All about Tim Ho Wan

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It was always about the pork buns which was precisely why I wasn’t in a rush to sample it. I wasn’t too keen on falling in line especially if it’s for food. What marshmallow?! Then there was Rocky. My best friend’s opinion on everything matters because he hasn’t quite disappointed me yet with his reviews and recommendations. What he said was Tim Ho Wan is one of the cheapest restaurants with awarded with a Michelin star and doesn’t it make me curious. It was that simple and I knew I had to try it.

We finally got to try after several times of not even considering the line. My verdict is a harsh no. Don’t get me wrong. I did like it but was it worth the wait? No. The pork dumpling is more than alright. The ingredients were fresh that even the chopped chili on pork ribs was crisp and flavorful. They were quite generous too in terms of not using extenders. Good yes, but will I rave about it? No. There were certainly no fireworks there. My brother who is into pork buns said it was good but even that lacked enthusiasm you have when you are fed with glorious food.

You’re supposed to close your eyes. You’re supposed to drool over the thought of it even if you just had it. You’re supposed to bang your hands on the table and cuss like a barbarian after tasting something really good. That is what I think was missing. Maybe they are consistent which is what many people look for in a restaurant but I’m sorry far from magical.

What to buy in Baguio: Food!

  • 1-IMG_1485strawberry – As I’ve said strawberry is synonymous to Baguio. You just have to eat some and save a lot as people back home will surely ask for it. Its life is short so make sure you get to distribute it to your friends soon.
  • strawberry wine – Make sure you choose ones that are securely sealed so you won’t make a mess in transporting them. They make perfect pasalubong or gifts for specially occasions.IMG_1486
  • strawberry jam – I’m also not big on jams and preserves but others are crazy about them. They’re perfect with butter and cheese on toast plus it’s not everyday in Manila you get jams with real strawberries.
  • chocolate flakes – This was not available when I was young and I don’t understand its relevance to Baguio but since it is good and addicting, it also became a staple Baguio pasalubong. I only know of the brand Mikasan.
  • ube – This gets easily spoiled but it’s alright because people also can’t get enough of it.

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  • broccoli – The price difference still varies depending on the season but it can be as much as 5 times more expensive in Manila. This means only one thing: hoard as much as you can. Why limit yourself? While your at it get cauliflower, asparagus, lettuce, beans, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables that are good for you.

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  • sundot kulangot – I actually don’t like this but I have to put it on my list because it’s perfect for kids simply because you have to eat it with your finger. It is an essential Baguio pasalubong.
  • bread – I hear a lot of good things about bakeshops in Baguio and I think it’s simply because of supply and demand. Naturally, people like their bread fresh and warm as it is cold so bakeshops do it right. Plus the fact that certain fruits only grow in Baguio, baked goods are not only one of a kind, they’re also fresher and cheaper than ones sold in Manila.

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  • 11-IMG_2479strawberry ice cream – the fresh strawberry ice cream sold in La Trinidad is being sold by the gallon. If you can find a way to transport it back to Manila with some dry ice and cooler magic a lot of people will love you for it. Yes, including me!
  • craft beer – This isn’t really anything Baguio is known for but since there are few breweries in the whole of the Philippines, Baguio Craft Brewery is worth a visit. Bring home craft beers to share with your friends and why not down a bottle or two while you’re there.

I worked on a list of non-edible pasalubong from Baguio too so check it out soon.

Strawberry Eats in Baguio

1-IMG_2479Strawberries are synonymous to Baguio and up until our recent trip I didn’t want to try anything other than the fresh ones. Who can blame me after years of artificially-flavored, overly sweet and sticky red syrup that you can easily associate with medicine? But I figured this kind of thinking won’t get me anywhere so I have to try even in smaller bites.

  • strawberry yogurt shake – This one was from Cafe Sabel’s inside Ben Cab Museum. With sweet and sour tones, it was really refreshing after a stroll. It wasn’t too thick but it didn’t seem like it was watered down or anything like that.
  • strawberry ice cream – I was shaking my head when I saw people lining up for ice cream at La Trinidad. But that was before I saw how fresh the ice cream was. It was red from all the strawberry bits. I think the sun was also partly to blame but me having two servings was just crazy since I’m not big on ice cream often. I was told you can order a gallon!
  • strawberry taho – My nephews and nieces were all going gaga over taho in rich strawberry syrup with bits so I said I had to try even if I was almost sure I was going to regret it. It turned out to be a pleasurable experience but I did ask the taho vendor to go easy on the syrup.

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I did not dare taste the strawberry wine but I heard good things from my relatives. It’s perfect for pasalubong if you want something more than the usual jam or preserves. Just remember that the foil-covered ones aren’t sealed completely so you have to be mindful of packing.

1-IMG_1512IMG_1486I enjoyed Xavierbeer’s Strawberry beer in Manila but unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit Baguio Craft Brewery for another helping. The slice of strawberry shortcake we tried tasted like Rebisco filling icing so I won’t include that here. But anyway I think you should go and try every kind of pastry with strawberries while you are in Baguio because chances are they’re fresh, right? I heard about strawberry rice too but the resto referred to us was closed.

Lastly, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with getting a basket of fresh, red, juicy ones if you are still undecided. Bake and have fun with it. Serve it over pancakes or waffles. Use it in salads. Make it into smoothies.

Cheers!

Juju Eats Podium: First Try!

I’ve been biased with Juju Eats since the beginning because I am not for extreme diet plans though I don’t want to preach so here I try to look at it from different perspectives. I found it too tasty and I found myself thinking if I should order more greens just so it won’t be as rich. Either that or I should have requested the dressing to be on the side. The ready-made salad I had was roast pumpkin.

But let’s face it, a restaurant/food joint that is all about salads catering to the mainstream is something awesome. I can complain about a hundred and one things but it is still far better than the regular fast food. I hope they do survive the competition.

This being all the rage is also good for introducing salads to people who normally wouldn’t eat vegetables and for kids it’d be a good start. I also love their DIY salad bowls. People who are finicky suddenly can enjoy salads because they can opt out of onions, celery, green pepper or whatever it is that they can’t take. For me however the best thing about it is trying out grains and veggies I am not so familiar with. I’ll experiment with those very soon.

I hope they can be more explicit about the nutritional content/caloric count though most especially that they have claims of “a well-balanced diet without rice and pasta” plastered on their walls. I think people can be misled. I don’t need to make calculations to know that the half order I had was fattening even with the kind of exercise I do. The greens were weighed down by bacon, walnuts, 3 tablespoons of feta cheese and 4 tablespoons of sweet balsamic dressing (I’m eyeballing here). And while I don’t care about calories, I think many people who will eat there would.

Still, it’s promising. Next time I visit I’ll have my camera with me!

Sweet & Salty Dishes: Filipino & Modern

While I do not have a sweet tooth I know that the best dishes will be those that have perfectly-infused contrasting tastes and flavors. I think it is that contrast that makes your mouth water or make you close your eyes. The most basic I think is sweet and salty. Some people say they don’t get it but I think they’d give in soon enough.

  1. bacon and golden waffles with syrup
  2. Krispy Kreme burger
  3. Jollibee’s Amazing Aloha, Smokey’s hotdog with pineapple tidbits, Hawaiian pizzas
  4. cheesecakes
  5. caramel popcorn

Some may say that these are all fast food and desserts. Or maybe people will say it only works for western dishes but wait and see.

  1. salted egg on bibingka(ricecake)
  2. champorado(chocolate porridge) with tuyo(dried fish)
  3. dinuguan(blood stew) with puto(ricecake)
  4. salt over tsokolate-eh (hot chocolate)
  5. pan de sal with butter dipped in coffee

Of course people will always have their favorites. For instance I like enjoying a cup of hot sweet light coffee over rice paired with smoked fish and scrambled egg.

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And finally the reason why I wrote this list of sweet and salty happy endings is no less than the sinful bacon dipped in chocolate with nuts and pepper (Wicked by Cravings). At 75 pesos for 6 bite-sized pieces, I am far from complaining. It’s everything life should be.

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
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