Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Myron's Place

It's been more than two months since I've been to Greenbelt, and I really haven't explored much of the new Greenbelt 5. So when I saw the new row of restos in their ground floor near the garden, I just had to try one of them. For this, we wanted meat, so we headed straight to Myron's Place.

The ambience in this part of Greenbelt was classy, and I thought Myron's interiors weren't as great as the others around it. Though with a garden outside like that, it's so inviting to just take a table outside. However, we sat inside because I was feeling hot. Unfortunately, the aircon was not working properly, so it eventually became hotter inside than outside. Quite a big no-no for a high end place.

Anyway, on to the food. We were given dark rye bread for free. It wasn't great, but the butter cream was good.

Our appetizer, the Risotto Balls with Chorizo was then served. We initially wanted oysters, but decided to jsut go with something new. Hence, the risotto mixed with chopped chorizo. It was spectacular, but it tasted good. You could take the meaty goodness of the chorizo, and the risotto was cooked right (very crucial). It also came with corn which was a good texture to the softness of the balls (gave it a bit of a crunch).

Now for the main courses. Let's start with the excellently cooked Duet of Bacon Wrapped Angus Steak and Grilled Prawns.This dish looked normal in presentation, but the taste was surprising. As my sister described it, it tasted like high quality bacon burger. The bacon's juices blended perfectly with the steak that was rightly cooked to medium. I admire the right pinkness of the meat, and it was tender. I almost forgot that there were shrimps in the dish.

Then for the pasta, Linguini with Grilled Chicken and Blue Cheese. This was good dish but the blue cheese's flavor didn't come out. The serving was also big enough for sharing. Nothing spectacular.

The next dish was my dish, since everyone got meat. So I chose from the seafood selection, and got the Steamed Salmon with Pernod Sauce and Tomato Confit. The salmon didn't taste much like salmon, so I'm guessing it was a bit overcooked or the natural juices got washed away after steaming. The pernod sauce was okay, and l had to add in salt. The tomato confit wasn't as juicy as well.

And then for the final dish, the dish of my sister who celebrated her birthday. She got the Loin of Lamb in 3-Ways. So there were 3 seasonings on top of each piece of lamb. The lamb in itself didn't taste like lamb, which bothered me. But the meat was cooked well again, and the seasonings were interesting. It was a heavy dinner.

I couldn't say much about the place but over-all, we had a nice (but hot) dinner. I think all the dishes were worth the steep price. Myron's Place had big servings that wouldn't leave you hanging. We didn't get dessert since I wanted to satisfy my FIC craving once again. Would I go back? Probably not, given that there's really nothing GREAT. But that's me. I can't help but judge the place with high expectations because of its location. And I think it's just right to expect, given their expensive menu as well.

FIC Ice Cream Bar Crave!

After eating at Manang's (yes, the timeless Ateneo College food spot), we had this sudden craving for ice cream. I was headed back to the office in Ortigas, so I figured, why not make it the best time to try FIC Ice Cream Bar in Rockwell (a bit out of the way I know, but I really wanted to visit this place a long time ago).

FIC Ice Cream Bar in Rockwell is located at the shops a the ground floor of Joya, one of the newest condos there. The place is bright and cheerful with its white interiors. It really does look like an ice cream bar from childhood. I am a fan of FIC Ice Cream, especially its green tea ice cream which I think is my most commercially favorite ice cream. Serve it, I'll ask for more. FIC has really stepped up its presence by opening this place and I must say, I just want to congratulate the owners. I have no other thing to say but this place is perfect.

Seeing the menu will make your mouth water instantly. I wanted this and that, seeing the fantastic ice cream shots. We settled for a cup of Frozen Yogurt with Granola, Peaches and Chocolate Chips. Even before the Fro-Yo craze hit town, I was already obsessing about it, so when it came here, I was ecstatic. It came to a point that I even wanted to bring it here 3 years ago. Well, now, they're everywhere. FIC joined in the game, and it tasted like White Hat (so far the best Fro-Yo in town), though this had less of the sour taste. So, it works well. Mix in the peaches, crunchy granola and soft chocolate chips, you're in heaven. You could practically finish a whole serving, of course, knowing it's healthier (without the chocolate).

But for me, the star of the afternoon was the Banana Caramel Crunch. It's the one on the first pages of the menu. It had caramel oozing on top of luscious vanilla and butterscotch ice cream, with a surprise of pastillas, streusel and fresh banana of course. I am craving at this moment just describing the signature concoction. It costs P220, but this is meant to be shared. In my case, I didn't.

I went back after 2 weeks with my family and tasted a different mix for my Fro-Yo (had granola, streusel and mango). The mango was disappointing though, since it was sour. But the Fro-Yo was still excellent.

I had my sister try the Strawberry Shortcake (more expensive at P270), strawberry and vanilla ice cream with a core of sponge cake cubes and streusel and topped with strawberry syrup. It was okay, but having the Banana Caramel Crunch again reinforced my favorite.

I can't help but rave about this ice cream parlor after visiting so much ice cream bars in Thailand (I-Berry, New Zealand, Fudge Factory, Baskin and Robbins, etc.). I think FIC can improve more on its other concoctions and make their quality more consistent. But beyond that, there's on their way. And it's proudly Filipino.

Leona Art Restaurant

Ok, the name attracts. It works. Put art in the name and the restaurant instantly charms. Leona Art Restaurant is located along White Plains Ave., just near the intersection of Boni Serrano near Monterey Meatshop but on the opposite side of the road. It was a spur of the moment visit, as we were headed somewhere else for dinner. But I always keep passing by this resto, and I just had to stop and finally visit it.

The place is indeed charming. It's a house converted resto, and I just love the ambience of these kinds of places. I was surprised to see that the place was full on a Tuesday night, so I was expecting. It seems that big groups frequented the place, since it also doubles as a great drinking spot (cheap beers). So, that was a bit of confusion. When a resto becomes a beer joint, questions about the food are raised.

The menu was simple. Rice and pasta dishes. There was pizza and some other stuff. Not that much to choose from, but they have this cool concept of making your own dish. You can select a pasta or rice, meat, sauce, and other stuff to put in. Mix and match. We got a pizza with mushrooms and black olives (forgive the names, I wasn't able to write them down). It came out small, enough for one person. Really small for a pizza. The cost is around P200, so what do you expect. I noticed the cheese wasn't exactly high end, and it tasted like our pasturized "fake" local cheeses. But over-all, it was surprisingly good. I loved the crust. It actually reminded me of Greenwich, but more high end, if you get what I mean. At least it was satisfying.

We also got two pastas. One was cream based with shrimps, sort of a shrimp alfredo. It had a name but I forgot. It was one of the set pasta dishes in the menu. It didn't leave any impression at all. At P180, it was not a good choice.

The highlight dish was this tomato based sauce that had a great italian sausage. We actually made this dish. Mix and match. The italian sausage was excellent that we had to another one of the same dish. The only SAD thing about this restaurant is that their servings are EXTRA SMALL. This is probably the reason why it is relatively cheap. We had to order another one of the same dish imagine. What's great though is that they have this promo for their house wine, 3 glasses for P100. I have never heard of something like that. I ended up having 3 glasses and drinking beer. Now I know the reason why barkadas go here. It's a good place to unwind and chill out with friends. And it's like home.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Koh Chang

I love islands, so even though I am an avid promoter of Philippine beaches, I still manage to land in a lot of islands in Asia. Having been to a lot of beach destinations around the region just lets me compare the ones we have here and theirs. The latest destination was Koh Chang, a side trip weekend during a business trip to Thailand.

It has been almost 6 months since I last visited Thailand, and being there almost every month before, I told myself I should visit a beach while there. I was choosing between Samui and Koh Chang. I ended up with the latter, given my limited budget. Going to Koh Chang can be done conveniently by bus. The journey on a first class bus from Bangkok Ekemai Station is 5 hours, with a stop for around 15 minutes. The ride was so comfortable and the government bus I took even served snacks (think airplane). I dozed off for most of the trip so the next thing I knew, I was in Trang, the province where the Koh Chang Marine National Park is situated. A 45-minute ferry from Laem Noeb took me to the Centerpoint pier in Koh Chang.

I took a songkathew (like a jeep) going to White Sand Beach, where my resort, Koh Chang Kacha was located. White Sand Beach is the busiest part of the island, so I thought it was best to stay there, given that it was low season. It wasn't crowded, and there were a handful of restaurants and shops around. Koh Chang Kacha Resort was nice and typical. I got a bungalow since I didn't want to stay in a hotel type building. It was cheaper too and had more of the island charm. Their pool was great, and I think the resort is the best in White Sand Beach.

I arrived late in the afternoon, so I wasn't able to explore much. So the next day, I decided to rent a jeep, since I still had trauma for motorcycles. I knew I had to see the island, so I practically spent the entire day riding across the coastal roads, seeking other beaches and natural attractions.

This is Klong Phrong Beach, the next beach to White Sand. It is being developed rapidly as more luxurious resorts are being put up in the area. Koh Chang was once known to be a backpackers paradise, but now, the Thai government is making it an upscale island destination similar to Samui.

The highlight of my day was the visit to Klong Plu Waterfalls. Upon entering the gate, I was worried to see cemented paths and shops around (reminiscent of Camiguin's springs). I got a sigh of relief though when the cemented path ended, and a jungle trek was in sight. The trek to the falls was great at 500m. You can hear the gush of the water as you go near. Seeing the waterfalls after a long day was the most welcoming thing. Everything was kept natural. No developments. There were just ropes for people to hold onto when crossing the river. The water was clear and refreshing. It was a great place to relax and just pass the day by.

I wasn't as satisfied with the beaches of Koh Chang, and there wasn't as many as Phuket and Krabi. There also weren't many things to do. I wasn't able to go island hopping though, so I can't complain that much. The view of the islands seemed very inviting but I had no time. The coastal roads go up and down, since Koh Chang is mountainous, thus making it difficult to drive a manual jeep. I headed back to a new resort next to Kacha, the Banpu Koh Chang Resort, since there wasn't any availability anymore in Kacha (reservations got mixed up). I just lay on their sun benches at the beachfront and waited for the sunset. Oh, I also had my favorite banana pancake.

All in all, Koh Chang is not as perfect as I hoped it would be. I still think Koh Samet and Krabi are the best beaches in Thailand. I still have to visit Koh Samui and Phangan though - my last two destinations in Thailand. After that, then, I have to head to the lesser known islands. I still enjoyed Koh Chang, but staying there made me miss the beaches of the Philippines so much.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back Home

After more than a month of hibernation at work, I am back. I hope to get this blog updated. The next entries will be a mix of my adventures here and abroad particularly in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand. So come back in time for a barrage of experiences.


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