter whenever there was a storm. This was sort of like a cove that would protect them from the harsh waters. They would tie the boats together so that it would be able to withstand the strong waves. During the duration of the storm, the easiest thing they could catch was crabs. They cook the crabs in tremendous amounts of chili and garlic to give them heat during the cold stormy nights.

The massive crabs were succulent, fresh, spicy, and garlicky. This single dish overshadowed the rest of the meal. It's so good; you'll forget your name. I promise you. Definitely one of the best crabs I've ever had in my entire life.

The authentic Typhoon Shelter Crab that was cooked on the actual boats in the cove still exists until now. The Under the Bridge Spicy Crab is the urbanized twist on that classic. Luckily, this was one of the favorite restaurants of our friend and he would frequently bring his family and friends to this restaurant. Thank you Mon for dinner and for bringing us to this place. We've always wanted to go to this place. Now we can scratch this off our Hong Kong To-Eat List.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tempura Madness

If you like tempura, then I'll go out on a limb and suggest this to you:

Eat-All-You-Can Tempura for P330

Max's opened the floodgates with their promo, and now Saisaki follows suit.

My only wish is that this trend continues... paging the other restos? :)

So on August 26, prepare for WAR!

For more info, you can visit their event page on Facebook here.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Toys For The BIG Boys

I thought this was crazy weird...
Until I found this...
And this...
WTH right?

Monday, August 02, 2010

You Say Apple, I Say Apol

This looks vaguely familiar:

China is indeed the best in the World at this: Copying. But I don't think Steve Jobs is really flattered about this imitation. Just waiting for Apple's claws to come out on this. Check the website out if you want some laughs. I don't suggest you buy one from them though but you are free to if you just want to spite Apple and waste a few bucks in the process.

Qingting's website can be found here. Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another Cebu Pacific Story

So here I was still not having learned my lesson and flew Cebu Pacific (International) again. Luckily, this flight went smoothly for me. The airport experience was fast and efficient. And, apart from the usual annoying children, the plane ride was smooth, quick, and painless.

For me that is.

A persistent old lady beside me kept asking for water since she was going to drink her medicine. Well, that was her excuse but give her a break right? She's kinda elderly and was pretty vocal about things. The obvious thing to do was to give her the glass of water she wanted so she'll finally shut up. The smart service crew did completely the opposite. On top of that, she even asked the lady why she needed the water. This service crew might have been moonlighting as a detective with the questioning she had. I mean, the lady just wanted fucking water. For what? TO DRINK, STUPID! If she had only given her the benefit of the doubt and served her the water, I would be writing this entry.

With all this happening, I couldn't help but think that you really get what you pay for. You obtain cheap tickets, you get cheap service. But my question is this, why do PAL Econolight flights AT LEAST offer water? And never did I hear PAL service crew question a passenger of his/her needs. I thought to myself: "You are being selfish about water?!? Why, is there currently a drought?"

In the end, the stewardess gave the old lady the cup of water. But after giving her that hard a time, I was surprised she still accepted it. I felt really sorry for the woman. And believe it or not, when she asked for some more water, another stewardess asked her if she was the one who had already asked for water previously.

With Cebu Pacific, you indeed get what you pay for. But you know, you don't have too. Service should be from the heart and not based on strict policies. Not because the airline's rules on being frugal to "cheap flight" passengers, the least you can you is be human about it.

By the way, if you are appalled by this story. If you feel like vomiting because of disgust. Don't bother asking for a "discomfort bag", they don't even know the term. And to think it's written on the barf bag itself. Sad.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Man Vs Chicken

In celebration of their 65th year, Max's Restaurant is offering a Chicken-All-You-Can for just Php 165. Today marks the last 3 nights of the promo so hurry now and join the "Man vs Chicken" challenge.

And in the battle between Man and Chicken: Man won 8 pieces to 0. Sarap to the Bones! :)

In other news, scientists have now reached a conclusion on that perennial debate on which came first: the chicken or the egg.

Scientist: We Have Proof That The Chicken Came Before The Egg

"It had long been suspected that the egg came first, but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first," says Dr. Colin Freeman, from Sheffield University. Here's the explanation. Updated.

When scientists from Sheffield University and Warwick University used a supercomputer called HECToR to take a close look at egg shells, they discovered that a protein "called ovocledidin-17 (OC-17) acts as a catalyst to speed up the development of the shell." They realized that this protein is crucial to actually forming an egg shell. They also realized that this protein is found in a chicken's ovaries. Based on this, these scientists decided that the chicken must have come before the egg.

They just fail to explain where the chicken came from in the first place.

Article from Gizmodo


Frankly, I don't care which one came before the other. I'm just interested on how they'll taste.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Movie Critique: Unthinkable

It's been ages since my last movie critique but watching this movie made me want to do one.

If you wanna get your moral compass to go haywire, this is the movie to watch. It's one of those movies that show the skewed perception of right, wrong, and the spaces between. "Intense" and "wild" would be just among the many words that would describe it. It's an awesome watch especially if you caught the one with the alternate ending. Way better!

Get the DVD or download now. A movie I wouldn't watch again anytime soon but one I wouldn't mind being in my collection. And by the way, how this movie went directly to video is beyond me.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fly With WiFi

It's time to fly Cathay again with this great news:

Article from Engadget

Cathay Pacific bringing 50Mbps WiFi, live TV and in-flight calling to fleet

Mmm... we like where this is headed. While legacy airlines in America are struggling to outfit their fleets with in-flight WiFi alone, Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways is showing 'em how it's done. The airline has just inked a memorandum of understanding with Panasonic Avionics for the "provision of full broadband connectivity on all Cathay Pacific and Dragonair passenger aircraft." Yeah, you read that correctly -- by early 2012, Cathay will make 50Mbps internet service, in-flight GSM cellphone service (voice, SMS and data) as well as live and pay-per-view television available to every last passenger. The finer details are still being hammered out, and we aren't told whether every single bird in its fleet will be online from Day 1, but we're still as giddy as ever for this to become a reality. Here's hoping this pushes those other airlines into getting with the program, and at the very least, it ought to give you plenty of reason to take that Asian vacation you've been putting off.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sunlimited Data Roaming

Here you go data roaming fans, something to try out:

Article from: The News Today

Unlimited data roaming from Sun Cellular


Travelers using Sun Cellular postpaid SIM can now avail use data roaming in more than 100 countries with over 300 roaming partners worldwide.

Sun offers affordable roaming rates and clear connections even abroad, it said in a press release.

Travelers abroad can use unlimited mobile Internet for only P200 per day. Businessmen can check their emails and read the global economic news anytime, anywhere while on their business trips abroad.

Vacationers can keep their families posted with pictures and status updates through Facebook and Twitter while browsing the net for popular tourist spots.

The Unlimited Data Roaming Promo is open to all Sun Cellular postpaid subscribers. Unlimited Roaming is initially available in these countries with the following selected operators: Hong Kong – SmarTone/Vodafone; Indonesia- Excelcomindo (XL); Malaysia – Celcom, Macau – SmarTone; Singapore–M1; Taiwan – Chunghwa. Daily rating begins at 00:0H and ends at 23:59H per day. The P200 fixed rate will apply once roamer has utilized more than or equal to the P200 worth of GPRS transactions abroad.

To avail of the Sun Unlimited Data Roaming Promo, simply activate the International Roaming Services by calling 200 before leaving the country.

The Sun Unlimited Data Roaming Promo is valid from April 16 to July 16, 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Google Doodle: Philippine Independence Day

Google greets us Pinoys today (June 12, 2010)
a Happy Independence Day with this Google Doodle:

So Awesome! I'm proud to be a Filipino! :)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

What Lies Beneath?

June 8, 2010
Casa Xocolat
B. Gonzales Street,
Katipunan, Quezon City

Got home from a food tasting invitation really satisfied. My stomach literally about to pop from all the sweet and savory dishes that we consumed. For dinner, we were invited by friends of Spanky Enriquez from Manila Boy fame to a not so new and fairly established Xocolat. We know Xocolat from its branch here at Promenade where we frequent and would often sample their delicious hot chocolates. Frankly, I was surprised with the fact that they had other branches in Katipunan, Libis, and Serendra. The whole concept of Xocolat was suddenly new to me. All these years I've known their brand name, this was the only time I got to dive deep into its heart and soul.

We were met by Patricia Avecilla, Marketing Manager of Xocolat. She told us more about the business and the concept of Xocolat. She introduced us to the menu and pointed out the bestsellers. I knew what to order beforehand because of the recommendation by Spanky so I was glad that the same thing we were about to order were indeed their bestsellers:

Xocolat Fries - As an appetizer, this was indeed an eye-opener. A palette jolting juxtaposition of flavors from the salt, cumin, and chocolate cut by the sweet tangy creamy feel of the aioli. It seriously made my taste buds flutter in anticipation.

Cripsy Pork Belly with Cacao Bagoong - How can you go wrong with crispy pork belly? Layers of porky goodness fried crispy and accompanied by a sweet salty concoction of cacao and local bagoong. The sauce was too die for. A perfect blend of flavors that would complement any fried protein beside it. I also loved the heat at the back of my throat from the sauce.

Spicy Chicken - A bit salty in my opinion but that may be because of the powerful flavors from the rub. The sauce was also amazing either over the chicken or the rice. This reminds me of a more savory chicken barbecue combined with the essence of a good adobo. I'm sure Filipinos will love this.

Molten Flourless Xocolat - Amazing dessert. Everything on the plate was great. From the moist cake that offered a bit of texture from the meringue on top. There was crunch at the end of every bite of that decadent cake. The classic hot chocolate was bitter enough to cut the sweetness of the cake. A better brand of vanilla ice cream could have been used to offer a more milky dimension to the whole dish but all in all the dessert was awesome.

Xoco Lava - The drink was pretty refreshing and reminded me of hot chocolate in taste. A perfect blend of sweetness and bitterness. I would have loved it more if it were a bit more creamier but nonetheless it was a really good drink.

Sampling their food was literally an eye opener for me. All the while I've been blinded by the idiotic notion that Xocolat was only a dessert place. Their hot chocolates are to die for but their savory dishes are equally as amazing. Much like life, we sometimes see things in black and white. See things only on the surface which often blinds us from what is truly the heart and soul. A magical thing one should cherish, one should hope to see. Because when you finally see what lies beneath, peace and contentment is not far behind. Good soul food is not far behind.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Techniques

June 2, 2010
Chateau 1771
Greenbelt 5, Makati City


French Onion Soup
Topped with Gruyere cheese and gratinated until golden brown
The soup was really flavorful and the taste of the beef broth was quite evident and strong. The cooking technique and presentation were pretty basic and by the book which is very important in classic soups like this. I just couldn't get enough of the stringy cheese. Yum!

Slow Cooked Lamb Shank
Lamb shank braised with plum tomatoes, carrots, celery and onion; with mashed potato
The meat was so tender, perfectly cooked, and falling off the bone. The marbling on the shank was clearly visible. An amazing dish full of robust flavor intensified by the slow cooking. The mashed potatoes were also smooth to the tongue and creamy. A perfect accompaniment to the gorgeous lamb shank.


Baked Butterflied Prawns
Stuffed prawns cooked with cream, mushrooms, squash and Parmesan cheese and topped with emmenthal cheese and gratinated; served with sauteed rice
The prawns were a bit tougher than it was supposed to be but what do you expect with baked prawns. The difference was the culmination of the prawns and the ingredients which created a filling that was buttery, creamy, and cheesy. The taste reminded me of baked oysters minus the metallic taste.

The dishes we had showed amazing techniques from the chef through proper cooking and preparation. Knowing basic french techniques is essential to make amazing dishes. Because of these, our food at Chateau 1771 was perfect.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Will Remember You

May 29, 2010
Cantinetta
Rockwell, Makati City

I've been to Cantinetta a couple of times but I've never gotten to create a write-up on it. Maybe because the last time I was there, our server did not allow us to take photos of our orders. Good thing they have changed their attitude towards paparazzis like me.


For starters, we had the Proscuitto di Parma con Melone. This order may have stemmed from the experience we had during our L'Opera "dinner" so please pardon our redundancy. The parma ham was not as "melt-in-your-mouth" as the ones we had in L'Opera but what was great about this dish was the fact that they stuck with the classic presentation of this appetizer. As you remember with our parma from L'Opera, there was no melons available thus changing the taste dimension of the plate. Cantinetta stuck with the classic and provided us with an above average serving of one of the best appetizers there is.


The Minestra di Verdure was a bit subpar compared to the minestrones I've had from other establishments. The minestrone from Fazoli's (an almost fast food joint) was more flavorful than this. The soup was a bit watery and lacked punch.


The Angel Hair Promodoro was nothing special and just ok. A bit on the tangy side and again lacking in that extra punch.


The Osso Buco was on the salty side but the bone marrow was amazing! The risotto was not evenly cooked since some parts were a little chewy. Good thing the risotto's blandness complemented the salty protein, if not, this would have been another disaster.

The Ravioli is one of my favorite dishes at Cantinetta. It may not be as perfect a ravioli dish as you would expect but it will forever be my comfort meal there. Mushroom and cheese ravioli with truffle oil is truly heaven sent.

Cantinetta has changed a lot since the last time I was here. Some say for the worse. It's a good thing that I will instead always remember this resto as the place where great friends dine whenever they are in the Rockwell area. A cozy place that needs not representation or introduction. A pretty well-known establishment for good food and fabulous service. I will always remember their steak (we had it before) and the ravioli. The food, the service, the company, I will always remember Cantinetta.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Beautiful End

May 16, 2010
L'Opera Ristorante Italiano
The Fort, Taguig City

After that poor excuse for a burger at The Jeepney Cafe, we decided to cleanse our palette with L'Opera's Panna Cotta. Browsing through the menu, our stomachs pointed us to a totally different direction. We were so unsatisfied by the previous meal that we ordered a couple of their hearty appetizers instead:

Fegato D’oca in Letto di Insalate - Probably the best thing ever made into food: Foie Gras. I'd probably eat it everyday if I could. Sadly, the foie gras tonight was a bit overcooked. Looking past that, it's fucking foie gras! How can you not love it?!?

Composizione di Speck Mozzarella e Pomodoro - The speck ham was so thinly sliced that it disappeared each time the heat of your mouth would touch it. The various preserved olives and mozzarella cheese added a different dimension to the dish. It is, as delicious as it looks.

Prosciutto di Parma - A generous serving of melt in your mouth parma ham. We couldn't help but moan after each bite. The only downside to the dish was the fact that melons were not available. It would have been a much better combination instead of the ripe mangoes.

Our appetizer course at L'Opera saved our horrible night. Who would have thought: A perfect end could sometimes be a beautiful beginning.

Worst. Burger. Ever.

May 16, 2010
The Jeepney Cafe
Intercontinental Manila

Each time the Jeepney Cafe was mentioned, I usually get transported back to my childhood. I remember our annual hotel-hops during Christmas and the Intercon would be our last stop. I remember being fascinated with the decor of the "old" Jeepney Cafe. It used to be filled with jeepney replicas (if not the real thing) that doubles as a dinning area and a child's playground. I remember jumping into the driver's seat, acting out my "driving" skills. It used to be a place of refuge, a place of learning for me. Back then jeepneys were good. Back then I loved them dearly.

Fast forward to today. No more jeepney replicas. No more good food. And I loathe jeepneys.

I remember having one of these and loved it as a child. The classic Grandma's Beef Burger. A recipe that was supposed to be untouched since the 1960s. I did not like it. The recipe has evolved into this unpalatable piece of meat. The burger was tasteless. Moist but very bland. I've had better, tastier burgers in sidestreets than this. It was like my childhood was ripped from within me. I could hear it shatter in little bitty pieces. How can you go wrong with a fucking burger?!? I mean, the only redeeming factor in this whole dish was the fries, the mayonnaise, and the bacon.

Utterly disappointing how things we loved as children seem to always change for the worse. Was it just our innocence back then that tricked us into thinking that everything was nice and dandy? Or was this an evil result of change? In this case, I get why some people are afraid of change. Trust me, I get it now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bottarga Pasta

Saw some Bottarga at one of our local delis and decided to channel my inner Bourdain. He had this during his No Reservations: Sardinia episode and he loved it. He also cooked it for some friends in Provence when they shot an episode there.

Bottarga Pasta

Spaghetti
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Whole Garlic
Chili Flakes
Butter
Bottarga
Salt
Pepper

Cook olive oil, butter, whole garlic, chili flakes and a little bottarga to infuse. Remove whole garlic. Put in cooked pasta. Toss. Add more Bottarga. Season with salt and pepper. Top with more olive oil, bottarga, and basil. Enjoy.

Unchanged By Time

May 15, 2010
Kuretake
Power Plant Mall, Rockwell

In my opinion, Kuretake has probably one of the best Tuna Sashimi in town. They used to have also the yummiest Salmon Sashimi but quality has deteriorated since the last time I sampled it. The only thing unchanged was the tuna. I don't know how they do it. How they maintain it throughout the years being in this business. Maybe that's why they are one of the few standing restaurants that side of the mall. Many have closed down but Kuretake has remained the best Japanese restaurant in the Power Plant Mall.

(photo by Aileen Tong)
The Tuna Sashimi was as fresh as the first time I tried it. I remember always how the warmth of my mouth melted the meat. I no longer had to chew the damn thing. Try allowing the walls of your mouth to close gently into the meat and you will experience the very thing that I hold dear about this place. The meat tastes really clean and fresh. No fishy taste. No slimy texture. Just perfect unadulterated tuna goodness.

The Uni Sushi was a little bit slimier than usual. Frankly, I've had better tasting uni than this. Don't get me wrong, it was not THAT bad. It was just ok. Then again, uni is uni right? One of the best gifts that the sea can offer so who am I to question this heavenly masterpiece? It was like questioning the air we breathe.

The Sukiyaki was good but not that great. The beef was pretty tasty and the soup was perfectly seasoned. Not to sweet and not to salty. It lacked a bit of punch in my opinion but the sukiyaki soaked beef made it all better. Sukiyaki was, after all, one of the dishes I hold dear to my heart. It was my mom's favorite dish when she was pregnant with me. I was technically eating this even before I was born.

For me, Kuretake has always been and always will be about the Tuna Sashimi. I've expected it to change in time but thankfully, it has not. They say we should never be afraid of change because in change we become better. In this case, it is the opposite. Change is bad. Never change Kuretake. Never change.
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