Episode 95: A Taste of Filipino Halal Cuisine at Dulang Restaurant

Eid’l Adha is coming up on Monday, September 12, which is why most of us are enjoying a long weekend ahead. For Muslims in the Philippines and all over the world, this day commemorates the end of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. It also honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to obey Allah.

Learning about Muslim holidays piqued my interest in halal cuisine, food enjoyed by Filipino Muslims. As a refresher, halal cuisine is a type of food that is ritually slaughtered and deemed fit to eat for Muslims.

For a while I thought I would not find a specialty restaurant that serves halal food, much less one that has a Filipino flavor to it. My search eventually led me to Dulang Restaurant, a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Ermita, Manila.
Dulang’s menu consists mostly of Tausug and Malaysian specialties that are delicious, filling, and affordable. Some that I tried so far are the beef korma (spicy beef stew), spicy vegetables in coconut milk, mi goreng (Malaysian noodles), and their version of suman sa latik for dessert, among others. I have yet to try their other Tausug specialties, such as the Tiyula’ Itum (black soup), and kahawa or native coffee.
Traditionally, Muslims go to a mosque on Eid’l Adha for prayers, and sacrifice a live animal (such as a goat, cow, or sheep) for feasting. They share at least a third of the sacrificed meat to the poor. Those who can’t afford a live animal just buy generous portions of meat.
The last time I came across Dulang was during the previous Eid’l Fitr (end of Ramadan). As expected, the place was filled with Muslims and other local patrons who choose to dine in the restaurant. The situation was the same when I visited Dulang recently. Come to think of it, the restaurant is a favorite among job hunters and workers from neighboring offices.
Dulang is not just a place to enjoy halal food, but also to appreciate the cuisine of our brothers and sisters from Mindanao. A trip to Ermita is in order if you want to try out something uniquely Filipino.
Dulang Restaurant
1313 M. Adriatico St. corner Padre Faura
Ermita, Manila

Unlimited Grub Grabs, now on its fifth year!

I am the soul of the gourmand.
Good food fuels my body, and good wine burns my blood.
I have tasted hundreds of dishes
Regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price.
I seek great-tasting food and drinks.
My heart will only be satisfied by the best.
And so I invite you to my UNLIMITED GRUB GRABS.

Five quiet years have passed since I started my food blog. I won’t say this has been an eventful year for me, since I’ve been posting less about where I eat out and explore. It’s not because I’m slowing down on my blogging activities; rather, I found more things to do with my writing.

Recently, I started writing a novel – four, to be exact. They’re not like the love stories you read online, or so I hope. It’s a new playing field I want to explore and be good at. I already finished one titled The Feast of the North Star, which is based on an old, undated poem I wrote in college (not Hokuto no Ken, as the title states). I’m in the middle of writing a second one, and there are two more lined up, which I hope to finish by August next year.

(I might as well mention that I’m using pictures of anime characters and such as templates for my characters and book covers since I don’t know how to draw or do digital art.)

Then there’s “Foods Tayo,” our food segment at TV5’s Aksyon sa Tanghali, where I play the role of the anchor’s boyfriend and love interest (long story). I take every opportunity I can during our shootings to study food critiquing, broadcast-style of course, and explore good places to dine around Metro Manila.

Which leads to the main highlight of my year: my now-active Instagram account, where I post pictures of the food establishments and dishes I encounter. All you need to do is search on Instagram for the hashtag #onthenextunlimitedgrubgrabs and you can get a sneak peek of my solo raids and activities with the TV5 crew.

As always, I operate within my own budget, with no sponsors, invitations to events, or back-up (apart from TV5), but that doesn’t mean my resolve to write about food will waver at all. I still aspire to reach an Anthony Bourdain-level of food expertise, you know.

Without further ado, here’s to another year.

To have a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re up to (and for some hardcore food porn), visit:
My Instagram account @unlimitedgrubgrabs
My Facebook page: https://Unlimited Grub Grabs

Four Years of Unlimited Grub Grabs, and counting

I am the soul of the gourmand.
Good food fuels my body, and good wine burns my blood.
I have tasted hundreds of dishes
Regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price.
I seek great-tasting food and drinks.
My heart will only be satisfied by the best.
And so I invite you to my UNLIMITED GRUB GRABS.

I’m celebrating my fourth year as a food blogger very quietly. No food raids, no promos, no special events or contests… nothing. I just got off work, and didn’t feel any urge to eat out.

People ask me if I ever go to food events, store openings, tours, and other foodie-related activities. Nowadays, the answer is “no.” My job no longer allows that luxury. If I am going to a food event, I’d prefer those held at weekend afternoons, which is my only free time. Invite me anytime else and I’ll decline, eve if I wanted to come.

Some also ask me if I earn off my blog. My answer is “no.” Or to be blunt, I’ve never figured out how. Sure, I have Google Adsense in my Blogger account, but I never figured out how to maximize its use. That, or maybe I couldn’t find the time to study it. For some time I hoped I could ask someone to manage the business aspect of my blog, but I never got around it.

Call me lazy, because partly I am. But my circumstances don’t allow me to spend so much time on blogging.

I am still watching my health, despite all of the stuff I’ve feasted on this past year. I have a bigger reason to do so now. But that doesn’t stop me from eating out and writing about it.

If there’s one thing I figured out this past year, it’s working on my content. I’ve always had a high regard for the type of stories I want to make. You see, food blogging is basically “I ate (name of dish) at (name of restaurant). I was with (name/s of companions). We (name of personal event). The food was good. I’ll come back and dine again.” But that’s not how I wanted my stories to roll.

I remember saying that food always has a deeper meaning. Food is rooted to culture, society, insight, and other aspects of worldly (or in the case of my Lenten posts, otherworldly) wisdom. A story that answers such questions is what I want to write. Also, I want to emulate Anthony Bourdain’s storytelling style. I’m still working hard to achieve that.

I still don’t have a lot of readers, but I don’t mind. I continue writing what I can write about, and that’s enough for me. Those who need my stories will find them, and knowing that they do satisfies me. As for monetizing the blog, I’ll need a lot of help.

In the meantime, I’m hoping for more experiences, more food to eat, more places to see, and more stuff to do to perfect my food blogging skills. I hope you continue to join me in my upcoming adventures.

Until then.

Unlimited Grub Grabs, Year 2~

I am the soul of the gourmand.
Good food fuels my body, and good wine burns my blood.
I have tasted hundreds of dishes
Regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price.
I seek great-tasting food and drinks.
My heart will only be satisfied by the best.
And so I invite you to my UNLIMITED GRUB GRABS.

Happy second anniversary, yay!
Seriously, much has happened since I started my adventures as a food writer. It’s good to be able to eat so much, travel much, and write about them. This year was quite different.
I’ve visited so many places throughout the year that I couldn’t write about all of them so quickly. At the same time, I’ve continued researching on more places to visit, including those that are already well known, and those interesting finds that more people should know about.
Recently, I’ve become more confident when it comes to food raids. A long time ago, I was afraid that I’d run out of money while dining, eat a bad dish or something I don’t understand. Not so much nowadays. Dining out has become more pleasurable and educational. Being prepared is a good thing.
On the other hand, certain food raids can get difficult. Many of the places I’ve been to are too expensive. Some were just too far away to come back to, and others I could not visit because of more pressing matters (such as work or family). I have to admit, there was also a point when I felt too lazy to work on my blog.  Maybe it’s because I got too busy and I couldn’t go anywhere. My health condition is another story.
The biggest milestone for me was that I’ve started working out again. Now having a regular exercise routine and eating out may be counterproductive to each other, but I’ve found a way to reconcile those two. All I had to do was eat just what I need, burn more calories, and choose what would nourish me. Bonus points for having a program to follow while working out. Also, less rice and/or potatoes, or more of one than the other. I’ll tackle this in a later post. (By the way, I also started attending yoga classes. You can really work up a sweat with yoga.)
Buddha Power

Just several weeks ago, I joined the Sooo Pinoy Ultimate Blogger contest. The winner will have the chance to go on a food tour around the country for 30 days. More pigging out, and all to promote the Philippines and Filipino cuisine. It’s rather farfetched, given by blogging situation, but I hope I win.

I’m looking forward to visiting more food places (and writing more), trying out new dishes, losing more weight, and becoming a healthier, happier food blogger. It’s rather farfetched but I’ll get there.
Here’s to another year of Unlimited Grub Grabs!

Ramen, anyone?”

Eat your way through the Philippines!

Cafe by the Ruins (Baguio City)

Ever tried eating “pinuneg”? Pinuneg is Igorot blood sausage, with a funky, raw, bloody taste. This is usually served during cañaos in the Cordilleras, with red rice and pork roasted and boiled in a salty broth. Also, brace yourself for pinikpikan, gingery chicken stew prepared in a manner that will make animal rights activists cry.

Rose-flavored Ice Cream (Baguio City)
Further north is the Ilocos bagnet, deep-fried, crunchy, juicy pork similar to lechon kawali. If you have bagnet for lunch, order with it the soupy eggplant dish called poqui-poqui, scandalous name notwithstanding.
Buffet (Boracay)

Dagupan, Pangasinan is the place to be for boneless bangus. Over at Pampanga is their miracle dish sisig, pork bits fried and served on a sizzling plate. Egg with your sisig? Chili, soy sauce, calamansi, or chilimansi? Your call.
Kainan sa Dalampasigan (Nasugbu, Batangas)

Drop by Batangas for a taste of binakol, chicken simmered inside a bamboo tube with coconut and spices. Bicol Express? Visit the Bicol Region and experience the dish the way the Bicolanos intended it to be.
Zubuchon (Cebu)

Craving for lechon? Choose between Lechon La Loma and Lechon Cebu. Dining on seafood in Boracay is a good idea, though surely nothing beats Davao’s grilled tuna jaw. Eating batchoy in its hometown, La Paz, Iloilo, would be an adventure too.
Sizzling Bulalo (Smoke Resto, Boracay)
For dessert, there’s halo-halo, pastillas, pichi-pichi, or leche flan. Laguna’s buko pie looks promising, but heavy on the belly. Rose-flavored ice cream? There’s a bar in Baguio that serves that. Let’s not forget about that sweet, soft, but smelly fruit durian.
I started food writing because I love food and the act of dining itself. Most importantly, I love discovering places where there’s great food. This inspired me to visit a lot of provinces in the Philippines, and learn about their specialties and the best places to dine. It’s a great way to know about Filipino cuisine.
Ma Mon Luk Special Mami and Siopao (Ma Mon Luk, Quezon City)
Thing is, why is Filipino cuisine so underrated? It’s partly our fault. We dine on our native dishes all the time that we tend to treat it as normal food and forget to give it the exposure it deserves.

(Also, balut.)
This is why I joined the search for the first Sooo Pinoy Ultimate Food Blogger. I hope to contribute to Sooo Pinoy‘s campaign to promote the Philippines through Filipino cuisine. There’s so much about our food that can be shared to Filipino and foreign tourists alike.
Big Binondo Food Wok with Ivan Man Dy (Binondo, Manila)
Lola Ising’s Adobo Rice (Cafe Adriatico, Manila)
The Philippines has a rich food database; so rich that we can turn this country into a culinary capital. I believe that we can learn about a nation through its food. Each province’s delicacy can tell us what its residents eat, their livelihood and lifestyle. Food is a central part of Filipino culture, as shown by the variety of dishes around the country.
Lunch at the Floating Restaurant (Bohol)
Pizza Hanna (Pizza Volante, Baguio City)
Buffet breakfast at Shangri-La Mactan (Cebu)
Lydia’s Lechon
I hope I’ll be given the chance to be Sooo Pinoy’s Ultimate Food Blogger. This campaign jives with my search for great food, and the drive to personally tell everyone how great Filipino food is. 

At Century Tsukiji (Century Park Hotel, Manila)

Episode 20: Memories of Baguio (Part 5) – When a cub reporter goes hungry

Some of my better memories of Baguio came from my stint as a newspaper reporter. Right after college, I started work with a local newspaper, the first step towards the realization of my dream to become a journalist, or something close to being one.

Adjusting to the job was difficult (especially for me who doesn’t know how to speak in Kankanaey or Ibaloi), and finding our way around and honing the craft proved to be a tedious task.  Despite the chaos that characterizes the life of a cub reporter, there are things that keep me alive after coverages and interviews – such as coffee, a heavy meal, and lots of beer…and something exotic along the way.

There’s this part of the city called “Slaughterhouse Compound” along Magsaysay Avenue. Never mind the name, or the hygiene-related questions you may have. Eateries here serve many kinds of meat dishes, such as pinapaitan, kilawen, dinuguan, and bulalo. Also, it’s just a few minute’s walk from my office (before it moved to La Trinidad).

One eatery serves what it called “Flea Market Rice,” a plateful of fried chicken, lechon , sunny-side up egg, chopsuey, and a big cup of rice.

I consider “Flea Market Rice” as comfort food, especially when I get out from work or during weekends. Just like Jack’s Rice, this is complete, rich, and always served hot. Bonus points for the free soup that goes with it, piping hot meat broth. The sad part is that it’s sometimes closed.

Speaking of meat, I did succumb to the temptation of seeking out pinikpikan and dog meat in Baguio. Pinikpikan is a chicken stew prepared by beating a live chicken with a stick. Barbaric as it sounds, as explained here, it’s actually an important part of Cordilleran cuisine (and by extension, culture).

The way I see it, pinikpikan is an alcoholic’s best friend. It’s nice to sup on a bloody, tasty piece of chicken along with your liquor, and its gingery broth to wash down the drunkenness. Take note that the chicken’s coagulated blood (the result of beating the chicken) is the reason pinikpikan is tasty.

Dog meat? I found certain eateries at the market that serve those. The dish itself… well, the skin’s tough, it’s fatty, there’s too many bones and not much meat. It mostly tastes like adobo, too. Your mileage may vary (By the way, selling dog meat is banned under the Animal Welfare Act. Eating it is not banned, though, because dogs can be butchered for indigenous practices.)

Luisa’s Café is a favorite watering hole of the Baguio media. This is where most journalists meet for snacks, coffee, or alcohol. Younger reporters would come here and solicit advice from their elders, or finish their reports. The old ones would just be there, drinking and conversing about anything under the sun.

The place serves Chinese dishes (the most famous of which is their siopao), Filipino rice meals and other dishes. And then there’s Sam Lok – native or Chinese style stir-fried meat. I regret never grabbing the chance to taste that.

Luisa’s is known for its strong, flavorful coffee. Also I mentioned some time ago how important coffee is for most Baguio folk, especially that it help people bond with each other. This is what makes Luisa’s a special place for local journalists and those in the know to meet.

Friday nights are spent at the newsroom. Since our newspaper comes out weekly, most of Friday is spent laying out the pages, editing reports and photos, and writing whatever can make it to the deadline. While everyone is busy and neck-deep in paperwork, we do get to unwind a bit over dinner.

It’s during mealtime that the staff get to talk about things inside and outside of work, like trivia about themselves, experiences in the field, new things we’ve noticed, and even stuff that makes us wax poetic or philosophical.

Dinner usually consists of buttered chicken, chopsuey, pancit, pork sinigang, or some other viand plus lots of rice, courtesy of Good Taste Restaurant. Good Taste is a 24-hour establishment frequented by locals and tourists alike. The place serves a fusion of Filipino and Chinese home cooked dishes. The food here is also surprisingly cheap but served hot.

When all work is done for the night (except Fridays), Rumours is the place to unwind. I once heard that Rumours was named such because this is where patrons talk about “rumours” on people and events around Baguio. Anyway, this bar, probably one of the most popular in the city, is a small, mellow place frequented by tourists, expats, and (according to some residents) gays and writers.

Rumours is a great place to spend the night quietly with your thoughts, or loudly with good companions. They play eighties music, their liquor and food are inexpensive, and the staff are nice and accommodating. Also,
they now serve ice cream, most especially rose ice cream (made with rose petals) and chili ice cream (yeah).


At this point, let me share to you something very quickly: I’ve been having a hard time writing for this series. Writing about my food-related memories in Baguio has been a strenuous task for me. That’s because it seems that things from my past are starting to grow dim. No, I’m not being forgetful, though I might as well say I am. Why?

It’s nice to remember things about your past, and realize how much you’ve learned about yourself and others along the way. But writing about your memories not only means remembering good things from the past. It also involves having to revisit those that lead to sad and painful ones, the ones you try to forget to move on…


Up next… An old hang-out, and certain memories that go with it.

Aikyatchi: Chefs on Parade 2011!

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines (HRAP) brings back Chefs on Parade, the Philippines’ most prestigious and much awaited culinary competition.

Chefs on Parade is an annual event featuring the country’s most avid culinary enthusiasts. First launched in 1974, it showcases creative skills and talents of globally competitive professionals and students as well as to showcase equally global products and services of the Hotel and Restaurant Industry in the Philippines.

Chefs on Parade 2011’s theme is “ULTIMATE ASIAN SHOWDOWN.” One of the major highlights of the event is the Asian Market Basket Competition, a showdown of chefs from other Asian countries featuring Asian Cuisine.

There will also be several cooking demonstrations, the launch of a coffee table book featuring the history of Chefs on Parade, and free workshops on topics such as cake decorating, wine appreciation, and food writing.

Other highlights will be the presentation of the Larry J. Cruz Culinary Award to an individual who has made a great contribution to the food industry, and an ASEAN-Filipino Culinary Journey featuring historical cuisine and savory dishes from the Southeast Asian countries.

The three-day event will be held at the SMX Convention Center on February 10-12, 2011. Non-HRAP members and the public may visit the site with a minimal entrance fee of P150 for day pass and P300 for season pass. Students and HRAP members are given discounts. Advertisers are also welcome..

Here are the schedules of the workshops and competitions:

For inquiries, you may contact:


RM 4016 Golden Rock Bldg.
168 Salcedo St. Legaspi Village
Makati City, 1229 Philippines

Tel: (632) 816.2421
Fax: (632) 816.2419