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Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Banchan in Haeundae

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On the first trip to Busan, the first item on the list was to enjoy some seafood, particularly eel. After a relaxing train ride from Seoul (not much a fan of zombie movies, but willingly taking the ‘train to Busan’), was soon in the southern beach city and made a beeline for the subway and Haeundae Beach.

After several stops, finally made it and took a walk down the wide central pedestrian pathway that led directly to the beach. Approaching the sand, looking to the left and right, it was an amazing contrast between beach and nature and massive development just steps from the water. Walked all the way down to a long pier, took in the view and spotted some waterfront to restaurants, then headed back.

While walking back, found a small street filled with restaurants, many with tanks full of eel. After strolling down one way, walked back up and stopped at one of the restaurants.

Before even getting to the main course, the banchan laid out was an impressive spread.

Different types of kimchi, soup, bean sprouts, salad, japchae, and so much more – along with a basket of greens to wrap the main course in – was enough to entice the taste buds. Having enjoyed banchan in different parts of the world, from Seoul to New York City, this was definitely the most diverse and unique.

Along with the attractive dishware, the shot currently serves as wallpaper for the desktop computer and mobile phone.

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Written by Paulo Loreto

January 14, 2018 at 8:17 PM

Piping hot lasagna in Genoa

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Docking in Genova, or Genoa, did not have the biggest of expectation for the city. Before leaving New York City, a bartender said she had just visited Genoa and said there was not very much to see outside of some interesting architecture – what one would expect from a centuries-old port city in Europe.

A friend had previously taken a cruise that also docked in Genoa but, during that occasion, she opted to stay on the ship.

Taking the first few steps into town, it was clearly different from prior stops in Rome and Florence. It was much more modest.

In a way, it was a nice change from the sightseeing aspect of wandering some of the more popular locales in Italy and getting to see something a bit relaxed.

After first getting confused on location, eventually found the way into town, which offered a good glimpse of the area. Eventually found one of the main thoroughfares in town, the Via San Lorenzo; walking down the street, caught sights like the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo and the Palazzo Ducale (along with a bubble tea shop).

After browsing a farmer’s market, sat down to lunch in the Piazza Giacomo Matteotti at a place called Douce Pâtisserie Café. Went with a fairly basic eggplant and mushroom lasagna, which arrived to the table hot and steaming. The first bit was a very welcoming one, despite being really hot, the taste of the ingredients were all very pronounced and the lunch became the highlight of the entire visit to Genoa.

However, it was upon leaving that the expansive patisserie inside was noticed – it looked incredible.

Gelato in Rome

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During a walking tour of Rome, the group stopped at the Trevi Fountain for lunch. After enjoying a stromboli for lunch at a small spot a couple blocks down from the fountain, stopped at Gelateria Cecere on the way back for gelato.

Walking into the tiny establishment, which occupied the corner of a building, customers are greeted with a wide freezer display with heaps of flavors, along with a backdrop of multicolored cups – a different color for each size.

Seeking out which flavor was calling, went with the pistacchiosa – it was not the standard pistachio. Beyond the creamy texture of the gelato, the delicious pistachio taste, and the sprinkling of chopped pistachios, there was also a ribbon of pistachio spread that snaked through the scoops.

It was the kind of thing that could potentially swear one off the typical pistachio.

According to a TripAdvisor review, “The pistachio gelato is unlike any I have ever had and, believe me, it is my favourite dessert.”

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 20, 2017 at 9:42 PM

Phở

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It had been a while since visiting one of the local Vietnamese places in town, the Rau Ram Café, down a side street, a few meters from the Marapara Golf and Country Club in Bacolod City. Ever since the first visit, always ordered a big bowl of phở, a traditional beef noodle soup.

Arriving at the table, the steaming bowl comes with a plate full of fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, and sawtooth coriander; along with hot sauce and hoisin sauce, in order to customize each individual bowl.

With ever bowl prepared, tore up various herbs and threw them in before adding in the soup. Once the hot broth makes contact with the leaves, the aromatics consume the table and before taking one bite of the soup, the impression the smells leave is already remarkable.

Even though this place does not serve it with the traditional thin slices of beef that cook quickly in the hot soup, instead its small cubes of beef, the dish is still delicious.

A tall order

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Wandering the mall on a random weekend and needed to find a spot for lunch. The same old chain restaurants that occupy entire wings of the mall, all serving the same overpriced meal options – it’s very much, slim pickings. Zark’s, which also happens to be a chain, usually offers up good burger and fries options, always a go-to when there isn’t much of a craving for anything in particular.

Having visited several times before, it has always been good – although, still taken aback by the number of patrons who eat their burger and fries with a fork and knife.

On this occasion, picked the stone-cold stunner, described as “a double bacon cheeseburger on a bed of fresh lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and caramelized onion,” it sounded great.

The plate arrives at the table and, having experienced double cheeseburgers before, this one did not disappoint in height. It took a bit to figure out the mechanics of it, and it was an absolute mouthful.

Zark’s has always been a good fallback when there didn’t appear to be many other options. Plus, the massive “stone-cold stunner” was some good eats to carry through the rest of the day.

Stone-Cold Stunner

A pleasant surprise after a big disappointment

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On the previous visit to Hong Kong, enjoyed dim sum at Maxim’s Palace, an amazing restaurant with those traditional food trolleys rolling around loaded with delicious small plates; on the most recent visit, received a tip on a dim sum place in the Sheung Wan district.

Upon arriving, it was a bit daunting, located on the second floor, it was crowded and was sharing a table with a couple other parties. With no employees making eye contact and unsure of what even to say if one was called over, backed out and scoured the neighborhood for a new spot.

After walking for a couple blocks, even wandering into a food center without anything terribly inviting, found a small restaurant tucked away along a side street. The menu had a variety of choices and, by that time, was very hungry.

Among the selections, ordered some fried noodles, rice, a large beer, and fried shrimp.

Ordering fried shrimp on a menu, had an image of the typical, western-style, shrimp with breading – maybe even something along the lines of popcorn shrimp (living in a place where cutting corners in the food industry is the norm, it has unfortunately now shaped one’s instincts).

As a pleasant surprise, a plate arrived with these large, beautifully-fried shrimp, atop some steamed broccoli (have been told, anything broccoli is not authentic Chinese, but it was a nice presentation). Grabbed one immediately and upon separating the head from the body, the juices that ran out was incredible, lesson learned for the next one. The breading was wonderfully light, the juices were marvelous, and the shrimp was delicious and meaty.

Dad says, finding Crowd Restaurant was probably meant to be, considering the original destination was a bust.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

A Decent Burger Spot

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Ever since moving to the Philippines, it’s been a disappointing search for a decent hamburger. Either the bread wasn’t great, the toppings were insufficient, or (the worst) the burger was not all beef – and not a blend of another meat, some kind of filler made it obvious restaurants were not serving a 100% meat patty.

Did have a smidge of hope with the monthly burger pop-up at The District by Ayala, in Talisay, but that went to the wayside after too many occasions having to wait because they opened without having their beef patties or buns ready for service; just unprofessional.

Burger chain Zark’s opened up at SM City and, after visiting twice, it’s a pretty good spot and the price isn’t too bad. Enjoyed the Black Mamba on the first visit, came with a really delicious and sweet barbeque sauce; on the last visit, tried the Shaq, topped with onion rings and bacon.

For something as simple as a sandwich comprised of a bun, burger patty, lettuce, tomato, and any other additional toppings, it’s incredible how many places get it wrong. Zark’s has a huge menu and there are so many more to try – so far, so good.

The Shaq, a cheeseburger topped with onion rings and bacon.

The Shaq, a cheeseburger topped with onion rings and bacon.

There was an incident with the hostess on the last visit. Apparently, some fellow food photographers have taken the rather tacky habit to an all new level. The customer, who ordered takeout, asked to have the food brought out on a place for her to take a photo, to add to that, she asked the seating hostess to hold the plate as she took the photo.

That was some pure idiocy, on the part of the customer, and very bad judgement from the seating hostess.

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 17, 2016 at 12:19 AM