Friday, January 27, 2012

Inagiku, Revisited ♥ ♥ ♥


Mom loves Japanese food. On her birthday, we let her indulge.

The only private rooms available tonight are the Tatami Room and the Teppanyaki Room.

I am so sure we are gonna be carrying our stomachs out after the meal so the least bending, crouching and belly-maneuvering is best.



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Therefore, the Teppanyaki Room



To make things easy, we all order the Teppanyaki Set Dinner which comes with appetizer, salad, main course, vegetables, rice, miso soup, pickles and dessert.

Mom doesn't eat beef so she orders the Tsuki Set which has with scallops, gindara and lobster for mains.

The rest of us love beef and order the Kiri Set which comes with lobster and Wagyu.



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And then the chef presents to us the goodies.


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Wagyu beef



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Lobster shells



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Lobster meat, scallops, gindara, asparagus



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Fried rice stuff



And then the show begins.


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On our plates:


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Lobster and fish



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Mom's scallops and gindara



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Can you smell it?



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Fried Rice



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Lobster Miso Soup



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Ube Jelly and Mochi



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Guiltless Chocolate Cake by Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf



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Thank you, JR & Kim, for the sinless choco treat!



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Happy Birthday, Mommy!


See my previous Inagiku post here.


Inagiku: Level 2, Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Ayala Avenue corner Makati Avenue, Makati City, Philippines. Tel: +632-840-0884


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gong Hei Fat Choy!


I have come to a point in my life where I've gathered enough courage and strength to say these 3 difficult words:





I give up on the idea of marriage, and I give up on the thought of bearing my own children.

And so this Year of the Dragon, I am adopting a Chinese baby.


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Her name is Snow Flower.

My cousin Frances got her from Spain.

I love her to pieces.


Got this in the mail today:

Hi Jin
I love your blog and recently have been reading it everyday
I am curious about 'how to do chinese new year' properly :-) food, practices, charms, etc
Hope you can feature this in your blog


Dear Leah,

Aside from wearing red and having a BIG BIG family feast, my mom prepares the following things to display at home:


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Pineapples big and small, giant tangerine, taro and ginger
In Fookien, pineapple is "ong lai" which sounds like "prosperity comes."
Oranges and tangerines mean good health and long life.
Tangerines with leaves intact mean long lasting and fruitful relationships.
The taro and ginger with many many roots symbolize many many offsprings.



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Pineapple door charm for more luck to come into the house



And of course...

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Love, Snow Flower and Me



Friday, January 20, 2012

My 12 Best Meals of 2011 - The Final Six ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section, January 15, 2012


My 2011's 12 Best Meals (The Final Six)

Seriously, I didn’t realize how the world is full of food junkies until seven days ago when half of the universe started messaging me, bribing me and some even harassing me to reveal my top six meals of 2011. What a delightful surprise to know the world is full of Johnlovestoeat, Marylovestoeat, (insert any name)lovestoeat who share my passion in all things edible. These lovestoeat peoples make the world a brighter, happier, tastier place.

And so, without further ado, my 2011’s Most Scrumptious Six:


Sushi Dinner at Kyubey Tokyo

6. Kyubey, Tokyo

It was a sushi theater inside Kyubey. I felt like I was watching a ballet performance, only the ballerinas were pieces of raw seafood, and the choreographer was our Japanese sushi chef. He handled each of the cast so exquisitely, showing off each sushi’s beauty in all its simplicity, letting the freshness and gentle flavors take center stage. Act One was generous slices of Otoro, Chutoro and Hamachi, followed by a line up of sushi acts which solicited heart-felt ooohhs and aaahhs from the audience: Toro, a special white fish, ika, uni, saori, kampachi, ebi (it was alive!), toro (again! Yay!), akanai, bonito katso, salted anago and anago with sauce. I requested a repeat performance of my favorites chutoro and otoro, and couldn’t help jumping up to give a standing ovation. Encore! Encore!

Kyubey is located at 7-6, Ginza 8-chome, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Tel: 03-3571-6523



Steak Tartare on Mustard Sorbet at The Goose Station Manila

5. The Goose Station, Manila

The foie cone was the daintiest little bouquet filled with buttery soft goose liver mousse that caressed my tongue like satin. The steak tartare was the most sensuous I had ever tasted in my life. Fresh, chunky pieces of Australian rib eye piled on top of whole grain mustard sorbet. Yes, mustard sorbet. I scooped the mixture onto the warm brioche and Oh. My. Gawwwddd. The play of hot and cold, the seductive fusion of flesh and fragrance. I knew as I devoured the last morsel of steak that I was experiencing a true culinary masterpiece, an orgasm in a martini glass. And what perfect way to end the meal than with different textures of strawberry goodness – strawberry chips, strawberry sorbet and the thinnest, finest strawberry paper. The flavors were so happy and vibrant I felt like I swallowed a whole rainbow.

The Goose Station is located at G/F, W Tower, 39th Street, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Philippines. Tel: +639178546673



Duck Breast with Seasonal Berries at Pierre Hong Kong

4. Pierre, Hong Kong

The place is sexy, and the food, even sexier. At Pierre, every course gives birth to many babyplates, like a degustation within a degustation. My appetizer of Canard des Dombes was spectacular drizzled with Bigarade sauce and loaded with seasonal berries, foie gras cubes and a marmalade of tangy preserved shallots on mesclun. Imagine the colors, imagine the flavors. I promise you the Black Truffle Melano-Sporum will give you multiple earthy orgasms with its truffle shortbread, poached egg Perigueux and sweet onion ravioli in tasty hen consommé. The pièce de résistance of the night was the lamb, which Pierre always, always does amazingly. The entourage consisted of roasted saddle with hyssop, black garlic biscuit and feet in caul casing, leg of lamb carpaccio with aromates, lamb cutlet a la Milanese, Provencal vegetable coulis, gorgonzola with dried apricot, “navarin printanier,” and tongue in Aspic.It was a magical dinner, as always when at Pierre.

Pierre is located at 25/F, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2825 4001



Japanese Wagyu Beef at Jin Yakiniku Osaka

3. Jin Yakiniku, Osaka

We were wandering around Amerikamura in the unforgiving February cold, hungry and looking for a warm place to eat. And then there in the small alley, we saw it. Jin Yakiniku! How could I ignore a restaurant named after me, especially when the unassuming hole in the wall was packed to the rafters and reeked of grilled beef. The menu was in Japanese so we did what we do best, we pointed at the biggest plate of wagyu with the most magnificent marbling. I tell you, every piece just melted in my mouth. It was sooo good it felt morally wrong. I closed my eyes and almost prayed for forgiveness. Instead, I said a prayer of thanks while I savored the extravagance in my mouth… And then I ordered cold Japanese biru.

Jin Yakiniku is located at 2 obittosuteji 1F, 2-9-17, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, Japan. Tel: 06-6211-6165



Xiao Long Bao at Bo Innovation Hong Kong

2. Bo Innovation, Hong Kong

They sprinkled wasabi snow on the fresh, plump oysters. Not freshly grated wasabi, mind you, but real wasabi as-in-fine-icy-shavings SNOW. Even before seeing the red-haired, tattoo-covered “Demon Chef,” I knew right away this was gonna be a wild, wild dinner. He adorned the traditional crispy taro puff with caviar and gold leaf, wrapped strands of black vermicelli in Iberico and topped the sexy bundle with a dollop of gazpacho foam. Pan seared foie gras was paired with muichoy ice cream (yes, muichoy as in preserved mustard greens!). My favorite has got to be the molecular xiao long bao, which was a perfect round blob made with the very essence of the soupy pork dumpling, Ferran Adria style. The century egg and pickled ginger in pink bubbles was also a winner. Wait till you see his Sex on the Beach!

Bo Innovation is located at 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2850 8371



Ratatouille at Aronia de Takazawa Tokyo

1. Aronia de Takazawa, Tokyo

The dinner was crazy out of this world. From the amuse bouche down to the petit fours, Chef Takazawa did not even once, fail to amaze. The 11-course degustation was so dramatic my heart skipped a beat every time his wife Akiko came to the table and described each dish. The Ratatouille was a colorful mosaic tile of 15 vegetables, cooked individually. I felt bad AND fabulous eating such a masterpiece. I was blown away again and again, by the Vegetable Parfait that had cream cheese for whipped cream and sweet tomato juice for syrup, the soft and creamy crab meat pumpkin Pucchin Pudding that brought back beautiful childhood memories, the tuna salad that turned into a smoky magic show when Chef Takazawa sprinkled his secret potion of powdery balsamic vinaigrette… My heart was palpitating with awe and excitement throughout the meal until it was time for “Dinner in the Forest,” then I felt my eyes well up. Wood-scented towels were given to clean our hands, and then on a chunky piece of tree trunk and lying beneath burnt pine needles, were the tenderest and most flavorful pieces of grilled lamb, sweet potatoes and gingko nuts that we were instructed to – wait for it – eat with our bare fingers. It was too perfect I wanted to cry. Aronia de Takazawa was truly a life-changing experience.

Aronia de Takazawa is located at 2/F of Sanyo Akasaka Building, 3-5-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. Tel: 81-3-3505-5052


Oh 2012, please, you have to be much, much better.


See My 12 Best Meals of 2011, Part 1

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carson & Mathea's Wedding Reception


He's my good friend Elisa's youngest brother.

We used to see this little boy playing around the house with no care in the world.

He is now 28 and getting married.

And I am 33 and still very single.

You beat me, Carson, you beat me.


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Cocktail Area



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Munchies and Bubbly



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And what a surprise… Charmaine flew in all the way from Hong Kong!



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The Ballroom



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The Cake



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Crystal Ball with Crabmeat, Scallop and Shrimp Roll, Pomelo with Wasabi Sauce, Jelly Fish



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Chicken Bamboo Pith Soup with Shark's Fin



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Braised Sea Cucumber, Goose Web and Homemade Tofu



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Pan Fried Cod Fish in Apple Sauce



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Raspberry Sorbet



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Bean Curd Scallops in Homemade Sauce, Pan Fried Beef Steak with Asparagus
in Red Wine Black Pepper Sauce, Seafood Fried Rice in Lotus Leaf



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Chilled Mango Pudding with Black Sesame Ice Cream



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My Girls



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Carson and Mathea. This is the closest I got to the newly weds.
Congratulations, love birds! :)



Edsa Shangri-La: 1 Garden Way, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City, Philippines. Tel: +632 633 8888

Li Li at Hyatt, Revisited ♥ ♥ ♥


34 years. It's how long they've been married, Mom and Dad.

34 years is not easy.

Not easy to be a partner to each other, and to be parents to us.

Of course, it isn't the easiest to be their children, too. (Ha ha!)

So we celebrate.

Because so far, so good.


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The Library at Li Li



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Tea service



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Hot Tea and Raspberry Iced Tea



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Peanuts and Pickled Veggies



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Drunken Chicken and Jelly Fish



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Salmon Sushi and Tuna Sushi



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Century Egg and Picked Ginger



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Braised Beef Cubes



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Imperial Peking Duck



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Processing it extremely intricately



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You can have all the meat. I'll have the skin.



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Keeping warm...



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… the Peking duck wrapper



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Braised Shark's Fin Soup with Seafood and Bamboo Pith



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Crispy Fried Taro and Scallops with Golden Mushrooms



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Steamed Live Garoupa



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Braised Japan Mushrooms with Abalone Shell and Vegetables in Abalone Sauce



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Baked Crab with Ginger and Spring Onions



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Wok-Fried Minced Duck with Lettuce Wrap



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Fried Rice with Assorted Meat Wrapped in Lotus Leaf



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Chilled Mango Cream with Almond Bean Curd



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Glutinous Dumpling Stuffed with White Chocolate and Rolled in Fine Peanut



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Because the anniversary falls within Hyatt's Christmas Cheer period, our set menu comes
with this complimentary Merry Christmas-Happy Anniversary Chocolate Truffle Cake



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And also this Christmas "Hamper"


Merry 34th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!


Read about Li Li's Dimsum Buffet here.


Li Li: 5/F, Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila, 1588 Pedro Gil cor M.H. Del Pilar, Malate, Manila, Philippines. Tel: +632-245-1234

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