Showing posts with label National Capital Region. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Capital Region. Show all posts

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Manila: Rowing the Pasig River with Manila Boat Club (Sta. Ana)

Have you ever considered rowing? Now that the Pasig River is getting cleaner, you might want to try rowing there one of these days. The historic Manila Boat Club in Sta. Ana, Manila encourages interested individuals and groups to try rowing as a sport. I've actually visited the club twice already. And I definitely enjoyed the rowing experience.

Founded in 1895, the Manila is said to be the oldest existing club in Manila. The building at its current site was opened in 1932. But some of its boats date back to its early days (when the club was located on Manila Bay and later Nagtahan and Isla Provisor) and are thus over a hundred years old. Indeed, the club has a rich heritage.

Inside the Manila Boat Club are squash courts, which in 1970, were the very first to be opened outside military bases.

The new officers of the Manila Boat Club are slowly reviving interest in rowing and are encouraging interested individuals and groups to try it out by visiting the club. Of course, you might want to consider becoming a member of the club if you're interested in the sport. It's best to arrive before sunrise or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the sun, especially this summer. They have instructors who can teach you the basics of rowing.

Rivers provide a different view of the city. In fact, most cities around the world consider their rivers as showcases of fine architecture. Manila used to have its most beautiful buildings by the Pasig River. And rowing is one way to see the city in a different light.

If you're interested to try out rowing at the Manila Boat Club, please contact the club president Quintin Pastrana at Row, row, row your boat!

Manila Boat Club
2442 Havana Street
cor. Del Pan Street, Sta. Ana
Manila, Philippines

Monday, March 26, 2012

Manila: P.F. Chang's in Alabang Town Center

Ivan Man Dy and Ivan Henares with Chef Philip Chiang
This is a long overdue post on our sumptuous lunch and dinner experience at P.F. Chang's in Alabang Town Center last January. Being the Tsinoy and expert on Chinese food, Ivan Man Dy did the review.

Here is the new kid in the Chinese restaurant block!

We went to the launch and opening of the latest franchise to land in the Metro: P.F. Chang's China Bistro at the Alabang Town Center.

Shrimp with Candied Walnuts
Northern Style Spare Ribs
Truth be told, to consider P.F. Chang's as another Chinese restaurant is inaccurate. This place is as Chinese as the San Francisco fortune cookie as it serves mainly Chinese food for the American palate. The decor is decidedly Hollywood with its super-high ceiling, mood lighting and cocktail bar atmosphere. Think Friday's with a Chinese-themed presentation and menu. Definitely not your traditional Chinese round-table atmosphere.

And the like the American chop suey, the food is a hodgepodge of Chinese-inspired regional types such as Pekingese (Northern Chinese), Mongolian, Shanghainese, Cantonese, Sichuan and Hunan. For appetizer, we had the Chicken Lettuce Wrap which was an interesting twist from the ground pork original that we are accustomed too. We noted how ergonomically shaped the round cuts of the lettuce that turned into mini 'leaf saucers' for easy wrapping of the chicken.

Dynamite Shrimp
Chang's Spare Ribs
Another popular favorite is the Dynamite Shrimp that's served in cocktail glass and packs a spicy punch. The Barbecue Spareribs is not quite Chinese but is tasty and of good quality nonetheless with the meat falling off the bones immediately as you sink your teeth in it.

Oolong Marinated Chilean Sea Bass
Then there's the Oolong Marinated Sea Bass over a bed of kay lan leaves. I've always loved gindara (sea bass) and the fish itself is a winner for me. The kay lan provided for a nice crunchy and leafy touch to the dish. We also sampled the other house specialties that included Wonton Soup, Kung Pao Chicken, Shrimp Honey Dew and Chicken Noodle Soup.

Chang's Chicken Noodle Soup
Kung Pao Shrimp
Our dinner at P.F. Chang's was definitely something new especially from the perspective of our home-grown Tsinoy taste bud. If you're hankering for a new interpretation of your usual Chinese fare, then P.F. Chang's is a place worth trying.

With Chef Philip Chiang and Michael Welborn
The men behind P.F. Chang's in Alabang Town Center: Genaro Perez Diaz (Director of International Marketing), Michael Welborn (President of Global Brand Development), Chef Philip Chiang and Archie Rodriguez (President & CEO, Global Restaurant Concepts)
For more photos of the P.F. Chang's opening last January 17, 2012 and the sumptuous dishes we got to try for lunch and dinner, please visit the Ivan About Town FB page.

P.F. Chang’s
Alabang Town Center
Tel. No. +63 (927) 5333445

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Manila: Binondo food trip on Chinese New Year! Kiong Hee Huat Tsai!

Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Happy Lunar New Year! 新年快樂! And as our Tsinoy friends would greet people, Kiong Hee Huat Tsai! 恭喜發財! Of course, the best way to celebrate is to visit Binondo and go on a wild food trip! Too bad I'll miss the festivities this year since I'll be on the road. But I definitely had fun last year, especially after nibbling our way through Chinatown.

We visited Dong Bei Dumplings, President Tea House, New Po-Heng Lumpia House, several hole-in-the-wall establishments, and a new restaurant. We also took home some hopia and other delicacies from Ho-Land. Anyway, I'll let the photos do all the talking. Yummy!

If you want a guided food tour of Chinatown this weekend, book a slot (if there are still slots available) on the Big Binondo Food Wok (Chinese New Year Edition) of Old Manila Walks on January 21 (Saturday) 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; January 22 (Sunday) 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.; and January 23 (Monday) 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. E-mail for reservations.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Manila: A walk through UST (University of Santo Tomas)

Since we're both named Ivan, people often mistake my tokayo for the blogger and me for the Old Manila Walks tour guide. We have the same interests when it comes to travel, that's obviously architectural heritage. In fact, we both visited Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras this summer. We've collaborated on a lot of stuff, including Ultimate Philippines Tours. Now we've decided to bring my tokayo's own travels to you through Ivan About Town. I'd like to introduce our first resident co-blogger, Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks.

The University of Santo Tomas sits right in the heart of busy Sampaloc district in Manila. This campus is a true urban oasis in this densely populated part of the city. Founded in 1611, U.S.T. lays claim to being the oldest university in the Philippines and the school grounds is replete with notable landmarks to guide you through the institution's 400 year history.

There is no better time to explore this historic complex as the school caps-off its fourth centenary celebration. And the best way to do so is on foot. Coming from busy Espana Boulevard, one immediately leaves frenetic street traffic; and upon entering the campus, is welcomed by the Arch of Centuries. This university landmark is one of the few relics left from original Intramuros campus which was destroyed during WWII. It was transferred and reconstructed to its current site in 1955 and today symbolizes UST's role as a "gateway in history to the finest breed of Filipinos." From here, a pleasant stroll down shady the walkway leads one to the Benavides Monument, another remnant from the original campus. Cast in 1891, it honors the school's founder Fray Miguel de Benavides, OP. If you look at floor at the back of the statue, there is a huge Chinese tombstone on the floor dating back to the 19th century.

A few steps up and one is now at the Plaza Mayor which is dominated by the majestic Main Building. Easily one of the most famous structures on campus, this landmark building was built in 1927 and was once an internment camp for Allied POWs during WWII. Today, it houses the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the oldest in the country (established in 1871) and holds an eclectic collection of ethnographic, historical, natural and artistic exhibits including two-headed animals! Just recently, the museum also re-inaugurated its Visual Arts Gallery where on can admire works by prominent historical artists such as Juan Arceo, Galo Ocampo, Carlos Botong Francisco and Fernando Amorsolo to name a few.

Immediately west of the Main Building is the Botanical Garden and the Central Seminary (built in 1933) which houses the Santissimo Rosario parish, drop by to admire its classic Art-Deco interiors. Cap-off your tour of the campus at the Quadricentennial Square at the back of Main Building. This delightful open space facing the Benavides Library features an interactive dancing fountain with a sculptural centerpiece called Tetraglobal by glass sculptor Ramon Orlina. Modeled by UST almuni Piolo Pascual and Charlene Gonzalez, this modern sculpture commemorates UST's four centuries of educational legacy and is a fitting end to your walking tour.

Conceptualized, manufactured, bred and educated in the city of Manila, Ivan Man Dy is the feet behind Old Manila Walks. When he's not busy doing is first love (running his walks and talking about Manila), Ivan shifts to his second passion (traveling) and takes to small towns, big cities and occasionally the great outdoors. He dabbles as freelance features and travel writer to major dailies and has done occasional TV appearances. Now, if only he can host his own travel show. Before he finally took to the streets, he was an active museum guide as well as a staunch heritage preservation activist. Now, he has found his calling being seasoned urbanite, a self-designated life-long citizen and ambassador of Manila. Since 2005, he has led the thousands of happy walking hordes down his city's most historic quarters. Four years on and countless calluses later, he is still loving every step of the way.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Metro Manila: Mexican and TexMex favorites at Burritos & Tacos (B&T) Mexican Kitchen, Ortigas

Those posts about Mexico got me craving for Mexican food. Unfortunately, most Mexican restaurants in the Philippines are not actually Mexican. They serve TexMex (which comes from Texan and Mexican) cuisine which basically evolved from the use of ingredients available in the United States to create dishes with a strong Mexican influence.

TexMex is characterized by melted cheese (most Mexican tacos do not have cheese) and beans. Texas-style chili con carne, fajitas, chimichangas (deep-fried burritos), hard-shell tacos with ground beef, or serving tortilla chips with salsa as an appetizer are actually TexMex creations. A burrito in the US would have pinto (black beans), Mexican style rice, guacamole, salsas, cheese, and sour cream. But in Mexico, the burrito or tacos de harina would usually just have meat and one or two other ingredients.

Anyway, I remembered Burritos & Tacos (B&T) along Ortigas in North Greenhills (a high school classmate brought me here right after I arrived from Mexico). And since I was in the area this afternoon, I dropped by for some Mexican tacos. They serve a mix of Mexican and TexMex dishes.

Basically, you get to choose your dish: Burrito, Frito Burrito, Burrito Bowl, Mexican Salad, Mexican Taco, Taco, Quesadilla, Guaca de Frito, Chimichanga, Tostada, Taquitos or Flautas. The price of your meal will depend on the meat you choose: Beef (Php350) Carne Asada, Barbacoa or Chili con Carne; Pork (Php340) Chorizo, Alpastor or Carnitas; Chicken (Php330) Jalapeno or Chipotle; Ox (Php360) Lengua Salsa Verde, Tripas or Cabeza; Fish (Php330); Shrimp (Php350); or Vegetarian (Php310).

The Mexican Tacos don't come with cheese while the TexMex Tacos do. You have a choice of corn or flour tortillas, corn usually for Mexican while flour for the TexMex Tacos.

B&T Mexican Kitchen
Sekai Building, Ortigas Avenue cor. Madison Street
(0917) 8126218 / (02) 9751850

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Metro Manila: Las Pinas Bamboo Organ and visita iglesia in Paranaque and Las Pinas

The southern cities of Metro Manila have some interesting heritage churches, particularly Paranaque and Las Pinas which you can visit for visita iglesia.

Who does not know the Bamboo Organ? The Las Pinas Church is home to this National Cultural Treasure. It was in 1810 that Fr. Diego Cera began contruction for the Las Pinas Church which was completed in 1819. The architecture of the church itself is very simply yet sturdy with its massive stone colonades ans stucco Neoclassical altar.

The highlight of any visit to the Las Pinas Church is the Bamboo Organ which Fr. Cera built in 1823. It has a total of 1,031 original bamboo pipes and 129 new metal ones. It fell into disrepair but was restored in 1942 by Carmelo and Jose Loinaz. In 1973, the organ was sent to the Johannes Klais Factory in Bonn, Germany for a full restoration.

In Paranaque, one of the best preserved churches is the San Dionisio Chapel. This small chapel is worth the visit because of its intact wooden altar. But what makes the altar even more famous or infamous is the headless image of San Dionisio or Tatang Dune to the locals.

Paranaque in fact has several other heritage churches including the Paranaque Cathedral, La Huerta Chapel and Redemptorist Church, which you can visit when on visita iglesia.

The Paranaque Cathedral's veneration for the Nuestra Senora del Buen Suceso dates back to 1625. The current church was built from 1638 to 1650.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Metro Manila: Restaurants at Robinsons Galleria Veranda

Robinsons Galleria recently opened Veranda, its newest restaurant strip which offers both al fresco and indoor sitting options for guests. I got to try some dishes from the different restaurants in Veranda together with other travel bloggers. Here's something to give you an idea of what to expect at Veranda.

Papa John's
Following its success in Malaysia, the Berjaya Group brought US-based pizza chain Papa John's to the Philippines. We got to try both the hand-tossed and thin crust large versions of Super Papa's (pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and black olives / Php550), Chicken BBQ (Php530) and Fisherman's Catch (Php530).

Delicious Kitchen by Eat Well
Eat Well specializes in simple but delectable Cantonese food, some of which are unavailable at their two other branches in Metro Manila. I was craving for Xiao Long Pao (Php195) after my trip to Taiwan and its good the have it there. We also got to taste the Homemade Beancurd with Asparagus and Bailing Mushroom (Php235), Shrimp on Toast (Php330) and Mochi.

Johnny Rockets
An icon in the food-and-beverage landscape in the U.S., Johnny Rockets serves the same specialties here such as hamburgers, sandwiches, shakes and malts, and apple pie. The have jukeboxes on every table and the staff perform and entertain guests every 15 minutes. We got to try out The Original with Cheese (Php335), Chicken Club Sandwich (Php415) and Philly Cheese Steak (Php395).

La Creperie
La Creperie brings the French creperie experience to Manila with its authentic French galettes and crepes that span from sweet to savoury. Besides these gustatory delights, La Creperie also serves specialty beverages including TWG tea (the only place that serves it in the Philippines), its own line of hot chocolate or Chocolat Chaud and coffee. We got to try Le J.J. (ham, emmental and gruyere cheese, tomato, garlic and chili flakes / Php215), Nami (herbed cheese, fresh shitake mushroom and caramelized onion / Php225), and La Christine (fresh strawberries, homemade strawberry jam and whipped cream / Php145).

Owned by Chef Bruce Lim of Studio 23's Tablescape: Life on a Plate, Hyphy’s reinvents Filipino favorites with a decidedly San Francisco flourish. We got to try the Cobb Salad (classic chopped salad topped with tomatoes, bacon, chicken, olives and cheese / Php260), Bangus Steak (deboned milkfish marinated in grandma's special sauce and pan fried served with rice, buttered seasonal vegetables and atchara / Php210), Calamansi Tuyo Pasta (native dried salted fish sauteed in garlic oil and tossed in pasta topped with cheese and calamansi / Php130), and Clam Chowder in Sourdough Bread which I remember vividly from my trip to San Francisco.

8 Spices
Serving Thai food with a Filipino spin, 8 Spices' bestsellers include Pandan Chicken, Bagoong Rice, Green Curry, Beef Rendang and a bevy of must-have desserts such as Thako and Thai Halo-Halo. We had Tom Yam Ruam Mid Thalay (Php380), Whole Fried Lapu-Lapu in 5 Kinds of Herbs or Pla Harod (Php510) and Pad Thai with Shrimp (Php285).

Giligan's Restaurant
Who doesn't know Giligan's. We tried out their popular Pork Sisig (Php168) and Giligan's Grilled Platter (inihaw na baboy, chicken BBQ, pusit and tuna belly / Php575)

To end the food trip, we had yogurt at Golden Spoon and coffee at Starbucks. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we weren't able to try Healthy Shabu-Shabu since it takes quite a while to prepare. Healthy Shabu-Shabu specializes in Japanese-style hot pot dishes.

The good thing about Veranda is that there's exclusive parking right in front of the restaurants. Check Veranda out on your next visit to Robinsons Galleria.
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