Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Moving House

As part of my bid to go minimalist, I've decided to move house. From now on, I'll be posting everything on my http://yvettetan.com blog.

It seems easier that way.

Thank you very much for reading my random stuff here.

Hope to see you there.



Thursday, October 29, 2009


Antonio's in Tagaytay is one of the country's most popular restaurants. It is certainly the most prominent having been the only one from the Philippines to get into the top 10 of the newly-launched Miele Guide last year.

Chef Tony Boy Escalante is a jolly fellow who loves nothing more than giving a good party, and this can be felt in every aspect of the restaurant, from the staff's crisp uniforms, the restaurant's festive old house feel, and of course, the food itself.

The Scallop Tasting (P250), giant scallops sealed in puff pastry are soft and fresh, pliable with a fork, like a seafood marshmallow, a savory contrast to the salad that comes with it – fresh Tagaytay greens like lettuce, radish, and arugula, probably picked earlier that day.

Another savory starter is the Baked Brie & Cranberry in a Puff Pastry (P300) with Pan Seared Foie Gras (P550), melt-in-your-mouth brie enveloped in soft puff pastry served with foie gras, the liver light, evenly textured, its caramel-like flavor sliding beautifully of the tongue.

It comes with greens drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette, some sweetness to cut through the subtle yet intense flavors.

I particularly liked the Steak Taretare (P700).

Served chilled, it was quite a refreshing dish, the grated radish cutting down the beef's saltiness while onions gave the dish crunch and zing.

Despite the vegetables, the dish was still too salty for my taste, so I recommend pairing it with bread.

The Tomato Broth with Coriander Dumpling is served hot.

The broth is light and slightly tart, the dumpling akin to ones found in chicken dumpling noodle soups.

The effect is stomach-warming and palate cleansing. Scooping up the melted cheese at the bottom of the bowl is a treat.

The Grilled Pink Peppered Chilean Sea Bass on Tomato Risotto, Saffron-Kaffir Sauce (P1,600) is lovely, the fish soft, grilled just right on the outside so that it has a crisp exterior while its inside stays moist.

Paired with the tomato risotto, it is a dish you will not want to share with anyone else.

The Beef Fillet on Plancha with Black Pepper Sauce, Pappardelle, Tossed Baby Arugula with Honey and Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette (P1750) was also good, the beef tender, and tendon-free.

If you want to try the sea bass and the beef, plus Honey Glazed Lambloin with Goat Cheese, you should get Antonio's Trio (P1,900).

Even people not fond of lamb will take to the latter, as it doesn't have a gamey flavor.

Eating at Antonio's may not be cheap, but each bite is worth every penny spent.

And if you like food as much as I suspect you do, you know that there is no price too high for good quality and great cooking.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Southern Deli Halal Restaurant

Posted this in my GMA blog. Though this post is strictly about food, and I never claim to know anything about Islamic cuisine, a lot of the comments veered towards religion, most of them borderline offensive. Thankfully, there were folks who kept to the spirit of the post, and that's the enjoyment of good food. I say, can't we all just get along at the dinner table?

Hidden behind the building fronting V Mall in the Greenhills shopping center is Southern Deli, a modest cafeteria frequented by the area's Muslim community.

Small and clean, the restaurant specializes in Maranao cuisine. The restaurant may look humble, ut the dishes – all Maranao home cooking – are anything but.

Diners get a free bowl of soup. Made from carabao (water buffalo) ribs, this translucent broth is warm, its beefy base enhanced by a coconutty taste. It warms the stomach and prepares it for the dishes yet to come.

Dining is no frills, no nonsense. You pick your dishes from a cafeteria lineup, sit at one of the plastic tables and eat. All the dishes cost Php50 for a small saucerfull, the rice, Php15 a bowl.

The Rendang Beef tastes like a cross between adobo and beef stew. It's pretty tasty, but has a slightly overpowering saltiness that is masked once it is paired with rice. This saltiness occurs in a lot of the canteen's dishes, and when asked about it, the owners explained that it is actually a hallmark of good Maranao cooking.

My favorite dish was the Fresh Tuna Kinilaw (what they call kilawin in the South), which was very, very spicy. Since my companion and I had gotten there early, the tuna had not yet “cooked” in its vinegar marinade. What makes this cerviche-like dish stand out is the addition of coconut milk, which lends the dish a sweet edge. The kinilaw also contains chopped cucumber, onion, chili and ginger. This, I have to say, is one of the best I've had in the city.

We also had Bakas, which, unlike its name implies, is not a beef dish but is actually tuna grilled with tumeric and grated coconut. It was dry and a bit tough but with a mild taste, quite the opposite of the Beef Rendang!

The Chicken Curry was more salty than curry-shy, but also very very spicy. Another dish that has to be eaten with rice.

Another favorite of mine was the Badak, a vegetable dish made from leaves not found in Manila. The dish also contains langka (Jackfruit) and daing (smoked fish) and tasted like laing with the texture of labong. Could a dish be even more perfect?

I wouldn't mind going back there again, especially if I'm in the mood for kinilaw. I have to wonder about what the mainly Muslim clientele will think of a non-believer being there though, as we got a few strange looks during out trip there. Still, I'm glad we got to try it.

Southern Deli

Greenhills Shopping Center

Carpark Mosque

San Juan


10.30am – 9pm daily except holidays

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Seek Ye Whore" an Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow's "Best Horror of..."

Art by MM Yu
Published in Rogue magazine, July 2008

"Seek Ye Whore," which was published in the July 2008 issue of Rogue magazine (the one with the just-got-out-of-bed Anne Curtis), is an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow's new horror anthology "Best Horror of..."

You have no idea how happy this makes me.

"Seek Ye Whore," by the way, is the story that made Gilda Cordero Fernando say to me: "You're such a pretty girl and you write such bloody stories!"

She said I was pretty, hehehe.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion October 2009 Edition

It's an exciting October!

Not only am I Uno magazine's guest editor (the issue with the lovely, bloody, mostly naked Ornusa Cadness on the cover), my book is also featured in this month's issue of Garage magazine and on the FHM website.

Hmm... all of them seem to be men's magazines...

But wait, there's more!

My dream of my clothes being commended on a fashion blog has come true! Check out What KT Did (I'm not linking to the post I'm in but check out the blog, which is awesome) for a look into the fun, exciting life of fashion designer Kate Torralba.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Good Mood is Good Taste: Thai Cooking at The Mandarin

The Mandarin Oriental is known for its wonderful accommodations and even more wonderful cuisine. A couple of months ago, I got to witness the creation of this cuisine firsthand when I attended the hotel's Thai Kitchen 2009, an interactive cooking class with Chef Anchalee Luadkham of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We were a class of about fifteen people, all huddled around the makeshift kitchen set up in the middle of the Tivoli Grill. Chef Anchalee taught us three Thai dishes. An appetizer - Yam Nue Yang A-Ngun, spicy beef salad with grapes and mint dressing; a main course – Panang Goong, red prawn curry; and a dessert – Tub Tim Krob, chilled water chestnuts rubies in sweet coconut milk.

It was fun watching Chef Anchalee, who, at 26, is also a faculty member at the Mandarin culinary school (as well as being a sous chef in the hotel's Thai restaurant) in Chiang Mai, demonstrate her skill. She worked fast and with a smile, her Thai staff skillfully assisting her, without her having to tell them to do so.

What was more fun was learning some secrets of Thai cooking. “You have to get all ingredients ready before cook,” Chef Anchalee suggests.

One secret I learned was how to get really good curry. What Chef Anchalee did was heat (stirring constantly) a ladle-ful of coconut milk (gata) in a wok until it reduced and was mostly oil. It was this oil she used to fry the curry paste. The technique may be slow and time-consuming, but it made a big difference. The resulting curry was more flavorful and had more depth to it. It was also somehow more filling.

Another secret that I discovered (one that I had been wondering about ever since I was a child) was what the glutinous exterior of the Tub Tim Krob was prepared. I have always been fond of dessert, and it was wonderful to finally find out how to make it (I'm too lazy to surf for it – besides, having a Thai Chef prepare it in front of me is proof that the recipe is authentic).

“I think that Filipino and Thai cooking are similar, in that they can have a lot of ingredients, but take a short time to cook, like curry,” Chef Anchalee says.

When asked what her tip for cooking Thai well was, she answered, “My tip is smiling. Good mood is good taste.”

chilled water chestnuts rubies in sweet coconut milk
(serves one - why share?)


7 – 10 pcs water chestnut (fresh or canned)
2 tbsp red food color
3 tbsp tapoica flour (magic powder)


½ cup coconut milk
3 tbsp sugar
1 pc pandan leaf
1 pinch salt

½ cup crushed ice

1. Heat coconut milk in a saucepan. Add sugar, salt and pandan leaves. Mix well and set aside.
2.Dice water chestnuts. Place in a bowl, add red food color and leave for 1-2 minutes. Drain excess food color.
3.Mix chestnuts with the tapoica flour. Make sure that chestnuts are evenly coated.
4.Shake off excess flour and drop water chestnuts in hot water until the flour coating solidifies into a red gel covering, then place in cold water.
5.Place water chestnuts in a serving bowl. Top with crushed ice and milk (remove pandan leaf first). Garnish with jackfruit and coconut meat if desired.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Waking the Dead online buying info

Unfortunately, Waking the Dead isn't available on Amazon.

You can, however, purchase it directly from the publisher, or through National Bookstore (or any Philippine bookstore that offers a delivery service).

Anvil Publishing
order here

National Bookstore
order here

Monday, August 24, 2009

Philippines Free Press 101st Anniversary Issue out this week!

The issue is of course a special tribute to Cory Aquino featuring new writing by Teodoro Locsin Jr., Fr. Catalino Arevalo, Oliver X.A. Reyes.

As it is their 101 Year Anniversary, this special collectors issue also has articles from the Free Press archives (edited and curated by Ricky S. Torre). Featuring articles by Gregorio Brillantes, Wilfrido Nolledo, Kerima Polotan, Jose Quirino, Jose Lacaba and Quijano de Manila.

So please come and support The Philippines Free Press—after all, they did invent the term "Juan dela Cruz".

**Full disclosure: I hear it'll also have coverage of the Waking the Dead book launch! :D

Monday, August 10, 2009

Waking the Dead Book Launch This Saturday!

Everyone is invited to drop by the launch of Waking the Dead, my first collection of short stories.

It will be held this Saturday, 4pm at Powerbooks Megamall.

Here's a review of the book from today's Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Route 196

If I'm going to a gig, more often than not, it will be in Route 196. Aside from great production nights, this bar and restaurant has great food as well. And cheap beer! Did I mention the cheap beer?

Their Fish and Chips (P165) is served hot. The sutchi fish is soft, the batter enclosing it light and crispy. It goes well with the lemon mayo it is served with, though I would have preferred asabe mayo. But that's just me, because to me, wasabe is its own food group. The fact that it is served wit potato chips instead of french fries makes it more Pinoy, and more 'bar' than 'restaurant.'

The Deviled Chicken (P165) is Route's version of buffalo wings. The boneless chicken pieces are coated in a dark, spicy-sweet glaze whose heat can easily be tempered by the accompanying dip.

A personal favorite is the Pepper-Seared Tuna (P145). Served with wasabe mayo (yay, wasabe!), the tuna has a black pepper crust and is seared so that it is cooked on the outside and pink and raw on the inside. My two complaints about this dish is that the serving isn't big enough and that the mayo isn't spicy enough. But this is still the dish I always order.

Route 196 is also known for their pizzas, perhaps the most famous of which is their Noypi (P195). Topped with tinapa and kesong puti, this salty pie is almost like eating unsweetened bibinka, but with smoked fish instead of slated egg. The crust is thin and uneven, giving the pizza a rustic feel.

They have a happy hour from 6-9pm, where the beer is even cheaper than its usual P40. Band usually start playing at 10pm.

Route 196
196-A Katipunan Ave.
Blue Ridge A, QC

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This week in Y Style

Has a couple of articles come out in this week's Y Style, the lifestyle section of the Philippine Star.

There was on on jackets and another one on Svenson's new hair treatment.

Read Take Cover and It's Hair to Stay.

Excerpt from Waking the Dead in the Uno July 2009 issue!

Grab a copy of this months Uno magazine with Cindy Kurleto on the cover. It's their sports issue but they named it "No Fun" after the Stooges song.

There's an excerpt of "The Bridge," one of my stories from Waking the Dead, my first collection of short fiction, which will be launched in August.

Read the excerpt on the Uno website here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Ang Pinaka Street Food Experience

If you tuned in to Ang Pinaka last Sunday evening, you'll notice that I was one of the three panelists, along with food critics Ige Ramos and Ivan Henares, in their feature on street food. We were all asked to rank our top 10 street food (we were given a long list to choose from). The results, along with some from surveys and the staff, were collated and the results were the ones featured on the show.

Here's my Top 10, based on availability (by me, at least), what I actually eat and what most of the folks I know eat. Like Ige, I also factored in nutrition and value for money.

1. Taho
My favorite street food. Warm, nutritious and cheap. Good for breakfast when you're on the run.

2. Balut/ meats on a stick
I don't like balut or innards on a stick but everyone else does! They're the poster child for Filipino street food.

3. Fishballs
Cheap, easy to find and yummy. The dubious sanitation of the vendors just adds to the taste.

4. Dirty Ice cream
Nothing evokes summer more than a cone of dirty ice cream. They ave flavors that are simple, yet cannot be copied by commercial ice cream companies.

5. Quek-quek
Cholesterol in a bucket, yes, but also a good source of protein. Plus, it's really tasty.

6. Mais
Cheap, flavorful and nutritious.

7. Mani
Nothing like some peanuts to fortify you during a long bus ride.

8. Banana Cue/ Camote cue
Cheap, sweet and filling - everything a good Pinoy snack should be

9. Puto/ Kutsinta/ Biko
My three favorite kakanins. I couldn't choose!

10. Scrambol
Nothing but syrup and ice but a good way to keep cool on a hot day in the province.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thinking of Adarna's Mango Shake

I love the food at Adarna Food and Culture, along Kalayaan. Thee are lots of things that I like to eat there, but right now, it's their mago shake that I'm thinking of. It's not too sweet, and looks really pretty piled high in their glasses.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Thinking of Tasty Dumplings

In the mood for dumplings from Tasty Dumplings, which has a branch near the Binondo church. They used to have a branch in Greenhills but it closed down fast. I blame the location.

Anyway, the grownups used to take us here a lot when we were kids. We'd have the dumplings (they have two variants: pork and kuchay - vegetable based), which come with the greatest dumpling suace ever - something in between vinegar and fish sauce.

We'd also have the porkchop noodles, which are noodles served with a side of weird-tasting but strangely addictive pork chop. You can ask for some kuchay (pickled vegetables) that you can eat your noodles with. And to ash it all down, a glass of warm soy milk. They have great soy milk, though (and I'm not sure if this is fact or nostalgia) it seemed to taste better when I was a child.

Here's a photo of their dumplings from my last trip.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Me in the July 2009 issue of Uno

Here are scanned pages of me (and Tessie Ang See, whoohoo! ) from the pages of the relaunched Uno. Thanks to Charles N. for the images.

Arnold Arre's Chapter One

First of all, I would like to apologize for posting this so late. I had meant to post it before the screening, but didn't get to go online until, well, now.

This, my friends, is the poster of the first short film of one of our country's most talented artist-writers, Arnold Arre, which screened yesterday, July 6, 2009 at the basement of Fully Booked High Street.

The event was very well-attended, and there was even a chance to ask the filmmaker questions after. Most people wondered why the film, which was suspense, deviated from Arnold's usual fantasy/ romance fare. Arnold said that he didn't plan for it to happen.

Anyways, it was a great first film, and I'm not saying it because me, Luis, Erwin, Gang, et al are in it. Arnold's visual style is arresting, and he makes very effective use of sound. People were screaming in the theatre, which is always a good thing.

On a personal (and admittedly shallow) note, this is the first time I've had my name and picture on a movie poster. And yes, I am thrilled. And yes, I wore my Intolerant shirt on purpose. Get yours here.

The one thing I took away from that screening is that life is no reason for you to stop creating. Arnold and Cynthia inspired me because they created this while going through everyday stuff. They didn't angst, they just did, which is something I have to learn. So every time I have the urge to feel sorry for myself, to push my creative work aside for "real life" concerns, all I have to do is watch the Chapte One trailer and remind myself that great people don't wallow in the detials, they just plow ahead and do it.

Congrats Arnold!

Here's the link to the trailer.

Top Meals Food Haus

Look for the definition of “hole in the wall” in the dictionary and chances are, a picture of Top Meals Food Haus will appear beside it.

Located in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the depths of non-commercial Makati, sort of near Rockwell, this humble food spot was first discovered by intrepid food explorer Anton Diaz. He is, Top Food owner Wilson Tan says, the reason that Top Meals has appeared on the foodie map.

The restaurant serves authentic Bicolano food. This means hot, oily and filling. The fare here is as unpretentious as its décor and surroundings. Food is cheap, served in plastic plates in an unairconditioned eating area right next to the street. Presentation-wise, what you get is a warm saucy mess, much like what you get at home. The dining area is tight, the staff casual and friendly, and of course, the food is lutong-bahay good.

The Chicken a la Mado (P68) is a secret recipe Wilson inherited from his grandfather Amado. The recipe is secret, and Wilson won't tell you what goes in it. The chicken has a slightly smokey flavor and comes with a creamy, oily sauce that you'll want to skip and eat up at the same time. My advice, in the words of Weird Al Yankovic, just eat it.

The Pork Binagoongan (P65) is very salty. As I am not a fan of binagoongan, which is basically posk with bagoong (shrimp paste) and some vegetables, I don't think I am qualified to judge this dish. My companions thought it was good though. The Bicol Express (P66), though loaded with chili peppers, was a bit of a disappointment as it wasn't tongue-searingly hot, as it is reputed to be. We think Mr. Tan has been toning it down for his Manila clientèle. He did say that he could make it hotter upon request.

The Bicol Humba (P65) comes with a thin, light-colored sauce, making it seem more like watered down adobo, though its trademark sweetness is still there.

I rather like the Tuna Sisig ({P68), which is hot, crunchy, and served with egg, the latter of which gives it a certain X factor. Probably still unhealthy, but not as much as the other dishes. But then, why eat out if your watching your figure?

I also liked the Laing (P68), stewed gabi leaves (normally poisonous. Did you know that Filipinos are one of only two races in the entire world that eat yam leaves?) pumped up with gata (coconut milk). Tastes exactly like the way our yaya makes it, which means its authentic.

The Leche Flan (P65) is firm and not too sweet. I take my leche flan very seriously, and while this is not the best I've had, its good enough that I didn't want to share it with others.

The servings at Top Meals are small – each order serves one – but eaten with rice (and you have to eat rice with what you orderotherwise you're missing out on the whole experience), it's enough to fill you up.

The restaurant also offers relatively cheap fruit shakes. The cream-based Strawberry Shake (P49) is perfect for rainy days while the other fruit variants (more smoothies than shakes – P39) are great during hot days and summer nights.

Top Meals Food Haus
5994 J.D. Villena St. cor. Mabini St. Poblacion, Makati.
The place is beside Estelle Salon.
(Villena St. is the street in the middle of Museo ng Makati and Rockwell, along J.P. Rizal)
Telephone: +632 895 1249

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pamana's Three Way Adobo

Wrote an article in the July 2009 issue of Appetite about Happy Ongpauco's heirloom adobos (there are three of them), which she serves side by side in her newest restaurant, Pamana, in Tagaytay (it's near the rotonda, beside Boutique Bed and Breakfast).

The three kinds of adobo are served side by side, and all of them are delicious, but in different ways.

Pick up a copy of Appetite magazine to get all three recipes.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Angel's Kitchen

Another restaurant within my immediate vicinity is Angel's Kitchen, which serves the kind of home cooking you wished happened in real life. All the dishes served here are from the owners' family recipes, which only serves to make people jealous and strive to be adopted by said families from which such savory recipes originate.

Angel's Kitchen is run by five mothers who decided to get together and give others the chance to sample their family heirloom recipes. My Angel's Kitchen is crisp and clean, a place where you feel you have to keep your elbows off the table be on your best behavior. The restaurant is quiet, a big change from establishments whose loud music is masked by its even louder clientèle.

I have to confess that I wasn't always so keen to come here, as I always thought that the prices were a bit too high for the kind of food they served. But all it takes is just one excellent thing to change a mind, and in my case, it was the soup.

The Gambas with Chorizo Bits (P298) is composed of fresh-tasting shrimp cooked in olive oil with bits of chorizo and big cloves of garlic. The spicy Spanish sausage adds a sweet-savory edge to the spicy dish.

Perhaps my favorite soup in the city is the Seafood Chowder (P198). It is thick, chunky and creamy, each spoonful yielding a treasure trove of seafood and vegetable bits. A great soup to warm you on a rainy afternoon.

The Tuyo Puttanesca (P288) is surprisingly sweet instead of salty. Sweet in a savory way, not in a dessert way. It's a light pasta dish that goes down just right, leaving just enough room for dessert, which I suggest should be the Strawberry Trifle (P158) – layers of cream, sponge cake, berries and (just when you think you might go into a sugar coma from all the sweetness) what I think is lemon curd that combine like a giant robot to make one supremely awesome dessert. Its go a soft texture and a taste that melds the sweet with the tart. It's qute addictive, and because it's not heavy, this only means that you'll have room to order another one...

I still think that some of its dishes are a bit expensive for what they are, but the soup, I shall return for. And maybe a Trifle or two as well.

Angel's Kitchen
# 57 Connecticut Street,
Northeast Greenhills, San Juan

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cookbook Kitchen

One of the things I am grateful to Ang Pinaka for is for finally directing me to Cookbook Kitchen. The location of this immensely popular restaurant has eluded this directionally challenged eater – until now. The most surprising thing about it – it's really near where I live!

Much has been written about this little restaurant, to how it was conceived to how it got its name, so I'm not going to go int that here. What I will go into, however, is the food.

I liked their Wasabi Soy Fish (P250), soft yet firm fish, pan-fried ad topped with a sweetish (not hot) wasabi emulsion; but what I really liked was their Parmesan-crusted White Fish (P260), which is fish and cheese baked until it has a nice golden crust. It's what the restaurant is famous for, and with good reason. Its warmth and creaminess is what I think embodies the true essence of comfort food. This is the kind of dish you want to take home to curl up and watch TV with. A little red wine (yes, yes, seafood, I know) and you're good to go.

The Pasta al Adobo (P200) is a nice, oil-based pasta topped with adobo flakes. It's the garliky-est (I just invented a new word!) dish that I've ever had that does not have that garlicky sting.

My second favorite dish is dessert. Kittin's Scarlet Cake (P130) is a blood-red grownup cake with a butter and cream cheese icing from childhood. It's not terribly sweet and it's incredibly moist. I wanted to hoard the whole thing for myself but... I... must... share.

If someone were to ask me what I wanted for my last meal, the Parmesan-crusted White Fish and Kittin's Scarlet Cake would definitely be on top of my list.

Cookbook Kitchen
8 Socorro Fernandez St., corner Luna Mencias St. (near Shaw Blvd),
Mandaluyong City
Tel. +632 724 3595

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Chinatown Snacks

While in 168 in Manila, I came across a store that sold colorful vacuum-packed Chinese delicacies. Some of them were cookies, others quail eggs and tiny chicken feet. They were interesting, but needless to say, I did not but any of them. Instead, I headed up to Chariya, the incredibly tasty Thai place in the food court.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Little Store on the Hill

I love Little Store on the Hill, though I am not here as often as I would like. It's a small Chinese restaurant grocery store with a serving (you order your food canteen-style) and eating area on one side while the rest of the shop is devoted to fresh vegetables and all sorts of Chinese delicacies.

People say that they serve the best Chinese lumpia in the city and I'm inclined to believe them. Other thing to try include the Crab Fried Rice, flavorful dry fried rice that tasteof crab and egg. My use of “dry” as an adjective is not derogatory. It is to distinguish the rice's texture from that of the Kim Peng, which in turn is sticky. The later is sweet and savory and is a meal in itself, the rice turbo-boosted by being cooked with peanuts, pork and chicken sausages, which account for its rounded meaty taste.

One of my favorite dishes is the Tofu with Terriyaki Sauce. Fresh tofu, soft on the inside and firm on the outside, is served with sweet terriyaki sauce. Goes well with the crab fried rice.

And then there is the Chinese lumpia. Chinese lumpia is characterized by minced vegetables, crushed peanuts, seaweed strips and Chinese lettuce, all rolled in a thin wrapper and served fresh, sometimes with a sauce that resembles that of the lumping ubod's. Little Store's lumpia is light on the tastebuds but heavy on the stomach.

An interesting dish is the stewed catfish – tough, dried catfish served with a sweet sauce. It comes with a crab claw cake over rice.

The Little Store is also home to different dishes that only a Chinese person would love, but that others are beginning to appreciate. One of them is the Balut Misua, which marries the Filipino balut with the Chinese misua (a type of noodle soup). Flavored with Chinese herbs, the soup has a medical tinge to it, and is recommended for folks who are trying to regain their strength.

Another Chinese delicacy that people come from far and wide to sample is the Black Chicken Soup. It's made from Chinese chicken, a type of fowl with downy white feathers and black skin. This medicinal soup (it is said to impart body heat) is light and clear and surprisingly does not taste of herbs. It's a soup that, as they say, adds hair to your chest.

If you're in the mood for authentic home-cooked Chinese food but don't want to go all the way to Binondo, head to the Little Store on the Hill. It's the Chinese equivalent of home away from home.

Little Store on the Hill
2 Jose Abad Santos st.
Little Baguio, San Juan
7219174, 7212359

Monday, June 29, 2009


Evoking a college tambayan (hang out) but with a really god sound system is Taumbayan, whose name is a play on both tambayan and taong bayan (citizen). The restaurant was put up by a group of theater majors who wanted a place to hang out in.

The inside is sparse and white, with pictures of the proprietors and friends on one wall, a couple of corkboards filled with community announcements, and whatever exhibit is going on at the moment. The restaurant is a couple of class announcements away from being an actual college tambayan, though sometimes, it is exactly that too, as the upper floor can be rented out for seminars, classes and exhibits.

But I digress. The reason we are here is because of the food, and the food does not disappoint. It's all Filipino comfort food, stuff that you can find at home but better, and with more flair.

The Inihaw na Adobo (grilled adobo – P160) is liempo that's been stewed adobo style before being grilled. The result is soft, fatty barbecued pork infused with sweet adobo goodness. It needs nothing except simple salt and pepper to bring out its flavor.

My favorite dish is the Pssst (P160). Described as “pusit na may dahong sumisilip” (squid with leaves peeking out of it), the dish is basically a whole cephalopod stuffed with aromatic leaves. Admittedly, part of the reason I like thi dish so much is because it looks like a cousin of Cthulhu. You get one whole big*** squid that's juicy, but in a savory way, and so soft you can cut it apart with a spoon. Now, I am very skeptical when it comes to grilled squid, as its texture makes me feel like I'm eating part of an old tire and I usually have o hide the seafood taste under copious amount of rice, then again in sauce. But this squid I can eat by itself,and without sauce. It's soft and easy to chew, and doesn;t taste like its related to Cthulhu, not that I would know what the relative of an ancient sea god would taste like mind you.

Another favorite of mine is the ridiculously simple Ensalada Platter (120). Steamed string beans, okra and eggplant served with bagoong balayan. I eat this at home and can't get enough of it. Stands to reason that I'd enjoy it outside as well, especially since the vegetables aren't soggy from overboiling.

If you're in the mood for soup, I suggest you try Monggo in D Chiti (P120) – mung bean soup loaded with pork, flavored with smokey tinapa and topped with whole chicharon. The monggo has a distinctly meaty flavor and is slightly spicy. The tinapa takes the soup from special to extra special. The chicharon tends to get soggy fast so I suggest you eat that first.

If you're going to eat here, it would be best to arrive early, as the place tends to fill up fast. Oh, the restaurant has free WiFi, so you can play Farm Town on Facebook and eat your vegetables too.

Bad metaphor, I know, but I couldn't help it.

Taumbayan Restaurant
40 T. Gener cor. K-1 Streets (near Kamuning Road), Quezon City

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thinking of Shabu-Shabu

In the mood for hot soup. I miss Gloria Maris' shabu-shabu. I love how you get tons of hot soup, get to choose what goes in it, and can come up with different flavors depending on what type of sauce you use. Gloria Mari's sauce selection includes sate, garlic and chili. Am salivating just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, it's not the sort of meal that you can't eat alone.

Friday, June 26, 2009


One of my favorite restaurants nowadays is Nomnomnom. It's easy to find, right at the intersection of E. Rodriguez and Tomas Morato, but you have to remember to go around back (there's ample pay parking) where the entrance is. No photos for this post. We dug in before I remembered to take some!

The food here can be characterized as heavy, rich and creamy – food that's a comfort during the darkest of days, the sourest of moods.

The T.L.S. (P180) is a hearty tomato soup that fills the stomach and the heart. Not too creamy, not too sour.

The Happy Hemp Pesto (P140) is your basic pesto pasta with, well, hemp. Don't worry, nothing illegal here. Nothing that'll get you high, certainly, but maybe a nice herby tone to the basil and pine nut base that'll certainly make you happy. I'm not too keen on pesto myself but I did appreciate the merits of this dish.

My first introduction to this restaurant was through the Spinach and Cheese Enchilada (P140), which is good as is, but in my opinion tastes even better when taken home and reheated the next day. It's a cross between an enchilada and lasagna, though it's really more of a ginormous ravioli. Filled with cheese and spinach and smothered in tomato sauce and more cheese, it's a really neat treat. The amount of sauce in this dish was a bit overwhelming for me, but this excess of liquid is what adds to th next day's reheating perfection.

My current favorite dish in this joint is the Clam Pasta (P140). Lots of tiny clams cooked in a buttery white wine sauce and served with a lemon wedge, this dish is filling without being heavy. I would have preferred that it be served with spaghettini instead of the offered penne or fettuccine (I chose the latter), as the clams' sweetish sauce-broth would have gone better with a thinner noodle.

The Mushroom Burger (P120) is also good. The sandwich is pretty big, and though you know by taste that you aren't eating beef, you somehow don't care anyway.

I am a big fan of their pizza, and I would recommend their Malinomnom (P180), crusty dough topped with tinapa, kesong puti, salted egg and onion. The cheese and onion make a nice base, punctuated by the saltiness of the fish and egg. The crispy tinapa adds another dimension of texture which rounds out the dish. Their Pizza Margherita (P180) is also good, but the its hard to mess up mozzarella, basil and tomatoes.

My friend Denise (who helped taste-test the dishes) suggests that first-timers try the Snookum Bookum (P40), a frozen chocolate pudding with almonds, hemp seeds and a dark chocolate and mint center but my favorite dessert is Peach Drunk Love (P90), flambéed peach in rhum sauce served with vanilla ice cream and butter cake drowned in rhum. I cannot get enough of this sweet treat.

The interior of Nomnomnom has a light, summery feel. It's a great place for get-togethers with friends. And since most of the food is vegetarian, you won't feel too guilty about eating out. One complaint would be that the service is less than perfect, as the restaurant sports some of the most forgetful waiters on the planet.

The resto has movie nights every Friday and some Saturdays where select films are projected onto the wall of a nearby building for outdoor viewing.

Nomnomnom is a great way to enjoy the beauty of summer, anytime of the year.

Tomas Morato cor E. Rodriguez streets
Tues – Sun 12nn – 12am

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mom and Tina's

One of the restaurants we visited for the Ang Pinaka episode on food that I was a panelist on was Mom and Tina's. I had already tried the restaurant's Makati branch but had never dined at the original branch in Pasig.

Everyone knows Mom and Tina's as the go-to comfort food place. How can it not be? Between its cozy cottage-inspired decor and ample servings of food that's sure to fill the stomach, it;s hard not to come to this restaurant and think "home."

My favorite was the Chuck Steak (probably because it was steak to begin with). Even though this is traditionally the cheapest cut, this steak tasted like a winner. Chewy, easy to cut and infused with a smokey flavor, this beef goes down well with mashed potatoes. The ones it was served with tasted instant, but for some reason, the reconstituted taste only served to highlight the down home feel. I'm weird like that.

I also liked the Salmon Pasta, a complex-tasting cream-based pasta punctuated with salty salmon bits, dill and capers.

Those looking for something closer to home can try the US Beef Tapa. Served with garlic rice and egg, the beef is sliced so thinly we first mistook it for bacon. It's got the sweet, beefy taste associated with tapa though, so you know you weren't served something else by mistake.

For dessert, opt for the Mango Torte, a frozen dessert cup made with cream. What I liked about this is that I could taste the cream cheese in the mix. For me, cheese is always a good thing. I also liked their lemon cupcake, which was a light butter cupcake with lemon-flavored icing.

Forgive my badly-lit pictures. The don't do the food justice.

Mom & Tina's Bakery Café
FRDZ Bdlg.
106 E. Rodriguez Jr, Avenue Ugong, Pasig City
(Front of SM Hypermart-Pasig)
Telephone: (63 2) 571-1540 to 41

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Notebooks

I made little notebooks by hand. Lookit! These are the revised prototypes I gave my friend, who also took the picture. Hope to have them up for sale soon. Wonder if there's a market for it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Tucked in the quiet of New Manila is Dezato Cafe, a quaint little place that's conducive to eating and relaxing.

Dezato, by the way, is Japanese for dessert. What started as a small home business quickly expanded into a restaurant that's worth going out of the way for.

Now, this restaurant has a lot of great things going for it such as simple yet comfy decor, a secluded location, good coffee (served hot in big white mugs) and yummy eats such as the Shrimp and Garlic Angel Hair Pasta, an oil-based pasta dish served with shrimp and flavored with garlic and herbs, Beer Battered Fish Fillet, soft dory (I forget which kind) encased in a crunchy covering served with mayo and Peach Pomegranate Iced Tea, a refreshing cooler made with the sweetly melding flavors of peach iced tea and pomegranate syrup.

But the thing that put a smile on my and my companions' faces was the mochi. Their version is homemade and filled with ice cream of different flavors.

The Chocolate Mochi is chewy and sweet. Made with Belgian chocolate, it's got a sweetness that's overpowering, but in a good way, the chcolate just about tempered by the glutinous outer shell.

The White Chocolate with Green Tea Mochi is a subtly tart mixture of refreshing green tea with a white chocolate aftertaste, while the Peanut Butter Mochi is not too sweet, as is the Coffee Ice Cream one. I can;t decide whether I like the chocolate or the green tea one more. This calls for more sampling. You know, for scientific purposes.

Regular Mochi is P35, P385 for a dozen while the bite sized ones are P65 for 4 pcs.

Dezato Food Restaurant
100 Hemady Street, New Manila
Quezon City
Tel: 727-1229, 3879484

Monday, June 15, 2009

2008 Bram Stoker Award Winners

This year's Bram Stoker Award Winners are:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
DUMA KEY by Stephen King (Scribner)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
THE GENTLING BOX by Lisa Mannetti (Dark Hart Press)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
MIRANDA by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
“The Lost” by Sarah Langan (Cemetery Dance chapbook)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
UNSPEAKABLE HORROR edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder (Dark Scribe Press)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
JUST AFTER SUNSET by Stephen King (Scribner)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
A HALLOWE’EN ANTHOLOGY by Lisa Morton (McFarland)

Superior Achievement in POETRY
THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTION by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)

AAAAAAnd... for Lifetime Achievement, F. Paul Wilson and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Congratulations, everyone! :D

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Carlo's Chicken House Express

I worked in the Pasong Tamo area for a quarter of last year when I was doing Project Runway Philippines and I did not know that such inasal chicken goodness was within walking distance of my workplace. It sure would have made my work more tolerable.

Carlo's Chicken House Express is reportedly one of the two(the other is JT's Inasal) really authentic inasal restaurants in Manila. Carlo's recipe is a family heirloom from Bacolod.

I ate here with food critic Ige Ramos, who told me that chicken inasal gets its flavor from being slow cooked high above the coals instead of on top of them, and from the secret ingredient: Star Margarine. Of course, there are other secret herbs and spices added to the mix as well.

I had the Paa (chicken thigh - P88), which was so good I forgot to take notes about how good it was. So you'll have to forgive my lack of adjectives and take my word for it. It was good. The chicken was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was good.

I also had the Grilled Liempo (P65), which was sweet and soft and smokey and went by so fast I wasn't able to get a picture of it. So this is what I took instead:

Mmmm... sauce...

lain rice costs 12 bucks, garlic rice, 20. Other chicken parts are Pecho (I have no idea what this is. Breast? P88) and Pakpak (wing - P60). Pork BBQ costs P30. All ingredients for a tasty and filling meal. The restaurant doesn't offer dessert but if you have a hankering for the sweet stuff, the staff fill cheerfully direct you to the ensaymada place next door.

Carlo’s Chicken House Express
112 K Savana Market, Metropolitan Avenue
Cor. Pasong Tamo, Makati City, Philippines
Telephone Number: (63 2) 897 8432

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Me in the relaunched Uno

Pick up the relaunced Uno magazine this June, the one with Celine Lopez on the cover. Not only is it choc-fullof interesting articles, wittily-named segments (can you guess their unifying factor?) and pages upon pages of Maggie "legs" Wilson in various pinup poses, it's also got a feature on Women to Watch, which includes cool chicks such as my idol and contrabida extraordinaire Cherie Gil, actress turned politician Vilma Santos, super talented graphic artist Cynthia Bauzon Arre, MyreneAcademia, who continues to shape whole generations with her music and extreme activist Gang Badoy. Also included in the list is yours truly (for my horror work). I am very honored to be part of this list and would like to thank everyone in the magazine for deeming me worthy to be included in such an impressive array of women.

It's also pressure for me to get my book out and start working on my next one.

By the way, I think it's time to insert a not-so-subtle plug: Waking the Dead will be out in the market soon. Promise.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Politics and the apocalypse

Hooray for people who send me interesting links. Today's links are courtesy of Luis Katigbak and Erwin Romulo, two swell guys, if I do say so myself.

First, Luis points us to an article in the LA Times about the link between horror and politics. Sure, we know that horror movies draw from whatever fears society is feeling at that time but did you know that that model persists until today?

Next, Erwin sends us to an article on the best post-apocalyptic movies of all time. If you think you've got problems, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion May and June 2009

Here's what I've been up to last May:

Did the cover story on Ruffa Gutierrez. I absolutely love this magazine. It's been my favorite for years and the every time they ask me to write for it, I go into raptures and have to stop myself from doing a little dance around my phone. This issue, by the way, also contains my first ever fan mail.

Appetite Magazine
Restaurant 6 - I reviewed 6 places that serve ice cream. Working for Appetite is always fun because part of my job always involves eating.

Uno Magazine
Did a writeup for model Denise Montecillo, who is both fun and fabulous. By the way, Uno's big revamp happens this month, so watch out for it on the stands!

Homestyle Magazine
Did book, film and music reviews for the going green issue.

Wrote an article on Bohemia Cakes. Read it here.

And here's where I'm at this June:

A feature on me in Go! Magazine

Reviewed some fashion blogs, including my favorite http://jakandjill.com

Wrote an article on my favorite skincare line, Leyende. Read it here.

That's it so far. I hope to post more stuff soon.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Waking the Dead out soon!

Waking the Dead, my first collection of short horror (well, mostly) fiction will be out soon! Possibly by the end of the month! Watch for it at your nearest bookstore. I'm also planning an awesome launch, which everybody is invited to!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hot and frozen hot chocolate

Anson treated me to Cafe Xocolat after a shoot, where I had the Aztec, hot cocoa liberally spiced with chili peppers, just the way the Aztecs drank it. We also had the Frozen Hot Chocolate, hot chocolate frozen into balls and served in a martini glass.

The Aztec (above) was thick, rich and incredibly spicy. I couldn't finish my cup but made a mental note to come back for more.

The frozen hot chocolate tasted like dark chocolate, and is best enjoyed with friends.

Thanks Anson!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Red Mango Green Tea Latte

Finally tried something in Red Mango that wasn't yogurt -- the green tea latte. Not as good as others out there (I particularly like the Starbucks one, their coffee is another matter altogether) but good enough when you're trying to pass time. Also, it looks cute in its square ceramic cup!