Food

Edgardo’s Sinangag Plaza (Con. Pequena, Naga City)

Hello everyone! So, I’m back again with my discoveries of what’s new and what’s good value for money in the land of sili and gata, Bicol. You’ll notice that I haven’t really gotten farther than Naga City lately since, as always, I’ve been tied to work. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I will get to explore more of Bicol so I will have more exciting stuff to share with you guys.

So, like two weeks ago, Rovi and I checked out this newly opened tapsilogan near our office. By the way, a tapsilogan is a Filipino term for eatery or resto wherein the menu is basically composed of Tapa (cured meat), Sinangag (fried rice) and fried Itlog (egg). If one does not prefer tapa, they also offer fried chicken, pritong bangus (fried milk fish), tocino, hotdogs, lumpiang Shanghai  (Shanghai rolls) and porkchop. Every order is always paired with fried rice and one fried egg. Even better, each order only costs P80!19840190_10209538802969967_1570245568_o

As with the ambience, it was very clean and newly renovated. We actually only wanted to have lunch when we went there but upon seeing the improvements of the place, we just had to take pictures. From the outside, it didn’t seem like much but once we entered, I silently thanked the heavens that there was finally a decent place to eat at near our work place. By the way, I said improvements because the said establishment was previously occupied by this restaurant called Global Kitchen which didn’t do too well and eventually closed down. The previous resto looked gloomy and sounded expensive while this new Edgardo’s Sinangag Plaza seemed more warm, welcoming and humble or what we call masa (for the majority of people) in these parts. The interiors though are pretty sassy compared to a usual tapsilogan.20107857_10209538803969992_1599876243_o20108090_10209538820210398_926941283_o(1)

As with the food, Rovi ordered Porksilog (fried porkchop) and was surprised she was given two pieces instead of just one. She said they tasted good. I remember she mentioned there were tough parts of the pork chops, I believe it was the pork rind. 20132969_10209538809010118_1289813539_o

My order was bangus (fried milk fish) but thing is, I didn’t know I had to say I wanted the head part. Turns out you either get the tail part or head part of the fish. I wasn’t asked. So, they served me this (below) – the end tail of a very big milkfish! I mean, it must have been a very big fish that there was only a smidgen of bangus belly left in the part they served me (the most delicious part). I wanted to send it back and ask for the head part instead but I got shy and thought that they’ve already fried the tail, so I had the tail. Being the opposite of assertive definitely has its drawbacks as you cannot believe how many sneaky fish bones I had to deal with. So, the next time I’m eating there I’m telling them my specs before they fry my food!20107321_10209538807690085_187295409_o

That was basically my experience. After a few days, my co-workers have ordered take-out food and so far, we were all impressed with the portions. For instance with Lumpiang Shanghai, there were a heaping ten pieces of rolls and the serving of the fried chicken was not to be underestimated as well. However, this is not for everyday eating or for those who have an aversion for fried food because in this eatery, everything they have on offer is fried.

Food

JAPAN-JAPAN (NAGA CITY)

This afternoon, Irene and Jael asked me to go out with them to eat at this joint called Japan-Japan at Balatas, Naga City. I said yes, as I was really tired and head was throbbing from all the work I had to do for the day. And I have learned to eat whenever I’m stressed out, either that or drink wine. The former I had to learn consciously to avoid further losing weight as I tend to lose my appetite whenever I’m burned out, while the latter was easy. Enough said.

Anyway, the place was very simple and unassuming. It’s one of those hidden gems you only know about if somebody actually tells you about it or if you live near the area. In my case, they let me in on it. And I’m glad they did. By the looks of the place being very basic and simple, it can be described as more of a joint than a resto. The food though is another story because the things we tried tasted great! And by food presentation, it was almost hard to believe that that kind of food was being served in that place. Uhm, that was meant to be a compliment. I meant like, “do not judge a book by its cover” because there’s more to it than meets the eye.DSC07879

What we ordered were Takoyaki (P45), Ramen (P100), California Maki (P130) and Yakisoba (P90). It’s a relief I still remember all the names and prices of the food as general anaesthesia messed up my short term memory.

So, the Takoyaki came out first as they already had a few cooking when we got there. Each order is 5 pieces but they got excited and ate one of each from our two orders before I was able to take a picture (lol!). It tasted delicious and creamy, the usual veggies are inside like cabbage and carrots, and the octopus was very soft. What made it a cut above the usual Takoyaki being sold in the malls was the sauce. I can’t stop raving about how good the sauce was because I usually find Takoyaki bland and I usually just eat one before I’m tired of it (umay factor), but with Japan-Japan’s sauce I can maybe eat all five.

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Takoyaki (P45)

Then, there was the California Maki (my favorite) which was like party in my mouth! All the ingredients like the rice, crab meat, mango, apple, mayo and the dipping sauce with wasabi all together made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I popped one in and knew that was what I came for. There were eight pieces of heavenly bites on that plate.

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California Maki (P130)

The Yakisoba was also good and they didn’t scrimp on the bonito flakes (those thin shaves of savory translucent stuff that looked like plastic). The noodles were well cooked and savory as well.

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Yakisoba (P90)

Finally, the Ramen, which did not taste like how I expected it. I thought it would taste like Korean Ramyeon but it didn’t. I love Ramyeon and my taste buds have gotten used to eating the instant Jjampong noodles (which tasted like Ramyeon from MannA Korean Resto). But I guess the Ramen, like every authentic dish, has a different character faithful to its origin or the region where it came from. I must say, it was worth a try and a great addition to our meal.

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Ramen (P100)

By the way, the place is not hard to find although not many people know about it. If coming from Centro of Naga, just ride a jeepney going to Magsaysay Avenue and ask the driver to pull over infront of West Park building or simply say Philhealth (located in that building). There is a line of pedicabs or padyak that you can ask to take you to Japan-Japan.

Over-all verdict:  Great value for money!

Food

MannA Korean Restaurant (San Felipe, Naga City)

Hello everyone! Today, we had lunch at this restaurant that serves authentic Korean food. The name is MannA Korean Restaurant located at Parkview Executive Village in San Felipe, Naga City- about 10 minutes drive from Magsaysay Avenue. It was my second time to eat there so I know the food is delicious and authentic as the owner is a Korean couple who barely speak any Tagalog. And lo and behold! Who did I happen to sit next to? It’s Soong Jong Ki from Descendants of the Sun, so naturally, I was beyond thrilled to say the least. I am so  convinced that DOTS is the best. drama. ever. (Insert girly giggles here).19449251_10209330774929396_459787038_o

So after waiting for what seemed like 20 minutes and we were so hungry because we got there at 12:30 PM (that is already late lunch for us), we got served first with the Korean Seafood Pancakes. My favorite. It was as expected – a soft, moist, hot plate of deliciousness. The slightly spicy, sweet dipping sauce makes all the difference.

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Korean Seafood Pancake (P 150)

Then one by one they came out fresh from the kitchen. The half soy chicken, half seasoned chicken, 2 bibimbap, 1 beef bulgogi, 2 bowls of ramyeon, and 2 pitchers of iced tea. We ordered The Family Pack (good for 6-10 persons) for P1,200.00 only and everything was delicious! The kimbap was not part of the promo, but was an additional order of a co-worker.

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Half Seasoned Chicken (P 250)
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Bibimbap x 2 (P 200)
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Beef Bulgogi (P 200)
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Half Soy Chicken (P 250)
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Ramyeon x 2 (P 200)
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Kimbap (P 100)- not part of the promo

DSC0758619402345_10209330774969397_2129701268_oI noticed that the interiors haven’t changed much, just a few more tarps with pictures of their food and prices were installed. But I guess that is the charm of the place – it is simple to the eyes but explosive to the palate.19397906_10209331015455409_618644918_n

It was a very satisfying meal and I’ll gladly recommend this restaurant to the Naguenos who are tired of the usual fare and want to try something new and to the tourists who are visiting Naga City. Although it is a bit on the outskirts of the busy city streets, as it is located in the rural area in San Felipe, every bite makes the trip all worth it. So, I guess my love for Korean drama might only be possibly outdone by my love for Korean food.

By the way, thanks so much Rovi for the treat! =)

Places

Magayon Art Gallery (Albay Provincial Capitol)

When in Albay, make sure to visit the Magayon Art Gallery, located at the lobby of Albay Provincial Capitol Building, which serves as the avenue for local artists to show off their visual creations. It is especially fun to go there during Magayon Festival because of the many activities like the parade of huge folklore characters made of paper mache, parade featuring the different  festivals of the different towns, pageants, trade fairs and beer plaza. However, since the festival was just held last month (May 2017), I think it will be something to look forward to next year.

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Magayon Art GAllery

 

549421_447606805256230_1172652317_n575242_447606835256227_1981817209_n579723_447606928589551_2068803416_n So, I was being dorky and found some ways to make this painting more interesting I think using just the format tools (effects) of MS PowerPoint:normal

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Plastic Wrapplastic wrap

Cut Outcut out

I have been to the GSIS Museo ng Sining in Pasay City and have seen paintings of Fernando Amorsolo and Juan Luna’s “Parisian Life” up close, but I found myself just as impressed by the works of our local artists in Bicol. So, if ever you’re in the area, I recommend you give the Magayon Art Gallery a visit. Thanks for stopping by!

Food

GINATAANG LANGKA (Young Jackfruit Cooked in Coconut Milk)

Hello everyone! It is Saturday and I am so relieved to be at home instead of slaving away in front of the computer at the office. I was so looking forward to this long weekend (Monday is Independence Day here in the Phil!). Yesterday, as I ever so melodramatically declared to my friend and equally “slave driven” co-worker Rovi, I swore I would try to fatten up like it’s some kind of a life mission. So I will make an extra effort to pig out more and think less of work this weekend. (BTW, you can check out her blog at Rovi Diaries).

Anyway, I’m no cook so it’s Yoy who really cooked this one Bicolano dish that we usually have every other weekends. It is called Ginataang Langka which means young jackfruit strips cooked in coconut milk (gata). If there is one thing the Bicolanos love as much as sili (chili peppers), it would have to be dishes cooked in gata (coconut milk).

The ingredients are the following: 3 cloves garlic, half of a medium sized ginger, 1 small onion, 1 small tomato, 2 cups coconut milk, half kilo young jackfruit strips (available in the Philippine/Asian markets), half kilo freshwater shrimps (you can also use half kilo small sized crabs instead), 1/2 teaspoon sugar, salt and ground black pepper to taste. DSC07496DSC07497DSC07501DSC07498DSC07505

Basically, the first thing is to chop your onions, garlic, tomato and ginger. Then bring the coconut milk to a boil, stirring occasionally. Yoy likes to use our medium sized wok for this, although you may also use a pot. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, salt and the young jackfruit strips. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the jackfruit strips are cooked (should be soft). DSC07508

Then add the shrimps and cook for another 5 minutes or until shrimps have turned bright orange. Add more salt, a little sugar, ground black pepper to taste. Garnish with green and red peppers and simmer for 2 more minutes. And you’re done!DSC07511

Enjoy it with a steaming bowl of rice and fried fish with soy sauce and calamansi (local lime) as dipping sauce for those truly satisfying Bicolano flavors. For me, it tastes of home. Nothing says Welcome to Bicol better than an incredibly spicy chili-based dish like the Bicol Express or the creamy, coco-nutty flavors of the local dishes such as Laing and Ginataang Langka.

 

Places

KAWAKAWA NATURAL PARK (LIGAO, ALBAY)

The beginning of the rainy season can now be felt here in Bicol, even though the heat is still the same as if summer is not quite ready to leave just yet. The rain falls every now and then, at the most unexpected times, as if to mourn the death of our soldiers who fought hard in battle to keep the peace and to protect the innocent in Marawi. God bless them. And as the country is torn and heartbroken over the war waged by the terrorists against the government and its people, I myself don’t feel the enthusiasm to urge people to travel and have a fun time just now.

However, I would like to introduce a place that is great for introspection. A peaceful place that can be a solace for troubled minds. In this time of turmoil for my country, we need to find that peace within ourselves, to extend our hands to God for comfort. Below are the photos of my visit to Kawakawa Natural Park in Ligao, Albay some years ago. It is a place I can think of that made me feel so near to God before, even though God is really within us all in the first place.

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“Welcome to this famous hill without a hilltop” the marker says. The locals have told us that Kawakawa Hill is so named because the shape of its crater  is easily likened to a “kawa” or a wok being used for cooking.

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Every summer is the right time to visit to witness hundreds of sunflowers while in bloom. Unfortunately, when friends and I went there they have just harvested the flowers a few days ago, which then left us with only a few blooms to enjoy.543242_447582698591974_1930491131_n554638_447581715258739_103050721_n536653_447583481925229_1140660211_n

The view from the top was so relaxing that I can easily see myself retiring and living in such a place. There is something about being in a high place that is uplifting to the spirits as well. I remember instantly feeling better.576365_447581998592044_1393260001_n562627_447582368592007_1719302356_n542362_447584278591816_778806875_n525787_447582041925373_1550998116_n

KawaKawa Park is not hard to find. There are markers along Maharlika Highway in Ligao, Albay that points to the direction of the park which is located in Tuburan. So whether you come from Legazpi or from Manila, it is very accessible. The entrance fee happens to be P10.00 only. Also, the locals are quite helpful and friendly so there should be no reason to get lost.

Places

Cagsawa Ruins, Daraga, Albay

Cagsawa Ruins are what remains of  a 17th century church built by the Franciscans. It is considered as one of the most frequently visited tourist destinations in the province of Albay.

According to history, last February 1, 1814, Mount Mayon (famous for its perfect cone), began its most violent and deadly eruption in recorded history wherein the church was destroyed and thousands of inhabitants were killed. The bell tower miraculously survived and over time, it has developed into a top destination for tourists and locals alike for the beautiful view of the Mayon Vulcano in the background. And so history goes, although that is not why many people visit nowadays. For the most part, people go there to have their picture taken with the vulcano and the belfry of the old Cagsawa church as the backdrop. Lol. I mean, nothing wrong with that. And I was definitely no exception (Mt. Mayon and I have tons of photos together!). I guess that is pretty much all you can do when you visit anyway (if you’re not into shopping for pili nuts and handicrafts). 48082_452951188055125_1578136340_n

The place can be so charming, especially when the weather is right.

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Those are just some of the photos taken while touring some friends from Manila.

Hotels

SELVINA’S HOTEL AND RESTAURANT, SORSOGON CITY

Last Good Friday, we went home to Sorsogon City for what turned out to be a pleasant family reunion, wherein my oldest brother and his family also came home from Manila. Anyway, I noticed that no matter what time of the year, it always always rains whenever we go home. Since it is summer, there had to be a typhoon then – Typhoon Crising.

On the first night, we stayed at Dona Mercedes Country Lodge. Now this lodge has a lot of good reviews from Trip Advisor raving about how clean and comfortable it was and all that. But after our brief stay, all I can say is that you only really get what you paid for, which is not much.

However, on our second night, and after a whole day of frolicking in the waters of Bacon Beach, we checked in at Selvina’s Hotel and Restaurant which is located in Pangpang, Sorsogon, just along Maharlika Highway.

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It was night time when we arrived and the hotel had all these attractive incandescent lights going on making its façade glow, and the kids went “Wowww.” Now I wish we had booked a bigger room so we could all stay together, but I had the room booked a month ago when I thought we were the only ones coming home.

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Anyway, I got the Double Standard room for a steal as the original price was Php1,500.00 including VAT and surcharges, but less travelbook.ph discount of Php240 and less Php600 (for my 600 points redeemed), I only paid Php660. I earned the points from booking hotel accommodations and writing reviews.

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The Double Standard room was very nice and clean. I liked the simple design and the classic neutral colors they used for the room (just white, black, brown and nude). I also liked that it has a couch, a center table, a coffee table and complimentary coffee. They also put a hot/cold water dispenser on the lobby so the guests don’t need to buy. The AC was functional and the bathroom has hot/cold shower and a bidet, and very clean as well. The usual towels and toiletries are likewise provided.

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On the other hand, wifi was slow inside the room and the TV was kinda small. But the addition of the veranda was a real pleasant surprise.  It was nice to enjoy the view over a cup of coffee in the morning. I’m gonna bookmark this hotel for when I need a room again soon. (P.S. sorry naman po sa pag-mowdeling. Last na yan pramis hehe)