Episode 45: Sidewalk Ramen

Since I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I took the time to stroll around Malate, Manila again on the weekend after. I didn’t really feel like hanging out or even drinking (I haven’t had alcohol for about three months now), so I just walked. I find it therapeutic somehow.
I’ve been planning to look for some hole-in-the-wall establishments in Malate. There are a lot of new dining spots and bars in the area, but I was hoping I could investigate the old favorites, and probably discover popular but hidden ones. At the moment, I have neither clues nor funds, but I thought I’d press my luck.
As always, Malate is lively, noisy, and crowded. Even with its modern restaurants, bars, and other tourist establishments, the district remains to be a melting pot of sights, sounds, cultures and social strata.
A small ramen stall at the sidewalk caught my attention as I walked along Adriatico Street. It was built as an annex of sorts of one of the nondescript bars in the area.
This watering hole sells cheap liquor (read: affordable even with the new sin tax) and local beer mates. There’s a TV that shows sports programs or music videos while disco music plays in the background. Most of the customers are foreigners with their Filipina wives or girlfriends. Sometimes, walking vendors enter the bar, selling cigarettes, wallets, or belts.
But back to that ramen stand. The stall reminds me of one of those traveling ramen bars in anime and manga, except it doesn’t have wheels. It’s surrounded by small tables (presumably the bar’s). In the stall are the ingredients, neatly arranged – the piping hot broth in a drum, the bundles of cooked egg noodles, and small containers of meat, spices, eggs, and menma (bamboo shoots).
The ramen stand sells freshly cooked and surprisingly cheap noodles. Each bowl costs P60, and they’re served either plain or spicy. Add P10 and you get half a boiled egg; add another P10 and you get a few small slices of chasyu; and yet another P10 and you get a few pieces of menma. In short, a full ramen bowl is worth P90!
It’s been a while since I had ramen, and since I don’t have the cash to visit one of the bigger Japanese restaurants in the area, I decided to get one.

The serving’s actually small, about half the usual bowl you see in most ramen bars. Despite that, the hot broth enhances the spiciness, and the noodles are firm and tasty. The extra ingredients are also prepared just fine. Cheap ramen is cheap, but I find this one to my liking.

Which reminds me, what makes a good ramen? Is it the broth? The noodles? The meat and vegetables? Is it the spices that have melted into the main ingredients? Is it the way everything is cooked? I’ve asked those questions many times, but never took the time to ponder them seriously.
A long time ago, I wanted to seek out some of the best ramen in Metro Manila. Of course other blogs have done something like that, but I just felt like doing one myself. Someday.
In any case, it’s good to find a new place to try out in Malate. It will take a while before I could visit, much more discover other good places – and other great ramen. For now, I intend to enjoy every sip and slurp of this sidewalk ramen.

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Episode 44: Old-Style Filipino Cuisine at Bistro Remedios

It’s been a long time since I last walked down the streets of Malate, Manila. Time and nature have changed this bohemian district. Gone are the days when society’s elite grace the streets, when politicians and artists converge over coffee, ideas, and sumptuous meals, when people wax nostalgic amidst the city’s old landscape.
Despite this, many remnants of its old glory still remain. One such place, standing among the modern bars and grocery stores is Bistro Remedios, an old-style Filipino restaurant along Adriatico Street, near the Remedios Circle.

Bistro Remedios was opened by Larry J. Cruz (the restaurateur who owned Café Adriatico, which is incidentally just across the street) in 1984, at the corner of Adriatico and Remedios Streets. Its menu features an ever-evolving selection of Filipino and Southeast Asian delicacies.
The atmosphere around the Bistro is quiet and comfy, even for groups. The antique designs around the dining area instill a sense of nostalgia. It’s like stepping out of a time machine and into the early ’80s. The staff is also courteous and accommodating, and the service is quite fast.

Filipino food enthusiasts may recognize Kapampangan touches in its menu. One example is their version of fried frog legs served in a bed of onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Another is Crispy Spiced Kamaru or sauteed rice field crickets, a seasonal exotic dish sought after by hardcore foodies.

Meat lovers would like Bistro’s version of Kalderetang Kambing, a countryside delicacy of goat meat stewed in tomato sauce, made more flavorful by sauteed onions, olives and chives.

A good suggestion for soup fans would be Sinuwam na Mais, young corn soup with shrimp and chili leaves, as well as classic soups such as Pancit Molo, Tinolang Manok, and Bulalo.

For dessert, there’s Sikreto ni Maria Clara, a plate of suman, vanilla ice cream and mangoes. For a more Filipino-style snack, try Suman na may Mangga at Munggo at Chocolate Eh!, suman with mango and black munggo beans served with a cup of thick, hot chocolate drink on the side.
Other favorites are Picnic Adobo Rice (wrapped in a banana leaf), Rellenong Bangus, Bamboo Rice, Sugpo sa Aligue, and Knockout Knuckle, their version of Crispy Pata.
Bistro recently introduced new dishes in the menu. One such dish is Palos A La Dolphy – eel cooked in coconut milk and spices – said to be a favorite of the Comedy King himself.
Other additions are Manok sa Gata at Kulitis (sautéed chicken with coconut milk and spinach), Bopis Rice, Alimango sa Bawang at Sili (fried mud crab in garlic and chili), and the US Top Blade Bistek, the Filipino beef steak with an American twist.
Bistro Remedios is a guaranteed favorite for Filipino food lovers this side of Manila. This is the restaurant to visit if you’re introducing Filipino cuisine to your foreign visitors, if you just want good country-style home cooking, or if you feel like waxing nostalgic about Malate’s bygone days.
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Bistro Remedios
1911 M. Adriatico Street,
Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila
Business hours:
Monday – Friday
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Saturday – Sunday
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
6:00 pm – 12:00 pm
Phone: 523-9153 or 523-9153

Spread the love with the Liebster Blog Awards!

Love and peace forever! I just received a nomination for the Liebster Blog Award!

The Liebster Blog Award is a chain letter-style award given to up and coming bloggers. It’s not really a contest, but a way to show appreciation for their posts, stories, and insights. Originally, this is given to those who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster”, as far as I’ve read, is German for “dearest” or “favorite”, which makes it a “favorite blog award” of sorts.

The rules of the Liebster Blog Award are as follows:

  • When you receive the award, post 11 random facts about yourself and answers 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 3-5 (or even more, if you can) other blogs, and tell them that you nominated them! 
  • Write up 11 NEW questions directed towards your nominees.
  • You’re not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated yours!
  • Paste a picture of the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)

Special thanks to Gpicks for the nomination!

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11 Random (VERY RANDOM) Facts About Me:

1. I’m bipolar, or it seems I am.
2. I like to travel, or at least I’d like to.
3. I own a bunch of stuffed plushies, one of which is my mascot Kero-chan.
4. I can cook, though I can do better with a recipe book.
5. I’m a fan of Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, and Roger Mooking.
6. Nowadays I don’t eat liver and other organ meats, not because I don’t like them, but because they’re too rich for me. (One word: Gout.)
7. My real dream was to be a broadcaster, though at some point before college I almost became a soldier, and then a priest.
8. I like black coffee. No sugar or milk, please.
9. I like listening to jazz and piano music.
10. I regularly meditate, though most of the time, my “sessions” focus on self-healing. For that, I take short, regular naps.
11. I love anime and manga. What’s so random about it? I’m 30 years old (as of this writing).

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I didn’t receive a new set of questions, so I will use the ones from Gpicks:
1. Where is your dream destination? Choose only one then explain why you chose it.
Answer: Yokohama, Japan. I wanna see the Shin Yokohama Raumen Museum, plus I kinda fell in love with the seaside scenery.
Other dream destinations would be Mt. Pulag (though I might not survive the cold), Davao (for the tuna), New York City (wanna try their pizza, if I had the money), Canada (gotta see my folks there), Rome, Italy (romance and food), Paris, France (ditto), and the Purple Cloud Temple in Wudangshan, China (where the blade of Guan Yu is said to be enshrined).
2. Love, Fame or Money?
 Answer: I’ll be honest, VERY HONEST: money. I believe in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I could have answered “love” since I do believe love is the greatest of all, but love won’t operate on my wrists, tend to me when I’m in pain, accomplish my blogging duties, or even give me two square meals a day. Besides, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?

Then again, I also believe in the miracle of love, owing to the fact that I’ve survived with so little because of a lot of help, so I guess the ranking would be love/money, then fame.

3. What’s your dream job?
Answer: I’m already doing my dream job (I’m a writer by profession); but my dream career is to be a feature writer. Food writing comes first, of course.
4. What do you do during your free time?
Answer: I meditate, I read books and notes from my laptop, and I write for Unlimited Grub Grabs. (I have an important day job, you know.)
5. What’s the weirdest thing about yourself?
Answer: It’s a toss-up between taking naps and having a favorite stuffed toy. Also, I dream of having a physique similar to that of Batista (though it’s not possible for me).
6. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Answer: My first kiss in kindergarten, my first bicycle and my first taste of wanderlust. Also, my first taste of mushroom soup and mussels.
7. What makes you happy?
Answer: Rice, a good night’s sleep, good company, the sea and the sky.
8. Do you have a blogging schedule? Kindly share.
Answer: Nowadays I try to post twice a month, but if I have good material, I can write as much as four.
9. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Answer: If I find a restaurant or stall whose dishes I like, I just write about it. For other posts, I just write about the experience and my insights.
10. What’s your favorite travel experience?
Answer: Getting drunk by myself in a hotel room in Vietnam, with a pack of cigs, several cans of beer, and “A Cook’s Tour” by Anthony Bourdain beside me. Same with dining on a lot of seafood without worrying about gout. Also, going to the beach and other coastal areas, and just looking at the sea.
11. What’s that one thing you love most about travelling?

Answer: Having the chance to try out a new cuisine, learn new cultures, and find new places and faces to admire.

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Here are the blogs that I have nominated:
1. http://www.tuesdayrn.blogspot.com/ – Tuesday Quinto’s blog, which contains reading materials for nurses
2. http://romaislove.blogspot.com/ – Roma Agsalud’s personal blog, which also talks about her arts and crafts
3. http://ameramor.com – Amer Amor’s travel and soul-searching blog
4. http://seanakizuki.blogspot.com – Sean Akizuki’s blog, which has interesting insights about tokusatsu

EDIT: Just added the blogs of two Kates in my list:

5. http://xacrifix.blogspot.com/

6: http://meowbykate.blogspot.com/

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My questions:
1. What is love?
2. What (or who) inspires you to follow your dreams?
3.What do you do when you run out of inspiration or motivation?
4. What’s the best tourist destination you’ve visited?
5. What’s your favorite cuisine and dish?
6. What do you remember the most about your childhood?
7. How do you maintain positive vibes, and how do you combat negativity?
8. What’s the best thing you’ve ever done for another person?
9. Imagine you’re going to be executed tomorrow. You’re allowed to have one last meal. What will it be?
10. You are allowed to spend the last hour of your life in a place of your own choosing. Where will it be?
11. You will be given a role (main or cameo) in a TV series of your own choosing. What series will it be, and who will you portray?

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Seriously though, if you, dear reader, know a blogger who’s hardworking, insightful, funny, and/or entertaining yet whose works doesn’t get a lot of attention, give him/her an Liebster. Bloggers need a lot of inspiration and motivation, not only from themselves but from others. Even just a bit of appreciation can make a blogger’s day and inspire him/her to write, explore, and post better.

Now then, go spread the love!