Wednesday 24 April 2013

Spices: Zubuchon

With just a night to spend in Cebu city, we made sure to drop by Zubuchon. The restaurant which was declared by Anthony Bourdain to serve the best pig ever. Having seen pictures, reading articles and watching features on Zubuchon, I have nothing but high expectations, I was so excited to try it out and find out if it was indeed the best pig ever.

We got to Zubuchon around an hour before closing time, the place was still packed with diners. When we entered, the whole roasted pig on the center caught my attention. Since the crunchy skin is the best part of a roast pig, I found the roast pig unappetizing. Rather than having a shiny golden hue skin color, it's color was more on the pale yellowish shade.

Zubuchon's Lechon

The skin's color didn't dampen my excitement and expectations. I thought the reason for the skin's pale yellowish color was they still heat up a serving of the roast pig in the oven upon ordering. When the server placed my lechon meal, the skin still look the same. It was far off from what I've seen and what I've heard, the skin I've seen was golden brown and it had the bubbly crackling texture, this was totally not.

Zubuchon Fast Meal - Php160

I would have wanted the lechon meal to be heated, it was kind of cold that I can feel the sebo on my mouth as I took a bite off the skin. The skin was crunchy but it wasn't the 'candy' crunch that I was looking for, it had more like a 'tough' crunch. The meat was tender but again the sebo feeling was overwhelming.

Lechon Skin

There was one dish that we thoroughly enjoyed, the dish was relatively new and it wasn't even printed on the menu yet. On the table, there was a small poster of the Crab Relleno with the caption 'Pure crab meat, no extenders..'.

Crab Relleno

The dish delivers what it promised, shreds of pure crab meat placed inside a crab shell then dusted with breadcrumbs and fried.

Crab Relleno - Php340

It was perfectly cooked and adding a little squeeze of lemon brought out the sweetness of the crab. This is a must order! I definitely enjoyed eating this more than the restaurant's specialty lechon.

Crab Relleno

I'm not sure how Zubuchon's roast pig would taste like if it was served hotter, I wished I asked them to heat the lechon during that time but then again they should know to always serve lechon pipping hot . Maybe I ate there at the wrong time and I went there on a bad day. I hate to play bad cop but I was so disappointed with the lechon, I would have to eat and taste it again in the future and hopefully by then I would agree that it was the best pig. As of the moment,  Bali's Babi Guling reigns supreme for me.


Address: One Mango Mall, Gen. Maxilom Ave., Cebu
Tel No: 032 239- 5697

Wednesday 17 April 2013

Sights: The Laid Back Feel of BANTAYAN ISLAND, CEBU

Whenever I hear people tell stories about Bantayan Island, they would always say that the island is the perfect place to beach bum. I recently got the chance to find out if what people have said was true. The island is located at the northern end of Cebu. One has to ride every possible means of transportation to get there, from the air, land and sea.

Bantayan Island

The journey getting to the island starts with a plane ride to Mactan International Airport. From the airport, we hailed a cab to bring us to North Bus Terminal for a 3 hour bus ride to Hagnaya Port. We then rode a ferry to bring us to Bantayan.

Almost there....

The ferry docked at the municipality of Sante Fe, the same place where the beach resorts are found. As soon as we checked in in one of the resort, we made our way to the beach. The vast white sand shore and clear waters looked so calming and all we wanted to do was stare in silence.

The Beach Area in Santa Fe

Staring Out Into the Open

The sun was still glaring so we decided to go around the area. Seeing vehicles with four wheels is a rarity here, motorcyles, bicycles and pedicabs are the main way of transportation. There are numerous places where one can rent motorcycles and bikes, so take your pick. You can choose to rent it on a per hour or per day basis.

Motorcycles and Bikes for Rent

Going around was easy since the roads were smooth and well paved. There were trees all over and in some areas, they would even serve as shade from the glaring sun rays. The roads were quiet and peaceful, the breeze felt so fresh and it was so nice biking around.

Smooth Paved Road

The Main Mode of Transportation in Sante Fe

After biking around, we went back to the resort and decided to take a dip. The shore was clean, the sand was fine enough to go barefoot and most importantly the water was clear and refreshing. One thing that I found kind of a mood buster is that you can see the docking port and ferries from the beach.

The Ferries and Port from Afar

The next day we decided to go island hopping and snorkeling. We rented a whole bangka from one of the local bike peddlers we met during lunch in the market area the previous day. He picked us up at the resort and went straight to the public market to buy food to be cooked on the island.

Our Rented Bangka

Since Santa Fe is a fishing village, the different kinds of fish was so cheap, a kilo of fish would cost less than a hundred and some would go as cheap as 40php to 50php a kilo.

Buying Fresh Fish in the Market

After buying the necessary stuff for lunch, we boarded the bangka and made our way to Virgin Island. The boat ride took around 20 minutes. As we got near the island, one thing was evident, the sand looked finer and whiter plus the waters looked clearer.

Docking at Virgin Island

There was an entrance fee of 500php good for five people. Cottages were also available for rent for a hundred. The island looks beautiful, palm tress surround the whole area and there was even a smooth patch of grass at the center. We were told that a resort was in the process of being built in the island, we were lucky that we got to visit the island before the resort is built.

Virgin Island

Palm Trees and Patch of Green Grass at Virgin Island

The local and boatman  got the food we bought from the market and proceeded to prepare our lunch while we got our snorkels and went straight for a swim. As soon as we step on the water, there were already little fish swimming around. Beautiful colorful varieties of fish greeted us as we snorkeled around the area, there were a good number of them. We had such a blast.

After an hour or two, the boatman called our attention, the food was already cooked and ready to be feast on. As what they suggested, they've prepared grilled fish, grilled eggplant, tinolang isda (fish soup cooked with ginger) and a huge platter of rice was place on one of the cottages we rented. It looks simple but everything tasted so sweet and fresh.


We had so much fun at Virgin Island, we could have stayed for a whole day but before the sun sets we had to go back to Santa Fe. I hope in the future, the island will still remain as beautiful and still be filled with so much marine life even when the resort is built.

The Lively Marine Life in Virgin Island

Virgin Island

Before leaving, we decided to visit the said first and oldest church established in Cebu, The Parish Church of Saint Peter and Paul or more familiarly known as Bantayan Church. The church is located in the town proper and luckily the resort's van let us hitched a ride to go there. It was relatively a short 15 minute ride to go there.

Bantayan Church

As I've mentioned before, Bantayan is a fishing island. Aside from the fresh fish in the market, we also came across a plastic bag of freshly cooked Scallops and a 'just caught' Clam.  The sweet tasting scallops were sold around the docking area, each plastic bag has around 12 to 15 pieces of scallops and it only cost Php15 (this is not a typo, it was really that cheap!!!)

A Bag of Scallops

Freshly Cooked Scallop

Around the shore area we were approach by a local who was carrying a pail, she asked us if we wanted to try a clam that her son just caught.

Clams being sold

When we agreed at a Php60 for a clam, she proceeded to prepare it Ceviche style. She chopped the clam, onions and tomatoes, place it back on its shell and poured vinegar on it. It tasted so fresh and delicious.

Fresh Clam

Kinilaw (Ceviche) 

What I heard people say about Bantayan Island was so true, it was indeed a perfect place to beach bum. I was pleasantly surprise how quiet and peaceful the island is. It has an indescribable calming effect on me, all i wanted to do was take in the breeze, gorge on fantastic fresh seafood, take a dip in the clear blue waters and keep my feet prop up as I stare out into to the open. Bantayan's laid back feel makes it the perfect place to forget about everything, do nothing and relax.

Bantayan Island

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Spices: Milky Way's Halo Halo

I'm not really a dessert person but if a tall glass or bowl of halo halo is place in front of me, I'll definitely gorge on it. There are a lot of places that claims to serve the best halo halo but there is one resto who claims to serve the best since the early 1960s, Milky Way.

Milky Way

I've tried different versions of halo halo from different establishments and everyone has their own favorites. In my opinion, a good halo halo should contain more than three main ingredients, if it doesn't it should be only known as a con yelo.  Another important component of the dessert is the crushed or shaved ice, it has to be powdery smooth and pleasant to the mouth. A Chinese fast food chain used to have a 100k peso machine just to make ice for their halo halo.

Halo Halo

With everything said, I can say that Milky Way's halo halo is arguably the best halo halo found in the metro. It has every component for it be called a good halo halo. Ingredients consists of sweet beans, nata de coco, garbanzos, macapuno, langka, ube, leche flan, pinipig, milk and with topped homemade ube ice cream . The smooth powdery shaved ice is made using a traditional ice shaver. I like how no sugar or syrup was added, it just had the right amount of sweetness. Most importantly, what I think set Milky Way's halo halo apart is their version has a inexplicable malinamnam taste and flavor.

Shaving Ice

Milky Way Halo Halo - Php125

Ever since I tasted Milky Way's version, it has been my benchmark for a great tasting halo halo. And so far, it still reigns supreme as my all time favorite.

My All Time Favorite Halo Halo

Milky Way Cafe
Address: 2nd Flr. Milkyway Building 900 Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City
Tel No: 843 4124 / 843 7124

Thursday 4 April 2013

Spices: Borough

Most 24/7 restaurants are fast food chains that can be found near BPO offices. I was so surprised to find out about a resto which is also open 24 hours but is located inside a mall. What's even more surprising is that this resto doesn't serve your ordinary fast food staples but it instead claims to serve gourmet comfort food.


During my initial spur of the moment visit, I didn't bring my camera so pardon my super blurry pictures. 

It was already past 12am when we entered the resto and yet the place was still packed. We quickly grabbed  a table and ordered. We started with the Grilled Portobello Burger, I couldn't help to compare it to Charlie's Portobello burger since I just tried it a few weeks back.Charlie's Portobello burger was covered in too much bread crumbs that I didn't get to enjoy the taste of the mushroom. Borough's burger had generous amount of grilled Portobello mushroom slices plus grilled eggplant and tomatoes topped with a lemon aioli and mozzarella cheese. Borough's Portobello Burger was delectable and delicious, it trumps Charlie's version.

Grilled Portobello Burger - Php320

The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich is one of the best sandwiches that I've tried. Super tender pork shreds with a tangy, sour, salty and mildly sweet barbecue sauce topped with a crunchy green mango coleslaw on a soft bun. I love the harmonious blend of flavors and textures of this sandwich, this is a must order. The sandwich is also served with a delicious crispy homemade potato chips.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich - Php220

While eating our sandwiches, owner and head chef, Cuit Kauffman was making his rounds, asking guests about the food. We had a blast chatting with him, his passion for food was so evident. He suggested to try out a dessert he created, the Cracker Jack Caramel. It consist of a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, bacon bits and on the center was a candied peanut and popcorn bar. The dessert tasted good, the addition of the bacon bits on the bottom of the bowl added a unique crunchy and salty savory component to the dessert.

Cracker Jack Caramel - Php330

On my 2nd visit, I made sure that I brought along my camera to take better pictures. First on the table was the Chocolate Chicken Wings. I am not a fan of chocolate and I got to admit when the dish was placed on our table it didn't looked appetizing. But it turned out pretty ok, the cocoa and cinnamon powder gave the wings a sweet aromatic smell. It had a mild bitter taste and what I like is the spiciness of the wings.

Chocolate Chicken Wings - Php280

Dipping it in the cream cheese brought about the sweetness of the wing's coating. A very interesting combination of flavors that works.

The All Beef Cheeseburger tasted like what it said, the burger pattie was all lean beef, it had no extenders or what so ever. The burger was perfectly cooked into a medium doneness like how I requested. A slice of cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce and tomatoes topped the burger.

All Beef Cheeseburger - Php400

The burger tasted excellent though I found it a tad dry, I would have wanted a tiny bit of fat in the pattie to add a little juiciness in it.

When I was trying to get a piece of the Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli on to my plate, I got frustrated trying to do so. This is because every piece of Ravioli was stuck to each other, the pasta was overcooked and it looked like more of a wanton than a pasta.

Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli - Php250

I was already expecting the worst but when I took a bite off the dish, it caught me by surprise. It tasted fantastic. I'm not a fan of squash but the filling tasted great, it was so creamy and tasted sweet with the aromatic flavor of garlic. Eaten together with the brown butter sauce and basil puree garnish, this is one delicious dish. Crunchy walnuts and dried cranberries topped the dish, it added texture to the pasta. I do hope next time around they'll cooked the pasta correctly.

The All Beef Cheeseburger and Grilled Portobello Burger came with a bag of French Fries, in my opinion this is one of the best french fries that can be found in the metro. The thick cut fries was crunchy and it had a soft moist center. For those who watch their carbs intake, I suggest you refrain from tasting a piece of fry because I'm pretty sure you won't be able to hold back.

French Fries

As what Chef Cuit Kauffman said, the resto serves his comfort food. Though it wasn't mine, I really enjoyed the food. Simple dishes that was made to taste great. I'll be looking forward to dine here again.

Address: Ground Flr. The Podium,12 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City
Tel No: 570 8906