Category Archives: Dining

Restaurant reviews and anything gustatory.

Camiguin: J & A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant and Tanguines Lagoon

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Camiguin’s Tanguines Lagoon is a man-made lagoon that features limpid blue water and, when viewed from the main road, gently rolling hills at its foreground.  It has a zipline too (note the wire in the succeeding photo).

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I did not come here to do the zipline, or to go fishing, which is another popular activity when in the lagoon.  I came here to eat lunch at J & A Fishpen Resort and Restaurant.

I loved the entrance of the restaurant.  I don’t know what the hanging roots-like plant and hanging leaves are called, but they make the entrance interesting.

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Ambience-wise, I loved the idea that there were individual cottages on stilts overlooking Tanguines Lagoon.  I also appreciated the fact that the place was not packed with diners when we were there.

For my lunch, I ordered fish kinilaw (ceviche), shrimp (half a kilo was fried and the other half was made into sinigang), rice, and a liter of coke.

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The serving was generous and even for two people, it was a lot.  I loved my kinilaw and sinigang, but I was disappointed with the fried shrimp because it was overcooked and too oily.  Still, it was one good lunch.

 While waiting for my bill, I wandered around and took photos.  Here are my favorites.

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I loved looking at the placid blue waters.  I would have loved to go fishing, but our tight schedule did not permit as to linger here.

J & A Fishpen is located in Tanguines Lagoon, Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin.

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Contact them via +63 919 753 8999 or +63 88 387 4408.  Note that for those who will not dine in the restaurant, a Php 5 entrance fee applies.

Camiguin: Casa Roca Inn

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After enjoying White Island’s sandbar and views, I asked Kuya Criz to bring me to Casa Roca Inn for dinner.  I chose to dine here since TripAdvisor ranked it as the number one restaurant in Camiguin.  It was also the number one accommodation under the B & B category and I initially wanted to stay here, but they were already booked for my preferred dates so I opted for Enigmata and Camiguin Action Gecko for my accommodations.

I loved the casa’s quaint and rustic accommodations.  It looked very homey.

We were lucky that when we arrived, the setting sun was still visible so I headed straight to their viewing deck by the beach.

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I loved how the plants and trees framed the colorful sky.

After taking photos, I headed back to Casa Roca’s dining area to order my dinner.  I chose Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie at Php 220 and Kuya Criz had Asian Chili and Garlic Fresh at Php 180.  We had Pepsi for our drinks at Php 20 per 8 oz bottle.

While waiting for our food, I took photos of the dining area.  I also met a new friend.

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I marveled at how friendly their dog was that it let me pet him.  And all throughout my meal, it stayed at my feet, looking at me with those warm, trusting eyes.

When my order arrived, I excitedly dug in.  I love English pies and their menu’s description of my order being “a pastry pie made from scratch with tender boneless chicken breast” made me think I was in for a treat.  I was disappointed though because the chicken was overcooked, the crust was too thick, and it tasted bland.  Good thing there were fries for me to eat.

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I asked Kuya Criz how his meal was and he also didn’t like it.  He said it was too spicy.

Though my meal here was a disappointment, the service was prompt and the server was friendly.  The Caucasian owner and his Filipina wife, who we were told does the cooking, even waved hello.

A tip to those who want to dine here:  Contact them first if they are open since as per the food attendant, when the couple is away, they do not accommodate diners.  And oh, do bring insect repellant and smother yourself with it.  There were so many mosquitoes when we dined!

I’ll end this post with my favorite sunset photo taken at their view-deck.  It’s of the colorful skyline fringed by cogon grasses.

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Casa Roca is located in National Highway, Baring, Naasag, Camiguin.  Contact them via their official website.

Camiguin: Sto. Niño Cold Spring Resort

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After a very tiring climb up Camiguin’s Old Volcano, we headed to Sto. Niño Cold Spring Resort for lunch.

Entrance fee is at Php 20 per person while picnic shed rental is at Php 50.   Here’s a collage of all applicable charges when here:

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After paying Php 90, I ordered lunch and while waiting, explored the place.

The place was described online as a terrific huge pool of cold spring water, but I wasn’t really impressed. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen really beautiful pools in my travels (Alegre’s, Amorita’s, Punta Fuego’s etc. come to mind). Add that to the fact that I work for and live in Plantation Bay, which is known for its beautifully designed 2.3 hectares saltwater lagoons and 4 freshwater pools of varying designs, and you can say that I do know a terrific pool when I see one.

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I was there on a Monday and was surprised that despite it being a work and school day, there were still a lot of locals enjoying the place.

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Our food was taking some time to be delivered so my tour guide, Kuya Criz, kept on encouraging me to take a dip. I declined and contented myself with sitting on one end of the pool, my feet dangling in the waters as I enjoyed its coolness.

Here’s a my view from that spot:

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When our food was served, I was excited to try out Ginataan Sorol (Chicken in Coconut Milk). This dish is one of Camiguin’s delicacies. I loved it. It tasted so much like our Inubarang Manok (Chicken with Banana Bud and Coconut Milk) in Aklan.

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Aside from ginataan sorol, I also ordered half a kilo of Lechon Kawali (Deep Fried Pork Belly). It was good, but I would have liked it more if there were more skin. For my drinks, I had fresh buko (young coconut) juice. It was one of the sweetest I’ve ever had (and so was its meat). We had Coke too.

Yum. It was one filling lunch, something that I appreciated more since when I did this trip, I came straight from Singapore and was sorely missing Filipino cuisine.

After resting for a while, I again explored the place and took more photos.  Note that aside from 2 pools (an adult one and a kiddie one), this cold spring resort also has slides, man-made falls, and bridges.

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The water does look very clear, and it’s really cool to the touch. No wonder it’s a favorite among locals.

Chicago: Dining Options

I was in Chicago for a business trip so my dining experience was mostly of the food provided during our conference, but I did have a good dining experience in Chicago because each time we were out, our host and my friend made sure that I tried things that were not offered in my home country, or were popular in the windy city.

Sprinkles Cupcake, Ice Cream and Cookies
First off my list is Sprinkles.  Yup, we do have cupcakes in the Philippines, but this was most interesting because of its Cupcake ATM, which dispenses freshly baked cupcakes and cookies 24/7.

Our host’s daughter demonstrated how the ATM works, and it was a marvel to watch her order being processed.  When the boxed cupcake was dispensed, my co-delegates and I laughed at how prior to seeing how it worked, we all thought the cupcake may be flat to fit through the slot, or it’s all smashed!  Ha!

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My verdict:   I ordered Vanilla and here’s how its website described it:  “Purists will delight in Sprinkles Vanilla cupcakes, though our vanilla cake is anything but simple. A favorite of the bakery staff, this soft, delicate cake is perfumed by the sweet flavor of Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla for an effect that is simply… heaven.”  Yup, it is one very yummy cupcake, but a little too sweet for me.

Sprinkles in Chicago is located in 50 East Walton Street.

Fogo de Chão
This is one authentic Brazilian steakhouse and I must say this was my best dining experience in Chicago.  Everything was such a gustatory delight!

Here’s the fun part:

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Each diner is given this round card and our host told us that if the green side is up, it means the diner is ready for the restaurant’s gaucho chefs to begin tableside service.  Sixteen (16) cuts of delectable fire roasted meats will then be brought to the table, sliced and served by the chefs.  When satisfied with the serving, the diner has to flip the disc to the red side until s/he’s ready for more offerings.  Cool, huh.

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I must say their meats are succulent and my favorites were Picanha (Top Sirloin), Filet Mignon, and Beef Ancho (Rib Eye).  My, they’re simply mouth-watering that I’m wishing I were in Fogo de Chão as I write this piece.

Here’s another set of photo from my memorable meal.

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There’s my salad plate with cheeses, bacon, macaroni, and whatnot.  Our host cautioned us to go easy on the salads and bread because we were yet to be served meat, thus my salad plate looked bare.

There’s the bread too, which was the best bread I have ever had.  It was soft, buttery, and oh so yummy.  We liked it so much we asked for more and they were nice enough to refill it not once but twice!

They gave complimentary chocolate bars too (the red ones) and for dessert, we had their Fogo de Chão Signature Papaya Cream, which was their most requested dessert.  Heavenly!

Fogo de Chão in Chicago is at 661 N LaSalle Street.

Citè
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Located at the top of Lake Point Tower, which is the only skyscraper in downtown Chicago east of Lake Shore Drive, Citè is known more for its views than its food.

It was rainy when we visited the place and at some point, there were flashes of lightning so our view of Chicago skyline was quite a sight to behold.  Too bad I wasn’t able to capture it as we were too engrossed at chatting with each other.

Here’s my order, which was a set meal (Chef’s Tasting Menu).  Pardon the photo quality since I took this using my mobile and the lighting at the restaurant was a little dark.

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Prawns Dejonghe was my appetizer, while my soup was Lobster Bisque.  For salad, I had Heirloom Tomato Salad and for my entrée, I had Filet Mignon.  Dessert was Crème Brulee.  My verdict?  It was a good meal, though the food was not that impressive.  Service though was excellent.

Visit Citè at the 70th Floor of Lake Point Tower, 505 North Lakeshore Drive, Chicago IL.  Visit their official website for more information.

Emperor’s Restaurant

Whenever I am in a Chinese restaurant, I always order Sweet and Sour Pork.  My friend, meanwhile, ordered battered deep-fried oyster.

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I loved everything!  The Sweet and Sour Pork was just the way I liked it and the oysters were very tasty.  And the serving was so generous we were not able to finish everything and were so full we did not order dessert, but they did serve us fortune cookies at the end of our meal.

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I loved what my fortune cookie said.  I just hope (and will work hard for) it to come true.

Emperor’s Choice is in 2238 S Wentworth Avenue, Chicago.

Bubble Tea
These were very popular in Chinatown.  Though still full from our lunch, my friend who rarely visits Chinatown, asked that we try this out since she heard that they’re a must-try.

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I was disappointed though, since my Watermelon Smoothie was too sweet.

Wow Bao

My friend introduced me to this when we went shopping at Water Tower Place.  Wow Bao offers bao and other authentic Asian dishes with a modern flair.  As its name implies, Bao is their most popular item in their menu.  It is Chinese for bun and Wow Bao offers it in interesting flavours like Teriyaki Chicken, Spicy Kung Pao Chicken, Thai Curry Chicken, Spicy Mongolian Beef, and Barbebue Pork.  They also have sweet-flavored ones like Coconut Custard and Chocolate.

This must be a pretty popular dining option in Chicago because people were lining up to get their fill.  I ordered Teriyaki Chicken and it was good.  Tastes so much like our local siopao.  The bun was soft and the filling was flavorful.

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For more information, visit www.wowbao.com.

Café Galileo’s by Food for Thought
This is located inside Adler Planetarium and serves sandwiches, salads, soups, beverages, and desserts.

My fresh roasted chicken sandwich came with large Pepsi and a pack of potato chips.  I did not like my sandwich because the bread was too thick, with too little meat and veggies.   It was also dry and lacked dressing.

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Despite my disappointing lunch, I enjoyed my meal because I was able to get a respite from a whole morning of walking at Adler.  More importantly, the views at their balcony were stunning!

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See how the view of Chicagos’ skyline from Cafe Galileo’s extends from Shedd Aquarium to Navy Pier?

And thus concludes my dining experience in the windy city.  Too bad I was not able to document my experience with their famous Chicago-style pizza as we were so hungry we dug in before I got to take photos.  Compared to New York’s, Chicago’s is known as deep-dish pizza with a crust that can reach 3 inches.  Yummy, especially since it’s topped with large amounts of cheese!

Batanes: Monica’s Cottage and Catering

This is where we had our lunch during our Day 2 in breathtakingly beautiful Batanes. Note that this lunch is included in the Php 6,200 tour that we got from Noel.

Our lunch was not yet ready when we arrived so my friend and I took turns donning the whole traditional clothing of the Ivatan people, which was displayed on the wall. PhotoGrid_1396783117765

I already shared a teaser post of me wearing a vakul (an abaca fiber-made headgear worn by Ivatans as protection from the sun or rain) on my Day 2 post. This time, I’m sharing photos of me in full Ivatan garb.

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While vakul is typically worn by women, I chose to wear kanai (vest) and tangkal (hat) plus a native basket where they put their catch for the day.  According to Kuya Jun, the vest and hat are usually worn by men, but they make better props for a shoot so I had them.  Te he!

When our lunch was served, I was amazed at the variety and serving size considering that there were only two of us.

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Isn’t it nice how the food was served in breadfruit leaves? If only I knew of this as a child, I could have spared myself the task of washing dozens of dishes at home. He he.

We had fish escabeche, grilled fish, battered chicken in sticks, seaweed soup, and breadfruit in coconut milk, then bukayo for dessert and fresh buko (young coconut) juice for our drinks.

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I loved the battered chicken, soup, and breadfruit in coconut milk.  And the coconut juice was sweet and its meat just right.  The escabeche was salty (I prefer my escabeche to have the right mix of saltiness and sweetness) while the fish was overcooked and tough. Nevertheless, it was a good meal, especially when we had this view.

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Note that Monica’s Cottage also offers accommodations for as low as Php 300 per person per night. It’s cheaper than what Basco accommodations cost, but you’ll be far from the town proper. Nevertheless,you get close access to the beach (just a couple of steps from the cottage).

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The beach was predominantly rocky, especially during low tide, but the water’s clear.  It’s also swim-able, though you have to go farther up to avoid the rocks.  Plus, it has a good view of the mountains.

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Contact Monica’s Cottage and Catering though +63 908 505 4765 or +63 905 553 1738.