Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pho Hoa Vietnamese Noodle House @ Shangri-la Plaza

It was a packed Friday night at Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong and with aplenty of restaurants to choose from, my friend and I opted to try Pho Hoa, which was located at the 6th level.

I’ve passed by Pho Hoa (this particular branch & other branches as well) a lot of times but I’ve never tried it (Vietnamese food is not really on my “likes” list).

This branch of Pho Hoa has a small dining area. I noticed that their tables, chairs and interiors are simple, no fancy design whatsoever.

Since I’m craving for “comfort” food, I ordered their Beef Stew with Bread. The soup is rich and flavourful with generous pieces of tender beef. Even though it was just a stew with bread, my tummy was full. (Vietnamese food now added to my "likes" list!)
Beef Stew w/ Bread, PhP 240

My friend, on the other hand, ordered Grilled Pork and Fried Rolls with Rice. It's grilled slices of pork, their signature fried spring rolls and fried rice.
Grilled Pork & Fried Rolls w/ Rice, PhP 280

Maybe because there is no service charge, but I find their menu a bit pricey (for a "small" restaurant) and servings are usually good for one person only.

Filipino Classics at C2

C2 Classic Cuisine is among those restaurants lined up on “The Ledge”-part of Shangri-La Mall, sharing the mall’s spacious “hallway’ space as dining area.

It was a Tuesday, lunch time and I’ve noticed that C2 has not that much customers, same as with other restaurants in the area.

Here are what our group had:
-          A medley of tokwa (fried tofu cubes), crispy dilis, fried fish, crispy squid (tender squid rings), etc:

-          Another “bilao” of chicken pork barbeque, boneless crispy pata, etc:

-          We also tried their “famous” Tinolang Binakol, your regular tinola with coconut meat twist! I’m not really a fan of binakol (even in other restaurants). The sweetness of coconut meat somewhat tastes weird with ginger soup. Anyways, they served it in a coconut shell which is a plus point for presentation.

              From all the dishes, what I really liked was their Sotanghon Guisado. I never thought that scrambled eggs will go well with vermicelli. It is also flavorful and has generous servings of pork and chicken strips.

Taste-wise, price-wise and service-wise, it was just okay.  For the same price-level, I think Namnam’s dishes taste better and Namnam really put that “twist” on the usual Filipino food. Maybe I’ll come back and try C2’s other offerings and perhaps I’ll be more satisfied.

For more information, you may visit their website:

Philippine Holidays for 2015

As early as now, I'm posting the list of nationwide holidays for 2015 as announced by Malacanang
(based from the Official Gazette):

January 1, 2015, Thursday – New Year’s Day (Regular holiday)
January 2, 2015, Friday - Additional special non-working day (Special non-working day)
February 19, 2015, Thursday – Chinese New Year (Special non-working day)
February 25, 2015, Wednesday – EDSA Revolution anniversary (Special holiday)
April 2, 2015, Thursday – Maundy Thursday (Regular holiday)
April 3, 2015, Friday – Good Friday (Regular holiday)
April 4, 2015, Saturday – Black Saturday (Special non-working day)
April 9, 2015, Thursday – Araw ng Kagitingan (Regular holiday)
May 1, 2015, Friday – Labor Day (Regular holiday)
June 12, 2015, Friday – Independence Day (Regular holiday)
August 21, 2015, Friday – Ninoy Aquino Day (Special non-working day)
August 31, 2015, last Monday of August – National Heroes Day (Regular holiday)
November 1, 2015, Sunday – All Saints Day (Special non-working day)
November 30, 2015, Monday – Bonifacio Day (Regular holiday)
December 24, 2015, Thursday - Additional special non-working day (Special non-working day)
December 25, 2015, Friday – Christmas Day (Regular holiday)
December 30, 2015, Wednesday – Rizal Day (Regular holiday)
December 31, 2015, Thursday – Last day of the year (Special non-working day)

Wow, plenty of holidays for next year! So what are you waiting for? Take something off from your bucket list. Go, Taste & Blog!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dining by the sea at Maxine

They say that when you are Alaminos City, Pangasinan, dining at Maxine by the Sea Restaurant & Lodge is a must. And I must agree! Though the food is just typical, nothing beats al fresco dining with a view of the Hundred Islands.

Only a few minutes walk from where we are billeted, we arrived at Maxine, which is conveniently located in Lucap Wharf.  We headed towards the upper deck section of the restaurant’s roof-over patio nestled over the water. It was evening and raining hard, only the tiny light from the nearby parola can be viewed outside from where we were seated. It was both frightening and exciting as we can hear the roaring waves below us and the cold, strong wind gusting towards us.
The busy reception area
Stairs leading towards Maxine Rendezvous' upper deck

Finally, dinner is served!

All the dishes taste okay. The servings are satisfactory also. Price is average. What mattered was the experience of dining by the sea-- a perfect way to cap our last night in Hundred Islands.

For more details, visit their website at:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Surprising Bolinao

Coming from Alaminos, we drove further up north to Bolinao, Pangasinan. I wasn’t really expecting much since this Bolinao Day Tour was just part of the Hundred Islands Tour package we got. To my surprise, Bolinao has a lot to offer--even if it is not too popular like its nearby destination place, Hundred Islands.

First stop: Bolinao Falls
the trek going to Bolinao Falls 2
After a short trek on what looks like a countryside or a farm, we arrived at the Bolinao Falls. You have to manoeuvre on the makeshift bamboo bridges to be able to get to the wooden cottage of your choice. This cottage, of course, comes with a rental fee. If you weren’t able to bring food, you can buy cold bottled water or softdrinks and snacks like bananaque.

Word of caution tho—be very careful when approaching the falls because the stones you will be stepping on are really slippery (Well, I actually slipped and made a spectacle!)
Bolinao Falls 2

The locals told us that we should see “the other falls”. But after hearing that is a more difficult and a longer trek than what we’ve already done, we just decided to stay where we are.

After a while, we headed back to where our van was parked. There was a table selling halo-halo (PhP 15 for a small plastic cup). We ordered because the driver said that going to Patar Beach would take a while and it was already lunch time.

Next stop: Patar Beach
As we are nearing Patar Beach, I noticed that there are plenty of resorts along the way to choose from--to the luxurious accommodations up to budget lodges.

We settled on the “public beach” area where you can rent a cottage or a picnic table. Souvenir shops abound. The pay restrooms however are disappointing. Aside from the long queue, it’s not that clean.

Since it is a Saturday, plenty of families are having their picnics here. We didn't bring any food so we had our super late lunch in the carinderia near the entrance.

The creamy sand beach facing the West Philippine Sea is not yet that commercialized. There’s no mobile phone signal here. Nobody from our group attempted to swim because it was too hot (it was already mid-afternoon). I wasn’t able to take a photo of the beach because i was too busy looking at the fresh catch that was just brought in by the fishermen. 
fresh catch!

We were advised to wait for the “famous sunset” but we were in a hurry as we have to go to Cape Bolinao before heading on a long drive for Manila.

Last stop: Cape Bolinao

Just some minutes of uphill walk on a Bougainvillea-lined pavement from Patar Beach is Cape Bolinao, the second tallest lighthouse in the Philippines. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside or climb to the topmost portion of the lighthouse. I just contented myself at the overlooking deck with the paronamic view of the sea while the sun is about to set.
with the sun about to set!

Definitely a day is not enough for what Bolinao has to offer. Other must-see places like the caves, rock formations, more falls, etc are enough reasons to be “surprised” and stay here for another day. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hopping the Hundred Islands

The Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City, Pangasinan is actually composed of about 123 islands and islets. 

Here’s a rundown of some of its islands that we were able to visit in a 2-day period:

Governors Island
It is famous for the 360 degrees view of the Hundred Islands that you mostly see in brochures and websites. However, you must first take the 100+ steps before reaching the view deck but it will all be worth it, I tell you.
Governors Island's beachfront
panoramic view of Hundred Islands

Also in this island is the Pinoy Big Brother transient house used during the 2006 Teen Edition. There’s also the Governors Cave. It is small and quite cleaner than the other caves.

PBB house
Governors Cave

Quezon Island
It is one of the three developed islands, along with Governors and Children’s islands. It has plenty of cottages and grilling area. We were supposed to have our lunch here but it is too crowded.

Lopez Island
For our lunch venue, we settled with this not-so-popular island which is just across Quezon Island. Good thing there were also some picnic tables and monobloc chairs.  It’s a small island with fine sand and clear waters (plenty of jellyfish though). It’s not crowded and we actually loved it here and came back the following day for lunch again.

Century Island
This is my favorite, despite the stinky guano smell.  After a forest-like short trail, you will come face-to-face with a huge dome-shaped cave with massive stalagmite and stalactite formations. Countless bats are either flying around or hanging at the ceiling of the cave. I climbed the steep and slimy formations just to have the photo-op at the left:
Bats hanging on the cave's ceiling

Marcos Island
Another must-visit island is the Marcos Island, famous for its cliff-diving spot. For thrill-seekers, one can go to the top part of Imelda Cave and plunge into the deep water below! I wanted to try it but I just didn’t have the guts, maybe next time. With its fine, white sand and clear waters, we rested here for a while.

Imelda Cave

Cathedral Island
Named as such because it looks like an ancient rock cathedral. It is actually an island-cave with massive and rugged limestone formation. We weren’t able to come closer, but I was able to take some shots of it:
close-up shot at the mouth of the cave

Crocodile and Turtle Islands
We just passed by these small islands. Crocodile Island looks like a crocodile from afar and Turtle Island looks like, well you guessed it right, a turtle!

Look! a crocodile!

Turtle Island

For more information, visit

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