SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

October 27, 2010

FCC Phnom Penh

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 2:20 am

Pictures on Khmer War

On our second day in Phnom Penh, we woke up early ( surprisingly ) and went for our free buffet breakfast. After breakfast, I went online with my laptop as our hotel room has free wifi with awesome speed. I wanted to get more information about Phnom Penh, especially the food scene.

FCC ( Foreign Correspondent’s Club ) caught my attention while I was surfing the net for information. I read more about FCC and to my understanding, it is a cool place to hang out and serve good food. I saw some nice pictures where people are chilling and the restaurant is facing the Tonle Sap river. So I decided to go check out more about this place later in the evening.

I took a long nap after visiting many sites regarding Phnom Penh. By the time I woke up it was already 5 pm. We missed lunch and decided to get our dinner in FCC around 6pm. We paid USD 3 for the tuk tuk ride and arrived around 6.15pm.

Going up the stair case will lead us to the famous bar and resto of FCC. The wall is full of old pictures on Khmer war. I have to admit my knowledge on this matter is very limited and most likely my information is based highly on the movie “The Killing Fields”. FCC seems to look like an old building that has a lot of history to it.

The setting of the restaurant and bar of FCC really gave me the feel that this is the place where journalist used to wine down after a hectic day working in the battle field.

The settings of FCC made me felt like a journalist. I justified the rights to feel like a journalist after convincing myself that I have a food blog. ( I am aware my blog is not really good but is still a blog! ).

We decided to sit in this nice little quiet corner. My instinct told me that I should order western cuisine instead of Cambodian food. From my previous experiences, places like FCC tend to modify local cuisine to the taste buds of majority of their patrons, which in this case are mostly foreigners.

I was satisfied with my choice of order which was a specialty of FCC. It was a big juicy steak with it’s special sauce. The almost half mash potatoes tasted really good.

Zach opted for a thin slice fire oven baked pizza. The toppings were just fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. He did mention that his pizza was uberly delicious. ( Farang are easy to please, Domino’s would have made him happy. Sorry Zach, I gotta take a jab at you )

This is the fire oven in FCC where they bake pizza. It taste really different if wood is being used compared to the normal electric oven.

After our meal, we hung out at the bar to get some Angkor Beer draft. I took some pictures of patrons of FCC getting the best seat. Seats that are facing the Tonle Sap river and it is breezy and nice. Wellll….obviously, we wanted to have our meal on those seat but as you can see it is always full.

So this is our second day in Phnom Penh and we have yet to get any local Cambodian cuisine. We are determine to make that happen on our third day.

October 19, 2010

First dinner in Phnom Penh

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Cambodia,Food,Travel — Alex @ 12:00 am

After resting a bit and showered, I did a bit of research on the Internet looking for authentic Cambodian food. Most of the sites recommends restaurants that are located by the Mekong Riverfront area. Most of the sites are owned by Westerners and I’ve always skeptical about their Asian food recommendation. So I decided to just walked around a bit and try to see if there’s any stalls or restaurant that will catch my attention.

Zach and I walked towards the direction of the famous Riverfront area. We have no clue how far it is from our hotel but we just walked for a bit to get the sense of what is around our hotel area. After 15 minutes walk, we stumbled upon a Vietnamese restaurant. Since we were hungry and more familiar with Vietnamese food, I decided to just settle for Vietnamese food instead of Cambodian food. I always make it a point to eat local food whenever I’m in that particular country. I made a mental note to myself that by tomorrow I will have to taste some local cuisine.

The Vietnamese restaurant by the name of Saigon City looks pretty classy. I have no idea how much our dinner would cost us but we will just give it a try since we are hungry. We wanted to sit outside but there seems to have some small bugs on the table. It looked like dry tiny leaves but upon checking it properly, it is some sort of small bugs that I’ve never seen before. We decided to just sit in the air condition are of the restaurant.

For starter, we ordered 2 kinds of Vietnamese springroll. One is stuffed with minced pork and the other with shrimp. I’m quite familiar with this dish as it is quite mainstream.

For my main course, I ordered a chicken BBQ rice set. It comes with soup and some cucumber. The dip for the chicken is sweet chili sauce. I enjoyed the food very much but some what I’m disappointed with myself for not being a little bit more adventurous. I played safe and ordered food that I’m familiar with. I should be eating authentic Cambodian food instead of Vietnamese food. At least I’m not eating KFC or Mcdo. Oh well, is only my first night in Cambodia and I vowed to find some good Cambodian food for my next meal. So for 2 Vietnamese Chicken BBQ set meal, minced pork spring roll, prawn spring roll and 2 bottles of mineral water, the meal cost us USD12.

After dinner we decided to go to the Riverfront area where there are a lot of pubs and bars to check out the night life scene. We asked the waiter in the Vietnamese restaurant whether it is walking distance. He said is better for us to take the tuk-tuk. It will cost us around USD2 for the both of us. The ride along the Sisowath Road was pretty cool and we saw a lot of hotels, bars and restaurant along the way. All the hip establishment is facing the Mekong River and it looked like a beach from far. This is the biggest river I’ve seen all my life. We asked the tuk-tuk driver to stop when I saw a lot of people in Mekong River Restaurant. Most of the customers are tourists and I’ve always enjoyed chilling in places like these. You get to mingle with other tourists and share tales. I also always make it as a practice to drink local beers whenever I’m visiting a country. Angkor beer is the beer of choice for many and we decided to give it a try. We were so happy when the waiter told us the price for a mug is at USD0.60. I do not consider myself an alcoholic as there are times where I do not drink for a month. But on occasions like these, I can sometimes drink up to 20 mugs.

Everybody is so relax here as they are tourist on holidays. There’s the normal big screen tv showing football matches.

The Star of Cambodia – not Zach but Angkor Beer

After many years of drinking beer, I still can’t really tell the difference between a good or a bad beer. There’s a trick to make all beer turn good. Just drink 5 mugs or glasses really fast and most of the time, the beer will taste really good and everyone suddenly is your brother or sister. In fairness, Angkor Beer does taste really good. So with USD0.60 for a good beer, I bet you can imagine how many beers that we gulped that night as part time alcoholics.

July 22, 2010

Ibayo Restaurant at San Miguel by the bay

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Philippines — Alex @ 6:47 pm

Ibayo recently held a press event night specially for all food bloggers in the Philippines. It was organized once again by the good people of EVENTUS KINETIX-IMC CORP.

After my first experience attending the opening ceremony of King Chef restaurant, I feel more comfortable this time around. I arrived at 7.50pm which is actually 50 minutes late. I kinda know that the event would not start exactly as stated on the invitation email which is at 7.00pm. I am just following the Filipino Time. ( To be fair, is actually a South East Asian trait, not a good one but we always joke about it). Food was already served and bloggers we busy taking pictures of the food. Seems like I am the only guy who is late. Abigail, Winston and Mark from the organizing team greeted me and found me a table with another fellow blogger with her hubby. We made the customary introduction and chatted for a bit while waiting to order our food. I order one dish that is Sizzling Chicken, Analynn and hubby ordered White Chicken Adobo, Beef Kaldereta, Crispy Pata and a starter.

My sizzling spring chicken dish

Beef Kaldereta

The ever popular Crispy Pata, I just wish I had some Chicken rice chili sauce to go with it!

When the food arrived, we took some pictures and began to taste the food. After our meal, people were walking around to introduce themselves, saying hello to old friends and also the owners were asking everybody if everything is okay. We were  introduced to the owners of Ibayo by Abigail. I had a very good chat with one of the brothers, Tyrone( 2 siblings own Ibayo ).

My invitation email states that Ibayo is run by Barrio Fiesta. I have seen the Restaurant Barrio Fiesta in Makati Ave but never had the chance to eat there. But I am aware that Barrio Fiesta is a famous family restaurant that has been around for ages. So I just ask Tyrone how it all began.

Barrio Fiesta was actually started by Tyrone’s grandmother. His grandfather was a movie producer and her grandmother usually cooked for the film crew. Everyone loved her cooking so much that she started turning a small portion of her house into a tiny restaurant. Over time, business is so good that it finally took over the house and many Barrio Fiesta restaurant soon followed.

Many Filipino grew up with Barrio Fiesta as it is a popular place for families get together or weekend eating out session. It is a household name and I’m sure most Filipino have eaten there at least once in their life. We also discuss about the food from other region as Tyrone is a former national team bowler and he is well traveled. He is also very familiar with the food in Singapore and told me that he enjoys eating Chicken Rice and Bah Kut Teh.

I was given a cocktail which is made by Tristian and I have to admit it tasted pretty good. I was never into cocktail as I regard myself as a beer drinker. But I think my mentality about cocktail as a sissy drink gotta change as I am a food blogger now. I need to be more open for new things.

It is safe to say that Ibayo, ran by two young entrepreneurs whose family background is a household name in the restaurant business will make a name for themselves as the modern version of Barrio Fiesta. Chic interior design with some touch of traditional Filipino designs gives a modern feel of the restaurant. With the passion of Tristian creating new flavors of cocktails, this surely will appeal to the younger crowd of Filipino who wishes to taste the goodness of Filipino food with modern settings.

Some fellow bloggers asked me how did I enjoy the traditional Filipino dishes. Is hard for me to actually give an honest opinion as the food was served free to me. As a human being, our judgment are clouded by this generous gestures by our hosts. I think next time, all new restaurant should charge a minimal fee for bloggers like us to attend their openings. Hahahaha..I hope my fellow bloggers will NOT flame me for this suggestion of mine. But on a serious note, I really did enjoyed the fried dishes and would say the quality of the food is of good standard. I can only give my final verdict when I pay for my own meal next time around.

Some more pictures of Ibayo press event.

My tablemates, fellow blogger Analynn and hubby

Bloggers having a feast with dishes provided by our generous host Ibayo

The hard working organizers having their meal after all the bloggers left.

I wish the Ongpauco brothers all the best and I hope they will make Ibayo into a house hold name among the new generation of Filipino.

July 15, 2010

Invitation to press event of Ibayo

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Food,Philippines — Alex @ 4:56 pm

Got another invitation to another press event of a restaurant name Ibayo. I think this restaurant is own by the same people who operates Barrio Fiesta. I am looking for this event to meet with fellow bloggers. The organizer for this event is the same people that did a good job for the opening ceremony of King Chef restaurant. If you forgot the name of the event organizer, here the website of EVENTUS KINETIX-IMC CORP.

I was informed by Abigail to invite fellow food bloggers. So if you are a food blogger, feel free to contact Abigail to confirm your attendance. The more the merrier as the saying goes. Hope to see you guys there.

King Chef Chinese restaurant Pt 2

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Philippines — Alex @ 3:51 pm

I finally got the pictures of the opening ceremony from the owners of King Chef Chinese Restaurant. If you read my earlier post, you know that was my first event being invited as a blogger. So it is understandable that I am making extra post for this particular restaurant. I am sure you can understand the concept of first love ;).

During the opening ceremony we were treated with Dim Sum, noodles and meat combo platter. These dishes are quite common to me and I would say it taste pretty good. I am not an expert food critic but I think I do have many experiences traveling around the world and sampling Chinese dishes. My blog is not meant to serve as a food critic authority but is simply to point  MY views only. What is good to me might not be good to you and vice versa.

I’m sure food lovers all over Manila are quite familiar with Dim Sum now and King Chef in my humble opinion has more than Dim Sum to offer judging from the menu. I’ve yet to try those more sophisticated dishes like “Buddha Jump Over The Fence Soup”. This funny name for a Chinese dish is like the king of all Chinese dishes. It is very expensive due to the ingredients used and also the process of cooking this soup takes long hours. I’ve yet to see other Chinese restaurant like Hap Chan or David Tea House serving this dish. Maybe the targeted market is different as this dish is not that mainstream. I believe King Chef has the goal of trying to be a Chinese restaurant to really serve authentic Chinese food.

So in order for me to really give my verdict, I need to go have a 10 course meal to really give my opinion on the King Chef. For now I can only provide you with some general info about the restaurant based on the food I was served during the opening ceremony. The restaurant is spacious and do have a very chic setting. The furniture is modern and does not really go to the extend of using Chinese furniture design which is sometimes overkill in a Chinese restaurant.

Currently King Chef has some sort of happy hours daily for their Dim Sum. All Dim Sum will be sold at PHP48 during 2pm-5pm and 9pm-12am daily. Is really a great price if you into mirienda or enjoys supper. I’ve always have this attitude of eating only local delicacies whenever I am traveling. Chinese food is not on my agenda when I come to the Philippines as it is not predominantly a Chinese country like Hong Kong or Singapore. I guess this mind set need to be change and I have to be more open as I am a food blogger now :D.

Here are some awesome pictures during the event.

Lion dance troupe to make the event merrier

Dragon dance troupe was invited to make sure the restaurant will be “ONG

The organizer from EVENTUS KINETIX-IMC CORP, Abigail and Shirlybeth

Cutting the ribbon by owners and friends

It was really a nice occasion and I enjoyed the ceremony very much. I wish the owners of King Chef all the best and continue to make good food and good fortune will follow.

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