Kitchen MIshaps and Victories, Restaurant Rants and Raves and a whole lotta wanderlust!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Restaurant Review: Angel's Pizza Pasta Combo

First of all, I see the looks on your faces. Why would I blog about a fast food-esque pizza joint, you may ask?

Well, to be honest, it's because they sent me a whole lotta food to try, and I thought, well, I'm not a food snob and will eat anything from a ten peso stick of fish balls and 15 peso dirty ice cream to a multi-thousand peso slab of premium beef, so who am I to stick my nose up on a place just because it's a franchise?

Pizza is one of my favorite go-to foods, whether to order if I'm too lazy to think or make when I'm too lazy to cook but need something fast, easy and still good. The beauty of pizza is that unless you are a purist and a snob, you can actually top it with whateverthehell you like. Pinoys have contributed to the pizza world by making crazy concoctions like Laing Pizza, Sisig Pizza, and now even Lechon Pizza!

Anyway, with only 3 people at my house at the moment, we were overwhelmed by the amount of food we were sent, but first order of the day was to try everything out. We would decide what to do with leftovers later on. There were 4 pizza boxes sitting in front of us, 4 rice meals (chicken and pork) 2 calzones and 2 desserts. Where does one even begin?

I have my preferences when it comes to pizza toppings, but I am generally open to new ones as well. One thing I really don't like on my pizza though, or any cooked, hot, savory dish actually, is pineapple. One of the pizzas had pineapple so I completely skipped that one, but my parents enjoyed it.

This is their Fancy Aloha Pizza. Aside from just ham and cheese, it also has green peppers. I'm sure this is good for people who love pineapple and peppers on their pizza but those are the two toppings I like least, so I went for the next one immediately. I know at least 3 people who would thoroughly enjoy this though. Needless to say, we don't have the same taste in pizza hehe!

I honestly was not sure what flavor this was. On the list there is one called Angels Style, so I'm guessing this was it. This one had shredded barbecue chicken, onions and mushrooms topped with cheese. It was a bit on the sweet side from the barbecue sauce, but I honestly liked it. I like chicken, I like onions, I like mushrooms and I like cheese. What complaints could I possibly have? My mom found it a tad too sweet, but for a barbecue chicken pizza, I thought it was just right.

I think this was my favorite one- The Cheesy Melt Double Decker. It's like a pizza sandwich with a cheese pizza on top of a pepperoni one. It had a slight buttery taste to it. I think we collectively agreed this was the best one for all of us.

Lastly I tried the Cheesy Burger Pizza which is pretty much like an all-meat pizza with beef and bacon and lots of cheese. This will hit the spot for more traditional pizza lovers.

In all honesty, the chicken and breaded pork meals were good. They had really crispy skin and had lots of flavor. Unanimous opinion though: too salty. Very good flavor but please tone down the salt if possible.

Dessert: Brownie with chocolate sauce. Heat before you eat. :)

To Order: Call 922-2222. Or Follow them on Face Book Angel's Pizza Pasta Combo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

History 101: Tastes of my Childhood

We've been having Sunday lunch with my mom's side for as long as I can remember. It started in my grandparents' home, and when they passed away, we moved it to my Uncle's house.

Food on Sundays are never extravagant and we've been eating the same food here since I was a little kid. The usual food on rotation includes home-made pancit palabok, roast chicken, fried chicken, lasagna, baked fetuccine alfredo, eggplant parmegiana, hamburgers and mashed potatoes, spaghetti bolognese, fried catfish, kare-kare, molo soup, fried fish fillets, dinuguan and puto, spare ribs, arroz caldo and a variety of desserts (but always turon! every week!) I can't remember the other food now but you get the idea.

Last Sunday:

Fetuccine Alfredo with spinach noodles.



Fried Chicken Wings

And of course, Turon!

To be completely honest, quality of food declined when my lola passed away, but it's not horrible or anything, just not as super duper good as before. But at the end of the day, my Sunday food has familiar tastes that will always give me comfort and bring me back to being a little girl.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Restaurant Rave: Charlie's Grind and Grill

Ok, first of all, let me get it out of the way that I have always been a big fan of Charlie's burgers. I ended up at Ronac Art Center last Saturday, a new 4 story building along Ortigas Avenue in San Juan that houses many independent brands, an art gallery, a basketball court, Charlie's and Yoggle, a pay by weight Yogurt spot. After my shoot with one of my bestests, Sarah, we quickly proceeded to go to Charlie's for my first meal of the day at 4 pm.

How cute is she?

My attempt at being artsy

At the Deck of The Ronac Art Center

Ok...let's finally get to the point. Charlie's.

Sarah's Charlie's Burger

What's interesting about their burgers is that they do not serve them with ketchup. Everyone on the table was wondering why ketchup was not available at the restaurant. When I was googling the history of the Hamburger last night (i know, i know!) I read that the first burger was created by Louis Lassen in New Haven, CT in 1900, and he served it sans ketchup. To this day, his diner still serves their burgers without ketchup and you will be frowned upon if you ask for some.

But! They do have a selection of other sauces you can choose from. I drowned my burger in Aioi. Hate mayo but can't resist it when it has garlic.

We also ordered Cheese Fries and...

Buffalo Wings

Everything was extremely you can see.

Sorry, Sometimes things are too good to wait. I remembered to take photos long after everything was gone.

Finished our meal with:

Dead Guy Ale. "Tastes like New York"--Sarah Meier-Albano

<3 this girl! xo

Check out Charlie's Grind and Grill at Ronac Art Center along Ortigas Avenue in San Juan. While you are at it, check out the stores there too! The place is Dope!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Restaurant Rave: Shang Palace

I love Chinese food. Something about it is always comforting to me. It's probably the familiar tastes of my childhood and memories of my late grandmother Alicia, who I was so close to, I named my daughter after her.

Shang Palace at Shangri-la Makati has been a regular place for family get-togethers on my mom's side. More often than not, we order the same food and enjoy it each time like it's our first time there.

Here are some of my favorites:

Hot Prawn Salad. Incidentally, this was also my grandmother's favorite dish. I used to hate it when I was young but now I take pleasure in each crunchy bite.I can't eat more than two in one sitting though. The prawns are huge and the oil can sometimes be overwhelming, especially for someone with a delicate tummy like mine!

Pan Fried Cod Fish in Barbecue sauce. I love Gindara in all forms, but this is a particularly good one. Be careful not to eat too much thought because Gindara is already a very oily fish. Pair it with frying and they become little fat bombs. Delicious ones though ;p

Who doesn't love Buchi? When I was younger, I used to scoop out all the filling and eat only the shell. I've since learned to enjoy eating even the bean paste but my favorite buchis are the kind with the black sesame paste filling and peanut.

Other things on the menu that night:

Minced Seafood and Crabmeat soup with Coriander. They had me at Coriander. I like anything with it.It was a simple soup that because special because of that little addition.

Deep Fried Pork Ribs with Fragrant Garlic. Only had a bite of this, not a big fan or pork unless processed or cured (Read: Bacon, Spam and Prosciutto) Meat was tender and anything with garlic is always a win.

Braised Broccoli with dried scallops and black mushroom. Because we need our veggies. I can appreciate nice, big, green broccoli though. Sometimes the ones in the supermarkets here look sad.

This was the only weird thing on the menu. It was mango pudding shaped like a fish with vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was fantastic, the pudding not so much. it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great.

Tomorrow is margarita and grill night with my mom, some relatives and friends. Can't wait!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Restaurant Return: LU

I revisited Lu over the weekend and was happy that food was still the same quality. I hate it when I go to restaurants and my favorite food changes taste each time I order it.

This isn't going to be a long post since I have already written about Lu in the past. Here's what I had this time:

We got this assorted dips platter. I cannot, for the life of me remember its official name but I ordered this last time and I like how they do their hummus. It's hard to find good hummus in Manila but this one hits the spot flavor and consistency wise. I must say the pita chips were a bit on the hard side (as opposed to having a crunch) but other than that, I had no complaints.

My friend got this Fried Hainanese Chicken last time and I had a bite of it and instantly got jealous. I made it a point to order it this time, even if the lure of their Moroccan Lamb Stew was quite strong. Although fried, the essence of Hainanese Chicken is still very present in this dish. My only complaint is the absence of Kecap Manis, which I always look forward to when eating Hainanese Chicken. Instead they had a soy-vinegar dipping sauce mix (I hate vinegar but it worked)

And for dessert, I brought my new cupcake flavor for my friends to try--- Sgt. Pepper's Strawberry. It's a chocolate strawberry cupcake sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper and topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting. It sounds weird I know, but one bite and you will get it.

If you like Meiji's strawberry chocolate, you will love this!

Check the complete BIRTHDAY CAFE MENU at

Sorry for the shameless plus. It's my blog ;p

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Foodventures: The Hong Kong Files Part 3

Growing up, I had this weird misconception that street food was dirty, so I never ate it. While it may not be the most sanitary of foods, and my prior statement might be closer to the truth than I think, it is something I have grown to love.

In my early twenties, I remember eating squid balls outside PORCH at 4 am, and asking our driver to go to Katipunan and look for a fish ball vendor when I was craving. I love mango and cheese dirty ice cream and I buy taho almost every time the vendor passes through our street. I'm 31 now and still alive and kickin' so either street food ain't too bad or my stomach has developed a strong immunity to all its alleged germs.

Even when in other cities, I enjoy eating street food-and Hong Kong is no exception and Abdul and I went crazy eating everything in sight. Street food binges were a daily midnight snack for us for a week because there was a street food place seemingly open 24 hours a day a block away from where we were staying.

Who doesn't like Takoyaki? These Japanese style dumplings are essentially battered pieces of diced octopus with sauce and Japanese mayo. Had this while walking around Mong Kok.

Lobster Balls! Also on the menu were beef balls, fish balls, siomai, cheese cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, scallops, crab claws, pork belly, and pork intestines (eek)

Didn't eat here but took photos of the random wantom, balls and veggies plus octopus and tripe.

One of my favorites- I think these are called Egg Puffs. They are heavenly little bites of sweet air. I can eat this anytime of the day!

Though not really "street food", I got this LAMB SHAWARMA at some hole in the wall Lebanese place. It was SO good. I love a good garlic sauce and I base kebab places solely on the garlic sauce. This one hit the spot, specially since I needed a break from Chinese.

Again not technically street food, but from some hole in the wall place near the Jordan station on the MTR. Nobody spoke English but there was an English menu. It was something like Buttered Garlic Wings. Eaten with Fried Rice, I was a very happy girl.

This is pretty random but I didn't know where else to put it. BLACK TRUFFLE flavored Chips. Actually, this sounds better than it tasted. Not that it wasn't good, I guess I was just expecting more (Although for HK$ 10 I dunno why I did)

Hong Kong Files- DONE. Next trip is to Sydney this December to spend Christmas with the fam. I'll be blogging about my favorite places to eat there for sure! Between then and now though, expect more kitschen chaos, foodventures and restaurant reviews around Manila!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Restaurant Rave: Zuma

After many days of Chinese food binging, I was so ready to eat at a proper restaurant with more refined food. My favorite aunt was in Hong Kong towards the end of my trip and told me she would treat me out to lunch.

I was given a choice between Zuma and Sevva, and since I can never say no to Japanese food, I picked the former. It's a nice (and pricey) place but I thought the food made it worth it.

We started off with Hamachi and Toro Sashimi-- two of my favorites (as well as salmon- sashimi is the only way I really like it) A few bites of fresh raw fish was exactly what I needed. I was hungry, I was sick of Chinese at that point and I wanted something that tasted clean.

When I was pregnant, I don't know how I survived without being able to eat raw fish. I remember going out for sushi almost immediately after I gave birth. Some things are just so good, you only really need to slice them up and put them on a plate for people to enjoy. I think I will go out for sushi tomorrow.

Next up, we had crispy salmon skin sushi. OMG so good. I remember when I was younger, sushi was really just kani, tuna, tamago, uni, salmon or california maki. Thanks to progressive and fusion cuisine, we now have all sorts of yummy things in sushi! Others on the menu were their Vegetarian Sushi and Zuma Nigiri Zushi.

I know it is very Un-Pinoy like to enjoy bloody beef, but honestly, unless Medium Rare (medium AT MOST) I would rather not eat steak. This Australian steak was cooked to perfection- seared on the outside and nice and practically raw on the inside. I was going to get the Wagyu, but the price difference was HK$700! Whoa.

I can't wait to get to Sydney in December. All the steak and lamb I want at extremely low prices!

Lastly, we had this. I was extremely full but a meal is not a meal without dessert. I can't remember exactly what this is called but it was some sort of souffle, wafer chocolate raspberry thing that was soooooooo good. I had it with a glass of dessert wine and it was heavenly.

I wish I could eat the way I ate in Hong Kong here in Manila. Sadly, i don't walk 6 hours a day here :(

Tomorrow, I will post the last of my Hong Kong food posts and it will be on street food! Yipee!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Foodventures: The Hong Kong Files Part 2

What else do I love about Chinese food?

The Roasts.


First meal in Hong Kong was Roast Goose in some hole in the wall spot with no name. There was a line filled with locals so i felt it was a safe choice.

The second day, for dinner I had the exact same thing in the exact same place.

There is a certain part of the cut they give that explodes with fat when you bite it. It's both delightful and disgusting at the same time, if you know what I mean. I know some people don't like the taste of goose (or duck) but I think it is one of the best, albeit most sinful things one can eat. I rarely eat Chinese in Manila, but when in Rome... or in this case, Hong Kong.

On day 3, I was wandering around Causeway Bay by myself trying not to shop when I got really hungry. I realized it was 3 pm and I hadn't eaten at all that day so I popped into the first spot I saw. No noodle soup in sight, which was what i really wanted, so I ordered...ha, no not goose but close. I had soya chicken and I thought I asked for brisket (w/c I know to be beef) and got this roasted pork instead. My boyfriend is Muslim and I don't eat pork around him, but even if we weren't together, pork was never my first option. I didn't want to argue with the grouchy looking lady so I just ate it.

it was the most beautiful mistake ever.

Nice pink meat, very thin layers of fat and really crispy skin. It was so good! I'm not even a fan of lechon!

I will continue my Hong Kong foodventures tomorrow! From street food to pricey resto Zuma!

Foodventures: The Hong Kong Files

I went to Hong Kong for a week with Abdul and two of my cousins. Although I had been there many times before, this was the first time I had to completely fend for myself from accommodations to food and transportation. Last two times I was there were for media events so everything was taken cared of (Something I REALLY miss about working in publishing is the heaps of free travel I got to do! *sigh*)When I was younger, I would be with relatives who would take care of everything also.

This time, I wanted to explore the city I had been to numerous times but never really got to know. Hong Kong to me was always about shopping and bargain finds. I noticed the older I get and more I travel though, that I enjoy travel FOR the travel. I like getting to know new places I visit and revisit now. Unlike before when going to the States just meant Disneyland and shopping, last year's New York visit had me walking tens of blocks just seeing things I never saw before. I have to agree with what Abdul said, It is very liberating to not be enslaved by the need to shop.

On this trip, we stayed at Tsim Sha Tsui. I Always feel more like I'm in China when I stay in the Kowloon side haha.

The desire for good food, on the other hand, is a completely different story. I love food. Obviously. I will pay bank for a good meal. I can honestly say I don't need to buy designer bags and expensive clothes, but man do I have an expensive palate. I don't do it intentionally, but whenever I go to restaurants I manage to zero in on the most expensive thing on the menu before I even know the price.

That of course, is not to say I don't enjoy the cheaper, but just as good food in life. I can eat at hole in the wall places and eat with as much gusto as a michelin star restaurant. As with fashion, I believe the same goes for food- you cannot buy taste. It doesn't really matter if you spent $1000 on a meal or $10, as long as it's good, then i would say it is worth it.

When in Hong Kong, eat where the locals eat, as those are the places you will find the best Chinese food. Simple, "home-cooked", no-frills and very comforting. The good thing about Chinese food is that we Filipinos are very familiar with its flavors making it easy to think of as comfort food. Congee is a lot like our arroz caldo and the roasts with rice they have are a different version of our rice toppings and silogs.

Chinese noodle soups are in every other eatery in Hong Kong. Most are chicken broth based, with some using vegetable or meat broths. There is nothing complicated about this dish as it is basically broth, egg noodles, fishballs, beef balls or dumplings ( or anything else you can think of that acts like "ulam") and sometimes bokchoy. That is it really, but aside from arroz caldo at my house, few things are more comforting to me.

Cuttlefish balls with noodles on a rainy day. Location: Mong Kok

About to dig in. Yum.

On another night in Tsim Sha Tsui-- Wanton Noodle Soup.

Servings in Hong Kong are HUGE. I wondered at first why nobody there is really overweight, but after my week-long eating binge, right when I was afraid I gained 10 lbs, I looked at myself when I got home and realized that even if I DID eat alot, I walked 6 or more hours a day. My legs, butt and lower back are all still sore. Yay!

Next post: More Hong Kong Foodventures