Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Old World of Ma Mon Luk

Entering Ma Mon Luk takes you back to the old world. The place was dingy with no aircon, just big old ceiling fans, bowls and saucers in uhmm…less than perfect condition, marble tables that are chipped and not really that clean and attendants who hardly pay attention to you. I guess this is how things are in an old Chinese panciteria.

Even their pay phone is vintage.

But of course, Mamu and I are not her for the ambience and the service. We were there for Ma Mon Luk’s siopao and mami.

This is a first time of sorts for me, I don’t remember having a Ma Mon Luk experience, but according to Mamu she used to bring home their siopao as pasalubong for us.

After the waiter finally paid attention to us we both ordered the Original Mami and Jumbo Siopao. I looked around the place and found the tables full of customers, mostly families with bowls of mami and siopao.

While the siopao did not disappoint, although Mamu kept on saying “iba na, iba na” between bites. It was served hot, the bun was not super white but good nonetheless. I really like the meat filling, it was not fatty or saucy, you can actually taste the meat, bola-bola and salted eggs.

The mami isn’t really the best I’ve had. It was very simple, served in a very ordinary looking bowl, the broth was clear, the chicken white, the pork looked like pork and everything is topped with spring onions. I prefer my mami spicy with lots of fried garlic.

For a dish that has a lot of history to it, the mami is tasty but very simple. I guess this was how people enjoyed this dish when Ma Mon Luk was still peddling it around the streets of Manila.

We ordered two pieces of Jumbo Siopao for takeout. Lo and behold, when the siopao arrived it was in a brown supot, panciteria style, no clear tape, only the supot folded haphazardly to form some kind of handle. The kind of packaging that makes you want to say "Mga anak, may uwi akong siopao para sa inyo."

Definitely old world...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Partying "Berks" Style

Mamu and I received an invitation to a surprise birthday party for Ate Mila, one of her “berks”. Mamu really wasn’t really bent on going because she was undergoing a couple of tests that week for her cataract surgery. Thanks to Ate Encar, she changed her mind.

Mamu’s group (Ate Encar, Ate Vicky G. and Ate Merlie T.) was the first to arrive followed by another group of “berks”.

The early birds
One good thing about our quaint, albeit far, little subdivision is that every occasion, big and small, is celebrated by the community. Just a few weeks ago, Mamu came from a mananita (pronounced as manyanita), a practice where members of the community are serenaded (secretly) on the eve of their 50th birthday.

So it wasn’t really a surprise when almost everyone of Mamu’s berks came in full force to celebrate Ate Mila’s 57th or 60th, the most popular number that came out when asked about her age, not directly from her though, birthday.
All lined up waiting for the celebrant
Ate Mila’s arrival
One group even prepared a dance number complete with costume, colorful wigs and fishnet stockings!

Nobody But You as interpreted by The NV 1 “Hot Babes”
Everybody had fun posing in colorful wigs.
The "Berks" partied hard until 9 o'clock that night.
As soon as we were home Mamu told me to upload her photos on Facebook, yes she has an FB account, used mostly for Zuma, Jewel Puzzle and Marble Lines.

The senior citizens of "the Berks" gladly welcomed Ate Mila into their world. Most of the photos are courtesy of Mamu.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Alas! Everything Comes Together

Last month I got a call from Direk asking me to do a script for a product launch of one of their clients. He explained that this is a different event because the client wanted to incorporate a mini stage play in their launch. They wanted to do something along the lines of Camelot which they have been using for their sales and marketing blitz. Having grown up on the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table I just did very minimal research and submitted a script two days later. After a few minor revisions here and there, I never heard from them again.

Then on the first week of August I got another call informing me that the script was approved and that I was requested to watch the final rehearsal at the office.

A week after, we were in Greenhills for the final dress and technical rehearsals.

The event itself is a show within a show. There’s a live event hosted by Mellow Touch DJ Ingrid Nieto, then a couple of VTRs (video presentation which we call OBBs) to serve as teasers for the play, then the stage play and finally a performance by Jeffrey Hidalgo.

The whole event coming to life is really a combined effort of everyone involved. A lot of people don’t realize this. While I did the script for the stage play, the live event and OBB script was done by another writer . All the video materials are edited for a very long time, just as an example, a one- minute VTR is edited for a couple of hours, for this event, we had three so it took the editor more than four sleepless days to complete all the video materials. The creative director and production designer conceptualizes the stage, backdrop (background), basically, the overall look for the whole event. The production director sources all the technical requirements which include the technical staff and equipment. The technical staff sees to it that every nitty gritty detail (lights, sounds, camera,etc.) are all in place. The talents (voice, stage and hosts) breathes life into the show. And of course, the director combines all these elements together. Everything is subject to client's approval. When the client decides that they don’t like what they see, everything is revised. With their approval, it’s all systems go.

Here are some behind the scenes from The Quest. Most of the pictures were taken during the final rehearsal as I was busy backstage during the event.

The stage: During set-up

During final rehearsals

Part of the stage (taken backstage), a few minutes before the show.

Some of the actors being made-up

The big reveal...

Merlin the Great "Medician" played by Arkin

The Great Ching Kee played by Fourth

Lord Maharajah played by Von

Prince Slavic played by David

Rest Questor played by Luani

The whole cast

Direk, giving directions
During the final rehearsal, a day before the event, Direk was told that the clients liked what they saw so they’re planning to bring the event to five key cities nationwide.

A successful event, like this one, is really something to rejoice about.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Goodies from Greenhills

I spent two very busy days at Greenhills for an event. Luckily, the event venue (I’m not sure if it's something I can mention yet) is located near one of the Promenade’s Food Court. As soon as I found an excuse to go out for awhile, I scanned the foodcourt. Three stalls caught my eye, Gonuts Donuts, So Zhou and Hizon’s.

Though I have very strong feelings (an understatement) for Kristy Kremes, Gonuts Doughnuts’ Pastillas Filled will always have a soft spot in my heart (or taste buds). I love Pastillas anytime and anywhere, I can finish a whole box of these sweets in one sitting. I love it even better inside a donut! All that rich, milky sweetness coating your mouth is to die for. I was too focused on the doughnut that I forgot to take pictures.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Su Zhou’s dumplings, particularly their Special Xiao Long Pao, a dumpling with a soup inside it (more like dumpling juice actually), so for a quick lunch I went there to try this. There was nothing quick about the lunch, as the cashier-slash-waitress explained, there’s a 10-15 minute waiting period because they steam the dumplings only after an order has been made. Finally my Xiao Long Pao (four pieces) arrived served on a bamboo steamer, each piece looks like a little siopao, slightly bigger than your average dumpling. Being the little eager beaver that I am, I bit into one of the dumpling. It was scalding hot! For a bonus, my pants caught the soup. Then I remembered reading somewhere that the proper way to eat these dumplings was to put in a spoon, puncture the wrapper first then allow the soup to flow to the spoon, sip the soup first then proceed to eat the dumplings. Once my tongue recovered, I followed the proper protocol and enjoyed my Xiao Long Pao. It was all I heard about and more! The wrapper is very soft (although I expected it to be more translucent) , the soup tasty, but oily, I still have the stains to prove it, and the dumplings moist and tender. But again, due to time constraints, I did not take a picture.

I also bought Su Zhou’s Jumbo Siopao called Ah Pao to take home to Mamu. We had that for breakfast (brunch for me). The mutant looking siopao was filled with all sorts of Chinese delights you can think of, bola-bola, salted duck egg, chorizo, mushroom, chicken (I think), pork plus a lot more. Too bad Su Zhou is only located in Greenhills.

I was spying what looks like a very luscious caramel cake from Hizon’s but when I went there the cake was gone. I just bought a Cream Roll, which looks like a pianono filled with yema, and a Queso de Bola Ensaymada for Mamu because it’s one of her favorites

As of this entry, the Ensyamada is atill in the refrigerator. I have no idea what Mamu is saving it for. But like she always says "You can never go wrong with anything from Hizon's."

Monday, August 10, 2009

As I Turn Another Year Older

I celebrated my birthday over the weekend with three dinners, one at home and two at Trinoma.
The Eve
Since I’m such a dinuguan “snob”, I usually don’t eat this elsewhere, even in restaurants, Mamu decided to cook dinuguan for me. Her version is made with liempo and usually with mustasa (mustard greens).
I never really got the puto and dinuguan thing, for me dinuguan is best partnered with rice with a dipping sauce of calamansi and salt
I know dinuguan doesn’t picture well and descriptions don’t help either, but Mamu’s dinuguan is really the best, a bit sour but that’s the only way I know how dinuguan tastes like.

Dinner Number 1
Mamu was meeting my brother’s friend the following day so we just decided to forego dinner till then. Instead of going out, we ordered dinner from Lu Yong, a popular Chinese panciteria at San Mateo.
We had Hoto Tay Soup, Pansit Pinagulong (because Mamu believes that birthdays should be celebrated with some kind of noodle dish) and of course, Mamu’s Dinuguan.
The Hoto Tay was a bit bland and kind of watered down. But as Mamu pointed out, for the price (110.00) we really can’t complain.
Pansit Pinagulong, Lu Yong's specialty is your typical pansit, but instead of bihon or canton, they make use of lomi and it’s topped with lechon kawali. The Pinagulong still tastes great although I noticed a slight improvement, it’s not as oily as I remember.
Dinner Number 2
After meeting Ron (my brother’s friend from West Virginia), Mamu and I headed to Abe in Trinoma because my heart skips a beat everytime Abe’s Kare-Kare is mentioned.
We ordered Kare-Kare (of course), Sinuteng Baby Pusit and Ensaladang Mangga’t Bagoong. Yum, yum, yum!
The Mangga’t Bagoong is, as always, perfect. Sour green mangoes with Abe’s sweetish, salty bagoong. Writing about this now still makes me drool.
The Sinuteng Baby Pusit is something that we ordered for the first time. As the menu described, the baby squid is cooked in olive oil and seasonings. The baby squid was very tender, seasoned just right, although I would’ve preferred it to be a bit spicier.
And finally the Kare-Kare, the star of the show was served. I noticed some changes. First, the vegetable and oxtail was served in the same container, last time I was here, it was in separate containers and second, there was more sauce (no complaints here) but it was a bit thinner than I remember.
I was a bit apprehensive with these changes, but as soon as I tasted the first bite, my fear was laid to rest. It tasted the same as I remember. The oxtail was tender, the litid just barely melts in your mouth, the vegetable was not overcooked at all after seating in all that sauce and the sauce was just peanutty (I know this is not a word) and perfect. I enjoyed this Kare-Kare more because I didn’t have to request for extra peanut sauce. I really love and adore this Kare-Kare, in fact, I even told Mamu that if I could, I would have this every day but I'm pretty sure after a week my arteries would be completely clogged.
Dining at Abe (which I consider as one of best Filipino restaurants) is always a great experience, the waiters are all attentive and ever so patient with all our questions. But while waiting for our order to arrive we were approached by someone from RCBC. She was offering their credit card and went on to explain about its benefits, particularly if you’re a regular diner at all LJC Restaurants. We politely told her that we were not interested but she still went on with her spiel. This time around, our “no” was a bit firm. She got the hint and walked away. The girl was courteous enough but the experience was a bit annoying.
For dessert, we went to Café Breton. This was Mamu’s first time at Café Breton so I decided to try something new with her (I usually have the La Pinay). She told me to choose for both of us, I ordered Original Sin. This sinful concoction of caramelized apple in a crepe topped with caramel sauce, caramel ice cream and whipped cream.
Thsi dessert tasted like a deconstructed apple pie. I really like the caramel ice cream, it tasted like burnt caramel (the pleasant type, similar to the caramel in a leche flan) and it went well with everything.
Dinner Number 3
The following day, Daphne, my highschool BFF and Kathy, my friend since Grade 5, wanted to meet up for dinner. We decided on Trinoma (again). I’m the celebrant so they let me decide where to have dinner. I wanted Japanese so we settled on Oki Oki Japanese Restaurant.
Both Kathy and Daphne were late (an understatement) so when our order arrived we immediately attacked everything on sight. I forgot to take pictures when I remebered to do so the food was almost completely gone.
Anyway, we enjoyed the Crazy Maki, a Tofu dish (I forgot the name), Fish Tempura and Crab Omelet Ramen.
The Crazy Maki is is a crunchy and enveloped with bread crumbs, stuffed with kani and Japanese mayonnaise and topped with more kani. I think this was the best dish of the night (notice that we had but one piece left when I remembered to take a picture). Even Daphne who is not into maki enjoyed this. I will definitely come back for this alone.
Daphne and I (Kathy doesn’t eat tofu) both enjoyed the Tofu dish which was surrounded by a brown broth with a lot of mushrooms. It was light and refreshing.
The Crab Omelet Ramen came in a very big bowl. The serving was huge. The noodles reminded me of instant noodles but upon first bite, you immediately know that there’s nothing instant about this. It was cooked just right (al dente). The soup was right on and I really liked the crab omelet. Even if Mamu doesn't like Japanese food I know she would enjoy this. I can't wait to bring her here.
I’m not really into fish but the Fish tempura made of asojos is light and crunchy and had no fishy after taste at all.
It was really a very good dinner. We enjoyed the food (almost completely annihilated even when both of my friends claim that they're on a diet) as much as we enjoyed talking and laughing about the good old days.
Dessert was at Conti’s courtesy of Daphne (thanks Daph). Both Kathy and I wanted the Strawberry Shortcake and Daphne ordered the Sugar-free Apple Pie.
The Strawberry Shortcake was just okay, nothing to rave about. I had mine with a cup Chocolate Ga (native Batangas chocolate).
Daphne enjoyed her ApplePie and when I requested a bite, it was really good. I especially like the crust and the struesel topping.
Dinner Number 4 was supposed to be with Rivka and Henry. The plan was for me to bring these two southerners to the north (a.k.a SM City North EDSA) but due to the inclement weather we had to postpone everything.
With three dinners and another one that has yet to be another birthday has come to pass.