Heading to the market

As a kid, I used to tag along with my mom whenever she had to go to the market–whether it was the one near our old house in Tondo or all the way in Divisoria (ground zero for bargains in Manila).

During these trips to the market, when I wasn’t pestering my mom on when we would have lunch in Jollibee or when we could go home, I observed how she would expertly haggle with the vendors over prices. A back-and-forth with her suki would ensue, sometimes one would appear insulted at the proposed price, or the other would appear as if she got the short end of the stick, but often a compromise would be reached and my mom would walk away with the item having paid for a discounted price. She did it effortlessly and unfortunately, none of us, her kids, ever acquired the same skill.

To the market!

To the market!

This Sunday morning, my sister and I went with her to Sidcor Market in Centris along EDSA in Quezon City. Under the green and white tents, we watched while our mom haggled her way to some discounts. She wasn’t always successful but when she was, my sister and I couldn’t help but shake our heads and laugh.

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Comfort food and veggie eats in Kapitolyo

Epic Coffee

Epic Coffee

Even after a long day at work, one of the things I find comforting is when I get to cook. It’s an escape from a blinking (and demanding) computer screen and into the warm welcome of a kitchen counter, chopping board and pots and pans. But living near the Kapitolyo area (it’s been a year!) provides another source of comfort–exploring its bustling dining scene.

The neighborhood of Kapitolyo in Pasig has been abuzz of all things food for some years now when restaurants, cafes and other eating joints started sprouting in every corner of the residential area (especially along East Capitol Drive). I’ve always wanted to list down some of my favorites, so here goes. If ever you’re in the neighborhood of Kapitolyo and you’re wondering where to eat, here’s my quick guide (just prepare for the not-so-quick search for parking):

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Collective curiosity

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

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Satisfying a craving for ginisang monggo and eating around QC

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, grilled squid, chicken sisig lettuce wraps and ginisang monggo soup

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