Wednesday, December 24, 2014


With Christmas shopping comes the age-old question: where to eat?

Hubby and I found ourselves in the (not-so-new) east wing of Shangri-la Mall and decided to have Japanese at Akira. The restaurant looked spacious as it was well-over lunch time when we got there. There were some big tables with grill and exhaust combos for groups of  eight to ten people who would like to have their Teppanyaki, the restaurant's specialty, cooked before them.

Akira forntage and flatware details
We started off with a steaming bowl of miso soup while we waited for the  bento box and  mixed teppanyaki set. The dashi soup stock was flavorful ( I think they may have used clams)and the tofu cut into small bite-sized pieces, saves you from having to bite into a big piece only to find out it's burned your tongue.
Miso soup

The bento box was, literally, a big sumo-sized surprise.
Almost 2 feet across, it had maguro (tuna) and sake (salmon) sashimi, chahan (fried rice) topped with roasted black sesame, beef teppanyaki, shredded cabbage with wafu dressing (soy-based vinaigrette),  karaage  (bite-sized deep fried battered chicken), tin cups of pickled seaweeds and veggies, and orange and watermelon slices.
Beef bento box
The Teppanyaki platter had US tenderloin beef. The nice thing about ordering you beef at Akira is that they list the source and beef grade. You can Have A3 or A4 grade Wagyu or the pricier Kobe or Matsusaka beef at almost P5,000 a plate.
US Tenderloin Teppanyaki
All Teppanyaki platters are served with miso, gohan, vegetables, shrimp, chicken and beef cooked in a tepan (iron plate or griddle). These iron plates are flat and not to be confused with the hibachi grill often used for yakitori (grilled skewered chicken).
The wait staff will ask you how you like your beef done. I usually like my beef done medium-rare but this time I had my beef done medium. The usual problem with small bite sized pieces is that they tend to darken and dry out easier because the heat within the beef continues to cook it until the colder air in the room brings the beef temperature down. They do know how to serve their beef at Akira.  Upon serving, mine was still slightly pinkish and tender. 
The Teppanyaki platter can actually serve two (unless one of you is a sumo-wrestler who just finished a fight) and is served with a variation of dipping sauces.
To complete the meal, I had a cold Sapporo beer. I like this rice lager beer more than the other Japanese beers because it's light and leaves little aftertaste.  Other beer connoisseurs  may have a different opinion, but for me light beer lets me savor the meal without being too demanding on my taste buds.

If I have any beef against Akira it would be the chairs. Though they look great, they are rather uncomfortable.  Hard to enjoy good food when your arms keep hitting the armrests.

Address: 5th Floor, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, St Francis Street, Mandaluyong, 1550 Metro Manila, Philippines

Friday, December 19, 2014

Image from
Toys made of chocolate. Now you can really play with your food.

The cacao-flavored blocks  were designed by Akihiro Mizuuchi, a Japanese illustrator, designer and lecturer at the Shizuoka College of Design and Tokoha Gakuen University of Art. He used molds based on actual Lego blocks and designed each character on his computer so he can calculate how many blocks he needs to make. Sadly, these are not for sale.

Mizuuchi is part of Gunchoco Club, a Facebook community dedicated to re-create Gundam, a popular Japanese anime robot,  out of chocolate. 

The colossal Gundam Robot in Odaiba, Tokyo.
Here's cute and quirky video of Gundam, who may now lay claim to the title, "Creamiest Robot Ever Made."
Click on the pic to get linked to the video
UK graffiti artist Hoakser, known for his custom-designed spray paint cans, has come up with the chocolate nozzles, "Chozzles." These come in dark and milk chocolate flavors and can be bought via his website.
These are the spray paint cans. Not edible.
These are the Chozzles. Highly edible.
Another UK designer, Robert Cooper, a graduate of Central Saint Martins, made chocolate-filled wafer snacks called Cooper's Chocolate Airfix for giant manufacturer Cadbury's.
Photos courtesy of
While this looks fun, it makes you wonder if anybody has ever finished a plane model without taking a bite.

Meanwhile, Spanish product designer Diego Ramos, has been selling the Mr. Chocolate Moustache through ChocolatFactory, a Barcelona-based workshop owned by Belgian master chocolatier Michel Laline.
Photo courtesy of
The artist encourages his formerly beardless customers to send their pictures that he can post at the website.

These are definitely food you can play with.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Rollercoasters and food. Now that sounds like a barf idea waiting to happen.

But then, if you're the guy who pitched the  Roller Coaster Restaurant to HeineMack GmbH,  a German food company, then it might just be that brilliant food trip people would actually pay and line up for. And make you rich.
Image screen captured from
The latest  branch, Rogo's, is located at the newly opened YAS Mall in Abu Dhabi. The mall website highlights the restaurant as one of its dining destinations and gives you a quick run through of how the restaurant concept works: "you walk in, pick up your tablet, place your order, and watch with increasing anticipation for your food and drinks to come zooming down your very own roller coaster!!!"
Photo courtesy of
Three exclamation marks. It must be pretty exciting if writing about the restaurant already gives you an adrenaline rush.

The concept, though relatively new to most of us, was introduced in 2007 in Nuremberg, Germany. The Abu Dhabi branch is the seventh of its kind.
Image screen captured from
Until they have a branch in South East Asia, I can only let my imagination run with the help of this video:
Click on the pic to get linked to the video


My Vietnam experience earlier this year was short and touristy.
The group I was with was  shown around Hồ Chí Minh City (formerly known as Saigon)  and the city tour ended with a shopping stop at the Ben Thanh Market.
Saigon Street scenes
The market is teeming with shops that sell textiles, souvenirs, bootleg North Face backpacks and delicacies you can bring home as gifts.

One of the things I bought from were packs of Dragon Pearl Tea.  

I was introduced to this tea by a colleague on her first trip to Saigon a few years back.  It is made by hand rolling one leaf and one bud into a pearl and is  Perfect for unwinding at the end of a long day.I was adamant to try it  at first because it looks like dried up goat poo (Before you ask why I know what goat poo looks like, let me tell you no. In my primary school, we had several goats roaming around the school grounds who bombed most of our play area with their poo). But after preparing my first cup, I was left fascinated.

Here's a great way to steep your Dragon Pearl Tea:

1. Bring the water in your kettle to a boil. I was told that using distilled water will not give you the best results and ill make the taste of the tea flat with a tinge of bitterness.

2. Before serving the tea, warm up the glass or cup by rinsing it with hot water. This will create a humid environ for the tea, softening the dried leaves and avoiding small parts to break off when you pour in the water.

3. Place about a teaspoon for every cup you want to make. The tea pearls come in different sizes, the big ones can make you one pot per pearl.

4. Pour in the boiling water gently. It should be around  100°C (212°F) to get the best flavor.

5. Steep for around 3-5 minutes before serving. The more water you use, the longer you need to steep it. 
This is what it will look like after a minute.
This is the Dragon Pearl Tea in full bloom.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Post-party Rice Noodle Seafood Soup

December is a time for parties and more parties.

If you're planning a party with lots of beer and cocktails at your home, and your guests want to get home in a less inebriated state, here's a great pick-me up you can prepare ahead of time.

It's a simplified version of the Vietnamese pho.

- Assorted seafood balls
- 1 Won Bok (Chinese cabbage/ Napa Cabbage)
- 500 g. Togue (bean sprouts)
- Vietnamese basil
- 3 cups Shrimp stock- 3 cups Chicken stock
- salt to taste

- 300 grams shrimp
- Water, 3 cups

Boil ginger and onion in the water. When the water starts to boil, put the shrimps in until it changes color. When the shrimps are cooked, remove them.

Separate the shrimp heads and put it back into the boiling water. Continue to boil for 1-2 minutes.
Take the pan out of the stove. Strain the broth.

You can choose to shell the shrimps and add them to your salads or other dishes.

- Half a chicken breast, skin and bone-in
- Water, 3 cups
-  A stalk of lemon grass
- A pinch of salt

Place the chicken and lemongrass in the pot and boil.  When the broth begins to  boil, lower the heat, remove the scum and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked. Once cooked, remove the chicken and strain the broth.

You can choose to use the chicken for other dishes or make into a sandwich filling.

Freeze the shrimp and chicken stock and pull it out of the freezer at before your guests arrive. Thaw.

Prepare the soup bowls.
Chop the Chinese cabbage into 2-inch pieces.
Clean the bean sprouts and drain the water.
Remove the Vietnamese basil leaves from the stalk then wash, drain and dry.

Get a portion of the thawed chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add the rice noodles. Cook according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain and let it cool.

Prepare the vegetables in individual bowls. Place the noodles and top with cabbage, bean sprouts and a couple of basil leaves. Cover with saran wrap and place in the ref with the rest of the thawed soup stock.

Enjoy your party.

If your guests are getting sloshed beyond their alcohol limit, you know it's time to bring out the  soup.

Mix the shrimp and remaining chicken stock in a pan and bring to a boil. When the  broth is boiling,   add the assorted seafood balls (I like the cute, decorative ones), turn down the heat  and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the sea food balls are tender and cooked through.

Bring out the individually wrapped bowls and pour the hot soup and add some seafood balls.

The steam from the cold bowls and soup will be such a refreshing sight sure to bring back your inebriated friends to at least one step closer to sobriety.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Four years ago, I wrote about the UP Beach House.

Around June of this year,  news spread that the UP Diliman admin was about to close down the iconic open-area student cafeteria. On Facebook, the page "HUWAG ISARA ang BEACH HOUSE naming MAHAL" cropped up.  On July 9, Rappler reports that it was officially non-operational. But the great news is that it re-opened on August 4, 2014 in a new location at Ocampo Street corner C.P. Garcia avenue, still within the UP vicinity.

When I went there a few weeks back, I ordered the usual- 3 sticks of Pork barbecue, rice and a side dish of Monggo soup. 
Nothing's changed, except that it was a quieter lunchtime. There was no queue and there were available tables. The food server I spoke to said that they had gotten less customers since transferring to the new site. It's a sad thing if the new generation of UP Students would miss out on the  communal dining experience at the Beach House

I do hope that more Iskolar ng Bayan would come and make Beach House a dining destination within the University again.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


It's for real, bacon-flavored mayonnaise and the bacon-flavored salt.

I got it as a birthday gift, which just goes to show how much friends know that I love fatty, salted meat.

John Stewart, American humorist and host, has once described it as "for people who want to get heart disease but, you know, too lazy to actually make bacon."

It was invented by Dave Lefkow and Justin Esch, lucky bacon lovers who used the money they won on "America’s Funniest Home Videos" to create the Bacon Salt, the foundation of their now successful business enterprise, J&D Foods.

The mayonnaise does taste like bacon but it's too rich to mix with anything other than bread with real bacon. I will try the bacon salt on a new recipe and see how that works.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


You can print your cake, and eat it too!
Photo courtesy of the Sugar Lab gallery
The latest technology trend has  got foodistas buzzing:  3D printing.

3D Printing technology  is a process of creating a three-dimensional object based on a digital model using an industrial robot printer and filaments as 'ink.' 

In regular 3D printing, the most popular material used is Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS plastic. Biodegradable filaments made from corn can also be used. Though it may sound slightly edible, it's nothing that you want to have for dinner. Biome Plastics, a manufacturer of 3D filaments,  recently launched a new line of recyclable and food-safe polylactic acid or PLA filaments made from corn starch, sugar cane, tapioca roots and potato starch. Still, you can't eat it.

So, is this technological food revolution for real?

Online site features the story of Joshua Lankford, a market researcher who designed the 3D Cake Creator,  a printer that extrudes  standard cake batter through an open oven and prints the cake, layer by layer. However, his pipe dreams are still all in the drawing board.
Image from
I found some  some Youtube videos by CNCDudez showing a rather-crude (and messy) looking process to print 3D icing on cakes. Not quite what I had in mind about 3D printed food.
Reminds me of Wordstar and dot matrix printing

Megan Garber of The Atlantic wrote about Cakerbots earlier this year.

She tried out the chocolate from the Sugar Lab and reports that "the stuff tasted pretty much like traditionally manufactured chocolate does—except a little less sweet, a little bit drier, a little more crumbly. You know how chocolate, after it melts and rehardens, has a slightly different flavor and texture than it did before? The 3D-printed chocolate is like that."
Curious, I went on to look for the Sugar Lab website.  Meet Kyle and Liz von Hasseln, the husband and wife tandem behind this innovative company that prints sculptures, table centerpieces and cake toppings with sugar.
Click on the pic to get linked to the video
The edible 3D printed sugar sculptures made by selectively applying a mixture of alcohol and water to wet, then harden the sugar. They also use this technology to create a new kind of eye candy, 3D Printed sugar cubes which they sell online for US$36 for a baker's dozen.
That's a lot of money for candy you won't eat because it's too pretty!
But what about those of us who don't have a sweet tooth, can we print-up some pizza on demand?
Enter the Foodini. 

This was sent from the future by the Jettsons
Natural Machines, the manufacturer of Foodini, has been taking on orders for this $3,000 3D printer which promises to help you prepare "real fresh, nutritious foods, from savory to sweet. It uses fresh, real ingredients, making the Foodini the first 3D food printer kitchen appliance to contribute to a healthy eating lifestyle."

According to an article by Michael Moulitch-Hou on the website, here is how the revolutionary plug and play machine works.
Lynette Cuksma, co-founder of the barcelona-based company explains further in this video below.
Click on the pic to get linked to the video
In a CNN interview, she says, "In essence, this is a mini food manufacturing plant shrunk down to the size of an oven."

You basically need flavored cartridges to  print your food. I imagine these would come available when they start selling the Foodini. Some of it, like pasta,  still need  to be cooked. So don't throw out the oven and the microwave. Yet.

Is this the future of food? Probably. 
Will this ruin the culture of eating out? Probably not until space travel becomes a reality.

In the meantime, go make yourself a warm, home-cooked meal, before cooking becomes a thing of the past.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Science and Food

Last month, I posted a video about the difference of taste and flavor.
Earlier this week, I found more of those interesting short video lectures on this site:
Click on the pic and you'll get linked to the site
The site gives you a mix of very visual food trivia, features on established chefs and a lot of lectures.

GEEK ALERT! The featured food of the month is a quick exploration of  the chemistry of spices, sauces and fruits like  GingerVinegar and Watermelon.
Here are my top 5 picks from this site (so far):





A badass extract from the Cowplant herb which is a found mostly in India. It removes your ability to taste sweetness. And that's not the only badassery it can do. Read more to know why.