Tag: Spring Rolls

The Coffee Library in Baguio, Vietnamese coffee and cuisine come to the highlands

The Coffee Library Baguio

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.

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Feeling at home at Bawai’s

Bawai's House Salad

It’s way off the main road and open only for lunch and dinner three days of the week.  But the gathering buzz on Bawai’s is proof that good news  do travel fast.   To paraphrase Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams”, if you cook good food, they will come.   And visitors do hie off all the way here to dine.  We visited one hot Sunday afternoon as part of a small contingent of Summit Ridge’s Tagaytay weekend getaway.

The location is actually in Silang, Cavite.  To get there from the ridge, we head back to the rotonda and make a turn near the Aguinaldo highway and head through a smaller road, passing through hilly terrain planted to pineapple.  We take another turn on a smaller road and stopped at a non-descript, two-storey house that looked nothing like a restaurant.

Coming in, we espy a garden at the back where an alfresco dining area beckoned under the shade of trees and a profusion of plants.  We were ushered to the upstairs dining area instead, greeted by the pleasant aroma of something delicious simmering.  The place feels more like a home than a restaurant, The dining area isn’t much bigger than those found in other ancestral houses, with several tables that can accommodate no more than a dozen diners at any one time.  Well, the diners ahead of us seemed to be in a jovial mood — always a good omen in any eating place.

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Angeles City Foodtripping: Finding a piece of Vietnam in Banh Mi Saigon

Cold Cuts Combo Banh Mi (P75)
Cold Cuts Combo Banh Mi (P75)

Angeles City may be a chartered city independent of Pampanga since the 60s but it still shares the Kapampangan flair for cooking up delicious fare and perhaps more importantly, a contagious appetite for joyful eating.  It’s a tall order to live down its naughty, steamy reputation but the city has another side that can satisfy the other senses.  By that we mean the nose and the taste buds.  Your Happyfoodies tagged along for a food trip of Angeles City and what we found pleasantly surprised us.

For starters, we found a piece of Vietnam along Jesus Street in the historic district near the Pamintuan Mansion — in Banh Mi Saigon.  Who would’ve thought that you can find heavenly Banh Mi sandwiches and spring rolls in between a neighborhood gym and a sari-sari store?  Owner Rex Soriano, recently repatriated from the U.S. after nearly a decade of working at Nobu in New York counted on his experience as a chef and the invaluable inputs of his Vietnamese mother-in-law and wife to come up with fare that begs for repeat visits.

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Aquaknox: reloaded

Facade of Aquaknox Restaurant in Makati
Facade of Aquaknox Restaurant in Makati

The facade looks so much more welcoming with the clear floor-to-ceiling glass covered this time with bamboo slats in lieu of heavy drapes.  Stepping inside, the interior is light and airy.  The last time Happyfoodies was here was two years ago.  A lot can happen in that span, in fact, a few of the restaurants we reviewed has sadly come and gone.  Happily, Aquaknox has stayed on, reinventing itself along the way.

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Of Makimi and dimsums at Shin Din Kha

Shen Din Kha Makimi (P85 regular, P100 large)
Shin Din Kha Makimi (P85 regular, P100 large)

Sunday is a nice time to go to Manila’s Chinatown. It’s less crowded, there’s not much traffic, and most restaurants have room to spare. Some would argue it doesn’t really feel like being there in Binondo if it’s not crowded. But there are times when it would be nice to be able to sit down and grab a bite without wading through the crowds and waiting for a long time even for short order items on the menu. Your happyfoodies chanced upon this panciteria, Shin Din Kha, while on a food trip with friends about two weeks ago. We were full at that time so we had to bypass this small restaurant. But a recent Sunday lunch found us wandering here again, this time with hungry tummies.

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Vietnamese with a fine dining twist at Aquaknox

Cua Rang Moui Toi Chef Dannys Special Crab
Cua Rang Moui Toi Chef Danny's Special Crab

Vietnam may be our Southeast Asian neighbor but our cuisines seem to be poles apart. Pinoy food is typified by very rich flavors, often subscribing to the idea that “if a little is okay, more is better”. On the other hand, Vietnamese food is more about the subtleties of flavors and the prudent use of herbs and spices. This may explain why Vietnamese food is nowhere as popular as say, Chinese or Thai cuisine, over here. Perhaps, the key is to strike a happy balance between subtlety and saturation – the formula that Aquaknox, Manila’s newest Vietnamese Contemporary restaurant, is using to catch the fancy of Pinoy diners. The operative word is: “contemporary” meaning authentic and yet updated. Come with us for a taste of Vietnamese with a fine dining twist.

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