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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
SHANGRI-LA BORACAY RESORT and SPA: Wishing it was Summer

It was not my first. It will definitely not be my last. The first time I've been on the island was decades ago. Pristine sand, quiet nights and a majestic sanctuary. That is what and forever will be my BORACAY.
There are a lot of blessings that I have received through the years and one of them is being able to travel. It has become a passion of mine lately and the experience is surreal. From having to try different exotic delicacies to being mistaken as one of the locals, and even going at it alone. It has its ups and downs. Thankfully, there are places in the Philippines that warrants a visit or two or maybe three. Having more than 7,100 islands makes it virtually impossible to visit each one in a lifespan. But it does makes sense to keep on coming back to places that you hold close to your heart. One of them is SHANGRI-LA'S BORACAY RESORT and SPA.
More than the accommodation and the infrastructure, SHANGRI-LA BORACAY prides itself as one luxurious and service oriented resort. Right off the plane, representatives greet you at the airport and transfer you to a welcome gazebo to wait for your ride. Unlike other resorts found on the island, SHANGRI-LA has its own lounge, boat and dock at the Caticlan Port. The usual fees and tickets that one must pay for are already dealt with by the resort's staff. You no longer need to line up and wait at the jetty port. Here, they take care of you and foresees everything that you may need. All you have to do is to sit back and relax.
After a leisure 20 minute ride, you get another side of BORACAY. Serene blue water greets you. Unlike the main beach, SHANGRI-LA has a couple that screams tranquility. One is shared with another resort while another is purely for the use of its guests. After getting off the private port, something that other resorts do not have, you are whisked away on a golf cart right to the open air lobby and check in area.
Main building that houses the lobby, a restaurant, game room, children's play center, and activity center.
Welcome drinks are provided and cold towels to give you a refreshing start. No lining up done here as check-ins are on nice comfy sofas or if you wish, they may be done in your own room or villa.
Arguable one of the most majestic buildings in the resort, you are greeted with different art creations, and a view to lust over with. The clear blue sea and everything else that comes with it. Quite a sight to have. It makes you wonder what have you done to deserve this.
Private port of the resort. Luxury.
Sea view rooms have all the hotel amenities one would need and more. From a spacious bathroom with a relaxing tub to a couch and study table perfect for business, you have everything that you might want. The flat screen tv is also filled with cable channels and the wifi is fast and free and available around the resort. A balcony opens up to the sea and is perfect for sun lovers. It has comfortable day beds where one could bathe to get a tan and let the day pass by.
The beach is well maintained and is watched over by lifeguards. Aqua activities are also available and differ from day to day.
Aside from having a luscious infinity pool and multiple pool jets to massage each guest, they also offer pool side snacks and entertainment. As nighttime approaches, there is a cultural and fire dance show just in front of the beach bar.
Other outdoor activities like para sailing, introduction to scuba diving and even underwater helmet diving are available through their in house dive shop.
If one want's to relax and stay away from all the open-air action, SHANGRI-LA has a well stocked in door play room. Aside from billiards, one could go for table tennis, different arcade games or have fun using their in house consoles.
Dining has never been a problem with the SHANGRI-LA brand. They offer multiple outlets to satisfy your cravings.
A favorite would be their all day buffet restaurant, VINTANA. Here, different cuisines are featured. This allows the guest to mix and match their favorites and have them enjoy whatever they may wish.
Since this is a vacation, room service is a must. Gourmet dishes are served right when you want it. Furthermore, you could also order from other in-house restaurants. As long as they're open, they can have the food brought to you.
One of the most amazing things happen during sunsets.  Going to SOLANA BAR would be one heck of an experience. Ideally be there at around 5pm as seats are limited. Here, you are able to reserve one of their outdoor booths to watch the sun fade away. Perfect.
Can't wait to go back.

RELATED LINKS:
Shangri-La Boracay: Things to do
Shangri-La Boracay: Staying and Loving It
Shangri-La Boracay: To and From the Airport


SHANGRI-LA BORACAY RESORT and SPA
Boracay Island, Aklan, Philippines
(036) 288 4988

(63 2) 841 9686 
www.shangri-la.com/boracay 

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Disclaimer:Wrote this based on my experience. Paid for my Stay.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017
PARADISE DYNASTY in S MAISON: Returning for Other Dishes.

 For some, the main reason why PARADISE DYNASTY is so popular would be that they're the first and only place in Manila that offers 8 different flavor XIAO LONG BAO in one basket. Being able to try the restaurant in SINGAPORE (see here: Paradise Dynasty: Legend of Xiao Long Bao in Ion Orchard, SINGAPORE) , made me quite happy. As such, when they opened a branch here in Manila, I have been to the place multiple times.
 Located in S MAISON, PARADISE DYNASTY offers comfort, ambiance and straight to the point service. The food is simple and executed rather well. Popular items like the RADDISH PASTRY is a must order just like all the other items I've tried before. When I visited them for one of their press lunches, the best sellers were introduced. (see here: PARADISE DYNASTY NOW IN MANILA: Definitely Delicious)
This time around, other dishes that were not brought out back then were presented. You see, PARADISE DYNASTY has a lot in its menu. You won't go wrong with any that you pick.
For starters, one could try out the PAN-FRIED SHANGHAI PORK BUN. Reminisce of Fried Siopao, there is a crisp bottom layer while the insides were hot and delicious.
 To prepare our stomachs, appetizers like the Chilled Tofu with Century Egg and the Chilled Jellyfish and Seafood in Vinaigrette were served.
 The TOFU had a firm body but was almost pudding like. It wasn't complicated but was delicious. The jellyfish gave out a bit of bite. One would think that the texture would be a little slippery but it wasn't. There was consistency with each strand.
 Unknown to many, PARADISE DYNASTY has a number of noodle dishes. One of them would be the Stir-Fried LA MIAN with shredded pork and black fungus. Very distinct and umami filled, this noodle is a perfect substitute for rice. For me though, I can eat it with rice.
 Another no-frills dish would be the Stir-Fried Beef with Scallions. The meat is tender and rightfully so. To execute such a dish might be trivial to some but the technique and preparations used were evident with the product.
To end the meal, try a Glutinous rice ball topped with grated peanuts. There's a little sesame surprise in the middle. Tasty.

RELATED LINKS:
BIJIN NABE BY TSUKADA NOJO: HEALTHY LIVING
CHINA BLUE: A Notch above the rest. Conrad Hotel Manila

PARADISE DYNASTY: S MAISON'S GO TO CHINESE RESTAURANT
PARADISE DYNASTY in SINGAPORE: The Legend of Xiao Long Bao



PARADISE DYNASTY
2nd level
S Maison Mall,
Pasay, Metro Manila

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Friday, February 17, 2017
LUNCH at HEY HANDSOME in BGC

Now it can be said. HEY HANDSOME has surprised and masterfully enticed guests from all over the metro to try out their dinner fare. Opening late last year, one could taste bold Southeast Asian characters. Finally, they now open their doors for lunch as well. Just a few weeks in and we now see a new menu for their patrons. Everything is completely different from their night time offerings.
CHEF NICCO SANTOS of Your Local fame has created heavy and appealing lunch choices mainly for the office crowd. Huge servings of "exotic" items with popped up flavors come straight from their kitchen. Having been able to try out the night time menu (see: HEY HANDSOME: MUST TRY FOR DINNER),  expectations were made.
To start, an off the menu SIGARILYAS or WINGED BEAN salad was served. The dressing was in the form of the SAMBAL ICE CREAM. It was light and it played well with the grilled vegetables.
A dish that looked familiar was the BUNNY CHOW. This one reminds me of soup within a bread bowl but with an Asian impression. A Squid ink baguette is used to house in a flurry of ingredients. The bread was unlike others that it seemed reheated. It was chewy and crunchy at the right places. Long beans, mushrooms and eggs with lots of coconut gravy. This one is best shared with other guests as it could be a bit too much on its own.
The LAAP NEUA is similar to a couple of courses from their dinner option. Here, minced beef is used with grilled corn and egg. It might be a bit spicy for some but having the peanut muffin gives your taste buds some relief.
Surprisingly, HEY HANDSOME has something "mild" in their menu. The CHICKEN RICE is cooked to perfection that it reminds me of my visits to Singapore. The chicken meat is soft and tender. Smooth as a baby's bottom, it also has grilled bok choy with some house soy and chili just to give it levels.
In contrast, the FRIED CHICKEN is a complete turn around. Having nasi ulam, house soy, sambal assam, this simple dish has striking seasoning. It seems casual and comparable to other Asian dishes but I can't seem to identify the distinct taste. Another must order dish would be the GRILLED PORK BELLY. Accompanied with nasi ulam, sambal matah, and grilled cabbage, the belly was cooked in a way to make it pop up. Even if it's under a mountain of garnishes, you'll get a tasty belly nonetheless.
If into seafood, HEY HANDSOME developed something effortless and appetizing. The FRIED CATFISH was turned into a delectable artwork. By adding nasi ulam, green papaya, tomatoes, sambal assam, a mixture of different components, gave it some spicy notes and crunchy texture.

Dessert was playful and delicious. Both doughnuts but with very different toppings. One has rose ice cream with meringue. The other has Sang Kaya with soy sauce ice cream. This is well partnered with Durian Matcha Cream filling. There was sense of contrasting flavors that complimented each one. Although the matcha might have been there just for a little bit of bitter taste, the durian worked well with the kaya.
This time around, HEY HANDSOME offers lunch time specials that would definitely cater to the office crowd. The meals were huge and the flavors are straight forward. Hey Handsome for lunch allows no reservations though and it's quite important to come in early.



RELATED LINK:
HEY HANDSOME:The Must Go To Restaurant in 2016




HEY HANDSOME : LUNCH MENU



G/F NET PARK BUILDING
5th Avenue, BGC, Taguig City,
Metro Manila
Instagram: @HandsomeCome

Now open for Lunch at 11am to 2:30pm
Still closed for Sundays.
First come first serve. No reservations.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017
NEW WORLD MANILA BAY HOTEL: UNLIMITED BURGERS and RIBS in The FIREPLACE

When NEW WORLD MANILA BAY HOTEL comes into mind, there's this quiet and very discreet restaurant that gives you one heck of a time. Dimly lit and perfect for any intimate occasion, you won't go wrong with THE FIREPLACE. The FIREPLACE maybe known as a romantic destination  but on the flip side, it is very homey and welcomes guests, families, and travelers alike.
As one enters, you are greeted by a huge oven with a fireplace look. To complete the authenticity, actual wood on the side. They use it to cook and smoke the different dishes that they serve.
The FIREPLACE is also known as a carnivore's playground. And yet, they also offer starters that could delight any type of appetite.
For something light, one could go for the CEASAR SALAD. With crisp pancetta on the side, you don't need to be a vegetarian to enjoy this one. Seafood lovers have the option to order some baked oysters and even smoked salmon. The oysters are filled with gooey cheese and herbs while the salmon has a deeper flavor.
Something different, the FIREPLACE introduced a couple of promotions to spice up their patrons cravings. For MONDAY BLUES, one could go for unlimited burgers and beer. Pegged at Php 1,700 Php, everyone is welcome to try out limitless serving of beer and burgers. One could choose from a SAN MIGUEL PALE PILSEN or a SAN MIGUEL LIGHT. Interestingly enough, the KALINGA KOLSCH would be the top pick. A craft beer that is locally made, this one is both light and refreshing.
The burger, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether. Covered with a couple of quail eggs, a thick and juicy patty is served alongside some medium cut fries. One bite and you realize the serious quality of the meat used to create this monster.
On Sundays, a different deal is up for grab. UNLIMITED WINE and RIBS are served for dinner time. Wine choices would depend on the availability that night. The ribs though are a specialty. Not offered on the regular menu, this slab of meat is moist and tender. Each bite gives a savory and sweet taste. Partnered with some coleslaw, you get to understand the contrasting play.
Needless to say, one really goes to THE FIREPLACE because of the STEAK. The HANGING TENDER gives off a tasty and juicy piece of meat. BUT, it is the WAGYU RIBEYE that would get anyone's attention. Tender and delicately grilled. This bad boy is a must when visiting the Fireplace.
Dessert is also an ideal way to cap off any dinner.  At the FIREPLACE, you won't go wrong with any on the menu.
The MOLTEN CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE is a feast for the senses. A mouthful doesn't overpower you. It makes you swoon with delight. Other than that, the MATCHA CHEESECAKE is also a winner. One could taste the matcha bitterness alongside the hint of the dairy making it a balanced ending.




RELATED LINKS:

THE FIREPLACE
NEW WORLD MANILA BAY HOTEL
1588 Pedro Gill cor MH Del Pilar,
Malate, Manila, Metro Manila
+632 2526888

Opens at dinner time.



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