I cannot attest whether the stomach is the best way to a man’s heart or not. I believe that food is not only a basic human need, it nourishes, eases the discomfort caused by hunger – and stress (that is unhealthy though) – and brings people together.
Food in the Philippines is a fusion of different flavors and influences. I have foreign friends and acquaintances who find Filipino cuisine unique in some ways and how ingenious we are in preparing meals and snacks. We use vinegar in cooking, which is not common in other countries. We eat cashew leaves, bamboo shoots, balut, among others. Nevertheless, similar to other cultures in the world, we have food meant only to be eaten in certain occasions, we prepare food based on tradition and belief, and we have techniques that are passed on from one generation to the next.
Food is good. I love eating, and food is best enjoyed free of charge. I rarely eat outside and when I do, it is more likely because it is free, cheap or it really is that good, or when I am really, really hungry – I am used to my mother’s cooking and somehow, the taste of home food is a standard measure. I dine out with friends and family. I eat street food, so I am not that fastidious in what I eat; unless, of course, if you will let me eat something icky or what they call exotic. I am not a fan.
I am sharing some pictures of the food I have eaten so far, from Zambales and beyond, where I ate (or eat them) and some recommendations. I am not a critic, and my taste buds are not [yet] at par with anyone who has professional, discriminating taste.
Feast your eyes. These photos were taken using my Asus Zenfone Max.
Ben there, ate that. Eating at Ben’s Kitchen (Harbor Point, SBMA) is almost close to the feel of eating at a Yellow Cab. The restaurant offers a variety of pizzas, pastas, coffee and rice meals (not that Yellow Cab at all). Their nacho is really good, paired with their coffee selection.
Say cheese. The meaty and cheesy nachos at Ben’s Kitchen are tempting starters to a hearty two-thumbs-up meal.
Pasta la vista, baby. Ben’s Kitchen offers a variety of pasta entrees.
Pizzarap. Need I say more?
Bulalo that sizzles. Yeah, you read it right. Bulalo World has sizzling bulalo, a fatty (you read that right again), spiced stew of beef with marrow, corn and bok choi . Yum.
Tukso, layuan mo ako (Temptation, go away). The sizzling bulalo up close.
Sweetness overload. This cooler is a very good recommendation this summer. Caleigh’s (Iba and Masinloc) is a place for Hello Kitty fans and a haven for those looking for sweet food and snacks. This one in this photo is the Chocolate Overload, which is worth every cent.
Chocolate is love. Cream, pretzels, choco sticks plus a chocolaty shake.
Hello, Food. This is a breakfast fit for a king. Start the day with this breakfast from Crimson Hotel Manila (Mandaluyong). The hotel offers sumptuous feast of Eastern and Western flavors. Here, you will see mami (noodles in beef broth, mixed with sliced carrots and cabbage, eggs and beef), slices of ham and salad, fruits and sandwiches. The variety of food that you can taste and the rich aroma plus the really warm ambience and hospitable staff makes the stay and dining experience worth the price.
Burp. One serving of an Inihaw Express (look for one at an SM food court) combo meal – combined food of two ulams (yeah, the ‘s’ is necessary) or more plus rice – means a full tummy. Here I have meat (pancit miki (I think)) + meat (nilagang baka) + grilled squid + rice + puto (a rice cake). The combination is a feast of Pinoy flavors in one serving.
Stop, in the name of chow. Riders can now have a short stop at Sto. Nino, Cabangan to dine. LC’s Stop and Chow is a restaurant for hungry travelers. Here, I have pancit (a typical Filipino food of sautéed noodles, vegetables and meat), lumpia (fried Chinese rolls), and halo-halo (a sweet and creamy summer cooler).
Baby, it’s NOT cold outside. It really isn’t. The summer heat is already here and what better way to ease the discomfort but to enjoy these cool summer favorites (Halo-halo and Crema de Leche) at Mang Inasal.
PM mo… PM ko… PM is the code used in the meals served at Mang Inasal. Chicken Inasal (grilled chicken) is a juicy fare and its goodness should be enjoyed in a dip of mixture of soy sauce, calamansi and chilies. Remember to wash your hands and dig in.
Kuya, pengeng sabaw (Kuya, soup please). Not your typical “sabaw” (broth), Mang Inasal’s sinigang is not your average free soup. The sour soup (sinigang) has that flavorful tamarind taste that goes well with the inasal (grilled chicken). If you plan to eat at Mang Inasal (Iba Town Center, Subic and many in Olongapo), do not just ask for extra rice, ask for sabaw.
Ready? Check. Placemat? Check. Utensils? Check… while waiting for the tasty chicken at Max’s Restaurant (Olongapo City). Their fried chicken is a killer (in my opinion) and their baked goodies are really delectable.
Yum, yum, yum, yum. Let’s eat.
Extra rice. You probably know what these are for.
Street food up a notch. These aren’t your typical street food; these are PotDog (Iba Town Center and other malls) treats that will surely make you define street food to a whole new level. They also have rice, so if you are that hungry (I mean that), you can opt for rice.
Saucy not sosy. PotDog is not sosy (sosyal in Filipino, which can mean expensive). You can share it with your friends to cut the cost and the food is really worth the money. By the way, their sauce is also good: just the right blend of sweet, sour and spicy.
Eat your veggies. Beef broccoli is one of the favorites at Regz Noodle House. However, if you are more into the typical Filipino fare, you will not be disappointed.
Sinful sisig. The crispy and sizzling (and fat-rich) at Regz Noodle House (Iba, Zambales) is typically a pulutan (dish served with alcoholic drinks) and not a side dish. That is not the only food you have to try there though. They have lomi that is not only cheap – that’s right – but is also awesomely delectable.
Daing to eat a hearty Pinoy almusal. This is a typical Pinoy breakfast less the kamatis (tomato) – daing na bangus (dried milkfish; garlic rice; sunny side up; and atsara (pickled papaya). This was the breakfast that I had at Robbinsdale Hotel (Manila) for two days. One may opt for sausage though. The food is served with vinegar with spices (but I really prefer kamatis and bagoong) and coffee.
Tea time. If you prefer, you may opt for tea instead of coffee.
Spice up your life. Pasta with a zest of chili and meaty and flavorful sauce may be all the comfort food you need. This spaghetti from Roberto’s (Iba) could be the one for you. Best served with steak and chicken, this really is an appetizing treat to light you up.
What do you call this? The mouthwatering spaghetti from Roberto’s up close.
Oishi. We feasted on the fish and fries while waiting for our steak.
Show me siomai. Best served hot, siomai (a steamed dumpling with meat or fish filling), is an instant snack to ease one’s hunger for something spicy, salty and with citrusy, sour taste. Siomai House (Iba Town Center) is one of the options. If you are not picky, you can go for the ones sold at rolling stores, which are not only cheap but are also delish.
Summer’s in; bring out the ice cream. TCT Emily’s (Cabangan, Zambales) sell ice creams and other summer coolers but that is not the only ones you should order. The eatery offers other Pinoy favorites, including pinapaitan, dinuguan, puto, pansit (which, I can say, is really savory) and maja blanca.
A little Japanese-y. The shrimp teriyaki with calamares (squid) I ate at a mall in Manila.
Sandwiched. A tuna sandwich and cinnamon roll from Via Mare (Manila) is a sure winner. The smooth, rich blend of the tuna spread goes well with the roll.
Which should I eat first? These sweets from Via Mare are irresistibly good.