Friday, June 21, 2013

The Villa Pilipino Restaurant: a new Thai-Filipino restaurant for the masses

When owner Mr. Nelson David decided to come home from abroad, he wanted to bring home with him the taste his customers abroad love to experience again and again from the food prepared in his restaurant in Saudi Arabia. A person who is very particular with his food, he learned from his exposure to different cultures while abroad and for 20 years, his menu just keeps getting better and better incorporating Filipino taste with Asian cuisine influences particularly Thai. His loyal patrons then included non-Filipinos, prominent personalities in Saudi and Cebuano friends.

The Villa Pilipino restaurant (named after the "villas" or apartments which are plenty in Saudi Arabia) is the product of Mr. David's wish to have a Thai-Filipino restaurant na "pangmasa"; to let the Filipino masses dine and taste Thai food as if it is just Filipino food --- affordable and prepared in such as manner to suit a Filipino's taste. He noticed that some customers sometimes are hesitant to enter Thai restaurants because they perceive it to be expensive. Mr. David does not want any of that. The food choices in the Villa are usually priced at 120 PHP (good for 2) or 240 PHP (good for around 5). And he added that you can have the dish made to suit your taste by instructing the staff, for example, to make your dish "medium hot" or "really hot".
Mr. David (standing) with the author and his wife

The Villa Pilipino restaurant in Cebu is the first of many planned by Mr. David. It is flattering to note that he selected Cebu as the first venue for his restaurant in the country, choosing it over his home province in Luzon. And in the process of putting up his restaurant, he is giving hope and helping fresh graduates start their journey.

Why offer Thai food? "Kasi laging fresh", explaining that Thai food is always prepared fresh and therefore less likely to become spoiled as compared to food prepared early in the morning and served at a later time observed in some food establishments. "Kahit konti lang, mabubusog ka at may lasa talaga", he added. But he also elaborated that his Thai food choices are made taking note of Filipino taste preferences. Yours truly with my wife decided to try his Tom Yung Goon (Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup with Lemon Grass) and experienced what he meant by his food being Thai-Filipino.

Tom Yung Goon, medium hot
As you can see in the pic, he was generous in using herbs and spices making sure the soup is full of flavor. It may not appear as rich red in the picture but we did not have the feel that it is diluted. I could say it is a nice mix of mostly Thai flavor with a Filipino touch indeed at an affordable price of 120 PHP.

Another dish ordered by my wife is Stir Fried Chicken in Oyster Sauce also at 120 PHP. It was yummy.
Stir fried chicken in Oyster Sauce
The dish was made of mushrooms, carrots, chicken bits, corn and oyster sauce just made right with some nuts. Not bad! And the food was paired with what Mr. David calls "Cebu Champagne", a drink made to taste like champagne without the alcohol content which he specially formulated to provide an alternative to softdrinks, ice teas and alcoholic beverage.

"Cebu Champagne" with mint leaves and some other fruit bits
In the menu, there are many choices including Filipino favorites like sinigang. I think there's also some Chinese food selections. Looking at the menu, I think I will come back to try the other selections.

Though the owner wants to target the masses, the restaurant is airconditioned and has a neat, elegant look with two floor levels and two separate comfort rooms (one for males and one for females). The plan is also to have wifi access in the near future.

Should you also want to try this new resto, The Villa Pilipino Restaurant Cebu I is located in General Maxilom Avenue across Robinsons Fuente in between Mercury Drug Fuente Osmena and BPI Gen. Maxilom or Mango Avenue branch, Cebu City. It just opened this week.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Merilla's Resto Buffet every Friday

Just near Cebu Doctors' University Hospital, in Avon Building before reaching the capitol, there is a restaurant that offers a varied selection of food with a nice, cool home ambiance and music. It opened last year and has been holding baptism celebrations, company parties and family reunions with about 70 persons capacity along with lunch budget meal sets for officemates and students.(They used to be in Arlington Pond St., so Velezians may be familiar with their food).

This time they are bringing back their Ultimate Buffet every Friday with their topseller pork ribs as one among the constant food items offered. The buffet is worth 230 PHP and consists of not just a few choices. Let me show you what they offered last Friday, their first.

Chicken Bulgogi and another chicken dish

Bestseller ribs with pineapple

chop suey

Apple juice

Merillas cooler which I liked best

So if you are in the vicinity, why not try their buffet?

If you are in Osmena Boulevard, Merilla's is located near the Strip at the Ground Floor of Avon Building. You have to go the back to see it. For those riding the Guadalupe jeepney, it can be seen as you pass by Don Gil Garcia Street, the street next to Osmena Boulevard.

Visit their Facebook page for more details including the map location which is their cover pic.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How Tableya (Native Chocolate) is Traditionally Made

One summer in Argao, I saw some parts of the process of making tableya. During the Gabii sa Kabilin 2013, I was lucky to witness a demonstration of the process of making tableya traditionally.

The photo below shows the plant source.

The Cacao Plant with the fruit below
When the cacao fruit ripens, you have them roasted.

Roasted cacao to be put on the grinder
The roasted cacao is placed in the grinder and the grinder expresses a chocolate colored product which is then molded into round finished products.

The grinding process expressing the tableya

The expressed product
The mold
The final product is the round tableya you see packaged in plastic. You can now make your favorite champorado or tsokolate which you may pair with puto maya.