Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dencio's Eastwood City - Manila Dining

If you're taking a group of friends - or your family - with you to dinner, Dencio's is the perfect place. They have big servings and an atmosphere fit for a gathering of friends. Dencio's Restaurants are located in several places all over Metro Manila (and beyond). I chose the one located at my favorite shopping complex, Eastwood City.

Dencio's Restaurant in Eastwood is a two-story restaurant. The ground floor level is styled like a pub while an AC room at the second floor has a more glam atmosphere. They also have "tuyom" in the menu, a particularly curious serving of "sea urchins" I wasn't too adventurous to try.

Click here for a photo or two of these urchins:

Though the restaurant is not exactly cheap, I loved the taste of everything and their big servings. In my last three visits since December, I have noticed a very attentive set of waiters welcoming you. They have been instructed to do so (obviously). Have their guests seated, wait for the orders and those iced tea refills, additional orders - but every time everything else is consumed, that's where they start ignoring you! After all, your bill has been totaled and all that's left to do is reach down your pockets to hand your payment, right? It's a rather funny situation when you're enjoying your dining experience so far - then when you're about to pay, they start walking past your calls - like the eye has a peripheral visual span of only 50 degrees from your central vision. They could fool others, but not someone who has taken 5 years to master visual science. Regardless of this minor quibble, food was great!

Dencio's Eastwood is owned and operated by Pancake House Inc. and is located at Unit G9-B Eastwood Citywalk 1.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Sizzling Sisig at P245 ($5.60) an order.

Adobong Kangkong (water spinach) at P125 ($2.80).

Gambas (fresh shrimps) at P265 ($6).

Boneless chicken barbecue at P140 ($3.17).

Baked mussels (tahong)

Buko Pandan at P80 ($1.80)

Garlic fried rice at P40 ($0.91).

Check out Eastwood City here:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dencio's Kamayan Sa Hilltop - Travelling Full in Davao

I first experienced Dencio's Kamayan Sa Hilltop some years back when there weren't much structures along the dark uphill road. Of course, Jack's Ridge views are better because it's nearer - and lower - from the height of the hill that goes further up Barangay Langub in the Ma-a District of the city. But Dencio's Kamayan sa Hilltop provides a more relaxed atmosphere. Unlike Jack's Ridge which typically congests during the weekend (it is a compound where several shops and restaurants conglomerate), Dencio's Kamayan is a lone structure at the top of the hill.

I was told this wasn't a branch of the Dencio's found all over Manila - and throughout Luzon! This is allegedly owned by Davaoenos. They have 4 branches in Davao (SM City Davao, NCCC Mall in Ma-a, Market Basket at the Damosa Gateway in Lanang, and the Hilltop branch which is my favorite). They also have branches in Tagum (Davao del Norte) and another in Cagayan de Oro City (KCC Mall).

Dencio's Kamayan prides itself with their barbecues, their grilled meat and the way they cook them tastefully, with a subtle preference for a bit of sweetness, a signature palate identifier that has translated into loyal patrons since its first branch opened in 1998. The view from the top is dreamy and romantic; tables are available at a main dining hall, as well as separate bahay kubo-style cottages down below. Their waiters are more than attentive, and best of all is their affordable price!

You can call them at (082) 286-5070 for inquiries or reservations. The only hitch here is the availability of public transport if you haven't got a car. It is a bit isolated - which is the inherent charm of the place. But you can always ask your taxi driver to wait - though I sometimes forget the time when I am there.

Visit their website for a glimpse of their menu and prices here -

Below are some photos we ordered during our visit. We made the mistake of ordering a huge platter aside from individual orders, each one with huge servings! This is a place that justifies the term "pig out"!

And we were more than satiated by the time we left the place.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

A platter of different grilled items: chicken, pork, sausages, squid, and even spring rolls with minced meat inside.

Pansit canton (noodle)

Seafood Sinigang and Sinigang na Bangus Belly

Chicken liver at their tastiest!

Lumpia shanghai (Spring/meat rolls)

Dencio's mascot stands at the entrance.

Up next: Compare Davao's Dencio's with Manila's Dencio's! -

Davao City, the view from the top. This photo only courtesy of Philip Cadabuna.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ahfat Seafood Plaza - Davao City Dining

With a population of just about 1.35 million people, Davao City - Mindanao's biggest city - is home to some of the cheapest and most delectable "fine dining" and buffet restaurants. There's a dizzying number of places to choose from when you feel like pigging out. I was able to visit Ahfat Seafood Plaza located at the Victoria Plaza Mall complex, at the fringes of the open parking space. It's unassuming entrance may feel like another ordinary restaurant, but not where it really matters - "taste"! In fact, most of Ahfat's charm lies in its reasonably priced food, an order would range from P150-250.

Ahfat Seafood Plaza is near the back of Victoria Plaza Mall which faces J.P. Laurel Street in Bahada District. For inquiries and reservation (for big groups), you may call (082)-224-0002, (082)-225-5787, and (082)-226-2688.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Crispy Pata is a generous serving of pork leg and trotter, slow simmered in a savory broth, air-dried to cure for hours, and then deep fried to a crunchy crisp. Its delectable meat stays juicy and tender, but its outer rind is a fun-biting crunch. This tasty Filipino delicacy, easy and uncomplicated, is a celebrated treat. It is served with soy sauce or vinegar, and Ahfat's Crispy Pata is accompanied by flavored chicharon (crackers).

Chicharong Bulaklak, literally translated to Flower Crackers, is deep fried pork intestines, served crunchy, and crumbles to the taste. It is usually dipped in vinegar before taking that sinful bite.

Bird's Nest Soup is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. A few species of swift, the cave swifts, are renowned for building the saliva nests used to produce the unique texture of this soup, which has gelatinous texture. The edible bird's nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. The nests have been used in Chinese cooking for over 400 years, most often as bird's nest soup.

Century egg, also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, and millennium egg , is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing. Through the process, the yolk becomes a dark green and creamy with a smell of odor of sulfur and ammonia, while the white becomes a dark brown, transparent jelly with little flavor. This is believed to have been discovered 600 years ago during the Ming Dynasty in Hunnan.

Yang Chao Fried Rice

No-frills Chinese Restaurant in Bahada, Davao City.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shops at the Davao International Airport

I used to hate airports. There was a time it was just a transit point to and from places, but after several years of hopping from one to the next, I have learned to – at the very least – appreciate them, by finding out what they offer to the travel weary visitors. They somehow help you relax and shake off that sense of paranoia that innately accompanies visiting ports of entries and exits.

A few months ago, I received an email from someone who requested if I could list down some of the shops and restaurants available at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport, aka Davao International Airport located in southern Philippines in the island of Mindanao. After considering this request, finally here are the shops just immediately prior to proceeding to the Pre-departure area:

RecommendedSuka at Sili (Vinegar and Pepper) is the airport’s modest branch of a bigger fine-dine Filipino Restaurant found at the city center. Great tasting food though a bit on the upmarket side (pictured above). 

I recently caught myself with a three-hour delayed flight by PAL Express (formerly Airphil Express) so they "treated" their guests to a free dinner. What we got was the dullest fish fillet I have ever encountered in my life, paired with the miniscule cup of iced tea. I actually took two bites from my fish then left the whole piece altogether. There goes my recommendation! :)

R and R's Cuppa Lounge is found just before queuing for the security check to the pre-departure gates. They used to be Karl's Koffee Corner. It has been re-designed into a cozier cafe-style joint with a single waitress manning it. I tried their Tocino meal before: pricey at P150 and not palatable. I am not sure if it's still available now. But what's consistent about this place is their Durian shake. They serve one of the best at the airport. They seem to specialize with Durian coffee so I tried their Durian Frappe at P140 (July 2018). It's amazing how the "musty" flavor of Durian and coffee work pretty well together. Highly recommended.

Solomon’s Den is one of the airport’s pioneering “canteens” way before there were other food joints here. It used to serve fresh home cooked meals on simple canteen-style tables. I complained about stale food and their eternally smirking cafeteria servers but during recent visits (July 2018), the variety of food and service have improved. Meals usually cost P150. There's usually lechon kawali, chicken liver, adobo and monggo beans!


There are two shops at the pre-departure area: "A'den - Charles Daniel Cafe" which sells hand bags by Hermes, Nine West, Giordano, etc. - and Sky Go Cafe where you can order sandwiches, coffee or some drinks (no "real" food" and the ones available are at a higher price). The latter is styled like a lounge where techies could surf with their laptop, but the place is a bit low on space and gastronomic options are very limited. If you want to fill your stomach, this isn't the place. If you feel at home sitting on lounges with other keyboard denizens, you'd feel comfortable here. 

Meanwhile, A'den's serves rice toppings (the "silog" variety), spaghetti, etc. I've tried their Club Sandwich before. There's several entries in their menu but the last two instances I was there, they only had 2 or 3 items available, they might as well throw the menu to the bin. As stomach filler, they will serve cup noodles.

Sky Go Cafe (above and below) is located at the other end of the pre-departure area, away from the boarding gates.
Cheese and Egg sandwich (PhP100) at A'Den Cafe is mercilessly tasteless. And those are crackers/chips, not french fries. A'Den is a busy shop boasting of space at the Pre-departure Area; one of the only 2 cafes. Unfortunately, this relatively expensive shop is stuffy and hot. Their aircon spews warm air so if you're looking for a bit of coolness, this is not the place. Moreover, tables are hardly cleared because of the fast and hectic turnover with just 2 employees manning the counter. A'Den also sells crocodile leather products.

Sky Go Cafe has wifi service and a very limited food list.

Sky Go Cafe - browse and have a sandwich.

Islands Souvenirs is found at the 2nd level just before paying for the PhP200 terminal fee

R and R's Cuppa Lounge has been re-designed into a homier joint from its previous bar-style interiors. This used to be Karl's Koffee Korner. Please check the next 4 photos.

Durian Frappe for P140 at R and R's Cuppa Lounge

Karl's Koffee Corner. As of January 28, 2012, This joint has been renamed R&R Cuppa Lounge (photos above).
Air Can-Anan Express serves cafeteria food like Solomon's Den, though the crowd seems to prefer the latter. Located opposite R and R Cuppa Lounge, beside Suka at Sili.

Sip and Snack - another snack bar which also sells souvenir items.

Sip and Snack's Durian shake @ PhP115 is a must-try as well. They're also offering a Durian Frozen Cake @PhP35 a piece. Now isn't that interesting?

Sip and Snack's delicacies. A packet of Civet Coffee costs PhP1,200.

Durian Choco from the award-winning Minco brand.

Esther and Pet M.T.B. - Not a pet shop, they serve food and beverages.

Solomon's Den - The airport's pioneering food house, serving food a la cafeteria. Unfortunately, its servers have dispensed away with common courtesy and hospitality. Located beside the toilet. 

Shirts and batik polos being sold at Bienvenida's beside Solomon's Den.
Nenita pomelos are sold at PhP550 per box at Bienvenida's.

Datoedco Fishbay

Datoedco's unsweetened Chocolate from Malagos. What is an unsweet chocolate?

1231 Souvenirz To Go - This one has lots of souvenir items to offer and the "Golden" brand of pomelos. When looking for really sweet pomelos, "Golden" is almost a sure-thing! Other brands of pomelos include Menzi, Nenita's and Dizon Farm. A box of pomelo costs PhP550 to 600.

Dark chocolate bars from Kablon Farms. There's even a "spicy" chocolate. Hmmm. At P70 (almost $2) each, they should taste like heaven as they're more expensive than Toblerone.

Durian in Davao is even available in the form of chips (crackers).

Crisp wafer delicacy called "Galletas de Davao" sold at Karl's Koffee Korner.

The Souvenir Shop is located at the 2nd level near the escalator before the terminal fee counter. 

Nescafe Alegria is hidden at the back of "The Souvenir Shop".

Dream catchers at The Souvenir Shop.

Handicraft at The Souvenir Shop.
Airport Garden Cafe is flanked by The Souvenir Shop (right) and Pete's Cafe (left).

The Airport Garden Cafe has a canteen-style design. I think this used to be a shop before this was a dining place.

Unfortunately, I failed to take note of its name, but it's probably "Luzviminda".

On the way to the pre-departure area and boarding gates at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport.

Relaxing interior lights from the final security check going towards the pre-departure hall.