Episode 35: Going Hungry in Boracay (Part 4) – Much Ado About Night Life, And Then Some

After a long night of partying in Boracay with my siblings and brother-in-law, I found myself craving for a heavy meal. Whoever suggested eating to wash away the alcohol in my system gave good advice; a big bowl of rice and meat or soup had always recharged me after rounds of liquor and whatnot.

The question, though, was what to eat. At two in the morning, restaurants are already out of the question. Merly’s (the chori burger stand on wheels) had already left, and I was too buzzed to roam around.

Behold, I found this shawarma stand just several blocks away from our hotel, recently mobbed (so it seemed) by tourists like me looking for a quick meal.

Shawarma, whenever it’s available, is always a good choice for an after-booze snack. It’s filling, flavorful (best when served hot and spicy-garlicky), and a good deal for your money. It’s another if they scrimp on your meat and feed you oily chunks and lots of pita bread.
Not Leylam Shawarma, though. Being what looks like a 24-hour stall, the place seems to satisfy its customers with thick, meat-packed shawarma sandwiches with lots of hot and garlic sauce. Okay, so it was an ordinary shawarma, but hey, it still worked wonders for me.
That was until I noticed that Leylam serves shawarma rice. Shawarma is great, but shawarma rice? Out of the rice cooker and into the griddle goes beefy rice with peas, carrots, corn, and shawarma bits, topped while hot by a sunny side up egg and sauce. Heck, shawarma rice may be just shawarma with rice, but when it comes to taste, this is one top-notch, National Discovery-level rice topping. Oh yeah, they even had shawarma toppings for noodles. Surreal.

In the end, I ordered a shawarma sandwich, a bowl of shawarma rice, and shawarma noodles. I ate a lot. It was such a solemn moment.

A vacation in Boracay can never be complete without enjoying the night life there. There are lots to do, be it sipping beer and cocktails by the beach, dancing or listening to music, watching the firedancers, dining, or just gazing at the dark, rolling waves. Your mileage may vary.
There’s a party at every corner of Boracay every night. The sound of everflowing booze, the sizzling of roasted fish, and the live bands and DJ mixes blast  your ears and make your chest palpitate, beckoning you to get off your bed and celebrate life in the island.
Some bars in Boracay are known by name; others, by recommendation from other tourists. Station 1, they say, is the place to seek out a lively night, though there are places where you can drink and hang out in silence. Either way, once you’re there, you won’t be saying “Let’s go hang out at (insert name of establishment);” you’ll find yourself walking from Station 1 to 3 and back just to find a place that will match your mood.
Beer must be the drink of choice in Boracay. Most visitors could be seen cooling off with a bottle or two of San Miguel or Colt 45 even at daytime. To be fair, it’s so hot in the island at times that you’ll feel like you’ll sweat off all the alcohol in your system before nighttime. Small wonder why you rarely see really drunk people here, at daytime, at least. There’s no such thing as a schedule for drinking beer, anyway.

Some would even quaff a beer or two, along with some hard liquor, somewhere nearby their hotels before venturing to their bar of choice. I think they call that “loading up,” so as to avoid having to buy more liquor in their bar of choice. Economical, to say the least. Which is why poolside and in-house bars are a hit.
Cocktails are just as popular, though I remember seeing them in pitchers, which are more affordable for those who want a quick kick to the guts. Some bars serve them by sets, i.e. buy four, take one or buy four, get free pulutan or something… which leads us back to the type of cuisine served here – typical Filipino fare, plus seafood. Lots of them. 
It’s unfortunate that I could not try out the numerous island-inspired cocktails that pop out of the bars every now and then; though if you serve me a bottle of beer or red wine and a big slab of roasted pork belly, I’d be very happy with just that. Where was I? It would be quite an adventure to find out what kinds of cocktails, or liquors for that matter, suit Boracay.
Fire dancing is one of the main attractions in Boracay. It’s actually fun to watch dancers swaying to upbeat music, twirling their fiery staves and pois, the flames taking shapes and forms made otherwise possible by your own imagination (plus alcohol).
Speaking of dancing, someone from this island told me that there’s something about a dancing human’s figure that’s so alluring. Yeah, so is the gyrating figure of a scantily clad hunk/babe on the disco dance floor. I’m not a disco person, and I’m no longer at the age wehn I’ll find myself drunk, wild, and making out with a hot girl on the dance floor to the tune of Usher’s “Love in This Club”. But I digress.
Like I said, there’s so much to do at night in Boracay, even for a non-partygoer like myself. But after the last beer bottle is guzzled, the last glass of rhum has been discarded, and the last shot of gin has been ingested bottoms up, the stomach starts protesting. There’s only one thing left to do. Hungry time.
Your friendly neighborhood all-you-can-eat buffets are great places to dine on while or after having your alcohol fix, assuming you’ve been drinking since the afternoon. Rice is out of the question, so what you would want is a helping of soup, crab, shrimp, steamed or grilled lobster. They close at around 10 or 11pm, though. Other restaurants close later, and some bars serve heavy meals, so the choices are endless.
Then there are food stalls that serve shawarma, siumai (that’s “siomai” for you, Barangay Ginebra), chori burgers, shakes and barbecues – food that are just enough to whet your appetite until you forget that you’re hungry, or you find something heavier.
Boracay was recently named as “the world’s best island” by “Travel + Leisure” magazine for 2012. It topped the list of the best island destinations in the world, beating Bali (Indonesia), Santorini (Greece), Maui (Hawaii), and other well known vacation spots.

Now what is it that makes Boracay so special? “Travel + Leisure” editor Nilou Motamed says one can find world-class hotels at affordable prices. Equally notable, many tourists add, is the island’s white sand beaches, the hospitality and the warm smiles of its people, and its cosmopolitan, party-all-you-can lifestyle.
I for one love the sea. Whenever I visit a place where there’s a beach or there’s a view of the sea, I make it a point to stop for a while and just look at the waves, savor the coolness of the wind and the scent of the water. The view of the beach is even better if you can see the sunrise or sunset.
Some say the romanticism of the sea, much less the beach, is what makes island destinations like Boracay a hit among visitors. The salty scent of the sea, the rolling waves, and the cool wind can relax, evoke deep thought, and awaken nostalgia, comfort, or some other pleasing yet sad feeling. It sort of brings out one’s inner poet or romantic, or so I heard. No wonder many people love looking at the sea as well.
Had I gotten the chance (plus enough funds) to go around Boracay, I’m sure there’s much I could discover more about its food culture. I wanted to see their wet markets and the food stalls away from the beachfront. I saw what looked like an intimidating wine bar along the road. I wanted to taste the stuff in Aklan that tourists don’t get to see often. So much to do, so little time.
I’m looking forward to going back to Boracay soon. Maybe I’d listen to the tips and dine where they say have the best steak, the best noodles, the best cakes, and so on. Maybe I’d go bar-hopping and dancing, and then I’d appreciate Boracay’s night life, for a change. Or maybe I’d discover something else altogether, and it will be really nice. Who knows?


Figaro’s All-Day Breakfast Samplers: Of breakfast and variety, and then some

Last Friday, I took a break from my usual morning reading and rituals, and joined some new friends for breakfast at Figaro‘s branch in UP Ayala – Technohub in Quezon City. But it was not just an ordinary breakfast – we were about to try out Figaro’s New All-Day Breakfast Samplers.

It was a cold morning, and I almost got rained on, but the prospect of trying out something new to dine on in the morning was too hard to miss. Never mind that it was already 11:00am when I got there – a meeting is a meeting, and breakfast is still breakfast.
Figaro’s Breakfast Samplers come in four varieties: French Toast Combo, Country Breakfast, Arroz Ala Cubana and Filipino Breakfast. They are also served with either brewed coffee, herbal tea, or lemonade.
Arroz Ala Cubana – P165
The Arroz Ala Cubana sampler ranks on the top of my list. I say rice toppings are always the best. The taste of the saucy ground pork blends well with the fried bananas and the sunny-side up egg. It was a sampler, all right, but it was heavy on the belly and quite filling. Plus it’s the most affordable among the bunch. It would be nice if this was served hot next time.
Country Breakfast – P175
Another of my favorites was the Country Breakfast – bacon, ham, and scrambled eggs served with slices of ripe mango and orange, jam, and pancakes. The ham’s so-so, but the bacon was excellent. This set reminded me of a continental breakfast. In any case, this would be a hit among meat lovers. On the other hand, where’s the maple syrup?
French Toast Combo – P175
Up next was the French Toast Combo. This one has sausage with scrambled eggs, corned beef, and toasted bread. The corned beef was great, perfectly fried and juicy. The sausage was just fine, kinda like longganisa. The toasted bread, well… I’m not sure if this was French toast or toasted French bread.
Filipino Breakfast Sampler – P175
The fourth sampler was the Filipino Breakfast. This consists of small slices of skinless longganisa, fried bangus, beef tapa, tomatoes, and salted egg. Anyone who likes a little of everything Filipino in their breakfast would enjoy this. On the other hand, the “little of everything” was literally little. 
You may order the Filipino Breakfast with plain or garlic rice, but I sure hope next time it’s fried garlic rice and not just plain rice with garlic toppings. Actually, we weren’t told that we could either order plain or garlic rice in the first place.
While the breakfast samplers were great, our meal at Figaro had its low points. The food – seven plates of samplers to be exact – came only after an hour or so. By that time, breakfast had already turned into lunch.
Some of us ordered brewed coffee with our breakfast. The others had lemonade… except the lemonade looked more like lemon water. I hope it really was lemonade. On the other hand, maybe they should have paired the samplers with, say, orange juice?
Anyway, our breakfast/lunch ended with several servings of cakes for dessert. It’s not part of the breakfast menu, but well, cake with breakfast is fine. Everyone liked the strawberry shortcake.
An all-day breakfast sampler like Figaro’s is great, especially who wants variety in their meals. There’s four of them to choose from, so you can experiment and try one that you believe will appeal to your taste and belly. Here’s hoping that next time, we get to know our samplers a bit more, and that we don’t get served rice with garlic toppings and lemon water for breakfast.
For more info, visit:

Figaro Coffee Company
Website: http://www.figarocoffee.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/figarocoffeecompany
Twitter: https://twitter.com/figarocoffeeph

Episode 35: Going Hungry in Boracay (Part 3) – Much Ado About Buffets

Having a food adventure is a major part of a vacation in Boracay. It’s the perfect way to recharge after a long day of swimming, boating, frolicking by the beach and whatnot. And what better to do that but a delicious all-you-can-eat buffet.

All-you-can-eat buffets are really popular in Boracay. You can’t afford to miss these when you visit the island, especially that for as low as P250 (and probably even lower, if you look hard enough), you can have a sumptuous meal while enjoying a nice view of the beach.

An all-you can-eat breakfast is a great way to start your vacation in Boracay. Be it a light or hearty breakfast, or just about a mix of everything, there’s always something that will suit your morning cravings.
The breakfast buffet from Golden Phoenix Hotel, for example, offers a small but filling set of main courses to choose from. The menu looks Asian with a mix of American (the congee was a dead giveaway), with a fruit selection and salads on the side. There isn’t much to choose from, but if you’re a light eater, you’ll be quickly satisfied. This, incidentally, was the first buffet I encountered in the island.

Boracay Garden Resort has a lively breakfast buffet set-up. I believe this would be the first time I’d have eggs cooked the way I want it right there and here (scrambled, sunny-side up, omelette, you name it). The menu is a mix of Filipino and continental goodies – cold cuts and toasts are aplenty, but they have adobo, bangus and fried rice, along with sausages and other breakfast staples. 

I think this would also be the first time after five years or so that I would have kimchi for breakfast, but that’s another story. And yeah, there’s congee in the menu too.

In our recent trip to Boracay, we had our breakfast at the Sea Breeze Cafe in Boracay Regency. When they called their breakfast buffet “Boracay’s biggest and most extensive buffet,” they weren’t lying. 

Pancakes, pastries, cereals, salads and juices, plus your average Filipino-American fare like corned beef and chicken – it’s all there. (Also, bacon. Lots of bacon.) 

It helps that you get to dine while you sit and relax with a stunning view of the ocean (or the pool, whichever side of the café you’re in).

The breakfast buffet of Tryst Pool Bar at Paradise Garden Resort would also be a good choice for light eaters. I enjoyed the variety of egg dishes and omelettes to choose from, plus their impressive selection of hams and cold meats, breads and pastries.

A fun-filled day in Boracay is best capped with an all-you-can-eat dinner. They’re all over the beachfront, serving Filipino dishes, barbecues, soups and stews, roasted fish, fresh seafood – perhaps the biggest mainstay of these buffets – and rice, rice, rice.
Dinner buffets here are actually as simple as they can be. Our dinner at Alf’s Restaurant, for example (incidentally the first buffet we visited), consisted of a few cuts of tuna, crabs, beef nilaga, clams and oysters, but because they get refilled by the restaurant staff every now and then, we were able to enjoy all the stuff that we wanted. All of that for only P300. Affordable, isn’t it?

Other buffet restaurants would serve fancier dishes like lobster, prawns, eels, and all sorts of chicken and pork dishes. No matter which restaurant you go, there’s always so much to choose from.

Business-wise, buffet restaurants are quite profitable. With a tourism-dependent economy like Boracay’s, a stable access to fresh produce, meats and seafood helps its all-you-can-eat establishments stay well-stocked, and in turn, keep their patrons well-fed. 

Hotels have them bundled in their room packages, partly as a way to promote their outlets and entice them to go a la carte next time, and partly to show their hospitality. The returns are steady, patronage is ensured, no food goes to waste, customers get to eat well, and everyone is happy.
I know that we all came to Boracay to relax, refresh, rejuvenate, and have fun, but fattening myself isn’t exactly what I had in mind when my family and I got there. Still, I couldn’t pass up the chance to go all out on food, and enjoy what Boracay’s restaurants have to offer.
Ah, what can I say? All-you-can-eat buffets are really great.

“Wala kayong gagawin kundi maupo sa baso, magsalin ng tsinelas, uminom ng sofa, magpulutan ng sapatos, uminom minsan ng bote.”
– Dolphy

John Puruntong has joined his beloved Marsha. Kevin Cosme has taken the one way train to heaven. The curtains have closed for Facifica Falayfay.
Heaven is surely a happier place now. RIP, Dolphy, the one and only Comedy King. You will be missed.

The Professional Heckler

“Doon ako natatakot eh. Baka manalo ako. Madaling tumakbo, paano kung manalo?”
~Comedy King Dolphy on why he wouldn’t run for political office

Kahit wala ka na, mananatili ka pa ring hari ng komedya sa puso ng bawat Pilipino. Sabi nga sa Twitter at Facebook, “ang dami naming tawa.”

Sa bawat halakhak na ibinahagi mo sa aming lahat, marami pong salamat, Mang Dolphy!

“The only honest art form is laughter, comedy. You can’t fake it… try to fake three laughs in an hour — ha ha ha ha ha — they’ll take you away, man. You can’t.”
~Lenny Bruce

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Episode 35: Going Hungry in Boracay (Part 2) – Much Ado About Bulalo

Boracay, in all its hot and humid glory, is a great place for ice cream, cocktails, shakes and ice cold beer. It’s necessary to cool down while staying hot in this tropical paradise. Plus it’s cool.

So why in Guan Yu’s name am I eating bulalo in Boracay?

Bulalo is the most unlikely food one can enjoy in Boracay. Don’t get me wrong though. I love bulalo. I have high praises for Batangas bulalo. It’s just that hot soup plus hot weather equals, well, either you get desensitized or uncomfortably hot. I mean, barbecues are fine, no matter how hot it is, especially if you wash them down with beer. Soup? Unless you’re sipping cold ramen, which is best during summer, but I digress.

On our first night in Boracay, we were famished and craving for something big enough to sate our appetites, so we just popped in some place and ordered whatever we thought was great.

Incidentally, the main feature of the restaurant was bulalo.

Smoke Resto is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant at D’Mall Boracay (they have another branch just at the back alley of D’Mall). It’s quite small, just enough to accommodate a large group and several pairs or so, and one would even mistake it for a mere sidewalk food space. But what the place lacks in space, it makes up for with the menu.

While the goodness of the Batangas bulalo rests on its perfect blend of beef, marrow, and vegetables, Smoke Resto’s bulalo soup screams “beefy broth overdose.” That’s because with this baby, the broth is the first to go. It’s thick, not as marrowy as our Luzon counterpart but flavorful enough to fill you up and crave for more beef. Sabaw pa lang, ulam na.

Other stuff we tried in succeeding visits were:

Sizzling bulalo, perhaps the only thing in the menu that rivals the bulalo soup. The beef is the juiciest I’ve ever had in the sizzling category, and the marrow oozing from this dish is top notch.

Like I said.

Pork sinigang

Shrimp sinigang

Here’s an interesting plate of chopsuey.

Spicy kangkong

It was only during my most recent trip to Boracay that I learned Smoke Resto is quite popular among tourists. Many enjoy its bulalo – hot, steamy, marrowy shanks and all – as comfort food, the cure for a terrible hangover, and that constant growling of the stomach that comes after a night of drinking and partying. It helps that everything is served hot and fast.

Visiting this quaint and inexpensive-looking restaurant is a must for those who want a quick and filling meal,  people who miss home-cooked food while enjoying their vacation in this hot island.

As for me, well, why am I eating bulalo in Boracay? Never mind if it’s hot in here, I’m hungry. Besides, we’ve eaten here quite often, so I might as well.