Beef Ninja is a Pares In Disguise

About two weeks ago, Nengkoy, I and my family had an early dinner in one of the posh and popular Filipino-fusion cuisine restaurant just beside the lobby of the deluxe and swanky Conrad Hotel (hahaha! I refuse to name the restaurant). It was my first time tasting Pares in that dinner.

Pares is the Filipino’s common reference to a Braised Beef Stew usually paired with garlic fried rice and a bowl of clear soup. Pares is a common dish served in carinderias (small local eateries) usually found along the side streets of Manila.

Since it was my first time, I don’t really have an idea how a good Pares tastes like. That is why I did not know if the version of the posh restaurant was way superior as compared to other Pares-es served in customary, regular and more economical carinderias.

My adventurous nephews however are more well-versed than I am in terms of the taste of Manila’s street food and cuisine. My nephews particularly Denden commented that the Pares served in Café Adriatico is way more delicious as compared to the version served in the restaurant we were having dinner at. He nevertheless commented that the food presentation by the posh restaurant was way more gorgeous as compared to the plain and simple Café Adriatico dish.

When I try to recall if Café Adriatico serves Pares, without batting an eyelash, I reminded Denden that Café Adriatico does not serve it. He then informed me that Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja dish is actually a Pares disguised in a modest presentation and is called in a different appellation.

beef ninja (pares in disguise)
cafe adriatico in malate

My other nephew Luis confirmed this observation and stated that indeed, Beef Ninja of Café Adriatico is a Pares dish. Both agreed that though it needs improvement in terms of food presentation, Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja is among the top three Pares-es they have ever tasted.

This inspired me to order Beef Ninja when I had the chance to dine at the 40-year old Café Adriatico in their Malate, Manila branch. While doing some photo shoot of the dish, I wonder which came first in terms of evolution. Was it Beef Ninja of the 40-year old restaurant or was it Pares served in carinderias? I may not know the birth of Pares and how it really tastes like, I nevertheless savored the delicious flavor of one of the best Pares (in disguise) dish on the planet.

Ang sarap!

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Cool Coffee Print at Celia’s Cafe

Baristas spend years perfecting their latte art. Tons of milk and espresso has been spent so as to achieve a beautiful design.  But when you visit Celia’s Café in Alaminos City in Pangasinan, they actually have a machine that can actually have your favorite selfie photo be printed on your coffee.

I don’t know of a café in Manila that offered this same cool feature and going to Singapore or Hongkong would be too expensive if I wish to have my photo printed on my coffee.  That is why I did not missed my chance of having this coffee experience when I last visited Celia’s Café, my family’s favorite café in the northern part of the country. 

super cool…

Celia’s Café is located at SSS Building
Marcos Avenue, Palamis
Alaminos City, Pangasinan

Ensalada Esmeralda & the Caveman in Me

My friends and colleagues know that I am not a salad person. While dining in restaurants, I frequently tease and ridicule friends who prefer having salads than the specialty main courses. I would often tell them that maybe they may be a goat or a rabbit in their past life. Plus, salads for me are not an effective meal. It may be filling but only for a short period of time.

I usually don’t understand how some people eat only salad for lunch or dinner because in my case, after about an hour, I am craving for something to chew and swallow. But the good side for salad-eaters on how I perceive them is that they seem to be more civilized, more refined and more sophisticated.

They are so unlike me who is a meat lover! For me, meat lovers are the total opposite of the very urbane and cultured salad lovers. I and the rest of the meat lovers seem to be more savaged, ferocious and brutal. I prefer chunks of animal carcass may it be grilled, broiled, fried or roasted. Because of this, I have always thought that in my past life I am a barbaric cave dweller during the prehistoric times who loved hunting animals for food.

But there’s one kind of salad that seem to convert me. It’s the Ensalada Esmeralda of Café Adriatico! Picture this, a bed of fresh greens with slices of crunchy apples and luscious oranges, savory almond flakes and dried cranberries dripped with generous amount of raspberry-yogurt dressing topped with chia seeds! It’s raw and it’s meatless yet I L.O.V.E. it!

esmeralda

I can no longer count the times I had Ensalada Esmeralda as my lunch. It is unlike other salads that is filled with grated odorous cheese or smothered with unhealthy mayonnaise or with robust repulsive vinegar dressings. This salad is something unique for it is on the fruity and sweet side. Having a sweet-tooth myself, I particularly love the sweet tangy taste and fluid texture of the raspberry-yogurt dressing!

The refreshing Ensalada Esmeralda, makes me now think that sometime in my prehistoric past I was the first caveman who converted from being carnivorous to being a fruitarian! And at this modern present time, Ensalada Esmeralda seem to have erased the deep-seated savaged caveman in me!

yummyness…

Café Adriatico Premiere is located at
790 Adriatico Street in Malate Manila. 738-8220
(only cavemen or people living under a rock would not know this cafe!)


Represhing pramis!

The Pinoy Lomi

With its world wide appeal and popularity, the Japanese ramen has turned out to become such an intense source of pride for Japan.  It is so popular, Chefs around the world are in serious pursuit of locating and determining the best Japanese ramen ever made.

I myself love a number of ramen varieties and such popularity makes me so jealous on why our Filipino-made and Filipino-developed noddle dish could not be as popular as that of the savory ramen.  I wish and dream on the day when the erstwhile and yummy Pinoy Lomi would be as popular, as trendy and as pursued-after kind of a noodle dish like that of the Japanes Ramen.

Japanese Ramen houses are literally everywhere around the planet.  But can you envision and imagine having a Lomi House in the well-appointed streets of New York, Paris and Sydney? 

it would be a big surprise if this would be sooo sought after
cafeño
darling lomi

And while I patiently wait until such an embryonic and what seem to be ridiculous vision turned out to become such a shocking and ridiculous reality, let me feature one savory Lomi that I and friends recently tried when we went to San Juan in the province of Batangas.

Cafeño the leading café restaurant in San Juan, Batangas (according to Tripadvisor) offers a very good variety of Lomi.  Picture freshly-cooked thick noodles, rich and savory broth, the perfect amount of spice, half-cooked egg topped with crispy pork cracklings! 

I would not say Cafeño’s version of Lomi is the best Lomi in the country.  It is because I have always believed that there is no such thing as the best Lomi.  This Pinoy noodle dish is supposed to be of a personal preference.  It’s more on having your own favorite variety.  Thus, unlike the popular ramen houses who claims to serve the best ramen dish, there is no best Lomi in the country because every Pinoy definitely would have their preferred and darling Lomi version.  And so far, Cafeño’s version has been my personal choice and favorite.

The Pinoy Lomi may not be as highly-sophisticated like some of the ramen varieties but this meal manages to be so comforting and soul-soothing at the same time. It is a properly balanced bowl dish that earthlings outside the Philippines has yet to discover. 

so glad to have discovered cafeño with super friends!

Nakakagulat na sarap!

Tastes of Asahikawa

One unusual thing that I and my colleagues did in our most recent trip to Japan is that we decided to stay in a minimally advertised destination in Hokkaido.  Instead of staying in a more popular Sapporo or Furano, we decided to stay for 2 nights in a remote place called Asahikawa. 

And since there are limited tourist spots to go to (aside from going to a mall and a zoo), I and my colleagues decided to explore Asahikawa through its food.  Our first destination was the ramen house our hotel has recommended, the Ichikura Raman. 

with the asahikawa gang just outside ichikura raman (edwin, malou, gie and dominic) 
surprisingly clear to the palate yet with a distinct flavor of a ramen

 Since Isahikawa seem to be popular with shoyu-based ramen (shoyu: Japanese soy sauce), I settled and ordered the Okhotsk Shoyu Ramen.  This ramen according to the menu is composed with unique Hokkaido ingredients like Namuro dried salmon flakes, Esashi dried herring and Rishiri kelp from Oumu.  I was really happy that Ichikura Raman was the ramen place our hotel has recommended.  And aside from their ramen, one surprising dish in this joint was their Gyoza.  It was one of the best gyozas that I have tasted!

A lot of people say that it would be a sin for a tourist in Hokkaido if he/she failed or refuse to try the Hokkaido ice cream.  This soft frozen dairy is one plain ice cream that is simply made of milk.  It has no fancy flavor, no fancy add-ons and no fancy flairs for an ice cream.  For me, its plainness makes Hokkaido ice cream remarkably exquisite and amazingly elegant. 

happy crew handing me my creamy ice cream 
savoring every moment of yummy-ness!

Then, one of the highlights of our Asahikawa stay was the dinner at Jingisukan Daikokuya.  This restaurant is the top rated local-cuisine restaurant in Asahikawa as per Tripadvisor.  It is so popular people would have to wait and queue outside before they be given a table.  Specialty of the house was Hokkaido’s grill icon called Genghis Khan (also termed Jingisukan).

Like their sophisticated ice cream, Jingisukan is a must try in Hokkaido.  It is a unique style of yakiniku in which mutton and lamb are grilled on a convex skillet shaped like an upside-down bowl.  Since the meat are grilled over charcoal, we were surprised to see and experience the amount of smoke inside the popular restaurant.  We nevertheless did not complain because the smoke actually added up to the character and atmosphere of the establishment. 

outside the resto, waiting for our turn

 

an asahikawa highlight

I personally prefer beef over lamb, but the marinated flavor and the stunning taste of the meat served to us gave me some second thought if I really do prefer beef over lamb. Genghis Khan was strikingly delicious!

Asahikawa may not be of the same level as that of Osaka, Tokyo or Sapporo where there are tons to see and marvel at.  Asahikawa nevertheless has loads of gustatory surprises that tourists can taste and talk about.

Para maiba naman!

Classic Pudding

My palatal experience and taste for the Classic Pudding has come a long way.  It progressed from being derisory to being lavish.  My lunch today with Nengkoy and a few of my relatives at Medley Buffet in first-class hotel Okada Manila made me realize this. 

Superb buffet here at Medley Buffet, Okada Manila

When my sister Joie took a heap of the Classic Pudding as her dessert, I told aloud that Nengkoy (my mother) at one occasion made a Classic Pudding when we were still very small.  Nengkoy upon hearing this smiled and nodded her head.  But what is so memorable with Nengkoy’s Classic Pudding I told Joie is that it was made from left over breads most especially from the staple of the Marcos regime’s feeding program in the ‘70s called Nutribun.

I can still recall that Nutibun given to us students in the 70’s were so big, so dense and were so filling.  It was so compact, that if you fail to consume it and let it stand for a day it will turn so hard, eating it would be next to impossible. I remember not eating those bulky Nutribuns and instead bring those home.  This kindled the parsimony and thriftiness in Nengkoy.  Instead of throwing away those rock hard Nutribuns, I remember she turned it into a hot delicious Classic Pudding. 

with niece bebang and nengkoy
nengkoy! enjoying her medley buffet experience
my bowl of classic pudding

After telling that story, I excused myself, went to the abundant and over-the-top buffet area of Medley Buffet. I also took a big bowl of their Classic Pudding for my dessert.  While enjoying my dessert and washed it down with champagne, I silently reminisced about the taste of the pudding Nengkoy prepared for us when we were still kids in the seventies.

Parang walang pinagkaiba anf pudding ng Okada at ng Nutribun. Yummy! Hahaha!

Fast Fantastic Food at Estero

Last Sunday, I woke up wanting to go to Ongpin, the Chinese Capital of the Philippines.  As soon as I opened my eyes after a long and quiet sleep, my katawang lupa (flesh and corporeal being) just suddenly crave for the look, the noise and the smell of Ongpin. 

Thanks to super friend Willie, he accompanied me and made my silly craving a reality.  My longing was really plain and unchallenging.  I just wanted to walk the super busy street of Ongpin, buy a snack and then leave.  But thank goodness I was with itinerant Willie because he knows a very good eatery in this old and hoary part of Manila.

We dined at what is known as Estero.  It is a non-air-conditioned diner that is right beside a creek and a tidal channel used as drainage canal in the overly populated area of Manila. I was at first so tentative and doubtful about the place.  But when the gentle lady manning the eatery approached us and handed the menu, I knew that I was into some exciting gastronomic adventure. 

estero (if I was the owner, i would call it “estuary” para sosyal)
classic yang chow rice and the surprisingly good hototay soup!
joyous version of their mung bean sprouts
buttered chicken is love
happy tummy!

Estero is tagged as a fast food on the internet but it is unlike the usual fast food that items were pre-prepared and placed on a heater display.  Estero food are only cooked upon ordering.  Maybe the reason why it is called fast food is because the kitchen is equipped with high pressure burners and the cooks prepare their dishes so fast.  In a haste, the server was already serving our freshly cooked Hototay and the surprisingly crunchy Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sprouts.

Aside from the very good food, Estero’s price was surprisingly cheap.  Total bill of all the fantastic dishes we ordered was roughly around 8 (US) dollars.

Yam yam!