Thursday, April 29, 2010

Manila's BEST Chips: CLOVER CHIPS Cheese Flavor!

Each one of us is a unique creation. Even our tastes and passion differ from one individual to another. However, I must say that beneath all these differences lies a common thread - the love for JUNK FOOD! Apologies to all of you who may be health conscious. I too painstakingly invest efforts in my food choices not just for myself but for my family's benefit as well. However, the delight and sheer enjoyment that each crrrunch! brings is too irresistible to remove from my grocery list. As my husband and daughter would say, "Mom is a chip monster!" And THAT is an understatement!

If you frequent grocery stores, you will notice these crunchy wonders occupying as wide as one whole aisle! You can just imagine how much money this industry rakes in, to think that it is considered junk. Through the years, there have been many innovations in the chips industry. You have old players as well as new ones entering into the highly competitive business. The novelty of the new varieties are really amazing. Oishi has recently launched its Gourmet Potato Chips with two interesting flavors, namely, Nori Wasabi and Kimchi! Both are worthy to be called "gourmet".

What I award as Manila's Best Chips is CLOVER CHIPS Cheese Flavor, from a trusted old brand - Leslie's.  It has been in the industry for more than 20 years and is no where near falling out of the chart toppers. A bag is waiting for me right now in the cupboard. I bid your farewell. Have a crrrunchy day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Korean Bulgogi Simplified

I grew up in a home where the clan's fundamental creed sounded a bit like this:  "The clothes you wear or the car you own does not really matter (much) in life. The only important element in life is the food you serve on the table. It MUST be good."

An exposure to great "wild" cooks (not chefs) and secret recipes handed down from a span of over four to five generations has fostered a tongue that appreciated epicurean pleasures of many kinds. Learning the different flavors of herbs and spices was simultaneous to discovering the relation between addition and subtraction. Food and cooking was a MAJOR subject in my family. The wet market was just as fundamental as the classroom.

One of the skills I have since acquired is the ability to create my own "secret" recipes. It is my hope that these concoctions will delight the palates of those that will follow me, along with their house guests.

The photo above is what my family had for lunch today. Korean Bulgogi is simplified to mean barbecue Korean style. I used pork sukiyaki cuts for my bulgogi since that was the only meat I had left in my freezer. However, this dish will be FANTASTIC with beef!

Korean Bulgogi Recipe

500 grams cold sukiyaki cut beef or pork
1/4 cup premium light soy sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet sake, available in local grocery stores)
1 tsp chili bean paste (featured in photo as the secret ingredient)
1 head crushed garlic
4 tbsp sugar or honey (I prefer a combination as the latter gives a better glaze)
a few tsps of oil for sauteing
some chopped green onions
some sesame seeds

Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, chili bean paste, garlic, sugar/honey in a bowl. Mix well. Add beef or pork and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes. Heat a wok until hot. Add oil and spread all around wok. Put the desired amount of bulgogi to the wok and stir constantly until you brown it to the color you see in the photo above. Do NOT overcook or else you will burn the dish and make the meat tough. Top with some chopped onions and sesame seeds. Serve with freshly steamed white rice.

Any uncooked meat can be kept in the refrigerator for future cooking. Just ensure that it is covered to avoid meat drying.

Enjoy your barbecue! Invite me over when you decide to try this recipe out :D

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Aquazorb: Towels of the 21st Century!

If you live in Manila, you may have already heard about Aquazorb Towels. It is a premium Philippine towel brand which has colorfully served the sweating public for more than four years already, with its humble beginnings at the St. James the Great Bazaar.
Aquazorb towels use a densely-knitted microfiber fabric resulting in not only super-soft feel but also ultra high absorbency. The product is guaranteed to absorb water (or sweat or other things we do not wish to discuss here) from skin, hair or any other surface INSTANTLY. The term they use for this technology is "hydrophyllic capillary action". As a bonus, these "muscled" towels are lightweight and rapid-drying, making it an ideal companion in travel.

A good friend of mine is part owner of the company who owns the brand and I was able to distribute (and sell) the towels in the past. However, with some changes in business direction in the past year, they have decided to open mall outlets to serve an ever expanding clientele.

Aquazorb towels come in these forms: bath or body towel, hand towel, fingertip towel, face towel, turban, yoga towel, bath robe, bath slippers.  They also come in a myriad of "delicious" colors from the boring to the bold. Each season brings a new set of colors to suit every taste.

You can purchase your Aquazorb towels through the following outlets:
Aquazorb Kiosks - Power Plant Mall (2nd level, Rockwell), Shangrila Plaza (5th level), Megamall (3rd level Atrium), and Greenhills (location changes per quarter)
Landmark - Makati and Trinoma
Planet Sports - All branches
R.O.X. - Bonifacio High Street

If you are from the Philippines/Manila or overseas and would like to be a distributor/dealer, you may contact

It's Aquazorbency with these super towels! :D

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Truly Opa!-licious At CYMA Greek Taverna

The past decade has transformed many a Filipino gourmet-richer in terms of the assortment of cuisines available in Manila. The city of Makati, for one, can now be considered a "food belt" with its restaurant-fringed mall avenues.

Among the least popular cuisines in the metropolis include Greek food. Having its first roots in D'Mall of Boracay is a restaurant called CYMA Greek Taverna. Since then, it has created big "waves," which just happens to be the literal translation of the word "cyma" in the Greek language.

Cyma Greek Taverna has branches in the following malls: D'Mall Boracay Island (telephone # 036-288-4283) Shangri La Plaza (Level 6, telephone # 637-3090), Greenbelt 2 (Ground floor, telephone # 729-4837), Trinoma (Level 4, telephone # 915-2859),  Eastwood Mall (Level 2, telephone #709-1955), Alabang Town Center (Upper Ground Level Corte de las Palmas, telephone # 836-2432), Ayala Mall Cebu (Garden Level, The Terraces, telephone # 032-417-1351).

To whet your appetite for healthy (yes, you read that right!) Greek food, check out their menu here. For first time guests, I suggest the following dishes:

Appetizer - Spinach and Artichoke Fondue
Salad - Tonnos Salata
Pasta - Baby Clams Angel Hair or Garides Mi Fetta Spaghetti
Entree - Paidakia and Hirine Brizola

I am fortunate to have met Chef Robby Goco up close and personal a few years back when Cyma was just beginning to create some noise. Expect a lot of new items in his menu list as he truly is passionate about Greek food and continually works on his new creations. Three of these are seen in the photo I have attached. I can't wait to try the Lamb Stuffed With Spinach! So, see you at Cyma Greek Taverna and -- Opa!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recognition to My SuperHelper Mila

Sniff. More sniff. Sob! My SuperHelper Mila left for a vacation two days ago. It was at that moment when she strolled away with my Allied Bank trolley bag I realized how long she had served me (more than five years!) and how much she loved my whole family, including my dog, Rocky. Yes, she shed a considerable amount of tears when my daughter hugged her tight and said, "See you in two weeks!" We truly have become HER family. I appreciate that. Let me correct that statement. I MORE THAN appreciate that.

A few years back, an affluent woman mentioned to me how sickening it was to be conversing comfortably with a helper. This, she commented about a friend of hers she saw laughing WITH her helper. She referred to it as a downgrade of one's personality and status. I could not blame her for being who she is, aristocratic and all. However, I do feel she is missing out on a special kind of loyalty and love that can evolve from building close ties with your helper. The kind that would abandon their whole future just to be able to serve you.

As I wait for her return, I would like to express my gratitude to her unmatched service and love to my family. She is and will always be PART of MY family. I miss Mila. I heart Mila.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Delightful Asian Dragon Called Vietnam (Saigon)

Finally, this Asian dragon called "Vietnam" is awake from its long slumber! The country remains largely undiscovered and untapped, both in the economic and tourism senses. A best friend and I visited Ho Chi Minh City, more popularly known as Saigon, in November of 2007. The usual tours and common sight destinations filled our four-night itinerary. Two years later, we realize how we barely scratched the surface of the beauty of Vietnam. It remains an undiscovered treasure in Southeast Asia.

The strength of the Vietnamese people is seen in its assortment of handicrafts. It seems as if God gave their race all of the skills and talent (and a lot of patience too) in the field of embroidery and sewing. A trip to the famous Ben Thanh Market is a showcase of their handcrafted work from bags, wood lacquer, to linens! Every article in the market is undeniably VIETNAM. I can assure you that even the best of China's embroiderers will NEVER match the best handicraft laborers in Vietnam. Aside from embroidered items, you will drown in a fanciful display of colorful wood lacquer household items such as bowls, serving dishes, wine holders, and more. Linen articles for the dining room and the bedroom are at unbelievably low prices (if you know how to haggle).

Where To Stay In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh)

I have stayed in a couple of hotels and hostels in the city but my favorite is Dong Phuong Orient Hotel because of its location and affordable price. Below are their contact details so you may book your reservations.

Dong Phuong Orient Hotel
274-276 De Tham Street
Ward Pham Ngu Lao
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
(848) 9203993 to 94

If you like more tips and suggested travel itinerary, you may email me :)

August 27, 2010. A suggested three-day travel itinerary with dining tips has been posted here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Badminton Supplies at Wholesale Prices in Hong Kong

Most people dream about one day setting foot on the soils of Europe for its art and architecture but I am among those who consider much value in the rich texture of a country's culture through its neon lights, street food, and nooks and crannies. Hong Kong remains in my top three favorite countries to date. It has been a rather common destination among Filipinos since Disneyland Hong Kong was established. However, if you wish to enjoy the gem that Hong Kong is, one must follow a less than ordinary itinerary, which I will try to create in a future blog post.

Badminton is a much-loved sport in Hong Kong and because of its proximity to China where nearly all of this sports' supplies are manufactured, the bargain hunter is sure to unearth a steal of a deal in this country. A friend of mine who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 15 years brought me along to this badminton supplies store called ESL Racquets & Sports Megashop in Mongkok. I have scanned the front and back pages of the store's business card in a photo that you see on this blog. Whether you are looking for rackets, strings, shoes, or shuttlecocks, you must swing by this hole in a wall for great bargains on popular brands such as Yonex, RSL, Prince, Gosen, Mizuno, Dunlop, Babolat, Wilson, and more.

ESL Racquets & Sports Megashop

1st Floor
50 Argyle Street
Mongkok, Kowloon
(852) 2392-0328

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where To Stay In Guangzhou China

Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province in China. It is accessible by either bus or train from the Hong Kong island. Guangzhou is host to China's largest international wholesale trade fairs that attract hundreds of thousands of business executives around the globe for its competitive prices. This year's trade fair will be its 107th session to date. Guangzhou's location along the Pearl River exiting to the South China Sea makes it a key transportation and trading hub. This once humble city has earned the label of becoming China's foreign trade center. In your planned visit, where do you stay in Guangzhou? Are there Guangzhou hotels located near wholesale shopping centers?

The Pearl River divides Guangzhou into two sides that remain distinct from each other. You have the beginnings of urban overdrive on the Tian He District fringed with skyscrapers, high-rise towers, and modern shopping complexes. On the other side of the river, you will find the authoritative old charm of this wonderful city with its blazing red lanterns, street food, and noisy noodle houses filled with slurping locals.

Where To Stay In Guangzhou

There are many hotels to choose from in Guangzhou. In fact, there are just too many. If you would like to stay in a hotel that is only steps away from wholesale gift centers, I suggest staying in Guangzhou Hotel located right smack in the Haizhu Square. It is impossible to miss as it is right across the large monument in this town square. The picture you see was taken from the hotel's front lobby area.

You can book your reservations at the lobby upon arrival or contact a special agency that books its guests on the 23rd floor (VIP floor) of the Guangzhou Hotel at lower rates than those offered at the lobby. The details are enlisted below. I should warn you that the receptionist does not converse much in English. I strongly suggest for you to email your basic questions and reservations in the least amount of words and clearest dates as possible. After booking your reservation, make sure to indicate the time of your arrival, as the office closes after 8:30pm.

Guangzhou Hotel 23rd VIP floor operated by YSB
Room No. 2301 Guangzhou Hotel
Haizhu Square, Guangzhou, China
(86-20) 83301158
(86-20) 83302485
(86-20) 83198151

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Preview of Natalie Merchant's New Album: Leave Your Sleep

Remember 10,000 Maniacs way back in the 1980s? The band comprised of a five-man ensemble playing alternative rock music with Natalie Merchant as the only rose. Young, beautiful, and free-spirited was this woman whose exceptional voice and music writing captured the hearts of millions around the globe. Nearly all their songs were chart-toppers. The band split up and Natalie began writing her own songs which were featured on her debut solo album Tigerlily in 1995. Her next 2 albums that followed did not create much noise in the music industry. After a long silence of seven years, Natalie Merchant makes a comeback with her latest album entitled "Leave Your Sleep" to be released on April 13, 2010. A live performance can be seen here.

Leave Your Sleep is a two-CD album featuring 26 poem-adapted songs. Natalie Merchant has worked on this album for six years, immersing herself in the lives and work of the poets behind every song in the album. You will find anonymous nursery rhymes and lullabies as well as more famous poets' work such as E. E. Cummings'. As a bonus, every CD purchase comes with a booklet 80 pages long that contain her own written poems and liner notes. This album is truly a masterpiece, a must-have in every CD collection. It is simply beautiful! You can order from Amazon and other major music stores. For interested Manila buyers who want the original CD with booklet, you may place your special order through me.

Disc 1
1. Nursery Rhyme Of Innocence And Experience
2. Equestrienne
3. Calico Pie
4. Bleezer's Ice Cream
5. It Makes A Change
6. King Of China's Daughter, The
7. Dancing Bear, The
8. Man In The Wilderness, The
9. Maggie And Milly And Molly And May
10. If No One Ever Marries Me
11. Sleepy Giant, The
12. Peppery Man, The
13. Blind Men And The Elephant, The
Disc 2
1. Adventures Of Isabel
2. Walloping Window Blind, The
3. Topsyturvey World
4. Janitor's Boy, The
5. Griselda
6. Land Of Nod, The
7. Vain And Careless
8. Crying My Little One
9. Sweet And A Lullaby
10. I Saw A Ship A Sailing
11. Autumn Lullaby
12. Spring And Fall (To A Young Child)
13. Indian Names

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bawai's Vietnamese Kusina in Tagaytay: A Vietnamese Epicurean Delight

It was a few years ago when we celebrated a friend's special birthday in what I would declare as one of the country's best restaurants. Even bolder, I would say that Bawai's is the finest Vietnamese eatery in the greater Manila area.
The word "bawai" is Vietnamese for grandmother. I have posted you a friendly picture of a hackneyed grandmother borrowed from the archives of Snapshots Cambodia. No, none of the owners or staff look anything like the picture you see here. However, it is the simple charm of this old woman that reminded me of Bawai's in Cavite near Tagaytay.
It is with deep regret I failed to snap photos of all the food we ordered that day. It didn't last a long time on the table. Yes, it was THAT good. Kain Pinoy has an archive of food photos as well as a review of Bawai's cuisine.
If you would like to book a reservation at Bawai's Vietnamese Kusina, you may call 0920-9722924. A location map can be found right here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Commemorating the Death of a Flip Flop

My loyal pair of chocolate brown Havaianas passed away today. Yes, like a thief in the night, death came to claim my Brazilian wonder of its breath. I deeply grieve its loss. It was a gift from a best friend on my birthday three years ago and has been a most reliable pair that brought comfort and happiness to the soles until today. I pause for a moment of silence as I bid it farewell. Goodbye, my sole-mate.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Heap-ful of Help

I write the first words of a blog today.
A heap-ful of help - on its way.
An answer, idea, hope or suggestion
Inspired to relieve sadness or confusion.

Welcome, dear friend, soul surfer or foe.
A heap-ful of help posts for you to know.
Free, straightforward and unadulterated
Sure to leave none of your time wasted.