Monthly Archives: September 2010

Romulo Cafe

One day, I organized a get together at Romulo Cafe.  It was unfortunate that most of the group were not available (but that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have a great time).  Actually, it was a great lunch get-together with my shobe Theresa & her friend!

It took me quite a while to find the restaurant since I’ve never been there nor have I ever even heard of it.  I know it will come as a shock to my readers, but there really is a lot of restaurants out there, and there will always be a first for trying out each restaurant.   And everyone knows that I will always try out most restaurants that I come across, that I hear about, or restaurants that are recommended to me.

When we arrived, I had to park a bit far from Romulo Cafe as parking slots were taken already.  It was well-worth it, and I understood after our meal why there were a lot of people dining considering their affordable prices & the unusual location.

Here is what we ordered:

  • Sinigang na Salmon sa Miso (Php 295)

sinigang romulo cafe

Oh, how I loved this dish!!!  I was hoping I can take some more servings of this.  The salmon was very fresh & tasty, perfect for sinigang.  The ingredients were just right as I really love drinking the soup.  A must-order.  The tart taste of the soup definitely gave that great balance which is a characteristic of all great sinigangs.  But the added flavors of the tomato and the other veggies, as well as the great flavor of the salmon, it was all I could ask for in any sinigang.

  • Tito Greg’s Kare Kare (Php 385)

romulo cafe kare kare

A popular Filipino dish that is usually served with bagoong.  What could be more classically delicious than this traditional kare kare that is being served by Romulo Cafe.  I just couldn’t believe the great balance of the peanuts that went into this dish.  The softness of the pork, the creaminess of the sauce, the seasoning of the sauce too.  Sometimes kare kare tends to overemphasize the peanuts in the dish, and you end up with something that tastes more like peanut butter rather than the traditional and delicious kare kare.

  • Boneless Crispy Pata Binagoongan (Php 625)

crispy pata romulo cafe

There was just too many ingredients in this dish, and it was even garnished with eggplant.  But oh boy, this really tasted good, with the bones removed and sliced perfectly.  We cannot help but enjoy the different combination of flavors in the dish.  It tasted a bit like sweet & sour, spicy, fried all done in 1 dish.  I love just how it maintained its crispiness while soaking up all the flavors of that wonderful sauce.  The meat was soft and tender, the spices were just perfect, and the taste was really something you must experience for yourself!  But still, with all those ingredients,  the taste was still a bit unusual, but still so good!  Talk about a confused but happy customer hahaha!

  • Cool as Cucumber (Php 95)

cucumber romulo cafe

I’ve always loved to drink cucumber juice.  I much prefer having cucumber as a drink as opposed to eating it or even putting it on our face hahaha :p  I’m just glad that Romulo’s version works very well, combining it with fresh lime & mint leaves.  It was very refreshing, just sweet enough, and plus the added flavors of mint and lime really gave this drink a special touch.  Just delicious!  I was really hoping that they could have had this as a bottomless order.

  • Banshee (Php 75)

banshee romulo cafe

Mixture of fresh banana, white cream de cacao & fresh milk.  I didn’t order this as I’m not a big fan of bananas hahaha!  Anyhow, looks so fresh & healthy.  But for those who are fans of shakes with banana in it, this is something that may also be worth a try.

Obviously I enjoyed the food but it just wasn’t that alone that made our stay enjoyable.  I also liked the design & ambiance of the place.  Simplistic theme with major colors of black & white combined with clean surroundings, cute furnitures, etc.  You can either dine outside or inside (we were seated outside).  I went inside to go to the washroom and also checked how it was designed inside.  I was impressed even more.

romulo cafe interior

I said to myself that I would definitely go back to the restaurant.  One of the better Filipino restaurants in the Philippines.  If you haven’t tried, I suggest you do ;)

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Romulo Cafe
#32 Scout Tuason cor. Sct. Dr. Lazcano, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 332-7275

Icebergs

It was such a pleasant surprise when I saw the newly opened Icebergs on Banawe street, Quezon City.  Although Banawe street already has a lot of restaurants, I have always felt that it still needed a little bit more of variety.  And with Icebergs, we now have a place to go to for ice cream, desserts, and basically if we want something cold and sweet :p  Especially with the Philippines having hot weather, sometimes we just want something sweet & cold to get us refreshed and satisfy our sweet tooth.

Now, mom has been craving for halo halo ever since she arrived here in Manila.  So when we accidentally passed by Icebergs, we stopped and decided to have our early dinner there.  Coincidentally, a few weeks before that day, I had desserts at Icebergs, Harbour Square right after we watched CATS.  Another rare occurrence was that in both instances, I was wearing black! hahaha!

Roch in Icebergs

We ordered the ff. (I took the liberty to also include the desserts we had weeks ago):

  • Icebergs Famous Sisig (Php 178)

icebergs sisig

In all honesty, when I do think of Icebergs, their meals and dishes usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.  And so, I really wasn’t aware that sisig was a famous dish at Icebergs!  Then we saw a big big picture on the menu and it turns out that sisig is indeed a specialty.  My mom ordered sisig so that she could try and judge for herself as to how Icebergs’ sisig differs from other places.  I also took a bite so that I knew how it tasted and in order for me to provide a review from my own perspective.

I can tell you that it was good, however, there’s really not much difference from their version to other restaurants though.  Although, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t good either, because what I look for in sisig is exactly what they provided.  The seasoning of the dish, which is always something I judge any dish on, the seasoning was just right.  The bits of meat, and the crunchiness of the chicharon too, really gave this dish a lot of texture and contrast which is important.  Combining the egg with the entire meal really completed this dish well.

  • Southern Style Fried Chicken (Php 150)

icebergs chicken

I was extremely disappointed with my order of Fried Chicken.  It was overcooked and ended up being too hard to eat.  I ended up not eating the chicken and just ate the country fries included in the order.  Their country fries is truly one of the best, you can order ala carte too, price is at Php 128.  But I’m glad that we at least had a chance to try their chicken.  Now I know for sure that when it comes to chicken I’m probably still going to stick with KFC or Jollibee.

  • Halo Halo Special (Php 88)

icebergs halo halo

Icebergs’ Halo halo really satisfied my mom’s craving.  What I like about their halo halo is that the amount of ingredients they have in each order is just perfect.  And the amount of milk is also just right.  There’s nothing more disappointing when it comes to halo halo than too much ice, but not enough milk.  With Iceberg, the proportion of ingredients makes every spoonful rich, creamy, sweet, and delicious!  And do you see that big chunk of ube on top?  Yummy!

  • Fresh Mango Iced Tea (Php 58)

icebergs mango iced tea

I love this new drink from Icebergs!  It’s basically brewed tea with real chunks of Mango!  I love how they are catering to the Filipino taste, and an iced tea with mango chunks is truly unique and delicious!  I always like to order iced tea, but I’m glad that I was able to try this variation of the drink.  I really suggest that you try it too.  It’s a perfect recipe, which basically means it’s a yummy drink! :p  The balance in flavors gives it that right amount of mango taste without losing the iced tea flavor.  Sometimes flavored iced tea becomes too much about the flavor and suddenly we forget that its iced tea.  With Iceberg they were able to strike that balance in flavor with their fresh mango iced tea.

  • Mocha Shake (Php 138)

icebergs chocolate shake

I wasn’t really sure about this mocha shake.  I think the purposely made the shake rich, but when I think of a shake, my mind automatically thinks of a good mix of milk and whatever flavor the shake is supposed to be.  I think the shake was good, but it could have toned down on the richness and maybe added a bit more milk and maybe mixed it a bit more.  The cream was okay too, but I think however beautiful this shake may look, it could still use a little bit more refinement in its recipe or execution, or both.  The flavor was good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s sort of like having too much seasoning in a dish or meal, in this shake there was just too much.

  • Mais con Hielo (Php 88)

icebergs mais con hielo

Corn bits, corn flakes, milk, shaved ice and ice cream comprises mais con hielo.  A very old Filipino favorite and will continue to be mine.  Icebergs makes the traditional, simple, yet delicious mais con hielo.  Again, the proportion and the amount of milk they put in the dessert is really something I wish more places would practice.  It’s amazing just how simple this dessert can be, and yet Icebergs I know has done its homework when it comes to the proportions of its ingredients.  What I like about mais con hielo in general is that it’s not too sweet, but satisfies your craving for something sweet just enough.  And the taste of corn with ice cream and milk, mixed with some shaved ice is really something that can’t go wrong when you just need to cool off and relax.

  • Strawberry Parfait (Php 168)

icebergs strawberry ice cream

I know people go to Baguio for strawberries.  If you don’t have the resources to go there, you might as well order Strawberry Parfait in Icebergs!  When my friend gave it a try, she told me that this tastes just like strawberry jam only that it was frozen.  Their parfait consists of ice cream, some fresh strawberries, and strawberry syrup, and the whole thing topped with whipped cream.  I do recommend this too if ever you stop by Icebergs.  The only thing that I was wondering about this dessert is that I have always thought of parfaits to be a bit more light and fluffy, creamy, and even light in terms of flavors.  But other than that, I definitely would still recommend this dessert, parfait or not.

I would say though Icebergs has specialty meals, they are still a dessert place.  One of the popular ones in Manila actually.  They are expanding and it seems like they’re here to stay.  For hot days, when you need to satisfy your craving for something sweet, craving for ice cream or halo halo, or even some shakes, I suggest a stop at Icebergs.  You won’t regret it, and your sweet tooth will thank you for it! :p

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Icebergs
698 Banawe St., Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Sky Dragon Seafood Restaurant

We had dinner & mooncake dice game at Sky Dragon Seafood Restaurant last week.  Before I entered the restaurant, I was warned by my mom’s friends that the place isn’t that nice & the food isn’t good as well.  I kept that in mind but I still wanted to see for myself before I came to any conclusion.

When I entered, the ambiance wasn’t really that great, very simple, but it just shows that this place has a family hangout theme to it.  Mainly for big families with a budget while still wanting to have a good time.  The ground floor is mainly for dining while the second floor has private rooms.  Each room has a karaoke system inside where guests can sing their heart out.

sky dragon ambiance

While we waited for our orders, my mom & her friends sang their favorite songs. I didn’t like the sounds & obviously, the karaoke was not of high quality but hey, it was for free!  It’s added service, so there really is no room for complaints.

My mom’s friend ordered all the food for us.  I felt a bit embarassed as everyone waited for me to take pictures of the food before they started eating hehehe!  Anyhow, it only took me like 10 seconds to take each picture, so I think they didn’t mind (well, I assumed hahaha!).

Here are the dishes that we tried at Sky Dragon:

  • Spinach Seafood Soup (Php 468)

sky dragon soup

Contrary to popular belief, I actually love everything vegetable!  This Spinach soup did really taste yummy and I enjoyed it very much.  I was hoping that I could get a 2nd serving but considering we were like more than 10 in the group, the big bowl that we ordered was just enough.  I love the fact that it was almost a mix of egg drop soup, with the touch of spinach incorporated into the soup.  It was light, and I honestly could have eaten so much of this soup.  It wasn’t seasoned so much, which made the taste of the spinach really stand out just perfectly, but the bitterness of spinach which sometimes gives a lot of spinach dishes a downgrade in my opinion, the bitterness was not there.  They really must have experimented with this dish just to make it perfect.  What an innovative soup creation!

  • Broccoli with Scallop (Php 600)

sky dragon broccoli

I’m not really sure as to how they made this dish.  It seems pretty simple enough, with the broccoli cooked just right and not overcooked.  The thick broth (sauce) was probably your basic sauce consisting of garlic, onion, soy sauce, salt and pepper, but the added scallops really made this dish stand out too.  I just kept wondering if the scallops really was there, I wasn’t sure.  Because the thin strips almost looked a bit like misua noodles.  I keep thinking that maybe they just had the scallops shredded to give the sauce more of the scallop flavor.  And if this is the case, then this dish is yet another great innovative way to serve scallops along with the brocolli.

  • Fried Chicken Taoso (Php 468)

chicken sky dragon

This dish was a favorite of my mom’s.  A very unique dish indeed.  Taoso is usually put on steamed fish, but didn’t realize that it actually works with fried chicken too!  I enjoyed this dish mainly because of the taoso.  If you don’t know what taoso is, it’s basically bits of crispy tofu.  It’s a great way to really add an extra layer of flavor and crispiness to an ordinary roasted chicken.  Don’t get me wrong, I think they also did a great job in roasting the chicken since it was definitely moist and wonderfully seasoned.  The taoso however, was definitely the ingredient that made this dish truly special.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I love tofu.  And this is almost my dream combination in terms of food ingredients since I also love chicken skin.  Now, who can go wrong with this great combination of crispy taoso and delicious roasted chicken!

  • King Fish Soy Sauce (Php 580)

sky dragon steamed fish

We got 2 of these for the price of Php 580.  Nothing special but decent.  I do like the fact that it had almost a steamed character to it, but with really more flavor because of the delicious soy sauce incorporated into the dish.  A very light dish that won’t leave your stomach too heavy.  But again, I don’t think this is really one of their all star dishes to try out.

  • Kingdao Spareribs (Php 648)

spareribs sky dragon

Kingdao spareribs is actually a staple in many Chinese restaurants.  Although it’s not as popular as your sweet and sour dishes, or even the noodle dishes, etc., it still is one of those dishes that you should try once in a while.  The sauce is what makes it so good.  It is a bit sweet, because in some recipes they will use honey, but in this case, I think they just used sugar.  It has a tomato based type of sauce too, almost like a ketchup flavor, and of course there’s a little soy sauce included as well.  I’m not sure the exact recipe used in this dish, but I can tell you that the taste is really delicious.

Kingdao, I think really does blend well to the Filipino tastebud since it’s almost like the sauce used in a lot of Filipino barbecues hahaha :p  That’s why I think I really like it too!  The only difference is that this dish really has that tomato base, whereas in The Filipino version of this sauce, banana ketchup would probably be used instead.  The only thing that kinda stopped me from eating more was that there was just too many bones!  I guess I was lazy to cut each piece & get the bones out.  It was delish though, I loved how they cooked it.  Perfectly seasoned.

  • Kuachay Rice Kiampong (Php 492)

sky dragon fried rice

Oh how I love rice like this.  Only Chinese restaurant cook rice this way & I’m just glad the rice served to us was kiampong!  Successful dish in our table, we were able to finish it all.

  • Assorted Cold Cuts (Php 328)

sky dragon asado

Their asado & lechon kawali combination was hideous!  I hated it sooo much, I got one of each, took a bite then just left them in my plate.  The asado was too dry, too hard while the lechon kawali was just made of fat meat, period.  I’ve tried lechon kawali in so many places that I know exactly what it should be.  The crispiness of lechon kawali should almost be like chicharon, that’s why its always been a favorite of mine, but sadly this was not the case here.

  • Misua Guisado

sky dragon noodles

I’ve always loved fried misua and glad that while we celebrate Moon festival, we have this as part of our meal.  I loved the noodles and I actually took a 2nd serving.  Then I heard 2-3 of my mom’s friends saying that they actually tasted something foul.  Apparently, one of the ingredients was already spoiled.  Good thing, both my mom and I just ate the noodles so we didnt experience it.  If there was indeed some spoiled ingredients, then that’s definitely a disappointment especially for a restaurant.  A dish is only as good as its ingredients, and if one ingredient is spoiled, it really ruins the entire dish, no matter how good the recipe is and how good the dish SHOULD be.

  • Mixed Fruits

mixed fruits sky dragon

This was given to us for free because we kept complaining about the misua & asado dishes.  Ironically, we also didn’t like this so it was left in the desk with only 1-2 pieces eaten.  Poor fruits, I wish we had some appetite to eat it but it didn’t look fresh :(

There were a lot of times that I felt some pity for the restaurant because the group was complaining the whole time about the dishes.  While it may be true, the servers & manager just accepted all criticisms, tried to compromise by giving us free dishes.  We even got 20% discount!  Now, that’s something commendable, the customers are really their boss.  And because of their really gracious service, I still think that the entire meal was still worth it considering that I got to try out some great new and delicious dishes.

——————–
Sky Dragon Seafood Restaurant
Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila, Philippines

Mooncake Dice Game

Last friday, I joined my mom to celebrate mid-autumn festival (more commonly known as ‘Moon Festival‘) with her former colleagues.  While the custom or tradition to celebrate the Moon Festival is by floating sky lanterns, burning incense, planting mid-autumn trees & fire dragon dances, we, on the other hand, celebrated by playing a dice game referred to as “Mooncake Dice Game“.

During old times, prizes were mooncakes.  We, however, following modern times, used practical items like food & household items.  Mooncake is still part of the event though :)  We ate different kinds of mooncake while playing the dice game.

mooncake
image from Wikipedia.org

There were about 13 of us who gathered at Sky Dragon Restaurant in Ongpin.  We had dinner first, sang for a short while then started the game.  Our prizes were simple items like junkfood, drinks, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.  Pretty cheap but it’s the company and the enjoyment that were more important.

mooncake dice game prizes

The rules of the game are just simple.  We need 6 pieces of dice, 1 glass bowl & prizes for the winners.  Prizes are split into six, categorized as to the combination of dice that would come out.  These are the ff.:

  • 6th Prize – throw 1 four

one four dice

  • 5th Prize – throw 2 fours

two four dice

  • 4th Prize – throw 4 of the same kind (except fours)

four of a kind dice

  • 3rd Prize – throw 3 fours

three four dice

  • 2nd Prize – straight/full sequence or 3 of a number & 3 of another

straight dice

paired sets dice

  • 1st Prize – throw 6 fours, 6 ones, 6 of any kind, 5 fours, 5 of any kind, 4 fours

all fours dice

all ones dice

six of a kind dice

five of a kind dice

four fours dice

There’s also 2 combination of dice that are considered as 1st prize but there’s also a catch.  If you throw it, you can win 1st prize and also ALL the prizes in the table (even if others have won it already).  Others usually take this rule out so everyone can go home with something.  Anyhow, those 2 combinations are really rare to throw so if you ask me, I would want to keep the rule.  None of us got it last friday.

all fours dice

all ones dice

We played for an hour.  My mom and I took the ff. prizes, not much but at least, we have something to munch on when we watch TV hehehe :P

mom and roch at mooncake dice game

How about you?  How did you celebrate Moon Festival? :)

Risk Management

Finance Dude

Why of all the topics of investing should we tackle first this thing called Risk Management?  Well, to start I’d like to quote two men.  The first from one of the top three richest man and another is one who was successful during the recent economic turmoil.

Rule Number 1: “Never lose money.  Rule Number 2: “Never forget rule Number 1.” –Warren Buffett

This is interesting.  One of the richest investors does not look at how much he will make at first.  But he wants to make sure of not losing first.

Another famous billionaire investor, who had made a good amount of money for his clients when most was losing money during the crisis, has this to say:
“I really picked up my investment philosophy from Marty and his father, Joseph Gruss.  He had two sayings that guided me going forward.

The first was: Watch the downside, the upside will take care of itself.  That’s been a very important guiding philosophy for me.  Our goal is to preserve principal, not to lose money.” —John Paulson

In investing before anything else, always look at the risks and downside first.  Focus on
Return OF capital first before even asking for return on capital.  Ask the following questions:

  • What are the risks?
  • How likely are the risks happening?
  • How can you protect yourself from the risks?

You can even classify risks in different classes.
Put another way, before flying high; make sure your landing gears works!

You may disagree and say, isn’t it that low risk means low return and high risk, high return? Well generally that is what common sense taught in business schools.  But low risks and high returns scenarios do happen from time to time.  Examples abound as during the recent recession, stock prices fell down when the value of the business didn’t.  Some companies sold for less than the net cash on their balance sheet.  What does this mean?  Let’s say you’re friend has a restaurant called Good Food Restaurant with the following assets and liabilities:

Cash P100,000
Receivables 10,000
Kitchen Utensils 50,000
Furniture 40,000

Total Assets P200,000
Liabilities 10,000
Net Worth P190,000

He is selling the business (including the cash) for P60, 000.  Would you buy it?

Again let’s see our rule number one. Will we lose money here? Maybe there’s a catch. So we ask around, we look at the financial statements, we check out for any lawsuits or problems.  We don’t see any.  I think we just had ourselves a good deal.  You pay P60, 000 and you get at least P90, 000 in cash. (P100,000 of cash less the liabilities of P10,000).  We will make at least P30,000.  You might tell me this doesn’t really happen.  An individual might not do it.  But it happened when supply outnumbered demand in the recent economic turmoil.  In following series, I’ll show you a real example of something similar.

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About the contributor:
Finance Dude
The writer is a financial planner, investor, speaker and a self confessed cheapaholic. (Cheapaholic- a term he invented to mean someone who is addicted to being very cheap).  Send in your questions.  He will try to answer any questions you might have, preferably on finance and money matters.  Although he does not object to questions on love and relationships, he never had one and due to his extreme cheapness, will probably never have one (In case you’ll send it mistakenly, he promised to forward it to HeaRty).

Disclaimer: Advice posted in this portion is merely opinions and views of the writer.  It does not constitute formal advice.  The writer will not be responsible for any of your gains or losses. If symptoms persist, contact your trusted financial planner.

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