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Location: Chicago, United States

I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.

Monday, February 05, 2007

THE RETURN OF ME AND MYSELF

Dear Auntie Pattie Koh,

I have returned. I was gone for nearly a month and I had a good time. Too bad my wife was not with me because her U.S. passport took some time to be released because of the new provisions that was placed in the passport itself.

Well, I am back and reinvigorated from my trip. I was in the Philippines for three weeks and spent good time relaxing and enjoying my stay there with my ailing parents and the rest of my siblings.

I ate and ate until I was already about to fall on the ground. Such horrible attitude frome.... but I know you will understand me being away from home and wanting to taste the different cooking and visit the different restaurants back home.

Here are some of the places that I have tried:

1. The Penthouse at VIVERE.
One can enjoy the panoramic view of the entire surrounding areas, including the entire complex of Fiesta Mall and the entire Ayala Alabang area, and the Laguna de Bay. It was more romantic at night, when all the lights are flickeing at the Laguna de Bay area. The food is International flavor and ecclectic. The ambiance is very good and the place was well appointed in decors and settings.

2. Hotel Sofitel (formerly The Westin Hotel)
Newly opened Sofitel Hotel along the shoreline of Manila Bay is a sight to be with and to enjoy the cozy atmosphere. We had dinner at their buffet restaurant, the SPIRAL. It was an international flavor restaurant at the lower level of the hotel. I was amazed with the assortment of food on the table, especially the seafood cauldron that has the catch of the day (Curatcha,Prawns,Mussels,Crab legs,Oysters)Then there is the Filipiniana atmosphere Barbeque grill place with live performances of folk dances and music along the bay walk of the hotel. They have a casino inside the hotel also.

3. The Palms Country Club
The place has three major restaurants to choose from and it is very cozy. I fell in love with their Japanese restaurant and their continental restaurant were we had our family private dinner the Sapphire room. The food is excellent with nice presentation. I love their bread and the appetizer bar.

4. Via Mare Greenbelt Park
Just love this place. Owned by Glenda Baretto. They have the best Bisque de Mediterrnae and the Crab in Mango Pao is so excellent, not to mention Prawns Isabela. It is very quiet and the setting is still the same. The appointment of the plants and the furnishings is really very good.

5. Alfredo's Steak House
An institution along Tomas Morato in Quezon city. Owned by Alfredo Araneta(deceased) and is now being run and operated by his wife Milagros Araneta. Manang Mitos was married to my brother in law, who also died of heart attack, so was a widow twice. Surprisingly, still good food and service but surprisingly, majority of the clienteles are chinese. I love their Manggo Macarova for dessert.

6. Serye at Fiesta Mall Alabang
Also part of an institution, Serye is part of the Reyes family restaurant Aristocrat. SERYE is the reverse of the last name REYES. Aside from their regular house order barbecue chicken with Java rice and other pinoy cuisine, I was amazed with their BoneLess Crispy Pata. It was so good and if one is not careful, this can kill you also of cholesterol. The place is very affordable and family type.

I also visited and tried some of the Mall restaurant like:

SHOW MY PAO
Movie goers carryout siopaos and other chinese dimsum.

GOODAHH
All night breakfast place for TAPSILOG (Tapa,Sinangag $ Itlog),LONGALOG (Longaniza at Itlog with rice), PAKAPLOG (Pandesal, Kape and Itlog) KAPLOG (Kape at Itlog) and of course they also have lumpia Shanghai.

RAI RAI KEN
Ramen House with sushi that is very affordable.

BODHI BODHI
Vegetarian and Indian cuisine in very austere serving.

POLDING'S BINALOT EXPRESS
Meals in dahon ng saging and brown paper. One can order rice with tapa, longaniza, sisig, daing na bangus as topping and there is freshly cut tomatoes and salted egg with each order. Then the entire thing is wrapped in banana leaves and wrapped again in brown paper then placed in a brown bag.

KUM PARES
Pinoy cuisine fastfood style. I like their crispy hipon.

ODD BALLS
These are deep friend fish balls, Kikiam Balls, Squid Balls, Shrimp balls, Lobster Balls and it goes with their sawsawan (dip), spicy or mild. All on a bamboo skewer.

DR. KWEK KWEK
Egg Specialist, cooking a one day old chick in a batter then serve with the dip. I almost threw up when I saw the feet of the chich raised up and deep fried.

SPICE OF THE EARTH
All Malay cooking and very affordabel with the touch of pinoy presentation.

KUYA
Pinoy cooking and Ihaw Ihaw.

KAINAN NI KEKENG
Fastfood style eatery with all the jeepney driver and bus driver and pedicab drivers. But the simplicity of the food makes it good and very affordable.

KUTONG LUPA
Exotic Pinoy cuisine that I did not venture to try. Please forgive me, I am not yet that brave to venture into the unknown.

ASIONG ASADO
Pinoy cooking with chinese flavor

MANG DONALD
Lugaw, Tapa and all Pinoy short orders.

Of course there were lots of dessert places to choose from and snack places. I ventured into places that is very native and more appealing to the Pinly taste buds, like:

EMPANADA NG TAGA VIGAN
Empanada being cooked infront of the patron with Sukang Iloco as their dip with garlic. Dont forget their Okoy, very superb.

KAKANING PINOY
All types of rice cakes in their heavy coconut milk and coconut oil toppings witb freshly grated coconut serve in fresh banana leaves.

DIZON'S
Merienda of Lumpiang Ubod, Palabok, Dinuguan at Puto and their Halo Halo.

SANDOSENANG HALO
Halo Halo sweets with 12 flavors to choose from.

CHOW KING
I love the merienda of Guisadong Miki Bihon. I will come back for it.

And so, Auntie Pattie Koh, when I returned back to the states, I have gained much. I won't tell you. I had fun and I attended the Ati Atihan in Aklan, then we went to Boracay. My kid brother from New Jersey came home also because he was the alternate drummer for the rock group HOTDOGS that performed at the stadium in Aklan.

I will return back again this 17 February to Manila, then my wife and I will proceed to Hongkong and then to Macau then return back to Hongkong for our final trip to Chicago on the 2nd of March.

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