Food Review: Samjung Grill Restaurant, Poblacion, Makati, PH

Admittedly, this is already a long overdue post. However, as I was perusing my photos in the hopes of clearing up some space on my SD card, I decided, why not write about it.

Last July 14, some co-workers and I braced the rain for hot ramen at Mendokoro. Little did we know that the place was jam-packed and that a hefty amount of people were still in line, waiting for their turn to be served. Saddened yet starving, we had to change plans and look for somewhere else to eat. Left with not a whole lot of options, we took a cab to Makati Avenue and ended up dining in a quaint Korean restaurant named Samjung.

To be honest, it was my first time inside a Korean restaurant. Korean restaurants are everywhere, but I haven’t been in one before. I was never a fan of their cuisine, particularly because, spicy isn’t really my thing. And most of their dishes, well yes, are spicy. While I was hesitant at first, I was easily convinced for two reasons: 1) First times are good; and 2) I was more than hungry. I WAS RAVENOUS. I guess it was the second one that made me go with whatever was put on the table. Not that I cared, I was just really famished. And besides, the belly gets what the what the belly wants.

I won’t be doing a review as detailed as the ones in my previous posts and I hope you all bear with me. Writing this only now makes it rather difficult, as I’m forced to remember the littlest things like what exactly were the dishes we ordered and what they tasted like. Regardless, here’s my review.

Food ⭐⭐⭐⭐

For our mains, we had the their Pork Belly (Php 300) and Rib Finger (Php 500) for our Samgyeopsal and these came with two plates of lettuce and two rounds of refillable side dishes. We also got their Steamed egg (Php 150) and Soy Sauce Chicken (Php 400). The highlights for me were the latter.

The portions were considerable. The Soy Sauce Chicken came with 6 pieces, which was more than enough for the four of us. Nothing beats authentic Korean soy chicken. On another note, the egg was cooked perfectly and the drizzle of spicy powder made it even more delish, so to say.

A significant letdown for me would be the fact that their Samgyeopsal was not as filling. The meat slices were rather few and numbered. I can say that for the four bellies we have, our orders wouldn’t have done us justice if we didn’t get the chicken. Good thing though, was that the meat was fresh and the taste, it didn’t fail us there either. There was a variety of sides that came with the Samgyeopsal; however, the portions were also not as satisfying as we thought or as we would have wanted it to be. Not to mention, only two refills, compared to other Korean restaurants that have unlimited. It could have been a lot nicer with the unlimited, wouldn’t anyone agree?

For our drinks, we had Soju (Php 220). What’s more Korean that Soju, right? From what I know, Soju is Korean rice wine. I would think of it as the counterpart of the Japanese sake. I’ve never had Soju before and I didn’t quite know what to expect, except that it was probably going to taste like vodka. And it did. Stronger. I’d say it was okay, but since I’m personally not a fan of vodka, this drink wasn’t (and isn’t) for me.

Price ⭐⭐⭐

Given the portions and the taste, I’d say the prices are reasonable. I know that meat can be expensive at this day and age so I’m not taking their prices against them. I just think that they should somehow stretch a little bit for their customers, instead of limiting them to just 2 side refills.

Ambiance ⭐⭐⭐

Samjung is a quiet and cozy restaurant compared to the rest of the places within its vicinity. It wasn’t too crowded when we went there, thankfully. It’s also spacious, with a second floor that seemed reserved for larger groups. The decorations were minimal and modest.

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Overall, we had a good time. We walked in hungry and came out full and satisfied. Nothing beats bonding over food and trying out new things with friends. I never thought Korean dining would be this fun and exciting. Now I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it more often.

Until my next food stop,

Neri ❤

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Food Review: Filling Station, Poblacion, Makati, PH

What was supposedly a ramen night for a friend who’s bound to the UK very, very soon turned into American dining, which I couldn’t be more thankful for.

I would hear about Filling Station once in a while and I would see pictures of the place and the food here and there. Unfortunately, as it seems I’m the “boring” person who won’t even leave the comforts of her bed, I am quite ashamed and proud to say that I have never been to the so-called Red District at night, nor have I had the chance to experience dining at this restaurant. Until last Friday night. (Thank God for Fridays!) 

Getting to Filling Station isn’t quite a bit of a trouble, if you think about it. It’s within the heart of Makati and is definitely accessible from all parts of Metro Manila. Traffic, though, can make it such a hassle, so watch out for payday Fridays and holidays. Although we anticipated that there MIGHT BE and WILL BE traffic, considering that last November 29 was payday Friday because the following day was a holiday, we sure underestimated how bad it could get. What was initially set for 17:30 became much, much later as two of us managed to arrive past 19:00.

I found my whole dining experience here extremely satisfying and you’ll see exactly why.

Ambiance: A Travel Back in Time ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The facade, as well as the interior, take you back in time to that 50’s American vibe where Elvis Presley, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were stars; where the Cadillac was everyone’s car of choice. Every angle, every corner, was filled with memorabilia from the colorful and eventful past post-World War II.

Food: Good Gracious Servings ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Aside from the entire place being Insta-worthy, the food probably is the best part for me. The servings were big enough for 3 really hungry people and the taste totally did not disappoint. Everything that we ordered proved itself to my sensitive and picky palate.

Presley’s Pasta (558 Php) – One of the house favorites and now I know why. The pasta shells were cooked to perfection and the Bechamel sauce, just mmm-good. This pasta dish comes with pizza bread and grilled beef tenderloins. While the pasta was a complete knockout, the steak cuts let us down. When we say medium rare, we don’t mean overly well-done meat.

Crowne Royale (Php 538) – This half-boneless marinated chicken is another bomb. Served with veggies on the side and onion rings on top, this dish originally comes with garlic rice, but can be switched over to fries at no extra cost.

All-Star Nachos (398 Php) – Another house specialty. Multicolored nacho chips topped with loads of ground beef, jalapeno, black olives, cheese sauce and sour cream will leave you wanting more and more of it. I guess you can never go wrong when they say it’s a crowd favorite.

Frozen Strawberry Margarita (Php 888) – Subtle at first, until it hits your gut. The strawberry in it makes it a little bearable for a drink that’s tequila-based. But remember never to get too cozy. After all, it’s still tequila.

Service: Tick-Tock ⭐⭐⭐

The servers were courteous and welcoming. They had smiles on their faces and they picked up orders pretty well. Serving time, though, was a bit of a turn off for me. They served drinks almost immediately, but then the first plate came 20 minutes after. I reckon the fact that they probably have a lot of patrons and first-time visitors like me, but their service turnaround time must be improved. We never want hungry customers going berserk.

Price: Just Right ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I have labeled the prices above and they may seem pricey, yes, but I would say that they’re rather reasonable. The quality of their food and the serving size would speak for the price alone. Unlike some other restaurants with very pricey meals, the dishes here are sure to fulfill your cravings and leave you satisfied for the next 12 hours or so. Filling Station offers the Cadillac table to anyone who’s willing to splurge Php 3,000 for food. Not bad, if you’re a group of 4 or 5. It was kind of a shame that we turned down the table, thinking we won’t be able to consume that amount for grub. Until the bill came and we were only some change away from the Php 3,000. Oh, well. Such is life. HAHA.

Overall Rating: A Delicious Experience 

It wasn’t perfect, but I’d definitely go back. It was a fun and refreshing experience. I can’t wait to try out what else is on their bestseller list. I can only imagine it’s going to be top-notch. Not to mention the 50’s diner theme – AWESOMEEEEEE!

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Things can never go wrong when you’re with good friends, dining in good places. Filling Station is located at 5012 P. Burgos Street, Poblacion, Makati City.

‘Til next time,

Neri ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Getaway in Baguio: Day 2

Day 2: Hustlin’ and Bustlin’ in Baguio

The day started early, but not as early as I had planned. We woke up, fully recharged from yesterday’s activities. As we went outside to our breakfast table, I was remarkably cold. What a break from the usually sweltering weather in Manila!

It’s true what they say. You’ll have this uncanny love-hate relationship with the Baguio weather. At times, it’s perfect. But a real enemy for when you need to get out of bed. 😅

Nevertheless, it was relaxing to wake up to something different. It felt good looking at tall pine trees for a change. And the fact that it was 15°C that morning made it even more spectacular.

We had breakfast and it was so good. More details will be posted on my succeeding blog, so watch out for it! As soon as we were done, we were back on the streets.

First stop: BenCab Museum, Asin Rd., Tuba, Benguet

Getting to BenCab proved to be more than difficult because of the ongoing street parade. A number of roads had been blocked, which left us with no choice but to walk. The good thing was, we were able to catch glimpses of the event. As such, every 10 minutes or so, we’d stop on our tracks to take pictures and videos.

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To get there, you would need to take a jeepney going to Asin Rd. A terminal is located near the city market. There is just about some wait time since jeepneys don’t leave until they’re completely filled. The ride costs 11.25 Php per person, one-way.

BenCab Museum is the brain child of Benedicto Cabrera, famous Filipino artist. The place features an assemblage of his own works, and a couple others from his fellow artists. Included as well are crafts and sculptures native to the Cordilleras.

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BenCab Museum
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The Art Gallery

Below the gallery is where you’d find Cafe Sabel. We’ve asked the guides who the restaurant was named after but just like us, they were clueless. I can only assume that the inspiration was BenCab’s mother, Isabel.

Overlooking the entire museum was the farm and garden, with a hut and a fish pond as its centerpiece. On the other end was where vegetables were being grown. There was a supposed eco-trail which unfortunately, we didn’t get to see anymore. 😭

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The Farm and Garden

Nice to know: BenCab Museum is closed on Mondays. So be sure to check your calendars twice if you plan on going there. It’s open from 9 am to 6 pm. Should you wish to avail of the guided tour, just approach the reception. Just a heads up, video taking is not allowed. Fee is 120 Php per person.

From the museum, we hailed a cab and headed back to the city. Good thing, there was no more traffic since the parade had already finished. After getting off the cab, we looked for a jeepney bound for La Trinidad. Can you guess where we’re going? 😉

Next stop: Strawberry Farm, La Trinidad, Benguet

Any Baguio itinerary has to include the Strawberry Farm, am I right? 😉 What’s special about this farm is that you can relish in the unique experience of picking your own strawberries. That’s right. You do the picking!

The farm is known for its strawberries, but other vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes are also grown. There is no entrance fee. But those who will pick their own strawberries and buy them afterwards, a kilo is worth 450 Php. Once inside, you will need a basket and a cutter before you can start picking. The farmers are gracious enough to offer it to you but in case no one does, you can simply ask.

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The Farm

Towards the end of the plantation, apart from all the vegetation, sunflowers can be spotted. Visitors who enter can take unlimited pictures for a small fee of 10 Php per person.

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Sunflowers

Tip: You can also buy pre-picked strawberries right outside the plantation. Compared to the 450 Php per kilo when you pick them yourselves, you can find pre-picked ones almost half the price. Big, big savings! 🤓

Just outside, ice cream vendors were all over the place. We dove right in on the bandwagon and bought ourselves yet another Baguio favorite – strawberry ice cream! Unlike ordinary strawberry ice creams, the ones in Baguio are made from real strawberries. Which makes it 3x more delectable. An ice cream, however, costs 25-40 Php depending on your choice of cone. Quite pricey but definitely worth it!

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The advert says it all
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Strawberry ice cream

From La Trinidad, we rode a jeepney back to the city. We craved for something more familiar so we ended up eating in Yellow Cab, the one located in front of the city hall. As soon as we were done, we headed to our next destination. Clue: it’s another park. 😉

Next stop: Wright Park and The Mansion

We found ourselves stuck in traffic for over an hour, trying to get to Wright Park. According to the cabbie, it seemed like a lot were heading to Mines View Park, another tourist attraction that was relatively nearby.

Wright Park is located across the Rizal Elementary School in Gibraltar Rd. The park is particularly known for horseback riding. Horses can be rented for 200 Php (30 minutes) and 400 Php (1 hour) inclusive of an accompanying guide. While the experience was both scary (for some unexperienced riders like me) and enjoyable, the place was stenchy. Horses do their business all over the trail so make sure your noses can tolerate some serious stink. 😂

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The horse trail
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Our friendly but not-so-friendly horses

After our time with the horses was over, we hiked our way to the other side of the park. Hiked, because climbing up over a hundred stone steps was definitely no joke. As we reached the top, a beauty unfolded right before our eyes – a long stretch of man-made pool fronting a mansion. Known as the Pool of Pines, this body of water gets its name from the towering pine trees that reflect on its surface.

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Pool of Pines

A few meters walk and we were fast approaching the gates of The Mansion, located along Leonard Wood Rd. The Mansion is the northern counterpart of the Malacañang Palace and is basically the official summer residence of the Philippine President. It was built in 1908 under the proclamation of then American Governor-General William Cameron Forbes, and was designed by William Parsons. There is no entrance fee, but tourists are only allowed to take pictures and videos from the outside. Beyond the sidewalk is already off limits. Too bad, it would’ve been nice to stroll around and peek through the inside of a presidential house. 🙄

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The Mansion

It was already getting late when we left The Mansion. However, we still managed to squeeze in one tiny stop. We decided it had to be now or never, because we only had until tomorrow morning before we left for Manila. Next thing we know, we were getting off the cab as we arrived at our destination.

Next stop: Camp John Hay

Camp John Hay used to be a US military base in Baguio, named after Theodore Roosevelt’s state secretary. A former recreational facility for American soldiers in the country, this was later turned into a resort that has attracted many local and foreign tourists.

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Panoramic view of Camp John Hay

The area highlights its golf course, a hotel, several cottages and restaurants, a shopping center and a convention hall. More than the luxury of everything in it, the beauty of Camp John Hay is best experienced through a lazy saunter across its vast expanse of land. If you’re the soul-searching type, the calm and quiet will definitely work for you. Or if you’re the bold and creative type, the pine trees and the rest of the greenery can be your befitting muse.

One of the major things people associate with Camp John Hay is The Manor, which is dubbed as the most expensive resort hotel in Baguio. Its rustic architecture is reminiscent of how typical cabins were built, which is pretty much central to the modern country home vibe it has.

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The Manor in Camp John Hay
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The facade
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Real life Christmas trees

Activity-wise, there are a lot that can be done in Camp John Hay. Horse back riding can be your option, or if your bet is for something more extreme, then the tree top adventure would be the best choice. You can also follow the eco-trail if you feel like burning some extra calories. 😉 Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do all this and more because it was pretty much sundown. It would be amazing to go here probably in the morning when there’s not too much people yet or early in the afternoon for the activities.

As the sun slowly bade us farewell, we realized just how tiring this day had been. We had this overwhelming desire to seek out the comfort of good food as we scouted for some place to dine. Out of nowhere, we thought of Cafe by the Ruins.

It turns out that this restaurant has two branches, the pioneer branch down in Shuntug St. and the other one along Session Road, called Cafe by the Ruins Dua. We decided to go for the latter considering it was practically near where we were staying. Compared to the former, the Dua is relatively more contemporary in design, and more spacious, which makes it ideal, I guess, for larger groups.

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Cafe by the Ruins Dua

Like all first-timers, we chose to order their bestsellers. It was pretty easy pinpointing which of the dishes were, because they always had the word Ruins attached to it, such as their Ruins’ Coffee and Ruins’ Leche Flan. Aside from that, we had the bagnet and the spicy shrimp for our mains, which were both good. Oh, but the shrimp – I just loved how it was oozing with flavor and spice. The kesong puti salad was yet another thing. What stood out, apart from the whole green leafy medley, was the carabao cheese and how it was done. Imagine breading and frying it with sesame seeds. Who knew sesame seeds could make such a difference? 🤔 The kalabasa puree, however, wasn’t topnotch. It was too bland for my taste as though someone forgot to sprinkle salt and pepper. On second thought, maybe someone did. Too bad. 😓😓

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Clockwise: Ruins’ Leche Flan, Ruins’ Coffee, Ilocos Bagnet, Black Rice, Carabao Cheese Salad, Spicy Shrimp, and Kalabasa Puree

After eating, we worked out a plan to visit the night market in Harrison Road. From Cafe Dua, we took a cab, only to get there an hour early. It was a bit frustrating missing out on this experience, but there was also no denying we were way too tired to wait until 9 pm. So, we headed back to Lucia’s instead.

The moment we arrived at Lucia’s, we were like “Thank God we’re home!” The entire day was fulfilling because we were able to cross out the bulk of our itinerary, but it left us too exhausted to even let out one more word at that point. Nevertheless, everything that happened that day was worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!

Later that evening, we got invited to try out the bonfire. It was pretty chilly, so we jumped right in and said yes. A few minutes after, we were called out to the back of the property where the bonfire was set up. We sat close to it, feeling all warm and cozy. I figured this was what I needed to cap the night off. How I wish everyday would finish off like this. Two words. Absolutely perfect.

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Bonfire and me

Third and last day coming up soon! Don’t forget to tune in.

Lots of love,

Neri❤

Weekend Getaway in Baguio: Day 1

We were in Baguio over the weekend (February 24-26) in celebration of my mom’s birthday last February 22. To be honest, we didn’t think we’d be there just in time for the culmination parades of the Panagbenga Festival. We felt lucky for the chance to witness the highlight of this month-long festivity. Although, at the back of our heads, we knew we were getting into probably the city’s busiest time of the year. A lot of people, especially those coming from Manila, make it their yearly tradition to drive up to Baguio to attend the festival. Towards the end of the month of February, Baguio holds the most anticipated activities of the said festival – the Grand Street Parade and the Grand Float Parade.

About a month ago, we decided we wanted to celebrate mom’s birthday out of town. Apart from the usual birthday dinners we do, we opted for something different. And so the idea of traveling to Baguio was born. We carefully arranged our travel to and from Baguio, our accommodation and the itinerary. It sure was tedious enough coming up with a decent itinerary for a 3-day stay that it took me almost a month to draft a plan. Allow me to walk you through our Baguio experience. I’ve included tips, a little bit of history of the places we’ve been and short reviews of the restaurants we’ve tried.

How we got there:

Several bus lines service the Manila-Baguio route. We personally decided to go with Victory Liner, because of their online booking facility. Just a few clicks on their website and we found ourselves booked for the trip! As easy as 1-2-3. 😊 Although, don’t get me wrong, there are also other bus companies that travel up north to Baguio (a little research won’t hurt 😉).

Going back, we booked the regular aircon fare for Php 445 each from Cubao to Baguio. On top of that, there was an additional 50 Php fee for probably booking seat reservations online. From what I know, they also offer the deluxe, first class fare for Php 750. The only difference is, the deluxe buses have a built-in restroom. Not to worry though, even if you take the regular aircon buses, there are certain stopover points. In our case, this was the Sison Bus Stop in Tarlac. They have restrooms you can use for a small price. Aside from that, the place houses a number of food stalls that has everything from breakfast buffet to munchies on-the-go.

We booked the 4 am trip out of Manila. It took roughly 10-15 minutes for all the passengers to board the bus and before we knew it, we had left the terminal and were on our way. The whole travel time, including the stopover, took approximately 4-5 hours as we reached Baguio 10 minutes to 9 am.

Tip: On the average, Baguio is 8 hours’ worth of travel time. To get there faster, you may want to try traveling during the wee hours of the night. It sure will save you a good 2-3 hours. 😉

Day 1: First Day High

As soon as we got off the bus, we went ahead to book our return trip. Sadly, we weren’t able to do this online because there were only limited trips on the website. Either Victory Liner does this purposely, or they forgot to update their site. Anyway, we were able to secure a trip back to Manila on the 26th at 1:25pm. So far, so good. At least, we didn’t have to worry about our way back. We can fully enjoy Baguio, as we were supposed to. 😊

Right outside the bus terminal, we were greeted by a taho vendor. For those of you who don’t know, taho is silken tofu, topped with thick brown syrup (arnibal) and sago pearls. But because we were in Baguio, it wasn’t just ordinary taho – it was strawberry taho. In place of arnibal, they use strawberry syrup with strawberry preserves. Yum. 😋

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Strawberry Taho

After getting our taho, we hailed a cab and went to 50’s Diner for breakfast. Known for its pink facade and American-inspired set-up, there was no way we were going to miss it. We had Bacon Omelet, Spam with Egg, and Corned Beef Hash. Servings were hefty and filling. Prices, cheap enough. However, food was of poor quality and taste. Immediately I could tell that the luncheon meat they used wasn’t Spam. Too bad, because I’m such a Spam lover. 😓 I guess people have overrated this place in their reviews. Though if you’re someone who’s working within a budget and is after heavy-duty meal servings, then this will suit you just right. 😉

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The Pink Diner known as 50’s Diner (Military Cutoff Branch)
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Bacon Omelet and Spam with Egg

Interesting Fact: Cab flag-down rate in Baguio is Php 30, as opposed to the Php 40 in Metro Manila. Part of the reason why I think it’s cheaper is because cabs don’t need to turn on their ACs. The cool breeze does the trick! What’s more, cabbies are genuinely honest. They give you your change down to the last peso!

Next thing we did was head to Lucia’s Bed and Breakfast to leave the rest of our things. I’ll be posting a separate review about Lucia’s so watch out for it. We met Cathy, who showed us around. She was so warm and welcoming. Well, all the staff were. A little chit-chat and we were on our feet to begin our itinerary.

First Stop: Baguio Cathedral, also known as Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral

As I came up with the itinerary, I wanted to start off our tour with a visit to a church. Luckily, I came across Baguio Cathedral on the Internet. The chuch is located in Mount Mary, Cathedral Loop, merely adjacent to Session Road. Since we were not familiar with the ins and outs of Baguio yet, we took another cab from Lucia’s (which is in Navy Base Ext.) to the cathedral. I already forgot how much we paid for our ride, but I can assure you it was less than a hundred bucks. Just like any cathedral, it looked majestic from the outside and even more on the inside. A total sight to behold. From what I’ve read, the church was constructed in 1920. Apart from that, it survived the carpet bombing of Baguio in 1945. To think that it has lived for nearly a century now, the cathedral has sure been well-kept.

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Baguio Cathedral

Next Stop: Burnham Park

A few blocks from the Cathedral and SM Baguio is Burnham Park. With a lot area of 32.84 hectares, this park is accessible from Harrison, Kisad, Governor Pack and Magsaysay Roads. It is named after the American architect, Daniel Hudson Burnham, who laid the groundwork for the design of Baguio City.

We weren’t able to cover the whole park, given its vastness. But we were able to visit the man-made lake, where we rented a boat and struggled with the paddling. 😂 Boat rentals cost 150 Php per boat for half an hour and a single boat is good for a maximum of 5 people. We also rented a go kart and a chopper for 50 and 75 Php, respectively, which is 30 minutes worth of cycling around the track. The funny thing was, even if it poured, none of the people stopped biking, including us! That’s why I ended up wearing a bandana! 😂

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Boat rentals
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Biking around Burnham Park

While walking around the park, we came across the Panagbenga Landscaping Competition and took snaps without hesitation. A few feet away, sunflowers were on sight. Guess what’s my favorite flower? 😍

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Panagbenga Landscaping Competition
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How can a flower be this beautiful?

A little past 5 pm, we were starved. From Burnham, we headed to Hill Station Tapas Bar and Restaurant for an early dinner. This is located in Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road. The ambience was very inviting. Rustic with huge windows overlooking the back part of the casa. We ordered Caesar Salad with Smoked Beef Carpaccio, Linguine with Sundried Tomatoes, Pan Fried Fish Fillet (I actually forgot the name of the dish😶), Death by Chocolate and Deep Dark Chocolate Cake.

What I liked about this place was their value for food presentation. Taste was also good. Service was commendable. Though, it was kind of pricey. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in Baguio, I’d urge you to give this a try.

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Clockwise: Linguine with Sundried Tomatoes, Caesar Salad with Smoked Beef Carpaccio, Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, Pan Fried Fish Fillet, Fresh Mango Slush, and Death by Chcolate
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Hill Station on the inside

Afterwards, we snuck to the quaint, next-door book shop – the Mt Cloud Bookshop. The shop is home to a large collection of local books from hard-bound history digests to children’s illustrated books.

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Mt Cloud Bookshop

We had left the book shop, only to find out that it was still raining. 😖 We then decided to call it a day and return to Lucia’s. It was the first time we had difficulty finding a cab ride. Fortunately, as we walked frantically, we passed by a tourist assistance tent. They told us to wait while they looked for a cab. In no time, there was one! Yet another thing amazed me about the people of Baguio – as soon as we got into a cab, we called the guy who helped us and held out something as a thank you token. I was taken aback when he refused and said he was just doing his job. I wish I could’ve gotten his name. Kudos to you, sir! 😉

The cab ride back to Lucia’s concluded our first day in Baguio. Tune in for Day 2 on my succeeding blog post. 😊

With lots of love,

Neri🤗

Mr. Choi Kitchen

The rest of last Sunday was all figured out. Sunday Mass and bowling afterwards. The only part we seemed to have missed out on was where to eat in between. We decided the best option was to look for some place in Waltermart Makati (as it’s only walking distance to and from the bowling center in MCS). Just around the corner, we spotted Mr. Choi Kitchen. Dar said that she’s tried their food before and it was good, so before we knew it, we were marching inside and getting ourselves a table. 

Mr. Choi Kitchen is not a high-end Chinese restaurant. It is, in fact, very typical and traditional. What I liked about the place was the whole interior arrangement, the service crew, and the price.

Food choices are rather good, though I might say, the list was kind of, limited. The best part of this gastro-venture so far, was their serving portions. One dish can fill up to three tummies, that’s why for a price of 200-300++, it surely is reasonable and practical.

The next best thing about this place was the food, itself. Not quite impressive on the presentation, but worked pretty well on the taste department. The ones that stood out for me were the Sautéed Garlic Broccoli (215Php) and the Shanghai Fried Rice (225Php). The rest of the dishes we had were fairly good.

Below are snaps of the dishes we ordered.

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Lychee shake
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Pork and Shrimp Siomai
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Sautéed Garlic Broccoli
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Shanghai Fried Rice
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Camaron Rebosado
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Crispy Mixed Meat Noodles

To sum up the experience, I’d say it was good. Others may find it relatively average, but I knew better not to expect a lot, as this isn’t a fancy restaurant in the first place. I’d recommend this to anyone who’s working on a budget, but nonetheless wants to indulge in good Chinese food.

Very good value for money so this deserves 3 stars! ⛤⛤⛤

Til next time,

Neri

Christmas Eve at Barcino

Having no prior reservations for dinner on Christmas Eve got us into some serious trouble. The initial plan was to dine in a buffet restaurant, just like what we did last year. Calls here and there got us nowhere. All were fully booked. It was obviously understandable as you’d expect everyone to be out getting dinners with their families. This part was definitely us. Regrets, regrets. 😓😓

It took a few good hours to pull ourselves together and come up with an idea. It was getting late but despite our dampened spirits, we managed to get dressed for the occasion and go out as a family. We weren’t quite sure which places were open and for how long they’d be, so we decided to try somewhere near. Greenbelt. Known for having quite a selection of restaurants along its stretch, we thought we could probably make something work. (Now, that’s the spirit!)

Barcino. That’s where our feet brought us. It had this familiarly unfamiliar vibe to it. If you get what I mean. Barcino is a Spanish restaurant, you can tell from the get-go just by looking at the name. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Spanish cooking, though I’m certainly not new to it. We all agreed to call it a Spanish dinner prelude to Christmas. For the most part, I’d say we did, because we wanted something new on our palates. And, there was no denying, we were hungry. (Well technically, that was how it went for me, haha! 😉)

As soon as we got inside, we were ushered to our table. The place was pretty heavy with people. Menus were handed in pronto and orders were quickly taken after we had called out. The interior was a mixture of wood and stone. The lights were dim. Wine bottles were meticulously arranged everywhere. What I found more amusing were the pieces of furniture reminiscent of Spanish culture. Truly, I’d say the ambience was perfect.

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Cobblestone wall
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Can it get any more Spanish than this?

What we had was their Patatas Bravas, Ensalada de Pollo y Mango, Paella Negra, and Pollo al Ajillo for the mains. Servings were sufficient. Most of their dishes would be good for two to three persons. Their service turnaround time was impressive. Drinks were served first, along with their house bread. Shortly after, the Patatas Bravas was put down our table. It was a mound of potatoes with salsa on top. The way it looked didn’t give away how delicious it was. At first, I had thought of it as a Spanish variation to French fries with ketchup. It could be, though. But the salsa was something on its own. Not to mention how perfect it went with the cute potato cubes. Heaven in my mouth!

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Patatas Bravas

The Ensalada de Pollo y Mango was, quite frankly, okay. It was a mixture of leafy greens, topped with roast chicken and mangoes, bathed in vinaigrette dressing. What absolutely stood out, for me, was the roast chicken and how they’d done it. It was tender, and juicy, and yes, yummy! The mango created a subtle, zesty flavor to the dish, which was another good thing. However, the lack of the vinaigrette dressing made it a little too bland.

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Ensalada de Pollo y Mango

The next dishes brought to our table were the stars of the night. Paella Negra and Pollo al Ajillo. Paella Negra is rice cooked in black squid ink. To be honest, the presentation seemed flat to me. And I was rather surprised seeing that the only element to it all was squid. I’ve seen different takes on the dish, with far more ingredients. Not to be fooled though, what made it uniquely exquisite to the tongue was the aioli. Perfectly done and outrightly matched the rice. Yum.

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Paella Negra

Last but not the least, the Pollo al Ajillo. Simply, chicken and garlic. Chicken sautéed in lots of garlic and white wine sauce. I loved this dish so much. Plain you might say, but the flavor is just so exorbitant. I have a thing for garlic, and the more there is, the merrier I am! The chicken was superbly tender and juicy, just like the roasted one from the salad, only this time, it was ten times better. There was too much goodness in this one, I could finish the entire pot myself!

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Pollo al Ajillo

We got desserts after. We ordered their Delicia de Chocolate and Crepe with Banana and Custard. Both were alright. I’d have to say, desserts aren’t Barcino’s speciality. The egg whites in the souffle cake seemed to have been whisked more than it should, which made it a little stiff in its consistency.

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Delicia de Chocolate and Crepe with Banana and Custard

Overall, I found the experience exceed my expectation. Food was good; the crew, helpful and fast; and the place itself gave off a relaxing feel. The prices weren’t cheap, but all was worth it because the servings were big enough, and the dishes, cooked with quality.

Verdict: 👍

xoxo,

Neri

Village Tavern Experience

Last December 17, I celebrated my birthday dinner with my mom and sister. We agreed to dine at Village Tavern in Bonifacio Global City. Reason for which was we wanted a classy new place to visit, with good food, of course.

Getting to BGC was not as troublesome as we thought it would be. Usually, places like BGC would be one of the go-to spots on a Saturday evening. Traffic though, was bearable that time. Thank God.

The place itself was easy to find. Although, we made a total roundabout just because I couldn’t read directions properly. 😫😫

But when we got there, we were greeted by its fine ambience. Outside were tables for al fresco diners. We were in such a rush to get inside, that we forgot to take a picture of the restaurant from the outside. What can you say, past 7 in the evening and we were just dying to have our tummies filled with something!

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The interior

We were a group of three that got seated right by the entrance door beside the window. From my view, that’s how the rest of the place looked like. Two long tables with high chairs right across the entrance and more tables on the farther side toward the back of the room. A bar was located at the back of our table. Walk a few steps, you’ll see that they have a tall wine rack which housed their fine collection. The farther side of the room also had a television for sports enthusiasts! Isn’t that cool?

One good thing about this place was their staff. Courteous and attentive from the very beginning. As soon as we were seated, we were handed our menus. Service turnaround time was pretty fast. Our orders didn’t take too long to be served. They even made sure to serve us bread while we waited.

So, what did we get? We got their Ahi Tuna and Potato Salad; their 8 Oz. ribeye steak with two sides, mashed potato and their signature flavored rice; and their Spaghetti Al Vongole.

First off, the Ahi Tuna and Potato Salad. This is not your typical potato salad. I’m no salad lover, but this one did it for me. What I liked about it was how flavorful the tuna had tasted and how well it complemented the baby potatoes and the rest of the salad. Oh and did I mention, crab fat dressing? Yes that’s right. This surely is a must-try!

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Ahi Tuna and Potato Salad

The next thing they served was the ribeye steak with the sides. To be honest, judging the steak from when they served it, it looked really dry. Like the element of juiciness was missing. The flavor and presentation were okay. One thing that disappointed me was the steak’s level of doneness. I had asked for medium well and what came out was rather overcooked. 😐😐

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The steak
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Ribeye steak with mashed potato and VT rice

The side dishes that came with the steak were another story. The mashed potato was good in its own light. The Village Tavern rice however, exceeded my expectations. There was too much umami in one bowl. What stood out was how perfectly all the ingredients blended in, which ultimately rendered a gastronomic experience.

The final dish that we had was the Spaghetti Al Vongole. Cooked in white wine and tossed with clams, this was pretty awesome. The wine came out strong, but we had a lemon squeezed in to neutralize the flavor. The clams were cooked to perfection. And the noodles, al dente!

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Spaghetti Al Vongole

Overall, I enjoyed this dining experience. The place just had a fine aura to it. The people were friendly. The food was delicious, although the steak was sort of a letdown. The prices weren’t cheap, but for all intents, they were reasonable.

This place would be perfect for families who want to get together and friends who want to chill. I know for sure I’d like to be back to try out their other dishes.

Verdict: 👍

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That’s us by the way

Until next time,

Neri