Monday, August 29, 2011

Singapore Preview

The landmarks proved to be a good distraction....

but I really went to Singapore to...


Get ready to learn how I ate my way through Singapore on the coming entries...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Victor's in Tarlac

If Pampanga has Mely's, Tarlac has Victor's!

Similar to Mely's, Victor's Barbeque and Lechon Manok is a hole in the wall eatery situated along  a national highway. It's further up north though and is a good 3 hour drive from Manila.

It was not yet the lunch hour when we arrived, but a lot of cars were already parked outside Victor's. I guess it goes to show how popular among the locals this establishment is. 

For those who will have trouble finding Victor's, let the tempting aroma of its grilled specialties help you find the way.

Famous Lechon Manok

For the Sisig

Victor's is no frills and it is no different from most restaurants found in the provinces. Ambiance is non-existent as the owners let the food do the talking.

 Bulalo Soup
No complaints about this free soup!

A grill outing is not complete without the dipping sauce.

Pork Barbeque (20php per stick)
Tender and tasty. 

Paldeot or Chicken Tail (25php per stick)
I can't help but compare this with Mely's and it paled in comparison.

Grilled Tilapia (50php)
This was very very fresh making the meat of the fish so sweet and soft. I almost single-handedly finished this dish. 

Sisig (130php)
The first step in ordering sisig in Victor's is to choose from the grill, the components you want to be included in your sisig. I think we just had basic pig cheeks, heart, and brain.  The secret of the sisig is in the onions as it perfectly highlighted the flavors of the meat mixture.  Less is certainly more as this turned out to be so tasty.

For those interested, here's Victor's menu:

Victor's Barbeque and Lechon Manok is located in Tarlac along MacArthur Highway.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Night at Microtel Luisita

Not so long ago, I found myself in Tarlac. (don't ask why!!!)

I had to look for a clean but affordable place to stay and found Microtel Luisita.

For less than 2,500php a night, I was able to stay in a standard room.

 I was pleasantly surprised that the room was of decent size and wasn't dated at all. The bed was also very inviting and comfortable. I was not a fan of the mirror behind the bed though as it gave me the creeps.

I'm happy to report that the bathroom though simple and basic was very clean. There was also no shortage of hot water.

Makeshift Breakfast Area
Every room comes with a free breakfast coupon and due to limited space, breakfast is served at the lobby of  Microtel Luisita. Service is buffet style and fares were quite standard but filling. 

The only problem some guests might have with Microtel Luisita is its out of the way location. It is situated in a dead spot but Microtel Luisita does offer free shuttle service to the nearest commercial complex. Also, since Microtel Luisita's kitchen is not well-equipped, one has to order from nearby restaurants or settle for the vending machine when hunger strikes.

Overall though, Microtel Luisita was a decent comfortable stay in the middle of nowhere.

Microtel Inn and Suites Luisita is located at Luisita, Tarlac. For more information, click here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

All Things Chocolate at Maitre Chocolatier

A good alternative to the usual coffee shop night cap is Maitre Chocolatier

What makes Maitre Chocolatier interesting is the fact that all the items on the menu have chocolate as an ingredient.

From the different chocolate options, we couldn't resist but order Maitre Chocolatier's best-selling desserts:

Sweet Revenge (250php)
Made from Lindt chocolate, this molten lava cake is comfort food. The pairing of the lava cake with the vanilla ice cream is not surprising as one can never go wrong with a hot and cold dessert.

Virtuous Temptation (237php)
This Lindt Strawberry Mousse Cake is perfect for those who don't like decadent desserts. Sweet strawberries plus light cream made for one stellar combination. Would have been perfect without the sponge cake base.

Golden Euphoria (250php) 
I saved the best for last as this Ferrero Hazelnut Crunch Cake truly put me in a euphoric mood. What every chocolate cake should be: rich and sinful with every bite tasting like Ferrero!

Three Scoops of Ice Cream
For those who are not too fond of cake, there's always ice cream to satisfy a sugar craving.

Don't think though that Maitre Chocolatier only offers desserts as it also serves breakfast food, appetizers, entrees, cocktails, and even beer. And yes, all have chocolate!  

Maitre Chocolatier Boutique Cafe is located at 28 Jupiter St. Bel-Air Makati. It also has branches in Cebu and Davao. For more information, contact 8978559 or click here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Chinese Encounter at Cinese Foot Spa

Believe it or not, I've hit the gym more times than the buffet table lately. 

Because of this miracle development, my body feels like it has been ran over by a speeding bus. 

I cope by indulging in a massage whenever I can and the last massage parlor I've tried is Cinese Foot Spa.

Parking slots are quite limited but there's always the option to park on the street.

I like that the lobby is well-lit. The receptionist was polite and professional.

Sofa was comfortable though I wish they had interesting magazines to keep me company.

Common Area TV
Unfortunately, I forgot to reserve a private room so I had my massage at a common area. While my neighbors were mostly quiet, the TV was quite a distraction. 

Massage Chair
I got a Chinese therapist for my massage and there was no doubt that she was skilled. Her strokes were confident and she managed to remove the aches of my body. Unfortunately, I also heard her complain to the receptionist before the massage that she was already very tired. No wonder she lacked finesse and I felt that she was rushing the process. She also had a heavy hand and was not gentle at all. It certainly was not the most relaxing massage experience but I still give points to my Chinese therapist for giving me a pain free body. 

Service Menu

Cinese Foot Spa is located at 17 M. Paterno Street San Juan. For more information, call 7239559 or 7272322. Mobile number is 09275840224.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Curly and Sandy's

It was Curly's birthday recently and it only meant one thing... 

She had no choice but to give me a treat!

I was glad that we both agreed on having the celebration at Sandy's Pizza as I've been wanting to give this far-from-my-neighborhood pizza joint a try.

San Juan branch

Sandy's Pizza, the San Juan branch at least, can only accommodate a limited number of dine-in guests because it only has a couple of tables outside the order window. The table gods were thankfully with us and we were able to snag a table when we went there. 

Aside from being the birthday girl, Curly is also the bigger glutton so don't be surprised by the amount of food we had.

Honey Glazed Wings
Sweet and nice. A good version of  a pizza parlor staple. Just don't expect it to be as good as those offered by establishments that specialize on wings.

Tuna Arabbiata
This was recommended by the staff of Sandy's and it certainly hit the spot. I loved the amount of spice this pasta had.

Thai Chicken
I was generally underwhelmed because there was not much meat and the flavors of the pizza, though undeniably Thai, were not fully developed. I longed for a bigger bolder taste which Thai cuisine is known for.  A saving grace was the chewy dough that I enjoyed.  

Though I was not too happy with the pizza, I commend Sandy's Pizza for being bold to come up with unique pizza flavors. There will be a next time for me with Sandy's as I'm eager to try other flavors such as Indian Chicken Curry Crunch, Filipino Adobo with Kesong Puti, and Mexican Taco Pizza. 

Sandy's Pizza has three locations: San Juan, Makati, and Katipunan. For more information, click here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chef's Table: Where Service Trumps Food

It's sad when I remember a restaurant more for its outstanding service than for the food I ate. This is the case with Chef's Table.

Let's get the rice orders out of the way as these were all bland and lacked flavor.

Bagoong Rice

Aligue Rice

Tinapa Rice

The dishes thankfully fared better...

Crab Cakes (370php)
Authentic crab taste though this was hard to eat as each piece broke easily.

Reversed Sotanghon Soup (150php)
Oily but was able to capture the essence of a classic French Onion soup

Calamansi Tuyo Spaghetti (210php)
An interesting mix that worked. I enjoyed the contrasting flavors.

Corned Pork (380php)
A full meal because this dish includes an order of rice and vegetables. Dry and nothing special though.

Kalderatang Lamb (510php)
Loved this! Lamb had a clean taste. Sauce was rich and tasted authentic enough.

Kadios (480php)
Boiled bland mess. Tender but no flavors whatsoever.

Chill-A-Fino (550php)
Fish was perfectly cooked and the clever use of silky purple yam brought the dish to new heights. My favorite  of the night.

As you can see, we actually had more hits than misses at Chef's Table. however, it can't be helped that I feel that the attentive and warm service of the wait staff has overshadowed the unique creations that the chef serves.

Chef’s Table is located at 106 Infinity Tower 26th St. Fort Bonifacio Global City Taguig. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Bale Dutung Experience

From El Nido, let’s travel to Pampanga where my friends and I had a leisurely three hour lunch at Bale Dutung.

Bale Dutung (Old House) is the private residence of popular chef/writer/artist Claude Tayag and his wife Mary Ann. On weekends, they open their doors to the public who are eager to sample the best of Filipino and Kapampangan cuisine.

The open area of Bale Dutung highlights the charm of provincial living. Life is more laidback in the province and the calming and peaceful scenery certainly encouraged guests to leave all worries behind while partaking in the Bale Dutung experience.

A Perfect Place for A Massage

Sweet Innocence

Calming Scenery

The Charm of Provincial Living


Awards and Articles

There are three menu options (Kapampangan, 5 Ways Lechon, and Anthony Bourdain) at Bale Dutung and we, of course, couldn’t resist the sinful lechon spread. 

Ideally, lunch starts at 12 noon but Mary Ann was gracious enough to wait for latecomers. The meal was conducted at the couple's shed so wearing light, comfortable clothing is advised.

Everyone Settling In

Lunch started with Mary Ann asking everyone to gather at the center table where fresh dalandan juice with muscovado was served. She then explained that Bale Dutung, more than a buffet experience, is actually a degustation in 10 parts. 10 being an overwhelming number, she promised to pace everyone so that we will be able to try all the courses. She also requested guests to first try the food served as it is, without any condiments, because it is how the chef wanted us to taste the food.

Welcoming Guests

All Ears

After Mary Ann's brief introduction, we headed back to our table to eat!

Salabat and Water for Drinks
Frozen Towel for the Heat

Balo-balo, Talangka, and Pesto Spread
Paired with crackers, the dips were the perfect start for what was to come!

Ensaladang Pako
To be fair, pako is an interesting vegetable but I don't think I'll ever appreciate my greens. At least this salad had a quail egg.

Piniritong Lumpiang Ubod sa Claude 9 Oriental Sauce
Fresh vegetables complimented by Claude's very own oriental sauce. I put a liberal amount of chili sauce for that extra kick.

Inasal na Manok at Claude 9 Talangka Rice
Average chicken but the talangka rice was divine. I wanted more.

Talangka Sushi
This didn't leave a mark for we only had one sushi each.

 Balo-Balo Sushi
The lettuce wrap neutralized the saltiness of the fermented shrimps.

With the appetizers out of the way, it was time to indulge in a 5-way lechon feast!

Get Your Own Veggie Station

Additional Elements for the Sinigang

1st Way: Sinigang na Lechon
We were instructed to put bagoong (shrimp paste) and soy sauce in our sinigang broth for a sour and salty contrast. It was my first time to eat sinigang with bagoong and I'm not sure if it made a difference. 

Carving the Skin

2nd Way: Balat ng Lechon at Liver Sauce
Nothing special here and Mary Ann was the first to admit this.

D.I.Y. Tortilla

3rd Way: Lechon Tortilla
I thought I was not going to enjoy this wrap but it turned out to be one of my favorites. The pairing of the crunchy pork flakes with different sauces and toppings (kimchi included) is a stroke of genius. Truth be told, I managed two wraps. 

Heating the Sisig

To Each His Own Sisig

4th Way: Lechon Sisig
I enjoyed choosing what items I wanted to mix with my sisig. The pork brain certainly made the texture of my sisig extra creamy.

5th Way: Inihaw na Tadyang na Lechon at Ensaladang Talong
They saved the best for last as this piece of meat was very tender and flavorful. I couldn't help but envy my neighbor's plate as I was served a tiny portion. 

I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but I loved this dessert. The sweetness level was just right and the buffalo milk base was to die for. 

Coffee to End the Meal

It's important to note that Claude Tayag was out of the country when we visited Bale Dutung. I'm sure the experience would have been more enjoyable with his mere presence. I also wonder if the food would have been better if he was there to do the actual cooking.  

I guess I'l never know the answer as I have no plans to go back to Bale Dutung. While it's a good experience to share with friends, once is more than enough!

And oh, don't forget to buy Claude 9 products to bring home...

Perfect Pasalubong

Bale Dutung is located at Villa Gloria Subdivision, Pampanga. Reservations needed. The 5-Way Lechon Menu costs 1,750php per person. Add 10% when visiting on a Sunday. For more information, click here.
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