Bubba Gump: Shrimpin’ it the way you like it

P1600173SAIPAN—Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the island’s newest food destination opened its doors to the public on June 27, 2016, bringing to Saipan one of America’s icons.

Enter Bubba Gump Shrimp’s doors and you will be stepping into a world-class space, assembled and decorated by Bubba Gump specialists to truly embody the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. spirit and brand. This is a hundred percent true to the highest standards of Landry’s restaurant group, according to Triple J Enterprises marketing manager Iliana Pacheco.

hush puppies

Head out to Bubba Gump Shrimp for your total ‘shrimp and seafood indulgence’ starting off with the Shrimper’s Heaven— hand breaded coconut shrimp with dipping sauces like tangy Asian, cajun marmalade, and zesty cocktail; Seafood Trio of shrimp, veggie and mahi-mahi in a skewer; the award-winning Lt. Dan’s Surf & Turf—baby back ribs slow roasted to perfection and served with succulent grilled shrimp and fries, Shrimp Mac and Cheese which is noodles mixed with sautéed shrimp, assorted cheeses and topped with golden brown breadcrumbs.

Another must-order item in the menu is Forrest’s Seafood Feast of hand breaded fried shrimp, fish and chips, seafood hush pups and served with homemade sauces for dipping—known to be Forrest’s favorite meal after a day on the boat.grilled seafood trio

 To get a total feel of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. watch the movie Forrest Gump (if you haven’t already) and also prepare to answer trivia questions about the movie that the staffers will be asking diners.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Saipan has over 130 staffers to serve diners with mouthwatering menus using a lot of local ingredients. Like the rest of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. outlets all over the country, the restaurant’s walls are plastered with memorabilia, still photos from Forrest Gump movie, story boards, and all kinds of knickknacks Bubba Gump is known for.P1600199

Pacheco said most of the merchandise is unique to Saipan as well as a one-of-a-kind pin that no other Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. brand has.

If you want an out-door Bubba Gump experience, the amazingly large patio is also unique to this location with its state-of-the-art retractable awning. Love shrimp? This is your place.P1600213

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is located at the ground floor of Serenti Hotel in Garapan and they are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday.

 

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Sunshine Café: Dream desserts destination

 

Red Door Fruit Cheesecake

Red Door Fruit Cheesecake

SAIPAN–Bring sunshine into your palates and visit the island’s newest destination to satisfy your cravings for smacking goodness desserts, coffee, organic beverages and healthy food options in hangout you might call your second home.

 

Sunshine Café, located at the Coral Tree Avenue in Garapan issues a warm invitation with its pastel colored walls and comfortable, elegant and homey ambiance.

white chocolate citrus tart

white chocolate citrus tart

I’m not really a biggie on desserts but I can’t stop being curious to check out this new hangout and see what they had to offer.  The chance came unplanned two days after their soft opening. I was a bit hungry but know I couldn’t possibly finish a sandwich so I split one order with one of my buddies. I ordered soda, but one of the food staffers convinced me to try their Pineapple Boost. Albeit a bit steep at $8, it was good and a healthier option than what i originally ordered.

Sunshine Café prides itself on the mouth-watering array of specialty cakes and pastries created from local and imported ingredients, healthy snacks and food to go that caters to the different tastes of customers.

Dig into any or all of the four signature desserts created by Sunshine Café which leaves you with a craving to go back for more—Red Door Fruit Cheesecake, Raspberry Pistachio Macaroons, Chocolate Mandarin Lolly made from dark chocolate imported from Switzerland, and Lemon Citrus Tart—made from dark and white Swiss chocolates. These Sunshine Signature items are just irresistibly inviting from the shelves.

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Pineapple Boost

Try the Red Door Fruit Cheesecake which I learned from the food staffers was inspired nu a restaurant in Beijing located in front of the East Gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing. This is a dessert cheesecake lovers should try.

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Chocolate Mandarin Lolly

Sunshine Café also serves a selection of burgers and sandwiches like Tuna Nicoise, tarragon shallot egg salad and more, pastries, ice cream, homemade milkshakes, cookies in attractive jars and wrappings, and dainty black and white chocolate bites that you can’t ignore from the shelves.

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Sip a tall glass of any of the cold pressed organic juices like Green and Lean, Fruit &Vegetable, Pineapple Boost and Simply Pressed, a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables blended as you order.

The Sunshine Café menu also carries a selection of hot or iced tea including Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, Affogato and Mocha, hot and iced teas, soft drinks and specialty drinks that they are expecting to be a hit with the locals—tropical fruit smoothie, caramel pumpkin spiced latte and Valrhona Sipping Chocolate. Beer, wines and sparkling wine/Champagne is also available.P1420280 2Sunshine Café’s ambiance makes anyone instantly at home, with its fusion of colors and a variety or art works and frames hanging from the walls to the plush sofa sets and brightly lit lamps. It’s a place to hang out and relax after a long day at work, or satisfy your hunger, or just while time away with your favorite drinks.

P1420283Sunshine Café is located beside Winchell’s in Garapan in front of Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.  The Café has started to attract locals and tourists since their soft opening on April 21, 2016. For information or reservation, call 670-233-8300.

Refreshing Bingsu

bingsu

Next to the Philippine’s most popular dessert halo-halo, here is one of my most favorite all-time refresher when the craving hits, which could be anytime. Bingsu is a Korean popular dessert made with shaved ice and topped with different flavors. My favorite at the Zoom Cafe in Susupe is the Coffee Bingsu.

The Coffee Bingsu is served with a scoop of ice cream on top with swirls of caramel which makes every bite heavenly delicious. On top of the shaved ice is a serving of sweet red bean paste and crunchy cereal. Other flavor options at the Zoom Cafe are strawberry bingsu and the red bean bingsu. A must-try when you visit Saipan!

Squid it at the Garapan street market

IF there is one food item that gets the biggest share of attention from tourists and even locals at the Garapan street market on Thursdays, it is at the barbecue stall where guests can order squid and have it grilled with all the ‘fire exhibits.’

Visit the stalls designated for the meat and barbecue section on Thursdays and the sight and smell of whole squid grilling and on fire will lead you there.

For most of the customers, especially the tourists, watching the whole squid getting grilled with flavors and watching it being engulfed in a blaze is more than half the fun.

As soon as someone places an order for grilled squid, a crowd automatically gathers—almost all if not all of them equipped with cameras and video cameras to document the whole grilling process.
In a few minutes, the mouth-watering aroma of grilled squid fills up the air and gets everyone around hungry, enticing more customers to place their orders.

Back when the street market was still at the Coral Tree Avenue in Garapan on Thursdays, the same scene took place—tourists and even locals taking photos and videos of the squid being grilled. The photos and videos have been posted in social media and shared in different parts of the world as the tourists went home to their own countries.

Such a common scene at the street market is rare for others who never had the chance to watch how the food is being prepared. If you haven’t seen the cooks in action, visit the next street market and see how a local island delicacy is making its mark among tourists and the rest of the street market goers. Squid it and Try it!

Pastil: budget meal on a banana leaf

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PASTIL was one of the first food items that I looked for when I finally got back to Davao City last month, after over six years of being away. Pastil is one of the most popular delicacies in Maguindanao and Cotabato, particularly at the public market area and at small roadside restaurants.

It is not that common in Davao City but I remembered a couple of food stalls sell it near Ecoland Bus terminal so off I went scouting for pastil. I found it at a very unlikely place—a bakery. It was on a plastic tray and there were only two pieces left. I bought one for P15 and off I went looking for my favorite partner for the pastil which is hard-boiled egg and soy sauce or better yet bagoong with a piece of sili.

Pastil is steamed rice wrapped in banana leaf and topped with shredded chicken, and one is enough for a regular meal. Maguindanaons serve pastil at any time of the day either as regular meal or snacks, so it is always available the whole day through.pastil2

Sometimes they use shredded fish but I like shredded chicken better, and you can make it extra special by adding slices of hard boiled eggs.

The banana leaf is wilted over hot embers to make it soft and pliant and then folded and sealed on both ends. It resembles suman but only it’s a bigger and flatter version.

It is considered as a budget combo meal especially by the Maguinadaons. If you travel from Davao to Cotabato City, this becomes commonly available in the towns of Matalam, Kabacan, Pikit, Midsayap, Pigcawayan and in Cotabato City.

If you are in non-Muslim areas, try looking for Halal restaurants and chances are pastil is available.

Pastil is best eaten with your hands but I use a spoon and fork. Pastil reminds me of my childhood days when our lunches were packed in banana leaves. It smells so nice, unlike the commercial smell that comes with the Tupperware and disposable lunchboxes people are using nowadays. I’m on my way to look for banana leaves. I’ve already shredded some chicken for a homemade pastil. Want to have some?

Tikod amo: A bite of a monkey’s heel

IMG_0123IT’S usually monkeys who bite people, but if you go to Surigao del Sur, you have a chance to bite a monkey—and right on its heel too.

However is not what you think. Visit Erve’s Fastfood in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and try a rare and exotic dish that has drawn thousands of visitors from different parts of the world to try it.

It was the first day of  our three-day trip to the province of Surigao del Sur and Erve’s Fastfood was our first stop for a very late breakfast.

As expected, a rich seafood feast was set for us on a long table. When we say seafood and you are in Surigao del Sur, think of the biggest crabs, lobsters, prawns, shrimps, slipper crabs, fish, seaweeds and an abundance of the rich marine treasures that only Surigao del Sur can dish out, but there was more to the feast.

At another table were two pairs of rough and spiny shells that Erve’s Fastfood owner Ivy Doguiles have set up, propped with a piece of glass to hold the covering shells in place. It was called Tikod amo, the local dialect term which literally means monkey’s heel is an edible rock oyster found in the deep waters of LianggaBay in Barobo Surigao del Sur. She said it is named Tikud amo because it closely resembles the ankle of an ape.

You cannot see Tikod amo displayed at the shelves or at the fastfood’s daily menu because they are not that easy to get. Doguiles said they are only served to a lucky few people and divers oftentimes go up empty handed because of the dwindling supply of Tikod amo.IMG_0133

Doguiles said it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac, which made the product all the more in demand.

I did not try the raw meat of the Tikod amo she prepared plain for us, but I nibbled on a small piece of the adobo version just to try..

To collect a kilo of Tikod amo meat, she said a diver has to dive at least more than five times and the task involves prying open the shell with a knife, collecting the meat inside and resurfacing before his lungs burst.

Doguiles said her grandfather Moises owned the fastfood which she inherited from her parents, and her grandpa had been preparing Tikod amo using their family recipe even before Tikud amo became popular, and very expensive, surpassing the price of all the other oyster meat available in the market.

Surigao del Sur is known as the “Shangri-La by the Pacific” for its famous attractions including the Britania Islands, Tinuy-an Falls, the ever famous Enchanted River, pristine beaches, caves, waterfalls, and other attractions both manmade and natural but don’t miss the chance to bite a monkey’s heel at Erve’s Fastfood. It might be your only chance before an ape bites you.

Puto Maya and sikwate

  011 - Copy FOR six years, I’ve craved for puto maya and sikwate the way they cook and serve it at the public market in Bankerohan in Davao City, and the craving finally was satisfied one late night at the same place I used to have it before.*?

Puto Maya is one of the all-time Filipino favorite  delicacies made from malagkit or sweet, sticky rice soaked before being cooked with thick coconut milk and mashed roots of ginger. My favorite sidewalk restaurant used to serve it wrapped in banana leaves but banana leaves are becoming a precious commodity in the city and they now serve it on a small plate. I always dip each forkful in a bit of white sugar. Puto maya is something that you can’t have too much of, just a bit every now and then.

And who doesn’t know what sikwate or tsokolate is? It is that thick, rich hot beverage from tablea which comes out best boiled in a batirol, a cast metal shaped like an urn with a wooden stirring rod which you roll in your palms as the sikwate is boiling to get that rich consistency.

I always loved to watch the food server stirring the metal continuously with a wooden batirol, but this time, it was a teenager who served us and he did not stir the tablea the way it was supposed to be. There were no solid bits anyway and it was thick, and besides, I haven’t had a cup for over six years so I was not complainingDSC01721 - Copy.

You do not put too much sugar into the drink or you will lose the natural bitterness of the tablea.A bit of warning—if it is your first time to try tsokolate, be careful because the drink looks so cold in the cup but if you sip it, you might end up with a burned tongue. DSC01728 - Copy When I was a kid, there was this story of a man who sipped on a cup of tsokolate, not thinking that it was so hot. He tried to bear the scorching of his mouth bravely and when he saw that no one was looking, he spitted out the tsokolate right on a plant outside. The plant immediately withered and died right before his eyes.I believed that story as a kid but of course I learned later that was just to emphasize how deceivingly hot a cup of tsokolate is but I never learned that lesson. I still burned my tongue each time I drink tsokolate, and last week was no exemption.

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