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)!  

Lorenzo’s Way Desserts

Costillas De Ternera Guisada, Spanish Garlic Chicken, Paella Negra, Lengua Estofada and Prawns in Creole and Hollandaise Sauce are some of the sumptuous main dishes found in Lorenzo’s Way restaurant, one of the refined casual dining establishments in Manila.

These highfaluting and pompous sounding dishes may be the some of the best main courses for human consumption but for me the main course remain to be the last dish served in any meal.   As what the common saying goes, “save the best for last”!  That would simply be the dessert.

Having dessert perhaps is like all the other events and circumstances where the so called “last” is considered the highlight.  Aside from sex, cases in point would be a beauty pageant, an awards night, a bingo social and even the Filipino tradition of Santacruzan in which the last part is considered the best part.

Lorenzo’s Way restaurant happens to serve my most favorite desserts!

extra-ordinarily creamy yet classic, Leche Flan
extra-ordinarily creamy yet classic, Leche Flan
blissful with this Pecan Pie
blissful with this Pecan Pie
Gigil Tart. It was immediately sliced as soon as it's served for we could no longer wait, only to realize that we haven't taken a photo yet!
Gigil Tart. It was immediately sliced as soon as it’s served for we could no longer wait, only to realize that we haven’t taken a photo yet!
my favorite! choco banana volcano,
my favorite! choco banana volcano,

Unlike responsible adults, I would rather skip the starters but never the dessert.  Two reasons I guess is the enticing visual appeal as well as that of the pleasurable palatal sensation it generates.

Mapapa-klap yor hands ka sa sarap!

Pablo Cheese Tart Got a Bright Spot Light

Osaka is known all over Japan as having the best gastronomic courses and culinary entities.  Thus, it is not farfetched that the best cheese tart in that part of the planet originated in Osaka.  I am talking about the luscious cheese tart from Pablo.

Falling on queue at Pablo’s take-away shop to purchase the famous cheese tart has been part of my last three visits in Japan.

nengkoy while on a long queue at pablo take-away store last spring of 2014
nengkoy while on a long queue at pablo take-away store last spring of 2014
where magic happens...
where magic happens…

Served in large spherical portions good for sharing, my theory why this cheese tart has gone so admired and popular is because its flavor and texture is never overpowering to the taste.  Unlike the usual cheese tarts when consumed in large amounts would result to nauseatingly cloying feeling, Pablo’s version is subtle, light and delicate to the palate.

Pablo store has gone so swell, I was amazed to learn that they have progressed from a take-away store into a casual dine-in shop serving various drink concoctions, pastries, cakes and desserts.  These pastry diner shops also became a hit, it has started to mushroom around Japan.

spherical pieces of heaven!
spherical pieces of heaven!
what a luscious selection!
what a luscious selection!

During my recent October 2014 visit, I told my dear nephew and nieces (based in Osaka) that I and Nengkoy would not miss the opportunity to dine in one of the Pablo shops before going back to Manila.

However, our first venture at Pablo’s Shishaibashi branch was a failure because there were no seats available and we have to fall on a long line of patrons waiting for their turn to be given those precious table.  Me and my mother settled on buying the premium version of the cheese tart and have it devoured at my nephew and nieces’ house.

new dine-in pablo branch in shinsaibashi
new dine-in pablo branch in shinsaibashi

Our second try was a success! After accomplishing a long walking tour of the majestic Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture, we agreed to have a snack before going back to Osaka.  We were glad to find out that a Pablo dine-in branch has just opened in Himeji.

Pablo in Himeji was a true winner.  Aside from the good food and drinks we had, I specifically loved the restaurant’s beautiful interiors!  The aesthetic elements of the shop were remarkably trendy, cool and stylish!

welcome!
welcome to himeji branch!
super nice...
super nice…
glad to have discovered this branch in himeji...
glad to have discovered this branch in himeji…
cozy corner...
cozy corner…
happy...
happy…

With the light enchanting flavors of their appetizing dishes combined with modish designs of the interiors, it would not be a surprise if Pablo would cross ocean borders and establish its shops at other places around the world.

Aysimplilabit…

Ramen Zundo Ya: The Best Ramen Ever

One great test to determine if a restaurant and its dishes are truly superb is through the guests’ impression on his or her return visit.  It is very common for a restaurant to receive raving reviews on the first engagement.  But almost often, guest becomes disillusioned on their return because they realize that their ordered food – which they totally enjoyed during their pilot visit – was nothing but a fluke or a strike of luck.  In Tagalog, tsamba!

But with my recent visit and return to Ramen Zundouya located at Shisaibashi in Osaka, I can definitely say that this joint serves the best ramen in the universe.

ramen zundouya shinsaibashi branch
ramen zundouya shinsaibashi branch

During my first visit (click: HERE to read my previous post), me and my family were easily led inside and was given a table with such a breeze.  However, on our return, we already have to queue among the long line of patrons waiting for their turn to be assigned with a table.  We were actually listed 13th among those who enlisted to dine that afternoon.

no pinoy on queue yet, pinoys has yet to discover this savory treasure
quiet japanese folks waiting their turn.  no pinoy on queue yet, pinoys has yet to discover this savory treasure

While waiting and drooling on line, my personal claim that this indeed is the best ramen house was actually an understatement.  To prove a point, I in fact noticed one big poster on the wall announcing that they have mushroomed around Japan.  To further prove my point, Ramen Zundouya’s flavor will soon invade America.  It is because a Ramen Zundouya shop is due to open a branch along 10th Street in New York next year!

soon to open in new york (i will definitely try it when i get there)
soon to open in new york! (i will definitely try it when i get there)

To check the consistency of this restaurant, I again ordered for the same dish I had during my first visit, the Zenbu-nose Ramen.  When the bowl was served in front of me, I was absolutely surprised because the presentation and the arrangements of all ingredients placed in the massive porcelain was still impeccably beautiful.

And when I had my first sip of the broth/soup, nothing actually changed!  Nothing changed because the world seemed to stop for a moment for me to savor the paradise-like flavor of Zenbu-nose Ramen.  This matchless concoction was without a doubt an invigorating assault in all of the senses!

zenbu-nose ramen (my tastebuds had  a blast!)
zenbu-nose ramen
(my tastebuds had a blast!)

Walang kaduda-duda, ang tindi ng sarap!

A Savory Ramen Experience at Ramen Zundo Ya

Flavors were exploding in my mouth and my taste buds were giving a standing ovation shouting, “Bravo!”

These are the general feelings when I had the first bite and first sip of the ramen I tasted at Ramen Zundouya Restaurant located in Shinsaibashi, Osaka.  Since I can’t read kanji, I selected the dish with the biggest photo.  Since it was the biggest picture in the menu as well as the most expensive one, I supposed that Zenbo-no Ramen is this restaurant’s specialty.

the actual dish looks better than the one on the menu
the actual dish looks better than the one on the menu

True enough, my selection was impeccably right.  The Zenbo-no ramen came with freshly cut negi, some absolutely melt-in-your-mouth pork slices, slips of nori, a full soft boiled egg and a good sized serving of “curly” noodles.  Generous amount of garlic cloves are provided on the table which can be freshly crushed using a unique garlic press. But what is so heavenly about this dish is the magic broth that the restaurant uses.  The rich savory broth flavor simply bursts in your mouth!

The feelings induced by this perfect ramen were excellently joyful and heavenly.  For a moment, I forgot my name and thought that I was having an elated out of body experience.  Zembo-no Ramen in so rich and explosively delicious my taste buds thanked me!

super yummy!!!
super yummy!!! 
distinctive interior design
distinctive interior design
i love those "troso" as dining seats
i love those “troso” as dining seats
waiting area outside of the restaurant was me and nengkoy's venue for  our blog header's photo
waiting area outside is the venue of this blog’s header photo

Ramen Zundouya’s website indicates that their first aim is to “captivate the customer with each ramen dish”.  This aim absolutely hit me.  Never in my restaurant-dining experience was I so impressed with the dish that I personally asked to meet the restaurant’s chef.  I was so captivated that I asked for his name and even topped it by asking for a photo with him.  I could not resist to thank him for such an awesome masterpiece.

with chef endou
with chef endou

This unmatched ramen experience was simply outstanding!

Mapapa-jusko ka sa sarap!

KFC in Siem Reap

Dear Colonel Sanders,

kfc
kfc

KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken is my favorite chicken meal.  Instead of McDonalds (which is the most preferred universal food of majority of earthlings), KFC has always been my choice of fast food.  It is the food chain I would run to every time I need an immediate digestive fix.  Whenever I am out of the Philippines and wish to have a break from eating the local cuisine of the country I am touring/visiting, I would always search for a possible nearby KFC branch.

Aside from the numerous branches of KFC in the Philippines, I have dined at a KFC branch in Kuala Lumpur; in Hong Kong; Casablanca in Morocco; in Bangkok; in Singapore; and the one in Gold Coast, Australia.

Generally, the flavor and taste of the KFC fried chicken in all these branches in various nations I have been to are quite the same.  I can boldly say that indeed the eleven secret herbs and spices (which I particularly have no clue on what these are) are present in all those fried fowls.  All has been sooo dangerously good.

kfc siem reap branch
kfc siem reap branch

However, I would like to make it known to you that the taste of KFC  in Siem Reap, Cambodia is strange and totally different.  It lacks the tang and flavor of the savory fried chicken that you have been serving in other branches around the world.  They don’t even serve the flavorsome gravy!  I have to settle myself with the dreary tomato catsup.

The Siem Reap version lacks the indescribable satisfaction.  I just hope you would look into this and discontinue depriving the adoring Siem Reap populace on what supposed to be the true, authentic and scrumptious flavor of a KFC.

Your Equally Delicious Aficionado,

Neil

P.S. If you want me to check out the taste of your 11-spices-and-herbs-coated-chicken in London and Houston, I am but all willing to do that…Stay yummy like I do…

Kulang sa timpla.  Iba lasa.

Kris Aquino Inspired My Breakfast

Turning on my old bulky TV after rising from my bed each morning is one proof that I am a creature of habit.  I do my usual morning rituals to get ready for work with the hosts of all the local TV networks’ morning shows.

But yesterday morning, I got stuck watching TV when Kris Aquino host of “Kris TV” guest-ed a chef who cooked Arroz Caldo.  With Kris’ usual sosyal antics and the chef’s preparation of a somewhat high-end variety of Arroz Caldo – imagine a congee topped with crispy tofu, toasted long-jawed anchovies, slices of hard-boiled egg, crispy garlic, sesame seed oil and squeezed with lemon – I was drooling on my way to my office.

When my office mate asked if I already had breakfast, the words I uttered was “I want lugaw”.  I ordered take-out delivery from the nearby Café Adriatico in Malate, and this is what I had…

i was half way through with this lugaw, but i had to take a photo for it was sooo good,,,
i was half way through with this lugaw, but i had to take a photo for it was sooo good. btw, mine had quail eggs, freshly chopped leeks, caramelized onions, toasted garlic, calamansi with big chunks of chicken meat, YUMMY!

I may forever wonder how Kris TV’s ornate Arroz Caldo could have tasted but one thing is for sure Café Adriatico’s Arroz Caldo is so good I could cry.

Para syang manok na may lugaw, di na lugaw na may manok!