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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

QUICK PICK: HAPPY LEMON'S COCOA WITH ROCK SALT AND CHEESE




     What can you say about the whole Milk Tea craze? No disrespect to those who have been totally captivated by it, but I personally find the stuff disgusting. If you say the words "Gong Cha" or "Serenitea" in my office, everyone loses their frickin' minds, and BAM, it's a given.. They have to order delivery. 


     It's not like I didn't give it a chance either. During a monthly meeting, everyone was asked where we wanted to order merienda, everyone inexplicably answered "Gong Cha". I was baffled because I was thinking to myself.. "But.. That's not.. Merienda...". The fact that we wouldn't be eating any form of solid food (except for the pearls in the bottom of the drink, of course) wasn't an issue. I was suggesting San Lo's Famous Emapanadas but they wouldn't hear it. They wanted their Milk Tea, and nothing else in the world mattered.


My officemates reading the menu of Gong Cha

      My grumbling tummy, however begged to differ. Nonetheless, I decided to not let my pickyness spoil their Milk Tea Party so I played along and asked for a chocolate one, hoping the overpowering taste of the chocolate would blend beautifully with the tea. 


    It did not. 

      It became highly evident that, unless it's "C2 Apple" or "Nestea", I'm not a tea person. 


     So when I heard about "Happy Lemon", I brushed it off as just one of those Milk Tea places. A few months ago, I was reading up about it, and I heard about their famous drink, "Cocoa with Rock Salt & Cheese", and was immediately intrigued, and a little bit weirded out. 


     In my mind, I imagined a glass of the chocolate milk tea I had tried during our meeting, topped off with grated quick melt cheese and a sprinkling of salt. Weird, right? 


      I asked my friend, the lovely Donna, if she tried had tried it already, and she said she had, and she loved it. I then asked my officemate, and Serenitea addict, Chi, if she had tried it. She said "Yes, but I like Serenitea more". So I asked her why, and she replied, "Because Happy Lemon's Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese isn't tea. It's chocolate!"


     It seemed my disgust with milk tea clouded my thinking so much, I hadn't realized that Happy Lemon's Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese does not have the word "tea" in it at all. 


 Problem Solved.  


     So one fine day, when Rina and I were at Rockwell, we came across a Happy Lemon, sat ourselves down and decided to give the popular drink a try. 


    And so began our addiction to Happy Lemon's Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

MAKING PEACE AT BULGOGI BROTHERS





        Over the past couple of years, I've shared with you my love-hate relationship with "The Bistro Group", the organization that has brought to our country some of the best restaurants chains from around the world, (Fridays, Italianni's, Fish and Co.,  etc..). 

        My love for them springs from the quality of their food and service. I can safely say that I haven't had any major standout problem with either. In fact, I would rate their service of their many restaurant as consistently excellent, and food.. well.. their restaurants would not have been successful had they been serving turds on a plate, right?

       The "Hate" in our relationship, comes from me hating the fact that I never got my hard card when I signed up for membership of the "Bistro Frequent Food (BFF)" discount card. Despite numerous follow ups via email and phone calls, I was forced to use a tattered up piece of card board for a year. Though they honored it just the same, I did feel a tad bit short changed  because I never received the actual card. 

       After the card expired, I didn't renew. Instead, I stood at the tip of a mountain top in the dead of the night and screamed at the food gods, swearing I would never EVER return to a Bistro Group restaurant until I they explained to me what happened to my card. 

         
         Yeah, that really didn't work out. 

      Much to the hilarity of the food gods, during the duration of my "boycott", I ended up going to each and every one of those restaurants at one point or another. Sometimes unwittingly (Pig Out, Ma Maison, Stock Market Cafe, Krazy Garlik), and the rest, it was more like.. After seeing a picture on display at the mall.. "Ah screw the boycott! I'm hungry!" (Italianni's, Flapjacks).  

            I recently found out that the Korean BBQ place I had been eyeing in Greenbelt 5, "Bulgogi Brothers", was also part of The Bistro Group. So as my way of "saving face", no matter how enticing the thought of their BBQ would be, I decided that would be my final hold out until I hear an explanation from them.  
     
         Man, was it worth the wait. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

QUICK PICK: MCDONALD'S BIG N' TASTY

A "Quick Pick" is a post about specific item(s) from an establishment. 

Thats what she said.


        I'm a McDonald's addict. I'm not going to deny it. There was a time that I would eat Mcdonald's at least once a day for around two weeks. I honestly wouldn't recommend anyone else to do that, but when you live on your own and have no culinary skills whatsoever, desperate times call for desperate measures. 


      Those were the days that I came up with the RichieZ Quarter Pounder and my Sausage McMuffin Breakfast Quirk.     
           
     The surprising thing is that after all these years, I would still easily choose McDonald's as my go-to meal. My work friends have already stopped asking me where I wanna go for lunch because they know what I'm going to answer. 


     A ritual I have when eating Mcdonald's is that I cannot eat ANY of their burgers WITHOUT pouring in some of the BBQ Sauce of the Chicken Nuggets. It was to the point where in I would stash some extra BBQ Sauce in my ref, in the even that I end up forgetting to order it during delivery. 


     The other night, during a McDonald's dinner run with some of my officemates, I saw a sign that caught my attention. 


    It was for a Burger called "Big N' Tasty".  



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

PAMANA: FAMILY TIME AT TAGAYTAY



      I'm sure everyone has heard horror stories about having terrible in laws.. Well, I'm very blessed because mine are awesome. As you may have noticed, my sister in law Chaikka and her boyfriend Don, appear a lot in my blog because we love spending time with them. And ever since she and my dad in law moved into our village, we make it a point that Rain visits him as much as she can. Rina's dad is really cool, and has the most infectious laugh. We get along great because he's really easy to talk to and you feel you can tell him anything. 

     The very second Rina's dad found out the doctor gave Baby Rain the Go Signal to take Rain on out of town trips, he immediately scheduled a day for him to take all of us to Tagaytay. He wasn't going to miss the chance to be the one to take Rain on her first out of town excursion! 

      Basically, "Daddy Cool" as he wants Baby Rain to call him when she grows up (I told you he was pretty awesome), just wanted something simple.. Find a place to hang and enjoy the view of Taal Volcano, and afterwards, have a great meal. Naturally all of them looked at me for the best place to eat, so I had to do a little research, with Tagaytay being an unfamiliar area to me. I asked Rina's dad if he had a certain cuisine in mind, and he said, "Anywhere... just as long as there's Bulalo!".

     Bulalo. Of course. A Tagaytay staple. 

      So I was thinking, when you're in Tagaytay, and you're looking for a unique dining experience with your family, where should you go? 

      "Pamana" became the obvious answer. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

THE FOOD GODS SMILE ON SAMBOKOJIN: YAKINIKU SMOKELESS GRILL






          As a food blogger, a question I have been asked many a time is.. 


"What's better: Sambokojin or Yakimix?" 




       Considering one has the exact same smokeless grill buffet concept as the other, there's no way you can mention one without mention the other in the next sentence. The comparisons are simply inevitable. 


      Sambokojin is actually the name of a Japanese Kitchen God that came down to our planet to save us from hunger.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

ENTER... YABU: THE HOUSE OF KATSU





            Though we had just stuffed ourselves with six J. Co donuts a few minutes before, Rina and I were looking to fill ourselves with something heavier during the rare times that Rina and I found ourselves at SM Megamall. 

       I had heard nothing but good things about Yabu: House of Katsu from some very credible sources, but I'm not really a huge fan of Japanese Food. As we were walking around the SM I took a glance at the menu of Yabu, and saw an item that caught my attention.. "Rosu Katsudon". 

      All of a sudden it became clear to me, and eating at Yabu was now a must. The first time I heard about Yabu, was when a friend of mine, Direk Yeyey, tagged me in a picture of this dish.. Rosu Katsudon. In the picture it said, "Rosu means it has a bit of fat in the meat so that adds a lot of flavor to the dish."

      So i answered, "You had me at 'a bit of fat'". 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

JUST FONDUE IT AT ELEVEN TABLES



         While the entire country was on the Holy Week vacation, Rina's job unfortunately required her to work. Luckily though, her shift doesn't start until 3pm, and she can do her work from home. (I should seriously start looking into that. Imagine how much I could save on my water bill, not needing to shower before going to work!) I told her that I wanted to take her and Baby Rain out for lunch so we could get home before her shift started, so we don't go all "The Shining" staying in the house throughout the break. 

     Chaikka, who was getting bored out of her mind at home, had said that should we have any plans, to let her know right away, and no matter what it was, even if it was a midnight Magnum run to our villages' Mini Stop, she was in. 

        I had done a little research before the break began, so I had an idea of what restaurants would be open during the Lenten season, and one stuck to the back of my mind. After a leisurely driver around The Fort and Ortigas, I decided it was time to give that restaurant a try..

      "Eleven Tables" at Kapitolyo. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

MY DAD, A KITE, AND THE ISLANDS BANCA CRUISE




      One of the perks of living in Cebu when I was a kid was the beach. Because of my family's business, we were fortunate enough to be able to go to the beach as easily as people in Manila decide to go to Mega Mall.. almost to the point of me getting sick of it when I was a kid. Sure it was fun at first, but like everything in life, (and especially when you're a kid) when something becomes a weekly routine, it gets tiresome.


      One morning, I had just gotten out of bed, my dad told me to get ready because we were going to the beach. I rolled my eyes and said I didn't want to go. My dad, you see, is a lover of anything to do with the seas, so he was a little bit shocked. He said, "Come on, we're going to go island hopping on a pump boat." Being the brat that I was, I found it funny he thought that would entice me, considering that's exactly what we would always do when we go to the beach. I said I wasn't feeling well. Then he said, "Do you know how to fly a kite? The wind looks nice out. I could teach you." Being a punk 13 year that was trying to reach the highest level of Castlevania on my Nintendo Family computer, I found his offer to fly a kite laughable. I said a simple, "No Thanks". He then looked at me and said, "Richie, believe me, one day you're going to miss the beach and going island hopping." Finally I just annoyingly said, "I have a lot of homework to do, Dad.


     He didn't look to happy, but he obviously got the message. I know he told my mom what I said because before they left, my mom said, "I'm going to check your homework when I get back so it better be done". 


     So I got out of having to go to the beach that weekend, which for some reason I took as a form of punishment, and instead spent the day on a whole lot of video games and a little homework. 
    
     Cut to: Twenty years later. 
     


    When Rina told me that her sister, Chaikka, and her Boyfriend Don wanted to the beach for Holy Week, there was only one place I could suggest.. Cebu. I needed to get out of the concrete jungle that is Makati so we booked the flights without hesitation, and luckily enough, my friends Ted and Karen were able to join us as well! 


   Given all my years living in Cebu, my group looked at me as "The Host", so naturally I was in charge of fixing the itinerary. I could easily book a pump boat for island hopping, but I wanted to give my friends an experience that they couldn't get just anywhere.. something that would be distinctly "Cebu". 


   That's when my brother told me about Islands Banca Cruises, which he had experienced with his friends a couple of months before. So I booked the cruise, and we headed off to Cebu.  

     My dad was already there, attending to the business, but welcomed us all when we arrived. He asked me if we had a set itinerary yet, and I said we had booked a few plans.


    And as proof that God has a sense of humor, I said to my dad for the first time in my entire life.. "Dad, we're going Island Hopping tomorrow. Would you like to join us?"

     My dad smiled and said, "Sure".     

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WALKWAY: REFLECTIONS ON THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS 2012




          Rina and I agreed that while baby Rain is still in the infancy stage, we will practice austerity and resist any temptation to go fly out on unnecessary vacations. Since we've been married, we've traveled together to Baguio, La Union, Cebu (twice), Boracay, Singapore and Hong Kong, so we can't exactly say that we haven't had our time yet together. But since we have a daughter now, it would be pointless to take her on trips, since she won't be able to tell the difference between being at the Grand Canyon or Outside the gate of our house. 


      So this Holy Week, we decided to just go on a "Staycation". I'm a simple guy, you see?  I actually don't mind - no, let me rephrase- I actually really enjoy Staycations. Give me my wife, a hard drive full of shows and movies, my 42 inch LCD, ice cold air-conditioning, and a fully stocked fridge, and I don't mind staying home for a week (I'm a bum, I know). 


      My friend Karen asked Rina and I what our plans were for the Holy Week, and we told her about Operation: Staycation. She said that she and her husband,Ted would be in the metro too, and asked if we wanted to meet up. 


      Naturally, we said yes, and she suggested that, given that it was the lenten season, we make our meet up more than just your average ordinary visit, and drop by the Walkway: Reflections on the Stations of the Cross at Bonifacio High Street. 



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