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5.054 Spaghetti

-Cycle 5, Item 54-
28 (Fri) February 2014

-Filipino-
Spaghetti

1.5

by me

in my apartment

-Ermita, Manila-

I've moved into a one-bedroom apartment.  Same building, a few floors up from the studio where I'd stayed for the past 6 weeks (see generally 5.008 Chicken Pork Adobo...).

The most important factor in deciding to upgrade is that the bigger place has a washing machine.  As mentioned in a prior post, laundry has been a major issue for me here (see generally 5.013 Tinapa Roll Wrapped with Lettuce).  Beyond the logistical hassle, the detergent that they use is probably some industrial strength powder, which was destroying/fading my clothes.  And fabric softener was leaving behind an artificial, flowery scent that made me feel like a cheap hooker (not that I would know what a cheap hooker smells like, right?).  So, I'll be doing my own laundry hence forth.  If laundry is my biggest problem in Manila, then I should consider myself blessed.


The laundry machine is next to the fridge.


Coincidentally, our bedroom in Seoul also has Matisse on the wall.

Secondly, I'm not really into views per se, but I'd rather have three large windows facing the ocean than two small windows overlooking urban blight.  Aesthetics aside, the view should have a purifying effect, I hope, giving me the impression of fresh air above the city grime--in fact, Manila's lack of a proper sewage system makes the bay smell quite literally of piss and shit.

That light blue pier on the right is Harbor View Restaurant (see generally 3.244 Steamed Crab in Chili Sauce).

Urban blight.

The Hyatt Hotel, rooftop swimming pool, girls in bikinis.

Sunset (the other place had sunrise).

And of course, the extra space is nice.  However, the bathroom is actually smaller than before, and the kitchen has fewer cabinets, nowhere to put food.  I've brought the mattress out into the living room, reconfiguring the place to be a studio apartment with a huge closet.

I prefer to have everything in one central area.

My apartment in law school had a similar arrangement.

After the move, I decided to stay in and cook dinner while I was getting set up.  Earlier in the week, I'd purchased ingredients from the supermarket for Filipino-style spaghetti.

To paraphrase Chandler Bing again (see also 3.345 Stew), they just call it "spaghetti" here (see for example 5.036 1-Piece Chicken McDo & McSpaghetti Meal).  In fact, the locals refer to traditional spaghetti as "Italian" or "American."    

Filipinos like hotdogs.


The lady recommended this one for spaghetti.

I hadn't actually set out to buy/make/eat spaghetti, but this overwhelming sight compelled me to.


Inadvertently, I picked up "tomato" rather "spaghetti," but I suspect that they taste more-or-less the same.

Ugh.

It didn't turn out so great, pretty much as expected.  Like ketchup, only with a couple additional cups of sugar--Filipino kids must love it.  Better than my previous attempt (see previously 4.277 Filipino Spaghetti(ni)).  I'll get it right next time.


My first meal in my new home away from home.

5.053 Lamb Stew

-Cycle 5, Item 53-
27 (Thu) February 2014

-Irish-
Lamb Stew

2.0

at Molly Malone's

-Malate, Manila-

with C Audera-Lopez, M Kim, J&K Rarick, et al.

Molly Malone's Irish Bar is a western pub/restaurant.  Located in Malate, on the first floor of Tune Hotel.  The menu offers typical western fare, like burgers and fish & chips.  But no Guinness--on the menu but rarely available--so it can't really be considered Irish [addendum: see Gustaf's comment below].  For reasons yet to be determined [addendum: see James's comment below], a favorite hangout among people in my division; in fact, it was the first place that they took me to for drinks when I got here.  Current TripAdvisor ranking: 98 of 731 restaurants in Manila.

Appropriately, the red-lit hotel is surrounded by drinking establishments from which certain service employees are available for takeout.

Not that I put much weight on TripAdvisor, but the aforementioned Top-100 ranking seems kinda high, as the place was nearly empty both times that I've been there.

The lamb stew was--I dunno what.  First of all, it didn't seem very Irish: chunks of lamb, potato, carrot, and onion, braised in a spicy tomato sauce, served in what appeared to be an actual Korean BBB dolsot, accompanied by bright yellow toasted French bread, sorta buttery and garlicky.  Otherwise, it was okay.  Then again, I only have one experience with the dish, made by me from a recipe in a generic cookbook (see generally 3.345 Stew), so I have no idea.  Secondly, it took nearly 45 minutes to prepare, or to be served, kinda ruining the meals for everyone else, who all insisted on waiting until the entire table was set, by which time the stew came out piping hot and the rest had turned cold.  And finally, maybe, maybe not, something in the pot was contaminated, because I was sick by the time that I got home.  Benefit of the doubt, I'll rate the dish assuming that it wasn't responsible for poisoning me, which would warrant an automatic 0.0 (see for example 4.304 Mixed Grill).

Part of the attraction to this place, I suppose, would be the extreme burgers, similar to those "bypass" burgers discussed in a recent post (see generally 5.031 Baconater Mushroom Melt).

For example, the Smashing Pounder--the name presumably in reference to the pound of meat that goes into it, and the smashing required for anyone without a detachable mandible; despite the beer mug placed alongside for scale, the photo unfortunately fails to capture the enormity of this burger as seen in person.

Save-the-Date: Consultation on Overweight, Obesity, Diabetes, and Law, 9 to 11 April 2014, Manila, Philippines. 

To clarify, despite what I may have implied in the above-referenced post, I'm not against burgers or fast food or even junk food or ridiculously big portions per se.  Obviously, I eat such food myself, and even feed it to my kids, on occasion.  It can be okay, within controlled context.  James, the guy pictured stuffing his face with the Smashing Pounder, exercises regularly and is in top shape, and usually eats healthy--he even packs healthful meals for lunch from home, lovingly prepared by his wife Karla--so, now and then, he can handle a big burger; in fact, this time, he split the burger with Karla, who's the leanest and meanest of us all.  And presumably, a made-to-order burger in a full service restaurant would have less, if any, chemical crap--like preservatives, anti-foaming agents, processed cheese/sauce, etc.--than found in mass-produced fast food burgers.  What I'm against is the glorification of gluttony in mass media and pop culture, as well as the marketing and promotion of harmful products to vulnerable populations.

5.052 TERRP 23(1.20) Pepper Lunch: Chicken Pepper Rice

-Cycle 5, Item 52-
26 (Wed) February 2014

-Japanese-
Chicken Pepper Rice

2.5

at Pepper Lunch (Robinsons Place)

-Ermita, Manila-

solo

Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place (TERRP). In Manila through mid-April, living above Robinsons Place, I'm going to attempt eating my way through the mall.  As far as I know, nobody has ever done anything like this, so this could be my unique contribution to the food/blog scene of Manila. Given time constraints, I'll begin with the 39 establishments (currently) on the first floor, whenever possible, working my way up.  

This is the 23rd restaurant in the series, the 20th from the 1st floor.  Padre Faura Wing.



Previously covered restaurants (for installments 01-10, see post 11(1.11) below; for installments 11-20, see post 21(1.18) below):

-11(1.11) Feb 5 / Wendy's (American) (see 5.031 Baconator Mushroom Melt) / 1.0 / $

-21(1.18) Feb 24 / Ya Kun Kaya Toast (Singaporean) (see 5.050 Chicken Sa Po Fan...) / 2.0 / $
-22(1.19) Feb 25 / Mangan (Filipino) (see 5.051 Inihaw na Bangus) / 1.0 / $$


Pepper Lunch is a Japanese restaurant chain.  Founded in Japan in 1994.  Currently over 200 locations around Asia, including 1 in Korea, 16 in the Philippines.  Most of the dishes are simple rice/noodle + meat combinations.  With the slogan "SIZZLE IT YOUR WAY!," everything is served on a "patented" sizzling plate that cooks the food to a crisp and keeps it hot throughout the meal.

Prices ranging from 200 to 400 pesos.

The food was decent enough.  I ordered the Chicken Pepper Rice, which, once mixed with the corn and scallion, ended up tasting like fried rice.  And I'm partial to heavy-on-the-pepper.  I wouldn't trying other items, maybe for lunch.

Let the rice sit untouched for a few minutes to get it nice and toasty.

2 proprietary sauces: Garlic Steak Sauce and Honey Brown Sauce, both tasting oddly artificial; unnecessary as both the chicken and rice are sufficiently seasoned.

5.051 TERRP 22(1.19) Mangan: Inihaw na Bangus

-Cycle 5, Item 51-
25 (Tue) February 2014

-Filipino-
Inihaw na Bangus

1.0

at Mangan (Robinsons Place)

-Ermita, Manila-

with Lee YH

Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place (TERRP). In Manila through mid-April, living above Robinsons Place, I'm going to attempt eating my way through the mall.  As far as I know, nobody has ever done anything like this, so this could be my unique contribution to the food/blog scene of Manila. Given time constraints, I'll begin with the 39 establishments (currently) on the first floor, whenever possible, working my way up.  

This is the 22nd restaurant in the series, the 19th from the 1st floor.  Midtown Wing.


Previously covered restaurants (for installments 01-10, see post 11(1.11) below; for installments 11-20, see post 21(1.18) below):

-11(1.11) Feb 5 / Wendy's (American) (see 5.031 Baconator Mushroom Melt) / 1.0 / $

-21(1.18) Feb 24 / Ya Kun Kaya Toast (Singaporean) (see 5.050 Chicken Sa Po Fan...) / 2.0 / $


I've been to Mangan before.  3 years ago, it was where I had my 3rd and final dinner on my 1st trip to the Philippines.  Funny, in that prior post, I complain that I was forced to eat all 3 meals in the mall (see 2.035 Pritong Paborito).

Actually, I'm kinda beginning to feel the same way this time around.  Though at just over the halfway mark for the 1st floor, 19 of 37 restaurants, I feel like I've been at it forever, and yet I still have about as much to go--and that's not counting floors 2 to 4.  Another problem is that, because I didn't plan things early on, I've already gone through most of the good places, leaving behind mostly fast food or short order options.  And I'm at a point where I want to start exploring the city and experiment with the food out there, but I'm chained to the mall because of TERRP.   But I'll finish what I started.

Most dishes range between 200 to 300 pesos per portion.

Milkfish is a species of fish.  Also known as "Rutho mylescus" in Latin, "bangus" in the Philippines, where it's the (unofficial) national fish.  Scaled and extremely bony.  Texture is white and flaky, like trout.  Taste is somewhat fishy, like mackerel.  

Inihaw na bangus is a Philippine fish dish.  Consists of bangus, stuffed with tomatoes and onions and seasonings.  Grilled, traditionally over coals ("inihaw").


The food was as blah as before. 

5.050 TERRP 21(1.18) Ya Kun Kaya Toast: Chicken Sa Po Fan + Kaya Toast with Butter

-Cycle 5, Item 50-
24 (Mon) February 2014

-Singaporean-
Chicken Sa Po Fan + Kaya Toast with Butter

1.5

at Ya Kun Kaya Toast (Robinsons Place)

-Ermita, Manila-

solo

Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place (TERRP). In Manila through mid-April, living above Robinsons Place, I'm going to attempt eating my way through the mall.  As far as I know, nobody has ever done anything like this, so this could be my unique contribution to the food/blog scene of Manila. Given time constraints, I'll begin with the 39 establishments (currently--down from the initial 40) on the first floor, whenever possible, working my way up.  

This is the 21st restaurant in the series, the 18th from the 1st floor.  Adriatico Wing.


Previously covered restaurants (see post 11(1.11) below for links to installments 01-10):

- 11(1.11) Feb 5 / Wendy's (American) (see 5.031 Baconator Mushroom Melt) / 1.0 / $
- 12(3.01) Feb 6 / Healthy Shabu Shabu (Japanese) (see 5.032 Fish Fillet Set) / 3.0 / $$$
- 13(1.12) Feb 7 / Classic Savory (Chinese) (see 5.033 Classic Chicken Combo B4...) / 2.5 / $$
- 14(1.13) Feb 9 / CHA-a (Filipino) (see 5.035 Rice + Fake Meat & Potato Stew...) / 0.5 / $
- 15(1.14) Feb 10 / McDonald's (American) (see 5.036 1-Piece Chicken McDo & McSpaghetti Meal) (Filipino) / 1.0 / $
- 16(1.15) Feb 12 / Greenwich (American) (see 5.037 Garden Fresh Thin Crust Pizza) / 1.5 / $
- 17(1.16) Feb 13 / Soi (Thai) (see 5.039 Thai Kangkong) / 3.5 / $$
- 18(2.01) Feb 14 / Cyma Greek Taverna (Greek) (see 5.045 Spinach & Artichoke Fondue) / 4.0 / $$$
- 19(3.02) Feb 20 / Shanghai Cuisine (Chinese) (see 5.046 Seafood Chop Suey...) / 2.5 / $$
- 20(1.17) Feb 23 / Italianni's (Italian) (see 5.049 Grilled Pepper Fish Fillet (with Spaghetti)) / 4.0 / $$$


Sa po ji fan is a Chinese/Malaysian/Singaporean hotpot dish.  Consists of rice ("fan") and chicken ("ji"), and often sausage, seasoned with soy sauce, cooked to a sizzle and served in the same clay pot ("sa po").  

Kaya toast is a Malaysian/Singaporean bread dish.  Consists of toast topped with kaya, a jam made from coconut milk, sugar, egg.  Often eaten as a quick breakfast with coffee or tea.     

If not for this sign, I wouldn't have known that this place serves actual food food.

Ya Kun Kaya Toast is a Singaporean chain coffee/tea shop.  Founded in 1944.  By Loi Ah Koon--"Ya Kun" is the guy's name as it'd be written/pronounced in Hanyu Pinyin (Mandarin).  Currently over 30 locations in Singapore and 20 overseas, including 5 in Korea and 4 in the Philippines, including 1 in Robinsons Place.  In addition to the signature kaya toast, the menu offers various snack-like items, such as simple sandwiches and noodle/rice dishes, such as, exclusively in the Philippines, chicken sa po fan.

The kaya toast was too sweet for my tastes.  In fact, it didn't taste at all like coconut, just caramel.  Though I could see how it might be okay with a strong cup of coffee in the morning.

The claypot chicken was whatever.

5.049 TERRP 20(1.17) Italianni's: Grilled Pepper Fish Fillet (with Spaghetti)



 -Cycle 5, Item 49-
23 (Sun) February 2014

-Italian-
Grilled Pepper Fish Fillet (with Spaghetti)

4.0

at Italianni's (Robinsons Place)

-Ermita, Manila-

solo



Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place (TERRP), Phase 1.

In Manila through mid-April, living above Robinsons Place, I'm going to attempt eating my way through the mall.  As far as I know, nobody has ever done anything like this, so this could be my unique contribution to the food/blog scene of Manila. Given time constraints, I'll aim for the 36 establishments on the 1st floor (currently--down from the initial 40), working my way up.  

This is the 20th restaurant in the series, the 17th from the 1st floor.  Outer Midtown Wing.




Previously covered restaurants (see post 11(1.11) below for links to installments 01-10):

- 11(1.11) Feb 5 / Wendy's (American) (see 5.031 Baconator Mushroom Melt) / 1.0 / $

- 12(3.01) Feb 6 / Healthy Shabu Shabu (Japanese) (see 5.032 Fish Fillet Set) / 3.0 / $$$
- 13(1.12) Feb 7 / Classic Savory (Chinese) (see 5.033 Classic Chicken Combo B4...) / 2.5 / $$
- 14(1.13) Feb 9 / CHA-a (Filipino) (see 5.035 Rice + Fake Meat & Potato Stew...) / 0.5 / $
- 15(1.14) Feb 10 / McDonald's (American) (see 5.036 1-Piece Chicken McDo... Meal) (Filipino) / 1.0 / $
- 16(1.15) Feb 12 / Greenwich (American) (see 5.037 Garden Fresh Thin Crust Pizza) / 1.5 / $
- 17(1.16) Feb 13 / Soi (Thai) (see 5.039 Thai Kangkong) / 3.5 / $$
- 18(2.01) Feb 19 / Cyma Greek Taverna (Greek) (see 5.045 Spinach & Artichoke Fondue) / 4.0 / $$$
- 19(3.02) Feb 20 / Shanghai Cuisine (Chinese) (see 5.046 Seafood Chop Suey...) / 2.5 / $$

Prices are high, single portion pastas starting at over 300 pesos, some over 500, mains ranging from 500 to 800.

This kind of flatbread pizza seems to be very common in Manila, perhaps all following My Kitchen's lead, as the name of dish there would suggest (see generally 4.270 The Original - Verena).

Perhaps the first time in my experience that the actual dish looked better than it did in the menu photo. 

Italianni's is an Italian restaurant chain.  16 locations throughout the country, mostly in malls, including Robinsons Place.  Great corporate slogan: "Amore di Merrier."  While the website describes the food as "American-Italian," the menu looks to be Italian straight up, if rather mainstream--no meatball subs, no pineapples on the pizza, and what would be called "Spaghetti Marinara" in the States is appropriately referred to here as "Spaghetti al Pomodoro." 

The Grilled Pepper Fish Fillet was phenomenal, every aspect of the dish.  The fish was cream dory, grilled with a nice touch of char.  Further enhanced by the kick of black pepper.  Much creamier and tastier here than in prior encounters (see for example 5.032 Fish Fillet Set), making me wonder if perhaps it had been finished off in butter--exquisite as is.  Even better, paired with a luxurious tomato cream sauce.  Plus sautéed vegetables, including red bell peppers and shallots, and fresh minced scallions, all providing nice contrast.  And spaghetti to round things off--mashed potatoes available alternatively.  One of the best Italian dishes that I've ever had in my life.  

Totally worth 605 pesos.

Certainly the best meal overall of TERRP thus far, though Cyma's fondue was more interesting (see post 18(2.01) above).  Who knew that perfection could be had from chain restaurants in the mall?

 Then again, these Stuffed Mushrooms (1.5) were pretty crappy and absurdly overpriced at 495 pesos.

On the strength of the fish dish, I was impelled to buy into The Bistro Group Premiere membership.  For 2,400 pesos: (i) 20% off the bill every visit; (ii) 25% off the bill on my birthday; (iii) 30% off the bill every Monday; (iv) 1 voucher for 40% off the bill, up to 3,000 pesos; (v) 6 vouchers for free appetizers, up to 400 each; and (vi) free coffee or tea every visit, even without ordering anything else--good for 1 year.  Usable immediately, I saved 600 pesos on this meal.  Applicable at 11 restaurant chains around the country: Bulgogi Brothers, Fish & Co., Flapjacks, Italianni's, Krazy Garlic, Modern Shanghai, Siklab, TGI Friday's, Tonkatsu, Village Tavern, and Watami.  Italianni's and TGI Friday's (see generally 5.018 Filipino Platter) are the only ones in Robinsons Place.  But I'm sure that I'll recoup the investment soon enough, one way or another.