Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chili Peppers Avenue Square: Big in Servings, Big in Taste

Chili Peppers Avenue Square
Big in Servings, Big in Taste

It took us sometime to dine in Chili Peppers once
again as the weekend traffic in Magsaysay Ave has
been  discouraging us to visit this popular food strip.

When out internet at home bogged down and the kids
needed an internet connection so they could finish their  
assignments, we  headed to Avenue Square  as it offers
a fast and free wi- fi, and is not very crowded at noontime.


It was three o’clock in the afternoon and we
were the only people around so I had a chance
to take photos of the beautiful restaurant.



My son ordered Pinangat with Tilapia Fillet.
He loves tilapia and this is his favorite dish in
this restaurant. The seared fish was so delicious and
could be safely eaten by kids as it is a boneless fillet.


It went blended with the CamSur version ‘Pinangat’ 
that had crushed crablets packed in between creamy
layers of taro leaves cooked in oconut milk, and it
appears like an updated sinanglay- pinangat fusion dish.


My daughter’s Korean Beef Stew came in a huge serving.
Slow braised short ribs, very, very tender and had a melt in
the mouth texture. It is bursting with mélange of delightful
flavors, ranging from sweetish- tangy, bordering to spicy.
It was served with a bowl Bibimbap topped with sautéed and
seasoned vegetable called namul and fermented soybean paste.
There was also a bowl of Kimchi and spiced bean sprouts.


My wife ordered Junjie’s Extra Special Chicken Galantina. 

This a popular Filipino Holiday Stuffed Chicken recipe actually
had a Polish origin. Made of meat stuffed, de- boned chicken,
poached and served cold. It is an elaborate dish and we are thankful
as it was made easy available in Naga City as Chili Peppersis one of
the very few restaurants that offers this tasty, yet complicated dish.


Chili Peppers should might as well be known as a Spanish restaurant
as they do best in Spanish cuisine. They serve some of the best paellas
in town and the Paella Mariscos that I have ordered was no exception.

This summer favorite in Spain, while not considered a conventional
paellas, it is however a delicious rice base for the fresh the seafood.
It had a divinely velvety texture and the flavor was perfectly balanced
as it does not overwhelm the individual taste of the various seafood. 


Chili Peppers is the very first restaurant in Magsaysay Avenue,
and started the “Big Bang on this once desolate area in the city,
and still the restaurant to reckon in this lively culinary center. 

Read the links below for related posts:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sugarhouse Humongous Cookies: The Best Cookie- Milk Dunking Destination in the World

Sugarhouse  Humongous Cookies
The Best Cookie- Milk Dunking Destination in the World

My little cookie monster son who loves
 dunking his cookies in a glass of milk
was in for a pleasant surprise when we 
had a snack at Sugarhouse in Glorietta.

When we ordered two pieces of cookies and 
a glass of milk, what was served was probably
the biggest and also  the thickest cookie that  we
have ever seen that it almost filled up the platter.


It was a half choco and half butter cookie with
bits and pieces of chunky chocolate nuggets on it


With a glass full of warm milk, the gigantic 
cookie found its perfect creamy match, 


…that put a wide smile on my little cookie monster son’s face-
though he had to break the cookie to fit in the glass of milk


Incidentally, the Alfredo Pasta,


...and the Lasagna both tasted very good.


We have been going around on different café’s
for my son’s milk cookie- dunking snack sessions,


…but nothing beats a having an immensely colossal
cookie in a warm and creamy milk at Sugarhouse.

The Best Cookie- Milk Dunking Destination in the World

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ChoobiChoobi Ayala Malls Legazpi : Best Seafood Restaurant in Bicol

ChoobiChoobi Ayala Malls Legazpi 
Best Seafood Restaurant in Bicol
It took us forever just to get into this restaurant. Our trouble began 
at  the mall’s basement parking, where we had to extricate our  
Ford van,  as the ceiling level turned out to be too low despite 
being  given clearance by the mall guards that the car would fit in.

Cropped from SOURCE

After  about an hour of stressful maneuvering that caused a humongous traffic, 
we finally got out with minimal scratches caused the by the plumbing tubes sticking  
out of the horribly low ceiling. It made me wonder if Ayala underestimated Bicolanos 
 on the type of cars they own as we are one of the poorest regions in the Philippines.


Off we went to ChoobiChoobi, but we had another problem.
We were with my 84 year old mother- in- law, the restaurant was 
at the fourth floor and the elevators and escalators were not working. 
It was a brown- out and their generator did not have enough power
 to run everything except  for the lights and the air- conditioning.
I found this absurd as even the lowly SM had awesome gensets
that keep everything in the mall running even during a brownout.


We finally got up the restaurant and everything went well after that.
Getting a seat was easy, the service crew was helpful and courteous.


The restaurant has excellent choice of refreshments.


We were happy that this is one of the very few restaurants
in Bicol that offers my family’s favorite fare, monggo soup.
Labeled in a Visayan term Utan Monggos in the  menu, it
tasted so natural, devoid of any artificial flavoring. It wasn’t
salty and had a hint of sour tomato aftertaste and very tasty.


This Green and Mean Pinakbet, really lives up to its name.
We love ‘pinakbet’ but we are turned off by most versions that
are overwhelmed by putting too much ‘bagoong’. This is one
healthy green and mean yet delicious version of this popular Pinoy
dish without the disgusting aftertaste of the smelly shrimp paste.
One of the best version in the Philippines that we have tasted so far.


My young son, loves fish but not into seafood so we ordered Belly Dancer 
 for him. It was a barbecued pork belly, it was very tender but found we it too
 sweet. One would need a lot of rice to neutralize the sweetness of the pork.


The ChoobiBay Crab and Shrimp Boil is the reason why we came here to dine.
I have never seen anything like it in the Philippines and we have been craving for
this US style of cooking various seafood, sausages and corn on a cob in a single pot.


This way of cooking seafood is famous in the Georgia and
South Carolina.  I requested the waiter to put everything on it;
shrimps, crabs, mussels, sausage, chorizo and corn on a cob.


What could be more fun?


No food brings the family together than a mixed seafood
served in a bag for an all-in-one pot, all-you-can-eat buffet.
Just roll up your sleeves and enjoy steaming, delicious boiled
seafood and passionately licking your fingertips full of flavor.


The waiter kept on coming back asking if we wanted
rice as the dish apparently comes with unlimited rice,
but no one in his right mind would ever mess up his plate
with rice as it does not go well with the boiled seafood.


We suggested that they should put potatoes in the boil but replied
that  it was not in the choice in the menu. But that’s alright, with
or without potatoes ChoobiBay Crab and Shrimp Boil, was so
delicious and made us forget all the hassles we experienced earlier. 


Stay, Stray, Play and Feast officially declares ChoobiChoobi  in
Ayala Malls Legazpi, as the best seafood restaurant in Bicol, and a
worthy reason to keep us coming back to the city of fun and adventure.

Read the links below for other seafood restaurants:

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hotel St. Ellis Legazpi: Needing Upkeep and Proper Maintenance

Hotel St. Ellis Legazpi 
Needing Upkeep and Proper Maintenance

I needed to renew my PRC Card in Legazpi and it was a holiday in Naga,
 the kids didn’t have school so I decided to bring my family along with me.

We booked at St. Ellis Hotel, without intending to stay overnight as we just
 wanted a room where they could relax while I am the regional PRC office.

We arrived at almost noontime in St. Ellis Hotel after a more than  two- hour drive
 from Naga City. The hotel seem to be downscaling  their operations as the reception 
counter  was empty so we had to check in at one of the office tables by the lobby.


The hotel had a modern contemporary designed lobby,

…and the beautiful minimalist interior
made the small lobby appear spacious,


…but looked dark and gloomy as most of  the lobby lights were turned off, which,
just like the empty front desk may have been a part of operation downscaling.


I noticed however that the lobby seats were not well
maintained and is in dire need of reupholstering.


Check- in was easy, and the lady at the front desk was  
very courteous, and we were room bound  in a jiffy.
Signs of poor maintenance were evident even on doors
of the suite rooms on hallway on our way to our room,

…form chipping off paints,


…and sloppy repair jobs.

The corridor wall lamps were also not working, either
 another maintenance fail of having busted bulbs, 


...or a part of operation downscaling as they were never turned on.


We booked in a De Luxe Room located at the fourth floor, an 
average-size room  with tastefully done modern elegant interior,

…with a comfortable king sized bed, with one of the bedside 
lamps having busted bulb. Another indication that this hotel 
needed a good maintenance department that really works.


At the other end of the room is a multipurpose shelf 

that serves as a working table /.vanity area,


…as a stand for the flatscreen TV,


…and as a mantelpiece for the minibar. that 
had an electric kettle for a  coffee maker,

…a drawer for dinnerware,


…and small, empty refrigerator.

It had spacious empty closet save
for the electronic safe in one corner.


It had a beautiful and spacious toilet,

…a nice shower area,

…provided with basic amenities,
and sufficient toiletries.

Still evident of poor maintenance are bathroom
door as the paint is stating to peel off,

…and the bathroom vanity needing a repainting.

Thankfully, this is also one of the few hotels
in the country that had a bidet in the toilet.

The room had a panoramic window with a view of the
horribly filthy and poorly maintained swimming pool.

The room had only one landline at the bedside,

…and there was a very slow and sometimes almost no
 Wi Fi connection in the room, so the kids had to go to
 the nearby mini lobby by the 4th floor elevator landing,

…which unfortunately, was dark as the drop light bulbs were
also busted- another indicator of the hotel’s poor maintenance.


The St. Ellis Hotel  is right at the city center of Legazpi,
and is of walking distance to all the major malls in the city.

It also  is a short drive to the PRC Regional center
where I was headed to renew my expired license.


There is nothing much to do in St. Ellis Hotel.

The swimming pool was moldy
and grimy as  pump was  broken-

…and the spa was also deserted and just like everything
else in the hotel, also a victim of poor maintenance

But it served the purpose of giving a safe place for my
family to stay while is was having my PRC card renewal.


This café is the saving grace for St. Ellis Hotel Legazpi.

Since we only stayed for about 5 hours in
this hotel we didn’t get a chance to dine here,

…but I was able to blog about this Café
in the past and tremendously enjoyed it.


St. Ellis Hotel Legazpi;
Attention Maintenance Department.

There were tell tale signs that St. Ellis Hotel Legazpi
was once a beautiful and grand hotel, as the modern
European inspired interior was tastefully done.

They also did not scrimp and save by using lovely, exquisitely
embossed wall papers both in the lobby and in the suite room
The curtains and the drapes  were also elegant and  top notch.

But as soon as we checked, we discovered
several maintenance fails in the hotel
.First: Most of the lobby lights were turned off
making the lobby looked abandoned and desolate.

The front desk was empty making the hotel
looked unwelcoming and guests are directed
to check in at the shift manager’s table.


There is abundance of lobby seats but
some of them needed re- upholstering.

Second: Indications of poor maintenance were
evident on the hallway on out way to our room.
The suite room doors were showing signs of
paint fatigue with signs of hastily done repair jobs.

The hallway wall lamps were either not
working or were never turned on at all,

…and even the drop lights at the elevator
landing mini lobby were also busted.


Third: The room was okay, still there were still signs of
poor maintenance as one of the bedside lamp was busted,


…the toilet door pain was flaking, and 
the vanity shelf needing a repainting.



Third: Of course, the last but not the least, the filthy, grimy  and mossy
 swimming pool. They might as well drain it until  the pump is repaired as
  it might become a breeding ground for  Dengue carrying mosquitoes.

We had an early check- in the hotel and we were thankful for the staff as they were accommodating, we also checked- out in the afternoon to return back Naga on
 the same day.  St. Ellis Hotel is nothing but a shadow of its once elegant past 
and because of poor maintenance may not be an ideal place to stay in Legazpi.

We didn’t have to stay overnight,  but it served the purpose of giving a safe place 
for my family to stay for few hours , while I was having my PRC card renewed.

Read on the link below for related posts:

Crossroads Cafe at Hotel St Ellis