Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

a seafood banquet at lab-as. with aftershocks!

In places on February 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm

we arrived in dumaguete just as the big earthquake hit and dumaguete was confused. some stores were open, some weren’t. few vehicles were plying the streets. before we got there, we were determined to have a good seafood dinner. it was a good thing that the popular restaurant lab-as was open that night.

we started with obvious choices – kinilaw na tanigue

as the picture shows, this interpretation of the dish contains a lot of liquid. not a bad thing at all because it was very tasty. not as tangy and spicy as my personal preference lies, but delectable in its own right.

the other starter, fresh oysters

so fresh we were near the tank where they were fished out. a tank that shook and the water swung as a couple of aftershocks hit while we were having dinner. intense. but these oysters were very good. best we’ve had in a while.

starters out of the way, we then ordered grilled squid

this was also very nice. tender and juicy. i’m sure the freshness of the squid had a lot to do with the success of the dish.

we also had chili garlic crab (also from the swishing tanks)

sadly, it was this dish that fell short. the crab itself was very good. succulent. but the sauce… so-so. i couldn’t understand actually what it was going for and there was a mildly unpleasant burnt undertone. not to say stay away from the crab, not at all. just maybe go with another sauce.

we had one more dish – the dumaguete express – which was a medley of seafood in coconut milk. by the time it arrived, however, our hands were in full use as utensils, camille couldn’t take a picture. the dish wasn’t bad – a little on the mild side, but just the sort of thing that would work well with hot rice.

i can’t remember the price per dish but everything cost just a little over P1,000 – very reasonable at manila standards. the restaurant itself is nicely located, across the street from the bay. it was a very pleasant and cool night. and we had a good view such that we could see a tsunami coming, just in case.


casablanca in dumaguete. what a breakfast!

In places on February 25, 2012 at 9:24 pm

because our hotel in dumaguete did not have complimentary breakfast, we walked down Rizal Boulevard (always such a pleasant thing to do) to hunt for morning grub. while we initially wanted pancakes, the breakfast sets (around P250-300 per) at casablanca looked so interesting, we ended up there.

there’s absolutely nothing moroccan about this restaurant. it is, in fact, a steakhouse (something we will try next time) that, yes, serves breakfast. before anything is served, you get an array of jams and bread

this came with papaya juice that was very nice. just the right touch to start the day, if you know what i mean.

i had the hawaiian breakfast which was bread topped with ham, pineapple, and emmenthal cheese, and a fried egg.

needless to say that was filling. but also surprisingly good. the contrast between the pineapple and the cheese – toasted – was nice. salty and tart and gooey. yum.

but the star dish of the day was the mexican breakfast

chili con carne, nachos, and a side salad. wow. enough food to last you til dinner! a very hearty, tummy busting, toothsome dish. you must have this breakfast. not only because the food was good, but because it came with this

a shot of tequila.

now these people know how to break a fast!

kri in dumaguete

In places on February 23, 2012 at 11:29 am

before arriving in dumaguete, we did a bit of reading on where to eat. KRI was a restaurant we encountered quite a bit among the blogs. and when our friend ian casocot, who has a dumaguete-based food and arts column, suggested we try it we happily went along.

KRI has an open kitchen which is interesting. i enjoyed seeing the equipment used to heat up the wok, and really appreciated the cleanliness of the kitchen, it was also informative to see a pre-frozen tomato sauce being used for a number of dishes.

camille wanted a simple, hearty pasta and went with the seafood linguine

this dish fit the bill perfectly. it was indeed hearty and flavorful. a straightforward dish, is another way to put it.

i asked the waitress about their bestsellers and she mentioned the asian short rib which i tried

this was also very flavorful. bold asian tang and spice. easy to see why this is a bestseller.

ian had a beef dish named after genghis khan, his usual according to him.

a good blend of what one might expect of “mongolian barbecue” spices – thick and sweet. this dish made good use of the flavor of bell peppers for extra bite.

i can’t remember the price of each dish, but it ran into something like P220 per. i’m on the fence regarding overall evaluation. the food is good, yes. but not anything particularly special. the ambience though is very charming and the dish selection is enough to generate interest for a couple more visits. so maybe i’ll place this as something good and reliable and then try again for something that will wow.

texas joe’s in subic y’all!

In places on February 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm

it was a spontaneous valentine’s date. the original plan was to pick up wham burgers and picnic in UP or the quezon circle. we ended up driving to subic (!) but still felt a burger would be nice. had read something about texas joe’s having a decent burger so we decided to check it out.

the restaurant is along waterfront drive, a pretty part of subic. it had a good crowd when we got in, always a good sign. the menu looked quite interesting. straight out of a texas barbecue joint (at least, that how i imagine it). so of course, a burger – or bubba burger on their menu (P295)

this was indeed a decent burger. not great. maybe not even very good. especially not at that price. but a good option – filling, tasty enough. and those fries were really nice.

we also had the ribs (3-boned with 2 sides for P385)

this had great flavor! pretty much what i would expect after watching all these top chef shows about barbecue, taste-wise at least. but it was just this side of tough and that was a little disappointing. i can’t tell though if the trouble was their technique or the pig. but this was pretty much worth the price as it was a hefty portion. and the sides – we chose coleslaw and a 6-inch corn bread loaf – were nice.

the main reason actually for coming back to texas joe’s is their barbecue sauce

original barbecue, habanero hot, and carolina honey. all sooooooo good! all the sauces were pitch perfect – tang and spice and sweet and salt. this is a true must-try! i already know what i’ll order next – the brisket. and we’ll make sure to smother it with a LOT of this beautiful sauce

good times at adarna food and culture

In eating in manila on February 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

the first time we went here, it was just for dessert – now we were a big group and dinner was part of a string of festivities since camille’s best friend sunshine came to visit.

lots and lots of food! starting with a sigarillas salad with bagnet bits (P150)

a revelation to most of us. who knew sigarillas raw (or at most very lightly blanched) would work this well? with the traditional filipino dressing of vinegar, onion, and tomato. the bagnet bits of course work wonders.

another starter was fried lumpia (P100)

a nice lumpia, very tasty. still wondering though what would make it cost so much.

carb fixes were pancit tondo (P160) and batanes yellow rice (P150, family size)

the pancit wasn’t bad. a nice, solid, rather flavorful dish. but the table favorite was the rice. with tumeric and garlic. lovely undertones here – went perfectly well with most of our other dishes, starting with piassok (P320)

a dish native to sulu, it has very clear relations to the indonesian beef rendang. slow-cooked in coconut milk and spices, the piassok was quite toothsome. although much milder than beef rendang, it does still tickle the palate. but we’re not sure if this mildness is how the dish should be. we started to second guess because of the papaitan (P140)

it could have been that adarna was holding back on this dish to make it cater to a wider range of tastebuds, but this was certainly weak in terms of the bitterness and bite that a hardcore papaitan has (hence the name, right).

more bold in flavor was the humba (P200)

thick and sweet, just the way humba should be.

so yes, we had quite a full meal at adarna. it wasn’t exactly a gastronomic delight, but it was a good selection, hearty and tasty. and the charm of the place really is the whole experience – a nice old house, great antique decor… overall, we will still recommend it, especially if you’re in this part of town (kalayaan, quezon city near the city hall).

discovering korea in subic

In places on February 1, 2012 at 9:53 am

we were in subic christmas night and found ourselves with limited dining choices. but one place was shining bright – at the corner of canal and labitan, diagonally across the poco a poco hotel. we’re not entirely sure about the restaurant’s name but the sign said “seafood grill and restaurant.” remember these directions well, because you will want to eat here.

we were drawn first by the lights and then by these vents hanging down from the ceiling. now we know these are fairly commonplace in many korean restaurants, but this was the first time we became aware of them. naturally, we now wanted to eat something grilled at the table.

we also had the fairly usual bulgogi

these were served with the usual array of condiments

but the major discoveries for us were the leaves and soup. the leaves used to wrap the meat – usually we just see regular lettuce, but this time we were given sesame leaves

these were great! fresh with a nice pungent undertone that lent a good flavor contrast to the sweetish meat. now we know. we’re not having korean barbecue without it.

the other find was cold noodle soup.

it was sensually startling. deep blood red. and cold. not really knowing what to expect, we plunged into the dish – it was delicious. very refreshing actually. not as spicy as it looks, but enough for a little zing. this soup had a cooling effect balancing out the heaviness of the meat. very nice. again, we won’t have korean barbecue without this.

this restaurant has now become a benchmark of sorts for us. everything was so well done – with subtle and nuanced flavors. it wasn’t necessarily cheap – we spent something like P600/head. but then we had a lot of food. some restaurants in manila are cheaper, but are not as delicate. so when in subic, do give this a try.