Trying Out Happy Lemon

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everyone loves Happy Lemon, to the point that I have yet to taste it. My friend told me to get the one with rock salt and cheese, screw lactose intolerance, but with it being a popular brand, I never got the chance to actually taste it. The Greenhills store was perpetually filled during the rare times I visit Greenhills. When I was in Singapore, even the Happy Lemon over there had long lines, so I never bothered lining up.

When I heard that Happy Lemon opened in Rockwell, I decided to go give it a try when a day that I had patience to line up if I'm not in a hurry. On that day, it was a weekend and the lines were horrendously long.

So that's the famous rock salt and cheese. Interesting. And the lemon-shaped smiley is very inviting.

Surprisingly, even if the lines were long, service was fast. I guess these guys are trained to work fast due to the long lines. I'm known to be quite adventurous with my orders, and sometimes I make the mistake of getting a very strong order so I conceded to ordering the bestsellers. For the Rock Salt and cheese, I was recommended the Cocoa with Rock Salt and Cheese (the green tea variant seemed like a no-no for me) and for milk tea, Oreo Milk Tea was the choice.

As our orders were, sumunod na ko sa uso.
I was expecting grated cheese and rock salt bits on the rock salt and cheese drink. I was surprised to find a creamy liquid on top of the chocolate drink with a sprinkling of chocolate powder. Actually, the creamy liquid is the rock salt and cheese part. The rock salt obviously has dissolved into the cream cheese resulting in a mix of sweet-salty-rich flavor. The cocoa part tasted like Chocolait, actually, and I was glad that there was no irritating powder bit. The Oreo milk tea really had Oreo bits rather than powder. I like that I get the real thing though.

My verdict? The Oreo Milk Tea didn't cause me to gag with the sweetness or richness and for some reason for both flavors, I didn't find myself rushing to the bathroom after, or maybe because I'm starting to get immune to the stomach-churning effects of dairy already by taking it in. The Rock Salt and Cheese drinks are supposed to be taken in without stirring straight sipped from the cup instead of a straw poked in. It was mellow in sweetness but very rich, and the saltiness of the rock salt and cheese balanced the sweetness of the chocolate. Flavor was very mild though.

I was expecting a mind-blowing reaction after sipping the drinks though, due to the long lines, but it was just nice and okay for me. I'd go back here on a day where lines aren't long or if I have the sudden crave. In fact, Avy and I were here last Thursday. Her favorite had brown sugar and I think I'll try that soon.

Did Happy Lemon leave me smiling? It did of course, or else I wouldn't come back. It's also pretty affordable too as even the large drinks didn't cost me more than Php 100 (unless I get an add-on). I just get the regular-sized drink due to the richness so I don't get the "cream overload". But otherwise, I like it. And it's organized too.

Food Journey At Singapore

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I was in Singapore last weekend and I loved it! I had my camera, a pink suitcase that's only 7 pounds heavy, and a stomach ready to take in the food, glorious food. Normally when I travel, I really want to take in the food in the city, so I shun away familiar food stalls that I see in Manila, unless, of course, it's very famous there.

It's actually my first time in Singapore so I was really excited. In my weekend stay there, I really loved the city, on how everything's super clean and organized, not hogging escalator space and everything's always on time. The MRT system is super organized, and they have a very complex train system. Took us I think just half a day to master the whole thing.

Anyway, back to food. We've been doing a lot of walking there, since we take the train going to wherever, so we all need energy. We learned when I got really moody from being hungry on the way to Sentosa so whenever the need arises, I should always EAT. and I mean EAT! No restaurants for us though. Food Court and Hawker-style is the way to go.

Vivo City is a mall that reminded me so much of Eastwood City Mall. It's an MRT station (Harbor Point) and it also houses the monorail going to Sentosa. After a day at Universal Studios, we wanted to just eat somewhere at Clark Quay like a fastfood joint before heading back to the hotel. Thankfully, I saw a food court at Vivo City and I was like, "wait! let's check this place out!"

The Food Republic at Vivo City was super aliw. It was very reminiscent of the streets you see in movies, something like old Chinatown, complete with paper lanterns and decorations.

The food's really cheap too, there's so much to choose from and I admit being overwhelmed especially since that was my first day ever in Singapore. So I settled for this place where I get to choose combo meals, depending on the combo you want. I think a dish that's one meat and two veggies cost like 4.50 dollars. I asked if seafood is also meat, and they said yes. The lady at the counter was kind to tell me what dishes were there, and what was good. I settled for chili prawns, kangkong, and string bean.

I was also glad that we were armed with bottled water because the food I ate was really, really spicy. It was a good thing that I love spicy food. The veggies weren't soggy and the shrimp was really fresh and had the texture I wanted. There were ladies too with carts selling dumpling or teas. I wanted a serving of dumpling but I was full already.

Breakfast was another very familiar place. I think I see this place in Manila, but I'm not quite sure. Anyway, malls weren't open yet save for a few food shops at Funan Digital Mall, which is right next to our hotel. This place looked inviting, and well, I've been solely intrigued with soft boiled eggs.

Ya Kun Kaya Toast had a set meal of toast, soft-boiled eggs, and either coffee or tea. I chose cheese toast since I wanted something filling and seeing Horlicks drink as another option, I had that as well. The cheese toast was yummy and cinnamon-ny, with just the right mix of sweet and salty.

The soft boiled eggs are seasoned first with salt, pepper, and soy sauce before spreading it on top of the toast or eaten on its own. It was really, really yummy and now I know why my pole teachers are crazy about it too. The Horlicks tea tasted like Nesvita instead of Ovaltine, but it was okay. :) At least I was fueled for another day of walking.

Union Square Mall's located at Novena Station, where we had lunch. This is one thing I love about SG - a mall is always connected to a train station and malls are always connected to one another. And each mall has a food court, with the same style. The Union Square food court's smaller but it was okay. Here, I had a big bowl of Yong Tao Foo.

Yong Tao Foo is like a mini shabu-shabu. For 3.50 dollars, you get to choose 7 ingredients of your choice and put it in a bowl - veggies, seafood, sausages, dumplings, whatever you want. If you want more, it's 50 cents additional. Then, they put noodles and cook your choice ingredients in a broth. You have a choice whether to make it plain soup or spicy laksa. There's a special dipping sauce where you can dip your food before eating (it also serves to cool it down). It's such a big bowl, would you believe I finished the whole thing? That's what I mean when I say all that walking makes me hungry.

For dessert, we went to another familiar place. Okay, so I vowed to eat local food right? Cut me some slack, because I missed this place because it permanently left Manila shores:

Baskin Robbins!!!!!!!! It used to be in ATC where the Crocs store is now, I think, back in the 90s. They're no longer in ice cream format here, just hard candy inspired from the ice cream flavors but it's not the same. I need dairy too!

We took a train from Novena Station to Ang Mio Ko to get to Singapore Zoo. We decided to make our way na lang to Orchard Road, after we couldn't figure out the bus changes.

After scouring through Ion Orchard, it's back to the food court for us for merienda. I had two spring rolls for I think 2 dollars.

The Kachang is an ice dessert consisting of jelly, red beans, palm seeds, sweet corn, a cone of ice and then topped with colored syrups and condensed milk. It's similar to our native halo-halo. I first saw the Kachang in Asian Food Network. I thought it was really easy but I found out that it's very difficult to make. You have to form and pack the ice just right because if you pack it too tight, it can be too firm and hard. The shaved ice should just flake off delicately and melt in the mouth along with the syrups and milk. This kachang has ice cream but you can choose to have durian instead if you're a durian fan. Obviously, I'm no durian fan.

During our last night in Singapore, I wanted to have a taste of the famous stingray. Good thing my friend Frances told me there was a hawker place 10 minutes away from Raffles City, in a place called Makansutra Glutton's Bay, which is an outdoor eating place with the great view.

Unfortunately, I had to borrow images for this part since it was drizzling but no rain could stop me from eating stingray, just taking pictures so I had my trusty camera tucked in a waterproof bag and I savored an entire stingray all by myself. They cook it super fast too! Only 5 minutes! Stingray is available for 10, 15, or 20 dollars, depending on what size you order. I fell in love with it at first bite. It's super spicy! Thank god for Jasmine Tea to tone down the spice burn.

My last SG lunch was at Raffles City mall. Raffles City is like the Glorietta counterpart, a mall within Singapore's main business center. You can have dessert or have a fancy meal at the restaurants at the basement or rather, go up to the food court.

I had rice, one veggie dish, and chili squid. :)

If you notice, I haven't posted anything beef or pork though, so feast your eyes on black pepper rice, just letting you know that there's food to eat should you not be allowed seafood.

Of course there are other dishes that SG is famous for - like black pepper crab, cereal prawns, chili crab, and carrot cake (which isn't like the carrot cake with the cream cheese frosting, but deep-fried, like okoy). I wasn't able to try those due to lack of time but will do, if I ever go back to SG. Trust me, I will go back and eat the dishes I fell in love with and more.

For refreshments, I suggest to ditch the soda and go for canned teas or bottled teas that aren't in Manila, a famous brand I saw around is Yeo teas, and I giggle all the time because I get reminded of my good friend Yeoh, because of the name.

My friends told me to try Chrysanthemum Tea. It was the first drink I tasted in Singapore when I got in Changi. It's like a stronger iced tea though, I prefer the Wintermelon or Jasmine Tea (same brand, Yeo).

If only I could take the entire foodie place of SG with me back here, in my little pink suitcase I would. It's a place I learned to love - organized train system, spicy food, and literless roads and all. When I posted our SG pictures, it's all food instead of scenery pictures. But hey, that's when I do when I travel. I have fun, eat, and drink (tea!!!).

Vegetable Pasta

Monday, August 8, 2011

I've contemplated going vegetarian for a long time, but only sushi and seafood stop me from going completely vegan. What I do as a compromise is that I have like some days in a week when I go vegetarian and chuck the meat back on the fridge. It really helped me a lot in my fitness routine since I do home yoga exercises and pole dancing. I still need the energy for me to do my stretches and tricks yet somehow eliminating certain foods and replacing them makes me feel lighter both inside and out.

Going vegetarian is not at all boring. In fact, when I googled vegetarian recipes, I really found a lot - from lunches, desserts (yes! vegan desserts!), sandwiches, pasta, main course, appetizers, stuff like that. So I'm not just stuck to raw veggie sticks and dip. Just go to an Indian restaurant and marvel at how many tasty ways veggies can be prepared.

This recipe to me was shared by my good friend and fellow makeup artist Avy. She knows I like quick, healthy, and easy meals that won't make me starve after a few hours, it's pretty easy and the only thing that will take some time is prepping the veggies.

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into small pieces
one small cauliflower bunch
one small broccoli bunch
sliced mushrooms (on can)
one zucchini, sliced. leave the skin on, it's yummy
lemon juice
penne pasta
seasonings (italian seasoning, rosemary, herbs, anything you like)
olive oil
parmesan cheese
garlic cloves (3-6, depending on your garlicky taste) , crushed

1. Prep all the vegetables. cut the broccoli and cauliflower into florets and blanch them.
2. Line the vegetables in a pan (or the pan you use in the toaster oven. Drizzle some lemon juice and bake in toaster oven for 5 minutes. This is where effort comes, depending on your oven size. I have a tiny oven so I do the baking in batches. Effort!
3. Once the veggies are all baked (they're still firm to bite but tender enough). Heat some olive oil on a pan and sautee garlic for a few minutes until fragrant. Toss in the veggies and add mushroom and squeeze in some more lemon juice so it's tangy and tasty, season as desired. You can make a big batch of this and store some on the fridge.
4. To serve, toss in some penne pasta until mixed well. Serve with parmesan cheese and smoked cheese on the side. Yumm!!!!!!

Revisiting Diamond Hotel

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guess where I was last weekend?

Okay, this might give a better clue:

Slices of the most epic Diamond Hotel ube ensaymada as the actual size is bigger than my fist times two. Revisited the Diamond Hotel last weekend and not only did I get to enjoy a lunch buffet and stuff myself to the brim with seafood but also their breakfast buffet. I stuffed myself with so much prawns I had prawns in my breakfast and lunch and would have had so at dinner but I was so full already by lunchtime that all I could afford was a cup of soup at SM MoA. But here are snapshots of what's new from 2 years ago:

Smoked salmon to me is pork. I don't eat pork or allow a sliver of pig meat to enter the house. Salmon is my guilty guilty pleasure.

A bowlful of cereal used to be my foolproof breakfast when I was a kid. I never seem to rid myself of it. <3

I never fail to miss dessert because they have the best dessert buffet EVER! I love chocolate fountains and I'm glad they added one complete with goodies to dip to. The one on the left is mint-flavored marshmallow that's made from scratch and not bought from a candy supply store.
Pastries in the morning too! I'm a sweet tooth and can't help it. :)

Don't forget for buffets to order just water for drinks (juices and soda fill you up with sugar, which occupies space for more food) and not to load up on rice (which you could have everyday!) variety instead of quantity is the key.

Diamond Hotel, I am so seeing you again. Keep those soba noodles too for me!

Thank You Cheriza!

Monday, July 4, 2011

My pole buddy Cheriza is the absolute sweetest. I love her enthusiasm and her fearless disposition. She'd chat with me in Facebook about the latest pole trick she accomplished. As she shares her adventures and enthusiasm to me, I can't help but really gush with happiness too. She's just too happy!

Last Saturday, she gave me a box of French macarons. She loves them and she has been hunting for a shop that sells them. I love them too and she gave me a box with three flavors: strawberry, mocha, and chocolate. Yay!
They're in this little shop in Trinoma, I forgot to ask the name. It's sweet though but it tastes really good. Probably these were my agimats that day because I was able to do nicer inverts.

Thanks Cheriza!

Quiet Rainy Day Lunch at Simply Thai

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Despite having the sniffles and hardly having an easy time getting out of bed, I couldn't miss an opportunity to have a quiet lunch in a Thai restaurant that promises good food that's authentic as bringing the whole of Bangkok right here in Manila. Besides, I'll be having my evaluation for pole dancing that night and I need a hot pot of tom yum soup to rid my owies to put me in top condition.

When I got to Greenbelt, I had to look for the restaurant called Simply Thai. It's actually a sister company of Thai at Silk at Serendra, which I'm personally a fan of. Simply Thai is located at the garden side of Greenbelt 5, it's the side near Greenbelt 1, a very pretty restaurant with clean lines and a very fresh color scheme. I'll post a picture too, so you know how the restaurant looks like, so you won't get lost like I did.

When I got there, a few of my blogger friends who I haven't seen for the longest time were there, already with their drinks and appetizers. With them is Executive Chef Cecile Chang Ysmael, who was there to personally describe each dish, answer our questions, and share several fun tales of her adventures in her second home, which is Bangkok, Thailand.

One of the waiters asked me what drink I wanted. I opted not to have milk tea due to my sniffles (but I swear, when the sniffles are gone, I will go back for milk tea!) and had a tall glass of refreshing lemongrass juice. As requested and as my body needed, I ordered a bowl of Tom Yum Kung, with a very rich and tasty broth and didn't go stingy with shrimps and mushrooms, two of my favorite things in Thai cooking.

I don't know if it's just me, but I like nibbling on the leeks too and lemongrass stalks. I wasn't able to take pictures of the lemongrass drink, but it's got a pretty orchid garnishing to go with it. The green and purple contrasts beautifully.

Spring rolls are both healthy and refreshing to make you think that going pesco-vegan isn't such a bad thing. Oh, if you love carbs, they're stuffed with vermicelli.

Those people with qualms about catfish would be happy to know that their catfish is grown and raised from farms so rest assured that it's super clean and its guts didn't house an entire ecosystem's food web. The meat was sweet and tender and fried super crispy.

Soft-shell crab. A newfound love of everyone that was wiped out in minutes (Arpee: Crab? what soft shell crab?). I'm so happy that I could eat crab and shrimp.

I dedicate the next dish to my pole classmate, Tricia who's a fan of Pad Thai. The prettiest Pad Thai in the universe served in a handmade egg net.

That net is made out of egg, and to make the egg net requires training and practice and a very light hand. The waiter had to demonstrate it to us how to mix the Pad Thai. You break it in the center to make a well to mix all the ingredients then cut through the egg net into small pieces. The egg "strings" have to be cut well so you don't choke on them.

For carnivores, here's their bestseller: Lamb Shank Mussaman. It's got sweet potato, peanuts, and caramelized onions. The lamb meat was tender too and it didn't have that aftertaste that most people don't like about lamb.

Other non-seafood dishes to try are the super spicy Green Chicken Curry, Hainanese Chicken with Jasmine rice, and the Suhkumvit fried chicken with crispy and tasty batter that's not your ordinary everyday fried chicken.

They've got really pretty desserts too! Like the red rubies.

I thought they were candied cherries at first until Cecile said they were actually water chestnuts. Interesting to know that water chestnuts can appear in the dessert course of the meal as I'm so used to having them in stir-fried chicken or salads. I also asked why they're red. "Rubies are actually the national gems of Thailand," she explained. The water chestnuts were coated then dyed red. It's placed in a bed of finely crushed ice with cream. They use water chestnuts in a can because you get a more consistent quality of water chestnuts with them. It's like eating sago then you get the surprise crunch inside. It's not too sweet either, but the cream makes it rich.

Arpee gave me a 101 on how to eat the Sticky Rice with Mangoes. It's like a Thai style of our native suman and mangga. You pour some coconut cream into the sticky rice. A slightly tart mango contrasts well with sticky rice. Since it's kinda heavy, I think it's best having desserts like this to share.

More desserts!
Before it starts melting or be devoured by hungry sweet-tooths, I took a picture of that homemade coconut ice cream on a bed of taro and orange (there's caramel sauce too at the bottom).

Pretty tapiocas all in a row each with a red ruby on top.

Since there's so much pretty and tasty dishes, I think it's best to eat here as a large group so you get to sample out a lot of dishes. The dishes are best to share.

Zentea Love

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm lactose intolerant (I say this as I type this drinking a glass of malt-flavored soymilk) but I love milk tea. I really love milk tea! I'd prefer milk tea over a cup of coffee any day. Usually, I like my milk tea with mild sweetness and hot on a cold rainy day, but for a jolt of energy, it's nice to have it cold, especially after an hour or two of pole class. I love Zentea because their cold iced teas are yummy and their horlics milk tea is superb!

People who frequent the Pearl Drive area are already friends with the Pearl Drive Zentea staff who are really super friendly. They know their regular customers plus their favorites and how they prefer their drinks.

In my case, I prefer my horlics milk tea with no pearl. If they run out of horlics tea, they're nice to give you another alternative like caramel or their bestseller nai cha. Horlics milk tea tastes a lot like the candy so I really like it.

Oh yes, and if you think this is deathly pricey milk tea, that size cost me only Php65.00. If milk isn't for you, they also have regular flavored iced teas that cost only Php35.00 for a medium size.

Thanks kuya, for letting me take your picture and the Kiosk, so when my readers decide to hunt for this branch they know how it looks like! I think I'm there often and purchase too much that the guys over there know already what I want and practically memorize my pole schedules. Did I mention they're pretty famous too? Google Zentea Pearl Drive and see lots of pictures!

B'uon Giorno, Thank You For Moving Closer To Me

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I've always been intrigued with Tagaytay's ever-so-famous B'uon Giorno restaurant being a frequent stopover to any Italian-food lover like myself. The reviews are great and everyone who went there seems to love how authentic the food tastes instead of mass-produced and artificial, like each pasta piece or veggie bit was made with love. Did anyone say authentic Italian food? I'm all smiles now.

Since Tagaytay is too far to experience B'uon Giorno, the heavens answered our prayers and finally opened one an arm's throw away from Ortigas Business District - the haven of Rockwell Business Center which is becoming an oasis of great food finds.

So among the Italian dishes on the menu, which among these ranked my favorites? Let's find out:

Top #1 goes to the Spinach Canneloni. The cheese didn't make me gag out and well, call me funny but I always have a weakness for spinach. The canneloni texture was the al dente form I wanted and it held the fillings in place. If you're quite sensitive to cheese and dairy, you could opt to just have less of the cream and have your companion finish off the richer part of the meal with some bread, one excuse to share this dish too, because yes, everyone should get a taste of it.

Salad Greens are never soggy in the classic order Caesar Salad. I got to the venue a bit late yet the greens in the buffet table are still crisp. I went for seconds on the veggies actually, and really. I love how fresh and crisp they were. I was told that the restaurant has really high standards and everything has to be perfect. Those who would love veggies can try the B'uon Giorno Special which are their best ingredients with the signature house dressing.

Dessert love time! Who doesn't love chocolate? Well It's something I do not say no to especially in the form of this...(say it with me)

MOLTEN CHOCOLATE CAKE! With Ice cream on top. Why too little words for this? uuuhm it's because I'm at a loss.

Apple Strudel reminds me so much of the Sound of Music song on a stormy night. What happens when I finally met this dessert in person? It became one of my Favorite Things. Unfortunately, my picture of it was too grainy so there's more reason for me to go back there and have a bite and a better picture to post it.

A good mentionable for seafood lovers like myself is Pescatore Alla Puttanesca. Puttanesca on its own is already a very rich and robust sauce having both the spice and the richness of fresh tomatoes so imagine when fresh seafood gets thrown in to the mix? I swear... I lunged for it. And mind you, I usually eat less during dinnertime.

A thing I like about the restaurant in general is that even though it's located in the Metro, it's not commercialized at all. It's like each dish came straight from an Italian home and delivered to your table. And if you take note of the price, it's really not that bad. A pasta dish full of seafood costs Php308. What I recommend if you're dining with friends though is to order one dish each and share them, so you get little portions of everything and taste a variety of dishes. A dish is good enough to share but I still order solo portions of food and just pass them around to share. I like getting little portions of several dishes rather than stuffing myself full with just one dish.

Oh and before I end this, you really must get dessert.

When Nutella meets French Pastries

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When Amaya, one of my pole instructors, mentioned a little French cafe that serves a super-good amazing nutella donut that's hardly stingy with the filling, I waited for the right time to try one for myself. After my shoot at LRI plaza yesterday, I knew that I had to take a mini-detour to Makati Ave to search for this cafe for myself. Since it was a tiny, tiny cafe, it would be easy to miss so I kept my eyes peeled and open. Luckily, Amaya mentioned to me that it was near Jolibee and I spotted the Jolibee already while trying to find the U-turn that would take me there. And here, right smack at the boundary that separates Makati Central Business District from the red light district like a little oasis that is Paris Delice.

Paris Delice would be a little cafe with yummy colors of cream and chocolate brown in a clean architecture with clean lines that spells elegant simplicity. It's really quite small, with only a little number of chairs and tables, and on a Saturday afternoon, we have it really quiet, which is a refreshing change from the overcrowded coffee shops in the mall or dotting practically the Metro.

In the mini-pastry display, I was able to spot the nutella donut, which could be pricey at Php85.00 a piece but I was told that each penny would be worth it.

Just like Paris Delice's interiors, it's a simple filled donut with no glaze or garnishings. This is it heated on the microwave (low until just warm or else it
would dry and burn). Pretty simple...

Until you stick a fork and take a bite and see all the hazelnut filling flow like gold. Definitely generous with the filling. Since nutella is sweet enough, The dough was kept bland so as not to overpower the senses. Love how good it is and so that no drop of nutella goes to waste, spread a bit of nutella on the bread.
Another thing to love about Paris Delice is free WiFi! Well, all places should be free WiFi anyway! Will I go back here? I just did. In fact, I texted Amaya and told her how much I loved the Nutella Donut and she said she was just there too that afternoon. On another chance that I'll be passing by the area, I know just where to go.

Paris Delice is located at No 1. Juno St. Corner Makati Avenue, Makati City. It's located right beside Jollibee and outside a blue Bel Air 2 Village gate.