Monthly Archives

November 2008


Chef Peter Ayson and Raymund Magdaluyo’s Texas Smoke ‘Em

Texas Smoke ‘Em Menu: TSE Smoke house, Wraps, and Lucks | Small Blinds, Bonus, Drinks and Cocktails

Texas Smoke ‘Em (or TSE for short) is the newest BBQ/ Mexican Fast Food Restaurant in town by Chef Peter Ayson (of Red Crab fame) and Restaurateur Raymund Magdaluyo. I’m not really a fan of any of the restaurant chains of Red Crab, Claw Daddy, or New Orleans. We decided to give this a try because we are looking for a good barbecue and mexican place in the Metro.

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Awesome Festivals

My Votes for the Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Award

I would like to share with you my perspective on my votes for the MBKRS Awards. I based my votes on the personality of the restaurant, the overall awesome experience it provides and the positive buzz it gets from the community.

The voting period ended last November 14, and the winners will be announced on November 26 in the Enderun Colleges at the Fort. Thank you to Ines Cabarrus and Elian Habayeb for including me as one of the judges.

What is the MBKRS Awards?

  • The First Annual Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Award promise to be “the Oscars” of Manila’s restaurant industry, and there are approximately 100 judges in total deciding the MBKRS Awards, made up mostly of restaurant owners, top-chefs, educators in the hospitality industry, hotel GMs, columnists and food critics, magazine editors, and other celebrities and reputable foodies.
  • The awards are named after and inspired by the bestselling coffee-table book MANILA’S BEST KEPT RESTAURANT SECRETS, available at all major bookstores nationwide and now available internationally through
  • As a general rule, we avoid franchises and prefer family-owned restaurants, with few locations (preferably only one), not located in malls (or originating outside of shopping malls, before having moved to a mall location). All restaurants must have authentic quality food, excellent service, and a great ambiance.
  • The MBKRS Awarding Ceremony is an invite only event that will happen on November 26 at Enderun Colleges, Fort Bonifacio Campus

1. Best Italian Restaurant
I voted for Bellini’s because of the Italian personalities behind the restaurant and its warm family ambiance. a) L’Opera

b) Café Caruso
c) Bellini’s
d) Amoroma (I’ve never been to Amoroma and I will review it soon 🙂
e) L’Incontro
f) Other: C Italian Dining (The number 1 Italian Restaurant for me is C Italian Dining in Angeles, Pampanga. But ever since Chef Chris Locher is not anymore connected with C Italian Dining, I cannot vote for it anymore. I’m surprised that the MBKRS Awards did not include him in the nominated list. )

2. Best French Restaurant
Je Suis Gourmand is probably one of the few restaurants that consistently WOW its customers and I’ve never heard any negative reviews about it.

a) Le Soufflé (Fort)
b) Je Suis Gourmand
c) La Cabane
d) La Regalade
e) Cuillère
f) Other: Cicou (Watch out for my review next week)

3. Best Spanish Restaurant
I don’t really have a solid opinion on Spanish restaurant because my standard for good Spanish food is Chef Ed’s Mestizo Spanish cuisine and Market Manila’s Paella. . I voted for my favorite — Terry’s Selection (and it should be in Pasong Tamo Ext.).

a) Alba Restaurante Español (Makati)
b) La Tienda
c) Terry’s Selection (Pasong Tamo Ext.)
d) Amalia’s ( must confess that I’ve never been to Amalia so I will review it soon too 🙂
e) Casa Armas (Malate)
f) Other: Chef Ed’s 21 Restaurant

4. Best Continental Cuisine
Antonio’s is the Best Restaurant in the Philippines and Still the Best after all these years!

a) Chateau 1771
b) Sala
c) Aubergine
d) Lolo Dad’s
e) Katre
f) Lemuria
g) Antonio’s
h) Other: __________

5. Best Steakhouse
My vote goes to Elbert and the buzz is he is the undisputed king of steaks in Manila!

a) Fire Lake Grill
b) Mamou
c) Elbert’s Steak Room
d) Myron’s Place
e) Duo
f) Other: House of Wagyu

6. Best Japanese Restaurant
Seryna is the only Japanese restaurant that is loved by both Filipino Foodies and Japanese in Manila.

a) Sushi Tsumura
b) Tsukiji
c) Kai
d) Sugi (Greenbelt)
e) Seryna
f) Other: __________

7. Best Filipino Restaurant
Cafe Juanita’s ambiance resembles a typical filipino home and serves authentic Filipino cuisine (not fusion).

a) Café Juanita
b) Harbor View
c) Abé
d) Laudico Bistro Filipino
e) La Cocina de Tita Moning
f) Other: Adarna

8. Best Thai Restaurant
I don’t think we have a really good Thai restaurant in Manila. The closest would be People’s Palace.

a) Silk
b) Azuthai
c) People’s Palace
d) Kingdom (I can’t wait to try this in Angeles, Pampanga)
e) Other: __________

9. Best Chinese Restaurant
Choi Garden in Greenhills and Golden Fortune in Binondo are the best Chinese restaurant for me!

a) Zong (Fort)
b) Hai Shin Lou
c) Gloria Maris (Greenhills)
d) The Good Earth (Fort)
e) Cantonese Kitchen
f) Other: Choi Garden

10. Best Central European Restaurant
I love Vieux Chalet because of the fresh ingredients used in the dishes, and spectacular view of Manila (from Antipolo)

a) Schwartzwalder
b) Old Swiss Inn (Makati)
c) Bianca’s
d) Mickey’s Deli (Makati)
e) Vieux Chalet
f) Other: Chateau Hestia

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Camp Sabros: Tree Rappelling – The Latest and Most Raved About Experience in Camp Sabros

The latest addition to the zip line adventure in Camp Sabros is the 80ft. Tree Rappelling. Most of the people I met who tried it, raved about it more than the longest zip line ride.

Related Blog Posts:

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Syoti’s Birthday

Dear Syoti Joshua,

Happy Birthday Baby Joshua! (Related post: The Birth of Baby Joshua Xavier! )

On your birthday, your mom and I decided to go out-of-town to celebrate your birthday. We wanted to go somewhere that we have not been to and have a chance to explore another city — like Davao. We were fortunate to get the zero fare of Cebu Pacific and to stay for free for four days at Crown Regency in Davao. We met with Tita Anna Vi, Tita Lani Ayala, and Tito Deq while we were in Davao.

We celebrated your birthday in Eden's Nature Park. Although it was raining, we had a fun tour of the park together with Ahiya Aidan. We would go back when you are older to do the 4km trail hike around the park. We were raving about the fresh salads for lunch, and the mango-bravo-like dessert. We ended the day celebrating in the downtown of Davao eating Aling Fofing's Halo Halo for appetizer, Antonio's Grill for Dinner and Bo's Coffee Sansrival for Dessert.

Mom and I went on our second White Water Rafting adventure in Davao. We plan to complete all the white water rafting courses this year in the Philippines. There are four (4) White Water rafting adventure in the Philippines – Cagayan de Oro River in CDO, Davao River in Davao, Cagayan River in Tuguegarao, and Chico River in Kalinga.

Finally, we visited Camp Sabros in Davao del Sur and flew in the 380m zip line together with Rache and Ahiya Aidan. I will show you a video of our short "superman" adventure. The two hours trip to Camp Sabros was worth it — flying through all the zip line courses and the latest attraction, tree rappelling. I promise to go back when you are older so that we can fly together as a family 🙂

I do hope we get to establish this as a tradition — to celebrate your birthday exploring another city or destination in the Philippines.

We love you Syoti Josh!!

Anton & Rache and Ahiya Aidan


Hairspray Moments

(Left to Right) Nyoy Volante as Seaweed J. Stubbs, Dulce plays Motor Mouth Maybelle, Madel Ching as Tracy Turnblad, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo as the villainous Velma Von Tussle, Tim Espinosa as Link Larkin

It’s Hairspray Fever

When the Hairspray preview ended, we all agreed this is one musical show that Manila will talk about when it opens tonight in Star Theater. (see: Everything You Need To Know About Hairspray, Manila)

Michael de Mesa‘s portrayal of Mrs. Turnblad was both hilarious and believable. You gotta see Michael de Mesa in “drag” outfit 🙂

I would give the best performance for the night to Menchu’s Velma Von Tussle. She portrayed the sexy, ambitious and evil beauty queen role quite well. Her performance of The Legend of the Miss Baltimore Crabs was memorable and realistic.

I still can remember Motor Mouth Maybelle’s (played by Dulce) belting of her solo songs ala Witney Houston.

Madel Ching as Tracy Turnblad and Tim Espinosa as Link Larkin

Madel and Tim’s Love Team

Bravo to Madel Ching for successfully performing the role of Tracy Turnblad! Her youth gives her the energy to dance (as if she was athetic) and to sing at the same time. She lasted the entire show with the same energy she started with. She was a little nervous during the opening scene but was able to gain her confidence towards the middle of the show. You gotta see her shake and shimmy dance! (Now I know why they chose Madel)

Tim Espinosa was a heart rob and I’m sure most of the teenage girls will fall in love with his performance.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Star Theater

1. Star Theater is NOT Aliw Theater.
I personally made this mistake of thinking that Star Theater and Aliw Theater is the same theater since both of the venues are beside Star City. Star Theater is located at the back of Star City while Aliw Theater is in front of Star City.

2. Star Theater is NOT inside Star City.
Star City is the entertainment park with different fun rides, and home to the Snow World and Dino Park attractions.

Read More About Star City:
10 Reasons Why Star City is the Place to be…
Snow World @ Star City

Star City Park Schedule:

Monday to Thursday : 4pm to 11pm (or 12 mn at the latest)
Friday to Sunday: 2pm to 12mn (or 1pm at the latest)

Star City Entrance Fees:
Star City Entrance Fee – P60
Snow World Entrance Fee – P160
Dino World Entrance Fee – P160
3 Cheers (3 Rides) – P250

Ride-All-You-Can (RAYC) – P300
Ride-All-You-Can (RAYC) with Dino World OR Snow World – P375
Ride-All-You-Can (RAYC) with Dino World AND Snow World – P450 (BEST VALUE)

3. The best seats in Star Theater are in Rows G to L.
For Hairspray, Lower Orchestra seats cost Php 1,200 (Rows A-I), Upper Orchestra seats cost Php 1,000 (Rows J-S), Loge seats cost Php 800 (Rows T-X), and finally Balcony seats cost Php 600 (Rows Y-Z). The best value-for-money seats are the Upper Orchestra (Rows J-S) because they have the best natural view and cheaper by P200. I would recommend buying the seats in J-K-L specially the center seats from seats 10-20.

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Lolo Dad’s Brasserie @ 6750

When I was still courting Rache, I was looking for a cool restaurant place for our romantic date near La Salle. We were adventurous already back then but also we are budget-conscious. We saw a nice old house converted into a restaurant and we thought this might be a good inihaw place. We decided to go in and noticed there were only a few tables. When the waiter presented to us the menu, we realized that it was a Fine Dining Restaurant!

That was our first encounter with Lolo Dad’s in Malate. We ate there when it opened (unfortunately I was not yet blogging at that time). The menu in the 1-week old Lolo Dad’s Brasserie in 6750 looks almost exactly as the menu when they first opened in Malate. The key difference with the brasserie menu is that they expanded the menu with pasta and sandwiches options. The prices are still shocking but you are paying for good quality food.

Lolo Dad’s Brasserie Menu
Appetizers | Soups, Pasta & Filled Bread | Main Dishes, Steaks, and Desserts

Lolo Dad’s Brasserie is the latest (and hopefully the last) reincarnation of the corner restaurant in the prestigious 6750 address. This is the same spot where Giraffe, Dream Bar, Quisine and Gaster Deli (see: Gaster Deli-cious!) once stood. This is a favorite hang-out of P&G and Caltex people specially every Friday night. You can still see the remnants of Gaster Deli’s chairs and ambiance.

You would notice that the ambiance is still boring. It lacks the homey Malate vibe of its main restaurant and it feels like it could use a few paintings and art accents. The table locations are also not ideal so you have to reserve in advance to get a good spot.

“Only for the Rich” Salad (P1,650 +SC). Combination of Diver Scallops, Lobster, Seared Duck Liver, Jamon Serrano and Cured Salmon with Mesclun greens in Pomegranate and Molasses dressing.

Lolo Dad’s is famous for their salads (see Salad Menu) . We felt “rich” that day so we ordered the salad that we can share for a group of three. At first, it looked like a smorgasbord of all the expensive ingredients you can put in a salad — lobster, foie gras, salmon and jamon serrano. Its “Only for the Rich” name has a double meaning of being the most expensive salad and having a lot of flavorful ingredients.

Each ingredient was cooked to perfection. However, the vinaigrette dressing was too strong for our taste. Overall, we were satisfied and the salad price was justified. (That rhyme is for you Aidan 🙂

Smoked Salmon Creamed Fettucine (P420 +SC) with grilled Pizza Omellet

I ordered the smoked salmon pasta. Everything seems to be perfect — al dente pasta, right saltiness in the salmon, and clean creamy sauce. I appreciated the ingenuity of pairing the pasta with mushroom omelet on top of a flat crunchy pizza base. I also liked the clean 3D presentation of this pasta dish. It is very hard to complain about an almost P500 pasta dish if it tastes this good.

Prawn Rigatoni Pasta in Garlic and Olive Oil (P480 +SC) with Prosciutto and Aragula Toast

We finally met with a long lost friend, Cai and she ordered the Prawn Rigatoni Pasta. Check out the other pasta dishes (see Soups, Pasta & Filled Bread )

Lamb Chops (P1,100 +SC) with grilled fruits, and appropriate sauces, and a choice of Rice, Mashed Potato.

My wife Rache loves lamb chops which is one of the bestsellers in the house (see Main Dishes, Steaks, and Desserts). It is predictably good but nothing special. The presentation could be improved by using a different plate or being creative in its arrangement. The hollandaise sauce (white one) tastes like liquid butter and the au jus (black one) made of brown stock and rosemary complemented the taste of the lamb.

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