Monday, December 31, 2012

Disappointed at SumoSam @ SM North The Block

We had dinner at SumoSam in The Block last Friday. Before that, we had only dined at Sumo Sam once, at Trinoma. All I remembered of that visit were the huge ("sumo") servings of ramen and the higher-than-expected prices.

Back to The Block branch. The first thing that made an impression on me upon entering the restaurant were the flies. There were two or three of them buzzing by the table we were about to sit at. They were a turnoff. Bf and I thought of leaving and eating elsewhere, but we felt shy because a staff member was already assisting us and that particular table was far from the exit. Later on, bf would comment about this. He joked that the flies were trying to warn us to get out; we just didn't listen.

We ordered two gyoza soups, a plate of tuna sushi, beef curry plate, watermelon shake, and bottomless iced tea.

Bf hated the beef curry plate since he felt nauseous after eating it. I ate 1/3 of the beef curry and while I'm not a big fan of curry, I didn't think anything was wrong with it. Perhaps it just reacted with the cold and cough medication bf took before dinner. I found the sushi enjoyable and the gyoza soup okay. In short, I'm not complaining about the taste of the food, but the service left much to be desired.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Bola-Bola Siopao I Got from Chowking was a Mutant

My companion brought home four regular bola-bola siopao from Chowking Araneta Square (Monumento) last night. After we consumed three, I took out the last one from the plastic bag. It felt weird.

On the outside, the siopao looked like your typical, innocent meat bun.

Chowking Bola-Bola Siopao

But it was just a wolf in sheep's clothing.


A cup of steamed rice posing as a siopao. Shame on you!

extra rice wrapped in Chowking Bola-Bola Siopao wrapper
this extra rice is nothing but a second-rate, trying-hard copycat!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Prawn Farm Grill & Seafoods in Island City Mall

After resting in our room in Vest Pension House in Bohol, my companions and I decided to check out Island City Mall and to grab a late lunch. Going to the mall was easy; we just had to flag down a passing tricycle near Vest's entrance. Fare was P40.

If I'm not mistaken, Island City Mall is the biggest mall in Bohol. From what I saw when we were there, most of the food joints in the mall were the typical restaurant chains you see in Manila. I wanted to try a new restaurant, as going all the way to Bohol then eating in the usual restos seemed lame. There were some food court stalls that sold Boholano food, but since the whole vacation thing was our treat to our senior companions, I wanted a food place that was a little more formal. If we had more time, we could have been more adventurous and tried non-mall restaurants to get a taste of authentic Boholano food while enjoying the view. As it was, we had to make the most out of our situation.

Thankfully, when I craned my neck, I caught sight of The Prawn Farm Grill and Seafoods in the upper floor. Prawn (or shrimp) is a magic word for me, so bingo!

Prawn Farm did not disappoint. I wish they had a branch near our place here in Manila.


We ordered the following: Pochero, Lechon Kawali, Pancit Sotanghon, Shrimp Balls of Fire, Pork Sizzling Sisig, and Buco Shake.

Pochero Visayas ala Bulalo at The Prawn Farm Grill and Seafoods

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bohol Tour via Vest Pension House / Paul Julapong

Upon arrival at Vest Pension House, I arranged our Bohol countryside tour. According to Vest's Web site, the tour costs P3000 if via car, P3500 if via van. I paid P3000 since there were only 4 of us and we would fit in a car, but it was a van that serviced us the next day, so we were much more comfortable during the tour. The entrance fees and other miscellaneous fees were paid directly upon arrival at the different tourist spots.

The countryside tour would last for 9 hours (7am-4pm). We were advised by the Vest receptionist to call the front desk at 6am to have our breakfast prepared early. The following morning after breakfast, our tour operator arrived and we were off to see the sites.

From Vest Pension House, it took about an hour of traffic-free ride before we began seeing Chocolate Hills. The Hills looked magnificent when viewed on a high area, but driving close to individual mounds was exhilarating.

The tour's destinations:

1. Sagbayan Peak
Here you can have your pictures taken with a T. Rex dinosaur, Ironman, and several Disney characters. You also get a good view of the surrounding area, including the Chocolate Hills.
Entrance fee: P30/pax

Sagbayan Peak in Bohol, Philippines
Sagbayan Peak in Bohol, Philippines

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Travel Accommodations: Vest Pension House in Tagbilaran, Bohol

In our recent trip to Bohol, we stayed at Vest Pension House. There were four of us (all adults) so I chose a family room. I booked and paid for our room via Agoda. The rate for the room was P2500/night. The bill, including taxes and service fees, (with a P350 discount courtesy of my BPI credit card) for our 3 days/2 nights stay amounted to P5,249.79 (USD 127.42).

Vest Pension House in Bohol

Why I chose Vest

Vest had a high score (8/10) and more than 200 positive reviews in Agoda. I also liked the hotel's booking conditions: Free cancellation. Any cancellation received within 1 day prior to arrival will incur the first night's charge. (Note: The booking conditions stated were for the family room available during the dates of our trip, booked through Agoda. The conditions may differ if you book other rooms or through other methods.) In contrast, the other hotel we were considering had penalties if you cancel within 21 days of your arrival. We scheduled our trip near the end of November to avoid the rainy season, but knowing our country, we sometimes get heavy rain and storms even late in the year. Besides, we were traveling with senior citizens, so an easy cancellation or booking changes in case of typhoons or other emergencies felt reassuring.

Another thing that made me choose Vest was that their tour packages (destinations and prices) were already posted at their Web site. As someone who spends a lot of time in front of the computer, I prefer to do transactions online. As such, I dislike having to contact a merchant or establishment just to have detailed information about their product or service. I especially dislike having to ask for something basic such as prices. I prefer to have access to all important information and to be able to form an informed decision with as minimal contact with another human being as possible. Not the best of traits, I know, but that's how I roll.

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