Friday 24 August 2012

Sights: National Museum-National Art Gallery & Luneta Park

I can still remember the very first time I visited the National Art Gallery in National Museum, I had goosebumps when I saw the huge painting of Juan Luna's Spoliarium. I've seen the iconic painting in books, posters, ads and even on call cards but I've never imagine it to be that big.

I had the chance to visit the Art Gallery again and this time around I made sure that I brought my camera. Since the gallery was under renovation when we visited, the entrance was free of charge. The 1st area we explored is the hall of the masters where Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo's paintings were displayed.

Hall of Masters

As soon as you enter the hall, the very first thing you would see is the Spoliarium. It gave me the same feeling I had before and I couldn't help but stare at the painting.

Juan Luna's Spoliarium

Right across the Spolarium was a huge painting by Hidalgo entitled The Assasination of Gen. Bustamante and his Son.

Hidalgo's The Assassination of  Gen.Bustamante and His Son

Another famous painting of Hidalgo is 'Governor Damarinas'.

Hidalgo's Governor Dasmarinas

The next hall was the Hall of the National Artist for Visual Arts. In here, the works of the country's National Artists are displayed.

Jose Joya

Benedicto 'BenCab' Cabrera

Fernando Amorsolo's Painting of Pres. Manuel Quezon

Ang Kiukok

Napoleon Abueva's Scultpture - Mother and Child

Vicente Manansala's Planting of the First Cross

Carlos 'Botong' Francisco's First Mass at Limasawa

The Beloved Land Hall featured a wooden sculpture at the middle of the hall which was entitle Tau Tao.

Tau Tao

Also in the hall was a familiar looking object that was printed on the old 1000 peso bill, The Manuggul Burial Jar.

The Manunngul Burial Jar

In one of the halls there were different skeletal remains and preserved animals found in the country.


Sperm Whale

Sawa or Python

Different Cattles

In the last hall we visited, we saw another famous painting of Fernando Amorsolo and Jose Rizal's terra cota sculpture.

Amorsolo's Burning of Sto.Domingo Church

Rizal's Sculpture of Gov. Ricardo Carnicero

Due to the undergoing renovation, there were a lot of artworks that I didn't get to see. Hopefully when it fully opens again on October 2012 I would see more of our country's beloved  treasures.

National Museum
Address: Padre Burgos Drive, Manila

After visiting the National Museum, we made our way to Luneta Park. It has been ages since I last visited Luneta and looking around I saw a lot of attractions has closed down or is under going renovation.The  Japanese, Chinese garden and Orchidarium are under going renovations and no one even knows if it will be ever opened again. One would think that visiting Luneta nowadays would be a waste of time. But to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. Luneta has come up with a spectacle that's so worthy of visiting and checking out, the Light, Fountain and Sound Show.

The Philippine map on the pond was taken out as tubes and hoses has been installed instead. It was still pretty early when we reached the fountain area and people where gathered around, enjoying the breeze as the sun slowly sets.


As the surrounding got darker, music started to blare out the speakers. Fireballs spew out from the tubes as the fountains started to spin and shoot out water from their spouts.

Dancing Fountain

As nightfall came about, the colorful lights lit up and the wonderful spectacle even got better.

In one area, the spherical water fountains changes colors.

Different types of music were played, from OPM songs to hip pop tunes. The show would last for a good couple of hours. I'm not sure how often the fountain show was held, we were there on a weekend and as we were told, the show starts at 7pm and it ends at 10pm. Try to walk around the fountain as each area offers a different perspective.

The Light, Fountain and Sound Show in Luneta

Kids of all Ages Enjoying the Show

The Light, Fountain and Sound Show
Address: Luneta Park
Fee: Free of Charge

Monday 20 August 2012

Spices: Yabu

Whenever I dine in a Japanese resto, the last thing that I would think of ordering is Tonkatsu. I'm not much a big fan of the panko crusted pork cutlet because it basically looks and taste the same in every Japanese resto that I've been to. But after dining in Yabu, I didn't see the humble and ordinary Tonkatsu the same way before.

I've heard and read great raves about Yabu, no wonder they have expanded in just a short period of time. The place looks clean, simple and inviting. Bottles of Sake are displayed on top of the shelves around the working area. On the table are neat looking condiments containers that holds the Katsu sauce, Himalayan Salt and the two dressing for the shredded cabbage.

Sake Bottles

On the Table

An aromatic bowl of toasted sesame seeds were placed in front of us. There were pictues on the menu to grind, pour, mix and dip. This would serve as the dipping sauce for the fried meat cutlets.

Grind the Sesame Seeds

Pour and Mix the Sauce with the Sesame Seeds


The first page of the menu shows why Yabu is not an ordinary Katsuretu restaurant. It showed the right way of how Tonkatsu should be made and prepared. A really nice touch.

Printed on the Menu: The Yabu Difference

There were different types of Katsuretu Sets to choose from and each dish was served with Miso soup, Japanese rice, sliced fruits and shredded cabbage.  You can have unlimited refills with the rice and cabbage.

A Katsuretsu Set

There were two kinds of dressing for the shredded cabbage. The Goma Mayonaise and the Ponzu Vinaigrette. Both sauces were really nice but my favorite would be the Ponzu Vinaigrette.

Two Kinds of Dressing for the Cabbage

For our appetizers, we wanted to try the seaweed salad but it wasn't available. We ended up ordering the Edamame and Hiyayakko Tofu. Edamame is young green soybeans, the simple dish is boiled and you have to add a little salt to the greens. Break open the pod and pop in a bean into your mouth. The Hiyayakko Tofu was doused with Ponzu Sauce and topped with Bonito flakes. Simple and yummy.

Hiyayakko Tofu and Edamame - Php195

I got to try two different Sake. I'm still not familiar with differentiating between Sake but both tasted way better than the supermarket variety which were sold in cartons and smaller bottles. The sake was subtly sweet and smooth, I barely noticed the alcohol after taste. It was served in a cool looking Carafe with an ice packet so as not to dilute the Sake.

Ozeki Yamada Nishiki - Php335

As a general rule and etiquette with drinking Sake, one should never pour his own drink.

Shochikubai Fushimi - Php335

I've got to taste the following Katsu sets:

The Salmon Katsu had four huge chunks of perfectly cooked pinkish Salmon. Divine!

Salmon Set - Php435

Perfectly Cooked Salmon

The Hire and Seafood Katsu Set consists of Hire or pork loin without fat trimming, Tiger Prawn, Dory, Scallop, Eggplant and Green Bell Pepper. The pork loin was tender and both the scallop, dory had the buttery melt in your mouth feel, the vegetables were nice and crunchy.

Hire and Seafood Katsu Set - Php475
Hire Katsu

Dory Katsu

We felt that the Tempura was slightly over-coated with the batter. The shrimp was cut in half then split lengthwise thus rendering the meat to be a little thin inside. I suggest that they don't split the prawn or they can lessen the batter instead. But nonetheless, the whole set was great and for it's price, this was a steal.


If I would describe Japanese Curry, it would be simple, warm and hearty. The Rosu Katsu Curry delivered what I expected it to be. The Rosu or pork loin with fat trimming was tender and crunchy, I really like that they didn't doused the whole piece of meat with the curry sauce. You can choose the spiciness level for the curry, from mild to extra hot. Since I love spicy food, I chose the spiciest but as I expected it wasn't spicy enough for me. Adding drops of the chili oil did the trick.

Rosu Katsu Curry with Egg Set - Php330 plus Php20 for the Egg

Rosu Katsu Curry with Egg

The signature dish for this resto would be the Premium Tonkatsu Set. The Tonkatsu was made using Kurobuta Pork, also known as the Wagyu of Pork. Since it's not my first time to enjoy eating this kind of pork, I kind of knew what to expect. Cooking this kind of meat can be tricky but Yabu nail it down  with flying colors. It was so moist, juicy and tender. Delicious and Truly addicting!

Premium Tonkatsu Set (120grams) - Php575

Kurobuta Pork

I thoroughly enjoyed the food in Yabu, no wonder people are raving about this place. The resto is a perfect example of the phrase, 'turning something ordinary into something extraordinary'.

Address: 2nd Floor, Atrium, Megamall
Tel No: 576 - 3900