#embracingthesouth: finds and favourites

I’ve just realized we have made strides with the house from the early days when we just moved in. From chaos and lack of storage…

to being more organized! There will always be more work that needs to be done, but seeing a huge improvement like this is inspiring. One step at a time, one step at a time 🙂

IMG_6240Furthermore, I think we’ve really adjusted to our new life here.

We have our go-to restaurants here in Bicutan, but personally, I find that it’s nothing like the food scene in BF, which enticed me, even when I was living in Makati and QC, to go visit. But there are some who say that it’s only a matter of time until it catches up.

We’ve found a good grooming place for Yuri, and we’ve taken advantage of the small wet market in Russia Street for cheap but sweet fruits, last minute vegetable shopping, and by-the-kilo Friskies. There’s even a small independent supermarket that reminds me a lot of Hi-Top in QC called Big C.

Going beyond Bicutan

I came up with the ’embracingthesouth’ hashtag in Instagram when I’d go on ‘south trips’ with my good friend Macon, who’s a born and bred southie. She’s found a willing and enthusiastic tourist in me, and the little discoveries and great finds with her just keep adding up.

Pretty restaurant! #bamba #embracingthesouth

A post shared by Holaina Tan (@holainatan) on

I’ve learned that it’s just ‘Town’ as opposed to ‘ATC’ (hahaha). I’ve learned some shortcuts and alternative routes for driving in and out here. Also, Tagaytay feels like a next door neighbour now and no longer an out-of-town destination.

One of the best south discoveries I’ve made is ClubBambino Kids Gym, and it’s really thanks to Macon. I’ve written about it quite a bit, seeing as it’s our first time to try a play school for Aki and also because our experience with them has been nothing short of tremendous.

Just to be clear, ClubBambino doesn’t pay me for my blog posts on them, I’m really just a happy customer, and I highly recommend them to parents.

We’re also very happy with Akira’s new school. She just finished their summer school program, and will be coming back this July as a preschooler.

In addition, I just signed up with a new yoga studio in BF, and I couldn’t be happier. I just wrapped up 3 sessions for the first week!

South eats

When it comes to food, here are some of my favourite south discoveries – in no particular order – thanks largely again to Macon! At the rate we’re going, there is more to come, for sure!

  1. Bamba Bistro

Such a pretty restaurant; such good food. The food tends to be on the rich/heavy side, portions are generous, and the place is small so do call in for a reservation as it tends to get full for lunch and dinner service.

It’s the kind of place that you want to take people you want to impress to (note to self, bring J’s parents here). We love the Duck Ravioli and the Crispy Lapu-Lapu. I’ve also tried the Steak ala Manila, which is their take on the classic tapsilog, but I feel overwhelmed with the food portion and I’m not particularly fond of meat that tastes sweet. Especially with tapa, I like it garlicky/salty.

For dessert, I’ve tried the Queen Elizabeth. I love Food for the Gods AND anything caramel, so it was definitely a win for me.

IMG_00612. Sensei Sushi

This place also tends to be packed, and it is really with this restaurant that I’ve learned of Chef Bruce Ricketts. It’s not your traditional Japanese restaurant – for example, their ebi tempura includes the prawn’s heads – but the meals are a sensory overload.

The most unforgettable dish for me would be the seared scallops with butter and XO sauce. Ridiculously good.

I would suggest not to go here super hungry, and risk ordering yourself into a food coma, and also to be more willing to try new dishes and flavour combinations. Sensei does interesting interpretations of classic dishes – you’d be pleasantly surprised.

3. Mama Lou’s Italian Kitchen

Aki is fond of pasta, but the thing is she doesn’t eat Filipino-style sweet spaghetti or pasta in tomato/marinara sauce. Her favorite is actually pesto sauce, and then white sauces like in carbonara and Alfredo pasta. She will also eat aglio olio and other olive oil based pasta dishes if they’re not spicy.

When we were here last, I was really craving for spaghetti meatballs (their take on the classic dish is delicious. Craving satisfied), and I was deliberating on ordering a separate dish for Aki since unfortunately she didn’t like the Mama Lou’s Special pizza, too. It’s great, by the way, don’t mind Aki.

Good thing that we offered her some Spaghetti Seafood Olio first, which she liked a lot.

IMG_0847Mama Lou’s seems to be a growing business, with other branches opening up across the Metro. Our first visit was in the branch in BF, but on a separate occasion, I’ve eaten in their Solenad branch with Aki where it was her first time to try (and gobble up) mozzarella sticks. I ordered the fish and chips for her, and it’s a great dish as well.

IMG_1141
Nomnomnom. You know Aki likes her food when she starts eating by herself.

4. Cafe Seoul Hwa

As with most kids, Aki is big on ice cream, but she has yet to like shaved ice desserts like halo-halo. Until the day we tried bing su in Cafe Seoul Hwa. Bing su is finely shaved ice desserts, and come with a myriad of topping and flavour combinations.

The first thing you would notice is how finely the ice is shaved. There is no random chunk of ice that got away in a bowl of bing su, and a spoonful of the stuff just melts in the mouth. It’s also a light dessert – it’s foundation is really just milky shaved ice, so even the chocolate one that we tried didn’t feel indulgent or very sweet.

We tried the Injeolmi bing su, described as ‘roasty and sweet flavoured, topped with nuts, rice cake and grain powder’. The rice cake chunks and grain powder remind me a lot of espasol.

For Aki the chocolate lover, we ordered the Choco bing su. It tasted a bit like Milo and seemed like the lighter option compared to the popular Brownie choco bing su.

That day, I still needed badly my afternoon caffeine fix, so I had a caramel macchiato. Their coffee is also very good. And just to balance out all the creamy cool desserts with something savoury, I tried the cheese garlic toast.

Bing su is a great dessert option for kids that love sweets and dessert and chocolate. It satisfies that craving for sweets at half the serving – to me, this really is the lighter alternative to ice cream and cakes.

Their cafe is also perfect for hanging out. There’s free wi-fi and plenty of electrical sockets for customers with laptops.

When we were there, the owner (or one of the owners) very kindly approached our table and said hello, and asked how we knew of their place, and even gave Aki a box of Pepero.

With that, we’d easily give places like Starbucks a rest and camp out here instead.

5. Ramen Kuroda

Admittedly, we ended up eating here after driving around aimlessly for a while. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but Aki was, and the places that we were looking at either had no parking space available or wouldn’t have anything that Aki could eat.

Macon and I decided to split a set menu of ramen + gyoza, and Aki had her karaage and gohan. We had a great meal.

Can I just say how providing kids with their own fun tableware makes them eat more, and eat better? It’s true. I hope more restaurants do the same.

Quite simply, everything was yum. I came in with modest expectations thinking this was just some random ramen place, and it turned out to be such a great surprise of a place. The Kuro Ramen’s broth was rich and had a distinct kind of roasted garlic flavour. Again, big fan of garlic here. But also, the noodles were firm and the pork chasu slices were very soft and velvety.

Aki nearly wiped out 3 pieces of the chicken – it’s a hit.

The restaurant may look like it could use a renovation, but service was fast and friendly on top of having delicious, satisfying food.

 

 


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