Tim Hortons in Manila

Because I’ve tasted the original Tim Hortons coffee during my short visit to Vancouver almost a decade ago, of course I got curious whether the one established in Manila tastes the same. I’ve been wanting to go since they opened shop last year, but the branches were out of our way. And my heart skipped a beat when we saw they opened one near MOA, yay! Finally, tried it last Friday and I wasn’t disappointed.

I actually got an overload because they were offering their signature brewed coffee for free (just because the branch recently opened) for every order. And since we already have iced coffee for our combo orders, we were Tim Hortoned till the next day, which was mighty fine with them. Love their coffee as it already has cream and sweetener. Just got their cheese panini and the hubby got the Italiano bagel, which was a lot of work if you ask me, but he seemed to have enjoyed it. We also shared a chocolate dip donut. Next time I’m having the biscuit and bagel with cream cheese.

Katsuyasu Restaurant

Yesterday, the folks celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. Wow! We hope to reach that far, too.

The husband and I went home early to take them out to dinner. There’s a relatively new place in town about five minutes away from home that we have been dying to check out. It’s a Japanese restaurant called Katsuyasu, and if you know us, we’re major Japanese food fans. Last New Year’s Eve, when we brought a maki platter at a different restaurant, the owner kind of, without naming names, badmouthed nearby Japanese restaurants by saying that the new ones are only copying hers, and hers is the only authentic one around. So that piqued our curiosity even more.

So what better time to try it out than this anniversary celebration?

Since it was a weekday, the place was practically deserted. When we arrived, there was only one other table filled. I liked the modern feel of the whole place–it was airy and bright. I hope they can sustain this in the long run. Also, the staff were very courteous and nice despite very ugly reviews earlier on. Good job that the management decided to do something about this. The comments were kinda glaring, and if I had read those before we came, might not have tried it at all.

It was like ramen since we all had ramen except for mama who had yakisoba. And because ramen runs through my blood and is in the top 5 things-I’m-glad-were-invented, I am elated that the kids are beginning to like it as much too! Yay! Aside from ramen, we had our regular favorite salmon sashimi, kani salad and California roll. Price was great, too, because the servings were larger than usual.

Miao Cat Cafe

Okay, so this Christmas season, I am still all about making Ate happy. Despite my misgivings, and following our not so good experience at this cafe, I brought the whole family to another concept cafe. This time, it’s cats, and no sooner than I have set foot in the Miao Cat Cafe’s threshold that I want to back out.

You see, I am definitely not a cat lover. It must be the dog in me. For years and years before I started my own family, I have lived with dogs. At one time, I had nine of them (four or five were puppies). While I respect cat lovers and cats of all shapes and sizes, we definitely could not live under one roof. Maybe it’s because dogs make so much effort to please humans, that’s why humans are naturally drawn to them (at least this human does!). You kinda meet halfway whereas cats need to be wooed or something like that, and I don’t normally do that, even to fellow humans!

And so, only true, unconditional love could lead me to endure half an hour with these felines. A payment of Php300 per adult and Php 150 per child entitles interaction with the resident cats of the cafe for two hours, and includes a drink and pastry. There was a changing area for footwear, and they provide slippers. Unlucky day for me because I was not wearing socks, ugh! Both kids enjoyed that time spent, and time could not pass fast enough for the adults haha. This is a dream place for cat lovers who cannot have cats at home, and the owners are nice enough to share their pets to the paying public. They must have at least fifteen high breed felines there.

Rainbow Dreams Cafe

We had lunch on Christmas Day at Rainbow Dreams Cafe along the stretch of Maginhawa Street in Quezon, which is famous for being littered with rows of concept restaurants and specialty establishments. I came upon a post a couple of months before, and decided to delight Mischa with its cute concept of unicorns/my little ponies (up to now, it is still not clear what they are. lol).

Also ran into one of our colleagues who was spending Christmas there alone. Poor guy haha (seriously though, he doesn’t mind).

From the get-go, it was clear that the employees there were not happy to be on duty on Christmas day. Their Facebook page said the cafe was open at 12:00 noon, and it was half an hour past when we got there, and they weren’t ready yet. And their patrons could use some smile, but nada. There was also another family there, and just like us waited for them to get their acts together. It really seemed like they were dragging their feet. I would have thought that they would have some Christmas spirits left in them but it looks like they left these at home Oh well.

General review of food–zilch. Presentation was all they could boast of. But they were even serving it sloppy. Some of their plastic glasses had some cracks in them that water was spilling on the table. It took me at least three calls to their server to mop it up to no avail. We just decided to move on to the next empty table so they would deal with the mess later. I didn’t want to make a fuss so as not to spoil the day. So we just lapped up the tasteless dishes and took photos for posterity and that’s it.

Nachos

BBQ chops

Honey garlic wings

Crispy fish fillet

Chicken with sriracha

Carbonara

Rainbow smores

Milkshakes

Coco

I was hard pressed not to cry as our whole family watched this beautiful animated film:

For most of us, family really comes first. But there are times when we want something so badly that we are willing to sacrifice them in order to reach our personal desires. And like me, sometimes love of family entails sacrifices so you can provide for them. No matter the circumstances, these challenges only make you love them even more because the sacrifices and the hardships make them even more meaningful after you’ve conquered them. Does this make sense? I know it does.

Oh, and this is Maxine’s first movie experience. She was so excited, and we had to keep her from going around. It’s a good thing we watched the first show and there was not a lot of people yet. Midway through the movie, we had to subdue her and she fell asleep! Haha. But I loved having her around. No more taking turns staying outside the cinema to keep her company.

Dagupena

Because I try as much as possible to try things, especially food and restaurants, whenever I am in a new place, We searched and asked around for the best dining experience in Dagupan City. Our cursory review of the Net and referrals led us to Dagupena, one of the oldest and well-known in the city. We got quite a laugh when we realized that Dagupena is not really in Dagupan, but located in the neighboring town of Calasiao. We thought we got a little ripped off by the tricycle fare, but I would like to think that the needs of the family of the tricycle driver is much greater than mine so there you go.

And because Dagupan City is Bangus (milkfish) city, we just had to have bangus! While I don’t normally like bangus because, number 1, it has more bones or tinik than you can imagine. You spend almost all of your time removing them than actually eating, and by the time you’re done, you might have already lost your appetite. Number 2, sometimes it kinda tastes like mud. But the bangus I had here was yummy, juicy, and more importantly, boneless! Haha. Seriously though, it had a sweet, savory tang to it that made me enjoyed it. We paired the sizzling fish with the national food in the Philippines, which is sinigang. The two were a perfect blend in the mouth. We capped it off with dessert (I had sansrival ice cream).

Despite it being a weekday when we came, the restaurant was full, and the service seemed slow. It seemed to me that the crowd was a mix of well-off locals and tourists like us. The lighting could also be improved, as well as the ambiance in general. But the place is still being patronized, maybe because of its long history in the business, and its reputation precedes it. It really could do more but the food really wasn’t so bad.

Lenox Hotel

My working feet took me and my colleagues up north this time. For a change, I had some official business in the province of Pangasinan. Admittedly, it was not something I was looking forward to because I don’t like long road travels very much. But this trip ended up ok, in part due to the very nice hotel we stayed in – the Lenox Hotel in Dagupan City.

We stayed at one of their newly renovated rooms, and it was definitely a good choice. The room had two queen beds, and the size was considerably larger than most provincial hotels I’ve stayed in. Pristine white sheets and super comfy bed and pillows = two thumbs up. We almost didn’t want to get up, and let all the softness envelop us for a longer time. Bathroom was also nice with an overhead rainshower. Wish it had great toiletries though.

Cafe Feliz, the in-house restaurant, was also elegantly decorated. We had our breakfasts there, and their daing na bangus was certainly a hit.