Cebu Eats! 2022

I finally got the courage to travel again and am writing this from beautiful Cebu, where the 2nd National Mission Congress and the closing mass for the celebrations of 500 Years of Christianity — with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles John Brown; Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; and Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Cebu — are taking place.

Margaux Salcedo, Msgr Joseph Tan, 500 Years of Christianity, Cebu, Closing Ceremonies, Archbishop Charles Brown, Fr Mhar Balili, Archbishop Jose Palma
Hosted the Closing Ceremonies for 500 YOC before the Eucharistic Celebration began. April 24, 2022 at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. With me is Msgr. Joseph Tan, Media Liaison Officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu. Photo: Msgr Ting Ancajas

I am happy to share that it looks like we really can start doing food trips again and now is the time, while fares are down. We flew via Cebu Pacific and a round-trip ticket was just P3,000 (without the add-ons)! Your health is your own lookout, though, as the crowds are back as well, so just make sure you wear the proper mask and that it is sealed correctly around your nose and mouth. Also make sure you are fully vaccinated so that even if the COVID-19 virus hits you, it will just be like the flu.

Here are few new foodie finds on this trip:

Maribago Bluewater’s ‘Sinudlan na Manok ‘

Maribago Bluewater is paradise. The 7-hectare beachfront property with gorgeous Balete trees is perfect for a relaxing getaway. It is just one hour from the city center so it’s also an ideal location if you have to meet friends in the city. I say paradise because it really is, especially if you get a bungalow—literally a two-bedroom, one story “house”—right on the beach.

It’s also safer for meals because the setup is al fresco. Even if you will not sleep over, have a meal at Allegro restaurant. They have a really delicious chicken stuffed with chorizo called Sinudlan na Manok. It does not come as a whole chicken but like a roll, similar to morcon, and sliced beautifully on the plate. The chorizo used is Cebuano chorizo hubad. Another unique dish is their ube sinigang. The fish in itself is sumptuous, a pan-seared snapper. But what makes the dish unique is that it’s purple, even the broth! In place of rice, the fish is laid atop a chunk of sweet potato, taro and halaya. Make sure to squeeze the lemon onto the mash as this does wonders in bringing the flavors together; otherwise it’s like an odd combination of fish and ube jam. But with the lemon, it’s like they are wed in holy matrimony and becomes really enjoyable!

Of course, the best option is to sleep over and have fresh oysters with champagne by the beach! Live the life!

‘Bibingka de Mandaue’

Every town has its version of kakanin. Mandaue in Cebu also has its own version of bibingka and Bishop Midyphil “Dodong” Billones, auxiliary bishop of Cebu and rector of the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue, says that Bibingka de Mandaue is the best. Count on a bishop to choose something that is very austere but spirit-filled! This rice cake is plain and almost looks like pita bread but its beauty is inside! No salted duck egg, no cheese on top but it is very flavorful!

Another must-try in Mandaue is Didang’s masa real. This is a bar of finely-ground boiled peanuts and coconut syrup. It’s a great pasalubong, too!

Part’ebelle Seafood Restaurant

This is a “karinderya “that I am sure Anthony Bourdain would have loved for a true taste of local flavors. The specialty of this al fresco resto is a seafood soup called Tinolang Isda (or tinowa) that has a clear broth. They use blue marlin and I learned from a local culinary expert to ask for fish roe instead of just plain fish meat for a first class treat in a casual atmosphere.

Tinolang Isda at Partebelle

Another specialty here is the sinugba or grilled fish. There is a huge grillery just outside the restaurant where they cook the liempo and blue marlin. It is very tasty and fresh! Served with a huge mound of rice per person, even if you just get your utensils from a communal container with hot water (don’t be maarte!), this is one of the best meals I’ve had on this trip!

Matias BBQ

For a great hole-in-the-wall experience, Enrico Monsanto of Bluewater in Maribago highly recommends Matias BBQ in Mandaue. This is on A.S. Fortuna Street in Mandaue. The must-trys are the pork barbecue, chorizo and balbacua.

Carcar ‘chicharon’

Carcar Chicharon beside the St Catherine of Alexandria historical church in Carcar

For chicharon, the place to visit is Carcar. While you are there, make a trip to the Shrine of Archbishop Teofilo Camomot, former Archbishop of Cebu and now Servant of God. On May 3, the Vatican will determine if he qualifies to be called Venerable, which is the next step to sainthood. So please pray for Archbishop Camomot and hopefully, we will have another Filipino saint!


Also make sure to try Tagaktak. In Cebuano, this means “to drop.” It looks like fried noodles presented in the shape of a triangle and is enjoyed as a snack. It earned its name from the process by which it is cooked: rice batter is poured into a perforated coconut shell and the batter then falls through the holes while the one cooking sways the shell to force the batter to fall “taktak” into boiling oil. You can find this from vendors just outside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

World travel and tourism

Back in Manila, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat just opened the 21st Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council. She said: “A new age of travel and tourism is upon us, and it is up to us to drive the change towards a better and more hopeful future.”

This is so true. I confess I only agreed to fly to Cebu because Fr. Mhar Balili, chair of the 500 Years of Christianity celebrations in Cebu, promised that I would be hosting the 2nd National Mission Congress right in front of the original image of the Sto. Niño that was given by Ferdinand Magellan to Reyna Juan 500 years ago—a promise he fulfilled. But now that I have traveled, I would love to encourage everyone to welcome this new normal and fly!

Incidentally, Catholics call this day Divine Mercy Sunday and we are truly so grateful for this mercy. Now we can really get out of our caves and live life to the fullest again! Hallelujah!

Kaon ta!

First Class by Margaux Salcedo | Philippine Daily Inquirer | April 24, 2022 Sunday

Mario Mio: Charming New Italian Resto Near Tagaytay

Mario Mio, a charming Italian restaurant in Silang, Cavite, near Tagaytay

Mario Mio, a charming Italian restaurant in Silang, Cavite, near Tagaytay
Mario Mio, a charming Italian restaurant in Silang, Cavite, near Tagaytay

I just had a conversation with my friend Jayme Natividad, Chef of Taal Vista Hotel, that Tagaytay needs a good Italian restaurant.

Maybe my wishes resonated across the Universe because – tada! – L’Opera’s Paolo Nesi, who is not only a respected restaurateur but also a certified sommelier, has partnered with lawyer/developer Babes Oreta and opened TRATTORIA MARIO MIO in Silang, Cavite, on the way to Tagaytay.


The restaurant is located in the 20-hectare property of Atty. Babes Oreta, who developed Balesin and Tagaytay Highlands. The development is called Monteluce and now has four buildings where you can buy condos as well as an exclusive gated community of single villas called Sienna. (If you want to buy a house, I hear the going rate is now at P9 Million.)

Monteluce, Cavite. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for
Monteluce is a 20-hectare new development in Silang, Cavite, near Tagaytay.

Trattoria Mario Mio

Just near the entrance of this development is TRATTORIA MARIO MIO.

The first thing I noticed as I walked to the restaurant from the parking area right beside it is this …

Mario Mio in Tagaytay. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for

… a golf cart?! Later I asked owner Atty Oreta if there was a nearby golf course. Apparently there is none; the cart is there to pick up customers who come in by CHOPPER. These customers can land at the helipad beside the lettuce garden of Mario Mio across the restaurant. I wish I had known about this so I could’ve taken my chopper and avoided traffic … (hehehe!)

Lettuce Garden of Mario Babes Oreta inMario Mio Tagaytay
Mario Mio has a lettuce garden just across the street.

Paolo Nesi

The restaurant’s menu is by L’Opera’s Paolo Nesi.

L’Opera has been a reliable Italian restaurant and I do recall celebrating memorable family dinners there. (Missing my Lola Sally, who loved it and had a birthday dinner there with her friends.) And if I remember right (I do not know how I have this in my memory bank LOL), L’Opera was also in the movie of Vilma Santos and Angel Locsin entitled Everything About Her where Vilma played a powerful businesswoman who owned the world but couldn’t get through to her son and whose last wish was to be loved by him – her choice of resto for what she dreamed would be their grand reconciliation dinner was L’Opera. (Can someone tell me if I remember right? I loved that movie – watched it when my dad was battling cancer so it really resonated! Plus Angel Locsin was hilarious. And poignant. Brilliant acting from these two ladies! But I digress … )

So if you know what L’Opera food is like, well, that’s what you can expect at Mario Mio. Some of the dishes that I absolutely loved include the tomato soup, which was so beautifully textured with cheese. This tomato soup was the bomb, the kind that makes you pause and say, “Hey, this is really good!”. And the starter of tomatoes and mozzarella had such juicy tomatoes that, to my horror, when I sliced into mine, the juice spurted and its projectile motion went straight in the direction of Atty Oreta’s eye! Fortunately he just laughed it off!

I also loved the starter of arugula and braesola in a Parmesan basket:

I checked the menu to see what cured meat this was and saw that it was braesola. Incidentally, the first time I met Atty Babes Oreta – at the lunch hosted by then-Ambassador to the Vatican Mercy Tuazon at the Pontificio Collegio Fillipino (the school for Filipino priests in Rome) for Pinoys who attended the canonization of St. Pedro Calunsod – they also served braesola. “This is what they served at that lunch at the Colegio!” I told Atty Oreta. “How do you remember?” he asked, incredulous. “I just remember!” I said.

I remember because I absolutely loved the taste when I first tried it – at that event – that I had to ask the waiter what it was and it just stuck. Proof: here’s a throwback photo of what we ate that day in Rome, the braesola on the bottom row. I was also amazed that it is beef and not pork, unlike the usual hamon.

Speaking of beef, the rib eye is also good. Very juicy, flavorful. No gimmicks. Just good meat.

They also offer duck ravioli, which is apparently the owners’ favorite, doused with truffle oil. I also loved the sea bass wrapped in zucchinis; white fish is usually boring but this was just oozing with flavor. The Italians would be proud.

For dessert, we had a thick panna cotta – other panna cottas I have tried are less dense – that was given character with a brush of balsamic vinegar and truffle oil, and finely decorated with chopped walnuts. Quite a sophisticated dessert, and happily, not too sweet.

Summer being just around the corner, once I saw they had a gelato menu, I needed some! I tried the calamansi gelato, which was perfect for a hot day. (It’s been getting hot again recently, hasn’t it? Summer is coming.) Their gelatos are all “homemade” and really good.

Mario Mio

Aside from the calamansi gelato, the restaurant also makes a mean calamansicello, their version of limoncello but using calamansi. You can enjoy it either as an apertif or as a digestif.

After a shot of calamansicello as a digestif, I finally asked, “So who is Mario?”

To which Atty Babes Oreta, looking at me incredulously as he couldn’t believe I hadn’t put it together, said, “ME !!”

Seeing me look at him in consternation (I was trying to reconcile how Mario became Babes) he said, with an Italian accent out of nowhere, “My full name is Mario Stefano Alessandro (MAH-rio Ste-FAH-no Ale-SAHN-dro!” To which his BFF Jimmy Borromeo added, “Di Malaboni!” (because the Oretas hail from Malabon).

We couldn’t stop laughing!

When you go, I hope you have with you friends who will make you laugh as our hosts did – til there were tears in our eyes! The food was undoubtedly delicious but I do think there were two secret ingredients that elevated the food from delicious to memorable: laughter and great company! Mas masarap talaga ang pagkain kapag masarap ang tawanan!

Bring your own bottle when you visit – there’s no corkage. They want to make sure you have a great time!

Trattoria Mario Mio
Km 48, Aguinaldo Highway,
Lalaan, Silang, Cavite.
Take Carmona exit then head to Maguyam Road.
Turn left on Aguinaldo Highway.
Mario Mio is inside MONTELUCE
+63 917 166 7332





Authentic Pakistani Food in Makati 

There IS an authentic Pakitani restaurant in Makati!

Found out about it through Kitchen Bookstore owners Rajiv Daswani and Miguel Angeles and Power of Pen founder Tetta Tirona. 

I’m not supposed to tell 🙊 So I’m keeping the info here instead of sharing it in Inquirer. 

Rajiv, who is of Indian descent, did the ordering. To keep it simple but allow us to try everything, he ordered the Barbeque Platter which has 

Chicken Namkeen Boti, Chicken Reshmi Kebab, Chicken Green Tikka, Afghani Beef Kebab, and Beef Seekh Kebab. EVERYTHING was good. 

Also excellent was the Mutton Biryani. 

I always just passed this place thinking it was some Pinoy-trying-to-be-Indian kind of restaurant. Wrong! It is super authentic! 

Will be back for sure to try the rest of the menu. 

PS The place is prohibits alchohol inside the estabishment due to religious restrictions but there is space outside to drink. 

PPS The restaurant is KABAB & CURRY on Jupiter (Edsa side). It is super casual, almost cafeteria-like. But air conditioned. And thankfully so because you may sweat with the spice levels of the food! 

Everybody’s Cafe & Susie’s in Angeles, Pampanga

Everybody's Cafe, Angeles, Pampanga. Photo by Margaux Salcedo

Here’s Part 3 of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Part 1: Cafe Fleur
Part 2: Downtown Cafe

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Everybody’s Cafe

Everybody’s Cafe Angeles is the little sister of Everybody’s Cafe San Fernando. But for those who want a taste of classic Capampangan cuisine, this is THE restaurant.

Food is served cafeteria or “turo-turo” (turo means ‘point’) style but the menu is exactly what would likely be served in a true Capampangan home.

Be brave and try the Betute—stuffed frogs legs. So beautifully savory you will forget you are eating frog. The morcon is another must-try, another fine example of how Capampangans are masters in the umami of the ulam.


Before heading home, make a pit stop at Susie’s. This is another cafeteria-like place perfect for merienda. If you have time, sit down and have the pancit. Otherwise, take home a bottle of Susie’s Taba ng Talangka (ask for the female crab fat) but make sure to eat in moderation.

Also try or take home their mochi-mochi and sapin-sapin.

The following day I wanted to eat healthy so instead of cooking the female crab fat with rice I cooked New Zealand Akaroa salmon in it. Good – but still better with rice! hah!

Holy Rosary

In between restaurants, say a quick prayer at the Holy Rosary Parish Church. Thank the Lord for the blessings of such delicious food just 2½ hours away from Manila and pray that you don’t gain too much weight after all that bingeing!

Cafe Fleur. L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, Angeles City. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended especially for lunch, call 045-3041301 or 0935-7616550. Visit

1956 Downtown Cafe by Bale Dutung. 1 Plaridel St., Nepo Quad, Angeles City. 0917-5359198. More info at

Everybody’s Cafe. Nepo Mart, Angeles City. Everybody’s has a stall at the Salcedo Market in Salcedo Village every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Susie’s. Hilda St. Nepo Mart Commercial Complex, 2009 Angeles City, Philippines

More from the author at Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Email

Downtown Cafe: Pinoy ’50s Diner in Pampanga

Downtown Cafe, Angeles, Pampanga

Here’s Part 2 of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Part 1 here: Sau del Rosario’s Cafe Fleur

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 1.55.48 AM

Downtown Cafe


Claude Tayag is another famous Capampangan celebrity chef, or as he was called at the Mission Manila dinner during Madrid Fusion, El Kusinero.

He is better known for Bale Dutung, his home, showroom and private dining space with his lovely Capampangan wife Mary Ann Quioc. This is the place No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain visited and loved—a place that is ironically by reservation only and for a minimum guest list of around 12.

Thankfully, the Tayags have opened Downtown Cafe. While it is by no means Bale Dutung, which is an incomparable experience, Downtown has a charm of its own, with its diner vibe complete with jukebox and a Coke ad with the stunning Gloria Romero. The big bonus, of course, is that we can now get a taste of Claude Tayag’s cooking every day.


Best on the menu is the duck. In classic Claude Tayag humor, the menu reads “What’s Up, Duck?” The duck leg confit is salted and slow-cooked for two hours; you eat it Peking Duck-style, with wrappers.

The star of the menu of late, though, is the bringhe, which won the the People’s Choice Award at the 8th Annual Embassy Chef Challenge in Washington D.C. last May.


The waiters call it bringhe pizza; it felt like a morphing of bibingka galapong and paella. It’s a fun, unique snack.

On a rainy day, have a cup of their barako. Really Filipino and really good coffee. I bet coffee guru Chit Juan would approve.

PS Really loved the interiors. Look – Royal Tru Orange before “Joey”/RJ Ledesma …
Our friend Dr Jill Tabora also had this super refreshing dessert:
I was too stuffed from eating so much at Cafe Fleur, Everybody’s Cafe and Susie’s that I could really only eat this:
But we were excited to dance to the music from the jukebox … or maybe from our minds – naloka na sa busog haha. (The jukebox doesn’t really work.)

Thanks so much to our #LafangMD friends for a great time!!! Isser and Pau, thanks for being such wonderful tour guides! Mabuhay ang Angeles!!1956 Downtown Cafe by Bale Dutung. 1 Plaridel St., Nepo Quad, Angeles City. 0917-5359198. More info at

Part 1: Cafe Fleur
Part 2 of 3

Cafe Fleur with #LafangMD

Cafe Fleur by Sau del Rosario, Angeles, Pampanga

Here’s a copy of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics 🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Margaux Salcedo column, First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday Biz
First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Sundays in Inquirer Business

Angeles has changed since the last time I visited.

Pampanga has always been a thriving food hub but next generation Capampangan celebrity chefs have given the Angeles food scene extra flair.

Cafe Fleur

Case in point: Cafe Fleur by Chef Sau del Rosario, a restaurant that is both a tribute to Chef Sau’s Pampango roots while showcasing his growth as a French-trained chef.

The venue is a heritage home and one can easily envision a family from yesteryears making memories in this space.

Chef Sau converted the upstairs into “Babo” (Kapampangan for ’upstairs’) Avante Garde Capampangan cuisine.


Here the celebrity chef presents his interpretation of traditional recipes.

Tamales, which is usually served wrapped in banana leaves, is here served deconstructed in a shapely glass.


The well-known Capampangan delicacy (also called Boboto) made with very finely ground rice, coconut milk and various savory toppings like chicken and ham, is presented in a manner befitting a fine dining setting.

Purists are bound to raise an eyebrow but it’s a lovely modern-day expression of a classic comfort dish. (The bread that comes with it is tasty, too, encouraging the diner to treat the tamales like a pate and spread it on the bread.)

Kare-kare, a quintessential Filipino comfort food, is likewise deconstructed and twisted. Kare-kare usually uses oxtail; here Chef Sau uses crispy pork belly and other ingredients that are neatly tucked in a corner of the serving plate.

The rest of the plate is a bed of peanut sauce mixed with macadamia and the irresistible flavor of truffles.


Other items are more straightforward, such as the lamb kaldereta, okoy and the chicken galantina.

What’s great about the menu, though, is that it shows that through the years, Chef Sau has developed not only recipes but also friendships.

The best item on the menu, for me, is Chef See’s laksa.


Chef See Cheong Yan is the Culinary Head of Enderun Colleges. He is Malaysian and IMHO makes the best laksa in the Philippines. The problem is that his laksa is only available during rare events. It’s great to see that Chef See has allowed Chef Sau to use his recipe.

Now, if you ever need a laksa fix, as I often do, it’s just a couple of hours away.


While it will be difficult to resist trying everything on the menu, do leave room for dessert because the desserts here are yummy. Have the pandan sans rival or the jackfruit sans rival and allow yourself to go home stuffed silly.

Jill Tabora, Martin Licdao, Mary Andy delos Reyes, Goldee Salcedo, Nico Garcia, Margaux Salcedo, Jon Cruz, Pau dela Cruz, Isser Sugay

Cafe Fleur. L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, Angeles City. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended especially for lunch, call 045-3041301 or 0935-7616550. Visit

(Part 1 of 3)

Part 2: Downtown Cafe
Part 3: Everybody’s and Susie’s

The Limitless Possibilities of Filipino Cuisine by the Pinoy Chefs of Nobu

Nobu New York collaboration with Nobu Manila Filipino-Japanese Food

Was among the privileged last night who partook of a special omakase dinner created and prepared by Nobu New York’s Chef de Cuisine Ricky Estrellado (proudly Pinoy) and Nobu Manila’s Chef de Cuisine Michael de Jesus (also proudly Pinoy).

Chef Ricky Estrellado (on the right in the photo above, dwarfing me and Chef Michael de Jesus) has been with Nobu New York for almost 10 years. He also oversees Nobu Next Door, which he helped open way back in 1998. He also helped open Nobu Las Vegas in 1999.

Because both chefs are Filipino, the theme for the evening was Filipino food but given a Nobu twist.

Unfortunately the dinner was for two nights only. But I am praying that Nobu will keep the menu, even for a couple of months. I strongly recommend that every chef who wants to learn about Filipino food try this menu! It just shows the limitless possibilities of how to execute Filipino cuisine. And while others massacre it with deconstructed versions and pairings that don’t really fly, this menu hits the nail on the head and the ball out of the park.

Sisig Foie Gras Gyoza Cone, Tuna Kinilaw tartar with Kizami Wasabi
Sisig Foie Gras Gyoza Cone, Tuna Kinilaw tartar with Kizami Wasabi

Dinner started with an impressive zensai (a bite-size snack appreciated over beer or sake): a combination of sisig and an eensy cube of foie gras. We were told to have it all in one bite, the surprise being the accent of the shiso leaf, whose slight bitterness very calculatedly broke the fatty flavors of the sisig and foie.

This was followed by the (recently overly-celebrated) kinilaw. I am still partial to Enting’s Kinilaw but this was pretty good. You can’t go wrong with great ingredients.

The next three dishes were the most impressive. The third dish presented the chef’s take on the traditional lumpiang ubod (fresh spring roll). The chefs replaced the spring roll wrapper with a light and fluffy crepe, giving it a very cosmopolitan look and feel. But what made me perk up were the small slices of Lapu Lapu on the side. This had a very smokey accent to it that was unforgettable.

Ubod Salad Lapu Lapu Shiso Crepe with Jalapeno & Matsuhisa Dressing by Nobu
Ubod Salad Lapu Lapu Shiso Crepe with Jalapeno & Matsuhisa Dressing

Next was yellowtail sashimi. It was unbelievably (believe it!) topped with bagoong (shrimp paste)!!! Yet it remained delicate and fresh. To counter the saltiness of the bagoong, another brilliant accent for balance: a Japanese mountain peach called Momokochan, usually used as a palate cleanser, was provided for a just whisper of sour (not a sour whisper!).

Nobu New York collaboration with Nobu Manila Filipino-Japanese FoodMy favorite dish of the night was this next one: a lobster sinigang! The chef used a spiny lobster, as opposed to a claw-y lobster, preferred for its light meat. And for the soup, the chef used tamarind. So it’s the Nobu version of sinampalukan. This is by far the best fancy sinigang I have ever tried!!

img_5417At this point our table of very candid diners started joking that Nobu is where you eat but need to go for another meal after because the servings are degustation-style. Boy did we eat our words because the next three dishes stuffed us silly!

Two hefty slabs of sous vide pork were served as Nobu’s version of “crispy pata“. Not as crisp as we know it to be but with fat that did stick to your teeth. This was paired with laing, the only pairing in the entire menu that I didn’t agree with – because a Filipino’s gut just needs rice with his crispy pata, hehe!

img_5387Next up was the chef’s version of Kare Kare. They used beef short ribs instead of oxtail and this lay on a bed of peanut sauce, as we know kare kare to be served. But for the Nobu twist, it also came with a cracker made of Peruvian chili sauce (anticucho), which you could easily mistake for bagoong. Nobu should put these in packs and sell them, haha.

Beef Short Ribs Kare Kare Anticucho by Nobu
Beef Short Ribs Kare Kare Anticucho

Then came our big karma: while we kept asking for rice, unbeknownst to us, we were in for a LOT of rice in the end — a Pinoy sushi platter!! Now the concept isn’t new. I have been to other restaurants that have “Filipinized” sushi. But none have captured it as they did at this omakase in Nobu.

The chefs presented Gen San tuna topped with gata (coconut milk). This was followed by Yellow Tail or Salay Salay with the delightful sourness of paksiw. Tachi-uo or belt fish was topped with salted egg. Mackarel or shima aji was cooked tinapa style. And there was even an adobo of dapa or flat fish. For fun, I think the chef also threw in something that reminded Anna Sobrepeña of suman (after which everyone gushed, “I loooove suman!!!”): garlic rice made crispy. Everything was executed excellently.

Nobu Filipino Sushi - Tuna Ginataan, Shima Aji Tinapa Style, Dapa Adobo, Salay Salay Paksiw, Tachiuo Cured Egg, Crispy Garlic Rice
Tuna Ginataan, Shima Aji Tinapa Style, Dapa Adobo, Salay Salay Paksiw, Tachiuo Cured Egg, Crispy Garlic Rice

Just before dessert, we were honored by the presence of (drumroll) The Sea Princess Tessa Prieto Valdes. Have been a fan of her column since it started and after maybe fifteen years now, it seems, I am amazed at how she continuous to dress so vivaciously. She never runs out of ideas and seems to never run out of energy! She caught up with the dinner after watching a ballet at the CCP. I needed to take this photo – hoping to send it to Elizabeth Banks (close kami! LOL) with the note, “Effie might like to get some ideas from Tessa.”

img_5379Part of my Tasting Notes – look at those lashes!!! ❤

img_5409For the finale, (sorry ang laki ng video below – I don’t know how to downsize it!!!) we were served this uber amazing Nobu version of the quintessential Filipino summer dessert, the Halo Halo. A good halo halo is distinguished by the quality of the shaved ice – which is why Razon’s is so popular, even if it does not have a lot of “sahog”. Nobu’s halo halo goes another level. First, they use coconut milk instead of water for the crushed ice, eliminating the need to pour in milk, and also using coconut milk instead of evaporated milk, so it’s not so heavy. The layer of ice is also really thick, camouflaging layer after layer of delight: ube gelato, yuzu gelatin, macha bits, beans. I dare say, this can give Milky Way a run for its money.

I REALLY HOPE AND PRAY that Nobu will consider extending this menu. It would be such a waste if, like a dream, this will just be in our memories. Also, I really want to have this halo halo again!!! 😉

Nobu Hotel, City of Dreams
Aseana Ave, Paranaque
Reservations recommended. 02 691 2882.
Major credit cards accepted.
Wheelchair accessible (but the walk from the hotel entrance to the restaurant is a bit of a distance).
Valet parking available.
8-course Omakase dinner P4,800++.

Craving Adobo in Rome

Sarap Filipino Restaurant, Filipino Food in Rome, Vatican, Margaux Salcedo for Margauxlicious.


After over a week in Europe, in spite of all the great food, I was really looking for Filipino dishes!

So I was delighted when my friend Mother Superior Regina Ate brought me to Sarap at the Vatican.

It is conveniently located just a couple of blocks from St. Peter’s Square. So after hearing mass with the Pope or sightseeing, you can head over here for your fill of RICE!

Was so happy to find classic Pinoy dishes like adobo – though it is all pork here, no chicken – and sinigang. They also offer pancit! But my fave on the menu was the dinuguan. Was jumping for joy, haha.

Here’s the full menu. Interestingly, the guy at the cashier is NOT Filipino but the rest of the staff are. Plus they have a pretty decent loo!

With Mother Superior Regina Ate who guided me as I visited the Holy Doors.

Viale Giulio Cesare, 113, Roma, Italy
+39 06 321 0345
Open daily 11 am to 10 pm”/sarap+vatican/@41.9095177,12.3894101,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!4m7!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x132f60603e4639a5:0x66d861f9d345c468!2m2!1d12.45945!2d41.909539

ManilaSpeak Review: Va Bene Pasta Deli

Oxtail Papardelle at Va Bene Pasta Deli BGC

Oxtail Papardelle at Va Bene Pasta Deli BGC
Oxtail Papardelle at Va Bene Pasta Deli BGC

I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of food at Va Bene Pasta Deli at Bonifacio Central (where the cinemas are located) on the block immediately after Bonifacio High Street.

I had suggested the restaurant for our high school Christmas reunion on sheer account of the reputation of the Va Bene in Petron, which had drawn raves, and deservedly so, for the wonderful flavors bussed out at wonderfully cheap prices (the location was at a gas station, after all); and because of the proximity to everything else on High Street (a balikbayan classmate had requested Fort as venue).

I did, though, risk disappointment because I had been messaged by an Italian food hound friend when Va Bene Central Square was not up to par with Va Bene Petron.

Thankfully, I took the risk because, as it turns out, my food friend might have just popped in on a wrong day. The food, at our lunch at least, was excellent!

Iron Chef Vietnam Nguyen Van Tu at Red Ginger, City of Dreams

I just had the most amazing Vietnamese meal at Red Ginger at the City of Dreams and I plan to be here every day until this guest chef leaves!

The guest chef is Nguyen Van Tu. He was declared Iron Chef Vietnam a few years ago and his colleage says Tu beat Thailand in an Iron Chef competition as well.

His restaurant Don’s Tay Ho bistro was ranked No. 47 in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.   He is at Red Ginger only until the 27th. Everything on the menu is worth ordering!

Start with the wraps and rolls. The various wraps and rolls include barbecue pork and duck confit. This is the dish that had Teddyboy Locsin at hello. In the jar is fish sauce that kind of tasted like vinegar. Inside the roll is pork. I rolled the entire thing in the leaves. IMG_5729-0

My favorite among all the items in the menu is the Grlled Seabass appreciated Vietnamese style, as you wrap it in rice paper with noodles, cucumber, dill and pineapples before giving it in Vietnamese fish sauce. Really this was simply apahap but was so fresh and once mixed with the various herbs the dish was simply taken to a whole other level of appreciation. Also loved how the chef incorporated dill, which is not a usual Asian ingredient.

If you are in the mood for beef, try the Bun Bo Nam Bo which is Angus beef fillet marinated in oyster sauce oil and fish sauce and then served in noodle buns.

But for me, even better is the Beef Luk Lac,  with stir fried Angus Beef fillet. I learned later there is added flavor due to bourbon and pineapples aside from the usual mix of coriander and oyster sauce. It’s kind of like a stew though stir fried, simply wet with the natural juices from the tomato. I asked for extra rice paper so that I could roll it in that even if you can also appreciate this with rice.  

If you like sticky rice try the Bahn Trou for dessert. these are stuffed sticky rice balls with palm sugar and sesame.


For dessert I highly recommend the Passion Fruit Creme Brulee, a mixture of cream, sugar,  egg yolk, gelatin leaf and passionfruit juice accented with diced mangoes grapes and strawberries. Underneath is actually an ice cream but to make it appear like a crème brûlée the top part is torched for that crusty burnt effect. And because there is passionfruit it is also slightly sour. this is a truly unique dessert.

I’m coming back here everyday until the 27th!!!