Monday, August 12

Phat Phooodtrip: For The Love Of Pho

If you've read the first few posts in this blog, you'll notice that I have this obsession for Vietnamese food, from Pho to their fresh spring rolls, even making my own Pho Ga from scratch. I love how all the herbs and spices combine into a flavorful dish that would certainly knock your socks off.

I have been withholding myself from making reviews on restaurants that I've been to, not because they're not worth the effort (believe me, it takes a huge amount of brainpower to put these things into writing), it's just that I'm too lazy!! However, after last night's culinary experience, I felt the need to make a write up just because it was too good too pass up. Even after 16 hours, my taste  buds are still craving for MORE!

Vietnamese cuisine has it's own distinct flavor. It uses various types of condiments, herbs and spices but still give out a delicate flavor. Most of their ingredients are fresh and If you are one of those health buffs who counts calories, Vietnamese food is a great alternative to your usual salad bar.

I haven't heard of any authentic Vietnamese restos in the city up until a few weeks ago. The Abaca group opened up a restaurant at The Crossroads called PHAT PHO and I have been itching to try the place out since it opened but I didn't have the time to do so. So I was ecstatic to try it out last night with some friends and family.

Phat Pho is a small nook where half of the space is used up by the kitchen and the other half is occupied by bar stools and high tables. The restaurant was like a modern day cafeteria with an industrial vibe that speaks CASUAL in bold letters. It's amazing how they maximized a small space and turned it into a restaurant with modest interiors.

I was impressed with the service. It was speedy, the people were friendly and accommodating. Our orders were already on the table in under five minutes. SUPERB! I thought I had to wait too long.

We decided to have Rice Paper Rolls or fresh spring rolls (pork and shrimp), Pho Xao, Spicy Seafood Pho (which was their specialty of the day), Tender Pork Ribs, Chicken Satay, and I ordered a baguette on the side because a Pho is always best paired with a baguette.

(L-R) Top: pork fresh spring rolls, tender pork ribs, Pho Xao
Bottom: Shrimp fresh spring rolls, Chicken Satay, Spicy Seafood Pho

Pho Xaw is the Vietnamese version of the Phad Thai, but personally,  I like this better. Maybe it's because this dish is a little more delicate and the sauce is just perfect. The spring onions is a plus because I'm such a fan of spring onion. If you love Phad Thai, then you should definitely try this!

Unpretentious, clean, healthy rice paper rolls. Vietnamese fresh spring rolls usually have lettuce, cucumbers, spring onions. cilantro, carrots, pork and shrimp carefully wrapped in rice paper. This dish is refreshing and delicious! If you're on a diet, you can skip the peanut sauce. If you want too check out my version of the fresh spring rolls: Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

I didn't have time to take a photo of the Spicy Seafood Pho because we were already starving, but I have to say it was THE BOMB DOT COM! Their Pho bowls are good for 3-4 people but after i had a taste of the broth, I would have definitely made it for one because it was THAT good! The cilantro leaves and Chinese basil definitely made a huge impact on the dish. The soup isn't really that spicy, you have to add the condiments in your own soup bowl and add Sriracha according to the level of hotness you prefer. However, I was a little disappointed with the baguette because I wanted it smothered in garlic butter but it was just plain and boring.

The tender pork ribs lived up to its name. It was indeed tender and sauce was perfect for the dish, not too sweet and not too spicy or salty. The Chicken satay was very simple (in a good way), far from the usual barbecue lathered with ketchup or soy sauce. It was flavorful even though it looked quite simple.

It was a great culinary experience, the best PHOODTRIP I've had in weeks and I would definitely come back with some friends again.


Thursday, July 25

These Wings were made to be devoured

When I was a child, I always wanted to have fried chicken for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  When people in the US watch the Superbowl, they munch on chicken wings be it buffalo, chili garlic ,or  garlic parm. The Koreans have their own style of cooking fried chicken thus, the birth of BONCHON. There are even fast food establishments which cater to fried chicken fanatics, there’s KFC (love their hot and spicy), Mcdonald’s, and of course the Filipino favorite, Jollibee!

Fried Chicken is an all-time fave of people young and old. Even dogs would finish off the bones for you (just don’t feed them the small ones, they might choke and you wouldn't want that on your conscience!)

The way I do my chicken, is I veer away from the commercialized breading mixes found on grocery shelves. It’s very high in sodium and lessens the nutritional value of the food. I just use the usual flour/egg/cornstarch/breadcrumbs mixture or just season it with salt and pepper then fry it “naked”.

In this recipe, I seasoned the chicken with a little extra love and care.

I’m kidding!

I've received a ton of requests for this recipe, even from friends and family and honestly I didn't want to give it away but due to insistent demand, here’s the recipe for my chili garlic and garlic parm wings! Yeeey!

So, for this recipe, I just fry the chicken “naked”. Meaning no bread crumbs, no breading. Just a few spices. The secret to this recipe is in the sauce.


I tried to make it more presentable, but I was too excited to eat 'em wings. 


  • 1/2 kilo chicken wings
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  tsp pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • optional: MSG (but i don't use this)

What to do with the chicken:
  1. Clean the wings and cut the wings at the joints, making it into three parts.
  2. Place in a bowl and marinate with the remaining ingredients. Leave it for 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the  oil in a pan.
  4. Fry the wings until golden brown. Set aside on a plate lined with paper towel.



  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce 

How to:

  1. In a small bowl, add garlic and butter. Pop in the microwave for about a minute or until the butter is melted. You may also heat the mixture in a pan if in case you don't have a microwave.
  2. Mix in the hot sauce. You may add a few more tablespoons if you want it a little more spicier.
  3. Pour the sauce on top of the wings and toss until homogeneously combined.



  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped fresh parsley

How to:

  • In a small bowl, add garlic and butter. Pop in the microwave for about a minute or until the butter is melted. You may also heat the mixture in a pan if in case you don't have a microwave.
  • Pour the sauce on top of the wings. Add the Parmesan and toss until homogeneously combined.
  • Sprinkle with parsley.

  • Enjoy this as a "pica-pica" on a Saturday night with your friends while enjoying a bottle of ice cold beer, or at a meal with your family. I hope you love it!

    Yum - Oh!

    Sunday, July 14

    DIY: Steamed Pork Rice

    Everybody knows that Cebu is famous for their tasty and succulent roasted pig, "Lechon". However, it is not known to tourists that Cebu is also popular for the Dim Sum dish, Steamed Pork Rice (a.k.a Pork Steamed Rice). During lunch hour, locals flock to the nearest Dim Sum resto and have a bowl of this famous dish. Its fast, easy, and delicious!

    I remember when I was still in grade school, my mom used to bring me to Lumpia House or Harbor City everyday because I wouldn't eat anything else. I was addicted to this bowl of porky goodness, and to this day, it is still my go-to comfort food.

    It's basically fried rice topped with a steaming  thick stew-like delicious mixture of pork and peas. The smell of the dish itself is enough to make my mouth water.Some like their steamed rice dry, but I love 'em soupy. I often pair this with fried wantons or shanghai rolls because they compliment the thick texture of the pork toppings, and if you add a little sweet and sour sauce it will make your taste buds roar. Trust me, your mouth is going to have a party once you taste this dish.

    I tried this at home a few days ago, and it was gone in one sitting!

    Try it and tell me what you think.

    Steamed Pork Rice

    Makes: 3
    Prep Time: 30 Minutes


    1/2 green onion (diced)
    3 cloves garlic (minced)
    1 cup green peas (frozen,fresh, or preserved)
    1/2 cup dried shrimp (you may also use fresh medium sized shrimp, cleaned and deveined)
    250 grams pork sirloin (cubed) - you may also use "adobo cut" pieces, just make sure to chop it into bite-size bits
    1/2 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1 cup of cold water
    3 cups of water
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    pinch of salt
    pinch of pepper
    2 tbsp. sugar
    2 tbsp. sesame oil
    3 cups fried rice
    1 tbsp vegetable oil

    How to cook:

    1. Heat oil in pan. Saute garlic and onions until caramelized or until the onions are translucent.
    2. Put in pork and stir occasionally until all sides are cooked. Season with salt and pepper. You may add the shrimps at this point.
    3. Pour in water and bring to a boil.
    4. Add in cornstarch mixture and let it simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    5. Add soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Mix well.
    6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    7. Serve on top of fried rice.


    • Fry rice in a tablespoon of sesame oil and add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce to add color.Mix well.
    • You can add artificial flavors (MSG), if desired.
    • If you are using preserved peas or dried shrimp, make sure to wash thoroughly.
    • You may add more cornstarch mixture if you want a thicker sauce.
    • Best served when hot.


    Tuesday, July 2

    No Leftovers Please!

    I hate throwing leftovers. There are people out there scavenging for food and starving to death, and some are just unconcerned and putting food to waste. My heart breaks every time I see kids sleeping on cold pavements, and knocking on car windows begging for food. So, every time I eat out and I can't finish my meal, I ask for a takeaway bag and give it to vagrants roaming the streets. They'll be more than happy to finish it for me.

    If I'm at home and there are leftovers in the fridge, I deconstruct them and transform them into another dish or just make something else to compliment it instead of just letting food go down the drain. In today's case, I had some leftover Aglio Olio from yesterday. I decided to pair it with Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops to give my meal an "All Italian" feel.


    ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    ½ cup Italian breading (if you can’t find that in the supermarket, you can use a mixture of breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning)
    2-3 slices pork chop (deboned)
    1 egg (beaten)
    2 tbsp olive oil

    1.       Coat the chops in Parmesan cheese. Tap excess.
    2.       Dip in egg until well coated.
    3.       Coat with Italian breading.
    4.       Heat olive oil in a pan.  Pan fry chops until golden brown. 5 minutes on each side.

     And if you still have leftovers (which I highly doubt), you can always make it into a Frittata!


    Saturday, June 29

    Korean Spicy Bacon: Hot Hypertensive Heaven

    I've always had a soft spot for Korean food. Next to that spot for Japanese food, and Filipino food, Italian….Okay, so I have a soft spot for food in general! But, there’s something about the dark red shades and distinctive smell of Korean cuisine that makes my mouth water. The hot and spicy soup bowls that make you sweat profusely. The fermented cabbage and radish that smells so bad, but tastes oh so good (it’s not that bad, really. It just takes getting used to). The smell of sesame oil in delicious Korean barbecue makes me feel like I’m in Korean heaven! Oh, and let’s not forget the FISH ICE CREAM!!! Better than that overrated Belgian chocolate crusted ice cream. And as my friend Xander always say, it’s better than sex (let’s hope my mom doesn't read this).

    I was never really a fan of Korean food at first because I thought all of their dishes were fermented (forgive my temporary stupidity), but I tried a bite of kimchi in one of those over-the-top buffets, and It wasn't so bad. My friend Ozzie is a big fan of Korean cuisine and she would treat me to “Samgyupsal” every once in a while, I got hooked. Maybe it also helps that there are a lot of good Korean restaurants in the city.  
    One of those Samgyupsal nights with Ozzie and Len.

    It’s cold and wet out, a perfect day to make a fiery dish. So I decided to cook Daeji Bulgogi, its spicy bacon strips stir fried to hypertensive perfection. This will make your taste buds roar! If you think it’s too spicy for you, you can always eat more rice or drink cold water. Hahaha.    



    500 grams bacon
    2 tbsp white wine
    1 tbsp soy sauce
    1 tbsp sesame oil
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    3 tbsp chili paste
    3 tbsp bulgogi paste
    1 tbsp brown sugar
    1 green onion roughly chopped
    Onion leaves chopped into one inch pieces
    Chopped chili (for garnish)


    1.       Combine all ingredients except onion, onion leaves and chili. Marinate for about 30 minutes.
    2.       In a pan, saute onions and onion leaves until onion becomes clear.
    3.       Add in the marinade and cook for 15 minutes with occasional stirring.
    4.       You may add a little more bulgogi sauce if you find it a little dry.

    5.       Serve in plate and top with chili. Serves 5 people.


    Friday, June 28

    Vietnamese Fresh Springrolls Recipe

    Surprisingly, I received a lot of recipe requests for this healthy roll of Viet goodness. I had fun making this because of the colors and the different textures of the ingredients, although the rolling part was a little tedious. This takes about 15 - 20 minutes to prepare just as long as you have chopped all the ingredients.

    This is a great meal on it's own because it has a little bit of everything. meat, veggies, and noodles. Plus, the dipping sauce makes the dish a lot more refreshing.



    Rolls- Rice paper 
              Lettuce (preferrably Asian, and NO THEY DONT HAVE SMALL EYES!)
              Mint leaves 
              Chinese Basil (you may also use Italian basil)
              Chives (choose the small or slim ones )
              Cucumber (pealed and sliced vertically)
              Vermicelli Noodles (cooked as instructed in the packaging, and don't forget to drain!)
              Pork Sirloin / Pork belly
              Shrimp (about 3-10 pieces, depending on your preference),you may substitute shrimps with tempura   or squidballs 
              Salt and pepper

    Sauce- 1 tbsp. Creamy peanut butter
                1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
                1 tsp Minced Garlic
                1 tbsp Vegetable oil
                1 tsp Sugar
                1/2 cup water



    1.       In a pot, boil pork until tender and add salt and pepper. Take the meat out of the water and slice into thin pieces once it's cool.
    2.       Cook shrimp in the pork broth until red. Devein and cut in half. If you opted for squidballs or tempura, make sure you slice them into thin bite size pieces. 
    3.       Dip rice paper in warm water for 1-2 seconds. And place in a flat surface

    How To Roll  (Run! Here comes the tricky part!)

    Imagine that the paper has three parts. 
    The first one is for the veggies and the noodles,
     the second is for the pork, and the third part is for the shrimp.

    • Arrange vegetables and noodles in the first part. Roll and fold the sides (1-3). 
    • Next, place 2 slices of pork. Roll.
    • Arrange the shrimp in the third part. Roll (4).
    How To Make The Sauce
    • Coat pan with vegetable oil. 
    • Saute garlic until light brown
    • Add in Hoisin Sauce, peanut butter, and sugar. Mix well.
    • Add in water and let it simmer until the sauce is thick.
    • Serve in a bowl.
    Done! Done! Done! I hope you enjoy this refreshing dish as much as I did.



    Keane - Sovereign Light Café (Afrojack Remix)

    Good Vibes. Good Morning!

    Thursday, June 27

    A Taste of Vietnam in Palawan

    What is a trip without a little culinary experience? 

    They say you've never really experienced a place unless you've had a taste of the local cuisine.  So, whenever I get that chance to travel, I make it a point to go to the local food grubs and "do what the Romans do".

    This is my friend Xander after finishing a spicy bowl of chao long. (WARNING: Do not put too much chili paste unless you can handle it. Else you would look like this guy after a few spoonfuls! haha)

    Pretty Charm enjoying her first mouthful.

    During my one week stay in Palawan, there was never a day that I didn't have a steaming bowl of Chao Long. Chao Long is Palawan's version of the Vietnamese noodles, "Pho", rice noodles in a clear broth of your choice (chicken, pork, beef, or beef ) with your choice of condiments on the side. This is Palawan's "batchoy", the go-to comfort food after a night of partying, breakfast, snacks, dinner, pretty much every meal. 

    Beef stew topped with condiments. YUM-O!

    There is a Chao Long House in almost every street corner in Puerto Princesa, and some are even open 24/7 for those who have late night cravings. The very first eateries who offered this mouth-watering soup bowl were owned by Vietnamese who sought refuge in Palawan during the war, then recipe was passed on and evolved into the Chao Long we now love to binge on.

    Chao Long is best paired with garlic bread to counter the chili.

    Now, I'm back in the queen city of the south, with no chao long house in sight. It's raining and I am craaaaaviiing for a hefty bowl of homemade noodles.

    I tried to recreate the tasty beef Chao Long stew, unfortunately it takes 8 hours of intensive cooking before it's ready to be devoured and I do not have the time and patience to wait that long.  I guess we wont be seeing that cooking on the Master Chef kitchen anytime soon!(hahaha) So Instead, I opted to experiment on the chicken noodles and it was THE BOMB! It's filling and tasty. Nothing beats a steaming bowl of chicken soup on a rainy day. 

    Here's the recipe for Vietnamese chicken noodles. Do not be deceived by the long list of ingredients. It's easy and it only takes about 15 to 20 minutes. 


    Soup Base –            1 Green Onion sliced in half
                                    3 inches Ginger sliced in half
                                    2 tbsp. sugar
                                    2 tbsp. salt
                                    1 Liter of water
                                    ½ kilo chicken (1 lb.)
                                    A pack of Rice Noodles

    Spices -                    1 piece Cinnamon bark
                                    5 pcs. Star Anise
                                    1 tbsp. Fennel seeds
                                    1 tbsp. Cumin seeds ( you may also use powder)
                                    1 tbsp. Coriander seeds
                                    1 tbsp. Black pepper corns
                                    2 cloves
    ·         Put all of the spices in a cheese cloth (if it’s not available, you can you use a sterile gauze) and make sure to tie it up. You may also toast the spices before you put them in the bag.

    Condiments -           Bean sprouts (cleaned and with ends pinched off)
                                    Basil leaves (Chinese basil is preferred, but you could definitely use Italian basil)
                                    Onion leaves / scallions (chopped)
                                    Chili (sili espada / labuyo / jalapeno) chopped
                                    Red onions (chopped thinly)
                                    Fish sauce
                                    Chili paste
                                    Hoisin Sauce


    1.       Pour water into a pot and bring to boil. Add sugar and salt.
    2.       Place onion and ginger in a bowl and cook in the microwave for 2-3 minutes then add to boiling water. Let it simmer for 3 minutes.
    3.       Add chicken and let it boil for 7 minutes. (Be sure to take out the scum).
    4.       Put in spice bag. Simmer for another 5 minutes then turn it off.
    5.       Take out the chicken and debone. Cut into bite size pieces
    6.       In a separate pot, cook noodles as instructed in the box. Drain.
    7.       In a big bowl, put together the noodles, chicken, and soup.

    8.       Serve with condiments on the side


    Travelling Light

    I was always one for spontaneous undertakings, but never one THIS spontaneous. I was already invited to go to Palawan with a bunch of friends but I declined because my budget couldn't stand another out of town trip after my Boracay, Kalanggaman, and Lifedance Soiree. My wallet was practically weeping. However, two days before the scheduled trip to Palawan my friend called me up and told me that there was a vacancy and that they’ll be helping me out with the expenses. Who wouldn't say YES to that?!

    I packed my bags not knowing what to wear in Palawan because the weather was like a girl high on hormones. Threw some clothes, travel essentials, and a pair of bikinis in the bag and zipped it up.  I always travel light. Just one carry on and a tote, that’s it. In this trip though, I’m literally travelling light. Light bags, light wallet, and me in all my hundred-five-pound glory. I’m up for an adventure.

    My expectations weren't extraordinary, because I didn't have time to research and plan my itinerary. So, when I arrived in Puerto Princesa, I was ecstatic! Nothing beats exploring a new patch of land with your closest friends. Stepping foot on El Nido was like a breath of fresh air. It was poles apart from the hustle and bustle of the metro.  I didn't mind the 5 hours of ass-wrenching drive or the rough road mayhem; this secluded sanctuary is a piece of paradise.

    I’ll be blogging about the whole Palawan trip with all the boring details (itineraries and such), hopefully when my creative juices are flowing because I’m kind of having a dry spell (no pun intended).
    This unexpected escape was undeniably, the highlight of my summer and if there’s one thing I've learned this season, it’s that you should always be open to new things and experiences.

    When travelling, Always keep an open mind.

    Wednesday, June 26