When you’re traveling and you encounter a menu where you can’t understand single thing, do you a) make an attempt to communicate with the server with only four words you know of the local language , b) point at something in the menu and hope you don’t order something heinous, or c) try your luck in another restaurant with English translations in the menu? I’ve done all three: a) if I am feeling adventurous and , b) if I’m feeling extremely adventurous and c) when exhaustion dictates the need for something familiar and the the only adventure I want to have that day is figuring out the train route.
Golden roasted goodness in one of the windows of a restaurant in TST in Hong Kong
In the trip to Hong Kong, a place where good food is abundant, I found myself making all three decisions. In the mornings, when P and I are eager to start our day and before we meet with our friends, we wake up early and explore the nearby streets on our own from where we were staying.
A bright sunny Saturday (a break from all the rain!) and curiosity for a vegetarian ramen place brought me to the Collective.
What used to be a warehouse along Malugay Street in the business district of Makati and transformed a couple of years ago is now a low-rent space where it seems many of the young and creatively-inclined set in the area have opened several shops and restaurants.
Being a resident of Quezon City (which isn’t exactly close to Makati especially when you consider traffic-congested EDSA in between), I hardly venture to Makati unless it’s for work or it’s a place easily accessible by the MRT (hello, Buendia and Ayala Stations!). When I heard of the Collective years ago from some friends, I’ve always been curious to see the place. How was it similar and/or different from Quezon City’s Cubao X?
For fellow not-too-hip folks who are also late to the party, don’t expect the Collective to be anything like the usual shiny malls of Makati. It used to be an industrial space and remnants of that are still visible–at least what’s not covered in striking, colorful graffiti, some curious boutiques, or interesting restaurants.
Aside from the hip and artsy stores, what it has in common with Cubao X when the QC haunt came alive almost a decade ago (has it been that long?) is that you could tell it’s the kind of place that also comes alive in the evening. So when we get there at lunch time, everything is quiet. Save for a fashion shoot happening. Most of the activity are found within the restaurants by the entrance of the compound. And an hour later a crew would start setting up in the middle of the space for an after-party of an indie movie in the evening. I imagine the place would be substantially less quiet and more crowded by then.
The Collective gets ready for a party in the evening
The walls of the Collective don’t seem to have met a graffiti they didn’t like
One of the most viewed posts in this little blog is the story on two restaurants along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. That stretch in the district of Diliman remains a popular dining destination, although nearby streets and districts have their fair share of good restaurants for different budgets and cravings.
Recently, I met up with two friends, A and JK, for lunch at Tatung’s Garden Cafe . I first heard of Chef Tatung, who’s a big supporter of using local and sustainable ingredients, when I was researching on organic farming in the country for a magazine feature. The restaurant is in a house with a little garden in a quiet residential street and it serves local dishes–which gives the atmosphere that you’re simply having a nice meal at your parents’ home. Our spread included Tatung’s Favorite Fried Rice, Inihaw na Pusit (grilled squid), Chicken Sisig Lettuce Wraps, ginisang monggo soup, the Warm Tsoknut Chocolate Cake and a cold bowl of halo-halo. (Our meal came to a total of around P1,100+)
Our small spread of fried rice…
Loved the monggo soup the best–probably because I’ve been craving for it for quite some time. It’s a simple Filipino soup made of mung beans with the salty taste of smoked fish bits and bitter melon leaves, something you can find in most humble neighborhood eateries. It was a good starter, while the chocolate cake and halo-halo ended the meal and the conversation on a happy, we-should-do-this-again-soon mood.
Address: 17 Matipid St., Sikatuna Village, Diliman; phone: (632) 352-6121
Here are five other neighborhood restaurants in the Diliman and Katipunan area worth a visit should you find yourself in this part of Metro Manila, where you can satisfy cravings for Filipino food, vegetarian dishes, pizza, and even cheap Japanese food. Continue reading
I have declared my love for ramen in this blog a number of times. Last year’s trip to Japan sealed my devotion to the Japanese noodle dish with my very first authentic ramen encounter in Tokyo. Because of this love for ramen, my husband and I find ourselves trying a different ramen restaurant every time we can manage to squeeze it in during the weekend, when we feel like indulging a bit (ramen is not really the healthiest dish out there), or when we have the budget for it (most good bowls of ramen go for PHP200 to PHP300, around 400 to 600 Yen, cheap in Japan standards, not that cheap here in the Philippines).
The past two weekends, P and I were able to try two new ramen restaurants in Metro Manila. One in Makati and the other in our neighborhood in Quezon City.
Nomama Artisanal Ramen. Ever since I tasted Chef Him Uy de Baron’s food in one magazine event (he’s also a consultant for popular Pinoy restaurant Max’s), I knew I liked the way the man cooked. There are always layers of flavors and something pleasantly unexpected about his food. When I interviewed him for Yummy magazine back in February and he mentioned that he wanted to open a ramen restaurant, I made a mental note. Another bowl of ramen to look forward to in Manila.
Pretty, minimalist interiors
It finally opened this month; right across Max’s Restaurant and parallel to busy Tomas Morato. Immediately, I loved the interiors. Bare cement walls, simple black and white furniture, and a wooden bar facing the open kitchen (look up at the ceiling for the clever hooks and lights). But enough about the interiors, we came for the food.
This post can also be entitled, 5 things I got to eat for the first time in Singapore. (This is what happens when you can’t decide on a title.)
On my last evening in Singapore, my three friends living and working there decided to take me to Makansutra Gluttons Bay. I wanted to eat Singapore’s famous (1) Cereal Prawns for dinner, which I didn’t get to eat on my previous Singapore glutton fest a year ago; Makansutra was a no-brainer choice if you want to have some of the country’s popular hawker stalls in one area. Sure it’s touristy, but it’s also convenient if you don’t know where else to go.
Judging from our appetite a few nights ago when we we annihilated a platter of Lamb Tanjine, chicken kebab and other middle-Eastern fare in Deli Moroccan in Bussorah Street at the Arab Quarter, we were obviously not just going to have cereal prawns, with small servings of rice and a modest plate of veggies. No. As a Manila-based British chef I interviewed before observed, we like to eat with our eyes. Ooh, that looks good, put it on the tray. That too. And that. And soon our table looks like a spread for a fiesta.
We also love our carbs. So in addition to a huge platter of fried rice to go with the cereal prawns, we also had char kway teow (flat rice noodles stir-fried in pork fat…no wonder it was so good) and another noodle dish, the name of which escapes me now. And we couldn’t just have cereal prawns for ulam. We got BBQ chicken wings (you must try the chicken wings!) and a plate of garlic kangkong (a bit of greens on the table).
The cereal prawns from one of the stalls at Makansutra Glutton's Bay
The cereal prawns were buttery and the skin was fried to crispy goodness. The char kway teow was just as flavorful and rich as I remembered it and the chicken wings had a good smoky flavor and juicy meat clinging to the bones. I would go back to Singapore for these two simple dishes in a heartbeat. Continue reading