Saturday, April 27, 2013

UCC Vienna Cafe's Tan Tan Mien Pork Bone Soup and Halo Halo Cake

Until a few years ago I wasn't keen on Japanese food. I love my grub to pound my taste-buds with flavor, and thus I initially found Japanese cuisine to be a little bland. But I came around, and now I gravitate towards sashimi, teppanyaki, and the meal de jour--ramen! For my posts on ramen, you can go here and here.

I read Luzy Torres' column in the Philippine Star semi-regularly, and I know she appreciates good food. When she wrote that the ramen in UCC was so good she ate it regularly, I made a mental note to try it. Having been to Ukokkei, I tried to temper my expectations, but I was surprised nonetheless. I paired the Tan Tan Men with the Halo Halo Cake.

The ramen was spicy and nutty, a shade less tahn Ukokkei's but still good nonetheless. Plus points for the heat. Notice the red oil on top? That's the good stuff. The noodles could have been firmer. 

This cake had me at hello. When I espied this at the menu I knew I had to order it. Halo halo is the Philippine iced dessert, and I doff my hat off to the bright guys who decided to turn it into a cake. What I love--the center made of sweetened bananas, jackfruit, and macapuno. A layer of leche flan was woven in the ube chiffon cake. Rounding off this number are a double scoop of nangkasuy ice cram and cornflakes for crunch. Happy tummy!

UCC Viena Cafe has branches all over Metro Manila

The Curiously Named Peachy Peachy

When we order pansit malabon (noodle dish with seafood toppings and thick rice noodles), we usually pair this with pichi pichi. Pichi pichi is made of coconut and cassava and originates from the southern Luzon town of Quezon. 

Amber's pichi pichi is the gold standard, but an upstart has appeared--the curiously named Peachy Peachy of Arny-Dading. Their pichi pichi is softer, with a more pronounced cassava flavor.
peachy peachy drizzled with shredded cheese

For orders, call (+63) 02 281-9758

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cafe Adriatico's Lola Ising's Adobo

If you ask me, the national dish of the Philippines is adobo (pork stewed in vinegar and/or soy sauce). If stumped for choice when eating out, this my default order. There are myriad ways of cooking adobo--each household seem to have a unique way of cooking adobo. The rare times I cook adobo, I omit soy sauce and use lots of garlic.

During a night out at Malate's Cafe Adriatico with some friends, I shared an order of Lola Ising's Adobo. And what an excellent dish it was! The meat was superbly cooked--so soft and delicate, with a crisp outer layer. I love the whole garlic cloves that come with the dish. Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of imported garlic--they're hefty, but not as flavorful as the small local ones. But for this dish it was perfect, as it balances the richness of the meat. The accompanying garlicky fried rice appears to be cooked in the remaining sauce, and cooked just right. 
cafe adriatico moa's adobo. i prefer the malate branch's adobo, pictured below.
 i posted this picture because it's clearer
this one's both pretty and tasty

Cafe Adriatico
1790 Remedios Circle, M. Adriatico St.
Malate, Manila
(+63) 02 738-8220

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Update: Pangasinan's Heling and Violeta Special Tupig

Update: I met the gracious lady who provides us with Villasis-based Heling and Violeta Special Tupig. You can contact the latter through cell phone no. 0919-7596166

Tupig is described as a delicacy from Pangasinan made of glutinous rice and grated coconuts and cooked over  live coals. The municipality of Villasis is known as tupig central, and it is passing through this town on my way to and from Manila that I got acquainted with this snack. Sold by ambulant vendors (although there is now a section in town featuring stalls selling tupig), the tupig I knew were quite slight but tasty, especially when eaten warm. I love the smoky flavor and the interplay of coconut meat and the essence of the banana wrapper.

One day in the office someone brought a box of special tupig, the contents of which were heftier than usual, but just as tasty. The printed box did not provide any leads on who made it. Any idea where I can score a box of this special treat? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Camarines Sur's Avenue Plaza Hotel for Excelente and Mango Royale Ice Cream Cake

My favorite hotel in Naga City is Avenue Plaza Hotel, not only because of its great hospitality and excellent design, but also because they serve wonderful meals. Their desserts are to die for, and it's quite difficult picking the best from the lot. My colleagues and I agree, though, that these desserts are a must-try: 

everyone's favorite: the aptly named excelente. reminds me of black forest--vanilla ice cream
coated in choco syrup, surrounded by milk and white choco dips and strawberry drizzle

the mango royale ice cream cake. just the right sweetness. and quite addictive, too.
my office-mate, who wasn't into sweets, wasn't able to resist another serving

The Avenue Plaza Hotel
Magsaysay Ave., Naga City 
(+63) 54 473 999

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy Returns: Ukkokei Ramen Ron's Bestselling Tan Tan Men

You will recall that I wrote triumphantly of finally locating Ukkokei Ramen Ron's Mabini branch in an earlier post. I was happy with the Shio Tan Tan Men, and I vowed to return for more, hopefully with the holy grail: the best-selling Tan Tan Men. They only cook this starting at 6 pm, and only in limited quantities, so consider yourself warned.

After that fortunate afternoon, I returned a couple of times. The first one was during a lunch blow-out for my colleagues. A few days later, I went during dinner, and finally got to sample the highly regarded Tan Tan Men.

Miso butter corn ramen. Flavorful, complex, well-balanced, and the pork was to die for
The Tan Tan Men, Ukokkei's bestselling ramen. Creamy, nutty, complex, yet
everything comes well together. A little heat would make this even more wonderful
I was glad I ordered this--perfectly fried crispy chicken and rich Japanese mayo.
There's a side of crisp green in light soy dressing for roughage
Crispy banana fritters. This is one of two dessert offerings in the resto,
and this one's a winner. Gentrified turon with langka. Best eaten piping hot

Truth to tell, I prefer the Shio Tan Tan Men to the Tan Tan Men. Until I'm convinced otherwise, the first ramen I tasted in Ukokkei is tops for me.

Ukokkei Ramen Ron
2126 A Mabini St., Malate, Manila
(+63) 02 516-5511

Monday, April 8, 2013

Davao del Sur's Belito's Vineyard for Paella Negra and Crispy Spareribs

Last February I had to make a quick trip to Davao. Except for my hotel, I did not have much planned ahead. I only zeroed in on where to eat lunch after flipping through the pages of my plane's inflight magazine, where the black paella of Belito's Vineyard came highly recommended. Aside from pork, I love squid. You might recall a post I made earlier on paella negra here

Belito's Vineyard is tucked away in a residential compound, and perhaps because it was a Sunday (thank God it was open) it was unusually quiet. Only a couple was there when I arrived. I ordered the black pella and the crispy pork ribs.

The black paella, Belito's signature dish. It can handily serve 3-5 persons. Rich and dark, full
of squid meat. Onions and lime cut through the rich flavor. My favorite is the tutong,
rice sticking to the bottom of the pot made crisp.
Lightly battered pork ribs. I love the vinegary, spicy sauce which hint of fish paste.
This dish was also good, I can't help but eat with my hands.
They were short on home-made durian ice cream, so I made do with strawberry ice cream.
Rich and creamy--a perfect cap for a sumptuous lunch. 
Belito's Vineyard
Palm Drive, Bajada, Davao City
(+63) 82 227 6726
Opens daily, 11 am to 10:30 pm