Travel

Why Don’t Manila Restos/Bars Serve Ice Cold Beer?

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As I sit here in the resto bar waiting for my friends to arrive, I remember my Manila-based ilonggo friends complaining that Manila resto bars don’t serve ice cold beer. Granted that the hotels serve beer at 10 or 20 times the cost, the beer should be cold at the very least. Some Manila-based restos serve Beer Below Zero or BBZ and there is a listing in the internet. Unfortunately, the only resto I recognize on the list is Grilla and I don’t really go there. Oh, I nearly forgot that the Manila Polo Club serves BBZ. It’s not on the BBZ list but I always recommend it to my five-thirsty friends.

Why the big fuss? Because outside of the National Capitol Region or NCR, Region 6 of which Negros is a part of, is the next biggest beer market. So big that San Miguel had to put up a brewery in Bacolod. In Bacolod and Silay, we drink beer and we like it ice cold! Lukewarm or cool beer will not cut it. Beer must be cold…BBZ cold! Even if the drinking places have no BBZ freezers, some bar owners have their own unique style of keeping beers cold. Bar owners know if the beer isn’t cold, the patrons will complain and not return.

In the 90s I learned that Negrenses don’t like to drink beer with ice unlike their Manila counterparts. They would rather drink warm beer than take it with ice. That’s just the way it is. I however, cannot take warm beer and I have no qualms drinking beer with ice. Whenever my Negrense friends see me drinking beer with ice they would call me “Alog” which I didn’t really mind but later on I found out this comment wasn’t really a compliment. I thought “Alog” was short for “Kalog” of which I am, but it really meant “Tagalog”.

So why don’t Manila restos and bars serve ice cold beer? Beats me! No problem with electricity and such places are open early enough to make the beer ice cold. Maybe not enough freezer space? I sure hope it’s not because the restos don’t want to spend a little extra. Ice cold beer is a huge come-on and can be used as a marketing tool. With all the grilles and bars serving nearly the same food in the metropolis, wouldn’t you go to the place where the beer is coldest?

My Top 5 Dessert/Coffee Shops In Bacolod

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Ok, so I recommended in an earlier blog my  five “Must Try Restos in Bacolod For Visitors.” These restos serve Filipino food, mostly seafood which is significantly more expensive in Manila but not in Negros. Normally, the Negrense will bring the guest to these places for lunch or dinner then bring them somewhere else for dessert or coffee. Hence, I present my “Top 5 Dessert/Coffee Places in Bacolod.”

1. Calea –  If you have a sweet tooth, you have to come here.  Choose your wild! The desserts are to die for! Everyone in Bacolod knows of Calea, the pastry shop of Yayi and Ging Consing named after their two daughters. I personally like the chocolate chip crusted blueberry cheesecake  or the pecan pie with or without ice cream.  The all-time favorite I believe is the chocolate cake which is the cake of choice for take home as it will survive the plane ride.

2. Felicia’s – This relative newcomer is doing quite well. It started off as a dessert place then quickly transformed into a restaurant. I like their butter Sansrival . Products here like Turrones de Pili and Oatmeal Cookies are attractively packaged so people like to give them away for Christmas or pasalubong.

3. Kuppa – This place in the Shopping district of Bacolod is known for its coffee and has excellent food. Atmosphere here is relaxing and you can stay as long as you want.  Recently The  owners opened a branch in Bonifacio Global Center (BGC) and on a Sunday, the high net-worth  individuals with their fast cars hang around there for breakfast.

4. Bob’s Cafe- An off-shoot of the Bob’s Restaurant, this place serves pizza, pasta, sandwiches, coffee and dessert. There’s also a deli which sources cold cuts, cheese and other deli stuff that rivals those found in Manila. When I’m in the mood for a thin crust pizza I come here.

5. Pendy’s – A restaurant cum pasalubong center. Someone orders something from Bacolod, I get it here if I dont know the supplier. Piaya, dulce gatas and pastel de mangga are some of the products sold. The favored desserts  are of the Filipino comfort food kind like  napoleones and brazo de mercedes. Illy Coffee is served here. BTW lunch and dinner ala carte is very good but i come here for the chicken dinuguan with Manapla puto which  is my favorite merienda.

Negros is the sugar capital of the Philippines so the desserts here are a bit on the sweet side but very good. Thank God I dont really have a sweet tooth but ocassionally I do indulge.  Sugar, spice and everything nice…thats Negros.

Must Try Restos in Bacolod For Visitors

Balaring, Silay

Balaring, Silay

Lately I read about a list of “Must Try” Eateries in Bacolod which I disagreed with. I got the impression that the writer was just promoting a new restaurant. So for the benefit of my friends and any first-time visitor to Bacolod, I have come up with my list of 5 Restaurants To Try.

1. Aboy’s – A must when visiting Bacolod. Although a bit out of the way now since it’s located near the Old Bacolod Airport, the trip is well worth it. Grilled Blue Marlin, Scallops, Squid, Liempo and other Filipino Lutong Bahay food served by amiable waiters in comfortable surroundings makes this dining experience a memorable one.

2. Chicken House –  All Negros visitors should try the chicken inasal and one of my favorites comes from Chicken House. Their spare ribs is very good too! And their beer…below Zero. Their Mandalagan branch has a nice comfortable aircon feel so many Bacolodnons bring their friends and family there. Other inasal places to try are Aida’s and Nena’s in Manokan Country.

3. Ading’s – Bacolodnons like to bring visitors to seafood market near the fish landing. The most presentable resto there is Adings. Try their scallops and crispy lapulapu.

4. Bob’s – A Bacolod institution since the 60’s. This family restaurant serves Filipino comfort food and is also known for their Mongolian buffet.  Desserts and Breads are excellent.

5. Balaring Seaside Restos – If one has access to a car, go to Silay and  try out the seaside restos in  Brgy . Balaring  and Lantad. The seafood served there is ok. It’s the provincial feel that makes it different. Seaside on one side, fishpond on the other.  There is a new resto in Brgy Lantad called MC Seafoods which looks nice and has been getting good reviews. This resto I will try soon.

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Dining in Negros is relatively cheap. In fact very cheap when compared to Manila prices. Prices quoted are already net of tax and service charge. One saves 22% right then and there.  Everybody loves the food in Bacolod. So why don’t you come on down and do a food trip. Kaon ta! Namets!

 

My Preferred Places To Stay In Tokyo

Sunroute Plaza  Shinjuku

View From Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku

Recently, my wife and I helped a family of five look for a place to stay in Tokyo. We checked AirBnB, Trivago, Agoda, Expedia and Booking.com. Too many options in such a big, cosmopolitan city so we narrowed down the possibilities by agreeing that Shinjuku and it’s environs is the place to be and the hotel/apartment hotel/BnB must be relatively near a train station. After three hours of browsing the internet and discussing the many possibilities, I came up with my 5 places to stay in the Shinjuku area.

1. Sunroute Plaza – our family’s choice hands down. Near the Shinjuku JR station, Takashimaya and Shinjuku Park. Just walk around the area and you will see all sorts of shops and restaurants. Hotel price is reasonable for Tokyo averaging $150 a night. As an added convenience, the Airport Limousine Bus picks up and drops tourists by the hotel doorstep every 3 hours for Haneda and 2 hours for Narita.

2. Citadines – The selling point of this apartment hotel is the kitchenette. If you like to cook, this place is for you. Marusho supermarket and convenience stores are nearby. Train station is about 400 meters away. A bit far if one travels with small kids. During the wintertime. I can imagine the hassle.

3. Hotel Wing Premium Yotsuya – website says this is the first Premium hotel of the Wing Group. This new hotel looks nice in the pictures and it’s location is very near the Yotsuya Sanchome train station.

4. Tokyu Stay Yotsuya – I believe one must stay at least a week in this apartment hotel. Room is cheapest compared to the four others mentioned in this blog. And they even serve breakfast! All reviews from the travel website are favorable. This one I want to try coz of the price but it is farthest from my relatives. Tho it’s next door to Sophia University, my son’s school.

5. Shinjuku City N.U.T.S. Tokyo. The hotel with the funny-sounding name is the wildcard. This used to be a love motel converted into a hotel so it has big bathrooms. Each room looks different tho so choose well. I take this place into consideration coz it’s two blocks from my mother-in-law’s apartment.

These places are normally under $200 a night. Other hotels or apartments can be cheaper but check the location. It may be cheap but if it’s far from a train station, a cab will be needed and that costs. Cleanliness is a virtue in Japan so it’s safe to assume that any place to stay is clean. When booking a room, pls check the room size. Space is a premium especially in Tokyo and rooms can be pretty claustrophobic for some.

My wife and I also recommend Shibuya and Harajuku areas as other places to stay. These areas are bustling and full of fun things to do. Just check the location and amenities. Book a vacation soon!

Is Masskara Worth Going To?

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I have been observing the Masskara festival since the early 1990s. I say observing coz I never participated in the events, I look forward to the eating, drinking and socializing. It’s be Sem Break so the students would be back. Negrenses take time out to bring over and entertain non-Negrense friends and make sure they have a good time.

I recall only once did I watch the street dancing in the heat. I had to park far then walked to the street dancing area. Luckily I’m tall so I can see no problem. Others had to stand atop their pickups to get a good view. During that time, the only mask one could buy was that of the Power Rangers. Your choices were red, yellow or green. Seeing the street dancing once is enough. Listening to “La Bamba” about 20 times as each baranggay danced to the same tune, was enough to make me say, “No mas, no mas! Yo no soy marinero, soy Capitan, soy Capitan!”

Oftentimes I would just hang out along Lacson St., have some dinner, drinks, walk the strip and say hi to friends hanging out in other Lacson St restos., have more drinks. As the night wore on, the merriment became rowdier. Drinking 8 San Mig Lights a night was the norm.

About ten years ago, someone had the bright idea of closing Lacson St starting 4pm til the wee hours of the morning. Negrenses loved the idea of walking along Lacson sans vehicular traffic. Then someone decided to have an Electrical Parade at night that added to the festivities. Frankly, I found the Electrical Parade overrated but I’m sure as the years go by, the creativity of the Negrense would improve the design of the participating electrical floats.

Two years ago, it was still fun to walk along Lacson St. It was tight in some areas where there were stages then a bit of open space in between. I missed last year’s and this year’s Masskara. For this year, I heard part of the Masskara venue near Bacolod Town Plaza was transferred to Lacson. Hence, Lacson St became one big can of sardines. Stall owners were cooking inasal on both sides of the street making the venue hotter and smellier. The four-lane road became two-lanes as more kiosks occupied the outer lanes. If it’s tight, thieves will have a heyday. One of my friends was pickpocketed but that is no surprise anymore. Every time there is a Masskara, Atiatihan, Sinulog or Dinagyang, thieves from all over the country congregate and prey on the unsuspecting.

So is Masskara worth going to? If one is a Masskara first-timer, photographer, eater or drinker, it’s an overwhelming YES! But after that, it becomes a case of “been there, done that.” If one has friends who can entertain them by all means go again. Negros and Bacolod are more than just Masskara. There are many restaurants to try and places to visit. I can proudly say Negros is definitely a good example of…”It’s More Fun In The Philippines!”

Do You Know What This Is?

Aphrodisiac

Aphrodisiac

Care to make a guess? We went to an authentic Ilocano Lutong Bahay Resto in San Fernando, la Union. Fernando Lopez, the owner of Joanna’s Resto is an expert in exotic Ilocano cuisine.

I was told this dish was Kilawin or raw whatever so I just got a big spoonful of it. It tasted good so I had another one. Then other kinds of Goat Kilawin arrived. So if that’s the case, what did I eat?

My Ilocano family friend said that this Kilawin is made from the cow’s sex organ and cow brain. The cottage cheese looking thing is the brain finely chopped. The other ball looking thing is obviously the balls. And the gelatinous looking thing is the penis. Mixed with vinegar and some sili, it didn’t taste gamey at all. If I didn’t know what it was, well even if I knew what it was, I would have had more. I preferred it to the goat Kilawin.

PAL – Plane Always Late

Pal plane in Silay-Bacolod Terminal

PAL plane in Silay-Bacolod Terminal

Ever since I started working the family farm in Negros in 1987, my carrier of choice was PAL. It was a monopoly then but even when Cebu Pacific started to fly the Bacolod route, I was loyal to PAL. Although PAL was known to be, “PLane Always Late” name me a local airline that was never late. My usual routine was take a morning flight from Manila to Bacolod on a Monday then about ten days later take a late afternoon or evening flight from Bacolod to Manila to avoid the traffic.

But this time I decided to try an evening flight out of Manila coz it was much cheaper. Anyway, I can eat dinner in the Mabuhay Lounge and drink a couple of Asahi or SML beers. If the plane was delayed, no problem I had my beers. I just hope plane isn’t too late or cancelled. Everything within limits. So as you have probably guessed by now, my PAL plane to Bacolod is late and I’m on my third Asahi Beer while writing this blog. Oops, PAL just announced boarding. 45 minutes late. Not too bad! Ciao!