a place in the world

Browsing Category Asia and Oceania

Food / Kazakhstan

Countries Without McDonald’s

Countries without McDonald's

McDonald’s is my personal benchmark of a ‘familiar’ place, as opposed to a strange one; it’s hard to imagine a place in the world where something as globalized as McDonald’s still has not penetrated the local economy. It has become a default eating place especially when we are too tired to look for better (cheaper) options. I’ve eaten at McDonald’s Barcelona, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, (gasp) Versailles, Bratislava…

I once found myself in Kazakhstan– ninth largest country in the world, yet there was not a McDonald’s outlet in sight. There was, however, a McD’s ripoff called McBurger in downtown Almaty– serving pizzas, burgers (they taste like Burger Machine burgers!), kebabs.
Mc Burger

I also discovered that there is a KFC outlet in a mall far from where I lived– and strangely, it was rebranded as Rostik’s (Ростик’с). I realize that this is what they call the KFC stores in some Russian-speaking states (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, etc). Suffice to say, after being deprived of good ol’ fast food for weeks, I was so happy to have found it in a remote strip mall.

Rostik's in Kazakhstan

Food / Philippines

Weekend lunch at Sonya’s Garden

I have been hearing about Sonya’s Garden for the longest time and finally I had the chance to visit one Saturday with my family. Sonya’s Garden is a charming place with an organic farm, bed and breakfast, spa, and restaurant somewhere past Tagaytay City.

We ordered the set menu (P610 per person), which was served sit-down style. The best thing about the meal is that you can ask for more servings if you run out. 🙂 The meal also came with bottomless freshly-squeezed dalandan juice.

Salad spread – The greens are lettuce and arugula, with pineapple, carrots, jicama, papaya, mango, jackfruit, eggs, cucumber, and melon, broad beans. Served with Sonya’s dressing.

Sonya's Garden
Sonya's Garden
garden from Sonya's Garden
salad from Sonya's Garden

The salad course was followed by freshly-baked whole wheat bread, with an assortment of toppings— basil pesto, anchovies, tomato & garlic, mushroom pate, olive tapenade.
bread from Sonya's Garden
My favorite spread would be the basil pesto.
basil pesto

The pasta course: spaghetti with two kinds of sauces, sun dried tomato and chicken cream. You may choose to top your pasta with the salmon belly, ratatouille, shitake mushrooms, olives, capers, and parmesan cheese.
pasta course from Sonya's Garden
salmon belly

Also asked for an extra order of the roast chicken (P450), which unfortunately was too dry for my liking.
roast chicken

For dessert: glazed sweet potato, banana rolls with jackfruit (turon), chocolate cake and tarragon tea.
glazed sweet potato
chocolate cake and tarragon tea

The service was brisk and left much to be desired, and this probably is because we visited on a holiday and the place was almost full. Overall, it was a good meal and I would visit again. I’m always looking for places where salads are a big part of the meal and not just treated as an afterthought or an accompanying dish; as the latter is how I usually eat. It was a filling and healthy lunch and Sonya’s Garden seems like the type of place that foreign guests would enjoy. It also was a welcome respite from smoky, polluted Manila.

Sonya's Garden

Sonya’s Garden
Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, Philippines
+63-9175329097 or +63-9175335140

Food / Philippines

Pampanga Food Coma

My friends and I spent a weekend eating in Pampanga. M has graciously welcomed us in her home and overfed us with takeaway food from the local food stores. The rest of the time we were out visiting restaurants. Thanks to G as well for his wonderful birthday treat at C’ Italian Dining 🙂

It has been said that Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines; of course the rest of the regions would beg to disagree. While I did not have enough time to sample the food extensively specifically the local cuisine, I would have to say that it is definitely home to great food, and it’s exactly why people from the city come on food tours and visit. Here are a few pictures from the trip. Needless to say we came home a few pounds heavier.

Breakfast at VFW Canteen

Bread, balsamic vinegar + olive oil dip (C’ Italian Dining)

Panizza – really a favorite from the trip. I’m not even sure how the panizza came about, it most probably is a twist to the Italian panino and of course, pizza. They serve you thin crust pizza cut intro long strips, and you roll it up with fresh greens. The flavours blend so well together! thin but chewy pizza dough + arugula + alfalfa + sharp parmesan cheese + chicken strips. (P800+)

Arugula and alfalfa for the panizza

Roast Chicken (C’ Italian Dining)

Tiramisu (C’ Italian Dining)

Everybody’s Cafe Sign

Chicharon bulaklak (Everybody’s Cafe)

Tapang Kalabaw (Everybody’s Cafe)

Stuffed frogs (Everybody’s Cafe)

Morcon (Everybody’s Cafe)

Camaru / Crickets! (Everybody’s Cafe)

Sinful chocolate cake (A la Crème)

Shey’s Cake (A la Crème)

VFW Canteen
381 Santol Road (Corner Santol Rd. & Pinatubo St.)
Clarkview Subdivision
Angeles City

C’ Italian Dining
1210 Don Juico Ave. Clarkview, Balibago
Angeles City, Pampanga
(045) 892-4059

A la Crème
Alcon Bldg.
MacArthur Hi-way, Angeles City
Pampanga, Philippines

Food / Singapore

my little chili crab picture in Afar Magazine

Afar Magazine

I’ll always be thrilled whenever my pictures get published. It doesn’t happen often at all, so it does feel nice even if the photo credit is tiny. 🙂
As promised, Afar.com sent me a free copy of the March-April issue in the mail. I don’t think this magazine reaches Philippine shores, but it’s the kind of material that I find very interesting. The photos and content are right up my alley, in the way that it inspires you to travel, none of that Condé Nast stuff that I would never afford in this lifetime.
So about the chili crab. Angela, D and I had it at Jumbo Seafood Restaurant. I remember not enjoying this dish only because I was hacking the entire day. Every bite made me cough my lungs out, because it was spicy and it irritated my throat. Looking forward to a better chili crab experience if I ever do find myself in Singapore again.

*This is probably the lengthiest post I’ve ever written here. Just in the mood at this hour, I guess.

Food / Thailand

Bangkok Food Porn

My first taste of ‘Thai food’ was a pack of instant Tom Yum soup which had no flavor except for the intense heat. It left me with a scalded tongue. I haven’t given it another chance until I found myself in Bangkok.
Speaking about Thai food in general, the flavor profiles are an interesting harmony of sweet, sour, salty, spicy. The keffir lime and lemongrass makes the dishes refreshing, despite the heat. It really does make the taste buds sing.
I can eat pad thai everyday.



I tagged along in an engagement shoot and realised there are so so many things I need to learn, and I have to stop winging it especially in indoor scenes. I was reviewing the pictures after and most of the images have severely uneven lighting, and if I were a paying customer this should be unacceptable. The images could have been worse without the assistance from H who lent us most of the equipment and set up the flash. So many things to learn, I look forward to improvement in the days and weeks to come.

Food / Philippines

Chateau 1771

There are relatively pricey restaurants I wouldn’t mind spending my hard-earned money on, and Chateau 1771 is not one of them. The food is okay, nothing to write home about– but I have to admit that their plating is beautiful.

Coffee bean sansrival

dark chocolate ganache tart


steamed sandbass

angus ribeye

hunters chicken

Chateau 1771
Greenbelt 5,
Legaspi Village
Makati City, Philippines
Tel. (02)729-9760


This is my first post of the year, I’ve had this weblog since 2007 with a few entries here and there. I hope I won’t get lazy and post more from this day forward 🙂 If anyone is ever reading this, happy 2011 🙂

Food / Philippines / Singapore

Cereal Prawn at Wee Nam Kee

I had my first taste of cereal prawn when Angela brought me to Glutton’s Bay in Singapore. It was such a revelation; I didn’t realise that prawns can ever be cooked and eaten this way, coated with a delicious sweet-spicy mix of oats and eaten with the shell.

Glutton’s Bay Hawker’s cereal prawns (SG)
cereal prawns

Didn’t miss the chance to try it when the Singaporean franchise, Wee Nam Kee opened near my workplace. The cereal “formula” tasted great, however I thought the prawns were too large for my liking. Consequently, the shell is thicker and harder to eat. It probably is just me, as I generally do not like struggling with my food. I would still go back and order the same thing.

Wee Nam Kee’s cereal prawns
cereal prawns

Wee Nam Kee
Ayala Triangle Gardens
Makati Avenu
Makati, Philippines
Tel: (632)846-8924

Food / Vietnam

Fanny Ice Cream

Fanny is a chain of quaint ice cream shoppes in Vietnam (Ho Chih Minh and Hanoi). It’s hard to pick anything from the picture menu because everything looks good, and some of the options are cute and playful (the cyclo ice cream, for example).

I wish we have this in Manila– is much better than the overpriced and terribly sweet gelato over at Greenbelt 5 (the name escapes me at the moment).
Fanny Ice Cream Shop
cute little water glasses
cute little water glasses at Fanny
Sushi Ice Cream with fresh mangoes, chocolate & raspberry sauce
sushi ice cream
Raspberry and strawberry sorbet
Raspberry and strawberry sorbet