Tapsi ni Vivian

On a very rare occasion, I found myself with just the grannies and Mico. We seldom hardly go out, just the four of us anymore, since I got married and had the kids, because the latter are always in tow of course. For several heartbeats, I remember my childhood when it was just our original nuclear family. How time flew! We are now the ones making all the decisions, and almost taking care of them (almost because for the most part they are still independent despite being retirees). It was a good way to unwind never mind that we actually came from a wake (of Mico’s long time house helper).

Mico brought us to Tapsi ni Vivian, a very busy restaurant that serves comfort Filipino food. As the name implies, its specialty is tapsi, short for tapsilog, or tapa (braised beef strips)-sinangag (fried garlic rice)-itlog (egg). Aside from that, we had other hypertension-inducing Pinoy favorites. Happy tummies indeed!

Okoy

Crispy crablets

Daing na bangus

Rellenong crab

Jose (Restaurant)

We tried a new restaurant called Jose. They said they specialize in unlimited wagyu and sizzling seafood. Seemed like a good come on but hey, I was (am) on a diet so it didn’t do anything for me (yay!). We decided to give it a try anyway because it was past 1:00 p.m. and we haven’t had lunch, and everywhere else is full.

For a fairly new restaurant, the place reeked of old. An old establishment must have sat there at one time (though we couldn’t recall which, and we frequent the place) and they didn’t change the interiors much, especially the flooring. They did put up new chandeliers and furniture, but the chairs were a letdown. It was not friendly to small people like me because my feet couldn’t quite reach the floor (go on and laugh!). But the area was huge so it was not stuff inside despite all the grilling.

The service though was a total disappointment! The servers and wait staff were attentive enough, but the food took soooooo long to arrive. We were starving! And the main point of eating there – grilled tuna belly – came when we finished eating all the other food we ordered. So that’s like, an hour, including the waiting time. Of course, we cancelled it.

Taste itself was a little so-so. And expensive. Not worth it. We are 98% not going back.

Calamares

Fried chicken

Sinigang na pampano

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.

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)

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.

Breakthrough

This post has been languishing in my drafts for the longest time, among other posts. An unexpected, heartbreaking event happened the days following my going to Breakthrough. It didn’t occur to me (or to anyone if I may add) that this could be the last fulfilling and enjoyable meal for one of my dear friends at work. I will write more about that soon if I summon enough strength or will. I just take comfort in the knowledge that she was happy here, and we both enjoyed ourselves, feasting on the food whilst basking in the fresh air and the sounds of the ocean nearby. It makes me a little happy that she was happy this day at one of the famed restaurants in Iloilo.

Hukad

I was happy to see a newly opened restaurants in one of the fairly old malls near our place. Because it has been in existence for sometime (read: a few decades), most of the establishments there are the run of the mill restaurants. Maybe it is also because the mall-goers are your typical suburban homeowners who are just there for the convenience of the location, and are not looking for something new. So imagine my surprise when I saw Hukad by the Golden Cowrie. I gather that it had its beginnings in Cebu, and is now available in selected areas in the Metro. And is Cebuano cuisine known for? Lechon!!

But aside from the star of the Filipino table, lechon, the restaurants offers traditional, but tasty and sumptuous Filipino cuisine. And because we have a tendency to tone down taste (less salt and other pampalasa) of our cooking at home, I tend to have this feeling of being deprived. And so I compensate when we are outing out, and I order to my heart’s content, much to the chagrin of the health-conscious husband. I liked Hukad’s food so much that I dragged my parents here to eat the day after the hubby and kids dined here. These are what we had, which made my heart flipflopped :))

Baked scallops
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Pritchon
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Monggos
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Escabecheng tanigue
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Fried tuna fingers
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Pinakbet
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Lechon belly
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