Monday, February 22, 2010

See you in three weeks

There will be no updates for the next three weeks because I'll be off on my next few Foodicles adventures! When I return, there will be entries from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Macau, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.
This is my current Top 10 Best Food Cities:
1. Hong Kong
2. Madrid
3. Tokyo
4. NYC
5. SF
6. Paris
7. LA
8. Vegas
9. Manila
10. Seattle

Let's see how this list changes when I get back....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunset at the Manila Bay

The Philippines has one of the world's most beautiful sunsets. I love going to the Sofitel to enjoy the sunset right by the Manila Bay.
After the sun sets, you can also enjoy a poolside buffet with a presentation of Filipino cultural dances.
These are pictures taken throughout the afternoon/evening:

Created with flickr slideshow.

The Sunset BBQ
Watching the sunset at Sofitel and enjoying the Sunset BBQ is definitely an experience worth trying out.

The Buffet
The poolside buffet is not as extensive as the Spirals buffet inside the hotel. However, you still have a nice variety of foods to sample.

The Salad Station

The Soup Station
Potato Soup. The executive chef of the hotel comes from Germany. This potato soup was reflective of that - it was excellent! Creamy, but not heavy, and full of taste.

The Breads

The Grill Station
The highlight of the buffet is the grill station where the chefs grill the food right on the spot. There was a nice spread of meats and seafoods.

The Dessert Station
The dessert selection was also generous. They had a nice spread of standard desserts, as well as native desserts.

Bibingka and Puto Bumbong
These native desserts are made in these steamers. The bibingka is made on the left, while the puto bumbong is filled in the tubes on the right. Both were delicious and fresh tasting.

Old Manila

For Valentine's Day my dad took his girls out (my mom and me) to the Old Manila restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel. It was an enjoyable experience and the service was excellent. At times it felt as through we were getting Michelin rated service. The only downside is that the bill at the end of the night was pretty steep. If it was an actual Michelin rated restaurant, then I'd be ready to pay that much. If you have a BPI Gold Card, you'll get a discount. Otherwise, expect a pricey evening.

The Inside
The grilling station is placed in the middle of the restaurant.

The Champagne
Peninsula Hotel Champage. We ordered a half bottle to start the night.

The Amuse Bouche
Lobster Terrine. Topped with Salmon Roe. On top of peaches.

The Bread
A variety of Bread Sticks, French Bread, Onion Croissants, Brioche, and Nut Bread.

Lobster Bisque
This was nicely presented with lobster bits and tomatoes on the plate. The soup itself was rich with the lobster and lobster roe taste. The soup came with a plate of three condiments: gruyere cheese, aioli, and croutons. The condiments on the side provided a fun way to interact with the dish.

Green Salad
The dish was beautifully presented with a toasted shortbread formed around the greens.

The Wine Pairing
Cabernet Sauvignon, Francis Coppola Director's Reserve, Napa Valley, 2000
This wine was excellent! It aged so nicely!
(We brought our own bottle of wine from our collection to enjoy. Bringing our own bottle also came with a steep corkage fee.)

Roasted Duck Breast
With a fried duck leg confit. This was a delicious order! The duck breast was tender and tasty. The fried confit was like a fried sausage - mm!

Turbot with a Saffron and Chive Souffle

Grand Marnier Souffle
With Orange Ice Cream

Chocolate and Praline Souffle
With Espresso Ice Cream. The souffle was a bit overcooked and on the dry side. The chocolate flavor overpowered the praline taste. The winner of this plate was the espresso ice cream, which was strong and full of flavor.

Halo Halo

For dessert one night my parents and I were craving for halo halo. We went to the Travel Cafe in Greenbelt 5. The menu said it's big enough for 3 people. When it came out it looked like it was big enough for 6 people. It was huge! It was a complete halo halo with the native ice creams, ube, beans, tapiocas, fruits, pinipig (Filipino Rice Krispies), and leche flan. Yum!

The Inside

Halo Halo

Food From Barrio Fiesta

For those of you that have heard some of my stories or have spent time with my parents, you'd know that my parents have this incredible ability to befriend chefs and restaurateurs. They spark a conversation that turns into a connection that turns into some level of friendship. It's pretty cool to witness it all in person and to participate in it.

One of the friendships formed was with the owner of Barrio Fiesta restaurants. We loved his food so much (especially the crispy pata) that he came out to our table to talk to us. That was years ago, and my parents are still friends with him today.

We went to his house for an afternoon merienda (snack). He served us a feast! Almost all the food was from his restaurant. Everything was delicious, and it was an afternoon of comforting Filipino food. I wasn't able to take a picture of everything (there was a lot!), but here are some of the shots I took:

Fried Lumpia


Ube Halaya
Purple Yam

Coconut Milk with Ube, Bananas, Tapioca, and Mochi Balls.

Fried Bananas

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Banana Leaf

A few years ago, some relatives took my family to eat at one of Banana Leaf's branches. It was a fun experience. I have great memories of eating off of banana leaves. Unfortunately, those fond memories were not repeated when we tried the restaurant again. This time, we tried the Greenbelt 3 branch. The concept is still great, but the execution of the food was disappointing. The food was decent, but it was not something that made me want to go back and eat there again.

The Outside
A lot of restaurants in Greenbelt have outside seating. Because of the warm weather, it's pleasant to eat outside and enjoy the night.

The Setting
Instead of plates, you eat on banana leaves! It's a fun way to eat South East Asian cuisine.

Coconut Juice
I love coconut juice in Asia! They come presented in the actual coconut, and afterwards you get to enjoy the tender coconut meat inside.

Coconut Rice
Completely not what we expected. We thought it would be that sticky rice with coconut infused oils and flavors. Instead, they opened a can of dense coconut milk and slathered it all on top of white rice. Not a good order.

Mixed Vegetables
You can't really mess up an order or sauteed vegetables, so this order was all right.

Stir Fried Oat Prawns Singaporean Style
This was a pretty interesting dish. The oats were fried and provided a nice texture. A pretty good order.

Charcoal Grilled Whole Squid Thai Style
Another decent order. The sauce had a nice sweet spice, while the grilled taste of the squid came through.

Stir Fried Crab in Vermicelli
A decent order of crab with pretty tasty vermicelli. The order was a bit over-priced for what you can get at other places, though.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fresh Hand Made Noodles

While walking around the Elements malls, we came across an open kitchen where the cooks were making fresh noodles for their soups. Below is a short clip of a cook making noodles with his hands - it's incredible! (You also get commentary from my parents in the clip.)

This is my final blog entry for this Hong Kong trip. Check out my travel pictures if you want to see more shots of Hong Kong.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hong Kong - Desserts!

Dessert restaurants are so common in Hong Kong. They go beyond the dessert places that you'd find in the states - typical ice cream, yogurt, cakes, cupcakes, pastries, etc. Plus, they are so light and guilt-free that it's ok to indulge in dessert after eating a meal.

Fuel Espresso, Hong Kong
After a hearty dim sum lunch, we stopped at this coffee place for espresso and brownies. It's a nice stop for a strong coffee.

The Brownie
Nice and light, while staying on the cake-y side. The chocolate taste was dark and intense.

Lucky Dessert, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
This was a great dessert place! They serve many varieties with fruit-filled flavors.

Durian Shaved Ice
The durian taste was so smooth and creamy! The red bean and mochi on the side paired nicely, too. Delicious!

Honeymoon Dessert, Hong Kong
There are several locations all around. The menu has so many options that we went to the IFC branch twice. The cold or hot soups are so refreshing and comforting. A perfect way to end a meal.
The Inside

Toddy Palm Sago
Hot coconut soup with tapioca and toddy palm.

Fruits in Coconut Soup
A cold bowl of coconut soup with fresh fruits.

Mango Soup with Sago and Tofu
A cold bowl of refreshing mango soup, fresh mango bits, tapioca, and fresh tofu.

Red Bean and Sesame Soup with Mochi Balls
A hot bowl that warmed my stomach right up. Mm!

Inside the Mochi
The mochi was stuffed with a sweet sesame paste. Tasty!