Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's new: The UP Town Center

UP town center opened its doors to the public probably a month ago.  This is the new hip and up coming go to place for people on this other side of Manila.  It must be a joy to the students of UP, Miriam, and Ateneo that there is a mall nearby and probably an additional traffic nightmare for those living there.  It is being developed by Ayala Land Inc (ALI).  It will be a mixed development with retail shops, restaurants, and offices.

Currently, they have a number of restaurants and cafes already operating and the only retail store that I was able to see was Cotton On.  The restaurants that I saw that were already operational are Ba Nois, Highlands Cafe, Steveston Pizza, Vanilla Cupcake Bakery, Ryu ramen & curry, Tokyo Tonteki,  IHOP (yes, without the long line), Ginza Bairin (which was my purpose of going there, more on that on a separate post), Tea rock Milk tea cafe, Dulcelin Gourmet, Boon Tong Kee, Salu salo, 8 Cuts Burger Blend, Liberty New York Steakhouse,  Casa Verde, Pinac, the Primary Kitchen bar, Kos Greek  Quzeri, and Red Onion Cafe.

It was a good thing that we arrived early.  We did it on purpose so that we could secure a parking space.   Honestly, if you go there during peak hours, I doubt if you will be able to park.  They only have two small uncovered parking spaces on the sides of the mall.  So, in case you are planning to dine there, better if you go during the lean hours or weekdays.  But I hope they will soon have a bigger parking lot, especially with all the restaurants there.

Similar to the other Ayala developments, the UP town center also utilizes a lot of open space.  I like the idea of open space, especially if you have children who love to wander and run.  However, it may not be too toddler friendly during the rainy season and at this time since it is still not yet fully developed.  I also find  the restaurants in front close to the main road.  So, imagine me panting and running after R because he might go straight to the road. There were plants separating the pedestrian pavement from the main road alright, but I think they can put a fence or something.   Well, maybe that is the 'praning' (paranoid) mom in me, but better be safe than sorry.  My son really runs so fast, so those are the things that run in my mind.  

Anyway, I am pretty sure that this place will be another foodie's haven.  I am sure to go back soon, weekly perhaps, to try out all the restaurants out there!

P.S.  Sorry I have no pictures of the complex to show you.  I was busy running after my two year old.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Toddler Activity : Build a tree

During my me time last week, I spent around an hour at True Value looking for things that I can use for R's activity time.  Honestly, I have been running out of ideas on indoor activities lately.  R loves the outdoors and playing with water, but we are not able to do that as often because of the rain.  I was excited to see a lot of items on sale.  One of the things that I saw was this Build a Cling Christmas tree at 50% off.  For P50 it was definitely a steal.  Since Christmas is around the corner I thought of doing an activity with R where he could build his own tree using these removable stickers.  Boy, did he have fun sticking it on the mirror.  Now, everytime he enters his room, he would proudly point at the Christmas tree that he decorated.  I should probably hoard some more Build a Cling for future activities!

                  This is how it should look like.

                              R is also into stickers, so this activity was very timely.

   Half way through the activity and R's tree is looking good!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mommy cooks : Fishballs with home made sauce ala Manong's

Fishballs are one of the most popular street foods here in Manila.  I remember back in my highschool, there was a Fishball vendor that was always swarmed with people - from students to Yayas to drivers.  Everyone simply enjoyed it, seemingly taken away by what is known as  Manong's secret sauce.  When I was in collge, we would sometimes troop to UP (University of the Philippines) for our fishball fix.  That was some years ago when the internet was still not that accessible and only those street vendors knew about that sweet sauce.

A couple of months back, there were several posts in FB on Manong's secret sauce.  Obviously, it has gone viral and that secret is not a secret anymore!  I did not immediately try out the recipe since I am trying to veer away from too much oily food.  But my dear husband, who is a sucker for Filipino street food (Isaw, kwek-kwek, BBQ, etc) has been bugging me to cook Fishballs.  And so, I finally gave in today and scoured the net for that magical sauce.  The net has a lot of entries on this and most of the recent ones have the same recipe.  Honestly, I do not know who I should credit for this recipe, but whoever you are, thank you for spreading the love. 

It was a sure hit and my husband loved it so much.  I think he went on a fishball binge! 

Without further adieu, here is the recipe to Manong's fishball sauce which I kind of tweaked to suit my taste.  

1 small white onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced (original recipe calls for 2)
3 T cornstarch (original recipe just calls for 2)
2 T flour (I actually used oat flour, but it still tasted good)
3/4 c brown sugar
4 c water
4T soy sauce
1 silli labuyo, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Dissolve the cornstarch, flour, soy sauce and sugar in the water.  (Make sure that the water is not hot).
2. Once dissolved, bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally.
3. Lower heat and put the onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Let the sauce simmer until you get your desired consistency. 
5. Serve with fired Fishballs, squid balls or even kikiam.

Mommy Eats : Chef Tatung at Acacia Estates

I have been hearing and reading good reviews about Chef Tatung.  As you know, I love good deals, that's why I subscribe to groupons.  I came across Chef Tatung's anniversary promo in Ensogo and grabbed the opportunity to finally try out this restaurant.

Tatung's Garden Cafe  became a hit a few years back when Chef Myke Sarthou opened his home for private dinners in Quezon City.  However, by word of mouth, people started to flock his place and it became a foodie's haven.  Tatung's Garden Cafe was then opened to the public.

A year ago, Chef Mike opened his new restaurant in Taguig.  It is located in the sprawling property of the DMCI group called Acacia Estates.   For this restaurant,  he  concentrated on serving Filipino heirloom dishes.

Going to Chef Tatung was quite a travel for us, coming from the LA, aka lower Antipolo (lol) especially on a Saturday.  However, when you get to Acacia Estates, it's pretty easy to spot the restaurant. Set amidst the low rise condominiums and some greenery, it automatically feels like you are far away from the city.  Upon entering the restaurant, you are greeted by Filipino arcticrafts and furniture.  The dining hall is huge but still gives a homey feel.  There was also a big function room to the right of the main wing where they hold their Sunday buffet and Sugbahan. 

We quickly scoured the menu to place our orders.  There were some items though that we're not available like the Lumpiang ubod, Lemongrass Chicken Relleno and Sago't gulaman.  We settled for the Tamarind Glazed Butterfly tilapia, Pokipoki Gratin, Binagoongang Pork Skewers, and Tatung's Fried Rice.  For dessert, we ordered  the Warm Tsoknut Chocolate Cake and the Pichi-pichi with Quezo de bola.  

Among all the food that we ordered, what stood out was the Pokipoki Gratin and Chef Tatung's rice.  Pokipoki is an Ilocano cuisine.  I love Chef Tatung's version of this with layers of vigan longganisa, eggplant, egg, tomatoes, and carabao mozarella cheese.  Mouth watering, indeed!  Tatung's fried rice on the other hand reminds me of Kiampung Rice (Chinese fried rice cooked in Pork Stew).  It was so good and filling and was already a meal itself.   For the dessert, both had a unique taste and were really good.  My son devoured the Warm Tsoknut Chocolate Cake like there was no tomorrow, that's why I was not able to get a picture of it because I was stopping him from eating it too fast!  The Pichi-pichi with Quezo de Bola blew me away.  It has a different texture compared to the other Pichi-Pichi's out there.  It is slimy and that's what made it perfect!  The melted Quezo de Bola  gave it a different twist. I was totally sold!

I cannot wait to go back to Chef Tatung soon and try out the famous Slow Roasted Lechon Belly and another serving or two of that Pichi-pichi!    

Chef Tatung's Garden Cafe is part of  Manila's 115 Restaurants we love.

Facade of Chef Tatung at Acacia Estates.

R checking out the banga at the entrance.
Spacious dining area.
Chef Tatung.
The ladies' washroom mirror.

Love the mix and match chairs.

Our Saturday Lunch.

The very filling Tatung's fried rice.
You have to try the Pokipoki Gratin.
Chicken Inasal
Tamarind Glazed Butterfly tilapia
Binagoongang Pork Skewers.

Pichi Pichi with Quezo de Bola is bliss!
Now this is what you call a super highchair.  Nice concept, but it was way too high and is pretty unsafe for the kids.

R and my niece on the mini stage.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mommy finds: my favorite pregnancy lotion

One of the things that a lot of pregnant women are weary about would be stretch marks.  One of the things that I cannot live without when I am pregnant is Mothercare's it's your body stretch mark cream.  I totally swear by this product and it only costs P350!  I have used this in my two pregnancies and I can only count the number of stretch marks (around five in the tummy area) that I had sustained in my two pregnancies.  To be honest, I felt I was the stretch mark prone kinda preggy woman because I have stretch marks even before I got pregnant (most likely due to some yo-yo dieting back in the days). Ok, that's just TMI!  But I just wanted to share my experience with this cream that has become my best friend and has worked wonders.  Not only is it good to your skin, but to your pocket as well.  Believe me, once upon a time I shelled out P10k for a popular stretch mark cream that didn't work!    

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mommy finds: Jergens' Ultra Healing lotion

One of the things that I do not like when I am prgenant is having super dry skin, leaving me with cracked heels.  I have tried different lotions in the market and it was only Jergens' ultra healing lotion that did the job.  I am so glad I discovered this after 2 years of searching for the product that would solve my nasty cracked heel problem.  To be honest, I was not expecting that it would do the job.  I mean for P90 for 100ml, my expectations were low.  I even got the locally produced Jergens because its imported counterpart that I saw at the grocery store was close to P300!  However, after only three days of using it, I was seeing a difference!  Boy was I amazed and couldn't help but share this new discovery with you!  Cracked heels no more for me! 


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