Author: Ferdz

Blue Lagoon dining in Camiguin

Chilli Crab
Chilli Crab

One of the highlights of visiting the island of Camiguin apart from the sceneries that fill the eyes is the food that fills the tummy. This island, which lies northeast of Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao, boasts of the sweetest buahan (lansones) and creamy pastel (soft buns with milky or fruity fillings). Boarding off the ferry at the town of Benoni also puts one within walking distance of the Tanguines Lagoon, a sort of causeway that connects a travel lodge-cum-floating restaurant to the sea – the J&A Fishpen/Travel Lodge.

It’s virtually impossible to miss this establishment. Ask any of the locals to recommend a place to have good food and a relaxing time and they’ll most likely point you to this place. And they have very good reasons to do so.

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Rediscovering Filipino flavors at 1521

Potchero ni Tankeko (Php 265)
Potchero ni Tankeko (Php 265)

With the globalization of the Filipino palate, is it still viable to set up a Pinoy restaurant nowadays? Ponder this: on one hand, you have to market to a younger generation of diners reared on a steady diet of pizzas, burgers and pastas. On the other hand, you have to appeal to an older generation who may have grown tired of the old favorites and are gravitating to international fare. Following the suggestion of a friend, we ventured to Mandaluyong to look for 1521 in the hope of finding a more definitive answer to our question. We’re happy to say that we walked in hungry for food and answers and walked out with a positive outlook and contented tummies.

1521 has an interesting story to go along with the great food. The name stands for the year in Philippine history when the Spaniards landed in the Philippines, marking the start of the Spanish colonial period. The restaurant’s mission is very noble: to rediscover Filipino cuisine. Simply put, 1521 is all about Filipino food with interesting twists and turns; fusion cuisine that pays homage to our roots but given fresh tweaks to provide both the young and older diners something interesting to discover. We’ve seen our fair share of Filipino fusion cuisine that strays far off the mark and happily, this isn’t the case with 1521. As its owner, advertising maven, Tanke Tankeko points out, it is food that’s faithful to the fare she (and us from the older generation) grew up on.

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Ramen overload at Shinjuku

Shinjuku Gekikara Ramen (Php 345)
Gekikara Ramen (Reg - Php 250, Large - Php 345)

Being named after one of the special wards of Tokyo, Shinjuku Ramen House has some big shoes to fill. But this virtual institution in the restaurant front is more than capable of meeting big expectations and big appetites. I remembered eating at their rather non-descript branch in Makati Avenue years back and know from memory how good the food was.

Their other Makati branch was also rather old and non-descript until it got a major renovation some months back. As part of the Little Tokyo complex, it gets immediate attention from passersby since it is located along the busy thoroughfare of Pasong Tamo, at the much-coveted corner where one turns before heading off to Makati Cinema Square. At certain times of the day, the parking lot is full and the restaurant plays host to a mixed clientele eager to taste their authentic ramen and other Japanese fare.

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Tongue-Thai’d in Thai Sticks ‘n Steaks

Thai Sticks n Steaks Chicken Pandan (Php 45 /pc)
Thai Sticks 'n Steaks Chicken Pandan (Php 45 /pc)

I’ve always had a penchant for Thai food ever since I’ve encountered it a long time ago way back when Flavors and Spices, one of the pioneers of Thai cuisine in the country, was around. Then, there was also the more mainstream but nonetheless delicious offerings of Sukhothai. I had this notion that it’s pretty hard not to like Thai food because for all the differences it had with local fare, there are some striking similarities – the use of a shrimp paste, nam pla, for example bears strong resemblance to our bagoong and patis. Some of the flavors are also familiar – the liberal use of lemongrass or tanglad, lime juice, chilis and coconut milk.

It’s not everyday that I hanker for Thai food but I somehow lament the fact that it’s not as commonly available as before. Until I found out that there’s a Thai restaurant along Pasong Tamo that serves great Thai food – Thai Sticks ‘n Steaks. The blurb outside says its cuisine is inspired by Sukhothai. Don’t let the funky name fool you, the food is really very good. So come inside and let’s taste what it has to offer.

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Food tripping in Sagada

Yoghurt House House Specialty
Yoghurt House Specialty (Php 85)

Much has been written about Sagada and its natural wonders that attract trekkers, spelunkers and other adventurous spirits. But to the foodie, Sagada is more than that. there’s another side to this so-called Shangri-la of the north, a more flavorful one that will appeal to the adventurous foodie. We traveled over 400 kilometers to food trip there and there’s something about the highlands – its nippy, crisp clean air, peace and quiet, and of course, the awesome scenery – that makes eating so much more enjoyable. It could also be the elevation that takes eating to a new high. Here, we give a sampler of the many food offerings out there.

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When desserts don’t have to be so sweet

M&Ts Baked Oreo Cheescake (Php 135)
M&T's Baked Oreo Cheescake (Php 135)

Desserts have always been synonymous with the word “sweets” but it doesn’t always have to be that way. A visit to an American country-style bakery cafe named Mom and Tina’s proved us wrong. They have a huge selection of baked goodies that are both truly luscious to the eyes and delectable to the taste.

Mom and Tina’s is a run by the Torres family (named after their Grandmother Mama Belen and her daughter Tina Torres-Santos) for a few years now. The restaurant shows that the very good home-grown food they prepare is hard not to hide for so long. Starting as a small bake shop in Pasig, their place eventually grew to a large bakery cafe in front of SM Hypermart in Ugong. And about 3 months ago they opened a new spot in Legaspi Village along Dela Rosa, Makati where we were finally able to sample what they have to offer.

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Authentic Yakiniku at Urashemi-ya Restaurant

Yakiniku, grilling meat, Japanese Style
Yakiniku, grilling meat, Japanese-Style

Yakiniku is Japanese for “grilled meat”.  Beef, pork and offal (entrails, internal organs) slices are cooked over coal (traditional), gas or electric (modern) grill and served with a soy-sauce-based dip. Yakiniku traces its origins to Korea but is different from Korean fare such as bulgogi as the customers themselves grill the meat.

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