Regional Super Pancit Specials Trip with Pancitlove

Article by PancitLove
Photos by GoManila
Videos by ManilaEatUp

Though pancit is as Filipino as Boracay, John Lloyd Cruz and EDSA traffic, it wasn’t born in the Philippines. The greatest gift of the Chinese to mankind arrived on Philippine shores as early as the 12th century via lunchboxes of Chinese merchants who used to trade with Tondo, Manila residents. It became popular among locals because it was easy to cook, versatile, and paired well with other local dishes. Pancit can be the main meal, a side dish, the viand itself, or a carbs-on-carbs party between bread (genius!) as merienda. It can be eaten at any time of the day. It can be eaten as simply as seasoned noodles on a plate or as a fancy, complex dish with scores of ingredients.

From its foreign origins, pancit has become truly Filipino as we’ve incorporated our many regional flairs and variation. Now, almost every community in the country has a trademark pancit. They feature local ingredients, tastes, and techniques in cooking. They translate their own story and experiences into the simple noodle dish. Our extremely diverse culture made pancit a true Filipino dish and an integral foundation of our cuisine. @PancitLove is my humble attempt to capture all of those. A diary of my love for pancit and hopefully through this platform I can share more about pancit, the panciteria, and the stories behind them.   

The influx of workers from the provinces, the growing palate of the burgeoning middle class, and the ease of access to information and transportation are fueling a growing demand for regional food here in Metro Manila, and pancit is at the forefront. Now, people don’t have to go to their provinces just to have a taste of home. Here are some of the best regional pancit dishes that you can have here in Metro Manila you just have to endure the metro’s hellacious traffic.

PANCIT BATIL PATUNG

To say that Tuguegaraoeños are obsessed with Batil Patung is a gross understatement. There is a panciteria at practically every street corner of the city. Eating batil patung is like taking a shower to them, they have it at least thrice a week during rainy days and as much as they want in a day during summer. It is comfort food at its finest.

Batil Patung is a miki, or fresh egg noodle, dish that gets its name from the manner eggs are incorporated into the noodles. The word batil came from the Spanish word batir (to beat), for the beaten egg in the ‘sauce’ that is served together with the dish, while patong, or patung in Ibanag, is to put on top of, for the poached egg that is placed on top of the pancit. The springy miki cooked in carabao bone broth is then topped with sautéed ground carabao meat, pork liver, crunchy mixed vegetables, and the occasional chorizo and carajay, a type of super crispy pork belly.  Tuguegaraoans have always been in love with pancit specifically miki guisado, but in the 70’s, Teyo’s Panciteria invented the pancit batil patung that we know today.   

CAGAYAN’S BEST Batil Patung capitalized on the hunger pangs of Tuguegaraoans in the metro in 2011, and while few can claim that they are the best, this small panciteria in Sampaloc, can stake that claim with a straight face.

Here’s a short video of our visit to CAGAYAN’S BEST:

CAGAYAN’S BEST
SDRC Building, 1318 Gerardo Tuazon St, Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines

PANCIT CABAGAN

In the late 1880’s, a Chinese merchant named Sia Liang or “Dianga” fell in love with a Filipina and decided that he had found a home in Cabagan, Isabela. Together with his wife, they started a small noodle factory that made his miki recipe along with a panciteria that served his miki guisado. Little did he know that he had started what would become a rich pancit culture in northeast Luzon. Dianga’s original pancit Cabagan is made only from fresh miki sa lihiya (lye water), dried shrimp, bagoong alamang, soy sauce, and pork broth. It is served with sauce made from the broth the noodles were cooked in. Later versions of the dish added vegetables, igado (an Ilocano pork liver stew), carajay and hard-boiled quail eggs, resulting in today’s signature, extravagant presentation of the dish- a great symphony of flavors and textures bathed in a rich sauce.

The best pancit Cabagan in the metro is found in an 18-year-old panciteria in Blumentritt, Manila. You won’t miss it as they have this huge red sign that just says the dish, a feat of hubris worthy of their product. PANCIT CABANGAN SA BLUMENTRITT gets their noodles from Cabagan, Isabela fresh and cooks around 30 kilos of it every single day. The place is packed from lunch until dinner, I advise people to go there before or after those times, but if you are a veteran at lining up for milk tea and ramen places, you’ll be fine.

Here’s a short video of our visit to PANCIT CABAGAN SA BLUMENTRITT:

PANCIT CABAGAN SA BLUMENTRITT
875 Blumentritt Road, Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines

PANCIT LUCBAN

My only real connection to Lucban, Quezon is its simple, handy but very delicious pancit habhab. Pancit habhab is made from miki which also goes by the name pancit Lucban. What makes this special is that wheat noodles are smoked and dried, giving it a smoky flavor to the dish, and lends it structural integrity so it retains its springiness and chewiness even when exposed to heat for extended periods of time. Pancit habhab is sold in almost every street corner of Lucban. It is an ideal fast food cooked in pork lard, with bits of sayote and served in a piece of banana leaf. It is doused with vinegar and then vigorously slurped down, or “habhab”-ed.

BUDDY’S RESTAURANT was a Quezon food institution long before they expanded operations to the metro and with their foray to the capital, they took pancit Lucban to a whole new level. Their version is made with miki sautéed with copious amounts of vegetables and lechon kawali. The dish is then topped with raw white onions for added crunch and flavor. It is served with vinegar like how they do it in Lucban. Sorry, no calamansi, folks. Stay classy. 

Buddy’s started as burger place in Lucban but its popularity grew when it embraced its Lucbanon and Quezonian roots and added Quezonian fare to their menu, carried by their flagship pancit.

PANCIT CHAMI

Pancit Chami is a saucy dish of stir-fried thick miki noodles, meat, and vegetables. It’s also known as miki or lomi guisado in some areas of the country.  The dish’s name was derived from Chinese words cha (chaocal) which means stir-fry and mi (miantiao) which means noodles, but in Lucena, it is called by its whole name, pancit chami tamis-anghang to highlight Lucena City’s sweet and spicy version. 

Every year, Lucena City celebrates its love of their pancit by holding a Chami festival since 2006 as an additional attraction to the Pasayahan Festival held in May. The highlight of the festival is the Chami cooking contest where panciteros from all over the city compete for bragging rights of making the best pancit chami tamis-anghang in all of Lucena and practically, the nation.

People can enjoy Lucena’s pancit chami at BUDDY’S RESTAURANT branches around Metro Manila. Buddy’s significantly toned down the heat of their chami so both adult and kids can enjoy its savory sweet goodness. You could just ask the wait staff for a bowl of labuyo. 

PANCIT EFUVEN

My first exposure to Ilonggo cuisine was when my dad decided to bring the family to CHICKEN BACOLOD in Katipunan for Sunday lunch. Inasal hadn’t blown up yet then so the cuisine was novel to me. There were two items that stood out, pancit batchoy and pancit efuven guisado. Efuven is a staple in Ilonggo cuisine. It is thin, flat noodles made from high grade wheat flour. It looks like a linguine, has the texture of ramen noodles and tastes like canton. It is then cooked like chopsuey with noodles. The thick sauce with all its flavours cling to the pancit efuven like an obsessed ex-girlfriend.     

The information I got regarding the origins of pancit efuven is incomplete at best. I can only rely on the one I got from Nancy Lumen’s article Pancit Republic published on the Phlippine Center for Investigative Journalism journal. Lumen notes that efuven is derived from the name of the pancit maker. Efuven is weird name right? Maybe it’s a portmanteau of the kind of noodles and the name of the maker, e-fu is a kind of noodles, right? Maybe the name of the maker has a ‘ven’ in it, like Ven Diesel. Sounds about right.

PANCIT PUSIT

Pancit pusit was originally pancit choca ensu tinta, Chavacano  for pancit in squid and ink, and is one of the most unique pancit dishes. The love-child of Caviteno, Basque-Mexican, and Chinese influences, made possible by the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, it was developed in Cavite during the Spanish occupation. It is a pancit guisado dish made with sotanghon and squid or cuttlefish ink adobo. It is garnished with kinchay, green onions, toasted garlic, and labuyo.

It is ironic that traditional Caviteno cuisine, and Tagalog cuisine in general, is hard to find in Manila considering its proximity. Fortunately, restaurants like CASA DAZA in UP Town Center ensure Tagalog cuisine is represented in Metro Manila’s burgeoning food scene. The restaurant serves an excellent version of pancit pusit that they call Pancit Midnight. The blackness of the sotanghon is the midnight sky and the pusit and other toppings are the stars and constellation. Can you imagine it already?

PANCIT LANG-LANG

If you are an unbelievably bright student of Philippine History, like me, ehem! you would know that Pancit Lang-lang is indelibly written in history through the food symbolism-filled chapter 25 of El Filibusterismo. The ingredients and presentation of the dish is thoroughly described that you can probably cook it based from the novel. It is not surprising because pancit lang-lang of Imus, Cavite, happens to be the favorite pancit of Gat Jose Rizal. In fact, he makes a detour to Imus when on a trip to and from Manila just to have a bowl of his favorite pancit. Pancit lang-lang is traditionally made with sotanghon, shrimp, chicken, mushrooms, and assorted vegetables. It is served like a soup and topped with thinly sliced omelette, and toasted garlic and onions.

CASA DAZA’s version of pancit lang-lang is not like that. Theirs is a combination of sotanghon, fresh miki and bihon as if flaunting their noodle expertise.  The noodles are cooked with chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, assorted vegetables and served guisado style. The aroma of the dish slaps you in the face with joy and happiness that even though Jose Rizal became the greatest of the Malay race at age 35 and here you are, older than him, and just doing pancit reviews, you can proudly say that Rizal never tasted this kind of pancit lang-lang, ever. 

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People Are Crazy For Gram Cafe’s Pancakes — We Are Too

Article by Pepe Samson
Photos by Manila Eat Up

We are obsessed with anything from Japan.

And why wouldn’t we be—the Japanese simply do everything with reverence and determination. Wherever you look, it’s evident how they pour their heart and soul into something and devote most of their lives perfecting, mastering it. Technology, food, crafts—there’s nothing they do half-heartedly, but of course, as big foodies, we are most interested with food.

Take the souffle pancake, for instance. Yes, it’s all over Instagram. Yes, people are lining up for it. But this is one hype we completely understand and embrace. Those jiggly, fluffy things look gorgeous—whether plain or with all the trimmings—but for us, the fact that these are Japanese-made make them even more attractive.

The pancake is a typical snack all over Japan—and not just for breakfast either. Dorayaki is so popular in the streets of the Kansai region that it even made it to TV, in Doraemon. There’s also the savory okonomiyaki, of course, and the sweet Japanese crepes. But the souffle pancake probably trumps them all.

In Osaka, Gram Café has been attracting hordes of pancake lovers since 2014. Its chief decoy? Their premium soufflé pancakes. Thick, fluffy pancakes that wobble like silken tofu. Or gelatin. Or Ivana Alawi’s boobs. Airy, cloud-like, delicate. It’s a creation that astounds not just with its aesthetics but also its texture and taste. They are so difficult to make that Gram Café only offers 60 pieces of it in a day in three time slots, and if you want to taste one, you really need to fall in line.

It’s truly a marvelous creation—how it feels hollow and airy inside but still so moist and soft. Slicing into it with a fork is like slicing into clouds. And the pancake itself is delicious and flavorful. The side trimmings—honey, whipped cream, butter—are just accompaniments to enhance each bite, but you probably won’t need them even.

The good news is that you don’t have to fly to Japan to get a taste of Gram’s delicious soufflé pancakes. Its first branch has finally opened in the Philippines—at the 3rd level of SM Mega Fashion Hall—last February 9! And what’s even better, they are offering 90 pieces of these yummy, fluffy things every day!

We are happy to report that the pancakes are just as good as they taste in Japan. One bite of the premium pancakes at Gram Café Philippines brought us back to the first time we tried this wonderful invention!

Aside from the soufflé pancakes, Gram Café also has a variety of other pancake options in its menu. Regular hotcakes—what you would probably refer to as “hotcakes”—are combined with sweet and savory components, and are sure to delight diners with different preferences. Take for instance the Chili Beans and Sausage Platter, which is one of our favorites from the menu. The chili provides a Mexican/Southern twist to this plate, while the sausage gives added bite and texture to the pancakes. The savory components contrast perfectly to sweetish, buttery pancakes!

Another savory interpretation is the Bacon and Scrambled Eggs Pancake set, featuring lovely thick-cut bacon, creamy scrambled eggs, and a refreshing side salad. It is the ultimate breakfast pancake, one you would definitely crave for especially if you’re a bacon lover.

Got sweet tooth? The Mixed Berries French Toast is for you—and well, for us! The toast slices? Perfect. It has that sweetness level you crave for, one that makes you want to take one more bite. And then one more. Topped with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, honey, and powdered sugar, it’s a fusion of irresistible tartness and sweetness.

We couldn’t get enough of the Apple & Tea Cream which has sweet, poached apples on top of fluffy pancakes, as well as a side of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and earl grey cream. The tea cream is mind-blowing and provides an interesting dimension to a dish that is otherwise just sweet. We would definitely go back for this.

Are you a fan of coffee? Try the Tiramisu which has layers of pancakes, mascarpone cream cheese, coffee, and dark cocoa. We love this interpretation of the classic Italian dessert. If you love dark chocolate or coffee flavor profiles, you need to get this dish! And hello—who can say no to cream cheese?

The next time you find yourself craving for pancakes, round up the gang and hop over to SM Mega Fashion Hall and try the newly-opened Gram Café. If you want to catch the premium pancakes, make sure you get there before 11AM, 3PM, and 6PM. If there’s a line—fall in line, it’s worth it.

And since we are huge fans of Japan so much, we hope to be masters of eating pancakes too.

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What You Need To Know About Chowking’s Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken

We have to admit. We’re not fans of sweet and sour. Sure, we’ll eat it but it’s not something we will crave. Maybe it’s because we haven’t found a dish that has the right balance of the sweet and sour flavors. Usually, the dishes — be it pork or fish, have more sourness than sweetness making the eating experience not too enjoyable.

That’s why when we learned that Chowking came out with their version of sweet and sour but this time with a playful twist of using fried chicken as the protein, we knew we had to try it.

Because we wanted to get the full Chowking Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken experience, we ordered them as meals with plain steamed white rice, with egg fried rice, and in lauriat style.

The minute our orders arrived, we couldn’t wait to dig in. Allow us to break down our Chowking Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken sensory experience:

SIGHT. The chicken chunks were just the right size and the portions were just the right amount. The Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken was covered with a red orange sauce that gave the chicken that sheen which made us salivate. The egg fried rice and even our favorite Chicharap added that extra factor in making the dish appetizing.

SMELL. There is nothing like the smell of freshly cooked food. Even with a blindfold, we’re pretty sure that we’ll be able to tell that it was a sweet and sour dish. We noticed that the Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken smelled so good that we already have an idea of how balanced the flavors are. There wasn’t a moment when any of the sweetness or the sourness became overpowering that it offended our noses. The aroma was enough to excite us to taste the dish.

HEARING. The moment our forks sunk into the chicken. There was that undeniable crunch that was music to our ears.

TOUCH. Yes, we did pick a few chicken chunks with our fingers. It was almost as if we’re eating the Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken bar chow style. Even though the meat was dredged and fried, we knew just by the touch that the batter was thin enough to let us get the real taste of the chicken.

And finally,

TASTE. As soon as we took a bite of the Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken, we instantly smiled. Just from the smell, we already knew that the sauce will be well-balanced and we were so glad we’re right. Even though the chicken was coated with the sauce, it was still crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside once we sunk our teeth into the meat. Eating them with the rice made the overall taste more enjoyable. We really liked it with the egg fried rice because it added that savory layer of flavor from the egg as well as other ingredients put into the rice. Before we knew it, we’re about 2 bites away from cleaning our plates.

We couldn’t believe we’re saying this — Chowking Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken completely changed our minds about sweet and sour. It’s definitely a flavor that is worth something to explore more about. As of this writing, we have already been to Chowking three times to get their Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken (and Chicharap).

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YES, Tokyo Tokyo’s Cheesy Beef Ramen is One Perfect Combination

Classic dishes with classic flavors are there for a reason. They exist to remind us of people’s culinary ingenuity in bringing ingredients together using certain cooking styles as well as showcase the rich culture of a specific place. However, breathing new life into classic dishes by injecting innovation is a sign of people’s continuous strive for creativity and the intention to ignite consumers’ interest in food. Classic or otherwise, one thing’s for sure — we always welcome good food.

On the subject of something new, Tokyo Tokyo just came out with their Cheesy Beef Ramen. One would think beef and cheese in a ramen is an unusual pair. Allow us to tell you 3 reasons why it’s one perfect combination.

1. Cheese makes everything tastier, lovelier, and creamier

There are 2 types of cheese in every Cheesy Beef Ramen bowl. There’s the spicy cheese sauce mixed with the tonkotsu broth and the cheese slice on top of the noodles. The sharp flavor of the cheese slice and the heat brought by the spicy cheese sauce are enough to make a cheese lover smile and nod in satisfaction.

2. Simple and straightforward ingredients with flavors in perfect harmony

You’d often read and hear the quote “less is more”. It’s quite true with Tokyo Tokyo’s Cheesy Beef Ramen. Those firm noodles swimming comfortably in hot tonkotsu broth mixed with spicy cheese sauce topped with beef misono, cheese slice, nitamago, shredded cabbage, scallions, and nori all go together flavorwise as if they have always been that way.

3. Perfect to eat with your perfect person

Because good food is always best to experience with your favorite people.

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9 Dishes From Thai BBQ That Made Us Experience Authentic Thai Cuisine

Living in the Philippines means that we’re near other Southeast Asian countries which include Thailand among others. With Thailand being close by, we share the same topography that can translate to growing crops and produce that may be similar or within the family. That’s why when you explore Thai cuisine, you will discover that there are dishes that almost resemble some well-known Filipino fares.

Speaking of Thailand, we’re slated to go to Bangkok a few months from now and planning our itinerary had us craving for authentic Thai food. There are quite a number of good restaurants in the Philippines serving Thai food but if you’re after the genuine Thai cuisine experience, just look for Thai SELECT.

Thai SELECT is a seal of approval granted to Thai restaurants as well as Thai food products around the world that meet very strict standards and criteria of quality and authenticity. Launched by the Royal Thai Government and implemented by the Department of International Trade Promotion Ministry of Commerce, Thai SELECT’s aim is to encourage Thai restaurateurs and food producers to raise their value of excellence while maintaining the authenticity of the Thai food they offer. A special Thai SELECT logo is issued to restaurants that got the quality check mark ensuring diners the experience of authentic Thai flavors, atmosphere, and hospitality.

Since we’re made aware of Thai SELECT, we’re all smiles when we learned that Thai BBQ Original Restaurant in Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong City has been awarded a seal of approval! Soon enough, we found ourselves sitting comfortably in their dining area, excitedly going through their menu.

While we were busy checking out the list of delicious items they offer, we asked their restaurant manager for recommendations. We were surprised that even their head chef suggested dishes that we should try. Here are the 9 dishes that made our authentic Thai lunch enjoyable—

1. Crispy Oyster Cake

This is our favorite from the spread! We never expected a simple crunchy, breaded oyster on a sizzling plate to be so delicious. The minute we tasted it, we couldn’t stop eating it. We had to remind ourselves that we ordered other food and that we had to try them too.

2. Yum Pla Dook Foo

It’s crispy catfish with green mango salad. We like the fact that the catfish, although fried, wasn’t greasy at all. The taste was clean yet flavorful. It complemented with the green salad too which was quite pleasant.

3. Basil Chicken

Having visited Thailand a few years back, this dish was the very first we’ve tasted as soon as we landed. The basil made the dish tastier and instantly reminded us of our first lunch in Phuket.

4. Sate Combination

It won’t be an authentic and delicious Thai lunch if there won’t be any sate in our spread. Both chicken and beef were marinated in Thai BBQ classic spices, put onto skewers, grilled, and served with peanut sauce. You can’t go wrong with Thai BBQ Original Restaurant’s sate.

5. Masaman Beef Curry

This thick and stew-like curry has mild heat and slight sweetness that is friendlier than the other Thai curries around.

6. Bagoong Fried Rice

The few times we eat bagoong rice is when we go to Thai restaurants. There’s something wonderful and aromatic in an umami way about rice fried in Thai shrimp paste.

7. Pad Thai

Another mainstay. The first time we tried Pad Thai in Phuket, Thailand, we knew that it’s that one dish that we can eat several times a week. The way the Thai rice noodles flirt with that slightly sweet-spicy sauce along with the shrimps, bean sprouts, eggs, and crushed peanuts, drizzled with fresh lime, create that very exciting flavor combinations.

8. Pla Jien

Our second favorite after the Crispy Oyster Cake. It’s deep-fried grouper topped with spicy oyster mushroom sauce with chillies, ginger, and green onion. The fish meat was silky and firm which was a delight to eat.

9. Tom Yum Goong

Saving the best for last. People often compare this to the famous Filipino dish called Sinigang. We’re pretty sure the reason for the comparison is because both dishes have sour components in their broths. However, we prefer to see it as a counterpart rather than a direct comparison. Both dishes use different ingredients and prepared differently too. The incorporation of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and chillies made the Tom Yum Goong more aromatic and more flavorful.

After our sumptuous meal, we definitely agree that the Thai dishes we had were spot on in terms of the preparation, presentation, and most of all flavor. Our afternoon trip to Thailand via our taste buds was made more authentic when we met their Thai Head Chef, Thanasan Phuwiang. Aside from producing excellent food, having a chef who’s a Thai national is one of Thai SELECT’s criteria to achieve authenticity and maintain quality.

While we’re waiting for our Bangkok trip to happen in a few months, we have Thai BBQ Original Restaurant to go to when that Thai food craving hits.

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Time To Get Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s 2019 The Giving Journal

Holiday Season in the Philippines starts the minute the 1st “BER” month kicks in. That means, people should be expecting to hear Christmas songs being publicly played almost anywhere— the malls, the restaurants, the convenience stores, inside public transports, and over the radio to name a few. There is no contesting the fact that Filipinos love Christmas because it’s the time when families get together, when friends spend time with each other, and when endless gift-giving in festivities happen.

Speaking of gift-giving, one of the things we look forward to during the Holiday Season is The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s The Giving Journal. CBTL gives coffee and tea lovers the opportunity to join their own tradition of giving through their annual Giving Journals. All you need to do is purchase drinks from any CBTL stores to complete the stamp card. A completed stamp card will get you The Giving Journal while the proceeds from the journals will provide educational assistance, character development, and community service to those in need through the company’s Real LIFE Foundation.

Every year, the journal designs get more and more creative. For 2019, The Giving Journals come in 4 designs with a touch of simplicity and elegance.

1) Cork cover with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s bean and leaf icons

2) Hardbound teal with matte finish and foil stamp

3) Cork cover with Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s logo

4) Hardbound black with matte finish and gold foil stamp

The inside pages of The Giving Journals are also filled with gorgeous photos and colorful artworks.

Now that you’ve seen the journal designs, we’re sure you’re excited to rake in the stamps to get them. Filling the card with stamps is easy— 1 drink = 1 stamp. Every year, CBTL comes out with a few Holiday drinks to make the stamp-collecting more delicious. This Holiday 2018, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf introduced 2 new flavors and we totally love them!

CBTL embraced our love for this Filipino dessert treat with their Ube Ice Blended. It’s like drinking a creamy ube jam that has that nuttiness from the purple yam and vanilla-like sweetness. One sip and you know you’re home.

CBTL‘s Chocolate Nut Holiday Drinks were created to make all dark chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel lovers very happy. The play of slight bitterness, nuttiness, and smoky sweetness in your palate was just wonderful. We love that the drinks come in hot, iced, and ice blended varieties.

Giving has never been this delicious. Thank you, CBTL!

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3 Reasons Why You Should Try Tokyo Tokyo’s Unagi-Style Bangus

by Ian Tapang

Tokyo Tokyo is, without a doubt, one of the most well known Japanese food chains in the Philippines. They consistently serve us quality and popular Japanese dishes such as the Prawn Tempura, Beef Misono, and Pork Tonkatsu among others, and at the same time, they introduce new and innovative dishes that bring Japan closer to us. With Tokyo Tokyo’s existence for more than 3 decades in the country, it has never failed to satisfy our appetite for Japanese cuisine.

Speaking of new dishes, Tokyo Tokyo’s newest offering will sure delight your palate. Just being back from Japan, it was like taking a trip down memory lane as I can’t help but reminisce my gastronomic experience and tasteful adventure in Tokyo. That’s why I’m sharing the 3 reasons why you should try Tokyo Tokyo’s newest item!

1. Delicious Innovation.

Japan is taking the world by storm with its remarkable innovations and we are happy to say that Tokyo Tokyo is doing the same. With its brand new creation, the Unagi-Style Bangus, it is proving to be another one of Tokyo Tokyo’s delicious innovation. Instead of using unagi or freshwater eel, the well-loved bangus or milkfish took its place. To bring the unagi flavor to the dish, they created the smoky and sweetened unagi sauce which they used to baste the fish with. To complete the ensemble, crunchy garlic bits and onion leeks were added on top of the perfectly grilled milkfish. An order of the Unagi-Style Bangus Bento comes with vegetable misono and unlimited rice and goes well with Tokyo Tokyo’s Red Iced Tea.

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2. That Filipino Touch.

To personalize the taste to the Filipino palate, Tokyo Tokyo merged both Filipino and Japanese flavors; marrying the familiar with the foreign. With its Unagi-Style Bangus, Filipinos will surely love the savory taste of grilled milkfish paired with the smoky sweetness of the unagi sauce. At first glance, it may seem an unlikely combination but once you’ve tasted them together, the whole thing makes sense.

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3. Healthy Alternative.

Be it a lifestyle change or the practice of abstinence in time for lent, people are looking for lighter yet delicious options from the usual chicken, pork, and beef selections. Tokyo Tokyo’s Unagi-Style Bangus is a tasty choice should diners want to go the healthier route.

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Now that I’ve given you the reasons, I think now is the perfect time to visit Tokyo Tokyo to try their Unagi-Style Bangus for yourself.

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8 Delicious Reasons To Go Back To Salta!

When we heard that Chef Gem Tee opened an Italian restaurant in UP Village, Quezon City, we immediately trooped to Mayaman Street to visit Salta! Italian Rotisserie Chicken Bar. Even though we didn’t have any idea about the food line-up because we haven’t even gotten a peek of their menu, it didn’t really matter. We wanted Salta! to surprise us.

The minute we got to Salta!, we immediately liked the simple exterior and the quaint interior. The black and white mural gave that playful vibe and the unfinished brick wall on the opposite side gave that hipster vibe. The place is well-lit and the big glass window helped in letting the light flow freely within the space.

After looking at the menu, we already know the dishes we’d like to try and the second we got our table, guess the first thing we got our hands on while waiting for the rest of our orders? YES. Their Red and White Sangria!

1. Sangria

We believe that every hour is a happy hour. That’s why we started to happily sip our sangria at 11 in the morning. Of course we got both because we are fair like that. Their Red Sangria is mixed with Limoncello liqueur, orange juice, and fruits while their White Sangria is mixed with the same Limoncello liqueur, calamansi juice, and fruits. For the more thirsty ones, Salta! offers a single order of one liter of Sangria. Since we love anything citrus, most especially lemons and limes, we naturally gravitated towards their White Sangria.

2. Italian Rotisserie Chicken

The first dish that arrived was the whole Italian Rotisserie Chicken. We decided to get 5 of their side dishes— Pesto Rice, Tuscan Slaw, Rotisserie Cheese Potato, Sicilian Vegetables, and Garlic Parmesan Focaccia Roll.

One of the things we look for in a roast chicken is its meat’s juiciness especially in the breast part. And we’re happy to report that Salta! delivered. The chicken was flavorful, tender, and moist. You can easily cut into it. There’s also an option to get half or a quarter but we opted to get a whole chicken to share.

3. Brick Oven Pork Chop

We have to admit that we are not huge fans of pork chops but Salta! made us think twice about seriously giving pork chops another chance. Our knife glided effortlessly when we cut the meat and the perfectly-cooked Brick Over Pork Chop simply glistened. It was juicy, moist, and packed with that smoky herbed flavor. We ate it with their side of Pesto Rice and Tuscan Slaw and it was beautiful.

4. Balsamic Bbq Beef Ribs

There is so much win with this one. Sweet, salty, and smoky— our kind of beef ribs. One thing we noticed in all the meat dishes we tried in Salta! is its tenderness. The ribs were cooked well and when drizzled with their homemade pesto garlic aioli, it becomes more amazing! To make it more delightful to eat, we paired their Balsamic Bbq Beef Ribs with their side dishes of Rotisserie Cheese Potato and Sicilian Vegetables.

5. 9oz Angus Ribeye

One look at the ribeye, we already know that we’re in for a treat! Meat flavored with herbs and garlic always has a special place in our hearts (and our tummies). There isn’t a lot to say about this other that it’s a gorgeous dish. We mashed the whole roasted garlic and smothered it on our side of Garlic Parmesan Focaccia Roll. So good.

6. CRABonara™ Fries

Ah, the famous CRABonara™ from Gem Tee’s first baby, Pappare Ristorante. She came up with her own spin of the well-known Carbonara pasta dish using crab claw meat and crab fat sauce topped with 63ºC egg and bacon bits. It became so popular that she decided to use the same ingredients for Salta! but this time to put on top of hand-cut fries, poutine style. And the result— nothing short of delicious.

7. Tuscan Cheese Burger

This is not your usual cheese burger. It consists of a juicy burger patty topped with lettuce, balsamic onions, Pappare pesto, and cheese sandwiched between a homemade herbed brioche bun. The play of savory, sweet, salty, and herby makes this Tuscan Cheese Burger a must-try. We got some Sweet Potato Fries to go with it.

8. Piadina Milano

There is something simple yet satisfying about meat and vegetables wrapped in Piadina or Piada which is basically a thin Italian flatbread. Do not be fooled by its size because their Piadina Milano is totally filling! It has shredded Italian Rotisserie Chicken, prosciutto, and lettuce drizzled with pesto aioli. We paired this with their Sangria. Well, who are we kidding? We paired everything we ordered with Sangria!

By the end of what seemed like hours, we were full, satisfied, and all smiles. The trip to Salta! was definitely worth braving the notorious Metro Manila traffic for. We would’ve wanted to try more dishes but we want to save some for our next visit. And we’re sure to order our top 3 favorites again— Balsamic Bbq Beef Ribs, Crabonara Fries, and Piadina Milano.

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Check out Salta! Italian Rotisserie Chicken Bar on Instagram and on Facebook.

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The Lokal Food Park is Ready with 16 Food Stalls For You To Try

We admit, we haven’t been to any food parks. For the past months, Metro Manila suddenly exploded with food parks of all shapes and sizes along with vendors selling all sorts of deliciousness. The idea of a food park is not new— it’s basically a food court with food vendors of about 15 or more situated within the space. However, food courts usually have food vendors that are already well-known. They’re mostly established restaurants that want to reach out to a wider audience by putting stalls or kiosks, thereby making their dishes more accessible. The thing we like about food parks is that they embrace homegrown brands. With food partners being mostly small to medium enterprises, food parks give local food brands the chance to showcase their food concepts to the consumers at a reasonable cost. We’ve seen food parks that operate in open wide spaces similar to weekend markets and food parks designed in a compound with enclosures to protect diners from the changing weather. Either way, they are good venues to catch up with family and friends while food tripping at the same time.

Speaking of food tripping, we finally got to have our very first food park experience when we checked out the newest food destination in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City called The Lokal Foodpark. Just a month old since they had their grand launch, The Lokal Foodpark has about 16 homegrown food partners that offer different cuisines and different types of food— from burgers to noodles to rice meals to chicken wings to milkshakes to name a few. They’re going to open more new food concepts in the next coming months so there are still a lot to get excited about. The moment we got to the venue, we instantly felt that easygoing, friendly vibe. We like the fact that the place is not cramped and the area is spacious enough to move about. They have a few parking spaces in front and since it’s beside a gasoline station, diners can also park their vehicles there. Since we’d like to enjoy more natural light and see the street from above, we got a table on the 2nd floor. We also saw some interesting murals on the 2nd floor where people can have their artistic photos taken which can up their social media game. We were so excited for this food trip that we arrived at 3:00pm, the exact time the food park opens.

We’re thankful that the place is well-ventilated with heavy duty electric fans installed in all possible corners so we didn’t need to worry about sweating like pigs while eating. As soon as we got our table, we headed to all the stalls to check out their food. Let us show you what we feasted on:

1. Potato Giant

We started off light. We figured we’d like to get to the snacks first then move our way to the meals so we will get full slowly but surely. When we saw Potato Giant, we instantly knew we’ll start our gastronomic journey with them. We got 3 items from them— Cheesy Bacon Pot Pots, Potato Balls with Bacon and Mozzarella, and Mojo Potato in Sour Cream. Pot Pots are simply thinly-sliced potatoes fried to a crisp. We like that the batter was light and airy that it didn’t weigh down the potatoes but it kept them crispy enough even when smothered with cheese and bacon bits. The potato balls were flavorful though we would’ve wanted more mozzarella to get that creamy and slightly chewy texture. The mojo potatoes, on the other hand, were crispy and generously covered with sour cream powder. Amongst the 3 items we got, The Cheese Bacon Pot Pots is the one we will order again.

2. Shuma Gorath

Next stop was Shuma Gorath. Just by the name itself, we couldn’t help but be intrigued on what they offer. Allow us to geek out a little bit here. As far as we know, Shuma Gorath is a fictional character which first appeared in comic books published by Marvel Comics and is considered the ruler of a hundred alternate universes. Shuma Gorath has one big eye in the middle (more like Mike Wazowski of Monsters Inc.) and has about 6-8 green tentacles (the drawings vary). So when we saw that they’re selling Takoyaki, we somehow had an idea on the origin of the store’s name. Shuma Gorath looks like an octopus and Takoyaki is a Japanese street food which means octopus balls. We appreciate the fact that Shuma Gorath uses real octopus and not squid. By the way, they also offer Matcha Iced Tea Latte which we think tastes better than some of the matcha drinks we got from well-known cafes.

3. Chicken Busters

Of course we’ve got to have some chicken wings. We are a big fan of chicken wings, especially the hot spicy kind but we decided to try their bestsellers— Honey Garlic Wings and Salted Egg Wings. Since we like the sharp, strong taste of garlic combined with the deep, earthy sweetness of honey, we totally enjoyed their Honey Garlic Wings.

4. Everything But Cheese

In some cases, being too cheesy is a good thing. Most especially when one talks about the Pizza Cheeseburger where you can barely see the beef patty because it’s covered entirely in cheesiness; or about the Honey Parmesan Cheeseburger where the blend of sweet and salty comes in play; or about the Cheese Fondue where you can dip all the sausages and fries you like in a pool of melted gooey cheese on a bread bowl. We totally enjoyed their Cheese Fondue. If you want to go all out cheesy while on a date, this is the one to get. Not only does it tastes good, it’s also a good conversation starter.

5. Pizzeria Manila

A food trip won’t be complete without pizza and we’re glad that The Lokal Foodpark has Pizzeria Manila. They have more than 10 different pizza varieties but one thing caught our eye when we were looking at the menu— Seafood Pizza. It’s not often that we see squid and mussels as pizza toppings so naturally, we got curious. Our curiosity paid off because their Seafood Pizza is very good. The breaded squid were tender, the mussels were buttery, and the nori strips tied everything together with its mild sweet-salty flavor. We also like that even though the crust was thin, it held all the ingredients well without being soggy.

6. El Bigotilyo

True story: We love Mexican food. We love it so much that there was a time when we’d make it a point to eat in different Mexican food joints being run by Mexicans at least thrice a week the last time we travelled in the US. Not to mention the frequent lunches and dinners we enjoyed that our Mexican neighbors hosted. That’s why we got excited when we saw El Bigotilyo’s Mojado. Their massive wet burrito is deep-fried chimichanga-style smothered with salsa roja and salsa verde, topped with torched mozzarella and cheddar cheese. One bite of their wet burrito made us dance in our seats. The flavors just exploded in our mouths. We can appropriately say that El Bigotilyo‘s Mojado was bomb. No wonder it’s their signature dish. Had we not ordered food from other stalls, we’d easily wipe the plate clean!

7. Bucketlist

When we saw the word kebab, we knew we’ve got to try Bucketlist. We wanted to order more dishes from them but since we still had a lot more food vendors to go to, we got ourselves their Chicken Kebab Rice. The chicken was tender and has that distinct Persian flavor that we’re looking for. The sides of onions, cucumber, and tomatoes gave the dish more vibrance. The sauces were garlicky, spicy, and has a hint of sweetness. As for us, we’ll request them to put the sauces on the side the next time we go back so we’ll be able to play around with the flavors.

8. Chuckatoo’s Steak Shack

On to the meaty part of our gastronomic journey. We know that if we won’t try Chuckatoo’s Steak Shack, it’s going to be a huge misteak! A family-owned business, their main objective is to provide the best steak experience to the food-loving public at an affordable price. We got 2 items from them—Signature Steak which is beef tenderloin cooked with their secret spices and Porterhouse Steak which comes with their homemade special gravy. The steaks were cooked and seasoned well which are big pluses in our food books.

9. iSeafood

We’ve always been on a seafood diet. Whenever we seafood, we eat them. So obviously, we consumed iSeafood‘s Garlic Buttered Shrimp the minute we saw it. Amongst the food we love, shrimp is one of them. We love it so much that whenever we get the chance to go to the fresh seafood market, we’d buy them in kilos, cook them in different styles incorporating different flavors, and eat them with our bare hands. The thing we like about iSeafood‘s dish is that the shrimps were plump and meaty which made eating it enjoyable. We would’ve wanted to get their paella, sea and chips, and few other dishes but we still have more stalls to try so we’ll have them next time.

10. Mang-Si-Peng

With all the K-drama and the K-pop coming out, it’s no wonder Filipinos are more curious now about what the Koreans eat. Korean cuisine has been in the Philippine food scene for a long time but it was only a few years back when the consumers started to pay attention to Korean food. One of the things we tried in The Lokal Foodpark‘s Mang-Si-Peng was their Korean Ramen. IT.WAS.THE.BOMB. Not only were the pork, vegetables, kimchi, egg, and noodles flavorful, the broth was something else. It was light, well-balanced, comforting, and most of all HOT. Hot in terms of temperature and hot in terms of heat level. We immediately felt as if we were punched on the face by just having one long sip of the hot broth. It was everything we wished a Korean ramen would be.

11. Pok & Wok

When you see Chinese food being prepared by Chinese folks, you know you’re in for a delicious surprise. And that’s exactly what we got from Pok and Wok. We ordered 3 items— Honey Fire Chicken, Asado Back Ribs, and Vegetarian Fried Rice. Everything was delicious. The chicken was tender with well-balanced flavors of sweet and salty and the heat is just enough to keep you salivating for more. The ribs were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of smoky and earthy. The fried rice can already be a meal in itself. Amongst the 3 items we tasted, the Honey Fire Chicken wins.

12. Wattabox

It basically means “what’s inside the box”. They offer Filipino bar chows and food that you can often pair with beer (which can be almost everything for us Filipinos). We got their all-time favorite Chicken Ala Savory which boasts of flavors close to, if not similar, to the well-loved chicken restaurant Classic Savory. We can say that if you’re far from Classic Savory branch or if you’re craving for a good chicken while in The Lokal Foodpark, Wattabox‘s chicken dish will satisfy that craving.

13. Maceo Maceo

This is one food item that we can’t wait to get our hands on again. This is called Arroz Con Pollo. Imagine a deconstructed version of chicken arroz caldo but still with all the bells and whistles. One would think that it’s just a simple sautéed chicken that came with fried rice, egg, and fish sauce. But as the old cliché goes “don’t judge a book by its cover”, we definitely shouldn’t pass judgement on this one yet just by the way it looks. The rice is cooked in arroz caldo broth incorporating all its flavorful goodness making the rice taste like you are seriously eating an arroz caldo. The dipping sauce is a patis-calamansi vinaigrette which has ginger and garlic bits to make the flavors bolder and sharper. There’s a rhyme, rhythm, and reason in eating this dish. Let’s start with the rhyme and rhythm— 1) break the egg on top of the rice to enjoy some egg porn; 2) mix the egg with the rice; 3) get some pieces of chicken; 4) dip the chicken in the sauce; 5) eat it followed with rice or eat it together with the rice. Very simple instructions. Now for the reason why you need to eat and try Maceo Maceo‘s Arroz Con Pollo: because it’s one of the best things we’ve tasted! Amongst all the rice dishes we ate in The Lokal Foodpark, we emptied the bowl up to the last grain of rice with this one.

14. Food Bliss

Another set of rice meals that we had was Pork Salpicao 2.0 and Hungarian Sausage from Food Bliss. Not only do we like the portion sizes, we also like their dishes. The pork salpicao was perfectly tender and beautifully marinated.  The Hungarian sausage was how we always prefer our sausages— thick and meaty. Between the two, we’d go back for the Pork Salpicao 2.0.

Just when we’re about to inhale the food, we found out that Food Bliss also serves coffee and coffee-based drinks. Since it was a particularly hot day, we decided to give their Banoffee Pie Frap a shot and we were so glad we did! The flavors were so balanced that we could taste the coffee, chocolate, and banana all in one sip. It was creamy and dreamy. Definitely a must-order.

15. Tutti Frutti

Just from the name itself you know that you’re going to have some delicious fun. As soon as we saw Tutti Frutti‘s clean white stall with pops of colors here and there, we decided to get something playful, colorful, and wonderful. We got their Nutella Milkshake with all the cute gummy bears and their S’mores Milkshakes with all the marshmallows. Both were yummy, so it’s a tie. If we were you, we’d just get both.

16. Gulp Station

When you’re thirsty, Gulp Station has your back. They sell drinks from iced teas to lemonades to juices to local beers to imported beers to cocktails. One of the things that got us saying ‘whoa’ was their Blue Lemonade that’s in a bubble gum glass container. They figured having tall glasses might not cut it for the super thirsty so they decided to go short but stout. Their regular-sized Blue Lemonade is good for 1 to 2 people. We also ordered their large Red Iced Tea that’s good for 3 to 4 people and looks like a sink!

We got to successfully try the food in all of The Lokal Foodpark‘s 16 food partners. Here’s our Top 5:

  1. El Bigotilyo
  2. Maceo Maceo
  3. Pok & Wok
  4. Food Bliss
  5. Mang-Si-Peng

We spent about 3 hours eating, drinking, and chatting. We like that the music is not too loud so we can still hear each other. The staff were very helpful and courteous. Shoutout to our favorite staff, Ryan, who was extremely attentive, friendly, and funny.

We can now say that we’re no longer food park virgins. To The Lokal Foodpark, thanks for a good first time experience!

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Check out The Lokal Foodpark on Instagram and on Facebook.

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All images appearing on this website, unless noted otherwise, are the exclusive property of Manila Eat Up. All images are copyrighted © Manila Eat Up.