Author

Anton Diaz

#Restaurants

Top 10 Awesome Restaurants of the Philippines

More than just serving gourmet food and the right ambiance, these restaurants take the overall dining experience to a higher level
Sunday Inquirer Magazine (September 16, 2007)

What makes restaurants awesome? One would say as long as it serves great food. However, “great food” is subjective and it varies with each person's experience and background. To be considered awesome, restaurants have to take the food and overall dining experience to a higher level. Food that leaves an indelible mark in your taste buds, experience that imprints lasting memories in your mind, and ambiance that carves a special place in one's heart for you to share it with every person that you meet.

Each restaurant is carefully chosen to be prestigiously included in this list. Each one serves gourmet food with the freshest ingredients. It combines nature elements, artifacts or a sense of history in its overall ambiance. Simply, these restaurants have a story to tell which spreads out via word-of-mouth. I can proudly say that you can only find these restaurants ONLY in the Philippines.

KUBLI SPRINGS @ KINABUHAYAN CAFé, DOLORES, QUEZON

Kubli Springs Dinner - 1

The road to Kubli Springs is literally a road less traveled where you'll be glad you decided not to drive your sedan car. Flashlights, candles, mobile phones, and the moon are the only source of light. Occasionally, they would put up Christmas lights connected to portable battery source to make the place special. You will find yourself in the middle of the forest, with boulders as your neighbor. The spring water flows through your feet as you look up and appreciate a clear black sky with twinkling dots. You sit on rocks and make shift benches as you smell the steak grilled on the spot. Ah, this is the perfect time to play the acoustic guitar and sing with the barkada without shame and the fear of disturbing anybody.

For P500/ person, you get fresh salad with flowers, grilled steak, Jay's special rice and fruit platter. The meal ends with friendly Lambanog and special roast of Barako coffee. Water is served from a bamboo "faucet" with mineral water coming from the mountains. Drinking and taking a bath from fresh mineral water is one unique experience. Your dining experience is a mixed emotion of satisfaction, fear, and happiness. Somehow, you wished the night will never end.

Related Posts:
Kubli Springs Night @ Viaje del Sol
[Viaje del Sol Series.5] The Charm of Kubli Springs

Kinabuhayan Cafe Bed and Breakfast
Tel (042) 565 6828
Jay +63 917 368 0054
Winston +63 917 327 1106

ANTONIO'S, TAGAYTAY

Antonio's , Tagaytay - 15

You'll get excited every time you enter the entrance doors of Antonio's. It is like entering a magical portal to a world where any of the food you choose is something worth raving about. The service feels like you are in a six-star hotel where you don't have to worry about anything. Even going to the restroom is a chance to appreciate nature and its beauty. The positive energy in the place encourages conversation and it bears witness to thousands of memorable life stories.

You don't mind waiting for your food because you know that it is being prepared to perfection. The real flavor of the meat and ingredients stands out without any of the sauce overpowering its taste. Any of the wine selections seems to match with the food that you order. My favorite in Antonio's includes the Salad with Foie Gras, the steaks or sea bass dish, and the soufflé dessert to end the night. I envisioned our silver marriage anniversary to be held in Antonio's because of the food, service and its garden.

Related Posts:
Nothing beats an Antonio's Dinner @ Tagaytay!
Antonio's, Tagaytay — Still the Best

Antonio's
Mobile No.: +63917-899-2866

UGU BIGYAN, TIAONG, QUEZON

Ugu Bigyan - 2

It still continues to be a secret place in the Tiaong area because Ugu never advertises the place. There are no road signs that points you to it and even their neighbors never realized that such place exist. One of the amazing things about Ugu's Pottery Garden Restaurant is that the entire place is a labor of love of the entire family. They designed everything from the huts, layout of the garden, the pottery designs, and its food concept.

Ugu is known for his dishes namely, Kulawo and Lato. Kulawo is charcoal grilled banana heart with a smokey flavor taste and it taste like Tuna while Lato is seaweed in vinegar. Both are traditional Filipino dishes that you seldom find in Metro Manila. It is home cooked Filipino food artistically presented and served in Ugu Bigyan's signature pottery. I do hope it remains to be a secret.

Related Posts:
Ugu Bigyan's
[Viaje del Sol Series.6] Sumptuous Lunch @ Ugu Bigyan!
[Viaje del Sol Series.7] Ugu Bigyan's Pottery Garden Postcards

Ugu Bigyan
Address: 490 Alvarez Village , Brgy Lusacan, Tiaong, Quezon
Telefax: +63 42 545-9144
Manila #: +632 250-8416

ISLA NABUROT, GUIMARAS

Isla Naburot Breakfast - 6

Isla Naburot resort is like wine – the older it is the more exotic it becomes. Electricity is supplied by solar panels that can only support the incandescent bulbs in the room. Your mobile phone will be lucky to survive after one day because there are no charging stations nearby. All you have to do is swim in the clean beach, play sunka, and spend quality time with the family.

The main attraction is doing nothing and eating gourmet Filipino dishes prepared the traditional way. Fresh seafoods are patiently grilled in a way that their natural juices are kept intact inside the meat. You enjoy each meal with home made sinamak vinegar. Fruits are abundant specially the famous Guimaras mangoes. The taste of the food is enhanced by the fresh air environment and by the love of the people cooking it. It is a foodie heaven and I can’t wait to go back this summer.

Isla Naburot
Mobile #: Ana +63920-9275372

LA COCINA de TITA MONING’S, MANILA

The very satisfied family

As you enter the gates of this old mansion, you can't help but be transported back to the Old Rich ambiance in the Malacanang area. You are welcomed with drinks and pica pica in the patio before starting with the mini-tour of the mansion. You'll be fascinated with the antiques and the old-fashioned design of the living room, bedroom and especially, the bathroom. The dining area is small enough for a big group to easily dominate with their presence and laughter.

It is a treat to enjoy Spanish food cooked from recipes handed down from generations. You will leave La Cocina raving about its paella and its bread pudding. The former could rival the paella’s in Manila’s Spanish restaurants. The latter tastes like milk bread leche flan that melts in your mouth. The service is slow but sure. What is important is that they serve you with a smile and put every effort to make the experience memorable. I never forgot our La Cocina experience ever since January 2005.

Related Posts:
A memorable dinner @ La Cocina de Tita Moning

La Cocina
Address: 315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel, Manila Philippines
Telephone Number: (632) 734-2141, 734-2146
Mobile #: (63917) 538-3490

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Musicals

Avenue Q High

Avenue Q – Final Run June 2008. 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Miss the Opening Night of Avenue Q’s Final Run!

Avenue Q

I’m still on an Avenue Q high after watching the final dress rehearsals of Avenue Q last night at RCBC. This is the best musical broadway show that I’ve ever seen since Rent in Manila. They used puppets creatively where you can see the puppeteer holding it. For some reason, it was able to create an illusion where the voice of the actors can be heard coming out of the puppet and their facial expressions were mimic by the puppets. (Or was it the other way around?).

I thought that the show would be offensive because of the vulgar language, the full puppet nudity, and graphic sex scenes. It turns out to be a hilarious and fun show. It has the dramatic theme and vocal prowess of Rent with a Bubble-Gang-like spoof of Sesame Street.

It was a Rachel Alejandro show where she played two totally opposite characters of the virgin Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut. What surprised us most was not her singing prowess (which was expected), but how she was able to bring Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut to life with her facial expressions and body movements. In the bed scene of Kate Monster and Princeton (played by Felix Rivera), I saw Rachel really having fun with the way they were playing out the puppet scene. I can still remember the small boobs of Kate Monster and the funny sound that they were making. I’ve been listening to the Avenue Q songs for a month now, and Rachel nailed the Kate Monster part and she was able to capture the audience with the allure of Lucy the Slut.

Aiza Sequerra was brilliant in her performance of Gary Coleman. She has a striking similarity with Gary since she was also a childstar. We were all amazed at the clarity of Aiza’s voice. Aiza’s best moment is when she sang Schadenfreude (pronounced as Shahd-en-froy-de) which means German for happiness in the misfortune of others. I think most Filipinos would be able to relate to this term when you mention Malu Fernandez.

You should never miss Joel Trinidad and Trekkie Monster’s Internet is For Porn sequence. Everybody was laughing in the audience and you can see the different kind of laugh coming from the male in the audience. You don’t know if they are laughing because of Trekkie’s “choreography” or if it hits a nerve somehow. Now we know why Trekkie who spoofs Oscar the grouch in Sesame Street is always in the trash can and gets grouchy whenever he is interrupted.

Frenchie Dy plays the funny Christmas Eve. Despite the fact that she sometimes forget that she should be Japanese (instead of Chinese), she still nailed the part because of how well she delivers her songs and her funny accent and look. We love you Frenchie and you should see her in her outrageous wedding dress.

The last memorable sequence for me is the Rod and Nicky’s “Fantasies come true”. Just replaced Rod and Nicky with Ernie and Bert and you’ll be dying laughing about this bed dream sequence. Rod was played by Felix Rivera and Nicky was played by Joel Trinidad. Bravo!

The final scene where the entire cast sang “For Now”, gives me a Rent like chill. The message of the song “Everthing in Life is only For Now” hits me like the “No Day But Today” theme of Rent. You should see Rachel Alejandro acts out Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut one after another by holding the puppets at the same time. I’m amazed on how she can switch with such ease and fun.

Fantastic show. There are only 12 performances starting tonight September 7 until September 23 in RCBC Auditorium.

Related Posts:
The Puppets of Avenue Q by Tennis and Conversations

Music, lights, puppets! by Mila Tan
OMG!!! FULL NUDITY in a Philippine Theater Production!!! by Manila Boy

Anton

Musicals

Avenue Q Manila Cast with Princeton and Kate Monster

Avenue Q – Final Run June 2008. 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Miss the Opening Night of Avenue Q’s Final Run!

Avenue Q Manila Cast
Avenue Q Manila Cast!

I’m super excited to watch Avenue Q since January (see Avenue Q is coming to Manila). I’ve been listening to the entire soundtrack for a few weeks now. I always find myself singing “it sucks to be me” and “There’s a fine, fine line between love,and a waste of time”. I started noticing “schadenfreude” behaviors (happiness in the misfortune of others) and a little bit of racism in each one of us. I have adapted the motto, “You gotta go after the things you want while you’re still in your prime.” I’m going crazy over Avenue Q…

I’ve always wondered how the Princeton and Kate Monster love scene would look like performed by Rachel Alejandro and Felix Rivera. I’m sure Rachel Alejandro can do a good job in doing the Lucy the Slut song “I can make you feel special. When it sucks to be you.” Can Aiza Sequerra portray Gary Coleman? I’m sure the pinoy cast would make us all proud similar to how Rent in Manila was better than its Broadway counterpart.

I can’t wait to watch the first show. 12 days to go until opening day…

Avenue Q

Avenue Q Manila Cast ((Thanks to Atlantis Productions for sharing this photo of the Avenue Q Manila Cast)

Felix Rivera – Princeton / Rod
Rachel Alejandro – Kate Monster / Lucy the Slut
Joel Trinidad – Nicky / Trekkie Monster
Aiza Seguerra – Gary Coleman
Frenchie Dy – Christmas Eve
Rycharde Everley – Brian
Teenee Chan – Mrs. Thistletwat and others.

What is AVENUE Q about?
” AVENUE Q is the story of Princeton, a bright-eyed college grad who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He soon discovers that the only neighborhood in his price range is Avenue Q; still, the neighbors seem nice. There’s Brian the out-of-work comedian and his therapist fianceé Christmas Eve; Nicky the good-hearted slacker and his roommate Rod — a Republican investment banker who seems to have some sort of secret; an Internet addict called Trekkie Monster; and a very cute kindergarten teaching assistant named Kate. And would you believe the building’s superintendent is Gary Coleman?!? (Yes, that Gary Coleman.) Together, Princeton and his newfound friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.” (About Avenue Q the Musical)

Anton

Related Posts:
Avenue Q-Manila: Is Manila ready for the Puppet’s Full Frontal Nudity? (Ticket Info)
Avenue Q is coming to Manila (Jan 2007)
Meet the Cast of Avenue Q in Manila by Bachelor Girl
Avenue Q Manila FAQs by Bachelor Girl
Avenue Q Manila Asian Premiere by Bachelor Girl
Avenue Q Manila and the Straight Male by Bachelor Girl
Avenue Q Manila Atlantis Productions by Bachelor Girl

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Musicals

Wander-ful Show!

Wanders
Wanders. (P100/ photo with cast members) Captivating, Timeless and Musical Delight. World-Class Entertainment, Never Seen Before.

Wanders is simply awesome. It is better to watch it without any expectation. It is like watching acrobatic acts of Cirque de Soleil, musical antics of the Blue Man group, and showmanship of a Las Vegas production. The production is created by the same group behind the production of Miss Saigon in Manila. The music is world class coming from the top musicians and singers in the industry. Calvin Millado plays the tour guide with Topper Fabregas and Cathy Azanza as Pol and Pola. Noni Buencamino acts and sings Elvis Presley and Austin Powers. The cast is reinforced by world class talents of the Russian dancers from Moscow and Belarussia and the Chinese acrobats from Henan province of China.

For me, the best ones are the Manuever’s version of the Blue Man Group where they use bamboo sticks and huge trash cans to create music. Although, I thought that sequence was too short and I was craving for more of Manuevers. We also like the chinese Flight of Love which reminded me of Cirque de Soleil’s Mystere show in Las Vegas. You should see the two lovers flying in the air and performing acrobatic stunts and “love scenes”. Lastly, I am amazed at the flexibility of the little chinese girls which you can see in this short video clip of Wanders.

It is still far from becoming a “world-class” show because the acrobats made mistakes. I’ve watched three shows of Cirque de Soleil and I’ve never seen any mistake in the execution of the stunts. They probably just need more practice. Also, I did not get the entire plot of the show. It appears that there was a tour guide who showed the different wonders of the world to a tourist couple. Then, they went to Las Vegas, China and other places. The tour ends in the Philippines where they “tried” to get audience participation in the final dance sequence of the show. They still have time to improve the overall story line and create a climactic ending.

Thanks to PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Efraim C. Genuino for believing in this Filipino produced world-class, family oriented entertainment. The show is for the entire family so I regret that I did not bring Aidan to watch the show. I hesitated to bring him along because I thought it was inappropriate to bring him to the Casino at night.

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#Restaurants

Mamou-miya!

Mamou-miya! - 12
Malou Fores with Rache and Aidan who can’t wait to eat the roast chicken.

At first, when we saw Mamou opened in Serendra, we were guessing what kind of cuisine it served — Spanish? home cooked Filipino food? Also, the design of the restaurant was a bit spanish, minimalist and there is an aura of a simple canteen setup with a sossy kitchen behind it. The chairs were custom made dwarfed “period” chairs made from Pampanga. The dry run menu is also simple — roast pork and chicken, angus beef steak, linguini vongole, etc.. We were intrigued by it and were surprised to find out that the food is uniquely great and the person behind it is Malou Fores.

Malou or Mamou as her nephew would call her, is the person behind Blue Kitchen. Marketman raved about Blue Kitchen’s Garlic Tuyo and I’m sure he would be delighted to see Malou who decided to open her first restaurant in her 11 years in the food business. So I ask Mamou on what is the concept of the restaurant. She said that it is basically focused on her kitchen and the food that she serves at home. She serves her specialties which includes a South American dish specialty — Roast Pork and Chicken which we totally love. Her sister-in-law, Margarita Fores is more well known in the restaurant circuit with her success on Cibo for more than a decade now.

All we can say is Mamou-Miya! Deliciouso!

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Musicals

Avenue Q-Manila: Is Manila ready for the Puppet’s Full Frontal Nudity?

Avenue Q – Final Run June 2008. 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Miss the Opening Night of Avenue Q’s Final Run!

2004_06_aveqtony

Avenue Q, Broadway’s smash-hit 2004 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, will soon be opening in Manila on September 7, 2007. I can’t wait to see the great cast which includes Rachel Alejandro (dual role of Kate Monster and Lucy The Slut,), Frenchie Dy (as Christmas Eve) and Aiza Seguerra (as Gary Coleman). Chari Arespacochaga is co-directing Avenue Q with Bobby Garcia, so expect that this will be a world class show, similar to Rent.

What is AVENUE Q about?
” AVENUE Q is the story of Princeton, a bright-eyed college grad who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. He soon discovers that the only neighborhood in his price range is Avenue Q; still, the neighbors seem nice. There’s Brian the out-of-work comedian and his therapist fianceé Christmas Eve; Nicky the good-hearted slacker and his roommate Rod — a Republican investment banker who seems to have some sort of secret; an Internet addict called Trekkie Monster; and a very cute kindergarten teaching assistant named Kate. And would you believe the building’s superintendent is Gary Coleman?!? (Yes, that Gary Coleman.) Together, Princeton and his newfound friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.” (About Avenue Q the Musical)

Here is another fun fact:
“As it turns out, Avenue Q, the Tony Award winning Broadway musical that continues to run on Broadway, has Pinoy blood behind it. Bobby Lopez, who wrote the show with his collaborator Jeff Marx, is half-Filipino.” (The Pinoy who wrote Avenue Q)

Start listening to songs such as “Schadenfreude”, “The Internet is For Porn” and “It Sucks to be Me”, etc.. So that you are not left out — there is still time. Do you think Filipinos will be ready for the Puppet’s full frontal nudity and explicit, vulgar lyrics? What’s your Favorite Avenue Q song?

Anton

P.S. 15 Sept 2007 3pm matinee performance
On the 15 Sept 2007 3pm matinee performance of Ave Q, P&G Employees are entitled to a 10% discount (yahoo!). Although the tickets for the 15 Sept 2007 3pm performance of Ave Q will be available mid-August, you can start reserving tickets for those interested. Ticket prices are (P&G employees are entitled to a 10% discount):

Balcony Php 500
Loge Php 1,000
Orchestra Php 1,250

Update 8/7/2007
FYI, Atlantis has decided that all the Saturday Matinee shows, including ours on 15 Sept 2007, will be moved from 3pm to 2pm.

We have decided as well to give Early Bird Discounts for Cash Purchases for the 15 Sept 2pm show:
10% Discount—Tickets bought from 06-19 August 2007
5% Discount—Tickets bought from 20-31 August 2007
5% Discount— On every 10 Tickets bought from 01-14 Sept 2007

They may only avail of the discounts if the tickets are bought directly from me. My contact details remain the same.

Contact Lorna Lopez for ticket reservations:
(Sun) 0922.3875729
(Globe) 0917.9256505
(email) [email protected]
www.thebachelorgirl.com

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#Restaurants

T-House Dining’s Fluffy Pancakes!

T House - 40

T-House Dining is a great addition to the competitive eating scene in Tagaytay. It serves the best fluffy pancakes in town that will put Pancake House’s pancakes to shame. It also serves a yummy and oh-so-healthy 4 course dining menu for only P550 net with no additional hidden charges. Lunch and dinner are by reservation only. The 4 course menu consist of two choices of soup, a salad, a main entree and dessert.

Thanks to Emy Mendoza, chef and food consultant for T-House dining, for the great food @ T-House. Their team is committed to improve the menu over time by retaining the best sellers and introducing new ones.

They should improve the desserts which are just OK. Also, they need to replace the dishes with tuna which tastes like canned Century tuna. This is contrary to their gourmet commitment of serving food with fresh ingredients.

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#Hotels

The Definitive Guide to T-House, Tagaytay

T House - 8
T H E D E F I N I T I V E G U I D E T O T – H O U S E , T A G A Y T A Y
T-House embodies the luxurious charms of a Boutique Hotel with the service and warmth of a
Bed and Breakfast Place, and affordability of a typical hotel outside Metro Manila.
It is a blessed place with sacred grounds because of its close proximity to the Ina ng Laging
Saklolo Parish Church. It redefines your definition of a weekend escape in Tagaytay!
T House - 31

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#Philippines

Bawai, The Best Home Made Vietnamese I’ve Ever Tasted

Bawai - 13
Banh da Lon (P20). Vietnamese sapin sapin, made of pandan and monggo beans.

Vietnam is a hot tourist place these days because of its cultural sights, cheap shopping places and interesting Vietnamese cuisine. However, I’ve never tasted Vietnamese cuisine similar to the one you enjoy in Vietnam. I’m glad that Yong and Virgilio Tatlonghari decided to open their lovely home for weekend dining. Bawai is a 4 month old Tagaytay Vietnamese restaurant which serves close to authentic home cooked Vietnamese food. Yong, called Bawai (grandma in Vietnamese), is the person behind this refreshing new restaurant.

I would highly recommend the fresh spring roll and just about anything with the special sweet patis sauce. Also, they don’t get a lot of guest lately so they will entertain you as their own guest. You need to reserve and order in advance since each meal is cooked by Bawai herself. I do hope it remains that way, and the food don’t get commercialized like most Vietnamese restaurants in Manila. The secret to Bawai’s food is authentic imported ingredients from Vietnam sent by Bawai’s friends and relatives.

So next time you are in Tagaytay, be sure to check out this hidden Vietnamese treasure..

Best Vietnamese Restaurants in the Philippines:

 

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#Restaurants

Tsukiji @ Century Park Hotel

Century Tsukiji - 14

So the rumors were true that the Japanese Chef behind the famous Tsukiji in Makati is now in Century Park Hotel. Tsukiji Makati is now run by the Filipino partner. Thanks to Jinji for the lovely dinner treat and for the excellent restaurant choice! The food is deliciously expensive because of its innovative serving presentation, its imported Japanese ingredients and a rare Japanese Chef. I like the authentic japanese Samurai armor display and the overall very Japanese ambiance of Tsukiji. If you are looking to impress a Japanese guest with Japanese food, you won’t go wrong in Tsukiji @ Century Park hotel.

Check out the menu @ Tsukiji:
Century Tsukiji Appetizer
Sake, Shochu, and Seasonal Recommendations
Udon/Soba and Dessert
Tofu Dishes, Donburimono, Gohanmono, Zosui (Porridge), Ochazuke, Onigiri
Seafood and Vegetable Dishes
Pork, Chicken and Seafood
Steak and Fish
Sushi, Chirashi Sushi, Maki Sushi and Wagyu Beef
Shirumono Soup, Otsukemono (Pickled Vegetables), and Sashimi
Kaiseki Course, Sunomono, Salads
Limited Sushi Promo, Set Meals, Bento, Teishoku

Century Tsukiji - 5
Lovely evening with Jinji and Riza (fiancee) can’t wait to have their own little monster…

Century Tsukiji - 7
Aidan and Seiji Kamura, the japanese chef behind Tsukiji!

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