Search any travel blog for the best countries to visit, and we’re sure that Japan will rank high on any list. The country has become a favorite stop for professional travelers and everyday tourists alike. Top 10 list after Top 10 list highlight just how fun and amazing Japan can be.
We here at Our Awesome Planet make no exception to this informal rule as we frequent Japan whenever the opportunity arises. We’ve had the pleasure to cover most of the island archipelago in every season. And while Japan is great to visit all year round, Team Boom and Sean find that the best time to go is definitely during the Autumn months (September, October, November) when the climate is perfect, not being too hot nor too cold.
We suggest taking advantage of the cooler climate to visit some of Japan’s more rural areas and countryside. Central Japan has so much going on, and we rather enjoyed our trip, which we found was a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
I’ve sailed with many fancy cruise ships—that spoiled me with luxury, service and unmatched comfort—all over the world. But nothing really comes close to the rawness and one-of-a-kind encounters that I’ve experienced on board the much smaller and more intimate liveaboards like Discovery Fleet.
Now obviously we can’t compare luxury cruises and liveaboards because they are on different categories, but for someone like me who is new to this industry, they do have a lot of similarities. It’s only been my second time on a liveaboard but I’ve already grown fond of the concept of living on a small ship that sails across the beautiful islands of the Philippines.
And ever since I’ve been wanting to try out Discovery Fleet’s Nature Escape: Cebu with the following route: Mactan – Oslob – Sumilon – Apo Island – Cabilao – Mactan.
Seda Lio, the latest undertaking at the acclaimed Lio Tourism Estate, is a bold project that not only offers the best in luxury and relaxation but also happens to be the first fully sustainable resort in the Philippines.
It’s a wonderful beach resort that prides itself on responsible eco-tourism and sustainability in a country that is already feeling the effects of climate change. This is why Seda Lio stands out as one of the best new resorts, and why it’s our pick for one of the top resorts to visit in the Philippines for 2020.
Let’s be perfectly honest, words like, sustainability, eco-friendliness, green-tourism, etc. are popular terms that have become a sort of catchphrase that clever marketers use to tap into an ever more environmentally conscious tourism industry. While the terms themselves may be tossed about to appeal to certain consumers, it’s always great to come across an establishment that actually puts these ideas into practice.
This is a big deal as the Philippine government is slowly in the process of rehabilitating the hundreds of tourist destinations in the country in a fight that hopes to preserve what little pristine real estate is left. It’s an uphill battle that can be won with common sense and deep respect for the environment, putting Seda Lio at the forefront in a world trying to cope with man-made climate change.
The Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo, located just a stone’s throw away from Festive Walk shopping hub and right next door to the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC), making it ideal for business travelers, vacation goers, and participants of MICE events. Plus, the wedding of my cousin was in ICC, so it was the perfect hotel for my family to stay in during the preparations.
If you’re looking to enjoy upscale accommodation and world-class hospitality during your visit to Iloilo, checkout my staycation in Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo…
It was the first time we stayed at the New World Makati Hotel, a Chinese hotel brand that recently celebrated their 25 years in the Philippines. This hotel was the setting of a lot of memories during my P&G and partying days, and the brand stood the test of time in its iconic location on the corner of Makati and A. Arnaiz Avenues (now Pasay Road).
This holiday season, we created awesome staycation memories with our family of 4 boys. Here’s our New World Makati Hotel Staycation story…
If you need a vacation, how about a stay in one of Boracay’s fabulous resorts? There are so many resorts to choose from all over the island, but CITIC HOTEL BORACAY might just tick all of your boxes. Location at Station 1? Check. Premier rooms with direct connection to the pool? Check. Massive outdoor pools complete with inflatable floats? Check. Delicious food and cocktails? Check.
Citic Hotel, sitting along Boracay’s quiet Station 1 with 339 spacious and creative rooms, features 4 spacious dining facilities that serve both local and international cuisines. The hotel is accessible from the main road and less than a 3-minute walk to the famed white-sand beaches that have constantly won Boracay the title of the world’s best island.
Here’s a photo essay of our staycation at Citic Hotel Boracay…
Greetings of a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Our Awesome Planet!
Here are the Best NEW Homegrown Restaurants by Young Chefs and Restaurateurs in Manila of 2019:
METRONOME is a modern French restaurant in Makati by Joël Robuchon-trained Chef Miko Calo, RJ Galang of Bakere/Man Eat Manila fame, Restaurateur Elbert Cuenca and Alain Borgers, formerly from the Shangri-La Group.
Overall, at the end of the meal, we asked Chef Miko, “Why is your food so good?” It looks simple, classic French (not fusion), but when you taste it, the flavors overwhelm you with their simplicity. Ang galing!
For the best experience, make sure to reserve the banquet tables which are very conducive for conversations with friends until closing time. Definitely, order the Egg and Spaghettini for the small plates, the Duck for the mains, Chocolate Textures and Baba Au Rhum for dessert. Budget ₱2,500/head for the dining experience or + ₱1,000 for the tasting menu + drinks. Indeed, it deserves all the hype and the food is worth every peso.
Located at Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall in Makati, a mano is a modern Italian restaurant by Amado Fores—son of Asia’s Best Female Chef, Margarita Fores—that promises faithful and fresh Italian food. a mano means “by hand,” pertaining to the handcrafted quality of the ingredients, the food and the service.
2019 witnessed the osteria battle of new Modern Italian concepts in Manila and, for us, a mano is the winner in that battle in terms of high quality of pizza, pasta, steaks and overall vibe. Ang galing!
Overall, we love a mano because of the hand-crafted quality of the food and the overall service. You can come back here every day and order different items, so you get to enjoy every dish on the menu.
Order our favorites: Taglierini O Tajarin, Bianco for the pasta, Stracciatella for the Pizza, the Bistecca or Pollo al Burro for the main, and don’t miss the Tiramisu for dessert. Budget about: ₱1,500/head for a full 4-course meal.
I think Amado is the next Larry Cruz, who was a great restaurateur (before my blogging days)—with well-executed restaurant concepts based on his well-traveled background and taste for good food even though he does not know how to cook.
Don’t miss Amado’s awesome concept, and make sure to reserve.
a mano by amado fores
R1 Level (Stall 144), Lopez Drive, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Operating Hours: Open Daily 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM Mobile: +63 917 552 6266 Email: [email protected] Facebook: a mano Instagram: @amano.ph
The Test Kitchen 2.0 moved from the actual test kitchen of the Bistro Academy in Kamagong to the posh neighborhood of Rockwell with bigger space, a la carte versions (vs tasting menu) and the cool kitchen lab playground of Chef Josh Boutwood.
Overall, this feels like eating in a Michelin-star restaurant in London with food grounded on aged meats, seasonal ingredients and in-house fermented food. It’s updated with the latest trends (but not faddish) with a nice curated selection of natural biodynamic wines. I love the tour of the test kitchen, aging rooms and different fermented ingredients used in the menu.
Start with the charcuterie and bread of the day and order the appetizer of cucumber, squid, dill and beef, horseradish, cauliflower. For your mains, the chicken, seabass and wagyu steak are quite good. Best to eat family style. The desserts were not remarkable so just order what you want to try to end on a sweet note with cold brew.
Budget about ₱2,000/head for a 4-course meal plus ₱1,500/head if you’ll get the steak and the wine pairings.
The Test Kitchen 2.0 by Chef Josh Boutwood
G/F One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mobile: +63927-958-9727 Email: [email protected] Instagram: @thetestkitchenmnl
Here are the 10 Best Restaurants/Cafes of One Bonifacio High Street!
1. Elephant Grounds
Elephant Grounds Manila is the Hongkong third-wave coffee franchise concept by The Standard Group (of Yabu and Ippudo fame) with the dynamic chef duo of Nicco Santos (executive chef) and Quenee Villar (formerly of Hey Handsome).
In Manila, it’s known more as an all-day brunch One Bonifacio restaurant, noted for its food more than its coffee. As the opening hype and queuing lines die down, here’s what we think of Elephant Grounds in Manila.
Overall, you’ll love meeting up at Elephant Grounds because you can feel the creative energy from the people, the service and the food. Excellence attracts excellence; I do hope they maintain this culture and quality of the food and drinks.
It’s like a Chef Nicco restaurant with a third wave cafe hip vibe. Don’t miss the Duck & Waffle, Sourdough Toasts, Duck Krapow and Toasted Rice Ice Cream. Budget about ₱500/head.
Congratulations to Chef Nicco Santos and Quenee Villar for a job well done with the food and execution of the cafe concept at Elephant Grounds!
ELEPHANT GROUNDS MANILA Independent micro-roaster and café concept from Hong Kong
Lower Ground Floor, One Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Operating Hours:
Monday to Thursday 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday to Saturday 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM Mobile: +63 999 887-1417 Facebook: Elephant Grounds Manila Instagram: @elephantgroundsph
2. La Picara
First, La Pícara, pronounced as la pí-cara (with emphasis on the pi), means the mischievious or naughty.
It’s a Spanish restaurant with Tropical Cuban/Central American-inspired design that transports you from the city into an oasis in the center of the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The food was surprisingly very good, Spanish food with a naughty playful twist of Filipino ingredients or Asian interpretation but still classy elegant Spanish food.
We tried it three times in the last few weeks before their grand opening. Here’s what we loved that you should try:
Honestly, we initially thought this was just-another-resto-riding-the-Spanish-wave in Manila, but it turned out to be one of the best restaurant concepts at One Bonifacio High Street Stock Exchange Mall.
We recommend starting with the Sangria Picara and tapas of Kimchi Croquettas plus Sisig Tacos and the Burrata Salad, ordering the Chili Crab Paella and Beef Cheeks for the main course and ending with Puto Flan de Queso for dessert. Budget about ₱1,000/head for a full meal + drinks.
Best to go with a group of 4-6 so that you can really enjoy the paella. Best to reserve the round or group tables inside because this area is where you get transported into a tropical oasis with a relaxing view after a hard day’s work.
Congratulations to Isabel and Felipe for the awesome Spanish restaurant concept. Welcome to the vibrant restaurant dining scene of Manila!
George Town Super Steak is a steak house specializing in steaks and seafood cooked in the Spanish Mibrasa closed charcoal grill oven. The Mibrasa-cooked meats have a nice sear and are not dry because the oven keeps the juice sealed into the meat. Once you’ve tried it, it would be hard to appreciate other meats cooked on a normal grill.
La Cabrera, the Argentinian steak house, uses their own charcoal grill oven, and the steak houses in hotels often use a similar Josper grill to cook their steaks. George Town SS aims to make higher quality Mibrasa-cooked steak more accessible with better value for money in a mall setting.
We visited Super Steak with the family and here are some tips to make your visit memorable…
Overall, after enjoying the Mibrasa-cooked meats, it’s hard to enjoy other grilled meats in other places because you’ll look for that seared tight juiciness in your meat. I love that the ambiance is down-to-earth but with high quality of steaks you can only taste at steak houses in hotels.
Our favorites include Triple Cheese Potato Skins for the appetizer; Super Steak Signature Burger, Fire-Grill Baby Back Ribs, Dry-Aged Ribeye 700 grams, Norwegian Salmon Fillet Skin-On for the meats; and the Strawberry Pretzel Mousse for dessert. Budget about ₱1,500/head. Best to go with a group to share and try more dishes.
Congratulations to George Pua and the No Limits Food, Inc. team for an awesome home-grown steak house concept!
George Town Super Steak (Meat and Seafood)
3rd Level, One Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Operating Hours:
Sunday to Thursday (7.00 am – 10.00 pm)
Friday – Saturday (7.00 am – 11.00 pm) Telephone: +632 8363-1447, 8361-3937, 8293-5562 Mobile: +63 917 532-0000 Email: [email protected] Facebook: George Town Super Steak Instagram: @georgetownsupersteak