Monday, February 21, 2011

The Best Barbecue and Isaw Place in Manila - Make Your Vote Now

I'd like to write about the best places to eat barbecue and isaw so I'm looking for suggestions. I know there lots of these stalls/stands around -- almost every street corner has one. Well, that's an exaggeration but you get the picture. There may be a lot around but not all of them are okay. Look around and see if the barbecue/isaw stall where you eat is good based on taste, cleanliness, price and crowd. Write your feedback in the comments section below. Thank you!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Joey Pepperoni and their Delicious Chicken Fingers

Do you like eating pizza? I'm not really a fan of pizza. It is not something on top of my list of favorites. In other words it is not something I usually crave for. Don't get me wrong. I eat pizza whenever it is there. But again, it is not something I will look for during lunch or dinner time. So why am I saying this? I just want to say that it is rather unusual for me to go to a restaurant that is associate with pizza -- which is what I did the other day. We went to Joey Pepperoni. Well, it is not really a pizza (alone) store but the pepperoni in the name suggests it is one (at least for me). We didn't intend to go there, really. We were at the Fairways Towers in Taguig to go to this 'burger house' that they say serve good burgers. When we got there we found out that the 'burgers' are too pricey.....ah ...say, P 400++ for a burger. At P 400 I could get 10 burgers in other stores. So we checked out the next restaurant which happens to be Joey Pepperoni. We got in and asked for the menu. There were several delicious sounding dishes listed but I couldn't choose easily because my mind is still thinking of 'burger'. So we just ordered chicken fingers with fries. I also ordered one of their 'promo' meals. I got the Hungarian sausage with rice worth P 99. Other choices are chicken strips and meatballs. 

The chicken fingers looked and smelled great. They actually tasted great. The breading is crispy. It didn't taste like 'bread' or fried flour (?). It actually has a taste of its own ( as in flavored ?) but blends well with the chicken. It is not like the other chicken fingers I've tasted wherein you can really separate the taste of the coating and the chicken (as in as easily distinguishable as the parts of a boiled egg  -- shell, white and yolk). The fries that came with the chicken fingers where also good. They come in thick and long strips. Both the chicken fingers and the fries are not too oily. They are fried just right so the color is also good. Oh, and before I forget, they come with fresh tomato dip. The serving of the dip is small but you can ask for extras. 
When the Hungarian Sausage was served  I got a bit disappointed. The serving was small -- too small for me. There were just a few slices of the sausage and a small cup (squarish) of rice. The size of the sausage slices suggests that the whole sausage must be just as small or a tiny bit bigger than the canned variety. It was really far from what I expected. But  boy was I surprised by the taste. Great. Yumyum! Hmmmmm! Yumyum. Well, I still feel the serving was too small but I love the taste.
After dinner we had coffee outside. It was chilly so it was perfect for hot coffee. Their coffee was too strong (which is actually what I like) but you can ask for an extra cup of hot water if you want to dilute it a little. Assmall cup costs P 80.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How to make your kids eat vegetables

So your kids do not like to eat vegetables! They prefer fried chicken, hamburger, and hotdogs. You're worried about their health. What can you do? What must you do?

A good way to make them eat vegetables is to include them in the food that they like. For example when you are making the hamburger patties you can put finely chopped carrots and cucumber. They wouldn't know you added veggies unless you tell them so.

Instead of letting them eat hotdog sandwiches or hotdog on sticks, make omelet. Chop the hotdogs and add chopped veggies like carrots, peas and bell pepper. You can also add tomatoes and corn kernels.

You can also use the fried chicken as a hiding place for the vegetables. For tips on how to do this, please see my previous blog.

Letting young kids eat vegetables need not be challenging. All you need to do is to just be a little creative. Follow the tips mentioned here or experiment. There are lots of things that you can do if you just let your imagination run a little wild.

Good luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

How to Prepare for Your Date on Valentine's Day

On Monday, the Philippines will once again turn red because it's Valentine's Day. Prices of flowers will definitely go up starting tonight. Groceries and supermarkets will need to put up 'SOLD OUT' signs on their chocolate racks in the nest coming days. Restaurants will most likely start turning down reservations for dinners on Sunday and Monday evenings. So, if you have not made the necessary preparations for Monday, you will probably have a difficult time. But no need to worry. I have here some suggestions for you -- in areas pertaining to food/dinner of course.

Buying chocolates

1. Since SOLD OUT signs are up in grocery stores, look for chocolates to give to your loved ones in your neighborhood pastry shops or bakeshops. They most likely have enough stocks for you. 
 2. You can also check out school canteens and stores outside schools. They usually have lots of chocolates sold during this season. They offer chocolates in different shapes, sizes and colors. The nice thing here is that they come at very reasonable prices -- student prices actually. 
3. Buy local chocolates of different shapes and sizes. Then put them inside beautiful boxes (which you can get in bookstores) or bottles. 
4. There are also chocolate stalls in malls where you can buy chocolates of different flavors by the kilo or per scoop. You can put these chocolates in boxes or bottles as described above.  
Dinner date

1. Famous restaurants are most likely full so instead of waiting in line (which could definitely ruin the romantic atmosphere), bring your date to small restaurants that are less popular but also serve great food. There are usually hole in the wall restaurants in villages or subdivisions. You can also find good ones outside big universities. 
2. Take her to the canteen of the school where you met each other. That will surely bring in good memories. However, not all schools will allow graduates/outsiders to go in during school days.And not a lot of schools are open in the evening.
3. Bring your date to a good barbecue/fish ball stand. It is definitely not your typical date place but it can be a romantic one if you know how to be creative.

What to avoid

If your date is still not your girlfriend, observe the following
1. Pasta may not be a good food to order especially if you know you can be 'messy' when you eat. You do not want to have sauce marks when on your shirt, do you?
2. Also avoid food that has a lot of sauce for the same reason.
3. If you'll eat steak, practice using fork and knife. 
4. Avoid eating food with lots and lots of garlic and onion. You do not want your breath smelling bad for whatever might happen next. If you must, bring breath freshener.

You still have a few days to prepare. Good luck.

Monday, February 07, 2011

What's so extra-ordinary about XO Kitchen in Makati?

We often go to Jupiter St., Makati whenever my friends and I would look for a good place to eat. We've tried several restaurants along that street serving different types of cuisine. Every time we would cruise along that street we would see this place called XO Kitchen but we never gave it try until two weeks ago.

The place looks small compared to the other restos along Jupiter St. And unlike the other restos, XO is well lit. It looks like a 'safe' place for family dinners.On the walls hang pictures of the food they have in their menu.
one of the pictures on the wall
picture of rice with squid ink

We ordered their pork and shrimp siomai, salt and pepper shrimps and crispy noodles.

The pork and shrimp siomai is rather expensive compared to others. One order (4 pieces) is worth P90. However, it is worth the price. Have you ever eaten pork siomai that is primarily made of 'extenders"? Well, XO's siomai is nothing like that. It is really made of pork. Oh, and there is shrimp in every piece.

pork and shrimp siomai
The salt and pepper shrimp is crispy. It is easy to eat. I mean you do not need to remove the shell. However, my friend found it too salty. For me it was just right. Besides, there's vinegar where you can dip it if the salt is too much for you.

salt and pepper shrimp

The crispy noodles is nothing unique. It tastes like the others served in other restaurants I've tried. (I noticed this is my comment about all the noodles I've reviewed here. Does this mean that I haven't found the best noodles in town yet?) The noodles are crispy as the name implies. It has a nice tasting sauce, I must admit. But it doesn't have a lot of meat and vegetable toppings. It was served hot but it became cold too fast. Maybe the owner needs to change their serving containers.

crispy noodles

Speaking of the owner -- we found out that one of my friends knows the owner. He came to our table to chat. He offered us his buchi. Surprise! Surprise! The buchi has a twist. The filling is not your usual mongo filling. The first one I tried has pastillas inside while the second one has chocknut (a local chocolate). They tasted very good. I love them both but I must admit I love the pastillas buchi a tiny bit better than the chocknut buchi. I learned they have other choices and one of which is Ferrero Rocher buchi. This must be the best one because it's the most expensive.

special flavors of buchi

The owner told us they do not have branches yet but they have a buchi booth at the ABS-CBN compound. In that booth they have all the flavors available. They are also color coded so you won't mistake one for the other in case you decide to the assorted box.

By the way, do you know why the place is called XO Kitchen? XO stands for extra-ordinary -- Extra-ordinary Kitchen.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ba Noi's, the Fresh Flavors of Vietnam

I was a Japanese in my past life. I'm not sure if I was one of the soldiers sent here to the Philippines during the war or I existed earlier than that. It's difficult to say because my only proof that I was a Japanese is my love for Japanese food. I love telling this to my friends whenever we would eat in Japanese restaurants. They would always ask me questions like "where you in Pearl Harbor?", "where you an emperor or a slave?" One time, somebody asked what I was before I became Japanese. I said I didn't know. I said I was probably a relatively new soul. But last week I learned what I was before I became Japanese. I was a Vietnamese. No, I didn't go to a fortune teller or a person who does hypnosis. I found that out when I ate at a Vietnamese restaurant in Makati. You see, I never thought that I would like Vietnamese food. I have eaten in restaurants offering Vietnamese food in the past but I never liked it the way I did at Ba Noi's.

Ba Noi's, the fresh flavors of Vietnam. Ba Noi's mean (1) grandmother on the father's side and (2) a culinary experience that brings together authentic and traditional processes, ingredients and recipes from Vietnamese cuisine.

Upon entering the restaurant, you would already feel a Vietnamese-y ambiance. Well, I've never been to Vietnam so I wouldn't know for sure if it really has a Vietnam feel but the point is, I knew at once that there is something different about the place. It is nothing like the ones I've visited in the past. The place has the scent of an herb. Was it mint? Maybe it's mint. The tables are black -- some with white ceramic plates and chopsticks already set -- they also have spoon and fork in place so those who do not use chopsticks will not have to ask. On the walls hang paintings depicting scenes from Vietnam. The painting closest to our table was one showing their primary mode of transportation there which is the bike. The ladies serving food are wearing Vietnamese costume. It think Ao Tu Than is what its called. It looks like the Chinese cheongsam.

The black wooden tables and the paintings on the wall
The white ceramic plates provide good contrast to the dark tables
This is one of the paintings at Ba Noi's

The ladies wearing Vietnamese costumes are the waitresses.

As soon as we were seated we were given a plate of 'kropek'. I apologize for not asking the waitress how they call it. I just realized I didn't ask how they call 'kropek' now. Anyway, what I remember is that the waitress knew what I meant when I asked for a refill of 'kropek'. Yes, you can get a refill. In fact we had a total of three servings. That should tell you already how yummy it is. You really do not need any dip for it because it already tastes great but if you like one, you can use the sauce they put for the Shrimp and Pomelo Salad (Goi Buoi Tom Thit) which I will describe later.

We ordered fresh spring rolls for appetizer. Not that we really needed one but...Anyway, it doesn't really look appetizing when you look at it at first. It's a 'roll' wrapped in a colorless - or should I say translucent - wrapper. There is nothing inside the roll except for rice noodles. It really looked bland to me. But the thing is, it is served with a brown sauce which i later found out is peanut - caramel sauce. The dip is not described in the menu but it tasted good so I asked the waitress what it is. I knew peanut was the main ingredient but I had to ask how they made it sweet. It is really that peanut - caramel sauce that gave taste to the spring rolls. It is also that sauce that makes it different from all other spring rolls around.

Fresh spring rolls with peanut - caramel sauce
Up close

What's inside the roll

We also ordered Shrimp and Pomelo Salad (Goi Buoi Tom Thit) . It was actually my friend's idea to order it. I'm not so into salads and pomelo is not one of my favorite fruits. The Shrimp and Pomelo Salad looked simple. Some greens were spread on a plate. Slices of pomelo were placed in the middle and they were topped with shrimp halves. The Salad comes with a vinegar sauce (this is the one was saying above). Its not like your ordinary vinaigrette  sauce. It's made of vinegar, chili and a secret ingredient to make it sweet. I actually found out what that secret ingredient is but I'm not gonna tell you - wink! That secret ingredient is actually what makes it different from the rest -- plus of course the absence of oil which is part of the basic vinaigrette sauce. The overall taste is great. Very flavorful. I was expecting the salad to  be sour but it was actually sweet. It has that sour taste also but not too much. Just a bit of it actually. Just to prove that the salad is great, we ordered another plate after finishing the first.

Shrimp and Pomelo Salad
It's served with 'kropek' on the side.

We also ordered Stir-fried Honey Spiced Beef with Fried Basil or Bo Luc Lac. It looks like beef salpicao but tastes better. The meat is tender and juicy. It was cooked well. The use of the term 'spiced' is correct -- better than using 'spicy'. Though there's chili, it wasn't so spicy.

Stir-fried Honey Spiced Beef with Fried Basil

They also have their own version of the Philippine Chicken Barbecue/Inasal/Inihaw -- the Lemongrass Chicken (I didn't get the Vietnamese translation). It looks like your regular grilled chicken. However, the mixture of herbs made it taste more special. The lemongrass gave it a distinct taste that leaves you wanting for more.

Lemongrass Chicken

Lastly, we had to try their noodles. We ordered Sauteed Meat and Vegetables in Crispy Egg Noodles. The crispy fried noodles were topped with slices of meat, liver, mushrooms, carrots and other vegetables. True to its name, it is really crispy even after mixing in the sauce. This one, unlike the others mentioned above, isn't very unique. It is rather similar to the kind of noodles you'll find in Chinese and Filipino restaurants. This does not mean it tastes bad. It is good but not to 'original'.

Ba Noi's can be found along Perea St., Legaspi Village, Makati City. It is at the ground floor of Greenbelt Mansions.