Monday, May 31, 2010

Penong's Barbecue & Seafood Grill: One of Davao's Best and Cheapest Restaurants

 Penong's Chicken Barbecue Value Meal at 65 pesos only with unlimited rice!!!

I left my heart in Davao City a few weeks ago. Most Filipinos include Boracay and Palawan in their vacation getaways and it is very seldom for a Manileño to even consider a visit to this beautiful city in the Southern Philippines. This blog post (although food related) is hoped to encourage you to include Davao city in your future travel itinerary plans. I am definitely returning!

Penong's Barbecue and Seafood Grill is one of the best restaurants in Davao. It is a multi-awarded establishment in Davao and has remained a favorite among locals. Penong's skyrocketed to fame with its unlimited rice concept. Clap twice and the servers are ready to scoop out hot rice from their containers straight to your platter. Their value meals cost only 65 pesos AND BELOW! The highly-acclaimed chicken barbecue meal featured in the photo above, with your choice of either "pecho" (breast and wing, as in the photo) or "pa-a" (leg and thigh) is only at an affordable price of 65 pesos.

Penong's Pork Barbecue Value Meal  at 58 pesos only with unlimited rice!!!

For people who just love the flavor of pork (that's me!), with your 58 pesos, you can have the pork barbecue value meal pictured above. Yes, all three char-broiled sticks of juicy smoking sensation that bring delight to each bite! Enough said!

Other viands to try are the grilled squid (cooked to perfection), the Okra salad, the Lokot-lokot (seaweed) salad, and their fish kilawin.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwich Cooked In A Pan!

A Filipino breakfast is not complete without bread. With a confusing variety of bread assortments that fill grocery aisles today, the LOAF remains as a pantry mainstay. In my (undying but slightly failing) pursuit to serve healthier food options to my family, I have recently made the switch from white bread to whole wheat bread. The wiser man in me headed for a reliable bread brand, Gardenia, instead of experimenting on less known brands. Those wheat bread trials are reserved for another day and of course, another blog post.

The grilled cheese sandwich is a classic American delight often using cheddar cheese singles. To take the grilled cheese sandwich closer to the Filipino home, it is best used with Kraft Eden Singles cheese (currently 43 to 45 pesos for 6 slices) and very good butter. As the French say, good food is butter, butter, and butter.

A non-stick pan is essential in preparing this sandwich. The instructions are simple.
1.  Heat your pan.
2.  Add some butter (you decide how much).
3.  Let the melted butter spread across the pan by shaking the pan.
4.  Add your sandwich (that is, a piece of cheese singles in between two slices of bread).
5.  Turn heat to low to allow cheese to melt.
6.  Lift out the sandwich when the bottom is brown (like the photo you see above).
7.  Add butter to pan and allow to melt.
8.  Turn the sandwich over and brown the other side.
9.  Serve hot.

This sandwich is PERFECT with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. A simple yet enjoyable dish for every home. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Better Than Razon's Bulalo Steak Recipe You Can Cook Yourself!

Carnivorous to the core, it was I who most enjoyed the dish you see on the photo which I prepared a few dinner nights ago. Pinoy recipes often use the beef shank or "bulalo" for soup. I think that "bulalo" is best served as a steak, whether served on a plate or a sizzling platter. Just like Gusteau said in Ratatouille, "Anyone can cook this Bulalo Steak Recipe". It is simple, easy, and delicious!

6 to 7 pieces beef shanks (choose bones that are small with more meat around the marrow)
Water for boiling
Half cup of very good salted butter (I use Magnolia Gold or Anchor)
Knorr liquid seasoning to taste
Some white sugar
Some calamansi juice (or cane vinegar)
Freshly cracked black pepper (you can use the mortar and pestle to do this in the absence of a pepper mill)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of all purpose floor dissolved in 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups of water
Lots of minced garlic

Clean beef shanks with water. Place beef shanks in a pot. Fill with water until all the meat is submerged. Put under high heat on stove until a rolling boil. Clean out the scum. Lower the heat to low-medium to tenderize the meat. Check your pot every 15 minutes just to make sure it does not run dry. Add water if necessary. Make sure it is not overly tender. Test with a fork.

Once tender, remove the beef shanks and set aside. Strain the broth and set aside. In a wok, melt the butter. Add the beef shanks and sear them. Add the cracked black pepper to your liking and stir. Pour in broth (as much as you like). Turn up the heat. Add Knorr liquid seasoning and sugar to taste Add just a few drops of calamansi juice (or vinegar). In a separate bowl, dissolve the all purpose floor in water. Pour this flour mixture into the beef dish in the wok while continuously stirring to avoid lumps from forming. Pour Knorr if it needs more saltiness.

In a separate pan, heat oil on high. Once smoking, turn the heat off and pour the minced garlic. Stir until light brown and crispy. Strain and set aside.

In a serving dish, take pieces of beef shanks and arrange beautifully. Spoon generously with sauce or gravy. Top by sprinkling with roasted crispy garlic.

Enjoy your bulalo steak and do not forget to invite me over!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shanghai Siopao: A Binondo Delight

Decades and relocation transfers later, Binondo remains as one of those places I consider HOME. My mind is filled with vivid memories of my mother dragging us on weekly trips to Chinatown to shop for the freshest greens and of course, other strange food delights such as black chicken, which caused so much confusion and argument even as a child since the only chicken in view were stout white ones with bright red rubbery wattles and combs. Years later, I discovered that it was the chicken's meat and skin that was black through an unfortunate witness of an actual fowl slaughter (or butchering, whichever you choose to feel less guilt).

I love walking the streets of Ongpin, Salazar, Soler, and Alonzo. There still is nothing like it in the world. One of my favorite snack foods in the vicinity of Binondo is the Shanghai Siopao featured in the photo above. These are steamed buns cooked in a unique "contraption" that steams the buns as the bottoms are fried brown simultaneously. This method of cooking allows all the juices of the meat to be retained. Each bite from this bun brings sheer gastronomic pleasure! It is a much bigger version of the famous xiao long bao in China and Hong Kong but much better since it gives you more bang for the buck. It is a juicy steamed bun filled with ground pork, fat (yes, that HAS to be there), scallions, water chestnuts (as filler/extender), soy sauce, and sesame oil. Someday, I will attempt to make my own version of this yummy treat. For now, I'm happy to purchase these Shanghai buns for only 18 pesos a piece from Binondo.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Balikbayan Accommodation Option: Go Hotels at 388 pesos per night!

With wise leading from Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific has proven itself to be a major player in the airline industry, nearly kicking the ailing Philippine Airlines off the edge. True to its promise, the budget airline has truly made every Juan fly. The marketing strategies, although patterned with Air Asia (world leader in budget airlines), have been very effective.

The good news has just begun. The Gokongwei family has included hotel accommodations in their line of businesses. Months ago, they have spread an e-newsletter launch of their new site,, which offers rooms for as low as 388 Philippine pesos per night only. The location of their first structure is in the prime area of EDSA corner Pioneer Street in Mandaluyong City. The property is called Robinsons Cybergate Plaza. A mall is adjacent to the hotel and the Boni Station of the MRT is only a few minutes walk. Since the property is along EDSA, buses and taxis are in abundance. Near Makati and Ortigas, this hotel is nested perfectly.

Bookings made ahead of time are awarded lower rates. Expect sales and discounts to be thrown as the same strategy will be used as Cebu Pacific's. is a place for every Juan, and is especially convenient for Balikbayans who wish to stay for an extended period of time. Their doors open this July 2010. You can book your reservation here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Philippine Elections (May 10, 2010) - Who Did You Vote As President Today?

JOIN THE POLL ON THE RIGHT PANEL and tick who you voted for as the next President of the Philippines.

Our lovely daughter in tow, my husband and I parked our vehicle in SM Southmall's parking lot and walked under the intense heat of the sun towards the Almanza Elementary School of Las Pinas to cast our votes.

This year's voting experience is the most strenuous and exhausting to date with long queues that required more than two hours. People in charge of precincts have expressed empathy to frustrated voters, explaining that since machines are installed, each classroom handled 1,000 voters instead of the normal 200. At 2:00pm, only 300+ ballots have been submitted. The heat of this year's summer is not providing any comfort either.

It was our daughter's first time to witness how a Filipino citizen votes. Yes, that trip to the public school was a field trip of sorts. I took THIS opportunity to explain to her the significance of EACH vote - that it was worth waiting in line for hours.

To date, there is still a huge number of Filipinos who remain unregistered. If there is any hope I have left for our country, it is for every Filipino to engage themselves in this privilege as part and parcel of their Filipino citizenry.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

mother's day 2010 animated greeting

There are two days when (telephone) communication "giants" in the Philippines rake in the most profit. One is New Year's Day and the other, Mother's Day. Believe it or not, an overwhelming amount of calls and SMS flood our communication lines and temporarily overload the regular capacity.

I am not one of those who possess close ties with their mothers and I say that with regret. If I could turn back the hands of time and make the necessary tweaks and edits, this will be top one on the list.

Having been blessed with an opportunity to be a mother myself, I have invested all energies into building a close and living bond with my daughter. My efforts have not ceased until this day. And I pray it pays off in the years to come.

Above is an animated greeting for mother's day which I made and dedicate to my mother, Helen, though she may not understand it any longer. Happy Mother's Day Mommy. I love you.

If you want the direct link to the animation, you will find it here.

Kinamatisan: A New Way To Serve Your Noodles

Many years ago (okay I admit, decades ago), I learned about colonialism and imperialism from a hardcore nationalistic Social Studies instructor. It is funny that I forget her name but not her facial features. At that point in my life, I could not care less about freedom or independence for I was ever-so willing to be enslaved for a bag of chips or a stick of fish balls from the sidewalk vendor. Yes, such is life.

The Chinese may not have colonized our country but you need only see their immense influence in our culture by simply taking a glimpse of the food that we love to eat. Siomai and siopao have already become Filipino food even though the origins are not.

Featured in this photo is a dish I prepared yesterday on a whim. It only took a few minutes for it to disappear. That good? I cannot really tell. I just think that it caught everyone's attention in this house since it is an interesting and new way to serve mung bean noodles (sotanghon). This dish is called "Kinamatisan" with the secret ingredient being our common tomato (kamatis). It is inspired from an ancient way of preparing noodles in a little town called Biñan Laguna.

400 grams Mung bean noodles (more commonly known as sotanghon)
ground beef (preferably ground round with less fat content)
2 cups of chopped tomatoes (seeded)
4 to 5 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 small white onion (sliced fine)
2 tbsps cooking oil
juice of 6 to 8 calamansi
fish sauce to taste (preferably Thai or Vietnamese so it is less salty)
ground black pepper
brown sugar to taste
some water (around 1 cup)

Soak the noodles in water for about 5 minutes and drain well. Heat a wok on high until it smokes. Pour the oil. Lower the heat to medium and throw in your garlic and onion.  Let them sweat for about 2 minutes on relatively low heat. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the ground beef, making sure to cook until done with constant stirring. Sprinkle with ground black pepper to taste, sugar, calamansi juice, and fish sauce. Add some water and adjust the ingredients to your liking. Toss in your noodles and mix well (I suggest using two forks). You should expect the liquid to evaporate slowly as you continuously mix the ingredients together. It will have a sticky consistency once the liquid dries. Remove from pan and serve.

I hope this recipe inspires you to serve the common noodle dish in a new way. :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jack 'n Jill Chippy: People's Choice Winner

In my recent post entitled Manila's Best Chips: Clover Chips Cheese Flavor, a poll was available to the public for voting their choice of the country's best chips.

I must (sadly) report that the people's choice (with an overwhelming 70% winning votes) is Jack 'n Jill's CHIPPY!

Chippy has been in the junk food/chips industry for more than two decades and continues to be the bread and butter of Universal Robina Corporation. The original barbecue flavor corn chips are as tasty today as they were in their "yester-years". New flavors of the Chippy have been introduced in the past years but old habits die hard.

Have a crunchy CHIPPY day to everyone! :D

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

High Hopes!

I would like to be ...
...but for the life of me, I can only HOPE to be one.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Memories Fade Not for Tears for Fears!

Much remains to be said about the sardine-packed one-night Tears for Fears concert in the Araneta Coliseum last night! This most recent "tweet" from Curt Smith himself will give everyone an idea of what actually transpired there.
"Doesn't happen very often but.......I'm speechless. Manila, what a night! Thank you so much, we've now officially peaked :)
During the concert, Curt himself took a quick shot of his Manila audience from his iphone which you can view here. A much better (and I must say, picture-perfect) shot was taken from a "tweeting" fan. You can check that photo here.

As I write the words of this blog post, "Pale Shelter" is playing loudly on my speakers and I am proud to say my seven-year old daughter enjoys MY music! The story of how we got to be seated at the rear corner of the stage is a long and sorry one. However, it actually turned out to be a great spot as Curt, Roland, and their fabulous lead guitarist (apologies, I forgot his name and I am ashamed!) invested much effort looking and waving our way. Our spot also allowed us to see them walk in and out of their private rooms at the backstage.

I do not know what words to use to describe my experience last night as a die-hard new wave Tears For Fears fan. I hope this will suffice:
I can still shout, shout, and let it all out at my age! Memories fade NOT after last night's performance. I have now become a woman unchained! And my advice for the young at heart: we shall always be children waiting for the day they feel good again when Tears For Fears returns!!!