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.

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