Travel

McDonald’s of the World: Why, Saigon?

It was last year when I fell in love with Vietnam’s strong and fragrant coffee. I wrote a couple of blog posts about my trip to the hot city of Ho Chi Minh. As you might know (or not), it is BaconTunaMelt tradition to find the local McDonald’s in a new(ly visited) city. The hotel I stayed at was in the middle of the city, and I figured that I’d find it one of the major streets or something. I still hadn’t found it after the first couple of days so I thought to ask for help from the hotel staff.

Nnnnnooooooooooooo!

Guess (or not, I’ll say it anyway) what I found out? There is no McDonald’s in ALL of Vietnam! Huh? I repeat, there is NO MCDONALD’S in Vietnam. Wooot?! Apparently, the people of Vietnam aren’t big fans of burgers and fries. They do have a local version of sorts called Lotteria. They have probably everything you can get in a McDonald’s. Except the clown.

It must be why the hotel receptionist had a waistline that could rival a child's.

Here’s the silver lining for fast food junkies, according to this article, McDonald’s is all set to open its first Vietnam branch in 2014! On that note, I leave you all with the fact that there is no Starbucks either (it’s probably because the Trung Nguyen coffeeshops will put their coffee to shame).

Read the Vietnam-related posts on BaconTunaMelt here.
Read the other McDonald’s of the World posts on BaconTunaMelt here.

Noms

Bananas For Banapple!

‘Sif the title hasn’t given it away yet, but I’m here to let y’all know that Banapple is my new favorite restaurant. I know, I know, it’s been around for a while, but the hype discouraged me from going back as much as I wanted to. The few times I went to Ayala Triangle Garden to try and secure seats in their teeny restaurant, the waiting time was just too long that I usually just give up and moved restos (usually to Kanin Klub <3 [it is a travesty that I haven’t written about it, but that’s another story]).

Enter Banapple Market! Market! branch. When I got wind of the news that they finally have a branch in Market! Market!, I was honestly not excited. Although I work near the area, BGC is home to a gabajillion restaurants. Depending on your taste and budget, you can find an eatery that’s right for you quite easily. Adding Banapple to that list was nice, but meh.

Chicken Breast Parmigiano and Hickory Smoked Barbecued Country Ribs

That was before I went to the mall and was lured by the cute and colorful Banapple logo. There was no line that fateful night, and I got all omgwtfbbq (translation: I got excited). Like all Banapple branches, the interior in the Market! Market! branch is a super cute, happy mix of pastels and all things girly, quite reminiscent of Pushing Daisies (that quirky TV show that got the boot all too soon). We were quickly seated to a table, handed menus, and told that orders had to be made by falling in line at the counter, fast food style. While this can be turn off for some, it didn’t bother me at all because their staff is pleasant, efficient and capable.

Banapple's House Salad (my favorite!), Asian Sunshine Salad, and Super Caesar Salad

As soon as you’ve ordered, you’re given a number to hang on your apple-shaped table hanger (?). A few minutes later, your orders are served to you prettily plated and piping hot. Let’s start talking about the noms. For appetizers, there are three salad choices. Now everyone abuses the term “love”, but I can honestly say that I love all Banapple salads. They’re just the right size (for me at least), with a healthy amount of toppings and a proportionate drizzling of salad dressing.  (DISCLAIMER: I did not order all three salads in one night.)

For the main entrees, they have a wide selection to choose from. They have a number of fish, chicken, pork, and beef dishes depending on your mood and taste for the night. All of which are served with a steaming cup of fried rice and a side of vegetables. The best part about it is that all the choices on the menu are within the p150-p200 range. I have been back several times in the past two weeks and I truly enjoyed everything I ordered (and those ordered by my companions, all of which I had a tiny bite of, hrhr).

Garlic Beef Tapa with Creamed Parsley Eggs, Hearty Heavenly Breakfast, and Item Banapple Beef and Sausage Stew.

They have all-day breakfast meals too, with local flavors such as tapa, tocino, and longganisa in the mix. They also have buttermilk pancakes <3, muffins, sweet loaves, brownies, and cookies for sale. Banapple is a restaurant, bakery, dessert place, and coffee shop all in one. If you’re not in it for the main meals, you can also just order coffee, frappes, shakes and cakes. Although for a place named after their desserts (Ban: Banofee Pie + Apple: Apple Caramel Crumble Pie), I liked their other offerings better. But I did love the Two-Nut Caramel Cheesecake (sry no pic, it was inhaled by yours truly before I remembered).

Banoffee Pie, Item Yo Ho Hope! Cheesecake, Apple Caramel Crumble Pie, Cappuccino.

Banapple deserves all the hype it had when it opened years ago until today. The ambiance is great, the service is excellent, the prices are fair, the choices are aplenty, the servings are huge, and most importantly, the noms are delicious.

Rating: For being absolutely fantastic, Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes gets 5 out of 5 bacons!

Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes
Address: Market! Market!, McKinley Parkway Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Contact details: banapple@banapplekitchen.com
Others: Official Banapple Website, menu (from MunchPunch)

Noms

K.I.S.S Strawberries and Cream Cupcake Recipe

Have the blues today? I know I do, because ugh, Monday. To give this day a little less gloom and a little more cheer, I give you happy thoughts of yummy cupcakes. Here I share my recent most favorite strawberry cupcake recipe- the K.I.S.S. Strawberries and Cream Cupcake. It’s easy and quick to make, I promise. On this blog, we always keep it super simple. We don’t like fussy recipes when you can get nommy results using a simpler method. Our tried and tested recipes will always be (way too) easy to follow, almost foolproof and very tasty. And this one is no exception.

Protip: Measure out your ingredients before starting, it makes the process so much easier. (And you can pretend to be a cooking show host, hrhr.)

For the longest time, the perfect strawberry cupcake (or at least my idea of) recipe has been elusive. My older strawberry cupcake batches turn out either too gummy or lacking in flavor. I couldn’t quite find the perfect balance of how much actual strawberries to put in the batter. Eventually,  I thought to take out the strawberries from the batter and just use as much of it as I like as cupcake filling. That turned out pretty well.

Top-left: Eggs beaten to stiff peak; Bottom-right: 3 bowls for the 3 groups of ingredients.

For the cakes:

What you’ll need: What to do:
Wet 1 cup cake flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Dry 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks
Beat 3 egg whites
Dash cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
Oven temp: 175C
Bake time: 20+/- mins
Notes For easier cleanup, prepare three medium sized bowls for the three groups of ingredients instead of many small bowls for each ingredient.
1. Mix wet ingredients in a bowl, mix dry ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.
2. Preheat your oven at 175C and line your cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
3. In a grease free bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in the sugar and beat until you get stiff peaks. Set aside.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients just until combined.
5. Very gently fold in the beaten egg whites to the mixture you end up with in the previous step.
6. Spoon out the mixture into the cupcake liners, about 3/4ths full (it doesn’t rise so much).
7. When your oven is preheated, bake the cupcakes for 18-22 minutes. The cupcakes should benicely domed, lightly browned, and ready by 20 minutes.
8. Transfer to a wire rack (or whatever), and get started with the filling.
My cute pink piggy spatula (thanks ma!) and the cupcake tins right before popping them into the oven.

For the strawberry filling:

What you’ll need: What to do:
Filling 1/2 package (about 1/3 cup) chilled all purpose cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup pureed strawberries
Topping 6-8 fresh strawberries
Prep time: 15+/-mins
Notes I recommend using a stainless steel bowl, so the cream remains cool while whipping.
1. Whip cream until it doubles in volume. This took me about 5 minutes, maybe a little less.
2. Slowly pour in the sugar until combined.
3. Mix in the strawberry puree just until your cream is pink. You should end up with a firm enough mixture. If it’s too runny, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes and whip a little more.
4. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a filling tip (or a small round tip). The tip is important, I don’t think you can fill a cupcake without one unless you core it, which is a different method altogether.
5. Stick the tip in the middle of your cooled cupcake and squeeze slowly until the cupcake is noticeably heavier. You’ll get the hang of it. I personally start at the bottom and slowly pull up and release when the filling begins to ooze out the top.
6. Repeat until you’re out of cupcakes or filling.
7. Cut fresh strawberries into halves and top prettily in the middle of the cupcake.
8. Chill and enjoy them cupcakes. And then gloat.

And there you have it. After doing all these kitchen-y things, you end up with a crapload of dirty dishes but it’s all worth it. This recipe yields/will yield about a dozen or so heavenly strawberries and cream cupcakes that are light, moist, fluffy, and delicious. Great for people who loff strawberries. And cream. And fluffy cupcakes. And sweets. And happy things.

They're unevenly filled (because filling is a bitch) but nommy.
Press

Spoil Yourself with Dunkin’ Donuts’ Premium Selection

With all the hullabaloo revolving around new doughnut shops offering a buttload of flavors, the pioneers of the doughnut industry in this country have taken a backseat. Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the original donut shops in the country but to me, they never get old. Their classics never fail AND they keep things interesting by regularly offering delicious new innovations.

Dunkin’ Donuts enlists the help of heartthrob Derek Ramsey to help you realize just how much you need their newest donut flavors.

DAT SHIRT, DAT CHEST: I guess you can eat doughnuts and still have rock hard abs.

Q: Would you swoon if dreamboat Derek Ramsey offered you a boxful of these premium Dunkin’ Donut donuts like in the picture and tells you to spoil yourself?
A: Yes, and also, probably faint.

Dunkin' Donuts new premium selection: Black Forest, Choco Butter Crunch, Rocky Road, Choco Nirvana, Dark Choco Berry, Quezo Duo, Dark Crunch, Blueberry Cheese, Kreme Berry

I personally haven’t tried the new flavors so I can’t tell you how good they are, but Dunkin’ Donuts is a childhood favorite for a reason and I betcha these are fantastic! I’m particularly excited to try the Sansribav, which I assume to be a combination of yummy sansrival and Dunkin’ Donut’s classic bavarian. I can’t wait to try it soon! Mr. Derek, would you hand feed me one? Please?

Yum!

For the newest information, visit the Dunkin’ Donuts Philippines Official Website, like the Dunkin’ Donuts PH Facebook page or follow @dunkindonutsph on Twitter.

P.S.
Derek’s all-time favorite Dunkin’ Donut flavor is Boston Kreme.

Etc., Noms

Iloilo in a Box

It’s a hot, hot week! I really wish I meant that figuratively. If the sweltering heat in the last couple of days is any indication, we should bid goodbye to cool nights and breezy afternoons. Summertime is just around the corner, all ready and raring to go. Although I’m not a fan of 40 degree (celsius) weather, the one thing that I welcome about the start of summer is holidays (yea, baby!). Sunny weather is the perfect time to spend a few days to chillax, take beach trips, visit new places, burn monies, and eat delicious noms along the way.

Now is the time to plan those trips. I was browsing through flights (looking for cheap ones) and came across Iloilo. I got really excited, I’ve always wanted to take a weekend and just see what the city had to offer. There are no available cheap flights though, so that plan is scrapped for the meantime. I will just have to satiate my travel cravings by recounting my Iloilo loot from earlier this year.

Post-Christmas loot!

I got a boxful of Iloilo goodies from a secret Santa early this year. I’m not sure if it’s okay to disclose said person’s identity so I’m playing it safe and keeping mum. It’s all about the noms from this point on.

When my mom saw the Biscocho Haus logo on a big box, her eyes widened and asked if it was full of her favorite Iloilo treat, barquillos. It wasn’t just barquillos, the box was filled to the brim with a number of delicious Iloilo goodies- there were Bañadas (or giant pasencias as I like calling them), packs of the unparalleled barquillos, Iloilo’s signature buttery biscocho biscuits, to-die-for butterscotch bars, thin and crisp galletas, and sweet piayas.

No need to take a trip to Iloilo!

We had no hope of finishing them all before they went bad (there are only 3 of us) so we brought them on a weekend outing with the rest of the family and they were all a hit! The top three family favorites (which also happen to be my personal favorites) are the Biscocho Haus’ Barquillos, BongBong’s Special Ube Piaya, and Biscocho Haus’ Butterscotch, not necessarily in that order.

Biscocho Haus

These elongated, cylindrical wafer sticks have been perfected by Biscocho Haus through the years and nothing comes close. Many try to imitate them but the others come up short. Biscocho Haus Barquillos are still unparalleled. They’re great to pair with ice cream or just as it is. They’re sweet enough to be a treat yet light enough to be considered healthy (ish).

BongBong

This variant of a piaya is new (to me at least). The gooey ube filling inside a thin, flaky piaya crust combo is made of many wins. It’s not too sweet and not too heavy, it just hit the right spot with me. I think I ate three pieces in succession (then wanted to hoard the rest of it). Thanks BongBong, for making this piaya flavor possible.

Biscocho Haus

Now I saved this for last because it deserves super special mention. Actually, these little squares of heaven deserve more than special mention, they deserve applause and much adulation. If you haven’t tried one yet, you need to know that one bite is enough to make you a lifetime fan. It’s soooo good. A small square bar of butterscotch is like a chewy caramel brownie that gives your mouth an intense nomsgasm after a single, solitary bite. If you know the recipe, let it be known that I will beg for it.

While all were nommy, it was these three that didn’t make it past the first hour of that family trip. There’s no need to go to Iloilo no mo’, I already had a taste of Iloilo all in one box.

Noms, Press

Nothing Beats McDonald’s World Famous French Fries

Throughout the years, no matter how many variations, flavors, or packaging others come up with, the crispy, golden fries of McDonald’s remain to be my favorite. Knowing that I can order from McDonald’s anywhere in the world and it would taste the same is comforting, it’s like having bit of home in one little package. It’s a happy snack I can indulge in anywhere and everywhere. The only problem is not to indulge in it way too often.

Like the fruit of the Tree of Life, McDonald’s French Fries tempts even the stingiest of souls. My willpower is tested whenever I get a whiff of those golden crispy fried potato strips (or everyday, fml). They’re too darn irresistible! It seems like this guy in this funny new McDonald’s commercial is a kindred spirit.
I’d be careful to keep my eyes on my own fries.

Since McDonald’s has a number branches open for 24 hours and a 24/7 delivery service, it would be easier just to get your own (safer too, haha). Go ahead and give in to the craving.

McDonalds Philippines
Delivery details: Call 8-6236 or visit mcdelivery.com.ph.
Social networks:
Facebook: facebook.com/McDo.ph
Twitter : twitter.com/McDo_ph

You know you want it.
Noms

Get your Rice Fix at Kanin Get It!

Here’s a confession- I’m cheap. It’s not that I don’t like shelling out money for good noms, it’s actually the opposite. What I don’t like is paying good monies for sucky noms. When trying out new nomsplaces, we sometimes end up getting our money’s worth, other times we get ripped off. It’s those times when I get good value for money do I get giddy like a ten-year-old girl seeing her crush wave hello. I’m always on the lookout for nommy but fairly inexpensive eateries out there.

Their restaurant name is a play on the saying "Come and get it!"

Kanin Get It! is one of such place. On our way home from Tagaytay one weekend, my family and I found ourselves near Nuvali. Away from the busy main building in Solenad, where the major stores and restaurants are at, is the building where Kanin Get It! is. Its happy yellow sign and bright interior is a welcome sight to the famished. We proceeded to get comfortable and looked at what they offer.

From the name alone, I had guessed they were offering unlimited rice on their meals. They don’t. Instead, majority of what’s on their menu are meals served with rice or viands that go perfectly with the steaming white grain that we Asians adore. The mostly Filipino selection includes silogs of all kinds, which made me a happy little ladybug.

Local dishes: Longsilog, Fried Chicken, Tapsilog, Tortang Talong

I ordered a Longsilog meal which was huge, hot, and homey- it warmed me up in all the right places. It also came with a side of coleslaw, as did most dry meals, which I appreciated. The serving was also rather large, I was hungry but I could only finish one of the huge longganisas on the plate.

The rest were alright. At the very least, they’re home-cooked meals without the hassle. Prepared and cooked for you then served to you, plus you don’t have to worry about the dirty dishes!

Foreign fare: Beef Salpicao, Chap Chae, Fish Fillet, Korean Barbecue

They also offer other Asian specialties, one of the the standouts is the Chap Chae- a Korean noodle dish that’s predominantly sesame oil flavored. It could easily have been a disaster, many highfalutin restaurants can’t get it right but Kanin Get It’s version was good. Really good in fact, if you factor in that it costs less than 100 bucks and the serving can be good enough for two.

Considering that Kanin Get It! serves mostly Filipino fare, the serving sizes are huge. Because of the big serving sizes, many of what we ordered were shared to each other. And most everything was only in the p75-p150 range. Sulit!

BaconTunaMelt Rating: For the hefty servings, affordable price, and good old good noms, Kanin Get It! gets a 4.5! Minus points for not having more branches (specifically in the metro).

Kanin Get It!

Address: Ground Flr, One Evotech Bldg, Solenad Nuvali (Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Rd), Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, Philippines
Kanin Get It! Foursquare Map

Travel

McDonald’s of the World: Barcelona’s McIberica Burger

Although a little late (ok, a lot late), we are to add another notch to this series, featuring the burgers over at Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a beautiful city known for gorgeous and eclectic architecture by Antoni Gaudi, the most famous one being the Familia Sagrada. For the sports fans, it’s probably more known as the home of the FC Barcelona, one of the more prominent football leagues in the world.

Last year, I had the chance to visit the colorful city for a few days and as is the ritual for every country I visit, I ate at McDonalds. Who goes to Spain and eats at McDonalds instead of hoarding all the tasty Spanish noms? What kind of crazy does that? Me (and the people I drag along), of course.

McDonald's in Barcelona

Most of us had some leftover energy after a full (walking) day so we decided to stroll along the streets of the city and see where the night would lead us. We found ourselves visiting the Familia Sagrada (which is btw, even more gorgeous at night) and ending up hungry.

And like an oasis in the middle of the desert, the bright shining yellow ‘M’ of McDonalds invited us to fatten ourselves up with their juicy burgers and sinful fries. Totally ignoring our bodies screaming to eat healthier, we rushed right in and ordered promptly.

McIberica

It wasn’t too difficult to understand the Spanish menu, Filipino, our national language is loosely based off it, after all. I, being the healthiest eater out of everyone else (WATEVSURFEZ), tried to look for the healthiest thing on the menu. I eventually decided on the McIberica with a side of fries and orange juice (HEALTHY!) and couldn’t have been happier.

The McIberica is a beef burger with jamon iberico, Manchego cheese, olive oil, lettuce and tomato on a toasted baguette type of a bun. Since I’m a fan of cured ham (cured anything for that matter), the delightful flavor of jamon iberico and manchego cheese on top of the juicy beef patty felt like a mind-blowing nomsgasm. Jamon Iberico is not a type of ham that’s easy (or cheap) to find outside Spain, the taste is somewhat similar to the more common Jamon Serrano. Manchego cheese is a relatively mild Spanish cheese that was quite pleasant (I was expecting it to be too strong). Yum!

Watch their ad for it, it’s all in Spanish, but try to see how much of it you understand. 🙂

Also, read the other posts on this McDonald’s of the World series by clicking on this link.