Saturday, September 28, 2013

Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka Shinsaibashi

If you guys noticed the lack of posts last week, I've got an excuse.  Two words:  Osaka, Japan!  Yup, was out of the country for a while, so wasn't able to blog much.  My apologies!  But, I am back, and I've got a few upcoming blog posts about our recently concluded trip!  Excited much!  It was my very first time in Japan and being a country that speaks little to no English, we had quite an adventure!  But first, let me show you where we stayed.  

A little back story:  My best friend D went to Osaka early this year.  When he got back, he had so much interesting stories that it made me want to go there and I soon found myself booking a flight to Osaka!  While booking for the hotel accommodations, I remembered D telling me that the main shopping and eating place is called Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori, so I made sure that our hotel would be somewhere nearby.  Best Western Hotel seemed like the perfect hotel.  Reviews were good, and it's within walking distance to Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori.

Arriving in Osaka, our flight was delayed and even with directions to the hotel, we had a bit of a difficulty getting there.  So when we finally got to Best Western, it was close to midnight.  The good thing was that the hotel is located right across 7-Eleven!  Off topic:  Japan's 7-Eleven is AHHHMAZING.  They have the most amazing selection of heat-and-serve food and it tastes soooo good!  Even better than some restaurants here, I daresay.  

Ok ok, enough stories, scroll down and see the place we called home for 4 nights! 

View from the doorway

Closet/Luggage Space


Twin Beds

Working Area

The first reaction we had when we entered the hotel room was "Is this it?!  It's so tiny!!"  It was the smallest hotel room I've ever stayed in.  I know hotels in Japan are known to be tiny, but somehow I didn't expect it to be that small.  But aside from the size of the hotel room, we have no complaints.  We have free wifi, the room is clean, the toiletries are complete, and the bathroom even has a heated toilet seat complete with push button bidet!  How can you go wrong with that?  4.5 out of 5 stars!

Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka Shinsaibashi is at 1-2-19 Shinsaibashi, Chuo-kuOsakaOsaka Prefecture 542-0083Japan 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


While I may be a stranger to Kapampangan food, in Rodizio, I am not.  My in-laws frequent Clark for the duty free shopping, and thus, I've gotten to try Rodizio sometime around a year ago.  I remembered having a pleasant and very filling dinner there, so it would be a welcome thought to dine there again.  And as luck would have it, the overnight stay comes with complimentary dinner in Rodizio!  Yay!

The selection:
Bread section

Salad Station

Cold Appetizers

The Mains


The Sauces


So how did it turn out the second time around?  I distinctly remember having more choices for the appetizers.  Save for the barbecue section, there's really not much other things that stood out.  But that's ok, because their barbecue is oh  so yummy!  Tender flavorful meats served straight from the skewer, at your table.  My advise?  Skip the others and go all out on the barbecue!  4 out of 5 stars! 

Rodizio is at 7th Level, Holiday Inn Manila Garden, Mimosa Drive, Mimosa Leisure Estate, Clark, Pampanga

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Apag Marangle

From my previous post, I mentioned that August was quite a busy month because of two out of town trips.  I've already blogged about Baguio, so this time, it's all about Clark, Pampanga.  It all started when my MIL bought two rooms off a deal site for an overnight stay at the Holiday Inn Mimosa.  We planned a quick weekend getaway that coincided with the holidays so that everyone would be free.  On the day itself, we were running late so we decided to make a stop at the Marquee Mall in Pampanga to have lunch.  Being a newbie in that area, we weren't quite sure where to eat so we decided to just walk around to see which of the restaurants would look interesting, and that restaurant turned out to be Apag Marangle which serves true blue Kapampangan dishes.  I've never actually tried Kapampangan food, and little did I know that Kapampangan food translates to exotic food!  Admittedly, being the foodie that I am, I've never been the adventurous type.  I like to stick to the tried and tested.  So this was dangerous territory for me.  Read on to see what weird and exotic things we had that day!

Buko Juice

Sale Manuk (chicken and lemongrass with corn soup)

Camaro (crickets)

Freak out.  Yep.  That's my first reaction.  I do not eat bugs.  But what the heck, you only live once.  Plus, Hubby's family has great convincing powers.  LOL.  Surprisingly, it didn't taste like bugs at all.  Probably because it was deep fried and was quite crunchy.

Gule king gata (vegetable stewed in coconut milk)

Betute (frog)

And now comes the frog.  I've eaten frog legs before, but I've never seen a whole frog served on a platter.  This one also freaked me out, but I made it a point to try everything so I got the legs.  Didn't like it, it was too tough and dry.


Sizzling Balut

Duck embryo.  Gah.  Sucked it up and tried a small piece.  Soft and squishy.  I can't believe I ate duck fetus.

Inihaw na Hito

So how was my experience?  Well let's just say that I'm happy I wasn't born a Kapampangan.  Nothing against them, it's just that I cannot imagine having food like these every single day.  Oh wait, maybe that's a good thing, cause I'll finally be thin!  LOL.

Oh and if you were wondering how the other dishes were, it was so-so.  3 out of 5 stars.

Apag Marangle is at G/F Marquee Ayala Mall, Angeles City

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Le Chef at the Manor, Baguio City

For grandma's big birthday dinner during our last night in Baguio, we requested a buffet set-up from the hotel restaurant, Le Chef at The Manor.

Here's what we had:
Minestrone Soup
Tuna Rillette with Melba Toast

Marinated Salmon & Crab Roulade

Mexican Salad Bowl

Caesar Salad Station
Ciabatta & Bread Rolls

Brown Rice Risotto

Pork Medallion

Potato, Shallots & Garlic Confit

Baked Chicken Thigh

Grilled Salmon Fillet

Roasted Lamb Leg

Coffee Crunch Roll

Choux Swan

Traditional Chocolate Mousse

The rating?  3 out of 5 stars.  The salmon would've been good had it not been overcooked.  Maybe because it stayed on the chafing dish for quite some time?  As for the other dishes, notables would be the Lamb Leg and the Caesar Salad.  Hubby did the mixing and serving of the Caesar Salad that's why it's in my notable list.  Kidding!  Truth is, the vegetables were crisp and the dressing was not too overwhelming.  That's why I liked it.  And because Hubby did the mixing.  Okay fine I'm biased. :)

And this, my friends, ends the Baguio 2013 series.  It's quite a short series because we only stayed there for two nights and other meals were eaten in various fast food places.  LOL.  Do watch out for my next posts, I'll be blogging about our time in Clark, Pampanga :)

Le Chef at The Manor is at G/F, The Manor, Camp John Hay in Loakan Road, Baguio City.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Forest House

Because it was already late when everyone came together on the first night in Baguio, we opted to just have a nice simple dinner at the hotel.  The next day, aunt A, who was familiar with Baguio suggested that the whole family have their lunch at the Forest House.  

Since our family was the first one to arrive, we were able to explore the place.  We found out that Forest House is actually a bed and breakfast.  The staff was kind enough to show us some of the rooms.  No two rooms are alike, but one thing they all have in common is that they all give off a very country house feel.  

Everyone arrived shortly after, and after all the flurry of ordering, lunch was served!  Here's what we had:
Baby Back Ribs

This was my order.  Meat was fall off the bone but lacked the barbecue taste. 

Korean Beef Ribs

Hubby's order.  I don't know what went wrong but it was extremely salty.  He ate it with rice and still complained about it being salty.  Maybe the chef put in 3x the needed salt?

Beef Tenderloin

SIL's order.  We were surprised because we expected the tenderloin to come out in one piece.  Instead, this was what we got.  Tastes so-so., like something you can normally cook at home.

Overall I can say that we were quite underwhelmed by the dishes that we had at the Forest House, save for my baby back ribs and the lengua (someone ordered it and I got one bite of it).  2 out of 5 stars.

Forest House is at 16 Loakan Road, Baguio City

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Manor at Camp John Hay, Baguio City

This July, we did two international trips.  Come August, it was time for 2 local trips!  First up, Baguio!  Confession:  I've never been to Baguio in my life.  Whattt???  Yup!  Never been.  I've gone farther to Ilocos Norte, but Baguio?  Nope.  How ironic right?  Thanks to Hubby's family who planned a quick getaway during the holidays, I therefore declare that I am no longer a Baguio virgin.  LOL.  Actually, the trip wasn't a "just-because" trip, rather, we were celebrating something special:  it was Hubby's maternal grandmother's birthday and Hubby's aunt and uncles from the States came to visit!  Hubby's Mom (my MIL) had actually planned the whole thing as a surprise, and there were a few times wherein the surprise almost didn't happen, but luckily, all of us were able to pull it off!  It was such a treat to see the look of surprise and joy on grandma's face when everyone suddenly screamed "Happy Birthday!" just as she entered the room.  Great job everyone!  

Ok enough of my story, first up, our lodging!  We all booked ourselves in different suites at The Manor in Camp John Hay.  Never having set foot in Baguio, I didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised at how the hotel turned out.  Scroll down to have a look!


Dining Area


Guest bathroom
Master's Bedroom

Master Bedroom's Bathroom

2nd Room
Vanity Area/Bathroom of the 2nd Bedroom
Iron and Safe
Our suite opens up to this view!

More view

...and another one!

So what do you think?  Pretty nice huh?  I fell in love with the hotel, the view and the weather!  The room was clean and cozy, the view was breathtaking and the weather was soooo cold!  Just as I like it!  4.5 out of 5 stars!

Now that we're done with the lodging, do watch out for my next post.  It's all about food!

The Manor at Camp John Hay is at Loakan Road, Baguio City.