Jun 13, 2005

Food Trip

Been trying out some really yummy food lately and wanted to share with you some of these great finds (Was really trying to fix my hello+picasa so you can visualize some of these discoveries, but I couldn't wait anymore!).

Eating just can't stop....

Armando's Pizza of Camalig - I have been looking for this place since way back 1998. For some strange reason, as popular as this place is supposed to be, no one I've met has ever tried it until I met this officemate-cum-fave singer of mine, Cybelle. I have Cybelle to thank for finally showing me this hole-in-the-wall delicious pizza place.

Armando's pizza has a thin crispy crust that doesn't scrimp on ingredients. The ingredients are so fresh and well-cooked that even the green pepper becomes something to crave for! This is also THE pizza for lovers of toppings till the crust end. Only P165 for a pizza good for 3-4 persons. Try the Armando's Special and the Mexican variant. Ang saraaap! Oh, while you're there, do try their baked spaghetti with corned beef (only P39, big for one and I'm talking about my appetite here!). The noodles are chewy yet al dente and is deliciously complemented by a sweet spicy sauce with very malinamnam strips of corned beef. Truly worth a trip to Angeles City, Pampanga!

Armando's Pizza can be found in Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City.

Brown Sugar Muffins - I hated muffins. I find them dry and corny. Until I found this. I just had a haircut in my favorite salon and was walking around the Old Greenbelt to kill time. While thinking of where to go, my sense of smell was heightened with the yummy fragrance of freshly baked cake. I was intrigued so I let my nose do the walking and I stumbled upon Brown Sugar Muffins. I haven't stopped going there since.

Brown Sugar Muffins look like your regular muffins, but that's where all similarity ends. Each muffin is moist and very flavorful. My ultimate favorite is their Belgian Chocolate muffin is a chocolate muffin which is lighter than but as moist as a chocolate cake, not too sweet, and is complemented by white choco chips that taste more like luscious cream than white choco (I'm not a fan of white choco.). It's the Belgian chocolate that lingers in your mouth and not the sweetness of the sugar that makes one eat one bite after the other.

Try also their other yummy variants --- carrot (My 2nd favorite! Contrary to popular belief, this does NOT taste like carrot cake!), banana almond, orange, cheese, butter (You can actually interchange the butter and the cheese. They taste almost the same.), and blueberry. Each muffin costs P40, but I suggest you go for the minis at P85 per bag (6 pcs). You get to try more variants and the smaller size doesn't make you less satisfied. Oh, by the way, this is owned by the ones who own the franchise of Auntie Anne's. This is a local creation. Isn't that cool???

Brown Sugar Muffins is found in the ground level of Greenbelt 1. Beside Delifrance.

Hatsuhana Tei - This is a MUST for authentic Japanese resto fans. Hidden, hidden, hidden from the general public, but is placed in a hotel-like ambiance is this delicious Japanese resto. My friend, Amor, introduced me to this place to convince me that this will beat my fave Japanese restos in Little Tokyo (this is the local Japanese community's version of Chinatown in Pasong Tamo, Makati.). She was right.

Longing to see more than katsudon, chicken teriyaki, tuna sashimi, california maki, and yakisoba in a Japanese restaurant's menu, I am motivated to constantly search for one that most Japanese go to. I have found it in Little Tokyo, but I have found and have been delighted with Hatsuhana Tei. They have an impressive list of original sushi and sashimis (even their spicy tuna is different from those served in more popular Japanese restos.) and have more flavorful rice dishes.

What's good about this place is that it doesn't intimidate you the way most authentic Japanese restos would. They have more pictures and English descriptions on their Japanese menu. What the menu can't tell you, the staff can. And the servings are generous. Go Japanese at Hatsuhana Tei, 2nd floor of Herald Suites (Yes, it's in a hotel, but the price range is the same as your favorite Japanese resto -P200-400- per dish.), Pasong Tamo, Makati. Almost across Makati Cinema Square.

Suzhou - During lunch break in a wine class, Chef Gene Gonzalez asked if I've tried Formosa cooking. I was intrigued at why Gene would recommend such a place as Formosa cooking has always impressed me as noodle dishes with good bite and flavor, so off we went to this small unassuming place near Cafe Ysabel. The 3 of us ordered only 3 dishes for sharing and I was afraid that these would not be enough. Gene, wearing his all-knowing look told me, "Just wait and see first." This is one guy I hold in high regard when it comes to food, so I followed his advice.

First came the Steamed Beef with special sauce. The tender beef was sliced thinly and looked like roast beef, but it was juicier and less oily than the roast beef. What made this dish stand out is its soy sauce-based sauce that had a strong garlic taste and, when mixed with the beef, brought out the delicious beef juice and would just make you want to eat, eat, and eat it with the salted fish fried rice.

Now when it comes to salted fish fried rice, North Park would always top my list. Now I don't know how to categorize Suzhou's version. It doesn't taste anything like North Park's, but it is as good. The rice is moist, but not oily; very flavorful, but doesn't overpower the viand; and can be eaten on its own. It gives one the impression that it was cooked in broth rather than fried in oil. Grabe. Ang sarap!!!!

Oh and how can I forget the Hot and Sour Soup??? Hot and Sour Soups are a dime a dozen in most Chinese restos that serve homestyle dishes (Heck, even Knorr has an instant mix for this!), so imagine my delight at tasting Suzhou's version --- It was very flavorful, but one can distinguish the flavors that were mixed in it if only we were familiar with Chinese named ingredients. The spicy taste of the soup doesn't burn the tongue. Instead, it tickles the palate and makes you look forward to having the next spoonful. The soft tofu doesn't crumble in your mouth. It melts, together with all the other ingredients they've put into the soup.

I've gone to this place over and over again, but I think these 3 dishes are the most outstanding. Try this place out and I guarantee you'll find yourself visiting it again and again. Who wouldn't? Prices are very reasonable (Most dishes are below P200 and servings can be shared by 2-3 hungry persons. Food is delicious. Ambiance is like being at home.).

Suzhou is located in A.Mabini Street, San Juan, MM.

Tsokolate Eh! - Long have I dreamt of having my own chocolate place, especially one that can stand up to all these coffee places. I'm no fan of coffee, but I just love the ambiance of these coffee shops and was hoping that someday, my favorite chocolate drink can be enjoyed in such a place (To this day, I have yet to find a coffee place that serves good hot chocolate.). I just may have found it.

While enjoying in the discovery of the newly face-lifted SM Makati, my sister, Tricia, and I just had to sit down and get some merienda to soothe our tired feet and grumbling tummies. We chanced upon this place that looked like a coffee place, but claims to serve delicious hot tsokolate eh! We just had to give it a try.

The verdict: The hot tsokolate eh was delicious! It was the kind of tsokolate eh flavor that I was looking for --- smooth and tasted just like the tableas cooked well at home. They could still improve on the consistency though. I like my tsokolate eh thick. Their consistency was similar to the hot chocolate of most fastfood joints, but had more tsokolate grains.

I liked the fact that the steaming hot tsokolate was served in local ceramic mugs that look like tree barks. The mugs heightened the pleasure of drinking this beverage that brought back happy childhood memories and just made one feel good about being Pinoy. It just wouldn't be the same if it were served in a styro cup or an ordinary ceramic or glass mug.

Check out this place and try out their native merienda as well. I only got to try the kesong puti pan de sal (Via Mare still rules!).

Tsokolate Eh! is owned by the owners of Kitaro (which was a pleasant surprise because I'm not too keen on Kitaro). It's found at the 2nd or 3rd level (I forget right now.) of SM Makati, just outside the native crafts department.