Kitchen Greenbelt

Whenever I go to Manila, I try to visit my favorite restaurants. Most of these are the places I go to when I lived near Greenbelt, Makati a few years ago. On my last Manila visit, I was very happy that I was able to convince my team mates to dine at Kitchen Greenbelt.

Kitchen Greenbelt

Kitchen is located on the ground floor of Greenbelt 3, right beside Seattle's Best. Once you enter the restaurant, the ambiance is warm and lively. In lieu of numerous small tables, Kitchen gave way to a couple of long tables where groups could gather and talk. The lights above match the shape of the tables, wrapped with a trendy pink swirl design. From the dining area, one could see the kitchen nearby where staff could easily be seen preparing the meals.

The food in Kitchen is absolutely GREAT! They have unique selections that differentiate them from the rest of the industry. They give interesting names for their dishes, too. Take these appetizers, for example:

Kitchen Greenbelt Wrapped and Ready

Wrapped and Ready (Php125). Shrimp wrapped in a roll and deep fried with turnips, mushrooms and vermicelli noodles with 2 sauces: spicy and sweet

Kitchen Greenbelt Bread Winner

Bread Winner (Php125). Satisfying do-it-yourself bruschette made of Crostinni bread, stewed tomato, cheese, pasto and sauteed mushrooms

Kitchen Greenbelt Green Minded

Green Minded (Php165). Fresh romaine,loilo rosss, red wine and green grapes, white cheese, nuts, pomelo in balsamic dressing

For main courses, we tried these:

Kitchen Greenbelt On Barbies Cue

On Barbie's Cue (Php190). A combination of meat and seafood kebab

Kitchen Greenbelt Cure All

Cure All (Php190). Marinate Korean beef

Kitchen Greenbelt Sword In

Sword In (Php220). Pan-fried prawns with crab fat sauce

Aside from the rice selections, they also have a couple of pasta dishes available. Here are two of the pasta dishes that they offer:

Kitchen Greenbelt Under The Sun

Under The Sun (Php195). Seafood combination with chili cream sauce

Kitchen Greenbelt Clamming Up

Clamming Up (Php130). Spaghetti with sauteed clams, white wine, Asian shrimp pesto. a dish that will make people stop talking and start eating

After all these delicious selections, we did not have room for any dessert. Oh well. It's a good excuse to come back for another visit.

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Manage your budget in trips abroad

When planning for trips abroad, make sure you include your budget. With easy access to money through international ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) and credit cards, it's easy to lose track of your spending. This usually happens in impulse purchases, when you see items that YOU REALLY MUST BUY because you don't have it in your home country. Here are tips on how to keep your finances on track when travelling abroad:
  • Cover the basics. Have a meal and transportation budget. Ask around for the average cost per meal in the country you're visiting, and explore transportation options as well. In most countries, the cheapest and most convenient form of travel is usually by train or bus.
  • Set aside a shopping budget. Having covered the basics of meal and transportation, you are now sure that you won't go hungry or lost in your country of destination. The next step is to decide how much you're willing to spend on shopping in that country. This is a number that entirely depends on you.
  • Have a contingency fund. This is usually a day's worth of your basic expenses. You could probably include a budget for an extra night at a hotel. Why is this important? You can make sure you're covered in case something unexpected happens. I learned this the hard way when our Cebu Pacific flight back to Manila from Shanghai got cancelled. Yes, cancelled! There were a few people there who no longer had money to spend for an extra day. Make sure this doesn't happen to you.
  • Bring only cash for your budget in an easily-traded currency. I usually just bring US dollars for any trip abroad. Foreign exchange shops would easily trade your dollars in the local currency. When you arrive at the airport and have no local currency to pay for taxi, trade a few dollars at the airport enough to pay for transportation.
  • Don't trade ALL your dollars at the airport. Most often than not, airport foreign exchange centers give lower rates than forex services in the city. You'll have better value for your money elsewhere. If you don't have any money in the local currency, trade just enough for transportation and your first two meals so you have money to spend before exchanging your dollars at a better location.
  • Be wary of using your credit cards and ATM cards. These cards give you easy access to money, but they come with extra fees. Be sure you're willing to pay extra if you decide to go for credit and ATM cards. Review your credit card policy. They usually bill your foreign purchases in the local currency, and they use their own exchange rate. For ATM cards, you can use your bank's ATM card in any of their partner banks abroad. However, exchange rates are usually high. I got a 1RMB = 8PHP rate when I was in Shanghai, compared to a market rate of 1RMB = 6PHP. That's 30percent increase!
  • Do I really need this? Ask yourself this question if you see an item you're drooling for. Weigh the options carefully. You might not need the item, but you're sure you cannot go back to that country again for the next few years. In this case, you could opt to buy. If possible, it would be good to sleep on it. If you still can't get that thing out of your mind the next day, then go back for it and buy it if it makes you feel better.
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Learn Basic Thai Phrases

Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in Asia. On my last visit there, I got to learn basic Thai phrases which helped me a lot in interacting with the Thais. They're really very friendly and accommodating. Even if most of them cannot speak English, they will always greet you with a warm smile.

When we got a massage at Wat Po temple where the famous Thai massage originated, the girls who attended to us taught us Thai patiently. As we were getting our massages, we filled the room with laughter as we tried to speak Thai in their local accent.

Here are some of the phrases that we picked up, taught by the girls at the massage school and the staff at Abloom Executive Serviced Apartment, where we stayed.

Basic Phrases
Hello Sa-wat-di
How are you? Khun-sa-bai-di-ru
I'm fine Sa-bai-di
I am going to... Chan-ja pai
I'm sorry Chan-sia-jai
Please Garuna
Sorry/Excuse me Khor-thot
Yes Chai
No Mai-chai
Very good Di-mak
Not good Mai-di
Thank you Khop-khun

Rice Khao
Water Nam

Shopping and Numbers
How much is this? Ra-kha-thao-rai
Too much Mak-pai
Too expensive Paeng-pai

1 Nueng, 2 Song, 3 Sam, 4 Si, 5 Ha, 6 Hok, 7 Chet, 8 Paet, 9 Kao, 10 Sip

While we were there, we also discovered that the Thais have different ways of saying these phrases to the males and females, depending on who you're talking to. When you say thank you to a male, for example, you say "Khop-khun-krap". When you're talking to a female, you say "Khop-khun-ka" with emphasis on the last syllable. The difference is usually on the last word only (krap/ka).

I hope you find these phrases useful the next time you travel to Thailand.

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Piolo Pascual and Dingdong Dantes: Are you my dream date?

I'll take a break from the travel posts for this entry. Let me share with you a video from Pond's featuring Piolo Pascual and Dingdong Dantes. Pond's came up with a very creative promo that gives women a chance to date the country's top leading men on primetime TV.

Wondering if you're the dream date of Piolo Pascual and Dingdong Dantes? Are you the woman they are looking for? Watch this video to find out!

Click here to view the complete promo mechanics.

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Simala Shrine

Devout Catholics would most probably have heard about Simala. Simala is a church built by monks in Cebu's Southern province of Sibonga. It's about an hour and a half drive from Cebu City, two hours at most. People from all walks of life take time to visit the Simala shrine, even if it's a bit far from the main road. A lot of people go there to offer prayers, since the place has been home to the Blessed Mama Mary who has performed miracles and granted wishes to her devotees.


On my first visit to Simala shrine, I was amazed by the multitude of visitors the shrine had at that time. People waited patiently in the hot summer sun, standing in line to go inside the church and have their turn to visit the Marian shrine. We fell in line as well. We sure didn't want to miss the opportunity of seeing the miraculous Mama Mary and offer prayers ourselves.

When you go near the shrine, a guard will advise you to take off your shoes as you need to walk barefoot towards the shrine. You can leave your shoes there or you can carry them along with you. For those who are wearing sleveless shirts, the guard will make you wear a sarong to cover yourself up.

When I got to the shrine, I smelled a sweet scent of roses that seemed to fill the air. I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I felt at that time a certain level of peace when I was praying in front of the shrine. I really felt that the place was sacred. It's a feeling I entirely cannot explain.

On my way out, there were lots of inspiring letters displayed in glass cabinets near the wall. There were letters from nurses and other professionals who passed their board exams, people reunited with their loved ones, and more. It's very touching to read all the letters of prayers granted through their devotion to the Mother Mary of Simala.

The place is definitely worth a visit. Each day, the monks work hard to make the place beautiful for their visitors through donations and goodwill. I've visited Simala three times already, and each time I always see an improvement in the place. It won't be long before Simala becomes a big tourist destination in Cebu.

How to Get To Simala
Once you get to Sibonga, you have to look out for a small sign pointing the way to Simala. If you get lost, it never hurts to ask people on the road. They'll be glad to point you to the right direction, as Simala is popular around the area. From there, you follow a paved path towards the church.

Travel Tips
Go to Simala early in the morning to avoid a big crowd. Ideally, you should leave Cebu City at around 7-8am. By the time you get to Simala, you'll get to park comfortably inside the church grounds. Don't wear sleveless shirts or skimpy skirts. The guards will not let you in and will ask you to put something on to cover yourself up.

For more Simala photos, check out this blog.

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Yet Another Cebu Pacific Promo

Cebu Pacific offers P500 system-wide seat sale
More than 500,000 domestic and international seats available for 2009

Get ahead and book your 2009 holidays now! Fly to any domestic or international destination for only P500! We're putting more than 500,000 'Go Lite' seats on sale.

Travel light and fly to any of our domestic destinations for only P500 all-in! Choose from any of our 27 domestic destinations.

You can also choose to fly to any of our 13 international destinations for only 500 pesos! Our P500 one-way international ‘Go Lite’ seat sale fare is exclusive of applicable taxes and surcharges. Fuel and insurance surcharge range from USD 25 to 110 per way.

If you choose to bring bags , you only have to add P200 and you’re off to a wonderful holiday with pocket money to spare!

In fact, if you’ve started Christmas shopping already, why not book vacations for friends and family and surprise them on Christmas day! Celebrate the holidays with more holidays!

The sale period STARTS NOW until October 27, 2008 and is valid for travel from January 5 to March 18, 2009. This promo fare is non-refundable.

Start flying monthly and travel beyond your wildest dream for only 500 pesos! Visit www.cebupacificair.com; or your favorite travel agent; or call the customer hotline at (632) 70-20-888 for your bookings.

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Manila Foodshoppe

If you're looking for great Filipino food at affordable prices here in Cebu, you should check out Manila Foodshoppe. I only got to check out their newest branch in Parkmall, and I found my favorite Filipino meals that surely brought a good taste of home.

Here's a glimpse of their chopseuy. The familiar mix of vegetables, seafood, and meat brought gastronomic delight to me and my family. I like it because don't scrimp on the most sought-after ingredients like shrimp.

They have a lot of pancit dishes. Here's a pic of their bestseller, pancit guisado. It definitely tastes good as it looks (and I don't have a good camera, so you could definitely trust me it's the real deal). It's a steal at only 94 Pesos!

Their dishes are meant to be shared. On our first visit there, I ordered 4 main dishes for my family. In addition to chopseuy and pancit guisado, I also added fried chicken and lemon chicken. We only paid Php700+ for our entire meal, and that includes rice and drinks for 5 people!

Manila Foodshoppe is definitely a must-visit.

Manila Foodshoppe
Parkmall, Mandaue City
Telephone No. (032)412-4222,  (032)253-3303

For more great restaurants in Cebu, check out this list.

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Bangkok - Abloom Executive Serviced Apartment

For most of my travel trips abroad, I'm usually the one who scouts for great hotel deals. I don't know why I'm always appointed this task, but it's probably because no one else takes the initiative. As the trip comes nearer, I get anxious that we might not be able to book good hotels so I go ahead and book them myself.

Here's a travel tip: Book hotels early for your travel dates. Most of them have big discounts for early birds.

For hotel reservations, I usually use Agoda.com. They have great rates, though you really have to check all the sites. What I like about Agoda is that they have 24/7 chat service, wherein you can chat with a travel agent anytime for your queries. They can also book the hotel for you with your preferences (non-smoking, twin bed, etc.). I'll reserve the rest of my praises for Agoda in another entry.

I went to Bangkok for the second time last July 2008, and I got to book this great apartment called Abloom Executive Serviced Apartment. When you're looking for hotel deals, make sure also that you take a look at the serviced apartments. They have the amenities found in your usual hotel, and since not many people scout for them they give the best value for your money too. One such apartment is Abloom.

I got for us two 2-bedroom apartments, and two studio rooms. When we arrived at Abloom Executive Serviced Apartment, it was near midnight since we took an 9pm flight from Cebu Pacific. The guy at the reception received our big group warmly. After all the checkin requirements, we were happy to see rooms that were so inviting to sleep in. The 2-bedroom had a very big living area, complete with a small kitchen. They had flat screen TVs with DVD, and free WIFI for your use.

The rooms were spacious, and I liked their interior. It's minimalist, neat and polished. It was a great place to call home for three days. It didn't take long for us to tuck ourselves in bed after our 3-hour flight.

Other Amenities
There's free breakfast on their second floor cafe. They have a small buffet, and you get to choose from their breakfast selections as well. They also have a gym and swimming pool for exercise-happy tourists.

Abloom Executive Serviced Apartment is located at Pratunam/Siam area, and you have to go to a small street to get to their main entrance. It's near Sanam Pao train station, and the hotel offers a free tuk-tuk ride to the station. If you'd rather walk, you could exit through a small gate near their parking area to take a 5-minute walk to Sanam Pao train station. Their staff will politely escort you through the small street to make sure you find your way.

To make sure you don't get lost on your way to the hotel, make sure that they print you a map for your reference. If it's your first time, you could have them email it to you.

Price Range
At that time, we found a good deal at Agoda so we only had to pay a little over Php1,000 per person per night. Rates vary depending on what time you stay, so check the many Internet sites for the best deal. If you're comfortable with the price, I assure you you'd get good value for your money.

Abloom Executive Serviced Apartment
(formerly Arasia Luecha Park Hotel)
29 Phahonyothin Soi 3, Bangkok, Thailand

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Beach Getaway Essentials

Planning to go on that next beach getaway? Here's a quick list for your must-haves to make sure you have a hassle-free holiday at your fave beach getaway:
  • Your favorite swimwear. Of course, no one would go to the beach without their favorite bikini or board shorts. Pick the items that suit your figure best. You wouldn't want to waste precious travel photos on bad angles, would you?
  • Flip flops. Pretty much another given, this is the most comfortable form of footwear for the beach. For rocky beaches, wear your flip flops to avoid getting a wound from sharp rock or coral edges.
  • Sunglasses. I know this is an essential but sometimes I forget to bring my sunglasses to my trips. There are times when I misplace it on the way to the beach. It's a good thing that in Boracay, there are a lot of vendors selling cheap sunglasses for your use. For other beaches, you wouldn't have this luxury so make sure you include this in your bag.
  • Toiletries. Cover the basics like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste. I'd suggest you bring a bigger size of conditioner. You'd need it to soften your hair after a day at the beach. 
  • Extra clothes. You won't know how many times you'll get wet with all that water around you. Make sure you bring extra clothes to accomodate extra swimming trips.
  • Beach bag. If you plan to stay at your beach getaway for a couple of days, then bring a smaller beach bag or tote to take with you to the beach. This is very useful, especially if you plan to go island hopping or if your hotel is a bit far from the beachfront.
  • Sunblock. Never go to the beach without some sun protection. It's the least that you could do to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
  • Sarong. According to Wikipedia, the sarong is a large sheet of fabric worn around as a skirt by men and women in various parts of Asia. More than this, the sarong could be used as a beach towel, bikini coverup and even a dress when knotted properly. It's very useful when you want to walk around the beach covered up after sunbathing or swimming.
  • Your best camera. Bring an underwater camera if you have! Document, document, document your adventure. You wouldn't want to waste your beach getaway memories. For sites with rich marine life, take underwater photos to capture your moments.
  • A good book. In a technology-flooded world, we often neglect simple joys like curling up in a nice spot and take the chance to chance up on one's reading. I'd recommend a good book over a laptop for the beach because it will allow you to enjoy the environment more. Bringing a laptop would make you feel like you're not on a beach getaway at all, since it's so easy to find a connection to go online.
  • Snacks and drinks. This depends on what kind of location your beach getaway is. If it's a crowded beach like Boracay, then there are lots of stores that you could find for your hunger needs. However, if your beach getaway is a bit remote and you couldn't find a single store in your radius, then it's best to bring some food with you to prevent a hunger strike.
That pretty much sums up all the beach getaway essentials. For the music lovers and those who don't mind a little luxury, you could also opt to bring an IPod dock so you could enjoy the beach with good music. 

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Cebu - Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort

A couple of weeks back, I went to Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort with my colleagues. It was a very pleasant surprise. More than a beach getaway, I quickly found out that Sumilon has a lot more sights to offer.

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort cottages
As soon as we arrived, the Sumilon staff welcomed us with garlands as they led us to our rooms. They have cottages overlooking the sea, and everytime you wake up in the morning you will get to have a view like this:

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort
They have a balcony where you can relax and enjoy the view as the sun rises. Their rooms are very spacious. Each bed could easily fit two persons. They are equipped with a TV and DVD player. TV fanatics would have to take a break from their regular shows since cable isn't available. You can however bring your favorite DVDs. They also have their own DVD collection that you could borrow and take into your room.

sumilon bluewater island resort
For those who are very particular about the bathroom, Sumilon will not disappoint. Space is not an issue. They supply toiletries and a lot of towels for your use. There's hot and cold water available for the shower, and I like how they created an island feel to their bathroom design.

sumilon bluewater island resort
With the rooms given good praises, let's go to the wonderful sights Sumilon has for its guests. For the beach lovers, you'd definitely like their sand bar. It's only a few minutes walk from the cottages. You'd be greeted by the finest white sand and clear blue sea perfect for swimming.

sumilon bluewater island resort sand bar
On the other side of the island, Sumilon has a marine sanctuary where you can borrow snorkeling gear from the dive shop and explore the marine life nearby. The sea is full of corals and different kinds of fishes. It's a bit deep there, so fishes do not always come near to the guests even when they're given food. Maybe they're being fed so well that they're not friendly anymore to guests carrying extra food for them.

sumilon bluewater island resort pool
For pool lovers, there's an infinity pool for you overlooking the sea. We spent most of our time here since we usually got out from our meetings late in the afternoon. We didn't mind, since we were free to lounge around the pool and swim to our delight.

sumilon bluewater island resort trek

For the more adventurous ones, there's a trekking path available. You could walk around the island and visit the other parts. The path is rocky. Make sure that you take the walking stick being handed out at the start of the trek. It will help a lot in navigating the rocky path. At that time, we didn't have closed shoes and we just trekked with our good old flip flops. We were okay. We just made sure to walk slowly on the very rocky parts.

sumilon bluewater island resort trek
During your trek, they have a couple of benches that you could sit on as you rest from all that walking. If you cover the whole island, you would get out on the sand bar area and you could cool off that sweat from the trek. The adventure doesn't end here. There's also a lake where one could go kayaking, and caves to explore. They also have a section of the beach where guests could play volleyball, and near the dining area there's a pool table. Surely, any Sumilon visitor wouldn't get bored with the variety of activities to choose from.

To complete the resort experience, let's talk about the food that Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort has to offer for its guests. During our 3-day stay, they surely kept us well-fed and they have a wide assortment of dishes to our delight. They made sure that they have appetizers, main courses and desserts for us. What I particularly loved is that on our last night, they prepared a bonfire for us and dinner by the beach. It was a very good experience. We had kebabs, grilled pork belly and more. The staff was very accomodating, and they stood by to make sure they could attend to our needs.

At the end of our stay, it was hard for me to leave the island since I felt I wasn't done exploring it. As we boarded our banca back to Cebu, the resort staff gathered at the dock and waved us goodbye. I hope I'd get to visit Sumilon again someday.

How To Get To Sumilon
Take a 2-3 hour drive from Cebu City towards the province of Oslob in the South. From there, Sumilon has their own port and you could take the ferry towards the island.

Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort
Sumilon Island, Oslob, Cebu 6025
Telefax No: +63324810801
Email: sumilonreservations@bluewater.com.ph


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Pasalubong - Cebuano Food Delicacies

Filipinos are very fond of pasalubong. A quick search over at Wikipedia reveals that it's usually a gift from a traveller returning from a trip. It's a token used to symbolize that loved ones left at home are being remembered by the one who travelled. 

For those who plan to go to Cebu, here's a list of the items you could buy for pasalubong and a guide to where you could find them. For food items, here's a quick list:

  • Lechon (roasted pig). Though this can be found anywhere in the Philippines, people say that Cebu lechon tastes different from the rest of the country. Filipino tourists really look for it when they come to Cebu so they could take it home to their families. The most convenient place to buy lechon is at CNT Lechon, found at North Reclamation Area across SM City. They also have a branch at Ayala Center Cebu. You could buy per kilo and have them wrap it in a box, so you could easily bring it with you on your trip back home. 
  • Danggit (dried fish). This is available in pasalubong centers at the malls, but you could find this cheap over at Taboan Market. There are market stalls along the road that sell various kinds of danggit. These aren't wrapped in packs yet, so you could choose for yourself the best ones in the lot.
  • Dried Mangoes. Ripe mangoes are sun-dried for sweet snacks and dessert. They are usually available at the supermarkets. Since most are locally produced, Cebu's dried mangoes are the cheapest in the country. Good brands include Cebu's Best and R&M Dried Mangoes.

  • Otap. This is an oval-shaped pastry that originated in Cebu. Most famous brand is Shamrock, and you could buy them at their branches near Fuente Osmena and near Cebu Cathedral Church. 
  • Rosquillos. Flower-shaped cookies first invented in Liloan by Titay's. These are widely available in the supermarkets now. The original branch of Titay's is located about an hour away from the city, so it would be good to head over to a nearby supermarket for this one.

  • Chicharon. Thanks to Tutubi, I get to add this to the list. The best chicaron in Cebu could be found in the southern province of Carcar, located an hour away from Cebu. If you don't get to pass by that area though, you could scout the nearest supermarkets for different kinds of packed chicharon available. 
These pasalubong items are available at the airport, though they are more expensive. It's best to take time to buy these when you're in the city. 

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Cebu Restaurants - Tara's Cafe

tara's cafe baby back ribs
This is one of the many delightful dishes at Tara's Cafe, a restaurant tucked inside a small street in Guadalupe, Cebu City. Their Baby Back Ribs dish looks very appetizing in this picture, and I guarantee you that the real thing will not disappoint. Offered for only Php175, it's definitely good value for your money.

Opened last year, Tara's Cafe offers a variety of dishes and their cuisine is mostly Filipino, though they also serve a few salad and pasta dishes. Here are some of the items that we ordered for our visit there, all seafood selections.

tara's cafe
This is the Mixed Seafoods Hot Pot (Php180). This dish would make the health-conscious happy. It's composed of fish, squid and shrimp mixed with various vegetables.

tara's cafe
For those who love to eat fish, they also have the Lemon Marlin Steak (Php160). This is the one that I ordered, and I absolutely love it! It's grilled marlin with lemon sauce and it comes with vegetables as side dish. I loved the lemon sauce because it was very Filipino. It had a sweet aftertaste, which we Filipinos are very fond of.

tara's cafe guadalupe
Here's the Breaded Fish Fillet (Php160). The sauce is different, since most of the fish fillets I've tasted comes with a sweet and sour or mayo-based sauce. It comes with a side dish of vegetables too.

For the meat lovers, they also offer a wide selection for beef and pork dishes. Old favorites like the Sisig Sizzler, Boneless Crispy Pata, Kare-Kare and Caldereta are available.

tara's cafe
Even though Tara's Cafe is located in a side street, a lot of people go there. Parking is easily available. Though the cafe itself only has a few parking slots outside the restaurant, cars could park along the nearby roads. Aside from its good food, Tara's Cafe offers a unique concept that encourages people to visit and stay. They have WIFI available for tech-savvy customers, and they also have book selections which you can borrow for your stay there. These books are pre-loved, and they're available for sale too.

tara's cafe kiddie bar
For those who bring their children along, they have a Kiddie Bar where the little tots could stay. They have a few toys and a little playground, and kids would surely not get bored staying at the cafe while the adults do their own thing.

All in all, Tara's Cafe is a unique experience. It's a breath of fresh air for the traditional cafe setup, and everyone is invited to come and stay. Here's another bonus: The staff's very friendly and courteous. They're trained to always say "Thank You" and "God bless!". Even the guards and the boy who watches over the cars say these, too.

Tara's Cafe
Andres Abellana Ext, Guadalupe, Cebu City


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Mini Shabu-Shabu at Bonifacio High Street

Last week, I was in Manila and I decided to try out Mini Shabu-Shabu at the Fort with my friends. I'm not really fond of shabu-shabu, but I'm always eager to try new restaurants anyway. At 7pm on a Tuesday night, the restaurant was full of people. Their tables had pots for each of the diner, and everyone seemed to be enjoying their meal. There were huge artworks on the wall depicting Asian characters. These gave an artsy touch to the place.

The menu was certainly not budget. The cheapest shabu-shabu meal for one came at a price of Php270. There were four of us, and each of us ordered different kinds of shabu-shabu meals. I had the seafood selection. It came with shrimps, fish, squid and more for Php400. The guys chose the carnivore selection. They opted for fatty beef (Php270) and all beef (Php400). Each meal came with its own set of vegetables, noodles, spices and sauce. 

You're free to create your meal according to your taste preferences. For a newbie like me, the staff were kind enough to guide me through the shabu-shabu process. First you need to put flavor into your broth by putting in garlic and some chili. You also put half of the spices into your sauce to add more flavor to it. When the soup starts to heat up, you can add your ingredients one by one and wait until it's cooked. 

All in all, my experience in Mini Shabu Shabu was not bad. I guess the place would be more suited to those who like to cook and those who really like Asian food. More than the place and the food, one thing I'd really like to give credit to in this entry is the staff's great customer service. I left my wallet at the restaurant and found out about it when I got to the hotel. I called the restaurant to check if they found it, and they immediately confirmed it by asking for my name. They were about to close that time, and they asked if I could come back for it the next day. Unfortunately, I will be in Laguna early in the morning the next day so I had a friend go over and get it. The restaurant staff were very accomodating and courteous. They were very honest, too. I got my wallet with all the contents intact. Kudos to the Mini Shabu-Shabu staff! 


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Learn Cebuano

I'm currently at a retreat (sshh!) and connected on a Globe Visibility port. I have full signal and connecting was easy, but the connection's not that fast. I found it hard to upload my pics via Flickr. A picture-free post will have to do for now.

For those of you who find yourselves in a place where Cebuano/Bisaya is the main dialect, here are a few phrases that you could use:

Good morning - Maayong buntag
Good afternoon - Maayong hapon
Good evening - Maayong gabii

What's your name? - Unsa imong pangalan?
My name is/I'm.. - Ang akong pangalan kay/Ako si
Where are you from? - Taga-asa man ka?

How do I get to... - Unsaon pag-adto sa...
What is... - Unsa ang...
Where is... - Asa ang...
I'd like to go to... - Ganahan ko muadto sa...
Let's go to... - Adto ta sa

How much? - Tagpila ni?
Give me discount - Pahangyoa ko
Expensive - Mahal
Cheap - Barato

Beautiful - Gwapa
Handsome - Gwapo
Ugly - Bati
Nice - Nindot

Most Cebuanos could understand Tagalog and English. They'll listen to what you're saying in either language, but most of the time they'll respond to you in their native dialect. If they have to choose between Tagalog and English, they'd use the latter. There's something about the Cebuano accent that makes it hard for them to switch to Tagalog. If you really want to know the real Cebuano/Cebuana, then try speaking to them in their dialect. If you need more Cebuano phrases, just drop a comment and I'll try to translate for you. :)

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