Thursday, November 29, 2012

Comfort food on a Wednesday evening

Not too hungry but wanting to eat something light, the Clairvoyant and I decided to drop by the Kamirori branch at the Petron Station at La Vista for some sushi. Parking was easy at the basement and there weren't so many diners last night so we were able to get a good seat and a relaxing meal and conversation about our day at work. We also had miso and gyoza but it was the sushi that we came for and selected our favorite salmon and tuna.

Comfort food in the middle of the work week

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Late dinner at Kanzhu

There's a pamahiin that says one must not go straight back home when coming from a wake. And so we decided to have a late dinner one night after coming from the wake for the father of a very good friend of ours. Kan zhu was along the way to our home and so was convenient. Of course, the food was good and the only thing we considered was if there was parking space available. It was already a little late and after the typical dinner time for those eating out on a Sunday night so parking was available.

Wok fried fragrant chicken

Chinese sausage fried rice

Salt and pepper squid

We still haven't tried their XO noodles. Perhaps that is something to look forward to the next time we drop by for a nice meal.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I remember mentioning in previous blogs how we love Japanese food. Kamirori is a Japanese-Thai restaurant my friends and I discovered along a sidestreet of Katipunan Avenue. Craving for Japanese food after our stints in Japan, we enjoyed eating at the resto when we had the time for the commute from the university. Later, however, our lunches here became less frequent as the resto became crowded with students from the Katipunan schools who quickly found the affordable and tasty food such that these became a tambayan of sorts for many. Of course, it didn't help that parking became more difficult during lunch time. That was many years ago, and we did return occasionally to eat lunch but only during semestral breaks and summer when we knew there were fewer people who eat there.

So it was good news for us to learn that they opened a new branch along Katipunan at the Petron station near the entrance to La Vista. One night, the Clairvoyant and I suddenly remembered Kamirori as we were coming from an errand and decided to have dinner there. The food was good and the staff were attentive to their customers and the experience should merit another visit sometime soon when we're in the neighborhood for a quick lunch or dinner.

Beef teriyaki and gyoza



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kamias, atbp.

We grew a lot of small trees around my parents' home. Among these is a kamias tree that has survived over few decades since its planting in the early 80's. The kamias tree is just across from my sister's room and can easily be seen from the front of the house as it is just near the wall along the side of the property. It is a prolific tree so much so that one can harvest a lot of kamias any time of year. Kamias has many other uses aside from it being edible. Among the practical uses of the fruit is as a natural bleach or cleanser. It's quite good at removing stains without damaging the color of clothes.

I remember we used to have a chico tree at the front corner of our home that regularly bore fruit so much so that you'd don't have to crave for chico.  Much of the fruits, particularly those near the top and hard to get, were consumed by bats. The tree is said to come from fruit brought to Manila by paternal grandmother who usually brought some fruits from what was available from the trees surrounding our home in Iloilo. Unfortunately, the tree had to be cut when our house was remodeled to raise it against the perennial flooding in Cainta.

I also remember we had an atis tree that also bore its seasonal fruits but the old one also had to be cut down during the remodeling of the house back in the late 90's. The tree we have there now is a younger one but has been already quite consistent in producing the fruit that is my favorite. In fact, my mother still always stashes away the biggest fruits for me.

Kamias in my parents' backyard
There's a guyabano tree in another corner of our home that never fails to deliver fruits during the summertime. Tatay usually covered the small fruit to protect it against birds, bats or insects that might eat the fruit even before it ripened on the tree. I remember one time that we brought home several guyabanos that we were able to bring some to my in-laws.

I would prefer to live in a home where there's space to plant a few small trees whose fruits I could enjoy. Perhaps this wish is influence of my growing up in a home where there are trees and plants around, and that includes vacationing at our home in Iloilo where we were surrounded by so many plants and trees. Perhaps I will get what I wish for in the near future.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kanzhu at Marcos Highway

There's a new Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood along Marcos Highway. We actually tried it out twice during its "soft opening" and were quite pleased with what we ate and what we saw. I say "saw" because you can actually the cooking/food preparation from the windows in front and inside the restaurant. Kanzhu specializes in hand-pulled noodles and the preparation of the noodles can be quite a spectacle for people as evidenced from the interest they usually get from passers-by from a nearby school.

Kanzhu's specialty - sliced beef XO noodles
Salt and pepper squid
Chinese sausage fried rice
Quick look menu on the table
Judging from their menu and the quality of the food, we will be back for more to try out other items on their menu. We'd also recommend the restaurant to family and friends who like eating Chinese food.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taming the beast(s) of traffic

An article came out of Rappler last weekend referring to addressing one of the most persistent problems in Metro Manila - traffic. It is a problem that is the result of years of neglect, poor planning, inconsistencies and a lack of foresight for future transport needs.
"Perhaps there are more than one beast to talk about considering that there is not one cause of the transport and traffic problems we experience everyday in Metro Manila (and elsewhere). We love ranting about how traffic is bad and how other people should leave their cars at home and yet we do little ourselves to pitch in to improve the situation. And so we are beasts ourselves in this manner. The discussions on public transport and road infrastructure have been going on since perhaps the author decided to practice transportation engineering. What has changed? Have things improved or have they worsened? It is really difficult to effect change when decision-makers and policy-makers are short of memory or have no memory or understanding at all of what's going on. It seems that we are always starting on a clean slate every time someone new is at DOTC, DPWH or whichever agencies are supposed to handle transport and traffic in MM (and the country). Perhaps some criteria should be applied to whoever will be in-charge of transport and traffic, and one should be that the person or persons should be someone taking public transport to the workplace. At the least, we can be assured that he/she has first-hand experience of the painful way we travel each day and lead the person to really work towards improving transport in this country."

I don't usually write replies or comments on material posted online. I believe it is a very public platform and nowadays, when there's a lot of talk on items like plagiarism, transparency, freedom of information, etc., it seems so easy to solicit opinions and comments from anyone who would care or dare post one. And transport and traffic seems to be a topic where everyone has his/her own opinion so much so that some people tend to project themselves as experts on the topic. Nevertheless, I thought that an opinion was necessary in order to offer another perspective on the matter of the "beast." I would like to believe that in our case, we probably have had one too many "thought leaders" in transport and traffic. It is time that we also have "action leaders" who would do rather than simply say or write. We need people who will practice what they preach and actively and willingly contribute when called upon for help in solving this traffic mess we are in.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back at Tamagoya

I was finally able to take the Clairvoyant to this small Japanese restaurant in Marikina that's getting quite popular that its probably become one of the worst-kept secrets in that city. A friend took my colleagues and I to this restaurant near the corner of Sumulong Highway with Soliven Avenue in what was an Japanese auto surplus shop. The restaurant's license indicates the owner as a woman married to a Japanese national and we think its the husband who taught the cook how to prepare authentic Japanese food and the staff how to serve the Japanese way. The layout of the restaurant reminded us of where we used to eat near Midorigaoka Station in Tokyo near the Tokyo Institute of Technology or Tokodai (Tokyo Kogyo Daigaku) as it was called.

I was supposed to take the Clairvoyant at Tamagoya after she returned from Singapore last August but the weather got in the way and it took more than a month for us to finally have lunch there. It was our way of getting our "fix" in as far as Japanese food was concerned. We regularly ate at Japanese restaurants when we ate out in Singapore and so we missed our regular haunts there, particularly the ramen restaurants at the NEX mall, which was near our place.

Beef yakiniku topping

Ramen for the Clairvoyant
We'll certainly be back for more as we haven't tried many other items on their menu. Even now, my colleagues and I are also planning to have lunch out once we have some time to spare. The restaurant is a good 40 minutes drive from the university along a route that can be quite unpredictable in terms of traffic. Still, I think we'll have a go at it soon as our schedules for the semester permit. Meanwhile, the Clairvoyant and I might just drop by sometime soon...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Kebab Factory

Writing about Indian food recently, I couldn't help but take the opportunity to take a few photos at The Kebab Factory, where the Clairvoyant and I ate lunch last weekend. It was the Clairvoyant who first tried the restaurant at Burgos Circle in Bonifacio Global City. It was also there that I first tried their take on Indian food and we have been going there everytime we feel a craving for Indian food. And so we were happy to see them opening a branch at the SM Megamall, which is more accessible to us on weekends. The have a very good menu so diners would have a lot to choose from. In our case, we like to try out something new every time we eat there though we also have our favorites that we tend to order for quick lunches.

Place mat and cubiertos
Interiors at the branch in SM Megamall
Crispy Papadum
Beef keema and saffron rice
Chicken tikka
I had mango lassi and water to wash down the food while the Clairvoyant opted for Coke Zero as her stomach usually doesn't agree with the lassi. The lassi was perfect with the spiciness of the food and we left the restaurant with full stomachs and happy with our lunch. We should be back at the restaurant sometime soon...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Singapore Redux: Menya Musashi

I can never get over our time in Singapore. Even months after we moved back to Manila, I still think about our haunts and our adventures trying out different restaurants in the city state. And so when I stumbled into some photos from the Clairvoyant's iPhone, I just couldn't resist writing about another restaurant we will surely visit again when we're in Singapore.

Menya Musashi is a relatively new restaurant in Singapore (I think they only opened early this year.) but is actually a foreign foray for an established restaurant in Japan. One can Google its branches in Tokyo for the "original" thing. But for many who have not gone to Japan to savor its noodles in the many really good restaurants there offering their takes on ramen, udon and soba, Menya Musashi offers the real thing (i.e., authentic). I would like to think that Singaporeans and the so many expats/foreigners living in the city state have developed a sophisticated palate for the plethora of dishes available there. So it is not a surprise that a lot of people line up even before the restaurant opens, indicative of their appreciation of the quality of the food offered by the restaurant. It's a no-brainer - people won't be queuing and coming back for more if the food wasn't good.

Long line of customers even before the restaurant opens
The interiors make it seem like one is in Japan
Interesting column
Gyoza for appetizer
Among the best ramen we've had outside Japan

I think I can compare the taste to previous meals I've had when I was still in Japan though I've forgotten the names of those restaurants in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya. I believe the secret is in the broth. The process by which chicken, pork or beef is cooked and simmered including the duration and spices used would dictate how the ramen will taste. Of course, the noodles should be "perfect" and cooks should watch out that the noodles do not absorb so much water (overcooked) that they feel soggy (and sorry) even with the great broth. Menya Musashi's ramen was just right and perfect for a rainy day.

Menya Musashi is located at the ground floor of the Raffles City mall along Bras Basah Road and across from the historic Raffles Hotel.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My first car

My first car was actually my father's. He had bought the car with me in tow in 1993 right after I graduated from college as we needed to have a vehicle we could use during weekends when he didn't have his company car. Tatay didn't want to use the company car for personal trips as he believed it was inappropriate. I like to think that I acquired my father's thinking in so far as what is appropriate and not in cases where official or office matters are concerned. I have a vehicle assigned to me at the office but I only use it for when I have official or office-related meetings and seminars. Only in the extreme cases have I asked to be driven to or from home. These exceptions include when the road to our house is flooded and I can't use my car. Our office vehicles all have good ground clearance and could easily wade through flood waters (except the Ondoy and Habagat types, of course).

I have many fond memories with this car. It was the car by which I learned how to change a flat tire. It is the same car that ran out of gas one time the gauge wasn't functioning and my father had to come to my rescue as I didn't know what to do or troubleshoot the engine. It was the car I drove when I was dating and later when I was married. It had been borrowed by friends and my brother-in-law on days when their cars were "coding." These stories deserve their own posts.

The car was totally submerged by the floods brought about by Ondoy (Typhoon Ketsana) and was all covered with mud including the interiors. I had it towed from my parents' garage and practically gave it away to a good friend who knew something about cars and particularly this one, which he drove and helped troubleshoot before.

The Toyota Corona 1982 Wedge had a 4R engine but this was replaced by the previous owner with the T2 engine shown in the photo. This is a more powerful engine that allowed my Corona faster speeds along the highway. You can feel and hear the difference when your behind the wheel.
The plate ended with a 2 and so coding was Mondays. That's Roy, our office driver, who acquired the car after Ondoy. It took him 3 years to finally have the car running well and the confidence to take it to trips with his grandchildren. I am happy that the car is of service again after its resurrection from the muck of Ketsana.
It looks almost the same as when we got the vehicle back in 1994, after my graduation from college and as I was taking my graduate studies in UP. Roy's fixed the electrical and the headlights are back on. These "eyes" are quite bright for night driving and having all four on is enough to make those newer cars (or those who changed their lights so that they could be brighter, sometimes more than what is legal) switch to low beam when encountered in undivided highways.
The paint job is still okay and from the looks of it in the photo, magara pa and macho. The only thing that needs to be fixed is the air-conditioning. The car used to have a strong air-con that had two modes, manual and automatic. Manual was appropriate for city driving and particularly in heavy traffic where the compressor compensates for idling. Automatic was good for highway driving where the engine is in gear and the compressor is able to deliver the comfort required of the air-con. The only other thing left for fixing would be the interiors. But that should be easy.

For me, the car had tremendous sentimental value to it. It was the car I drove to one date when at the eve of my departure for my studies in Japan in 1996, we watched the Sting concert at what was then known as the ULTRA. Years later, it was the car the Clairvoyant and I used on our first formal dinner out after I had returned from my studies in Japan. I have lots of fond memories with this car and I hope that its new owners would have more as well.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fruits in ice cream

After enjoying lunch at an Italian restaurant at the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay, we decided to have ice cream for dessert at the nearby stand of Fruits in Ice Cream (FIC). Their summer cafe offers sundaes splits, shakes and scoops. For scoops one had the choice of having their ice cream on a cone or cup. We opted for a couple of scoops each on cones and indulged ourselves while seated and enjoying the cool breeze at the ridge.

The sign is practically the menu
The sign suggests that the  FIC Summer Cafe is currently only in Boracay and Tagaytay
The Clairvoyant watching over our order of two scoops each
Generous scoops of yummy ice cream