Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Zapata's Cantina Mexicana, Angeles City, Pampanga

Pampanga is famous in the Philippines for its cuisine. It's a stereotypical belief that people who hail from Pampanga are good cooks. I'm not sure how valid this generalization is, but many people swear that this is true. At the very least, the province is famous for its sisig (which supposedly originated from there), and people from all over the country visit the place for a taste of what they say is the real thing.

Well, I don't eat sisig (chopped pork ears and face), but the few times that I've gotten to dine in Pampanga, I haven't been disappointed. I recently went on a planning session with my officemates in Mimosa, and we decided to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant which one of my colleagues said she heard was good.

Mahimahi de Baja

After asking around, we found the restaurant, which was called Zapata's Cantina Mexicana. We were around twelve in our group, so our food took time to be served. I had their Mahimahi de Baja, which was grilled fish with garlic sauce. I enjoyed the food, and I think the amount I had to eat was just right. Some of my officemates had the combination plates and they were not able to finish them. Our group was in a bit of hurry, because there was still some work to be done in Mimosa. Because of this, I was not able to savor my meal as I usually do. I guess I just have to come back to Pampanga for another taste of Zapata's.

Zapata’s Cantina Mexicana
488 Don Jucio Avenue
Angeles City, Pampanga
Tel. No.(63)45.892.0859

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My favorite kinds of frozen yogurt

I love frozen yogurt, and I am very happy that the yogurt craze is still very much in Manila. That means more places to choose from. I've tried several stores selling this, and so far, I have two favorites. I like them because they are not as sweet as some others I've tried. The sweet ones taste too much like ice cream to me.

Frozen Yogurt Indulgence

I usually order plain yogurt with mango and almonds as toppings. I have these two almost always, and just add others when I'm in the mood. My alternative toppings are strawberry, kiwi, and all other nuts. I go most often to Frozen Yogurt Indulgence of FYI because there's one in Il Terrazzo, near my office. I also like the yogurt in Red Mango, but I only get to eat that when I find myself in Eastwood. I have yet to go to their Trinoma branch, which is closer to me.

Red Mango

I tried Frutti Froyo recently because they opened a branch in Tomas Morato. One of my reliable yogurt partners, Yeng, invited me to have an afternoon yogurt there. I really liked the place, because it felt like a yogurt buffet with so many choices of toppings and even yogurt (pistachio, blueberry, etc). I appreciated their policy of paying by weight, and not by number of ingredients. You pay a flat fee of P18 per ounce of whatever you yourself put in the cup, whether it's yogurt, nuts, fruits, cereal, or anything else in their wide array of choices.

Sometimes, in other places, I feel shortchanged because they only put a small amount of toppings. The volume is not consistent. With Frutti Froyo, I felt more like I got my money's worth because you pay by weight. Of course, I ended up eating (and paying) a lot more because I made my concoction myself. The texture of the yogurt is not as fine as that in Red Mango or FYI, but it had a similar slightly sour yogurt-y taste.

I will continue to try other kinds of yogurt in my search for new favorites, but for now these are my preferred brands.

Frozen Yogurt Indulgence
Il Terrazzo
Tomas Morato
Quezon City

Red Mango

Frutti Froyo
Tomas Morato
corner Scout Madrinan

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Angelina Italian Restaurant, Malapascua, Cebu

The island of Malapascua is well-known for its scuba diving sites where you can get a glimpse of the endangered thresher shark. Malapascua is rather remote and not too heavily populated, so when I went there, I was pleasantly surprised to find a good Italian restaurant called Angelina, which is by the resort I stayed in, Tepanee Beach Resort. I enjoyed eating in this restaurant so much that I had most of my meals there.

I tried several dishes but I liked their Quattro Formaggio Pasta best, and I had it several times. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any photos of this dish. Maybe because in my rush to eat it, I would forget to take a photo of it before I dug in. They also served us free Bruschetta to start with. It was a good idea, because the food would take quite a while to arrive.


I also had their Arugula Salad more than once. I really like this leaf, and I can't imagine how they managed to have a good stock of it, since it's not that easy to find in Manila. Maybe they grow their own.

Arugula Salad

I also enjoyed their Four Cheese Pizza. (Have I mentioned I love cheese?)

Four Cheese Pizza

The only dessert I got to try there though was their Affogato (which is Italian for "drowned"). Their version was made of chocolate ice cream drowned in espresso. It was not particularly memorable, maybe because the ice cream melted too quickly in the heat (of the weather, not necessarily of the coffee).


I do like this restaurant. As I've said, I ate there several times in the few days that I was in Malapascua. I like its interiors and food, I love that it's by the beach and that you can feel the sand between your toes while you eat, and I appreciate the unexpectedness of finding an excellent Italian restaurant in such a remote island that's famous mostly for their thresher sharks. It's always a joy to combine two of my great loves, diving and dining.

Angelina Restaurant
Tepanee Resort
Malapascua Island

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cafea Restaurant, Quezon City

Cafea restaurant has been around for more than ten years, if memory serves me right. It's located across ABS-CBN, and at the time it opened, there were not too many restaurants in the area. It used to be a favorite place of my friends and I, and we often went there at that time, to have coffee, a meal, or even a drink or two. I believe someone even threw me a surprise birthday party there once upon a time. However, I stopped going to Cafea for a few years because of an argument with the restaurant manager (I forget now what it was about).

I revisited it recently for a couple of meetings held there, and I found that it looks pretty much the same (except older). They have free WiFi, but the P50 per hour charge for having your laptop plugged into their socket put me off a bit. (Hmmm... maybe I haven't gotten over that little altercation of years back.)

Anyway, I found that their menu had changed a bit, but my favorites are still there. They still had their pasta marinara, which I used to order, with a special request to use only shrimp. It tasted as good and as heavy as it used to.

Pasta Marinara

Another favorite of mine was their seafood kebab, which I still enjoyed. It still had that huge mound of rice which is a sin to finish.

Seafood Kebab

The interiors haven't changed much. Maybe it's time to renovate? Because of the proliferation of restaurants in the vicinity, Cafea is no longer the popular hangout it used to be. But I would still come back to have some of my favorites. (Especially if I didn't have to pay the plug-in fee.)

Cafea Restaurant
42 Sgt. Esguerra Avenue
Barangay South Triangle
Quezon City, Philippines

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

C2 Classic Cuisine Philippines, Megamall

I wanted to have some quality me-time one lazy Sunday afternoon, and I decided to do this by doing some shopping (and some eating of course!) in SM Megamall. After doing a lot of walking and after checking off everything on my short shopping list, I decided to have a very very late lunch in C2, which is short for Classic Cuisine.

I've eaten in their Shangri-la branch, but I found that location a bit too busy and noisy. The outlet in Megamall was perfect for a relaxed solo lunch. I guess the place wasn't too busy also because of the rather odd hour I chose to eat. The restaurant serves Filipino dishes, and since I was in the mood for a lot of rice, it was perfect.

Tortang Alimasag

I decided to have their Tortang Alimasag, along with the Salted Egg Fried Rice. It turned out to be good combination, with the sweet sauce of the crab cakes complementing the salt of the rice. I kind of regretted though that I did not have their tilapia, which is one of my favorites in this restaurant. I still liked that better than the crabcakes.

Salted Egg Fried Rice

The manager, and also the server, both recommended that I have their award-winning Bibingka Souffle, so I couldn't resist. This was described as a "light and fluffy blend of coconut custard, salted egg, quezo de bola, and toasted coconut". I loved it, especially because it was sooo sweet. I did wish though that there was more of the egg and the cheese to balance off the dessert's extreme sweetness. I think this dessert alone merits another visit to C2.

Bibingka Souffle

C2 Classic Cuisine Philippines
3rd Level Mega Atrium
Building A, SM Megamall
Mandaluyong City
Tel. Nos.(632)470.1149, 470.1152

Monday, June 07, 2010

Jozu Kin Japanese Restaurant

Jozu Japanese restaurant is near our office, and so I saw that for a few months, it underwent what appeared to be some major renovation. I never had a chance to eat in the restaurant before its makeover, so I can't really tell if there was an improvement after the process.

I finally went to the re-opened restaurant, and according to its menu, its name is now "Jozu Kin: The Japanese Gold". (Apparently, "Jozu Kin", literally means "skillful gold".) I did like the new interiors, which looked very modern, spare, and Zen. With the change of name, the restaurant became an upscale version of the original.

The restaurant is relatively expensive for the area (then again, its name is "Gold" after all). Despite its steeper prices, the restaurant was full, at least that time I first had lunch there. I was trying not to eat any carbs then, so I just had their Smoked Salmon and Arugula Salad. As I think I've mentioned, I don't see arugula too often, so I try to have it when I can.

Smoked Salmon and Arugula Salad

When the salad arrived, I asked the waiter to tell the chef that I couldn't really see the arugula in the salad, since it looked like it was mostly made of lettuce. This disappointed me, since I ordered that salad precisely for those leaves. Thankfully, the chef sent over a plate of the leaves after my comment.

I enjoyed the salad after the addition, and it took some effort not to order anything anymore after that. I'll go back to Jozu Kin when I'm not trying to go on a low-carb diet so I can try their sushi. It's really not as much fun to go to a Japanese restaurant if you can't eat rice.

233 Tomas Morato cor. E. Lopez Jr. Drive
Near ABS-CBN Compound
Quezon City, Metro Manila
Tel No. (632)376.6351