ITALIANNI’S – An Italian Restaurant

I don’t fancy “fancy” restaurants. I’ve been to restaurants that has all the style but not the substance. Too fancy that the novelty wore off before it can even celebrate its second year. This restaurant however, has prevailed in spite of its reputation for being pricey and snobby. It reputation has preceded all other factors that could have enticed me to just go over there and try it. It wouldn’t have lasted this long in the business or branched out this far if its not meant to be.

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But I wasn’t in a hurry. It’s Italian and I’ve been having Italian food for as long as I can remember. Just not coming from this restaurant. If you have eaten Carbonara and you’ve tasted all the other carbonara dishes. Like how many ways can one prepare a carbonara pasta, anyway?

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One day, a friend of mine working overseas decided that we should meet there at Italianni’s. So okay. I said yes and I was there early. And I was offered a bread basket. And I tore off a piece from one of the bread and found it surprisingly warm. A saucer of olive oil and balsamic vinegar was laid out in front of me and I dipped my bread on it. You’re kidding me. I thought to myself.

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I hesitated from raving about the bread until my friend and I got to finish an entire quadro formaggi…

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a platter of chicken Milanese…

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and shared a salad with Italianni’s house dressing. We finished everything and we could barely finish everything on our table. It was a bad case of “the mouth is willing but the tummy is full”.

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So unfair. I shook my head incredulously.

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LACHI’S

It isn’t like huli na ako sa balita. Of course I’ve heard of Lachi’s Sans Rival since the mid 1990s and I may have had it before na di ko lang na-recall. I just never really took the time to go there. Back then, it was like a countertop take-out cake shop in Marfori and my family and I were never really the cake-eating/stocking people.

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Yesterday’s too-far-apart appointments however finally made me decide to go there. Kako 11am, I’m sure walang pila as they have that reputation for being fully-booked all the time. I arrived at Lachi’s around 10:50am. Sarado. “Steeled-shut”. Walang maupuan sa labas at dyahe naman kung sa kabilang store ako tumambay. Tutal dessert lang naman ang habol ko sa Lachi’s tumawid na lang ako sa kabilang kanto and ate lunch at BC Chicken (post ko na lang later ang dining experience ko doon).

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After lunch I headed back to Lachi’s and snagged a table at the far end. There are people sitting along the main door waiting for tables to be vacated, pero sorry na lang at mukhang nagdidilly-dally pa ang mga diners.

I got my order: A slice of the famous Lachi’s Sans Rival and I paired it with my usual Cafe Americano (sarap nito!).

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Verdict? My opinion doesn’t count because I’m biased when it comes to butter. I can only eat so much so for the first 3 bites I could say it was really, really good – not too sweet. Then my aversion towards soft butter texture kicked in and it was a struggle to finish the rest of it. I prayed that my tummy will have that intestinal fortitude to digest the cake because I’d be dead on my next appointment. Oh but I’m definitely coming back here for a full meal. I kept hearing Laing, Oriental Chicken, Spice Chicken, and something about pan-fried pork chops that’s worth trying. Perhaps I’ll have one of these cakes too for dessert – and for sharing, of course.

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Lachi’s is an “Institution” in Davao City when it comes cakes and pastries. Be sure to visit them at Door 1-H Values School Building, Ruby Street, Marfori Heights Subdivision, Davao City. For orders and reservations call them at (+63 82) 224-5552

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VIVA, DULCE VIDA, VIVA!

Last Saturday afternoon, I found myself drawn to Dulce Vida’s Bakery and Restaurant along Tulip Drive Extension in Ecoland. The moment I entered the store I was instantly soothed with the sweet smell of cookies and bread wafting from the counter. Indeed at  3 in the afternoon, this Brown and Pink cake shop at the street corner, was a good place to take some time off and away from the maddening, discount-shopping crowd at the nearby mall. I tried looking for a place to rest but all the coffee shops at the mall were teeming with yuppies, toddlers, and laptop-toting students who were probably nursing their coffee cups for the last two hours and probably had no intention of letting it go for the next couple of hours.

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Am I glad to see that it’s empty. I mean, good for me and bad for the business, but hey, it’s probably just the timing. I wouldn’t doubt for one second because I have had the pleasure of eating some of Dulce Vida’s cakes brought by friends and officemates. My lady boss literally swoons at the sight of their Brazo de Mercedes. A chic lady born and bred from one of the city’s pioneering families, she swears that  Dulce Vida is more than just frills and thrills in a box – one truly get quality cakes and pastries in every bite.

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So bite I must but not too much. I still have another restaurant to try that evening so I ordered something light: One chocolate crinkle with  a cup of Dilmah’s Chamomile Tea,  please!

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Then it rained and my tea bag is still rich with flavor warranting another cup of hot water. This time I ate a piece of dark chocolate Silvanas and studied its texture. Silvanas are usually the last thing I order in a cake shop because of the butter but surprisingly, Dulce Vida’s version is more caramel-flavored and cotton candy-like in texture. It sticks to my teeth and gums but I find it amusingly pleasing to just let it melt till the dark chocolate settled on my tongue.

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Dulce Vida is  Tiny Kitchen’s most awaited and most welcome spin-off. Seeing that it is also serves pasta and sandwiches I assume that these are prepared in the same manner with its “mother restaurant”.  I do plan to return here someday and I hope you would, too. Note however, that the last order of the day is taken at 8pm. Come in early and indulge.

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CORON: Heaven’s Earthly Dimension

Had my friend not invited me, siguro I was already in Singapore, Taiwan, Myanmar or Hong Kong last April and enjoying my first R&R overseas after having my passport renewed three times. How pathetic no? But Coron happened and I was glad to explore her rustic, laidback beauty this year.

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There’s nothing like visiting a place with a “leave-nothing-but-footprints” appeal and I wonder if I would feel the same with El Nido or Puerto Princesa, the two other “last frontier/s” of Palawan. Some tourists here are “return guests” and they concluded that Coron by far is the prettiest of them all. And indeed it was, after three days of island-hopping, I was pretty damn sure that there are gems of a spot still hidden behind those gray and rocky sea cliffs.

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And I wanted to keep it hidden and just let these few spots opened for public pleasure like the beaches of Bulog Dos:

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Banana Beach (because the entire island is shaped like the banana fruit) 

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Bañol

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…and Malcapuya

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I love Coron and along with Siargao and of course, my home – I call these places…”Heaven’s Earthly Dimension”.

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BALIK BUKID Farm & Kitchen

After two years, I finally got the chance to eat at Balik Bukid Farm & Resto. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this place so talagang excited ako.  When I told my friends that I’ll be an hour early, I used the torrential downpour as an excuse, but actually, I really wanted to go there really early so I won’t lose the natural light for the photos.  Unfortunately, the gloomy weather totally dampened the moment and the yellow light bulbs hanging overhead did little to “brighten” up my mood. My “little-camera-that-could” can only do so much so please forgive me for the poor shots.

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First of all, kudos to the owners of this restaurant for not only coming up with a “back-to-basic” theme but also for putting up a campaign effort on environmental awareness and responsible farming. Talagang naaliw ako sa mga decor – halos lahat functional and entertaining from the menu board, to the chairs and tables – lahat may story behind as to how and why it was created that way.

BalikBukid (1) As for the food, I enjoyed my dining experience though I find their best-seller adobong manok sa dilaw(?) a bit bland for my taste. This is okay for those watching their salt intake but personally I was expecting it to be more savory or at least a bit more fragrant. My friends ordered sinuglaw and seafood express and both were good – sa appetite ko parang good for one ang per order but I know I shouldnt indulge so sakto na yun. Sayang lang that I never got to share the salad I ate while waiting for my friends because it was one dish that totally blissed me out. If Italianni’s bread floored me, the Balik Bukid vegetable salad got me gliding on the ceiling. Ganun kasarap.

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Note to those who haven’t been here – they only take cash. Wala raw kasing credit card sa bukid. We tried “bartering” (hugas plato perhaps?) as a method of payment but di nila kinagat.

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IRODORI – A Japanese Restaurant

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I was not planning to walk that far from the office but I wanted something to eat starch-free. Dahil sa pagka-indecisive ko, nakarating ako sa Irodori. Why not. This is my second time and since daytime, baka makapag-photo opp na rin. Dinner kasi yung first time and I did not bring my camera.

I was the lone diner so I was treated really well. I was given the customary cold towel and hot green tea for starters. Medyo bad trip lang ang aircon. It wasn’t really that warm inside but I could use a bit of hangin-hangin kaya nilagyan ako ng electric fan sa tabi. Hah.

I ordered: Kani Salad which consist of crisp lettuce, cucumber, carrots, ripe mango, Japanese mayonnaise sprinkled with fish roe.

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…and Sunomono with slices of tuna, salmon, luscious scallops, shrimp, and pickled cucumber and ginger.

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Heaven. Anything that has salmon and pickled ginger for me is .

For dessert I had Cold Egg Tofu (P30). The Egg Tofu was unusual but very light and refreshing. Parang taho na matabang but as you dig deeper with your wooden spoon may malasadong egg whites with every bite na. It wasn’t “eggy” or “custardy” at all and don’t worry about the wasabi paste – you can hardly taste it once it’s dissolved in the watery syrup (well I don’t know what it is so I assumed it’s watered-down sugar syrup).

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Before I left, the sushi master (naks manong ha) allowed me to pick out origami butterflies from the wall. They do encourage customers to take some as a token of their appreciation. They also have free toys for toddlers so parents you can bring your bagets here. Enjoy Irodori.

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Irodori is located within the Jetti Gas Station compound infront of SM Premier in Lanang, Davao City. Call them (+63 82) 273-2905 or 0917-795-4736.

 

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KAMO – A Japanese Restaurant

IMG_20150619_230004 “Do you like Japanese Food?” he asked me. The old Japanese man must have noticed my enthusiasm while I was going back and forth taking photos while blowing out the smoke off my huge bowl of soba (buckwheat) noodles.  I said yes and our conversation spanned from my sparse familiarity of Japan and its culture  to the indiscernible smattering of Japanese phrases that I’ve been fake-puttering every now and then. He asked me for a sample and I said  ‘Tokorode, oshigoto noohoo wa doo desuka ne? (By the way, how’s your job coming along). The old man slapped his thigh and laughed “Very good!”. “Do you come here often?” I asked him in return and he replied “Hai! The Okonomiyaki is so much better here at Kamo”. My eyes widened “Soo desu ka?”. “Hai!…Oishi!”.

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I told him with a smile that I will definitely  try it next time. He then allowed me to enjoy my hot soba noodles in peace as he was preparing for his flight to Japan.

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Kamo – A Japanese Restaurant is located along Angliongto Avenue, Lanang, Davao City 8000,  Philippines / Telephone Number: (+63 82) 305-3063 / Business Hours: Monday to Saturday 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM

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