Cherry Blossoms 2014

A pause on the chronicles of Manila Trip because it’s Hanami time in Tokyo. The cherry trees were forecasted to bloom on March 28 and they did! 

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We visited Chidorigafuchi 千鳥が淵 which is close to the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station although we got off at the Kudanshita stop. If you are there for the picnic, get off Hanzomon stop. The canopy of trees provide for a very beautiful picnic place.  If you want to see multitudes of trees up close and personal, best to stop at Kudanshita.

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If you have the luxury of time, take a boat ride in the moat 🙂 

Another favorite is Shunjukugyoen with sprawling manicured grasses. Bring mats and food! Alcoholic drinks prohibited.

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So pretty, yes?Image

There are other locations, so just go go go! Full bloom in Tokyo is forecasted on April 5! so hurry, nature is offering this for a limited time only 🙂

 

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Hongkong Master Chef

Dampa. Hovel in Tagalog.

We didn’t really go to shanty areas and had dinner there. Dampa is what they call the enterprising wet market and restaurant coming together to serve fresh seafood!  Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of our wet market…it’s not a pretty sight but you can haggle and buy any seafood and vegetables you like, then, bring it to the restaurant of your choice and tell them how you want it cooked (aka, “paluto”)

It’s really great!

We chose to go to our favorite– the Hongkong Master Chef! The place isn’t swanky for sure but they serve really good food.

While waiting for the marketers to buy the sea food, we ordered coconuts! I have missed this.

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These were the on-menu food:

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Fried Rice

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Fried Pigeon

This dish was far better here than in Gloria Maris! The meat was juicy and succulent.

Then came the dishes that we “paluto”:

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Steamed Shrimps

These were very sweet! What’s sweeter was that my sister peeled the shrimps for me 🙂

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Lato

This is a kind of seaweed that was blanched and seasoned and served with red onions and tomatoes.
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Bokchoy

Chinese cabbage that was stir-fried with lots of garlic.

 

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Spinach

Also, stir fried with tons of garlic!

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Kilawin na Tangigue

Mackerel Seviche made with lots of vinegar, lemon, shallots, and local peppers. This makes my mouth water!  It is best eaten immediately after being made, or else, the fish becomes tough and rubbery.

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Halaan Soup

The clam soup was fresh and light. A bit too oily on top though as it is first stir fried.

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Oyster Rockefeller

Next came the oyster which was cheesy but not so tasty.

 

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Shrimp, second way

My sisters bought way too much shrimp so they decided to have 2 kinds of shrimp dishes. This time it was fried with sweet and sour sauce.
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Baked Scallops

Because we like the fake cheese!

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Salted Egg crabs

Remember the salted egg prawns from Gloria Maris the other night? It was nothing compared to the salted egg crabs we had here! It was the best of all the dishes we had (both restaurants!) The crabs were sweet and when eaten with the sauce, it was heaven on a plate!

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Crab Roe!

It’s not a pretty sight but oh my gosh, I love crab roe!

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I don’t know what this is called but it’s inside looks like lobsters. Deep fried with tons of garlic and ginger bits and pepper.

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innards

Finally, they served fresh fruits to wash away all the oils 🙂

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Fruits in Manila. Sweet!

The Dampa in Macapagal (they have other branches) is spacious and has ample parking area. The wet market is generally cleaner and HongKong Master Chef is there. There are other restaurants where you can dine but usually you will find that Hongkong Master Chef is the only one brimming with clients. To be sure, better reserve early your table.

8 Cuts Burger Blends

My sister said I need to try this burger place so the first chance I got, we went to their branch in UP Town Center, Diliman.

What’s great about this place?  Freshly ground. Custom blended. Seared to order.

They have 5 standard blends: The House Blend from short rib and rib eye.  The Beef Bomb from short rib and chuck. The Ox Blend from flank, ribeye, and oxtail. The Big Game from hanger and brisket. The Steak Cut from chuck and sirloin.

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I wasn’t in an adventurous mood as I needed to hold Little A (semi blind mama who didn’t notice the seat belt of the high chair was just dangling below) so I ordered the single patty Bleu Burger.   This was a quarter-pounder steak cut blend patty with blue cheese sauce, fried crispy leeks, blue cheese crumble, caramelized onions, some greens on brioche buns.

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My sister ordered the double patty Q-Daddy Burger. The standard is the ox blend patty with yellow cheddar, onion tanglers, crisp bacon strips, iceberg lettuce, tomato, jalapeno ranch and sweetly spiced BBQ sauce on sesame seed buns. They ran out of the ox blend though and had to replace it with the beef bomb.

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My other sister ordered the classic double cheeseburger.

We cut each burger into 4 to share with each other. The verdict? each of us liked what we each ordered!

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For appetizers, we ordered the spinach and artichoke dip. This was just so so. It was creamy and cheesey, not over garlicky.

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We also tried the barbeque flavored onion rings that were thinly coated with batter. Twas sooo good! (Ehem, excuse the background!!!)

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Funny both my sisters don’t like sweet drinks but they agreed to try out the salted caramel shake. I finished it off though coz hello, shake! 🙂

Good place for burgers!

8 Cuts Burger Blends
Address: 2nd Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Quezon City
Tel. Nos.: 0917-8182139 / (02) 955-2264
Operating Hours: Mon – Sun 11am – 11pm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/8cutsburgerblends

Gloria Maris Greenhills

On our first day in Manila, Little A and I just rested at home. On our second day, we waited for the arrival of 5ii and Uncle Gand then headed towards Gloria Maris where 4ii and 4ii-tiu were going to treat the family! Hooray!

Gloria Maris was where we held our wedding reception a couple of years ago.  I wasn’t able to eat that time though! So this time, I made sure my tummy will be happy with yumyum Chinese lauriat (Filipino Chinese term for banquet consisting of about 10-12 dishes).

Peanuts are served so people can munch on something  while waiting for others to arrive. Once the table is filled, you can ask the food to be served. First came the appetizer– IMG_5497

Duck with watermelon, mango, cashews, and sesame seeds

It was pretty when it came out but you mix everything in a messy pile like in the photo. The savory taste and sweetness was almost melodious! The cashews were even honey roasted!  DrG and I once ordered just this dish in Gloria Maris and we left with happy tummies.

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Birthday Misua

Three people have February birthdates in the family so we had to have egg noodles with the neon orange quail eggs.

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Salted egg  prawns

Looks plain but they were amazeprawns! It’s oily but my gosh, I ate 4 of these babies! IMG_5500

Soup of Almond and Pumpkin

Yin and yang shouldn’t be mixed or else you just have a bowl of weird tasting soup. Nothing spectacular but the presentation is nice. As long as it’s not shark’s fin, we’re good! IMG_5509

Steamed Fish

A favorite of ours. The light soy sauce accompanies the sweet tasting grouper. Little A got to taste this! IMG_5507

Fried Pigeon

Hiding beneath the fried crackers are fried pigeons. One of my mom’s favorite dish.

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Mushroom Abalone with sea cucumbers and veggies

One of the regular dishes in lauriat. It’s just pretend abalone! IMG_5503

Duck with taro

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Close up. It so yummy! Definitely one of my favorites.

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With loads of garlic and some chili peppers to keep it interesting 🙂 There was taho that arrived but I didn’t get to take a photo of it, didn’t get to taste it, too!  Because I was making room for these mochi goodness! IMG_5529

Sesame balls aka buchi buchi

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with runny egg custard innards!

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Mochi with bean paste 

It looks like a lot of food, but there’s 12 people sharing all the dishes. If you pace yourself well, you can taste each and every dish served 🙂

Website here.

 

The Access Narita

wpid-20130405_153749.jpgFor commuter folks like myself, the Friendly Limousine bus service is one of the easiest way to get to and from the airports.  Recently though, I found out that there’s a bus service called The Access Narita.

Cheaper:  It’s only 1000 yen! A third of the cost of the other one.

Boarding: Can board at either Tokyo Station or Ginza Station. From where I live, it costs just 30 yen more to get to the station and actually less walking involved. An advantage when you’re lugging some heavy bags. From the airport, they’re at Stop 31 at Terminal 1 and Stops 2 and 19 on Terminal 2.

Reservations: Available! You’d want this if you cannot go early to line up. We didn’t have one but since we left on a non-peak hour, we got on without reservations.

Ticketing: Paperless! You pay when you ride and they don’t hand out tickets anymore. Even baggage doesn’t have tickets. Honesty system really works in Japan (Please World, try it some time!)

The only disadvantage though is they have less routes to and from the airport. But with good planning, this is definitely a good option!