Author

Anton Diaz

Food

[BigBinondoBowl2] Culinary Secrets of Binondo!

I’ve always wanted to explore the culinary secrets of Binondo. I always knew that Binondo has a lot to offer aside from the all time favorite Eng Bee Tin Hopia stop, or eating in the exotic Estero, or grabing a quick chinese fix from your chinese fast food chain like tasty dumpling or the usual President chinese meal. This tour is also not about the original Diao Eng Chay (popularly known as DEC) store or the famous Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian in Binondo. I got curious with the Big Binondo Bowl streetwalk tour by Ivan ManDy ever since Marketman’s Binondo Food Tour post last Sept. 2005. There are a lot of articles already written about this tour and the background story about Ivan’s streetwalks which I will not attempt to duplicate. What I like about this tour is that you can see and feel Ivan’s advocacy on the Filipino – Chinese’s rich history. At the risk of divulging the entire tour, I’ll just give you a glimpse of the tour, the food stops, and try to compress the 4 hour streetwalk into one blog post. Hopefully it would also have the same effect that after reading through this post, you will say “So when is the next tour?”

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Food

[BigBinondoBowl1] The Mystery of Binondo…

Binondo is Manila’s Chinatown. As you passby Jones bridge into the plaza leading to the Chinatown welcome archway, you get transported into a different world. Ever since I was a kid, my mom used to bring me to Escolta during her PNB days and I’ve never understood and get to appreciate what Chinatown really is. The history behind it, the culture, and the oddities have always been a mystery to me. I’ve always been fascinated by Binondo but at the same time scared because of the horror stories that can happen with you in this place.

Thank you to Ivan ManDy, the self proclaimed Street Walker in Old Manila, who passionately organized the Big Binondo Bowl walking tours to show people what Binondo really is. You would completely feel safe when you are with Ivan in Binondo. Who wouldn’t be, since Ivan seems to know half of the people in Chinatown. It is like going into a college campus where he would say hi to most of the people walking in the streets. I was always afraid to bring my huge camera with me in Binondo but during the tour, I really took the opportunity to shoot and shoot. The Big Binondo Bowl started as an architectural/ cultural tour of Old Manila but it got popularized into a culinary tour of Binondo.

Each of the Binondo scenes below have interesting stories to tell. I would not attempt to tell it since only Ivan can do justice to the stories. Check this out…

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#Travel, Food

[Los Angeles vs. Manila #3] Porto’s Cheese Roll


I still can remember a couple of years ago when eating a carbo-loaded krispy kreme donut is a cool thing when you visit the US. Now, that’s a thing of the past, and Porto’s bakery is a better alternative. Its famous cheese roll is a must try along with the other cakes and other pastry delicacies. The cheese roll taste like Otap baked to perfection with cheese inside it, similar in texture to a croissant. It’s super addicting and I easily ate 5 pieces in one sitting. Porto’s Bakery is a cuban family-owned and operated business that has served Glendale and its surrounding areas for over 35 years and they recently opened a beautiful new store in Burbank.

One could argue that Becky’s or Conti’s taste a lot better, but the I’ve never tasted a cheeseroll as delicious as porto’s. If you can manage to bring one home as a pasalubong, it is highly recommended.

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#Travel, Food

[Los Angeles vs. Manila #2] Hollywood’s famous Pink’s Hot Dog


This is one of the famous must-eat destination in LA, and I was extremely curious why a chili dog can be this famous for 66 years! Paul Pink started this hotdog stand in 1939 and it stood on the same spot, giving the same quality of hot dog for years. I’m glad that Atty. Joseph Joson who was kind enough to accompany me to eat in this so-called hot dog to the stars. The hot dog heritage is a great marketing sell and they have photos to prove it (amazing)! I’m not really fond of hotdogs and I’m eating a vegetable rich diet lately, but this one is a must try (not to mention my weakness is chili). In the Philippines, we don’t really have something equivalent to this and Ogie Doggie would be the closest but far from the heritage that Pink’s hotdog built over the years.

The verdict: The chili is phenomenal, polish dogs are the best! Read on…

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#Travel, Food

[Los Angeles vs. Manila #1] Inn of the Seventh Ray! Creekside Dining

This is the ONLY restaurant I love while I was on vacation and I visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Cincinnati, and Chicago. The Inn of the Seventh Ray is L.A.’s most romantic restaurant and in fact, when we were eating on a Saturday Lunch, there was an engagement proposal with the beautiful setting — 12 red roses bouquet, a carpet of petals and dining beside Mother’s flow ( in other words, creekside :). I felt that most of the US restaurants are either man-made, full of dead food (steaks, white bread, etc.), pretentious service and too commercialized. This creekside dining experience is a dining made in heaven indeed and this is a must-eat destination for all of you who will have a chance to visit L.A.

(Note to Jay of Kinabuhayan Cafe: Jay, Kubli Springs can be a lot nicer than the Inn of the Seventh Ray. You just need to have excellent food and an overall concept. Check out the photos… )

Let me pause for a bit here before we go to the rest of the review, it just occurred to me how lucky the Philippines is with the kind of world-class nature inspired restaurants that we have and I can already count seven easily…
1. Antonio’s Restaurant, Tagaytay
2. Sonya’s Secret Garden, Tagaytay
3. Nina’s Kusina Salud, San Pablo, Laguna
4. Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Garden, Tiaong, Quezon
5. 85/15 Restaurant, The Farm @ San Benito, Lipa, Batangas
6. La Cocina de Tita Monings, Manila
7. The Prana Restaurant, Mandala Spa, Boracay

I LOVE THE PHILIPPINES! I missed it during my vacation and I’m glad to be back. I’m creating this series of [Los Angeles vs. Manila] to challenge your own mental models that the Philippines is the best place to be in. I felt like Neo in the matrix scene where he suddenly realized that all of the reality he is seeing is computer generated, and I suddenly felt that visiting the US, everything is man-made. Enjoy this series…

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#Travel

Sunset Over LA :)


I’ll be on a blog leave until the end of March. I’ll surely miss updating this blog regularly and I’ll surely miss exploring the culinary delights of Manila. It’s been fun over the last few months, specially when I receive comments and feedback from my readers. I love the conversations! This blog is very fulfilling for me in making connections with other people and in the process, I learn more secrets 🙂 I leave you with this beautiful sunset picture of LA taken during the landing of our PAL flight. My brother was teasing me about some insider secrets of Los Angeles and I might have some posts on our LA adventures. Stay tuned…

Anton

#Restaurants, Food, Tagaytay

[ Playa Calatagan #5] a Manos Greek Tavern Dinner


Ever since I’ve tasted Greek cuisine in Australia three years ago, I’ve been looking for an authentic greek cuisine in Manila. The first time, I saw Manos Greek Taverna with its inviting blue and white structure, I hesitated to try it out because of the fear of being disappointed with a Filipino-style Greek cuisine similar to Mati in Rockwell. I was waiting for raves about this place before I try it out. AJay’s first blogged Manos Greek Taverna in Nov 2005, and I recently read a poetic tribute by Dr. Honrado Palugod on his hellenic dining experience to this place that made me decide to check it out. On our way back from Playa Calatagan, we decided to have this as our last stop before finally heading back home. I’ve tried the best sellers in the house: Tzatziki, Hellenici Salata-Greek Salad, Mousaka, and the Baklava dessert which are indeed very good. On the contrary, the kebabs were ordinary.

I love this place because the food is healthy, ingredients are freshly made by the owner, and Manos is almost always there to entertain his guest — very hospitable fellow. Manos claims that everything is cooked in Greek virgin olive oil which comes from their olive plantations in the island of Crete 🙂

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#Travel

Shopping, Thai Massage and Amazing Thailand Subway!

I’m back again from another trip, but this time it was a business trip to Bangkok, Thailand. I was flabbergasted when I saw Bangkok now has their own Subway!! Can you believe it?! It looks like and feels like the subway of Singapore and it is designed for huge volume of people traffic. This is a good move specially to decongest the main streets of bangkok which reminds me of Avenida Ave. and Taft Avenue where the streets are narrow and MRT (metro rail transit) above the street. The subway was very convenient to move from Pat Pong to the Suan Lum Night Market and I was amazed that Thais started to commute now vs. using cars because it is convenient and you avoid the traffic. I do hope that I get to see the day that Philippines would have our own Subway, people would prefer to commute vs. bringing their own cars, and start the culture of walking!

It was a refreshing trip because I get a dose of Authentic Thai Massage and never-ending Shopping! Of course, I don’t like shopping very much but I like visiting new places either to eat, shop, or have a massage!

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Food

Queens: Best Indian/Fusion Food I Tasted in a Long Time!


Queens, originally uploaded by antondiaz.

When Queens opened along Jupiter St. in Makati, there was a lot of buzz about how great the food and a bit on the pricey side. It has a fine dining atmosphere, that is not intimidating, and perfect for that dinner conversation with friends. I’m glad Vivian and Marge treated the entire barkada to a Sunday Dinner treat at Queens! It was a perfect dinner event for that priceless reunion with friends.

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#Travel

Sunset View


Equinox Sunset View, originally uploaded by antondiaz.

Magnificent view of Singapore dusk taken from the tallest building in Singapore 🙂 I’m glad I had the chance to eat in Equinox Restaurant in Swissotel The Stamford. I’ve been traveling the whole week so I’ll leave you with this photo from my travel 🙂

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