Saturday, October 29, 2016

Eat, Dine, Wash at Grub and Guzzle in Balagtas

Hungry from a long journey, one has to be reminded of these values.
It was past one o'clock already. We haven't taken our lunch yet. Waze app says of nine kilometers to our next destination. Roads are narrow, some concrete and needed repair. From our last point of departure in Pandi, we were trying to find the nearest exit to North Luzon Expressway. But wait! We still have to take our lunch before finally leaving. 

We said to ourselves - push more. It literally meant, drive more and discover more. We are not familiar with the place. We do not know fast food chain there. Maybe there is no 7 Eleven either; we did not see any. We thought of the place as greenery, rice fields, rural communities. There are perhaps restaurants that serve local food. There is perhaps itik (duck) here or kambing (goat) specialty here, we told ourselves, until we saw a somewhat inviting car wash that has Chinese bamboo surrounding it. Here we go, maybe we can have something to eat here. Presto! 

Kalderetang kambing (left) and fried itik (right)
The car wash is within the area in an establishment that shares the same place with a restaurant. We assumed it has one owner as the restaurant invites one to "eat, dine, and wash." I am talking about the restaurant we discovered in Balagtas, Bulacan - Grub and Guzzle - located at Milagrosa Homes, Burol 2nd. While one brings a car for washing, he or she can eat quickly or have quality time savoring the food they serve in the restaurant. 

The concept of the restaurant and car wash is very strategic for me. I am highlighting Grub and Gruzzle as a restaurant to try in Balagtas. Established in 2016 only, I could say that there is creativity in its simplicity. Things that I liked here are food, design and the taste of itik and kambing which we ordered amid our hunger from a long drive. 

Beauty in simplicity.

Interior design is click to me because there is not much colorful paint. Simple wall looks vintage and making use of things which one may not be using anymore and transforming old stuff into a creative visual art although the wall decors do not necessarily hold some old stuff. For instance, the clock blends with the concrete color while the board with shoes on top of it highlights the other side. I loved the Beatles decor as I am a fan of the band.

Of course, good place needs to be outstanding for the good food it has. We ordered kalderetang kambing and fried itik - the former at P180 per serving while the latter at P200 each. Cheaper already than the general price in Metro Manila. The kalderetang kambing tasted well that we couldn't wait anymore for the itik to be served as we consumed it ahead. The itik tasted well - not so salty not so bland - crunchy and well done. We ended up taking out three orders of fried itik

We left the restaurant so full as we headed to another long journey. Discovering a new place and a new taste takes patience indeed. Nevertheless, there will always be a gem in every place.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Inside a Jeepney

If you have not yet tried riding a jeepney or have tried a jeepney like Papua New Guinea and yet you wanted to try its new utility, let's go to Gerry's Jeepney. It is a restaurant at Maginhawa Street in Quezon City (Philippines, of course). The entrance of the restaurant greets its patrons with "sakay na!" Then, literally, you will see those jeepneys like an array in a terminal. 

Inside the restaurant are various signs for routes in Metro Manila. You have to get yourself first of the jeepneys so that you can eat inside those vehicles. Inside the jeepneys are tables and chairs for the fine dining. However, if the jeepneys are full, you've got two choices. Either you wait or you eat inside the restaurant's main hall. If you can wait, better to have a seat inside the jeepneys. However, if you're hungry enough to wait for the jeepneys to be vacated, find a seat inside the restaurant then.

Even the menu is named into various routes in Metro Manila. For instance, this menu good for two to four persons is called Cubao Yale, a jeepney route in Quezon City.

There are indeed many artistic ways on how Filipino restaurant owners present their business to particular groups of customer. In Gerry's Jeepney, while Filipinos are familiar of the menu and the jeepneys, the experience is worth the try for both Filipinos and foreigners alike. Sakay na!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Chubschasers' Smoothie Discovery

cucumber malunggay smoothie
I recently visited a small restaurant in Visayas Avenue in Quezon City. It looks vintage from the inside with more words in the wall and inspiring sentences in the table. My discovery there is not just the place that I like - I like vintage ideas - but the smoothie that I had never tried before.

Chubschasers looks like one of the restaurants that I visited in Nimmanheimen Road in Chiangmai. Simple and friendly.  The discovery that I am referring to is Chubschasers' beverage. At a price of 99 pesos, the cucumber malunggay smoothie is the best and first time I have ever tried for this. It is a combination of cucumber, malunggay and lime juice.

For those who have never tried, visit Chubschasers and try the cucumber malunggay smoothie and definitely, you'll gonna say, let me order another one. The value added for me for the smoothie is the fact that it uses a bottle like that of the glass being used in Gawad Kalinga's Enchanted Farm's organic restaurant. I really love the idea of reusing old stuff and making the most artistic way out of it.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Suncruises' Manila Bay Cruise Dinner Buffet

My assigned table is good for four persons.
MV Spirit of Manila
I was so damn bored last weekend. When I am in this condition, I reward myself with sweets, food and visit to any interesting place (not necessarily mall). Cruise dining is one in my wish lists but not that day yet. As often, when I plan a getaway, it does not happen but when unplanned, it happens.

Since I do not use any credit card and my Paypal is empty as well, I had to call the booking office of Suncruises if I can still be accommodated for early dinner. The 6 p.m. dinner is fully booked therefore, I had to choose the earlier one, 4:15 p.m. onward. It is an hour and 30 minutes cruise in Manila Bay with dinner buffet and live band.

Suncruises Reservation Office in Pasay City just beside Prestige Cruise office.
I called on the booking office and reserved for a seat. They usually get the complete name of the guest and age. Passengers should be in a manifesto when in Manila Bay. In case any untoward incident happens, everyone has to be accounted for. A reference number was given to me and I had to be at the Esplanade Seaside Terminal - Suncruises Booking Office at 3 p.m. for me to pay the fees.

From Mondays to Thursdays, regular rate for cruise dinner (plated) is 550 pesos per person while on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; dinner buffet is available at 650 net per person. Immediately after paying for the cruise dinner, I had to pay for terminal fee at 30 pesos per person. The place where the booking office is located is called Seaside Terminal, which is along Seaside Boulevard, Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.

The seats in the upper deck have been booked that is why I was assigned to a seat in the lower deck. Before boarding, it is compulsory to have the sticker put on the guest's dress. The Suncruises booking office provides the sticker immediately after paying the dinner buffet and the terms and conditions of the cruise. It contains the name of the guest and the table number where he or she has to be seated aboard.

The Seaside Terminal opens with the security guard inspecting the sticker and the terminal fee before boarding. I was the only guest who was just alone while the rest came by two's or more - some families, foreign tourists and pairs. I seated in table 14 which is good for four persons.

The motif inside the cruise was still Valentine, no wonder, February had just came past. On board is music being played and live band with acoustic guitar while the buffet dinner is already open. The crew were accommodating while there was a Filipino pair who used to take too much pictures - no wonder, Filipinos. I hadn't had much pictures, not even by myself. Unluckily, I was disgusted with calls that are work-related while I was already savoring the food. I had to stop for a while and answer all calls and make calls pertaining to office concerns. My goodness!

Going back to the food, there were several courses. I liked the pork very much. The sesame seeds in the beef tasted well. The sotanghon gave a Chinese taste. Two types of desserts and some crackers added more. The one I loved because I missed to have - brewed coffee. If you are not contented with the food yet and wanted to order more drinks, there are more to order while on board  for a separate fee.

Lucky that I was seated next to the buffet table; people from the upper deck had to move down to get their food and go back upstairs. I can get more coffee and take more viand. Despite going there alone, it was another food experience I had. Although last year, I cruised Manila Bay buffet was not included in the package. This time, I was so full that I did not eat breakfast in the next day.

How to Reserve
Call +632 834-6857; +632 831-8140
Mobile 0917-513-2625; 0922-337-0068

Reserve Walk-in
Esplanade Seaside Terminal, Seaside Boulevard
SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City (near Viking restaurant)

How to Get There (Commuting)
LRT from Roosevelt Station in Quezon City
Alight in Buendia/Gil Puyat Avenue
Ride a multicab going to SM MOA (Fare: 7 pesos)
Ask the multicab driver to drop you off at One Esplanade
Walk toward Esplanade Seaside Terminal

Well, my next destination being planned - Corregidor!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Good Food in Donsol

I went to Donsol about three years ago together with Couchsurfers from Spain. There, I didn't join the whale-shark adventure because I just thought that I had an adventure when order was not yet in place in 2001. What I discovered while waiting for my companions was good food for Bicol delicacies, the laing.

Recently, I went back to Donsol together with my family. While the weather was not good due to strong sea current caused by tail-end of the cold front, we decided to go because that was my only free time to be with them.

One serving of chopsuey is good for 3 to 4 persons. 
Compared to my experience about 10 years ago, I could say that Donsol has indeed evolved into a tourist destination friendly for both local and foreign visitors. Whether one is able to see a surfacing whale-shark or not, the plus point for me is good food. Good food is my requirement for every destination that I go to.

In Dancalan, the barangay where the tourism center is located, tourists flock to register for the adventure and board the local boats. While waiting and as tourists return, they can savor the good food that the local restaurants offer. Take for example, Mommy Nem's restaurant, where we ate for lunch. The menu is just affordable and at a serving good for three to four persons already. Add more the mango and banana shake, perfect for a lunch by the beach while sniffing fresh air.

The neighbor restaurants are budget-friendly yet neat and with a nice view of the sea. Take for example the Siramsana Restaurant. It was there where I ate the locally made laing. For a Bicolano, who used to taste laing and can tell whether it has been prepared by a genuine Bicolano or not, I could say, "siram sana."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Flavorful Mayflower

Nimman neighborhood. A sight from my hotel room.
If there was one thing that I should be glad of before I set foot to Chiangmai, it was the kindness of our host - Pannita. She reserved our hotel and chose the most ideal location for first timers like me. Her choice for us was Mayflower Grande Hotel. I did not regret because it is a very strategic place for foreigners with walking distance to a 7/11 store and surrounded by lots of restaurants - Italian, Japanese, Thai, name it and you have it.

My breakfast in Chili bistro always comes with a cup of coffee.
A buffet breakfast is indeed a value added for Mayflower.
Aside from the affordable hotel rate, value added to the hotel is the restaurant and a coffee shop. The restaurant is Chili Bistro. It serves an eat-all-you-can buffet breakfast from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. It serves a combination of American and Thai breakfast. I loved the hot soup, spicy food and always, the Thai rice. At a rate cheaper than that of a nice hotel in Manila, the good breakfast really serves as value for money. 

This is what sufficiency economy is all about. It is not about theory but it is a reality felt in Thailand.
The famous pure carrot juice I ordered repeatedly. 
Aside from the Chili Bistro, the hotel also houses the Chuen Bar. It is a coffee shop that serves not just coffee but fresh juices. It is so famous for its carrot juice. I would be glad to be back in Nimman. 

Mayflower Grande Hotel is located at 9 Soi 9, Nimmanhaemin Road, T. Suthep, A, Muang Chiang Mai. For inquiries, email or visit the website at