May 27, 2018

Luk Foo at Kawit

Cavite's Centennial road in the town of Kawit is starting to become a food hub for everybody since the Cavite Expressway opened a few years ago. Restaurants and known fast food chains lined up the sides and one of these is the Manila based Luk Foo. Located at the Puregold building at the Lancaster side of the Kalayaan intersection, this Chinese restaurant offers dishes that are both delicious to the taste and enticing to the senses.

Luk Foo's Assorted Dimsum

Right after my uncle's funeral a couple of weeks ago, we decided to have late lunch at the Kawit area to avoid the rush hour traffic at the coastal road. It was me, my dad, my brother Wilson, and my uncle Carlito who had our delicious Chinese lunch that sunny afternoon.

We decided to start with the dimsum menu, well anyone would right? Let me run you down with the dishes that we had on our lunch table.

Steamed Pork Siomai (Php 100)

Bigger than the usual, but not as the big ones I had. You really would see big chunks of prawns but everything was made soft on the palette. As a personal preference, I really like my siomai with bigger chunks of pork and not just the shrimp. Pork chunks give it more character and a special skill should be known as to how one could bind such chunks into a small cube of meaty goodness. Nothing special about this one.

Steamed Chicken Feet with Chili Sauce (Php 90)

This one is something I like. I'm not a fan of the tausi taste which is very rampant on chicken feet dishes, but what I like about this one is it is more on the sweeter side than the tausi side. It almost reminds me of a barbeque marinade flavor which is an absolute favorite taste for me. Thumbs up on this one.

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (Hakao) (Php 105)

Hakao is another dumpling which unlike the siomai, does not have pork. To describe it, it's simply softened shrimp encased in a very soft, translucent wrapper (and I do mean very soft) and served hot and steaming. This is also the reason why I am very much intrigued with the size of their hakaw because it is way bigger than the usual hakao I see. I took a bite and then I realize that it is not the usual hakao. The shrimp was ground and I could swear there is some pork in there as well. It may be different from their siomai but this is not the hakao I would line up for.

Crispy Noodles with Assorted Meat (Php 295)

One of my staple dishes on any Chinese restaurant. Who likes soggy noodles right? So noodles served crispy, dunked under hot piping savory sauce makes its consistency perfectly tender yet still has that suppleness. This one is available in seafood or assorted meat. We got the mixed one so it had slices of pork, squid, prawns, and mushrooms.

Sweet and Sour Lapu-Lapu Fillet (Php 360)

Another thumbs up dish for me goes to this fish fillet dish. Truly a fusion of sweet and sour, they did the perfect ratio of each of the two tastes. All the flavors that the sauces complemented the natural flavor that comes out of the fish that was first deep fried and then served with the sauce on top. Some fish fillet dishes are served with the fish simmered with the sauce but having it fried first gives it modernity and I am sure that kids will not say no to it.

Crispy Lemon Chicken (Php 345)

Let me take you to a dish that you either hate or you love. Fried chicken strips under a sweet layer of lemon sauce is one of my favorites. The thing though about this dish is how perfect they combine the flavors of lemon and sugar. You can't be too lemony or else you'll serve up an acidic plate, or too sugary or it will taste like lemon drop candy. Luk Foo's was almost perfect but a little bit leaning to the candy area. I guess mixing white and brown sugar will do the trick, though the color then will be the issue. I'll leave this one to preference.

Luk Foo Fried Rice (Php 340)

We had a choice between the usual Yang Chow and their house special fried rice. I asked my brother to opt for their house specialty just because we can't order that on another chain right? So it's the usual egg rice topped with lechon kawali (deep fried pork belly), slices of peking duck, salted egg crusted shrimp, and pieces of Bok Choi. I'm doing a keto diet at the moment but I did taste their rice, the taste of the eggs really wrapped every grain of rice which is a big requirement for fried rice, well for me, so this is a good one.

***

We surely will miss our Uncle Asiong, my dad's younger brother. And we remembered his life that day and capped it with a hearty meal all for him. The place is well air-conditioned even under the scorching heat of a May afternoon so over-all, we did have a good dining experience. Will I go back to Luk Foo? I would say yes! But I would redo our whole order so I can get to taste other dishes that they serve, besides, they do have a long list on their menu.

My brother Wilson, Me, Daddy, and Uncle Carlito

Luk Foo Cantonese Kitchen
Puregold Dalahican, Kawit, Cavite
+63 46 416 3868
Opens Everyday 10AM - 10PM

May 23, 2018

Flatterie at the Mall of Asia

Flatterie at the Mall of Asia

It was just a normal Sunday that weekend that passed but me and my cousin Judy decided to go to SM Mall of Asia with my best friend Rjay to register on the upcoming Runrio race happening this June 3rd. Me and my cousin will be running the 10K while Rjay will take part on the 21K half-marathon. We were supposed to grab some fastfood for dinner but we passed by this cute fancy place at the edge of the right wing, Flatterie.

The greeter walked towards us and led us to the high chairs at the center. It's just a tiny restaurant but it looks really posh I must say. I know, I should have taken shots of the interiors but we were just really hungry that time haha. So we scanned through their menu and basically they serve flatbreads (smaller versions of pizza), pasta, and chicken and rice dishes. Here are the goodies that we enjoyed.

Truffle Flatbread (Selfie - Php220, Groupie - Php320)

Available in two sizes, their flatbreads can be ordered as a selfie (for one) or groupie (two to three). As a sucker for truffle, I really did enjoy this flattie. Unlike other pizzas where you can see big chunks of toppings, the truffle has been creamed together with other ingredients and placed neatly under a blanket of cheese. the taste of the truffle is very extravagant but not overpowering. Anyone cooking with truffle must be very careful because it has the tendency to be too strong for any dish, but this one, perfection. And to tell you about the crust, it is more on the gummy area and not flaky.

Carbonara (Selfie - Php 200, Groupie - Php 300)

We had the selfie sized carbonara. I must say that they do know what carbonara is. Because mostly here in the Philippines, they think that carbonara should be flooded with white sauce. That is actually alfredo, not cabronara. Carbonara is tossed in eggs and cheese and definitely not saucy, just like this one. They made the pasta with perfect firmness (to my liking) and tossed it over rich cream and egg yolks. Topped with savory bacon and delicious Parmesan, this may be a hint of heaven for me.

Rosemary Chicken (Php 290)

This dish is a vacation from the first two we had because this is a definition of comfort food. Roast chicken thigh and a fillet breaded and deep fried all over a bed of rice pilaf. Topped with onion rings  and a cute little fried egg, it's our usual chicken and rice dish. Nothing glorious to be honest but not until you taste the gravy. Their gravy probably was made of roast beef drippings, not really sure except for one thing, it was phenomenal gravy.

S'mores Flatbread (Php 270)

Can any meal be complete without something sweet to cap it? Well not for us! It may be another flatbread but this one is a delight to your sweet tooth. The bread on this one is not as toasted as their savory flatbreads, then topped with a special chocolate sauce, drizzled with chocolate syrup, and yes, I swear there's also a raining of cocoa powder which gave it a different kick. Toasted marshmallows like boulders on graham sands just fixed the whole thing into a dessert dream. I suggest that for every bite, make sure all the components will be on it so you can enjoy the magical swirl of flavors.

***

Even before we got down from our high-chairs, we told each other that we'll be coming back to try other dishes at Flatterie. We may be easy to please but I'm sure we really did enjoy the food and not just because we were too hungry. So to pizza lovers, pasta lovers, and foodies like me, come and try flatterie, for it will surely flatter your senses.

Me, my best friend Rjay (thanks for the pictures!), and my cousin Judy at Flatterie

Never Stop Flattering!
Steve

May 9, 2018

Seven Reasons To Visit Bali

Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia

Bali has always been one of the most exotic destinations in the planet not just for people living on the other side of it but even to its neighboring nations. Though just a few hours away from the Philippines, it is not always on anybody's list because a few Filipinos think it is too expensive, well, I was one of them. Airfares to Bali does cost a little more than the usual flights to Hong Kong or Singapore, but the expenses when you are there is just surprisingly affordable.

But the real question is, why do I need to visit Bali? What can I see there or what experiences can it give me once I breathe in Balinese air? Let me name a few seven of them.

1.) Be Amazed by it's unexplained magic

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple, Bali, Indonesia

There's just something about this island that is very mysterious. The moment you arrive at the airport, there's a feeling that I can never explain, and no matter what's behind it, it's something peaceful and beautiful. People are warm and friendly and smiles are priceless as every face is filled with so much warmth and hospitality.

The photo I took above is probably the most famous landmark on the island. Located at the middle of the lake, the Ulan Danu Temple is situated magically where the clouds meet the surface of water. It is about an hour and a half drive from Denpasar Airport with a stretch of the road going uphill. I tell you, it is worth the while. By the time it was noon, that was when the clouds kissed the lake above the mountains. That in itself is some magic that nobody can contain.

2.) Nasi Goreng

Joglo Villa's Nasi Goreng

Delicious fried rice surrounded by little bits of other dishes like Mi Goreng (fried noodles), Babi Guling (Roast Pork), Rice Crackers, Veggies, and so much more - Nasi Goreng is just one of the country's most famous dishes. Very close to it's neighbor's kitchen Malaysia, Indonesian cuisine is filled with spices, seasonings and of course, every dish usually has rice in them. Oh the variety of spices they use on their dishes gives every plate a different attack to its taste. Food excites me so much, I mean who travels without having food on their to-do list? 

Joglo Villa is where we stayed during our days at Bali. You can book a stay with them through airbnb using this link JOGLO VILLA and they can also arrange tours for you around the island.

3.) Enjoy the calm and mysteries of Ubud

Spas of Ubud

Another thing about this island are the beautiful spas and resorts not just on the usual coasts but inside at the heart of its rainforests. You can really find peace on this heavenly place through these crystal clear pools and enjoy a relaxing massage under the embrace of nature. There are expensive and luxury resorts across Ubud, some of them are Ashoka Tree Resort Ubud, Alaya Resort, and the Amori Villas.

4.) Kopi Luwak (Civet Coffee)

Coffee Tasting

The civet coffee is said to be the most expensive coffee in the world. It undergoes a natural process wherein the coffee beans are eaten whole by the civet cat and passes through it's digestive track and excreted. Then these feces are dried and washed and roasted to mill these delicious tasting coffee. We tried it and I can say it was really good. It is less acidic than the usual roasts but the flavor is still bold and whole.

The coffee shops also sell different kinds of coffee and tea which you can get to taste just like on the photo above. Some of the remarkable ones that I've tried were the Vanilla Coffee, Lemon Grass Tea, and the Bali Coffee. Me and my dad also ordered a cup of their Kintamani Coffee which was not just a cup of coffee, it was an experience.

5.) Walk through the rice fields of Jatiluwih

Me at the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

These rice terraces of Jatiluwih are rolling across the mountains of the island. It has been there for a long time not just an agricultural marvel but also gives a beautiful view for tourists and hikers. These paddies are irrigated from the uplands and attracts visitors and photographers alike. I tried to follow the trail that leads downhill but it just doesn't end so I stopped at some point and decided to just walk up back to where I came from. Trust me, though you walk the same trail, the view going up is different from the views when you went down and both are amazing.

6.) Be Cleansed at Pura Tirta Empul

Pura Tirta Empul

Though Indonesia is probably the largest Islamic country, the island of Bali maintained its Hindu faith and culture. That is also the reason why there are Hindu temples and shrines everywhere you look around the island. One of the most important temple to visit is the Tirta Empul which is located at the town of Tampaksaring. This water temple is were you can be part of a ritual where you bathe yourself and be cleansed by the flowing holy waters as a form of purification. The pools are clean and the waters are clear so you can enjoy the ritual for yourself as you meditate.

7.) Watch the Balinese Theatrical Kecak

A Kecak Theater before the performance

Performed by a hundred men, the kecak is a traditional Balinese dance and music drama which depicts the story of the epic Ramayana. There are no musical instruments used and just a chorale of different voices and sounds produced by the men will surely fascinate your senses. There are lead stars that perform in the middle, while the chorale chants their music wearing just loincloths and bare upper bodies. 

Some kecak's are performed outdoors, one of which was even performed by the Uluwatu cliff under the colorful sunset. But this one was done at a wall-less theater which gave us a very different experience when the rain poured so hard at the middle of the performance. Everyone was so immersed and the singers seem to be in a trance that the rain did not bother any of them as they chant louder and louder. Kecak is a living heir of the spirit of Bali.

***

Bali was my gateway to the 13th country I visited, Indonesia. I don't think there is any other better island to visit first on the Indonesian archipelago other than Bali. It is nature, culture, love, and life all contained on a single place. I am blessed to have shared this experience with my father and it was a great bonding experience for us both. 

Me and my father overlooking wearing our Balinese headresses

I'm ending this post with a quote from a popular novel set on this mystical island of love, 'Eat, Pray, Love'. Think of it as the island speaking to it's people, to people who love Bali.

"There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. 
I will protect you until you die, and after your death 
I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression 
and I am braver than Loneliness
 and nothing will ever exhaust me."

May 6, 2018

GRATITUDE - Of Giving Thanks

Matabungkay Beach, Batangas, Philippines

There is no one stronger than a person whose heart is always filled with gratitude.

I found the quote above while doing my daily quotes reflection on Google. Yes, oftentimes, I search on quotes on Google about a specific topic - friendship, patience, happiness, grief, and this morning was all about giving thanks. A person who has the ability to count his/her blessings at the snap of a finger is someone who can find peace with it very easily. Having a grateful heart insures anyone of utmost happiness, for every time of sadness, you have this shining light of gratitude that will truly make you smile amidst all the darkness that surrounds you.

Whenever people talk about me or tell me something about myself, it warms my heart every single time I hear them talk about me being appreciative, me being thankful, or me being grateful. I think it's more than just being raised being taught about the importance of saying the magic words 'thank' and 'you'. It's not even the Filipino concept of 'utang na loob' or being indebted to someone for something. I personally think it all goes down to me being a very expressive person. But do you really have to say 'thank you' often? No. But do we really have to be thankful all the time? Yes!

How can we be a thankful person? Or at least how can we live this life having a thankful heart? Let me run through a list that I thought about:

Saying "Thank You" - This is probably the simplest yet the most important thing anyone should learn even from childhood. Saying thank you has been called one of the magic words especially taught when we were young. Thank You for being here today. Thank You for coming. Thank you for calling our office. We hear it endless times every single day. But do we really mean it? That is the question.

Counting Your Blessings - This is something a little deeper than the first one. Counting your blessings requires anybody to go through their days at the end of it or even at any moment of prayer, to recall and recount every single good thing that has happened to him/her. Not just the things that happened actually, but things that did not happen that we should also be thankful for, and trust me, you'll find joy in those. Thank you that I received my pay without any discrepancies. Thank you that the bus I rode earlier did not break down or worse, crashed. Thank you that my boss supported me on my presentation and did not point out the flaws in it. Counting your blessings also means counting the little happiness that can make up a bigger, larger happiness!

Recalling The Goods In Times Of Bad - This one is probably a lot harder. When you are in a brawl with someone or your friend just did something that brought you disappointment, this is a very good weapon for yourself or for your relationship to be fixed. I know, we do get blinded by someone's action and it's just so hard to find the good in it. But once you master this, you will not just find peace from that incident, but peace from within. 

When your younger sister broke your iPad which you have taken cared of for a long time, it's so hard to see how supportive she was during your last final exams. But try to look into it. It may not cover up the bad feelings you feel with that broken gadget, but it would at least compensate the loss. Besides, it might have been an accident. Or just take a look at when a friend said something bad about you to another person which he/she did repent on, I know sorry doesn't just compensate it all of a sudden, but think about the times when you were sick and how this friend helped you through it. Think about the calls that that friend made and the talks that your friend did whenever you needed it. or even the littlest supportive words that that friend did during those times. In the end, these acts would even made us think not just of the wrong things about our friend, but also the wrong things about ourselves.

In the end, it all boils down to the good that others do against the bad that they did. And having a thankful heart is like having a clear memory of the good things about those people and make them work as a weapon to find peace with something or someone.

Being Humble - Being humble doesn't just require being quiet or being low-key. For me, the easiest definition of humility is to not think that you are better than anyone else. Of course, we are all created unique, with our own sets of lusters and flaws. But anything about those differences just doesn't makes us any better than others. So anything that comes in between the better and the worse is something to be thankful for. Those differences can only be compensated by kindness and any act of kindness deserves gratitude. Stop being so competitive. Stop proving other people how great or better you are than anybody else. You are only better than yourself, that's the only concept that you should live by as you travel through life.

Ditching Too Much Pride - Pride kills, that's a fact! Thinking that you deserve everything and that you are entitled for the things that you have doesn't make you someone that is highly, it just makes you look like an ungrateful person. Yes, we do work hard for everything that we do and at times, we are even so blessed to receive  more than what we wanted. But that doesn't give us any entitlement for the things that we receive. Every time that security guard at the office greets us with a bright smile, say thank you and return that cheer. Never ever think that 'that's their job so they have to do it' because everyone has their bad days and for someone to rise up to that and offers you that good encouragement is being way beyond what he/she has to be.

Here is also where the 'utang na loob' or 'being indebted to' comes to play. We don't collect the good things that we do to people and shove it in their faces when a conflict occurs with that person. Kindness knows no limits and records. If a friend does know how to recognize the good (see upper bullet) then that friend is for keeps! But unfortunately, if that friend does not count the good, it is not your job to enumerate them in their faces. Because that will just make you look much worse. If you know you have done so much good to certain people and they do not have the heart of gratitude, the soul to give thanks, and a good and clear memory to recount all your kindness, I guess it's not bad to cut ties with those people because it's not that they are bad, it's not that they don't deserve you, but they're just not for keeps. As we age, people come and go but only a good few will stay. Not just really stay but will fight through to have that spot in your life and yes, those are for keeps - yes, those are worthy to be thankful for.

***

Having a grateful heart is like having an everlasting candle. Anything that is so bad can only be fought by something so good. And if we learn to find that joy, that gratitude, that love, we are only as good as our happy days. in the end, we only want things and yes, people, who we can always count at the end of the day as good ones! And once we have that ability, we'll live lives with a smile - not a fake one huh - a smile from deep within! Carefree, Peaceful, Grateful

Never Stop Being Thankful!
Steve

April 16, 2018

Another Story

Another Story, EVIA Lifestyle Center, Daang Hari, Las Pinas City

People share a lot of things to each other - clothes, gadgets, bags, and most frequently, stories. May it be about how their weekend was, or how I lost my way around Ayutthaya while I was on a bike ride last January, and then there's stories close to our hearts like food.

Curated by Ica Manalo Sebastian, also the owner of Tagaytay's Café Viola, this beautiful museum of taste is a delight for partners, families, and in our case, my circle of best friends. One of my friends Ferdie got us here through his eatigo app which entitled us through a reservation of 8 for a 50% off on all their menu at a given timeframe. It became my thrill of the week because I don't just get to try delicious food, I get to do it with them.

Another Story, EVIA Lifestyle Center, Daang Hari, Las Pinas City

The first thing that you will definitely notice are the interiors. It is something to really mention because personally, I really dig their whimsical themed design which gave me both a feeling of enchantment and a feeling of home. I myself collect a lot of stuff from my trips and travels and they do have little trinkets and fine ornaments on display.

Me, Rjay, Ferdie, Faith, Marvin, Myrcel, and Judy

Me and my friends had an amazing time together. To those who haven't known us yet, we've all shared a classroom since Kindergarten until we graduated High School so we're basically not just friends but a family. We see each other so often but yes, even if we get to meet almost every other week, it will never be enough for all of us.

Forgive our plates because we somehow murdered our meals even before we thought of having a photo taken. And yes, I know you've been waiting for their dishes so let me do a rundown of when we ate and how I personally find it. (You can find their detailed Menu at the end of this post) Of course let's start from their rolls.

Rolls with Tomato Salsa

I'm a sucker for rolls and especially now that I am on a Keto diet (Well I can get to eat a cheat or three on weekends) and yes, these are quite good. Their salsa is a little bit bland though for it is very lightly seasoned so all you can really get to taste is the parmesan cheese. But who says no to freshly baked bread?

Another Story Pizza (Php 495)

We're not really accustomed to rectangular pizzas here in the Philippines but I find this one very cute and a lot easy to share with your group. It was cheesy and I love how strong their olive tastes. This also has salami, pepperoni, bacon, ham, and all those delicious produce which gives a vacation of tastes. For me, one thing you can differentiate pizzas on are their crust and I can tell that this one is good. Not too flaky, not too chewy, just right.

Angus Belly of Beef (Php 595)

This was my sister's order. She got this slow cooked Angus beef which was really delightful. I give this a top prize ribbon because not just because the meat was so tender, they get to cook it for a lonbg time but still maintaining the natural flavor of the beef. Some of us know how hard that is especially if you are slow cooking with so much seasonings that you get to mask out or worse, take out that real natural flavor. But on this dish, it is really the beef that's the star. The gravy even brought in the taste that I was talking about instead of fighting it out.

Another Story Salad (Php 395)

I'm a big fan of salads but to be honest, not much of this one. I know that bringing out the natural flavors of ingredients is very important but salads are really about the dressing, well, when it comes to taste. For this one, I must say it did not really mixed well with the nuts and cheese so, I just took a forkful with all of these little things and gave it a pass. Their salads are also available on 'to share' servings.

Oven Roasted US Prime Beef Brisket w/ BBQ Sauce (Php 595)

If you guessed that this one was my choice, you got that right, even just from that 'BBQ Sauce' part. Really good, this was! I know that good cuts of meat has something to do with marbling but this one has magnified the marbling HAHA thick portions of lean meat and thick portions of fat gives an explosion of flavor to my palette. Not really a fan of their mashed potatoes but screw that, this BBQ Steak took me to Texas at the comfort of my seat!

Seafood Paella (Php 395)

Okay, I know I kept telling a lot of dishes to be so good but I don't care because this Paella, is Another Story. Our family's specialty is the Arroz a la Valenciana which is a brother to the Paella but has chicken and pork instead of these sea creatures. We take pride in it. But yes, I'm not telling that ours lost to this Paella, but theirs is just so perfect! To be honest, I'm not really sure what flavors they used to have this final product but the perfect texture of their rice, the right amount of saltiness and yes, that creaminess that I am not sure if it comes from butter or aligue (if there is aligue or crab eggs on this dish). In the end, I stopped thinking about it and just enjoyed every spoonful of it. I think I had three spoons of rice (Again, I'm still on keto). If there's a big reason I'll come back to Another Story, that's because I'll have another of this Paella :)

Hanger Steak (Php 595)

Just your usual hanger steak cooked medium rare as requested by my friend RJay. Paired with their Mashed Potatoes and Veggies, I know anyone would like this tender goodness.

Vongole Manila Clams Pasta ((Php 395)

Can also be ordered to-share at Php595. This dish features open clams, well, vongole right? Simmered in broth and white wine, this dish is very light. the only heavy part is the linguine pasta itself. I adore the plating on this one.

Braised US Short Ribs (Php 595)

After we tasted every dish (we love to order different things and try each others plates, just like any other barkada) we took a vote on who wins and this was the winner. Cooked in red wine sauce, inspired by The Julia Child as the menu says, The meat was so tender yet so flavorful. Let's be honest. As much as how soft we want beef is, we don't want something that just grates inside our mouth right? We want something we can still munch on and effortlessly chew. And this was it. I guess it won all the votes because of the perfect mix of all the flavors, but my champion is still the Angus Belly.

That Sunday, we had Another Story

It was definitely another story. The staff were nice, the place was magical, and the food was magnificent. As cliché as it may sound, no matter what you eat, whether it's a prime cut of steak or a bag of chicken ramen, as long as with you're having it with amazing people, it will truly be a good meal. Thank you to these amazing people. Special thanks to my best friend RJay who lent me some of his photos to make this post possible and to Ferdie, our food hunter, for taking us to this direction. Cheers to good food, cheers to lifelong friendship!

"A messy Kitchen is a sign of happiness"

Another Story
Second Floor, Evia Lifestyle Center
Daang Hari Road
Las Pinas City
+63 2 869 0003

***
Click on the images below for their Full Menu