Friday, October 8, 2010

Philippine Eagle Center of Davao, Malagos Garden Resort, and HITO!

Davao City is known for 4 things:  the hellishly delicious Durian, the Waling-waling, majestic Mt. Apo, and last but not least, The Philippine Monkey-eating-Eagle.

of late, [meaning: probably in the past decade or so]  "Hito-an"s have become popular as well.  A Hito-an is a place that serves Hito [catfish] as it's specialty.  Hito, being fresh-water fish have become very abundant in Davao because it can be easily farmed, hence it is also very affordable.  It is cooked in numerous ways but is most popularly ordered either deep-fried or grilled.

I have had the chance to revisit three places which are a 'must-do' by tourists and locals alike in the last 2 months and i must say, though a bit far from the city-proper, they were worth every second of my visit.

Philippine Eagle Center of Davao

Home to the king of all eagles as well as many other birds and some native wild animals.

This beautiful bird greets you as you enter the main park area.

Lush bamboo, also a rare sight nowadays

Meet Dakila, he peers right back at you

It is located at the Davao City Water District’s (DCWD) Watershed Park in Malagos.
Travel Time from city proper: 30-45 minutes without traffic, go south and take the Calinan road at the Ulas Junction
Entrance Fee: P20.00 per person
My recommendation:  go there either really early in the morning or around 4pm to avoid the intense midday heat; more importantly, slather on mosquito repellent lotion.  There are souvenir stands at the entrance area selling everything from sari-sari store products to batik to souvenir shirts.  There is also a boa constrictor at the entrance you can take a picture with, hold or drape over your shoulder for a 'donation'.  i steered clear of this one as snakes freak me out, but there was quite a crowd gathered around the brave of heart.

Malagos Garden Resort

i had the chance to visit the place because of my daughter's recent field trip. Please click on the name[link] for details about the place.
Entrance fee: P120.00
My experience:We were treated with a nature show which showcased the animals living in the resort, and they provided us with a good background on each specie and some trivia about them.  It was very interesting especially for the little ones.  The place is huge and the tour was quite exhausting but worth it just the same.  they had a huge playground which the children enjoyed the most.
My recommendation:  same as with the Philippine eagle Center, it is better to avoid the midday heat but if you still opt to go there to enjoy their restaurant offerings for lunch, there are many shaded places and covered buildings to stay in.  and DON'T forget the repellent lotion!
the welcome dance at the start of the show

a miniature pony and his mama

a family of ducks running for show

a family of birds who ran away as we neared them

a finely-plumed bird, the picture doesn't do it justice

i would still recommend that you take your lunch or dinner at one of the Hito-ans that line the main road [Calinan] either before going to Malagos or right after your trip there.  The deep-fried Hito alone will make the whole trip worth your while and will be a very satisfying ending to your little nature trip!
grilled hito

my personal favorite - deep-fried hito,  add steaming-hot rice and spicy soy sauce and calamansi dip and you are in gastronomic heaven!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Durian, the king of all fruits

it's already mid-september and durian season is still at it's peak.

but then again durian is no longer a seasonal fruit.  you can find them practically anytime in fruit stands all over the city.  but all fruit loving people know that durian, like most fruits, is at its best and sweetest [not to mention at its CHEAPEST too] when it is in its original season [am i making sense or what, anyway, you all know where i'm going here].

question: is there a relation as to why we celebrate Kadayawan on the month where the now ubiquitous fruit is at it's peak season.  Durian, anyway is one of the few things our city is known for.  It is one of the symbols which we proudly carry, along with the Philippine Eagle and the Waling-waling.  anybody wanna answer that?

only in davao!
i kinda get why some people find it repulsive, thankfully i am not one of them.  my sister has headaches if she gets a whiff of the fruit, while i try not to wash with soap after eating it so i can smell my fingers every so often.  it's such a pity that a lot of people find this creamy, bittersweet, and heady fruit disgusting.  they even compare it to rotten unmentionables.

i 'pshawed' at the fact that Mario Batali, who is a world renowned chef, hates it.  and Andrew Zimmern, who is supposedly one of the most adventurous foodies ever, failed miserably not once but three times in his meeting with the king of all fruits.  That is why i adore Anthony Bourdain who is the REAL deal for me; he immerses himself in the typical-everyday-life of every city he visits, eats the food that the locals eat, in places where the locals eat them and that to me, is how we should experience places we visit.  Oh, and he loves durian too. Check out this link and pshaw with me now. =P

so i dare you to take that first step, give durian a try.  i promise you that one bite into its creamy flesh will transport you to another level of gastronomic pleasure, go ahead, close your eyes and enjoy it as it melts in your mouth and lingers in your taste buds long after.  in this case, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

p.s. yes, you love the taste but still hate the smell, the trick is to rub your fingertips on the white, inner side of it's shell, i repeat, the white inner side of it's shell.  we don't want you bleeding now.
get rid of the smell by rubbing your fingertips against that white part of the inner shell, and no, that part can't be eaten.
note: first and last pictures from here.  middle photo is courtesy of my trusty phone camera.  Cello's Doughnuts and Dips is located at Gov. Sales St.  in front of Chimes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Davao, my love

in one of my friend's posts over at multiply, another friend asked her if it would be nice to live in Davao.  my friend, who is from Cebu, told her that i would be the best person to ask since i think i'm the only friend in our circle who is from here and who actually lives here now.

so this was my answer to her question:

if you want: to get many things done in a day; less smog; less traffic; more nature; a simpler life; a more laid-back life; inexpensive restaurants; easy access to cool mountain air; quick trips to the islands and white sand beaches; a typhoon-free life; cheap and abundant fruits and veggies; to live near a church, a school, a mall, a bank, a supermarket; and everything else good in between, he he,come live in DAVAO.
of course, it's much less exciting than life in bigger cities like manila and cebu ; less variety in terms of venues for gustatory delights, bars, and shopping destinations;  less 'fabulous'-looking people [meaning: people who look like they just stepped out of the fashion runway]; there aren't any skyscrapers to marvel at, and the city streets are practically devoid of cars by 2am on a weekday.
he he, i just wanted to tone it down a bit, people might think i love DAVAO too much. =P

it made me realize once again how lucky i am to live in a city like davao.  and this is something big coming from someone who always daydreams about traveling far and wide, and finding the perfect quaint little city where i can settle and live in.  and i daydream all the time, even if i'm in the middle of my thousand and one activities each day.

i realize now that each and every word i wrote about why i love DAVAO is precisely what i imagine my dream destination to be.  i'm actually living in my dream city!  of course, Davao can never be called little nor quaint, but i have everything i need here and woe is me for having only realized this now. =P

the above pic borrowed from here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Manila's top secret buffet place [you wish!]

when my mother-in-law, told me we were going to have dinner in a buffet place which charged only P195 per head for adults, i wasn't sure what to think.  you won't find a decent place serving buffet for that low a price even here in davao.  the cheapest here is atleast P270++ per person.  so when dinner time came, i convinced myself not to expect anything and prepare for what might be a night of gastronomic disappointment.

i happily realized that my fears were unfounded as soon as we stepped into the restaurant.

The buffet table was filled with unexpectedly good mostly chinese fare.  and the variety was surprising!  from the more common ones like sweet and sour pork, yang chow fried rice, and pancit canton to oyster cakes, a tofu dish, steamed lapu-lapu in soy sauce.  they also had siomai, congee and bird's nest soup and even japanese chopstick-food like sushi and maki rolls complete with wasabi and kikoman.  and mind you the california maki's orange-colored roe was real [sorry, i don't know what they are called].  there was also green mango with bagoong, i thought it out of place, but many seemed to like it there.
and the dessert spread was not bad either, from fresh fruits to filipino desserts like buko pandan to chinese buchi.  i 'met' and tasted for the first time steamed egg  in a cup, i found it strange that it was in the dessert area because it was not sweet at all.  but i liked it anyway.

of course, there is a but.  with a price like that you can't expect the ambiance you get from a pricy restaurant.  you can't expect an abundance of space, nor can you expect to be able to eat in peace with soft music in the background.  we shared the place with a big group which was celebrating somebody's birthday.  of course they sang and accompanied it with a birthday cake and loud cheering and clapping as the celebrant blew the candle.  on the other side of our table was a group of co-workers probably in an impromptu after work dinner escapade, so they also contributed to the noise.  and of course add to that the other sounds you expect to hear in a busy chinese restaurant.

well, obviously it's not really a secret dining destination.  the place was filled to the brim when we arrived.  Luckily, a big group was just starting to leave so we managed to get a big round table fast.  we were 18 in all [yes, the hubby's side of the family is a big one, we weren't even complete that night] so we were kinda scattered into different tables.  we spent only P3kplus that night which really amazed us as we rang up more than double that amount in the past nights.

i would normally advise you to go there early as buffet places usually fill up easily and the quality and freshness of the food usually deteriorates by the hour, not to mention the quantity and variety.  But here it is happily different, they constantly refill all dishes and they serve them freshly prepared until an hour before closing.  so don't worry about the traffic or being late, you're sure to get good food when you arrive.

Tramway Tea House 
76 Sct.Alcaraz Street Cor. Banawe Street, Quezon City
[02]411-1565 / 410-3717
Opens from 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Friday, July 2, 2010

welcome home!

okay, the pancake house did not originate in davao but i can't help but write about it.  i don't know why but it is one of the places i like to eat and hang-out in especially when i have to go at it alone.  the food rates are not that affordable i know but the homey-ness of the place and it's bright clean interiors just make me feel right at home.  and the food selection si so varied that studying their well-made menu is one of the things i love doing before i make my order.  there's always something interesting and new to try.

but being the segurista and predictable diner, most times, i order the same thing 99% of the time.  a refillable cup of brewed coffee and my favorite [for years now] - the chicken asparagus sandwich.  until just recently [read: yesterday and today] i ended up ordering this combo, even if i intend to try something else once they hand me the menu.

yesterday afternoon, as i was not that hungry, i wanted something less filling.  i ordered the classic medley which is 2 pancakes with butter and syrup, a side order of sausages and a cup of brewed coffee.  i was careful to just put a couple of drops of syrup but i smothered on the whipped butter.  every bite was a sweet, creamy, fluffy forkful of comfort.  sure, i could make tastier pancakes with bisquick mix, but the magic of Pancake House is this:  you get what you expect.  from the pictures in the menu, to the way the food looks when it is served to you, to that first bite that you make, to the last drop of strong, freshly brewed coffee.  it is consistent, just like home.  until today that is....

today was sadly different, i had to go to SM after fetching my daughter from school.  it was 4pm and my first and only meal was a quick brunch.  i was hungry and my daughter wanted pasta.  we went straight to Pancake House   and i ordered white-sauce pasta for her [i forgot what they called it], it had shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and bacon.  i ordered a taco for myself and the usual strong coffee.  to cut my story short, only the coffee was good.  the pasta was bland and tasteless and the taco filling was 90% garnish and just 10% meat [more of meat paste, actually].

for the first time i was disappointed in my 'home away from home'.  but, no permanent harm done.  the magic is still there, i guess i'll just stick to my good old reliable chicken asparagus sandwich till the next time i'm brave enough to try something else. =P

 [that man is sitting in my favorite booth.  see me in the mirror?]

 my beloved sandwich

Pancake House
2nd Level, SM City

note:  all pictures were taken a few months ago, during a more satisfying visit.

Friday, May 28, 2010

friday night wish:

i wish i were here right now.

yep, it's that dark in there.  just like an old western saloon should be.

where there is always cold potent brew to be had, you can guzzle yourself to sleep, he he.

where the food menu is international yet unexpectedly cheap, think nasi goreng [this was a strange thing to find] to good old american burgers to european sausages.  don't forget to try the hot mustard!

where you can relax, unwind and cozily chat the night away.  not a bad idea to go by your lonesome too, there's discovery channel to stare at and soothingly faded music in the background.

where you can temporarily forget the outside world and pretend you're in an old cowboy movie, but not looking for trouble of course.

where you can find nice deli items to bring home to your kids, validating your 'me' time/date night or whatever.

i wish i were here right now. [sigh]

106-c DBC Bldg-H, McArthur Hi-way, Matina, Davao City
(near Ma-a junction and NCCC mall)
BayanSpan 082-303-2199
Smart 0921-971-1051
Globe 0927-998-5905

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

another crabby experience

i can't really say when i started seeing crab buffet restaurants sprouting all over the city.  to date i think i can count 5 recently opened ones.  i don't know why but i think the more high end Let's Crab Eat restaurant pushed for the opening of these more affordable options.

i got my first taste of the 'crab buffet concept' at Sari Makan Crab Buffet Restaurant.  A friend boasted of eating there twice and wanted to go back for more.  So when another friend made a quick round-up of us long time pals, Sari Makan was the first choice to feast in.  Due to the name [Crab Buffet] one friend actually thought that they only served crabs or sea food, which she is allergic to.  We contemplated on buying food for her to bring to the place [lol!].  I on the other hand was apprehensive of the crab thing, being an eat-with-your-hands kind of food, and i also dreaded the laborious task of picking the flesh from the many partitions.  Not worth the effort, most of the time, i thought.

but we were assured that there were other things to eat so we went to the place at 6 p.m.  which turned out to be the best time to arrive in a buffet restaurant.  the food is in all it's fresh, steaming-hot glory, untouched by previous diners, and the best seats in the house [meaning: nearest to the buffet table =P]

the other reason we chose the place was the unbeatable price of P270 per person which was the cheapest in it's league [or so we heard, somebody prove us wrong please].  i prepped myself by washing my hands well, instead of the usual alcogel, as it was going to be a serious meal up ahead.

the place had a straightforward, no frills ambience [hence we did not have to pay for it, he he] and can seat up to around 30 comfortably.  More importantly, i noted that the place was well-lit and really clean.  true enough there was kaldereta [i think] but it was a goat dish for sure and there was also kare-kare [oxtail stew].  Both were delicious, my friends swore, and tender too.  i can't vouch for the taste though as i do not eat goat nor beef.

i stuck to the sole crab and prawn dish which was really yummy i had to exclaim, 'sauce pa lang, ulam na!'  and the requisite fried chicken leg and of course my beloved rice.

the prawns were scrumptious.  as for the crabs, some parts were over-cooked and paste-like in texture.  but the claw-meat, which was intact and perfect, plus the finger-licking, lip-smacking sauce more than made up for that and the fact that there was hardly any aligue [crab roe].  they also had a decent dessert spread which i unfortunately, had no room for anymore.

i polished off, i think, 3 whole crabs [they were small okay] and a few more claws =P.  plus, there's something about sharing a meal with friends who are more like sisters, it just made it all more enjoyable and appetizing.

so if you ask me, yes it was worth all the effort of picking at the flesh.  they had more than the usual shell cracker, there was also a crab pick which suspiciously looked like a manicure-pedicure tool [just joking].

seriously though, i'd definitely go and get my hands crab-dirty all over again with my girls, anytime. =D

p.s.  sorry there are no actual crab pics as it was in-between refill time when i got up to take pictures. =P

Sari Makan Crab Buffet Restaurant
Bonifacio St. [beside Alsons]
Davao City

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