Hi. My name is Jeremy Bourdain. I'm a foodtrip photographer.
It's been more than two years, but the hiatus officially ends. I'm back to foodtripping. Back to my Bourdain pseudonym. Alright, again, I only use it to gain any credibility I can get when it comes to food. All I really know is I love to eat and I love taking pictures of food. With my wife Anie and good friend Lucille, I started this series in 2010 with Bulacan and Pampanga binges. We've been wanting to continue it, but something would always come up and cancel our next plans. Thankfully, Lucille never gave up. She asked us to go again last week. And fortunately, it pushed thru. Finally!
Our destination was something too familiar, but one that we loved to go back to nonetheless. UP Diliman, Lucille and I's alma mater. Having lived in the campus for 5 years during my college life, and a decade since I graduated, it's been a while since I've wandered the tsibog places. Now was a good time to do it again.
I came prepared - with an empty stomach that hasn't had food for 14 hours because Anie and I had a blood chemistry test earlier that morning (fasting needed to get accurate results). We were really hungry. I also took my Canon EOS M with me, but for some strange reason, I got lazy to shoot with it and left it in the car. It might have been a case of I-just-want-to-eat-ism. Anyway, I got my iPhone so I took all these photos with the iPhone 5. NO FILTERS, except for the title photo where I used a grunge layer.
1st stop - Rodic's Food Express
I don't think a UP food trip could be complete without Rodic's. It just can't be left out. Their tapsilog is legendary. Seriously, no exaggeration. It's actually soft beef tapa flakes that just taste so good. You gotta try it to believe it. Lo and behold - the tapsilog now costs 75 pesos. If I remember correctly, it was just 40 pesos when it used to be my breakfast staple. Oh well, one of the constant things in life : inflation.
We also tried the crispy tawilis, one of our favorite morning munch. Just irresistible. Just don't put the vinegar too early, or you'll lose the crispiness. Lesson learned.
2nd stop - Chocolate Kiss Cafe
Back in my college days, if there was a sosyal place to eat in UP, it was Chocolate Kiss. The food choices were few - the UP Ayala Technohub was a mere plan back then, Philcoa and Katipunan didn't have as much eateries like today - and far between. So if you wanted to change scenery or if your friends are too choosy and conyo, you take them to CK. Not Calvin Klein. Choc Kiss. Hmmm, it would cost about 3 to 4 times as much as eating in other places, but hey, you get what you pay for.
We were there too early and only their groundfloor Cafe was open. Their main dining on Bahay ng Alumni's 2nd level was still closed and wouldn't be open until lunch. Dang, I so wanted to once again taste my favorite beef stroganoff. We had to settle for the cafe's cakes.
We ordered two kinds - date walnut and devil's foodcake. Pictured above is the former, and frankly, it's the one that caught my fancy. No offense to the devil, but CK's date walnut cake is just perfect. The frosting was delicious and right on the money in terms of sweetness. The fact that I love nuts made me appreciate the rest of the cake. Sorry, Anie and Lucille. But one small slice was enough for each of you.
3rd stop - Moonleaf Tea Shop
We did a little detour to kill time (we were too early and most of the food establishments were still closed). We went to UP village. Ahh, most places were also closed. Luckily, Moonleaf along Maginhawa street was open and willing to let us in.
Moonleaf was introduced to me by my sister who studies in Ateneo. She would buy me one when she'd go home to Bulacan. I've tried many other milkteas, but for me, Moonleaf is tops. And so, it turns out their first branch was in UP village. Not the one that we found, but this one was huge compared to the branches I've seen. We ordered our favorite - wintermelon with pudding - and settled into our seats. Best of all - they had free wi-fi! In this day and age, if you're a public establishment and want to keep pace with the competition, you have to have wi-fi. FOR FREE. (Hello, Starbucks and Ayala Malls!)
Anyway, what I love about Moonleaf is that their wintermelon tea is sweet and unpretentious. It's milk tea and pudding, that's it. No other ingredients that make the taste complicated. One more thing : I like it that it's named Moonleaf and not another "Tea". Okay, if you're thinking of putting up your own milk tea business, I've come up with possible names for you : TranquiliTea (for yoga practitioners), ActiviTea (for the sports-minded), PuberTea (for teenagers), FormaliTea (for conservatives), RealiTea (for those who have lost their idealism), ProductiviTea (open to meetings and business functions), PreTea (for cute conyo kids), DiviniTea (for goddesses or daugthers of construction magnates who scam their investors), SerendipiTea (place to go on blind dates), or StupidiTea (if you're actually taking this seriously).
4th stop - Beach House
Somewhere near the Main Library and the Sunken Garden, a quaint house stands proud. I have no idea why they called it "Beach House", but it's famous for its barbecues. For good reason. While I was a student, I probably ate here not more than 5 times, because I didn't like that it was always crowded during lunchtime (and I only happen to frequent the place for lunch). But I loved the barbecue. I still do.
It's tender, it's juicy, it's well-marinated. Iba talaga. 27 pesos for a stick, I tell you, is money well-spent. They could cook the rice with crap, and the customers wouldn't mind because of the barbecue. It's that good.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but you get what I mean. Still the best barbecue I've tried after all these years. I only wish they do some renovations to the beach house. It's gotten really old.
5th stop - Khas Food House
Must admit : I discovered Khas by accident. One night, back in college, my roommate and I were looking for a place nearby for dinner (we lived in Area 2). We were full of Lutong Bahay (another famous UP eatery) and the Shopping Center food. So we ventured to the arcade and stumbled upon a Persian-themed place. Hesitant at first, I found the food weird-tasting initially, but I've come to love it since then. Back then, kebabs were not as "in", I guess Khas is a pioneer in its own right.
Fortunately, it's still in operation. I noticed they have expanded and made the place more colorful.
We ordered beef biryani, Lucille had rice with beef toppings. To be honest, the biryani was good. But because I've tried Raaz Mahal (in BF Homes, Parañaque) - which I think offers the best Persian food in the metro (I've tried about 4 other places) - my standard got so much higher. Make no mistake, Khas' own biryani is delicious and all that, it's just that compared to Raaz Mahal's, it falls short. Well, for 150 pesos, it's much cheaper. But still.
6th stop - UP Shopping Center food carts
We went back to the Shopping Center to have some snack. Lucille wanted some corn, Anie wanted green mango. Cheap thrills. I thought Lucille was referring to whole corn cobs and I looked at her and wondered if she still wasn't full. We just had lunch!
Turns out what she wanted were corn kernels with cheese in a cup.
It looked this appetizingly-good, I couldn't blame her.
Anie, meanwhile, scooted over to a nearby cart and found manong with the green mangoes.
You know what sets these sour mangoes apart from other sour mangoes? Nothing. But they have special salt! Spicy mix of salt, chili, I bet some vetsin, and other stuff I wouldn't wanna know but would certainly wanna taste with my mangoes. A proven, winning mix that's key to manong selling no less than 50 mangoes everyday.
7th stop - Amici, UP Technohub
Having eaten those excruciatingly-sour mangoes, we wanted sweet stuff next. Crossed to the other side of Commonwealth Avenue to the UP-Ayala Technohub, a place which I sure wished to have in college. Lucky kids.
We settled into Amici, one of the restos there. Upon entering the establishment, a vibrant, yummy array of ice cream greeted us. We gave in to the urge. I ordered Mango Jubilee, Lucille wanted Mint with Chocolate, while Anie had "the Rouge". Nope, not named after the X-Men character, but it was named the Best Dessert of 2012 by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Not bad at all.
The Rouge was layer-by-layer of blueberry, strawberry, vanilla gelato and crushed graham, made into one fine-tasting piece. It sure looked pretty. 160 pesos per slice, with the ice creams (which were also good, by the way) costing 80 per scoop.
8th stop - Le Ching Tea House, UP Technohub
There's a tea house in Greenhills that I love, and apparently they've branched out all the way to UP Technohub. Le Ching! By this time, we were really full. I know I was. My stomach was calling for timeout, but hey this was a foodtrip, and when I saw Le Ching, I knew it couldn't be bad.
For something light, we ordered chicken feet (my favorite) and hakao (shrimp dumpling).
The hakao was a bit bland, but that's how it should taste like, I guess. The chicken feet, on the other hand, was happiness. Tender and really tasty, a bit spicy, just perfect. I forgot I was already full. Four pieces of hakao for 99 pesos, 4 pieces of chicken feet for 85. The "adidas" was cheaper and better-appreciated.
9th stop - Mang Larry's Isawan
We really wanted to try UP Technohub's Mezza Norte, a market of a slew of food variety, but it won't open until 6PM. So we headed back to the campus for another food "landmark". A UP food trip also wouldn't be complete without Mang Larry's, the most famous of all the isawan. Mang Larry's is da wan.
As expected, a big crowd is already there, mostly UP outsiders who dig the isaw (grilled intestines in sticks). Can you imagine, students from other schools make it a dating place! Either cool or pa-cool. Either way, they're all there because of the isaw. Mang Larry's has the best.
Maybe it's just me, but I find Mang Larry's to have the cleanest isaw, without the coloring. But nothing spectacular that sets it apart from isaw in other places. It just happened to be in UP where it has become an icon of bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, the sosyal and the masa. Mang Larry just happened to cash in. He's the only isaw vendor I know who has an organized system of ordering. Now you fall in line, then state your order to one of his boys who gets your name and order then gives the paper to the "fan" boys. You then wait for your name to be called.
Mang Larry is also the only vendor I know who brings his own generator. Beat that.
And did you know that you can now have your isaw delivered? Call Mang Larry's at (02) 902-7676 and have isaw delivered right at your doorstep.
Naaaaah, I'm just messing with you.
9 stops and we were done by 4:30PM. I wanted to get a tenth one, but Mercato at UP Technohub opens at 6PM. Full and not having anywhere else to go to, we decided to call it a day and bring to a close another food trip. It was fun and nostalgic. The UP Diliman campus was my home for a number of years. It sure felt great AND old to be back - I was looking at the students and realized ten, fifteen years ago, I was like them.
Time flies when you're having fun.
Thank you to my constant trip buddies - Anie and Lucille. Till the next one! Let's hope we get to do a follow-up real soon. The two-year lull was too long.
J. Bourdain out. For now.
Rush of Blood to the Head
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