Sunday, February 19, 2012


Chocolate cakes ... sinful. Indulgence that we submit ourselves into. Goodness that we sink our teeth into while closing our eyes and dreaming of the wicked things to come.

TRIVIA: It has been written that chocolates are aphrodisiacs. The Aztecs referred to chocolate "nourishment of the Gods". Chocolate contains chemicals thought to effect neurotransmitters in the brain and a related substance to caffeine called theobromine. Chocolate contains more antioxidant (cancer preventing enzymes) than does red wine. The secret for passion is to combine the two.

Category : Cakes
Address : GF SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Branches : Burgos cor Mabini, San Juan City
: Sgt Esguerra Ave., QC
: Xavierville Ave., Quezon City
Telephone Number : 2121212 /5560188 / 7260330 / 9299304 / 9902817

Parking : SM MOA Carpark

Email Add :

This store was recommended by Pau Marie. I am more of an ice cream gal ... cakes are my sis' fave ... but I can indulge in this nevertheless. This is conveniently located all around the Metro. Their place is a charming with French posters and pictures.

Located near the cash register is their cake decorating work station that is meant to be seen by the customers which is a delightful touch. They used fine grade chocolates as well. You can take order your cake with their hot or cold beverages.

Death by Tablea – this moist chocolate cake is not too sweet and you will be happy to believe that since it is not sweet, it is not too fattening and you eat another slice and another one ... and more. I am into chocolate cakes with nuts and ... and more nuts. I get bored with pure chocolate cakes but this one is good. They spread the chocolate frosting all over the moist cake and garnish it with chocolate shavings. This one comes in 4 forms to choose from which I like ... slice Php 80 / loaf Php 270 / 6-inch 395 / whole 700. Does it taste good? The last time I checked my takeaway never saw the light of day in our home.

Trivia: Tablea is a Spanish word-meaning tablet, and tsokolate is a Filipino word-meaning chocolate. It is a thick hot chocolate specially made from cacao balls. The tablea can also be a thick disk or flat, and even in square form. But the balls are the most popular form made, and is considered as one of Batangas delicacies. (

Bailey’s Chocolate Cake - I would rather call this Chocolate Cake Period ... Bailey's (which is one of my favorite alcoholic drinks) is barely there ... but the cake is very good sans claim to the name. I think that they have stored the cake inside the box the whole day making me taste the box as well ... ?! But despite that ... I went on to eat my 2nd slice ... Available per slice Php 72 / loaf Php 230 / 6-inch Php 325 / whole Php 575.

This list is too short ( and life is ...) ... giving me more reasons to come back for more ...

Saturday, February 18, 2012


As my love affair with food continues ... I would compare this to a love that is hidden but is very special indeed.   It is the kind of love that you hide from the prying eyes ... hidden beneath the sheets.  It is the kind that you hold on to, the break from the ennui of a life you normally have.

Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen Road Sign

The Facade

This was recommended to me by a colleague, fellow book enthusiast and new friend, Bong Cauilan.  Knowing that I love food and places and writing about it – he recommended something special.  So special that you can’t just walk in and eat.  You have to reserve to taste the Vietnamese goodness.  Why is Vietnam close to my heart? My twin sister, Nicole, is half Vietnamese. But my familiarity with the food and my never ending confusion with the names don’t match though.

Stairs Leading to the Dining Area

Front Yard


Bawai means grandmother in Vietnam.    There is also a love story behind the place.  Yong (a Vietnamese) fell in love and married Virgilio (a Filipino) and settled in the Philippines.  The house is actually their home in one of Tagaytay’s retirement community.  Yong is a great cook and because of that they opened a portion of their restaurant to strangers to partake in her meals. To date, the cook is their son Victor Tatlonghari (not in any way related to Zsa-Zsa’s estranged husband).
The ambiance is very private. When we went there, there were just 3 groups/pairs.  It is a perfect hideaway. I was thinking of an old house but it is not. It might also be nice to have traces of Vietnamese decor to add to the “feel”. The servers are in uniform which is a nice touch.   I like the chairs. Everything is white, crisp and dainty. You can even see cows from the window grazing on the grass.

Cows at the Backdrop

Wash Area

Category                              : Vietnamese
Address                                : Brgy. Bukal, Silang Cavite
Telephone Number             : 0920-9722924
Parking                                 : you may bring your cars and your neighbors’ J
The journey begins by reserving the date and pre-orders are required so that they can prepare well ahead of time. And I have discovered, everything was cooked to its ultimate perfection through slow cooking.  Everything that you will eat will slide off the bone with an easiness that you can never imagine.
How to get there:
Coming from the highway from Sta. Rosa, turn right at the National Highway (Tagaytay Ridge), driving towards the Tagaytay Rotonda. . Turn right at Lagusan Drive. The landmark of this right turn is the signage for the Dominican House of Prayer and Chateau Hestia (in bright yellow) . Just follow the Chateau Hestia signage because they are neighbours.  Continue driving along Lagusan Drive, passing SHIM International School and Doña Leoncia Country Homes. Turn right at Brgy. Bukal (Purok 5).  We missed the house but once you see Chateau Hestia, you’d know. Bawai is at your left.
(*) GOI CUON (and the complicated names start) – Php 160 (3 pcs per order ) Glazed Pork and Shrimp with vegetable fresh roll . This is the traditional spring roll of Vietnam. This is rolled in banh trang ( rice paper ) and inside it is a mixture of green leaf lettuce, shrimp, glazed pork , chives, mint and bun ( rice vermicelli ) .  This comes with a brown sauce called nuoc cham ( combination of hoisin and water ) . Layering would be the greens, a little above is the shrimp, then pork and then the vermicelli. When rolling, the shrimp will be seen through the opaque rice wrapper. Healthy – that comes to mind while eating this because of its freshness and simplicity.

 PHO BO – Php 235 . Traditional Beef Noodle Soup . My favourite is Pho Hoa’s.  This is my 2nd one. The soup is so hot that it is so apt for the cool Tagaytay weather. Mixture of beef , cilantro, banh pho noodles (rice sticks) , onions, scallions, bean sprouts and mint leaves.  While I was used to eating the soup with the garnishes on the side like the bean sprouts , mints, chillies and lemon wedges, this doesn’t have that style in serving.  Everything else is mixed together.  They just serve it with hoisin and chilli sauce.  It could have been served the way I have always known it.   Whether it is authentic Vietnamese or not, it adds to the drama.

Trivia: Pho Bo is beef noodle soup. This is associated with the city of Hanoi.
 Pho Bo

(*) COM SUON CHA – Php 295 – Grilled pork liempo with mushroom egg tart served with greens and rice. This is my top pick.  This is almost like eating fish because of its tenderness.  This is meat-falling-off-the-bone scenario.  This is so tender that the fat part of the liempo literally melts in your mouth.  It tastes so good that I think the rice serving is not enough.   There goes my diet outside the cool midday delight.  The mushroom egg tart is something new but reminded me of the Japanese egg omelette , Tamagoyaki without the mushroom.

 GA KHO GUNG – Php 285 – Spicy Ginger Glazed Chicken with herbs, shaved cabbage and steamed rice.  This is akin to our adobo and tinola in one. Again that quality of tenderness that makes you wonder, how long does it take to reach that utter tenderness without being soggy?  This is cooked with honey and coconut soda – caramelized. While this is the recipe that you could cook in a hurry ... this was the last one to arrive on our table.

Trivia:  GA KHO GUNG means ginger chicken
BO KHO – Php 305 – 12 spices, slow cooked beef stew with carrots or a choice of steamed rice or rice noodles. Eaten in both ways, this dish is perfect.  This is a comfort food.  What are the 12 spices? Here goes (from research, I’m not sure if it is the same with theirs) : paprika, lemongrass, fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon, clove, ground pepper, shallots, garlic, annatto seed oil, ginger and  bay leaf.  Hmmm, need I say more?  Without a slow cooker simmering will take 4 hours or more.
Trivia: Bo Kho is the ultimate breakfast food in Vietnam.

Bo Kho

CA NUONG XA OT – Php 385 – Grilled lemon grass glazed dory fillet with julienned mangoes, cold salad and steamed rice.  Traditionally this is done by marinating the fish in a flavouring paste of lemongrass, shallot, fish sauce and madras-style curry powder then grilled.  One thing though, the fish doesn’t taste fresh ...  like it has been frozen then cooked. The meat tends to fall off too easily which is not good for fish meat.  The salad is good though.

BAN (Banh, might be typo error in their menu)  DA LON – Php 25 – Pandan and yellow mung bean cake smothered with coconut paste and sesame seeds. This is made of tapioca starch, rice cake and coconut milk.  It lacks something ... it would have been wonderful if there are sweet dessicated coconut or latik on top.
Trivia: Ban Da Lon literally means pig skin cake. Not in any way related to the dessert.

Banh Da Lon

ICED PANDAN TEA – Php 65 – This is simply iced tea with pandan flavour.  Served with the green colored pandan syrup is at the bottom of the drink. Stir well.


ICED TAMARIND TEA – Php 95 -  This is a new one for me. This has seeds of tamarind at the bottom. Worth a try.


Will I ever go back there? Yes. But knowing now that the food is good for sharing, I will order less.  I would have loved to meet the owners to have a better story on the background.  If you want privacy ... this is your place. The place is good for 30 persons and I would like to assume that they accept small gatherings. This is not your everyday fast food Vietnamese dishes.  The food is eaten with the same speed as the cooking is done ... slow.  Take your time.  Bask in the ambiance.  The French do it that way, Vietnam has been under the French influence way in the 1800s , right?
Simple. Private. Bawai’s.

The Foodie Among Friends

Friday, February 17, 2012


My love affair with Italian food is what you can call ... "always been there, though we never married each other".  I could never be an Italian but I would always say I’m an Italiano – half Ita and half Ilocano (though I’m neither) .  It is a staple in my long line of food journeys.  It is what makes me happy in times of depression.  It is home to my tired soul because it gives me familiarity and sense of belongingness.

Category                              : Italian
Address                                : 2nd Floor, South Wing Main Mall, SM Mall of Asia
Branches                              : 2nd Floor, Midtown Wing, Robinsons Place Ermita Ground Level
                                             : Robinsons Galleria Foodcourt
Telephone Number              : 804 0577
Other Services                     : Parties
Parking                                 : MOA Parking Lot

“ The goodness of fresh pasta and brick oven-baked pizza”

The Bistro Ravioli’s location is good with an ample amount of foot traffic.  It is one place that you will always bump into when in MOA.  It is a modern bistro with a minimalist touch.  I specially love the writings on the walls with quotes from Bellini, Sophia Loren and Julia Child. Exceptional is the good service geared towards customer satisfaction.


MARGHERITA – Php 280 – My very basic favourite pizza and with so much Margherita consumed in my lifetime ... I know a good one at my 1st bite.  For its price, I can get something better.  Most of the time, it is in the crust ... it is my pizza core. If it fails there ... it will have a hard time recovering.  Because it is brick oven-baked ... they didn’t manage to burn it like some of the brick oven-baked pizza I know. 

Pizzz Margherita

SAUSAGE RAGU – Php 390 – they used fettuccine (rolled flat then cut in  6.5 mm)  Most of the noodles where smothered with the red pasta sauce. There is a generous amount of sausage and greens that usually go with your typical ragu.  It was recommended by the server, I wonder why.

Trivia: According to the food dictionary Ragu is a staple of northern Italy's Bologna. It is a meat sauce that is typically served with pasta. Though different than the French ragout both are derived from the verb ragoûter , which means "to stimulate the appetite." Ragu usually contains ground beef, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, white wine and seasonings.
Sausage Ragu

SPINACH AND FETA CHEESE IN PASTA SAUCE RAVIOLI – Php 210 – These are spinach and feta cheese filled pasta with sauce.  Ravioli should indeed be made from fresh pasta ... I can’t think of any better way.  The price got in the way.  To be able to serve it that way, the amount of filling was sacrificed.  Losing what is essential.
Trivia: Ravioli is a typical Italian filled pasta. Mentions of Ravioli in history dates back in the 14th century in Venice and Tuscany.


It will always be a price war in this arena. They made it affordable and it equated with the taste.  With the emergence of the many “Italian” Restaurants ... there will be a handful that can combine authenticity and taste. Much to my chagrin, it is indeed just a handful.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Walking through the busy streets of Binondo will remind you of the typical Chinatown in every country in the world you have visited.  One interesting fact is that it is the oldest Chinatown in the world built in 1594.  My initial knowledge of this place dates back in Kindergarten in St. Mary’s Academy  when we were told that Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo (founder  of the Religious of Virgin Mary) resided in this place. Aside from her, Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz also has his roots here.   So we are treading the grounds of the blessed ...

Contrary to its name which means “mountainous” ... nothing of that sort can be found but instead  mounds of  Chinese goodies   that would make you want to buy even if it was not planned or needed abound.   It is home to the many delights of tongue and the feast of colours.

Baby Dragon Fruit

Sea Cucumber

Pickled Mustard Leaves

And  my search for the more popular restaurants in Binondo led me to these ...


Quik Snack @ Carvajal St.
Category                              : Indonesian-Chinese
Address                                : Carvajal St., Binondo Manila
Telephone Number              : 0918-9030446
Website                               :
Other Services                     : Catering
Parking                                 : none
It is a quaint restaurant along the street of Carvajal.  I chanced upon the good-looking Operations Manager of the place who is Edwin Tjioe ( pronounced as Choo ) Tan and was told that this was established in 1967 by his grandmother, Pilar Lim. 

with the Operations Manager, Edwin Tan

It prides itself with the Indonesian – Chinese cuisine.  Everyone is friendly and accommodating.  Not your spic and span place but everything about it makes it authentic.  Makes it real.

The Kitchen

It is a place where parts of your conversation will be drowned with endless chatter and the clanging of the utensils.  This is not a dating place when you have to be cute and whisper sweet nothings to each other.  This is a place for friends who enjoy simplicity and for couples together for 7 years and above.  The place is your typical , practical Chinese restaurant with abundance of good food.  The waiter who attended to us never wrote our order ... taking everything from his memory but failed to remember the Bihon Sate.  Very casual. I like the noise ... it makes it authentic.  I love the smell ... it makes me look forward to good things to come.

Binondo Food Trippers

(*) LUMPIANG SARIWA– Php 80.00  My mom’s favourite and the search for the best one is still on-going but EUREKA! I have found it. I was never a fan but this one – I like!  It will be served without having to properly introduce itself and say , “eat me, I’m good” ... in fact, I should call it unassuming.  As you peel off the plastic wrap ... the crepe-like wrapper is smooth without dominating the whole dish and  inside the lumpia is  a symphony of delicious goodness and identifying it would lead to a kaleidoscope of ingredients that in the end you won’t bother to find out ... you just have to finish it.

Lumpiang Sariwa
(*) NILASING NA HIPON – Php 85.00 . It is so crunchy and tasty and you would wonder, is the shrimp drunk or I wanna get a sub-zero and get  myself drunk as well.  Whether dipped in vinegar or as is ... best drunken shrimp I’ve met one fine noon.
Nilasing na Hipon
 KUTCHAY AH – Php 40.00 .  It is big for an empanada but small for a calzone. It is their take on that  bread with the almost the same ingredients as the lumpiang sariwa inside.  This is one good take-out food to bring home.  Just heat in your oven.

Kutchay Ah
NOODLE SOUP MISUA RENION – Php 110 . A hot bowl of misua with the twist – how about KIDNEY for the main ingredient? How does it taste? Good ... almost akin to liver and lengua in one meat.  There is something about the caramelized onion and the leeks that ties in flavor of this soup.
OYSTER OMELETTE – Php 180.  This you have to eat with plain rice.  Oysters that never knew the word : scarcity.  It is an abundance of oysters wrapped in scrambled egg.  
Oyster Omelette
BIHON SATE – The dish we almost missed because the waiter forgot we ordered it. This is their “must-order”, the specialty of the house. This is the same reason why they are serving Indo-Chinese food. It is   deceiving though ... there is a spicy kick ready to unravel as it touches your tongue.  Odd for a pancit to be spicy ... but it is and it won’t even dare hide its true flavour.
Bihon Sate


Facade of Taste Dumplings
Category                              : Chinese
Address                                : 629 Ongpin St. Binondo, Manila
                                             : 960 Masangkay, Binondo, Manila

Branch                                 : 583 NS Amoranto St., Quezon City

Telephone Number             : 02-242-5195
Business Hours                     : 10am – 9pm M, T, W, Th, F, Sat
                                              :  8am -  9pm Sun
Other Services                      : Delivery
Parking                                 : none
Modern design with ample space for loads of people.  A quick stop for snacks or hurried lunch. Waiters would clean the floor while you are eating. Needs to beef-up on  customer orientation.

Inside Tasty Dumplings

PORK CHOP RICE – PHp 105 – big slab of pork chop meat fit for someone with huge appetite.  The batter makes it good.  Meat is tender.
(*) SILVER ROLL BREAD – Php 45 – deep fried ... making outside a bit crunchy and inside   texture  resembles a siopao.

Silver Roll Bread
HONGMA – Php 140 – tastes like pata tim .  This goes well with the silver roll bread.  One is not complete without the other.


FRIED OR STEAMED DUMPLINGS -  Php 82 – inside the dumpling pouch is ground meat – too grounded it lacks texture .  I’m not into it.

Fried Dumplings

Steamed Dumplings

(*) WINTER MELON JUICE  Php 45. It is from the “kundol” extract ... reminds me of gulaman and vanilla

Winter Melon Juice
DALANGHITA JUICE – Php 45 . Citrus drink – Filipino lemonade

Dalanghita Juice

Category                              : Chinese
Address                                : 809 Salazar St., Binondo, Manila
Branch                                  : SM MOA, Entertainment Mall, Central Business Park Bay Blvd.,
                                               Bay City,Pasay City
Telephone Number               : (02) 246-9082
Business Hours                     : 6:30am – 10pm  Daily
Other Services                      : Delivery
Parking                                  : ample ( in a vacant lot a few steps away )
There would always be a 1st love – this is mine when it comes to Binondo restaurants. It has the ambiance of the food chaos  and authentic taste of old Chinatown.  It is not a place that you would want to be cozy and cute, the loud ruckus of chit-chat and the chopstick gestures would likely tell you ... this is home to a lot of regulars. There is also a dimsum cart parading inside the tea house.  Yes, no interior designer put an effort in making this one of the best designed restaurants in the Philippines but it has its charm, even better than the one in MOA which was obviously thought of and paid for to look good.  Though MOA’s Branch charm is the tropical feel , one of those emotions one would feel when eating by the shore.  It is like being on a vacation.
(*) HOT PRAWN SALAD Php 390. This is a combination of crunchy fried prawns  and fruit salad with loads of mayonnaise.  This is so rich but eating this will make you forget to count the calories and just eat it with utter abandon.  This is throwing your resolves to the wind.  This is a must!

Hot Prawn Salad
(*) MINCED PORK LETTUCE Php 270. This is a Chinese appetizer.  The ice berg lettuce and ground pork (cooked with water chestnut, oyster sauce, garlic, ginger, cilantro, hoisin and soy) will be served separately .  You eat it by placing  the ground pork on a piece of lettuce and add hoisin sauce.  This could drip so watch out and protect your Sunday’s best. This is good. This is really good!

Minced Pork w/ Lettuce

BIRTHDAY NOODLES Php 220.  Chinese (Yi Mein) noodles with fresh spinach, sesame oil, vegetable stock, dark soy sauce , cornstarch , salt , chives and vegetables. This is your typical pancit but authentic birthday noodles in China is not cooked this way.  I am not big on this.
Trivia: Eating these noodles is lucky as the long strands of noodles symbolize a long life.  When eating the noodles, don’t break the noodles using the chopsticks or fork, but instead chew on the noodles when they are inside the mouth.

YANG CHOW FRIED RICE Php 200. Rice cooked in egg with carrots, peas, pork, shrimp and chives. I don’t know any Chinese restaurant in the Philippines that cook this in another manner. You can request to remove the shrimp or pork if you like. 
Trivia: This is from Eastern China.  While some are cooked with soy sauce and oyster sauce to give it the darker color, this one is not dark.

Yang Chow Fried Rice

MIXED VEGETABLES . The typical vegetables included in mixed vegetable platter are cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, French beans and peas with Chinese sauces sautéed together. It lacks the crunch that I look for in vegetables. Too soiled for me.
Mixed Vegetables
SIOMAI Php 80. It is a Dimsum with  pork and shrimp ( mixed with carrot, egg , spring onion and flour as the filling)  This is usually cooked by steaming and served with soy sauce and calamansi juice.  Don;pt forget the chili sauce- which is staple for me in this food , it can make or break it.

Trivia: It is best to drink tea in-between meals - about 2 hours after you have eaten. Are there good things about drinking tea with meals? Tea blocks absorption of nutrients. Drinking tea can help you lose weight!

FREE Tea in most Chinese Restaurants


Category                              : Cantonese
Address                               : 746-750 Ongpin St Santa Cruz, Manila
Telephone Number             : (02) 244 7235
Business Hours                   : 10am – 11pm  Daily
Parking                                : none in front
This holds the pride of being the oldest restaurant in Chinatown.  This is in no way related to The President’s Tea House though it is just a stone throw away from the place.  Unlike the former, this depicts grandeur and opulence.  This used to be a theater in the bygone days  as seen in its vastness and high ceilinged structure.  The staff is in Chinese outfits.  This is often the venue for celebrations and it is practical to go there in a group of 12 for the typical Chinese Lauriat.  These are 10 dishes from appetizer to dessert served on a Lazy Susan or served one at a time.  This usually lasts for 2-3 hours so don’t eat fast ... savor each food and avoid the Yang Chow Rice to have room for the other Chinese goodness.
(*) FRIED FROGS . This is one of my favorites.  Sounds queasy? Actually it is not.  It has always been compared to chicken but this is better for nibblers like me. 
(*) MINCED PORK LETTUCE Php 360.  Tastes just as good as the Tea House's  but pay a higher price for the ambiance.
STEAMED EEL W/ BLACK BEAN AND CHILI . A must they said.  I maybe adventurous with frogs ... but this one is not my cup of tea.
(*) MANGO TAPIOCA . My favourite Chinese dessert.  Mango puree with small  tapioca (sago) and shaved ice. A lovely ending.
WILD BOARS MEAT and HORSE MEAT are also available.  
Sihk Faahn! Eat!