Sunday, June 12

Instagram Worthy Hangout in Cebu for Korean Drama Fans

Ain Restaurant and Bar 

Ain Restaurant and Bar (Blue Door)

Me and my friend went for a swim in one of the resorts in Mactan last weekend and decided to grab something to eat on the way back home. We thought of eating at Yamiga (Korean Shabu-shabu) but when we entered the arcade where the restaurant is located, we saw that the it was noticeably full of tourists and we didn't want get into that circus. So we went further in to the arcade to make a U-turn, and that's when I saw this stand-alone resto with white picket fences and a blue door. If you've ever watched a Korean drama recently, you would know that they often use these scenic locations for shoots.

I was in awe and I had to get out of the car to take a few snaps. The Instagrammer in me wanted to take artsy photos and post them right away! The place is instagram-worthy. From the moment I stepped into the garden, I knew that I wouldn't be satisfied with one photo alone. My artistic soul was telling me to go in and check out the place, and so I did.

There's a cool wallsticker beneath the AC more visible in daylight

Ain Restaurant and Bar, that's the name of this not-so-hole-in-the-wall restaurant (No, not named after Korean actor Yoo Ah In), and the owner is this lovely Korean ahjumma who was so sweet that she welcomed me when I went in and told me to take a few more shots. The interior of the restaurant was superb! Clearly, the owner paid attention to details and knew that Filipinos love taking pictures that she didn't leave a blank canvas in the room, everything was so picturesque. It was more like an American diner with lots of movie memorabilia, which reminded me of my favorite place in Dumaguete, Gabby's Bistro. 

Glamping tents outside are perfect for couples and groups of four
The bar counter and open kitchen (spot the ET)

We decided to have dinner there instead of going around Mactan and looking for another place to eat. Through our little chit chat with the owner, we learned that they just had their soft opening a few days ago and they are still trying out their recipes. We had a look at their menu and saw that the prices were reasonable and the dishes were more on American (steaks) and Italian (pasta and pizza). After a few discussions, we decided to have a go at Gorgonzola Pizza and Carbonara.

These daybeds were so comfortable that I felt like I could just lay there and look at the stars.

Maybe it was because the restaurant is still new and they were still on a dry-run that we had to wait an hour for our order, but we didn't realize it was that long since we had fun taking pictures of everything. The owner gave us a pitcher of fruit juice and a plate of salad on the house to ease our grumbling tummies. 

While waiting for our order, I wanted to go and do my business in the restroom and the waitress pointed me to the direction of a coca cola and sprite cooler/ fridge. I was confused for a minute and then it dawned on me that the fridge really was the restroom. I opened the fridge and thought that I was opening the door to Narnia. I found the set-up amusing and told the owner that she was really creative for thinking out of the box.

At last, the food has arrived! We gobbled it up in a jiffy. The Carbonara was good, not too salty, and not too sweet and it was served with pickled jalapeño on the side just in case you wanted an extra kick. The serving, however, is only good for one. The pizza was OK, but it needed a little more improvement. The owner had to apologize profusely since her assistants didn't prepare the dough before hand and it was not able to rise properly. I was a little bit more understanding than usual and assured her that it was alright since the pizza tasted good anyway.

Despite the food experience, I would still come here again if ever I'm in the area mainly because of the service and the Instagram-worthy interiors. Hopefully the food would improve soon.

Bagumbayan Uno, Maribago, LapuLapu City
near Yamiga, White Sands, and Maribago Blue waters

Coming from Mactan Newtown on your way to Maribago, on the right side of the road, you will see a restaurant called Yamiga. Turn right and enter the arcade. You will see the restaurant on the left side of the cul-de-sac. You wont miss it!

Italian/Mexican/American Restaurant

Price range: 250PHP - 899PHP

Gorgonzola pizza
Ribeye steak
Steak hamburger
Hurricane french fries

Sunday, June 5

Crazy for Korean Cuisine

Captivated by the Flavors of Korea

I have grown such fondness and affinity for food over the years. I was such a lanky child that everyone would think I was sick all the time. I was thin, not because I had a chronic illness or because I wasn't fed enough (believe me I was), but due to my hypersonic metabolism I was able to consume a high caloric diet without even gaining weight! Those were the days. Now, I eat a  grain of rice and I gain a few pounds!

I was always adventurous when it comes to food. I wouldn't say that I've tried everything. There are still some  cuisines and exotic dishes I am curious about. Food has only two categories for me, those that I have eaten and those that I have plans of eating. However, through my entire existence, I've had a few favorite cuisines and one of which is Korean food.

One's first impression on Korean food is that its all chili and spice, but they dont realize that it's all about balance and everything nice. A typical Korean meal is composed of a little bit of red, a little bit of brown, green and white. Hence the unlimited "Banchan" or side dishes.

Due to the influx of Korean tourists in the Philippines, Cebu in particular, the number of Korean restaurants in the city doubled in number. A few years ago, some people wouldn't even know what Samgyupsal (삼겹살) is and now most Cebuanos can't get enough of it. Korean restaurants and coffee shops have been popping up in the city and growing like mushrooms. Blame it all on the Hallyu craze. If you watch k-dramas, you would know. But there's so much more to the cuisine than thinly sliced pork belly grilled to perfection.

Here's a list of other specialties that can be found in Cebu:

1. Topokki / Deukbokki (떡볶이)
 Rice cakes cooked in spicy korean pepper paste/powder and sugar. I prefer to top this with lots of cheese.

2. Soondae (순대)
Korean blood sausage. I didnt really like it at first because my imagination got the best of me. After a few blinks, I realized that I eat dinuguan (blood stew) which has even more pig's blood than this one. I loved this the second time I ate it. You dip it in salt with pepper powder and sesame seeds. Best paired with Toppokki.

3. Mandu (만두)
The korean version of dumplings or siomai. It's tastier than your usual siomai sa tisa. Dip it in soysauce with sesame oil or just eat it as is. yummmm!

4. Korean Fried Chicken (KFC)
In my opinion, the best chicken ever! I cook this at home and its definitely delish! Deep fried chicken (double fried) and topped with sweet and spicy sauce (yangyam sauce), soy garlic, or just the classic chicken. BEST with BEER! (say hello to calories)

5. Jjampong
The original Jjampong made from scratch, not the ones from Lucky Me is a spicy noodle soup with mixed seafood and a flavorful broth. If its not spicy enough for you and you feel like you can handle a bit more spice, you can add a drop of capsicin, an oil extract of the hottest chili you can ever imagine.

6. Jjajangmyeon
Stir fried noodles in black bean sauce. Again, it wasn't a favorite at first. I suppose it was because of the color, but I guess the third time's a charm. It took me a long time but I've grown fond of this dish after a few tries. Best paired with pickles (tamuji) to counter the oily texture of the dish.

7. Guksu
Guksu is a noodle dish that could be eaten hot or cold. I usually have the cold guksu during summer and hot guksu when it's raining. This is also tradionally a dish that they serve during weddings. If you like it spicy, you might want to try the Bibimguksu. Its a cold noodle with red pepper paste and other spices.

8. Makchang
If you live ginabot, then you'll like this one. Beef or Pork intestines that you can cook in the grill much like samgyupsal. Best paired with... chan.. chan ... chan. SOJU!

9. Gukbap
Rice porridge. Its more like a soup that could either be beef, pork, soondae, or pork innards boiled until flavorful and then you can mix it with rice. Think pochero with rice.

10. Korean Stew (Yukgaejang/ Kimchi Jjigae / Doenjang jjigae)
There's something enticing about a soup served in a stone or clay pot. Aside from the usual kimchi or bean paste stew, you should also try the spicy Korean version of pochero. Yukgaejang is a spicy beef soup with lots of vegetables and is also best for hangovers. If you love seafood, you should definitely try Haemultang, a mixed seafood stew that's sooo good, you'd want to eat the whole bowl!

11. Korean Sashimi
Unlike the Japanese version, korean sashimi is usally dipped in a red pepper paste mix with garlic and leeks and eaten as is or wrapped with perilla leaves. yummm!

I still have a lot more to add to this list. I might post a second part in the next couple of weeks. Until then, I hope you open your eyes to the different k-food options available in town. Be adventurous and who knows, you might turn out to be a K-food addict like me.

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잘 먹고 ~~~ Eat Well!