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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese cuisine’


The family  celebrated Mother’s Day today, a day earlier than May 11. We decided to meet at SM Megamall for lunch. Another day worth-remembering. One thing that highlights  the day is of course Nate’s presence. The moment he saw us, he let his dad undo the strap of  his stroller and let Josef carry him along. There is a special affinity between the “magninong” (that’s a Tagalog word for godparent) even if they don’t see each other often.  He can pronounce Nonna clearly now and I was so glad when he took my hand and planted a loud kiss on my face.  Nissa said he learned new words in the three weeks that I haven’t seen him.

We opted to dine at the newly opened wing of SM  Megamall. The Mega Fashion Hall  is the new high-end extension of the mall. It houses several restaurants and other international clothing brands. The set-up is somehow similar to the Ayala Malls. Aside from the more popular Vikings, there is another branch of  Lugang Café where we took our lunch. So it’s Chinese food for lunch. I took some shots but mostly of Nate banging a spoon and fork on the table and playing with the plastic green cup which they provided for him along with a green plastic plate and bowl. I had a good time watching him eat what was served on the table. He loved the Fried Beef Noodles and Fried Rice.

He was behaved...at first but he clearly knows when to stop and say sorry to Mom and Dad.

He was behaved…at first but he clearly knows when to stop and say sorry to Mom and Dad.

Mother and daughter team.

Mother and daughter team.

Three generations of Abuel.

Three generations of Abuel.

Nothing is more important than having the family around.

Nothing is more important than having the family around.

Busog na baby? Our little man!

Busog na baby? Our little man!

That's his way of saying,  "I'm full, it's your turn to eat Dad".

That’s his way of saying, “I’m full, it’s your turn to eat Dad”.

I love the Garlic Pork Roll and Steamed Fish Fillet. No room for dessert...

I love the Garlic Pork Roll and Steamed Fish Fillet. No room for dessert…

He is probably looking forward to going swimming tomorrow  with his Dad’s side of the family. Enjoy Nate  but be careful with the sun. I know how much you love to paddle your feet and splash water with your hands.  Until we see each other again.

(Note: This is my 1,440th post…can’t believe it)

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Binondo.

When you think of the place, you associate it with calesa (a horse-drawn carriage which is the best way to enjoy the streets of Binondo), Chinese shops, hopia, Tikoy and authentic Chinese food, you name it, the place is teeming alive with commerce, yes, the Chinese way. Not to be left out is the beautiful Binondo Church which is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. Binondo Church is also known as the Shrine of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint who was born of a Chinese father and a Filipina mother.

Ongpin.

I think Ongpin is the heart-throb of Manila Chinatown. It is where you could find Chinese herbal stores, restaurants, groceries, jewelry shops, and some local banks.  Street vendors abound in all corners of the place.

Hubby and I had the chance to explore some of the streets in Chinatown this morning particularly Ongpin. I was looking for a simple set of necklace and earrings to buy and my daughter  suggested that we visit the place.  I’ve been to the place several times but this is actually the first time that I looked at every nook and cranny trying to find an inexpensive jewelry that would fit my budget. I brought my camera and took lots of pictures but as usual I could not upload them here yet. Such a pity really since I am excited to share what made me love the place this morning despite the noonday heat. I came prepared of course by bringing an umbrella but you won’t really use an umbrella while exploring. I should have brought my sun hat instead.

We decided not to bring the car and just had a commute from our place to Cubao, then from Cubao, we took a taxi  and alighted near Binondo Church.  It was still early when we arrived but the place was busy with morning traffic, tricycle rides/tribikes (why should you ride on a tricycle/tribike when it is far easier to walk?), street vendors selling different kinds of fruits, Chinese stores gaily decorated in mostly red and the  faint smell of horse dung from some calesa lining up the side streets.  First stop was a Chinese jewelry shop but I was taken aback when I asked about a simple bracelet and they quoted a price way beyond my reach.  Where could I find something that would fit my budget?

After about five stores, we found this friendly Chinese couple selling not onlyjewelry  but also big Chinese figurines like Buddha in different shades of stones, mounted rocks that have stones in them (I am not sure what they are called) and several accoutrements normally found in Chinese stores. In Ongpin, you have to haggle with the price and meet halfway. You can have a big discount if you know how.  I told him it was a gift  for my birthday in a few days and fixed a price which he said was way too low. There comes your flair for drama –  told him we came all the way from Cainta (which is true), a two-hour ride to Ongpin,  and I also told him that I will use it for my daughter’s wedding in three weeks (see, I am not lying) and I only got enough money to buy that set, to have lunch later and bring home a couple of Hopia. He gave in and hubby told me later, “sana tinawaran mo pa, papayag din naman pala.”  Meaning, we could still haggle with the price. But the vendor gave me a gift, a three-inch tall gold-plated rabbit figurine mounted on a flat black wood. It weighs a little heavy and he said, “pampaswerte”  which means it is for good luck. The thing is, I was quite surprised when he didn’t give the items all at once but placed them instead in a bowl of metal and had to spin the sides with something resembling a thick spoon to produce a sound which was like ethnic music to my ears. He did it twice, once with the set of earrings and necklace and one more time with the rabbit figurine. Then he placed the set on a lovely box and made me choose which color. I was grinning like crazy when we went out of the store. By the way, he even allowed me to take pictures of their shelves with all the colorful array of Buddha figures, Koi fish, green balls and such.

We had lunch at Hap Chan and ordered fried lumpia, siomai and different kinds of balls set in a bed of Pechay Baguio. Simple as it was, it was yummy. It came with free hot tea in tall mugs. After lunch was time to really explore the place. I took shot of the sleeping Calesa driver, took shot of the guy selling large Durian fruits (he even requested if he could see the picture so I showed it to him) and he smiled and said thanks. I took shot of the guy selling sugar cane. Yes, you heard it right, a long cane of about six feet costs P60.00, ready to eat, because he would peel it for you when you buy one. Castanas which are only common in department stores during Christmas season were pegged at P200.00 per kilo. Seedless grapes were sold at P180.00.

A trip to Binondo or particularly at Ongpin would not be the same without buying the specialty of the place which is Hopia. Best known establishments selling tasty and delicious hopia are the Salazar Bakery and Eng Bee Tin Bakery. I was craving for it so I bought some in Salazar and some in Eng Bee Tin. Hopia Pandan is P40.00 per pack (five pieces). Hopia Mochipilia Ube Macapuno costs P44.00 and a Special White medium-sized Tikoy  is at P160.00 per box. Hopia Mongo and Hopia Black Mongo cost P38.00 each at Salazar’s while Hopia Ube special is P40.00 per pack. Tikoy and a  bagful of hopia and hubby was laughing at me when he saw what I bought. “Naubos ang pera ko dahil sa hopia.”  Gee, I spent all my money on hopia. I was delighted to find an old-time favorite called Haw Flakes.

Wow, that completes my Binondo trip and I really want to go back and try the food at Nueva St. It was a fine day for exploring and Binondo is such a lovely place to do it. A day would not be enough to know the place but it definitely makes it memorable.

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Two summers ago,  I enrolled in some cooking lessons at Sylvia Reynoso Culinary Studio. I learned a lot from the Practical Chinese Cooking course taught by Sylvia, baking courses from Ernest(her son) and special lessons on Doughnuts from Morella(her daughter). It was fun and I enjoyed every minute of every lesson that they taught us.  The fun part of course was the taste test. We were given the chance to sample our own cooking and share it with the other students. They were so supportive and generous of their know-how in cooking. We got some practical tips on how to enhance, measure, where to source for ingredients, how to make product costings if you want to sell them in the future. Sylvia emphasized that cooking is an art and  you got to have a passion for it in order to learn.

 

Chinese cooking course include siopao dough making, siopao filling, cuapao, siomai, fish head soup, fried kikiam, radish salad, lumpiang hubad, camaron rellenado and many more. I was so impressed with the steamed lapu-lapu, it was so appetizing. Sylvia told us that not all types of lapu-lapu are suitable for steaming, some are for grilling.

Ernest taught us different kinds of cookies and bars and also some courses on money making for beginners like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate crinkles, yummies, date walnut cookies, polvoron, chewy mallow bars, Lebanese boat tart, Russian tea cookies etc. There were all kinds of special cookies and bars like Mississippi mud bars, chewy rocky road brownies, chunky oatmeal bars, peanut butter brownies, marsmallow cookies. If you want to put a small-scale business, these are quite easy to make but the thing is the ingredients are quite expensive.  Ernest knows if you are a newbie in baking or an expert by just looking at the way you handle  the spatula and the way you mix the dough. It was so exciting learning new crafts and meeting new friends too who have the same interest  as I have.

A charming lady, Morella is based in Baguio, she has her own culinary school there. I only got to learn Special Lessons on Doughnut  from Morella. So that was the way they do the different kinds of dips, fillings and frostings for doughnuts. I haven’t tried the recipe on Churros yet with a thick Spanish chocolate as dip.

Baking needs a precise way of measurement but you can experiment on other ingredients like substituting casuy instead of walnut.

That was an unforgettable summer for me.



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