Friday, October 9, 2015

Today is Cheat Day!
It took me days to to figure out how to make the comments box re-appear (Yes, a non-coder's problem). To celebrate that victory, dinner was in Top Dish!

A friend introduced me to this restaurant a few months back. I've returned a couple of times and each time it was heaven :3

Top Dish or 그때 그집 (geudde geujip) is a small restaurant located in Durban street, near Makati Avenue. I love how the place feels homey and relaxed. You will usually find the owner sitting at the counter watching Korean news or k-dramas. Upon entering the place, you'll pass by the kitchen where the crew will greet you.

I am a Banchan enthusiast (if there is such a thing). Banchan (반찬) are side dishes served in a Korean meal
We had our usual favorites; bibimbap, tteokbokki, and kimbap.

Rice topped with egg, ground meat and vegetables. I am always envious of how they cook their rice - always light and fluffy.

Rice cake in a sweet chili sauce. The perfect companion on a cold, rainy evening 

Steamed bap (rice) with assorted vegetables rolled in gim (seaweed laver) 

Fermented napa cabbage. Did I mention it goes well with beer?

Top Dish is located at
4940 P. Burgos St. Poblacion, Makati
(02) 758-1122
Open from 4:00 PM until 3:00AM daily

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Last year, my world was rocked in epic proportions when they announced that I was part of that year's World Korea Bloggers.

After 3 hours of screaming in celebration, I realized,

""WTF am I going to write? I'm a noob at this"

YouTube videos were helpful but could only do so much. If anything, it was daunting to watch the intricate art of Hansik. All the time and effort it required made me question if I was up for this when I couldn't even get my julienne right.

don't judge my uneven matchsticks! :((( 

So, what do we do? We experiment, make the mistakes, and if we're lucky, get something edible.

With the help of some willing victims friends, we orchestrated our very first Kimjang!

I bought a pack of instant ramyun in case everything goes wrong :p

We made baeju kimchi(napa cabbage), kkakdugi(radish), oi sobagi (cucumber kimchi), and some kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice) using some of the kimchi that Dye and I made a few days ago.

that's me pretending to work hard in the background 

Here's the recipe we used based from Maangchi's awesome work.


Napa Cabbage Kimchi

3 1/2 kilos napa cabbage
1½ cup of kosher salt

1 cup light fish sauce 
1 medium sized onion, minced
1 cup of minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
7 stalks of green onions, chopped diagonally
1 cup of chopped buchu or green onions
2 cups of julienned radish

For the porridge 

½ cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, water

2 cups of hot pepper flakes (less if you don't want it too spicy)

Radish Kimchi

2 kilos daikon or korean radish
1/4 cup salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned radish
2 tbsp fish sauce

Cucumber Kimchi
1 kilo cucumber (about 4 pieces) 
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup julienned radish
1 tbsp fish sauce

Ready for some pickling action!

When choosing napa cabbage look for shiny stalks and leaves with no holes

Traditional baeju kimchi is usually made with long pieces of the cabbage still intact, but we didn't have enough space in our containers and it ferments faster that way

Mix, Mix, Mix!  wouldn't recommend using your bare hands as it can get quite hot. 

Put in clean plastic containers or earthenware and allow it to ferment in room temperature for at least 24 hours. Refrigerate after and enjoy!

roasted sesame seeds optional

So far, t

they're all still alive. I love you guys. And it did somewhat taste like the Kimchi we buy from the store.

I can't wait to go to Korea and experience the real thing. 아자!

Kimchi fried rice! 

How do you like your kimchi? spicy? a little salty? Would love to hear some tips on how to make it better.

After that we had some serious bonding time. Super serious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When somebody says "hey let's make fried Oreos", You need to say yes. It's the law.

I've never made fried Oreos. I've tasted it before, so I thought maybe that, some help from Google, and a little bit of imagination would be enough. 

See that giant a** Nutella? That's a jar of pure magic.

The ingredients are quite simple. Pancake mix, eggs, milk, Oreos, and oil for deep frying. Make sure your oil has a high smoking point like canola or vegetable oil.

1 250gram pancake mix
1 pack of Oreo
2 eggs

I added two eggs to the pancake mix and added some milk until I got the consistency that I wanted. You want your batter a little thicker than usual. This way, you'll have a thicker and fluffier coating. Mix until your batter is lump free. 

Dip Oreo in the batter and drop it in hot oil. If it doesn't go crazy with sizzling bubbles, your oil isn't hot enough. If the temperature is right, it takes a couple  of seconds for your fried oreo to float. Flip it, and take it out once both sides are golden brown. 

THAT is not hot enough. Dammit
They look like marbled potatoes. Now I want potaotes too.

It's already heavenly at this point, but I was feeling a little creative, and still had a bit of Nutella left so I made a drizzle by whisking in some milk with a tablespoon of the sexy chocolate hazelnut spread.

To break off some of the richness, I added some potato chips flavored with nori flakes and wasabi powder.  

And yes, my plating skills need work. A LOT of work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

There's a bit of panic in the air at the wake of deaths involving milk tea. A few days later, the trail has gone cold.

Some said they would refrain from consuming milk tea for the time being, and some have rallied to the beloved drink's defense.

What frustrates me the most is that the lack of information fuels hearsay and tends to drown real information.

While it is perfectly alright to speculate and have your own theories, it's best to demand the truth. Ask for more information, more tests. 

Like how the blog name implies, I'm no expert, but I did have a HACCP training in my heyday. Yes, it feels THAT long ago, which is why I encourage you, my dear reader, to take it with a grain of salt---the same way you shouldn't believe everything you read online without further research.

Wikipedia defines Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point as

"a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. The HACCP system can be used at all stages of a food chain, from food production and preparation processes including packaging, distribution, etc."

(My journalism prof would be cringing now. Hi!:D )

In a nutshell, it means taking certain approaches to minimize the risk of food poisoning and prolonging your food's tummy-friendly status.

So whether you cook or eat, these tips might help in avoiding food poisoning.

Do not cross-contaminate.

Do you know how to get salmonella in fresh vegetables? Use the same knife you used for your raw chicken.
Invest in separate chopping boards for fresh meat, vegetables, and dry ingredients. But let's be real, sometimes, we just don't have that luxury. When having more than one board is not possible, chop your dry items first, and your meat last.

Extreme temperatures are not bacteria-friendly.

Here, have a snowman because it's too f-in hot outside.

High heat kills most bacteria, and cold temp prevents bacteria growth. The temperature in between is called the Danger Zone (Yay! more Wiki!), where bacteria populate like crazy.

Boil your tap water more than two minutes, and cook your meat thoroughly.
You CAN put hot food in the fridge, BUT This lowers the overall temperature of your fridge, exposing the rest of the items in there to the danger zone. The key to quickly cooling large batches of food is segregating them into small portions. That way you won't also need to thaw everything when you're ready to eat.

The best time to eat street food is when it is freshly made

I can't always afford expensive food, it isn't healthy to eat fast food frequently, and I don't always have the luxury of preparing homemade meals. That and I love street food, 'nuff excuses. So to minimize the risk, it's best to look for just-cooked items, avoid food carts that do not cover their goods, and are placed in highly polluted areas. *sigh* 

Also, the best time to eat out is in the morning - mid afternoon, when the ingredients are still fresh, in the evenings, all you'll get are leftovers that have been sitting there all day. The same applies to some restaurants.

Use your senses

Sight, smell, and touch are only secondary means of identifying food that has gone to the dark side but are still fairly reliable.

When in doubt, throw it.

Yes, we have a lot of wasted food. Trying to consume sketchy food isn't going to help it. What will is not buying more than what you need. TL;DR Don't horde (perishable) food.

Even with all those precautions in place, food poisoning can still happen, but having certain precautions in place ensures you are not dining on a petri dish.

Real good chefs out there follow rigid rules just to make sure your food arrives delicious while allowing you to tell the tale. Cheers to you!

So I ask you, my dear reader, before you campaign for or against milk tea, let's get our facts together. Ask for answers. It pays to be vigilant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The belly dancing class I attended was nothing but pure inspiration.

Teacher Jill Ngo allowed us to see that there was more to belly dancing than shaking your booty and showing off your belly.

She spoke of how it was more than a "sexy dance" but the lengthening of limbs, elongating the body to create graceful moves, imitating that of a goddess. I loved how she campaigned about loving what we were given, how that is beautiful, and how we should work to accept and enhance it.

It was an intricate art form that takes years of rigorous training. It was a way of expressing beauty--with a lot of chimes.

I had to admit. It was a bit of an off day. I didn't want to jiggle my fats and oil my already tired tendons, but that's the thing about passion-- it's highly contagious.

All photos are taken by our good friend and belly dancing goddess, Marianne Averilla (thanks! :D)

The class began with some good ol' stretching, to remind my muscles that they are still there. 

The class was capped with a hypnotic performance from three of teacher Jill's students

Teacher Jill holds classes Belly Dance and Zumba classes on Monday's 6pm-7pm at the Footworks Dance Studio. You can check out her Facebook page for more details (and photos of her in action!)

Also for brides-to be (no, not me. Don't ask :p) Teacher Jill has a very exciting Bridal Transformation Package to make sure you are as fab as you can be on your big day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shake those bellies, we're going dancing!

As part of this year's get healthy resolution, I have committed myself to entertaining any excuse to get some physical activity. So, when a friend asked me to go belly dancing, I cannot answer anything other than "Yes".

Footworks Dance studio is giving out a free belly dancing class this Sunday, March 22, 2015. The catch? Write about your experience. What you think about the new studio, the teacher, how many times your belly jiggles for a minute or how you enjoyed watching me doing awkward steps (that last part, I can guarantee)

Convinced?  Head on over to Footworks Dance Studio, 4th Flr. Elescom Building 213 Brgy. Milagrosa, Katipunan, Quezon City (near Katips Bar and Grillery) on Sunday, at around 10:45am and bring leggings/jazz pants, a fitted top, and a change of clothes.

You can find more information about Teacher Jill and Footworks Studio through their FB pages

Friday, March 13, 2015

The buffet craze is among us.

With the rise of huge buffets, smorgasbords have apparently become a social thing. These dens almost always promise a lot of overeating.

I've heard a lot of people say that it's just not worth for them to go to these eat-all-you-can affairs as they don't eat much.

But how do you make the most out of your buffet ticket?

There's always the rule of thumb of going for the pricier items in the list like cheeses, nuts, seafood, prime beef cuts--but what else can you do to add more value in that expensive binge?

Arrive early

Getting in the venue as an early bird has its perks; the food is piping hot and freshly prepared. You also get dibs on the dishes that you prefer. I usually head for the cheese section and stuff my face with cheeses, grapes, and walnuts. Some buffets only refill certain sections once.

Do not go too hungry.

Yes. You heard me. We have something called "takaw tingin" or "takaw mata" (I refuse to try to translate that in English). Having a small yogurt before the big event will help you make better choices, and have the energy to elbow the older man trying to hog all the walnuts.

Do a once around. 

See what your options are. Have a rough idea of the selection so you know your order of priorities. Mine's usually, cheese first, carving station, the appetizer section, sashimi, other savory dishes, and desserts until I keel over. 

Easy on the carbs.

Yes, that also means bread, pasta, and other starchy stuff.  You want more protein, more of the good stuff. All that starch will make you full faster.

Slow down on the sushi.

I know you may think this is the bang for your buck, but that's a lot of rice-unless it's an all-sushi buffet. Go for more sashimi and tempura.

Ixnay on the soda and fruit juices

Too much sugar will make you bloat and feel full faster. You wanted to eat more right? Stick to water.

Do not put all your viands in one plate

Savor it, don't let the sauces mix, what's the point of eating in great quantities if they all taste the same weird mixed sauce flavor. It's gross, just don't do it. There's a reason there are so many plates for your use. Also, if you have more plates on the table, you can easily dispose of leftovers by putting small amounts on each plate. 

Eat slowly

You know how disgusting it was for the Capitol to waste food while the districts starved? Eating fast only to barf it out later is an insult to people who don't have enough to eat and the chef who intricately prepared your food. Food is meant to be relished, slow down and let yourself taste the food.

Take hot tea while you digest or try not
to burst

The hot tea (or just hot water) will help ease some of the bloating, making more space for more chow.
If you came early, you have the luxury to rest and have seconds or thirds, or fourths while sipping tea with your pinkie raised(you glutton!)

Pick your shots

Stop telling yourself you need to get a better bang for your buck.
That buffet franchise you're dining in IS making money. And if you can afford that 500php+-, you should know that the best way to make the most out of it is to eat what you really want, and not just stuff your face with everything you see. I will binge on cheeses, beef, and fresh fruits but not on seafood because I'm allergic.

It also pays to know that some buffets are just not worth it.
I'm still working on that list without getting a heart attack.