It’s the last day of October where I’m at which only means one thing, HALLOWEEN!!! Or not. In other cultures, this celebration is a big deal. Truth be told, I only learned of it from Mean Girls. In Cady’s words, “In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” Instead of costume parties, these dates for me meant tuning in the Halloween special of Magandang Gabi Bayan. Five or six of us cousins cling to each other under the covers in their air conditioned room as Noli De Castro narrates tales of multi-colored lady ghosts, floating coffins, and other whatnot. I feel irreparably traumatized by that show but it was tons of fun horsing around back then. Undas (what it’s called in the Philippines) also meant visiting the tomb of a paternal grandfather I never met — the source of the 25% Chinese blood that runs through my veins. I remember burning papers which I was told would be my late ancestor’s money in the afterlife.
When I started studying in Manila, it meant going home to my maternal side of the family in Batangas. Instead of heaven moolah we’d buy flowers on the 31st, preferably close to midnight when the prices have begun to drop. This is followed by roaming around the cemetery the next day from morning till late night. Whoever can afford to would sponsor the food for the whole clan of more or less a hundred people (from grandmothers to great grandchildren). My second cousins would bring me along as they meet with friends and more than friends. Sometimes the day ends up in drinking, other times in the 24 hour McDonald’s along the highway.
Maybe once or twice I stayed in Manila and the best thing about it is the nonexistent traffic.
The point of my lengthy introduction is that I’m currently on a mini-semester break thanks to our Rector-President declaring the 30th of October as a school holiday. Classes are supposed to resume on November 3rd but I’m extending my break till the 6th. That’s more or less a 10 day vacation for me. Unfortunately, I’ve already spent 3 days holed up at home wasting my time away on the internet. As usual, to make myself feel like I’ve been productive, I’m trying to publish a blog. This morning (or yesterday morning since it’s already 5AM), I was sold on writing about my rekindled love for Carly Rae Jepsen and her underrated album Emotion but then I ended up finishing the whole 3rd season of Buzzfeed’s Worth It and now here we are.
I love the Steven-Andrew-Adam trio so much. Watching their videos make me so happy AND HUNGRY at the same time. I guess one of my dream jobs is to eat my way around the world and get paid for it. It’s right up there with being a librarian with the paycheck of a CEO. Anyway, while watching, I realized life is too short to ingest calories that aren’t worth it. I mean, how many times in the past have I eaten food that taste like cardboard? Jessica Zafra observed that the more delicious the food is, the lesser of it we need to satisfy ourselves. Maybe that’s the secret to weight loss I’ve been looking for! Yes, not everyone can afford to eat out at restaurants every single time but I’m not even talking about price but quality. Tasty can come in the form of a 40-peso Carinderia meal! So yeah, I may or may not be more conscious of what I eat taste-wise in the future. In the meantime, here’s a photodump that’s been sitting on my drafts for months 🙂
Earlier this year, I tried to cook my own food again in an attempt to live a healthier lifestyle. I failed miserably and am currently in my heaviest weight. Whoa, let that sink in. I weigh even more than I did while reviewing for my Nursing Licensure Exam!!! I’m tempted to stop this and sulk right now but I won’t. Instead, I want to affirm that yes, almost everything gets better with cheese. Including Chicken Curry.During this phase (which lasted only a week from what I remember), I was trying to get back into my 2013 groove. Damn, I miss that year. I was busy with nursing training but I still had time to exercise multiple times a day, cook my own meal and commute for a minimum of two hours. Good habits are hard to make but easy to break. Sigh.
I put too much cinnamon and vanilla extract in the Popsicle on the left. And regulating what goes into my food (no additives, no extra oil etc) is of no use if the serving size is huge.This was probably my favorite during that week. Wheat mini pizza breads, cheddar cheese, and canned tomatoes. Okay, not so healthy on second thought. At least I tried. And they’re really good.I’ve been to this place before with Pangs and I think I even wrote a post about it. This time I went with my Schwester during one of her layovers because she was craving for pares. It’s open 24/7. I believe the establishment peaks at night because no one wants to eat in this set up under the harsh Manila sun. A favorite is their Pares with laman/utak. I want to hoard Gina Mango Nectar!Went to a Roti Mum branch in Tomas Morato (or somewhere near. Sorry, my QC knowledge is very limited) and the fun company and conversation that night couldn’t save this sad little bun. I was looking forward to having it after so long only to be disappointed. It was dry and lacked the coffee flavor I fell in love with before. So long, coffee bun.So sad that the Shawarma Snack Center stall at Robinson Manila’s supermarket closed down. There’s still SSC but it’s now under the management of the mall and they only sell Shawarmas. Now I have to walk through Salas street to get my Shawarma and Yogurt shake fix. It’s one of my favorite combos and the best part is that it costs less than 150 pesos!Another Binondo restaurant that’s part of a “must-try” list. K lang. I think my father and I have gone through majority of the establishments on this part of Manila and I shouldstop believing these articles and just stick to those that are proven and tested already by experience.Forgot what he was pointing at. All I remember is him giving me that look because I, again, was showing off my phone in an unsafe place which, in my father’s opinion, is everywhere.This is what I’m talking about when I say tried and tested.All for under 200 pesos. I was full and happy. I don’t know how my father does it but he slurps the Makchang rice like it’s noodles. The place is not exceptional when it comes to cleanliness and the design feels like it was stuck in the 90s but I’d take good food over good interiors at any given day.If The Frazzled Cook was in Manila and the place more budget-friendly for a student, I’d frequent it. I’d eat their Chicken Salad more often and proclaim to the world that, finally, I am consuming my greens on a regular basis. It’d make me feel less guilty as I munch on their truffle fries and truffle pasta. You know, I ate a handful of veggies so I deserve carbs for a balanced diet. But the only branch of the beloved restaurant is in QC and some days I don’t even have the will to go outside our barangay. Still, I love you, TFC!Cheap eats. Busog na tiyan, busog pa wallet. 30 peso pasta from the snack bar at school and the cheapest milk tea I’ve encountered so far. Only half the price of Gong Cha but not half the yumminess.Bugis Singapore Street Food in Banawe. Look at all that oil! And if you order this Laksa, the soup can be refilled once. You can feel the fats clogging your arteries with every sip. Still, you come back for more. I don’t know if I should thank Tristan or hate him for bringing me here.Bacolod Chicken Inasal brings back college memories of my parents visiting me in Manila. I’d meet with them at Robinsons and we’d eat lunch here. Then I’d rush back for my 1PM class. HA HA I’m feeling nostalgic over Chicken Inasal and Bangus. Enough, rani.I’ve been eating at Mashitta for ever since I started studying again but I’ve only discovered earlier this year that the best item in their menu (aside from the Bulgogi which I almost always order) is the tuna kimbap (pictured on the right). Hindi lasang 100 pesos!I think I said it in the previous Photodump but Tong Keun So is my current favorite KBBQ restaurant. I’ve been back and forth a dozen times this year (twice in the last week huhu) and aside from the price increase — the cheapest set meal for three went from 990 to 1190 pesos — the quality of the service and the food remains the same.I know KBBQs here in Manila does not compare to the ones in South Korea. While I still don’t have a budget for a trip to the land of KPop to taste the real thing, I’ll settle happily with Tong Keun So.Their Tteokbokki costs 550 pesos if I remember correctly, it comes in a huge pan that not even the seven of us during one visit were able to finish.I’ve been to three KBBQs in the past week and I vowed not to eat in one again for the remainder of the year (I hope no one invites me because I can’t say no lels) but I’m having second thoughts after seeing this picture.My brother’s favorite, I forgot what they’re called. The translation I think, is Korean pancakes.The best part about eating at TKS is the dessert. Nas already told me what it’s called but I forgot (starts with “S”). It’s so refreshing I end up finishing everyone else’s if they can no longer fit the liquid in their tummies full of meat and banchans.Tried Jollibee’s Choco Mallow pie. One word: overpriced. Peach Mango pa rin mgaSurprisingly good pasta at 7/11. I no longer want to eat microwaved food but I have no choice when it’s 2 in the morning and my savory tooth attacks.Pancit Batil Patung from Weng’s, a stall in The One Torre De Sto Tomas along Espana. Pwede na ‘to to satisfy a northener’s pancit craving.8cuts burger. So good! Sometimes all you need is juicy pattie, bun, TLC, and cheese. Let the meat stand on its own. Especially when paired with buy 1 get 1 milkshakes and skinny fries. Thanks Booky! 🙂~Whew, I didn’t know this post was quite long so I stopped at around 7am and am continuing it at 3AM on November 1st~
Ate at Nanbatei in Greenbelt with Abi. Their yakitoris are tasty but in my opinion, a bit overpriced. Even though it looked like the things we ordered wouldn’t be able to satisfy my hunger, I was surprisingly full afterwards. Must be the thought of how much each stick costs hahaha.There’s this restaurant in Village Square along Mabini street that serves authentic middle eastern cuisine. Save for the rice which was plain, everything else especially the sauces were bursting with flavor. It was also my first time to try Turkish coffee, too watery and sandy for my taste. But it’s strong, alright.Finally tried Gringo! I enjoyed the grilled squid with mango salsa the most, it was chewy and the contrasting sweet and savory flavors were on point. The ribs, just okay. The chicken was better. What elevates Gringo from its competitors are the sauces especially the spicy one!I’ve heard great things about Lugang Cafe. It was good but I’m not itching to try it again.Same goes for Din Tai Fung, a restaurant allegedly serving the best Xiao Long Bao in the world. I don’t know if it’s due to sentimentality but I think Dong Bei’s version is better AND cheaper. The game changers for me are their peanut spicy noodle and porkchop with fried rice! And I really appreciate the service — from the way orders are taken up to checkout. I’m a fan of efficiency.This is a dessert I had with Jinks along maginhawa. It’s cheese shaved ice and though already satisfying, I’d very much appreciate a stronger cheese flavor.Fried chicken is one dish that’s so simple yet the variations are more than I can count. This one from Coco Hut in U.P. Technohub is so good it reminds me of Pancake House’s version. Made better by pepper gravy and chili sauce.I forgot what this restaurant is called but it’s literally right outsude a friend’s door. The tawilis were small in size but crunchy nontheless. Their crispy dinuguan and molo soup were also decent.I like the interiors. We were the only customers during our visit, the location is not very ideal. Anyway, pictures of the owners (who are my friend’s landlords btw) are hung on a wall complete with a short piece explaining their [love] story. It must be nice to run a lovely restaurant as you and your significant other’s passion project, eh?The famous Aling Lucing’s in Pampanga, supposedly the pioneer of Sisig!The sisig was good though I’m not a fan of the high onion-to-meat ratio. What stood out for me was their Chicharong Bulaklak. I feel guilty with every bite but I kept eating anyway. Pair with ice cold Royal for the complete experience.Long overdue date with my high school loves. We tried the Texas Trio from Chili’s consisting of salmon, ribs, and chicken plus another potato appetizer with shredded chicken on top. We paired them with the margarita sampler. Again, I wasn’t sure if I got full from the food or the fact that our bill put a dent on my weekly allowance hahaha.Rustic Mornings in Marikina. I was looking forward to trying this place because it is not everyday (or week or month or even year) that I find myself in this part of the metro.Maybe we ordered the wrong dishes. Maybe we were grumpy from the long drive. Maybe it was the heat because we were seated outside. But aside from the rustic aesthetic of the place, the food was ordinary, too oily even (I’m looking at you hashbrown).I should have learned by now to not take all Facebook posts at face vlue. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.
I had high hopes for Mount Purro Nature Reserve. I’d been wanting to visit since last year and their website is even bookmarked on my phone. It might look promising even from the pictures below but I don’t think it’s worth the long drive up a mountain. Sure, the place is still being seveloped and I do hope it gets better in the future but we deeply regret our visit and laugh at our gullibility from time to time.We paid 350 pesos each for use of the huts and pool. The latter was the biggest disappointment of all. It was too small I think 15 people would make it crowded. Plus, the water was green and murky. One look at it and nope, we aren’t even dipping our feet.Another amenity included in the entrance fee was free use of cottages which was nothing more than a sa, open-faced nipa hut. In photos online, the cottages had pillows and curtains. In reality, only two or three resembled the pictures. The rest looked like this.We found a possible source of enjoyment in their game room with billiards and dart boards. Unfortunately, we were told that it was not included in the day tour package. K. We were so frustrated we did not even spend two hours in the premises. Of course I felt guilty over the amount my sister paid but the longer we stayed, the worse our moods grew. I’m not saying Mount Purro has no merit whatsoever. I just want you to set your expectations low and take everything you see online with a grain of salt.
To drown the frustrations of the previous day, we went to Club Manila East in Taytay. It was summer and half of Manila had the same plan as ours but that didn’t stop us from having a good time, especially in the wave pool. Imagine going here during the lean seaso, how fun!And the best food after swimming (or dipping) is anything grilled. Solb! I just wish they served everything in more environment-friendly containers 😦