Ugu Bigyan: Light and Easy Filipino Fare

I was very lucky that Ugu Bigyan’s was part of the itinerary during our short vacation with our relatives. It’s not my first visit but it is always lovely to go there. Sure I feel sorry that I can’t flood this blog with photos of the food we had. But not that sorry because I couldn’t bring myself to stop people from enjoying it sooner. I didn’t hold back myself and had a piece of the action. I glanced at my camera a couple of times and thought, Nah, I’ll do that another time. We weren’t hungry. In fact we had a heavy eat all you can breakfast at Villa Escudero just a few hours before getting to Ugu Bigyan’s in Tiaong. But it was as if we were starving when we ate.

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I’m far from being eloquent which is why I often hope the pictures would do the talking but let me try at least. Ugu Bigyan’s menu was simple and straightforward Filipino fare. I loved it that nothing was too overpowering and you can still have the natural taste of food: the hint of sweetness and flavor of the sea was in the seafood they served including shrimp, clams, mussels, fish and squid. I welcomed the original dishes which did have refreshing twists. But, nothing was bold to make it too far modern from the Filipino recipe. The pako salad had apples. The ginataang hipon was deshelled and deveined. There were no shells in the ginisang tahong. The ensaladang talong had gata. The sweet and sour fish had soft tofu bits in its sauce. The calamares was paired with a light sour chili dip. Everything from the soup to the dessert was light to the palate, very Filipino and perfectly complementary with each other.

Complete Menu:

  • halaan soup
  • ginisang tahong
  • pako salad
  • ginataang hipon
  • sweet and sour fish
  • calamares
  • ensaladang talong
  • barbecue spareribs
  • kapeng barako
  • ginumis

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Of course the food is only one of many reasons to visit. Check out my older post about the ambiance here.

Taisho Ramen and Teppanyaki House – Broth!

I’m not a fan of ramen or any kind of noodle dishes for that matter so even if I did plan to write about ramen restos since the dawn of the craze, I never felt up for it until the fifth one I visited. I’ve visited Kenji Tei (3rd floor Greenbelt 5), Ramen X (Centris) and Kichitora Tokyo (2nd floor Atrium Mega Mall) Moshi Koshi Noodle Boss (4th floor, Robinson’s Galleria) and finally, Taisho Ramen and Teppanyaki House (Sky Garden The Block side, SM North). I could of course be comparing food joints that are worlds apart and I wouldn’t really know which one’s authentic and all but I liked Taisho best.

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(tonkutsu)

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(gyoza, hiyashi karamen)

It is expensive yes and the portions won’t exactly make you feel like a kid on your birthday. I mean I’ve tried one with roughly the same price range that has pork slices twice the thickness of what I was served but what can I do if it’s the one I liked best. Its broth is thick, tasty and yet it was simple. It was rich yet it’s the least salty among the five. I was back the next day trying out two more after the first bowl I tried. It was weird. The deed was certainly a selfish and satisfying one.

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(karamen)

The place is nothing fancy but are you really there for all the glitz? They’re celebrating their first anniversary by slashing 50% off their ramen from September 8-10 2014. We’ll see if I can spoil myself a bit more with this very tempting discount Taisho Ramen and Teppanyaki House is offering. We are in luck as we have two more days to exhaust it! See you there?

Kanto Freestyle Breakfast – Eastwood

We were to have dessert alone but there was heavy traffic so I decided to have lunch there too (so much for trying out Juju eats). We were starving as we came straight from our adult gymnastics class (my 32nd birthday celebration). I lowered my expectations as I am not very fond of hi-carb and hi-sodium meals that leave me feeling bloated.

I was greeted with a lot of tables which was a relief as I often see long queues at Kanto Freestyle Breakfast. We ordered Batangas Tapa, Honey Garlic Chicken and Pork Belly. Additional servings of tomato pesto, bacon and a selection of mini pancake stacks were necessary. Hahaha. If I had known that the serving won’t be as salty as the usual Filipino fare, I wouldn’t have chosen set meals. I would’ve skipped the rice and the eggs and just had vegetables and meats.

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The Batangas Tapa was on the sweet side but I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be.

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The honey garlic chicken on the other hand tasted fine but it seemed a little too greasy. The dark golden crisp of the chicken suggested overly used cooking oil. Or it could be the breading they used. All I know is that it didn’t look that appetizing. The sauce was flavorful but too sweet for me.

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I’m thrilled of the pork belly though and I had phil order one more of that.

 

I liked their presentation, their service and their food. I was pretty much satisfied with the flavors. I love the make your own breakfast plates, the dessert selection and the fact that they have brewed coffee. I mean most cheap food joints would give you a 3-in-1 pack and a cup of hot water. I love it that they’re not that salty too. Nothing was too pretentious. Everything was familiar yet nothing was ordinary. Our total bill was 642 pesos for three people. It was more than enough for us.

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If there’s one thing I didn’t like, it was the bacon. They should change their brand because it would be such a shame to pair that with this plate of wonderful mini stacks of pancakes with fruit, glaze, peanut butter and chocolate. Yum! Cheers!

Snacking at Green Pastures (Shangri-la Mall)

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Joints boasting of going organic rarely intrigue me because I’ve been exposed to it ever since I was young. Besides, that also translates to a very expensive meal. It was Green Pasture’s impressive selection of local coffee grounds showcased on the chalkboard in their coffee bar that initially drew me. The menu looked really fancy and more importantly, promising. Instead of “beverages” they put in “liquid provisions” haha. Seriously though, a lot of vegetable dishes always interest me. Plus they have stuff you don’t normally see in mall restaurants. “Stuff” means words I cannot spell nor pronounce let alone know the meaning of. But isn’t that when you are most curious?
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We were still full but since we were already there we decided to order an appetizer and a plate of dessert with our coffee. I got a cup of Mt. Matutum while Phil got iced coffee SUMIYAKI which were served with coco sugar and coco sap syrup.
The coffee was okay but far from phenomenal. The plate of dessert indeed was fun playful with flavor, temperature and textures. It was both sweet and sour, hot and cold, creamy and crumby. But I’ll probably never order it again. Why? Because it didn’t have that explosive thing going on. I just didn’t find it special.
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Mt. Matutum (105 pesos), SUMIYAKI iced coffee(125pesos), Apple Tarte Tatin (195 pesos)
The appetizer however is the reason why I am writing. The fried cauliflower in soy garlic glaze served with Sriracha mayo is a dish that will make people smile. Expensive yes and I’m not too sure about the nutritional content especially that it’s deep-fried and very tasty but who cares! I was thinking it was going to be close to Green’s mushroom fries or vegetable tempura dishes in Japanese restaurants but I was so wrong. The glaze was indeed very close to Bon Chon’s except maybe a lot better. Yes a lot like Korean fried chicken except it’s not chicken. Vegetarians can finally taste what that Korean glaze is all about. And yes children can be fooled into loving cauliflower (minus the sauce of course). Don’t get me started with the dip or this post will never end!
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Korean Fried Chicken (185pesos)

This cauliflower thing got me convinced that there are a lot of surprises waiting be lived at Green Pastures. Keep me company and let’s split the bill? Pretty please.

The Breakfast Table (Maginhawa)

I did enjoy my trip to The Breakfast Store in Katipunan Ave but never really took that second trip because they only “sell” breakfast goods not “serve”. I’m glad they opened The Breakfast Table and it is perfect in so many ways. The only criticism I have so far is that the garlic in garlic rice wasn’t freshly sautéed (they were the bottled crunchy type) and the danggit was too crunchy which I suppose is not even a problem for others. hahaha. Here, I list things I love most about The Breakfast Table in Maginhawa St!
  1. freshly pressed local coffee grounds (Sagada, Benguet, Kalinga, Barako)  IMG_9421
  2. the make your own breakfast checklist so you can decide on kind of rice, main dish, how your eggs will be done and side dish you want to addIMG_9335
  3. impressive selection of local breakfast items from different regions (danggit/Vigan longganiza/Tuguegarao longganiza)IMG_9422IMG_9423IMG_9342
  4. They have dessert. We’ve only tried French toast but it’s convincing enough for me to try the rest. For some people dessert is what makes breakfast a good one.IMG_9344
  5. That’s not all. We’ve tried their perfectly tasty without being salty steak and eggs. They have that adobo rice omelette meal twist. On weekends they have buffet and other set meals. You’ll love their interior. They have the cutest faucet. and the service makes it a happy breakfast place.IMG_9339
I could go on but maybe I am biased because it’s walking distance from our place. haha! You’ll love it. I promise. I think another post  is in order. Perhaps more on recommendations. Here’s to a brand new day!
189 Maginhawa St. cor. Makadios St., Sikatuna Village
Tuesdays-Sundays 7am to 7pm
Weekdays for make your own menu
Weekends for buffet and set meals

Kulot BBQ (Mati, Davao Oriental)

Just across that big and fancy La-ne’s Kan-anan restaurant in Bonifacio St. is Kulot BBQ. It’s nothing fancy. Actually, it’s more of a “hole” than a “hole in the wall” as their walls are only made of thick tarp.  They got a few monobloc tables and chairs set up. They didn’t even have ice when they served us water (You can always order cheap sodas which hopefully are chilled). We were starving from the long trip and I couldn’t care less where and what we’d eat. So it’s a surprise that I am now raving how awesome it was.IMG_8032

When I say awesome, I mean it. I think it’s the best barbecues I’ve tried as is. We sampled chicken bbq, isaw manok, longganiza and pork bbq. Its grilled meat tastes very good even without the dipping sauce. Most of the isawans I know often make it to the top of my list because of their perfectly sour, spicy and sweet sauce with vinegar, calamansi, onions and chili. This one offered a different sauce which had liver sauce for base (Mang Tomas). I think maybe watered down with a bit of vinegar or something. It was alright too but I think the meat was good enough without it.

I considered that perhaps we were just hungry the first time around so we gave it another shot. But yes, It was still as awesome! Our first bill was 131 and the second was 140. This is for two people with a cup of rice each.

I think chicken barbecues are generally perfected in these parts as a lot of people don’t eat pork and sometimes also abstain from beef. As many people opt for chicken, I guess they know how to do it right. It’s perfectly cooked; far from dry but with no traces of raw flesh. The taste is smoky, juicy and tasty without being salty. I’m struggling for words here. But to simplify, it’s the best and hell I don’t know what I’ll do if I get cravings in the near future. I wish I knew their secret. Do you? Aloha!

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New Items on the Menu

Drafts are way outdated and I don’t really have anything new so here, I will write random food items from different food joints in Manila that I recently tried and enjoyed.

Let’s start with Dunkin Donut’s Quezo Duo. While it’s more expensive than their regular donuts, it’s still cheap when you compare it to fancy cheesecakes and other donut places. It’s still sweet but the cheese somehow made it taste more like real food. It’s like a donut ensaymada. Or is it ensaymada donut? Having said that I bet it is perfect with black coffee.
Next, Bulgogi Noodle Soup from Bon Chon is also new. It’s expensive yes and ordering the large bowl still is not filling for the average hungry Filipino. However the taste is far form the salty and soups thick with flour you often have in fast food joints. It has tofu, sweet onions, carrots, string beans and thin slices of beef. I like its toasted sesame seeds and sweet tones because it’s refreshing.
I was lucky enough to notice new additions in Shi Lin’s menu when   we ate there. We tried Black Truffle Xiao Long Bao. I was intrigued as I have always associated truffles with Italian and French cuisine. I never imagined it can be fused with Asian food too. It opens a lot of possibilities for someone like me who does a lot of experimenting in the kitchen. Yes of course I loved it. It can easily be added to the list of happy food!
Early in the morning after a night of drinking, I ended up having one of Yellow Cab’s breakfast items. I’m not sure if it was a folded pizza but it had mango, scrambled eggs and bacon in it. I knew it was something I would love because I often use mango in salads and dishes if I want something sweet with a bit of tang.
I started with cheese so I will wrap this up with Pizza Hut’s 7 cheese. I seldom eat pizza anymore as I rarely eat fast food. I got to try it when my relatives had it delivered a couple of weeks ago. It was not as salty as other pizzas I know and the cheese was also nothing too exotic (if you know what I mean). If there is such a thing as perfect junk food, it’s a pan of that. hahaha. It’s best paired with beer. Go order and watch The Simpsons or something.
I’ve no photos so here’s one from Shi Lin’s Facebook page.1530406_660571157320065_1923076851_n

30-minute New Year Feast by Ina

We usually spend New Years’ at one of my uncles’ so our family went gaga when that did not happen. I went crazy in the kitchen and prepared a 5-course feast out of random food items in the fridge in a little less than 30 minutes.

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  1. The soup was easy because there was a packet of chicken and vegetables and all I had to do was heat it and serve it with parmesan cheese.
  2. I was also lucky that we had half a loaf of whole wheat bread. Toasted bread is already fancy with butter but I just had to add truffle honey.
  3. the salad was simply made of wansuy, mandarin oranges, spiced almonds and honey (all of which were leftovers I had to live with)
  4. I sliced morcon into small pieces and just tossed it with cooked pasta before a drizzle of chili oil and sprinkling of truffle salt.
  5. The tomato-based pasta with slivers of fresh garlic and chopped onion also had a drizzling of truffle oil.
My family left to eat out and went back home with Chinese takeout (Kowloon specifically) because all of the establishments were close. Haha papa! That’s what you get for not listening to your eldest who knows everything. and I mean everything!
I used up a pair of red candles I’ve been saving for about 7 years to make this meal more special. Happy New Year!

Argos and The Pillars (Makati)

It’s a must to try something different whenever I’m in Makati because it takes effort to get anywhere other than Quezon City. We’ve been dining at Zigurrat for some toime and we could see this place from there. The food was far from ordinary but I think there is still room for improvement. The serving was bigger than the usual and the side dishes were wonderful. The variety made it a more satisfying meal.

I love the ambiance too. I love the decor and I hope I can go back to take pictures of them during daytime. I felt very comfortable in that corner even though I know there are a lot of snatchers in the area. The number of foreigners also made me feel like I’m in another place. I kinda miss that feeling as it’s been a while since I traveled.

TotalCollage_DQWXJ-KEOGITotalCollage_FAXA9-M6H12TotalCollage_P0ADQ-ZBDB1We were hoping to have coffee after the meal we had at Argos but we found The Pillars and decided to get a new beer with that cup of coffee. hahaha. I fell in love with that place too and I think I’ll go back just to check if they have new beers to add to my collection.

Eleven Tables – Kapitolyo

After getting lost, finding out they only open doors just in time for dinner and being informed they’re closed on Sundays I got lucky and finally tried Eleven Tables. I didn’t know what to expect really. My first fondue experience at Old Swiss Inn was a little but of a culture shock because the “basic” cheese fondue they served had a strong wine taste (and I have to admit I am no wine enthusiast). Eleven Tables also had mixed reviews so I didn’t know what to believe. While I thought I might appreciate that they “adjusted” their fondue to Filipino taste, I was anxious that that also meant being salty or sweetish. But anyway, I loved it!IMG_7748

I kind of regret ordering lamb stew because my mindset was trying out at least 2 different types of fondues. When Phil and I saw the menu we looked at each other and understood we had to have lamb. But anyway I enjoyed it heartily but thought it was too pricey. We ended up trying only one kind of fondue: three cheese and Shitake. I was pretty happy with the fondue and thought the cheese was perfect but I’m sure others will find it bland. I mean cheeselovers here in the Philippines are more like fans of cheddar and salted mozzarella.
IMG_7751IMG_7755I was disappointed that the chorizos which was a new addition to the menu were not available. We enjoyed an additional order of sausages with beer but it was nothing special.
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It’s best to try Eleven Tables with a big group so you can try different kinds of fondue in one sitting. I am intrigued of their wine all you can affair when I think about trying out the other fondues.  Plus the place is interesting. I like the menu, the paintings and of course what they sell. I got myself that truffle sampler which I’m yet to experiment with.

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I enjoyed the evening with Phil, my boyfriend and his dad. Beer pa!

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