Choi Coma

Chinese food always has a certain appeal to it. From haute chinois locations to fastfood moo shoo, everyone craves for Chinese at one time or another. Be it dim sum or peking duck or salted fish fried rice, Chinese food is almost always tasty. The plethora of flavors, spices and concoctions are so intricate yet complex that the balance must be established to make sure that it is truly authentic.

Most celebratory events for our family involve Chinese food. Lately, our resto of choice is Choi Garden, owned by, duh, Mr. Choi. Mr. Choi was a previous partner of the Gloria Maris restaurant group which has branches from here to there. After some disagreements and undisclosed issues, Mr. Choi decided to separate from the conglomerate and set up shop in Annapolis Greenhills. Not one to get in between drama, we went where our tongues salivated more. We have been willing and hungry Choi chompers since then.

Since the parentals were out on a safari, I played matron and decided to order set D. Set D is supposedly good for 12 people. Our party was for 9. But when you take into account that 6 out of 9 are all males, with 3 being my oversized brothers and the rest my brother's equally hungry friends, it was evident we needed more food.

Do I even have to elaborate on the authenticity and flavor of these dishes? Can you just take my word for it?


How to Have the Perfect Weekend

Weekends are somewhat of an addiction of mine. Since moving back, I count the hours til the clock finally ticks Saturday. I've vowed to resuscitate my liver by drinking only on weekdays, although it seems to be slightly less effective in terms of sobriety. I also took up diving to compensate for my lack of eagerness to go out, so my weekends are my special days. Those two days of sheer solitude usually end up becoming opportunities for things I used to do ritualistically when I was living in sunny California.

The intense addiction to weekends is actually the cause of this blog, Trip or Treats. My friend B once told me on YM: J, I never know where you will be until I find out on FB that you are either here, or there or everywhere. It's like you want to escape Manila. You should be a travel writer. Well... not quite, but this is a pretty good attempt, right?

My weekend rituals are quite simple really. I love to drive, preferably with the view of the Pacific Ocean on either side of the window and/or driving to some far off destination aka LONG DRIVE. I love being near the water to watch the sun set or rise. And lastly, ahhh... I really enjoy feeding people with food that I prepare myself.

I did all three this weekend when my adopted famiglia and I went to Punta Fuego to enjoy the long weekend with some driving, sun and food.
Driving: No matter what you hear about Angelenos and freeway road rage, it doesn't apply to me.
I L.O.V.E to drive. Of course, it helps to have a sweet ride, but it's not so much the physical manifestation of driving that delights me, as it is the mental clarity I get when maneuvering the brake and gas with my bare feet while hearing the engine respond fully. It feels like an orchestra performing a symphony with driver as conductor. Having a banging playlist also does wonders to soundtrack the fast paced lights running across the windows.


Italia-mania at C's

Being a temporary resident of a foreign country exposes you to so many different aspects of their culture: language, lifestyle and cuisine. Obviously, the latter is my favorite of all even though the others are still on my shortlist.

When mi studiare a Firenze, I made sure that no meal was left uneaten, no vino left uncorked, no cappuccino unsipped, no cured meat untouched, and no gelato unenjoyed. And here's proof!
Gelato craze
Pizza from Napoli
Fave meat shop for some Prosciutto
Ristorante Ciak for some Pasta Ciak
Cafe Liberta's signature cappuccino
Trattoria Za Za's mouthwatering Bistecca FiorentinaLimoncello shots at SpleenAcqua Al Due's Trio Di Bistecca Fiorentina: Balsamic, Blueberry and Filetto
The crap part about being exposed to such authenticity is the sheer frustration and withdrawal syndrome that follows suit when, upon returning to the motherland, one finds herself faced with faux-talian food that is reminiscent of 3M pizza or kiddie spaghetti with ketchup as base. I like them and still crave for them when I'm on children's party mode. But still... you can't mess with Italian!


Nihonbashi Tei Hits

Lately, my dive crew and I have been getting chummier than ever, meeting more than once a dive to rehash dives and plan trips and whatnot. Of course what do I do best but to introduce my beloved divers to the wonders of the sea... seafood that is.
Or more specifically... Sashimi!
Now here's the thing... everyone needs to be discerning when it comes to the raw fish craving. I've had one too many experiences where an ingested piece of sushi means a weekend glued to the toilet. Or when biting on a piece of shake sashimi feels like licking a popsicle, you know it's been sitting on the freezer longer than it should be kept fresh.

The downfall with a sushi addiction is the inevitable pains the wallet feels. Good sushi does not come cheap... Or so we thought.
Enter Nihonbashi Tei
Nihonbashi Tei is a Japanese joint in Makati by Pasay Rd. Its entrance is lit up like a karaoke studio which makes it impossible to miss. The interiors are nondescript, as if to insinuate that they don't care about the ambiance as much as the food, but props for the staff because they always seem uppity scurrying around greeting diners and getting the orders.


Back to 02.13.05 - Give Chance A Chance

Way back in the days, contemplation was my most appealing trait. I just had to post this because it needs to be resurrected, remembered, and relived.

Give Chance A Chance
Read more of this blog on the NEW ToT 


Was The Good Chef Out of Stock at Stock Market?

I don't want to be mean, but consistency is key especially in the food department. Consistency keeps me coming back for more, it provides a basis for comparison when trying other versions, and it gives me comfort to know that things are made just the way I like it when I want it.

That said, I present the case of the Chef's Day Off at Stock Market.
As a disclaimer, I adore Stock Market.

My first encounter involved the search for below zero beer ( beer that freezes up when you tap the bottom of the bottle, creating a slush that makes it next to impossible to drink properly). Of course, I don't drink beer but that didn't stop me from tagging along with those who do. That's when I had... the Burger experience:


Nostalgia Wins

A friend and I were out for some wine last night, discussing diving, food and Italy, when we went off on a full on tirade about pasta Carbonara. Where to find the best (I said Chelsea, friend said Rome duh), how to make it, and why we love it. I guess the discussion went for quite some time, because 3 bottles of vino went coming and going before realizing the time.

So today what can I think of?

Its wrath reached its fullest when, at the gym, I was staring at Giada Dilaurentiis noshing on Braciola while working up a sweat on the cross trainer. I finish my time on the sweat-o-rator and went in a scurry back home.

Specifically, my kitchen.

I won't elaborate too much on the process... just know that it was worth every calorie ingested.
Enter The Usual Suspects

Prosciutto, Bacon, Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Egg, and Spinach Fettucini


Hong Kong Honeymoon

Let me tell you, Hong Kong can make you do crazy things. The food begs you to eat a lot. The sales lure you to shop a lot. The streets ensure you will walk a lot... speaking of walking... HK also made me sleep walk. More on that later.
My trip started with my shuttle ride to Park Lane hotel with a tornado hanging over our heads. RAIN!

As a birthday gift to myself, (aside from my Muse ii and my Tubbataha trip) I met up with my Santa Monica roommate in HK while her fam flew in from Jakarta. Well, that and the underwater cam case purchase that made me trek to the HK ghetto aka talahib (grassfields).

My very first meal while waiting for roomie's arrival was from a random sushi place atop the AMC movie theater in Causeway Bay. I was unsure what I was hungry for so I headed to the nearest resto from the hotel... Talk about a gem of a find; in that resto-that-will-remain-nameless I taste the most amazing shake (salmon) sushi which melts in your mouth with perfect oiliness.


Don't Hate Me, I Have a Love Affair

I won't deny it: I take every opportunity to eat well, especially when it comes to family time. Unconditional love from my parents means never feeling hunger. That could have been deduced just by looking at our very wellfed physique, from my brothers down to the little oversized kidlets.

So for Sunday brunch, we head off to Le Souffle at Fernando's. No, not our residence but at the Amorsolo in Rockwell.

I wont elaborate too much, because it's quite evident that the pictures speak for themselves. My happy tummy nodding in agreement right now.



So You Think You Can Veggie?

Last week I headed up to Baguio to do the bad cop in the good cop/bad cop waltz that is employee evaluations. That was not fun, but I did leave the mountains with some goodies: blueberries, sagada oranges and passionfruit.
Whenever I'm in Baguio, I try to eat as healthy as possible. I mean, seriously, why wouldn't you try more fruits and veggies especially when Baguio offers a plethora of fresh produce at your disposal for dirt cheap. Most of the vegetables found in our local markets are brought in from the Northern Luzon region. Lettuce, strawberries, oranges and tomatoes are the perfect pasalubong for the kitchen.
Especially with farmers markets mushrooming in the metro, there's more than many opportunities to eat vicariously thru veggies. Some even go as far as going vegetarian, such as my friend Cheska who, for Lent, gave up anything that moves, quacks or moos. It was amazing to watch her self control, especially when we had dinner at Barcino's where I noshed on chorizo, jamon serrano and all the meaty spanish goodies. She ordered croquetas con queso. No Bueno for me.

Let's be reminded that, when growing up with three big brothers who have even bigger appetites, if you so much as even blink when food is put down on the table, there's a very high chance you open your eyes to an empty plate. Plus since they were "growing boys" for quite some time, meat and poultry were a mainstay on the menu. Conclusion: I love meat.
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