Thursday Date Night: Restaurante Pia y Damaso Subversive Filipino Cuisine

What is subversive Filipino cuisine? We wanted to find out last Thursday when we had our scheduled  date night at Greenbelt 5's Pia y Damaso Restaurant. First we have to go back to a little Filipino History and Literature to better understand the concept of this place. In Jose Rizal's famous novel Noli Me Tangere, there was  a woman named Pia Alba who was married to Kapitan Tiyago. After some time, Pia became pregnant but died after giving birth to Maria Clara. It was rumored that Maria Clara's father was actually the Spanish Friar/Priest Padre Damaso. Hence the name, Pia y Damaso. Twisted, isn't it?

Snails and Chorizos Php 250
Sauteed native snails with chorizos, garlic, onions, olive oil and red wine - It lacked flavor for me, too bland and too oily. Maybe a little more sauce would have made it better.

Closer look at our appetizer

Bangus Belly Salad Php 325
Bangus Belly Steak with Egg, Potato, String Beans, Tomato, Lettuce with Dalandan Vinaigrette - Based on the ingredients it was a Pinoy version of Salad Nicoise! I enjoyed the bangus steak smothered with citrus dalandan dressing combined with the rest of the veggies. 

Smoked Tapang Usa Php 450
Salted deer meat from Nueva Ecija, pickled green mangoes, roasted pepper omelette over garlic rice - nothing out of this world. 

I didn't quite get the whole subversive (supposedly revolutionary) concept of the food. It didn't really come out of the three dishes we ordered. I give it a 6 out of 10 and this is mostly because I liked how we were given special seats at their "booth" table  which can be closed to give you more privacy.

Restaurante Pia y Damaso
Greenbelt 5, Greenbelt
Paseo de Roxas cor. Legaspi St.
Makati City


Pringles Extreme : Screamin' Dill Pickle Flavor

As a kid, I remember I hated pickles. I would pick it out of my burger and either throw it or give it to Dad who would gladly take it. Through the years however, I learned to like it. In fact now, I love them! One guilty pleasure of mine lately is sneaking a little pickled cornichon or two from the Maille jar I brought home from New York. I'd open the refrigerator and pop it in my mouth at the most random times of the day! 

I was in S&R last week and I chanced upon this Pringles canister. I was instantly intrigued. I had to try it out! Yesterday, we snacked on it on our way to Batangas. It was something different. The potato chips tasted like they were soaked in dill pickle water; the dill flavor was strong. The battling sweet, sour and salty flavor was present. My brother Hip said it tasted close to Salt & Vinegar (which is another fave of mine!) but stronger and more tangy. So if you're bored with the usual snacks, I suggest you give this a shot!

... although I personally think the flavor is not that "EXTREME" as the name projects! 


Call Me Ms. Bubble Tea

It's been almost 3 months since I had my last cup of Vivi Bubble Milk Green Tea (this tiny little Bubble Tea Place in Chinatown, NYC which I used to go to almost every week!) and I was beginning to have withdrawals! Haha! I tried to resort to the local bubble shake (sago) places here but failed. Quickly's Super Taro Ice and Zagu's pearl shake both didn't satisfy my craving. Finally the other day, I found 'The Place'! It's this Tokyo franchise called BUBBLE TEA! It's found at the lower ground floor of Megamall Building A. It's in the area where the ice-skating rink used to be. I was so surprised the rink was gone! It made me realize I've been gone that long...

Iced Royal Milk Tea - Php 80 for a this medium-size cup

Their bubbles (sago/tapioca balls) are smaller than Vivi's (as well as Zagu's and Quickly's) but it has the perfect 'makunat' - sort of nougat-y and gooey bite to it. 

I was psyched with my find. Next time I will try their other teas. And I heard their snacks are worth trying too! See you soon Bubble Tea! :)

Bubble Tea, SM Megamall
LG Building A
Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila
02 6387479


Thursday Date Night: The Goose Station (Degustation)

My husband and I wanted to bring back the date nights we used to enjoy back in the day. We decided to make every other Thursday as our "date night".  It's a night we make an effort to dress up, go out and spend quality time as a couple... just the two of us. Cheesy as it may seem, I believe its a very healthy practice for married couples. Last Thursday, we decided to check out one of the hottest new restaurants in town...The Goose Station. I actually read about this place when I was still in New York a few months back and was very intrigued about it. This is the brainchild of celebrity chef couple Robert and Sunshine Pengson. Bon Appetit!

Foie Cone for starters - thin, wispy cone with lightly and savory foie topped with a thin gelatin layer and rasberry compote

Potato Glass, Truffle Puff and Savory Macaroon

Caviar Surprise
3 Layers (from bottom to top) : Alaskan King Crab, White Asparagus Flan and Prawn Jelly
It sounds heavy because of all the layers involved but this was actually light and refreshing. I might be biased though because I love caviar and they were very generous with it!

Eggs Benedict
One of my favorite brunch dish in a martini glass : Perfectly Poached Egg, Hollandaise Foam (it lacked a little more acidity for me - I like my sauce a bit 'lemony'), Truffle Oil and Bacon Tuille ( I really loved this idea!)

Beet Garden
Beet's, Goat's Cheese, Orange, Microgreens, Walnuts, Melon, Etc.
This was a very pretty and intricately presented dish. The combination of flavors was interesting and unique though not enough to emulate how pretty it looked. 

Seared Foie Gras
Black Rice & Blackberry Sauce, Crepe, Tarragon Herb Salad
This was quite a disappointment since I know that the house specialty is supposedly foie gras (as the name "goose station" suggests). The foie was underseasoned and the sticky sauce didn't really compliment it. The crepe could have been taken out too...didn't really help the dish. Sorry.

Fideua Negra
Squid Ink Fideos, Roasted Scallop, Angulas, Morcilla, Aioli
The scallop was juicy and cooked well. However, the Fideos had quite an eerie taste not to mention that it's not exactly the best thing to eat when you're in a date.  I had to wash down my blackened teeth a few times before I was able to talk and smile! Hahaha!

24 Hour Steak
Sous vide Prime Short Rib, Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Crisp Onions, Burre Schublig, Homemade Steak Sauce - This was incredible! I wish I just ordered this and savored every bit of it. It was kind of frustrating for me because it came after 6 prior tastings and I was a bit full so I couldn't really enjoy it as much. The steak was marbled with glorious layers of fat and was cooked perfectly...medium rare (charred outside and red and warm inside). The mashed potatoes with truffle oil was just as amazing. 

Chocolate Candy Bar
I was still able to squeeze this in despite being overly stuffed. I didn't want to waste it. So I paced myself with this crunchy, rich chocolate-hazelnut piece of heaven. 

Mini "Burger" Macaroon
The "burger" was a fruit compote and the "cheese" was a thin slice of mango
Nothing really stellar, I could have done without this. The chocolate bar would have been the perfect ending for this tasting meal.

We were so stuffed after the intense 8-course Signature Tasting Menu (Php 2,500 Vat Inclusive). We greeted a few friends on our way out and did a short and sweet chitchat before exiting. It was nice bumping into you guys!

Would we go back to this place? Yes, possibly but I think I would opt for just the Express Menu (Php 1,700) with a fewer tastings next time. The full signature menu turned out to be to be a little too much for me.  

...After an 8 Meal Signature Tasting and 2 Glasses of Red Wine! Until our next date Dada! :) Mwah!

The Goose Station
Ground Floor, W Tower
39th St, Fort Global City, Taguig
Mon-Sat 6-9 pm
Tel. No. 5569068
Mobile No. : 0917 85GOOSE


Teriyaki Boy : A Complete Let Down

The last time I tried this place must be more than 2 years ago. And I remember that the last few times I went, I was extremely disappointed. Last week, I accompanied my husband to Eastwood for a business meeting. He finished around 4 pm and suggested that we grab merienda before going home. We couldn't decide where to go at first, I suggested Dulcinea because I haven't had churros con chocolate in a while or Fazoli's for their pizza-pasta combos. Well guess what? we ended up in Teriyaki boy because hubby was craving for a quick Japanese fix. And I figured, I'll give it another shot. I ordered their spicy tuna salad while Joel had their Chirashi. Argh! My tuna appetizer was mediocre, it had way too much oily tenkasu (small tempura batter bits) that mixed with the Japanese mayo and tuna sashimi cubes. Joel's Chirashi was horrendous. He said that the sashimi pieces were far from fresh and the rice was of poor quality (it tasted like regular Sinandomeng and nothing like Japanese rice).... a complete let-down!

The sad and pathetic remnants of a disappointing Japanese meal:

Even their wasabi tasted weird...

We should have just stuck to churros or pizza. Tsk tsk...


The New Cafe Juanita : Still Homey But Not As Quirky

Cafe Juanita has a been a very memorable place for my family because my Mom loved dining in this quaint and cozy little place inside Barrio Kapitolyo. She would take us there for our mother-daughter lunch dates which lasted til the late afternoon. Oh how I miss those times  *deep sigh* ( For those who are new to my blog, my mother passed away more than 3 years ago) Anyway, last Friday was her supposed 54th birthday. We still celebrate her special day every year. This year, we started the day with an early 7 am mass at Mt. Carmel with our family and my mom's siblings then visited her crypt. A simple breakfast get-together followed at Pancake House. 

That night, our family (less my brother Migo who is now based in China and my sister Addie who had another affair to attend) decided to try the new Cafe Juanita to relive the good old times we spent as a family enjoying their Asian-Fusion Cuisine. Unlike the original, this new place is much much bigger (higher ceiling) and brighter (more well-lit). It maintained the same homey feel with a eclectic hodgepodge of everything- mismatched table cloths, vibrant and colorful Filipino and Spanish decor, a lot of beads and sequins and all kinds of antiques all around the place. 

Their was live music that night which was perfect for our dinner. He played old songs which mom loved. It  made us remember her more. 

Their signature Catfish and Green Mango Salad - Php 189

My brother wanted some soup to warm him up because he wasn't feeling too good that night. Their Tom Yung Goong - Php 249  was comforting.

Bagnet with Tomatoes - Php 259 

You can never go wrong with their Classic Kare-Kare Php 483

The service was highly satisfactory and consistent. We enjoyed every dish we ordered and collectively agreed that the new place is just as lovely though not as quirky as the old one. 

Happy Birthday Mom! Wish you were there with us! We miss you!

Cafe Juanita (New Location)
#19 West Capitol Drive
Barrio Kapitolyo
It's right beside Shunji Matsuo Japanese Hair Salon


China Food Trip # 4 : Din Tai Fung - Foie Gras Soup Dumplings... Enough said!

I've blogged about Shanghai soup dumplings many times over but I guess the main difference now is that I actually tried the real deal. And I mean, steamed soup dumplings in Shanghai baby! How authentic is that! And where better place to go than the best Xiao Long Bao place found in the heart of Xintiandi... Din Tai Fung. This multi-awarded restaurant has received a lot of good reviews worldwide. In fact, their Hong Kong branch was recently awarded 1 Michelin star (2010 Edition).

Their menu boasts of its global presence and of being one of Asia's finest restaurants.

They give you a laminated instruction card on how to best enjoy their xiao long bao

So I go as the note says...

The first to arrive was a bamboo steamer filled with their famous pork soup dumplings

The wrapper was soft, very thin, delicate yet it held the soup well. It didn't break easily compared to many others I've tried before.

This was the one with pork and hairy crab roe xiao long bao! The bright orange crab fat added a wonderful "oomph" to the dumpling. 

Pork and Shrimp Siu Mai

Chicken and Goose Liver Xiao Long Bao
Yes my friends, they serve Foie Gras Dumplings although a bit pricey for just 5 pieces! I must tell you that those five little buns were nothing short of heavenly.  This was the highlight of the whole meal for me. It was definitely love at first sip! The soup was  so rich and intense, you could really taste the creamy foie gras...buttery with a a very subdued liver flavor. A must try for foei-enthusiasts like moi!

Tofu with Crab Fat was a delightful treat as well. 
Their Fried Rice was very authentic too.. nothing compared to the fastfood rice bowls that taste like MSG/vetsin.

So next time you find yourself in Shanghai, do not miss this stop! A must-try! :)

Din Tai Fung
Xintiandi, Shanghai Branch
Unit 11, 2F House 6, South Block
Xintiandi, Lane 123
Xingye Road, Shanghai


China Food Trip # 3 : Most Bizarre Lunch Ever

On our 5th day in China, our friend Woo Bing took us to an animal sanctuary in his hometown Xuzhou. In that serene and almost solemn hideaway, I had the most bizarre lunch ever! And by bizarre, I really mean outrageous rare creatures cooked Chinese-style. Check out the items that were served on the lazy susan that day;

Deep Fried Locusts
Out of everything, I was most afraid to taste this appetizer. It felt like I was in Fear Factor and had to eat these creatures to survive the round. Eyes closed, I shoved it in my mouth. I honestly didn't want to fully capture the taste so I just practically swallowed the leg part. It was crunchy and rather bland. Weird! 

Native Egg with Garlic Dipping Sauce 
Nothing really out-of-this-world about this because the eggs tasted like...umm eggs. The garlic sauce was particularly good though. It had fresh garlic, sesame oil, two kinds of chili peppers and a little vinegar. 

Jackal with Chili Sauce 
When they said that this was Jackal, I had to think twice about what it was and how it looked like. To those who are so familiar with it, a jackal is a member of the genus canis found mostly in Africa. They are omnivorous predators and are very similar to coyotes. When I realized it looked more like a dog, I was hesitant to even taste the sauce! In the end, I told myself, "What the hell, I don't think I'll ever get a chance again to eat this thing!?!" so I did. It was chewy and tasted like pork. The sauce was so strong that I couldn't really taste the real flavor of the meat. (not that I really wanted to! haha!)

Salted Snake with Red and Green Chilis
This wasn't so bad, it was just a little tough and had a lot of small bones. 

Sheep ribs and Tendon Soup

Braised Peacock with Sweet and Chili Sauce
 The peacock meat tasted like chicken but really soft. I guess it's mainly because of the cooking method used.

Emu Custard
An Emu is a large native Australian bird. It's the second largest extant bird in the world by height, next to the Ostrich. It's egg is like a small watermelon (see the one beside the dish). The custard was more of a creamy and salty flan. It was actually good.

Seasoned Camel Balls 
This tasted very similar to the Tuna bagaybay (supposedly tuna testicles!) which is common in my father's hometown Davao. It had the same texture and bite. The spices they used married perfectly with the flavor of the meat. I liked it.

I'm not sure whether I was satisfied or terrified at the end of this meal but one thing is certain: Being a foodie and having to try everything is TOUGH sometimes. *Sigh*


China Food Trip # 2 : Midnight BBQ and Beer in Xuzhou

Xuzhou (pronounced Suchow) is a 7-hour drive from Shanghai. We were invited to visit this far-off province  by one of my dad's clients. We arrived there almost midnight after a long car ride from Suzhou. We were exhausted but a little hungry. Woo Bing, Mr. Woo's son and our resident tour guide there, suggested that we go and try their local barbeque before calling it a day. We wanted to make the most out of the place (since we travelled so many hours!) and agreed with minimal persuasion. He brought us to an open area with a few wooden tables and benches and a huge projector screen showing the World Cup game that night. The place had no ambiance whatsoever, it even bordered on looking sketchy because half of the crowd were shirtless boisterous men drinking. Not quite a pretty sight. But as soon as I bit the little piece of sheep meat and slid it from the stainless stick using my teeth, the place didn't matter. The burst of flavor from the marinade was incredible. I've never had anything like it. The sheep meat bbq was followed by a gamut of other things...chinese sausages, innards, sheep ears, flat fish and yes even testicles. Yup you read that last one right. I don't even want to repeat it! Haha!  Each one was unique in texture and flavor. We paired these interesting items (pulutan in our languange) with their freshly brewed beer which was excitingly sweet and bubbly. Though in the end, we all smelled of smoke and felt oily and sticky, we truly enjoyed the whole experience. Something we will definitely go back to if we find ourselves back in that small town again. 

Check out their rustic portable grill...

the extra spices that we dipped the bbqs in

bbq + sweet beer = love

innards, sausages and ears

smorgasbord of unique parts of sheep..take your pick! :)