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!

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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!

The Food at Apartment 1B

A friend learned that I dined at Apartment 1B of The Henry Hotel and suspected that the food must have been no good that is why I did not write or post about it in this blog.  But since now that I am writing about it, it only means that I indeed enjoyed the food that they served us.

The selfish in me actually wanted the restaurant of The Henry Hotel to be a secret, but since friends learned that I dined there with Nengkoy and family, might as well spill the sumptuous beans! 

apartment 1b got some delicious secret…
beef burger with australian cheddar cheese and bacon
whole wheat spaghetti with grilled veggies (my personal favorite)
baby back ribs with honey bourbon sauce
croque madame! 
main course number 1: white toblerone cheesecake with rapberry coulis
main course number 2: carrot cake 
with nengkoy (of course)

I have nothing bad to say about the warm service, the appealing food and the relaxing ambiance.  The food at Henry Hotel actually was a big positive surprise!  I never expected it to be so good.  Their well-presented dishes were amazingly fine and delicious.

I have nothing but alluring and charming praises for the food served at Apartment 1B.  I will surely be back!

Angcharap!

Khaoniao Mamuang: Best Thai Dessert

I can no longer count the number of times that I have posted in this blog that my favorite course in an entire meal would be the dessert.  The confectionery course has always been my main course!

When I was in Bangkok with my mom and sisters, we of course got to try Thai dishes.  I have always revered how uniquely sensual and remarkably palatable Thai dishes are.  But still, it is a simple dessert among all the striking Thai dishes that really makes my modest and artless taste buds happy.

I love Khaoniao Mamuang.  Don’t be fooled by how the words were spelled and how should it be read.  The best Thai dessert for me is simply known as Mango Sticky Rice!

I adore this dessert for it is uncomplicated, simple and straightforward!  No lavish implements are needed for its presentation; no rare, pricey and uncommon ingredient is need; no knotty and confusing procedures are required for its preparation; and, no intricate and confusing way of eating and enjoying it.  Yet the taste is so heavenly! 

mango sticky rice in the past are simply sold by street vendors of bangkok, but now it is conveniently available in groceries and supermarkets…
a night in bangkok…

It was my fifth time in Bangkok about a week ago.  I may have failed to revisit some the beautiful and spectacular tourist spots of the city, but I never failed to eat, savor and enjoy the divine and blissful Khaoniao Mamuang!

Uulit ulitin talaga…

Jamie’s Italian Bangkok

One epicurean highlight of me, my sisters’ and my mother’s adventure in Bangkok was the opportunity to dine at Jamie’s Italian.  It is a popular worldwide chain of Italian restaurants conceived and run by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.  Thanks to cable TV my family knows who Jamie Oliver is.

This chain of restaurants has recently been in the news in which about a dozen of its branches scattered around the world are reportedly beleaguered and will soon be closing.  It is so ironic that it has yet to open a branch in Manila, yet branches in other spots on the planet are already closing.

So before Jamie’s Italian would completely dissolve and utterly disappear from the face of earth, me, Nengkoy and my sisters took the chance to savor some of its dishes.  My family love watching cable TV cooking shows (including that of Jamie Oliver’s) and now that there is an opportunity, we will no longer forever wonder how a popular celebrity chef’s creation actually taste like.

These are what we ordered…

Soup of the Day… pumpkin soup! This surprisingly passed the palate of Nengkoy whom I consider to be an authority when it comes to pumpkin soups.
Meatball Pappadelle (free-range pork & fennel meatballs in ‘nduja tomato sauce with olives, herby breadcrumbs, rocket and parmesan) this is sooo good…
Spaghetti Alla Norma (a classic sicilian pasta dish or aubergine, chilli & basil in rich tomato sauce) it’s vegetarian yet my personal favorite! 
Truffle Shuffle (white sauce, truffled salami, fontal, balsamic onions, free-range egg & black truffle) super savory!
Epic Chocolate Brownie (with proper chocolate sauce, salted caramel ice cream and caramelised popcorn) super yummy!

And after enjoying all these savory dishes, I wonder why a significant number of Jamie’s Italian branches around the planet are in the brink of closure.  Maybe it’s because taste buds of people around the world has mutated, regressed and had a relapse that it can no longer fathom, appreciate and recognize what good food is.

Good to know that the Bangkok branch stays strong and dynamic.  This is considering the fact that Thai people seem to be one of the most discriminating in terms of flavor, taste and palatal experience.  With the luscious taste and flavors we experienced at Jamie’s Italian Bangkok located at Siam Discovery, I hope that this chain remain for a long period of time for others with discerning taste to enjoy. 

me and nengkoy… enjoyed the food so much!

Parang ako ang kasarapan!

Food for Thoughts at China Blue

Every time a member of my family finishes his or her studies – may it be elementary, high school or college – the graduation dinner treat for him or her is always held at the old, not so expensive and not so savory Filipino restaurant in Malate, Manila (which I refuse to name).  It has always been the tradition that Nengkoy got to insist that the celebration be held in that restaurant may you graduated with summa cum laude honors or you finished at the bottom of your class’ ranking.

But for the Master’s Degree graduation of my nephew Luis, I got to choose the restaurant!  Nengkoy allowed that it be held someplace else maybe it is because the graduation is not just an ordinary bachelor’s degree but something higher, more advanced and more difficult to obtain.

I chose China Blue.  Having previously enjoyed the savory food I this authentic Cantonese Restaurant located inside Conrad Hotel, Manila, I knew that Nengkoy and the members of my family in that dinner would truly enjoy some sumptuous treat!

Nengkoy with Team Langit. Congratulations Luis!
the mandatory photo-taking of me and nengkoy…
super nice private room where we had dinner… the waiter i guess felt that me and my family are so noisy we were billeted in this private room

And since I arrive early in the restaurant, took the liberty of ordering the dishes for our group.  And when everyone arrived and each dish was being brought in into our room, I asked my family not to touch the dish until I tell them to because I want to take pictures of it.

Here’s the actual photos of some of our orders.  And since I lack the ability on how to properly describe each dish, let me then attach a Chinese proverb for every one of it…

when you drink the water, remember the spring.
(paper thin crispy beef in sweet and spicy sauce)
a bird does not sing because it has an answer. it sings because it has a song.
(sweet vinegar marinated cherry tomatoes with sour plum)
when the winds of change blow, some people build walls while other build windmills.
(barbeque honey-glazed matsusaka pork neck)
what you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.
(steamed truffle mushroom buns)
he who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left
(crispy fried shrimp salad with wasabi dressing)
pearls don’t lie on the seashore. if you want one you must dive for it (hahaha! can’t remember what this yummy dish is called)
true knowledge is when one knows the limitations of one’s knowledge
(pork belly wok fried)
if you always give, you will always have
(crispy pumpkin coated with salted duck eggs)
if you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow
(fried spinach bean curd with spicy sichuan eggplant with minced chicken sauce)

I failed to take a photo of the Buchi or glutinous rice dumpling with red bean filling coated with sesame seeds (our desert) which according to our waiter Angel was a very good choice because it was the award-winning dessert of China Blue Manila.  My family are all sweet toothed, it would not come as a surprise that everyone would just rapidly dig into the delicately sweet Buchi and would not care if I have already taken a photo or not.

I really can’t figure out what specific dish was the highlight of that dinner.  It is because every dish was beautiful, every dish was delicious and every dish deserves a big round of applause!

And when Luis would decide to further pursue his studies, doctorate degree that is.  I’m pretty sure Nengkoy would again agree that Luis’ PhD graduation dinner be held again in China Blue Manila.

Kongrats Luis!