Angono, the art capital of the Philippines, is not only a haven for artists but also a showcase of the Philippines’ rich culinary heritage. Talk about Angono and Balaw Balaw will eventually come up in the conversation. Balaw Balaw Restaurant and Art Gallery has been known to serve exotic dishes utilizing indigenous ingredients used by our forefathers like the balaw balaw (fermented shrimp sauce). They are also popular for serving exotic dishes like butt and balls Soup #5, the fried itik (native duck) and uok (giant coconut worms). While the staples are still there, the Vocalan family who run the restaurant still tries to innovate on traditional dishes to adapt them to the modern times.
Category: Gut Feel
It’s refreshing to know that in the age of processed and fast-food meals, there are still alternative dining places that offer “clean” food with recipes stripped off of preservatives and chemicals that could harm our bodies in the long term. Coming off from another revitalizing yoga session from Life Yoga, I ventured to the adjoining cafe Vibe Superfood. Just a cursory look at their menu and reading witty, music-inspired names of the dishes instantly put me in a good mood. I placed an order for their Curry Me Away (a song from the Doobie Brothers) and Matcha-Twenty (from the band Matchbox Twenty) and got excited for the treats to come.
There’s a reason to be mad about Mad Monkeys in La Union — this small street corner stall sells only one dish – burgers! But boy, are they so good at it. Cue the funky jazz tunes, have a cold beer in hand and chomp on their Classic Burger (Php 180). In between the burger buns are one-inch thick and juicy 180gm burger patties laced with melted cheese and smothered in beer sauce. Owner, Mateo, an avid traveler, got inspired by the Mad Monkey’s hostel in Cambodia and decided to bring its chill backpacker vibe to La Union. He originally came here to surf but fell in love with the place, eventually setting up shop in 2015 and overseeing operations since then.
It’s a place where chickens can freely cross the road without being questioned. One of the amusing quotes found in the eye catching interior of Chopstop, a fastfood restaurant serving chops, nachos and unlimited margaritas. I must admit, the street corner theme complete with pedestrian walks and stoplights got me prodding to chop-around their offerings.
Most of the eating places in Bontoc town proper and Illi are located on the main road, much like the arrangement of restos and cafes in Sagada. Even if you’re new to the place, it’s fairly easy to spot them, each one just a short walk, after alighting from the bus or van from Baguio or Banaue. Thing is, the main avenue can be noisy at certain times of the day, and if you’re looking for a quiet place to eat, relax, chill or meet a date, it’s a tricky proposition to find it. Well, good thing there’s Caja.
Don’t chicken out! Especially when the newest Mexican-Latin flame-grilled chicken specialty restaurant, Gringo Chicken Ribs Friends, invades SM The Block. I recently got a chance to sample their main entree when they sent some goodie boxes to my office – one each of the Gringo Original Chicken, Southern Spice Chicken and the Baby Back Ribs. I can imagine the look of delight on my face as I opened the boxes must’ve looked a lot like the charming grin of the Gringo mascot character on the company’s logo. Each dish is paired with its own set of garlic rice, nachos, mushrooms and special sauces.
Who’s to argue that the pan de sal is the quintissential Pinoy bread? Its popularity may have waxed and waned through the years but it has remained a mainstay on the Filipinos’ table for generations. Embedded deep into our culture, it has also become some sort of an economic barometer, shrinking in size and puffing in price with economic downturns. I remember years ago when every neighborhood bakery rode on the hot pan de sal craze, then slowly diminishing in popularity. It didn’t really go away, though, even moving from being a breakfast fare to an all-day treat. Which is why probably the people behind Balai Pandesal built its business around this Pinoy staple.
Your Happyfoodies trudged to the northern highlands for the days leading up to the new year with an overnight stop in Baguio. By chance, we got billeted in a hotel on a quieter street parallel to the always-busy (read: noisy) Session Road and chanced upon the barely month-old The Coffee Library on the ground floor of the Rex Hall Student Residences along General Luna Street. Needless to say, it was a serendipitous find. Yes, it is eye-catching, with tasteful touches of ethnic crafts, mix of red brick and warm wood, even vintage “padyak” (foot pedal-powered) sewing machines converted into tables, but how was the food, you may ask.