A Vlogging Suggestion: Try Knock Out Kare Kare

Vloggers and bloggers living comfy life outside the Philippines but has been here in my country seem so fascinated with Jollibee, the number one fast food chain here in the Philippines. Every foreigner who’s been here in the Philippines never seem to fail to chronicle their first Jollibee Chickenjoy or Yumburger experience. Youtube videos of vloggers trying Jollibee for the first time are so plenty, it makes me bored.

the true and not so happy chickenjoy


Every foreigner seem so entranced as if their visit, adventure and experience here in the Philippines would not be complete if they fail to dine at Jollibee. These foreigners don’t realize (I guess until they have tasted Chickenjoy) that there really is nothing unique and extraordinary with the palatal offering of this fastfood staple. Kudos to the powers of Jollibee’s advertising campaign and marketing team.

knockout kare-kare!

I really have nothing against the giant Jollibee, except for the worst form of spaghetti that they sell, but for me foreign bloggers and vloggers alike who plans to come and visit, should instead try for themselves a dish that is truly Filipino. It is named Knock-Out Kare-Kare.
Why then am I suggesting it?
First is because Knock-Out Kare-Kare is a fusion of two popular and authentic Filipino dishes, the Krispy Pata (deep fried pig trotters and knuckles) and the Kare-Kare (Philippine oxtail and ox tripe stew in thick savory peanut sauce). Therefore, having this dish is like experiencing two Filipino gastronomic experiences rolled into one.
Second is because Knock-Out Kare-Kare is not as creepy as that of the popular Balut or Dinuguan. A lot of foreigners have considered Filipino cuisine to be so fierce and ferocious. This is because of the scary Balut and the vicious looking Dinuguan. But in Knock-Out Kare-Kare, there really is nothing to be terrified about. The golden-brown crispy skin of the Crispy Pata teases you with the promise of juicy meat within. While the aroma and smoothness of the peanut sauce and vegetables of the Kare-Kare adds up to the anticipation that there is nothing to be scared about regarding the usually vicious Filipino cuisine.
Third, this amazing fusion and mingling of 2 Filipino dishes can be found in Abe, the leading Filipino restaurant here in the Philippines. I know Jollibee is all around the Philippines in which there really is no challenge at all on locating one, but the travel experience of trying to locate and finding your way to the best local restaurant of a country really adds up to some travel adventure in a foreign country. The experience is like being an Australian trying to locate the best Turkish restaurant in Turkey or a Japanese tourist trying to trace the location of the best Italian restaurant in Italy.
As of now, let me message all foreign tourists, vloggers and bloggers that chronicling your Jollibee experience is a tired format and exhausted routine. Try something more interesting and really more Pinoy. Try Knock Out Kare Kare for it will surely knock your wits off!
Aba’y deserbing!

The Abe Wing of the National Museum

Last Tuesday night, the few pieces of artistic neurons present inside my cranial cavity were happy to have witnessed one historical event in the “Philippine art scene”.  I was present during the formal turnover ceremony of artworks of Emilio Aguilar Cruz to the Philippines’ National Museum for Fine Arts.  The event was coined as the biggest donation in the history for an art collection by an artist to the country’s national museum.

And from the poignant speeches I heard during the ceremony, this generous and selfless act was decided upon so that future generations of the Philippines would be able to see and appreciate contemporary yet refined works of Filipino visual art. This is aside from the fact that these valuable pieces would definitely be protected, preserved and maintained by the state.

EAC Gallery (Abe Wing) photo grabbed from National Museum FB page
EAC Gallery (Abe Wing)
photo grabbed from National Museum FB page

Aside from the formal turnover of donation of EAC art pieces, the program also includes the formal inauguration of the Emilio Aguilar Cruz Hall. Also known as the Abe Wing inside the National Museum, this hall exhibits the donated paintings, sketches and water colors done by EAC.

Activating the art connoisseur in me, from among all the art pieces hanged inside the Abe Wing, the two works of art that charmed and bewitched me were:

portrait of a lady, 1989 (oil on canvass)
portrait of a lady, 1989 (oil on canvass)

This painting is a true representation of a Filipina beauty.  Though the only color used was the varying colors of brown, the monochromatic shades – from lighting, to the clothing and to the color of the woman’s skin – were all so fascinatingly beautiful and captivating.

Paris, 1980 (watercolor on paper)
Paris, 1980 (watercolor on paper)

This watercolor is small but very engaging.  The colors are so alive you would wonder whether such piece was recently been done when in fact it is already 35 years old. Onlooker would be able to appreciate it more if seen from a considerable distance (which for me is a typical EAC style).

Like any other great works of art found in the museums around the globe, EAC’s art pieces would someday, in some foreseeable future, shall become valuable tools for the next generation to better understand its past.  Kudos to the family of Emilio Aguilar Cruz for such a generous donation!

Koloring buk ko kaya tanggapin kung i-doneyt ko sa nashonal myusiyum? 

The Best and Most Favorite Filipino Restaurant

It is a common notion and a customary aspiration that if you are in a foreign land, you would want to taste the best and most favorite that such locale or country has to offer.  Meaning, if you are in France you would normally want to dine in the best or most preferred French restaurant.  Or if you are in Italy you would of course aspire to eat at the best or most popular Italian restaurant.  But when in the Philippines, has it been determined which would be the restaurant where to taste the best and most preferred Filipino cuisine?

The Filipino cuisine is experiencing a renaissance in the world cuisine stage. The world is now discovering that the Filipino cuisine is not just the exotic “balut”.  Thus, it is essential to determine in today’s generation which Filipino restaurant in the Philippines is the best and the most favorite.  Here are two trusty basis for this.  One for being the best while the other for being the most favorite.

One would be based on the selection made by MBKRS which is short for Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secret award.  MBKRS is a biennial awarding body considered by a lot of Filipino foodies and food establishments as the most prestigious award that recognizes excellence in city dining scene.

Two would be based on the honor given by the recently concluded Choice Awards 2015.  A new food-scene recognizing body which was established and organized by popular and “powerful” food bloggers in the Philippines.  This award does not recognizes the best of the country’s food and food establishments but instead honors the most commonly preferred and most favorites.

These two recognizing bodies has bestowed honors to food establishments in various categories – best or most favorite: buffet, Italian resto, Spanish resto, burger joint, coffee shop, steakhouse, Chinese resto, and a lot more.  But these recognizing bodies being based in the Philippines, I would personally consider their choice or their award for being the best and most favorite Filipino Restaurant would be the most prestigious.  It’s like bestowing the Best Picture award during the Oscars or the Golden Globes of Philippine dining scene!

Few people I guess knows that there is one Filipino restaurant (in the Philippines) which has received and has been awarded by both these recognizing bodies.  MBKRS in 2012 awarded it as the “Best Filipino Restaurant” while the first Choice Awards held this year (2015) chose it as the “Most Favorite Filipino Restaurant”.

That restaurant is Abe.

at the trinoma branch
at the trinoma branch
at the serendra branch
at the serendra branch

Award wining!

Keeping, Serving, Enjoying The Traditional Kare-Kare

kare-kare overload
kare-kare overload

The Filipino cuisine is at its renaissance in the present generation.  And because of this global upwelling, it is frustrating to note that there have been lots of Filipino restaurants popping up in the metro that has gone modifying and fusing the tasty traditional Filipino dishes with the western or other Asian cuisines.

The grassroots and nature of the Filipino cuisine is about being economical.  Ingredients were based on what the environment offers.  Filipino dish is not about just taking, using and eating the best part of an edible fruit, plant or animal.  It is about the development of dishes utilizing every edible part of an edible element present in the environment may it be a fruit, a plant or an animal.  That is why western world would often perceive Filipino dishes to be bizarre and outright disgusting.

Because of this perception, to tweak Filipino dishes in terms of plating and visual presentation so as to not scare people and achieve global marketability is okay for me.  But the complex taste and palatal balance of the traditional recipe that Filipinos of the past has concocted and developed must remain.

the chosen one!!! the authentic good old kare-kare
the chosen one!!! the good old traditional  kare-kare (i obviously erased the labels…)

It is good to know then that the LJC Restaurant Group, a leading group of restaurants in the country continues to serve traditional Filipino dishes.  Though I am not the final authority regarding the taste of traditional Filipino dishes, I have been fortunate to be chosen as one of the lucky Filipinos to taste and determine which among their Kare-Kare is the best!  Aside from adopting the chosen best Kare-Kare for all their outlets, this project by the LJC Group in way ensures that the good old Kare-Kare (stewed oxtail in peanut-based sauce) is available for the present generation to enjoy.

This project only shows how the LJC Restaurant Group is serious is keeping the traditional Filipino cuisine.  No wonder the LJC Restaurant Group operates the leading and best Filipino restaurants in the country, i.e. Abe (which now has 6 branches) and Bistro Remedios located in Malate, Manila.

With the rousing global interest about the Filipino cuisine nowadays, it would be sad to know and would be hard to imagine in case the best Kare-Kare would not be found in the Philippines.  So, good job LJC Group!  At least for now, the best Kare-Kare is still found in the Philippines!

Yami parang ako!