Monday, July 8, 2013

Manila, Philippines: What's new?

HT couple steps into HT wife's homeland every year and is always amazed on how versatile and how diverse the food scene of Manila is evolving every year. 

Ramen Santouka
Glorietta 4 Ground Floor
 (outside entrance), Makati
The legendary hokkaido ramen and HT couple's favorite has landed in the metro.  We first tried this ramen at our 2nd home country, Singapore and we just fell in love with the bowl with pork cheeks.  (see post ).  It's a little bit cheaper in Manila (400+ pesos for medium size bowl with pork cheeks), but the quality is the same.  Miso, Kara-Miso, Shoyu, Shio are all available.  HT wife prefers Shio and HT hubbie always get kara-miso.  Ramen sets are also available.

VERDICT: Highly recommended by yours truly.  BUDGET ESTIMATE: ~300-600 pesos/pax

W Global Center, 30th St. cor 9th Ave.
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
(one of their receptionists mentioned they're opening the 2nd IHOP in the metro soon)

The famous US-chain international house of pancakes which specializes in all-day breakfast menu.  I'm sure you've seen the IHOP signboard if you've watch the Man Of Steel and yes, if you want to try out their special pancakes and US is way too far to travel, hop on a plane and fly to Manila. :)

When this chain opened in the metro, I've seen long queues in pictures, my friends getting up early to be able to grab their pancakes and still getting a 100+ queue number...crazy!  Manila went gaga over IHOP.

With all the hype, i was fortunate to be brought by my Manila friends to IHOP.  Just like any American chain, the menu is extensive...unlimited drinks are available and combos of omelettes and pancakes as well as steaks and pancakes (whether it's a good combination for you or not), yes, they're all present in their menu.

Here's what we got:

 New York Cheesecake buttermilk pancakes - this was my favorite. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Big steak omelette with cinnamon pancakes

Splashberry - made up of strawberries, lemon-lime soda and premium orange juice.  My friend got a Never Empty Coffee Pot (iced coffee) - you would never go thirsty.

VERDICT: It's nice to be able to try out the pancakes and what IHOP can offer.  But in my opinion, with the price (about 300 pesos for a stack of pancakes) and the food that you can get, it's not worth the hype.  Service was fantastic though (kudos to the team).  

BUDGET: ~300-500 pesos/pax

IHOP has established their name in the US and extending it to Asia (opening the first chain in the Philippines) was a good choice.

FACTS about HT WIFE (my friends in NL would kill me):  I prefer American pancakes than the thin dutch pancakes (click on the link).

Yabu - House of Katsu
SM Megamall, Robinson's Magnolia, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall

Another craze in Manila...we got to their branch in Robinson's Magnolia at 2 pm (past lunchtime) and we're the 7th in the waiting list.  Thank God they have a device wherein when you're table is ready, you get a vibration notification from that device (and the coverage is the whole mall) so you can shop while waiting.

Introduced by HT wife's brother and HT couple being fans of kurobuta (from Japan) - rich marbled, soft and flavorful pork (wagyu beef in pork dictionary) we just have to try it out.  other kurobuta post

We enjoyed their Kurobuta premium tonkatsu set and the kurobuta curry set (600 pesos).  (You can get rosu - porkloin - which has fat trimming and/or hire - tenderloin - slices without fats (300-400+ pesos) - these are cheaper than kurobuta but for first timers, I would recommend to go for kurobuta - my brother has tried the rosu/hire and the kurobuta, and he did noticed the difference between the two.

Kurobuta tonkatsu set - their sets come with unlimited rice, unlimited miso soup and cabbage salad (this is pretty normal in Manila  - if you notice)
it comes with this make your own sauce (sesame seeds, pepper, salt) with thick sauce - love that grinding bowl!

 Kurobuta curry set - we were asked to choose from regular, hot and very hot.  I got the hot one and my brother with his love for spiciness took the very hot.  The curry sauce was lovely and they cooked it for 3 hours with 45 ingredients...yum! 

VERDICT:  A must-try.  It's on the high side but it's all worth it.  If you wanted to try out the kurobuta, skip the curry set and if you're a curry lover, i suggest to get other meat than kurobuta to really savor the curry with a more reasonable price.

BUDGET ESTIMATE: ~300-700 pesos/pax

I can't wait what my home city is up to for next year...come on Manila, suprise me! 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Valencia, Spain: architecture and food collage

 Museo Nacional de Cerámica y de las Artes Suntuarias

 Valencia Cathedral

The interior is beautiful!

For cheap/small bites and tinto verano: same fast food in Madrid

 Banco de Valencia

Valencia train station

Check out the big servings of tapas and paella.
 patato and ham croquette

goose liver (tapas style)

Paella marisco - seafood
Paella Valenciana - rabbit and chicken

 the whole pan version

 somebody got drunk because of too much sangria...:p

Monday, July 1, 2013

Alicante, Spain: in 2 hours and love it!

We only had a few hours walking around Alicante as we have to pick up our friends at the airport.  And in that few hours, I can say, I love the place...check it out!

lovely square
And the weather was lovely.


 And yes, the beach is by the road or the road is by the beach. :)

Even the drive home to Denia was wonderful.  How could HT wife not love the place.  :)

Next...Valencia...the birthplace of Paella valenciana...stay tune guys!