December 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
How is it December already? And darn, why does the year go by so quickly? The season of feasting has arrived. And to prepare for this, I have been challenging myself to eat healthier and to double time on my workouts. This makes me feel less guilty about the unhealthy treats ahead. But you can only eat so much of the healthy stuff because your palate is spoiled with the “not so good for you” stuff.
This low-carb Almond and Parmesan crusted Tilapia is one of those dishes that don’t make me feel deprived especially if paired with this tartar sauce.
Be sure to make this dip to add to the yumminess.
Love how the almond and Parmesan makes for a yummy crust. What makes this even more a winner is the preparation ease. A quick and easy meal that will definitely be a weeknight repertoire mainstay. For those nights when you wish you have food waiting for you after a long day. Go ahead, try it. Get the recipe here.
So how is your Christmas shopping coming along? Parties will officially start today with our company Christmas party, and I’m still catching up on the gifts department. So in case I don’t get to come back this month — Happy Holidays Y’all!
September 23, 2017 § 1 Comment
Credits: Jsprague TW Dialog template; papers by Splendid Finns’ You are Awesome and Sus Design’s Saving Memories Kit.
Named after the Mongolian ruler, Genghis Khan, Jingisukan is essentially Hokkaido-style Yakiniku.
In a dome-shaped cast iron looking a lot like the helmet of the Mongolian soldiers, thinly sliced meat (in this case, lamb or mutton) is grilled on the table and shared family style much like how the Koreans do it. It also reminded me of the Laotian Barbecue (sans the soup) I so enjoyed in Luang Prabang some years back. An unforgettable meal, that was. Come to think of it, Asian cuisines although diverse in flavors have a lot of similarities, especially in how meals are cooked and shared.
On our last night in Asahikawa, we chose a restaurant close to our hotel, highly recommended on Foursquare.
The line was not visible when we arrived because it was so long, the weather so cold; we were asked to wait in a room across the restaurant. It was worth the wait. Right off the grill and dipped in a soy-based sauce, the lamb was superb.
It was tender and flavorful and not gamey at all. We ordered several cuts and all were satisfying. Do find your way to a Jingisukan place when in Hokkaido. Better yet, if you find yourself in Asahikawa, make sure to look for Jingisukan Daikokuya. It could be your best meal in Hokkaido.
Other Must-Eats when in Hokkaido:
The island of winter sports, hanging cliffs, and endless lavender fields is also known to offer the best food adventures in Japan.
In fact, it is one of its biggest attractions, specifically its seafood and agricultural products grown on its extensive farmlands.
The prefecture has a massive dairy industry that produces about half of Japan’s milk and other dairy products like butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.
The best melon in Japan is grown here too, making it quite a popular flavor for milk and ice cream.
And of course, don’t forget to grab some of Hokkaido’s famous cheesecake.
Jingisukan Daikokuya 5 Chome 4-jodori,3,4 Naka, Asahikawa +81 188-24-2424
July 14, 2017 § 1 Comment
In a corridor lined with ramen joints, we randomly picked one that could sit all 7 of us.
We chose an empty shop and hoped for the best. What we had was a white translucent soup, rich and nutty, accented with pork slices, bamboo shoots, seaweeds, ginger, garlic, half a soft boiled egg, corn and topped with a small piece of butter.
Strange but hey, it is their specialty, they say. I enjoyed it mainly because I love corn and adore butter. The richness of the broth calls for sharing and I’m glad we did. It was the perfect size to pair with a side order of gyoza.
Miso Butter Corn Ramen at Sapporo Ramen Kumakichi; 3 Chome – 8 Minami 5 Jonishi
Believe me when I say that it is the one thing that would get a group of seven to quickly agree on a meal. I mean, who doesn’t like ramen? Even if you weren’t head-over-heels in love with it, hot broth, noodles, and pork would appeal to anyone on any frosty day. And that was how we ended up in the Ramen Alley in Susukino.
I’ve always been drawn to noodles. It has always been a staple in our house when I was growing up. Though I discovered ramen a while back, I only learned to appreciate it in 2013, on my very first trip to Japan. Even back then ramen alleys are big. It may not offer the best, but it is the easiest way to get your fix. Because Hokkaido is ramen mecca, ramen clusters are everywhere.
Asahikawa Ramen at Ramen Village
So we were on our way back from the Asahikawa Zoo, and we saw a sign pointing the Asahikawa Ramen Village.
And because it is nearly lunchtime, we detoured to find ourselves in the midst of eight of Asahikawa’s popular ramen shops, once again at a lost for which one to enter.
Considered one of the three top ramens in Hokkaido, it is a blend of pork, chicken and a seafood broth flavored with soy sauce. This makes for a rich and complex soup best paired with curly noodles. It also has a top layer of lard to prevent the soup from cooling too quickly in the frigid Hokkaido weather.
This. This was amazingly satisfying. So glad we spotted that sign on the highway. It was the best detour we had even if we had to ask a store owner who can speak English to call us a cab to get back to the town center.
Asahikawa ramen at Tenkin; Nagayama 11-jyo, 4-chome
Actually, there is a third famous Hokkaido type ramen, but it is found down south, in Hakodate, the city of gourmet foods. Another trip to Hokkaido is called for, perhaps sometime in spring so we can explore the southern part of Hokkaido and its ramen, among other things.
December 23, 2015 § 1 Comment
Not only once did work bring me to Phuket, not exactly a destination on my bucket list. Sorry to say that I don’t particularly find the beach appealing and I’m not one who really care for big resorts. But one thing I love above Thailand is its food. Thai flavors had appeal to me since my university days when I first discovered its cuisine.
In the few times that I have been to this island, I have yet to have a bad meal, a few quite memorable in fact. Here are three that I give my thumbs up.
While in Phuket with my staff a few years ago, I decided to treat them to a tour of the town.
I contacted Chaya of Phuket Heritage Trails and as part of her tour, she brought us to this well-known restaurant perched on the side of Rang Hill with panoramic views of Chalong Bay and even the big Budda.
The Café has three separate terraces, foliage surrounds. I think she brought us not only for the view but for the food as well.
From the extensive menu, Chaya chose for us a superb lunch of Pak Liang with smoke-dried shrimp – a chili paste with dried shrimp, eaten with boiled vegetables,
Pork stir-fry with butternut and minced shrimp, and
Crab meat stir-fried with turmeric and coconut milk.
There are two easily accessed ways to drive to the summit; one by Vachira Hospital on Yaowarat Road, the other around the corner on Mae Luang Road. Tung Ka is right on the top of the hill and has ample car parking space.
Top quality food at reasonable prices, Suay offers a range of creative Thai cuisine in a simple, modest house. Upon the recommendation of Chaya’s, we walked through the gate, through the garden setting to our reserved table.
The place exudes a pleasant ambience that promises a good meal.
We chose to go for a set meal, which includes: Spicy Fried Yellow Fin Tuna tartar Isan Style,
Grilled Sea Scallops with exotic fruit salad,
Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft Shelled Crabs,
Fresh Prawn Spring Roll with peanut sauce. These are just the appetizers. Main course had us feasting in Roasted Duck in red curry with lychee and pineapple, Grilled River Prawns with Lemongrass salad,
Shanghai noodles with Squid and pesto sauce, green chili salsa;
Grilled Turmeric Sea Bass in Banana Leaf Wrap. A must be when in Phuket.
50/2 Takuapha Rd, Talad Nuea, Phuket Old Town
Set in a beautiful Sino-Thai mansion that exudes old world charm. Not only does it boast of a well-preserved heritage of its colonial past, but it is also known as THE Thai restaurant in Phuket. Serves authentic local cuisine that do not disappoint.
Dishes such as Crab Meat Curry served with rice vermicelli,
Deep Fried Sea Bass in a Tamarind-Lemongrass Sauce,
Fried Pork with Kefir Leaves.
Locals flock to this restaurant in Dibuk Road, what better way to gauge authenticity then having locals as patrons? Yes?
48 New Dibuk Rd., Phuket Old Town
And with this, I leave you with this thought:
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland.
Merry Christmas and an Adventurous New Year to all!!
September 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you’re thinking of visiting any part of Vietnam, the first thing you need to know about is that food is an integral part of their culture and livelihood. Anyone who has traveled to Vietnam will tell you that it is one of the major attractions. You can’t go to Vietnam and not have a taste of their cuisine.
More often than not, the street is its stage – street food stalls can be found anywhere from the main roads to the alleyways. Small plastic stools and a table taking up the sidewalk is a common scene.
So what is Vietnamese food? It has a distinct flavor yet it is almost universally accepted palate-wise. The taste comes from fish sauce, shrimp paste, soy sauce, and fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and lemongrass – think spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet when combined. Influenced much by the Chinese and French, Vietnamese love their noodles and bread. Theirs is a cuisine that is light and refreshing, which is probably why it is easy on the palate. Their taste for fresh ingredients and simple methods has actually placed their cuisine on the map of the foodies.
On my recent visit to Hanoi, I rediscovered favorites and got introduced to new staples. So without further ado, here are a few staples and must-haves when in Vietnam, in my opinion.
Pho – THE staple of Vietnam, available all day and night long.
The national food is a steaming, fragrant broth of rice noodle with chicken or beef topped with bean sprouts, mint, and a few more herbs. Squeeze a wedge of lime into it and the freshness of this simple noodle soup raises the bar for all noodle soups. It’s impossible to walk a block without bumping into a hungry crowd slurping noodles in a makeshift pho stand on a sidewalk.
Banh Mi – The French has stamped its mark on Vietnam through its baguette and has since been given a Vietnamese spin.
This Vietnamese sandwich (more commonly called Banh Mi) is a heavenly concoction of crusty baguette filled with pork, pâté, butter, and an array of local ingredients (cilantro, cucumber, jalapeño and pickled carrots and daikon). Indeed a product of cultural and culinary blend that managed to put Vietnamese cuisine on the map.
Bun Cha – If Pho is Vietnam’s most famous dish Bun Cha (ubiquitous in the North) is what everyone prefers over lunch in Hanoi.
Nem Cua Be – Bun Cha lovers normally order a side dish of this spring roll filled with small amounts of crab meat, minced pork, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, and glass noodles, then deep-fried to juicy/crisp perfection.
Goi Cuon – Fresh spring rolls, light and healthier version of Vietnam’s many spring rolls.
Nem Nuong Xa – Grilled minced meat on lemongrass skewers.
I’ve always loved these and have long been one of the familiar Vietnamese dishes on my side of the world. It’s meat patties wrapped around lemongrass stalks/skewers then grilled. Simple yet so satisfying.
Ngo Chien Bo – It’s sweet corn kernels fried in butter. Introduced to us by the locals we befriended at the beer corner.
Bo Bia Ngot – a dessert so intriguing though it didn’t call out to us at first sight until some kids on a night out convinced us to buy some.
It’s a rolled up crêpe made up of shredded coconut, sesame seeds, and light sugary candy pieces (sometimes just sugar). Made to order at a food stall. Another simple concoction that delivered a sensation of complex textures and flavor.
And because I have caffeine running through my veins, all meals end with coffee,
June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Ubud. The heartland of Bali where gently rolling rice paddies and volcanic hillsides offer a cinematic backdrop to a land steeped in culture.
Add to this a vibrant dining scene and you can’t keep me away for long. In this wonderland of art and culture, one can eat extremely well whether it be in fine dining spots, warungs or roadside eateries. Global or local, the choice is likewise abundant. Barely scratching the surface on our last visit to Ubud (last year), here’s sharing with you some delightful new discoveries and old favorites.
Campuhan Bridge, Jalan Campuhan, Ubud. +62(0) 361 970 095
Our Ubud escapade started here. Fine dining without the steep price tag tucked neatly along Ubud’s famed Campuhan Bridge.
The elegant multi-level white veranda overlooks the tumbling river through lush greenery. A few small nooks at the corner of the upper dining hall offer uninterrupted views of the river, so I recommend calling ahead for these corners.
The menu is a mix of modern continental with local dishes thrown in, beautifully executed.
Expect salads, pasta, meat dishes and an array of imaginative desserts.
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud +62(0) 361 977 547
A simple shack this place may be, but the irresistible aroma of pork ribs grilling by the roadside is what will lure you in.
This grill house located halfway along Jalan Raya Sanggingan (and luckily, a stone’s throw away from our wonderful boutique hotel) has as main highlight its pork ribs—succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender.
So pleased with the ribs, we forewent exploring more restaurants for a last bite here before heading to the airport. This might indeed be the best ribs in Bali.
Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal, Ubud _62(0) 361 975 489
Bali is known for its duck. Set in beautiful, relaxed surroundings, Bebek Bengil (also known as the Dirty Duck Diner) serves a wonderfully tender and flavorful dirty duck with skin so crispy. Steamed in Balinese spices then deep-fried to crispy perfection.
Another specialty is the Balinese Smoked Duck. This needs to be ordered one day in advance. The duck is smothered with Balinese spices, wrapped in betel nut leaf then slowly smoked the traditional way, which is the whole day.
Warung Pulau Kelapa
Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Lungsiakan, Ubud +62(0) 361 821 5502
This came highly recommended by our guide instead of Bali Guling (Balinese Suckling Pig). I can’t say though that this is a better choice as I have not tried Ibu Oka’s famous suckling roast pig, but I can say that this was one of the best recommendation one can give.
First of the all, the warung is a beautiful, original Javanese village teak wood house with a beautiful herb and vegetable garden at the back.
Ayam Bumbu Rujak: Stewed roasted chicken cooked in a mixture of coconut milk, Indonesian spices, and mild chilis. An East Javanese dish.
The menu is an extensive array of authentic Indonesian dishes taken from different islands cooked without MSG—Bali, Borneo, Sumatra… No disappointment there.
At the back, behind the restroom area is a café where they serve excellent Indonesian coffee. They were test-running and invited us for a free taste of their coffee. We returned the next day to enjoy another round of coffee and dessert, this time we insisted on paying.
Coffee break at Café Angsa
Jalan Hanoman 43, Ubud
All over Ubud, coffee shops with scenic views of the paddy fields abound. Walk into any along Ubud’s three main roads, JL Monkey Forest Road, JL Hanoman, and JL Raya Ubud and enjoy a break from shopping or walking around town. In between shopping, we came across Café Angsa along JL Hanoman.
A cute little café with views of the rice paddies, cushions on the platform makes for a beautiful relaxing rest.
August 30, 2014 § 3 Comments
“Where can we go for paella?” we asked the front desk guy at our hostel. He looked at us, bewildered. “Valencia?” he finally replied. Obviously, Seville isn’t the place to have this famous Spanish rice dish… so much for that, I guess. A self-proclaimed tapas capital of the world though, some of Spain’s most imaginative tapas can be found here.
The most popular way to eat in Seville is to ir de tapas, go out for tapas. You can’t be in this city and not do a tapeo, bar crawling. A humble tradition turned international phenomenon.
The simple bread and cheese (used only to cover the glass to prevent flies from entering) has evolved to fancier feasts of foie gras and truffles. What used to go with the drink for free could actually be the star these days.
La Flor de Toranza
So instead, front desk guy pointed us to the Arenal district, a few meters away from our hostel, and there we found La Flor de Toranza (also called Casa Trifon after the founder, Don Trifon Gomez Ortiz). They had a traditional menu with specialty tapas of the fancier kind—foie gras, premium sausages, marinated turkey breast, anchovy rolls…
Anchoas con leche condensada (Anchovies with condensed milk), a curious combination caught our eyes on the menu, and so did the lomo y mansanas (salt cured pork loin and apple sandwiches). Interesting play of salty and sweet on crusty bread, the anchovy sandwich came out a winner although the ham and apples didn’t disappoint either. A restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere and friendly staff—a Filipino wait staff even got out to chat with us when they found out we were Filipinos. Close to Plaza Nuevo and Avenida de la Constitucion.
Sierra de Sevilla
Then we moved on to a few bars down. Sierra de Sevilla had Jamon Iberico (cured ham of the Huelva sierras) hanging at the rafters and that sealed the deal for us.
We found ourselves a table and ordered a raciones (a full plateful and not a small snack size) of this nutty cured ham sliced thin enough to melt in your mouth and a plate of Quezo Manchego from the La Mancha region.
Being a hot region of Spain, Seville is home to gazpacho but instead of the famous chilled tomato soup now popular all around Europe, I was introduced to Salmorejo, gazpacho’s richer and thicker cousin.
Topped with egg and Jamon Serrano, this creamy soup is sometimes used as a dip but is a lovely starter or even a light meal. I instantly fell in love with the fresh flavors of tomatoes, a hint of garlic and the fruity taste of olive oil blended together in this gloriously creamy cold soup.
Eating and socializing is embedded in the Spanish way of life and mealtimes here needs a bit of getting used to. A simple toast and café con leche are good enough to start their day, but they will need a pick-me-up at 10 in the morning, then lunch somewhere between 1-4pm. Most bars or restaurants close between 4-8pm for the essential siesta. And so lunch ended on our 2nd bar hop.
Walking out to Avenida de la Constitucion, we came across the gorgeous Adriatico building that housed Confiteria Filella.
Practically an institution, this confectionary shop serves exquisite traditional cakes and pastries. We walked in and were overwhelmed with a plethora of sweet goodies. We walked out with these:
Unfortunately, on April 5, Filella Isabel Gomez passed on at 74 and with it this historical shop, hopefully temporarily because if it indeed shut its doors forever, what a loss this will be for the Sevillanos and its visitors.
Bodega Santa Cruz
If you’re looking for a typical tavern where your orders are tabulated in chalk on the bar, look no further. On the corner leading up to the Giralda and just steps off the Alcazar, is Bodega Santa Cruz. When a bar spills out onto the street, you know that this is where you want to be.
With dishes such as Berrenjenas con miel (deep-fried aubergines with swirls of honey), Pringa, Lomo Chipiona and Alitas de pollo, you will not be disappointed.
Restaurante Café Alianza
We chanced upon this by accident looking to rest in between a few hours spent meandering the alleyways of Barrio Santa Cruz. We thought to sit in the shadows of orange trees and bougainvillaea and enjoy the sweets from Filella with coffee.
Then we ordered some tapas and before we knew it, it was time for dinner. It was a good place to be lazy and watch the crowds. Café Alianza is in a charming hidden square of the same name.
They boast of having the best Rabo de Toro in town. Falling off the bone soft, flavored wonderfully with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and wine, this oxtail dish could indeed be what the owner claims it to be.
Gago 6 Tapas Bar
Now, who says you can’t find good paella in Seville? Along Calle Mateos Gago, we saw this menu board and decided, what the heck… we’ve been craving.
Maybe Seville isn’t the best place for paella and this may not be the best paella but it sure did satisfy that craving—it was nice, moist and crusty. With this plate of grilled meats (beef, lamb and chicken), our meal definitely did not disappoint.
One of the many joys of traveling in Spain is the food. Seville being the heart of Andalusia has an abundance of bars and restaurants to choose from. There is no lack of recommendation, the list is plentiful but the fun is in the discovery. Walk around and go with the flow, you’ll never know what you might find.La Flor de Toranza Calle Jimios, 1-3 +34 954 22 93 15 Sierra de Sevilla Joaquin Guichot. 5 +34 954 56 12 10 Confiteria Filella Av. de la Constitucion, 2 +34 954 22 46 40 Bodega Santa Cruz Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 1A +34 954 21 32 46 Restaurante Cafe Alianza Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 9 +34 954 21 76 35 Gago 6 Tapas Bar Calle Mateos Gago, 6 +34 658 75 22 19