Food tripping and an adventure, all close to home (or sort of)

I would have never expected that the past two weeks would be fun, and at times very busy. And it is even more amazing that in the span of just two weeks, without really going abroad, or going to a far off province in the North, or island hopping, I was able to go food tripping, and I was able to go on a small roadtrip (twice!)

Since I have already tasted the milk tea from Cha Time, Serenitea and Happy Lemon Tea, I was eagerly waiting for Gong Cha to open at the ground floor of the newest wing of Alabang Town Center. One Saturday morning, while running errands with my sister, we were surprised to see that it was finally open. So after a morning of going around Town Center, groceries in hand, we were able to sit down, relax, and enjoy our milk tea. My sister got the Gong Cha Milk Tea with pearls, while I got the Gong Cha Winter Melon Milk Tea with pearls. What’s amazing about Gong Cha is that among the milk tea shops that I have been to, this is the milk tea place that tastes really close to real tea. It’s simple, and the taste is not too commercial. What was good about my order is that I don’t need to add sugar anymore to my drink, as winter melon (aka kundol) naturally has sugar in it.

Another interesting café that I visited recently was Kopi Roti, which was in Pergola, when we decided to pass by Pergola Mall, and Ruins at BF Paranaque, along Aguirre Ave. My dad gave me a little backgrounder on Kopi Roti, and I was amazed to discover that Kopi Roti actually came from Singapore. I tasted their house specialties- Tea Tarik, which is very similar, but yummier than milk tea, and Kaya Toast, which is somehow reminiscent of the days when I used to toast bread with butter and sugar.

Tea Tarik and Kaya Toast

After a meeting/reunion with a family friend of my Dad’s two Sunday’s ago, we decided to have dinner at one of our favourite restaurants of all time- THE ARISTOCRAT RESTAURANT, where my family and I have very fond memories of bonding with each other, and with my maternal grandmother (may her soul rest in peace). I remember that when I was younger, I would always order their Barbeque Chicken, with Java Rice and Atsara. However, this time, we opted for a more healthy meal, so we ordered Lumpiang Sariwa, Sweet and Sour Fish, and a nice piping hot bowl of Pork Sinigang (my favourite and ultimate comfort food of all time.) A few days after that meeting, my Dad and I ended up in a dinner meeting in another of our favourite restaurants of all time- PANCAKE HOUSE at Paseo de Magallanes.

Lumpiang Sariwa

Aristocrat's Lumpiang Sariwa

Sweet and Sour Fish

Aristocrat's Sweet and Sour Fish

Sinigang

Aristocrat's Sinigang

Pancake House at Magallanes is a place full of memories. When I was younger, years before Paseo de Magallanes and the new Magallanes Church was constructed, we used to eat dinner or lunch out with my maternal grandparents in the really old Pancake House, when the restaurant really looked like I house. For years, I ordered the MMC2 aka the Spaghetti, Taco and Pan Chicken House Special set, but this time, I opted for the Roast Chicken Special Set, which had an open faced Roast Chicken Sandwhich, Macaroni Salad, and of course, the well- loved Pancake House Taco.

Pancake House's Roast Chicken Special Set

Pancake House's Roast Chicken Special Set

Last Wednesday ended up to be a pretty interesting day as we not only went on an impromptu road trip, but ended up with a really amazing lunch. My parents and I went to Cavite as one of my aunts wanted to show us some property that seemed prime in Silang, Cavite. She also showed us her vegetable farm (she has three farms all in all), and gave us some fresh lettuce, and freshly picked green and red bell peppers that were almost as big as an apple. Afterwards, we visited her property at the border of Cavite and Tagaytay, and were astounded at her land, and the amazing Tagaytay view, and we feasted on fresh coconuts. My dad, in particular was really happy, and actually ate coconut meat with a spoon made out of the husk of the coconut. For lunch, we ate at the newly opened P.F. Chang’s at the Alabang Town Center, where one of my second cousins works. We feasted on Calamari, Crab Wantons, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp with Candied Walnuts and Honeydew Melons, Salmon and Singaporean Street Noodles. What is very interesting about this restaurant is that customers can pick if they want their dishes to be gluten free or not. We decided to have everything gluten free, with the exception of the noodles, as they ran out of gluten free Singaporean Street Noodles.

P.F. Chang's Crab Wantons

P.F. Chang's Crab Wantons

P.F. Chang's Calamari

P.F. Chang's Calamari

P.F. Chang's Singaporean Street Noodles

P.F. Chang's Singaporean Street Noodles

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Chicken Wrap

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Chicken Wrap

P.F. Chang's Shrimp with Candied Walnuts and Honeydew Melons

P.F. Chang's Shrimp with Candied Walnuts and Honeydew Melons

P.F. Chang's Salmon

P.F. Chang's Salmon

Last Saturday was another day of adventure for me as two friends and I decided to check out Nuvali in Laguna. We decided to commute, and discovered that it isn’t really a hard and long commute. In fact, in an hour or less, coming from Alabang, commuting or not, you will get there. We decided to go boating, which was basically a ten minute or less boat ride around the man made lake. We watched schools of koi fish coming up to the visitors who feed them food. What is so funny is that when the food is dropped, they really just converge at that spot and try their best to get a piece of food. Somewhat like the rush and the chaos that one feels commuting home via MRT during rush hour in Metro Manila.

Afterwards, we decided to check out the area and find out what other things we can do the next time we visit Nuvali. At around 11 AM, we started getting hungry, and decided to eat at Uncle Cheffy’s. We ordered their Seafood Lovers Pannizza, which comes with salad greens, alfalfa and tomato salsa. The fun part about this pizza is that you get to roll it up before you eat it. Dessert was a pleasant surprise because we didn’t expect to get full from the dessert (as the Pannizza was light.) I ordered a Chocolate Roulade, which was pretty amazing because it had small cubes of mango all around, and a sprig of fresh mint on top.

Koi

Koi

Uncle Cheffy's Chocolate Roulade

Uncle Cheffy's Chocolate Roulade

Yesterday night was another surprise ‘road trip’, as I accompanied my dad to drop of some things in Quezon City. It was pretty fun because instead of passing C5, like we usually do, we passed through Manila, and I somehow got a fun history and geography lesson interspersed with stories of my Dad’s childhood days as we went through places like Paco, Nagtahan, Sta. Mesa Heights, West Triangle and San Juan. We weren’t able to pass by my Dad’s favourite restaurant, Ma Mon Luk, but we were able to eat a Bibingka Super complete with Muscovado Sugar, Butter and Niyog from a very old Ferino’s establishment.

Ferino's Bibingka Special

Ferino's Bibingka Special

I was pretty surprised that one can have various adventures without really leaving Metro Manila. Laguna and Cavite are only a stone’s throw away from Alabang, so it’s like I got to travel, take in the sights, and eat amazing food without leaving the city, which is also, an amazing way to kick off the summer of 2012. So if you feel like you want to travel without having to spend a lot, do a little research and see what parts of Metro Manila, or what are the nearest places to your home where you can get to have an adventure and eat lots of good food, so that you can enjoy without having to worry about plane fares and spending a lot.

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