Friday, November 27, 2015

Kazoku, Maginhawa Revisited

We had several more lunches at Kazoku after my initial post about the restaurant about 3 months ago. One time we went there though, the power was out so we had to settle our cravings for Japanese food elsewhere.

Menu cover
Kazoku's sushi bar
Chicken katsu curry
Yasai itame and teriyaki chicken
Kazoku is still probably the best Japanese restaurant in UP Village. The quality of the food says a lot about how good this restaurant is, and the owner and chef is Japanese. We have observed, however, that they would need to improve some aspects of their service in order to better serve their customers. This includes a bit more training for the staff to have better (and therefore more attentive) coverage of customers. We observed in a couple of recent lunches there that there is a tendency to have no one serving a number of tables as safe tend to congregate on the tables with the bigger groups of people.  While this might be understandable considering these probably have more orders, other people will tend to feel unattended to and might lose interest if they don't get served in a timely manner. One time, they were so busy that the owner had to go out and serve customers himself. This was not odd as we had seen him come out of the kitchen before and check on his diners to ask if how they found the food. But that time we were there, he was really going around and serving people himself. We thought it would be best if he was spending more time in the kitchen rather than waiting on people.

Parilla Bacolod Chicken at UP Village

I almost forgot to write about another restaurant we had lunch at in UP Village.  Parilla is located at the same building as Angus Tapa Centrale and Ally's All Day Breakfast along the very busy Malingap Street. The restaurant specializes in Bacolod's famous chicken inasal as well as other Ilonggo favorites.

Their menu is supposed to Ilonggo favorites including the very popular chicken inasal but we saw many items that weren't really Ilonggo dishes like pinakbet and sinigang (unless its somewhat Ilonggo style?).
The decors are consistent with the theme of the restaurant as there are many chicken ornaments like these figurines and what appeared to be stuffed chicken on these shelves.
The counter display shows dessert options including tiramisu and leche flan.
Chicken inasal - I usually order pecho (breast) and a colleague usually orders paa (leg)
Kinilaw na tangigue - raw fish marinated with vinegar (basically ceviche)
Sign in front of the restaurant
I think they have one of the best chicken inasal in the UP Village area and has a slight distinction over the mass produced grilled chicken offerings of Mang Inasal. The menu seems limited and perhaps one shouldn't take the list of Ilonggo favorites too seriously. However, we will definitely be back for our inasal cravings.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Chocolate-covered potato chips

The Clairvoyant and I have been curious about the chocolate-covered potato chips being sold by Royce. They were supposed to be very good and one can easily finish a bag in one sitting. So one time while browsing the foreign foods shelves at the supermarket for soba sauce, I casually picked up a cup of chocolate covered potato chips. Showing it to the wife, she asked me to take two so we can sample them. Each cup was light so we didn't expect much in terms of the amount of chips inside each.

The hiragana states 'jaga' and jaga stands for potato. So 'jaga choco' roughly translates to 'chocolate potato'.
Inside the package are a few chocolate-covered potato chips. The chips have ridges, which I guess makes them easier for the chocolate to attach to.

These chocolate-covered potato chips are made by Bourbon, a Japanese company specializing in snacks. I have enjoyed a lot of their products when I was in Japan so I wasn't surprised that their 'jaga choco' was also very good. It is quite pricey though at 120+ PHP per cup so it isn't something you would want to splurge on more frequently. Still, we would probably be getting a couple of cups from time to time. This definitely counts as some sort of comfort junk food.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wee Nam Kee, Fairview Terraces

We were 'researching' for places to eat at Fairview Terraces and I mentioned to the wife that I saw this Singaporean-themed restaurant in that mall. So we searched for the restaurant online to see its menu. The mention of cereal prawns got us interested and, having been residents of Singapore for 1.5 years, we also missed the food we ate there whenever we ate out.

Wee Nam Kee is located at the ground level (that's the garden level) of Fairview Terraces. We regularly passed on the restaurant as we dined at other restaurants in the area. That turned out to be somewhat a bad idea as Wee Nam Kee served good food and is family friendly. Following are photos I took of the food we ate a couple of Sundays ago.

Wee Nam Kee fried rice
Salted egg Chinese style fried chicken
Sauteed beef with broccoli and mushrooms
A cool glass of barley juice
Cereal prawns
Salt and pepper squid

The service was good as the staff were attentive. The food was good and we thought it reminded us of the good times we had in Singapore. We will definitely be back at this restaurant and perhaps try out their other branches if we come upon them elsewhere.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Silly policies on shopping bags and tactless security

Most if not all major supermarkets in the Philippines now encourage their customers to bring their own reusable bags for their groceries. Many supermarkets have even made the effort to design their own reusable shopping bags that many call 'eco-bags' to reflect their intended purpose relating to the environment. The observation many years ago was that there was just a lot of plastic waste due in part to the plastic bags used by supermarkets and groceries that, despite their being reusable, always ended up in the trash and sewers.

So we were surprised when when a major supermarket chain, Puregold, barred the wife from taking her reusable bag (which was clearly from Puregold Duty Free in Clark). The guard told her that she was supposed to leave her bag at the counter, get a number and someone was supposed to get her bag when she checked out the items she would be buying. The same was being told to other customers including one senior citizen who was offended by the manner he was told by another guard.  I assume that this was a policy only in their branch at Fairview Terraces because I had been taking my reusable bags to the Puregold branch in Q-Plaza and I have not been prevented from taking the bag as I shopped in their grocery there. Regardless, perhaps it was the manner by which their security staff were telling people that they couldn't take their bags inside that offended people.

What's with such policies? It is one of those silly policies that don't make sense. I'm sorry to say but other, even bigger retailers allow customers to go inside their supermarkets and shops with their reusable bags and I am not aware of a proliferation of shoplifting or stealing in these supermarkets. Even the old Cherry Foodarama, from which Puregold seems to have patterned its style of checking what their paying customers are taking out their doors, had no policies that discriminated and judged their customers. I would say that their security problems will not be solved by such policies and that these only hinder or discourage people from using reusable bags. And I did see a lot of people ending up having their groceries in plastic bags - a clear violation of a Quezon City Ordinance that is supposed to ban plastic bags (even those that are claimed to be biodegradable) from supermarkets.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Restaurants to check out in Antipolo

I had written a couple of days before about our short list of restaurants in Antipolo. We actually had spotted many interesting restaurants as we went around the city, particularly along the circumferential road  where there are many new buildings hosting what looks like new restaurants, and our commuting routes along Ortigas Ave. Extension and Sumulong Highway. The wife came upon this blog listing 17 exciting restaurants in Antipolo:

The list includes some restaurants you can easily spot along the roads. We've seen many of these but haven't gotten to trying them out. Perhaps the upcoming holidays this Christmas Season would allow us to finally eat as some if not all (17 is a lot of restaurants!) of these picks. Of course, it would be nice to have family and friends to share and enjoy the food.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beef bowl celebrations

There's something about gyudon (thin strips of beef toppings on rice) that I associate with celebrating something with a good friend. You see, he broke the great news of his upcoming wedding to me when he visited me in Yokohama back in 1998 at a Yoshinoya near my home. Since then, I have come to link beef bowl celebrations with good news and Yoshinoya, in particular, as a place for some comfort food.

A couple of weeks ago after a seminar for his youngest son's upcoming Confirmation, I decided it was time for another beef bowl. I have not had the chance to eat at Yoshinoya for a while and there was one at a nearby mall. By myself, I thought about 17 years ago and the present and how life has changed about us. He has 2 sons both grown up now and in their teens. I have a very young daughter myself who's just starting to discover a lot of things. Life is good! And God has blessed us with our children - as well as these gyudon we enjoy to celebrate life. :)

Yoshinoya's gyudon and shiitake shumai on the side


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Marison's at Robinsons Place Antipolo

We had been curious about a restaurant we've learned about from friends that we also googled over the internet. Marison's is located at the town center of a residential development deep inside Antipolo along the road connecting it to Binangonan and Angono. We planned to go there but just couldn't proceed with the drive as it was basically out of the way for us. It was not even along our regular commuting routes. So we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered during one of our trips to the Robinsons mall near our home that Marison's was opening a branch at the mall. It didn't take time before the restaurant opened but were only able to eat there a couple of Sundays ago.

The interior features these lamps.
The divide between the dining area and the kitchen features Filipino-style windows including stained glass.
Ensalada Marison - highly recommended! We were surprised our Ally ate a lot of the salad. We thought it was probably the fruits and the dressing that got her interested in the salad.
Grilled Salmon sa Miso - normally the combination would have been a version of sinigang but this was one of those surprisingly perfect concoctions. Our daughter also loved the salmon.
Molo - their version was tasty and the dumplings were generously sized. We thought a bowl would be perfect comfort food for rainy days.
Pork Adobo - that's bagnet on top of the adobo; as if the pork wasn't enough. The meat was tender and contrasted with the crunchy, chicharon-like bagnet. This is quite a sinful dish so we decided to just get a few bites

Marison's is a welcome addition to the growing number of restaurants in Antipolo that we like going to (bot including the fast food types). It's actually a short list that we maintain and one from which we choose where to eat at when we do eat out like when we have guests. We don't generally eat out these days as we prefer our home cooked meals and that includes preparations for our daughter. But when we do eat out we take her along so she could also enjoy good food at restaurants we carefully select so she could have nutritious meals. Marison's is one of those that we found serves good meals; many being what we call Filipino food.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Gyoza and Ramen House, Malingap, UP Village

There's a new Japanese themed restaurant that we found along Malingap Street in UP Village. We accidentally discovered the simply named "Gyoza and Ramen House" while checking out another Japanese restaurant near it. The latter we saw but had no parking available so we decided to move on. Just before we maneuvered to turn back near Kalayaan Avenue, one of my companions saw what looked like a new establishment. In fact, we had to ask if they were already open as the sign still said 'closed' and we saw that they opened at 12:00 noon. Fortunately, the staff allowed us in and we did not regret trying out this restaurant.

The restaurant's interiors
We like the way they used old Japanese newspapers as wallpapers
Chicken teriyaki
Their original gyoza (fried dumplings) are good
Chicken karaage (fried breaded chicken)
Yasai itame (stir fried vegetables)
Restaurant front along Malingap Street and near the corner with Kalayaan Avenue

Gyoza and Ramen House restaurant is open for lunch between 12:00 - 3:00 PM and dinner from 5:00 - 10:00 PM. It is definitely a welcome addition to the Japanese themed restaurants in the UP Village area and we will definitely be back to satisfy the next time we have cravings for Japanese food.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Undas traffic

Metro Manila traffic is usually lighter during Undas – the days when we remember those who passed away. Many people go back to their hometowns and this is significant because many residing or working or studying in Metro Manila hail from other provinces. Of course, some people would rather go on a vacation during this time with many now opting to travel abroad rather than braving crowded cemeteries of their hometowns. Some do the so-called ‘staycations’ – basically staying put at home during the undas break (Sorry, staying in a hotel is technically not a ‘staycation’ as many people claim it to be.)

What are the facilities that are expected to be congested? These would be the gateways from Metro Manila to other provinces. These would be airports, sea ports, bus terminals and major roads connecting Metro Manila to the provinces. There would be similar situations in other gateways as well such as in Cebu in the Visayas and Davao in Mindanao. Of course, all roads leading to cemeteries, memorial parks and columbariums. These roads would be filled with people (mostly walking) and vehicles (mostly private cars and tricycles and pedicabs if local roads) who congregate in these areas to remember and pay tribute to their dead.

The congestion experienced in most roads during this time of year is usually manageable and local governments can and are usually prepared to address transport and traffic issues within their jurisdictions. Tollways also employ their own strategies and tactics to deal with toll plaza congestion. The Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) issues additional temporary permits to bus companies to field more vehicles along high demand routes. Meanwhile, airports and seaports would have to deal with their own versions of congestion though it is expected that such peaking or spiking up of travel activity can be handled by many airports and ports considering that these facilities are supposed to be designed for higher than usual demands.

In our case, my side of the family usually went to Iloilo during this time of year. We got to tag along as the holidays coincided with the semestral breaks of our schools. Our dead are in the Cabatuan cemetery, which is also famous for its Spanish period chapel. It's actually been a long time since I've last went there to pay my respects to our lola (our grandmother and mother of my father), our aunts and uncles, and cousins. Since it was a short break, we usually took the airplane to and from Iloilo so we could maximize the time we spent there. I will be writing about these trips in another post...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Lambing and kuyakoy of dogs

Our dogs have always been malambing (affectionate) and playful. We are thankful for them as companions who also bring joy to our lives. We always remember our black Labrador Retriever Troy who passed away last year. He was a jolly dog and one who constantly sought our company. He had his ways of showing his affection including going up to our room to sleep beside the bed if one of us were out on travel. He also liked to just lie on our feet as we worked overtime on our computers or perhaps watching the TV.

Our Golden Retriever Mocha is an even more playful and affectionate dog. She is still very young so she is very active and unknowingly can hurt you if you're not accustomed to affectionate dogs. This is because she has a tendency to jump at you (damba). She does follow commands not to jump at people but she is usually excited meeting people especially those she already knows especially us.

Mocha, our 1.5-year old golden retriever munching her raw hide 'bone' while also spinning around on her back.
Our older dog Barbi, a terrier mix, also loves to spin around on her back especially on grass or on our rugs. We think its partly her doing herself a back rub though many times she will just look at you and you know its an expression of happiness on her part to just do her thing. She also has a habit of snuggling up to us on the sofa whenever we are watching TV at night. Usually, it her bedtime ritual and I guess a way for her to be assured that we're just nearby as she sleeps. Unlike when we didn't have a child yet and Troy would also be in the house to keep her company after we went to our bedroom, she's now basically by herself in the living room. Mocha is still quite excitable so she has to stay out but in the service area where she has her own spot that's protected from the elements. Later, she will probably be allowed to stay indoors more.

Our youngest dog, Boots, whom I have not written about yet is a maltipoo (maltese and poodle mix). He currently likes just running around and playing with Mocha. Both our younger dogs are very active and they spend much of the mornings and afternoons running around the garden. Fortunately, they don't like to dig or play with the plants so its all good so far with the garden. We like to think that our older dogs have taught and passed on some rules to our younger ones on what is allowable behavior around in and our home (i.e., they were all easily house trained and rarely pee in the house).