Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Slanted Charm

**(GUS) I'm temporarily turning the floor over to my friend Sunshine Nugget, who wrote about our fun, fun dinner together recently. Thanks, Fenny, for the wonderful pics! **


Grumpyurbanslacker said that he wanted to try Vietnamese when he comes to visit. After much planning and research, he decided that he wanted to try The Slanted Door. Right after he decided I called up to make reservations. It was a month ahead but all the preferred time were booked so we settled on a Sunday night at 7:45pm. We couldn't believe how packed the place was! GUS joked that the place resembled a bus transit station. As usual, I couldn't decide what to eat so he made all the decisions.

**Note from GUS: I think the reason you couldn't decide what to order was because, in your words, the menu was more French than Vietnamese!**


We started with the appetizer, the slanted door springrolls.


Then seared dayboat scallops with mango, toasted lemongrass and spicy fish sauce. I really liked this one very much! The scallops were cooked just right and I really liked the fresh and pickled mango. Was so glad that we ordered this over the others!


For the main course we tried the grilled ranch brother's berkshire pork chop. I know GUS loves pork! My oh my, it was really good, I really like chewing on the ribs but I don't know what GUS thought of my dinning etiquette and I didn't care to check with him and used my hand. Haha..


And the grass fed estancia shaking beef. We have no idea why it's called the shaking beef and we forgot to ask the waitress. But the beef was good and I really enjoyed the watercress in lime sauce! Haha.... I was ready to go to bed after being so contented with the meal... Hehe..


But we couldn't leave just like that, so GUS ordered the Vietnamese drip coffee. It was a tad too sweet for me but he loved it. **Note from GUS: It was fantastic noh!! :D**


I was really full and we couldn't even finish our main courses but GUS had to entice me into ordering a dessert. Good call GUS, because we orderd the almond milk tapioca. Oh my god, it was really awesome. I could just come to this place again just for this dessert and nothing else! The brown thing is puree kabocha and the white part is tapioca in almond milk and the grapes were garnished with caramelized almond I think. Bottom line is I like this dessert! Yummy!

I had such a great time and towards the end of the meal I was laughing so much, I hope the food wasn't spiked with happy substance that's why we all loved it so much! Hehe...

Thanks GUS for the wonderful time!! :)

**The Slanted Door is located at
1 Ferry Building, #3 San Francisco, CA 94111. Tel 415.861.8032 for reservations**

Monday, September 20, 2010

Philippine Pavilion doesn't cause palpitation

Yours truly was in Shanghai recently, and decided to check out the World Expo 2010 and see what the fuss was all about.

For a very brief backgrounder, the World Expo is a six-month long event hosted by one city every 5 years. The central theme for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai is “Better City, Better Life,” focusing on sustainability, green products, and urban planning.

I had decided to focus on the Asian and European pavilions, and duly checked the map to find out which gate (and subway stop) was most convenient. Getting there via the Shanghai Metro system was a breeze, although the walk to the Expo gate was on the longish side.

As luck (fate? pure chance?) would have it, after entering the gates, the first pavilion i saw was the Philippine pavilion. So, let's see what our dear countrymen can expect from visiting it.

Check out the facade above and below:

Pretty creative and colorful design, although i'm not quite sure about the symbolism. That boxer glove, though, surely must have been sponsored by the Pac-man. :D

There was a fairly long queue to enter the pavilion. I had heard that if you were a Pinoy, they let you bypass the line, and enter instantly. Not sure if this was true. If it was, i surely would have availed of it. Finally, after 20 minutes or so, the entrance opened, and we surged inside.

And what exactly is there inside the Philippine pavilion? Well....let's see. There is a food court-type of snack area that takes up around 40% of the total floor area. Here, you can order such Filipino delicacies as ensaymada, leche flan, turon, and the like.

RMB25 for a small piece of leche flan? Rip-off!

One can also book an appointment to avail of a free ten-minute
hilot massage (see below):

If you're up for shopping, you've come to the right place. One would think the Greenhills tiangge was transplanted to Shanghai, with various stalls selling trinkets, jewelry, souvenirs and what not.

Fancy that ubiquitous polo shirt with the Philippine map embroidered? The poster of Dingdong Dantes (partly hidden) beckons you to buy one pronto.

And of course, a big stage was set with performances from various Pinoy bands. When i was there, the repertoire consisted of classic love songs, which was well-received by the mostly Chinese audience. Hmmm, maybe if they brought over Mocha or some other girl show bands, the locals would be doing the macarena pretty soon.

Oh, there were the de rigueur wooden artifacts and tribal handicraft-type of things, courtesy of the National Museum, maybe? Nobody gave them much of a second glance, though.

So, to conclude, going to the Philippine pavilion is pretty much like going to the SM Megamall. Except that going to Megamall is actually better, dahil mas mura dun ang leche flan!

To whoever conceptualized this debacle of a pavilion, leche!

For more extensive blog posts regarding the World Expo 2010, check out the ff. blogs:

The Blooming Pen
The Road Forks

Monday, September 13, 2010


How's this for a clever marketing come-on by Zanzibar bar-resto, located across the street from the renown (and always crowded) Sans Rival bakeshop in downtown Dumaguete?

I'd say they had me at 'hello'. :D

(Many thanks to Meg Koh for the photo, taken with her multi-million peso SLR camera)

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Thanks to the long weekend, i went to the City of Gentle People (yes, it's Dumaguete) with the Happy Gang. Will NOT be blogging much about the trip....hey, it was a vacation!?! :D

The locals were indeed very gracious people, and we all had a jolly time eating and taking photos and driving our guide crazy with our oddball requests, and more eating and drinking....and some whining about how boats tend to sink (courtesy of yours truly), and yet more eating.

Here's a rather disturbing development though.

If you look at the photo below closely enough, the giant burger-cum-alien spaceship has moved and is about to drop itself directly onto the customer!

Oh dear. Paging NASA!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My voluble friend Xtn was in town, and we had decided to venture forth into the far, far away neck of the woods in Antipolo, and eat at this fairly new house-resto named LAYA, which billed itself as a "Personal Dining Experience."

It was actually Xtn's 3rd or 4th time to dine at LAYA, but i guess some things never change. We still had difficulty deciphering the directions and got lost a couple of times! It didn't help that there was some roadwork going in, which made streets one-way, etc. LAYA is just past the Pinto Art Gallery, and is located at a charming house at the very end of the road.

We were famished when we got there, but nevertheless we took some time to pose for pics beside the LAYA sign, and other vantage points!

This one is of the lovely pathway leading to the house:

We were greeted warmly by charming and lovely lady of the house, Irene. She is one-half of the couple running LAYA, the other half being her husband and chef, Ricci (who was Xtn's cousin). Interestingly, Ricci used to be chief songwriter-bassist of the local indie band Mojofly, and sessions once in a while for pop star Rico Blanco; while Irene continues to gig with her band Chubibo.

Once seated, and sipping our cold, refreshing glasses of the pandan iced tea, it was impossible not to notice the stylish interiors of LAYA's dining area.

On to the food! There was a choice between the LAYA Signature Menu and the special Fathers' Day Menu. Xtn and i both chose the former, with different choice of main course (i was having the steak, while she was getting the Norwegian salmon).

First up was a little something to tickle our tastebuds (i totally forgot what it was called, unfortunately! :d)

Then the trio of appetizers came, namely: (R-L) Crabstick & Cream Cheese Dumpling with Spicy Mango Sauce, Shrimp & Chicken Wanton Bag with Thai Sweet Chili, and Stirfried Kaffir Lime Port in Lettuce Wrap.

Yes, in case you're wondering, the food tasted as good as it looked! I especially liked the wanton bag, it literally explodes with flavor. I think i could eat a dozen of these things, haha!

The grandiosely-named Thai-Spiced Pumpkin & Cashew Nut Soup with Coconut Cream Froth came next. Quite good, too, with that slightly spicy-sour kick at the end which made it taste differently from the typical pumpkin soup.

Up next was the Grilled Chicken with Mixed Greens in Oriental Soy Dressing. I'm normally not a fan of salads, but ate this one with relish. Didn't finish it though, as i was dangerously getting full, with the main course still not being served yet!

By this point, Xtn and i were deeply engrossed in our conversation, such that we forgot to take pics of the main courses, as well as the dessert (Cashew Mango Kesong Puti & Banana Chocnut Spring Rolls)! Ack!

The banana spring rolls (essentially glammed-up turon) was particularly tasty, and i wouldn't have minded taking some home :D

LAYA allows the use of its swimming pool for private parties (see below):

We got to talk with Chef Ricci and Irene. He recounted that they have been doing very brisk business lately, especially with the Fathers' Day weekend. Originally open for Saturday and Sunday lunch, and Friday and Saturday dinner only, LAYA has had to extend its hours for Sunday dinner.

Check out also some interesting display pieces:

This pic below is located (of all places) inside the restroom. I had the urge to pocket the wooden figurine on the right, but thought better of it. Haha :D

All in all, it was a very good meal in a lovely setting, with fun companions and engrossing conversation. For the price of PHP750.00 (around US$18.00) per person, this is a definite steal. (We totally forgot to leave a tip, though)

Time just seemed to roll by, and by the time Xtn and i took our leave, it was nearly 4 pm.

Here's a snapshot of the lovely couple, Irene and Ricci:

(You can book your personal dining experience at LAYA, by calling (0917) 8464322 or emailing Please check out LAYA's website for directions on getting there)

Friday, July 23, 2010


So, despite stuffing ourselves to the gills with the 5-ways lechon, there was always room for dessert. Right? :D

First: the glasses

On board was Chef Claude's halo-halo (literally "mix-mix" in English), which is "basically a mixture of sweet preserved beans (red beans, chick peas), coconut meat (macapuno), jackfruit (langka), pounded dried rice (pinipig), sweet yam (ube), cream flan (leche flan), shreds of sweetened plantain (saba), filled with crushed ice, milk (or coconut milk); and topped with ice cream." (courtesy of

Second : the ingredients

Chef Claude smilingly quipped that this halo-halo was special, because he served it only when our tour guide Spanky was around. (Little-known factoid: Spanky is one of Metro Manila's most eligible bachelors. For all ladies, please message me privately should you want a date with him. Jejeje :D)

Seriously though, what made it extra delicious was the use of carabao milk. It gave the halo-halo that full, rich, creamy (never-mind-it's-fattening) taste.


Of course, if there was halo-halo, the leche flan could not be far behind! It was also made using carabao milk.

Yup, you guessed right. Our group demolished, annihilated and utterly wiped out the leche flan from its yummy existence from the face of the galaxy, constellation and universe!!

All in all, a fitting way to cap off a great meal.

For details/reservation for Bale Dutung, please call 64-45 8885163, or email

(Many thanks to Femme P. and Leslie Perez for the wonderful food photos)

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The lunch served at Bale Dutung is a ten-course (mostly) Kapampangan affair, with the notable exception of Chicken Inasal. Ms. Mary Ann explained that it is like a degustacion menu, with flavors of each course progressively getting stronger to tickle the taste buds.

Being the overzealous carnivore that i am, i will gloss over the other dishes served (Ensaladang Pako, Talangka sushi, etc.) and jump immediately to the 5-ways lechon.

The atmosphere on the table was convivial, as everyone was by now on familiar terms with one another; and i guess there is nothing like the prospect of a good meal that loosens tongues. :D

So, let us start counting the ways we love dear porky piggy!

1ST WAY: Balat ng Lechon at Liver sauce

The lechon skin was chopped and passed around the table on a dish.

Unfortunately, something went wrong and it was NOT crispy, as expected. They actually had to fry the skin. It came with a choice of two dips, vinegar or liver sauce.

Consensus around the table was that the skin was a bit tough to chew, and could be hard to swallow at times. A bit of a letdown (sigh)

2ND WAY: Fried Lechon Flakes binalot sa Tortilla at Claude's Oriental Sauce

As per below pic, the lechon was shredded to resemble floss. Combined with tomato, onions, basil, kimchi and Claude's Oriental sauce, it was put together in a pancake, and eaten Peking Duck-style.

Here's a sample of how to wrap it all up:

Unanimous thumbs up!!! If this were Facebook, it would be LIKE, LIKE and LIKE! Winner!

See cheeky Femme swallowing the whole thing in one gulp! :D

3RD WAY: Sinigang na Lechon

Sinigang is a type of Philippine soup noted for its sour flavor. As Chef Claude explained, the leeks, lemongrass, garlic, etc. stuffed inside the pig were used to make a "gelatinous broth", and served with steamed rice. This adds body to the sourness, unlike in regular sinigang.

(Above) Ingredients for the broth
(Below) Here's how it looks on the plate:

I generally don't eat sinigang, and just took a tablespoonful of my seatmate MJ's dish. The sourness was well-balanced; it won't make you make a sour face. Haha.

4TH WAY: Inihaw na Tadyang na Lechon at Ensaladang Talong

In English, grilled ribs. The meat was tender and tasty, albeit a tad too salty for my taste.

The eggplant and salted egg complemented the dish very well.

5TH WAY: Inasadong Pata ng Lechon

Fifth, but not least, the hind leg was roasted, in a combination of Kapampangan and Chinese styles.

At this point, Ms. Mary Ann marvelled at our group's collective appetites, as we were all readying our plates to dig in into this dish. It turns out one of their previous groups had thrown in the towel (no, not the tuwalya con yelo :D) by this point; and they had to raffle off this dish to the lucky participant.

This ended the 5-ways lechon on a good note. Or so we thought.

Chef Claude wheeled out a brand-new lechon, and invited us to partake of the skin by ripping it directly off the pig! This time, it was perfectly crispy and crunchy! Yesss!!!

Uric acid, Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels be damned, i feasted on as much balat as i could!

Up next, dessert!

(Many thanks to lovely ladies Leslie Perez, Steph C. and Femme P. for the food shots)

Sunday, June 06, 2010


A hot and humid Saturday morning is not really the perfect time to be out in the sun, but i couldn't resist joining the Ultimate Pampanga Culinary & Heritage Tour run by this group of four friendly chaps-cum-bloggers, namely: Anton (Our Awesome Planet); Ivan Henares (Ivan About Town); Ivan Man Dy (Old Manila Walks); and Spanky (Manila Boy).

Itinerary for today was the following spots: First stop was Everybody's Cafe, a family-owned resto that serves authentic Kapampangan cuisine (plus some frogs and crickets - if in season), followed by Betis Church and Bacolor Church.

And for the piece de resistance, a lunch at artist-chef's Claude Tayag's house (called Bale Dutung, meaning 'House of Wood' in the Kapampangan dialect), where we will partake of their specialty, the 5-Ways Lechon!

Yesss! (with matching fist pump) Truth be told, this was the sole reason i joined this tour.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A couple of hours later, we arrived at Bale Dutung for the much-anticipated lunch. We had spent most of the morning exploring the churches, buoyed by the entertaining commentary and funny anecdotes of our guide for today, Spanky. (Oh, did i mention he is one of Manila's eligible bachelors? :D haha!)

We were welcomed by Chef Claude's gregarious wife, Mary Ann. Seeing our sweaty perspiring visages, she quipped that their house did not have air conditioning, but had frozen towels which served the same purpose.

Take a look:

I tried dropping it on the table from a foot high, and the thing is as solid as a rock!

See it here STANDING beside their delicious juice:

The towels had a really pleasant smell that calmed one's brain from the stifling heat. We tried figuring out what it was. General consensus was it came from Alcologne or baby cologne, although someone did mention baby's breath.

Whatever the scent was, these towels (which i dubbed "Towel Popsicle", or in Tagalog, "Tuwalya con Yelo") really hit the spot!

Our noisy Swiss mate Stefan applying on his forehead. Sarap ba, pare ko? :D

Demure Steph demurely applying it on the side of her neck.

Cheeky Femme loving the cold cold tingle on her cheek!

According to Steph, should one wish to try making the 'tuwalya con yelo' at home, one just wets the towel with water, and then freezes it for a couple of hours. Then, wallah!

After an hour or so, it softens and starts to unravel, and you can use it the conventional way.

Up next, the 5-ways lechon!

For more info regarding the various tours of Spanky and his friends, check out the Ultimate Philippines website.