SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

January 11, 2012

China style lamb hot pot in Manila – Xiao Fei Yang

Filed under: Bars & Resto,Philippines,Travel — Alex @ 4:02 am

I’ve been wanting to make a review on this hot pot restaurant for a long time now, especially after eating here more than a dozen times. I guess the delay is due to the fact that this is a Chinese hot pot restaurant in Manila. Whenever I am in a certain country, I would prefer to feature the local delicacies instead. I finally decided to make this review any how because my Filipino friend insisted that I should make this review as he loves the restaurant so much and he wants to show it to his relatives.

Like any other South East Asian countries, Philippines has a large community of Chinese too. Chinese food is common and you don’t need to go to China town in Binondo or Ongpin just to eat your favorite Chinese cuisine. This hot pot restaurant by the name of “Little Lamb” however is a franchise from China. You can either order ala-carte or opt for the buffet style. I prefer the buffet style ( 599 pesos per head ) as I don’t want to have the dilemma of what to order.

Thin sliced lamb met eat all you can

There are quite a few hot pot restaurant in Manila but I have to say this is my favorite. The variety of dishes is way more from those others that I’ve eaten before. I like the fact that they have my favorite hot pot items like fried bean curd skin ( Foo Chook ) and those grass jelly like noodles. I’ve never come across any other hot pot places in Manila that serve the fried bean curd skin. Another plus point for this restaurant is that finding parking space is such a breeze.

Restaurant is fully air condition, clean and spacious

The glass jelly like noodles that I’ve eaten for the first time in China. Never really see other places in Manila offering this.

Quite a big selection of hot pot items

More hot pot items

The bull frog is kinda small but is all right I guess

There are few types of soup but I ordered the chicken and spicy soup made of Szechuan pepper corn.

Cooked dishes like fried pork ribs and intestine were also available. There are actually more items I didn’t get to snap the pictures like the dried bean curd skin, vegetables and wide array of innards of all animals.  I guess I was too busy eating and explaining to my Filipino friends about the hot pot items. My friend love the pig’s brain especially and his wife loves the dried bean curd skin. Both of them told me that they really love the food here and will definitely bring family and friends back her.

Little Lamb Hot Pot Restaurant
La Marina, South Drive, Area 2, Rizal Park
Ermita, Manila ( Tel : 02-5163886.


January 8, 2012

Welcoming New Year 2012 in the Philippines

Filed under: Philippines,Travel — Alex @ 6:19 pm

After Thailand, I head on to the Philippines for an unplanned trip. I was kinda coaxed by my friend Zach to travel together with him. He bought his ticket a few months ago for a very good deal with Cebu Pacific. Me on the other hand paid a pretty high price for my ticket as it is last minute booking and most likely is the high season. Nevertheless, I decided to go with him as the idea of meeting up with my Filipino friends during New Year is always a fun thing to do.

Food vendors offering their goodies in Baclaran

New Year in the Philippines is celebrated in a very unique way. It has the combination of Chinese culture influence and the local tradition. Firecrackers or “paputok” is an essential part of New Year celebration here. The sound of loud firecrackers could be heard when the month of December begins and it gets heavier during Christmas eve and of course New Year’s Eve. I was told that loud firecrackers will keep the bad spirits away. This will bring good luck to the household. The louder the sound of the fireworks, the better luck you will get in the coming year.

More Filipino food offered by vendors near the Baclaran church area

While is not only the paputok that can chase the bad spirit away, singing out loud with your Karaoke machine with your family members can also get the job done. Being Filipino, singing comes as a second nature and for sure you will hear the latest hits being belted out. Occasionally oldies like “My Way” will be part of the repertoire especially when you have sporting Lolo and Lola ( grandfather and grandmother ) amongst the group.

Wearing polka dot shirts is believed to increase your wealth as well during the eve. Putting lots of coins in your pants pocket is also highly encourage. Round fruits like orange, grapes and water melon are also decorated in the house. I used to joke to my friend that maybe putting lots of coins in the pants pocket and having those round fruits might not be such a good idea. I suggested that they replace the coins with Peso notes, the bigger the better or if real money is not available, go scan it and print more out. As for the round fruits, replaced them with bar of chocolates, especially those chocolate with gold wrapper!

All you need is a small push cart and a small wok to fry these peanuts. I like those with cili and garlic. It is call adobong mani.

A lot of Filipino loves shopping in Baclaran

A wide variety of cheap products are sold in Baclaran market.

There’s a lot of restaurant near Baclaran area too. In the background we can see Max Restaurant and also Andok’s

Most of the Barangay are decorated with colorful lights

I am never really into special occasion celebrations as I would like to believe that everyday is special. If anyone want to make a change with their life, for example like losing weight, you don’t need to wait for the New Year to do it. You can always do it like right away and the date could be July 18th or something. However, I do enjoy the part where most friends are free during the eve  and free flow of San Miguel accompanied with a wide array of food are being served.

April 7, 2011

Sambal belacan is a super spicy dip

Filed under: Food,Philippines,Recipe — Alex @ 12:37 am

Is been almost 3 months I did not make a post on my blog. Not that anyone would really care though…LOL. I’ve been busy on working some projects for clients and did not find the time to travel as much as I would like. I’m still in the Philippines and hope to get back into making more posts.

So here is a post on how to make “Sambal Belacan”. Is a kind of spicy dip similar to Thai’s version of spicy dip call “Namprik”. Sambal Belacan is mostly popular in Singapore and Malaysia among the Malays. The Malays usually eat Sambal Belacan with fried chicken, fish, seafood and raw vegetables.


  • One small piece of belacan ( refer to picture below )
  • One pack of bird’s eye chili ( cili padi )
  • 6 pieces of bell pepper ( no big red chili in the Philippines )
  • one onion roasted lightly
  • salt ( one teaspoon )
  • sugar ( one teaspoon )
  • 6 kalamansi
  • fish sauce ( patis ) – 1 teaspoon


  • chopped bell pepper to blending size ( throw seeds away )
  • remove stem from bird’s eye chili
  • cut kalamansi into halves and squeezed juice and set aside
  • shred kalamansi skin to smaller bits
  • roast belacan till dry and fragrant
  • roast onion lightly
  • put everything into blender and add little bit of water together with the kalamansi juice that was set aside ( too much water will affect the taste of sambal belacan )
  • press start and blend ingredients till paste like
  • done!

The Ingredients for Sambal Belacan

Roasting the belacan with low fire

Roasting the onion

My favorite part - ready to grind

Everything blended

Glorious sambal belacan

For those who are not used to eating spicy food, Sambal Belacan might look like food for crazy people. In Malaysia and Singapore, this dip is almost like a must have. When I was in the midst of preparing this dip, I can’t help but to imagine who actually invented it. It really amazes me that the person whom invented this dip had the idea to mix all these ingredients. I am sure a lot of trial and error were involved to whip out the best tasting sambal belacan.

It has all the flavors that a human tongue can taste. Sourish from the kalamansi, spiciness from the chili, salt, sugar and belacan taste I can’t even really describe. In my own words, belacan smells like CRAP but taste like heaven. I have no idea why such food is loved by most Asian. In honesty, it does smell like socks that has been worn for 14 straight days.

Despite my description of how scary the smell of belacan, this dip is really a favorite among many Asians who are into spicy food. Is always good to have sambal belacan stored in the fridge. Comes in handy when you are just too lazy to cook or dunno what to eat. Just fry an omelet and serve it together with sliced cucumber or lettuce. I can bet you it will turn that simple meal into a really good one. Fried chicken and fish with turmeric  is also a good with sambal belacan. Basically you can eat it with almost anything. It sure makes eating Chow King’s blend pancit and fried rice a whole lot better.


January 4, 2011

Back in the Philippines again

Filed under: Chit Chat,Philippines,Travel — Alex @ 3:09 am

After a few months away from Pinas, I am finally back here again for Christmas and New Year. Coming back to Philippines means I can afford to smoke cigarette again. While in Singapore, I still buy cigarettes occasionally and it cost me like PHP450 per pack. Cigarettes are really expensive in Singapore because of the tax. The government really want to discourage people from smoking. I always felt like an idiot whenever I buy a packet of cigarette in Singapore. You know the government purposely put the tax high in order to discourage you from smoking and yet I still buy it. What can I say, I’m a weakling.

I’ve always enjoyed spending Christmas and New Year here in the Philippines as the atmosphere here is always different. The combination of loud pop music, Philippines version of mini vuvuzelas and “paputok” ( firecrackers ) is the best. Firecrackers is ban in Singapore and we don’t get to hear it anymore. I was told that the loud music on New Year’s Eve would chase bad spirits away.

Another tradition here in the Philippines is that on New Year’s Eve, you are supposed to decorate your house with round fruits. Mandarin orange, longan, grapes and other round fruits are pretty popular. Is also best you wear polka dots theme attires and have many coins in your pocket on that day. This will ensure that you will have more wealth the rest of the new year.

I’ve always teased my Filipino friends about that tradition regarding the coins, polka dot fashion and round fruits. Wouldn’t it be great if we change those fruits into chocolate bars, polka dots into checkered themed attire and coins into monopoly money. That way we will not get only coins in the new year but more cash with big denominations and also those big ass mock checks with big figures on it.

I am just happy to be back in the Philippines and the sound of loud firecrackers seems to welcome me back. A prosperous Happy New Year to you and I hope you will be blessed with good health.

August 11, 2010

World Food Expo in Manila

Filed under: Chit Chat,Philippines — Alex @ 9:05 am

Last Saturday ( 7th August 2010 ), I decided to check out the World Food Expo that was being held at SMX Convention & World Trade Center. I got to know about this expo while surfing the Internet. I was pretty excited to visit the expo as I might get to see some latest food invention or something that might be new to me. The entrance fee was PHP100 and I gladly paid for it and found my way in to the exhibition area.

I have to say it wasn’t what I’ve expected but it was still all right for me to actually go stroll on a lazy Saturday afternoon. The expo was definitely targeted for the big players as most of the exhibits were selling machineries. Most of the machines that were displayed are for food processing and packaging. Also heavy duty kitchen stuff for industrial cooking. I have no idea what all the machines really do but I just continued strolling and gathering brochures. After spending like 2 hours walking around aimlessly, my legs got tired.

I was planning on going to MOA ( Mall of Asia ) as it is located quite near to WTC. But it was drizzling and getting a cab might be a biatch. As I walked out from the main entrance of the expo, I saw Wensha spa and suddenly decided to hang out there instead. Heard about it all the time from friends about the free shabu shabu and eat all you kinda deal. I’m not really a spa kinda guy as I prefer YOGA anyways. Click here to see my claim of being a Yoga dude.

I am glad that my heart told me to check out this spa as the visit to Wensha spa was actually the highlight of the day and not the trip to Food Expo like what my blog title suggested. Paid PHP600 for foot massage and was given a key to go in. The place was really packed with patrons and I can  see many families with their kids were enjoying the shabu shabu.

I quickly changed and went to the main area where food is being served buffet style. After eating I just rested a bit and then proceed to the foot massage area. Really cool lazy chairs with personal TV screen. After the food massage I just continued to lie lazily on the chair and just watched TV. I think I spent a total of 3 hours just lying on the chair. I managed to watch an episode of GLEE, some parts of Lethal Weapon 4 and a very cool documentary on China.

After enough of rest and TV watching, I decided to go for round 2 and go for the shabu shabu. Eating shabu shabu is nicer when you have a big group. I still got the employee of Wensha to set up the pot.

I have to say for PHP600, it is definitely a SUPER great deal. There are facilities like jacuzzi and sauna which I did not use that day, but I am sure spa fanatics will love this. Place is clean and really relaxing. I think the fact that I can hang out on the chair and watch TV for a few hours is already worth the price. Looks like I found a new place to hang out in Manila. Another good news is, Wensha sells San Miguel Light only at PHP40 per can. 😉

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