Sunday, October 9, 2016

Salinas: Not Your Usual Filipino Restaurant

What used to be Golden Cowrie's Salinas branch's al fresco area is now another restaurant called Salinas. Owned by the people behind the popular Filipino restaurant, Golden Cowrie/Hukad sa Golden Cowrie, this is another restaurant worth a visit (or repeat visits!) for the following reasons:

Boldly Reinvented Filipino Fare
Salinas bravely put a twist on Filipino food! Their kwek kwek is coated in beer batter. They have Miki Negra, which is miki noodles in squid ink. They have kanding (goat) tapa instead of the usual beef tapa. Their breaded fish (barracuda) is coated in chicharon. Their Pocherong Katag is indeed katag or spread out on a plate: a bowl of pochero soup with beef sliced off the bone, and the baked marrow proudly exposed on the bone that's chopped along its length.

Pocherong Katag (Php 495)

Vegetarian Specials
Although only six dishes, this is a welcome and much needed addition to local restaurants (many vegetarians find it hard to eat out in Cebu). Salinas collaborated with The Lazy Chef for their vegetarian menu. As I was reading the short list, these caught my attention: Bloodless Dinuguan (and how? I have no idea), and vegetarian sisig (because I love sisig) made of mushrooms, garbanzo beans, and other veg.

Vegetarian Sisig (Php 185)

Wallet Friendly
Servings are good for three persons and most dishes cost between Php 85 to Php 215. There are six dishes that go beyond this price range, and these are in the meat (goat, beef, lamb) and seafood mains section (from Php 295 to Php 495).

Clockwise from top left: Pomelo Salad (Php 145), Crispig's Ears (Php 105),
Smoked Bangus Croquettes (Php 165), Chilled Taho (Php 75)

Menu (click to enlarge)

Classic Craving
If you are craving for classics that are not on Salinas' menu, such as monggossinigangcrispy pata, etc. you can order from Golden Cowrie on the other side of the wall and have Golden Cowrie dishes on your Salinas table.

Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City
(032) 233 4243
Lunch 10AM to 2PM
Dinner 5PM to 10PM

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sandbar Compass

There are four points of the compass. In Bohol's compass of sandbars there are two: North Sandbar and South Sandbar. Although officially part of Bohol, these sandbars are also accessible from Mactan Island.

North Sandbar or Bongan Sandbar is part of the municipality of Talibon. It is 2.5 hours by boat from Punta Engaño in Mactan or 3 hours from Cordova in Mactan. When the tide is high and the long stretch of white sand is submerged, you know you've come to the right place when you see the lonely concrete watchtower sprouting from the sea.

North Sandbar or Bongan Sandbar

The other end of North/Bongan Sandbar. The watchtower is off to the side (not in photo).

South Sandbar or Mundong Sandbar is part of the municipality of Tubigon. It is 1.5 hours by boat from Punta Engaño in Mactan, or an hour from Cordova in Mactan. When the tide is high, the only clue to this little patch of sandy paradise is when you see a strip of turquoise in the vast deep dark blue canvas of the sea.

During high tide, South/Mundong Sandbar becomes a shallow pool (chest height water), but those who don't know how to swim must be careful to not go over the edges as it plunges into the deep quick. The current could also be strong as the tide comes in.

South Sandbar or Mundong Sandbar

At high tide

Crystal Clear

It is best to start off the journey toward these sandbars early in the morning when the sea is calm, and head back to the mainland early in the afternoon. The sea could get restless late in the afternoon.

How to transport yourself from Mactan Isalnd to either of the sandbars:
Rent a pumpboat at any of the ports in Mactan: Cordova Wharf, Maribago Wharf, or Punta Engaño Port (beside Mövenpick Hotel). These sandbars are not included in the usual island hopping destinations offered in Mactan, so prices may vary between boat operators. Unleash your haggling powers!

I surmise the name North and South may have originated from boat operators in Mactan
because it looks like the basis for its direction is Mactan, not Bohol.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Wisdom from the Road #44

On numbers
There is strength in numbers.
But one is also a good number.

They say two is company, three is a crowd. Four, five, six, seven, eight...traveling in big groups could be fun. (But might be an awful headache for the one in charge of the itinerary, accommodation, and transportation arrangements.) Plus there is strength in numbers budget wise: 
  • Four – the maximum number of passengers allowed in a taxi. Sometimes four people in a taxi will spend less compared to four people taking the bus.
  • Five or Ten or Whatever – some guided tours require a minimum number of people.
  • Six or Eight – some accommodations have big rooms for an even number of people, maximize this and it comes out cheaper than getting a single or double room.
  • Seven or More or Less – eating at family-style restaurants in big groups is an advantageous setup for foodies: more likely than not, there will be a variety of dishes for the group.
  • Ten, Fifteen, Twenty – pumpboats for island hopping come in different sizes; most don't want to ride a small boat, so the bigger the better. Maximize it to minimize the cost per person.
  • Twelve – it is faster to rent a van then to ride the bus (e.g. Puerto Princesa to El Nido and vice versa). Most vans can accommodate 12 persons comfortably.

One. Traveling alone might be costlier than traveling with a friend of two. On the monetary side of travel, you learn to budget when going solo. On the non-monetary side of travel, you have these to look forward to:
  • You can make your own itinerary or none at all.
  • You go at your own pace. You can stick to your schedule or throw away your watch.
  • If you are running late, you only have yourself to blame. But if you have thrown your watch away then this shouldn't be an issue.
  • Did your mother tell you not to talk to strangers? Well, you become brave in approaching strangers when you need to ask for directions.
  • You develop your communication skills. Even if you don't speak or understand the language, you will somehow learn to understand each other through context clues and actions.
  • You become an expert at getting lost and finding your way back. If you get lost, you drum up the courage to ask for directions, you get creative in communicating with non-English speakers, you exercise your memory by trying to remember signs and landmarks, you become more observant (aware and alert of your surroundings), and your analysis skills improve (you try to understand the complicated subway system in just a few hours or at least try to).

For more lessons from the road, please visit Go Learn.