FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Soondae. Not the Ice Cream. The Blood Sausage.

FLASHBACK FRIDAY | Soondae. Not the Ice Cream. The Blood Sausage.

It was love at first taste. Not first sight. Because visually, Soondae, or the korean blood sausage, it’s not exactly appealing.

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But there was one day many breakfasts ago that Jr and I walked into a restaurant in Hyehwa and pointed to picture on walls only to discover the best delicacy I ate in Korea.

blood-sausage-soup

Ever since then I look forward to having soondae when I visit. Often at night, for 3000 won, I would stand in one of the street food kiosk and point to the steaming soondae covered in thick plastic. The friendly kiosk owner would cut half a foot length in one inch segments, coupled with a few bites of tripe and pork liver in a plastic covered bowl and place it in front of me, along with a little plate of salt and pepper. Smiling, he would raise his thumb, index and middle finger and I would hand him 3 one thousand won bills. He pour a ladle full of hot soup from where the fish cakes are bathing and he’d proceed to serve the next customer. I would do this every night after I alight the subway station nearest to my hostel before going back to my room. Samgyeopsal was plentiful in Manila, but I have yet to find a place serving soondae here. My goal was to eat my weight in soondae while in Korea.

On my last night in Seoul, instead of pigging out in Myeongdong, I decided to walk the streets of Hyehwa instead in the hopes of finding that breakfast place we once visited. It took a couple of blocks of walking and my mission was almost blocked by the steak rice topping being mobbed in one street corner. And then I saw a familiar establishment — bright, covered in thick plastic insulation, warming it against the cold fall night. I peeped thru and thought, I think what I was looking for was in one of the pictures on the wall.

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I entered and a friendly Korean lady pointed to an empty table. I, in turn, pointed to the picture of the stew on the walls. In the universal language of food ordering, I hoped to the food gods that we understood each other. I also hoped it came with rice.

Minutes after and this boiling soup in a hot pot arrived on my small table already full of banchan. I scraped the bottom and yes, I hit the blood sausage hotpot. Also, at 5000 won, it came with a steaming cup of rice.

Ask and you shall receive.

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Ginger Pig In Hongdae, Seoul

Ginger Pig In Hongdae, Seoul

After Fritz Coffee Company, I took the subway to Hapjeong Station to catch the opening of Bau House. The article I saw on the internet said it opens at 11:30 am and I was trying to catch it as soon as starts to play with (still) energetic dogs. I tracked the perfectly good directions only to find out I was actually 2 hours early. Bau House opens at 1:30 pm on weekdays. Note to self: Double check everything you read on the internet.

Good thing I remembered this was a station away from Hongdae, a university district also known for arts and shopping. So I caught the train to the next station and killed some time with unnecessry shopping.

After two hours, and two bags and a pair of glasses without prescription, I decided to just enjoy the lovely fall weather and walk to Hapjeong instead of taking the train. It was just a station away, a straight road as mapped out by google. Also, I was hungry. I saw a chicken place near Hapjeong. Maybe, I can eat along the way.

I was looking forward to the fried chicken when after a couple of blocks of walking, a bright marquee sign caught my eye.

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Ginger Pig. Pig. Pig eh. Automatic.

I went it and an urban industrial interior welcomed me — tolix chairs, wooden tables, exposed pipes, brick walls. Also they had parts of pig as wall decor. I felt like I belonged. I settled down in a booth and asked for the advertised ginger pork cutlet.

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As with other korean meals, I was served a cold water in a canister and banchan as soon as I was seated. And then after a few moments, this monster arrived.

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This fried pork cutlet was huge — like the size of my face. It was well-cooked, juicy and meaty in spite of the thick breading. I ordered it with the original sauce, which I can only liken to the sauce you slather your katsu with in Yabu. And it’s just 6,000 KRW — 300 pesos for all this goodness.

Ginger Pig was halfway between Hongdae and Hapjeong. I have a good kilometer to go before I reach Bau House. And since I practically inhaled my meal, it was a very welcomed and needed walk.


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Flashback Friday (Houston, Texas) | Big Breakfast at the Waffle House 

Flashback Friday (Houston, Texas) | Big Breakfast at the Waffle House 

If there was one thing I was mentally setting my expectations on with my second trip to the US, it was the huge food serving sizes. It was a solo trip the last time I was in the States — a last hurrah of being a bachelorette. Except for the weekends I was with family and friends in California, I ate a lot of meals alone, and they were massive meals. Relative to the serving size we are accustomed to here in Manila, one thing on the menu was huge enough that one particular lunch can be from a doggy bag I took from a restaurant I ate for lunch THE DAY BEFORE. That meal has become (1) lunch, (2) dinner, (3) breakfast, (4) and a revisited lunch again. I hate wasting food, so if I order something, I don’t really get adventurous. It has to be something familiar and I knew that I really liked, because as I have learned quickly, I’ll be eating it out of my bag in a Central Park bench or by the river looking at the Golden Gate Bridge.

This time around, my US trip is bookended with smaller legs with precious company — Jr for the first couple of weeks and then my best friend for the last week, so I was going to share meal. I’d be fine for the most part. Still, I gave my stomach a grace period to adjust. A week should do the trick, I presumed. But I remembered, barely a week in the States and we’ll be in Texas. I don’t know much about Texas, but if there’s one thing I know of Texas, it’s that everything is bigger. My stomach and all that mental preparation will be immediately put to test.

It was the morning we were going to visit the Space Center. It would be a long day on our feet and Tito Jun wanted to make us a heavy breakfast. So he put the rice cooker on and fried up cooked a whole bag of bacon. On his final steps to set the table, one hand holding a platter of rice, the other holding a fully loaded plate of crispy american bacon, he tripped — the food plummeting to the ground, to the delight of Rosie, their 8 year old bulldog. We went down from the guest room as scheduled, and Tito Jun explained the situation. However, he had a Plan B.

“I’ll take you to our version of Pares.”

We drove off from their lovely home in the peaceful suburb in Katy towards one of the many freeways of Houston. He exited off into one corner plaza and parked in front of Waffle House. I know a diner when I see one. It was busy with the morning breakfast crowd. The cooks were hard at work, flipping hashbrowns and steaks on the greasy griddle. There were burly men seated on the counter stool and families with small kids in booths. We settled in one of them booths and grabbed the menu tucked to one side of the table. I looked it over and much like many diners in the US that I’ve tried, I know my appetite is in for one big meal.

Waffle House
Waffle House Houston
Waffle House

I got the steak and eggs: breakfast steak at medium rare, toasted bread, hashbrowns and 2 eggs, overeasy. There were a ridiculous amount of plates on the table, and the task of finishing everything off seems unsurmountable. That one standard order was simply too much food for a person. But I am nothing but persistent (when it comes to food. And food only). I finished everything! (No shame.) It’s either my eyes were just deceiving me with thinking that is too much food, or my stomach has adjusted.

Waffle House is no pares, but I understand where Tito Jun is coming from. He has been going to this same waffle house since they’ve relocated in Houston. The people serving the counters have been there since he could remember. The place is familiar, the food is familiar. Tito Jun knows his pares. He’s a hard core born and bred Manilenyo. The busy counters, the constant dash and turnover of diners, the hot, fresh off the grill food — to him who misses the comforts of home, down in America’s deep south, this might just be the closing thing.


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Currently Snacking On | Senbei (Japanese Rice Crackers)

Currently Snacking On | Senbei (Japanese Rice Crackers)

It’s typical of us at a grocery run. We come in with the intent of buying just one thing and we come out with a bag load of stuff we thought we didn’t need.

I’m going thru pouches of green tea bags like there’s no tomorrow.  I can only find it in Rustan’s Shangrila and it’s quite pricey. I figured there must be somewhere in Manila I can buy matcha I can steep in hot water. There’s a Japanese grocery 2 blocks from our flat so on Sunday morning I asked J if we can drop by so I can pick up the bag.

Note: I just wanted some green tea powder.

Here’s what we came out with:

Fujimart Green Tea Powder

✔ Green tea powder

This pouch is 415 pesos and comes with a resealable bag. Since I don’t trust myself when it comes to resealable bags and fearing it might clump up on me before I go thru it, I lock it again with this nifty thing you can slide through bag to keep it sealed. Insurance.

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✔ What I could only assume is fish sauce.

I don’t know if they have fish sauce in Japan, but I highly suspect it’s sushi dipping. It’s 5 pesos and I just wanted one because I’m a sucker for all things miniature. It’s just 5 pesos so J made me grab a lot because he knows I have no regard to my kidneys anymore.

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✔ Roasted sesame salad dressing.

Because J thinks we have vegetables at home. Lels.

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✔ Senbei (Japanese rice crackers)

We knew we have tasted some before. Probably it came with the free tasting in a whiskey museum. We don’t remember when and where but we knew we liked it. Since there were a lot of options, we looked for the most kawaii packaging. More kawaii, more authentic right?

We lucked out because the one we got (the one with a giant smiling siopao on the packaging) is both savory with the right amount of sweet. Looks like I found a new addition to my daily baon in case of emergency collection: Hansel Premium crackers in Cheese, bakwa (yes, I carry cured meat all the time) and Senbei. Hangry prevention trifecta.


Fujimart
77 Timog Avenue Corner Panay Avenue
Quezon City, 1103 Metro Manila

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Quezon City | Hermanos Taco Shop

Quezon City | Hermanos Taco Shop

Two things I can tell you about hole-in-the-walls: they’re not necessarily ‘charming’ and their food is not necessarily cheap.

But Hermanos Taco shop is not necessarily a hole-in-the-wall.

It just feels like it. Though it’s located in a very busy artery between San Juan and Quezon City, it’s hardly noticeable. It sits on a space right beside a gas station and unless your eyes stray from the call of pitchi pitchi stand on the corner, you wouldn’t know there’s actually a restaurant there. And it’s not like it’s even trying. I wanted Mexican food. Silantro is the nearest one from HQ, but I do not feel like waiting for a table on a friday night. Also, we were in no mood to go to BGC or Makati for Ristras, Chihuahua, or El Chupacabra. There wasn’t much of a buzz for Hermanos. It’s not new and I’ve missed the initial wave of the ‘authenticity’ hype around it. The only reason why we know it’s there is because we’ve passed by the street a million times.

I think this is the point where I tell you I have this habit of making my husband drive by roads just so I can see what’s new on the block. Scouting on new restaurants and establishments is my idea of a roadtrip. I also read the signs out loud. Out loud. Like a kid who just learned how to read. Or like an old lady still testing out the accuracy of her eyesight.

Now, there are two things I can tell you about Hermanos.

One, it’s so unassuming. They have a map of mexico on one wall and pictures of food on the other. You order at the counter with a large chalkboard for a menu. It’s small and very orange. It’s reminiscent of every mom and pop shop I’ve visited in the states. This places where they could have tried some more when it comes to the aesthetic but gave up before committing and just let the food do the talking.

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And second, yes the food did talk. I’m a creature of habit so my route is naturally to go for the beef fajitas. We also tried the quesadilla and Jr got for himself the rolled up tacos. Yes, everything is good and yes, it’s not cheap. To be clear, Silantro and El Chupacabra are relatively cheap compared to Ristras and Chihuahua, and Hermanos’ prices are approximate to the latter group. I believe they are banking on the authenticity to justify the price point. Never been to Mexico, so I wouldn’t know. The closest thing to authentic cali-mex or tex-mex food I’ve tasted was El Torrito (which was practically Chili’s) and Chipotle, which is much closer to Chihuahua — especially the burrito bowls. And even if I’ve been to Mexico, I’m sure they have different iterations of what an authentic taco or burrito is.

I’m sure we Filipinos don’t have a consensus of what an authentic Adobo should taste like.


Hermanos Taco Shop
#27 Granada Ave. corner Jose O. Vera St.,
Brgy. Valencia, Gilmore, Quezon City

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