What to Eat When in Bicol: Sili Ice Cream, Anyone?

September 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

ice-creamCredits: Paper from Splendid Finn’s Now is paper series; Polaroid Frames from Splendid Finn; Happy Day worn ribbon by Trixie Scraps

Sounds strange to some but surely got me interested. And so I found myself in 1st Colonial Grill on Rizal Street in Daraga one evening after dinner with my team.

First of all, I can take the heat and secondly, bold flavors always call out to me. They don’t always appeal to my taste bud but more often than not, I like what I discover.

Such is the case with this Sili (chill pepper) ice cream. You taste the fruitiness of the pepper first then the punch at the end. It comes in 3 heat levels, we chose the middle. Pretty good but unforgettable is Tinutung na Kanin (toasted rice).   A familiar flavour presented in an unusual fashion. The taste (of toasted rice) was very subtle and quite refreshing.  And last but not the least is Salabat (ginger tea). I chose this because… well, you should know me by now. And it did not disappoint.

Other unique flavours also worth trying are Pili nut and Malunggay (mooring). But despite its many unique ice cream flavours, 1st Colonial Grill was first known for its Tinapa Rice and other iconic Bicol dishes.  Yes definitely something to come back for.

Where to Eat in HK: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab

April 12, 2016 § 1 Comment

Work will bring me to Hong Kong in a few weeks and I am reminded of the last dish I had a few years ago in Wan Chai. We walked from Gloucester to Lockhart Road to look for Hong Kong’s famous Under the Bridge Spicy Crab Restaurant. Known for their authentic and mouth-watering typhoon shelter crabs.

Back in the day before modern HK, there lived a community of fishermen living in typhoon shelters. Within this community rose a distinct culinary culture that centered on freshly caught seafood. As Hong Kong’s status as a fishing city decline, this community started moving to land, the younger generation trading up for better jobs.

Under-Bridge-Spicy-Crab

We found the modest restaurant with staff that hardly speaks English. With an atmosphere like this, it almost always promises an authentic meal. The star of the show is the bits of garlic, chili peppers, and spring onion stir-fried till crisp then tossed with the deep-fried mud crab—insanely addictive. I love this version because I prefer fried or just steamed crabs sans any sauce, which sometimes masks the sweetness of the crab.  The dry chill-garlic bits, albeit on the oily side, adds just the right flavour and heat to the crabs.  A must-try when in the area.

See you in a few weeks Hong Kong. I hope to devour your impressive crab dish once again. And hopefully, introduce you to the people traveling with me.

Shop 6-9, G/F, 423 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai

Phuket Eats

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.

Tunk-Ka Restaurant

tunka-atmosphere

While in Phuket with my staff a few years ago, I decided to treat them to a tour of the town.

Chaya

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.

Tunka-View

The Café has three separate terraces, foliage surrounds. I think she brought us not only for the view but for the food as well.

tunka-pak-liang

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,

Tunka-Pork-stir-fry

Pork stir-fry with butternut and minced shrimp, and

crabmeat-stir-fried

Crab meat stir-fried with turmeric and coconut milk.

Getting there:

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.

Suay Restaurant

Suay-facade

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.

Suay

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,

Suay-tuna-tartar

Grilled Sea Scallops with exotic fruit salad,

Suay-Green-Papaya-Salad-and-soft-shelled-crabs

Green Papaya Salad with Crispy Fried Soft Shelled Crabs,

Suay-Fresh-Prawn-Spring-Roll

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,

Suay-shanghai-noodles

Shanghai noodles with Squid and pesto sauce, green chili salsa;

Suay-Turmeric-Sea-Bass

Grilled Turmeric Sea Bass in Banana Leaf Wrap. A must be when in Phuket.

50/2 Takuapha Rd, Talad Nuea, Phuket Old Town

Raya Restaurant

Raya

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,

Raya-Fish-with-Tamarind-SauceDeep Fried Sea Bass in a Tamarind-Lemongrass Sauce,

Raya-Pork-with-Kefir

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!!

Ubud Eats

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.

Ubud-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.

Bridges

Campuhan Bridge, Jalan Campuhan, Ubud. +62(0) 361 970 095

Bridges

Our Ubud escapade started here. Fine dining without the steep price tag tucked neatly along Ubud’s famed Campuhan Bridge.

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.

Bridges-tables-with-a-view

The menu is a mix of modern continental with local dishes thrown in, beautifully executed.

Open-Mushroom-RavioliOpen Mushroom Ravioli

Bridges-creme-bruleeCinnamon Creme Brûlée

Bridges-lemon-slice-strawberry-basil-sorbetLemon Slice with Strawberry Basil Sorbet

Bridges-PavlovaLemon Scented Pavlova

Expect salads, pasta, meat dishes and an array of imaginative desserts.

Naughty Nuri’s

Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud +62(0) 361 977 547

Naughty-Nuri's

A simple shack this place may be, but the irresistible aroma of pork ribs grilling by the roadside is what will lure you in.

Naughty-Nuri's-grill

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.

Naughty-Nuri's-Pork-RibsNaught-Nuri's-sauceSauce To Die For

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.

Bebek Bengil

Jalan Hanoman, Padang Tegal, Ubud _62(0) 361 975 489

Bebek-BengilBebek-Bengil-Accompaniments

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.

Balinese-Smoked-Duck

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

Warung-Pulau-Kelapa

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.

Warung-Pulau-Kelapa-entranceWarung-Pulau-Kepala-interiors

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.

Warung-Pulau-Ayam-Bumbu-Rujak

Ayam Bumbu Rujak: Stewed roasted chicken cooked in a mixture of coconut milk, Indonesian spices, and mild chilis. An East Javanese dish.

Warung-Pulau-dessertsDesserts of Banana in Coconut Cream and Red Rice Pudding in Coconut Milk

The menu is an extensive array of authentic Indonesian dishes taken from different islands cooked without MSG—Bali, Borneo, Sumatra… No disappointment there.

Cafe-at-Warung-Kelapa

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

Cafe-Angsa-coffee-and-dessertBanana Fritters and Coffee

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.

Cafe-Angsa-rice-fieldsCafe-Angsa-lounge

A cute little café with views of the rice paddies, cushions on the platform makes for a beautiful relaxing rest.

Where To Eat in Puerto Princesa: La Terrasse

March 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

For the last few years, I’ve wanted without success to try La Terrasse that it has somehow become an obsession.

breadstick

My first attempt was in 2012; they were closed for the Easter holiday (seriously, on one of the busiest week?). It is, to me, a sign that they don’t really need the tourist patronage.

cozy-atmosphere

Suffice to say that when we were planning our trip to Puerto Princesa last January, I had my mind set on this cozy, open-aired restaurant-cafe. And the truth be told, it was our first agenda after touching down. Straight from the airport with bags in tow, there we were at their doorstep.

tranquil-vibes

From the idyllic vibe to the service, appetizer to dessert, La Terrasse did not disappoint.

fresh-oystersFresh Oysters. Our appetiser.

The duck was superb.

Duck-Roll

Crispy minced duck in a Hoisin-based sauce combined with cucumber sticks and leeks wrapped in a soft thin pancake adapted from the very popular Peking Duck. We loved it and went back for it on our last day before heading to the airport.

Another memorable dish was the Adobo Overload.

adobo-overload

Adobo fried rice served with fried chicken and pork adobo and topped with pork adobo flakes. Now that’s overload in a good way. More importantly, the flavor of the sauce is how I prefer my adobo to be, not too acidic but very flavorful from the blend of soy and garlic. Started serving my adobo the same way. Love the idea of serving the rice already flavored with the adobo sauce.

The killer. Their Palawan nougat made with wild honey and cashew nuts

Honey-Nougat

and their Candied Orange Peel.

candied-orange-peelTo die for.

It’s really more of a “pasalubong”, something you take home, but we had it for dessert and I was floored, blown-away. I, of course, had to bring back some of these babies for when I need a pick-me-up.  That good.

Highly recommended when in Puerto Princesa, do make it a point to drop by La Terrasse. It’s on Rizal Avenue and a hop away from the airport.

Seville’s Good Eats

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.

plaza-dona-elvira

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.

manchego-and-olives

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

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…

Toranza-montaditos-

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

sierra-de-seville

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.

jamon-iberico

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.

salmorejo

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.

Confiteria Filella

Adriatico-Bldg

Walking out to Avenida de la Constitucion, we came across the gorgeous Adriatico building that housed Confiteria Filella.

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:

filella-our-pick

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

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.

pringas-sta.-cruz

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.

mushroom-tapas-sta.-cruz

These were tapas that satisfied not only our palate but the pocket too. A good place to end after a tour of the Alcazar or the Giralda.

Restaurante Café Alianza

Cafe-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.

tapas-alianza

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.

rabo-de-toro

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

gago-6-menu

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.

paella

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

What to Eat in Cadiz

June 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Freiduria-Las-FloresCredits:  Quickpage created by Roshni Patel.

Occupying a tiny peninsula on the south of Spain with five coastal provinces, Cadiz is blessed with some of the best and freshest fish and shellfish provided daily by the Mediterranean Sea.  Although its cuisine is typical Andalusian in character, subtle influences from the Romans, Phoenicians and the Moors spawned an exquisite regional cuisine with flavors unique to Cadiz.

Yes, the gaditanos (native of Cadiz) are meat lovers too, the pastures of the province keep it supplied with Iberico pork, goat, the local Retinto beef; however fish, fried fish, is the star.

IMG_1641

Dredge in flour (only) and then fried in a large amount of hot olive oil.  So simple yet so ridiculously addicting.  Sea bream, Dover soles, sea bass, cuttlefish, dogfish, and monkfish are usually what is used for this staple.

And the place to have a taste of this fried fish is at Freiduria Las Flores, a traditional fried fish restaurant, almost an institution in Cadiz.

IMG_1643A must try: Cazon en adobo–marinated fried fish usually dogfish or monkfish.

This fry shop serves excellent fried fish without the frills.  Ordered from a counter and served in a cartucho, paper funnels.  And like the dishes it serves, this shop is simple and functional.  Be prepared to wait for a table especially at peak hours.  Most locals order to take away.

I always leave room for dessert and if you are like me, you will love the pasteleria across the Freiduria Las Flores 2 in Calle Brasil.

antonia-butron

Antonia Butron is famous for her savory pastries, but the empanada filled with dates comes highly recommended, and so are their cakes and roscones (sweet bread loaf).

Or how about this delicious dessert common and renowned in this part of Spain?  Tocino del cielo, which means “bacon from heaven”, is so true to its name.

tocino-del-cielo

Traditionally made with the egg yolks that are discarded in the process of making sherry, this rich and creamy egg custard truly is a slice of heaven and a perfect way to end any meal.  Definitely a must have.

Freiduria Las Flores
Plaza de Topete, 4
+34 956 226 112
 
Freiduria Las Flores II
Calle Brasil, 5
+34 956 289 378
 
Obrado Antonia Butron
Plaza Jesus Nazarino, 5, Chiclana
+34 956 401 094
 
Av. Ana de Viya, 16, Cadiz
+34 956 284 260
 

Savoring Ronda

May 25, 2014 § 4 Comments

Andalusia is undeniably one of Spain’s most diverse, stunning, and enthralling region.  I knew that.  Yet it didn’t prepare me for Ronda.

rock-outcrop

This city in Malaga sits on a plateau of a massive rock outcrop, creating a dramatic terrain and a seriously picturesque vista.

picturesque-vista

However, its charm extends to more than just the landscape;

charming-mountain-town

the cuisine, linked to a deep history, was a revelation, a real delight with more than a handful of fine restaurants and tapas bar to indulge in.

One of the most enjoyable ways to understand Andalusian food is to follow the crowds into a typical bar and try their tapas,

taperia

savored with a glass of vino tinto. Did you know that the region produces the best wines in Spain?

vino-tinto

And the ham!  The Iberico ham from Jabugo in Huelga is known to be (and I can attest to that) Spain’s best ham.

Tapas at Doña Pepa

Ten days in Morocco have induced (in us) an immense appetite for pork and where else do we go? Into a restaurant that has this on display.

Jamon

Restaurante de Doña Pepa, right around the Plaza del Socorro, called out to us.

El-Bodegon-de-Dona-Pepa

We entered and never left—our server, Javier, never gave us a chance. With his help, we ordered and devoured plate after plate of lovely Andalusian dishes (mostly pork oriented).

Jamon-Iberico

Our first Andalusian meal may not have been a bar hopping experience,

Dona-Pepa-tapasClockwise: Montadito, Crullentito de chorizo, Croquettas, Cochifrito, Flamenquin, Gambas ala Rodena

but every plate that came out spelled happiness, cravings satisfied and more. Then after all that, Javier delighted us with a sampling of a plateful of desserts,

plateful-of-dessert

ending a long day of traveling with happy spirits despite the gloomy weather.

The Breakfast at Hotel Colon

Waking up to breakfast of sublimely simple tostada con tomate y aceite (toast with crushed tomato and olive oil) is almost haunting.  With just a pinch of salt, the sweetness of both tomatoes and olive oil marries into something magical. This seemingly simple, bland breakfast transforms into a delectably complex feast in the mouth.  Haunting, I tell ya… haunting!

hotel-colonView from the balcony of the room.

The family run, centrally located Hotel Colon seemed to be a go-to of the locals.

hotel-colon-coffee-shop

Halfway through breakfast, the coffee shop filled up quickly with people tucked in their favorite corner, browsing through the daily, leisurely enjoying their coffee and breakfast.

coffee-and-pastry

Good coffee and wondrous pastries draw crowds into this unpretentious eatery the whole day.

Rabo de Toro and Bullfighting

Ronda is where modern bullfighting began but because it is tucked away in the mountains, bullfighting season in this city is intermittent.

bullring

But that does not stop its people from celebrating the sport. It is known as the home to bullfight after all. Many establishments in this town serve superb Rabo de Toro (tail of the bull)—an Andalusian medieval dish using tails of corrida-slaughtered bulls.

rabo-de-toroRabo de Toro

Restaurante Pedro Romero, opposite the bullring, is where you want to have your first taste of the celebrated oxtail stew.

partridge-patePartridge Pate

secreto-ibericoIberian pork in basil oil and capers

Turning out classic rondeño dishes, this restaurant, named after the legendary bullfighter from the Romero family, was a fine prelude to a profusion of Andalusian meals to come.

Delightful Davao

February 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Davao-DelightsCredits: Paper from the “Chronicling Life” kit of Haynay Designs

Davao.  Home to some of the country’s pride— the world’s largest bird, the monkey-eating Philippine Eagle and a rare orchid of exceptional beauty, the waling-waling— both found in Mt. Apo, Philippine’s highest peak.  But there is more to Davao than these.  Let’s not forget the “king of fruits”, durian.  The area is known to be the center of durian production, thanks to its rich fertile volcanic soil and until recently, typhoon-free area.  But more than durian, Davao is favored with other fresh, quality produce and fruits that are available all year round— pomelo, banana, mangosteen, lanzones, rambutan, mongo, peanuts, cabbage eggplant… among others.

The city is a fascinating mix of small town allure and modern metropolis refinement.  A metropolis inhabited by 1.4M people of different ethnic groups, culture and faiths.  The city teems with good food and on my not so very recent trip there, I discovered a few worth mentioning.

Swiss Deli

Along JP Laurel Ave., in Lanang is a deli and restaurant offering fine sausages, cured meats like bacon and hams, a selection of cheese, US and Australian steak cuts and even ostrich meats.  Owned by a butcher and a baker, Swiss Deli has been around since 2005 catering at first to expats and Davao’s upper crust.  Today, they supply some of the bigger supermarkets nationwide.  On my visit, the restaurant was packed for lunch.

Swiss-DeliMy superb lunch of Chicken Cordon Blue and a shared sausage platter.

Claude’s Le Café de Ville

Claude's-facade

We drove into a driveway of a well-lit ancestral house.  The garden well polished, the interior emulates the facade with old photos gracing the walls and well-appointed antique pieces scattered around.

Claude-interior

My favorite part of the house would be the porch— what a wonderful way to be greeted.

claude's-porch

This house epitomizes old world elegance through and through.  An ancestral home of the Oboza family (also called the Oboza Heritage House) now dwells the only full-service French restaurant in Davao, Claude’s Le Café de Ville.

Complementing its charming home are wonderful dishes served from its kitchen headed by husband and wife team Claude and Tess Le Niendre.  I had the Crab Cocktail to start and the specialty of the house, the Fillet of Beef Tenderloin with Pepper Sauce.

crab-cocktail

The crab appetizer was excellent, and my main, albeit a bit overcooked for my taste (it was more medium well than my preferred medium), was tasty and still juicy.

A pretty authentic French restaurant in Davao was definitely a pleasant surprise.

Malagos Farmhouse Artisan Cheeses

malagos-board

Davao surprises me, I tell ya.  After an evening of wonderful French feasting, we were on our way, the next day, to buy artisan cheese.  This wasn’t the first time I had tried cheeses from Malagos and so impressed I was, I had to find them and see what else they had to offer.

menu-board

Olive Puentespina, the woman behind Malagos Artisan Cheeses, has been producing cheeses since 2006.  All made from hybrid cows and goats from their dairy farm.

cheese-stock

A cheese spread was laid out for us to try over at the farmhouse—from quesong puti, to flavored chevres, to manchego blue—an unbelievable spread, all proudly made in Davao.

cheese-platter

Personal favorites are:  Queso Rustico (semi-soft cow’s milk similar to a manchego), Blush (Queso Rustico with a tint of blue), La Maria (similar to a camembert), Feta tricolor (feta with chili and rosemary, infused fresh), and the Chevre with mango (a blend of creamy French style goat cheese with sweet mango bits).

cheese-stashMy Take-Home Stash

Spirale Ristorante

pizza

For wonderful pasta and pizza, Spirale Ristorante will not disappoint.  Thumbs up for the Vongole ai Chorizo (a wonderful combination, don’t you think?) and the pizza, which is cooked in a wood-fire oven.  Crust was doughy yet crispy.

Chicco di Caffe

durian-brazo-de-mercedes

For their Durian Brazo di Mercedes.  Yum!!!  Anything durian is possible in Davao.  I had my first taste of durian in an ice cream in Davao some 20 years ago and I’ve never looked back.  I. Adore. Durian.

Swiss Deli
JP Laurel Ave., Lanang, Davo City
+6382 234 0271
 
Claude’s Cafe de Ville
29 Rizal St., Paseo de Habana, Davao City
+6382 305 2635 / +6382 222 4287
 
Malagos Farmhouse
Bolcan St., Agdao, Davao City
+6382 226 4446
 
Spirale Ristorante
Damaso Complex
Angliongto Road, Lanang, Davao City
+6382 234 6298
 
Chicco di Caffe
Gen. Douglas MacArthur Hwy, Davao City
+6382 305 3534
 
Faura St., Davao City

Hong Kong Nightlife: Knutsford Terraces

October 28, 2013 § 2 Comments

High-rise buildings, temples, shopping malls, and traditional markets sit side by side in hilly terrain.  Once home to fishermen and farmers, the Hong Kong of today is teeming with a dynamic metropolis fused with Chinese and Western influences.

Island-Seafood-and-Oyster-Bar

A lively range of restaurants, eateries, pubs and bars are mostly found in east Tsim Sha Tsui, Wanchai, and Lan Kwai Fong, the latter touted as the icon of the city’s vibrant nightlife that consist of tourists, expat and an overseas Chinese community.  For an engaging mix of locals and outsiders, and mid-priced eats, however, the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood may be a better bet.

Wandering about in Nathan Road, we turned into Kimberly Road.  The flight of steps, next to the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop, revealed a pedestrian strip of al fresco restaurants and bars, and multi-story building housing more selections of eats.

knutsford-terraces

An exciting mix of restaurants, bars and clubs that span the globe, Knutsford Terraces is, in some measure, the “Lan Kwai Fong” of Kowloon.  Smaller and less frenetic, fascinated by the varied selections, we thought it was worth probing into.  And so we found ourselves back the following night.

Eyeballing each menu on the strip, and always on the look out for fresh oysters, we walked into Island Seafood and Oyster Bar.

Island-fresh-oysters

With most establishments reasonably priced, this joint was way off our budget.  Not to read this wrong, for Hong Kong standards, the oysters we had were probably worth the price, but coming from a country teeming with fresh seafood, it was good to try but not safe to linger… not safe for the pocket, at least.

And so we moved on.  Tutto Bene’s pastas, one of the oldest restaurants on the strip, won over Widlfire’s thin crusted, wood-fire oven baked pizza.  Seated at the outdoor patio, we were served bread with a lovely spread set of roasted garlic, pesto, and a tomato-based cream cheese.  Both our dishes were excellent with us switching plates mid-way.

Tutto-Bene-Risotto

The Riso con Capisanto alla Griglia is perfectly cooked Arborio rice with shiitake, portobello and porcini mushrooms and topped with grilled scallops and shiitake fritters – a mouthful of wonderful flavors of earthy mushrooms and sweet scallops.

tutto-bene-ravioli

The eggplant and mozzarella filled ravioli, on the other hand, worked remarkably well with the pesto, roasted walnut and arugula – a play on sweet, slightly bitter and slightly peppery flavors.

tutto-bene-limoncello

We capped the evening meal with fantastic limoncello, so good we asked to see the bottle.

The following evening, we stayed indoors (partly because it was drizzling on and off) and found The Tasting Room Cocktail Kitchen at the Miramar Shopping mall.

tasting-room-2

Dark interior, small tables, a large TV screen… not exactly very inviting but what caught Anton’s fancy was the beer combo – a set of four beers arranged in drinking order (as explained by the wait staff).

beer-tasting

The choices, Hoegaarden, Budvar, Asahi, were different enough to call for this pick.  What hit my spot, truth to tell, was the Dinner Tasting Sets.

tasting-room-3Clockwise:  French Mussels, Winter Black Truffle and Pig Knuckles stuffed in tomato and glazed in beef jus, Foie Gras on toast, 36 months Iberico Ham and figs

We chose the Eight Course Winter Tasting Set (to share), which comes with a max of 6 oysters at half the price.

tasting-roomLeft to Right:  Dessert, Chanterelle and Tenderloin, Thin Asparagus pizza

Suffice to say that we were happy campers that evening.  If it weren’t raining, the best place to sit is out back, overlooking the terrace strip.

If staying within the neighborhood, Knutsford Terrace is a good choice to be.  With the many restaurants still unexplored, a return on my next trip to Hong Kong is not far-fetched.

Island Seafood & Oyster Bar
10 Knutsford Terrace,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
For Reservation: +852-2321-6663
 
Tutto Bene
7 Knutsford Terrace,
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
For Reservations:  +852-2316-2118
 
The Tasting Room
Shop 2015 Mirarmar Shopping Center
132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Knutsford Terrace N01-10
For Reservations: +852-2473-0168

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