Monday, January 30, 2017

Sunset Walk Along Subic Bay's Boardwalk (Zambales)

Sunsets in Subic are golden. The sheen and hue of the sun infect like a virulent strain of joy. I have been here several times, but this is the first time I wasn't in any rush. The beach promenade, aptly called boardwalk by the freeport zone, is gorgeous and nothing too fancy. In this area, near Mansion Garden Hotel, there's less commerce, which I prefer. 

From the hotel, it's a 3 to 4 blocks of stroll to this spectacular sunset viewpoint, passing through tree-lined Malawaan Park. Huge ships are found docked nearby. There's a tourist-friendly "Subic Bay" letter display near the breakwater. There are statues and hand-casts of politicians. I saw Meat Plus Cafe. The Reef Hotel and Residences have their highly rated Pirates Bistro. There are a couple of Duty-Free Shops beside Mansion Garden Hotel, and a Mini Stop beside the hotel. There's also a 7-11 nearby. 

In this strip of the boardwalk, people are more laidback compared to the more commercial area about a kilometer or two from here. I could just sit and watch the sun disappear into the mountain horizon. It's moments like these that are more precious than a checklist of sites to see. However, seeing some establishments closed shop, like the once-popular Legenda Hotel, makes me wistful. Like this beautiful day, there are ends to things that are transient.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Malawaan Park

Pirates Bistro (above and below)

Since this is duty-free zone, Vietnamese Coffee is available.

Meat Plus Cafe

Mansion Garden Hotel

My Mommy's House of Kare Kare

#subicbay   #boardwalk   #stroll   #zambales

Friday, January 27, 2017

Great Pork Chop Meals at the Garden Cafe, Mansion Garden Hotel (Subic Bay, Zambales)

We try to avoid repeat dining in hotel restaurants so we can experience a variety of gastronomy in the places we visit. But I was hungry and was feeling lazy to roam just yet. I needed to fuel up before I can do that. After all, the hotel's surroundings has duty-free shops, walk-worthy streets, the comely and tree-filled Malawaan Park, a charming boardwalk and beach promenade, and a lighthouse nearby. I need energy before I could roam... so I opted to have my mid-afternoon lunch at the Garden Cafe.

Garden Cafe's grilled pork chop marinated in age-old "secret" sauce

The interiors sparkle with elegant design, mirrors, and adequate use of natural light. I liked that. There was no scrimping of space as well. Much of the place feels breezy and laidback, with very attentive waiters.

Meals at Mansion Garden Hotel's Garden Cafe don't exactly come cheap. Some of their least expensive entrees are their pasta dishes (Spaghetti at PhP140, Penne Pasta at PhP140, Garlic Prawn Fettuccine at PhP220). Their main dishes: their house specialty Pork Chop and Home Style Fried Chicken at PhP200 each; Oriental Beef Steak at PhP240; Sweet and Sour Fish Fillet at PhP260 and Pan Fried Salmon at PhP380. Canned drinks (Coke) costs PhP50 and Iced Tea (glass) costs PhP30. 

Are they any good? Yes, they are. Their pork chop is one of the best we've ever tasted, and that isn't saying lightly.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Sweet and sour fish fillet

#mansiongardenhotel   #gardencafe  #porkchop   #foodporn

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Meat-Plus Cafe's Most Mouth-Watering Steaks (Subic Bay, Zambales)

People keep saying that a Subic visit isn't complete without visiting Meat Plus Cafe. That didn't seem very appropriate, to be honest. But I wanted to try Meat-Plus anyway.

While walking around, I was eyeing the cafe all day. The place was eternally packed. It looked like a fastfood chain. You place your orders and pay at the counter. Then they bring your food to your table. Simple. Each order, mostly costs between PhP250 and 300. A party of 6 cost me PhP2100 so you have to realize that it isn't the cheapest. But great food doesn't exactly come cheap. Most orders come as set meals, with rice and a vegetable salad (coleslaw). We didn't even have to wait very long - just 15-minutes.

In this post, we're featuring Baby Back Ribs with its very special gravy (because there's nothing else like it), tenderloin steak and pork chop that's so delicious, it tastes even better than nearby Mansion Garden Hotel's Garden Cafe's pork chop (which is the hotel's house special - at it really tastes good). The meat was so tender, you don't require brute force to slice through it. 

If you haven't tried Subic's Meat Plus, drop in and give it a try. It will definitely enrich your Subic experience. Now that's the more appropriate statement.

Meat-Plus Cafe is located at 65 Sampson Road in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales (047-252-7091). It's in the vicinity of a couple of duty-free shops, the beach promenade and Mansion Garden Hotel.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Baby back ribs (above and below)

Pork chop

Tenderloin steak (above and below)

Order counter

#meatplus   #steaks   #foodporn   #subic

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Mansion Garden Hotel (Subic Bay, Zambales)

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of weekend revelers, Mansion Garden Hotel is ideally located at the fringes of Subic Bay Freeport Zone, about a kilometer or so away from the main commercial hub of hotels and restaurants, but close enough for a leisurely stroll. It is relatively new so everything seems to work in place. The compound is roughly divided into two buildings, while a new and bigger wing is under construction. The rooms are impressively spacious too. 

I booked for 3 rooms, 2 deluxe suites (rooms 233 and 235 - the last two available upon booking) and a double standard (room 221), all three has the pool view. Unfortunately, you don't get to see much of the pool because of the bamboo trees planted beside the swimming pool from ground level.

There is a bridgeway that connects the main receiving area and the rooms which boasts of verandas. It's important to realize that the hotel is a family restaurant thus it attracts this clientele. Being so, there's a bit of noise involved. With poor sound insulation, you do hear children frolicking at the pool, or that wailing infant crying his heart out. But it's all good. Inside your room is a haven of relation. Very comfortable beds with soft and immaculately clean pillows. The duvet, this visit, is colored green with silken covers, they slide wonderfully on your skin. Sony LCD cable TV, a Hitachi AC inverter, a Eurotex mini-ref, provisions for a kettle with coffee and complimentary bottles of water (2 for the standard rooms, 4 for deluxe double suites). Best of all, wifi is briskly connected all throughout the hotel.

Breakfast is to be had at the Function Hall (ground floor) in Building 2 (7 AM to 9:30 AM), but there's Garden Cafe beside the front desk that serves choice meals. There's a lift that takes you to the 2nd and 3rd level. The swimming pool is smallish but kept clean all day. 

There are a couple of duty-free shops a block or two away with American brands and items coming from Thailand, China, Vietnam and Korea. Nearby is a must-try Meat Plus Cafe which serves the best steaks in the freeport zone (set meals between PhP250-300).

The Malawaan Park has huge trees all around, and the beachfront promenade (called the boardwalk) are within walking distance. The Pirates Bistro, which is highly rated by tripadvisor travelers, is also nearby.

All in all, Mansion Garden Hotel is highly recommended.

This is the Eye in the Sky

Room 233, deluxe suite, check out all that space.

Two double beds at room 233, a deluxe suite.

Room 221, a double standard room. Just a wee bit smaller space compared to the deluxe rooms - and single beds.
Satiny sheets

Seating room at the 2nd level, building 2. Beside it is the bridgeway connecting buildings 1 and 2.

Mansion Garden Cafe's breakfast buffet offers Filipino fare. When there are few guests, a la carte choices are offered instead.

At the background is the Garden Cafe.

At the lobby.

#mansiongardenhotel   #subicbay   #accommodation   #zambales

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Street Gastronomy: Meat Wrapped Rice Balls (Kyoto, Japan)

From afar, they look like "turon" (banana lumpia). Once closer, you'll rethink your guess. It's hotdog on a stick. But are they?

Well, they're really rice balls wrapped in thinly-sliced meat - the nikumaki onigiri. There are two food concepts here: the "onigiri" refers to the rice balls; the "nikumaki" refers to the thinly-sliced meat, as I was told. These items are delicious and cheap at 500 yen a piece. Meat wraps are found all over Japan but they originated from the southern island of Kyushu.

I was just walking out of the Fushimi Inari Shrine when I saw these rice balls at the side streets of Kyoto, Japan's cultural mecca. 

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Yup, they're rice alright.

Before garnishing them.

#streetfood   #kyoto   #riceballs   #japan