Saturday, June 30, 2012

What's in a (Business) Name? Ocho

What do you call the financial district of New York City?
What do you call the barong district of Naga City?
Spotted at Panganiban Drive, Naga City, Camarines Sur

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Let's Go Vegetarian at Zayka

I can count on my fingers the number of vegetarian (or at least veg friendly) restaurants in Cebu that I know of. Two to be precise: Zayka and Persian Palate.

Zayka is located at Juana Osmena St, near Baseline and St Theresa's College. The place is quite simple but would stand out from its surroundings thanks to its Indian themed facade.
The place is deserted tonight. Or maybe because it's a weekday? 

Tonight we are having samosas for starters. A samosa is a fried pastry stuffed with vegetables like potatoes, peas, onions, carrots. Kind of like empanada. What made this unique though is the sweet mango sauce. Sounds weird? The combination is actually pleasant on the taste buds. A must try!
I am not sure how this can be a "starter" is quite filling.

Bacon as we all know is pork. So what in the world is a veggie bacon? It is marinated (I don't know if that's the right word, I am no cook, just an eater) tofu cut to look like bacon. Sounds simple and boring? Hey, it was good enough for me, a bacon lover (though the real thing will always be number one in my book).
Bacon wannabe

Not entirely ready to go vegetarian (and so is Zayka), Indonesian nasi goreng is on the menu and then on my table. Nasi goreng is fried rice with chicken, vegetables, eggs, and shrimp paste. Anything that's a mix of meat and veggies is a good choice. Nothing beats a satisfying meal that's both tasty and healthy.
A serving good enough for two

And lastly, lassi, an Indian yogurt drink. They had four flavors for the drink: mint, apple, mango, and strawberry. Being a strawberry lover, I just had to order strawberry. When I saw the server bringing the lassi, I thought there were real strawberries in it. Turns out it was only the ice creating a reddish-strawberry-ish effect on the glass. With or without real strawberries, this one was a delight.
A tall glass of strawberry lassi.

There are so many I want to try from their menu: roti (I love roti), the thai foods, and their veggie combo curries. If you click to enlarge the menu below, you will notice there is only one choice per day for the veggie combo, but you can, in fact, order it any day as long as they have the ingredients.

I am not sure of becoming a full vegetarian, but with Zayka, one thing's for sure...I shall return!

Juana Osmeña St., Cebu City
(032) 236 0443
Mon - Sat 11AM - 11PM

How this semi-vegetarian meal bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Samosas Php 75
Veggie bacon Php 65
Indonesian nasi goreng Php 140
Strawberry lassi Php 95

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Buddies Burger Challenge

Can you finish a four-patty burger in 5 minutes?

As what Barney would answer: "Challenge accepted!"

So I went to Piazza Elesia in Talamban where a new burger place has set up shop. You won't miss the restaurant since it's just by the road with a big sign that reads:
Outside the burger place
Minimal, clean, and bright
The Big menu board
The Big menu board continued
I liked the place immediately. It was very simple, using only white and red as their interior colors. We asked the cashier if we could avail of the challenge and she said that it was moved to June 25. Oh boo! So we just did what hungry people do when facing a big menu board - we ordered.

Double Buddy Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion
The onions were great. Never had a burger with onions before. I would appreciate a bigger juicy slice of red tomato though. The patties were surprisingly good; it was large and juicy, but was served flaming hot that I had to let it cool before I took a second bite. I timed myself eating this Double Buddy Burger and finished at a slow 3-minute rate. Overall, I would definitely take the challenge.
Looks more like a mushroom.
Small green tomatoes, big onion slices, lettuce, and juicy beef patties.

Steak burrito
Strips of steak with onions, tomatoes, black beans, and salsa rice wrapped in tortilla. I can taste the strong cilantro flavor. It had just enough beans which was perfect for me. However, this burrito doesn't pack enough size considering its price.
Burrito mi amiga?

Sizzling Gambas
I find this very salty. Also, there's a strong prawny smell with this meal which is a bit of a let-down. I can only appreciate how the garlic was cooked - soft and not burnt.

Buddies doesn't have the luxury of having a handful of servers. So this restaurants instills the value of self-service. The diners are expected to pick up their order from the counter once the cashier calls out their number.

After having a full meal, I went home plotting a strategy to conquer the challenge.

June 25 came and went...
Other appointments and the bad weather moved my decision to take the challenge on the 27th. So, without further ado, the 5 minute challenge to finish a

steak taco!

Wait! Wasn't it a burger? Oh let's not be in a hurry. Don't want to keep my date hungry.

The steak tacos (two in a serving) have a soft shell tortilla. Tasty, tender meat, with a salsa that goes well with the veggies.
I prefer soft shelled tacos

And now the real deal! (Background effects: lightning and thunder) 

The Ultimate Buddy Burger Challenge

First, some rules:
- Timer starts once you touch your food
- Finish everything on the plate and the provided water in 5 minutes
- If big chunks of food drop you are eliminated, unless you eat those too
- There must be nothing in your mouth after the 5 minute time has elapsed

If you win:
- The burger meal's for free
- You get an ultimate burger challenge shirt
- Your mugshot on their Wall of Fame
- Bragging rights!

I've planned this event in my head for a week. What came out of that laborious planning was to use these handy-dandy tools:
A knife and some table napkins
The napkin is to flatten the burger, while the knife is to slice it in half to let the steam and hotness out. Then it's up to my "guts" to deliver a good finish. The plan is going smoothly in my head...

Until I see the enormous reality that unfolded in front of me:

The Ultimate Buddy Burger

Greetings mortal!
Gulp! 5 minutes only?
If you may kindly look at their promo poster again - there are 4 lean burger patties and only about 6 strips of potato fries. I must admit, I knew that the patties would be fluffier but I didn't know there was going to be that many fries.

I'll summarize the whole experience in this prose:

I attacked it like Hercules fighting the Hydra.
For each bite, the burger grew more meat.
Oh dear, four minutes has passed and what was left was this:
Satisfied mortal?
You be the judge - I couldn't finish half of the burger in 4 minutes, how am I supposed to finish everything (including the fries) with 1 minute left?

Challenge Accepted. After 5 minutes - Challenge Failed!

With the commotion done, we helped ourselves finishing the meal. We gobbled up the fries and shared what was left of the burger.
Name of Loser or The Tragedy of a Mustached Hero

Nevertheless, Mustachio went home full and happy having been able to join an eating challenge for the first time. I dissected why I failed the challenge and I've come up with three reasons: 
- I ate the burger without cooling it really well (it was still steaming hot even after I sliced it and let it cool for 30 seconds)
- I didn't drink much of the water (which would have aided me in swallowing) and 
- I've underestimated the quantity of the meal.

I just gave you some tips on how to approach this challenge. And now I dare you to try it. Do I hear a "Challenge Accepted"?

Piazza Elesia, Talamban, Cebu City
(032) 520 8732
11AM to 3PM, then 5PM to 10PM (temporary schedule, closing time may change)

How this dinner bore a 1/3 pound hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Double Buddy Burger Php 150
Steak Burrito Php 135
Sizzling Gambas Php 110

How this challenge bore an ultimate hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Steak Taco Php 120
Ultimate Burger Challenge Php 350

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Take Time Off: Tabuelan

Where in the world is Tabuelan?
90 km northwest of Cebu City lies the sleepy town of Tabuelan.

How do you transport yourself to Tabuelan?
Ticket for the minibus
Oh, how we wish we could be at one place or another just by snapping our fingers. But getting to Tabuelan without your own car AND missing the only Ceres bus (which leaves at 4AM from the North Bus Terminal) can be a nightmare, especially if you have no other choice but to take the killer minibus. Lucky if you catch a v-hire (van) going to Tabuelan. We only found one whose schedule is at 9AM from Cebu (and 4AM from Tabuelan) from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, they only run from Tabuelan to Cebu at 1PM.

Did you say killer minibus?
Yes, the killer minibus, not because the driver is reckless, but because it can kill you with its snail's pace. The first hour was spent crawling from North Bus Terminal to Canduman in Mandaue City, a short 10 km distance (my grandma can run faster than this)! The slowpoke took four hours to travel 90 kilometers, twice as long as any normal drive would take!

Why would you want to go to Tabuelan?
For the beach and nothing but the beach!

 The beach on a gloomy day

The beach on a sunny day
Photo by Paupau Alvarez 

Hi ho, hi ho! To the beach you go...
The bus will drop you off at the Tabuelan market. From there, take a habalhabal (motorcycle) to the beach.

...with an overnight bag.
You can stay at either Durhan White Beach or La Familia Resort 0928 755 8301 / (032) 461 9075 / (032) 461 9110. Photos below are of La Familia where I stayed in the two times that I have visited Tabuelan. Durhan is just next door.

 Open cottages at La Familia

A twin room costs Php 1000. It has AC and its own toilet and bath.

And then what?
Laze around! Relax! Go for a high tide (when the tide is low, it is really really low... you can walk far from the beach and the water would still be up to your shins)! Roll in the sand, build a sandcastle, explore!

Mustachio the Explorer

One must eat to have energy to swim or explore.
La Familia has a restaurant but if you're on a tight budget (their food is a bit expensive), you might want to bring your own food, a cookset and a burner. Have some money to spare? Go to the market (3 kilometers away) and ask the caretakers to cook for you (at a cost).

So your weekend is ending...
...and you are dreading that bus ride from hell (yes, it can be hell in that minibus for they pack the passengers in like sardines and move the sardine can on wheels ever so slowly). If you'd rather spend an extra 45 pesos than be sardines on wheels, try your luck and ask the resort's caretakers if they know of any v-hire (van) going back to the city (we were lucky one was leaving at 1PM and the vhire came to pick us up at the resort!).

How a weekend at Tabuelan bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Minibus from North Bus Terminal to Tabuelan Php 90
Habalhabal (motorcycle) to La Familia Resort Php 15
Room at La Familia Resort Php 1000
V-hire (van) from Tabuelan to North Bus Terminal Php 135

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Brown Cup Breakfast

More often than not, I eat breakfast at home, but on the occasion that I feel like having a breakfast date, The Brown Cup takes my money.

Inside the cafe at Skyrise, IT Park

I have the bacon and eggs (scrambled please!) with waffles and iced tea. The waffles are soft and fluffy, just the way I like it. My date gets the ham and eggs (sunny side up please!) with pancakes and coffee. The ham doesn't look at all appetizing but it's okay; it tastes like what a ham should taste like. If you like bread, you can request for french toast instead of pancakes or waffles.

Bacon and eggs with waffles and Ham and eggs with pancakes

One thing we noticed though, the bacon doesn't look as perfect as when we first ate here (in 2011). And the waffle that time was more brown and toasty. Maybe they have a new cook?

In 2011 I had the same thing

Their breakfast meals come with coffee or iced tea. When neither suits you, you can request for hot choco for an additional Php 20.

Shouldn't the cup be brown?

Five hours after, it is time for lunch, but I am still full from this breakfast. The Brown Cup also offers rice meals, pasta, and sandwiches. I recommend their pesto buttered pork chop (Php 95), a friend's favorite. Their rice meals come with iced tea. Warning: The Brown Cup at IT Park can get very busy at lunch on weekdays, either get there early (around 11AM) or be prepared to spend at least 15 minutes waiting for your food.

Food menu. Click to enlarge.

 Pesto buttered pork chop

Of course, being a cafe, it does have a selection of coffee, tea, smoothies, cookies, brownies, and cakes. When craving for something sweet but low on moolah, I get their choco chunk (Php 18) and choco oatmeal (Php 15) cookies.

The Brown Cup
Skyrise 1, Asiatown IT Park, Lahug, Cebu City
(032) 415 8483

Monday - Friday 24 hours
Saturday closes at 2AM
Sunday 6AM - 1PM

Other branches:
St Patrick Square
Redemptorist Road cor. Don Ramon Aboitiz St.
(Behind Redemptorist Church and St Theresa's College)
(032) 256 0900 / (032) 412 6352

Rosedale Center
Gov M Cuence Ave, Talamban, Cebu City
(Beside Doña Rita Village)
0922 932 8588

How The Brown Cup breakfast burrowed thru Mustachio's pocket:
Bacon and eggs breakfast meal Php 110
Ham and eggs breakfast meal Php 110