Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Refreshing pancit ... Schezuan Cold Noodles

Fresh, chewy noodles, made by hand, just before they're cooked and served. Uhhmm, yummi-ness.
For freshly made noodles, my go-to places are Mey Lin Pot and Noodle House (with branches in SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Manila and Jupiter Street) and this small restaurant along J. Abad Santos St., off Wilson called Beijing Hand Pulled Noodles.
Both places make their noodles on the spot, just when you place your order -- you can see the chef through the glass windowed kitchen pulling, throwing and tossing the noodle dough until it separates into the right sized strands.
My favorite dish at Mey Lin is the cold schezuan noodles. It comes with chili, julienned pork, pickled vegetables, kutsay and cucumber slices on the side. Crushed peanuts are sprinkled on top. You mix everything up and all the flavors merge into a spicy but refreshingly light dish.
And when I go to Beijing Hand Pulled Noodles, I like their Ground Beef with Dry Noodles which is a lot like eating chinese spaghetti bolognese albeit with a spicier kick.
After you've tried fresh hand made noodles, packaged pancit canton or bihon will never be good enough anymore!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Top Ten Things that Make Me Tabachoy

A friend tagged me in a post about the top 10 bulalohans in Metro Manila as it mentioned a bulalo place we used to go to. That set me to thinking about LISTS!
It's one of the many things I like to do! I am a LISTMANIAC. I have LISTMANIA real bad.
So here is a LIST of the top ten things that make me TABACHOY!. Not in alphabetical, chronological order or even by order of preference.
Hey, yes I like lists but that doesn't mean I have an organized mind!
1. SINIGANG! - home made, store bought, in a carinderia, or in a relatively upscale place. I cannot resist sinigang on the menu. Sinigang na bangus if it's boneless. Sinigang na kanduli if I'm in the middle of Laguna lake. Sinigang na liempo or ribs when I'm letting it all go!
2. PANCIT! - bihon, malabon, miki, canton, lomi! Wet, dry, Pinoy or otherwise. I eat pancit bihon with rice, or as palaman in pandesal or between two slices of "tasty" bread. It's the ultimate comfort food.
3. PORK! - Isn't it obvious? As evidenced by the name of this blog? Roast pork, inihaw na baboy, lechon (well, not so much even if it does make a great opening shot!), asado, name your pork poison and I'm there!
4. PIZZA! - This is my guilty junk food. My husband and son are F1 fans and race night is pizza night at home. Our pizza of choice is Shakey's ever since they launched their buy 1 take 1 pizza. If there's anything better than pizza, it's a free pizza!
5. BEER! - A cold cold bottle of SMB light. Not a can but a frosty bottle. No need for a glass, thank you, I drink it straight from the bottle. My Japanese friend says it's barbaric to do so but then again, it makes the beer taste so much better!
6. SIOPAO! - Give me siopao, don't give me cake! Have you tried the jumbo siopao sold somewhere in Mandaluyong? Bigger than a plate, stuffed with all the good things -- red egg, chinese sausage, pork, chicken. Good for at least two siopao fanatics.
7. ILOCANO FOOD! - Longganisa from Laoag (I actually prefer the one from Dingras that's really strongly flavored but my husband finds that too ilokano for his taste), bagnet, later to be cooked into pinakbet, poqui poqui, insarabasab, dinakdakan, sukang iloko! Why wasn't I born an Ilokana?
8. CHINESE ROASTS! - Roast duck, char siew pork, roast goose, soy chicken -- bring it on and yang chow rice on the side please!
9. RICE FOR BREAKFAST! - Only when I cannot resist it but I hardly indulge these days. What goes with steaming hot rice? Scrambled egg, tuyo, daing, BACON! The best way to start the day (wrong).
10. EATING WITH FRIENDS AND ORDERING TOO MUCH! - My friends and I eat out a lot and we (rather, I) usually over order. Like true Pinoys, our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs.

Deco's La Paz Batchoy -- this tabatchoy's favorite!

I love batchoy! Which is why I am a tabatchoy! I don't much care for cakes, cookies, chocolates or candy -- none of that sweet stuff gets me swooning.
No, I get fat on the salty, savory stuff. Which is why La Paz batchoy is a favorite of mine. Yummy flavorful broth, chewy egg noodles, bits of pork and liver, crunchy chicharon sprinkled on top -- what more can you ask for?
Unfortunately, I find that most of the batchoy versions served in food courts and chicken inasal places don't quite match up to the original that you can get right in Iloilo. I'm talking Ted's Batchoy and Deco's.
But now, Deco's is in Manila! Established in Iloilo in 1938, Deco's has been bought by the owner of Mang Inasal and has opened its first Manila outlet at Alphaland Mall at the corner of Pasong Tamo ext. and EDSA. Right now, I think it is the best batchoy you can find in the Metropolis.
Deco's at Alphaland is on the ground floor, right beside the Mang Inasal outlet. You can order from both -- have your inasal with a bowl of steaming batchoy on the side.
What makes Deco's so good is the quality of the broth -- not insipid or too salty, you can tell it's freshly made broth, made from scratch and not from bouillon cubes or mixes. The noodles are fresh and springy and the julienned pork and liver slices are tender and flavorful. They don't skimp on the chicharon bits and each bowl has a generous serving on top. You can ask for egg (hard boiled or fresh) to go with your batchoy and extra soup is free too.
The biggest order of batchoy is called "Extra" and costs only P77. Batchoy goes well with pandesal and Deco's has a serving of 6 pieces. They come warm and crusty, and taste just like the pandesal you used to eat when you were a kid.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ryuma Ramen -- Great Place in Sta. Rosa!

The road to Tagaytay is paved with temptation most specifically, as you pass through the Paseo area in Sta. Rosa where there's plenty of shopping and eating to be had.
On the second floor of the building that houses the M&S, Debenhams, Timberland and Aerosoles outlet stores is Ryuma Ramen, a Japanese restaurant that is one part of an entire complex that includes a karaoke/fine dining restaurant, a tatami seating style grill, a bar, a japanese grocery, a children's clothing store -- all owned by the same person/s.
I think of it as RYUMA-LAND.
We stumbled upon it one late afternoon on the way down from Tagaytay. Ryuma's waitresses were aggressively pitching their menu to passersby so we decided to give it a try.
We opted to eat in the ramen restaurant as we thought it would be a bit more inexpensive but we learned the same menu is available wherever you decide to sit.
For me, the test of a good ramen restaurant is chashu ramen and Ryuma passed with flying colors! Their chashu slices were not too thin nor too thick, they were soft and melted in your mouth and had the right fat to meat ratio. The pork was just so flavorful -- fresh and juicy and had no pork-y taste (which you sometimes find in other chashu ramen bowls around Makati).
The ramen noodles were very good, cooked just right to retain that chewy bite. And no wonder their noodles are good -- a large noodle maker in one glassed in corner of the restaurant shows that they make their noodles fresh on the premises.
Aside from the chashu ramen, my friends ordered katsudon and katsu curry which they gave two thumbs up to. Both were good-sized portions and like the chashu ramen, very reasonably priced.
Ryuma Ramen's waitstaff are strangely enough dressed in chinese inspired uniforms, considering it is a Japanese restaurant. But they are all very pleasant, efficient and eager to serve.
The evening we were there, the Japanese manager was trying out a traditional pancake maker -- fish shaped and with a sweet bean filling -- and handing out samples to diners. i hope that he decided to buy it and look forward to having it again on my next visit!
Don't mind the kitschy, campy ambience and decor -- white leather covered chairs, table legs made of stainless steel, all sorts of Japanese doodads on the walls (samurai swords, armor, japanese dolls!) but try it for the authentic Japanese food at very un-Japanese prices.
Most of the regulars are Japanese expats from the nearby manufacturing companies and that should be your best indicator of how good this place is.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

BLT Burger Hong Kong : What an $80 burger tastes like.

Well, it's really 80 Hong Kong dollars and not US dollars. But still, I had to know ... what does an $80 burger taste like?
BLT Burger is part of acclaimed chef Laurent Tourondel's bistro empire (BLT -- Bistro Laurent Tourondel, get it?) and he has one in Las Vegas, New York and now, they had just opened the first one in Asia, along a busy, crowded corridor in Ocean Terminal.
I was overdosed from char siew pork and dumpling noodles and came upon BLT Burger one late week-end afternoon. Since it wasn't too full, I was able to snag a small table by the window, overlooking the view of Hong Kong Harbor.
The exterior view was much better than the interiors. I thought BLT a little too cozy -- the tables were small and edged up against each other. The lighting was dim and looked like your regular sports bar with un-sports bar prices.
I ordered the classic 7oz. Certified Black Angus burger which was $78. It was the cheapest burger on the menu (the BLT burger with bacon and cheese was $98, the Wagyu burger without cheese, $118). If I wanted cheese, I would have to shell out $8 more for a choice of blue, American, cheddar, Swiss or Monterey Jack. I held off on the cheese and the fries ($38). And held off the waiter pushing me towards the "combo" which would have cost me $128 -- for the classic burger, fries and a glass of soda.
Instead, I opted to spend $30 for a can of Tsing Tao Beer (when in China ...)
A beer is much better than fries. Or a soda. Or a milkshake, another specialty of the house ($58 for chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, $68 for fancier concoctions like Mocha Mudslide and Rocky Road).
My burger arrived and I was disappointed to see how ordinary it looked. There was a mound of shredded cabbage and raw onion rings on top, perhaps to lift the bun and give the sandwich more height. A small wooden stick with the word "medium" was stuck on the bun. Aside from this little piece of decor, it came with a small portion of coleslaw and a pickle slice (not even a whole pickle!!! For $80!!!).
For a moment, I almost wished I had spent more money on the combo and not the beer!
Taste-wise, the burger was juicy (a perfectly cooked medium) but I thought it had been fried and not grilled -- it was a little greasy. It was a bit bland but perked up a bit after I put some salt on it. Juice (grease?) ran down my fingers after a few bites.
However, the Tsing Tao beer was very cold and very good. The $80 burger was just so- so. BLT notwithstanding.