Menu: Karlos and Papa’s Tapas!

And so I prepared my camera and got ready to take a lot of pictures. It’s the first ever tapas party I mainly planned and executed and I ended up with a few shots of sliced vegetables in the beginning and the aftermath of barely there food platters in the end. So, just like any other party I have planned I’ve no photos to brag about. And like all those other instances, I hate Phil for knowing I want pictures of everything and not doing anything about it. No matter. As much as I sucked in the documentation part, Papa and Karlos’ joint celebration was a huge success. I’m good! Haha.

I – nuts/laing over French baguette and Focaccia/Spanish sardines

II – sliced meats platter (salami, chorizo, pepperoni etc)

III- shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes + olives + cheeses

III – baked mussels and stove-top gambas

V – twice cooked rosemary beef, fried eggplant and potatoes, green capsicums and white onion served with sour cream

VI- coffee (care of Phil) and leche flan (something I really want to learn!)

The good news is that I did take photos of half of the food served but not on the day itself. I have no photos of the platters I arranged but more or less this post can illustrate the gastronomic affair. Enjoy!

Missing from the pictures: gambas, potatoes, eggplant, Leche flan

Irene prepared laing and Phil took care of the coffee.

The rest is me with a bit of assistance from Irene and Mylin. Also I’d like to point out that I also took care of the layout/setup. (Yes naghugas din, as always). Cheers!

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Ways to enjoy Binagoongang Adobo – Classic Filipino Dish

I can say I am very close to perfecting binagoongang adobo. Sometimes it’s a bit tangy or a little bit too bland for most people’s taste but more or less I know where and when I make mistakes. Tita Maxi never taught actual measurements so my recipe and hers are not one and same. Plus she also uses MSG and the like which I just had to omit as those aren’t allowed in our household. Tita Maxi tend to make helpings swim in oil and sometimes it gets a little bit too salty so I’ve adjusted rations too. On top of those changes I also tried cooking it twice. Baking or frying adoboto a crisp makes it a different dish altogether. Anyway this post is about ways of enjoying this classic Filipino dish.

  1. Eat it with banana – I was taught to eat it with latundan but whatever floats your boat right? If you want to eat it with lakatan or saba I don’t see why not. The texture, the tang and the sweetness is a great side dish to this salty and spicy helping.
  2. Eat it with ripe mango – Pretty much the same banana! Spoonfuls of ripe mango will make you eat more of this sinful dish. A big good luck to you!
  3. Use as dip for green mango – I think summer has never been better with the sand, the beach and a plate of crispy and spicy binagoongan eaten with sliced green mangoes
  4. Pair with sinigang sa bayabas – Phil and his family also often pair binagoongan with sinigang na bangus sa bayabas even if they don’t really eat the bangus or the bayabas. It is the sourness they are after. But anyway we have tried it at home with various kinds of sinigang. Pork also works but since your main dish is already pork fish or shrimp will be better. If you want you can even skip the meat altogether and stick with kangkong and radish with your sinigang mix.
  5. Thai mango salad toppings-  shredded and fried to a crisp, it is somewhat close to Thai cuisine’s crispy catfish. It’s going to be phenomenal!
  6. Bagoong rice, what else – Because bagoong is so tasty and because it has a distinct flavor, using it for fried rice makes perfect sense.
  7. Gatang binagoongan – People who are tired of the usual blend can make use of coconut milk for variation.
  8. Experiment with chili – Using green chili, labuyo, jalapeno, and others will change the overall taste of the dish so be enthusiastic like me!
  9. Kinilaw– Serve it with vinegar, lots of onion, tomatoes, capsicums, chili and other ingredients you often use for making kilawin even if there’s no need to cook it.
  10. Thai pomelo salad toppings – Fried to a crisp all you have to do is toss it with wansuy, onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, pomelo or ripe mango and you are good to go.

I was aiming for 5 but 10 is just fine. A few more posts and perhaps I’ll put up the binagoongan recipe post? It is time to write it down don’t you think? Cheers!

Lists: Korean Restaurants in Manila!

I wish to chase my frustrations away so instead of writing a negative review, I’ll just stick to this list. Lists make me happy!!!

Korean cuisine is a relatively young culinary experience for me. I admit that I am rather addicted to Woorijib because I feel at home there with their affordable rates and generous servings. This list would have been a lot longer if I was disciplined enough but I end up eating at worry every time. It’s hard because it’s nearby. Anyway I promised myself I’ll go out and and sample others because surely they’d also have something different or something better to offer. I’ll try to make this a quick one.

  1. Kaya – Food chains are always expected to have commercialized taste but this one is very close but of course side dishes will always be in smaller servings. However, if you don’t like any of those sides then it’s good news for you. Apart from their bbq I tried their japchae, pajeon, kimchi chigae and jjampong. They also play it safe so nothing ridiculously spicy or too exotic on their menu.
  2. Ye Dang near Metro Walk – This is one of the most popular ones I think because of its location and its approach (Jewel in the Palace tarps). They are quite reliable and their food is pretty much safe. Nothing is too weird or too spicy that you’d actually curse the place. Of course it’s expected that Korean food has a lot of heat red and all but you know what I mean. They’d give you free fruits in season after your meal. They are not as expensive as worry but ambiance-wise they are a notch or two higher.
  3. Woorijib at Kalayaan Ave. I’ll try not to be biased but they’re the best. haha. It’s nothing fancy. A lot of people complain about air conditioning and surely you’d have to wait if you were a bit late but it is the cheapest with the most generous helpings of barbecue, side dishes and lettuce/sesame leaf wraps. They require a minimum of 2 bbq orders which is fine unless you’re eating alone. Bbq orders come with 6-7 plates of side dishes and a bowl of dwen jang. Most of the time they give free hot or cold coffee after meals but sometimes there’s just too many customers! Read about my Woorijib here.
  4. Dae Wang at Kalayaan Ave. Generous servings of side dishes and ample serving of bbq meats but not as much as worry. They serve a nice lettuce salad but I find their kimchi too sour and for me kimchi is the most important. Side dishes are free for Korean restos so it shouldn’t really matter but sometimes if it’s too dry or too sweet or not perfect it also has an effect on the overall appeal of the meal.
  5. Go-Go Korean at Kalayaan Ave. Best Dwen Jang because of the perfect heat and flavor. I actually don’t understand why servings of this soup is so expensive when it’s made of miso, chilis and clam but anyway if you’re willing to shell out more for your soup this one is swabe. Sorry no other way of putting it. Their side dishes aren’t as good as my favorites but otherwise if you just want to satisfy your cravings then it’d be quite okay.
  6. Seoul Barbecue at Libis I’m not sure if it is also a food chain because they also grill bbq in the kitchen. It’s a little bit cramped so if you fancy staying longer after eating, it gets a bit awkward. They also have Korean ice cream there so after your delightful Korean fare you can enjoy some sweets too. It’s, of course a little bit more expensive because of the location and the setup but not bad.
  7. Kogi Bulgogi – One we ate at was at Eastwood so you can pretty much imagine how they repackaged the whole she-bang. Instead of a grill, you will be served with a plate of pork or beef, mounds of rice and lettuce leaves for your samgyupsal or kalbisal. This means simpler but it also means less meat and more rice. Small servings of side dishes are expected but you can pretty much request for more if there is a need. They have dishes that local/stand alone Korean restos don’t have such as salmon, prawn and etc.
  8. Korean BBQ at Pearl Drive – As this is near the old studio of Polecats we were also residents here. Their kimchi is one of the best I’ve tried and they offer dishes that are relatively cheaper compared to other Korean restos. However they do not have very consistent schedules. Sometimes you’ll drop by and they’d turn you down because they don’t have the grills or meat or whatever. Weird, I know.
  9. Kimchi Restaurant at Sagada – few side dishes, yes but nonetheless lovely if you happen to have a craving while you are in the mountains. haha. They have kimchi, sprouts, barbecue and ssamjang so you’re good to go. Lovely ambiance too with the wall decor, artsy wooden furniture, sculptures and posters. They serve alcohol, play groovy music and close very late. and I heard they sell more than just Korean food. haha!
  10. Bulgogi Garden at Kalayaan Ave – A newly opened Korean resto a few doors down from my worry. I think it is a big threat to worry primarily because it’s new and shiny but otherwise they are pretty much commercial. smaller servings of side dishes are expected and so far I haven’t noticed anything that sets them apart from the rest. they have that free sweet drink/dessert at the end of a meal but it tasted like cough medicine. hahaha.
  11. Silla at Tomas Morato Rotonda they have a ridiculously small serving of samgyupsal and oh so boring side dishes and they’re lucky that I did not go on a full blown ranting spree of their overpriced Korean food that is not any good.
  12. Song Do at El Pueblo – Their bbq orders come with generous servings of side dishes plus soup (but not dwen jang) just a clear one. Their ssamjang (the dip for barbecues) has that wonderful smoked flavor that made me finish my dip for the first time in my Kimchi-eating life. Their kimchi is another contender alongside Woorijib, Ye Dang and the one at Pearl Drive. They have the space, the atmosphere and the setup for a grand feast or a quiet evening to the point that it’s already intimidating (they will sound a gong upon your arrival, scary!). They also have a very wide selection of dishes on their menu with prime beef cuts and fresh seafood so I bet it’s the place to be if you want to splurge and experiment on Korean fare. I look forward to trying those!

I’ll consider this 10 because I won’t include Silla (because I was so disappointed) and Kimchi restaurant (because it is in Sagada). My target is 20 for 2012 so please do recommend other Korean food joints. Uh oh… someone started counting…Cheers!

Nomnomnom at E. Rodriguez

It was a long time ago when Pat told me about this place and I did come across articles about it several times but I never got a chance to visit. It’s not exactly easy to find plus I did visit twice and they were closed on both occasions. Anyway, they’re closed on Mondays and they are open from noon to midnight.

Now that I’ve tried it, I am regretful that I haven’t known about it earlier. Firstly I love the wooden white washed walls and furniture. I love the displays such as random artwork as well as framed and hanged photographs. The tufted textile decor on the walls in the air conditioned area made the place more inviting.

Phil and I were in a hurry because we were going to see my brother perform at UPRising at SM Marikina, a fundraising dance concert so we ended up ordering snacks (in our standards).

That’s vegan sisig (tofu, green chilis and a salty and sweet sauce) and fried ravioli (kangkong, cheese, mushroom) served with light salsa and ranch. The vegan sisig was good but I think it is something I can do at home even if I’ve never tried it before. Meantime, the ravioli is impressive. I love the little twist of using kangkong especially that I found it very tasty. I never would have thought of substituting spinach with kangkong. However their ranch was too watered down. My advise is that they should use sour cream or yoghurt or mayo as base to make it thicker but if they want to stick to vegan options they can choose soy cream. Still I loved it and that little magic trick there made sure I’d visit again to sample more of their goodies. I saw a lot of pizza and pasta helpings so next time I’ll drop by with more people so I can taste test more.

I’ll probably ask UST people to check it out with me. Their coffee menu is limited yes but I suppose we can mix and match hot chocolate and tea that they also serve. And the wide selection of desserts we can have, I bet, will compensate for it. There is a smoking area though that section doesn’t have air conditioning. And yes, they also serve local beers. I also noticed a number of veggie options. hmmm. This place? has it all? jumping barnacles!

Cheers to places that aren’t as noisy as common fast foods and usual coffee shops and whoa to having a picture of myself taken despite the fact that our stay there was around 15 minutes (ordering, eating and all).