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

Episode 94: Setting up base at Coreon Gate

To be honest, I depend on coffices to do most of my writing. Finding a coffice with good food, an environment conducive for working, and a reliable internet connection is quite a chore. Luckily, I found a good place in Manila where I could somehow settle down.

Coreon Gate is an internet café located along Adriatico Street, just near the Remedios Circle in Malate, Manila. It’s quite easy to spot; it’s at the second floor, one floor above a Thai massage parlor.

Not surprisingly, Koreans frequent the place, most of which play online games, watch movies, or download shows. A good number of students and professionals, however, come over to study and work even up to the wee hours of the morning (like me).

The café has about fourteen tables and dozens of chairs, which shows how many groups it can accommodate. The area is cozy and comfortable to work in even with the ambient noise such as the conversations or the K-pop music playing in the background. There’s a smoking area, where most of the computers are incidentally found. (That’s also where all the gamers are hanging out. Don’t worry, minors are off-limits.)


Customers can buy an assortment of snacks, chocolates, and meals such as noodles, sandwiches, and kimbab. The place also have a wide selection of hot and iced drinks.

What’s impressive about Coreon Gate is the internet connection itself. The place boasts of a 200Mbps internet speed, optimal for gaming, downloading, and online multitasking. Each customer is given a WiFi voucher, which lets them avail of up to 5Gb worth of internet bandwidth, consumable within six hours.

Coreon Gate is a nice place this side of Manila to hang out in while working, playing online, or just staying connected.


Episode 93: Starting over with something Spanish! All-you-can-eat Paella at Black Olive!

To jumpstart my brain back to its old food-blogging self, I decided to go on an all-you-can-eat mission just like I always did way back. And what better way but to take on a dish I’ve gained interest in lately – paella.

Let’s have a recap. Paella is a Valencian rice dish regarded by many as a national dish of Spain. Paella gets its name from the pan it is cooked in. There are a variety of ways to cook paella, the most typical of which is topping rice cooked over an open fire with an assortment of meats, sausage, seafood, vegetables, or all of the above.

Black Olive Cerveceria is serving all-you-can-eat servings of Paella del Mar, a creation by award winning Chef Carlo Miguel. This variety is a delightful mash of squid, shrimps, clams, mussels, chicken and pork, all prepared over fragrant, saucy rice with tomatoes, saffron and green peppers. The paella is served on a small platter, along with some crusty bread and olive oil.

I decided to try one of Black Olive’s popular bar chows, the Boneless Chicken Wings, along with the paella. To wash down the meal, I ordered along with it a glass of Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier Naturtrüb. Craft and foreign beer happens to be one of Black Olive’s specialties.

The Paella del Mar was light to the palate but filling, and you can taste much of the seafood flavor in the rice. It’s not too oily, and there are crunchy bits here and there as expected of paella. Incidentally, the bread works as a great side dish. The chicken wings were savory, and tasted better with its bleu cheese salsa. The beer had hints of fruity flavors, which tones down the flavors of the paella and chicken.

In the middle of my meal, a couple sat near my table and inquired about the paella promo. When they asked if it was good, the waitress pointed to my table. Yeah, I guess I’ve eaten so much of it to prove how enjoyable the paella is. In the end, though, I believe I finished off seven servings of the Paella del Mar. Not bad for P250.

Which now leads to an interesting query: Why was I interested in paella in the first place?

I guess it all started when I got immersed into writing “Odoriko”, my ongoing romance story on Wattpad. I had to learn as much as I can about flamenco that I ended up checking out bits and pieces of Spanish cuisine. I haven’t thought about whether I should include an extra scene where the characters are eating paella, since the story itself is about to end, though.

The extra research proved helpful when a co-author asked me for a recommendation for Spanish dishes to be used in another story. Speaking of which, there should be a bunch of nice Spanish restaurants and tapas bars that I could check out now that I have begun to sate my craving for Spanish cuisine, but I digress.

Black Olive’s Paella del Mar promo is available every day, 12-3pm and 6-9pm. Incidentally, they’re offering an all-day, all-night beer buffet where you can drink all the premium beers you want within three hours, all for P999. Not sure if my kidneys can handle that, though.

Black Olive Cerveceria
Unit R3A & B, Camino Verde Ave, Capitol Commons, Pasig City
For table reservations, dial 0917-5073512

Episode 92: #HeistClub: The Launch (Extro)


A few days have passed since “#HeistClub: The Launch” ended, but everything has yet to sink in. Even now, I’m lost for words as to how to process everything. But one thing is certain: I am proud to say I have published – and launched – my own crime novel.

Let me at least start with a show of gratitude. I owe the privilege of becoming a published author to the organizers and sponsors of #HeistClub, to my fellow authors, to those who bought our books, and to my friends and family who supported the event.

I’m happy to be able to work with so many talented and hardworking individuals. I owe them so much that even if I let out a torrent of “thank yous”, it would not be enough to repay what they’ve done for me. Even so, let it suffice that I am thankful for everyone who made this launch possible.

#HeistClub is my biggest break so far. I thought I found my calling when I took up crime writing.  It has always been my dream, after all, to become a novelist. I’ve always wanted to write something related to my previous profession, to write about society in a different, more creative point of view.

My crime story “Sampaguita” started merely as a story of revenge and vigilantism. It was through the workshop that I would eventually tap into my most necessary resources to make a coherent story, a good set of characters, and a world that has the potential to expand into its own series or two. Still, t took me a lot of discipline, advice, and morale boosting from everyone before I finished “Sampaguita”.

Looking back, though, I still have a lot to do before I could be fully proud of my work. I have yet to master the art of storytelling. I have yet to learn to market myself. I have yet to learn to make eye-catching covers and attention-grabbing blurbs. I have to make myself known to a bigger audience. And then there’s so much to do after getting published. Even so, I believe I’m on the right track.

This is why, again, I am thankful to be part of #HeistClub. I hope everyone would continue to guide and support me in my journey to become a great author.

Meanwhile, Unlimited Grub Grabs will return to its regular, food-chomping programming as soon as I get things in order. It’s tough when you have a lot on your plate (figuratively). Also, the second part of “Sampaguita” is coming soon.


“Sampaguita”, my #HeistClub novella, is available on Amazon Kindle and Buqo, and will be available for preorders soon.

Amazon Kindle:





Episode 91: Countdown to #HeistClub: The Launch

“#HeistClub: The Launch” is coming in a few more days, and we’re excited to be part of this literary venture.

Sixteen authors are launching their crime stories on that day. These have been published in three e-book bundles on the local online bookstore Buqo. Some of them are set to be sold as standalones on Buqo, Amazon, and on print.

Bringing crime fiction to the spotlight through #Heistclub will be a new milestone for the Philippine literary scene. This will open more opportunities for readers to enjoy a genre that hits close to home and opens our eyes to what’s happening around us.

Check out the #HeistClub trailer below:

Those interested in finding out more about these stories are invited to join the launch on June 25, 2016, 6:00 p.pm, at Enderun’s The Study on the fourth floor of The Podium, Ortigas Center. “#HeistClub: The Launch” is sponsored by the following: Bronze Age Media, Inc., Buqo, The Study by Enderun, GPICKS, Kwisshy’s Cupcake Haven Talecraft Jmd Copy and Print Shop Unlimited Grub Grabs Mercy M. Soriano

For more information, visit  the event page and like the #HeistClub Facebook fan page.

For more information, visit the event page and like the #HeistClub Facebook fan page.

Episode 90: #HeistClub: The Launch

Let’s write Crime! Filipino writers were challenged to write tales of dark pathways and mysterious psyches, misdemeanor and trouble, dread and doubt.

#HeistClub was an online workshop facilitated by Mina V. Esguerra in the last quarter of 2015. The class was organized by Bronze Age Media and sponsored by Buqo and Enderun’s The Study.

Each crime story had to be set in the Philippines, and it had to be written in English.  Each story should pave the way for a series, so it should be Case #1, with the next cases in the works for subsequent release. A foreign language needed to be incorporated into the story,  with our sponsor,  Enderun providing the writers free translation services.

The following mentors gave invaluable tips and lessons to the writers during the course of the workshop: Jennifer Hillier, F.H. Batacan, R.J. Taduran, Kevin Uy, Juliet Grames, and Andrea Pasion-Flores.

In the end, sixteen crime stories were produced.  They were released in three ebook bundles on the Buqo application early this year. The bundle names are: What We Fear, Why We Run, and What We Hide.

#HeistClub: Why We Run

  • Bayawak’s Trail by Justine Camacho-Tajonera
  • The Fraud Hunter Book 1: Chasing an ATM Schemer by Racquel Sarah A. Castro
  • The Retreat by Yeyet Soriano
  • Come With Me by Michael Recto
  • Inertia by Sette Luis

#HeistClub: What We Fear

  • Till Death Do Us Apart by Irene Recio
  • Soul Makers by Jee Ann Guibone
  • Classified by Georgette S. Gonzales
  • High Stakes by Ana Valenzuela
  • Dressed to Kill by Cassandra Javier

#HeistClub: What We Hide

  • Snakehead by Bianca Mori
  • Sampaguita by Mark Manalang
  • Let’s Play Murder by Farrah F. Polestico
  • Corpus Delicti by Porcupine Strongwill
  • The Flame Squad: Sly Prince by Jessica E. Larsen
  • The Gung Ho Lady by Arlene Manocot

On June 25, 2016, at 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Enderun’s The Study, located at 4thFloor, Podium, Ortigas Center, the sixteen stories will be officially launched to the public.  From the time they were released in their ebook bundles, some of the authors have refined, updated and enhanced their respective stories for release as stand-alone novels/novellas in multiple platforms: Buqo, Kindle, Smashwords, and print.

Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1623193478001367/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/heistclubthelaunch/


Episode 89: A taste of the world’s best street food

Street food is a well-ingrained part of society. It’s all about casual dining enjoyed anytime with the best flavors at the most affordable prices. Being able to see, smell, and taste the best in street food is a unique experience, and what fitting way to do so than in one of the world’s best food destinations, the Philippines.

The World Street Food Congress Jamboree, which opened at Bonifacio Global City, offers everyone a chance to savor street food from around the world.

Twenty-five food stalls from the US and Asia (including the Philippines) are showcasing various snack dishes, rice meals, barbecues, and desserts, all for as low as P200. The venue is jam-packed as early as the first day, but with all the buzz and scents around, you’ll never get tired waiting in line. This is definitely one place where you can have local cuisine that’s no-frills, no-extenders, all-flavor, and worth every centavo.

By now many have recommended dozens of their favorites from the jamboree, but that’s not stopping me from sharing my own recommendations. They’re a bit pricy but worth every centavo.

Pasta Bicolandia, Bicolano Wellington, Level 1 Chili Ice Cream (Philippines)
Savor the legendary spiciness that makes Bicol Region famous in one plate. Start the fiery palate flamenco with the Bicolano Wellington, stuffed chunks of Bicol Express. Kick up the tempo with the Pasta Bicolandia, creamy pasta with meaty chunks and chili bits. The chili ice cream puts a sweet finish into this set.

Penang Laksa by Wan Dao Tou Penang Assam Laksa (Malaysia)
Tamarind, hae ko (sweet prawn paste), chili, ginger, and mint leaves bring a salvo of flavors into this Malaysian noodle dish. The fish flakes and the savory broth complete the dish, giving diners at taste of how authentic laksa is like. (Lee Ee Quen, the owner of Wan Dao Tou, was crowned the Champion in the Assam Laksa category in the Battle of Penang Hawkers 2011.)
Braised Zhu Hou Chicken by Xu Jing Ye (China)
Chef Xu Jing Ye brings to the Philippines this representative dish from Guangdong, China. The vendors say it’s similar to Hainanese chicken, but there’s a stronger salty-fatty-savory kick in this chicken dish. This is topped with Foshan specialty sauce, made from a combination of soy bean, salt, sugar, sesame seed and light soy sauce, to add balance.
Ayam Taliwang by Ayam Taliwang Bersuda (Indonesia)
Ayam Taliwang is a grilled chicken dish from Lombok, Indonesia. The chicken is marinated with bird’s eye chili, and served with a pelecing (water spinach) salad and sticks of satay. The smoky, roasty aroma of this chicken is enough to awaken an appetite. Be warned, though: the Ayam Taliwang is dangerously spicy!
Smoked Chili Grilled Tofu Bao by The Cinnamon Snail (USA)
Healthy flavors have a special place in the street food jamboree with this vegetarian bun stuffed with sautéed kimchi pickled basil and onion, and sambal alek cream.  Vegetarians will enjoy this mildly strong yet calming snack.

There’s much to look forward to at the street food jamboree this year. One can marvel at how rich each country’s food culture is, given the local ingredients they make do with, and the kinds of dishes they come up with at homes, on the streets, or any place where it’s comfortable to eat. It plainly shows that everyone at every place around the world has a unique way of showing how much they love their food.


The World Street Food Congress Jamboree runs until April 24, at Federacion Drive corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, from 4pm to 11pm until Friday, 12pm to 11pm on Saturday, and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday.

For more information, visit their website at: http://wsfcongress.com/