The Paella That Wasn’t Easy to Love

SOME OF THE BEST AND TASTY paella variants I’ve ever tried were at Las Paellas Cafe at the Festival Mall in Alabang, Casa Armas Tapas Bar Y Restaurante in Malate, Barcino in the The Fort, and here in Puerto Princesa, at Tom Tom’s Club along Manalo Street.

Even to this day, I can’t forget the subtle flavor and aroma of the cafe’s Paella Marinera, and the gastronomically bewitching Paella Negra, a scene-stealer and high drama rice dish that is dyed black with squid ink, and mottled with calamari, a rich blob of garlic aoili mayonnaise, red bell pepper strips, and some other toppings.

21744932_2028521217379745_530630065_o

“Matiz Paella” by Matiz Restaurant & Tapaz Bar at Hue Hotel.

Any chef who can rustle up a good paella will say right away that this famous Spanish dish is really “all about the rice” and the socarrat, without abandoning the adequate quantity (and quality) of other ingredients that needs to be there over the base.

Socarrat is the rice that gets pleasantly crisp and forms a tough outer part at the base of the paellera, a special skillet from which the paella is cooked. It is to the dish what the smoke ring is to a brisket.

In Filipino, it is “tutong,” or the burnt rice that we find at the bottom of our pot when we don’t pay enough attention and cooks it for too long. The difference is that we shed out the burnt rice, whereas the Spaniards and paella lovers save the socarrat (sometimes for last) as it is essential to the total goodness of the paella.

Tom Tom’s Club is the only dining place I know here that serves really good paella. So, when I learned that Matiz Restaurant & Tapas Bar at Hue Hotel is offering Spanish-inspired cuisines, I really campaigned to have our regular Women of Wednesday (WOW) there to try the dish.

21754851_2028521237379743_1983153217_o

Sinugba, the two-cooking method dish of grilled pork belly and fish ceviche (kinilaw).

21729295_2028521310713069_595415381_n

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY (WOW) sisters on September 13 at Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar, Hue Hotels, National Highway, Puerto Princesa City.  

WOW is a group of lady past presidents of the JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock, Inc., and Wednesday is usually the day in the week when we all meet to just let our hair loose — allow ourselves to behave much more freely from our daily routines and just laugh at everything and enjoy.

On September 13, all 11 of us were at this restaurante to finally try some of the cuisines it’s offering. The specialty of the house the waitress offered was Matiz Paella, which I ordered for four since those who arrived ahead of me had already ordered.

Paella always gets me excited because it is a Spanish food that’s easy to love, easy to adore. Anything that’s easy to love and adore keeps you calm, right? Lalo na if it loves you back. Chos!

After waiting for nearly half an hour, the so-called Matiz Paella that got to our table (with a portable stove) was nothing short of regret.

Sorry about that.

Flavors certainly did not blend and burst together, the rice mixture was (sadly) soaked through, and toppings to add to the distinctive taste were measly — it’s head-shaking.

I agree, the chef should not overwhelm the rice with toppings as it will affect the whole taste of the paella, but really that meager? Four pieces of boiled quail eggs (I get it, because I ordered for four), seven pieces of sliced squid rings, two pieces of shrimps, and four slices of chorizo that were charred and tasted bitter, and green peas.

There was really nothing else for me to be excited about in the dish that was regarded as the specialty of the house. Where’s the sudden rush of beautiful flavors in every spoonful and layer of toppings spread over the base? What happened to the socarrat?

The price of Php995 for four for the paella that to me, failed to happen, was really sore to pay though we all split the tab at Php500 for everything we ate. Di naman sa… pero, why pay good money for something that’s not belly satisfying?

21744883_2028550207376846_154107147_o

Bagnet, crunchy and truly good!

Though disappointed with its paella, I’m not saying you don’t go and try the Spanish-themed restaurante because your fondness might be different from mine. Unless the chef improves the paella, I honestly think it’s safe to go for the Sinugba and the Bagnet on its menu list.

These two Pinoy dishes are really good at Matiz Restaurant and Tapas Bar. They might be a little pricey where your dining-out-to-treat-yourself fund is concerned, but, hey… no regrets if the food is good.

Sinugba, which employs two methods of cooking — grilling pork belly and soaking fish in lime juice or coconut vinegar to become ceviche — needs really little introduction to Filipinos as it is a beloved dish, especially in the Visayas.

Many Sinugba lovers just salt the pork belly and grill it. The others choose to do it with their own created barbecue sauces, and after grilling, mix it with the fish ceviche.

At Matiz Restaurant & Tapaz Bar, the Sinugba, thankfully, didn’t taste sea-level salinity (over-salted food isn’t good for the kidney). It was light and bright, used the freshest fish possible, and wasn’t overly marinated.

The deep-fried pork belly Bagnet that originated in Ilocos was everyone’s rave in the restaurant that night. There was no bagoong monamon (fermented anchovies) that was served with it, but the chef’s success in making it crispy on the outside and tender and savory on the inside got me.

I would certainly go back for the Bagnet because the resto got it right, and it brings me back sweet memories of my father. If he’s alive today, he’d surely be happy to be taken there for a special dinner of the Ilocano favorite simple recipe… with, of course, bagoong monamon.

I just know he would look for that; not the vinegar as dipping sauce.

Nice Ambiance

The inside of the restaurant used wooden wine rack modules clawed on the wall on one side for efficient and elegant bottle storage that are typical to tapas bars. Individual plank tables hang on the ceiling on another side to complete its stylish whole tapas bar look.

Imagine having your tapas on swing tables. The playful design makes dining fun and interesting. I’m actually imagining what if it has hanging chairs to sway me too.

Its interior design concept is nothing I’ve ever seen in this city. It has high upper interior surface that adds space, and speaks relaxation and comfort to people who shun having their meals in a place that retards them from trouble-free gestures and physical movement.

Sometimes, when we go to restaurants, it is more than just the food. The ambiance and the all-embracing experience can often mean a lot more. This is the reason why many really take time and effort to create and develop their own themes, or assimilate elements of a culture — all with the objective of entertaining your senses, not just your taste buds.

The Staff

Except for one waiter who doesn’t know how to describe to us the food we wanted to have, I was glad everyone was attentive enough to check what else we needed that night.  The waitress who served our food was always smiling, and checking on us.

Poor customer service can cause restaurant businesses to die. In fact, I think it is one of the chief reasons why many lose the interest to become returning customers. Attentive waiters/waitresses is part of the whole deal of superlative customer service.

I’m not the only one who’s going to say this: If a restaurant is able to deliver remarkable atmosphere, delicious food, reasonable prices, ample serving, and quality customer service, then there’s no reason why I would not return.

Cheers!

 

 

Advertisements

Memories of Penang

IT’S A LAZY SATURDAY, and waiting for “something to develop positively” has bored me; I sense it’s time to mind my blog, which I had left for a while (because of other important concerns).

In July 2016, I made a trip to Penang, Malaysia to finally count for myself what’s in the place that I had discovered and read so much about in online travel magazines.

To be specific, two things attracted me to Penang: street food and street art.

13692622_1812626388969230_388741514217975641_n

OLD LADY SELLING SUSU SOYA ASLI AND SEGAR: Capturing the feel of Penang’s daily life by buying susu soya (soy milk) from this charming perempuan tua (old lady) hawker in Gat Lebuh Chulia, between Victoria Street and Pengkalan Weld.

13769526_1812626368969232_6612629669138191601_n

CHILDREN PLAYING BASKETBALL: How to play basketball in George Town, Penang, by simply standing and waiting for the game to happen. This art piece is in front of the Grand Swiss Hotel on Chulia Street.

Not so long ago, Penang was a doddering cultural and culinary backwater in the federal constitutional monarchy Malaysia. No one ever conceived that the listing of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site would set its heartbeat fast on development.

It has come out (if it hasn’t already) as an important island territory that is known the world over not only as a bona fide gastronomic hot spot, but a multi-cultural trading region with all the global tourism industry’s bright prospects.

It’s the cradle of true Malaysian street food, they say, because sold everywhere are Char Kway Teow, the famed stir-fried rice cake strips, a national favorite that has been passed through generations; Assam Laksa, a proud signature fish-based recipe that is rich and spicy; the iced sweet dessert Cendol with red adzuki beans; Roti Canai, the classic flaky breakfast (and its other variations); slow-cooked dry curry Beef Rendang, etcetera.

13920252_1825430827688786_7205091876621373052_o

CENDOL TO COOL: This Cendol had me at hello. It’s like the Philippines’ all season halo-halo (mixed fruit dessert with a heaving spoonful of ube) favorite.

IMG_6836

CHAR KWAY TEOW, the poor man’s dish, tops the list of the most-loved Malaysian foods. Stir-fried over very high heat, its main ingredients (aside from the flat noodles) are dark soy sauce, bean sprouts, shrimps, Chinese chives, and eggs. Mix your serving with chili, and you’re good to go.

IMG_6961

FOR THE LOVE OF ASSAM LAKSA: This dish is really the headliner of my palate journey in Penang. I had it for breakfast inside an offbeat roadside food shack in Batu Ferringhi northwest of George Town.

If you’re a history or architecture junkie, George Town is the place that will surely keep you entertained during your holiday as it is where you will find British colonial buildings that have been kept up due to their cultural heritage value.

Any place that embraces modernity while retaining its colonial traditions — for the island state, 171 years of British rule — is worth traveling to.

13963026_1825069511058251_928416733027737871_o

OLD TOWN FEELS: Don’t you just feel like you’re inside a pre-colonial movie set? George Town, Penang made me feel just that — being in an elaborate civilization in the past… and it’s quite romantic.

IMG_6855

I, on the other hand, looked forward to managing the “Walking Trail” of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic‘s murals, and sitting to be served Malaysian dishes in Lorong Baru.

Okay, so here it goes. And, please, pardon memory fails and slips (just in case I mix up street names, spellings, and all) because this trip was done last year; I may have a hard time remembering.

HOW TO GET TO PENANG FROM KUALA LUMPUR

Penang is really an easy tourist destination in Malaysia, and every sort of transport is available. If you’re not traveling on a budget, you can buy a plane ticket for a 55-minute flight to the island state from Kuala Lumpur. Or hire a cab to get you there within 5-6 hours.

Bus schedules to help you figure out your travel are the following I’ve managed to get:

  • 12:40 p.m.-8:38 p.m. from Pudu Sentral (Puduraya)
  • 12:40 p.m.-10:05 p.m. from Bus Terminal Perkililing
  • 5:25 p.m.-12:53 a.m. from Pudu Sentral (Puduraya)

Bus fares range from MYR 38.00 to MYR 42.00 (USD 9.05560 to USD 10.0088/PHP 461.185 to PHP 509.731) for standard VIP, which means just an air-conditioned seat; and coaches at MYR 74.00 (USD 17.6346/PHP 898.098) to MYR 103.00 (USD 24.5454/PHP 1,250.06) with personal TV, meals, and wi-fi.

The inexpensive transport mode is, well, taking the bus, or the ferry boat. If you don’t have a problem with road trips, then the best and most fun way is to hire a car (if you don’t have one) for you to also enjoy the scenic attractions along the way.

Screenshot 2017-09-09 12.36.40

Culled from Google Maps

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our group of six traveled to Penang by using my friend Lolit Whorlow’s car. If my memory is still serving me correctly, we popped out our journey via the Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan/E1, the fastest route under usual traffic from the Kuala Lumpur federal territory.

Under this course, normal travel is more than three hours. However, if you make stops like we did, then your arrival time would increase by over an hour and a half to maybe around 5 or 6. The stops we made were for sightseeing, comfort room breaks, and snacks.

beautiful-penang-bridge

PENANG BRIDGE at night (courtesy of Google)

IMG_6941

PURPLE SUNSET: Caught the starting time (at around 7:00 p.m.) of purple sunset over the UNESCO World Heritage Site George Town, Penang. Just look at the color — very charming and hard to forget because you don’t see purple sunsets everyday. Check slide show below this.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The road travel was highlighted for me by the Penang Bridge, which is a symbol of pride and the source of deep pleasure for the Malaysians. In the 50’s, when Penang’s traffic condition started to congest because of its booming economy, the idea of the bridge came up along with suggestions to build an underwater tunnel road and extending the ferry service (the only transport that connects the island to the mainland).

Among the three, it’s the mega-scale bridge that stood out only to be laughed at for failing to happen. But in 1981, former Malaysia prime minister Mahathir Mohamad pushed for the project despite negative criticisms and other obstacles. By 1982, he sank the first pile of cement in the land between Seberang Perai and Penang Island.

I genuinely wanted to take a long-exposure photography of the Penang Bridge with its huge flashes of light glowing brightly at night; sadly, TIME IS THE ENEMY. It was also difficult to look for an area where to set up our gears, and it was constantly raining.

IMG_6849

NEW LANE HAWKER CENTER: The New Lane Hawker Center located in Lorong Baru, George Town, is where we had our first meal in Penang.

FOOD PATH

What unsettles me when it comes to traveling is TIME IS THE ENEMY. I’ve been writing the line all caps to emphasize that no matter how much you want to stay and do all things possible, you simply couldn’t because time is a limited source.

Indeed, it is our most important and most limited source.

There are at least 5 listed BEST EAT CENTERS in the island state that I found and wanted to try, and they’re not all necessarily in malls or hotels. They’re largely found in hawker stalls and in open air venues.

These are New Lane Hawker Center, Gurney Drive Hawker Center, Presgrave Street Hawker Center, Long Beach Food Court, and Just Food, which is inside a shopping mall.

We arrived in Penang at about 3:00 p.m., just in time for the daily opening of the hawker center in Lorong Baru. We headed there soon after depositing our bags in Sri Sayang Resort Service Apartment in Batu Ferringhi.

Batu Ferringhi is the next most visited destination after George Town for water sports and seafood eateries. It’s where I experienced my first-ever Assam Laksa (see picture above), served by a smiling restaurant owner on a rainy morning.

You know you’ve reached New Lane Hawker Center in Lorong Baru, George Town the moment the comforting aroma of garlic and onions frying together hits your snoot, and you don’t want to do anything except look for the nearest wok where it is straying from.

IMG_6840

Koay Teow Th’ng

What I had in this food center was not Char Kway Teow despite hearing about it over and over from my friends. They ordered that, and since the serving was large enough for all six of us, we decided to share and moved on to order other Malay dishes.

What I got was a steaming bowl of Koay Teow Th’ng cooked by a grinning peddler, who was too happy to hold his first customer of the day.

The flat rice noodle dish was served in clear soup broth, topped with fish balls, slices of boiled pork intestine, chicken, golden brown garlic bits and chopped scallions. A condiment of red chili sauce accompanied it.

You will be disappointed if you expect the fish balls in your soup to be stiff and bouncy. In Penang, they are made fresh to be softer in texture and to feed the travelers the soothing comfort they need after a long journey.

IMG_6837

POPIAH is another Malaysian street food favorite that’s like spring roll or lumpia. It’s made of grated turnip, jicama, French beans, bean sprouts, and bean curd in a sweet bean sauce wrapped in a paper-thin crepe made from wheat flour.

IMG_6839

WHO DOESN’T LOVE CHICKEN WINGS? Roasted chicken wings in honeyed marinade.

There’s always a spot in my heart (especially my tummy) for fragrant-smelling roasted wings coated in honeyed marinade to give it a glazed sweet touch. The burst of flavors in your mouth — smoky, tangy, sugared — leads you to nothing but absolute delight.

A plate of Char Kway Teow would cost around MYR 6.50 or USD 1.54886 or PHP 78.8809, which is really cheap as they’re served in large portions. Koay Teow Th’ng made me pay MYR 5.00 or USD 1.19143, which is around PHP 60.00 in Philippine money.

STREET ART TRAIL

Zacharevic’s walking trail starts at Penang Road with the The Awaiting Trishaw Paddler that we didn’t see because we got down our walk on a different trail. In fact, we didn’t follow any footpath, we merely walked around looking for any artwork because George Town is really full of them.

img_6878

LITTLE CHILDREN ON A BICYCLE by Ernest Zacharevic in Armenian Street, George Town. It’s a mural on the wall of a shop house of two children riding their bicycle joy clearly evident on their faces. It was easy to spot, actually. We saw it just in front of a small Cendol store in Armenian.

IMG_7022

LITTLE GIRL IN BLUE by Ernest Zacharevic Muntri Street, George Town, Penang. 

From Penang Road, there is a turn one has to make to Muntri Street, George Town, to see the giant wall painting of the Little Girl in Blue balancing herself on two windows. Standing in front of it closely made me think it was rather chilling. But then it was really the shadow of the hair cutting through her eyes.

I was recounted that in the original photo of the little girl, she was smiling so, it beats me why the artist would render her that way on the wall.

13669752_1812289009002968_4946183895787178716_n

THE BASKET GIRL AND I: Just near Lorong Baru, George Town, while parking our car before getting something to eat, we met this little girl on the window with her basket hanging down and her father looking up. 

14067835_1829995077232361_3708184052127044399_o

REACHING UP: This little boy with his right arm reaching up for something on the small window can be found at Cannon Street.

On Cannon Street, if you’re curious enough to look at the walls, you’ll see the mural of a little boy standing on a chair with his right arm reaching the low window. It’s hard to spot it at night so, be really eager to check out each and every wall in the street area.

IMG_6861

LANG HOOSE, on the corner of Beach Street and Lorong Toh Aka, George Town, is a little Penangite girl wearing a blue cheongsam.

LANG HOOSE may not be a well-known mural in George Town, but it’s one of my favorites because its full of energy, exhilaration, and sunshine. I don’t know, the healthy flush in her cheeks, no matter the stain in the artwork, gives her an atmosphere of innocence that is infectious.

Below are other interesting art pieces and murals I found in Penang, which made the walking trail a blast for me. Please check slideshow below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_6918

I SEE YOU.

IMG_6990

BUNS TRANSPORT: Transferring giant buns. Found this artwork on the wall of a building with bakery and jewelry shops.

13718811_1812583165640219_6165560349112278837_n

Standing outside the door of colonial past.

The cultural scene in Penang really evokes interest in a powerfully irresistible way, and I wish that one day soon, Puerto Princesa would also be as colorful and creative if not equally.

We have a lot of local creative people, and they can certainly make their murals build a sense of community respect and camaraderie.

TRAVEL HINTS AND TIPS

Before the tips, did you know that Jimmy Choo, who is noted for co-founding Jimmy Choo Ltd (where your expensive handmade pairs of shoes are from), was born in Penang, Malaysia, into a family of shoemakers?

I didn’t know this trivia until I went there. That Choo guy is based in London now, but he regularly visits Penang to see his family members.

13754168_1812286989003170_3237245087899877990_n

Waiting for my roti canai to cook in a street food place in Batu Ferringhi, Penang, Malaysia.

Here is a list of 10 useful tips if you’re considering Penang as your next travel destination:

  1. Your Penang trip will never be complete without trying the ubiquitous Assam Laksa.
  2. Read before exploring the heritage sites, and follow rules by not throwing your trash anywhere you fancy.
  3. It was a mistake to walk looking for Zacharevic’s murals. The best thing to do is hire bicycles or ride the trishaw.
  4. Ditch staying at Sri Sayang Resort Service Apartment because thought it’s cheaply-priced, it’s really bad accommodation.
  5. Don’t miss Penang’s flat round bread cooked on a griddle. It’s called roti (chapati is its other name), and it has a lot of delightful variations.
  6. Don’t forget the sunsets and sunrises.
  7. July is a rainy month in Penang so, bring umbrella to help you still explore.
  8. Valuables should never be on show because snatching is also common there like in other big cities.
  9. Your travel documents should always be with you because you never know when you’ll need it.
  10. No public display of affection, please, if you’re traveling as a couple — that would be heavily frowned upon.

Just because Penang is a popular tourist destination does not mean you’re free to wear your beach attire while touring. Beachwear is for the beach area, not the commercial districts.

Majority of the settlers of Penang are said to be Chinese, and they’re over 50% of the population. Two of the well-known Penangites are Choo and former Malaysia deputy prime minister and opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

Staying in the place for 2 nights/3 days weren’t enough for us to get to know any resident, but I could say that they’re helpful and friendly.

Don’t be offended if you hear some of them addressing you “auntie” and “uncle,” as that is one way of making you feel their hospitality.

13728323_10208526231052061_1929833158_o (1)

13681784_10208526232372094_1080418316_o

Selfie shot taken in front the George Town heritage site building office with Venice, one of my travel buddies.

13711516_10208526234532148_1361457930_o

FROM LEFT: Venice, myself, ate Lolit, Ed, Eewoj, and ate Maria.

To date, I’ve already visited two heritage cities in Malaysia — Penang and Malacca (Melaka).

Cheers lah 🙂

 

Pho 88 Vietnamese Restaurant

DID YOU KNOW that in Vietnam, you can’t eat your food and then leave your chopsticks lying vertically over your bowl (or plate) of rice or noodles when you’re done?

Did you know, too, that doing the same in China would contract-in-displeasure the eyebrows of the residents as it is how they position their incense sticks whenever present in ceremonies honoring the dead, or burying them?

Or something like that. I’m not too sure.

IMG_7222

A small bowl of PHO BO at Pho 88. It’s a Vietnamese rice noodle soup with fragrant herb leaves served separately with calamansi, and beef meat. 

Did you know further that if you don’t want to get in trouble with any of your Vietnamese friends (perhaps I should try one day just to make sure), then you must call to mind not to tap your chopsticks on your bowl for it will bring misfortune, and it means you’re convoking the dead?

IMG_7212

I HAVE TO GET ME ONE OF THESE. Tuong Ot Sriracha, or rooster sauce in Vietnam, actually originated from Thailand.  It’s made of “chili, sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar,potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and xanthan gum.

It is really our own eating beliefs and traditions that matter. But of course, it wouldn’t hurt to observe and do as they do, right? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Vietnam, do as the Vietnamese people do.

The reason I had to remember what I learned about the eating culture of the people of Vietnam was because I was with some friends in this new restaurant called Pho 88 along J. Rizal Avenue the other day.

Sometimes I have that habit of tapping my chopsticks lightly on the bowl when I’m talking about something passionately. But not always.

IMG_7217

Ha Chi Lhan, the pretty owner of Pho 88. The place does not seek attention where it is located so, one has to be really on the alert.

Pho 88 is Pho 88, according to owner Ha Chi Lhan, because 1988 was the year she started to work in a bank in the coastal city of Nha Trang in Khánh Hòa, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam.

It was her Filipino husband, who brought her to open Pho 88 after residing for a while in Silang, Cavite. The husband was not there to meet with us, but whoever he is, it’s good decision to bring Ha Chi Lhan to move to this city.

Another restaurant that serves real Vietnamese food is good news to me although in Puerto Princesa, there are about two I really love to visit once in a while. One is located in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, the other is in Barangay San Jose — quite far from where I live.

I wanted to order Pho Ga (Chicken Noodle Soup) since its photo on the resto’s simple menu looked steamy and pretty with the chicken meat all lined up on one side, herbs on top of them, and a slice of chili.

But it wasn’t available; the kitchen staff apparently forgot to buy chicken from the market that day.

I don’t know. Tsk!

An old Vietnamese friend, who came to Palawan a few years ago as one of the boat people, told me that you can gauge the goodness of a Pho by the intensity of the flavor that’s rustled up in the stock while maintaining its clarity.

I wanted to prove. Unfortunately…

IMG_7241

This popular Vietnamese dish is not heavy in the belly so, go for it when you’re in Puerto Princesa.

Every time I go to a new Vietnamese place, I like comparing how each cook their Pho. This is the reason why I wanted the Pho Ga. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the Bun Thit Nuong cold noodles upon learning from Ha Chi Lhan that the noodles they used were imported.

Except for the meat and some spices that can easily be bought from the public market, all their ingredients are imported from Vietnam.

The food junkie in me couldn’t help but also order Banh Mi Thit Heo, bread with pork and veggies inside. Bahn Mi is all kinds of bread to the Vietnamese; bahn is bread and mi is wheat. Popular to them is the baguette or French bread.

So, if you’re in an authentic Vietnamese dining place, and you ask to be given Bahn Mi, and the food attendant asks you next what kind you would like to have, then you’ll know they can give it to you with different fillings. Pulled pork, fried or grilled chicken, barbecued pork, beef, and yes, even crazy tuna spread.

IMG_7242

VIETNAMESE ICE COFFEE: On Pho 88’s menu, they come in two blends — Cafe Sua and Cafe Sai Gon.

After our good and light meal, we couldn’t leave as there were still good stories to tell and laugh about. So, one of us decided to try Pho 88’s two ice coffee blends — Cafe Sua that uses the traditional French coffee drip, and Cafe Sai Gon.

Both blends use coarsely ground dark roast coffee, and they’re so good!

So, what sets apart Vietnamese cuisine from the rest of the others in Asia? For me, I think its really the amalgamation of spices, colors, love and passion of cooking, fresh ingredients, and the minimal employment of oil.

Isn’t it that Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest in the planet?

We went to Pho 88 at past 12 noon, and left around 3 p.m. because Wednesday is WOW date for all of us. WOW meaning Women of Wednesday.

I’m going back there for my Sriracha sauce.

Pho 88 is okay with reservation. Call them at 09271521706 and 09279378729.

 

L Element Asian Fusion Cuisine

Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.- B. Frankel

THERE’S A NEW dining place in Puerto Princesa that serves authentic Asian fusion cuisines, and it’s called L Element Bar & Seafood Restaurant owned by Manila businessman  Laurence Lau.

Laurence is a Filipino entrepreneur, whose mother is Malaysian. He was born in the Philippines, but grew up in Hong Kong. Yes, three countries that love to cook, and are food capitals in the world’s largest and most populous continent.

So, why not a restaurant that serves traditional dishes from these three countries, and maybe more like Vietnam and Taiwan.

IMG_7162

SEAFOOD TOFU SOUP

In this city, and I could probably say anywhere else in Palawan, there is simply nowhere to go when it comes to your favorite bona fide Asian fares. Most times, your Chinese stir-fried noodles is frustrating for the reason that the restaurant where you had it couldn’t cook it the way you wanted it cooked.

At L Element, you have to try the Taiwanese Beef Noodle with Barbecue Sauce because it is simply the best. The noodles are not mushy and oily, and the chef was generous enough not to scrimp on the beef meat as one of the main ingredients.

IMG_7176

BEEF IN BLACK PEPPER SAUCE

Another dish I enjoyed so much at L Element in the three times I had been there so far, is the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce. Three times there, three times ordered the same dish because the meat was tender, and the bite of the black pepper sauce on your palate is really habit-forming.

It’s beyond explanation why I love it.

IMG_7172

VIETNAMESE FRIED SPRING ROLL

Another best-loved Asian cuisine there is from Vietnam, the Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls that is pleasingly crispy outside and firm on the inside. One of the restaurants in Puerto Princesa that serves this really good is located in Sta. Lourdes.

So, it’s nice that when you don’t have a lot of time to travel far, there’s a place nearby that offers it on its menu.

IMG_7178

CRISPY & JUICE FRIED CHICKEN

The photos of the food I posted here are those I have already tried at L Element. If you get the chance to see its menu, you’ll find that there are more to choose from. I, myself, have to try the recipe the chef has for crabs as I am also very fond of crustaceans.

Next time!

However, the Beef in Black Pepper Sauce… I wouldn’t be raving about it if it’s not a dish that more than satisfied me.

If you’re planning to visit Puerto Princesa soon, and you’re looking for a place with Asian fusion cuisines that are flavorful and easy on the pocket, then don’t miss L Element Bar & Seafood Restaurant.