Thursday, December 09, 2010

A taste of Singapore in Makati

Tucked inside the new Ayala Triangle Gardens (ATG) in Makati City is a restaurant that serves one of the (if not the) best Hainanese chicken rice dishes in Singapore.

Called Wee Nam Kee, the place is familiar to those who have traveled to the city-state's Novena town. It took me quite some time, however, to remember my last visit there in 2008, back when I didn't take my food too seriously.

The restaurant has won the hearts of both Singapore locals and foreign tourists, particularly Filipinos.

Among its Filipino patrons are no less than former presidents Joseph "Erap" Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as well as actors and real-life couple John Lloyd Cruz and Shaina Magdayao, according to Linfred Yap, one of the 2 young entrepreneurs behind the first Wee Nam Kee franchise in the country.

Unlike its main branch in Novena which looks more like a hole-in-the-wall joint, Makati's Wee Nam Kee, just like the city, had an urban, upscale feel to it.

But the good news is, the food is exactly the same -- all dishes served in the restaurant are prepared by chefs who flew all the way from Singapore.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Asia Pacific's first Radisson Blu hotel is in Cebu

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III always enjoys visiting Cebu, one of the country’s most developed provinces.

He called it “a place that brings together essential elements that make Philippine tourism so special” – from its natural attractions to world-class accommodations.

Last month, the country’s chief executive found his way in Cebu once again as he led the formal launch of the province’s newest gem – the first Radisson Blu Hotel in the Asia Pacific region.

The hotel, targeted mainly at luxury tourists and businessmen, is a result of a tie-up between Radisson Blu’s Carlson group and the family of mall magnate Henry Sy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snacking on exotic vegetable chips

Here's my latest favorite healthy snack -- zesty tomato-flavored exotic vegetable chips by Terra.

Flavored with tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and celery, it's a nutritious and flavorful alternative to greasy potato chips. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

A hymn to love (and good food)

I can't stop raving about Utada Hikaru's jazz rendition of Edith Piaf's Hymne à l'amour (Hymn to Love).

The song, used in a commercial campaign for a Japan-exclusive Pepsi drink, is part of Hikki's second greatest hits album that's set to be released on Wednesday.

Hikki's version, Hymne à l'amour (Ai no Anthem), had a sweet, lounge-y feel to it, just like Cav, a posh wine shop and cafe at Bonifacio High Street. I find it a good spot to listen to this French-Japanese song.

Situated on the side of The Spa building, Cav exudes an elegant ambiance complemented by fine European cuisine, and is ideal for dates and intimate gatherings.

My last meal there was superb, although I've yet to try the other items on Cav's menu. I'm particularly eyeing the foie gras (yes, I have a soft spot for fatty goose/duck liver) and the duck leg confit for my next visit. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Truffle lechon, anyone?

It was a hot afternoon in Cebu and I was excited to have a taste of the Zubuchon, the much talked about roast pig by Marketman of Market Manila.

I had high expectations for the lechon, said to be prepared using homegrown organic ingredients, especially after well-known boar buff Anthony Bourdain called it the "best pig ever."

"(Anthony Bourdain) is incredibly intelligent and fantastic to work with. He ate a huge piece of the skin," Marketman shared his experience with Bourdain as his crew hand-turned the lechon on bamboo poles over charcoal.

Three pigs were prepared that day, and seeing them getting cooked right before my very eyes was an experience in itself.

And just when I thought I was up for one of the best meals of my life, Marketman revealed a sweet surprise -- one lechon was infused with the deep, rich flavor of black truffles. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Arriba chocolate pizza at Heavenly Chocolates

Am I expecting too much, or it just wasn’t good enough?

This came to mind after taking a bite of the Arriba chocolate pizza, the latest offering at Heavenly Chocolates, a simple nook along Roces Avenue in Quezon City.

The 6.5-inch diameter pizza, priced at P150, had all the good stuff – warm bittersweet chocolate, sliced almonds, shallot bits and fried anchovies.

With all these things on a crust that strongly reminded me of Pop Tarts (as in the breakfast treat), my taste buds should be jumping for joy.  But they weren’t. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Asian Flavours: A culinary gem in Batangas

"Pinoy but upscale."

This is what Laguna-bred chef Paul Poblador, famous for his stint in San Pablo's Kusina Salud, said when asked to describe his latest creations at Asian Flavours.

The restaurant, tucked inside the Lima Park hotel in Malvar, Batangas, marked its first year last month with a 10-course all-Filipino lunch buffet.

Unlike his dishes at Kusina Salud, which Poblador described as "Lola's cooking," the dishes at the fairly new restaurant cater mainly to expatriate professionals, some of the locals, and hopefully soon, the Manila crowd.

It was a lot like refined comfort food -- from the kalderetang bakang Batangas generously topped with green and black olives and cheese to the extensive array of innovative ensaladas

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eating nothing but ice cream and raw seafood at HEAT

Prominent French cognac house Hennessy gathered some of the Philippines' bloggers and journalists to promote its drink mixing-cum-music festival on November 19 at The Fort's NBC Tent. (Read my article on here.)

The event, aptly called Hennessy Artistry, will feature 2 international DJs and bands (Pupil, Kjwan and True Faith) as well as 4 basic flavors (berry, citrus, ginger and apple) mixed with the velvety smooth cognac.

It's like an upscale version of the recently held Rockfest, where people were required to purchase a few bottles of Tanduay Rhum or Cossack Blue at selected 7-11 outlets to get tickets.

To be a part of Hennessy Artistry's guest list, you have to buy a bottle of the cognac at high-end spots such as Encore Super Club, Limbo, Amber Ultra Lounge or M Cafe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Recipe: Royce and Toblerone chocolate cookie cake

Whoever said cookies can only be eaten as snacks?

These flat baked treats, when not cut into different shapes, actually make a great-tasting cake -- an ideal gift for those who prefer a no frills dessert, or those who live in small spaces (and have small refrigerators).

And unlike the usual cake with frosting, a cookie cake takes less time to make, does not get spoiled easily, and can be eaten anywhere with your bare hands.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Foodie profile: Marc Nelson

I got to sit down with Marc Nelson, half of The Amazing Race Asia 2′s Team Philippines (the other half is Rovilson Fernandez).

The host of Sports Unlimited, a popular lifestyle sports program in the Philippines, shared with me his food preferences, which are mainly healthy, home-cooked meals.

He does, however, make it a point to eat junk food once in a while — but only in small amounts. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nihonbashitei: Authentic, unpretentious, affordable

Compared to other cuisines, Japanese food is usually more expensive.

Even the not-so-good ones – those Japanese fastfood joints, eat-all-you-can spots and fusion restaurants with their Western-type sushi and over-the-top décor – charge a bit higher than, say, their Chinese or Italian counterparts.

It is, indeed, a sad truth. Here in Metro Manila, you’re always running the risk of spending too much for stinky sashimi, oily tempura or rolls topped with random ingredients.

Here’s one restaurant, however, that has never failed to please.

Nihonbashitei, located at Arnaiz Avenue (formerly Pasay Road), has been my favorite Japanese restaurant for quite some time now.

The place screams Japanese without trying too hard – it’s no surprise that most of its patrons are non-English speaking Japanese men who order a tray of assorted sushi with beer, or a bowl of piping hot ramen (Chinese-style wheat noodles in meat- or fish-based broth).

The prices are quite reasonable, too, considering the quality of the food being served.