Monday, April 25, 2011

Finding the best Takoyaki in town

Takoyaki kiosk at Market, Market.

I've been quite disappointed recently because the Takoyaki (literally meant fried or grilled octopus) balls which I loved as a kid was replaced by really small shrimps or veggies instead of the real thing. And the batter was not so good. I decided to make a little experiment and try takoyaki stalls in the metro and then decide on which is the best. I went even as far as Market, Market in Global City, Taguig.

Takoyaki in all its goodness.

Samurai takoyaki: Nothing beats the original.
I'd have to say that I did not bother to write about the other takoyaki stalls that I've tried in. The food they serve weren't worth mentioning so I decided to just write about the best two. Samurai takoyaki is still the best, hands down. It had octopus on its takoyaki balls and for P32.00 per order of four balls, it's good enough.  As for Okonomiyake's takoyaki, it is only P28.00 per order with three takoyaki balls. It had the perfect mixture of veggies and small shrimps. And they used dried seaweeds instead of the powder ones. But if i were to choose between the two, I'd definitely go for Samurai--it's one of the first ones that introduced takoyaki balls in the market. And I'm glad it's still around. 

So if you're craving for Japanese takoyaki balls, you now know where to go, right?

Beat the Summer Heat with Nestle Ice Cream

A promo lady is in costume to call the customers attention.

Get relief from the heat with the cheapest ice cream in town, the Nestle ice cream in scoops for five pesos each cone. There are many flavors to choose from: cookies and cream, rocky road, and choco fudge. Giving you more choices to enjoy your ice cream.

What a summer treat.
Nestle ice cream is available at all leading supermarkets nationwide. However, the five peso per scoop cone is only available at selected groceries. 

Chuoi Chien: Vietnamese Banana Chips

I could finish off the entire pack by myself.

I'm an adventurous eater. My aunt recently went to Vietnam and brought home loads of goodies such as this Cuc Mimh's Chuoi Chien--banana fritters chips with a dash of ginger. Yes, you're reading it right, it had ginger. In fact, the flavor was overpowering the sweetness of the banana chips, making it a unique snack. even non-ginger lovers will like this, for you will not see any hint of ginger on these chips as you munch on them, but you will savor its flavor and taste. 

I was a bit surprised that even kids at home loved it. I could even finish off an entire pack myself. The best thing about this snack, it's a healthier alternative to potato chips.  So while you're resting on the couch, it's better to grab a pack of Chuoi Chien rather than fries or an entire pack of potato chips. Think of the number the fact that you need to look good this summer at the beach....

Abuy's Taste of China: Chinese Fresh Lumpia and Hong ma rice

Abuy's taste of China's  small stall/kiosk at SM Cubao.

I've always been a fan of authentic Chinese food. I have been searching for fresh chinese lumpia (spring rolls) for the longest time now.  Although there are a lot of Chinese restaurants around the corner, I don't know but for some reason, they just couldn't get it right. I mean, the taste might be a little different. It's either it had too many veggies, the wrapper is not fresh or worse it doesn't have that sweet tangy sauce that perfectly compliments the lumpia itself. 

I had been searching and searching...until I came across this small stall at the basement of SM Cubao. It's quite easy to miss judging by the number of food kiosks and stores inside the basement. For P39.00, it's quite a steal considering that the average price of chinese lumpia in the market ranges from P45.00 to P55.00. 

Abuy's Chinese lumpia are done on the spot upon every order. You can choose if you would like to have some garlic or not. They even use seaweeds and some crunchy nuts to assure you of quality lumpia at an affordable price. While waiting for my lumpia, my Mom sampled their Hong ma rice. It is made of thin slices of tender, juicy pork with sweet star anise sauce that tasted like asado with brown rice. And they're really easy on the pocket too, for a measly P45.00, you have a deliciously satisfying meal. 

I wish they could have Abuy's Taste of China everywhere. They serve really affordable and delicious meals for Filipinos. The only downside is that you have to either take the food home or patiently stand while you munch on those yummy foodies. So far, I can assure you that aside from the Chinese resto-fine dining, Abuy's Taste of China is by far the best fresh Chinese lumpia and Hong ma rice in this side of town. And I'm not being paid for saying that...I simply love their lumpia. 

So if you're dropping by the Cubao area, try to grab a bite at Abuy's. Oh, by the way, I heard they also have branches in SM San Lazaro, Robinson's Place Manila, and SM Sta. Mesa. 

Taal Delicacies: There's more to Taal than Kapeng Barako

People thought Batangas is only known for its Kapeng Barako (robusta brewed coffee). But that’s where they went wrong. I’ve always been a food aficionado. My recent trip to Taal, Batangas had given me the opportunity to explore Taal’s gastronomic delights. There’s definitely more to Batangas than just a cup of steaming coffee.

El Pasubat Festival: Empanada, Longanisa, Panutsa, Barong, Tapa.

I grew up eating Panutsa. It is circular in shape and is made of sugar-coated peanuts. The cheapest panutsa in this side of town can be acquired in Baranggay Si-iran. Almost everyone who lives in Si-iran does panutsa for a living.
L-R: Tamales in squares, Panutsa, Dried Biya fish, sumang Taal and a bunch of Pajo.
Have you seen the smallest green mango? If you haven’t, you have to eat Pajo. It looks like a small green mango, but don’t underestimate its taste for it really had a strong flavor and aroma. It is best used in salads as side dish along with tomatoes, onions and Balayan fish bagoong (fermented fish sauce). It goes well with Taal beef or pork tapa (steak) or Batangas Tilapia (Saint Peter’s fish). Taal tapa (marinated steak) in beef and pork are sold by kilo in the local market.
 Taal Tamales may not be for everyone. But you have to try it and see if you’ll like its unique taste. When my late grandma offered tamales to me the very first time, I honestly did not like its taste. But eventually, after I had eaten a couple more tamales, I fell in love with it. I keep craving for more even when I’m in Manila. I even tried to compare it with other tamales (like those from Pampanga) but those were incomparable in taste with what we have in Taal. The Pampanga tamales were bigger but ours is tastier and more delicious. Tamales is a Taal delicacy, its got pork, eggs and nuts all together in a sticky atsuete colored cake wrapped in banana leaves.
 Taal also had its own version of suman (no need for sugar or others sauce). It had Tag-hilaw, which is made of pork innards stewed in vinegar, pepper and chilis. It’s like Taal’s take on kilawin or papaitan. Batangas favorite chicken adobo sa dilaw, which does not use soy sauce, just vinegar and turmeric.

A steaming bowl of Tag-hilaw

My nephew Kyle loves to eat the butchi-butchi, an orange colored delicacy made from cassava. It could easily be mistaken for quail eggs, especially for someone coming from Manila. But try it, you might like its sweet taste.
The butchi-butchi that Kyle loves. Often mistaken for quail eggs.

But what I love the most is the tilapia, so fresh, so sweet even without putting salt on it. And of course, sinigang na maluputo (better known as yellow fin), found only on the Taal Lake. The latter was a real treat as maliputo is a fresh water fish. The dish got more delicious when the soup began to thicken.
Truly, there are more ways to satisfy your cravings both visually and gastronomically speaking in Taal, Batangas.

Hope you can come and visit the Taal town soon and experience first hand its gastronomic delights and breathtaking sights.

The author with her beloved nephew, Kyle.

See you soon,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Slurpee: The Cheapest Summer Thirst-Quencher

Slurpee in grape flavor.

It’s officially summer.  The heat of the sun would probably make you feel thirsty each time you go for a walk outside.  With the number of available thirst-quenchers in the market today, you will never run out of options. However, what will you do if you’re truly on a budget but still aren’t satisfied by drinking a glass of cold water? And having an ice candy or ice pop won’t help either.
There’s no need to fret. The good news is your favorite 7-11 Slurpee also comes in a mini size that will surely fit one’s budget. For a mere five peso, you can still enjoy and savor the goodness of 7-11’s chilled slurpee. You don’t have to think about having a brain freeze either because a small cup would not be enough to give you that, but it promises to thirst your quench for something cold in time for the summer’s hot season.
What are you waiting for? Head off to a 7-11 branch nearest you. 

Cafe Arama's find: The Probiotic Dip

The facade of Arama Cafe's cozy resto in Serendra.

I have a confession to make. Okay, if the basis would be my weight, you would know that I am not really that health-conscious. I eat each time I feel like hungry and I indulge in food cravings once in a while. But there are also certain times when I’d want to go green and make my body happy with fresh fruits and veggies or salads. Sometimes I would enter a restaurant (even those signage and cuisines I did not understand0 due to mere curiosity. And ending up, enjoying a meal I never even thought I’d eat in my lifetime.
Such was the case at Arama Café in Serendra. I recently found myself in that area and figured out if I could try a dish or two. I looked at their menu and was surprised that I was inside a pro-organic/healthy meal café. I’ve ordered cassava chips with pro-biotic dip with a refreshing tea. The pro-biotic dip was made of yoghurt and other healthy ingredients. I was told it could also be a salad dressing aside from a chips dip. The first time I took a bite, my taste buds went crazy. I fell in love with the probiotic dip. It wasn’t as sour as I thought it would be since it’s made of yoghurt. It tasted heavenly and made the cassava chips I was eating as if it were potatoes. I could not properly explain the goodness of its taste. It had some cheesy, milky, creamy taste on its own. No need to worry, it doesn’t taste like Yakult. What’s more, I was told that they have fat-free versions of it that somehow tasted the same. Isn’t that perfect for those people concerned with their diet? Another good news is that you could take home a bottle of the probiotic dip for a little more than P200. That means, you could do stuff and experiment with a dish with the pro-biotic dip.

 Arama Café actually had a lot more to offer. They had different juice and teas (both hot and cold) to choose from. They also have healthy soups, pasta, desserts and sandwiches.  Try to taste the pro-biotic dip I’m talking about and taste for yourself.
Arama Café did not even know I’m a blogger and I’d be writing about their small and cozy café, but because I had truly enjoyed not only their food but also their friendly atmosphere, I’m writing about my experience at Arama. Too bad, Serendra is their only branch. I do hope they’ll get to branch out soon in Gateway Cubao.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Empanada Recipe

*    3 cups All-Purpose Flour
*    ¼ cup sugar
*    1 tsp salt
*    1 cup shortening
*    ¾ cup water (cold water)
*    Butter                               1 K potato
*    Chicken broth                       1 k chicken breast                  
*    Salt & pepper                       Garlic
*    Carrots                                  Kinchay (Optional)
*    Maggie Savor                         Onions
*    Evaporated milk                    Oil
*    Raisins
*    Green peas

Procedure: In a bowl, combine APF, shortening, salt and sugar. Mix it with the use of fork or pastry blender. Mix it well then rolled & put filling inside the crust & shape it as desired. Weight of crust is 50 g. Saute all filling ingredients, let it cool before putting inside the crust.