Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

a few tips on eating in hawker centers in singapore

In places on July 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm

we’re not experts on singapore – not at all. but we’ve had a couple of trips in quick succession and had most of our meals (if not all) in hawker centers. some of the famous ones are lau pa sat, newton, and old airport road. in our opinion old airport road wins by a mile. that’s where all these pictures come from. but wherever you go, these tips should be useful.

Number 1. Be calm. When you step into a hawker center, you will be at once faced with around 100 food stalls all with a number of signs like this

Don’t be intimidated. Take your time until you find something exactly to your liking. Don’t worry, all of it will taste good.

Number 2. Many of the stalls are in fact serving the same thing so it’s not like you have infinite choices. A lot serve either exactly the same dish or some variant of stir-fried noodles. The popular ones are easy to find because they have long queues.

Number 3. Sit near where you’ll buy food or buy food near where you’ll sit. It’s easy to get lost otherwise.

Number 4. Eat your food piping hot. That’s when it’s at optimum deliciousness. Don’t take your time chatting – you can chat after you’ve eaten.


Number 5. Bring tissue and hand sanitizer. The stalls won’t give it to you and sellers will try to peddle at P70 (SGD 2) for a small pack.


zubuchon, a nibble of the heralded “best pig in the world”

In places on July 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm

the second i found out we had a chance to go to cebu (for a conference), i immediately searched for zubuchon and where to find it. zubuchon is the lechon that anthony bourdain tried when he was in the philippines (a really fun episode of no reservations) and he pronounced it “the best pig in the world” which is quite an honor given he’s known to be a huge pork aficionado.

anyway, we found a zubuchon branch near our hotel in mactan but, alas, they didn’t have whole pig left! what they had was lechon liempo which appears on their menu as boneless lechon. we decided to go for it after being convinced that it was cooked exactly the same way as a whole pig would.

yes, it was very very good. not exactly though the sort of thing that would make me close my eyes and go mmmmmmm as i savored each flavor. there was a fine, subtle herby undertone (lemon grass and something else perhaps?) it was well salted and none of the heavy porky taste that can make things unpleasant.

but honestly, i’m not sure i’m willing to pronounce it best lechon or liempo much less best pig. but yes, it’s very tasty, very moist and that skin is every bit as good as it looks. to make a full evaluation though i still want to try the actual lechon version as i’m a fan of lechon ribs and would need to try the flavors from there.

to cut through the richness of the pork we had seaweed salad

very fresh, well-presented and with a really nice vinegar mixture on the side.

to drink, zubuchon’s famous kamias shake

this drink is a stunner – retaining all the good flavor of kamias while losing the bite that would make you pucker. don’t drink anything else here but this. we spent P400 for the whole thing (the pork was half a kilo) and felt it was pretty good value.

i thought i’d get to try the full pig version at the airport, but they were also sold out when we got there. i suppose we’ll have to wait a bit longer to really sink our teeth into a zubuchon lechon. what they did have frozen for take out was sisig – but since i’m from pampanga, i though it was safe to pass on that one.

antonio’s grill: kind of like a poor relation

In places on July 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm

because of our really great experience in antonio’s a couple of months ago, we were excited to try antonio’s grill as soon as we had a chance for dinner in tagaytay.

antonio’s grill has a great location along the ridge and the interior is very pleasant. wide and cool with the red and white of the original antonio’s.

since antonio is from bacolod, we ordered two of the better known dishes from the area: batchoy

and chicken inasal

i wonder if it was fair for us to compare these to what we have in negros. on one hand, these are not prepared in the local context by cooks who have spent their lives perfecting the flavors; on the other, these are done by a renowned restaurant name whose flagship restaurant is always mentioned among asia’s best.

we were, in a word, underwhelmed. the flavors of these dishes, while correct, were muted. some time during the meal i wondered if it was because there was a western aesthetic of subtlety being applied when these are not actually subtle dishes. whatever it was, they were simply not as tasty as they could have been.

price-wise, reasonable. we spent P400 for a bowl of batchoy, an order of pa-a (thigh and leg) and isol (ass). but perhaps better to order something else. on our end, we decided to just save up a lot and grab a steak at the original antonio’s where, apparently, the gastronomic delights are concentrated.