Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hokkaido Kelp Hot Pot 聚北海道昆布鍋

Still January and its cold, given the recent drop in temperature. Its a perfect time to dine in hot pot restaurant. Although there are many places to choose from in Hsinchu. We decided on Hokkaido kelp hot pot a Japanese shabu shabu branch in Hsinchu. Hokkaido Kelp Hot Pot is situated just infront of Sogo department store at the 5th floor of Far Easterone Telecom Company. The restaurant is a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its a great place to go to for a great ambience and a good selection of none eat all you can shabu shabu restuarant. They offer various shabu shabu sets, there are two packages together the price of a NT$330 fine tangle pot package, a package of Hokkaido is NT$530 most come standard with appetizer, main course, assorted vegetables, plum vinegar, non-staple food, broth with a piece of kelp, dessert, two kinds of dipping sauces are available.
Shabu shabu is a Japanese hotpot meal and very popular eating food for Taiwanese. Shabu shabu is a style of cooking in which each diner gets a pot of flavourful broth and proceeds to cook. Everyone at the table partakes in adding a variety of uncooked items like vegetables, thin sliced of meat, seafood, dumplings, fish/meat balls and noodles. Since most of the ingredients aren’t seasoned, additional flavor is added via the broth during cooking, as well as with dipping sauces after cooking.
We began with the appetizer loaded with tamago or egg, kimchi and mango-tomato compliments with fresh brewed tea and this include with our choice for the price NT$530 plus 10% service charged.
For the main course we had seafood platter, thinly slice of duck meat, and 2 order sliced of beef. The freshest of the seafood platter all served under the glow of ice.
The sliced of tender beef shoulder short ribs, nicely marbled beef but the few slices leave you very much wanting.
Thinly sliced of cherry duck meat and is not as tender or delicate in taste. These barely need to cook on boiling water. The meat is delicious and in surprisingly good quality, its silky and fatty they were.
The set comes with your choice of rice or noodles.
With every meat platter they also give a whole plate of veggies; mushrooms, baby corn, batchoy, cabbage, taro and some tofu. It was a lot of food.
The food kept coming and coming of these fish balls. From the looks of it, they all seems to be freshly made as they are not frozen.
Then we have some dessert even though our stomachs were telling us not to. We had the matcha black sesame tofu, awesome!
I personally enjoyed the osmanthus fine bean stew, its earthy and healthy with its delicate fragrance from natural aromas and osmanthus.
The orange panna cotta it was just an ordinary taste.
And so we were served and ended up with sliced of fruits.
Overall; The service was on spot, our tea cup were always full of brewed tea, they always came by to check on us and clean our table. The bad news is, they don't offer any free drinks so you will feel disappointed. But the food are freshly made and decent and the decor it was nice, clean looking place it feels like you're at a bar and feeling comfortable with reasonable prices.
Hokkaido Kelp Hot Pot-聚北海道昆布鍋
新竹市中正路2號5 樓
No.2-5th Floor, Zhongzheng Road. Hsinchu City
Contact No: (03) 526-0688

Monday, January 17, 2011

Shakey's Pizza-San Fernado, Pampanga

We were on our way home, when I decided to load some fuel. After loading gas I decided to eat our lunch at Shakey's since it was near lunch time. Ensconced it is right beside in the area of a gasoline station which makes it ideal for dining area for those having long drives or long journey.
The staff will always welcome us with a warm smile. The employees are very polite, friendly and helpful. I have had good conversation with them on that day.
The restaurant's interior will surely catch your eye. You will notice the wall with a huge colorful poster which features Shakey's logo. I love the ambience because it is like a typical American diner.
We ordered the root beer float and chocolate milkshake. When our drinks arrived, we knew that it was the start of a very good meal. Both the drinks were just super yummy! I had the super fizzy root beer float with a generous scoop of ice cream. The root beer is smoother, not so gassy but tastier is so different from what I had drank in can.
After a short minutes the slobber-licious chocolate milkshake arrived in this tall, slender glass.
Now for the creamy mushroom soup topped with croutons, as soon as my son dunked the spoon into the thick and creamy soup. He said to me for a couple times its yummy mommy. It was very creamy and very delicious.
The chicken 'n' corn soup, I thought it's just going to be a simple soup with toasted bacon bits in it. It was not too salty and it wasn't too bland and I like it a lot!
I try the Greek salad and loaded with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, green bell peppers, feta cheese, salami and olives. The salad was also good and crisp while the vinaigrette served on the side was tangy and well seasoned. A group of ladies seating beside on our table, when she saw I was focusing on the salad. She told to her companion in a funny way. Why that girl she's eating salad maybe she's Italian.  It is not that unusual seeing other people eating salad isn't it? Specially when you know that what you eat is healthy. I just ignored them. Anyway I got my fresh salad on my tummy and so delicious!
I almost forgot if this is a solo or regular size of Shakey's special in thin crust, loaded with beef, Italian sausages, pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, green bell pepper and onions. The pizza as actually very good, I was surprised! The crust was soft and crisp, the cheese was tasty and the pepperoni was just right. I think the pizza that tastes good cold as well as hot.
Classic spaghetti with 2 garlic bread which I love their spaghetti because of the way how they cooked not that soft unlike in Jollibee. They do cooked in al dente it with that sweet and tasty spaghetti sauce. It goes well with crisp garlic bread.
For dessert; We shared the oatmeal cookie a la mode topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzle with chocolate syrup. The cookie it was crunchy and the ice cream together with the bitterness of chocolate sauce melted in your mouth with every bite.
Overall this place is a fun place for adults and kids, it was clean restaurant. The food was hot and tasty, we sure loved and enjoyed our dining experience here. We'll definitely  recommend for those travelers passing by Pampanga and looking for a quick rest and something to eat.
Shakey's Pizza Sn. Fdo Branch
Km.60 Barrio Dolores, Olongapo-Gapan Road.
City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Philippines
Contact No:  (045) 860-7777

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dencio's Grill & Bar- Robinson's San Fernando Pampanga

It was coincidence that we went in Dencio's for the first time. My son was looking for beef steak for the lunch, that it seemed every restaurants has been closed during lunch time on the first day of January.  So I decided just to look around the Robinson's Star Mill. Then I spotted this Dencio's Bar & Grill at the main floor.
Nestled between the ground floor at Robinson's and just along the parking area. There is outdoor seating space and a glance at the menu board outside hints at the delights within. Despite being at the entrance of a busy shopping area. So you could just imagine people buzzing in and out.
The place was not too crowded when we went there. And we were immediately taken care of, there’s enough space to move around and while waiting for our order. The decor indoor was nice with bamboo hanging around the place. The restaurant is properly lit yet still relaxing to the eyes with comfortable sitting tables. The lighting is all surrounded with paper origami cocoon shapes that absence of fancy decors add a more simplistic touch to the place.
In Taiwan when you order the drinks together with the dish it will serves after the meal. But in the Philippines they first sent the drinks to the table before the meal. It may be annoying for Taiwanese traveler?  Any way I order the California grape halo halo smoothie for the price of ₱105, an ube-flavored frozen shake topped with diced red grapes, bits of cheese and gulaman. The combination of grape and ube it tasted a bit funky. But very refreshing and delicious it almost like dessert is just perfect for lunch nonetheless.
Then after a while our dishes was arrived at the time. This lumpiang shanghai or Filipino spring rolls which are bite-size pork are a nice appetizer especially if you get the right sauce. It also has a texture contrast of soft pieces inside as well as crispy on the outside. My son loved it as much as I do. They were really good!
Then we had a regular size sisig pork for the price ₱190. Sisig is truly Filipino food loving folks in Pampanga. It was made from chopped parts of a pig’s head with ears, snout, then reinvented into simple minced meat served on a sizzling platter with chili, liver, onion and seasoned with calamansi and fresh ground black pepper. The crunchiness from the sizzling plate was amazing flavor and just superb taste!
This is pancit canton ₱195 (Filipino yellow noodles) which is like stir fried chopped mixed vegetables, pork, shrimp with noodles is equally delicious. However the noodles were much too soft , too much water and more veggie than noodles. They also added an extra flavor of tofu.
The pork barbecues ₱120 are meaty and tasty, the sauce is a bit salty and strong, which again was so good it was the best barbecue pork I ever had in a long time.
Sizzling bulalo ₱285. A tender beef thigh bone with buttered veggies and think gravy, it was served on a hot cast iron plate. The serving is huge enough, it also has a texture contrast of soft pieces as well.
Overall the food was great, what a feast! It tasted pretty decent, not fancy or pretentious, but just plain good. We feel full when we left and packed our leftover. For the price we paid, we sure got a deal! I definitely recommend this place for anyone wanting excellent Filipino food and service at very reasonable cost.
Dencio's Grill & Bar
Ground floor Robinson's Starmills
Olongapo-Gapan Road. San Jose,
City of San Fernando, Pampanga. Philippines

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Michell's Cakes & Pastries + More Filipino Specialty

Last new year's holiday vocation, me and my son had a road trip to San Fernando Pampanga and dine to the restaurant near by Bliss Hotel where me and my some we spent for the whole week. And we drove the new toyota altis with plate no: RHH 159 (a rental car) yes, it's quite a drive just for convenient to visit my relatives and headed back to hotel every night. I really didn't want to waste any single minute on the roads doing commute. I was so busy for the past few days and had cough and colds on this hush weather condition in Taiwan and its quite bloody cold, and I'm so late for my updates. Here's some a few information  on my whole week in San Fernando, if you are traveling in this area.
I had been craving for typical Capampangan dishes for a whole week and from mom kitchen. I decided to go for sweet desserts in the evening. And we found this pastry shop along the gasoline station.
The inside was a quite unlike in other restaurants, I have been in San Fernando, not that much people. The atmosphere it was excellent environment. Some people could have feel that the place was great with its nice ambience and pretty cakes.
We started with the pistachio meringue or pistachio sansrival and yes it was really good. I really love sansrival and this kind rivaled by classic favorite. It melted and at the same time, the chewy goodness is still there
I will more often than not pass on anything chocolaty, and go for something along the crepe. When I saw  of the mango pandan crepe on the menu, I couldn't help. Its funny how our eyes like to play tricks on us. A part of this on my curiosity about how each mango pandan crepe with macapuno for just Php180. Will taste in terms of its texture and sweetness level as I’ve had it come in different flavor. The hint of pandan and macapuno (sweet coconut strips) flavor provided a refreshing tone to it, but overall the crepe were well cooked, the batter was light, it was quite heavenly delicious, unique and the taste of which was further heightened by the fragrant of pandan also deserves a very high rating. Undoubtedly the best crepe I had eaten.
Charles order the "Castle in the Clouds" is made of fluffy Belgian waffles tucked together layered with glazed bananas on a cloud like bed of whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate sauce with strawberry. It was so good! I have no vocabulary to describe it, excellent or fantastic are simply not good enough to explain how it tasted like. However the drinks we had it was disappointed, I order the Vienna coffee and when it came it was a ordinary brewed coffee with fresh milk and it serve in paper cup. But the flavored iced tea it was okay.
The patisserie offers a variety of selection of pastries. Pick things up at the counter and eat in.
Another good example of having to have grown up eating a particular treat or ethnic food in order to fully appreciate it. It was my last night so I settled the ensaimada for four of us and a gift for my daughter. Ensaymada-ensaimada are hugely popular throughout the Philippines, and are a pastry that originated in Majorca Spain. The bread itself was very soft and supple, I’ve had ensaimada before and these were the real deal. It’s a super moist and it’s very cakey, while being a bit spongy, so props on top with sugar, margarine or butter and grated cheese. These weren’t too sweet either.
This delightful mini sweet tart merigue and mini loaf fruit cake were wrapped in coloured celllophane. Pretty good food on the go or even as a gift to someone and is so good to eat! I bought this fantastic sweet box as present gifts to my son 3 teachers in music school, elementary and for his tutor during thursday evening class. And to be thankful for allowing him to take a vocation with me. The holiday sweet treats are displayed infront of the pastry shop for customers to see.
The mini sweet tart with meringue were crust fully complements the tangy pecan and caramel sauce filling! These just so deliciously decadent and divine! I am off to find some of the mini fruit cake are my dream during holiday season. They are rare in Taiwan, the only thing you may find during christmas is the panneton. The mini fruit cake was dried out but yet that was hidding yummy. These 2 mini holiday sweet treats are soooooo good and so worth your efforts!
Pretty interesting is the love what you are seeing. Got my attention in this room is the Fiorgelato or Frigorifero ice cream it was suprised for me that is quite cheap and for Pinoy is already expensive, I guess.
And so we try the pistachio and bubble gum flavor. Overall the food at Michell's are pretty good though, the service was okay with very friendly and attentive staff. By the way visa and credit cards are not accepted here. I will love to give it try again on my return over a few years.
Michell's Cakes & Pastry
Jose Abad Santos Ave., Northwalk II
San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
For my second day, we went at Max's restaurant in SM Mall Sn. Fdo. with the whole fam for lunch. Seven member of my family include my mother, brother, sister in law, nephews and nieces had the same choice is the grilled chicken with rice and the rest is sizzling chicken, sweet and sour pork. It was great, they went through rounds of rice and washed it down with their sweetened iced tea. I order the fresh lumpia and lumpiang shaghai with a dipping sauce was delicious, compliments with sago't gulaman drink. Max chicken burger with cheese for my son and to my youngest nephew. I didn't take the photos and it was packed  too many people surround you, almost you cannot moved. Their sariwang lumpiang ubod or fresh palm heart spring roll is quite a bit bland. The crepe wrapper was thin, not too floury, and the peanut sauce was tasty but not that great! I prefer the traditional homemade fresh lumpia is made of shrimp, shredded pork, tiny sliced of vegetable; cabbage, carrots, sprouts, beans sauted with garlic and onion.
Halo Halo Special of Max's Restaurant S.M Pampanga Branch
All of us we order the halo halo special a popular Filipino ice dessert that contained red mung beans, leche flan, ube, gelatin, bananas, jackfruit, grated cheese, sago, pinipig, crushed rice and condensed milk. It tastes really good and dessert best shared between fam. We also try their dessert sampler which contain cream cheese brownie with ice cream, leche flan, ube creme decadence, buco pandan. A refreshing dessert made of fresh buco strips, green gulaman and sago. It is then flavored with sugar, coconut milk and pandan are beautiful and pretty tasty. The atmosphere it was noisy and chaotic when its packed, the chair and table are too closed from each other. Probably not the best place to go to take someone for date. But a good place for Filipino fine foods.
On the third night, I saw the bibingka stall infront of Mexico Church then I couldn't resist, I brought one in the hotel for late night snack. The last time I ate bibingka was almost 10 years ago. One of the reasons I look forward on this vocation. Bibingka is one of the local terms used to describe Filipino rice cake and is made from rice flour, eggs, and sugar cooked in charcoal or clay oven. Before baking, line the clay plates and greased banana leaves with soften butter, and topped with fresh grated coconut. During near Christmas season, bibingka is usually sold near the parish so churchgoers can buy the native delicacy after mass, it can be eaten for almusal (breakfast) and merienda (snack). This bibingka with queso and salted eggs it was simple but very delicious, I can say this is the food of the gods. I've tried many bibingkas from childhood and this one of the best. Getting off the car in unfamiliar place for me after over more than decade living abroad it's well worth it!
A one stop destination for delicious cassava cake is the Joriel cassava cake shop. Its located near Poblacion Mexico along the way to Sn. Fdo. The counter is amply stocked with cassava boxes which the owners attests is made fresh daily. Unlike other gift shops whose shelves and counters are busy with an assortment of sweets. But Joriel offers well just that cassava cake. This cassava cake that I grow up with is made of fresh boiled grated cassava or kamoteng kahoy is a kind of rootcrops similar with taro, condensed milk or sugar on it, coconut milk, buco string with just the right amount of cheese on top.  Since its my husband one of the Filipino sticky sweets. so I brought 2 boxes of cassava cake back at home in Taiwan. Inside the box, nestled in a bed of aluminum foil, will last for 3 days or week at room temperature and 2 weeks if frozen. This is best eaten freshly cooked while still hot, or simply place in the microwave. This cassava cake is the softest, smoothest, super moist, its gooey and most of all it melt in your mouth. I tasted a lot more of the condensed milk flavor though. My husband and my daughter loved it! Definitely we will say the same thing its heavenly delicious and belly good! Another food for the gods.
Now for the food at Bliss Hotel San Fernando. We had a large selection for breakfast in bed with hot instant coffee or iced tea. We ordered the usual Filipino breakfast fare for the rest of the week. I got this tapsilog a combination of rice, egg and tocino. The Tocino is one if the popular dish in Philippines and a signature dish of Capampagan people. The tocino it was chewy but tender, salty, sour, sweet and yummy for one word to describe it.
Then my boy had this garlicy sausages or longaniza almost every morning. It was wonderful and with excellent flavor.
Then I try the Filipino hot dogs and one of my favorites during my childhood. This hot dogs is very authentic if it has that red glow. You may find the elements of salty, sour and meaty taste on it. They are quite very different than American hot dogs. Trust me if you never tasted them before they are quite so good!
I had the whole fried fish or daing for the next morning and ate every part of it. We also had come for dinner in the Hotel Restaurant on our first day. The ambience is quite silent there's no other customer except us. The food at the hotel in dining area it was horrible. The pork barbecue ribs it was hard and over cooked, the tuna steak is dried out, the fried calamari it wasn't fresh and made of frozen foods, the french onion soup it was the most worse onion soup I ever had. However most of the food in Pampanga are really quite so good it is totally incomparable!