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Monday, January 20, 2020
CHECKING OUT HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES: NEW FLAVORS FOR THE KITCHEN TABLE

Just recently, a number of influencers were invited to a special lunch in the city. Each one of us were asked to try out the new sauces coming from HEINZ. Heinz is known for their ketchup, mayo, and even mustard sauce. It's a no brainer that ketchup is synonymous to Heinz. This time around, they are getting into the asian flavor sauce business.
Visiting a hotpot and grill buffet was the best place to show how HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES were versatile and catered for the Filipino tastebuds. Granted that buffets tend to marinate their meat most of the time, it's not enough for us. HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES makes a great addition to the kitchen cupboard.
Actually, Heinz has been in the business of Asian Sauces since 2002. They recently launched it here in the Philippines. It's actually available in big supermarkets around the metro. Leading supermarkets like Robinsons, Unimart, All Day, Citimart, and even Landmark carry Heinz Asian Sauces.
Heinz has a number of offerings like: GOLDEN MARK OYSTER SAUCE, PREMIUM OYSTER SAUCE, GOLDEN MARK SOY SAUCE, PREMIUM LIGHT SOY SAUCE, GARLIC CHILI SAUCE, THAI SWEET CHILI SAUCE and BLENDED SESAME OIL. These are available in small or large versions.
Some of these sauces are great ingredients to simple or even complicated recipes. Mostly, I enjoy them as dipping sauce. The Chili sauce is perfect with anything deep fried. The oyster sauce works well as a marinate for steaks and even stir fry vegetables.
HEINZ ASIAN SAUCES are now available in leading super markets. At family friendly prices, you sure are guaranteed to enjoy these high-quality sauces.




Disclaimer: wrote this based on my opinions. This is a sponsored post.
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Monday, January 13, 2020
ENDO SUSHI: A MUST TRY SUSHI PLACE IN OSAKA, JAPAN

I will definitely not be able to live with myself If I can't have at least one decent meal whenever I visit Japan. I make it a point to have at least a meaningful dinner or in this case breakfast when I go to a different place. This led me to a very old sushi institution in Osaka. It's one of the  few places that struck me when I was researching about OSAKA. This would be ENDO SUSHI.
Located in the parking lot of a working fish market. ENDO SUSHI has been in the business for more than 113 years (since 1907). They have been in their OSAKA CENTRAL FISH MARKET LOCATION for more than 89 years right back when it opened in 1931. There is a lot of history and character for something like this to stand out and stay alive for many decades. Getting there was an adventure in itself.
My brother and I had to wake up pretty early as the restaurant opens around 6am and closes around 2pm. We actually had an adventure getting there as we tried to go down and upward moving escalator, got left by the train, and even got lost in a parking lot.
Getting to ENDO SUSHI'S original shop location is a bit of a walk from the nearest station. Roughly 1km away or 15 minutes, you can get there easily since it's all flat. Just get off the NODA station if riding via JR LOOP LINE. Go towards the south. Stay on the right side of the main street and cross the intersection just before reaching the river/bridge. There will be a pedestrian lane on your left towards the middle of the parking lot of the OSAKA CENTRAL FISH MARKET. Cross the pedxing and enter the parking lot. Continue walking in this parking lot and head towards the main building with the clock. You should see a couple of restaurants that are stand alone on the left side of the parking lot when facing the main buildings. That is where ENDO SUSHI is.
That day, they opened up at around 0615. Unsurprisingly, we found ourselves at the restaurant together with locals. We were the only foreigners. It was early but they already had a number of guests lining up. Thankfully, we were all accommodated.
Once you enter, you are transported back in time. There are a number of memorabilia on the wall. You could see a traditional sushi counter as well. One thing to note about ENDO SUSHI is that they created the technique known as TSUKAMI-ZUSHI. Unlike nigiri-zushi, warm rice is loosely pressed together to make it.
The tables are filled with ginger and soy sauce. In this restaurant, you brush the soy sauce onto your sushi. Don't forget about your sushi etiquette though. For foreigners, they have an english menu which is a big help. 
They have a couple of rules to follow. A plate of 5 pieces would amount to 1,320 yen. An order of miso soup would be 330 yen. If you know me well, you could easily tell that I had the entire course. Yes, I ordered everything from 1-4 together with the miso soup.
While waiting for our dishes, we were given our miso soup first. Drinking this would make your tummy warm. It would definitely prepare yourself for the meal ahead. This is no ordinary miso soup as clams were used as the base and it seemed to be a little more reddish than usual.
For the first plate, we had the L-R: ANAGO (sea water eel), UNI (sea urchin), TAI (sea brean), TORO (Fatty Tuna), Hamachi (yellow tail.). My brother and I both started with the ANAGO. If you had been there and seen both our faces you would laugh at us. We looked as if we had just had an foodgasm right there and then. The ANAGO was sweet but had a delicate texture. It was something that was meant to be. The uni was fresh and perfect. The TORO was just amazing. It was extremely fatty.
For the second plate,  L-R KANI (boiled crab), AKAGAI (Ark Shell), HOTATE-BASHIRA (Scallop), TORO, TACHIUO (Hairtail). Please forgive me as I forgot to take a photo of the crab. Let me just assure you that it isn't fake crab. Rather, they used real crab meat from their arms and legs. It was sweet! The Ark shell was somewhat different. The scallop was plump! The Hairtail was just incredible. It was torched and had a smokey flavor.
For the 3rd plate, L-R TAMAGO (egg), EBI (Shrimp), AWABI (abalone), TEKKA (tuna roll), TAKO (octapus). This has got to be the beginner plate. If you aren't as adventurous as your other friends or family members when it comes to sushi, this might be your intro plate. The tamago was different. I was expecting it to be sweet. Rather it was sweet but had a fermented taste. It was different. The Shrimp was sweet as heck. The abalone was delicious. The tuna was simple. The octapus had a sweet flavor as well.
For the fourth plate, we had the L-R IKA (calamari), IKURA (salmon roe), SAYORI (halfbeak), TORO, SAKE (salmon). I was expecting for the calamari to be rubbery but it wasn't. Instead, you could cut it with each bite. The ikura was just splendid. Each roe would pop in your mouth. The salmon was fresh as it could ever be. My goodness.
If it was me, I would definitely go back for the ANAGO, SALMON, KANI, UNI, TORO and TACHIUO. These made an impression with me.
Believe it or not, you could also order take out from them. Although it might be a bit pricey, I guess if you're willing to share the wealth then go for it.
We finished our meal after almost an hour of eating. It was delicious but wasn't as expensive as one would think compared to other michelin restaurants. The quality of the seafood was spot on. Since they get their seafood right there in the market, you can definitely be assured of the freshness. It was actually surprising to see that the chefs of the restaurants were wearing rubber boots. I guess they also participated in the 0415 tuna auction in the market. Definitely worth a visit.
ENDO SUSHI
1 Chome-1-86 Noda, Fukushima Ward, Osaka, 553-0005, Japan
6am to 2pm. Closed on Sundays and Holidays.

They also have another location in a mall/train station in Osaka and one in Bangkok.

Endo Sushi English website


Disclaimer:wrote this based on my opinions. Paid for our meals.
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Wednesday, January 8, 2020
MAXIMS HOTEL in RESORTS WORLD MANILA: A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP.

What is a staycation? It's a vacation without going out too far. Like staying in but in a different environment. I wanted one since I was stressed out. With the hassle of the holiday season, I wanted to rest. I really needed to stay away. Thankfully, I was able to do that in MAXIMS.
  A couple of years back,  I was able to score a free night stay at Maxims Hotel in Resorts World Manila. Thankfully, it has no expiry date and was still valid when I tried to redeem it a couple of weeks back. Maxims is being projected as a 6 star hotel with an all suite room category. In all honesty, it seemed to be a marketing strategy. They say that you have a dedicated butler but I didn't see one nor heard of one when I checked in. In any case, I was just there to relax and enjoy my stay.
 Check-in was a breeze. Since valet parking is free for staying guests, I went with that. Unfortunately, they do not have self-parking slots. So remember, to just bring your valuables. The hotel lobby was at 5th floor. There was no lines when we got there and was able to have our room earlier than the standard 3pm check-in. The fact that my brother and I stayed there during the weekday made it more seamless. 
We stayed in a Maxims Suite. It was their entry level room. It was quite big for a hotel room but wasn't as impressive as other suites found in other hotels in the metro. At 54 sq meters, it was spacious and even had a study table and a lounge area. They had welcome fruits for guests too.
The study area had everything you might need for your business. From coffee to tea, and even scratch paper for your work. They also have a flat screen, cable tv, mini bar, refrigerator, and safe. Unlike other suite rooms, their mini-bar is not part of the room charge.
The toilet area was pretty big as it's shower is separated from the the toilet. They also have a bath tub together with a his and hers sink.
 Guests would be happy to note that their toilet has a bidet.
 Turn down service was a let down. They only did it for one bed and even got my own stash of bottled water to place beside my bed. I can't help but compare the service as other hotels with the same room category would offer snacks and would even replenish toiletries used.
 
The sleep factor was amazing. It was quiet and relaxing. Shower and tub was amazing too. The next day, breakfast buffet is served at the Terrace. This is one of their in house restaurants. They offer drinks together with a line up of dishes.
 The choices were a little too plain for a hotel like this. The food wasn't as great that it would force you to wake up. It was as if I wished I had slept in instead and ordered room service. Speaking of service, it was much to be desired too. I had to call the attention of the wait staff so that we could be served water and coffee. At times, I had to get water myself from their work area.
 On the other hand, their gym is top notch. Although there isn't any staff inside, you'll be happy to know that it's 24/7.
 Another draw for MAXIMS would be their pool. It's quite an escape. There are cabanas for you to use as well.
MAXIMS at RESORTS WORLD MANILA is a great 5 star hotel. I wouldn't bill it as a 6 star hotel as things were lacking. The sleep was perfect but breakfast and service needs some attention. Seeing that base rate for a night's stay is around 15,000Php, I would skip this hotel and head on over to other hotels in the area. From what I also learned, hotel rooms are catered more towards the gambling guests. Resorts World's Maxims offers free or discounted room stays for their guests when it comes to tables.
MAXIMS HOTEL
RESORTS WORLD MANILA
5th floor.
Newport Blvd. , Pasay, Manila



Disclaimer:wrote this based on my experience. used a voucher I won from a tournament.
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Thursday, December 26, 2019
BLUE MARINA BORACAY EXPERIENCE: An Extension of Coast Hospitality

 I was quite interested to see how Boracay evolved after it was closed for more than a year. I've been there quite a number of times but I usually stay in the northern part of the island. The first time I was there, we still had time shares in Fairways and Bluewater. The place was really nice and Cocomangas was the go to bar. Years later, I went there to checkout Shangri-la a few times. Also, I was invited to see how Hennan Crystal Sands was doing just a few months prior to Boracay's closure.
This time around, I was quite interested with the new policies and restored look that Boracay has. I went ahead and waited for a travel expo and got a relatively affordable stay at BLUE MARINA in BORACAY. Stays at Blue Marina included transfers.
 After arriving in the CATICLAN Airport, the transfer service of BLUE MARINA was waiting for me. Thankfully, I was the only one that they were picking up. Compared to other big name hotels, most of their vans are packed. From there, they assisted and brought me to the jump off point. Reminisce of my old experience with Fairways, a number of hotels were actually using their welcome station for their guests. There, you could use the toilet and freshen up a bit. They would then bring your stuff to the waiting speedboat. This would ferry you to Boracay's Jetty port. From there, a van would transfer you directly to the BLUE MARINA.
 You might wonder what's the difference between the COAST and BLUE MARINA. BLUE MARINA is situated between the border of station 2 and 3. It's quite near Station X and is located a few minutes walk towards the beach. That being said, it is quieter and more tame compared to having your room right smack in the middle of the beach front. Furthermore, as a guest of BLUE MARINA, you are able to use all the facilities of the COAST. I'm getting ahead of myself, so I'll expound on them a bit later.
After arriving, you will see how beautifully laid out the garden area of BLUE MARINA. You could just relax and enjoy your time there. If it's a bit humid, you could stay inside and just chill in their lobby. There are a number of chairs and tables inside as well where you could eat your snacks.
 Even if I was staying alone, I was given a room that could accommodate 3 people. I had a tv, telephone, alfresco area, a toilet, and a desk with chair. There's also a small refrigerator and mini-bar for your needs. The alfresco area is small but this is where you could hang your wet clothes.
 The toilet area is simple but all your needs are provided for. Water pressure was good and there's a bidet. Once you've settled down, the staff would actually inform you of the different perks that come with being a guest at BLUE MARINA.
Since BLUE MARINA is operated by the same people behind the COAST, you could use the COAST's facilities and perks. One of them would be their beautiful pool. There's two of them that you could lounge in.  PROTIP: head here during the afternoons. It's a good 5-10 minute walk to and from but it isn't that far.

After lunch, they offer unlimited popcorn and sorbet up until 4 or 5pm. If you don't want to stay in the pool area, they have a game room that has table tennis and other things. There's also unlimited cold water there so you can keep yourself hydrated.

Another thing that makes the COAST and BLUE MARINA stand out would be their hospitality. You don't need to ask any staff around. If they see you're going to the pool and use a lounge chair, they fix it up for you. They even fold your clothes and offer you snacks or cold water. The same goes with their beach front. If they see you, they offer to put a beach bed and have a waiting glass of ice cold water for you as well. PROTIP: After lounging at the pool, at around 520pm, head on over to the beach front of the COAST. There, the staff would prepare a beach bed and assist you with your needs.
The reality is that BORACAY is filled with tourist. Frankly, there's roughly 2/6 Chinese, 2/6 Koreans, 1/6 Filipinos, 1/6 westerners. Sunsets or late afternoons would be the best time to head on out to the beach. The cool breeze would definitely make you forget about your worries.
 If you're going around Boracay, it's quite easy to walk. Granted it might take you 15 minutes to get there, sometimes it's better to ride a tricycle. One of the things that changed in Boracay would be the traffic and the road network quality. The roads became a little bigger and they now have loading and unloading areas. One thing to note would be that some of the tricycles are now electronic. Another unfortunate thing I learned though was that the drop off point for hotel shuttles in D'mall or station two was moved to a farther site. Also, the roads aren't quite fixed yet when it comes to station one and other parts of the island.
 
 Going back, BLUE MARINA and the COAST both offer massage service. Unfortunately, they are a bit pricey compared to the ones that have their own spot in D'mall or station 2. I would suggest checking those out if you really need a massage.
 Breakfast at BLUE MARINA is a little different compared to THE COAST. The Coast offers a buffet style breakfast. In BLUE MARINA, the staff asks you to order the night or afternoon before. Here, you get to pick breakfast sets that are actually available ala carte if you visit Cha Cha's. Cha Cha's is The Coast's in house restaurant.
 If you're a Filipino food lover, their sausages are pretty good. If you had a long night, the hungover breakfast special would work. PROTIP: you can ask for rice!
 They also have vegetarian menu for those wanting something healthy.
 You don't need to worry though as they have a mini-buffet line in BLUE MARINA. There's a number of cakes, bread, jam, cereals, soup, coffee, tea, juices to choose from. If you have the chance, try the UBE CHAMPORADO. It's really good. PROTIP: you can set what time your food would arrive. You can also ask them to serve it in your room. Best bet to have it served in the lobby just because they could attract ants big time!
 Hospitality wise, BLUE MARINA and the COAST is worth every penny. The fact that I was able to book my stay at roughly 60 USD a night (good for two), I'd say I was really lucky. That included transfers from Caticlan Airport and even Breakfast for two.


RELATED LINKS:
PRISMA BORACAY: STATION X'S BAR
HENNAN CRYSTAL SAND BORACAY
SHANGRI-LA BORACAY STAY
THINGS TO DO IN SHANGRI-LA BORACAY
SHANGRI-LA BORACAY VACAY


Disclaimer:wrote this based on my experience. paid for my stay and meals.
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