Archive for the ‘exotic food’ Category

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.

Boka Boka: A haven for desserts & authentic Chamorro cuisine

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Parrot fish eskabeche

THE newly opened Boka Boka, (or Eat Eat!) is the island’s newest destination when the craving for sumptuous local desserts and authentic Chamorro cuisine hits you.

My out-to-eat buddy and I skipped breakfast and lunch and it was already past 4 p.m. on Saturday when we headed to Boka Boka to see what everybody has been crazy about the past few days.

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katdun katni

Hunger helps you make fast decisions and I ordered the first two items that caught my attention from the rectangular one page menu that I grabbed from the counter—the katdun katni and eskabeche. I was expecting the katdun katni to a something like beef curry but I was wrong. It turned out to be hot beef soup with vegetable slices, and came with two scoops of steamed rice, a small dish of sliced cucumbers, finadene sauce and hot pepper dipping. Red rice was an option which I didn’t fancy.

We dug into our food without waiting for the eskabeche, which came when we were halfway through our late-breakfast/lunch/ early dinner. The eskabeche was a medium-sized parrot fish swimming in coconut milk and topped with vegetables. We made short work of it too in world record time.?????? `

We were almost finished when restaurant owner Marianne Conception’s niece served us two scoops of red rice that changed my total outlook of this traditional Chamorro food. I have never been overly enthusiastic about red rice but the Boka Boka has exactly what I wanted. It was not oily at all and there were no stuff mixed with it. I still managed to (almost) finish the red rice although I was stuffed.

Marianne served us a small sampler platter of chicken kelaguen which my companion finished very fast, and the most popular dessert Boka Boka has to offer—freshly baked cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting. Our whole meal at $21.95 was a good bargain.?????? `

People who don’t have time to cook or just want to picnic out can avail of the Boka Boka BTG special where for $15, you get one whole Rottisserie chicken, rice enough for three to four people, and salad. Just call and you can pick it up, or if you prefer to eat it at the restaurant, just throw in an additional $5 for the BTG. A wide selection of breakfast bento or meal packs is also available early in the morning, as well as daily breakfast specials including Chamorro fried rice or toast, eggs, bacon and more with coffee or tea; waffles, grilled toast or mini-breakfasts.

Other must-try desserts which you can pick up anytime from their shelves for various occasions include their ‘Better than Sex’ cake or Fa’um cake, velvet cake, rum cake, angel cake, cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, cream puffs, Pavlova, parfaits, strawberry shortcake, Guyuria, Rosketti, Rosku, donuts, and more.

?????? `Marianne said Boka Boka is a family-run restaurant with her family members helping out in the kitchen and counter. Boka Boka is located at the Morgen Building in Oleai, formerly Mitsue’s Restaurant. ?????? `

They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays, and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Only cash is accepted for now. Also check out Marianne’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/marianne.teregeyo to get updates on the daily specials so you can just place your calls and pick the goodies up. For inquiries or reservations please call 235-BOKA (2652).

First published at the Marianas Variety’s Out to Eat section.

Saipan’s Volcano Bar rises

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fish fillet

FROM an abandoned structure sitting idle for some time rose the island’s homegrown volcano right in the Garapan, nestled between the DFS Galleria and I Love Saipan malls.

A buddy and I hurried to the Volcano Bar on Wednesday past 1 p.m. for a late lunch, hoping we could still catch up with the lunch hour. It was scorching hot outside but when you push open the heavy wooden door of Volcano Bar, you will be greeted with a relaxing coolness that makes you want to stay forever, or at least until it gets cooler outside.??

We headed to one of the bamboo sofa sets inside and browsed through the two laminated menus the food staffer handed us. There were no more diners as it was almost closing time but we were still accommodated.

From the Volcano Bar specials menu I decided to try the Volcano’s version of Fillet of Fish while my lunch buddy ordered the beef curry.??

Shortly after, the food staffer served a rectangular plateful of fresh green salad, followed by a bowl of mushroom soup topped with croutons. I pushed the salad to my lunch buddy and started on the soup, stopping when the bowl was half-empty. I had to wait for my fish fillet, or else I’d be too full.

The fish fillet—three flaky succulent slices of fish in classic crunchy coating it, was served on a bed of sautéed tomatoes and vegetables and sprinkled with chopped greens for added flavors. The sauce was a perfect dip for the fillet, and I found myself scraping my fish on the sides of the plate to get all the flavors. I ordered at serving of rice to go with my fish fillet. My order also came with a glass of iced tea, not bad for $9.

Served on a round platter, my buddy’s beef curry includes crispy beef cutlets on top of a serving of steamed rice and the curry filling up over a third of the plate. I am not much of a curry lover but I took a spoonful of it to taste, then another and another. It was good, without the usually strong flavors and aroma of curry that I always associate curry with.??

Other must-try dishes in the Specials menu are seafood fry, seafood curry, spinach-bacon carbonara, clam spaghetti with toast, pasta Mentaiko with salad, Caesar salad and chili mushroom spaghetti with toast, all from $8 to $12 per order.

Volcano Bar’s appetizers range from $6 to $9 including chicken wings, chili beef, potato wedge, tortilla chip, onion rings, squid rings, tuna poke, galic octopus and seared diced tuna with tomato.

One best feature when you dine and drink at the Volcano Bar is airy, comfortable ambiance it provides. You can sink in the deep cushions of the bamboo sofas and enjoy happy hours drinking. The Volcano Bar is like an indoor garden, with a mix of native decorations including bamboo seats and tables, thatched ceiling giving you the feel of being inside a native hut. The French windows give diners a view of what’s going on in the busy street outside.??

For those who just want to stop by for a quick coffee or a drink or two, the bar is the best place to hang out, or in one of the two tables shaped like beer barrels and stools near the door.

As an option, you can also occupy the tables outside the bar if you want to be in the open-air.?????? H

Volcano Bar serves lunch from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and happy hours are from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. everyday. Cards are accepted. For inquiries or reservations please contact familybldg@gmail.com or call K Family LLC at 989-6242.

First published at the Marianas Variety Out to Eat Section.

Amigo’s: Your pizza and BBQ stop on Saipan

*?A SUDDEN craving for pizza led me and a companion to Amigo’s Pizza and BBQ in Garapan on Saturday night. It was past 8 p.m. and I was heading to the Las Vegas Night at Fiesta Resort but decided to have a quick meal.
Amigo’s used to be a purely pizza parlor located on Beach Road but it relocated to its current location last year and expanded its menu which now includes BBQ and pasta.Only one table was occupied by a couple when we came in, and we learned that the place would close at 9 p.m.We sat at the one of the three tables on the mezzanine where we got the full blast of cold air from the A/C unit.?? HA cheerful food staffer brought us menus and I immediately ordered a regular Hawaiian pizza. My companion was hungry and went for the BBQ set meal.

Soon, my pizza arrived. It was a crispy thin crust coated with cheese and bits of bacon and pineapple slices. I dug into it and vowed to finish at least half of the eight slices of pizza but stopped at two and a half. I was full already.?? H

Meanwhile, the BBQ set was brought to our table on a wide tray. It consisted of a small plate of green salad, a dish of pickled papaya, soup, a serving of rice, and the BBQ on a sizzling plate — grilled pork, chicken, beef slices and hotdogs.

I took a bite off one end of the chicken barbeque and pushed it aside. If you love garlic, then go for it. The flavor of the rich marinade permeated into the very core of the meat. I am not fond of garlic.*?

We only finished half of our orders and had to take the rest home.

Amigo’s pizza choices include regular or large ranch pepperoni pizza, chicken Alfredo, seafood, meat lover’s pizza, double cheese, bacon and ham, Italian sausage, combination pizza (beef, ham, pepperoni, red and green bell peppers, mushroom, olive and onions), salad pizza, spicy shrimp, bulgogi and BBQ pizza. If you want to add more toppings, just pay an additional $2 per topping.

Check out Amigo’s assorted BBQ sets: lobster, crabs, mussel, shrimp, salmon with lemon butter, chicken, pork belly, or go for the meat and seafood combo. Amigo’s also serves hamburger, sirloin, rib-eye and tenderloin steak

A selection of salads and appetizers is also available: potato or tossed salad, seafood or grilled chicken salad.

Lunch specials include hamburger steak, carbonara seafood or meat sauce spaghetti, and assorted BBQ sets from $7.50 to $12.99 price.*?

Amigo’s Pizza & BBQ is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner every day. For orders or inquiries, drop by Amigo’s Pizza & BBQ next to the Wax Museum near Winchell’s on Orchid Street in Garapan or call 233-PIZA (7412) or 989-3694.

First published at the Marianas Variety here

Cozy dining at Tinian Dynasty’s buffet restaurant

IMG_8406FROM a huge conference hall that can house 800 guests, the Tinian Dynasty Casino and Hotel ballroom has been transformed into a buffet restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.IMG_8416
It offers an all-you-can eat selection of international cuisine — Western, Chamorro, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Filipino favorites.Make as many trips as you can to the bread/cereal section for a bite of freshly baked bread and your favorite cereals.There’s also the noodle and main buffet sections as well as the dessert station which offers fresh fruit in season, heavenly cakes and pies prepared by the expert culinary team of food and beverage manager Geoffrey Jones Garcia and sous chef Ramon Apostol comes up for the diners.1 dessert station

With its centralized air-conditioning system, the spacious red, white and gold restaurant allows for a very comfortable yet affordable dining experience.

It’s a place where you get to eat with hundreds of other diners from all walks of life — a nice way to meet people without having to travel far and spend more. It’s where you can feel at home.IMG_8431

At the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, you have other options for an unforgettable culinary journey: Sagano, Dynasty Court, Casino Café & Roulette Bar, Monster Pizza, BBQ Pit and a 24-hour room service.??

The ballroom buffet is open for breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner every day except Wednesday and Sunday.IF

For inquiries and reservation, call Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino at 328-2233 or visit http://www.tinian-dynasty.com/.

First published at the Marianas Variety here

Delectable all-day meals at the Broadway Restaurant

breakfast menu

Breakfast Menu

 DINING at the Broadway Restaurant of the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is nothing new. I’ve been there countless times in the past five years but this time, it was different. Gone were the hundreds of diners who come in for the buffet breakfasts and lunches. We were there for dinner for the first time, after the Broadway was transformed into an ala carte restaurant.

Attentive staffers supervised by Executive Sous Chef Ramonsito Apostol came to assist me and my dinner buddies Chell, Geoffrey and his family.

dinner menu

Dinner Menu

The Broadway Restaurant dinner is a destination fit for someone who has been starving for the whole day. For $15 per person, you can have a feast from the cold selection bar—Caesar Salad, mixed greens, macaroni, potato salad, coleslaw, selection of daily seafood, cheese platter and cold cut meats; Western or Asian soup of the day, bottomless coffee or tea, and a feast of the most tempting desserts in the island.

From the ala carte, we tried the Certified Angus steaks—heavenly slices of Filet Mignon, 8-oz Rib-eye and sirloin steak dripping with mushroom sauce or black pepper sauce and served with mashed potatoes or steamed rice. Spear into the succulent slices of the medium rare beef with its pleasantly tender texture with its marinade penetrating far into the meat and leaving you craving for more.

You should also try the grilled pork chop, grilled lamb chop and island style fried chicken.

I ordered the Catch of the Day, grilled slices of unagi served with steamed rice and tartar sauce. I also ordered finadeni sauce and we all traded slices of each other’s dishes.

Lunch Menu

Lunch Menu

The dessert station is a temptation bar by itself. Not exactly a dessert lover myself, I was surprised to find all the items not that sweet.

The feast was not over. At noon the next day, Chell and I headed to the Broadway Restaurant again to try the Continental Breakfast which is $15 per person and includes an eat all you can breads and pastries, cold selection, a Japanese Corner where you can get your fill of steamed rice, grilled fish, miso soup with tofu and seaweed, pickles and takwang, and bottomless fruit juices, coffee or tea from the beverage section.

For ala carte you can go Western or Asian. We tried the egg set with you can get any style with a choice of bacon, ham or sausage and served with your choice of hash brown potato, toast, the waffle which became my instant favorite, and the pancake,

For other choices you can go Asian and try the rice congee with choice of chicken, pork, beef or Century egg, the chicken fried noodles or fried vermicelli, or wonton noodle soup.

We also ordered some items from the lunch menu like the beef brisket and the fried rice which, unlike any other fried rice, tasted so good it was a full meal by itself. The salted fish was rarely visible—thin strips mixed into the fried rice but you can taste it in the flavor.

Your $10 lunch gives you free access to an all you can eat selections at the salad bar, Western or Asian soup of the day and bottomless coffee or tea.

salad, cold cuts and desert bar

salad, cold cuts and desert bar

Try the Western ala carte menu and order pasta, the Baccarat Burger or the Club Sandwich, chicken fried vermicelli, Wonton noodle soup.

Chef Ramon said diners who order anything from the ala carte menu automatically get a 50 percent discount for the breakfast, lunch and dinner prices. That means

Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino executive sous chef Ramon Apostol

Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino executive sous chef Ramon Apostol

Tinian Dynasty Food & Beverage manager Geoffrey Jones Garcia said they will be making changes in the menu every now and then, and invites the community to try their mouthwatering dishes at very affordable prices.*?

The Broadway Restaurant opens for breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

For inquiries and reservations, please call Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino at 328-2233 or visit their website at http://www.tinian-dynasty.com/.

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