Three Meal Periods at the Number 2 Restaurant in Alaminos Pangasinan

This blog post officiates my being an avid fan of Celia’s Café, the number 2 restaurant according to TripAdvisor in Alaminos Pangasinan.  Number 1 restaurant of course is the old and tired Maxine By The Sea located at Lucap.  Though run-down and the food served were average, Maxine By The Sea is the leading restaurant in Alaminos.  Its TripAdvisor’s number 1 because it is located at a wharf near the dock where tourists would have to take a boat ride to reach the majestic Hundred Islands.  It’s one of those rare eateries whose reason for being number 1 is not their food nor their service but its location.  I still remember way back in the early 90’s was the first time I dined there.  It was also my first time in Hundred Islands!

me, my sister and a few of my monster pamangkins

The number 2 restaurant on the other hand seem to possess the thrilling potential of becoming the leader among restaurants in Alaminos.  Celia’s Café seem to capture the urbanized and the ruralized feel.  Their ambience and facilities are homey yet urbanite.  Because of the modern feel of the ambience, you will never miss the feeling of being in an urbanized city when you dine there.  But their warm service is naively bucolic.  Celia’s Café are manned by gentle and courteous lads, which reminds you that you are indeed in a countryside away from the jungles of Manila.

But what I particularly love about Celia’s Café is the food.  It’s surprisingly delicious!  During my recent revisit, I again ordered the Pasta Longganisa for lunch, the one I ordered the first time I dined there.  All I can say is that it is consistently luscious.  The only thing that changed was the bread.  It is because it is now tastier and more delicious.  The focaccia bread was so good, I ordered extra and even ordered take-out so as to bring it back to Manila!

focaccia inside a bag (my take away!)

yum!

And since there seem to be no agreeable restaurant establishment in Alaminos except for Celia’s Café, me and my family returned at dinner time.  We ordered the platter in which, one order is already good for four (4).  I was especially impressed by the flavors of the Chicken Platter.  It is because each dish in the platter tasted differently.  It was unlike the platter offerings by other restaurants in which each dish seem to taste the same with other dishes in the platter.  The Southern Style Fried Chicken was of a totally different flavor from the Chicken Salpicao and the Chicken Salpicao was of a totally different taste from the Pork Tonkatsu.  And what is best about the platter was the generous serving of rice!  To top it off, we were surprised to find out that our ordered platter comes with a whole serving of soft and chewy pancakes!

The following morning before heading back to the jungles of Manila, me and my family returned to Celia’s Café to have breakfast.  I had the big fulfilling English Breakfast, which I guess is the only English breakfast dish served in the whole of Alaminos province.

Enough said and I am impressed if you reached this point of this blog.  Hahaha!  I think I already said that I am a fan.

Tagahanga! Dats mi!

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Unexpected Hunger Buster Burger

Guests entering a restaurant three minutes before it closes is technically okay.  But this situation is one of the most hated circumstances by that of the waiters and cooks.  This is especially true when the kitchen has started to do its cleaning and sanitizing.  Cooks would not have the choice but to gloomily re-grease their pots, pans and griddle and degrease it again later on when all orders of the oblivious close-to-being-late customer has been dispatched.

This is exactly what I did!  And in the above scenario, I was the customer.  Since it’s almost closing time, I expected that my orders would be nothing spectacular.  I was actually expecting the food to be unmeticulous, negligent and haphazard.

But all my worrying expectations were all false!  I was served, what could be considered one of the best gourmet burgers in Manila!  Congratulations to Hunger Buster.  This burger joint located at the 2nd floor of University Mall in Taft Avenue gave me what I never expected.

yum!

It was so delicious, I wanted to drag other folks dining at a nearby restaurant and tell them “what the hell are you doing in that measly resto when an awesome gourmet burger joint in Manila is just under your freakin’ nose!?

It was the type of burger that I love.  Hunger Buster provides disposable plastic hand gloves because their burger is a gloriously messy creation.  All elements I wanted for a burger was there: tender and flavorful meat, crispy bits of savory bacon, provocatively dripping greasy juices and gooey cheese!  And despite the dripping juices, the soft and tasty bun never turned sad and soggy.  For me it was one surprising burger!

I will definitely be back at Hunger Buster and on that time, I will step in 2 minutes before it closes! Hahaha!

An-ekspekted and sarap!

Lip-Smacking Prata Roti & the Conceited Kebab of Prata Avenue

Did you know that according to the readers’ poll by CNNGo in 2011, Prata Roti sold in Singapore is part of the top 50 delicious food around the world? Good thing, I do not need to go to India, Singapore or Malaysia to enjoy the deliciousness and palatability of this flat bread.  It is because Prata Roti can be found at Prata Avenue, a new Singaporean food stall located at The Mill in Pulilan, Bulacan.

the mill: pulilan food park

delicious (parang ako)

yummy prata roti

yeah! for main course… prata peanut butter, oreo and blueberry

Yeah, the most delicious Prata Roti in the Philippines is not found within Metro Manila.  A little effort of travelling to Bulacan is needed before you can enjoy this tasty Singaporean fluffy and flaky type of pancake.  I’m saying it’s so good because whatever you put or add into Prata Avenue’s version of prata roti, every bite evokes nothing but pure pleasure to the palate!  It was so good, when I came back to order another round of the Prata Combi 2 (ham & cheese), the lady attendant told me that this flavor (since it was so popular) was already sold out.

Another dish that put’s delight to my Prata Avenue experience was their kebabs! If CNNGo considers Roti Prata as top 50 most delicious food, according to BBC poll in 2004, kebab is one of the 50 food that a person must eat before he dies.

may angas ang kebab na ‘to!

Prata Avenue’s unique presentation of this skewered dish is so appealing!  The presentation is quite unique, buyers deemed it “instagramable” (is that a word?).  Personally, I would call it as curtain kebabs!  The presentation is so distinctive and prominent, it gives you a dash of baseless smugness and arrogance each time this curtain kebab gets served on your table.  I don’t know, but guests in the area who has curtain kebabs on their table looks richer and well-heeled.  While those without it and settled for other dishes looked lowly and deprived. And since I’m conceited, I ordered 2 curtain kebabs!

I enjoyed my munching and chomping at Prata Avenue.  By the way, did you know that “prata” means silver in Portuguese?  Yeah, Prata Avenue at The Mill is definitely one silvery path that will lead you to an awesome palatal experience.  Thanks Prata Avenue for featuring 2 lip-smacking CNNGo-and-BBC-recommended dishes that the Filipinos must try before they die.

Prata Avenue is located at The Mill: Pulilan Food Park,
Pulilan National Road, Poblacion, Pulilan Bulacan.  
It’s open from 4:00PM until 12 midnight.

Dalawang hinlalaki pataas!!

A Slice of Oz Pizza

I am more of a burger person than a pizza person.  I more enjoy the juicy-ness of a beef as compared to the gooey-ness of a mozzarella cheese.  I can’t actually remember when I boast or wrote about a pizza.  Maybe it’s because my pizza experiences has always been a letdown.  However, when I chomped on a slice in a pizza joint in Castro Street, I promised myself that I have to write about it.

It’s Oz Pizza.  After grasping the LGBT vibe and feel of Castro streets in San Francisco, I decided to have pizza for lunch.  This was because of a pregnant lady with a young kid gleefully munching on a big box of pizza slices at the patio table of Oz Pizza.  Water falls came down from my oral cavity while seeing them do colossal bites and enormous chomping of their pizza.

the castro

oz pizza counter

a slice of heaven

Since I am not a pizza person, and there were too many varieties to choose from, I asked the mild and smiling attendant for a recommendation.  He endorsed the Combo, which I supposed is a mix of all toppings in their menu.  I gladly obliged.  And on my first bite, I realized that the attendant knew what he is endorsing.  The crust was chewy and crispy at the same time, which I personally prefer.  The toppings, which by the way is so generous, were all tasty and flavorful.  That slice was one spectacular treat!

Though there is nothing to praise about the interiors of the eatery, the wonderful taste and impressive quality of their pizza however compensates for all this drag.  I am not a pizza person but if Oz Pizza will be the one offered to me, I will gladly drop a sumptuous burger for it.

Yum yum…

Just Myself at Stinking Rose

One downside of being a solo traveler, which I realized during my San Francisco CA solo expedition, is that I am to eat alone.  Good thing I am living by myself in Manila, thus, the impact of eating solo in a foreign country is not disturbing if compared to those who are so used to sharing a thought and their food with someone else during a meal.

Because of this glitch, I avoided fancy restaurants and during meal periods I can be found in a communal table of a food court, an indie coffee shop or in a park munching a dish I bought from a food stall or food truck.

nice interiors…

crispy baby romaine, grana & croutons

main event!

main course! hahaha!

will be back!

But when my college best friend Marie (now based in Los Angeles) recommended that I should try and dine at Stinking Rose, I never had a second thought. One late lunch period, I navigated the streets of SF and proceeded to Columbus Avenue where the Italian restaurant is located.

The receptionist upon knowing that I am dining “just myself”, she was smart and gentle enough to assign me to a good and strategic table (a corner by the window) which seem intended really for solo diners.

I ordered a 3-course Prix Fixe Dinner bundle.  For the main course I settled with the one recommended by the waiter, the Forty Clove Garlic Chicken.  And when the food was served, I totally forgot about the glitches and hurdles of dining solo in a fancy or busy restaurant.

On a bright side of this experience, since my mind would not be diverted or side-tracked from this gustatory encounter, I actually was able to indeed levy the quality and taste of the food that was served at Stinking Rose.  I was more focus and conscious about the palatal attributes of the food I was devouring.  And my verdict about Stinking Rose?  Let me just say that my super friend Marie cares for my palatal satisfaction.  She indeed gave me an excellent recommendation!

havin’ a blast!

I may forget that I dined solo at Stinking Rose but the gustatory experience I had with this Italian restaurant shall be remembered for a very long time.

Salamat Marie…

Señor Sisig at Powell & Ellis

I did not miss the Philippines when I was in San Francisco CA.  Aside from the copious presence of Filipinos everywhere in SF, there are bounteous existence of Filipino dishes around.  The mere fact that at the back of my mind there is a Filipino whom I can easily approach while in SF and there are Pinoy dishes around, I never have to suffer the looney craving for my home country.

During my early stay in San Francisco I had an unfaltering decision of not eating any Filipino dish during the whole length of my stay in the City by the Bay.  And at the same time will munch on a big and heavy burrito, a seem-to-be-staple for the locals.  This decision however was easily modified when I saw a food truck named Señor Sisig parked along the corner streets of Powell and Ellis at downtown San Francisco.

it must be the filipino in me that i just have to fall in line

pabili!

popular choices…

sisig burrito

gone in a couple of minutes

Since there is a queue of people on the said food truck, out of curiosity, I quietly fall in line and looked unto the menu board that the food truck offers.  To my surprise, Señor Sisig offers a variety of Filipino fusion dishes.  This therefore made me decide to violate what I have earlier promised yet will achieve what I intend to eat at the same time.

I ordered the surprisingly large and heavy “Señor Sisig Burrito” – a Filipino-cum-San Franciscan dish because it is a fusion of Sisig (a Kapampangan dish) presented in a San Francisco burrito way.  And what’s my verdict as to how this dish faired? Let me just say I gasped on my first bite and the large burrito was gone in a matter of minutes!

My experience of chomping on Senor Sisig Burrito can therefore be summarized as a promise that was broken yet a fantasy that came true wrapped into one.

Sarap!

Stregato Gelateria: A Gem in Balanga Bataan

It is starting to become a habit that every time I and my colleagues got to spend an overnight weekend adventure out-of-town, we would first have to dine in a well-liked or budding restaurant or coffee shop. Part of the adventure is to scout and google the nicest food joint that our destination can brag about.  And when we have chosen one, we would agree that before proceeding to our final destination to check-in we would have a detour by having either a breakfast, a brunch or a lunch in our chosen eatery.

On our way to Las Casas De Filipinas De Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan for an overnight weekend, I and my colleagues stopped over the agricultural city of Balanga in Bataan.  We had lunch at Stregato Geleteria, a cute and charming Italian-inspired diner right in the middle of the city (right beside The Plaza Hotel and at the ground floor of Galeria Victoria Mall).

cute!

Stregato Gelateria was one surprising restaurant.  First timers like us easily fell in love with the interiors and ambiance of the place.  And surprisingly, the service was pretty quick and the food were superb!

I particularly ordered the Slow-Cooked Roasted Pork Belly.  And that was indeed a winner!

slow-cooked roast pork! yum!

All of us agree that another impressive thing about the food is that the serving-size were just perfect.  The portion was not too much neither too little for its reasonable price.  Their prices were actually not reasonable because it’s unreasonably low!  With an endearing ambiance and flavorful food, Stregato Gelateria is definitely comparable and in the level of pricey diners and coffee shops here in Manila.

And since our tummy were not too full nor felt shortchanged we decided to order two slices of cakes – the mindboggling Ferrero cake and the marvelous Mango Crème Brulee cake.  One Tagalog word for their desserts… sarap!

sarap!

cakes cakes cakes!

a reason to come back

mga batang bagac!

All of us further agreed that Stregato Gelateria is a gem of a restaurant in Balanga, Bataan.  If given the chance to be back in this beautiful old province, I will definitely not miss eating at Sregator Gelateria.

Sarap sa Ingles… dilisyus (parang ako)!