A Taste of Japan in the Philippines

Yu-Fu-In Yaikiniku and Japanese Restaurant
Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines

When I want to learn about someone I always ask them about their food choice. It’s music to my ears when I have an idea about the kind of food that they consume and understand their eating behaviours because it creates a ton of opportunities for me to ask them more questions and never let the momentum die down. Really, it will be an understatement if you say that I love food because I really do.

Leo from Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on Instagram @leosamilo!

Last August 2019, I met Leo, a Filipino-Canadian based in Vancouver, who was in the Philippines for a quick vacation with his family. Through him, I had a delightful time learning about Vancouver, how the city is known for fresh seafood and how he’s a huge fan of Japanese food.

After my work schedule, I drove from Meycauayan City, Bulacan to Quezon City to fetch him. On my way to meet him, I thought of bringing him to Manila (around Malate) but I didn’t know any good and authentic Japanese restaurants around. So I thought, why not Yu-Fu-In in Angeles City, Pampanga since that’s been my go-to Japanese restaurant ever since 2016? Boy, it did not disappoint!

Osushiya San Bento

My craving for yakiniku was left unaddressed when we got to Yu-Fu-In. Their yakiniku was only available until 10pm and we got there about 15 minutes past 10pm. They have this yakiniku set + hot pot (good for 2-3 persons) which does not cost more than 1300 Pesos ($25). We were left without a choice but to order something from their regular menu.

Since he mentioned that he like sushi and fresh seafood, I made sure to get my staple fix of Oshushiya San Bento for only 490 Pesos ($9.42). What’s nice about this bento is you get to try nine (9) of their best sushi and it gives you an idea what to order next as a starter. My personal favourite would be the Ika Nigiri Sushi (Squid Hand-formed Sushi) because of how it just melts in your mouth.

Salmon Sashimi

It would not be a complete Japanese dining experience without ordering some nice sashimi (thin-sliced raw fish or meat). Salmon Toro (Salmon Belly) was our choice but it was not available at that time. Our attendant suggested Salmon Sashimi for only 295 Pesos ($5.67) and I know that it’s good.

I was quite hesitant ordering this because I’ve had an experience in the past when the sashimi from a different restaurant was awful. Sashimi has a recognisable smell – a stingy, fishy one – and you would only get it if you smell it directly. However, if you sit upright and notice this smell, then that might be an indication that the sashimi isn’t good for consumption anymore. Luckily, that wasn’t the experience we’ve had at Yu-Fu-In!

More than its freshness, the sashimi was flavourful. I like having it with fresh wasabi but without the sauce. As much as possible, I would always avoid having sauce in any food. Japanese food has a distinct flavour which I love – not savoury but extremely mouthful.

I could eat Omurice (Fried rice wrapped in omelette) everyday for my entire life and not feel bad about it. I know other Japanese restaurants have a cheesy version of this which, by the way, is good but I like mine simple, plus this is cheap! I only got mine for 170 Pesos ($3.27) and it’s actually good for 2 persons already.

We didn’t know what kind of tempura (battered and deep-fried) to get so ordered this mixed tempura for only 380 Pesos ($7.31) which could already serve 2-3 persons. Aside from Ebi Tempura (battered shrimp), my favourite would be Ika Tempura (battered squid), and yes, you can already tell by now how much I love squid!

Kushiyaki Set

Kushiyaki is Japan’s version of BBQ. However, theirs aren’t limited to specific meat, like pork, but it could be any poultry and non-poultry items. This set has six (6) different kushiyaki and is already good for 2 persons. Each set costs 295 Pesos ($5.67) only and you have the choice whether to smother it in their homemade sauce or just have a dash of salt and pepper (our choice, by the way).

What I love about Japanese food and the Japanese dining experience is how they put premium about sharing food. You are sharing a portion of who you are to the person you’re with and you experience this satisfying connection that only a good food can create. It’s as if sharing your food with someone is a journey of mutual understanding and discovery. Maybe this is what we miss when we get too preoccupied about ‘adulting’ and we miss the chance of experiencing this connection, who knows? When was the last time you created a meaningful relationship with someone over and through food?

Yu-Fu-In is located at 1st Street corner 2nd Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City, Pampanga, 2009 (view map here). You may contact them at (045) 635 5537 / 0908 874 2847 / 0917 842 6627.

*$1 = 52 Pesos

Travel Notes: 20 October 2018

Quezon City, Philippines

It was Becs’s idea to meet up here at Marindo, a newly opened restaurant located at the heart of Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. Conveniently located at the G/F of Manhattan Garden, it’s not that hard to find but caveat that there are no parking space available except the open parking outside.

They were operational since 6 October and serves Indonesian-Malay menu. I MUST try their Laksa, even if it meant skipping my diet for the night, and boy, it did not disappoint for something worth PHP195 ($3.61). I’ve also ordered Vegetable Fritters for PHP90 ($1.67) for everyone (not in the photos) which was surprisingly good and it reminded Japan’s Okonomiyaki but less savoury which is what I like. ($1 = PHP54)

The first I’ve noticed was probably the clean vibe that Marindo exuded and I have to give it to those white walls, clean utensils and Instagram-worthy lighting which only some restaurants have. They operate on a self-service set up and you have to pay as you order, so please do not expect this to have a fine-dining set up.

Some of the best people I’ve known for roughly 9 years, albeit my first time to meet Marvz with Kiefer today. Thanks for Jeric, too, for still going all the way to Cubao from Cogeo even if it was already late. If it wasn’t for Becs‘s business (go check @powercasesmnl!), this wouldn’t be possible. Look at what I’ve ordered from them too, and it costs way cheaper than your Starbucks Venti drink! It was seeing everyone last night, and I think I should do this more often now. X

Above Sea Level: Home of the Giant Butterfly Squid is Taking Your Seafood Experience to the Next Level

Above Sea Level - Home of the Giant Butterfly Squid
Above Sea Level – Home of the Giant Butterfly Squid. Photo taken at Above Sea Level – The Gate.

A good sight to see: those hand-painted murals at Above Sea Level – The Gate branch.

We come from a family of seafarers. From my grandfather (+) down to my dad and uncles, every older male in our family is a seafarer. So when we see these miniature life rings, it instantly makes us happy.

I grew up in a land locked province, and we are from a town that’s totally far from bodies of water. We weren’t famished because we’ve been considered as one of the top rice producing places in the country, but one thing is for sure, and my mum can attest to this – we are totally fond of seafood!

I guess it’s obvious to say that we’re in love with seafood simply because we don’t get to eat them anytime we wished to. If there’s a chance for us to have it, we wouldn’t let it pass. I’m not kidding at all – my mum can eat a whole casserole of steamed crabs in just one seating; my brother can down a platter or two of buttered shrimps; and I can devour huge fried butterfly squids without flinching. This is probably one of the best reasons why we love dining here at Above Sea Level.

Super Giant Butterfly Squid for 250 Pesos ($4.63) per piece, good for sharing (2 persons) and comes with free two (2) Java rice.

It was my grandma who invited us at Above Sea Level – The Gate branch. When we dined in here last 1 September (our second time), it was actually Nanay’s fifth time already. I’m not joking, it’s probably the first time, for a very long time, that I saw her get so fond of a restaurant, apart from our usual Hap Chan weekend family dinner. She said, one of our close relatives discovered this and brought her here. From then on, Above Sea Level has always been our go-to place for the past 3-4 weeks.

In case you’re wondering, there are different sizes for the Giant Butterfly Squid. So it’s not just a giant Butterfly Squid but there’s actually a bigger size than what we call as giant. I find this very interesting because where the heck do they get these bigger squid sizes!? I’m dying to get one. Anyway, here’s the list of the Giant Butterfly Squid sizes:

  • “Giant” – 190 Pesos ($3.33), good for 1-2 persons, comes with one (1) FREE Java rice;
  • “Super” – 250 Pesos ($4.63), good for 2-3 persons, comes with two (2) FREE Java rice;
  • “King” – 350 Pesos ($6.48), good for 3-4 persons, comes with three (3) FREE Java rice;
  • “Groot” – 450 Pesos ($8.33), good for 4-5 persons, comes with four (4) FREE Java rice.

Above Sea Level – The Gate Barkada Treat. For 1000 Pesos ($18.52), you can enjoy four (4) Giant Butterfly Squid, four (4) Java rice, and one (1) Seafood Festival platter. Photo courtesy of Above Sea Level – The Gate Facebook page.

One good thing about Above Sea Level is their Barkada Treat which comes four (4) Giant Butterfly Squid, four (4) Java rice, and one (1) Seafood Festival platter. You can enjoy this for only 1000 Pesos ($18.52), not a bad price, especially if you’re dining with your family and friends. I highly suggest that you get this instead of single orders to save a lot of money.

Seafood Festival platter, good for sharing (2-3 persons) for only 380 Pesos ($7.04). Tip: Get one (1) serving of this for FREE when you order a Barkada Treat!

I kid you not, the Seafood Festival platter really looks and tastes nice! As what the owners have shared to us, the Seafood Festival platter is not only cooked in butter but with crab fat/meat (alige, in Tagalog), too. The toppings include kernel corn, crab, mussel (tahong, in Tagalog), and shrimp (hipon, in Tagalog). So to those people who have high cholesterol count, who are prone to high blood pressure, and who are on a diet, this dish isn’t necessarily what you’d like.

Above Sea Level – The Gate also offers other à la carte options such as Squid Overload (all-squid platter) which is good for sharing (2-3 persons) only for 250 Pesos ($4.63), Firecracker Shrimp for one (1) person and it comes with FREE Java rice for 180 Pesos ($3.33), Bacon Wrapped Shrimp for one (1) person + FREE Java rice for 240 Pesos ($4.44), and Squid Fest which is good for sharing (3-4 persons), comes with three (3) Giant Butterfly Squid, and with FREE three (3) Java rice for 490 Pesos ($9.07).

For drinks, they serve HUGE towers of either a Blue Lemonade or a Red Iced Tea. You can choose whether to get a 16 oz. individual order for 50 Pesos ($0.93), a Jar (1 liter) for 100 Pesos ($1.85), good for sharing (2-3 persons); or a Juice Tower (2 liters) for 180 Pesos ($3.33), good for sharing (4-6 persons).

Fact: in our family, it’s only me who eats squid tentacles. So when we dine in here, I’ll be the one to finish everything off.

More than its affordable price, availability (as of writing, Above Sea Level has more than 50 branches across Luzon) and its sumptuous food, our family likes an excellent customer dining experience. To the owner of Above Sea Level – The Gate, Ms. Monina Lindo, thank you for always welcoming us with big smiles and open arms. These days, it’s so rare to find such a hands-on owner who makes sure all of our requests are attended immediately. I look forward to more visits soon! X

Above Sea Level – The Gate is located at The Gate (beside Walter Mart), Baltao Compound Ortigas Avenue Extension, Bgry. San Isidro Taytay, Rizal and they’re open from Monday to Sunday between 12pm and 10:30pm. I highly suggest you visit them on weekends around 7pm-8pm and on weekdays to avoid any queue. For any advance orders, reservations, you may directly coordinate with them on their Facebook page.

A Dining Experience Like No Other at KOS Greek Ouzeri

Complimentary flat bread and fresh baguette

This was our first time to dine in a Greek restaurant, and boy, KOS Greek Ouzeri at UP Town Center did not disappoint at all. We’ve known Greek food through dad when he makes Galaktoboureko, a Greek dessert of semolina custard in filo, and being the adventurous family that we are, we didn’t hesitate to try it out. One thing we’re sure about Greek food, though – there’s no rice! They served a complimentary basket full of flat pita bread and oh-so-good slices of baguette.

Tiganita – deep-fried zucchini and eggplant with yogurt dip. 195 Pesos ($3.65)

We started our food adventure with Tiganita – deep-fried zucchini and eggplant with yogurt dip. It pretty much resembles a Japanese tempura but the yogurt dip was what makes it different. The dip wasn’t strong and it helped us clear our taste buds before being served with the main course. I bet this was mum’s favourite because she’s a big fan of vegetables.

Gyros – roasted meats wrapped in pita bread with garlic sauce, tomatoes, and onions. 250 Pesos ($4.68)

Mum’s main course was Gyros – roasted meats wrapped in pita bread with garlic sauce, tomatoes, and onions, served with chips, and opted for the lamb. Due to the number of Tiganita serving she had before her food, she was not able to finish the serving. Luckily, being the one who always finishes off leftover food, I was able to taste it and it was a sumptuous. The slightly toasted pita bread goes very well with how those finely sliced, well-done, and juicy lamb chops. The garlic sauce was such a delight because it gives a good kick to the already-good dish.

Whilst my brother opted for Arnisia – grilled lamb chops with roasted vegetables and mint yogurt sauce, I decided to go for a Kotopoulo – herb roasted chicken served with potatoes and roasted red bell pepper sauce. Of course, being the brothers we are, we often share and trade insight about each other’s food.

Arnisia – grilled lamb chops with roasted vegetables and mint yogurt sauce. 450 Pesos ($8.43)

The Arnisia – a well-done lamb chop – can give any steak run for its money. I thought this was the highlight of our dining at KOS Greek Ouzeri. It wasn’t my first time to taste lamb meat, but with how they prepared the meat, it made me feel like it’s my first time to taste one that day. The meat was so tender that each time the fork would piece its way to the meat, the meat juice would just ooze out of it. It was such a delight to see that moment happen.

Kotopoulo – herb roasted chicken served with potatoes and roasted red bell pepper sauce. 315 Pesos ($5.90)

The serving of Kotopoulo was already good for sharing. For someone who does not eat a lot, I would recommend that you share this with someone. It wasn’t just the thigh-leg part of a chicken but it’s actually bigger than what’s expected. I’m a big fan of herb-roasted chicken meat. I couldn’t recognize the herbs that used for the dish but would definitely guarantee that the taste does not end from the chicken skin. Usually that’s the problem with grilled chicken, where only the chicken skin and some portion of the white meat would have the taste (earth calling, Mang Inasal and Bacolod Chicken Inasal!) but with Kotopoulo, the taste actually goes as deep as the chicken bones! The bell pepper sauce provides a tangy flavour that goes very well with the grilled potatoes. Just don’t forget to dash the chicken meat with a slice of lemon on the side and your dining experience will be in the heavens!

KOS Greek Ouzeri at UP Town Center

As much as we wanted order some Galaktoboureko, we simply couldn’t because we were all full and fixed. More than being served good food, it’s the overall dining experience that made our visit a good one. I recommend that you visit KOS Greek Ouzeri on a weekday to avoid long lines and any hassle, and you may want to call them before going for reservations, especially on weekends. The service wasn’t as bad as what the online reviews say. I thought it was rather understandable that the food may take a while to prepare. Without a doubt, for a reasonable price you are going to experience a dining like no other at KOS Greek Ouzeri.

Weekly Update: Week 32

Work Life

Some of the former Sourcing Team. From left to right: Mama Nica, Jylla, and Louise, who were all from the Offsite Team and are now part of the Selection Team; Clarize, who were originally from the Call Outs Team and is now part of the Management of Information System Team; Blue, my former supervisor in Sourcing; Rich, former Leads Generation for Online; Gian, former Digital and Marketing Specialist for Recruitment and Site; and myself, former Leads Generation for Employee and Applicant Referrals, and is now calling it off. 🙂

After midnight dinner/bonding/chikahan. I’ll miss everyone for sure.

While the earth is getting blessed by the rain and the cool wind from the North, I am grateful to have survived yet another busy but fulfilling week. I reward myself with a good 16 hour sleep today, coming from a late night out with my team mates at Mercato Centrale BGC.

We were grateful to have Miss C’s presence last night and boy, her stories and her kindness never fail to amaze and inspire us! She’s been our mentor, our dearest friend, and our biggest supporter ever when we’re all still in the Sourcing Team.

Yes, I’m confirming it here—I’m resigning from my company due to health reasons and because I’ll be moving out. It has been couple of weeks—exactly a month from the time I’m writing this—when I’ve had my Urinary Track Infection, kidney stones, and high uric acid count and I haven’t been well since then. I literally had to fake it till I make it, but unfortunately didn’t pull it off. I couldn’t walk properly because of the pain and all my savings were gone in a snap to support my medication. I tried my best to take care of my body better but just failed at addressing the real problem.

I didn’t want to blame my work because I love Sourcing but because I’m handling everything in Sourcing now—without a supervisor and team mates—the work load is taking its toll on me. Up to yesterday, I was responsible in handling Leads Generation for online postings  for both Facebook and Jobstreet, Leads Generation for Employee and Applicant Referrals, Job Fair leads consolidation, school coordination and tie ups, and online/digital marketing. At the same time, I was responsible, too, in doing call outs and invites to all the leads that I’ve encoded. I couldn’t fit everything in the 9 hours shift (including lunch, or working lunch if I may add) so I would normally be in the office for more than 13 hours in a day. I would come in at exactly 8 AM and would go home around 11 PM, 12 in the midnight.

I love my job and everything about Sourcing but my company does not love me back.

A simple reminder yet something difficult to keep in mind and do. Photo taken at Serenitea at Bonifacio One Technology Tower, 31st Street.

Food Discoveries!

Recently, I’ve been discovering good places to dine in with my friends and team mates around Bonifacio Global City. I always consider the place and the proximity. Scrap price from the equation! When we talk about food, I believe you cannot compromise quality over anything else. First on my list is Passion by Gerard Dubois.

Passion by Gerard Dubois

A little piece of heaven on Earth.

Passion by Gerard Dubois (or the awesome French bakery according to Ms C. Haha!) is at Shop C2 of the NetPark, 5th Ave, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila. From its website, I quote, “…patrons seeking a traditional French café experience can sit back to savour a crispy oven-to-plate baguette with a rich chocolat chaud, in a homey country cottage décor and the aroma of freshly baked bread.” 

A slice of Framboisier from Passion by Gerard Dubois is something you need in your life when things aren’t going your way. See more at Kimmy’s Instagram.

Passion makes you feel that you are in that place in Paris, France where you enjoy a peaceful, laid-back, sunny day by a plate of French goodies and a cup of good coffee. I’m not the type of person who is particular with the interiors and whatnot but Passion amazes you with its concept and upbeat vibe.

A platter full of Royal Potato Salad to share with your family and friends, best when served cold. If you’re a big fan of salad, then this is a must try! See more photos at Kimmy’s Instagram.

Food and quality wise, Passion by Gerard Dubois serves only the best. From good pastries, freshly baked goodies, mouth-watering pasta, and delicious flat bread, to awesome sandwiches, thirst-quenching beverages, and delightful desserts, Passion is a good definition of a little piece of heaven on Earth.

Passion is open daily from 8 AM to 11 PM.

A cup full of Strawberry Gelato for only Php98! Why strawberry? I don’t think I need to answer this as I’m clearly stating the obvious. Ha! See more photos at Kimmy’s Instagram.

A fix of a good cappuccino in this gloomy, rainy weather is something we all need, even if I don’t drink coffee these days anymore.

Chicken & Beer

Passion, indeed, was a runaway winner this week but I can never forget my experience in Chicken & Beer with—who else?—my team mates.

Sourcing Team almost complete! Missed Em and Kim that night.

All smiles because food has arrived! From left to right: Me, Clarize, Blue, Rich, Louisa, Mama Nics, Chef, Louise, Gian, Jylla, and Jann.

I really have a love and hate relationship with spicy food. I was never a fan of any spicy food but I keep eating it anyway. We ordered Paris Chicken (8 pcs for Php 325), Hot Wings* (8 pcs for Php 325), Honey Garlic Chicken (6 pcs for Php 335), and Original Chicken (6 pcs for Php 295), 1 rice per person, and tons of water!!!

*It’s really, really, really, really, really spicy!

Plates full of assorted chicken wings. How can that get any better? See more photos at Kimmy’s Instagram.

The place also plays and features Korean music videos, a good addition to the upbeat ambiance that it parades. And how else can you enjoy it? They serve ice-cold beers and tons of other liquor choices. It’s also allowed to smoke inside the premises, although my friends went out to smoke as a courtesy to others who dined in there, too.

Anyway, we had fun during the team’s open forum a.k.a. chikahan session while enjoying the good customer service provided by the crew of Chicken & Beer. What makes it more interesting is its fast service. All of our orders were complete in less than 15 minutes and that’s plus points to someone who values service and food quality over anything else.

Our food share per person: Php 170 + Php 70 for the booze I drank. My share: Php 240!

Personal Updates

I’ve been sick, lately, but it should never be an excuse not to dress up well and look good. It isn’t cheap to support your medication, take care of your skin, and to update your wardrobe from time to time—who said it’s going to be easy anyway? However, this isn’t about vanity but lifestyle.

You may look well outside—dressed up fine and dandy, living a good life—but dying inside, and I talk about this literally.

To those who’s asking why and how I’m losing weight, the only secret I have is to cut down my food intake. From my regular rice meals to my beloved soda, I had to give it all up and change it with fruits-oatmeal diet plan and water. Before, my calories intake would normally shoot up to 2000 to 2500 calories in a day and that’s without any exercise. I was tagged overweight for my height and age. Now, my calories intake is down to 1400 calories in a day—sometimes 1200 calories if the diet plan asks for it.

Not that I’m afraid to gain weight but it’s really about maintaining a healthier lifestyle now. My uric acid count is too high for my age and I couldn’t do anything but to eat healthier, live healthier, and be in medication maintenance.

Here’s to a healthier self! I’m doing the best that I can to fully recover ASAP and get started with my plans for the rest of the year.

Preppy and dressed down on a Sunday at Immaculate Conception Seminary when we visited my brother. Shirt from American Eagle, shorts from Uniqlo, shoes from Sperry, foot socks from Burlington. See more photos at Kimmy’s Instagram.

Rainy day essentials: boots from Caterpillar shoes, jogger jeans from Jag Jeans, pullover from my grandpa’s closet. See more photos at Kimmy’s Instagram.


Weekend Snippets x Birthday Celebration

Green grasses remind me that I am at home, somewhere far from the reality of being a corporate slave from Monday to Friday.

Photo taken at Funnside Ningnangan, Guiguinto, Bulacan, with my baby brother, Rayan, mum Sally, brother Joss, and auntie Belle. Belated Happy Birthday to me!

Relaxing kubo houses at Funnside Ningnangan.

Good food, good life.

Seafood Aioli


More of Boyong’s(see here for my Creamy Pesto w/ Grilled Chicken post) I ordered this Seafood Aioli for 110 PHP. Imagine, getting a scrumptious meal for a very affordable price, what more can you ask for? Hallelujah, thank goodness!

Honestly, I got this because yours truly is a huge fan of any seafood pasta. It’s more into the richness of the flavours which I really am after. I like the pasta dry, and by dry meaning it wasn’t too oily. It wasn’t hard to eat because the pasta was well-done. The pasta came with a sliced, garlic-flavoured bread and a dash of Parmesan cheese. Those fish fillets came from Boyong’s newest addition to its men, and this is a must try! It’s a platter full of fried appetizers — fish fillet, fried squid rings, and chips — and it costs only for less than 300 PHP.

Visit Boyong’s at #15 E. Dela Paz Street, San Roque, Marikina, 1801 Metro Manila. Contact number: +63 (02) 682 0403.

Creamy Pesto w/ Grilled Chicken

Heading out for a Friday night but don’t know where to go? I best suggest you go and visit Boyong’s in Marikina City today.

This was a long, overdue post but I’m posting it anyway today. My friend ordered this at Boyong’s for 145 PHP only. It was my former office mate, Verna, who introduced me and my other office mates here. We had a blast, I shall say, and we enjoyed the food a lot. More than the good food, it was the ‘chill’ kind of environment which we did appreciate the most.

Boyong’s offers wide selection of affordable yet scrumptuous sandwiches, burgers and pastas, making it a very good way to beat the summer heat and to get those empty stomachs full. Visit Boyong’s at #15 E. Dela Paz Street, San Roque, Marikina, 1801 Metro Manila. Contact number: +63 (02) 682 0403.