Saturday, August 02, 2014

Ukkokei Ramen Ron

I've heard about this restaurant for YEARS.  My friend, Kath is such a fan of this place and would always tell me to try it out!  I've been meaning to try it out, but the times that we've tried - the place was either closed or there were no available parking spaces.

I think Ukkokei belongs to the earliest and first ever wave of the ramen places here in Manila - because even before (I mean ages before) the ramen craze, they were already open.  I was told that this was the place to go for your authentic Japanese ramen fix - and its too bad that it was in Makati because I live on the opposite side of the city!  It was always been a dream to eat there - and it still has remained one.

But just this Monday night, since it was a holiday the next day - we decided to have dinner there to celebrate my mom's salubong (Chinese) birthday.  I was really really excited, Kath repeatedly told me to get the Tan Tan Mien.  So it was the first thing we ordered.  While waiting for our orders to arrive - I was looking at the restaurant.  It looked really simple, the interiors were just ordinary.  There were tables on one side of the restaurant and there were Japanese booth on the other.  I liked that their female staff is very attentive, they would say 'Hai!' whenever you called their attention.  I think I was testing their patience because every so often, I would call their attention to order something.  I didn't give out all the orders at once - we kept on adding and adding (much to our confusion) but mind you, all the orders were spot on.  Except for one - the Shio Ramen for Kailee that arrived really late so I gave it to the Yayas instead to share (on top of their Karaage Chicken and Rice dish)

Anyways, here is the Tan Tan Mien:

It looked really scary as I was not very fond of the tan tan kind, but I had to give it a try since Kath was raving about this and I was curious too as this dish was only available during dinner time and it was for a limited number of bowls per night.

My GOSH - what I tasted was indescribable.  It was really really really GOOD!  I swear, for a moment there I forgot my favorites!  My tastebuds were treated to a delightful mix of the wonderfully made broth, and a kick in spice.  I couldn't stop drinking the broth and momentarily forgot that it was steaming hot!  This is the BEST tasting ramen that I have ever tried in Manila, the BEST!  Now I know why many friends say that Ukkokei still is on top of their charts.  Now, I understand.  Now I too, believe!!

We also tried the Curry Tan Tan and my gosh, it was the creamiest curry soup that I have tasted in my life and it sooooo reminded me of the ramens that I had in Japan!  Yes, I swear - I tasted the soup and it brought back memories of when I was in Japan.  That good, that good!

For a moment there, I forgot my favorites - as in literally forgot them!  I was thinking 'Why was so and so my favorite - THIS should be my favorite!'  Hahaha..  It was only after a while that I realized that for every ramen enthusiast, there will be a favorite.  There is really no ONE best that can suit everyone's taste.

I would like to clarify - that my favorite is still ICHIRAN Ramen.  But Ukkokei's Tan Tan Men is really really good!!  The soups is rich and the power of the flavor is unmatched - if you compare it to other ramens.

I would brave traffic just to have this ramen.  I swear, it is that good!

Ukkokei Ramen Ron
Pasay Road, Makati

Monday, July 28, 2014

Auntie Cata's Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Auntie Cata is one of my mom's BFFs and she cooks very well.  I still super remember her Java rice and her salmon dish as if I just ate it yesterday,even if it was years ago that I had them! I confess that there were a few instances that I instigated an invitation to have lunch with them (at their home) because I really loved her cooking.  (I don't think she will remember this!  Hahaha!)

Through the years, she would send us food which we welcomed with open arms.  Who would say no to good food right?  Then last week, when I came back from my Hong Kong trip - a pack of frozen Vietnamese Spring Rolls welcomed me!

My mom volunteered to cook it for us one lunch.  I knew it was going to be good since it came from Auntie Cata!  Auntie Cata is one who wouldn't scrimp on ingredients.  That is her trademark actually - that she will use only the finest ingredients to everything that she will make.  That's what I like about her cooking to be honest, because I know that what I will eat is of good quality and not one that has a lot of substitute.

The first thing that I noticed was the wrapping.  I know, but I'm sorry - it's OC in me that noticed that it was wrapped so beautifully and tightly.  Every piece is consistently neatly wrapped.  Wrapping is important for spring rolls because if you wrap it too loosely, well - the filling would come out while cooking!

Now, do you agree with me that the rolls are so very neatly wrapped?

There was a firm bite to the spring rolls.  It tells you one thing - that the spring roll is packed!  Dip it into the homemade sauce and it will make the spring roll more flavorful!  Its good as it is but the super sauce makes it more yummy!  Trust me!!  I also like the size of the spring rolls, its bite size perfect!

One pack has 21 pieces of Vietnamese Spring Rolls and they cost P250.00 a pack.  Not bad right?

For orders you may text or call the following numbers:

Auntie Cata can deliver orders of 2 packs or more to some areas in QC and Greenhills.  You may text her to inquire if you live in other areas.

Try it!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Disney's Frozen Plush Elsa & Anna dolls!!

We are definitely late bloomers.  I have to confess, when I saw that people were going gaga over Frozen.  I didn't want anything to do with it.  I thought that it was just another 'fairy tale' movie.  And I wanted my daughter not to have the damsel in distress attitude and so I skipped the whole Frozen craze.  But then one night (I think it was February), my Panget suddenly announced what we were to watch that night on TV.  He said we were going to watch 'Frozen'.  Darnit!  I told my Panget that I didn't want the 'princess' thing!  But we had no choice - the kids were glued on the TV.

After watching 'Frozen' I realized that I assumed wrong on the princess thing.  Disney was able to move past the damsel in 'distress I need a prince' thing and was able to make a wonderful story about sisters and their love for each other.  I now know why it was such a phenomenon!  

For the weeks and months that passed - it was a Frozen Fever for Kailee.  She wanted to watch the movie over and over again.  She wanted things that had Elsa & Anna on them.  One weekend, we went to a mall to buy Kailee a Frozen toy.  We went to all the toy stores and there was none!  There was no Frozen merchandise anywhere!  It was so weird!

While in Osaka we were also looking for Frozen stuff - and would you believe there was none?  Even in the Disney store in Shinsaibashi?  There was nothing with Frozen - as in nothing!  No Frozen merchandise.  So that trip, my Panget ended up in buying an Ariel doll for Kailee.

Last week, while in Hong Kong we were also looking for Frozen stuffs.  We saw a few but they were very expensive.  I saw this Elsa wig:

This Anna wig costs HKD199.00 !!  
Whoa?! Right?  But this was the last box on the shelf!  
As you can see the Dancing Olaf is priced at HKD279.90!  Expensive right?  

We were very disappointed because we really wanted to get something Frozen for Kailee.  And then I got a text from a friend Candy - she told me that there were plush (stuff toy like) Frozen dolls at the Disney Store in the airport!  She told me where to find them.  So we really went to the airport early - just to be able to spot them and I am very happy that we did!  Here they are:

I put the iPod beside it so you can see how big the plush dolls are.  We bought them at HKD258.00 (P1,500.00) each, so for a pair it costs HKD516.00 (P3,000.00).  It's quite expensive if you ask me, but then come to think of it - a Barbie doll costs at least P1,000.00 and these are huggable ones and are very soft!

So thankful that we have a pair of them!  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

Just a note, there are resellers of course.  I have a friend who is selling them at P4,000.00 for a pair (Elsa&Anna) I think the price is very reasonable already because these resellers took time out to buy them and bring them home.  Beats having to pay a plane ticket just to buy them right?  At least these ones are readily available.  In my personal opinion - an amount more than P4,000.00 should be considered expensive already.  What do you think?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Starbucks Card Anniversary Treat on August 7

Happy Anniversary to the Starbucks Card Philippines!

Can you believe that its been almost a year already?

As a treat to all of us Starbucks fanatics:

Here's all of the Starbucks Cards that was launched in the country.  Do you have all of them???

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Travel Diaries: Lost Hand Carry in Osaka & Lost Stroller in Hong Kong

Japan is truly an amazing place.

I am constantly in awe of their country, the sights, the cleanliness, the helpfulness and everything Japanese.

A few months ago, we went to Osaka.  As with every trip, I bring a trolley type hand carry for Kailee's things.  In it were jackets (since it was still cool during April-May) water, milk bottle, snacks, books, medicines and extra clothes.

When we arrived in Osaka - we decided immediately to visit Rinku Premium Outlets.  We decided on this because the area was nearest to the airport.  We didn't want to go back and forth - we felt that it was a waste of time.  So to kill the curiosity of the outlet - we hit it right after we landed.  The Japanese made everything convenient.  They had a shuttle bus that travelled to and from the Airport to Rinku Outlets.  Since my Panget, Kailee and I had 2 bags between us - I was in charge of Kailee's stroller (which she uses) and the hand carry.  Within 15 minutes we were at the Rinku Outlets.  So we dropped our luggages off at the lockers area and walked around to see what was available.

There were a LOT of shops actually - there was a Gap, Coach, New Balance, Nike, Adidas, a Lego store and more.  Click here for the complete listing of the brands available.  After an hour or so, we decided to go back to the hotel since it was getting late.  We didn't want to wait for it to get dark before heading to the hotel.  Since it was a foreign land - sunlight is our friend.  And so we walked - about 10 minutes to reach the train station.

Their train station is very organized - there were timetables to somehow know how long it will take for you to reach your intended destination.  I was told by friends that there were 2 trains to take to Namba - one is the Rapi:t and the Rapi:t Limited Express.  So I parked the stroller and my hand carry infront of the counter, told my Panget and my friend Selene to just stay there while I talk and ask which train to take.  So I asked the attendant which was the fastest way - and he mentioned the Limited Express but,  we had to wait for another 20 minutes for that particular train to arrive.  He suggested that we take the next available train - I forgot what kind of train it was, but it had more stops.  It would reach the same destination at almost the same time.  I asked my Panget and he said that he wanted to leae NOW - so I bought tickets to the train that was leaving soon.  That soon was in less than 5 minutes.  The attendant called my attention and told me to hurry along as we might be left by the train.  You know if Japan, time is very important.  So I hurried along, got the stroller and pushed it towards the turn style.  WE had to ride the elevator up because we were with our luggages.  We were right in the nick of time.  We found seats and sat on them, waited and relaxed for a bit.  There were no luggage racks so we had to man our luggages.  It was not until the 3rd or 4th stop that I realized that my hand carry was missing!  Dammit!

I realized too late.  What ran through my head was the lost Avent Tempo bottle that Badet traded off with me.  It was so useful for traveling.  All the rest of the items in the bag were replaceable.  I was sad - but it was my fault.  I forgot it!  I guess, I was too excited.  So when we reached the Namba Station - I tried my luck - I knew that the Japanese had a hard time speaking in English, but still I tried.  I went to an attendant and he lead me to a counter.  There I was able to converse with an English speaking attendant, I told him my concern - that I left my luggage at the Rinku Station I gave the description and the contents.  He told me to wait as he called the Rinku Station office.  And I think after 5-10 minutes of waiting (that seemed like an hour!) they found my bag!!  I was told that they could pick it up, but then I pushed the envelope - I asked them if they could bring it to Namba Station - to where I was staying.  After a few minutes, I was given the thumbs up sign - it meant that they will bring the hand carry to Namba Station - I was told to go back at 8-9 in the evening.  I sighed with relief!!

So there - I got my hand carry back.  Thanks to the wonderful honest Japanese people and their hospitality.  I was so thankful and grateful!  I was in disbelief!  Imagine if that happened here in Manila - it would have been really lost or stolen.

This act of kindness - really made me love Japan even more!  This made me realize that there are still GOOD and HONEST people in the world.  Unfortunately, they don't live in the Philippines.  Sad.

So there - if you leave or lose something in Japan.  Know that you can still find it and you can still have it back!

Love love love Japan!!

This brings me to another thing that I almost lost.  I blame my brain - my early morning brain to be exact.  So last week, when we got to Hong Kong - we were waiting to board the Airport Express.  I was with Kailee - since I nearly lost our hand carry the previous trip, I made sure to remember to bring it along.  I was taking a mental note 'Do NOT forget the hand carry.  DO NOT lose it again!'  So I set it down near my feet with the stroller.  After settling down a bit - I was attending to Kailee's needs when I heard my Panget calling us - the train has arrived and we needed to board it.  So I was hurrying along and collected my things and Kailee - and headed on to board the train.  I put the hand carry by my side and waited till we reached Kowloon Station.  There, I led the way to the are where there was a FREE shuttle that would bring us to our hotel.  While waiting - I then remembered - THE STROLLER!  I looked for it and saw it nowhere.  Dammit!  I forgot something AGAIN!

To be honest - I knew that it was a long shot to find my stroller again.  I was in Hong KOng and not in Japan.  I knew that my chances were slim compared to my chances in Japan.  But still, I took a chance.  So I hurriedly went to the attendant's station to inform them that I left my stroller.  There was a language barrier of course, but I was expecting that in Hong Kong it would be easier - but it wasn't.  I had to use all the synonyms that I knew of a stroller!  I used the words 'pram' 'push chair' 'stroller' but they couldn't understand me.  I had to point to Kailee before they realized what I was talking about!  In Hong Kong the term was 'Child's Carriage' Haha!

But I was unsure if it was left on the train or on the platform!  So, I just asked them to look.  They called the airport station office and the train - to try and look for the stroller.  The attendant told me to sit and wait - and wait I did!  I think it was one of the longest 15minutes of my life.  Hahaha!!  I was then told that they found the stroller and that it was left on the platform of the airport express at the airport.  I asked them if they would be able to bring it to Kowloon Station - after a few minutes, they told me that it would take a longer time to bring it there - that I would need to pick it up myself. My first concern was that I needed to pay for the fare again - but they graciously told me 'No Pay!'  So I immediately took their offer to go back to the airport to retrieve the stroller.  I then instructed my Panget (who initially told me to leave the stroller behind- I refused because I'm sure we'd have a hard time when Kailee naps!) to go on ahead to the hotel and check in.  He was with two luggages and Kailee - I asked if he could manage and he gave me this sarcastic look.  Whatever!  So there, I was lead by the MTR personnel back to the platform going back to the airport.  It took 24 minutes to get back to the airport - and another 10minutes to retrieve my lost stroller.  So I again had to board the train to go back to Kowloon Station.  When I got there, I saw the people who helped me and I was so happy that I showed them the stroller!  I am in awe on their efficiency because again, if it happened here in the Philippines - it would have surely been lost, nor would anyone want to help me.  I was shocked to be honest - that in a place where rude people is a norm - I was able to find helpful people.  I was really lucky.

Yeah, I wasted an hour - but you see, my Panget was told to go back at 3PM to have our rooms.  So he just went around the mall with Kailee and Kailee dozed off in his arms.  At least he was smart enough to look for a place to sit!  When I got to them, Kailee was already asleep - we just had to transfer her onto the stroller - but within minutes, she was awake.

The stroller proved to be very helpful this trip and the last trip.  It was a life saver since all we needed to do was push it around while Kailee napped.

I need some work on my brain - to help me remember things.  Is this the effect of the anesthesia or is it part of the ageing process?  Hahahaha!!

I am so thankful to my guardian angels that the things I 'lost' during my travels - have come back to me.  Thank you Lord!