DoesThatHelp

When you just don't know what to do with that stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Lunch

Picking up takeout on a lazy Brooklyn afternoon

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Since moving to the Philippines five years ago, on those indecisive days trying to figure out what to eat, the old reliable Chinese takeout place becomes a very-much missed commodity. Something as basic as the standard Chinese takeaway joint is all-too-often taken for granted and one of those things I’ve grown to miss once it’s not there anymore.

Not sure why the concept hasn’t taken off in Bacolod City. There are Chinese establishments, but they are all expansive restaurants (with attached banquet halls). However, the only thing I’m craving is a hole-in-the-wall spot that has a $4.75 lunch special.

Stopping for Chinese takeout was a regular occurrence back when living in the US; on every visit back, there has always been a visit to the random spot down the street or around the corner.

The classic entrée that comes with rice and the choice of soup or soda, is all too typical when living and working in New York City, but when visiting, after at least a year of being away, those kind of things become treasured. It would seem like something so simple would be adaptable to most cultures – given the practice has expanded to other parts of the world outside the US – but for the local culture in Bacolod City it, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be something attractive.

On the last trip, while staying in Brooklyn, after a long morning of work, followed by some time at the gym, venturing into Manhattan was the last thing on my mind. Stopped at a nearby grocery store and noticed a Chinese place a block over. Placed an order for a sesame chicken lunch special, along with an order of dumplings, and went back to the grocery store as they prepared the lunch set.

Getting back to the apartment, put the groceries away and plopped on the couch for some basic takeout and daytime television. Thinking back while sitting behind a desk in the Philippines, yes, those things, as mundane as they may seem, are definitely taken for granted.

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Written by Paulo Loreto

February 18, 2018 at 5:20 AM

Spotting doughnuts in Koreatown

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On the most recent visit to New York City, was working remotely for the newspaper, which meant the work day started at 3:00 a.m. and ran until around 12 noon. Throwing in some time at the local gym, getting to take in as much as possible in the afternoon was a priority in order to truly appreciate the time back on the old stomping grounds.

More often than not, on any given day in Manhattan, it will likely be spent wandering up and down the strip of 32nd street referred to as Koreatown. Especially with a Koryo Books location to pick up the latest K-pop album, along with a Nature Republic store, it has become more than an eating destination.

Was walking eastward when a big sign that read “ginseng” caught my eye; incidentally, was in the market for ginseng products and had to check it out.

The place was called Besfren, with a cute logo with rabbits on it, which apparently is based on a fairy tale about a pair of rabbits that lived on the moon and made rice cakes. Stepping inside, noticed one side had a wall lined with ginseng products and the other side was a full-fledged café.

Before browsing the ginseng, and eventually picking up a small pack of sachets, was in awe of the pastry display. So many options, each with a very unique look to them. However, there was nothing more eye-catching than the green tea doughnut. After going for the brightly-colored pastry, also ordered a ginseng ginger latte, which offered a punch of ginger flavor with every sip, hopped on the subway with excitement, anticipating the joy of indulging in the doughnut.

Seeing it both in the display case and on the table ready to consume, this “doughnut” was more like a mini-cake – huge for a doughnut. Took the first bite and the green tea flavor was potent and, given how dense the doughnut was, it was not dry. Plus, the crème in the middle offered a nice complement to the pastry itself.

The next time in Koreatown, will definitely need to stop in again (wonder if the stamp card I picked up will still be valid).

Written by Paulo Loreto

February 10, 2018 at 1:37 AM

Spicy eel in Busan

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After wandering around Busan, South Korea for the first time, it was lunchtime and had to find a place to eat. Knowing it was the one chance on the trip to take in the beachside culture (was only in town for the day), needed some kind of seafood. After a quick look around, stopped in for some eel and fresh sashimi at a small restaurant a few steps from Haeundae Beach.

When ordering the eel, had a variety of images in mind, but was only sure that it was going to be spicy. Prior to Busan, had eel in sushi at a variety of places, sliced into strips and stir-fried in sauce in Hong Kong; and grilled from a food cart in Seoul’s Myeongdong district.

The banchan arrived, which was exceptional (more plates than expected), then the sashimi arrived – a gorgeous sight.

The server then approached with a deep black bowl and placed it on the burner that was set up at the table. Took a peek and spotted a heaping pile of meat slathered in a bright red sauce, then noticed everything was moving! The eel was sliced literally just before heading to the table. The pieces of eel wiggled back and forth as the fire flicked on. Watching the movement, along with an occasional stir, the wriggling slowly faded – guess it was a signal to show the food was done.

Every bite was amazing, wrapped in lettuce, perilla leaf, or with a spoonful of rice.

Thank you for the sacrifice, delicious eel.

Written by Paulo Loreto

January 26, 2018 at 9:59 PM

Stopping for sikhye at Gwangjang Market

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On the last visit to Seoul, as usual, arrived early in the morning and got to the hotel way too early for check-in. As is the tradition, the concierge offers to hold the bags for free and left to spend the first morning in Seoul a mere couple hours after getting off the plane. Stopped by Namdaemun Market first, which has become a regular haunt since the preferred accommodations are always in Myeongdong, located just next door.

Afterwards, headed straight to Gwangjang Market and walked up and down the numerous rows of freshly-cooked food with friendly ladies hard at work behind their griddles. Was still a big groggy from the flight and could not entirely take everything in in that moment, a very unfortunate dilemma in such a magical place like Gwangjang Market.

However, on the way out, stopped by a stand after spotting one of those machines filled with the ever-recognizable sweet rice punch called sikhye (식혜) and had to stop for a cup. It was ₩1,000 (less than $1) and offered a flavor unique to both Korea and to the market culture itself. It’s sweet and refreshing, and even has rice kernels floating around it.

It became a memento of the first wandering adventure on the second visit to Seoul.

On the next visit (because pretty sure there will be a third), will make sure it a longer stay and will involve many more market tours (and that’s on top of the daily visit to Namdaemun).

Written by Paulo Loreto

January 19, 2018 at 5:44 PM

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.

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.

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.