Red Platter

I and some colleagues, during a recent trip to Naga City, dined at the Red Platter. It was recommended by our hotel’s staff as one of the best places to eat in the city. Looking at its interior, with the way it was built, it seemed to me like it was formerly an ancestral house, which was turned into a restaurant. I like entrepreneurs who do this to maximize idle real properties. It even had weathered Machuca tiles that enhanced the 20th century look of the place. The dining different areas looked like they were formerly sitting areas or family rooms. The restaurant is perfect for family style meals or intimate conversations.

And because we were in Bicol, we just had to try the sili-infused meals. Unfortunately, there was no Bicol Express Pasta that day, and that was the one I was looking forward to. Bummer! And my favorite crispy pata is a little letdown. But! This might be because I have already searched far and wide for the best ones, and this version might be good enough for some.

Laing cordon bleu

Crispy pata

Salted egg fried chicken

Sinigang na salmon belly

They also have a bakeshop showcasing cakes and a whole lot of pastries, specializing in pili, a local product of the Bicol region.

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Coffee Table

One quiet afternoon in Naga City, I took my girls out for meryenda. We ventured into a place called Coffee Table in the lifestyle center of the city. It was nice haunt for meetings and quiet conversations. Located in the same building as a hotel, it fairly attracts students, professionals and anyone in the neighborhood looking for a place to unwind.

I was actually gunning for their specialty Bicol Express Pasta, but too bad that it was not available. So I settled for the seafood pasta and the super hot sili affogato. I almost didn’t make it the next day. lol. It was soooo spicy! I must have drunk 2 gallons of water in one sitting.

Sili Affogato

Matcha green tea

Seafood Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

Tuna pasta

Cookies and cream crepe

Motel One

Before I completely forget, I have to write about Motel One. This chain of hotels has several branches all across Germany and Europe, and I stayed in two of them during my trip. I was ribbing my friend that she was a stockholder because she she spoke so highly of the establishment, and after Day 1, I could actually understand why.

It had me at blue.

But other than that, I would say that staying in these hotels are worth the price. It was actually not so hefty given the range of hotel rates in Europe. Both of them (Berlin and Essen) are very clean and sleek. The outside is very industrial, while the interiors are cool, really restful for an excited but weary traveller like me. Wifi is strong. And the wonderful part of Berlin was we got the best room (I think), which is on the topmost of a semicircular tower, giving us an unobstructed 180 degree view of the zoological garden nearby, as well as the distant Tiergarten. Really, really amazing, especially at night.

The room itself was on the tiny side, with a tiny bathroom, but the furniture and decors were very artsy and tasteful. I liked the organic soap and shampoo! Smart TV was huge, too bad it didn’t have English channels.

Didn’t get to taste food so I cannot judge. But they both have great lounges ideal for coffee or even dinner.

Also both strategically located–in Berlin near the Embassy where we had business and the shopping district of Kurfurstendamm, and Essen, near the central Haupftbanhof and still the shopping district. (Did not do any shopping at all haha)

Berlin Upper West

Essen

Definitely recommending to those travelling to Germany!

Oddy’s first birthday

One of my favorite godchild, Oddy, celebrated her first birthday. Her party was held at Kidzoona, an indoor playground for kids and kids at heart, and I tell you that Mischa and Maxine truly enjoyed the party and the venue. Even I loved it because I could let them be since I can see that most of the attractions are safe and kid-proof. I say most because Mischa injured herself going down the slide, but it could be because she didn’t tuck her arms in, scraping the inner folds near her elbow. But it was totally fun on the whole!

Manam

If you are looking for traditional Filipino food livened up with a twist, then Manam is for you. The restaurant is an ideal place for families or a group of friends sharing a hot meal, or even couples of bffs chilling out or plain relaxing. Each of their dishes come in three sizes: small, medium or large, so you can order according to the size of your party or your heart’s desire. You need not worry about ordering too much or too little.

You can start off with drinks concocted with ingredients that you would not think are possible together:

Banana melon sago

Camias with lemongrass

Papaya with black pepper

For the main dishes, there were so many to choose from. If I had my way, I would have gotten their bestseller sisig and the sinigang na corned beef sa watermelon. But as I was with hypertensive and people watching out for their sugar levels, we opted for the safer though still yummy dishes.

Batil patung (famous in Cagayan where the husband is from)

Braised then fried pork and chicken adobo (a hit with Mischa)

Gising-gising

Binukadkad na plapla with buro

Sinigang na ulo ng salmon sa guyabano (a hit with Maxine)

Sundrops

Having our tired feet and legs pampered is slowly becoming a bonding activity for us girls. Especially now that Mischa is becoming a tweener, we often bring her with us to salons and spas. Recently, we got to try Sundrops, a day spa inside a mall we frequent during weekends. As we (Mischa and I) are suckers for anything girly, its feminine decor and vibe beckoned us in. Thumbs up for their clean interior, nice couches and warm lighting. I’ll tell you that I’ve been getting quite particular with couches since there is one day spa I used to go to regularly, but haven’t been to lately because I got turned off by the ever darkening couches. It seems that while their service is great (their pedicurists are good with in-grown nails and dry skin in the deep recesses of my toe nails), they haven’t been paying attention to the stains and grime accumulating in their sofas. So I’ve been on the market for a better place.

Sundrops offer a wide range of nail, hand, foot, arm and leg care, including nail art, however, we just opted for their Mint Mademoiselle package, which includes footspa with massage, pedicure and basic polish. And since we were early, we had fresh hands who took care of our feet and nails. I like that they have “light” hands, and were careful with the nails and cuticles. In general though, the service was just okay. Not a place I would go back to in the near future.

Agos

We tried this ship-inspired restaurant in Mall of Asia for dinner with the whole family. When we looked initially at their menu, we saw that their specialties are Filipino dishes as influenced by the Spaniards. I really don’t know the story behind the restaurant, but it looked to me that the food looked like heirloom pieces, maybe passed on from grand- and great-grandparents.

And as we are just coming off medical check-ups for the kids and the seniors, and the seniors have high blood pressure, our fare consisted of relatively healthy dishes so as not to further add to the high levels of cholesterol. The food was good enough in general, but I was like, 60% happy with it, owing to the lack of meaty goodness that my tummy was craving for. And it was a bit more expensive for the quality and taste. Service was great though.

Agos salad

Cheesy tortang talong

Paella Fiesta Filipina

Mahi mahi in spicy coconut cream

Monggo

As I said the whole thing looked like a ship. The little girl had fun going up and down the mini stairs.