Mendokoro Experience in Salcedo

Moi told me about a restaurant which serves delicious ramen in Salcedo Village, Makati. He wanted me to try the place. Of course, I was ecstatic!

Since we were around the area, Moi, Jan (his sibling), and I had our lunch there yesterday. The place is small – we were lucky it was not full when we came in. You don’t see individual tables but only one circular counter table.

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Posted on their wall is a system that they follow:

First, you go to the cashier station to order, pay and get the order slip with guest number.

Next, your guest number is displayed when a seat becomes available. Since the place has a counter-style set-up, you might not be seated together with your companions. In our case, though, we were able to sit beside each other.

After getting a seat, you give the order slip to the ramen dispatcher behind the bar. Then, your ramen is served. A pitcher of water is also provided. If I’m not wrong, no other beverage is sold.

 

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Moi and Jan waiting for their orders

Moi and I ordered Shoyu ramen while Jan chose Miso.

Shoyu ramen

It was so yummy. Two thumbs up!

 

*Mendokoro Ramenba is located at Ground Floor, V Corporate Center, Soliman Street, Salcedo Village, Makati. 

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Norwegian Wood: Murakami is a Genius

Norwegian Wood is the first Murakami book I have read. My impression? The author is a genius!

Murakami uses simple words, unlike other authors who love to play with highfalutin words, the meaning of which you hardly understand. His words may be simple but the picture he wants to illustrate is vivid.

The narration of the story was excellent. No dull moments, I would say. The feelings of loss, love, sorrow and despair will indeed emanate as you read on. I was moved, amused and amazed.

Norwegian Wood is not an ordinary love story that you consider as tragic. To me, it has a deeper meaning. I like the part where a “field well” was mentioned. It was described in this manner:

“It lay precisely on the border where the meadow ended and the woods began – a dark opening in the earth yard across, hidden by the meadow grass. Nothing marked its perimeter – no fence, no stone curb (at least not one that rose above ground level). It was nothing but a hole, a mouth open wide. The stones of its collar had been weathered and turned a strange muddy white. They were cracked and had chunks missing, and a little green lizard slithered into an open seam. You could lean over the edge and peer down to see nothing. All I knew about the well was its frightening depth. It was deep beyond measuring, and crammed full of darkness, as if all the world’s darknesses had been boiled down to their ultimate density.”

“It’s really, really deep…But no one knows where it is. The one thing I know for sure is that it’s around here somewhere.”

Throughout the book, young, brilliant and seemingly happy people commit suicide for no apparent reason. I think the words about the field well capture the sad state where these people may be in. It gives you the creeps that you might be in that abyss and you are not even aware of it. Then, it will just snap!

There are other parts of the book that I would take as having an underlying meaning and should not be taken literally.

Murakami succeeds in making you contemplate and interpret the story.

The Happiness Project: Ways to a Happier Me

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. At first, I was skeptical about the contents of the book. Will it have an effect on my concept of happiness? Will it help me become happier? I thought that being happy is not something you can prescribe or teach through a book because each person has different ways of perceiving things. My happiness is different from another person’s happiness. A particular thing that makes me happy will, most likely, not make you happy.

Yet, this book proved to be very insightful. Reading through it, I found myself agreeing to a number of points raised by the author. It amazed me that I can relate to a myriad of situations cited therein. Indeed, the book served as guide when I made my resolutions for the coming year.

Let me share to you some of the points in the book that truly hit me and made me realize that – yes, I will be happier if I keep these things in mind.

  • Engage in activities that will make you feel good and feel right.
  • Avoid doing things that will make you feel bad.
  • Growth brings happiness.
  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.
  • Be yourself. Do the things that you like (not you wished you like) doing.
  • Exercise and de-clutter to boost energy.
  • When you do something good, don’t expect praise or appreciation. Do it for yourself.
  • Give proofs of love.
  • Work smart.
  • Enjoy now.
  • Make time for friends.
  • Capture happy memories.
  • Be generous.
  • Spend for yourself.
  • Be grateful.
  • Pursue your passion.
  • Keep a positive attitude.

The book is truly helpful. I am glad I read it before the start of 2015. 🙂

Nice Things About Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza

Photo from Kirby Hipolito

Photo from Kirby Hipolito

Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza was on my bucket list. I was giddy because I finally got to tick it off from my list this week. I tried the place together with my best friends in law school.

It was a nice experience, not only because I was with my girl friends, but also for these lovely things:

1) Their menu consists of not-your-ordinary pizza and pasta.

We ordered their bestsellers.

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Bianca Verde. It’s made of olive oil, garlic, kesong puti, ricotta, parmesan, basil and arugula.

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Salted Egg Pasta, made of fettuccine, bacon, salted egg, cream and parmesan.

2) They have a unique condiment – Chili Honey.

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It was my first time to see and taste a spicy honey.

3) Their Chocolate Chicharon is heavenly!

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The sweetness of the chocolate and the saltiness of the chicharon blended so well.

Other nice things I noticed –

4) The place has a light ambiance. It’s small but not overcrowded even if it was already lunch time.

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It is also connected to Cello’s Doughnuts & Dips. You may prefer having doughnuts for dessert.

5) Their table, at least the one we got, was big and wide. You don’t have to worry for space.

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Photo from Kirby Hipolito

Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza is, truly, a must-try! 🙂

 

*Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza is located at 2/F K2 Building, 341 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City (just on top of Mercury Drug). They also have another branch at G/F Finman Ctr, 117 Tordesillas Street cor Bautista, Salcedo Village, Makati.

Five Reasons Why I Enjoyed Eleanor & Park

Photo from hdcinema.tumblr.com

Photo from hdcinema.tumblr.com

Eleanor & Park, written by Rainbow Rowell, is a story about two teenagers named Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan who sit beside each other in a school bus and later became sweethearts. Their love story is somehow similar to that of Landon Carter and Jamie Sullivan in the novel, A Walk to Remember. Eleanor, like Jamie, is different and unpopular. Park finds Eleanor weird, and is not attracted to her during their first encounter. Landon feels the same way toward Jamie. But the similarity ends there. Eleanor & Park is not a tragic story where the girl or boy dies because of an illness.

Yes, it’s a love story but it’s a lot more than that. Here are the reasons why I enjoyed reading Eleanor & Park.

  1. The novel veers away from the typical concept of beauty. Eleanor, as clearly described in the novel, is chubby, not dressed nicely, and has dry, red curly hair.
  2. It deals with other issues such as domestic violence. It gives a picture of how a wife and her children endure such a dreadful situation. Though it does not happen all the time, it is comforting to know that, in this story, violence against women and children does not triumph at the end.
  3. The author balances the story by depicting a happy family, with the wife and husband still very much in love with each other. It makes you hope that true love exists.
  4. Love can be expressed in simple and ordinary ways. It doesn’t have to be manifested in a grand manner to feel its magic.
  5. The story’s ending makes you wonder. What are those three words written by Eleanor on her postcard? Why is the prologue saying Park can’t bring Eleanor back?

You may want to read Eleanor & Park before it soon hits the cinemas!

Unlimited Noodles and Broth at Red Onion Cafe +++

Noodles on a rainy Sunday night.

That’s what I had in mind after hearing mass with Moi.

We had three options – Mashitta at the UP Shopping Center, Red Onion and Ryu Ramen at the UP Town Center.

My suggestion was Red Onion. Why? My supervising lawyer (SL) and teammates in OLA mentioned a few weeks ago that Red Onion offers unlimited noodles and broth at a reasonable price.

Moi agreed.

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Red Onion was almost empty when we arrived. I was wondering if I made a bad choice.

I noticed their 39 Spices Beef Noodle dish on the menu stand at the entrance. Perhaps, that was what my SL and teammates were referring to.

I checked the menu on the table. Yes, that’s it. You’ll have unlimited noodles and broth. And there’s more!

You get to choose:

First, the broth. You can have beef broth or clear broth.

I chose beef broth. Moi, clear broth.

Second, the meat. You can have beef slices, beef tendon, dumplings, or chicken.

I got beef slices and dumplings. Moi chose all four! Haha!

Third, the noodles. Your options: hand-shaved or thin noodles.

We both picked thin noodles.

Fourth, if you want to include organic egg or not.

Unlike Moi, I chose to have egg in my noodles.

Last, the level of spiciness.

Mine was medium. Moi preferred high.

Tada! Here’s my bowl of noodles.

Not the actual serving. Picture shows noodles in small bowl.

I failed to get a picture of Moi’s order. It tasted better than mine – must be due to the broth.

Of course, we had a refill of noodles and broth.

Aside from the noodles, we also ordered Vegetable Dumplings which were bland. Tsk3

Vegetable Dumplings

Vegetable Dumplings

Then drinks. Lemonade for me, Winter Melon Tea for Moi. By the way, you get a discount for the refill.

Lemonade

Lemonade

So, did I make a bad choice? NO. 🙂

 

*Red Onion Cafe is located at the ground floor (back area) of the UP Town Center.

Hong Kong in One Day

Last May 31, my sister and I went to Hong Kong. She was scheduled to fly to Dubai on June 2 so I had to plan a one-day tour that would allow us to explore as many sites as possible.

We arrived in Hong Kong a few minutes after midnight. As suggested by my friend Tin, we bought Octopus cards before leaving the airport. We used the Octopus card to pay for transportation (MTR, bus, tram) and for goods at certain stores such as Starbucks, Okashi Land, 7-Eleven. Each card costs HK$150 but only HK$100 is consumable. The remaining HK$50 is considered a deposit which is refunded, together with any amount left from the consumable, when the card is returned. The card is reloadable at any MTR station or authorized service providers such as 7-Eleven.

Octopus Cards

Octopus Cards. Picture from http://www.discoverhongkong.com

We took the N21 Citybus (A21 for day service until midnight) to get to Safari Guest House located at Block C, Chung King Mansions, Tsim Sha Tsui. Based on my research, riding the bus was cheaper than taking the Airport Express. However, I do not suggest that you do this if you are pressed for time.

We arrived at the guest house around 3am. Since the reception area was already closed, we had to contact the owner so we can get in. Imagine the hassle. Good thing, the owner, who came from another floor or building, was kind enough to accommodate us and even explained how we can go around the area.

Our room looked like this.

Double Bedroom - Safari Guest House. Picture from www.agoda.com

Double Bedroom – Safari Guest House. Picture from http://www.agoda.com

We booked the room through Agoda.com and the cost per night was P1,559.36 (already converted from HK$). That was already cheap considering that we booked a room only a few days before arriving in Hong Kong. The room was very small but it was clean and it smelled good. The staff was also friendly and spoke good English.

We slept for a few hours. Around 8:30am, we were ready to explore Hong Kong.

Our first destination was Hong Kong Disneyland. We bought our tickets at a money changer below the guest house. We got a discount of HK$20 per ticket.

Using our Octopus Cards, we took the MTR via the Tseun Wan Line. From Tsim Sha Tsui Station, we got off at Lai King Station and transferred to the Tung Chung Line. Upon reaching Sunny Bay Station, we transferred to the Disneyland Resort Line.

Train to Disneyland. Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Train to Disneyland. Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

A few minutes after, we said, “Hello Disneyland!!!”

Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Picture by Nikki Learsi P. Frias

Around 1pm, after the Soundsational Parade, we left Disneyland and headed towards Ngong Ping.

From the Disneyland Station, we went back to Sunny Bay, and then to Tung Chung Station. We walked outside the MTR Station towards the cable car that will take us to Ngong Ping Village.

To save on HK dollars, we chose a package wherein we can ride a Crystal Cabin to Ngong Ping and a Standard Cabin going back to Tung Chung.

Cable car ticket

Cable car ticket

A Crystal Cabin has a glass flooring that will allow you to see what lies beneath.

Lies beneath

Lies beneath 2

We travelled to Ngong Ping Village for about an hour. I was actually afraid during the entire ride. Haha!

Cable

Nervous look

We didn’t stay long at Ngong Ping. After checking the stalls and getting a drink, we decided to return to Tung Chung aboard the Standard Cabin.

Ngong Ping

Ngong Ping

We took a rest, ate early dinner and window shopped at the Citygate Outlets.

Our next destination was The Peak. We boarded the train at Tung Chung Station and got off at Hong Kong Station which is the end of the Tung Chung Line. We walked towards Central Station and made our way towards The Peak Tram Terminal.

Peak Tram

The line leading to the tram was very long and we were not able to comfortably sit during the travel to The Peak. I do not suggest that you visit The Peak on a Sunday night.

Last stop: Madame Tussauds Hong Kong. It is located above the Tram terminal.

It’s better to book a ticket online because you’ll get a 20% to 40% discount. That’s what we did.

And we enjoyed posing with celebrities, public figures, scientists, athletes, and cartoon characters!

Wolverine

Wolverine

Princess Diana

Princess Diana

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Astro Boy

Astro Boy