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Kathleen A. Llemit

Tasting Asia Americas

Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00 Published in Life Style

The last couple of years, the Metro Manila dining landscape has seen a lot of dining outlets sprouting at strategic places. Whether an original concept or a popular franchise, these dining outlets promise a different experience for the increasdingly discerning Filipino palate.

Thai BBQ treat
Filipinos would often think of Thai food as the standard tom yum, pad thai, and catfish and green mango salad. But there is another Thai food that a newly opened franchise from Los Angeles, California, wishes for Filipinos to try.
Pramote “Peter” Vanichkul shares that Filipinos should try Thai barbecue offered at Thai BBQ Original, located at The Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City. Their barbecue, he says, is equally delicious as the Filipino barbecue. The secret, he says, is in their marinade, lending their barbecues as tasty and tender because of the different spices and herbs put into it. Just like the Filipino barbecue, which he is acquainted with being married to a Filipina, Thai barbecue would have an herb-based marinade that could consist of lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger and turmeric.
As an opening salvo, their have 12 different barbecues for Filipinos to choose from, ranging from barbecue spareribs to pork and chicken sates.
Vanichkul was brought in as the consultant to the first Filipino franchise by its owner George Pua of No Limits Food, Inc. Pua franchised Thai BBQ Original from Pat and Tammy Ngamari who founded the restaurant in Los Angeles, California in 1978.
Besides the aforementioned house specials and staples, there are other must-try dishes such as Thai curry crab, honey duck, crispy oyster cake, and pandan chicken.
For more information, follow them in Facebook and Instagram via @thaibbq.manila.

Authentic teishoku experience
Since Filipinos are fond of set meals, Yayoi is poised to be a favorite among those who want their meal to come with soup, meat, rice, and side dishes.
Located at the third floor of Building B of SM Megamall, Yayoi is the first teishoku (set-menu dining) in the country, claims Yvonne Yao, one of the managing directors of Yayoi Philippines.
True to its origins since the first East-meets-West concept of the first Yayoi-Ken restaurant founded in Japan in 1886, Yayoi serves up fast, delicious and fresh set meals in 15 minutes. Orders are made through a tablet placed on each table.
Yao enthuses that unlike many other Japanese concepts, Yayoi sticks to the essence of authentic Japanese experience — the kind of meals that most Japanese would eat on a daily basis.
Some of the must-tries teishoku meals are the namban (fried chicken steak), karaage (deep-fried chicken), mix toji (breaded pork loin, fried shrimp and sukiyaki beef), teriyaki salmon, and teriyaki hamburg. Price ranges from P400 to P600.
Other must tries include una jyu (grilled eel over rice), hitsumabushi (grilled eel over rice and served with a side of dashi broth, served Nagoya style), and the Yayoi Gozen (signature deluxe set meal that comes in a traditional box packed with karaage, salad, pork cutlet, teriyaki salmon and beef sukiyaki).
To know more about their menu, visit or follow Yayoi Philippines on Facebook and Instagram @yayoiPH.

Soul food times 10
Vanessa Matsunaga, the beautiful sister of actor-model Daniel Matsunaga, shares that Filipinos will certainly relate to the home-cooked vibe of many South American dishes.
This is the reason why she and brother Daniel pooled their resources with 12 other partners including popular chef Raymond Magdaluyo from the Red Crab fame, to put up Naxional located in Uptown Parade in BGC.
The rustic diner, shares Vanessa, was her and Daniel’s dream restaurant. It is very personal, she shares, as most of her mother’s recipes are included in the menu including her childhood favorite pao de queijo (freshly baked bread and cheese rolls, P195).
The diner’s name implies at least 10 cuisines featured including some Mexican dishes. These dishes are inspired from the popular dishes of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Their menu consists of starters, salads, sandwiches, brunch and breakfast all day and open fire pit grilled meats.
Cynthia Patos, the Venezuelan pastry chef and host of Sweet Talk, also has her contribution in the menu, most of which are the desserts such as the nido fritto (funnel cake served ala mode with a choice of strawberry or mango compote, P135), and tres leches (milk soaked sponge cake).
For more information, follow them on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @NaxionalDiner.

Dreamy and fun outlet
At the corner of The Fort Shangri-La in BGC, there is a “candyland,” a sweet tooth’s corner that will surely entice any passerby.
Sugar Factory in The Fort Shangri-La is the first Philippine franchise of the famed American brasserie which first opened store in Las Vegas in 2009.
It is brought to the country by six partners that include Chrizette Gutierrez, Fergus Lao, April Pascual, Nina Lao and Roman Mojica. One of the partners had her first encounter of Sugar Factory in New York three years ago. After a night out with friends, they went into the New York branch at past midnight with a snowstorm looming in. She was quite surprised though that the supposed “sweet” escape turned out to be quite a shocking and unforgettable dining experience of savory and sweet pancakes partnered with the chain’s signature 36-ounce alchohol-infused smoking candy goblets. The last treat was what made her decide Sugar Factory as the perfect franchise for their group to bring in.
Though Sugar Factory’s main draw would be the smoking candy goblets, which also comes in a non-alcoholic variety, the dining outlet serves all the American standard favorites such as waffles, crepes, toasts, pancakes, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, gourmet ice cream sandwiches, and milkshakes.
Among the must-tries are The Signature Sugar Factory Burger (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, crispy onions, ketchup and mayo and choice of cheddar, swiss or blue cheese on a potato bun, P495), The Big Cheesy Burger (Angus beef burger topped with melted white cheddar, creamy mac and cheese, bacon and served with BBQ sauce on a toasted potato bun, P695), and the Red Velvet Pancakes (P400).
Sugar Factory is located at the ground floor of Shangri-La The Fort.

Dishes that feed more

Sunday, 27 November 2016 00:00 Published in Life Style

Chefs Roland and Jackie Laudico call on foodies and restaurateurs to fight hunger and malnutrition through the Restaurants Against Hunger campaign

Chef Roland “Lau” Laudico had a rude awakening about the importance of food. When he was a senior high school student at the Ateneo de Manila University, he and his class would commit three hours of their Friday afternoons teaching at the Barangka Elementary School in Marikina as part of their school’s Tulong Dunong program.

He used to teach art, he confesses, his choice because he was not really good with arithmetic. One afternoon, a student of his told him he did not think he would be able to draw a “beautiful” artwork. Being the “teacher” in charge that he was, he encouraged his students that no matter what they drew, it was important that they were able to express themselves and be creative.
Looking back, the celebrity chef says he observed many of his students had a short attention span. Besides this, he also noticed that many were “stunted,” or small for their age. He thinks that the physical appearance of his students might have been caused by undernutrition or malnutrition.
It is for this reason that he and his wife chef Jackie did not hesitate to be part of the global movement Restaurants Against Hunger, a campaign initiated by the international nongovernment organization Action Against Hunger (AAH).
“It’s not just about hunger at the moment, but making sure that in the future they would grow up to be part of a productive community,” agrees chef Jackie.
The couple’s dining establishments — Guevarra’s, a Filipino buffet outlet in San Juan and OK Cafe in Pasig City — will feature the “Dishes That Feed More” sticker or stamp on their selected dishes or menu. This stamp goes a long way, guaranteeing to feed more than the diner who ordered a plateful of a satisfying meal. A portion of the proceeds will go directly to AAH Philippines’ campaign.
Any diner who orders this particular dish would be happy to know that they not only would have satiated their bellies but also contributed to the bellies of many children across the globe who suffer from malnutrition.
The couple follows in the footsteps of renowned chefs Virgilio Martinez and Michelin-starred and World’s Number 2 chef Joan Roca. Both chefs were part of the global movement, which started in 1998 as part of the World Food Day in France. It was launched in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Spain. The campaign is also currently running in Italy, Germany, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia.
In the Philippines, the campaign will see its inaugural edition running from Nov. 15 2016 to Jan. 15, 2017. As of press time, there are already 103 establishments including restaurants from the Raintree Group and The Moment Group, which have signed up for the cause. Other interested dining establishments can register until November 30. To register and get more information about the campaign, visit the Web site
Some of the participating restaurants include 8 Cuts, Beni’s Falafel, Chelsea Grand Café, Chelsea Kitchen, Chotto Matte, Corazon, Crisostomo, Crying Tiger, Cyma, El Cabrito, El Chupacabra, El Corazon, Elias, Feast, Felix, Florabel, Green Pastures, Grilla Filipino Cuisine, Guevarra’s, Izakaya Sensu, Kabila, Manam, Melt Grilled Cheesery, Mexicali, Museum Café, OK Café, Ooma, Potts Point Café, Providore, Saboten, Señor Pollo, Simple Lang, Stella & Rocket Room, Terraz Bistro & Meetings, Terry’s Bistro, The Café Mediterranean, The Corner Tree Café, The Old Spaghetti House, The Shrimp Shack and Wild Ginger.
“High national stunting prevalence rates in the Philippines, along with very modest progress in stunting reduction over time, makes stunting one of the biggest challenges the country faces as it economically develops. Stunted growth is not only about what we can see with our eyes, but it also about poor intellectual development. Stunting is more than just a health issue as it has an impact on adult productivity and Philippines’ future. As stunting is a big challenge, it calls for a big effort among all Filipinos. Each one can make a meaningful contribution,” said Javad Amoozegar, country director for AAH Philippines.
In March 2016, Action Against Hunger released a report on the Socio-economy of Chronic Malnutrition in the Philippines. The Philippines, a lower-middle income country, is among the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia. However, sustained economic development has not manifested in a significant reduction of high stunting prevalence: 33.4 percent of children under 5 years old nationwide in 2015. This means that 1 in 3 Filipino children below five years old is too short for their age. Failure to achieve optimum child growth and development is attributed to several factors including poverty.

For updates, follow the campaign in Facebook @RestaurantsAgainstHungerPH; Instagram @RestaurantsAgainstHungerPH; Twitter @EndHungerPH.  To help spread the word on the campaign, use the hashtag #RestaurantsAgainstHungerPH. For more information about the organization, follow the official Facebook page @ActionAgainstHungerPH and visit the website

Get ‘stung’ by the Christmas spirit 

Saturday, 26 November 2016 00:00 Published in Life Style

Christmas turns a little bit sexier and sentimental at the Ayala Malls with Sting as the favorite reference for some of its shows.

For the ninth year, actor Piolo Pascual has been headlining some of the mall chains’ Christmas shows. If last year he turned on his balladeer act with the accompaniment of the Manila Symphony Orchestra, this year, he is set to channel the soothing sexiness of Sting.
“I grew up singing and listening to Sting,” shares Piolo. “He sings with so much emotion. Listening to the songs that I’m supposed to be singing, I realized he is a narrator. He just likes to speak out whatever he feels. It’s not all about hitting the right notes. It is about saying something, saying a story.”
At the launch of the Ayala Malls’ holiday events, Piolo gave a sample of his favorite Sting song, “Fragile,” to the delight of the female fans passing by.
It will not just be Piolo who will show the evocative music the former frontman of The Police is capable of eliciting from his listeners.
Former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performer Maribeth Roxas-Dobrish is the guest choreographer for the “When We Dance,” segment of the Sting-inspired show I Got Stung. Roxas-Dobrish tells that Sting’s repertoire is full of emotion and very “danceable.” For the segment, she came up with the steps that will be interpreted by former Alvin Ailey performers Aubree Brown and Jamal Brown. The New York-based dance company is among the pioneers of modern dance. The Alvin Ailey performers are just part of the ensemble of performers, all from the Steps Dance Project.
Piolo had his show at the Alabang Town Center last November 13. For those who still want to catch him sing, he will be at the Market! Market! in Taguig on December 2. Other artists who had their shows were Daryl Ong and Xian Lim. Sam Milby returns to the Ayala Malls holiday shows event for the fourth time this year. He will be at Trinoma tomorrow, November 27.
At the same launch, Jaime Zobel Ayala, a staunch supporter of the arts, unveiled his newest contemporary work, a mix of photos and textures that capture the color, vibrancy and energy of the Christmas spirit. The piece is on display inside the tunnel leading to Greenbelt 3.
There are other activities to expect at different Ayala Malls this season.
The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra will be treating mall goers to Christmas carols as part of their tour. The tour is part of their fundraising initiative to build their new home at the Circuit Lane. They will be at Market! Market! on December 3, Greenbelt on December 10, Ayala Malls Southpark on December 11, Ayala Malls Solenad on December 16, UP Town Center on December 17 and Alabang Town Center on December 18.
From November 14 to December 18, drop by the Designers Bazaar to be held at The Gallery, Greenbelt. The communities in the South will also come together on December 1 to 18 to host their own community shows. Southville Grade School and High School, Beacon House, CCF, San Beda, Learning Garden Montessori, De La Salle and Dance Theater Manille will be taking the stage with their own performances/ shows.
Welcome the holidays with the “Yuletide Rhythms Concert” series (December 3, 10 and 17), and meet and greets with Santa on December 4, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25 in Trinoma.


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