Wednesday, September 29, 2010

spoiled for life

When we were very young, my parents took us to Kimpura at least once a month for some Japanese chow. It was a real treat for us kids because Ma never cooked. It was always exciting to see a live person transform raw ingredients into actual food.

It's a magic!
So when Pop and I were in Greenhills the other day to buy a new cellphone for him that would work in Canada (long story), I said, "Let's go watch someone cook real food."

Crispy salmon skin. They didn't have this in the 80s.
California temaki. It was a sign that I was grown up when I was allowed to order this for myself.
Nobody makes miso soup like Kimpura. Comfort in a bowl.
Since the beginning of time, we would always order the same things. My father's not big on newfangled stuff.

Mixed fried rice, sirloin steak, oysters and lobster tail. I die!
Even the dessert was always, always the same.

Pop contemplating his gulaman.
Yez, you CAN go home again. Thank you, Daddy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

davao etc.

If you were to say "Davao" to me right this minute, these are some random things that would come to my mind:

1. Super ornate and intricate tribal costumes.

2. Yummy tuna panga (literally, "jawbone") at Antonio's Bar & Grill in SM City Davao.

3. Really perplexing signs.

4. Dinner with family at the Mongolian Garden Restaurant along Torres.

Both Antonio's and Mongolian Garden are great for family meals. They have a wide variety of grilled and fried seafood and meats-- real crowd pleasers. At Antonio's there were only two of us and we ordered just the tuna and their special fried rice, but at Mongolian Garden, we had a tiny family reunion and went all-out with some deep-fried catfish, barbequed chicken, clam soup, grilled squid and very sticky barbequed ribs.

In general, Pinoys are suckers for inihaw (grilled stuff) and this is very apparent in Davao City. Every street corner has a joint with a smoking hot charcoal grill. Aren't those black specks carcinogenic? Ah, but it's not the same without that deliciously unhealthy carbon. Davaoe├▒os seem to prefer most of their dishes on the sweet side, including their barbeque. Also, I think they invented the concept of "unlimited rice". At Penong's, a popular open-air grill, you couldn't order just rice. They only had unlimited rice on the menu. It cost PHP15 (about 30 cents US) and get this-- there was a no-leftover penalty! Almost every restaurant we saw offered unlimited rice. Otherwise, they had a buffet of some sort-- usually priced at less than PHP200 (US$4.50). Why dontcha just give it away, why dontcha?

The food is so cheap that eating is the cheapest thing you can do in Davao. Bored? Go to a buffet. Too hot to do anything? Have some unlimited rice. Want to just hang around and discuss your latest existential realizations about how your parents screwed you up? Grab some inihaw.

So those things are what I think of when I think of Davao, but for sheer ubiquitousness, you can't beat the durian. I will forever remember Bunny Rabbit's facial expressions (contortions) as he was eating it.

He looked like he wanted to die.

Image by Marang (the person not the fruit).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

children of kadayawan 2

As I mentioned before, the Sunday float parade during the Kadayawan Festival, Pamulak, was not as interesting as the Indak-indak street-dancing the previous day, but there were some perfectly delightful moments.

The next time I decide to follow a parade or procession to take pictures, I must remember to bring a hat. Now I have these weird tan lines shaped like a tank top with a camera strap around the neck.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

my new look 2

I did it. I caved, gave in, joined the bandwagon. I am very, very resistant to change and I have an aversion to newfangled doodads (like iPhones), but these new Blogger templates look really nice and I can customize to my heart's content.


The new template allows me to change the background image. The one I'm using today is a picture of the sunset shot from Basecamp on 5 September 2008, using my trusty Canon Powershot SD750. An oldie but a goodie.

Monday, September 13, 2010

how to eat crab

I'd read about Hanoi Vietnamese Restaurant in Davao City where the crab was supposedly Da Bomb. While walking around the neighborhood near our hotel, we saw it and decided to have lunch there.

Artsy soy sauce container.

The dining area was well-designed with really cool furniture and decor, and the wait staff was helpful and friendly-- too friendly, in fact. They played the music too loud and gossiped loudly with one another. I couldn't help myself and had to ask them to shut up. But otherwise, the service was attentive and generally OK.

(Hmm... come to think of it, this happened at Bagobo House Hotel, too. The hotel staff-- front desk, waiters, cooks, housekeeping and security guard-- had a habit of hanging around in the lobby, gabbing away and reading the newspaper even before the guests could get their hands on it.)

So anyhoo, we ordered the crab. Just one. For me.

You lookin' at me?

It usually takes me 90 minutes to two hours to eat a crab. This one had a very thin shell. I didn't even get to use the nutcracker and pick that were provided. I used tooth and nail only-- Rawr!

The crab waves the white flag.

Is there a contest for crab-eating wherein the objective is to pick it clean? I tell ya, I would probably win, or at least be a finalist.

The crab was not really Da Bomb. More like just a sparkler. Just so-so, like the other dishes that we ordered.

Cha nuong. Ground pork barbeque with lettuce, basil and rice paper.

Goi cuon. Fresh spring roll with shrimp and pork.

Traditional Vietnamese coffee.

Coffee jelly with vanilla ice cream.

The pork rolls tasted like longganisa. I've had better spring rolls at Pho Hoa, a fast-food joint in Manila. The coffee was very strong. The coffee jelly was ugly-- well, look at it! Everything was fairly edible, but not worth the relatively high prices. I noticed that the clientele was mostly businessmen or ladies who lunch. I guess that's because of the ambience, but they really have to work on the presentation and taste of the food.

Hanoi shares its space with a Japanese restaurant. We couldn't leave without taking a picture of the ginormous tuna which was waiting to be carved up for sashimi.

Bigger than a small child, no kidding.

for my own entertainment

This video was uploaded in the year 2006, has over 77 MILLION hits, and is still making the rounds in Facebook. Everyone has probably seen it already, but I just felt like posting it here so that I can watch it whenever I want to.

Just because it's so freaking cute!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

what our friends fed us

Naturally, our friends Marang (the person not the fruit) and Steve Shadow made sure that we ate well while we were in Davao City.

D'Counter's dilis salad, grilled tuna belly, chorizo and kinilaw na tuna. These were the first things we ate in Davao, and Steve Shadow's ultimate comfort food.

Ah Fat's stir-fried vegetables with quail eggs, Yang Chow fried rice, hot prawn salad and sweet and sour fish fillet. Ah Fat is Davao's most popular Chinese lauriat-style restaurant, with three branches within the same block. The fourth to open soon.

Bulcachong's bulalo, baby! A great foodie find courtesy of Marang. I'd already dug in when she said, "By the way, this is carabao beef. I hope you don't mind." One of the best bulalos I've ever had.

Coffee Cat's coffee and strawberry cheesecake. The coffee was so tragic that it made me want to commit suicide-- how could they mess up Illy? But the pastries were pretty good. This was where we had the durian sans rival on our last night in Davao.

Ranch And Reef's U.S. Angus steak with amazing gravy. We only had ten minutes to eat, and it was a buffet! Wah! We could have eaten kilograms of this stuff. The meat was juicy-tender with lovely charred edges and melt-in-your-mouth layers of fat.

Spirale's roast chicken with root vegetables. Smelled fantastic with all the garlic and rosemary. If you like your chicken soft and falling off the bone, this is highly recommended. The carrots lent a surprisingly sweet note to the dish.

Thank match, our friendly local guides. We're so glad that we were able to visit your city.

for sentimental reasons

Dencia's in Davao City. It was a block away from our hotel. We ate there three times.

Dencia's famous tokwa't baboy.
Humongous siomai-- just like my grandmother used to make.
Old-fashioned pancit canton and crispy lumpiang shanghai.
Shrimp and tofu in a clay pot.
Something I hadn't seen since I was a child-- chop suey rice.
Halo-halo: A just dessert.

Verdict: When I was just a small D.B. in my grandparents' care, there was a restaurant across the street called Peace. It was my grandfather's hang-out, where he would sit and smoke one cigarette after another, drink his coffee with evaporated milk, read the Chinese newspaper and occasionally grunt at his table-mates who were doing the same things. The waiters looked like they'd been working there forever, and the proprietor was perched on a bar stool behind the cashier's counter, keeping an eye on everyone-- customers and staff alike. Dencia's reminds me of all that.

The food is very retro and comforting. I highly recommend the lumpiang shanghai-- the best in the world, according to Davao native Steve Shadow. The skin is not too thick and the stuffing is moist and flavorful, but it's the dipping sauce that makes it truly sensational.

The chop suey rice is a dish that really brought me back to the 1970s. It's really just a bunch of fresh and crunchy vegetables cooked in a cornstarch slurry and poured over some rice. It's so, so, so good. Even Bunny Rabbit liked it, and he didn't grow up with a Chinatown grandpa.

Dencia's seems to be the default restaurant in Davao for breakfast, lunch, merienda or dinner. The menu is astonishingly extensive, and yet all the dishes are familiar, soothing, and always, always the same. It's like a time capsule of my childhood.

Click to enlarge.