Friday, January 27, 2012

Chinese Weekend

gabi "babies"

It was a long weekend and several groups of family and friends were scrambling to plan where to go and what to do. I was game for anywhere and whatever, but two days before Saturday I received a text from my kids' school asking me to fetch my eldest, who was feverish. The youngest had fever the night before, too, so I tentatively informed everybody we may not be up for any trip that weekend.

Inexplicably, all plans were canceled (hopefully not because of us!), and we were left with three grounded days. Good thing there was a party to attend early Saturday morning at the Mall of Asia. And since we were already in the metropolis, and it was Chinese new year weekend, it was but a natural turn of things that we decided to go to Chinatown after the party.

ginger & pineapple "buddhas"

I thought it was still early for the crowds, but there they were, shopping for beribboned bulbs and rhizomes whose outgrowths made them look like grotesque babies. Pineapples were surrounded with tiny pineapples, or were wreathed with dalandan. Edible good luck charms.

All kinds of fruit were on sale at every street corner. Every time I am in Ongpin, the main street in Chinatown, I shop for fruits, but this time the prices were so high that we only bought a piece each of sweet, sweet honeydew and fragrant melon, both at Php120/kg. But it was nice to see the colorful spread, with pomegrenates, heart-shaped mangoes so humongous they looked like they came from Davao, passionfruit, large imported strawberries, Mayan-temple/pineapple-look-alike yellow-green fruit said to be called dragonfruit, and several varieties of plums.

There were the more common grapes, apples, orange varieties in many shapes and sizes, and there were big green balimbing that looked molar-numbing, as well as some small mangosteen that looked still out of season.

I usually go to Chinatown by way of the south gate fronting the Sta. Cruz church. This is because I have favorite restaurants in the southern half part. Last Saturday we went to Ongpin Street through the northern gate, adjacent to the Binondo church, because I wanted to try several of the restaurants in the other half of Binondo. We were only a small group - just me and three small kids - so we couldn't sit down to a proper Chinese meal, for the normal size of servings in Chinese restaurants would limit us to only one dish.

The restaurants (more like eateries) in the northern half part of Binondo tend to be small and serve a "focused" menu - specializing in one or two dishes and serving multiple variations of them. So I planned a "walking food tour" - eat a dish in one side street, then walk to another restaurant to try another dish.


We started at Dong Bei Dumplings along Yuchengco Street, an alley perpendicular to Ongpin right at the back of Binondo church. I took the kids there for some dumpling-making demo, and for a taste of dumplings not Cantonese - Dong Bei being the term for northeastern China, or Manchuria.

The dumplings can be ordered fried or steamed (they looked boiled, served still dripping wet). The fillings of all kinds of dumplings had minced kuchay and leeks, which were being stripped and sliced at the tiny kitchen as we ate. So no, we weren't crying because the dumplings were so good, but because the leeks hurt our eyes.

But yes, the dumplings were great - the fresh, thin made-to-order wrappers cooked just so they were soft but still had bite, and the dipping sauce was black vinegar spiced with chopped onions.

We had an order of xiao long bao, pork dumplings with a pocket of broth, which were good, though Lutong Macau's version is tastier and firmer. It was amazing, though, how everything looked the same from when I first ate at Dong Bei some five years ago. It's like time stopped. Same people (the proprietor-cook even looked the same!), same five tables, two of which were occupied by dumpling ingredients and paraphernalia, same set-up, even the same freezer and kitchen equipment.

There was a chiller by the glass front with cans of soda, and this iced tea. It purportedly is a "cool" drink, because it keeps away "heatiness." It was good with the dumplings, tasting exactly like sweetened Chinese green tea (the one in tea bags in jumbo green boxes). The kids said the taste vaguely resembled sago't gulaman with a certain moldy edge to it. They downed three cans, and were cool to go to another dumpling house.

We walked back to Ongpin to take in more of the sights and partake of the air of revelry. There were groups of teens doing the dragon and lion dances, and we crossed paths several times with Ivan Man Dy's walking tour group. We peeked in at the stalls by the estero and espied frog legs, but nothing more exotic was on display, so we proceeded to Salazar Street.

Leading off perpendicularly from Salazar was Benavidez Street, and just several stalls into the alley was this small eatery with red Chinese signage in front and no English translation. It was beside Wai Ying Roasts, and it was what we were hunting for, for another round of dumplings.

Binondo denizens swear the dumplings here are better than at Dong Bei's. The wrappers are thinner, shaped into pockets unlike Dong Bei's which were pressed crescents. They had the same filling of finely ground pork mixed with kuchay, but the dumplings are slightly bigger. One serving has about sixteen dumplings, and the staff who waited on us suggested that we have half of the serving fried, the other half steamed.

The dipping sauce is served along with the dumplings. But a host of other condiments is present in every table, for the noodles. For this is actually a noodle house, the Chinese signage meaning Lan Zhou La Mien, as indicated in the t-shirts of the servers, la mien translating to hand-pulled noodles.

The condiments were akin to a Vietnamese pho house - bowls of sliced spring onion, chopped wansuy (cilantro or coriander), several different bottles of chili sauce, chili powder, black vinegar.

Above the clear glass wall encasing the kitchen were blown-up photos of the house specialties - noodles with a variety of toppings, plus the dumplings. We were told the beef la mien showcases best the capabilities of the kitchen, and beef la mien it was for us.

From our table, which was just a table away from the kitchen, we witnessed the manipulations of the cook pulling on a hunk of dough. The kids asked if they served pizza, because there were a lot of dough-tossing and turning like in a proper Italian pizzeria. A minute later, though, the enormous slab of dough magically transformed into strands after much fast pulling and pulling and pulling.

Kids: Is that dough?
Mommy: Yes.
Kids: Can we eat it?
Mommy: Yes, of course.
Kids: Why can't we eat our play dough at home?
Mommy: Let's see you try pulling it into noodles.

But frankly, the beef noodle soup was the best we've ever had. The soup spoke of hours of boiling meat and bones, with not a hint of broth cubes or bouillon, nor a ton of flavor enhancers. I think it was perfect as it is, flavorsome as it was. I snobbed all the condiments on the table and ate it as it was served. There was no need to add anything.

And the noodles - the noodles were an incredible revelation. Soft and spongy, yet possessing a firm bite, and had an unexpected rich flavor. I once swore off hand-pulled noodles because the one I tried one time in a mall was so bland it made the commercially packaged dried egg noodles sold in supermarkets ambrosial in comparison. But Lan Zhou La Mien redefined what a bowl of noodle soup should be. I cannot be satisfied with anything less from now on.

We walked back again to Ongpin, our stomachs full of dumplings and noodles, debating if we could eat some more, as we still had a couple more restaurants in our itinerary. We decided to wait for sundown, and not to order rice.

But we passed by Lord Stowe's, and I couldn't help myself, seeing as the stall was not so crowded and there were some vacant seats. We gave our legs and feet a much needed respite from all the walking while sipping Japanese iced tea and waiting for the egg tarts to bake.

After all the dumplings and noodles it was nice to munch on something sweet, and a freshly baked, piping hot tart with an almost runny custard just hit the spot.  

The multiple lines snaking out of the three Eng Bee Tin stores along Ongpin weren't getting any shorter, but it was already getting dark, so we fell in line ourselves before all the shops closed. I held my place in the line while the kids got as much hopia and tikoy as they wanted and carried them to my basket.

mocha hopia

I grabbed what I could reach as the line moved ahead, and I got the new hopia varieties as well as the standard ones. Store crew kept stocking the shelves but the hopia kept disappearing. Basic flavors red mongo (premium), yellow mongo and ube were in stock, but there was no pandan and our favorite combi (combination), ube-queso and ube-langka that day.

The new variants were more than enough to keep me happy, though. Mocha, super premium, mochipia - how much more adventurous can you get? Biting into the new flavor mocha hopia was like biting into a thick, velvety cup of coffee.

super premium hopia 

This is the super premium mongo. I like the premium mongo best of all the basic hopia flavors, which uses red mongo. This new variant uses yellow mongo with the yolk of an itlog na maalat (salted duck egg) inserted in the middle. The saltiness of the duck egg was unusual and unexpected in a hopia, but not unpleasant. The flavor combination, and the fine silkiness of the yellow mongo calls to mind a lotus mooncake with egg yolk.

I like Eng Bee Tin hopias, and they are the best in terms of quality among all hopia in the country today. I can't say I like them best, though, for I find the filling a little bit too much - the filling-crust ratio is not well-balanced. But I am rethinking this, because Eng Bee Tin has come out with its mochipia line, and it has solved the thickness issue for me.

The mochipia is mochi and hopia rolled into one. Mochi is filled tikoy balls (ground glutinous rice flour shaped into spheres with a paste filling in the middle), while hopia has a flaky flour crust and a paste filling. Combine the two, reversing the mochi so that the rice flour is inside and the filling outside, then use that as the filling for hopia, and it becomes mochipia.

There's a play of textures here - sticky tikoy, silky paste filling, flaky crust. It teases the mind as well as the senses. Whay hasn't Eng Bee Tin thought of this sooner? Now I don't think the filling is over-indulgent. Now I can't get enough of mochipia.

The mochipia flavors available last weekend were ube macapuno, which is tikoy inside an ube hopia, and buko pandan-ube, which is pandan hopia filled with ube tikoy.


Before we went to Chinatown we had been enjoying SM bakeries' hoptik, which pretty much had the same idea as the mochipia. The hoptik had tikoy as the core, surrounded by bean paste, then encased in a much more flakier crust. The hoptik has a thinner filling, which isn't as fine-ground as Eng Bee Tin's. But it's enjoyable, too, because the tikoy is thick, and the textures scintillate. In yellow mongo, red mongo, and ube flavors.

The kids love Eng Bee Tin's tikoy rolls. We didn't bother with the Chinese tikoy - those thick  slabs in boxes that have to be fried before eating - but the kids each got ten packs of tikoy rolls, two of each flavor (ordinary, pandan, sesame, strawberry, ube).

Tikoy rolls are ground glutinous rice (malagkit) filled with kamote (sweet potato) or yellow mongo paste and shaped into rolls. The malagkit is flavored with strawberry, ube, pandan, or coated with sesame seeds. They are soft and chewy, and are perfect snacks to bring to school, but the rice flour in which they are rolled to prevent sticking can make a little mess. 

By the time we came up to the cashier and completed our purchase the restaurants on our itinerary had closed. But we were satiated, and we had enough hopia and tikoy to last us a month, so we called it a day. Other Chinese delights could wait, and we promised to come back at a calmer time, proceeding at a more calmer pace so we could eat more. But these ones we're eating again, for sure.  

Dong Bei Dumplings
Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila

Lan Zhou La Mien
818 Benavidez Street, Binondo, Manila

Eng Bee Tin
628 Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila

Related Posts
Quezon Tikoy
Mochi of Pampanga

Tikoy Recipes
Baked Buchi
Home-Made Buchi
Home-Made Tikoy

Monday, January 16, 2012


This is part of an ongoing series, "Tinapay," about local breads found in street corner bakeries across the Philippines.

To me, ensaymada is to tsokolate as the pestle is to the mortar, the chef's knife to the chopping board, salt is to pepper. One's function ceases to exist without the other.

My mother disagreed. A heavenly breakfast to her is a cup of hot tsokolate with suman and ripe mangoes. But I'm a generation down the line, and while I adore suman, I prefer to be chewing on something more insubstantial while imbibing my favorite hot drink. It was my father who introduced me to baked goods and pastries, after all.

I had wanted to write about ensayamada the moment I started this blog. Like all Filipinos, and citizens of other former Hispanic colonies, I am passionate about the pastry. How can anyone not be, when ensaymada in various shapes, sizes, textures, degrees of sweetness, and whether cheesed, buttered, or sugared, exist in every street corner across the country, from the small-time home-town bakery to the most expensive bakeshops in hotels and specialty restaurants?

I have seen balikbayans' eyes glaze over upon seeing a plate of ensaymada. My uncle, after an unbelievable 24-hour flight from New York, declined every sort of food I could think of to offer, but he suddenly brightened up after I said the magic word, and accepted a warmed piece.

When I was growing up I was content to take nice little nibbles on our hometown bakery ensaymada. It had a coiled, slightly underbaked dough, yellow with eggs, slathered on top with margarine, and pressed with sugar. But I went to Metro Manila for college, and I encountered ensaymada made like fairy wings - fluffy and soft, airy but buttery. And topped with grated queso de bola! But there were hometown-style ensaymadas, too, which I also found in the other cities and towns across the Philippines.

Over the years I had been compiling in my mind my "best ensaymada list." But every year I revise it. Some, like the one served at Seattle's Best when the chain first opened in the country, have disappeared. Others have deteriorated in quality. My ultimate best used to be that of Merced's, then Mary Grace Kitchen's.

Because I have already written about my chocolate drinks favorites, I'm going to proceed with my ensaymada list, as well, this year. I won't claim that these are the best in town. Rather these are my favorite ensaymada from all the ensaymadas I have come across.

The list leans towards Metro Manila and northern Luzon because of proximity, and provide a sample of the wide spectrum an ensaymada can be. They are all worth - actually more than - what you pay for, too. I hope to add more to the list as I encounter ones that imbed themselves in my memory.

One thing is for sure - all ensaymada get better with a short stint in the toaster, eaten hot with all the melted cheese and butter. And with a hot chocolate drink, of course. These ensaymada, which I never get tired of eating, are all these - they're fluffy beyond belief but still substantial. Not one sports a crown of cream - just butter and cheese for me, and maybe some sugar. And baked right, not toasted nor underdone.

  • Hizon's (top photo) - one of the most expensive, and among the biggest ensaymadas commercially available. Everything about it - the fluffiness, just the right amount of cheese and butter, not so sweet, and how it toasts well, is what I like in an ensaymada. I like both the cheddar and queso de bola variants.

  • Hizon's Cakes & Pastries Facebook Php90-95 small, Php115-120 large

  • Cara Mia's Parmesan Ensaymada - this was an absolute favorite, a unique ensaymada topped with cheese beloved in Italy. It went out of production sometime in 2010, but I was rejoiced to find it's back - in limited quantities - since Christmas of last year.

    The new version is soft - so soft it wasn't recognized as ensaymada by my kids. I brought home a box, and noticed the following day that it was gone. I asked where the ensaymada was, and the kids replied what ensaymada? I thought they were feigning innocence that stemmed from guilt because they had consumed the entire box. After much hemming and hawing from me, their eyes suddenly lighted up and they exclaimed ah, that? Was that ensaymada? We thought they were mamon!

  • Cara Mia Gelateria by Amici

    • Pinkie's - at Php10 per piece, the best value for money ensaymada. The quality and taste are largely disproportionate to its tag price, and I always get the feeling that I've gotten more than what I paid for when I buy dozens of this (don't we all love feeling that way?). With the hometown, rustic feel, not airy and fluffy, but substantial and bready, yet so soft. The mamon is excellent, too.

    • Pinkie's Perez Boulevard, Dagupan City, Pangasinan beside Victory Liner/Five Star bus terminals

    • NE's Ube Ensaymada - ensaymadas have evolved to be in different variants, mostly ube, also monggo, but also in chocolate, even with bacon and ham. NE, a roadside restaurant in Cabanatuan City offering specialties of Nueva Ecija, makes an impossibly soft ensaymada platter coiled with ube dough. The ube dough tastes like it's been made with real ube, and the purple yam pairs so well with the rest of the buttery dough sprinkled with thin slivers of cheddar cheese.

    • NE Cakes & Restaurant Maharlika Highway & Lakewood City Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija Facebook
    • Chef Laudico's BFAST QDB Ensaymada - small but dense and not so fluffy, this is almost like bread, but still soft and buttery. Order with it the Belgian hot chocolate.

      I almost missed this - it looked hard as stone sitting there in BFAST's display case. But it was offered one time in the lunch and dinner buffet, and I tried a quarter. I couldn't help but demolish the entire tray of it that day, and the waiters remember me for it.

      Don't worry about the sparse sprinkling of cheese on top. The rest had been tucked inside.

    • Chef Laudico's BFAST Ayala Triangle Gardens Makati City Php98 per piece
    • Good Shepherd - how can you resist that mound of cheese? And the soft, chewy crumb? Not so eggy and buttery, but fluffy enough, soft enough, and sweet enough. It's serenity nibbling on this ensaymada in the cold highland atmosphere, while the dewy mountains shimmer in the distance.

    • Mountain Maid Training Center Good Shepherd Convent 15 Gibraltar Road, Baguio City Website Php40 per piece
      • Pan de Manila's Special Ensaymada - topped with flakes of the now ubiquitous queso de bola (here almost melted after toasting), this is so cheesy it is almost savory. I find I am wanting a little sugar while eating this, because I am so used to a sweet dimension to my ensaymada. It pairs well with pasta, and even stews and roasts. Large beyond usual, and siksik. At Php40 each.

      • Pan de Manila Website
    The Tinapay Series

    Monday, January 09, 2012

    Cups of Comfort

    Rains have marked the first few days of the new year, cooling off an otherwise balmy holiday season. With a marked tropical depression uncharacteristically so early in and off-season, and with northern Mindanao still reeling from the devastation of the last typhoon, 2012 does not bode well.

    But Filipinos are intimate with floods and typhoons, and treat rains as blessings. And so the weather disturbance that threatened to develop into a tropical storm actually meant the new year is off to an auspicious start.

    The constant battering of nature, though, can be wearying, and worrying. More so with the fact that it doesn't just happen in the Philipphines. And the latest pronouncement from PAGASA is that the first half of the year is going to be really wet this side of the Pacific due to La Nina.

    Because we are just humans and most often at the mercy of nature, what can we do but accept and be prepared? And take comfort in the fact that we are alive, in good health, with a roof over our heads, and we have our families with us. And eating good, if not well.

    In times like these, and especially in tune with the season, I comfort myself with a cup of hot tsokolate, a traditional hot drink made from pure ground cacao beans. It is what I grew up drinking, because my family made the round chocolate tablets for the hot thick beverage, both for our own consumption and to fill orders of other families.

    I wasn't allowed coffee as a child, and the prohibition was so effective that I carried it on into my adulthood. So a hot cup of milk chocolate is what I would nurse when meeting friends. And invariably when eating out, I would order hot chocolate if it is on the menu. This from the time I arrived in the metropolis for my college studies up to now, oftentimes sharing a large cup with my kids.

    To start the year in a festive way (as if I haven't had enough of the festivities and the eating), let me share with all of you my favorite cups of hot chocolate. May they comfort you as well, and bring you warmth wherever you go. And because chocolate is good for the heart, may they soothe your hearts literally and figuratively. 
    ~ ~ ~

    1. Home-Made Tsokolate - a very obvious top-most choice. I always make hot chocolate drinks at home, of course. My family has stopped making tsokolate tablea, but I soon realized as I traveled the country that it abounds in the provinces. So I scour provincial markets and bring home tablea in all shapes and sizes and in varying degrees of strength and quality.

      I am also grateful for my constant supply of home-made tsokolate rolls from my aunt-in-law in Mangaldan (photo above), made from home-grown cacao beans, which my youngest frequently begs to be made into champorado for breakfast, eating it all day. She glugs the hot chocolate drink, too, all day.

      Making hot chocolate to drink at home has all the advantages - the strength of the chocolate can be calibrated to one's preference, extra cups can be had at no extra cost over the course of many hours, and no one would mind if you want to lounge around cradling your cup in your pajamas.

      My preferred chocolate mix is 2/3 cup water for every tablea/ball, substituting the last cup with milk, and measuring out one tablea for each person, although I usually add several tableas (with the corresponding water) over the number of people in our household as I normally drink two cups, and the kids like to have "chocolate milk" in between meals.

      Gritty, with a strongly dominant chocolate flavor, just a hint of cream from the milk, the copper-bronze hue of the liquid glistening with cacao oil, and with an unmistakeable fruity tang, tsokolate is my ultimate comforting drink.

      Needless to say, tsokolate from cacao tablea is the standard against which I measure any and all chocolate drinks. I am very harsh about weak chocolate drinks - steamed milk mixed with processed chocolate powder, which probably contain so many synthetic ingredients and had undergone so many processes that its taste is so far removed from its origins. So the following collection from commercial sources are not your ordinary chocolate drinks - they all have powerful chocolate flavors, and most are not silky smooth.
    2. Pure & Best Low Fat Chocolate Milk - I have been patronizing Hacienda Macalauan products for more than two years now, although they had only become commercially available last year. I’m lucky that I work in a building near the corporate offices of the company, and my colleagues and I used to just call in an order for their vanilla and chocolate milk in 2-liter jugs, then picked them up on delivery days Tuesdays and Thursdays.

      I was also a fan of the variously flavored natural yogurts, sour cream and the excellent mozzarella, the likes of which I’ve never bought anywhere else. On occasion I’ve also ordered a bottle or two of half and half and the superlative liquid cocoa, the latter like a liquid Royce dark chocolate bar that makes chocolate pastries shine, and also made for a dreamily silky chocolate drink mixed with a little vanilla milk.

      Now most large supermarkets carry Hacienda milk in chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and mango (like liquid ice cream!) flavors, plus full-cream, low-fat and half and half, in 1-liter and 200 mL cartons, as well as the yogurts. Individual cartons are also stocked by 7-11. The chocolate milk is sold at a little premium over the other milk flavors, and it is the one likely to be still in mint condition when I get home and on for the next few days.

      Yes, Hacienda Macalauan milk, unlike commercially processed ones, spoil easily. When I used to buy at the corporate offices, I would bring a cooler and the staff would fill it up with ice cubes to keep the jugs cold all the way home. Now I bring an insulated bag and frozen cooling gel packs, because, as it says in the cartons, the milk has to be kept at temperature below 4 degrees C.

      So if anyone out there buys and has an intervening time of more than 30 minutes from the grocery going back to your house, I suggest you do the same. And get the milk from the chiller last, just before paying at the cashier. Also always check the expiry date, and get the carton with ED the farthest. The milk is most probably already spoiled four-five days before the ED.

      The vanilla milk, which everybody in my family loves, spoils the fastest, and I don’t know why but lately all vanilla milk I’ve bought were already sour and curdled even though I pack them in ice.

      All this trouble for a carton of milk, you say? Yes, and all the expense, too, from the spoiled milk, and because they sell higher by about 25-30% than the UHT processed ones. It’s because they’re that good. Cold or hot, the chocolate milk is thick and velvety, and flavorsome. As the other milk flavors. The goodness comes from being preservative-free and totally organic.

      The cows from which the milk come from aren’t given hormones and antibiotics, and pasture on pesticide-free grass at the foot of Mt. Makiling. All these are more than enough reasons for the trouble, even for just a cup of chocolate milk.

      Pure & Best Milk
      by Hacienda Macalauan
      Available in most supermarkets in and around Metro Manila

    3. Dark, Bittersweet Chocolate at Cafe by the Ruins - Whenever I am in Baguio I'm always itching to go eat at Cafe by the Ruins. If possible I'd like to have all my breakfasts there. The native tsokolate, which is called Dark, Bittersweet Chocolate on the menu, is attuned to the soul-soothing tranquility of the ambience, and instantly warms against the cold of the highlands.

      Dark, deep, macho. Poured with carabao's milk, sweetened with muscovado and spiced with cinnamon, this cup of chocolate pairs perfectly with the cafe's rolls and breads. Drinking it is always a becalming way of starting my Baguio holiday.

      Cafe by the Ruins
      23 Chuntug Street
      Baguio City
      Tel. No. (074) 4424010/4464010

    4. Native Tsokolate at Abuelita's - this cup is creamy owing to the evaporated milk added in and scalded while the chocolate is still foaming off over fire. The chocolate is mildly potent in strength and smooth. The owner says the tablea is homemade, and can be bought at the premises for brewing at home. It is perfect with Vigan longganiza (also available at Abuelita's cooked and uncooked, and better than the ones being sold at the public market).

      I've read somewhere that a small square of chocolate can remove garlic breath. In Vigan, eating Vigan longganiza for breakfast is a must, but if you don't want to be smelling like a sack of garlic while you tour the museums, imbibing a cup of Abuelita's tsokolate afterward is all it takes.

      Abuelita's Restaurant
      Calle Mabini corner Calle Reyes
      Heritage Village
      Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

  • Hot Chocolate at Paris Delice - finding a proper native tsokolate at a Parisian bakery in Makati selling breads and pastries flown from Paris is nothing short of shocking. But there it is, grainy with the use of tablea, the milk not drowning the chocolate, foamy like it's been beaten with a batirol, and with all the cocoa oil.

    I don't care much for the French rolls - perhaps it is the weather, but I've had better croissants even from supermarkets in Paris and at the airport in Rome. But I invariably find myself at the cafe for the tsokolate.

  • Paris Delice
    1 Juno Street corner Makati Avenue
    Makati City
    Tel. No. (632) 2181662, 7980740

  • Belgian Hot Chocolate at BFAST - like a true Belgian chocolate, the cup at Chef Laudico's BFAST is silky on the tongue and drinks smoothly. The chocolate here is potent, compelling and creamy. A cup and a warmed plate of the dense queso de bola ensaymada is my all-time comfort pairing, any time of the day.

    There's a problem with the consistency of how it is made, though, much to my disappointment. One afternoon, it was all so chocolatey, but one morning it was so watered down with milk it tasted like inferior cocoa powder was used. At such times I take my comfort from somewhere else - the Belgian champorado, made with the same chocolate but served thicker, with a sprinkling of rice krispies/rice puffs. It's so fabulous I want to drink it up from the bowl.

    Ayala Triangle Gardens
    Makati City

  • Signature Hot Chocolate at Starbucks - I once declared somewhere in this blog that the hot chocolate at Starbucks tasted like tree bark. But somewhere in-between that remark and a few years ago, Starbucks revamped its hot chocolate and came up with its signature hot chocolate - full-bodied and tasting like real, brawny chocolate. Sometimes the cold milk with which it is mixed overpowers the chocolate taste, but most times it is spot on, even with the whipped cream. Or I order it with low fat milk to ensure the chocolate is not drowned. Smooth but not thick, it suffices in satiating my chocolate craving.

    Starbucks Philippines

  • ~ ~ ~

    My Other Favorite Hot Drink
    Milk Tea

    Related Posts
    My Favorite Starbucks
    Cafe by the Ruins
    Royce Nama Chocolate