Takoyaki for a Cause

Every now and then we see a takoyaki stand doing brisk business. However, most of what we see here isn’t really up to what they serve in Japan. More often than not, here, what we get is more akin to a giant fish or squid ball (as my friend CJ put it) cooked all the way through. While what it really should be is creamy, almost half-cooked on the inside. Having come from Osaka just a few months back, I was missing real takoyaki, which is a ubiquitous street food there, so I jumped at the chance to join a takoyaki tasting which would test the concept for a line of takoyaki carts in Manila.

Food was really only half the story here. This was the brainchild of Hajime Yokota from Tokyo who came to the Philippines over 20 years ago to help in the rehabilitation efforts for victims of the Mount Pinatubo eruption. It’s not often I write about my admiration for people but Hajime fully deserves it. He left Japan with a genuine desire to help. He landed in Manila, without a word of English or Filipino, and straight from the airport, somehow found his way to Zambales where he helped build houses for those displaced by the eruption. He established an NGO called A Child’s Trust is Ours to Nurture or ACTION which helps parents in livelihood projects for the education and housing of children. “Kuya,” as Hajime is known to his wards, thinks that takoyaki stands might be a way for the college age children helped by the foundation earn enough to at least help in their college tuition. Having been firmly established in Zambales, he plans to bring his advocacy to Manila.


In cooperation with Takotakodan, a takoyaki shop in Saitama Prefecture, we tasted a couple of versions. Basically, it was all the same ball of batter surrounding a piece of octopus (tako). The difference was in the sauces. Here’s one using the standard takoyaki sauce with Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes.

Standard takoyako

Standard takoyaki

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Taco Vengo

Taco Vengo has been around for a couple of months and has generated quite a bit of hype. Although it’s very near to my place I’ve put off a visit as I’ve heard it gets crowded and parking is a problem. Well the frenzy surrounding it has died down a bit and so I was able to visit it recently just before the lunch hour so parking was still available. Tco Vengo is one of a couple of restaurants in an unnamed complex made of up of repurposed container vans at the back of Pioneer Center in Pasig. They have a short menu but it covers all your basic meats and has a vegetarian option as well.


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IWFS President’s Dinner

In a departure from the usual hotel or restaurant as a venue for the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS) President’s Dinner, President Bernie Sim opted to have it at a place where he is most comfortable – the Bernardo Sim Hall of the Alliance Française. As a tireless supporter of the AF, Bernie was instrumental in constructing a state of the art performance venue at the top floor of the Alliance Française building. With his top of the line audio equipment and vast collection of vintage LPs, this is where Bernie feels most comfortable.

All the wines chosen (except for the sparkling and white) were taken from the IWFS cellar. It was to be a night mostly for Margaux, to be paired with the food of Chef Cyrille Soenen of Brasserie CiÇou and Impressions.

For cocktails while waiting for everyone to show up, we had a good supply of Huet Petillant Brut 2002.

Whites - Domaine Huet Petillant Brut 2002, Domaine Uroulat Cuvée Marie Jurançon Sec 2011

Whites – Domaine Huet Petillant Brut 2002, Domaine Uroulat Cuvée Marie Jurançon Sec 2011

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Dandy Ona Jewelry

Papercut-inspired jewelry

This dainty little pair of earrings by Dandy Ona came with its own tiny tray and pouch! (Cat not included)


I love teeny tiny things, and so it was love at first sight when this pair of earrings arrived from Dandy Ona Jewelry by Mansy Abesamis. Aren’t they sweet? You might recognize Mansy’s name from the super popular local washi tape and papercut line Hey Kessy, and Dandy Ona is her spin-off project of papercut-inspired custom jewelry (somehow this crafty maven found the time to take a jewelry design course while we weren’t looking!).

I’ve been wanting a pair of delicate little “everyday” earrings for a while now, but I can never seem to find anything I like in stores. Then I realized that what I was imagining was similar to Mansy’s style, so I sent her a couple of pegs and she took it from there. She waved her magic wand, and a few weeks later…the finished product couldn’t have been more perfect!


pearl earrings

A closer look


See more dainty designs on Instagram. Email hello@dandyona.com to order a custom Dandy Ona piece in silver or gold for yourself or someone special!


El Cabrito Tacos Etc.

The people behind the very successful El Chupacabra in Makati recently opened a Mexican grill called El Cabrito at the 2nd floor of Promenade in Greenhills. I’ve never been to Chupacabra but I’m in Greenhills for a couple of days every week so this was a pleasant surprise for me as I love Mexican food but lots of the places that serve it are in areas where parking and traffic can be difficult.


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Bunny Socks

You’ve already heard me gush about the cute, retro-inspired shoes of New York-based brand LeBunny Bleu, right? I’m thrilled to report that they now have an accessory line, too!

Le Bunny Bleu

Some bunnies to love…

How cute are these bunny ankle socks? They go perfectly with my favorite Le Bunny Bleu oxfords!


Le Bunny Bleu

Cat in the act: Floombert looks like he’s plotting to steal these precious little pouches!

Other accessories available include: watercolor print mugs, lovely makeup pouches, and a versatile travel bag for hopping around the world! The best part? You can even get these accessories for free with a minimum purchase (just the reason you need to finally take home that quirky pair of Oxfords or ballet flats you’ve been “visiting”)! As LeBunny Bleu says, “Every-bunny deserves some-bunny!”


Le Bunny Bleu

I like using my Le Bunny Bleu mug as a pretty planter! It’ll make a great gift idea, too! (Ooops, reflection fail in the photo…)


Visit LeBunny Bleu at 5/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, 2/F Glorietta 5, Robinsons Department Store Ermita, Wellworth UP Town Center, Flatshop (Glorietta 3, Greenhills, Eastwood). Or, shop online at Zalora, Lazada, AVA, or www.lebunnybleu.ph.com.


Victoria: Best of Region Wine Dinner

In case you aren’t wined out by all the wine events in the last few days, here’s another one for you. Wine Depot is hosting a wine dinner featuring 3 wineries considered some of the best from the Victoria region of Australia. The featured wineries are Caledonia Australis, Bress, and Dal Zotto. The wine makers will be on hand and will have a panel discussion on the wines presented. This will be at the New World Hotel on November 4 and tickets are priced at P 4000.00.

Visit the Wine Depot site to purchase tickets.



The Goose Station

A feature of many high-end restaurants in Manila these days is the degustation menu, which is the best showcase for the abilities of the chef. Often, these menus don’t just offer riffs on what is available on the a la carte menu, but is designed to show off special ingredients, techniques and the artistry of the chef. One of the pioneers in the offering of degustation menus is The Goose Station where Chef Rob Pengson creates refined and exquisite dishes based n Filipino classics.

For its October ever, the Chaine des Rotisseurs/Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Degustateurs decided on a BYOB dinner at The Goose Station since we had never had an event there and we had sampled Chef Rob’s new menu just a few months earlier.

To whet the appetite, we had the Foie Gras Cone which made its appearance in the first menu of The Goose Station and has remained on the menu ever since. It is a very popular dish and highly recommended.

Foie Gras Cone - Foie gras mousse, Port Jelly, Fig jam, Hazelnut

Foie Gras Cone – Foie gras mousse, Port Jelly, Fig jam, Hazelnut

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Upcoming Wine Events

It’s going to be a couple of heavy weeks for wine lovers with these upcoming wine events.

First up on October 24, Wine Depot will be hosting the Robert Parker Wine Advocate Matter of Taste Event at the Mayuree Ballroom of the Dusit Hotel. All the wines to be presented at this tasting are rated at least 90 points by The Wine Advocate. Tickets are priced at P 2800.00 and can be purchased through the Wine Depot website.


Next week, October 27, the Straits Wine Company holds its own tasting called the Straits Wine Fiesta. Over 150 wines will be available for tasting with 15 winemakers in attendance. There will also be masterclasses and a wine dinner. The ticket for the tasting is P 1000.00 while the wine dinner is priced at P 2800.00. This will be at Axon at Green Sun, 2285 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati. Tickets are available at Straits Wine Company, UPRC III Building, 2289 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati. Tel 7571180.




Lastly, on November 13, at the ballroom of the Marriott Hotel will be the biggest wine event of all with Philippine Wine Merchants hosting the 15th Grand Wine Experience with over 500 wines and a sumptuous buffet. Tickets are P 5000.00 and are available at all Ralph’s wine shops.




BYOB at Wildflour with the International Wine and Food Society

For the International Wine and Food Society’s October event, we had a BYOB lunch at Wildflour’s latest branch which is on Rada St. in Legaspi Village. Although many are familiar with Wildflour’s food, This event was specifically tailored to show the talent of Executive Chef Allen Buhay who came up with a menu of items that aren’t found on Wildflour’s regular menu.

The opening salvo was a platter of pates, rilletes, and cold cuts together with their excellent bread. This was quickly followed by an extensive menu of various dishes. I won’t bore you with descriptions of the food. I will say that everything was of top-notch quality and devoured eagerly by the Society’s members.

Here’s what we ate:

Mediterranean Yellowfin Tuna Salad - Yellowfin tuna, Israeli couscous, Kalamata olives, Heirloom tomatoes, Haricots verts, Hummus, Garbanzos, Citrus Vinaigrette

Mediterranean Yellowfin Tuna Salad – Yellowfin tuna, Israeli couscous, Kalamata olives, Heirloom tomatoes, Haricots verts, Hummus, Garbanzos, Citrus Vinaigrette


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