Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sogo Hotel Naga Dinner: Delicious and Budget Friendly

Sogo Hotel Naga Dinner 
Delicious and Budget Friendly 

We could never get enough of Sogo Hotel’s after
discovering how delicious their food was when  we
checked- in during the Typhoon Nona late last year.


So when we learned that they accept drop- in diners even 
if they did not check- in, we returned a week later to try the 
other food offerings in their menu, and they did not disappoint.

We were ushered to their red function room
that also serves as their restaurant for their drop-
in diners and we were the only people around.


We started our dinner with Chicharon Bulaklak for appetizer.
This Pinoy culinary icon made of deep fried pork intestines
may be one of the unhealthiest dishes on earth that we indulge
once in a while. This dish is traditionally salty, but this one was
just had the right level of briny, spicy and vinegary aftertaste.
It was very delicious. Had it not been for the fear of additional
harmful dietary fat, it would have deserved a second serving.

We also loved the Sinigang na Baboy, as it
had the right degree of sourness not repulsive
enough to wrinkle your face in caustic disgust.

My son chose Pork Chop, a plated dinner and it was served horribly
bathing in lechon sauce. We were disappointed as we prefer our food
the way it was cooked with the sauces and dips on just on the side as
they mask the real flavor of the dish. It tasted okay and little Timothy
enjoyed it. The dish was a complete meal and it was served with the
cup of white rice and a  mound of zesty pickled papaya or ‘atchara’.

Singaporean Shrimps is one dish that I would recommend
in Sogo Hotel. My wife ordered it and she loved it. It was a
sweet and sour type of dish, a little bit more on the sour side
which was good as it wasn’t  sickeningly sweet and just with
a perfect hint of spiciness. It tasted so addictingly good that
describing it as very delicious would be an understatement.

They also have a perfectly cooked Chopsuey.
The vegetables were fresh, they crispy and not
overcooked, one of the best that I’ve tried so far.


It is difficult to find the right words to describe Sogo Hotel’s
Fried Chicken. It tasted so naturally good without any hint
of salt or artificial flavoring. Just 100% pure home- cooked
tender and juicy chicken goodness  in every bite that could make
Max’s ‘sarap to the bones’ fried chicken a run for their money.

The Chow Fan Rice was also very tasty.

...and they also serve excellent Coffee Shakes.


We concluded our dinner with Leche Flan, which was listed
on the menu as leche flan with macapuno. Even without being
topped as they ran out of macapuno, it was still  very delicious.
The rich, silky dessert was divinely creamy and sinfully velvety.

Sogo Hotel may be one of the most maligned hotel chains
in the Philippines and so it is understandable that there are
number of Filipinos who dread being seen in the hotel.

They’re getting it all wrong. Sogo Hotel have fabulous themed rooms that 
even kids would enjoy, and they serve some of the most delectable dishes.  
It's a hidden  treasure trove of culinary treasures waiting to be discovered

Oh well, some people could be so judgmental
and they do not know what they are missing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Okuya and Gerry’s Grill: Japinoy Fusion Feast

Okuya and Gerry’s Grill 
Japinoy Fusion Feast 

It was our first post holiday dine out and we intended to
eat light after an uncontrolled Christmas season feasting,
so off we went to the Piazza at Magsaysay for a hale and
hearty Japanese dinner at Okuya- but it was fully booked,

…so we decided to dine at Gerry’s Grill nearby.


The good thing with Gerry’s Grill is their varied
menu  that also include healthy Pinoy dishes and
we ordered  Sinigang na Salmon Belly sa Miso as
soup starter. We love Gerry’s Grill’s variety of
sinigang dishes as they had just the right degree of
sourness that keeps my family coming back for more.

Sizzling Kangkong a’la Pobre was also another
healthy fare that we ordered. This chewy, high fiber
and lowly swamp cabbage was cooked in a delicious
adobo style,  bathed in oyster sauce and topped with
crunchy onion and garlic chips served in a hot plate.


The Grilled Blue Marlin Steak was also an easy
choice for a healthy dish as it is low fat but grilled
to deliciously juicy and chewy but tender perfection.

We always order Inihaw na Plapla, whenever we dine
in Gerry’s Grill as this is what they do best. Tasty, juicy
and very natural tasting perfectly grilled fresh tilapia.
There is nothing like it anywhere else in the city. 


It was paired with Ensaladang Talong
which was just as healthy and delicious.


The juicy, tender and perfectly grilled Chicken Kebab, was very
delicious. It was served with pickled Kangkong stalks as side dish.


Everything was very delicious that we emptied the table fast.
Interestingly, every time we dine on more healthy choices, we
always end up eating more as we feel lighter even after we
consumed every piece and every morsel of food on the table.

Despite the hearty dinner, we were on a mindset that we were 
supposed to be feasting on our favorite sushis and sashimis.
 So to satsify our cravings- off  I went to Okuya nearby-


....and ordered three Salmon Sashimis, and we all
gobbled them up with gusto like there was no tomorrow.

…they ran out of Tuna Sashimi so I ordered Laing Maki.
It was a blessing in disguise as Laing Maki is almost
always out of stock and I long wanted to blog about it.

Laing is an iconic Bicolano dish made of shredded gabi 
leaves cooked in coconut milk. It is always eaten with rice so 
it was just fitting that this would go well as a Japanese Maki.


 This was a brilliant idea as the combination was perfect with the
delightfully sweetish rice, rolled in crispy breadcrumbs that
added a crunchy texture to the delicious Japinoy fusion dish.


Okuya’s Laing Maki is a work of a genius.


It took laing to a new level of culinary global
standard as it makes the dish acceptable even to
non- Bicolano and non- Filipino palate.


 It is a dish that everyone should 
try when visiting Naga  City.

Read on the links below for related posts:

Gerry’s Grill's Adobo Pork Ribs
Gerry’s Grill Magsaysay: Bigger and Better
Gerry's Grill: Hearty Pinoy Food Feast
Gerry’s Grill, SM City Naga
Gerry’s Grill Forever

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Avenue Square and Convention Center: The Heart and Soul of Magsaysay Strip (Avenue Plaza Awesome Venue Series 7)

Avenue Square and Convention Center 
The Heart and Soul of Magsaysay Strip
(Avenue Plaza Awesome Venue Series 7) 

In early the 2000, Naga City’s Magsaysay District
was nothing but a  desolate grassland until the
Avenue Square, and the Avenue Plaza Hotel
opened their doors almost a decade ago  and made
that once forlorn area throbbing with nightlife. 

Avenue Square and Convention Center is a three
level lifestyle center, the first two floors dedicated to
commercial tenants, mostly restaurants and coffee shops,

…and the third floor serves
as a modern convention center.

The first floor hosts some of its original tenants when
the lifestyle center opened like Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
that moved from centro, its original store since the 1980’s.

The first and the only branch of The Coffee Beanery (TCB), in
Bicol is one of Avenue Square’s original tenants when it opened.

Naga Oriental Wok, one of the best Chinese restaurants
 in the city is also one of the long term tenants here.

Maki Yaki, Naga City’s very first Japanese restaurant is also
located at the first level and one of our favorite places to dine. 

One should not miss Chili Peppers, a popular restaurant in the
city that also have several branches is Metro Manila. It was the
very first restaurant in the strip, so this is where it all began.
Originally located at the other side of the road, now occupied  
by Yellow Cab, and how fitting it was, when this restaurant icon
where the strip originated moved to the Avenue Square, another
CamSur icon that propelled the glittery strip to what it is now.

My wife’s favorite jewelry shop, Finest Jewels,
is found at the second level of Avenue Square.

It has provided the two most important women in my
life; my wife with her daily jewelry needs, who even
served as one of Finest Jewels models in the past,

...and my daughter with some of the most awesome
pieces jewelries and brilliant trinkets that are precious
works of art and every teenage girl could dream of.

Although I never wear any jewelry they also serve
as tax free and inflation free investments for me.

Two of our favorite shops, Res Toe Run

…and Bratpack are also located in Avenue Square and these
stores have provided me and my family, specially the kids with
school bags and shoes that are affordable but of good quality.

There are other shops in Avenue Square
the cater other lifestyle and beauty needs.

^^Source: Avenue Square FB

The third level of Avenue Square is 
 a modern Avenue Convention Plaza,

^^Source: Avenue Square FB

….which served as a venue of major
local and national conventions in the city.

^^Source: Avenue Square FB

^^Source: Avenue Square FB

From being a desolate grassland, Magsaysay Avenue
had grown into a glittering strip of shops, restaurants,

…lifestyle centers, coffee shops,

….and hotels.

Despite the numerous business establishments 
that continue to mushroom in the strip ,