Thursday, June 18, 2009


Recently, we've jumped into the kebab-shawarma bandwagon and did some rounds trying out the best and most promising eateries that offer these dishes. Not that we're newbies - afterall, everyone whose in their 30's and 40's have all witnessed the shawarma-nization of Manila in the 90's. It was more like we're "ROF" (rekindling-old-flames) with these dishes.
First stop was Mister Kabab along West Avenue. If you frequently pass West Ave, it's hard not to notice this huge place swarmed by (mostly young adult) customers. We've tried their kebab, shawarma, keema, yogurt shake, and of course, their pita bread. The taste and the price are just right, but not really exceptional. Thier keema did not pass Andy's standards because their keema looks like a kebab. So it is a bit surprising to witness the 'phenomenon' of swarming clients (it's actually hard to get a seat) in this resto. We had two attempts of going there but we were disappointed with the long queue so we have to eat at a nearby resto Earsao.

Second stop was Grilled Tomato ( near Orthopedic hospital, Banawe St. QC ). We wanted dinner that was not too heavy so we ordered keema, beef kebab with rice, hummus, Lamb, pita breads and its crispy version (can't remember the name) and ice cold beers (yes, in our universe, this is light dinner :-) I fell in love with their hummus dip! It was flavorful and blends very nicely with the pita bread (both the soft and the crispy kind). The kebab and keema taste good, too, but in my opinion, were overshadowed by my fascination with their hummus. And the price? A runaway!!
Next stop was the Shawarma Snack Center along Salas St (Pedro Gil area, Malate) near the new Hyatt Casino and Hotel. They offer ala carte dishes as well as the turu-turo (literally, point your finger to the dish) style. We've tried, on two occassions, the following dishes: chicken curry, beef and chicken kebab, keema, lamb stew, hummus, lentil soup, basmati rice and yogurt shake. They all taste authentic! My only comments are their chicken kebab is dry and their hummus is bland in taste. While all the other dishes are reasonable, the basmati rice and lamb are quite pricey especially if one considers the ambiance of the place (half carinderia, half restaurant). But in fairness, all their waitresses speak english (a necessity since a number of their customers look foreign).

Fourth, we've tried another Kebab resto- Persian Kebab (?), the smaller kebab joint along West Ave near Mushroom Burger and Ersao. We ordered the usual - keema, chicken and beef kebab, hummus, pita breads, yogurt. The taste of their food is comparable to Mister Kabab, as well as the price. Their hummus, however, is a disappointment. (I still vote for the hummus of Grilled Tomato, hands-down.) AND, the biggest let-down for me about this resto were the waitresses. The waitresses need to improve on their people and PR skills. The waitress who attended to us kept on sniffing (singhot ng singhot!!), I was on the verge of telling her to pleeeasse get a tissue and blow her nose! But when I was about to, I saw how frail her body was and how oblivious she was as regards my O.C.ness. I had to control myself from embarassing her (but I made sure that she didn't touch our food!!).

Number five kebab joint we've tried was a newly opened Al Fahkr's kebab house along Maginhawa St. at Teachers' Village, QC (in front of Holy Family School). This joint was a total-total-total disaster. We are usually forgiving of restos in their soft openings, but this resto needs to put their house in order, otherwise it will loose its customers. Our orders were very simple - kebab, keema, pita bread, and yogurt shake. The keema came first, but we had to wait for about 5 mins more before the 1st pita bread came. Then another 10 mins for the kebab to come. And another 10 mins for the other pita bread to come. And it took another 10 mins for the 3rd pita bread to come. The food is already cold when the pita breads arrived. There were 4 people attending to customers in the small joint (that has about 8-9 tables). At the time we were there, there were 6 tables occupied including ours. The problem is that all these 4 resto-attendants were all over the place. The one in charge of grilling the pita is also serving costumers, getting orders, and getting payments from tables! The other attendee/ waiter went upstairs and never returned. The other guy who was grilling the kebabs relaxes when there's nothing else to grill. Meantime, customers were upset since their food were not coming. They obviously don't have teamwork. Worst, their price is not commensurate with their servings - imagine a single beef kebab that measures about 2.5 to 3 inches costs P50 pesos. Men, that's small!!

Finally, the Khas Food House at UP Diliman (beside the swimming pool and near the UP Chapel) is the last to cap our kebab-round. The resto offers authentic Persian food, and is open from morning til midnight! The menu offers meat (all halal) and vegetarian dishes. Apart for the medditerannean roster of dishes, they also have 'traditional' types for those weak at heart and afraid to taste new dishes (e.g. pancit canton, sauteed veggies). Of course we had to try the 'usuals' - kebab, keema, pita, yogurt shake, hummus. Except for the hummus that still falls short from my standard (Grilled Tomato's), every dish here are tingling our palates in exactly the right places. Best thing? The price is very reasonable.

Conclusion: Grilled Tomato and Khas Food House are my faves in terms of good taste and value for money! SSC is a runner up. Mister Kabab is ok but too crowded.

(Just to set the records straight - our tour of kebab-restos happened over a period of months.)

Did we get tired in tasting kebabs and keemas and pita breads .... hell, no! In fact, I can't wait to do round 2! Que barbaridad, I love Kebabs!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Geof's Lego River & Ferry Boats

In our recent blog post, Geoffrey created his own Lego cruise ship. This time he created his own design of a river boat and a ferry boat. It took him three days to build the river boat. He first started with the paddle wheel and then he built the three story boat afterwards. It was really awesome to see him build his own boat without any sketches. What is amazing is his designs usually have symmetry - in colors and the size of the blocks. Before starting with a Lego project, he derives inspiration from images and videos from the internet usually YouTube. Then he builds his Lego creations from memory or imagination.

Geof also created a Ferry Boat which he named the MS Voyager. You will also see his car creations. Watch the video below.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jay-J's: More than Inasal

We didn't pay much attention to this eatery before since we thought it was just another "inasal" house. When they opened a branch near our place, we decided to check it out.

To our surprise, Jay-J's Inasal offers more than inasal - in its menu, you'll find some traditional Filipino dishes prepared with a twist, like the "two-way adobo" that combines the crispy adobo flakes with the traditional adobo (complete with all the garlicky-sauce); or an "all veggie kare-kare." Most of the dish, however, are traditional preparations.

The dishes are done extremely well. Thus far, we've tried batchoy, crispy lechon kawali, crispy hito, laing, and of course the chicken inasal - and they all taste really good. Their green mango shake and ripe mango shake are also thick and rich. They also have the "ice-tea tower" that serves 5 to 6 people. We are very satisfied with the taste as well as the price. Recommendation: Must-try!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Geof's Lego Cruise Ship - The R.M.S. Romania

Using the different Lego blocks that were collected through the years, Geoffrey created cruise ships using Lego blocks. We posted earlier his first Lego ship but Geof made some revisions. So here is the revised version of his Lego ship which he named R.M.S. Romania. Geof describes his ship below:

"I had a few attemps to make a Lego cruise ship and I finally made it. I named it the R.M.S. Romania. The ship has 6 rooms, a deck cafe, swimming pool, a tanning station,a bathroom,a shower room and 4 life boats with a total capacity of 14 Lego people. It also has a detailed bridge and a cinema. You can see that this is 2nd class."

You can view the other creations using Lego (and also Megbloks) of Geoffrey and Julia in a earlier blog post. Give your kids Lego or MegaBloks - your kids will develop their patience, creativity and imagination.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Things to Know and Do - Influenza A(H1N1) Virus

Living the Good Life means staying Healthy especially now when the Influenza A(H1N1) virus is affecting the health of many people. A primer about things to know and things to do regarding the Influenza A (H1N1) virus can be obtained from the United Nations Staff Pandemic Portal. Here are some basic information you will learn from the primer:

• They spread through infected droplets from breathing passages.
• Droplets are expelled by talking, spitting, coughing, sneezing.
• The droplets spread about 1 meter (3 feet) from the infected person, either directly to other people or indirectly through hands and other surfaces.
• The viruses can live for several hours on hard surfaces, or on cloth and paper.
• If healthy people touch infected hands, doorknobs, keyboards, telephones, etc., they can infect themselves by touching mouths, noses or eyes.
• Sometimes the viruses can spread through the air.
• An infected person is most likely to spread the virus when he or she has fever and a cough.
• It is possible that an infected person will spread the virus a day before showing signs of illness.

Learn the differences between influenza symptoms and those of a common cold. According to the primer, unlike the common cold, you get headaches and high fever, feel body aches, extreme exhuastion, fatigue and weakness in an influenza A(H1N1) flu.
Seasonal Influenza:
• Fever
• Headache
• Aching muscles
• Exhaustion and feeling weak
• Loss of appetite
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Dry cough
Pandemic Influenza:
While the first symptoms of pandemic influenza might be similar to seasonal flu symptoms, how the symptoms develop will depend on the nature of the specific virus. It is likely that most people will recover without needing medical attention, but the following symptoms may help you decide if you need to seek medical help:
• Shortness of breath while resting or doing very little work
• Persistent fever for 4 or 5 days
• Painful or difficult breathing
• Coughing up a lot of phlegm or bloody sputum
• Wheezing
• You are feeling better and then you develop a new fever or worsening cough with sputum
• You feel very drowsy and others have difficulty waking you up or note you seem confused or disorientated

First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus and avoid close contact with people who are sick.