September 25, 2017

Sekitori Ortigas

Sekitori or sumo wrestlers in Japan live in 43 different training stables which train and feed them. Wrestlers lead a highly regimented way of life. They are prescribed to act and behave depending on their rank. Higher rank wrestlers are given preference over the lower rank, for example in order of taking a bath and having a meal. Wrestlers usually undergo hard training from early in the morning until noon. That’s why they are usually given a large serving of lunch… quite similar to the lunch sets they serve at Sekitori Ortigas.

Miso soup

Side salad

Agedashi tofu


Crispy salmon roll

Sushi gozen

Black sesame ice cream

Actually one of the owners of the restaurant is an ex-sumo wrestler with thorough knowledge of authentic Japanese food. And honestly, their food offering is as great as their giant sekitori.

Hanston Square Bldg.
#17 San Miguel Ave., Pasig City
Tel. No.: 881-7985

September 21, 2017

Vine Café by FNS

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
- John 15:5

Yakult calamantea

French fries


Vanilla sprinkle cake

Cookie ala mode

Vine Café is a homey and artsy café set up by chefs behind the Fat and Skinny Desserts. They serve comfort meals, coffee and yummy home-baked pastries and desserts. There are three things I like about Vine - their mini library with flower mandala bookshelf, tables and chairs with lovely artworks, and the numerous religious quotes and sayings such as “I loved you at your darkest” and “Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways”.

Vine Café by FNS
#4A P. Burgos St.
Malinao, Pasig City

September 18, 2017

Poultry Stack, Tomas Morato

Happiness is the smell of fried chicken and garlic.

Garlic rice

Triple cheeze chicken parmigiana

Grilled chicken bolognese

Poultry stack garlic overload chicken

PS brookie

Calamansi cheesecake

Poultry Stack 
24-C Sct. Tuazon St. cor. Sct. Lozano
Brgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City
Tel. No.: 410-5050

September 12, 2017

Sonya’s Garden Country Bed and Breakfast

All good things are wild and free, and flowers.

One of the favorite childhood memories of Sonya Garcia is the time when her Lola Merced roused her from sleep when she was still five years old to show her how the “queen of the night” bloom by midnight. This exquisite and deeply fragrant nocturnal white flower which belongs to cactus family, blooms once a year and for one night only. It was a fleeting but magical experience for her that started her perpetual love and fascination with flowers and gardens.

Many years later, Sonya opened her secret-garden inspired home to the public in 1998. It was after a young man asked a lady to be the “love of his life” amidst Sonya’s verdant and flower-laden garden, where hibiscus and hydrangeas served as witnesses. Countless “declaration of love” and proposals in the same garden, have followed through as the years pass by. I mean who could resist the promise of forever especially when you are transported to a Monet or Renoir impressionist painting of floral paradise and dreamy provincial life?

I was greeted with the same picturesque place that I fell in love with since the first time I’ve set foot at Sonya’s, the pioneering bed and breakfast place in the country. This time though there are fun-loving dogs, aside from the courteous staff, that welcome guests.   

Lovely water rangoli with flowers and rose petals could be found in almost every nook of the place. They aren’t only works of art, they relax the senses.

There are 14 English-inspired cottages with 18 rooms scattered within the expansive estate of Sonya. They are named after flowers and herbs, mostly growing in her garden. Each room is distinct but they all have one thing in common – they don’t have noisy air-conditioner and TV but they all look romantic, homey. I was given an option to choose a room of my own liking.

The Lavender Cottage is the biggest among the accommodations; perhaps the most beautiful too.

I also got a glimpse of Periwinkle, Petunia, Hollyhock, Buttercup, Fennel and Primrose Cottages.

But in the end, I chose to stay at Thyme Room. It is surrounded by bougainvillea trees and shrubs. With three queen-size beds, a daybed and study area, the room is quite spacious having a maximum capacity of 7 persons. There are five things and amenities that I exceptionally like in this room – the electric fan with wooden case, the bathroom with stones and pebbles as floor cover, the fresh pink roses in the vase, Sonya’s coffee table book (where she shares with nostalgia almost everything about her life, the origins of her garden and the ingredients to her secret salad dressing), and of course the bed with soft and fluffy immaculate white sheet and comforter situated beside the capiz windows that overlook a pocket garden – the perfect spot to relax, read The Bridges of Madison County (and get heartbroken all over again), and simply forget the world.       

Staying overnight comes with a complimentary healthy and tasteful buffet lunch or dinner, and breakfast served at the communal dining area for checked-in guests. The menu has never changed ever since. For lunch or dinner – freshly harvested organic green salad with flowers and drizzled with Sonya’s (not so) secret salad dressing, bread with an array of freshly-made dips and toppings, pasta with tomato or cream and mango sauce, salmon belly, ratatouille and other side dishes, glazed sweet potato, banana rolls with jackfruit, sinful homemade chocolate cake, basil dalandan juice and tarragon tea. For breakfast – coffee or hot chocolate, bread with fruit jams, champorado with tuyo, fried rice, chicken and pork adobo, daing na bangus, mangoes and pineapples.

There are also two other and larger dining pavilions – The Morning Glory and Sunflower where walk-in guests dine. These also serve as events venue during weddings, birthday parties or other intimate celebrations.

In between mealtimes, there are several activities guests can do aside from basking in the serenity of the surroundings. Like strolling (or proposing to your better half) in the Proposal Garden, my most favorite spot at Sonya’s. The romantic setting which has led to many “I do's” is like a page torn from a fairytale book.  

Getting a pampering massage at Sonya’s Sensuous Spa.

Window shopping or buying art and vintage decors and furniture at Favorite Finds, organic body products at the Apothecary, handmade wares, trinkets and magic potions from the Country Store, and freshly baked Spanish bread at Panaderia.

Walking tour of the greenhouses, where the main ingredients for her garden salad such as lettuce and arugula come from.

And dipping at the Secret Haven, a private natural mineral spring of Sonya’s.

As night falls, the whimsical, colourful lights that illuminate the pathways, trees and plants transform the place into something quite enchanting.

I remembered some of Sonya’s Simple Guide to a Sweet Satisfying Life: 1. Enjoy the luxury of spending a quiet moment with yourself. 2. Begin and end your day with profuse thanks. 3 Have good thoughts about everyone. 4. Be compassionate. 5. Be perfectly content.

I could settle for this kind of life. I bet you would too. But when it comes to love, do not ever settle for anything less than magical or meaningful.

From Manila, take Nasugbu-bound bus from Buendia or South Terminal in Pasay. Get off in Buck Estate in Alfonso. From the highway, take a tricycle going to Sonya's.    

Sonya’s Garden Country Bed and Breakfast
Brgy. Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite
Tel. Nos.: 0917-5329097, 0917-5031080