Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lunch at The Grove

The Grove is a good place to meet up with relatives and friends whenever we are in Los Angeles. It is convenient in terms of location. It has parking (which is important for family and friends who are most likely to take their cars) and there are many restaurants to choose from (including the adjacent Farmers Market) where you can sit down for a meal or perhaps just sip a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. We had glorious weather the Saturday we were there so we took a short stroll checking out a few restaurants before deciding where to have lunch. We ended up at La Piazza towards the end of the lunch hour and so we were able to get a good table for our meal.

The Farmers' Market is just beside The Grove and the clock tower marks where it is with respect to the mall.
A lot of people were out to enjoy the crisp sun, a welcome respite from the cool weather. It was still cool but the sun made it a nice time be outdoors.
One of the best tuna sandwiches I've had with the menu indicating it had handline tuna, which is a more sustainable way of catching the fish.
Penne Arrabbiata

The fountain at the plaza with the theater in the background
Stalls and kiosks selling food (pretzels, hotdogs, etc.) and various stuff (smartphone cases, cables, caps, etc.)
Nike store ad - there are many other stores at The Grove including a Barnes & Noble and Nordstrom
Another look at The Grove
Coming soon: the original Farmers' Market.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pino - UP Village

We were back at a restaurant that we had eaten at before (quite a long time ago it seems). However, we have always found the restaurant full or without available parking so we have been passing up going to lunch in the restaurant. Pino is one of the more popular restaurants in UP Village. It is not located along Maginhawa Street among the collection of restaurants that made the street a popular eating venue. Pino is along Malingap Street just past the Bayantel office at the corner with Maginhawa Street.

Lechon kawali
Pino's adobo
Pino's version of chicken inasal
Leche flan
The food at Pino is okay and it has retained its good quality from the time since we last ate there. I guess that is why many people continue to eat there. The prices are also reasonable and that is also a major factor aside from the quality of the food. The only issue with the place is the limited parking. There are few slots and many cars would have to park precociously, encroaching upon the busy Malingap Street. I suggest an early or late lunch for those bringing along the cars.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Elixir - neighborhood cafe and quick breakfast

The Clairvoyant tried out a coffee shop on a meeting with her boss. Elixir was one of those you could classify as as shop around the corner. The corner happened to be near our hotel and right in front of the San Diego Trolley station at Fifth Avenue.

Elixir had good coffee and crepes.
The building turned out to be a historic one that used to be a department store and an upscale one in the old days.
People lined up to get good coffee and crepe to start their day on the right note.
We also noticed that Elixir had suspended coffee, which the barista casually offered to one guy who was probably a regular and a familiar face in the neighborhood. Suspended coffee refers to a cup or cups purchased by people and which are not consumed but held by the shop to give away later to people who couldn't afford a cup of coffee. The concept of the neighborhood coffee shop is good and something that should be encouraged even with the dominance of chains like Starbucks. Suspended coffee is also a good idea that should be promoted in the spirit of charity and "pakikipag-kapwa tao."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TruMoo chocolate drink

I always crave for a chocolate drink whenever I am traveling. If I were in Japan, I know where to get my Morinaga, Van Houten, or other hot or cold cocoa/chocolate drink that I usually just get from the convenience store or vending machine. I have found the similar chocolate drinks elsewhere and so that's what I checked out at the store near our hotel. I found this really creamy chocolate drink that was definitely good tasting and satisfied my craving for a drink to cap the night.

TruMoo claimed to be low fat and loaded with protein
More nutrition information at the back
Quite interesting is the TruMoo brand as you would think this was something out of Asia like Japan or the Philippines. Selecta in the Philippines, for example, has Moo chocolate milk drink, which is popular with kids. I can say though that TruMoo is much better tasting and is probably the 'truer' moo among the two. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

In room breakfasts

We woke up early one morning and didn't want to go out and find a new place for breakfast so we ended up ordering breakfast to be delivered to our hotel room. We ordered one American breakfast as we knew that the servings would be good for 2 people. And so it was that we got quickly reacquainted (not that we needed to) with bacon and eggs.

Bacon, eggs and potatoes
The breakfast cart came with mini-ketchup, bottles of various fruit marmalade and tabasco sauce
Multi grain bread
Coffee and orange juice
Our breakfast was indeed good for 2 people. Actually, we even had some leftovers so I ended up making a sandwich that I later ate for lunch.
Our breakfast also came with a fruit platter. However, the hotel staff added an extra plate of fruit to our cart. The Clairvoyant credits that to our being 'kind' to the staff. By 'kind' she meant that we were a bit generous with the tips that we gave out. I guess the staff took note of this so they responded favorably towards us.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Uncle Sam Diner - Tacloban

The food scene at Tacloban has picked up and this is probably due to the influx of visitors including those from other countries after Yolanda (Haiyan). There are many foreigners and others in the area doing mainly aid and development work after the massive relief effort for the region, which was devastated by the super typhoon and its storm surges in 2013.

Prior to our flight back to Manila, a friend and I decided to have our lunch at one of the many restaurants near our hotel. We ended up at Uncle Sam Diner not 5 minutes walk from where we were staying. Uncle Sam Diner obviously had an American diner theme and both the exterior and interior seemed to shout this theme to people passing by this curiosity.

Some curiosities on the shelves at the restaurant
An old radio and camera added to the curiosities on display
The wall paper is consistent with the name of the restaurant and its American diner theme
Antique phonograph also on display at the restaurant - we weren't sure if this were a replica or the real deal (antique?)
Model vehicles and signs on the wall of the restaurant
Even the lighting adds to the somewhat quirky interiors of this diner
Grilled pork chop with rice and vegetables
Ribs with rice and vegetables on the side
I would say that the food and service were good. The prices are also reasonable given that Tacloban is still very much a provincial city and not yet as cosmopolitan or urbanized as Cebu, Davao or Iloilo. If only for these then the diner deserves another visit whenever we would be in Tacloban. Of course, there are other restaurants there but at least the familiarity and assurance (of good food and service) would be noted in case one doesn't want to try out a new place to eat at. It is definitely not fast food so I guess that's a plus for people not wanting to fall back on Jollibee or McDonalds.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Japanese chocolates

En route to the US via Japan, we had a two-hour stopover at Narita International Airport. There were a few shops near our boarding gate and I browsed one of the shops for possible souvenirs on the way back to Manila. Of course, I had to look for items you could only get in Japan. These usually included various food items like cookies, pastries, teas and others you typically associate with Japan. The past few years, Japanese chocolates have become popular and I took some photos (for reference) of some of the most popular chocolates.
The tremendously popular Japanese KitKats include green tea, bitter chocolate and sakura
The popular Royce chocolates, which are the more refined chocolates at par with their European and American counterparts
Hokkaido's Shiroi Koibito
I will probably be shopping for a few boxes of these chocolates for our own consumption and as pasalubong for family and friends.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Formaggio pizza, pasta and salads

My first full meal after arriving at San Diego, CA was at a food court near our hotel. We were taking a walk and decided to grab a meal at a nearby mall. There were many selections but we just had to have quick Italian food rather than go for the rice meals of Asian selections.

We found Formaggio at a food court at a nearby mall
They had several pizzas and we got a slice each of pepperoni and cheese
Specials advertised
Our order of lasagna came with a generous serving of salad and a couple of pieces of garlic bread
We were reminded of how generous an order of food can be in the US. We always read about how these servings have led to many Americans becoming obese. And then you realize just how true this is when you eat out. We weren't able to eat all the food we ordered (it was good but just too much even for two people) and we couldn't take away the leftovers so we regretfully had to throw away what we weren't able to eat - a reminder that we shouldn't be so wasteful. Maraming nagugutom o walang makain kaya hindi dapat magsayang ng pagkain.

Angus Tapa Centrale, UP Village

We found another gem at UP Village but not along Maginhawa Street but along Malingap Street. Angus Tapa Centrale is found in a building along the middle of the south side of Malingap Street. We actually passed it but my companions saw it and asked me to turn around. It seemed to be the only establishment open and operating on what appeared to be a new and unfinished building along the street.

Customers can see their food being cooked through the glass window
Aside from the usual softdrinks available at the restaurant, they had Stellina's lemonade
The lemonade is locally made and fairly priced
Menu, specials and drinks can easily be seen from the bar
Angus beef tapsilog
Smoked bangus silog

The food we ordered were okay. My only comment about the tapa was that it was a bit on the oily side. This can be addressed quickly and simply by just putting the tapas on paper or napkins to allow the excess oil to be absorbed. Their sign outside the restaurant states that they are open 24/7 so perhaps we can try out the place for breakfast instead of having their all-day breakfast items during lunch.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ocho Seafood and Grill

The last time I was in Tacloban was the summer before that fateful typhoon season when Yolanda (International: Haiyan) laid waste to much of Tacloban, Leyte and many other towns and provinces. I had not been there since that time. I was back in Tacloban last month together with a mentor and close friend to assess transport and traffic for a proposed campus where an old one will be relocated. After work, we were treated to dinner by our host, the Dean of UP Tacloban, at Ocho Seafood and Grill, arguably the most popular restaurant in Tacloban at present. Here's a few photos from our dinner.

The restaurant beckons to passersby
Baked scallops
Grilled fish
Porbidang kangkong
Sinigang na isda
Their version of calamares
We also had shrimp and rice but I no longer took "souvenir" photos of these. It was a very good dinner that we had and left the restaurant very satisfied and already looking forward to the next time we can eat at Ocho. It was indeed a very popular restaurant both for locals and foreigners. There were many groups including families and office mates dining there and it seemed at first to be difficult to get a table (we had a reservation) but then we observed that they had a good turnover rate as people generally did not linger. So if you only have a lunch or dinner at Tacloban, make sure it will be at Ocho.