BLACKBEARD’S SEAFOOD ISLAND

Whenever I meet my college friends, we always choose Market! Market! as meeting place. It is because this place is the closest landmark from our house and several restaurants to choose from. Blackbeard’s Seafood Island is one of the good venues for friends and family gathering. One of their branches is located in Fiesta Market! near the fountain area. They offered different varieties of seafood and Filipino native dishes.
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Blackbeard’s Seafood Island is popular in serving the dishes in “boodle fight” way called Boodle Feast. Inspired in military style of eating using bare hands where the food is prepared in banana leaves. Each set of Boodle Feast contains different combination of seafood, grilled meat and other native dishes served with rice.
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One of their Boodle Feast is “Magellan’s Landing”, inspired from a Portuguese explorer who discovered Philippines way back year 1521. Magellan’s Landing contains danggit chips with pineapple Salsa, kinilaw na tanigue, grilled tilapia, grilled squid and shrimps, steamed crab, chicken Inasal, grilled vegetables and bagoong rice.
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“Dapitan’s Pride” serve with crispy shrimps, San Mig clams, grilled tilapia, grilled squid, laing, steamed crabs, grilled liempo, kalkag rice.
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“Panlasang Pinoy” serve with hipon sa aligue, sinuglaw, guinataang alimango, adobong manok, kare-kareng gulay, ensaladang lato with crispy dilis, plain rice.
They also serve food in single order like chopseuy,
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and lechon kawali.
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Although it takes time before they serve the dish, it is worth it to wait because of good food and friendly ambiance.

Here’s my rating:
Food: 7.5/10
Budget: 7/10
Ambiance: 8/10
Customer Service: 8/10
Overall: 7.5/10
Recommend: Yes

SINAMPALUKANG MANOK

It was almost 3 days since Typhoon “Maring” started to show her strength in Manila and central Luzon. Heavy to torrential rain was experienced, several roads and streets where flooded. Schools and Universities were suspended including government and private offices.
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That was before noon time when the wind blew very hard so I was thinking what kind of soup dish will suit in this cold weather. Since we have chicken inside the fridge, I decided to cook sinampalukang manok or chicken in tamarind soup. This dish has a sour soup which is very similar to sinigang na hipon and sinigang na baboy. So I checked the refrigerator and the cabinet, I am lucky because all the ingredients I need are available. Here is my recipe that good for 4-5 persons.
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1 kilo chicken, cut into serving pieces
12 pieces tamarind(sampalok) or 1 pack sinigang mix
5 cups rice wash or water
3 gloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
3 tomatoes, quartered
3 pieces green peppers(siling haba)
1 bundle water spinach(kangkong), cut into 2 inches
1 bundle string beans(sitaw), cut into 2 inches
1 cup tamarind leaves, optional
fish sauce or salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cooking oil

To extract the juice of tamarind, you have to boil the tamarind until soften then pound, strain and extract the juice. If tamarind is not available you may also use instant sinigang mix, but I prefer natural juice from tamarind. Set aside.

In a cooking pot, heat oil then saute garlic, onion and ginger then add chicken and stir cook until light brown. Add a little ground pepper and fish sauce to season the chicken. Pour enough rice washing then bring to boil. Add tomatoes, tamarind juice and tamarind then simmer in a low heat for another 5 minutes. Add sting beans and green peppers then cover and simmer for another 3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning according to taste using fish sauce. Add water spinach then turn off the heat, cover until the vegetable is wilted. Serve hot immediately and enjoy the sour taste of sinampalukang manok.

Here’s my rating:
Budget: 9/10
Food Preparation: 8/10
Cooking Time: 8/10
Utensils and Equipment: 9/10
Health Benefits: 8.5/10

MOM AND TINA’S BAKERY CAFE

Mom and Tina’s Bakery has a cozy and laid back atmosphere which is best for meeting friends and families or for casual business meeting. They offer a range of freshly baked pastries and home cooked meals at reasonable prices.
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I first came across Mom and Tina’s in Makati along Dela Rosa street when a friend suggested for us to meet there. We agreed to meet at around 7PM after office hours. My first impression when I got there was that the place looked so homey. The place was almost full but when my friends arrived, we managed to get a table inside. While doing some chickas we also started ordering our dinner. We ordered
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paella valenciana,
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beef tapa,
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fish n’ chips,
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and Caesar salad.
While waiting, we resumed with our stories about our work, old friends from college, and whole lot more. After a few minutes our orders arrived including Frappuccino, red and blue lemonade.
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Everything was so delicious and already hit the spot. But the dessert were so irresistible we couldn’t help but to try some. We ordered
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brazo slice and
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mango torte and we loved every bit of it. We even ordered some cookies to take home.
Since then, Mom and Tina’s had been one of our constant meetup places.Not only because it is near our offices but also because of the good food and friendly ambiance. The prices are also reasonable. Definitely a must try place.

Here’s my rating:
Food: 9/10
Budget: 8/10
Ambiance: 9/10
Customer Service: 7/10
Overall: 8/10
Recommend: Yes

OPA! AT CYMA

Cyma is a Greek restaurant with branches in Boracay, Trinoma, Greenbelt 2, and Shangri-la.
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I first encountered Cyma when my boss took us for lunch after a meeting with a client. We went to their branch in Greenbelt. It was only about 11 am so there were not a lot of customers yet but at around 12 noon the place was packed. I noticed mostly were professionals probably from their meeting just like us since it was a weekday. We let our boss order the food since we were not familiar with the dishes listed on the menu. He ordered the angel hair pasta with baby clams, salad with fresh tuna, hummus and pita bread. My favorite among them was the pasta. It looked so simple yet very flavorful. The tuna and salad was also perfect. They were fresh and not overly flavored with just some anchovies and cheese.

Since I really liked the food and the service as well, I suggested this to my boyfriend one time for a dinner. The place was full so we ended up at the table outside which was ok(we had a view of the show on the other restaurant Barcino’s).
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We ordered the watermelon salad topped with grilled lamb and feta cheese,
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the mixed meat gyro which is a combination of beef and pork wrapped in pita ,
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then we also tried the Hirine Brizola, 2 porkchops around 3/4 inch thick with potato wedges. I couldn’t believe how they made the meat so tender and so flavorful. I found my new favorites!
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We also have Greece’s national dish called “Moussaka” made of layered seasoned ground pork and beef, roasted Japanese eggplant and Greek bechamel sauce. Salmon Pasta made of angel hair pasta with sauteed salmon with tomato, basil cream sauce, fresh lime juice, feta and parmigiano reggiano. Greek Chicken Adobo is a braised lemon oregano chicken with garlic and EVOO, roasted with Greek potatoes and Feta cheese. Grilled Mezedes or Hot Pikilia is a combination of grilled shrimps served with warm pita bread. Roka pasta is sauteed arugula(roka) and spaghetti with EVOO, pine nuts, grated parmigiano reggiano and fresh tomatoes.

While dining we were surprised when some staff lit up a plate and shouted OPA!!! Apparently they do this when someone orders Saganaki aka flaming cheese.

Now, whenever i want some good salad I only think of Cyma. Their prices are not cheap but I would say it is reasonable for the for the good food that they serve. Whenever I meet up with friends and we do not have any specific place to dine, I always recommend going to Cyma. I suggest you try it too!

Here’s my rating:
Food: 10/10
Budget: 8/10
Ambiance: 7/10
Customer Service: 9/10
Overall: 9/10
Recommend: Yes

DINNER BUFFET AT KALEIDOSCOPE RESTAURANT

We visited Atlantis, The Palm Dubai last June 26 to meet our bosses for a dinner buffet with my colleagues. We arrived around 6 pm then we proceed at the main entrance to look around while waiting for our bosses. They came a few minutes later then we proceed at Kaleidoscope restaurant beneath the lobby. Different nationalities were also dining that day with their friends and relatives to celebrate special occasion. The restaurant has a classy and romantic ambiance, and the staff were very accommodating. Since we came for dinner, they prepared candle light, dim light and lovely music for their guest.
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Right after we found the tables, the staff approached us for our drinks. I choose mojito, a cocktail with mint and lime flavor. After the staff took our orders, we proceed to food area were you can choose different kind of dishes and dessert. First I went around to explore and plan my meal.
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There are lots of mouth-watering dishes and desserts to choose from, they served International cuisine like Arabic, Mediterranean, Italian and Asian dishes.
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Maki, sushi and other Japanese dish were freshly made in this area located at the left side of food area.
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Different kind of salami and salad were also served in this area.
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They also invited us to taste their steak with some sauces and steamed vegetables on the side.
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They also have bread, pizza and pasta.
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Different cakes and candies were displayed in this station.
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Colorful and mouth-watering desserts were prepared in this station at the middle of food area.
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I don’t want to take this any longer, so I grabbed a plate and prepared a portion of each dish that I want. I picked fish, beef, fruits and veggies. If I am not mistaken, I got 3 rounds before my last two plates for the desserts. It was disappointing because I really want some more but my body cannot accommodate anymore, so I have to stop. It was a lovely dinner with our bosses, they were very kind and down to earth and we’re looking forward to meet them again soon.

BOHOL COUNTRYSIDE TOUR

Bohol is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. On our first trip to Bohol, I booked a flight via Cebu Pacific from NAIA Terminal 3 to Tagbilaran Airport. The flight is quite short that takes just about 45 minutes.

Upon arrival at the airport, since we were already hungry, we decided to take a tricycle to the nearest mall and had our lunch at Jollibee. We also took the chance to buy some grocerys before heading to Panglao island where we booked our hotel. The tricycle ride from the mall to Panglao takes almost an hour. We stayed in Harmony Hotel, which is about 5 minutes walk to the Alona Beach. The hotel is nice and perfect for couples and families. The rooms are still new and well maintained. There is a pool and big Jacuzzi outside with a bar in the middle where you can order your drinks while dipping in the water.
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After settling ourselves at the hotel, we asked one of the staff for someone who can take us around. He called one of their usual tour guide and we have agreed to pay for a thousand pesos for one day tour around the province for the next day.

On our first night, we headed to Alona beach where several restaurants and bars a lines up. We chose to have our dinner in one of the restaurants where a live band was performing acoustic music. It was a good time to relax with good music and the beach on the background.
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The next day, we woke up early and excited for our tour. The driver fetched us from our hotel at around 9AM. Our first stop is the blood compact site found along the national road in Brgy Bool Tagbilaran City.This was the place where the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna had a blood compact to seal their friendship. Along the road, there are several souvenir shops and on the background is a beautiful view of Bohol Sea. After taking some pictures, we moved to our next stop.
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The Baclayon Church Is the second oldest stone church in the Philippines. Before we were allowed to go inside the Church, I had to wear sarong because they prohibit wearing short, above the knee dress and skirts, or sleeveless tops. It was understandable because it is a sacred place. I was really awed to see the old relics and glad that they were able to preserve the structure. The ceiling, the floor, the seats, the altar, it was like being transported back in time.
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The tarsier sanctuary is where you can have a close encounter with one of the smallest primates in the world. At first glance, I did not notice any tarsiers on site and wondering where they were. But upon closer look at the pants, there were the cute creatures with wide eyes! We were told that we can take pictures with them but we should not use the camera flash or hold them so they don’t get startled.
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For lunch, the driver took us to Loboc river where we had buffet that serves a selection of foods and listened to live band while cruising along the river. The cruise also stopped at some stations where locals performed native dance and song numbers. Some tourist even hoped out of the banca and joined in dancing with the locals. This made the experience more fun.
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After lunch we continued on our journey. On the way to Chocolate Hills we passed by the “man made forest”. The trees were huge and so as the earthworms! It only proved how rich the ground was. We stopped for a while and took tuns in taking our pictures in the middle of the road.
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At last! We arrived at the world famous Chocolate Hills. The road going to the hills was quite steep but good thing the car we rented was still new and the driver was already familiar with the place. Another challenge was climbing the stairs to reach the peak of one of the hills. We had to pause several times and took rest before we reached the top. The view on top was breath-taking, we saw hills everywhere. They said the chocolate hills was formed from coral deposits by rainwater and erosion thousands of years ago. There are 1268 chocolate hills scattered throughout the towns of Carmen, Batuan and Sagbayan.
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Our last destination was butterfly garden, they breed different kinds of butterflies. Several butterflies were flying around the garden with different colors and sizes. One of our tour guide explained to us about the life cycle of butterflies from eggs until they become adults. Most of the butterflies lives only a few weeks after they laid eggs.
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On our last day, we enjoined the clear water and white sand of Alona beach. We even found some starfish and sea urchin on the shore. Overall, it was a tiring yet exciting and fun-filled trip. There were a lot of things to see and go that one day tour is not enough.

ATLANTIS, THE PALM DUBAI

Last June 23, we went to Dubai with my colleagues for working purposes. It was a connecting flight from Manila to Brunei then Brunei to Dubai. It takes almost 12 hours flight but it didn’t matter because the airlines have on-board entertainment system where you can choose your favorite movies, TV shows, music and games. They also served delicious dishes and beverages while the cabin crews are so friendly and approachable.
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We arrived in Dubai around 12 midnight (4AM Manila Time), our bosses waited at the arrival area to bring us in the hotel. We stayed in Avenue Hotel located in Al Rigga Road Deira which is 10 minutes away from the airport. After two days, our bosses treated us for a dinner buffet at Atlantis. Atlantis is a resort and water park located on man-made island called “The Palm” in Jumeirah, it takes almost 30 minutes of travel from Deira.
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There are lots of elegant structures and houses in the island like you where in the street of Beverly Hills. The road going to the hotel is beside the beach where you can see the Persian Gulf with blue sea and fine sand.
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We were amazed when we arrived in the main entrance of the hotel. The ceiling is so high and it is painted with colorful images, the designs and structures inside are fantastic. There are lots of restaurants and boutiques where you can buy souvenirs. The main attraction is a huge aquarium called “The Dig” located beneath the lobby containing thousands of different marine species like sharks, manta rays, angel fish and various types of fish and jellyfish. The aquarium is also containing different chambers, wreckage and debris scattered at the bottom floors that represents the “Lost City of Atlantis”. Many tourists from different countries were taking pictures together with their friends and relatives beside “The Dig”. I don’t want to miss this opportunity, so I also grabbed my camera and take some pictures.
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After that, we dine at Kaleidoscope restaurant that is also inside the hotel. Kaleidoscope is a buffet restaurant that offers a full International and Mediterranean dishes. There are lots of mouth-watering dishes and desserts. I ate those dishes that are unusual and hard to find here in Manila. It was disappointing because I really want some more but my body cannot accommodate anymore, so I don’t have any choice but to stop.
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After a lovely dinner, we walked outside to take some pictures and enjoy the view of Atlantis. It was an extra ordinary adventure in Dubai and I will never forget this experience. In my next article, I will share my dining experience in Kaleidoscope restaurant.

PORK CHOP ALOHA

It was almost 2 hours before noon time, me and my wife were thinking what to prepare for lunch. She was looking for something sweet and I am craving in pork meat for almost a week. I looked in the cabinet and I saw a can of pineapple slices that we bought this morning from grocery store. So I sit in front of my computer to find out what recipes are suit in my resources. Google displayed different dishes with pork and pineapple. I decided to choose “Pork Chop Aloha”, since it is very simple to prepare and I have all the ingredients that I need.
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Instead of plain pork chop and pineapple, we want something with a twist. So my wife suggest to add bell pepper and white onion to gives more color to the dish and also help to produce aromatic smell. So I opened the fridge and grabbed all the things I need. Here are the ingredients that good for 4 servings.

4 pieces pork chops, 1-inch thick
1 can pineapple slices, reserve the juice
1 white onion
1 green bell pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste

You may also use honey and brown sugar to caramelize and to add sweetness to your dish. But I think pineapple juice is enough to give sweet flavor, so I suggest to minimize the brown sugar.
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The procedure is so simple, first marinate pork chops with salt and pepper then set aside for 15 minutes. Grab a non-stick pan then melt butter and fry pork chops for 5 minutes each side or until golden brown and tender. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

In a same pan, reduce oil up to 2 tablespoons then saute onion and bell pepper. Pour pineapple juice, soy sauce, honey and brown sugar if using. Bring to boil then add pork chops and pineapple slices, cover the pan and simmer in a low heat for 2 minutes then you’re done! The taste is so good and of course my wife really loves it.

Here’s my rating:
Budget: 8.5/10
Food Preparation: 9/10
Cooking Time: 8/10
Utensils and Equipment: 9/10
Health Benefits: 7/10

BRUNCH AT KAMAY KAINAN

On June 12, our Independence Day (holiday) we decided to go to Market! Market! Taguig to celebrate a special occasion and have our brunch together with special friends.We went there around 10am, we choose Kamay Kainan to take our brunch. It is a buffet style resto and they offer an eat all you can for only Php 290.00 for more than 30 Filipino dishes and desserts plus Php 50.00 for bottomless “drink all you can” ice tea.
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We were the first customer in that place so we choose the best spot located near the food area. I immediately grabbed my plate and I saw a wide variety Filipino main dishes like adobo, bopis, fried chicken, chicken curry, paksiw na pata, chicken liver and gizzard, binagoongan na baboy, kaldereta, ginataang kohol, pork chop, fried shrimps and crabs, dinuguan, beef mechado and kare-kare(yum! my favorite). The grilled dishes like lechon, inihaw na hito, inihaw na tilapia, etc is located outside near the entrace. They also have soup based dish like nilagang baka, sinigang na bangus, papaitan, sinigang na baboy, tinola, sinigang na ulo ng maya-maya sa miso, clams and mussels soup. For those who love vegetables, they offer ginisang ampalaya, pipino ensalada, chopsuey and pinakbet. They also offer fresh lumpia, pansit, longganisa, bagoong, salted eggs for side dish. For the dessert they have japanese cake, majablanca, minatamis na saging, ginataang halo-halo, muffins, brownies, gelatin and green mangoes with bagoong which my preggy wife eat most of the time. If your lucky, sometimes they serve seasonal ice cream.
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A few minutes later many customers went in, a group of families and friends were gathered for their lunch and bonding time as well. It was a happy place because you will hear some guests laughing and chitchatting all the way. You will also hear the click clanking of utensils, plates and glasses. The restaurant’s staffs were very busy serving and helping some customers. They also have extension area for special gathering which is open during pick hours.

A tip of advice, be sure you have cash because they don’t accept debit or credit card. But don’t worry there’s a lot of ATM outside if you don’t have enough cash. I just notice that their black slip holders and receipts quoted of No Service Charge! so it’s up to you if you want to give a tip.

If you are a heavy eater and love Filipino food, Kamay Kainan is very SULIT” worth-it to experience a buffet style restaurant compared to others. It’s a good place to dine in terms of food and casual ambiance together with friends and family to celebrate any type of occasion.