Al Dente — Welcome to Manila!

Al Dente (ahl DEHN-teh) “Firm to the bite.” Term referring to the proper degree of doneness for pasta or risotto, denoting that it should still be somewhat chewy, neither hard nor mushy.

Join me in welcoming Al Dente to Manila! If you have been to Iloilo, Al Dente is the first genuine Italian restaurant in Iloilo located at Sarabia Manor Convention Center along Gen. Luna street. This is Chef Pauline’s baby and you should read this article first before proceeding: Chef Pauline: Pauline Banusing’s culinary skills and enterprising spirit liven up Iloilo’s restaurant scene. She owns a number of restaurant in Iloilo including Citrus Global Bistro, Maki Japanese Restaurant, and Villa Regalla Seafood Restaurant in Villa Beach (head to head with Tatoy’s and Breakthrough). So, most likely if you are in Iloilo, Chef Pauline’s restaurants would have welcomed you to that lovely city. Now, it is our turn to give her a warm welcome to Manila 🙂

I love their pizza because of their famous biscuit-like pizza crust which makes it unique and interesting. The crust is sweet that blends very well with their right choices of toppings. I love the Formaggio which is their 5 cheese equivalent with ricotta, mozzarella, feta, blue cheese (I love this), and parmesan cheese. The pasta is very good as well and delivered to its promised of “al dente” cooking. Although my wife and I debated whether the Lasagna should also be cooked in al dente style or it should be softer. Pizza and pasta are their core items in the menu and if you venture in the salad and fish department, I should warn you that they are not fresh (yet — I do hope they improve on this).

The ambiance is like bistro style with both air conditioned area and al fresco dining places. I found it weird that it is located in the Silver Auto Mall area where you have a view of the parked cars in the background. The silver auto mall would also be the home of Forest Bistro, Baguio’s famous bistro place. This is one alternative place you can dine if you are in the Tiendesitas or SM Hypermarket, Ortigas. Or if you are like me, looking for a place to eat with ample parking slots, good food, and still relatively small crowd (I’m sure not for long).

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Shopping Secrets

St. James Bazaar – Is it the Best Christmas Bazaar?

For some reason, Christmas season is becoming shorter and shorter each year. Usually, you can feel it as soon as the Ber-months arrive. But this year, I only realized that the season is near when Dec. 1 arrived. Manila got an early Christmas present when the Typhoon changed directions due to our collective prayers.

It is now time to feel the Christmas Traffic, the Christmas rush and the bazaars. I hate bazaars while my wife gets excited when I bring her to bazaars. Once, she mentioned to me that she doesn’t get hungry when she shops and wouldn’t mind skipping lunch for shopping. Being a rational person, I cannot comprehend this. I avoid Bazaars at all cost and I asked her to join her girl friends to do those kind of shopping.

But yesterday, I can’t say no to allegedly the Best Christmas Bazaar in Manila. We usually don’t miss the St. James Christmas Bazaar in Ayala, Alabang. This is where you can find unique items and wide diversity of stalls. This year it got a lot bigger and it already occupied the Cuenca covered courts and the St. James parking lot. I actually got suffocated so I just hang around in the dining area where they sell Bananaque for P30, mineral water for P30, Roasted organic Beef for P250, halo halo for P55 and everything else with +50% mark up. Some of the guys would go here to do sight seeing of the young Alabang Girls with their casual beauty.

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Shawarma Center – Malate’s Mediterranean Favorite

I love Mediterranean food specially the authentic ones which gives you a different and unique taste aside from the filipinized mid-east food you find in the malls. One of the shawarma place favorite in the Malate area is Shawarma Snack Center (SSC) near Hyatt Casino area. I’m sure most of you would know this already and I just want to share the secret to other people who haven’t been to this place.

This is frequented by tourists and makati people who wants to eat authentic mid-east food. There are a lot of hole-in-the-wall shawarma places in Malate that you can get confused on which one to go to. This place is packed night after night. In fact, the owner of the SSC bought the space across which was formerly a chinese restaurant and decided to expand so he can cater to more people. You can order in both places but I prefer to eat in the original shawarma snack center. Hopefully, you get to find a table in the original place because usually this gets packed more easily than the one across.

Overall, the taste is quite unique and delicious but sometimes inconsistent. Although some people might find mid-east food to be dry and the meats mostly hard in texture. I like it because of its unique flavor. You might want to check this out.

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#Restaurants, Bonifacio Global City

Thai at Silk @ Piazza Serendra

Best Tom Yung Kung (Php 240++). Hot and Sour Prawn Soup

The Thai at Silk experience started and ended with the Best Tom Yum Kung I ever tasted in any of the Thai restaurants in Manila. It is sweet and at the same time, spicy hot because of the lemongrass and the ginger that lingers and soothes your throat. As for the rest of the menu it was forgettable and I still would not compare this to People’s Palace. I must admit that they get great compliments for the interior design and the green – white motif designed by Cynthia and Ivy Almario. They put a lot of attention to detail which includes how the food is presented, how the plates and spoon/fork are selected, and even to the simple toothpick.

Thai at Silk is a Thai Fine Dining place and has been operational for less than a month at Serendra Piazza. They still need to improve a lot on the food which tasted ordinary (mostly) and it is a filipinized Thai version that is more on the sweet side. In the absence of quality premium food, you would feel that you are paying for the ambiance and presentation. In our case, cost was at P500/ person. The service we received was not at their best. Was it because they were preparing for a more important event than their customer at the moment or we were just ordinary looking folks dining at a fine dining resto? We also thought we saw the owner/ chef, Cecile Ysmael, wearing a chef attire but we could be wrong. (No photo moments with the chef and Aidan this time.) Maybe they need to learn from their neighbor across Duo on how to provide great warm service for everyone.

Net, I guess we just came at the bad time when the kitchen is already closing at 2pm in the afternoon but still, there was no excuse for that, maybe they should have closed their doors to us. I fell in love with the interiors and I do hope I can say the same thing about their food in the future. I’m sure this would get mixed reviews by the time you get to eat here so I would appreciate your dining experience with me. This would also be a gauge for me if it is time to go back and get an awesome worth of what I pay for my food and service.

Related Post:
Fash Pack Let’s eat: Thai at Silk
Som’s Noodle House – cheap authentic version of SukhoThai

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Shopping Secrets

The Great Bulacan Sale

Another wasted credit card…

Yes, my wife, sister-in-law and good friend bought all of these…

I was tired and I was the baby sitter for the entire shopping duration…

I was happy that we were able to get out after 3 hours…

Thanks Jonas for this Christmas wonderful sale!!

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Krispy Kreme, Manila — Happy Happy Birthday!

On a cold Nov. 30 morning, Krispy Kreme in Manila was born @ exactly 8.30am Manila, Philippines time. Before going to the Bulacan Sale, we just had to say Happy Birthday to Krispy Kreme in City Center the Fort!

There was a long queue and this was the tail end of the line at 8.30am. The queue was a snake already and it goes all around up to the Krispy Kreme main door opening below the Red building on the left. There are still a lot of people who lined up which is a mix of students who has nothing to do because of no classes, employees who aim to get 4 dozens of Krispy Kreme donuts to be seen as cool in the office, and gym rats coming from fitness gym the Fort who wanted to reward themselves for the morning’s workout. I’m not sure how long the queue was and I estimate that waiting time can easily be 2 hours in the morning.

Is there any readers out there who lined up this morning?

Aidan’s face says it all. Please help me escape from this long queue! BTW, what’s the frenzy about these Krispy Kreme donuts anyway? I’m actually just curious on who won the one year supply of Krispy Kreme donuts?



Wunderground.com — Best Weather Service Online

Just wanted to share with you another weather service secret. I don’t rely on PAG-ASA reports anymore and in fact, I don’t use TV anymore to help me predict typhoons in the Philippines. The MOST reliable weather service that predicted Hurricane Katrina in the US is www.wunderground.com. In fact, the local officials during the Katrina was saying that they did not get any warning but wunderground.com has been predicting it already. It is very critical specially for travelers and people who wants to go on road trips like me.

Let me share with you as an example. Ivan and I with friends were planning to go to Mt. Pinatubo on Dec. 1 friday and we arranged this way back. As early as Monday, I told Ivan that we will cancel it because wunderground.com is predicting that Super Typhoon Durian (locally called Reming) will hit Manila on Thursday afternoon. At this point, there were no news about it in the media. Ivan kept on asking me when I can confirm it and I just said to him that I’ll keep on tracking the typhoon via this online service.

In fact the photo above is the latest tracking of the typhoon. It will hit Philippine shores by 9am today. In the afternoon, it will hit Category 3 status (111-130 mph) similar to typhoon Milenyo. Originally, it was forecasted to be Category 5 so fortunately, it slowed down a bit. If it remained as a Category 5 and hit Manila, I would be staying at home definitely and pray.

Another story. We were suppose to go to the Bulacan Sale this afternoon, but I insisted that we go this morning. The typhoon is predicted to get soo big in the afternoon. that we might get stuck in the floods of North Luzon highway. So, I was able to convince my wife and friends to go first thing this morning.

The internet is so powerful that you just need to know how to seek the right information. I do hope this tip could save lives and your family in the future. Btw, we use this weather tracking system in our company and we plan accordingly based on this. This usually gave us 1-2 days lead time and planning ahead of any weather warnings from PAG-ASA.

Thanks Wunderground.com!! You guys save lives 🙂


Shopping Secrets


I’m actually sick since Thursday. I guess the fatigue of hosting our regional guests got to me. I’m resting the entire weekend and no blogging for me until Monday (hopefully). I’ll leave you with this post on the next Bulacan Sale since most of you might be planning for the long weekend. You need to have the email invite to be able to enter this sale. In the invite, they don’t have Mango brands anymore for this sale but instead here are the other brands: CK, Diesel, A/X, D&G, Replay, A&F, True Religion, Hollister, FCUK, AEO, Esprit, Zara, Anne Klein, Tommy, Juicy.


Awesome Festivals

Up close and personal with Ms. Earth Candidates

I have a hectic week now because my team are hosting our regional team mates for a week’s conference here in Manila. Being a Filipino host, I would like to make sure that our guests had a good time (in a good sense) and enjoy memorable experiences in Manila. I surprised them last night and I was able to pull off an awesome surprise.

My plan was to invite them to the World Music Room for a Karaoke gimmick. Little did they know that there was a Ms. Earth party where you can be up close and personal with the Beauties. Upon arriving at the second floor of the World Music Room, it took them 30 whole minutes to finally figure out that they are partying with real Ms. Earth beauties. They can’t believe it at first and thought that the sash was made up and everything was a hoax. What a clever gimmick huh? It was cool fun and they left with smiles on their faces including our lady friends 🙂

I do hope that they had one memorable fun evening. Unfortunately, Ms. Earth Philippines and Canada were on another batch for a different event that night. This the second consecutive year that we were fortunate to have the Ms. Earth pageant held here in the Philippines. To all the ladies, Good Luck on Sunday!!

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Fuyu Persimmons

My fruit vocabulary has just been expanded after tasting these sweet Fuyu Persimmons, also known as Japanese Persimmons. Thank you very much to Naz, one of my online friends, who gave these goodies as “pasalubong” from San Francisco for our family 🙂 I hope they didn’t have a hard time bringing the persimmons here.

I would call it a tomato apple. The persimmons, look like tomato in color and skin smoothness. It is eaten just the way they are and have a bite crunch like an apple. Though it is still hard, it is sweet already and the inside texture resembles that of a tomato. Best of all, there was no seed to interrupt your eating. It is deliciously sweet! Unfortunately, this was bought back in the US. But I’m pretty sure, there are stores around Greenhills or Manila that are importing persimmons here in Manila maybe a different variety called Hachiya.

Another treat were the chocolates, Nestle Crunch with four flavors (Original, Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Caramel) and Ghiradelli!!! I just hope I can control myself and just stick on eating those juicy persimmons. My wife has a sweet tooth so when she saw all those goodies on the table, she got excited (don’t women just love them?) and asked me where it came from (yeah, she knows me well enough that I’m not buying those for her). She was surprised and at the same time thought it was so sweet of Naz and his family to bring us pasalubongs from SF. Surprised because they chose to allot a space in their luggage to bring home these treats to us instead of bringing something home to their families and close friends. And oh, last but not the least, a supply of the clean and fresh smelling lotion from Body Works!

Thanks Naz and family for these wonderful treat!!! And I’m really sorry for not meeting you the first time, this week is a very hectic week for me but I was glad that you were still able to fit me in your limited time here in Manila. Once again, thank you and hope you have a nice trip back to SF!


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