TT’s Tiempo

The Philippines has been bereft of hawker culture to the great disappointment of backpackers everywhere, but filling in that gap is the food park. What began as pop-ups is becoming a full blown culture. Yes, it’s normally food borrowed from American culture but it’s good enough for us locals. But yesterday, to our big surprise, one of our couple friends opened up their first hawker stall called TT’s Liempo. What is liempo? I guess the closest way to describe liempo is porkchop on a grill. Plus they add eggplant, salted egg, tomato and bagoong (shrimp paste). Slather it with vinegar and soy sauce. And top it off on rice and you’re good to go. I had two Jumbo TT bowls, one classic and one adobo (which is the classic Filipino fish).

TT’s Liempo is located on 25B Bayani Road in the Hole in One Food Hub in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.
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State of the Restaurant Nation

Poblacion

Z Hostel, Lokal Hostel, Junction Hostel, MNL Boutique Hostel, Our Melting Pot Hostel, Hilik Hostel Poblacion now blows Malate out of the water.

Cheap rent, red light district, rundown area, near the business centers that are Rockwell and Makati, it was inevitable that this would become a backpacker area.

Throw in the easy to find Century City Mall and the nearby Power Plant Mall (Rockwell) and you have a winner.

And if that wasn’t enough, throw in the same conditions that make it a backpacker area and you have a restaurant incubator.

Start with the easy to find Hole in the Wall on top of Century City Mall.  It’s like a restaurant incubator in the land of restaurant incubators.  It even has a bar that serves all the different Philippine craft beers.  Which makes it a craft beer incubator in a restaurant incubator in the land of restaurant incubators.

My hands down favorite craft beer of the moment is Single Speed Stout by Turning Wheels and Drop Zone by Nipa Brew, but I like the dark beers.

Venture out to Makati Ave., and above Starbucks you’ll find Hummus Elijah, the number one restaurant on Tripadvisor Metro Manila.  And it’s not some hotel buffet or high end restaurant.  It’s an Israeli backpacker-friendly restaurant that serves really good hummus, grilled mozzarella sandwiches, falafel and authentic Turkish coffee.

Okay, now I’m going to get going…

In Century Plaza Mall

Toby’s – best craft coffee

IHOP – International House of Pancakes

Early Bird Breakfast Club – breakfast

Fully Booked – a bookstore, not a restaurant, look for Filipino komiks like Trese

12 Monkeys – listen to now classic alternative Filipino rock

Rustan’s Supermarket – stock up on your toiletries

Ace Hardware – never make “suntukan” here

movie theaters – in case you want to catch something you’ve missed

There’s a money changer in here somewhere, too. Czarina’s.

In Power Plant Mall

taho – street dessert being served out of giant aluminum cans in the middle of the main basement hallway

Via Mare – classic Filipino afternoon snacks, get the palabok for a meal, get their bibingka for dessert

Milky Way – halu-halo, another classic Filipino dessert

Fully Booked – a bookstore, but this one has a coffeeshop

Jollibee – when in the Philippines…

Travel Club – backpack broken? get a new one here

True Value – hardware store

movie theaters – in case you want to catch something you’ve missed

There’s a money changer in here somewhere, too.

Outside Power Plant Mall

Rambla – pricey but tasty Catalan food, get their steak tartar

Ooma – new Japanese food, uni noodles

Refinery – craft beer, craft coffee, single malt whiskeys, gin, brunch

Single Origin – same, same but different of Refinery

Tajimaya – Korean BBQ, very tasty

On Kalayaan Ave.

Kismet Cafe – local coffee

Howzat Sports Bar – sports bar

Bar Mathilde – craft cocktail bar

East of Kalayaan Ave.

Z Hostel has an actual rooftop bar, a good place to meet other backpackers

Bucky’s – Swedish meatballs

Alamat – more local craft beer

Crying Tiger – if you haven’t had enough Indo-Chinese food

Kanto Freestyle Breakfast – We eat rice with our breakfast!

Holy Smokes – barbecue

Oto – craft cocktail bar

Tilde Cafe – breakfast

West of Kalayaan Ave.

El Chupacabra – the classic street taco

Tambai – Filipino street food

Senor Pollo – chicken

Handlbar – cheap steak on weekends

A’Toda Madre – also great Mexican food and tequila

Commune – craft coffee

Bean & Yolk – eggs Benedict

Le Cafe Curieux – like a transplanted Boracay bar

Jupiter St.

Hoping – Korean ice dessert

Ludo – board game restaurant

Lazy Bastard – craft hotdogs and hamburgers

ABV – “hidden” bar inside Lazy Bastard

Mitsuyado Sei-mean – double cheese sauce on noodles

Razon’s – classic Filipino snacks, try their pancit luglug and of course, their halo-halo

Sweet Ecstasy – craft hamburgers

Whistestop – 24-hour restaurant

Special mention

Paris Delice – French breakfast on Makati Ave.

Biggest open secret on Kalayaan Ave.

You can’t miss it, as you walk down Kalayaan Ave.  I don’t want to spoil it for you.  Seedy, but never fails to get a chuckle.

Warning

Poblacion area and Kalayaan Ave is still a red light district with corrupt third world cops, scams, dirty money changers.  Be careful when on the street.

BGC (formerly known as Fort Bonifacio)

Tomatito – the best tapas in the Philippines

Bar Pinxtos – the second best tapas but just as good

WildFlour – the best brunch restaurant in the Philippines

Farmacy – craft ice cream right beside WildFlour

Pink’s – hotdogs imported from L.A.

Hotel Bar – bar hidden inside Pink’s, has local craft beers

Krispy Kreme – doughnuts imported from America

Fully Booked – the mothership of Philippine bookshops

R.O.X. – if you need to stock up on outdoor recreational stuff

Market, Market – a rundown mall where you can buy pearls and knock-offs

Halal Guys – food truck imported from New York!

Nathan’s – hotdogs imported from Chicago

Nadai Fujisoba – best cold ramen imported from Japan

LIT – a real Japanese whiskey bar

Manam’s – if you have to eat just one Filipino dish, try their sisig with chicharron

Uptown Mall

Ippudo – ramen imported from Japan

Harry’s – meatpies imported from Australia

Horton’s – diner imported from Canada

Naxional – South American food

There is a club somewhere here…

Interestingly enough, a Filipino bought Dalmore, which means you can now get the best single malt Dalmores here.

Greenbelt & Glorietta

Landmark – the best grocery in the city, cheap and complete

Llaollao  – yogurt imported from Spain

Manam’s – if you have to eat just one Filipino dish, try their sisig with chicharron

Salcedo Village

every Saturday, they have the Saturday morning market

Mendokoro Ramenba – the best local ramen

Koku – cute Japanese food, get there oyster with papaya appetizer

Wildflour – brunch

Legaspi Village

every Sunday, they have the Sunday morning market, I like Warung Warung Indonesian food

Bondi&Bourke – Australian food, real good meat pies

Union Jack – haggis

Bliss Yoga – great yoga place

Wildflour – brunch

Nightlife

20/20 – the current trendiest bar of the moment

Black Market – clubbing for kid set

Finders Keepers – the second trendiest bar beside Black Market

By the way, all these three are walking distance of each other.

And since we are on Chino Roces (Pasong Tamo) already, we might as well walk down to

Chino Roces Ext. (Pasong Tamo Ext.) where you will find…

Silverlens – a gallery for photography lovers

The Smoking Joint – barbecue in a chic setting

Tokyo Power Rice – rice topped with beef and cheese

Toby’s – their main branch

24-hour Japanese

Isshin

Alabang

Yushoken – great local ramen

Elbert’s Sandwiches – Philly cheesesteak

Bacolod for Beginners (and the semi-advanced)

I wrote this entry exactly one year ago when I was getting married. So, anyway, this information is still current but I have some additions because we have returned one year later.

Bacolod for Beginners

First of all, L’Fisher has opened an Econotel right beside the original L’Fisher.

Secondly, I was remiss in mentioning the Art District in Lopues Mandalagan. It has a high concentration of bars and even a club called Oil.

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And finally my new favorite dessert place is called Anna Co. They have Snickers cheesecake which is so my taste. They have a branch in the Shakey’s across Avenue Suites but the original one is all the way in Silay. Both coffee shops are decorated with the work of Negrense artist Charlie Co, Anna’s husband.

Uno Morato and Komikon

     Pop on over to Uno Morato to get a glimpse of the burgeoning Pinoy komiks! scene in the Philippines.  Founded by three komiks! creators themselves, they fill the need for those of us who need a fix of komiks! in between Komikons, which by the way will be happening this Saturday at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig on November 15, 2014.

     The komiks! scene continues to flourish.  Tabi Po vol. 2 will be out.  Gabrielle Chee Kee of Parokya ni Edgar fame brings their Mang Jose character to life, a superhero who forks over a bill once he has rendered his superhero services.  Trese 6 is coming, but will miss the Komikon, to come out on 12/13/14, an auspicious date.  (Btw, did you know the six Trese covers combine to make a giant Trese portrait!  Awesome.)

      And finally, Fully Booked is now selling Meganon comics beside/s Visprint.

      Onward and upward, the golden age of Pinoy Komiks! 🙂

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* Uno Morato is located at the building at the corner of E. Rodriguez and Tomas Morato (beneath World Class Persian Kabab).  There’s lots of parking if you drive behind it, where you will actually find Uno Morato.

* Komikon is at the Bayanihan Center in the Unilab Compound at Pioneer corner United St. in Pasig.  There is also a lot of parking.

Oslob Cebu

Let me get this out of the way first, the cheapest way to probably get to Oslob is to take a Ceres bus from Cebu City and pay P500 to snorkel with the whale sharks when you get there (P1000 if you’re a foreigner).

Now let me tell you how we got there. First we got in touch with Island Trek Tours. Their website http://www.oslobwhalesharks.com is the first that pops up when you Google Oslob diving. They will contact you and then you have to deposit a down payment (50% of cost ) to their bank account.

We then booked our own accommodations separately. We chose to stay at The Henry Hotel which was excellent for two nights.

One of Island Trek’s drivers Rolly picked us up at 6AM the next day. It took us only two and a half hours to get to Oslob so we really could’ve left at 7AM. When we got there a girl named Elise took care of us. She asked for the rest of the payment (P900 cheaper per person if you’re a local!) and then we sat through an orientation. Don’t touch the whale sharks or wear sunblock because it will disturb the whale sharks!

We then went to the scuba dive guide (P500 less if you have your own gear whether you are a local or a foreigner). His briefing maximum depth 7m because, well, that’s the bottom of the floor. And the big news, you can spend 40-45 mins. with the whale sharks. This is what makes scuba diving worth it. First of all you avoid the hordes of people and secondly you get more than the allotted 30 mins. And there were only two other dive duos and one individual with us plus their dive guides.

After 50 minutes and still half our air left, we went back to shore. We were then shuttled off by Rolly and Elise to Tumalog Falls which is surprisingly worth it (and part of the package tour). Just be ready for a harrowing (helmet-less!) motorcycle ride. (Better than walking!)

Then back to lunch. By the way we also had a free breakfast of mango, sticky rice and hot chocolate before the dive. Lunch was very substantial. Kinilaw (raw vinegared fish), tinapa (smoked fish) chicken (with tomato sauce), soup, vegetables, and rice plus a soda or bottled water of your choice.

We got back to our hotel by 4PM. All in all satisfied with our trip.

Now the moral dilemma. Do the whale sharks look fine? They seem to be… But for the more eco-friendly traveller I would definitely suggest Donsol.

The Henry Hotel — The best boutique hotel in the country so far?

Maya at Crossroads strip mall — The king of Cebuano restaurants (They serve Mexican food.) The jam packed Fat Pho is also in this strip mall.

Canvas at Ayala Center — They have an Australian beef pie floating in gravy topped with green pea mash! Something I was looking for in Australia that I never found.

Taxi tip — Cebu taxi drivers surprisingly switch on their meters as soon as you board the cabs (175 pesos to the airport).

Tabi Po by Mervin Malonzo

will be a watershed comic for the Filipino Komiks scene. The first Filipino full color comic I have ever heard of, Tabi Po combines aswangs, comedy, depth, artistry and what’s even more amazing is it’s free (online). Come to the Summer Komikon this Saturday at the Bayanihan Center in the Unilab Compound in Pasig. Welcome to the Golden Age (of Filipino Komiks!)

Tabi Po is now available at Fully Booked and Powerbooks.