Category Archives: Food Trip

Exploring The City of Smiles (Day 1)

It has been weeks since my short trip to Bacolod, the City of Smiles, but the urge to go back and explore this quaint city again hasn’t died down.

The people here are just so nice and the places just as good. But what made me fall in love with Bacolod is the FOOD. We had to stop by museums and landmarks because these deterred us from trying all the restaurants we had on our list (thanks to dear friend, Nic for the fabulous tips! 🙂 ). In a nutshell, our 3D/2N in Bacolod turned out to be three days of glorious food tripping around the city.

DAY 1

From the airport, you need not worry about catching a cab to your hotel as there are shuttles that charge Php150/pax. This is a good deal already because the new Bacolod-Silay International Airport is quite far from the city.

We stayed at <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g298464-d1822204-r256418167-The_Suites_at_Calle_Nueva-Bacolod_Negros_Occidental_Negros_Island_Visayas.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT">The Suites at Calle Nueva</a>. They offer the basic necessities, huge room, free buffet breakfast and good location. And best of all, the staff; they're just wonderful! TripAdvisor has never really failed me when doing my research on places to stay. The feedback and tips posted here are legit and will help you plan your trip.

We stayed at The Suites at Calle Nueva. They offer the basic necessities, huge room, free buffet breakfast and good location. And best of all, the staff; they’re just wonderful! TripAdvisor has never really failed me when doing my research on places to stay. The feedback and tips posted here are legit and will help you plan your trip. 

After checking in, we walked to SM City Bacolod and crossed out one food destination on our list: Bob's. Their big serving of 2-piece satay barbeque is just Php117!  Namit gid!

After checking in, we walked to SM City Bacolod and crossed out one food destination on our list: Bob’s. Their big serving of 2-piece satay barbeque is just Php117! Namit gid! 

Once you get here proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero, the hilarious tour guide at The Ruins. It was his day off when we get there so I hope you catch him when you visit.

Once you get here, proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero, the hilarious tour guide at The Ruins. It was his day off when we get there so I hope you catch him when you visit.

Tip: How To Get Here-

From Bacolod City ride the jeepney bound for BATA, or ride the jeepney with the route Libertad-BATA. Tell the driver to drop you off at the nearest trike terminal going to The Ruins (there are at least two terminals there). They charge between Php25-30. 

Proceed to the main house and look for Roger Lucero (he’s the funny tour guide at The Ruins).

Visit The Ruins in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. There is a restaurant there where you can just lounge around and do people watching. Or there are stalls there selling fresh sugar cane juice.

Visit The Ruins in the afternoon and stay there until sunset. There is a restaurant there where you can just lounge around and do people watching. Or there are stalls there selling fresh sugar cane juice.

We had to drag ourselves from the magnificence of The Ruins to have dinner at another place on our list: Manokan Country.

Manokan Country is packed with stalls but I suggested Aida's because this one has a little stall in Makati Square that we frequent during lunch.

Manokan Country is packed with stalls but I suggested Aida’s because this one has a little stall in Makati Square that we frequent during lunch. 

Bacolod inasal is unlike the sweet inasal in Manila. It's spiced enough to taste good but so much better with dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi and chilis! Namit kaayo!

Bacolod inasal is unlike the sweet inasal in Manila. It’s spiced enough to taste good but so much better with dipping sauce of soy sauce, calamansi and chilis! Namit kaayo!

Manokan Country is within walking distance to the hotel so we just walked home and capped the night off with some sweets we bought from Calea.

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Food Journey in Melaka

Malacca or Melaka, as it’s spelled in Malay, is a 3-4 hour bus ride from the Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road, Singapore. Travel time is dependent on which route the bus takes and the queue through immigration.

This is the first time that I’ll be traveling with an almost-local (well because he’s been mostly in other places that he’s hardly have enough time to be Malaysian) and I thought, it’s going to be a different experience altogether. For one, getting around is so much easier because communication is such a breeze; until they mistake me for a local and start talking to me in Malay and I start replying in English.The best part is having a tour guide all to myself, because I’m selfish like that. Insert evil grin here. I get insider information on the rather laid-back Malaysian culture, history and the local dishes to try, and what have you in between.

Traveling is not just about getting on a plane, capturing scenes and food with your camera; it’s about experiencing the place like a local. I realized I didn’t take a photo of the laksa and cendol dessert from Jonker 88 but I can relive the whole lunch experience in my head and even recall how crowded it was; how big that bowl of deliciously spicy laksa was and how delectably smooth the shaved ice was on that cendol dessert.

After that rather lengthy intro, let me start this food journey with the most famous street in all of Malacca, Jonker Walk.

Locally known as Jalan Hang Jebata but more famously known as Jonker Walk.

Locally known as Jalan Hang Jebata but more famously known as Jonker Walk.

Jonker Walk is so famous you won’t have a hard time finding it. If you’re staying at the center, I suggest you check Google maps first. Getting a cab in Malacca is almost similar to getting one in Manila; it’s because most tourist spots are within walking distance from each other that they will earn little if they don’t contract tourists for a fixed price that ranges from RM10-20. You might think it isn’t much but when you realize how near it was, you’ll rue spending it on cab fare.

If you eat all the local food from one end of Jonker Walk, you’ll end up stuffed by the time you reach the other end, which is a good thing. It’s cheap, tasty and a whole lot of fun. You’ll find the locals very accommodating and they will really encourage you to try without being pushy.

Nasi Kerabu

The blue pea flower, also known as clitoria flower.

The blue-tinged glutinous rice cakes are made with  blue pea flower petals and coconut milk. Definitely worth trying!

Pandan-infused sticky rice cake

Pandan-infused sticky rice cake

This delicacy has that ‘tikoy’ feel to it but you can taste the pandan and it’s really tasty. I think I would love this warmed and paired with coffee.

Colorful-striped glutinous rice cake

Colorful-striped glutinous rice cake

Another of these glutinous stuff and I’m seriously stuffed. And we’re just on the first stall.

Oh by the way, we traversed this street under the afternoon sun and while I prefer the sun to the rain, it was a little too hot for comfort. As people have started crowding behind us, we took that as cue to continue walking and found these absolutely cute street food.

Grilled ham and egg

Grilled ham and quail eggs

When these bad boys are done, they get dressed up with mayo and chili ketchup and I’m in heaven. If you’re in no hurry like us, wait for the freshly cooked ones; you won’t regret the wait.

Dressed up grilled quail eggs and ham

Dressed up grilled quail eggs and ham

We finally surrendered to the blistering heat and headed to an open bar. We ordered cold beer to wash down our skewered find and I thought that was the best idea of the day. Something I wouldn’t have said years before because I hate the bitter taste of beer. I would’ve chosen iced tea or soda but washing down all those glutinous rice cakes and grease with beer felt strangely good.

Suan Pan  Zi

Suan Pan Zi

After some bit of catching up and having been considerably cooled down, we headed out of the bar only to find this almost extinct delicacy quietly daring us to try it. Had I been alone, I would’ve just passed this by and not have known that this dish is almost ‘endangered’ because one can hardly find it even in food courts. Suan Pan Zi or Hakka Abacus Seeds has yam, dried mushroom, pork flakes (I think), spring onions and of course, chili. It has different layers of textures and flavors that’s just really good together.

More local dishes to try

More local dishes to try.

After much needed freshening up, we headed to a local restaurant near Dataran Pahlawan for dinner. I forgot the name but it looks nondescript from the outside but you’ll be surprised how packed it is inside; a testament that food is indeed good.

Old Town Cafe

Old Town Cafe

We managed to get our caffeine fix at the Old Town Cafe in AEON Bndaraya Melaka Shopping Centre. If I have the resources, I will bring this franchise home, leave my job and sleep here and breathe the delicious coffee aroma of this quaint coffee shop.

Lao Qian Ice Cafe

Lao Qian Ice Cafe

Since the sinfully creamy Old Town instant coffee is available in groceries here, I decided to purchase Lao Qian coffee, a famous local brand. The Lao Qian Ice Cafe is located inside Shan Shu Gong, which you cannot miss because it’s smacked right at the head of Jonker Walk. The coffee shop also doubles as a souvenir shop where you can buy these Malacca goodies to take home with you.

We capped off our food adventure with probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.

Our hotel may be a bit of a walk from the malls but it is merely a few steps from this gem of a cake shop. We went on a Sunday morning but it’s starting to get packed as early as 10:30 AM, merely half an hour from opening.

Strawberry Mille Crepe for dessert after breakfast.

Strawberry Mille Crepe for dessert after breakfast.

This is actually layers upon layers of very thin crepe with light strawberry cream in between. The sweetness and tartness are so balanced and the cake so light that I think I can actually finish three slices in one sitting had shamelessness ruled me over.

Some say that one visit to Malacca is enough, well I think it’s worth another because this little town has charmed me into coming back. Alone or otherwise. 😉

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Bicol’s Gastronomic Delights

It was already past 4PM when we finished all the uphill and downhill treks we did in Day 2 and we haven’t had our lunch yet. But we were so sweaty and dirty already that we asked Mang Ramil take us back to our place first before heading out to grab our linner (lunch and dinner 😛 ).

The charming exterior of Balay Cena Una in Daraga. It's located in a subdivision; so just ask around and you won't get lost.

The charming exterior of Balay Cena Una in Daraga. It’s located in a subdivision; so just ask around and you won’t get lost.

The interior is cozy and littered with antique memorabilia, adding vintage charm to the place.

The interior is cozy and littered with antique memorabilia, adding vintage charm to the place.

 

The food is slightly pricey than the usual restos in Bicol but it's worth it.

The food is slightly pricey than the usual restos in Bicol but it’s worth it.

 

Of course, there is always room for dessert. :)

Of course, there is always room for dessert. 🙂

With stomachs full, we have the renewed energy to stroll the streets again and at some point, we rode the jeep again in search of another dessert that is worth all the calories!

These are the ice cream flavors you should try at Colonial Grill: Tinutong, Sili and Pili.

These are the ice cream flavors you should try at Colonial Grill: Tinutong, Sili and Pili.

Tinutong Ice Cream is toasted rice and actually tastes like coffee (luvvv!). The pink ice cream is Sili (yep, chili!); it tastes sweet at first but as it goes down your throat, you’ll start to feel the chili kicking you from the inside. Awesome! (>_<) And then the Pili flavor which is the most ‘boring’ compared to the other two but just as delicious.

So when you go to Legazpi, don’t miss out on these restos and those that I’ve mentioned in my previous posts. 😉

 

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That Despicable Coffee Shop Culture

The coffee shop is the new place to hangout; whether with friends or family. Or the perfect place to meet  an acquaintance since it’s a fairly neutral ground.  Or the place to cure that hangover after an alcohol-infused dinner of seafood sisig (oh days of yore!). 😉

Several years ago, you can escape to a coffee shop for some needed me time; to read a book, compose a blog post, do some people-watching or just simply chat with friends.

The Highlands Coffee Shop hasn’t been discovered yet by the caffeine addicts so enjoy this place while you still can.

Now, that is just wishful thinking when you’re out looking for a table for even two people during those peak hours (and by that I mean Friday, weekend and payday nights). Wending your way through the café requires a steady heart rate and a cool head because these supposedly decent people frequenting the place have lost a fair amount of sensitivity and consideration for others on their way to the coffee shop.

It has now transformed into the new library where lone students, especially those taking up post-graduate degrees, occupy a table that’s meant to sit four people. I can understand occupying two seats, but four?! Really?!! Because the laptop, books, notebooks, pens, pencils,  highlighters, sticky notes, and of course the trusty iPod are all on blatant display for everyone to see and realize that, “You have to understand me. I’m busy studying Law and I need this whole stretch of gorgeous wooden table to my just as gorgeous, studious self.”

On those not-so-busy hours, maybe you can have that luxury but when people starts pouring in, at least have the civility to gather your stuff on one side and let the others have that nifty little space. You are all customers and you all have a right to the table. So quit hoarding  that space to yourself like you owned the place.

If you want to enjoy your coffee, this is NOT the place to go, especially on those Friday nights.

What makes the coffee shop scene odder these days is the presence of kids. I love kids but unruly kids left unfettered by their parents or guardians because they are busy chatting with their friends or reading the paper really peeves me. I’m not saying that you do not bring your kids; we bring my niblings along because they love the chocolate drinks. But is it really too much to ask to rein in your kids when they start getting restless and their antics aren’t cute anymore? Our kids know that if they start that attitude, we will leave whether they like it or not.

And when you do discipline your kids, please do not yell at them. It doesn’t make you look any good that you’re disciplining your kid; it makes you look obtuse on parenthood.

I love this cozy cafe in Saigon that we stumbled upon during our vacation in 2009.

While coffee shops  may entice customers with wi-fi access for your purchase, it does not translate to you actually living there for the day, mooching off their internet connection for as long as your shamelessness will allow. But should you ever have to do this out of sheer necessity, at least drop a nice tip in their tip jar as a token for allowing a leech like you stay at the comfiest couch in the coffee shop.

Funny that with all those observations, I still trod down to a coffee shop whenever I need to feel recharged or just enjoy some quiet time by myself. The thing is, hunt down those coffee shop branches that are not easily accessible or go there on off-peak hours so you can live on that couch and not feel guilty that you’re hogging it to yourself. 🙂

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Spontaneous Stroll to Chinatown

An exchange of text messages and a quick call turned our jogging meetup into a spontaneous stroll to Chinatown. And those few hours of strolling was so worth it.

A little side note. Since we initially agreed to jog, both my friends were in their jogging outfits; where one decided to keep the running shoes on, the other decided to wear her Crocs doll shoes instead. The effect was ok but somehow it looked like she was half on the way to the mall and half on her way to jog. hahaha

It is a challenge to take photos in the Manila area because it is quite notorious but I can’t resist taking shots of this charming place. The food and the surrounding shopping centers that are littered with stalls selling cute, pocket-friendly stuff are bonuses that anyone will find truly irresistible.

Our spontaneity led us to this charming part of Manila.

They say that you can make a wish if it’s your first time to visit a church. And so I did as we entered the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz.

The interior of the church is just so beautiful even with the ongoing maintenance.

One will get a stiff neck looking up at the gorgeous ceiling of this church.

Because this is a mandatory stopover when in Ongpin; hoard and satisfy that hopia fix with their different delish varieties.

This quaint bakeshop has these cute little cakes that we cannot resist buying; it’s just a few steps away from Eng Bee Tin.

Cute little cakes of Pandan, Blueberry and Orange at only Php65 each. Their round cakes are just as pretty and comes in pretty round red boxes too!

I think this one is called Mahu. It’s like chiffon slice with some spices and pork floss on the side. Interesting layers of flavors in a bite.

One last look as we trace our steps back…

After a long walk, we decided to drop by this quaint corner cafe, Cukeng Coffee Shop.

A cool calorie-laden Blue Brandy Layered Iced Coffee Float is heaven after walking under the afternoon heat.

The Chinatown Walk outside the Lucky Chinatown Mall is reminiscent of its counterpart in Singapore. It looks so nice even in its unfinished state.

And the trip to Chinatown will never be complete without a trip to 168 Shopping Mall and the neighboring stores for some good ol’ cheap shopping splurge.

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