Cebu Restaurant Abu Dhabi – Have it the Filipino way

While walking on the streets of Khalidiya district in Abu Dhabi searching for a store to get a new shirt to replace the “soaked-in-sweat” shirt I wore after a long walk/jog at corniche, I bumped into one distinct restaurant just beside the mosque in Zayed The First Street at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant. It can be recognized as truly Pinoy as its name is similar to one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines, Cebu. Cebu Restaurant simply offers Pinoy style cooking at Abu Dhabi’s busy district.  The restaurant occupies a small two-storey building. On the first floor is the turo-turo section where you could order the ready cooked meals. More tables are found on the second floor with LCD TV mounted on the wall showing ABS-CBN TFC programs. With its size, it could accommodate perhaps around 30 people.

Cebu Restaurant is located in Khalidiya District, Abu Dhabi beside the mosque and at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant.

Cebu Restaurant is located in Khalidiya District, Abu Dhabi beside the mosque and at the back of Lebanese Flower Restaurant.

At the resto's 2nd floor. Attached on the wall is a LCD TV that plays TFC shows.

At the resto’s 2nd floor. Attached on the wall is a LCD TV that plays TFC shows.

The counter at the 1st floor. The restaurant has actually free wifi.

The counter at the 1st floor. The restaurant has actually free wifi.

Stairway to the second floor with photos hung on the wall.

Stairway to the second floor with photos hung on the wall.

Cebu Restaurant offers a wide array of Pinoy dishes from the usual breakfast meals like tapsilog, bangsilog, hotsilog etc., their sizzlings bulalo steak, tanigue, pusit, chicken fillet, and their seafood-based dishes like sinigang, sweet and sour fish fillet, ginataang tilapia, bangus (grilled/daing) among others. Chicken meals are likewise served such as inasal, tinola, kaldereta and adobo. But I also found out that they offer not so Pinoy like chicken cordon bleu, orange-ginger chicken and terriyaki. Beef meals include humba, steak, kare-kare, nilaga, sinigang, bulalo, kaldereta and even papaitan. Desserts like halo-halo, biko, maja blanca and biko are also available.

The restaurants menu list.

The restaurants menu list.

So what we got for our dinner? We ordered their recommended dishes, probably their best seller. We got sinigang na hipon, sizzling tanigue steak, chopsuey, beef steak and grilled bangus. Their food is typical Pinoy with perhaps infusion of their own cooking style. Admittedly, what we had savored were similar to other Pinoy dishes we had previously tried. But, we did enjoy our dining experience knowing that it is one of those that carries Filipino identity in Abu Dhabi.

The restaurant's sinigang na hipon. Not that I didn't like, but I prefer a bit sour.  Syaoran liked this.

The restaurant’s sinigang na hipon (AED 22). Not that I didn’t like, but I prefer a bit sour. This is okay with Syaoran, though he said his mother’s sinigang is still the best.

Sizzling tanigue steak. I think I was the only one who ate this.

Sizzling tanigue steak (AED 28). I think I was the only one who ate this.

Chopsuey - made up of chicken cooked with different kinds of vegetables.

Chopsuey (AED 15) – stir fried chicken meat cooked with different kinds of vegetables.

Beef steak - thinly sliced beef cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice garnished with onion rings.

Beef steak (AED 20) – thinly sliced beef cooked in soy sauce and calamansi juice with sliced potatoes garnished with onion rings.

Inihaw na bangus - grilled milkfish stuffed with ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes etc.

Inihaw na bangus – grilled milkfish stuffed with ingredients like ginger, onions, garlic, tomatoes etc.

Inside of grilled bangus with its stuffing.

Grilled bangus with all its stuffing.

Syaoran and Vaj during our dinner at Cebu Restaurant.

Syaoran and Vaj during our dinner at Cebu Restaurant.

“Have it the Filipino way” is Cebu Restaurant’s slogan. It tries to bring Filipino culture closer to the Arabs while at the same time offers our kababayans Pinoy home-cooked food at affordable prices. It is but best for Pinoy expats living in Abu Dhabi or Pinoy tourists visiting the place to support our own. Ika nga, tangkilikin ang sariling atin.

Cebu Restaurant

Zayed The First Street, Khalidiya

Beside Lebanese Flower Restaurant

Telephone: 02 665-2886

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Barrio Fiesta – home of authentic Filipino cuisine in Dubai

It was a lazy afternoon when we decided to go to Burjuman Center in Dubai. And the main reason was to take our late lunch at Barrio Fiesta which I happened to stumble while surfing the net looking for Filipino resto nearest our hotel in Bur Dubai. As it is one of those pioneer Pinoy restaurants in the Philippines and an institution in authentic Pinoy cooking, without any second thought I pulled my friend and we proceeded to the place. Barrio Fiesta is inside Burjuman Center located at Level 3 across Shrimp’s World. The ambiance is truly Filipino with its Pinoy interior design. The entrance posts are made from shells of mother of pearl. Hung on its walls are pictures of our different celebrations. The chairs are made from native materials perhaps abaca. A guitar is even placed at the entrance to which anyone could pick to strum their favorite songs. Pinoy hospitality is also apparent as the attendant guides you to your table while happily welcoming you and suggesting must-tries in the restaurant. I think those are perhaps the reasons why Barrio Fiesta sets apart from other restaurants in the area. While scanning the menu, I could not help but felt proud that at least there is a Pinoy restaurant that thrives and competes in Dubai’s foodie business usually dominated by Italian, Indian, Arabic, American and Mediterranean.

This is the entrance to the  Barrio Fiesta that could accommodate more than 100 guests.

This is the entrance to Barrio Fiesta. The restaurant could accommodate more than 100 guests.

Barrio Fiesta's Pinoy designed interior with its chairs made from native materials.

Barrio Fiesta’s Pinoy designed interior with its walls posted with photos of Pinoy celebrations and its chairs made from native materials.

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We ordered bangus sa bawang, sinigang na hipon, ginataang sitaw at kalabasa, and sumisirit na pusit. The food were delectable and Pinoy flavors are distinctive, indeed. Though it was so good and the food were cooked the lutong bahay (home-cooked) way, I think it was a little bit pricey. But the fact that it gives you a feel of true Pinoy dining experience inside a high-end mall, that underscores everything. Ambiance + good food = good experience.

Sinigang na hipon - a tamarind flavored soup served with shrimps and assorted vegetables (Price: AED 38-full/ AED 20-half)

Sinigang na hipon – a tamarind flavored soup served with shrimps and assorted vegetables (Price: AED 38-full/ AED 20-half). The sourness is just right for our taste.

Bangus sa bawang - boneless milk fish pan fried and sprinkled with fried garlic (Price: AED 42).

Bangus sa bawang – boneless milk fish pan fried and sprinkled with fried garlic (Price: AED 42). What I like about this is the crispiness and the tastes of fried garlic. But I would prefer sinamak (spiced vinegar) as sawsawan (condiment).

Ginataang sitaw at kalabasa (100% vegetarian) - squash and string beans cooked in coconut milk and served with tofu (Price: AED 18).

Ginataang sitaw at kalabasa (100% vegetarian) – squash and string beans cooked in coconut milk and served with tofu (Price: AED 18). This is likewise good, but maybe better if the coconut milk is creamier.

Sumisirit na pusit - grilled squid cooked with vegetables in a special sauce and served in sizzling plate (Price: AED 35).

Sumisirit na pusit – grilled squid cooked with vegetables in a special sauce and served in sizzling plate (Price: AED 35). A little bit sweet but the spiciness is just enough for another bowl of rice.

Steamed jasmine rice (Price: AED 7).

Steamed jasmine rice (Price: AED 7).

Travel buddy Syaoran who loves Barrio Fiesta's sinigang.

Travel buddy Syaoran who loves Barrio Fiesta’s sinigang.

Picking up the guitar just for posterity, because in truth I don't  know how to play it.

Picking up the guitar just for photo op because in truth I don’t know how to play it.

Unfortunately, we had not tried the kakanin (native delicacies) as we were full. In their list, they have puto bumbong (glutinous rice with cheese and coconut jam), maja blanca (coconut milk flan topped with ground peanuts), buko pandan (sweet gelatin strips of buko with pandan essence) among others. Halohalo (dessert made from crushed ice topped with preserved fruits like banana, ube, jackfruit etc. and with sago, gulaman with milk and ice cream). Gulaman at sago (native gelatin and tapioca in brown sugar syrup flavored with pandan leaves and topped with crushed ice) is also served. They have almost all Pinoy favorites in the restaurant. I’m sure when in town again I will definitely return. By that time, I would indulge in their weekend lunch buffet served from 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM for only AED 49.

Barrio Fiesta or any other Pinoy restaurant in Dubai deserves our loyalty. We need to support them and be proud that Pinoy cuisine is not left behind in Dubai’s food business. Let us showcase the Filipino heritage to the world.

BARRIO FIESTA

Level 3, Burjuman Center

PO Box 29437, Dubai, UAE

Tel: (04) 3476310

Website: http://www.etastar-retail.com

Balinese Babi Guling at Warung Andi Jaya

Yes, I am not yet over roasted pigs but this time it is about our pigging experience in Bali, Indonesia. On our way back from our Pura Ulun Danu visit, I asked our driver to drop us to one of those warungs (roadside restaurants/stores that sell food and grocery items and even souvenirs) along the road to binge on Balinese version of lechon, the equally sumptuous “babi guling”. I heard about this Balinese cuisine way back then and since a lot as well recommended that feasting on babi guling when in Bali should be part of your to-do-list, we exactly did the same. We actually found a lot of warungs along the way, but our driver has recommended us to try Warung Babi Guling Andi Jaya. If you’re going your way to Pura Ulun Danu in Bedugul, this restaurant is located at the right side of Jalan Raya Denpasar. Andi Jaya is like a typical “turo-turo” roadside restaurants in the Philippines.  And here in this restaurant, “babi guling” is definitely their star.

This warung is at the right side of Jalan Raya Denpasar on the way to Ulun Danu, Bedugul.

This warung is at the right side of Jalan Raya Denpasar on the way to Ulun Danu, Bedugul.

This is how babi guling meal in Warung Andi Jaya is prepared.

This is how babi guling meal in Warung Andi Jaya is prepared.

Babi means pig, while guling is grilled/roasted. Like the Philippines’ lechon which we had in Zubuchon (read my post here http://clecstrotter.com/2013/07/27/zubuchon-arguably-cebus-best-lechon/), babi guling is also spit-roasted the traditional way over open flame. Preparing the suckling pigs for roasting involves stuffing them with various ingredients which may not be limited to lemongrass, turmeric, pepper, garlic, shallots among others and/or their own special concoctions. These are apparent in Andi Jaya’s, as I could taste those in their babi guling served to us especially the lemon grass and pepper.  A plate of Andi Jaya’s babi guling comprises roasted pig of course, a piece of sausage, fried pig skin (chicharon), brown rice, vegetable as side dish topped with a very spicy coconut sauce. Comes with the meal is a bowl of soup that tastes piquantly delicious. The meat is flavorful and succulent while the chicharon is indeed crunchy. I like also the sausage, though fatty, it is savory. Lovers of spicy food would definitely love Andi Jaya’s babi guling as they will never get disappointed. The spicy flavor runs throughout but like me who could not tolerate super hot food, a bottle of cola is an equalizer.

Babi guling in Andi Jaya served in native plate.

Babi guling in Andi Jaya served in native plate.

Andi Jaya's babi guling is served with brown rice.

Andi Jaya’s babi guling is served with brown rice.

A bowl of soup that is piquantly delicious.

A bowl of soup that is piquantly delicious.

Our experience in Andi Jaya of their delicious babi guling added enjoyment to our short stay in Bali. It was another satisfying treat to food lovers like us who like to explore and taste local cuisines. I am just glad that I have tasted Bali’s babi guling that is listed second in Anthony Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork (http://blog.travelchannel.com/anthony-bourdain/read/hierarchy-of-pork/). Perhaps, the next stop will be the third in the list, Puerto Rico’s own styled lechon.

 

Zubuchon- arguably Cebu’s best lechon

The four of us who have been friends for more than a decade usually find time to spend a couple of days or more in an out-of-town trip around the country. In the list for this year was Samal Island and Davao city, but due to bad weather that caused flooding in some parts of the city, we all agreed to fly to Cebu instead. The first thing that comes in my mind when we landed Cebu city was lechon– suckling pigs slowly roasted over open fire (usually in charcoal). I was craving for this food since I arrived in Iloilo for my short break but got no chance to munch in any of those restaurants we had visited. And since I was in Cebu, I definitely grabbed that chance. It is said that Cebu has arguably the best lechon in the country and that this city is synonymous to lechon.

The four of us (L to R: Dulah, Syaoran, me, & June) during our trip to Cebu.

The four of us (L to R: Dulah, Syaoran, me, & June) during our trip to Cebu.

After we settled our things in hotel, I approached the reception and asked where to go to taste Cebu’s lechon for our lunch. She right away mentioned Zubuchon in Escario Street. Perhaps because it is near to where we were staying and a jeepney ride from Capitol site where our hotel was located. Zubuchon is a casual dining restaurant. As we entered the place, their waiters approached us eagerly and led us to our table. We scanned the menu and ordered for a start a large serving of lechon, lechon dinuguan, and ginataang langka with daing. We wanted to try more food listed on their menu but decided to reserve some for our next round of food raves.

Zubuchon's best selling lechon.

Zubuchon’s best selling lechon.

Ginataang langka with daing

Ginataang langka with daing

Instant favorite, lechon dinuguan.

Instant favorite, lechon dinuguan.

Zubuchon’s lechon is certainly their all time best seller. It was proclaimed by the famous TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, as “the best pig ever”. Bourdain said in the site, blog.travelchannel.com, “it can now be said that of all the whole roasted pigs I’ve had all over the world, the slow roasted lechon I had on Cebu was the best.” And that was in Zubuchon. This catapulted Philippines as the top in Bourdain’s Hierarchy of Pork. Proud of the distinction, Zubuchon wrote such title and Anthony Bourdain’s name on the glass in their restaurant.

Written on the glass wall inside is, "Best Pig.. Ever" - Anthony Bourdain.

Written on the glass wall inside is, “Best Pig.. Ever” – Anthony Bourdain.

But what really makes their lechon so special that a lot of people ques during meal time and those who previously dined keep on coming back? Personally what I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers. The meat is tender and juicy but it seems just the same average lechon meat I had tasted before, but the herbs that they use as stuffs are savored. I ultimately found out that their lechon is still cooked the old way. And what is good is that they don’t use glutamate nor brushes their pigs with artificially flavored sauce.

What I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers.

What I like about it was the skin’s crispiness to which every bite sounds like bursting fire crackers.

Never got enough of Zubuchon, thus we returned for our dinner during our last day but at this time in their Mango branch. Similarly, we ordered a plate of lechon and dinuguan which was our instant favorite from the first time we ate at Escario. We also got squid stuffed with Zubuchon lechon sisig and seaweed platter vinaigrette. For drinks we ordered, their kamias shake which they recommended to balance off lechon’s fattiness, though it really is a refreshing drink. The mixed flavors of sweetness and sourness were playing in the mouth.

Sizzling squid stuffed with sisig lechon is likewise delicious.

Sizzling squid stuffed with sisig lechon is likewise delicious.

Three types of seaweeds with vinaigrette in a platter.

Three types of seaweeds with vinaigrette in a platter.

Joining us are our buddy Atty. Tash and her friend, Matet.

Joining us are our buddy Atty. Tash and her friend, Matet.

There maybe other restaurants in Cebu specializing in lechon, but Zubuchon satisfied our craving. Our dining experience in both Escario and Mango branches was good that definitely deserves a come back. 

Perfect match: Crocs meat and Tiger lager

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It was that long tiring stroll in Singapore’s Chinatown that forced me to find a place to rest as I need to get on my feet to return to my hotel that is less than a kilometer away from where I was. I found Chinatown Seafood Restaurant, located at Trengganu street at the corner of Pagoda street. It is a short walking distance from Chinatown MRT station. I heard that this restaurant offers good food at reasonable price and I think the stories were true. I scanned the menu and saw crocodile dish. Curious as how its meat tastes, I ordered a crocodile tail meat in ginger sauce. The meat is white and gummy, a little bit tensile. But it tastes good perhaps because of the ginger sauce and the spiciness. There’s a sting in every bite. That hard texture means that I needed to chew longer to swallow the meat. And finishing the meal requires a perfect partner.

SG6

I found that Tiger beer is the perfect match for my crocodile dish. Tiger beer is the Singapore’s 1st locally brewed lager beer born in 1932. It is famous not in only in Singapore but also in other neighboring countries. Tiger beer in the restaurants costs around 6 SgD. The beer has a pale color but with a rich flavor and a refreshing taste. Since I like it I kept on ordering more bottles until I felt a bit inebriated. I think I reached my limit. So I paid the bills, bought some souvenirs, then slowly walked back to my hotel for a nap.

Overall my dining experience in Chinatown Seafood Restaurant was good. The food is okay except that it took them long to serve it. But, the crocodile dish was another new experience in the lion city. I am now ready to end the night at the nearby Clark Quay. 

Sweets, anyone?

I have a sweet tooth and that always pushes me to crave for sweets.  But, who could resist the scrumptious creaminess of deliciously baked tarts topped with sliced fresh fruits that slowly melt in your mouth, the mouth watering cake that becomes a head turner for sweets lovers, and the chocolaty muffin or croissant that is a perfect pair for a cup of coffee? Seeing is inviting, but indulging is even more rewarding. We have visited the Blue Lagoon Cafe in Holiday Inn Halfmoon Bay and got a taste of their pastries.

Tarts. This is by far my favorite in the cafe’s list. The crust is melting in the mouth and the filling topped with fresh fruits is no doubt delicious.

Cakes. This sweet baked dessert is almost anyone’s favorite. When we visited the cafe, it only has two cakes available. But  a slice of it  couldn’t suffice our craving that in turn forced us to get another one.

Muffin and Croissant. Coffee has brought us back to the cafe and we found the perfect match of our steaming hot coffee in choco muffin and plain croissant.

Dessert makes the meal complete as they say which I agree. While each may have his own preference, tarts and cakes for me are simply the best.

Spicy Laksa in SG

Introduced to me by Mysh in Singapore a year ago, laksa is a popular noodle soup in Singapore and Malaysia. Laksa has many variants but what we had tried was curry laksa which has coconut milk. Ingredients  found in our laksa aside from noodles include tofu, fish sticks, slice eggs, beans among others.  It is then garnished with dried coriander and added with a spoonful of chili paste. Whew, really hot!