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
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!