Battle of the Pepper Steaks

BattleofPepper Steaks

I enjoy fast food every now and then. What I like about the Pinoy fast food scene is the focus on rice meals, which are closer to home-cooked meals that give people the feeling of satiety and satisfaction. (A lot of Filipinos don’t feel a meal is complete without rice; a burger sandwich, then, is just a “snack”.)

The latest battlefield in the Pinoy fast food wars is on the front of burger steaks. Jollibee has had Burger Steak with gravy and rice for the longest time on their menu, but McDonald’s introduced their Mushroom Pepper Steak as a competitor. I’m not sure about the timeline of things, but soon enough Jollibee had their own Pepper Steak.

One good thing that came of this is Jollibee reinstated their two-piece Burger Steak menu item. Prior to facing competition they had phased out the two-piece item, forcing hungry people to order two one-piece Burger Steaks instead.

It was time to put the two pepper steaks to a taste test. While I definitely have the appetite to eat both kinds in one sitting, my waist line won’t allow for further expansion. So, I ate them one week apart, both after arduous gym sessions that left me ravenous. They do say hunger makes meals taste better, so…

Battle of the Burger SteaksBattle of the Burger Steaks

Patty

I loved how thick yet soft the McDonald’s patty was. In contrast, Jollibee’s was thinner and the edges overdone. Some people note that McDonald’s used the same patty here as in their Burger McDo, so it’s not 100% real beef unlike Jollibee’s.

Sauce

Jollibee’s tasted more of pepper, but McDonald’s sauce was so flavorful I spread some of it over the rice, and attempted to scrape up every last bit as I finished my meal.

Topping

I like mushrooms and corn equally but the mushrooms melded into the flavor of the sauce better. The corn on the Jollibee steak reminded me too much of KFC’s Chicken a la King sauce, and I prefer that sauce vastly over the Jollibee pepper sauce.

VERDICT

Unlike most people I know, I prefer the McDonald’s dish! Maybe I just like gravy that tastes more like cream of mushroom.

I seem to be in the minority, according to this informal Twitter poll I took.

A little disclosure: I also prefer McDonald’s hamburgers to Jollibee’s Yum burgers, and would buy McDonald’s french fries over Jollibee Crispy fries. But you will only be able to pry Jollibee’s Chickenjoy from my cold, dead hands.

1 Little, 2 Little… 12 Monkeys

(or the time a famous musician bought me a drink)

I’ve not been one to go for nightlife or the local music scene lately simply because I’m a morning person, a somewhat serious athlete, and there’s something about going to a dingy smoky bar late at night just to watch a band perform that makes my asthmatic throat constrict.

12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub at Century City Mall, Makati aims to change that attitude, and from my visit there last Friday I think it might actually work. 🙂

12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is on the 5th Level

12 Monkeys
fully-stocked bar

12 Monkeys
for the live acts

12 Monkeys
for the DJs

This music hall and pub was set up by the who’s who of Manila’s music, social, and F&B scene. Read more

Kuala Lumpur By My Lonesome

Chalk it up to a sheltered upbringing, but I’ve always traveled with companions when going outside the country. Last year’s Singapore trip was the closest I’d ever gotten to traveling alone, and that was because I needed to fly back to the Philippines earlier than my travel buddy Julia.

Last February 14-18 I went to Kuala Lumpur to attend the Les Mills Ultimate Super Workshop at Sunway Resort Hotel. Anyone familiar with Kuala Lumpur knows that Sunway isn’t inside the city itself, so I booked a room at Sun Inns Hotel Lagoon for about P1,000/night. The Agoda.com listing said it was a 10-minute walk to Sunway Resort from there, so I figured it was convenient enough.

Using Google Maps

Using Google Maps

I would just commute into the city if I wanted to see the Petronas Towers or go shopping at the major malls there. I downloaded some apps to help me get around, like CityMaps2Go, TripAdvisor City Guides, the KL Trains app, and of course, Google Maps. These apps helped me get a general sense of where everything would be in relation to each other, but I knew things would be different once I was actually there. Read more

Tea Time

I used to say that I only had one cup of coffee a week. Then it grew to two. Then three. Before I knew it, I had a full-blown dependence on Starbucks lattes. It didn’t help that for the previous month I’ve been trying to rack up enough stickers to claim a planner.

So I went cold-turkey. And that’s where this belated Christmas basket from Lipton Philippines comes in.

Thanks Lipton for the Christmas basket!

Thanks for the Christmas basket!

I go through phases of what kinds of drinks I prefer. I had this whole orange juice phase, and I’ve just gotten past the coffee phase. The cycle’s coming back to tea, and as I write this entry I’m brewing up a cup of Lipton Yellow Label. Read more

A Morning at Mercato Centrale BGC

Back when Mercato Centrale first opened near Bonifacio High Street in 2010 for its Morning Mercato market, I would drop by on Sundays after a race for some food and drink. I was already familiar with the concept of weekend markets where fresh food and produce were offered, since my family and I frequented the one that used to be held at the Lung Center of the Philippines compound on Quezon Avenue. Still, the charm of each weekend market is the variety; they don’t all have the same concessionaires, so you could have a completely different food and shopping experience from one market to another.

fresh produce
organic produce fresh off the farm

Today, Morning Mercato re-opened in its original location at the corner of 30th Street and 9th Avenue in BGC. It’ll be there on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 2pm through November and December. (Midnight Mercato will still be held at the Mercato tent near Turf BGC.) Read more

Finding Food with Foursquare

I never used to understand the allure of Foursquare. I mean, for obvious privacy and anti-stalking reasons I don’t want strangers seeing where I usually go or where I am at a particular time. Yet I still see many of my friends tweet their locations because they’ve linked their Foursquare accounts with their Twitter feeds.

So what’s the deal with Foursquare, anyway? I decided to take the plunge. Since I’m on Globe’s Blackberry Max plan, I can use any app that requires an Internet connection at no extra charge. I took my precautions by choosing not to publish anything to my social networks, and adding only those friends I trust with my location. (Odd how that shrunk my friends list down considerably.)

I started off by checking into my places of work, and noticed the Explore tab.

Foursquare on BlackBerry 9360

Foursquare on a BlackBerry 9360 (with Otter Box casing)

Clicking it revealed the Top Picks around my current location. I could also switch between Top Picks, Specials (if any nearby places were offering deals for Foursquare users), Trending (places with many Foursquare users gathered at that moment), Food, Coffee, Nightlife, Shops, Sights, A&E, and Outdoors.

Foursquare on BlackBerry 9360

Explore options

When I selected Food, I realized there were so many places around me I hadn’t yet tried. I’m the kind of person who finds one restaurant in a certain place, always goes there and always orders a specific item on the menu. I’m not the adventurous foodie type at all. So if you think about it, Foursquare’s the perfect thing to jostle me out of my comfort zone and go food-tripping. And the information on Foursquare is crowdsourced; this means regular people leave tips recommend these places and dishes, and can disagree with unrealistic and untrue tips. That’s quite unlike review websites which sometimes have dubious reputations for talking up a lackluster restaurants.

This was put to the test when I dropped by Greenbelt 5 last Wednesday and didn’t want to eat at my usual haunt *coughcoughKFCcoughcough*. So I hit Explore and was overjoyed to find a Toast Box that I didn’t know existed in the mall!

After that initial success, I started checking in at other restaurants to see what dishes had good reviews. I had a late lunch with a friend at Texas Roadhouse in Bonifacio High Street last Saturday, and before we ordered, I saw that three previous Foursquare users had left tips saying their Southwestern Cobb salad was delicious. And it was!

Next week, I’ll probably check out restaurants near here in Pasig, like Bullchef in Kapitolyo which Foursquare users say serves an amazing and filling bulalo stew. I salivate in anticipation.

Noelle De Guzman is a Globe mobile data services brand ambassador.

Five Days in Singapore

My friend Julia and I headed to Singapore at the end of June just in time for the Great Singapore Sale. We’d booked our flights six months in advance to take advantage of promo fares, hoping to scrape together enough savings to shop with. Thankfully we didn’t need to pay for lodging due to some kind friends who had settled there and offered to host us during our stay.

We had two hosts for the trip: spent two nights with one family in the Mount Faber/Harbourfront area, and another three nights with an old school friend in Tampines. If you’ve seen the Singapore SMRT map, you’ll know that’s almost on opposite sides of the island! Taxi fares are expensive and most of the SMRT is underground, so I didn’t get to see how all the streets and areas connected with each other. I did try to map out a run route once and was surprised that it would be almost 21 kilometers just to get from Tampines to a nearby beach and back. People say Singapore is so small you can tour it all in a day. After my trip, I doubt that’s really true.

Singapore Swing: Waiting for a Bus

waiting for a bus

Singapore Swing: Train Stations

amusing myself with train station names

Singapore Swing: Traveler

random dude I spotted on the train on his way to the airport

Read more

Learning to Cook: Chicken Tinola

Ever since we moved to our small two-bedroom condo unit and had to let go of our househelp (she still comes in once a week to help us with laundry and cleaning), I’ve had to learn how to cook. I can’t rely on my mother to do all our cooking since she has a day job of her own, and that would just be too much to ask, especially since I’m also an adult and need to pull my own weight in this household.

I’m not talking simple fare like sauteeing onions before pouring canned corned beef into the pan, or frying hotdogs and eggs. I’m also not talking about making waffles and pancakes from scratch. I knew how to do those things before we moved here. I’m referring to real, home-cooked dishes, slow-boiled in a pot and seasoned to taste.

My parents never asked me to start cooking; I thought of doing so on my own. I think it was in August last year when I decided to make myself some chicken tinola because I wasn’t feeling well and wanted soup. After a false start accidentally burning the ginger, I started again with fresh ginger, and it was a success! I got even sicker the next day and was thankful for the tinola leftovers because I didn’t have appetite for much else.

For me, the key to being a good cook is the ability to cook a delicious dish many times without the taste varying between each batch. So a few weeks ago, I cooked tinola again and it turned out even better than it did the first time!

If you haven’t tried cooking this simple dish, here’s the recipe I always use. It’s pretty lazy since it doesn’t have amounts or cooking times. I cook by feel, mostly. Read more