Friday, May 3, 2013

Our (rainy) Summer last Christmas

This scorching weather reminds me of the holiday we spent in Singapore a few months back. It was December, and it was so hot there. Good thing Singapore is well equipped with good public transportation or else we would go bankrupt taking airconditioned cabs. 

We stayed at The Concorde Hotel along Orchard Road. We were with family and it was best that we stayed in a place where there were lots of food and shopping places nearby. I can see that the hotel has been operating for quite sometime due to the 70's-80's design, but it has been well kept by the management. 


Our room had a big nice bed and other amenities. 
We booked early so I hope we got a good deal for this.
The view was pretty, we could see Orchard Road and the holiday lights.

We walked around Clark Quay before dinner to see the sights.
For dinner,  we went to this happening hawker's place called Makansutra Gluttons Bay.
The tables are scattered outdoors. It just drizzled when we arrived, so we had to wipe down the tables and chairs before use. Also, it was so crowded so it is highly advised that you don't go there when you are starving unless you don't need to sit down immediately. There was a rest room nearby. Fairly decent. 
This was my brother-in-law's friend's drink. It was just citrus with ice and  salted dates.  I got curious so I took a pic.

The Chili Crab, of which Singapore is famous for. It was good! 

I couldn't get enough of this toasted cua pao which you dip in the Chili Crab sauce. Yumyum.

We also had some rice, satay and prawns.

Now these chicken wings made an impression. So very Filipino in taste because it had some smoky,  sweet and salty flavor going on in there. These are called Huat Huat Wings, and they are a must try if you are eating at Makansutra. I wasn't able to order the Durian Kachang, and I am still regretful that I didn't order that.

The next day, before we went to Universal Studios, we had breakfast at a nearby hawker's place just beside the hotel. We had the traditional soft boiled eggs with toast and coffee. The eggs seemed fine. But the notion that everything is sanitary in Singapore was tested here. I can't say that the vendor we bought this from was THAT clean. Ugh. Oh well. I'm still alive.

We went to Universal Studios-Sentosa  the eve of New Year and it was crowded. Holidays are not the best time to got to amusement parks. It was so hot but then after sometime, it started raining so hard! My sister-in-law was all set to conquer this ride--but the rains didn't allow them to continue. It looked so dangerous!

Cereal Prawns
For dinner, we visited No Signboard again. This was going to be our second time in Singapore, and M wanted the family to try this popular restaurant. I enjoyed the Cereal Prawns immensely. The sweet cereal and the salty prawns was Asian specialty at it's best!

White Pepper Prawns

The first time we tried it, we weren't impressed. This time, it was so good! M and I figured it must have been the kind of crab used that lent an extraordinary flavor to this dish. So good!

Chili Crabs---enough said :)

I didn't have any dessert on this trip. I would have wanted to try their famous ice cream sandwich by the Clark Quay or the Durian Ice Cachang. To the next time, I guess.

Singapore is a hot city, but the food is surprisingly diverse and good. A really good reason to go back.  Until then, I have this summer heat to remind me of this fun vacation.

Keep cool, y'all!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

On High Land

M and I found ourselves driving off to Tagaytay one weekend for a meeting of his. We were invited to stay for the night at the posh Tagaytay Highlands. It was our first time and we were excited. We drove off early to escape the coding scheme on a Friday, so we found ourselves lounging at Nuvali in the morning.

 For lunch, we went to The Grill by Antonio's to try their Chicken Inasal. But M found other stuff to devour. Give them time to grill your food. :)

Chicken Inasal  P110
It was okay. I like mine a little more garlicky and sweet-ish. It came with some annato oil and some fresh garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. Not the best I've tried, but was satisfied, nonetheless. :)

Grilled Hito P290
It came with a yummy side dish of  Buro. mustasa or mustard leaves and eggplant. Quite good, actually.

Sisig P320
Chopped pig's ears on a sizzling plate. With chicken liver. Yum.

In the evening, we were invited to have dinner  The Highland's Steakhouse
John Wayne's Prime Rib. 
Nope, it didn't delight that night. 

Salad with Liver the name of which I forgot. 
Sinfully good. Just too little greens I think to be considered a salad.  

The dessert of which we all had a taste of from a friend's plate, were scrumptious!!! Yes, the desserts were lovely. Sorry, no pics were taken.
For breakfast, I had some of the waitress's recommended Longganisa. Nope, it disappointed. Sorry.
This pond is part of the Clubhouse at the Highlands. Such a pretty spot. This estate has so many beautiful spots, although I think upkeep hasn't been as often judging from some of the structures we've seen. So much more potential for this place.

Until next time, Tagaytay!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cool Taiwan

(This is going to be quite a long post as I have been remiss of my duties lately. )

We went to Taipei, Taiwan on the first day of November. After initially reading up on Taiwan, I stopped doing research when I realized that it was futile because we were going with a group, and I only had to follow. So after knowing that Din Tai Fung originally came from Taiwan, I let it go at that and packed our bags with a free mind (well, empty was more like it. ) I only knew that we had to eat at Din Tai Fung, and that was it. 

When we arrived, it was cool. We loved the temperate climate. The airport was hazy and had a few pine trees. Dreamy climate. 

Taipei is a very modern city. I thought it would be old fashioned. Like a huge Chinatown from Manila. But  M and I agreed that it did feel like Tokyo. We were giddy. When we reached downtown, I saw many sidewalks with motorbikes parked on it. Motorbikes are the popular transportation of choice by the yuppies and some. It was Motorbike City. 

Next to Din Tai Fung, M wanted to see Taipei 101. Only there did I know about it.  Were were lucky because we were billeted in a hotel just near it. Around 2 blocks. It was so close, we had a view of it from our balcony. Lucky lucky us.

We arrived at around noon time, and we were left to fend for lunch on our own. M and I decided that we would explore the neighborhood. Just right behind Pacific Business Hotel, was this food strip of street food.
M was drawn to this stand. There were so many people lining up, and service was quick. It was just noodle soup. We waited to see how we would order. We waited for quite sometime until finally, the vendor looked at us...amused that we looked like lost kids. Or lost people. 

There's that big vat on the left side of the cart, and on the right side, hidden by the vendor ,
are  the bowls of add-ins.
We ordered the NT60 bowl - the bigger bowl. We shared the bowl just to try. 
After Googling this delicacy,
we found out that this is the very popular
Oyster Vermicelli Soup. 

The vendor tapped one of the customers to teach us how to eat the soup.
We had a choice of condiments on the table like garlic, chili and green onions.
Not bad. But I can't say I would order it again. M loved this soup. 

I was just thankful it brought back the heat to my extremities.
Next to the Vermicelli stand was this dumpling stand. The steamed dumplings would be seared for a while before serving. Again, there were so many people lining up, I waited to see how to buy from him. Alas, he couldn't understand a thing. Luckily, a young lady in an office attire understood me and spoke English. She told me that one dumpling cost NT5 or 5 Taiwan dollars. 

Shall I assume that this is Jian Bao? I LOVED IT. 
The dough was chewy and the meat inside soft and tasty.
I wanted more!

Right  across the stall where we  bought these goodies was a fast food where so many people lined up too! It was lunch break, and office people were everywhere.

I said we would have this to go, just so I can have this cute box.

And I loaded our box with A LOT of viands. Let me see. Steamed Brocolli from the top right, Spicy Oyster with Tofu in the box, lower right, Rice, Beef with Spinach. It was a smorgasbord of sorts. Our favorite was the Beef with Spinach.
It was so good. 

This was the Oysters with Tofu. Just in case you wanted to have a closer look :D

After we got our rooms in the afternoon, and after doing some more sightseeing (or walking around the block), we were invited to have dinner at---- TADA!!!!

Welcome to 
Din Tai Fung!

Xiao Long Bao!
The star of the show, and I hope you can see why. Look at those swirls, so perfect. 

Fried Pork Belly Rice.
 I know so many like this.
The chops were moist, flavorful and soft. So soft, it feels like a patty.
I wasn't too excited about it, but M liked it very much.

Fried Rice

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel and made a side trip to a the Linjiang St. Night Market. 

Fried on sticks smorgasbord

Add caption

They like their fruits.

Caramelized sweet yam or sweet potato.
If they stuck these onto sticks, it would be just like our  camote cue!

Day 2
National Palace Museum lobbyWe weren't allowed to take pictures of the pieces inside.
The next day, we went out for a day trip around town. We toured  The National Palace Museum  before lunch time. For lunch, we went to a restaurant nearby named Frogs. No, we didn't have frogs, thank God :)

             Wintermelon Soup, or so I think. It's so hard to ask question in Taiwan. 

Please correct me if I'm wrong. This soup tastes and looks like Tinola, but has wintermelon

cuts in it. The soup is so comforting. 
Steamed Lapu-lapu

Beef Tendons. Sinfully yummy :)

The Martyr's Shrine

The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial
This Cadillac was a gift to Gen. Chiang Kai Shek from 
the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines. 
Ain't that cool?
Under this glass topped table is a model replica of Gen. Chiang Kai Shek's usual breakfast. 
He likes his breakfast simple and healthy. 

In the evening, we went up the view deck of Taipei 101. This was a portion of the lovely Taiwan lightscape. 
Amazing place.

Red Adzuki ice cream, from the nearest convenience store.
A cool way to end a hectic day.
Day 3
On the third day, we took up the courage to take the train. It wasn't so hard. And they had a good "All Day Pass" ticket for tourists like us. We used up the card good :)

This is the underground mall at the Longshan. There are a lot of handicrafts here. 

This is the facade of the Red House. It used to be a theater which they then 
converted in to an art gallery of sorts. I love the artworks inside. All modern and whimsical and fun. 
There's also a cute cafe and a mini pasta bar. I can live there!

Check out those whimsical paintings on the wall. I love it here!

We had lunch at the McDonald's of Ximending. Shown here is a McDonald's Cheeseburger Meal. 
The burger here is not that different from ours. But ours is beef-ier, I think. 


Look at the spoon handle of the McFlurry there. 
There's a rectangular pipe in the end,  with a hook. 
No, I don't know why the spoon looks like that.

I saw this Mister Donut Shop at the mall near the train stop. The Mister Donut here has lots of cruller type donuts. And they look so pretty too, don't you think? Maybe we can have these kinds too, Mister Donut Philippines?:)
Rental bikes. How cool is that. 

Day 4

Breakfast : I'm glad I was able to try this on our last breakfast at the hotel. M was raving about these dimsum- it's like meatballs wrapped in rice. I don't know what they're called. They weren't bad. But I didn't like them as much as the--
Barbecued Pork Buns

These are actually tiny. A little bigger than a regular siomai, these barbecued pork buns
 are similar to asado siopao, but less of the anise-y taste.
Just sweet barbecue sauce smothering the pork morsels inside. Yumyum.
Breakfast buffet is not the same for me anymore.

After breakfast, M and I decided to go out for a walk one more time and bought more Pineapple Squares for pasalubong at the Jason's Supermarket, just right behind Din Tai Fung. We then decided to have lunch at Din Tai Fung one last time. 

 This time, it was just the two of us. We had some more Xiao Long Bao ( for three days in a row!), and we finally tried this Spicy Beef and Tendon Noodle Soup which Taiwan is famous for. I liked all the beefy goodness, and the beef tendon fat. But the soup was a bit too anise-y for me. Hmmm. 

I made M promise for us to drop by Cama Cafe at least once on this trip. 
I found all the cute stuff on the wall endearing. No, it wasn't for the coffee. :D 
Although, I did like the Roasted Milk Tea we had. 
They have so many cute art prints on the wall, and vintage accessories like lamps and coffee makers. 
The wood on white is just the kind of interiors I swoon for. 
Love love Cama Cafe.

My Roasted Milk Tea. 

Xie xie, Taipei. For the history and the food. We like you. We really like you. Xie, xie!