5 Food Facts About Vietnam

5 Food Facts About Vietnam

 

Back in February of 2016, I had the chance to visit Vietnam for the first time. That trip is one of those memories I’ll always cherish not only because I got to experience its culture that is rich and intact, or saw many picturesque sights, but largely because of my enjoyment for their food. From time to time, I would crave for that fresh, light and healthy taste of Vietnamese food that is quite distinct from its neighboring Asian countries. Here’s a simple guide on what to enjoy beyond your typical Gỏi cuốn with peanut sauce.

1. Coffee culture

 

Vietnamese coffee is known for the rich aroma and roasted taste that is simply enjoyed either on it’s own, with sweetened condensed milk or interesting things like eggs and even mangoes. Their coffee can be served hot or cold, sometimes even with a coffee drip but one thing’s for sure: it’s freshly brewed. Similar to some of its neighboring asian countries, their coffee culture involves lounging in little plastic chairs out on the streets in the afternoon and just chatting away with your friends as a pastime.

 

 

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It is so easy to find coffee to bring home as there’s lots of shops selling beans by the bulk, they even offer cheap coffee drips for your personal use. They categorize their coffee by the number, depending on the darkness of roast and bitterness of coffee. If you cannot commit to coffee beans, their G7 instant coffee mixes are just as good. Trust me.

 

2. Cuisine

 

Vietnamese cuisine has so much to offer than what you typically see in commercial restaurants. If asked to describe what it is like, I would say it’s the kind of cuisine with a flavor profile that’s not too overwhelming but sure is enough to make you love it.  

 

 

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One thing you’ll notice and definitely enjoy is the freshness of the ingredients, whether that would be the vegetables or seafood. The preparation is not that complex, but they make sure that each flavor of the  components are pronounced. It is always never too salty or too oily.  Vietnamese love their spices as well – don’t be fooled by that bowl of sliced chilis on the side; it really packs a punch but makes the whole food experience even more amazing.

 

3. Seafood

 

 

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One thing I will never forget from my trip to Vietnam is that seafood spread we had when we visited Ha Long Bay. We were seated on the side of the road in those plastic chairs enjoying the winter air and the server just put down a plateful of oysters fresh off the grill. It tastes heavenly and was really juicy that you can just taste the sea. We partnered our steamed rice to plates of grilled fish,  crabs and shrimps, clam soup and it was amazing. It’s really fresh, big and flavorful seafood that’s served hot with just a side of lemon and chili. Aside from the taste, you’ll also enjoy it because it’s relatively cheap, especially if you come in groups and try out different dishes together.

 

4. Street food

 

 

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Like anywhere in Asia, street food is always the interesting part. It is the cheap, fast, readily available fried little things that you can enjoy while doing just about anything. What makes street food in Vietnam interesting is that it is diverse – from fried spring rolls with glass noodles and hints of vegetables and meat, bowls of rice noodles with beef flanks and herbs, french baguette with meat and other savory fillings, to cut up fresh fruits sprinkled with chili, lime and salt. It is a beautiful marriage of fried and fresh things together that you almost don’t feel like you’re eating traditional book-definition of street food. Good food that’s guilt-free? Count me in.

 

5. “Souvenir” Treats

 

 

Of course, every trip wouldn’t be complete without anything to bring home as giveaway to your family and/or friends, or simply for your own pleasure. From my experience, Vietnam isn’t really that big on specially-packaged or ‘export quality’ souvenir treats aside from packed banana or vegetable chips, or chocolate-covered dried mangoes. They are more on the typical touristy things like shirts, hats, fridge magnets, key chains and whatnot. What you should look out for however are the local goodies like dried/preserved fruits and nuts, coffee beans, local tea blends, spices and/or instant Vietnamese rice noodles. It’s available almost anywhere, in any shop. If I actually had a choice, I would bring home bags and bags of their sweetened plain yogurt.

 

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My 4 Annual Tagaytay Go-To Places

My 4 Annual Tagaytay Go-To Places

 

We all have that familiar spots that our families visit as an annual tradition. For my family, that is Tagaytay. We love it not only for the chilly weather, but for that feeling of escape that it gives, away from the busyness of our everyday lives.

Over the years, new spots have emerged for you to eat, shop and do things at, but this list is not about that. Here are 5 places that my family loves to come back to year by year.

 

1. Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms

 

 

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This has to be one of my favorite homegrown brands. We’ve religiously visited ever since it was small, and we’ve seen their following and their little farm grow over the years. Ilog Maria sells all-natural products like household, aromatherapy, skincare, health and personal products, as well as natural handmade soaps. What makes it special is that bee by-products such as bee pollen, honeycomb, beeswax or raw honey is the star ingredient in most of their products. All materials are sourced locally, if not regionally, and chemicals are not introduced even in the farm itself. They’re also an advocate in saving the lives of bees. It’s haven for organic fanatics.

 

Contact Info:

47 Aguinaldo Highway, Lalaan 1, Silang, 4118 Cavite

Open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8AM to 5PM

www.ilogmaria.com

info@ilogmaria.com

 

2. Amira’s Buco Tart Haus

 

 

urmajestysire, WordPress

 

Coconuts are abundant in Tagaytay and one thing you’d notice is the countless number of buko pie shops everywhere you go. It’s inevitable for you to pick up a box of baked goodies that’s fresh from the oven. I get my fix here at Amira’s Buco Tart House. The owner started off working in the 90’s with cakes and breads but they became famous with their All-Year Favorite Buco Tart. They have long expanded to more than just tarts but their classic with apple crumble crust on top and sweet coconut meat on the inside will always have my heart.

 

Contact Info:

Aguinaldo Highway Corner SVD Road

Barangay Maitim 2nd East Tagaytay City

Open daily from 7AM to 7PM

(0916) 360-2849 or (046) 413-4109

amirasbucotart.com

order@amirasbucotart.com

 

3. Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen

 

Aubrey Abalos

 

Your commercial Vietnamese restaurants at the malls have nothing against Bawai’s authenticity at their home-cooked offerings, in fact they’ve mastered to get me craving every once in awhile. Everything’s good in here, not only the food, but the scenery as well because it’s quiet, airy and perfect for that family get-together or even just a simple romantic lunch with your loved one. Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls), Chao Tom (pounded shrimp on sugarcane skewers), Ca Kho To (braised fish in caramel and coconut juice sauce) and of course, Pho Bo (traditional beef noodle soup) are definite hits at this restaurant.

 

Contact Info:

Hernandez Street, Purok 5, Bukal, Silang, Cavite

Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11AM to 2PM, 5PM to 8PM

0920 972 2924

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bawais

 

4. Memory Lane

 

 

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My mom is a big fan of any restaurant that’s owned by a celebrity so even if it was quite far, we traveled here just to try out the food and in case you’re wondering, this one is Jolina Magdangal’s. Aside from the quirky vintage decors that’s definitely Instagram-worthy, what people come back here for and raving about is their Baby Back Ribs. It’s cooked off the bone, really tender that it melts in your mouth and has very tasty sauce that comes with it. A little on the pricey side, but with the view, quiet surroundings and savory dishes, it is worth trying.

 

Contact Info:

Magallanes Drive, Tagaytay, Cavite

+63 9228298486

 

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7 Must Visit Restaurants Around Taft

7 Must Visit Restaurants Around Taft

 

1. 8065 Bagnet

 

 

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As the name says, Bagnet is their specialty, so if you’re craving for some deep fried pork belly, this is the place to go. Make sure to come early since the place usually gets packed around lunch time, but don’t you worry, they have a second floor and an outdoor seating when it gets really packed. Did you know that the first branch is located at 8065 Estrella Street, San Antonio, Makati City? Hence the number 8065.

 

 

@ayramae, instagram.com

 

        Must order: Bagnet Sisig (Budget Meal – P125 , Good for Two – P200)

        Address: Leon Guinto Corner Estrada Street,Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-10PM

 

2. The Barn Cafe

 

 

Patricia Echavez

 

The barn, more famously known as a drinking place especially during Thursday nights because of DLSU’s four-day class schedule, also has a cafe located at the second floor. Their entrees may be a wee bit pricey for those who are on a tight budget, but nonetheless, worth every peso. Trust me, your tummy will thank you for it. P.S. Try their milkshakes!

 

 

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Must order: Roast Chicken (P190), Beefy Mushroom (P175)

Address: 2226 Fidel A. Reyes Street, Malate, Manila

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 10AM-12MN

 

3. Chomp Chomp

       

 

@emljsn, instagram.com

 

Craving for some heat? Chomp Chomp’s Singaporean laksa will surely satisfy your tastebuds. Fun fact – they have another branch in Banawe called Bugis Singaporean street food, but they basically have the same menu.

 

 

@chikkanessave, instagram.com

 

Must order: Singapore Laksa (P180), Hainanese Chicken (P205)

Address: 2/F Bellagio Residence, Leon Guinto cor. Estrada St., Malate, Manila

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM

             


4. Samgyupsalamat

 

 

@juvyalinar

 

Your Korean barbeque fix just around corner (literally). This restaurant is located at a tiny street in Leon Guinto and may be easy to miss for new dwellers, so keep your eyes open for the Samgyupsalamat signboard. Tipid Tips: Bring your friends, since there’s a minimum of 2 orders before you’ll be able to grill some meat. Plus, you’ll be able to share the experience and get to pig out with your besties, win-win situation right?

 

       Must order: Daepae Samgyupsal (P240), Beef Samgyupsal (P320), Bibimbap (P200)

        Address: 911 Kapitan Tikong Corner Leon Guinto Street, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-11PM, Sun 12NN-11PM

 

 

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Insider Tip: They have an unlimited Samgyupsal promo every weekend and holidays. The free side dishes are also refillable so you can eat until your hearts content.

5. Rap Steak and Cakes

 

 

Patricia Echavez

 

Feel like eating steak, but you’re on a tight budget? Then visit the most raved about steak place in Taft. You can opt to switch your sides to mashed potatoes or pasta instead of rice for an additional P30. Plus, They give you a whole pitcher of gravy, which is the definition of “sauce palang, ulam na”.

        Must order: T-bone steak (P245), Glazed beef short ribs (P220)

        Address: 879 Dagonoy Street, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-10PM

 

6. Topside Diner

 

 

Sail with this nautical-themed restaurant and get ready to get your hands dirty with their juicy buffalo wings. This tiny diner is usually packed with hungry students so make sure to come early. Waiting is the game, but it’s totally worth it when you get to try their cheese topped-buffalo wings (Garlic Parma).

 

        Must order: Garlic Parma Combo w/ Drinks (P99)

        Address: 2589 Leon Guinto St., Vito Cruz, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9AM-9PM, Sat 9AM-7PM

 

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Insider tip: You can order from the lemonade stand outside and ask them to bring it right at your table.

 

7. Exile 

 

 

Candyd Sia

 

It’s time for dessert! This quaint little restaurant serves the best brownies in town! Top it off with their homemade ice cream and prepare to see heaven. It’s a little tight in this place, but they also have an outside seating if you’re up for grabbing late night drinks with your barkada.

 

        Must order: Y Tu Mama Brownies ala mode (P85 + P50 single scoop)

        Address: Unit 2, 2428 Leon Guinto Street, Malate, Manila

        Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-11PM

 

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7 Must Try Restaurants Inside UP Diliman

7 Must Try Restaurants Inside UP Diliman

 

1. Snack Shack

 

 

Snack Shack, Facebook.com

 

Snack Shack is one of the first establishments you’ll see once you enter UP Diliman’s Area 2. It offers freshly grilled juicy burgers, which are a hit among students and professionals alike. In fact, you will frequently see students from other universities queuing to get a taste of their best-selling quarter- (P80) or half-pounders (P155). Lines tend to get long on busy days as the patties are cooked only upon order. Their burgers are packed with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and condiments. Aside from these buns, Snack Shack also offers sausages, bacon and fries, and add-ons such as blue cheese and jalapeno. Snack Shack has gained quite a following since its first branch and has opened branches in Sikatuna and Marikina already.    

 

 

Snack Shack, Facebook.com

 

Address: Area 2, J.P. Laurel, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:30 AM – 7:15 PM

 

 

2. Khas Food House

 

 

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Aside from housing the University’s swimming pool, the UP Arcade is also home to a hidden foodie gem unknown to many Iskos and Iskas. Because of its low-key location and unassuming interiors, Khas is easy to miss. Usual customers are University dormers and exchange students who live in the International Center across the Arcade. Khas Food House offers spice-packed Persian dishes perfect for students who want an exciting meal. Start your meal with the Combination Platter (a combination of samosas, pakoras, and onion bhajis), followed by Biryani Beef/Chicken/Vegetable (P150). Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, order “That’s Not What You Think” (P85), lean back, and wait for the chef’s surprise!

 

Address: UP Arcade, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: 10:30 AM – 8:30 PM

 

 

3. Lutong Bahay

One of Area 2’s classics, Lutong Bahay, usually called “LB” by its patrons, is a favorite of many students because of it’s affordable lutong-bahay meals– perfect for the average college student’s appetite and budget. LB’s familiar and homey vibe keeps students coming back regularly. Its most popular combo meals include barbecue, siomai, or shanghai with rice. LB is also popular for serving the best Mango and Mango-Graham shake (starts at P50) along Area 2. Make sure both your hands are free when ordering this as you get a big plastic cup and a bonus small cup both filled to the brim with sweet and creamy mango shake!

 

Address: Area 2, J.P. Laurel, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM 

 

4. Endless Summer Café

 

 

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Strolling along Area 2 for the first time, you’ll surely spend a few minutes checking out the day-on-the-beach themed interiors of the Endless Summer Cafe. The designs on the walls and the over-all vibe of the cafe succeed in making you feel “endless summer” any time of the year. Dine here if you feel like relaxing on a busy day and need to be teleported to the beach ASAP. Endless Summer Cafe offers a variety of food choices including silog meals, sizzling meals, and their best-selling buffalo wings (P85). Pair your meal with their best selling summer smoothies. Their choco banana chocnut summer smoothie (P90) is a must try! If you’re around Maginhawa, you can catch Endless Summer Cafe in StrEat (Maginhawa Food Park) as well.

 

Address: Area 2, J.P. Laurel, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM

 

5. Rodic’s Diner

 

 

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It’s impossible to talk about UP Diliman’s food scene and not mention Rodic’s Diner and its classic Tapsilog. Having been around for more than half a century already, generations upon generations of Iskos and Iskas have, at one point in their college life, ordered this tapsilog in a box, hurriedly mixed all its components into one heaping goodness, and drowned the concoction in generous spoonfuls of vinegar. Aside from the Tapsilog, you also shouldn’t miss their baconsilog, another favorite of many UP students.

 

 

en.yelp.com.ph

 

Address: UP Shopping Center, Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: 7:00 AM to 8:30 PM

 

6. Mashitta Korean and Japanese Restaurant

 

 

 
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If you’re craving for cheap Asian food, try out Mashitta on your next lunch date with your orgmates! Like it’s neighbor, Rodic’s, Mashitta has gained quite a following throughout the years because of its affordable and filling Korean and Japanese meals. Upon entry, the restaurant looks cramped, but the stairs in the corner of the room leads to a more spacious second floor. Order a bowl of Ramyun (P109) plus a side of Tuna Kimbab (99) to get your Korean fix!

 

Address: Shopping Center, UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

 

7. Art Circle Gallery Cafe

 

 

Art Circle Cafe, Facebook.com

 

Great food and art perfectly combine in this quaint cafe-slash-gallery tucked in the Bahay ng Alumni. Even if food prices are a bit steep for a student’s budget, students regularly visit the cafe for a quiet, air-conditioned, he(art)y food break. From time to time, it becomes a study place for Iskos and Iskas or a place to hold intimate org meetings. Employees and professionals are regular customers as well. Art Circle serves all day breakfast, sandwiches, rice meals, and pasta. Their flavor-packed Spicy Pasta Negra is a must-try!

 

 

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Address: Ground Floor, Bahay ng Alumni, UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City

Hours: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM

 

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12 Hours Around Manila

12 Hours Around Manila

 

Visiting the Philippines and you have one spare day for a day trip around the country’s capital city – Manila?

Are you not sure what places are worth visiting in Manila?

We’ve got it covered for you.

Known as the Pearl of the Orient, Manila has important and great things to offer to you. Manila could give you a taste of both the present reality in Manila, and the rich history of Manila. Manila will show you both the rich and the poor, the present and the past. It’s a good place to learn about the Philippines and experience the Filipino culture.

So what can you do for a day in Manila?

To start your day, visit Rizal Park or Luneta Park early in the morning. Rizal Park is a famous landmark in Manila. It is located along Roxas Boulevard. It houses the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal – an executed Filipino nationalist during the Spanish regime in the Philippines. At this place, you could go for an early morning workout at the park, while visiting this historical park.

 

 

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If you have spare time, you could also check out Manila Bay. But, I would suggest you visit Manila Bay also along Roxas Boulevard just before sunset. Manila Bay is a harbor serving the Port of Manila which is known for its iconic sunset. And it is one of the best things you would want to see in Manila.

 

 

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Next stop, would be Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila.

Fort Santiago is a citadel which was built also during the Spanish era as a form of defensive structure to protect Manila – a newly built city that time. It’s the famous Walled City of Manila. Some people usually visit this at night and join a historical and ghost walk tour.

 

 

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Then, next stop could either be Manila Ocean Park, Binondo – the oldest Chinatown in the world, or Star City.

Whichever of the three places could be a good choice for you depending on your preferences, and the type of experience you would want to try.

Let’s start with Manila Ocean Park.

Manila Ocean Park is Philippine’s first world class marine theme park. The park is open from 10 am until 8 pm. Aside from their marine theme park, they have Hotel H2O within the park and fast foods and restaurants.

 

 

 

manilaoceanpark.com

 

Another possible stop is, Binondo – Chinatown.

It’s one of the best places to visit in Manila where you’ll experience the richness of the Filipino – Chinese cultures that had flourished for a long time already. Chinese fast foods and restaurants line the whole Binondo, you’ll spot authentic Chinese dishes and delicacies all over the place. It’s a taste of the Chinese culture within Manila. You also can enjoy shopping within this area, lots of malls to find both rare and common items at an affordable price.

 

 

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If otherwise, you are looking for fun and excitement. An amusement park is within your reach in Pasay, Manila. It would be more fun if you could be at this place for a whole day, but you only have 12 hours around Manila. You really have to choose your rides wisely.

For your last stop for the day, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, SM Mall of Asia (MOA). MOA is one of the tourist destinations in Manila, other than as a shopping center SM Mall of Asia also offers concert grounds, seaside restaurants and bars, amusement rides, skating rinks, IMAX theatre and many other features.

 

 

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This is a good last stop for a 12 hour day trip in Manila. It can offer you a lot of things, and it’s nice to be here at night.

 

 

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17 Terms and Tidbits About MJ and Chocolate

17 Terms and Tidbits About MJ and Chocolate

 

 

 

 

17 terms and tidbits about MJ and chocolates

#1: Cacao trees don’t die.

You just have to rejuvenate them every fifty years through plant grafting.

#2: Cacao trees have the same lifespan as coffee trees.

Almost the same lifespan actually, which is also fifty years.

#3: Scalding.

Verb: it’s when we warm the milk.

#4: I used to do chocolate demos in Masinag. 

This was last February and November 2012, until I brought chocolate demos to my own home.

 

#5: Sikwate.

It’s a traditional hot choco term usually used in the Visayas region.

#6: Chocolate espeso.

This literally translates to thick chocolate, which was drank only by the rich during the Spanish colonial period.

#7: Chocolate aguada.

This translates to watered down chocolate, usually the leftovers of the rich consumed by the poor.

#8: Couverture.

It’s a French word that translates into a blanket or a covering. Chocolate couverture = chocolate covering.

#9: Polycarbonate molds.

These are the molds we use. They are made in Belgium and cost 1800 pesos. Their lifespan is from ten to twenty years. It costs this much because it’s expensive to inject the plastic into the molds.

#10: Betaprime crystals.

You have to temper them so that there’s a snap when you eat the chocolate.

#11: Question: What did they do when there was no thermometer back in the day?

Answer: They used to put some chocolate on their lips to check the temperature since it’s the thinnest skin on the body.

#12: Marble.

It is usually 20 degrees lower than the surrounding temperature, which is why marble worktops are great for chocolate making.

#13: Where’s a good place to get chocolates in Spain?

Madrid and Barcelona.

#14: We need to slice the chocolate into small pieces.

So it melts faster and evenly.

#15: You can use balancing equations when formulating recipes!

Chemistry in everyday life!

#16: Chocolate is sensitive to odor.

It can smell like the food which is put near it, so you should keep it in the veggie compartment of your refrigerator and in air tight container.

#17: A hungry conversation.

Kuya MJ: They usually promote baking.

Brian: Bacon?

 

Photos credits: Jeff de Guzman

 

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