Tinolang Manok (Lemongrass and Ginger Chicken Soup)

This is considered a classic Filipino dish, it’s simple yet flavorful. The original recipe does not include lemongrass, I just added it because I love it’s aroma and flavor and I know it will go well with ginger.

To make, heat a medium sized pan with about 2 tbsp. vegetable oil. Add 1 stalk lemon grass that has been smashed and 1 thumb sized ginger cut into slivers, saute until fragrant. Then add 1 medium sized chopped onion and cook until transluscent. To this add 1.5 lbs skinless chicken thighs (or any cut of boned in chicken). Note: Removing the skin is my personal preference, you don’t have to use skinless chicken. Continue cooking until the meat loses it’s pink color. Season with 1-2 tbsp. fish sauce and several dashes of black pepper.

Place 5-6 cups water and let this come to a boil. Don’t forget to remove any scum that forms on top. Then lower the heat and let this simmer until chicken is done. Add your sayote (chayote) and cook until tender. Then add your malunggay leaves, stir and cover then turn off heat. You can substitute spinach in place of malunngay leaves.

We usually eat this with rice and a dipping sauce of soy and lemon though some prefer fish sauce and lemon.

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Avocado stuffed with Scrambled Egg

My girls love avocado as much as I do. It just about make anything better and delicious. This recipe is simply easy to make. A couple of days ago I added scrambled egg on top of my avocado toast. This time I decided to stuff it inside.

First, slice your avocado in half and remove the pit or seed. Then peel the skin. Scoop some of the flesh out of your avocado to make room for your eggs. After making your scrambled eggs gently scoop it on top of your avocado and then sprinkle with parsley. You can drizzle some hot sauce or in my case some siracha on top. Serve with biscuit, toast or bagel. You can also eat it as is.

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Mary Grace Cafe

Mary Grace Cafe is hands down my favorite restaurant in Manila. I am a fan of their cheese rolls and ensaimada since this has always been the treat my family would bring everytime they would come to visit me here in the Northeast.

Mary Grace started out as a home business selling her famous ensaimadas which eventually grew and expanded into cafes. This was my first time to ever try out their restaurant though this is a regular go to place of my family. The restaurant is very cozy and has a rustic chic feel to it.

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I was impressed with the selections in their menu. How it combines Filipino classics and modern western flavors in a very unique way. It took me awhile to order since everything in their menu looks so good and tempting. In the end we made the following choices:

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Local Greens with Chili Daing and Crunchy Garlic (Daing is a local dried salted fish)

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Seafood Chowder – A hearty chowder made with seafood broth, clams, mussels and prawns.

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Grilled Kesong Puti with Batard Bread – Grilled kesong puti, garlic and olive oil spread. (Kesong puti is the local white fresh cheese made from carabao’s milk)

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Dory and Saffron Cream Pasta – Fillet of cream dory atop linguini noodles, covered with a light creamy sauce, and flavored with leeks and a hint of saffron.

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Seafood Pasta – A medley of fresh clams, mussels, prawns, squid and cream dory
enhanced with herbs, olives and mushrooms

Sadly we didn’t have room for dessert.

Bulgogi Beef Bowl over Squash Rice

This is another dish that I whipped up in a hurry last week. I had a pack of thinly sliced rib eye that I got at HMart (our local Asian food store) that I marinated with 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 2-3 tsp. sugar and garlic powder and ground black pepper. I let the meat sit in the fridge for at least one hour and then pan fried it in a little oil until golden brown.

I also made kabocha or squash rice to go with it. This is a staple in our household since this is my girls favorite dish. I usually make this in my rice cooker. The recipe can be found here.

To serve, scoop some squash rice onto a bowl then your beef slices. I topped this with a fried sunny side egg and added some steamed yuchoy. Our family always need to have some sort of greens with our meal.

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Oven Broiled Kalbi

Kalbi is a Korean style of barbecued short ribs. My family usually order this everytime we go to our favorite Korean BBQ place. It can be quite pricey though. Until I discovered Beef short ribs at Sam’s club sold at a very reasonable price compared to buying at HMart (Korean grocery). It comes in 3-4 lbs pack more than enough for our family of 4. I usually marinate the whole club pack and just divide it into portions.

To make, rinse the meat well and pat dry with paper towels. Divide the meat in two separate freezer bags. In each bag add 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp. mirin, 1 tbsp. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. sesame oil, 2-3 tsp. brown sugar, 2-3 finely minced garlic (i was in a hurry so I used garlic powder) and about 1 tsp. black pepper. Marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

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Take the meat out of the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking. Set your oven to broil and place your meat in a broil pan in a single layer. Place the tray inside oven 6-8 inches below the broiler and cook until brown and meat looks caramelized. This does not take too long so make sure to watch it. Turn the meat over and cook until the other side is done.

We eat it with white rice and green salad. It will also go well with a side of kimchi.

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I made this a couple of times and served it this time with several store bought side dishes and some green leaf lettuce.

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Pesto Pasta with Avocado and Arugula

This is was something I hastily put together one summer evening when I was really not in the mood to cook. It turned out delicious and my family loved it.

It’s really more like just putting the ingredients together and not really a recipe.

To make, cook the pasta according to package directions. When done drain and place in a deep bowl. Add a generous amount of pesto ( I used the prepared kirkland brand from Costco) or according to taste to the warm pasta, 1 avocado diced and a couple of handfuls go arugula. Toss everything together until combined.

Place in serving bowls and top with grated cheese , parmesan would be ideal but I didn’t have any so I just used fontina which is what I had on hand.

Serve warm with some crusty bread.

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Nadai Fujisoba

Nadai Fujisoba is a Japanese franchise that specializes in soba and udon. They opened their first restaurant in Shibuya in 1966 and then opened their first international location in Taiwan in 2014. They have further expanded and has made their their way to the Philippines in 2015 and currently has 5 branches in the country.

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I got to eat at their SM Aura location during my short trip to the Philippines. We were there for lunch with my sisters, nephews and niece. I was excited to try out this restaurant since it’s a welcome change being a ramen fan. I think my daughter would love this place since she has always preferred soba or udon to ramen. They serve hot/cold soba and udon, donburi rice bowls, and tempura.

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These were our selections:

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I chose Yasai Kakiage Ten Tama Soba – soba noodles with mixed vegetable tempura, soft boiled eggs, onion leeks and wakame seaweed. You have an option for your tempura to be served on the side if you don’t want it to get soggy since they usually put this in on top of your soba.

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Karaage Soba was my nephew’s choice it’s soba with Japanese fried chicken, leeks and wakame seaweed.

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Ebiten soba is soba with two pieces of prawn tempura, leeks and wakame seaweed.

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Ebi Tendon is prawn tempura served with a sweet ten tsuyu sauce over rice.

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Mori Soba was my only niece selection its cold soba with dipping sauce.

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My sister got Currydon which is curry sauce with pickles over rice.

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We also got two side orders of potato croquettes.

The food was exceptionally good. The broth not overly salty compared to those I have had before. It is very light and would not make you feel bloated like what happens when you have ramen. I hope they would open a franchise in North America soon.

Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie

My family are such foodies, they know what is new and the best places to eat. My sister took us to Tuan Tuan, the first Chinese Brasserie in the Philippines. They serve Hong Kong style comfort food with a French flair.

We already had a big lunch and was looking for a place to have dessert and this place just fits the bill. The restaurant features The Dessert Kitchen which has an extensive selection of decadent and gorgeous treats.

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My nephews and niece chose these parfaits.

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Mango Fever is ice cream with rice pops, pistachio crust, peanuts and mango.

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Black Temptation is ice cream with cocoa crisp, oreo and chocolate pearls.

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Romantic Valentine is ice cream with corn flakes, peanuts, strawberry and pistachio crust.

My two sisters and I shared these two desserts.

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Taste of Uji is green tea ice cream with mini rice balls, red beans and warabi mochi.

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Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo.

Their desserts looks very decadent bit they are actually very light and not cloyingly sweet. I really loved not only how they are presented but how they taste as well.

My sister also let me try their signature dish barbecued pork snow bun and crispy minced duck snow bun. These are very popular and would understand why as this was just excellent. Its has a light and crisp exterior and such wonderful savory filling.

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The place is also nicely appointed. It has a very chic but at the same time cozy feel to it. One of the nicest restaurant I have been to.

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I just learned that there is a The Dessert Kitchen located in NYC but from the photos on yelp, they don’t even come close to the one I’ve been to in terms of ambiance and food prep/presentation.