Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sigekiya Ramen:a unique taste of Japan in one bowl

Authentic Japanese ramen has been an elusive concept to my mind. With all the commercialized offers of this noodle dish in the market promising to be the best and the most unique, I truly don't know which is the most superior. On the other hand, Sigekiya Ramen promises a special brand of ramen that will surely remain unforgettable to the palate. 

The term Sigekiya indirectly means "something spicy". According to the owner, this name correlates to their ramen which has the option to be served according to the degree of spiciness the customer prefers, particularly ranging from level 0 to level 100+. 

Sigekiya is actually a noodle house that started in Japan. The owner, a Filipino expat in Japan, fell in love with the ramen after trying it out. It came to a point when he had the ramen for 2 times a week. Upon his return, he immediately started this place as a business franchise. The franchise came from Yokohama, Japan, a city 40 minutes away from Tokyo with dining traditions similar to that of the capital's. According to him, the alcohol, condiments, and sauces are all imported; while the meat, noodles, rice, and vegetables are composed of fresh local ingredients. The interiors, on the other hand, can seat about 30 people, and it mimics a typical Japanese ramen place complete with a bar. 

Sigekiya's ramen comes in two major variants. One is the Sigekiya ramen, which as said earlier, can be customized when it comes to the spiciness level. It has thick noodles akin to Chinese chami noodles used in lomi, a few thick slices of chasu or grilled pork, bamboo shoots, nori, and fresh leeks. Its main selling point though, is the special broth that deviates from the typical watery noodle soup made out of pork bone broth. This is instead, a thick dark soup with special secret ingredients especially made by the Japanese franchisors. As said earlier, its spiciness level can be customized from level 0 to level 100+.

Being adventurous, I had this signature dish at spiciness level 15. I must say that the broth is top notch. The thickness and consistency brimmed with that special flavor. Furthermore the thick slices of chasu, chopped to perfection, added to that stocky taste. As for the noodles, I had a bit of difficulty picking it with chopsticks due to its slippery and thick texture. But nonetheless, the taste was pretty satisfactory. I just hope that the noodles would be a bit thinner so as not to be too overwhelming. Bamboo shoots and nori were pretty excellent accompaniments to the already rich taste. The special Japanese chili spice powder took the cake. It was easy on the throat in large quantities, unlike the Sichuanese chili oil I have become fond of. Furthermore, the spice was pretty easy to take in large quantities. Some people have eaten the ramen at spice level 100+. At Php 360 per dish, it was pretty reasonable to the pocket as well as the palate.

On the other hand, the Tsukemen is a unique noodle dish that requires the customer to dip cold noodles into the hot fish broth topped with fish powder. While it takes longer to serve, the dish offers one a unique dining experience. The dish is 360 Php for a regular size as well. 

Their best selling side dishes usually include their tempura, gyoza, okonomiyaki, and Chicken karaage. While the gyoza reminded me of Xiao Long Bao, I found the former easier to pick up and eat. The dumpling was not overflowing with soup; and the dish was easy on the palate. It can be mixed together with vinegar and soy sauce plus a little chili for that tangy taste. A 5 piece variant goes for Php 130. Not bad for a signature snack. The oknomiyaki, otherwise known as a Japanese pancake, is a side dish that is topped with fish flakes and consists of a pan heated crust with cabbage and special filling. I'm not an expert on this dish but I'd say it's pretty decent and might go well with something sweet. A small pan goes for Php 150. 

The meal was ended with complimentary frozen jelly. While the place doesn't serve any dessert, I'd say that the jelly was enough to finish the melange of rich flavors and tastes that I've experienced at this session. I'd truly want to experience more of their flavors someday.

Sigekiya Ramen is located at 1/F Commercenter Mall, Commerce Drive, Filinvest, Alabang. You can visit their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SigekiyaRamenPH/

The story in pictures:

The gyoza set

The complimentary frozen jelly

The Sigekiya emblem

Okonomiyaki at Php 150

The Signature Sigekiya Ramen at Php 360.

The clean, Japanese-inspired interiors

The Sigekiya ramen that reminds me of lomi, but with taste that is light-years more flavorful

The menu

The special chili pepper sourced from Japan

Chicken Karaage at Php 180 per serving

Me trying out the gyoza

The Tsukemen meal

Ebi Tempura at Php 290 for 5 pieces.

Tsukemen soup with fish bits on top

The kitchen area

The all-Japan sourced condiments

The signature Sigekiya ramen before being mixed.

Sigekiya Ramen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Warmup at CrossfitMNL Alabang

2 weeks ago, Ms. Jennifer Rabe invited me to bloggers' trial at CrossfitMNL Alabang. Since I have been exposed to the discipline a long time ago, I gave it a shot since my work prospects included a transfer to the south. 

Crossfit was a fitness system that was conceptualized in 2002 by Greg Glassman and has since branched out to hundreds of countries worldwide. A gym is usually called a box where people learn the discipline in group classes. The system has its own unique terms for its activities. Exercises are not repeated every session. Instead, participants are given different sets of exercises for every meeting. A usual session lasts form 45 minutes to one hour, perfect for those who have cramped schedules. Also, a typical session is divided into three phases. The first is the warm up routine, while the second and third sets are usually composed of various strength and conditioning exercises that will surely test a person's limits and improve his well-being in general.

I found the system very educational and quite addictive as well. During my previous experience, I learned a lot about the proper forms of exercise routines and the right amount of reps for each routine. I also made a lot of new friends and acquaintances from there.

CFMNL is the official Crossfit brand that opened here in the Philippines. It has branches in Quezon Ave, Commonwealth, the Fort, Alabang, Makati, among others. It has been in operation for more than 5 years. The Alabang box is quite spacious, with a capacity more more than 30 people at any given time. Their facilities include dedicated comfort and shower rooms, a rope for climbing exercises, stationary bikes, free weights, barbells, dumbbells, steel bars, and kettlebells, They also have monkey bars for grab training. You can say that the gym is fully loaded. It is also fully airconditioned.

Upon entering, our trainer oriented us on the proper way of doing squats and basic warm up exercises. Our most intense part was the 200 meter run and the group exercise which consisted of 6 jumps, 3 squats, and a 10 m tag which left most of us exhausted. After the routine, we had a treat consisting of a paleo meal which was either composed of bacon with sweet potato and egg or a beef and veggies with rice meal.

CrossfitMNL's programs range from the bootcamp (beginner) and the Wod or Workout of the Day(advanced); and they have programs for 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months. They have classes from Monday to Saturday and an open gym on Sunday. 

Truly, Crossfit is a good start for those who want to make themselves, better, faster and stronger in a shorter amount of time. 

CFMNL's gym is located at the La Fuerza Compound, Alabang, in front of Wilcon Builders. You can check out their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/CrossFitMNLSouth/?fref=ts

The coach explaining the fundamentals of crossfit.

The well-equipped gym

The bloggers who had the experience

A crossfit water jug

Chef Rob Lau's Party Toques Sampler: a taste of Fine Dining packed into party trays.

Chef Rob and Chef Mike have been close business partners who mastered the art of making ready to go meals in Gourmade. With Party Toques, however, the two have entered a wildly different ball game: party trays! Their vision is to create a fine dining approach to food orders that can cater from 6 to 12 people per tray at very affordable prices averaging about Php 1000 per order. It is actually pretty cheap given the number of people each dish claims to serve. 

The food tasting event held in their commisary in Ortigas through a small gathering of bloggers. Chef Rob and Chef Mike delightfully hosted and entertained us with their excellent culinary vision. The event was complete with a fine dining set up and prime Australian Red Wine perfect for the occasion.

To start off, we were shown the entire viand set composed of The Party Toques Sushi Platter (Php 850 for 4-6 pax and Php 1110 for 8 to 12 pax), the Chicken Biryani (Php 1240 for 8 to 10 pax), the Persian Beef Kebab at (Php 1100 for 4-6 pax and Php 1600 for 8 to 10 pax), the Miso baked Salmon with Eggplant at (Php 1595 for 8 to 10 pax), the Valencia Roasted Chicken with Paella Rice for (Php 1100 for 8 to 10 pax), and the Thai Pork Glass Noodle at Php 1180 for 8 to 10 pax. They also served their experimental Squid Ink bread with a Seafood Mayo filling.

I particularly enjoyed the Persian beef Kebab for its bold flavors comprising of excellently grilled ground beef chunks topped with crispy pita bread, grilled tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, and their special yogurt sauce. This dish, from the smell alone, is truly high quality. The aroma is combined with a taste that screams genuine Mediterranean! The beef was well done and mixes well with a thick helping of the yogurt sauce.

My second best favorite would be the Valencia Roasted Chicken which is a slow roasted whole chicken dish topped with oven baked paella in authentic Spanish style. The chicken is roasted for three hours in order to become very tender. It is, in fact, so tender that a single bite can easily melt the sumptuous meat in your mouth. However, the majority of the flavor was with the slow cooked paella topped with limes, seafood, and peas. It was pretty rich. I'd truly come back for this dish alone, since it's already a complete meal in itself.

My third favorite was the Miso Baked Salmon in Eggplant. This dish is a baked half kilo of Norweigian salmon cooked to perfection. It is topped with fried eggplant for that edgy taste. I like the fact that the salmon was fresh and not dry. Also the fact that the meat was tender and pretty sweet. This dish is perfect for pescetarians and those with diet restrictions.

My honorable mentions would be the other three. The chicken biryani, albeit a bit too spicy, satisfied my palate. The stir fried chicken complemented the long grain biryani rice in ways I have never imagined. The rich yellow color of the rice was also pretty notable. I also like the fact that they used a tasty concoction of herbs for that variegated taste.

The Thai Glass Noodles and the Sushi Platter were great appetizers. I especially liked the Glass Noodles (usually used in chapche and made of green beans) for their texture and consistency. The pork toppings were also very flavorful. As for their Sushi, its unique blend of Pinoy Longanisa and other meaty delicacies are substituted for the typical sashimi and crab meat fillings.

Their desserts were composed of a variety of colors and flavors, much like their viand selections. While it wasn't part of the menu yet, we had a taste of things to come. I first tried the red velvet and banana hazelnut cupcakes. These are pretty tasty flavors, although the hazelnut tasted more like mocha. The red velvet was pretty decent too. Their other unique dishes were the mango and black sesame serradura. According to the chefs, the serradura was inspired from Macanese cuisine. They added their own elements such as the mango and the black sesame from the original cream and graham crumb dessert. It felt and tasted like pudding, actually. The sesame was a bit bitter. According to them, the bitter taste was intended to substitute the dessert for coffee. The matcha cake was more preferrable. The bitter taste was mellowed down and complemented with broas for the crust. The mix was pretty excellent and unexpected. Lastly, the oreo graham cake topped the list of desserts. The generously topped cake had layers upon layers of crushed oreos and cream. Surprisingly, the chefs tempered the taste and made it not to sweet.

The experience was truly filling and sumptuous. I'd certainly come back for more!

You can visit their FB Page at https://www.facebook.com/Gourmade-by-Chef-Rob-Lau-903111703091310/ while the Party Toques FB Page is undergoing construction.

The story in pictures:

A wide array of sumptuous dishes awaited us

The Thai Pork Glass noodles with the Paella Rice Topped with Kropeck

The Chicken Biryani Rice on the side of the other sumptuous dishes.

The Party Toques Sushi Platter and the Persian Beef Kebab

The Valencia Roasted Chicken with Paella Rice

The Miso Baked Salmon with Eggplant

The dessert tray

Chef Mike, Chef Rob, and Chef Diane, the visionaries who prepared the sumptuous feast

Aya Laraya's 4th Talk by Sunlife: The Relevance of Insurance to a Person's Estate

Once again, I was invited by Mr. Arnel Bautista to the Sunlife personal finance series, which by the way is nearing its end. At this time though, we talked about the complexities of the consequences of death, particularly when it comes to finances and the estate. While it sounded pretty depressing, the topic was something Filipinos needed to know and discuss in detail to facilitate money matters related to this stage of human life.

According to Mr. Laraya of Pesos and Sense.com, a person transmits properties upon his death. Usually families would quarrel and bicker on how to distribute the properties if there is no clear plan in doing so. We see families torn apart from the lack of foresight and planning that could have made things smoother for the estate. Hence, he emphasized the need to start early and plan ahead. Since a person has about a Php 13 million estate that can be exempted from estate tax, steps can be taken to ensure that the heirs of a deceased can maximize the amount and extent of properties that can be passed to them while minimizing tax liability. The speaker also recommended commencing legal acts and formalities to transfer the estate as opposed to illegal ones. He argued that the risk from resorting to tax evasion will only serve to increase tax liabilities in the form of surcharges and penalties.

Enter the need for insurance. I've always thought that Insurance was relevant only for healthcare needs and unexpected contingencies. At this seminar, I found that insurance can also be used to leverage the liquidity of an estate. According to the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code, life insurance, if the estate is the beneficiary, is exempt from estate tax. The speaker posited that insurance may actually be used to pay for the taxes incurred by the estate while serving the dual function of indemnifying the heirs. Talk about being multipurpose! Furthermore, life insurance can easily be claimed provided that the beneficiaries present the certificate of full payment. Compare this to the illiquidity of bank accounts (provided under the law) pending the settlement of the estate. With life insurance, you can have the cash needed to advance the costs.

With these precepts in mind, there should be no need to resort to extralegal methods to achieve the purposes of tax avoidance. The beneficiaries can be rest assured that insurance will facilitate the distribution of properties.

Special thanks to Mr. Arnel Bautista and Sunlife Philippines Inc. for the invite.

The story in photos:

An inexpensive and tasty treat from Filipino Cuisine: Boy Kanin at the AFFI Expo.

Just 2 weeks ago, Ms. Sol of Certified Bloggers invited me to try out one of the newest contenders in Filipino fast food cuisine called Boy Kanin. Since this food venture had a booth in the AFFI or Alliance of Filipino Franchisers Inc. annual convention at the World Trade Center, Pasay City, we had the opportunity to taste the wonders of this franchise and take a peek at the booths of other franchisers as well.

According to Sir Peter, Boy Kanin has been in the business for less than 10 years yet their franchise has already grown to 33 food stalls scattered across Metro Manila and a small sized restaurant located at Silang, Cavite. The owners wish to expand the business by offering the franchise at the cheapest rate of 249,000 Php complete with 10k Php of food stocks, a custom made cart, a refrigerator, and other business equipment. The small sized restaurant is at Php 500k plus.

As for the delicacies of Boy Kanin, the fresh opener was their signature cold salabat. At Php 20 for a 16 oz cup, this drink is the best of both worlds. It combined the soothing taste of fresh ginger with the coolness of iced tea for a unique experience. Not to mention that it was also beneficial to the throat too. The drink is sourced from the Aetas as a form of social enterprise to help the latter get jobs and livelihood.

The viand I tried was the brand new dish called the Pinoy Burrito. At 59, this inexpensive snack is a toasted burrito composed of native rice, a cheese wedge, excellently grilled beef chunks with a sweet cheese sauce. The pita wrapper was pretty tasty as well. I'd say that the dish was truly something that you get for your money, while being ambitious in its mixture of tastes. I'd love to eat more than one of that meal.

Other meals include the Boysilog which is their variation of tapsilog and the Boy Sarsa at Php 55. These meals are truly made for those who want quick, cheap, and inexpensive Filipino fare for those who crave the cuisine.

I surely hope Boy Kanin will get much more acclaim for its simple dishes that can satisfy the Filipino palate.

For inquiries about franchising, you may call Mr. Peter Sumile at 09238474649.

The story in pictures:

The cool and soothing salabat

A typical Boy Kanin stall for Php 249,000.

The new Pinoy Burrito

At Php 59.

Note the double cheese filling

Their acknowledgement of a Higher Power

Boy Kanin is accepting franchisees!

Boy Kanin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 14, 2016

7 Flavors: Chef Boy Logro's buffet restaurant in Greenhills.

Aldous Calubad once again invited me to a food event. This time, the restaurant was 7 flavors in Greenhills. The venue is owned by celebrity Chef Boy Logro, a veteran in the dining industry. To date, this is his second restaurant. The term 7 flavors is used to refer to the seven flavors used in tasting and cooking food, notably umami. The food is served buffet style, with favorites from different Asian cuisines used as viands in the table. The buffet is offered for Php 500 for lunch and Php 600 for dinner, including drinks and dessert. We went there for dinner.

The pictures below show my experience in the restaurant. 

The viand selection included:

The chicken mole had this thick sauce that accentuated the meaty flavor.

While I wasn't a fan of salmon head, I enjoyed the mushrooms that came along with it.

I'm not a fan of tofu, but I tried it out. It was pretty decent.

As a meat eater, I can say that the dish catered to my preferences. The sauce was a bit too sour though.

The kare-kare was fine. Nothing too special.

This mix of seafood was pretty decent. I like the spicy sauce that came with it.

The vegetables were a bit dry. However, these were still pretty tasty.

The make your own taco selection. I personally loved this part. The ingredients, particularly the beef, were pretty flavorful. The tacos reminded me of the ones I used to buy when I was younger.

The salad bar. The vegetables were served fresh.

The lechon macau and pusit were the dishes I enjoyed the most.

The house staple is carved roast beef. The beef is quite remarkable with hot gravy. 

Ah lots of sushi!

The dessert area had filipino favorites such as bibingka, suman, and puto. I personally liked the cookies and the ice cream. 

7 Flavors is located at 196 A. Mabini, San Juan, Philippines.

Photos courtesy of aldousatetheworld.com
7Flavors Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato