Got a layover in Puerto Princesa? Here’s what you should do (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 14, 2019)

For many, Puerto Princesa is just a jump-off point, the start of a journey to other more exciting destinations in Palawan.

It comes as no surprise; just a half-day’s worth of road trip is the more exclusive El Nido.

Whether you treat it simply as a stopover or a base for your tours, you’ll discover that there’s more to this coastal city if you spend enough time to get to know it a little better.

On your next visit, carve out some space in your itinerary for these must-see spots—most of which are just a tricycle ride away.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Places for Great Italian Food in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 12, 2019)

From pizza to spaghetti, we have practically embraced Italian cuisine as our own. But there’s more to Italian than just pasta and pizza. Explore the fine flavors of Italy at these molto buono spots around the Metro.

Here are 10 great places for Italian food around the Metro:

Va Bene Pasta Deli

Who would’ve thought that you’d find a legit Italian restaurant at a gas station? Ever since Chef Massimo Veronesi opened Va Bene Pasta Deli in 2010, foodies have flocked to this cozy deli that specializes in fresh handmade pasta. They’ve opened a second branch in BGC since then, but their flavors remain as excellent as ever. You’ll want to zero in on their Trio Di Pasta (P690) that allows you to sample three kinds of pasta in one go—gnocchi gorgonzola, spinach raviolo, and tagliatelle bolognese. The Organic Eggs Tagliatelle (P440/regular, P795/large) is also a must-try—it is, after all, the best truffle cream pasta in Manila right now.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Try “Soupless Ramen” at This New Japanese Place in Uptown Bonifacio (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 9, 2019)

Although both noodles are from Japan, soba is very different from ramen. While both ramen and soba noodles are thinner than udon noodles (which are an entirely different class), ramen is made from wheat and is generally sturdier, while soba gets its distinctive light-brown color from buckwheat flour and is softer than ramen.

Ramen is pretty much everywhere now in Manila but soba is harder to find—and Menya Kokoro introduces soba that is served in a way that’s far from the usual. Soba can be served stir-fried, in a light hot broth, or chilled with a side of dipping broth, but in this Japanese chain, they offer something else: the mazesoba, or soba noodles combined with the typical rich flavors of ramen—minus the broth.

This is the culinary creation of Chef Takuma Ishikawa, who opened his first shop in Tokyo back in 2013. The young chef invented his own kokoro or minced meat recipe, which is used in most of his noodle bowls. “Our secret is the kokoro that is carefully cooked for long hours,” tells the chef-owner. He shares that there are a lot of spices and sauces involved, and they import a lot of these ingredients from Japan, including the nori and fish powder. According to him, diners will get “the same menu items and exactly the same flavors.” It would just be like you’re eating at any of their 18 outposts in Japan. The international mazesoba chain also has outlets in Bangkok, Jakarta, Vancouver, Singapore, and Manila.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

This New Thai Joint in Poblacion Trades Pad Thai for Fried Chicken (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last July 5, 2019)

With Khao Khai Thai Chicken House’s beaded curtains, mismatched chairs, kitschy hanging lights, and tables covered in colorful floral and checkered table cloths—not to mention the wall adornments featuring the former King of Thailand and Buddhist idolatry—it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that you’re in some open-air restaurant in Bangkok. But this eatery isn’t in the Thai capital—it’s along one of Poblacion’s side streets.

Pad thai lovers should be warned: You won’t find your beloved spicy stir-fried noodles here. Even so, you won’t miss it since this newest Thai-themed spot serves other specialties that are likely to become favorites, like Bangkok street cart-style fried chicken.

It’s no wonder that the fried chicken called Gai Tod (P115/one piece; P190/two pieces; P260/three pieces; P869/whole with three rice and three som tam or Thai green papaya salad) is fast becoming their bestseller—after all, the restaurant’s name translates to “chicken rice.” The chicken is best eaten when it comes right out of the fryer, but still manages to be perfectly crispy even if you decide to have it a little later.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

9 fun things to do in Daejeon, South Korea’s 5th largest city (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last July 1, 2019)

Daejeon is not in the list of usual travel destinations of South Korea but you’ll discover the fifth largest metropolis of the country is also one of the world’s leading science and technology cities.

It’s easily accessible, too; it’s just an hour or two away from the capital by either high-speed train or limousine bus.

Daejeon boasts of a more laidback vibe. It’s less crowded, but there’s no shortage of interesting things to do there.

So, pack your bags, unleash your adventurous spirit and discover what Daejeon has to offer.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Great Places for Korean Food in Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last June 23, 2019)

From K-Pop to K-Dramas, it seems like our fascination for all things Korean will never wane. It’s a very colorful culture with creative cuisine to boot, and it’s a good thing we can easily enjoy their dishes.

From K-Pop to K-Dramas, it seems like our fascination for all things Korean will never wane. It’s a very colorful culture with creative cuisine to boot, and it’s a good thing we can easily enjoy their dishes.

Here are the top places in Metro Manila for great Korean food:

Gaja Korean Kitchen

Though the name suggests some sort of home cooking, Gaja Korean Kitchen is anything but. They present an elevated version of Korean cuisine, which is also reflective of the restaurant’s upscale vibe. The food here goes beyond traditional as they get creative with classics like the Galbi-jim (P850), which uses Kitayama Wagyu short ribs that are cooked sous vide for 48 hours until tender. Complement it with their Kimbap Aburi (P360), bulgogi-stuffed rice rolls topped with torched cheese sauce. It will make you want to come back again for their other creative takes on Korean food.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

There’s No Need for Cash When You Order at This BGC Café (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last June 2019)

Do you ever feel like a coffee shop can sense when you’re in a hurry? It’s during those times you end up waiting behind someone who’s taking forever to choose their preferred drink, or queueing for a cup of coffee takes longer than the time it takes to make it. If you’re among the Metro’s caffeine fiends who always find themselves in a rush, Harlan + Holden Coffee might just be the answer to your coffee-craving woes.

For one, you order your coffee in advance through their app. Available on iOS and Play Store, it’s pretty much a virtual coffee shop. You can either get the app on your phone and input your credit card details there, or use their self-checkout tablets where you can tap your debit or credit card when it’s time to pay. Even if you’re five minutes away from the location, you can place your order in advance and just present your confirmation number at the counter.

Though their space at Bonifacio Global City is actually just a pick-up point for their online coffee store, it still features the minimalist elegance Harlan + Holden has become known for, with glass walls, gray beams, and a silver sign that says “because coffee”—which is often mistaken for the café’s name. (It’s not; it’s just their tagline.) The brand’s signature fig leaf is prominently displayed outside, and inside, a real-life plant encased in glass adds a touch of organic warmth to the space.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Places for Great Thai Food in Metro Manila (2019 Edition)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last June 9, 2019)

Spicy might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Thai food—after all, you do need a high tolerance for heat when you indulge in this cuisine. But it’s definitely worth the burn to experience the whole spectrum of flavors and textures that Thai food has to offer.

Make your way to these Thai spots around the Metro for some good eats:

Easy, Tiger

From a food-hall stall at The Podium’s Corner Market, Easy, Tiger has evolved into a full-fledged restaurant. Instead of the typical Thai representations like purple silk and a golden Buddha, you’ll find edgier, grungy-cool interiors instead. Their mismatched walls and quirky light fixtures make for good conversation starters, but be prepared for their food to be the center of attention. The Green Papaya Salad with Chicken Skin (P225) is a tasty appetizer, with shredded papaya tossed in chili lime dressing and topped with sinful crispy chicken skin. But the star of your meal will be the Crispy Pata with Red Curry (P645), deep-fried pork knuckles that are crunchy outside but juicy and succulent inside. The mouthwatering pork is good on its own, but it’s even better with the rich and spicy red curry sauce. You’ll fall in love at first bite!

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Best Places for Cocktails in Metro Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last May 27, 2019)

Shaken not stirred, or whichever way you like it, a cocktail is always a good idea. It comes as no surprise that this boozy wonder is the drink of choice of many because of its versatility. You can just about put anything in it from your choice of spirits to flavored syrups, and even herbs or spices.

Get your buzz at any of these trendy drinking spots in the Metro:

The Curator Coffee & Cocktails:

The secret is out—practically everyone knows where to find The Curator (hint: It’s inside Cyrano Wine Bar!), especially since they got on Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2016, and has consistently been on the list ever since. They’re a coffee spot during the day, and you’ll only get full cocktail service once the sun goes down—although they have daytime cocktails like the limoncello-based Amalfi Mule (P250) and the A.O.J. (P250), a mix of amaretto and orange juice. Don’t worry, the mixologists will make the wait for sunset worth your while with their creative concoctions like the Ube Milk Punch, a daring combo of ube-infused bourbon, bitters, sherry, and butterscotch liqueur.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

10 Best Places for Dim Sum in Metro Manila (Spot.ph)

(This feature was published in Spot.ph last May 26, 2019)

If the Spanish have wine and tapas, the Chinese have tea and dim sum. Don’t limit yourself to siomai and hakaw because there’s more to dim sum than just those. It could be anything and everything—from meat-filled dumplings to deep-fried rolls, and even soft baked buns. You’ll find a plethora of places around the Metro where you can enjoy dim sum.

Here are the best spots in Manila for your dim sum fix:

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung is practically synonymous with xiao long bao—after all, this Michelin-starred Taiwanese establishment began with those steamed soup-filled dumplings back in the 1950s. They now have over a hundred locations around the world—foodies don’t mind queuing up for a taste of their famous xiao long bao. You can’t go wrong with the classic Pork XiaoLongBao (P160/five pieces, P315/10 pieces), or their other variants like crab roe, truffle and pork, or foie gras and chicken. They also have a bunch of other offerings like pot stickers, wontons, and shao mai. Make sure to save room for their Chocolate Lava XiaoLongBao (P115/three pieces) so you can end your meal on a sweet note.

Read the rest of the article HERE.