Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let's Eat! Restos to try in Manila

I haven't stepped on the weighing scale lately, but I know I've put on a few pounds when I couldn't get into my denim pants this month. March is so far a month of eating and eating for me, what with all the celebrations and reunions with family and friends in Manila and Tokyo. I couldn't complain, though, since eating is always fun, especially when done in new restaurants with people I love.

Here are places I've been to recently in Manila:

March 1: Lunch buffet was at Sulo Hotel on Matalino Road, Diliman, Quezon City. It's my parents' 57th wedding anniversary, and my dad treated me, my sister, and a visiting balikbayan couple from California, Virgil and his wife, to a filling buffet. It's not the greatest buffet in the world, but it's ok. Don't make the mistake of gesturing to the waiter to refill your iced tea glass; it isn't bottomless. Still, it's a convenient place to meet guests if you're in the area.

March 3: After a general assembly of Turn volunteers, I saw Arlyn and Sherry at The Podium in Ortigas Center. I had time to spare so I joined them for lunch at Pinoydon on the 5th floor. I love this little restaurant serving Filipino and Japanese rice bowls (donburi) at affordable prices. I had the grilled chicken bowl. During a previous visit (lunch with my longtime friend Jing), I think I had katsudon. Yummy. Boysie Villavicencio wrote about it in the Manila Bulletin some time ago:

There's still room for dessert so I met up with my Bible study group (D-group or discipleship group) at old favorite Dulcinea on Tomas Morato for some hot churros with thick hot chocolate. Definitely worth the trip.

March 4 : Had lutong bahay lunch with Turn co-workers Vic and his wife Nenet, Sherry, Agnes, and my son at Lasa on the ground floor of The Podium. We had pancit palabok, sinigang sa miso, beef tapa, and grilled liempo, if I'm not mistaken. The sinigang is really good. We capped off the meal with palitaw for dessert. Read on more about Lasa here:

My second lunch for the day (no wonder I'm gaining weight) is at Greek restaurant Cyma on the sixth floor of Shangri-La Plaza for my nephew Davi's birthday. It was already way past 2pm when I got there but we still had to wait in line for a table. The salad was pretty good (starts with R; I forgot the name); it had feta cheese, candied walnuts, and healthy greens. We also had lamb chops, osso buco, pasta with clams, ribs, and spinach rice--all yummy! For dessert, make sure to get the flaming mango with vanilla ice cream concoction which the waiters serve with a loud "Opa!" which is Greek for "Cheers!" Read more about it here:

March 6: Snacks at Figaro Congressional Avenue, Quezon City with my grad school classmates Meg and Nancy. I always go to Figaro for the barako blend coffee, which I prefer over Starbucks anytime. Love your own. :-) I also had pudding with vanilla sauce, something artist Stella Rojas introduced me to many years ago. Great with kapeng barako.

March 8: I first ate at Kimono Ken in Tomas Morato, Quezon City with my Varsi friend Erli sometime last year. This time we headed for its new branch at The Block, SM City North EDSA, where we met Jun, also from our Varsi days. The crispy kani maki is very good! I also had a beef bowl, like gyudon I think, but it was just so-so. I would go back here for the maki. Gourmet chef Gene Gonzalez wrote about it more here:

March 9: After dropping off my son in school, my mom and I headed to Chowking for breakfast. Boneless bangus, fried rice, and brewed coffee go well together.

March 11: Sugarnot at the fifth floor of The Podium is a great venue to hold meetings. It's quiet and not too crowded. Our Turn core group met there for a meeting. I just wish their low-sugar snacks were tastier -- I had a muffin which tasted two, maybe three days old.

Service is slow and there's a queue, but Guava at Serendra in Fort Bonifacio is worth going to for Pinoy comfort food. Try the kare-kare and the sinigang which you can have cooked either with bayabas (guava) or sampaloc. We also had laing and pochero. A hearty yummy lunch!

After that filling lunch, we just had to have coffee, and Cafe Mary Grace, also at Serendra, is the perfect place to go to. We got an outdoor table and watched people and their dogs with shirts pass by. Although we got pastries here, we also munched on delicious cupcakes my nieces bought from Cupcakes by Sonja a few steps away. This little cupcake store is always full; you have to fall in line to buy the P60+ apiece cupcakes. Read more here:

March 12, 14 and 15: Breakfast on these three days is at UCC Coffee on Connecticut Street, Greenhills, and at The Podium, with my son and his dad. I had boneless bangus one time, then waffles with frankfurters another time. The coffee, brewed via siphon method, is always good. I also love the Japanese salad and its yummy dressing. My son had Veal Bratwurst on the 12th, English Bangers on the 14th, and Frankfurters on the 15th.

March 13: I met up with some of the gorgeous moms of my son's prep class in Ateneo for breakfast. We originally chose Pancake House, but when Tina learned that their coffee machine was broken, we had to find a place with decent coffee on Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City, or she would die. We ended up in Cravings, which turned out to be a better choice. I had ham and mushroom omelette with freshly brewed delicious coffee. The fresh fruit platter and the other breakfast items looked good too.

Lunch this day was at Tramway on Scout Alcaraz Street near Banawe Street, Quezon City. My Fil-Chinese friends Ivy and Ana brought me here for the eat-all-you-can lunch buffet for under P200. The dishes are more than the usual lauriat fare. You have to have the steamed egg cooked like taho! Then there are the usual dishes: sweet and sour pork, yang chow fried rice, tempura, maki, etc. Eat and be filled.

And this is just half of the month! No wonder my pants don't fit. Next entry: Places to eat in Tokyo.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: I'm on Book 11 of the Left Behind: The Kids series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. Young kids Judd, Vicki, Lionel and Ryan form the Young Trib Force and face challenges to their faith in the earth's last days. My son loves this series, and so do I.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" Genesis 18:14

Friday, March 02, 2007


Exactly two weeks from now, my son and I will go on a long trip overseas. This is what happens when members of your family choose to settle in other countries. Every reunion is a major production and requires much planning.

Everytime I talk to a friend or a sibling, I get asked: "So, did you pack already?" Pack? My four-page To Do list shows "Pack" at the bottom. Above it are stuff I have to write, edit, follow up, and errands and other stuff to do like make a dental appointment, get flu shots, file ITR, pay my SSS loan, and so on. And I've got two weeks. Oh, I forgot that I need to dye my hair and get a massage before I leave next next Friday. And meet up with friends. And have business meetings.

I look around my room and I'm overwhelmed at the clutter I've accumulated over the years. I have probably close to 60 handbags, but I only use 5 regularly. The electronic junk (can't be repaired or donated) sit on top of the overhead cabinets: a broken fax, a jurassic CPU, a nonworking AVR, etc. I have boxes of papers labeled "Sort." And a load of magazines that can fill up a car trunk; this after disposing an equal number of old magazines last year.

I've got to simplify my life after this. After all, am I not a simple person?

And so, I have resolved to:

1. Pass on magazines I've read to friends. (As a magazine journalist, I have to read, read, read, thus the monthly stash.)
2. Give away books I've read or sell them on e-bay. I realized that I don't like rereading books I've read before. I'll only keep what's dear to me.
3. Keep my portfolio of works up to date, so I don't have to keep volumes of magazines around.
4. Give away gifts I have received but cannot use.
5. Make regular visits to the junk shop to dispose of paper clutter, electronic junk, etc.
6. Find a place for things, so that paintings go on walls and not get stashed in cabinets.
7. Have photo CDs printed as soon as possible. And organize photos.

And lastly, start packing a month before a trip. :-)

BOOKS OF THE WEEK: I'm reading two books this week, and I'm both halfway through them (yes, in spite of my things to do). One is Ladies' Lunch by Gilda Cordero-Fernando and Mariel Francisco. It's a nice collection of warm personal essays about womanhood, motherhood, growing up, etc. The illustrations by E. Aguilar Cruz go well with the wonderful essays. There are recipes too, long before Frances Mayes thought of including them in Under The Tuscan Sun.

The second book I'm reading is Philip Yancey's Reaching for the Invisible God. It delves on man's quest to understand God. It brings to fore man's usual questions: Where is God? Why does He seem unavailable sometimes? Deep insights but Yancey writes in an engaging personal way.

VERSE OF THE WEEK: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14