Episode 100: Zubuchon comes to Manila!

sam_1274Dreams do come true! Zubuchon, Cebu’s famous lechon, is coming to Manila!

Social media went abuzz when Joel Binamira (@therealmarketman) posted on Instagram about the preparations for a Manila branch. Binamira (also known as Marketman) is behind the Market Manila blog, and the same person who launched Zubuchon.

zubu2Netizens immediately inquired where this new branch will open. Binamira revealed that the branch will be located “about 100 meters behind the Makati Fire Station”, which is just around the San Antonio area. The target date, he added, is around February.

zubu1Another well-anticipated news is the menu. Zubuchon’s Manila fans are hoping they could try out here the same dishes and drinks as the ones in the main Cebu branch. (Some items they’re clamoring for are the lechon belly sandwich and the kamias shake.) Binamira also hinted that he’ll do taste-testing with selected Instagram followers this February.

Zubuchon was established in 2009. The name comes from a combination of “Zubu”, (the name of Cebu in old Spanish and Portugese maps) and “Chon” (lechon).

Binamira’s lechon gained fame earlier when celebrity chef and “No Reservations” host Anthony Bourdain came to Cebu in 2008 to shoot his unique way of cooking lechon. Bourdain called this lechon “the best pig ever”.

Zubuchon takes pride of using organic pigs, fresh fruits and vegetables, homegrown spices, and good olive oil in cooking their lechon. The best part is that it doesn’t have MSG, and the best meaty parts are kept intact while roasting. The result is a unique lechon with crunchy skin and juicy, tender meat.

It’s been six years since I first tried out Zubuchon in Cebu as part of a writing project on lechon. Finding Zubuchon was quite an adventure, but it was worth the trip because the lechon was just that good.  (It’s Anthony Bourdain’s fault why I became a fan of lechon in the first place.)

Now that Zubuchon is coming to Manila, our cravings for great Cebu lechon should be tempered a bit. The biggest question now is: how do we get invited to the opening?

FOLLOW
Zubuchon on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/zubuchonph/
Zubuchon Website http://zubuchon.com/

 

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Episode 87: Christianity and Food


Food is an integral part of our culture, as defined by the ingredients, cooking methods, and the resulting dishes that each country or ethnic group uses and enjoys. The same could be said of religion, which incidentally sets standards in what believers are expected to eat and drink.

Symbolic foods are rife in Christian tradition. For starters, there’s the sacramental bread or “host”, a thin, round unleavened wafer served along with a goblet of grape wine in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. These symbolize the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, of which people are invited to partake of (sometimes, minus the wine) as a way of professing their faith.

Milk and honey are usually mentioned in the Bible. Milk is thought to provide spiritual wisdom and perfection, while honey is a reward for appreciating truth and goodness. Old scriptures also use these as a symbolism for fertile land, particularly the one promised to the Israelites. Olive oil, on the other hand, was used to anoint God’s appointed kings.
And then there’s fish. Fish is traditional fare for the first Christians, who live on fishing for their livelihood. Christians who abstain from meat eat fish instead. The Bible also contains references to fish, the most popular of which is Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. And then after his resurrection, Jesus was offered grilled fish and honeycomb.
The fish itself is a symbol of Christianity. Jesus Christ teaches Christians to be “fishers of men”. There’s also “ichthys”, the Greek word for “fish”, which is used as an acrostic for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”.
Some countries have types of food that hold Christian symbolism. The Greek pastry baklava, for instance, is supposedly made of 33 layers, each symbolizing a year in the life of Jesus Christ. There’s the hot cross bun, eaten on Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Christ. The pretzel, popularly eaten during Lent, is supposedly a symbol of a child’s arms folded in prayer. There’s also the Easter egg, decorated eggs that symbolize new life.   
Even we Filipinos have the Panecillos de San Nicolas (a Kapampangan treat incidentally sold at Razon’s of Guagua), biscuits bearing the image of San Nicolas de Tolentino that are used as lucky charms. By the way, Christian tradition says pancakes are supposedly eaten on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, to symbolically end rich, luxurious eating in preparation for Lent.  
Despite the abundance of symbolic culinary treats, Christians do follow certain dietary rules.
The general rule is that fasting and abstinence is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, unless you’re from Bantayan Island in Cebu, where eating meat during Holy Week is allowed. Also, on all Fridays of the year, Filipino Christians may either abstain from meat, or do an exercise of piety or charity. In most cases, abstaining from meat or any other food for that matter is voluntary.
What’s remarkable about Christianity is its respect for food in general. Christians generally have no restrictions on the type of animals that may be eaten. This stems from the story of Saint Peter’s vision of a sheet with animals. In the vision, Peter is ordered to eat the animals, which were deemed unclean by religious laws of his time. Peter refused, to which he is told, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Scholars interpret this as God’s symbolic order to stop discriminating against people from other religions or races. In a slightly literal context, Christians are allowed to eat any type of food with no guilt feelings associated with violating religion.
As we continue our commemoration of the Lenten Season, let us set aside some time to thank the Lord, the animals and plants, the chefs, farmers, fishermen, and everyone else involved in the food-making process. It is through God’s grace, and the sacrifice and effort of others that we are able to have something to eat and drink every day.

Aikyatchi: Gustos Night Market at Forum Robinsons

If you’re looking for a new place to hang out tonight and you happen to be around the Boni Avenue area in Mandaluyong, you may want to take the time to drop by the Gustos Night Market at Forum Robinsons.


If you’re familiar with the Gustos Food Market along San Miguel Avenue in Ortigas Centre, surely you’ll find the same good food and company when you venture to Forum Robinsons.

Over one hundred food choices and drinks for all belly sizes and wallets await foodies looking for a quick meal this side of Mandaluyong. Diners can also unwind for the coming weekend to great music and live entertainment.

The Gustos Night Market is located at the Forum Robinsons Open Parking Area, Robinsons Road.

The market is opening starting today, January 18, and every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afterwards, at 8:30pm.

Episode 76: Food, flowers, and romance (or something) at My Mother’s Garden

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Instead of looking for a Valentine’s date, I found myself exploring a small alleyway in Pasay City. The target: the ancestral house of Pablo Severo Antonio Sr., a National Artist for Architecture.  While the house itself is a wonder worth visiting, foodies know this place better as the home of the restaurant aptly called My Mother’s Garden.

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My Mother’s Garden is a tribute by Antonio’s daughter, fashion designer Malu Antonio Veloso, to her mother Dona Marina. She runs this restaurant with her daughter Letlet.

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The first thing diners will notice before entering My Mother’s Garden is the Antonio ancestral house’s garden space. Dining outside amidst the quiet surroundings and the lush greens makes for a great Valentine’s Day experience, but I digress.
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One can also see the garden from inside the house, though worth noting is the interior itself, which is simple yet spacious and calming. Bonus points for the colorful orchids and the koi pond.
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There is also a portrait of the owner’s mother prominently hanging at the living room.
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Many of the rooms are open for exploring. Some of the rooms are used by diners, while in a larger room, there is an exhibit of Letlet’s jewelry creations. Too bad I forgot to ask if any of them are for sale. They would make for a perfect impromptu gift.

My Mother’s Garden offers course or buffet meals depending on the occasion or reservation.  For this visit, the restaurant showed off some of its specialties, especially those served to couples having their dates there.

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First up is the Green Salad, made of mixed green vegetables, and served with four kinds of sauces- mango, basil, and Caeasar, and an orange one that tastes like Greek salad dressing.
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Next on the menu are fettuccine and pomodoro pasta with chorizo or black olives as toppings. Note the variety of tastes one can enjoy (though I like the black olives the most).
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 Not far behind is plain and simple fried liempo (pork belly), and a platter of shrimps, clams, and squid.
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Another of their best-sellers is the mustard chicken. Lightly fried and seasoned, this tender chicken dish is best enjoyed while swimming in mustard sauce, which gives its tangy taste.
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This buffet set came with a double serving of white rice and brown rice with mangoes.
To cap this buffet is a mouth-watering selection of mini-cakes and tarts.
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This particular buffet we partook at My Mother’s Garden is worth P1,000 per head and for a minimum of two, making one’s romantic date an affordable and enjoyable  experience, complemented with a selection of flavors that’s remarkably home-made in presentation and taste.

As their Facebook page would say, “My Mother’s Garden is ideal for romantic dates, family gatherings, group meetings, parties and memorable events such as showers, christenings and small weddings.”

So you can probably imagine yourself and your darling having a romantic date here. Dining at a garden table sounds good, followed by a bit of wine and music, and doing a slow dance under the stars. Yeah, I’m not a romantic guy, but I can probably imagine what you’re imagining.

Seriously, no dates for me, though. I’ll probably be back for the mustard chicken and the orchids.

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My Mother’s Garden
2650 Zamora St., Pasay City, Philippines
Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Tel. No.: 8318407

Episode 72: A Pilgrimage for Unique Filipino Food at St. Nicholas


St. Nicholas Restaurant is, perhaps, one of the most interesting places that the crew of “Foods Tayo”.  The restaurant is sought after for serving Filipino cuisine with a unique twist. Now, I for one have been through several Filipino specialty restaurants, and we have covered other similar places, but St. Nicholas definitely is on a class of its own, so to speak.

The restaurant is neatly hidden at a subdivision in Mandaluyong. The place resembles an old-fashioned Filipino house, pimped up with a fancy garden with an Al Fresco set-up, statues of Catholic saints, a golden Buddha, curtains, antiques, and other Asian-inspired decorations.

Much of the place is lit up by small, colorful lanterns. There’s a smaller garden inside the main dining area, and a small stage on the other side. Kundiman music plays in the background, giving the restaurant an old-school Filipino feel. It’s an ideal place for a nighttime dinner date.

Chef Nick Pelaez is the sole owner, general manager, and executive chef of St. Nicholas, which was named after his late father. He has managed the restaurant’s catering services for ten years (though the restaurant itself opened only last April).

Chef Nick introduced us to some of St. Nicholas’ specialties. First his chefs held for us a short demo on how to cook Tinola sa Pakwan, chicken tinola sweetened with watermelon slices.

Next up was their Ensaladang Gulay, vegetable salad with native fish bagoong.

Then there’s Chicken and Pork Adobo sa Dilaw, an adobo recipe that uses turmeric instead of the usual vinegar and soy sauce combo.

We also had a platter of Okoy, deep-fried vegetable fritters for appetizers, while for dessert, we had Turon with chocolate dip.

The vegetable salad is as simple as it gets, but there’s something about the bagoong that makes it special. The okoy is crispy and delectable, especially when dipped in vinegar (I preferred the okoy plain though). The Adobo sa Dilaw leaves a fragrant, appetizing aftertaste in the palate that is way different from the adobo we’re all accustomed to.
The Tinola sa Pakwan, on the other hand, is a mystery to me. It’s basically a bowlful of distinct but matching flavors. The broth is sweet, thanks to the watermelon juice and bits, but the rich and gingery taste that is familiarly tinola lingers in every sip. It gives off some sort of rush of familiar and new flavors, which is probably why this tinola is one of their best-sellers.
Aside from the usual Filipino dishes, St. Nicholas serves exotic viands for more adventurous foodies. Dishes to look out for include Adobong Crocodile Meat, Crocodile Sisig, and Tapang Kabayo. Stuff like these deserve a bottle or two of San Miguel Beer to wash down.
The best part about St. Nicholas is that it’s open 24 hours a day, and to accommodate the cravings of night owls and early birds for Filipino cuisine, they serve rice bowls for as low as P65 each.
Also, if you want to spice up your wedding, birthday party, or family gathering with a luxuriously Filipino feast, St. Nicholas offers catering services at reasonable prices, and your group can dine on site too.
Visiting St. Nicholas Restaurant admittedly requires patience and a good sense of direction, pretty much like a pilgrimage to its namesake saint, but once you’re able to drink in to your surroundings and wait in anticipation for your food, you’ll be surprised that it’s worth the trip. It’s a great place to savor Filipino food any time of the day in a unique form and setting.
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St. Nicholas Restaurant / Catering Services
#4 Fatima corner San Rafael Street,
Plainview Subdivision, Mandaluyong City
Tel. No.: 535-7637 / 788-6426 / 569-1437
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To learn more about “Foods Tayo,” visit:
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: Unlimited Grub Grabs

Episode 71: Unlimited Grill Works at Charaptor

We at TV5’s “Aksyon sa Tanghali” and “Foods Tayo” believe there are lots of up and about restaurants in Metro Manila that can tickle the taste buds and budgets of foodies. Some are old places made popular by word of mouth, while others are newly opened but have generated much buzz.

Whatever the case, we seek out restaurants that will prove to be a hit to the masses, the criteria of which are having a wide array of choices, with a family-friendly ambience, and at the most affordable prices possible.
One such place that we visited is Charaptor Barbecue, a popular buffet restaurant that opened early this year at Brgy. San Antonio, Makati.

Just as its name implies, Charaptor is known for its grill-all-you-can, eat-all-you-can barbecue buffet. The choices include various marinated cuts of chicken, pork, beef, fresh seafood like fish, squid, shrimp, vegetables, mushrooms, cold cuts, and street food such as isaw and squid balls.

One may also choose among 16 unique dipping sauces to go with your barbecue. The possibilities of what you can work on with your grill are unlimited.

Each table has its own charcoal grill where you can cook the dish of your choice. The meats are marinated,
but they provide two small tubs of marinate that you can brush on your meat while it is being grilled.

When I said grill-all-you-can, I mean grill-all-you-can. If you’re patient enough, you can have your barbecue and eat it too, so the saying for wedding cakes goes.

Charaptor is a family-friendly restaurant, never mind that you’ll end up smelling like a charcoal grill after your meal, but it’s also a favorite spot among beer drinkers and those looking forward to unwind for the night. 

Just remember to come early or get reservations, because the restaurant gets filled up quickly. Don’t worry, though; there’s always a steady supply of meat ready for grilling.

Charaptor is open everyday from 10AM to 2PM for lunch, and 6-11PM for dinner.
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Charaptor
9752 Kamagong St. corner
Arange St. Brgy. San Antonio Makati City                       
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To learn more about “Foods Tayo,” visit:
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: Unlimited Grub Grabs

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