It took me a week upon returning from the Philippines to finally gather the courage to step on the scale. And when I did, it finally confirmed all the fears that plagued me ever since I accused my brother’s help of shrinking my clothes (to which she quickly retorted that maybe I was eating too much).
I gained 5 freaking pounds!
How can someone put on 5 lbs. in 3 weeks?
Apparently, I could.
The thing was, 3 weeks was a very short time when visiting family and friends. There was no shortage of someone inviting you out for dinner or lunch so sometimes you have to squeeze all those invites in and add an extra meal to the day, like that mid-afternoon snack of hamburger and a mango crepe. More than once I thought of what this unending feast could do to my stomach, worried that it was going to cry “uncle” soon and I was never going to feel hungry again. But the stomach is a thing of wonder and seems to know when it is time for breakfast, lunch and dinner – though I did subject myself once to a half-day fast during my entire trip, and that went pretty well too, except I binged on crispy pata, bagnet and lechon (okay you all should know what these are by now) for the next three days.
Looking at the pictures below, I kinda have an idea where the 5 lbs. came from. These plus the 4 different kinds of lechon (roast pig) or the 6 different styles of fried chicken, that failed to make it to the camera because they were simply too irresistible to wait a second longer to devour, all contributed to the inevitable bulging buttons.
Funny thing was, I do not regret a thing. It may take me an entire year to get back to my “before” weight but dammit I enjoyed the food! I was not going to withhold myself from eating the crispy lechon skin or the crispy fried chicken skin or that thick wiggly fat attached to those crispy pork legs.
I could always exercise and subject myself to some kind of dieting later…
Soooo here are my best eats in Manila! We ate at Toki and Choi Garden twice. I loved both places so much that I couldn’t wait to return for another meal.
There’s also something I need to confess to. I’m a fried chicken fiend. When I see it on the menu and depending what type of restaurant it is I always gravitate towards ordering it. More than a couple of folks laughed at my choice of Chicken Karaage as my main dish in Toki. By the time I’ve received my order and they had a chance to taste it, they were changing their tune.
There’s nothing more tasty than perfectly cooked fried chicken.
When I posted our Toki lunch on Facebook, everyone thought we ordered the entire menu. Mind you, for lunch there were only four of us.
Toki – located at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
The chef said he uses some freshly-squeezed apple juice in the dressing.
One of the best I’ve had anywhere. Sashimi is served with citrus wedges in the Philippines.
I found out on my second visit that this little bowl of soup was 250 peso which was the equivalent of USD 5.00. Yikes! Delicious though….must have taken a lot of prawn to produce such clean flavor.
An amazing bowl. Look at that uni!
It’s interesting that a simple plate of fried chicken can transport me to such glorious heights of pleasure. I savored every bite of this subtly spiced meat. The skin was puffed up away from the meat and was so crisp that it was a joy to feel the crunch between my teeth. No sauce necessary.
Another reason why i am so pleased with Toki was that our last course provided such a sweet ending to an already superb meal. One of the best desserts I’ve had this year. I must have quite the affinity with Japanese sweets as my last great dessert was at Yakitori Toto in New York.
And my favorite, the panna cotta & green tea ice cream combination…
There also was a Japanese cheesecake but I thought it was a bit dry.
My next favorite restaurant is Choi Garden, located at Annapolis St., San Juan.
Ah, Choi Garden, how do I love thee?
Fried pigeon. ‘Nuff said.
If there is one restaurant that reminded me of my years growing up enjoying my Dad’s and Grandma’s cooking, this is it. My dad used to raise pigeons. I remember him having an aviary made specially for them and how he would provide water basins for them to bathe. They were fun and…uh…delicious. I guess there’s nothing like raising your own food to eat, doesn’t get more fresh than that.
These were fantastic with plenty of hot tasty broth inside. Had to remind everybody that the soup inside the dumpling was hot.
I’m usually not fond of prawn salad because they tend to be too sweet and mayo-ee, but this version I could eat lots of. The prawns were crunchy on the outside and tender inside, the dressing was subtlety sweetened.
The salted meat combination could be my favorite after the pigeon. I’m particularly fond of the duck liver sausage (darker color) in this plate. This took 45 minutes to cook because the meat had to be heated on top of the rice that it is served with so it can be flavored with its oils and salt. I remember my grandmother dry-curing duck during the cold dry season hanging them high up in the rafters.
And last but not the least…
Aubergine – located in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. It’s actually right across Toki, same floor, same building.
Aubergine is one of Manila’s top restaurants. More of a classical fine dining place, I was delightfully impressed and the food was amazing specially the foie gras wrapped in beef.
The above was my favorite of the tasting menu. It is described as: seared smoked Mulwara beef tenderloin, stuffed with duck foie gras, served on carrot mousseline and Madeira jus.
This is the best palate cleanser ever! That and it was adorably served in a tea pot with dry ice providing a visual appeal as well as keeping the sorbet cold.
I’m glad that the dessert was a light caramel-ginger parfait and the crispy fillo pastry did not add any heaviness to my already stuffed belly.
And that, my friends, wraps up my Philippine Food diary posts. Now you’ll all excuse me as I figure out how to lose all this weight.