Go Go Tokyo!! Tonkatsu Sandwiches & Onigiri

Go Go Boy

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Sticking out like a sore thumb among the rest of the ambulant vendors manning spots along the sidewalk immediately outside Cebu IT Park, a distinctly non-Filipino Asian I initially mistook for a Korean national with bright orange coolers stood beaming to passersby. He was standing stationed under one of the trees across a couple of soapbox, radical Christian evangelists with his unwavering smile holding conversion at bay. I stepped in with the prospect of a purchase and his safety from the fires of hell had to wait.

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Twenty-eight year old Go Morita of Osaka, Japan graduated with a degree in Business at the Hosei Graduate School. Previously in sales and with some restaurant experience, wanderlust and dreams beyond the horizon of the Land of the Rising Sun had him travelling across Asia in search of a new home and a place to start his Tonkatsu Sandwich and Onigiri empire. He hopped across Malaysia, China and Thailand for a year before finding his Shangri-la in the Queen City of the South, Cebu. “Great living conditions and more people speaking good English”, he said. Boy, was Aegis wrong.

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Catching him about thirty minutes from setting up shop, he flipped open the bright orange coolers he now wants to be identified with now only half full of that day’s inventory. Extremely affordable at only P35 for either Chicken or Pork Tonkatsu sandwiches and P20 for a flavored rice ball, the slower weekend working crowd allowed us to catch what would have otherwise been a quick sell on a weekday.

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Coated lightly in panko, the chicken and pork remained soft and flavorful even with the period of standing from the morning’s frito. Sandwiched between store-bought sliced bread with a rough slaw and patted with mustard and Tonkatsu sauce, it was surprisingly not oily for a fried item. A serving is light enough for a snack and two would be good enough for a light meal.

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The Onigiri, conveniently labeled Rice Ball, features fragrant Japanese rice with a touch of vinegar. Bonito flakes and some nori add a salty, seafood flavor with the umami coming from a combination of salt, sugar and soy sauce while sesame seeds add a delicate, nutty almost impalpable crunch.

Go help make Go’s dreams come true and enjoy affordable, authentic Japanese street food while you’re at it. Go Go Tokyo!! can be found from around 10AM on most days on Salinas Drive, Lahug on the sidewalk just right outside Cebu IT Park’s entry arch. Check out his Facebook page for schedules.

Best Cebu Blogs Awards 2014

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I threw caution to the wind and went on sabbatical for a year abroad. Being away from home allowed me a viewpoint on things back here from the outside looking in and also that of a foreigner — a new perspective on society, politics, economy, life, relationships and even myself. I opened myself to entirely new experiences, languages and cultures I thought I would have been familiar with from what I feed on from popular media. My favorites were those of the culinary vein.

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Authentic, local Chinese cuisine presented flavors, nuances and presentations way beyond the familiar Ding Qua Qua and Grand Majestic. I ate off dingy carts, had dumplings with meats of questionable origins, enjoyed grilled scorpion and fried silkworm larvae, lost myself in many a hutong in search of neighborhood specialty food institutions, learned to eat seasonal crustaceans from a four-year old, had all the permutations possible for Beijing Duck, fell in love with the savory all-day breakfast crepe jian beng, stood in an autumn chill with a mojito from a street bar, had a freaking donkey burger and many, many other food adventures and misadventures. The international community I identified with also contributed much to the whole. Travels across the plains and around the neighboring countries from that hub city offered even more experiences with regional variations.

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A year through the coldest winter in that city in thirty years, the most bitter of lies and green eyes, the most unexpected warmth and welcome from the spawn of the sleeping, nay, waking…waking giant, and, the most gorgeous, most real gastronomic experiences I have had and I was ready to come home. For most part, it was because I was ready to come home to love.

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Endless catch up dates with The PussyKat meant endless food and drink, endless photos and endless uploads. It was then that The PussyKat all but forced me to migrate my food posts and commentary from Facebook to a blog platform. This blog has had many concept incarnations until I settled simply with Pornografeed, an obvious play on the food porn theme. I wrote to share my experiences and thoughts about food and the stories associated with those. Virtually a transcription of the volumes that spill out of my mouth, it was also an exercise in keeping a coherent train of thought and vain attempts at brevity.

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We all spend a lot of time thinking about what has been, talking about what is going on and worrying about what will be. Periodically waking up from the stupor of being drunk in love to, well, life in general, my return and reestablishment has been marked with some difficulty. Between harsh realities, hype and everything else I’ve had to grin and bear with, I beat myself up for the resulting cynicism thinking surely this year would be even better than the last. As it is true with Murphy’s Law, when it rains it pours, so it also did with surprises.

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Readership slowly picked up steam. I started bumping into people who strike up conversation about their favorite posts and their own experiences, recommend their discoveries or even request reviews as their previews. Copywriting assignments slowly trickled in on top of invitations to contribute to print publications. Dinners and events piled up with the resulting connections and friendships with the movers and shakers of the local food industry. Upcoming collaborations are in the works, too. The biggest surprise came by the announcement of the finalists for the 7th Annual Best Cebu Blogs where Pornografeed made it in the Food Blog category and, even more surprisingly, the Personal Blog category lists.

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The Best Cebu Blogs Awards (BCBA) is a yearly Awarding Ceremony of Cebu-based Bloggers. BCBA is the only and pioneering award giving body that recognizes the existence of blogs and bloggers in Cebu’s blogosphere. It acknowledges the existence and importance of Cebu Bloggers in the Visayas and in the Philippines. BCBA aims to recognize the finest blogs by Cebuanos and Cebu-based bloggers which are at par even with their foreign counterparts.

Best Cebu Blogs Awards is organized and handled by Blogger Volunteers headed by Cebu Bloggers Society Inc. Founder Mark M. Monta. Judges for the Best Cebu Blogs Awards By Niches are changing every year. Most of them came from Manila, Cagayan De Oro, Ilo-ilo, General Santos, Davao and of course, a home-based judge here in Cebu.

BCBA was founded by Mark Monta on December of 2008 and later joined by fellow organizers Agnes Jimenez, Bjorn Bernales, Gezelle Tapangan, Chanel Marie Imperial and Jaysee Pingkian. (from the BCBA website)

The 7th Annual Best Cebu Blogs Awards Night will be held at 6PM on a Sunday, December 7, 2014 at the Avalon Building, Cebu Business Park, featuring the participation of previous Best Cebu Blogs Awards winners, prizes and more surprises.

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The 7th Annual Best Cebu Blogs Awards Night is made possible through the generous support of The Best Cebu Blogs Awards (BCBA)’ partners, namely, Gold Sponsors, Globe Telecommunications Inc. and Primary Homes Incorporated; Silver Sponsors, Greenwich Philippines and Krispy Kreme Philippines; Bronze Sponsors, Maribago Bluewaters and Dr. Xavier Solis, Donors, Starbucks Philippines, Payag Payag, Island Grill Express and Javders Projector Rentals; Media Partners, Cebu Bloggers Society Incorporated and tenmimutes.ph; Official Photographer, Alvin Asayas of Alvin Asayas Photography; and Blogger Volunteers, Cebu Fitness Blog, FaceCebu.net, EmpressofDrac.com, Geemiz:Accounting Blog, ChannelImperial.com, The Gum Shoes Blog and One Frozen Mind.

Follow the Best Cebu Blogs Awards (BCBA) and get updates about 7th Annual Best Cebu Blogs Awards Night on their official website, www.bestcebublogsawards.com, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bestcebublogs and Twitter: @bcbawards. Hashtag your posts, tweets and shares: #bcbawards2014 and #cebutopblogs and wish me luck!

 

Yellow Cab Pizza’s Dear Darla Pizza

Darla was a pizza I ate before

I’ve known her, I guess, five years or so

Saw Darla on Yellow Cab’s menu one day

And this is what she had to say

Karlo, it appears you’ve forgotten me

You’ve moved on to other things as I can see

Been waiting for the day that I’d see you (er, again)

‘Thought we had love forever true

Then I asked for her once more

Up at the outlet on Ayala’s third floor

She arrived a hot mess all cut up in strips

Then I told Darla what I had to say

Darla, Darla please don’t cry

You’ll forget me by and by

It’s been a while, I’ve met someone new

Here she is, I’ll introduce her to you

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The PussyKat sat with her feline smile

Darla displayed her thin crust wide

Pepperoni, olives and veggies on for the ride

Arugula and alfalfa on the side

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I piled the greens on the crust

A chili oil and hot sauce splash was a must

Rolled the strip slice like sushi

And bit into that distant memory

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Darla, Darla you haven’t changed

Crisp to the bite and never plain

How my tongue rejoiced at the herby taste

And…and…and at this point I’ve run out of rhyme… Damnit!

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Dear Darla is Yellow Cab’s offering for the carb/calorie counting, health-conscious crowd with its thin crust and fresh veg topping feature. Named after the movie The Little Rascals’ famous scene where the male lead, Alfalfa, dictates a love/hate letter starting out with “Dear Darla”, this pizza is cut into strips instead of the standard wedges. Alfalfa sprouts, the only obvious connection to the movie, is spread out on top with arugula, drizzled with condiments to taste and rolled up. Tomato sauce, cheese, olives, onions and pepperoni keep it well within the definition of pizza to keep a hold on the reg pizza-loving crowd. Launched to some fanfare a few years ago, this offering is worth a revisit.

As usual I’ve taken liberties with the familiar and bastardized the classic Don’t Cry Joni to serve my purpose.

Yellow Cab is located at Ayala Center Cebu, Banilad Town Center and Cebu IT Park.

Waki Waffles

 

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“Come into my parlour.”, said the spider to the fly. The scent of waffles shot out like webbing and reeled me into the Waki Waffles stationed just outside the Sun Shop. Paying bills can work up a hunger pang. A good half an hours wait for my number, just three from one currently served when I walked in, merited a carb allowance.

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The cheery yellows made the kiosk even more welcoming. I sat on the counter right in front of their industrial waffle irons for a full aromatherapy treatment. A homegrown Cebuano business, Waki Waffles have a Create-Your-Own-Waffle option alongside their Sweet and Savory presets. Everything begins with a choice of either the light and crispy Brussels waffle or the soft and chewy Liege. Go el cheapo with just the plain or pay extra for the add-ons and the corresponding calories.

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I ordered a Bacon & Maple waffle off the presets on a Brussels. Chunks of bacon were cooked on the waffle iron. I egged the attendant to finish off the remaining bacon in her freezer disposable so she wouldn’t have day overs. Her Chinese laugh gave indication that she is limited to a prescribed number of bacon pieces per grid. Waffle batter was then poured in and the iron clamped shut. A few minutes later the waffle was fished out all golden and maple syrup was sparingly spooned over it.

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Used to the soft waffles, the slight crunch was a novelty. I may have made the mistake of choosing Brussels for my savory as I found myself looking for more weight in the mouthfeel. The sugar in the batter at the very minimum allowed the add-ons to work their magic. Maple syrup naturally goes with most starches especially the batter-based kind. And oh God, bacon. ‘Nuff said. Waki Waffles should consider putting out a Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken & Maple Syrup on Waffles combo.

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The cashier recommended Waki Waffle’s Cucumber Iced Tea. Refreshingly different, the intensity of the flavor and the day-glow green at the bottom of the cup betrayed a bottled cucumber-flavored syrup prep instead of a natural infusion but it reminded me much of the Cucumber-Citrus Cooler from Lemongrass.

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Just needing to try the Liege, I ordered one with Blueberries and Cream Cheese. More dense in texture than Brussles, it had a more bang-for-buck feel. A light dusting of confectioner’s sugar was a nice touch of sweetness versus what would have been an aggression from granulated. I love the taste of blueberries and I’m big on cream cheese so they didn’t need to do much with it to coax a smile out of me.

Menu photos grabbed from the Waki Waffles website.

Waki Waffles outlets are located at the mezzanine of the Ayala Active Zone and at the Upper ground floor of SM City Cebu.

Hallow’s Win, Too

Continued from Hallow’s Win

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Juan Calavera rose by midday. The noon sun bit into his flesh when he threw his bedroom door open. Snoop Dogg played on loop at the back of his head while ungainly feet shuffled him downstairs for his necromancy potion: coffee. His “bones” have faded out from last night’s shower. The afternoon dragged on and built up to a flurry of prep towards dark. ThePussyKat later came in to put on her Sugar Skull face as her version of La Muerte and to redo the inks. The rest went crazy with makeup and face paints then we all piled into the car for Tang Dynasty’s.

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We were greeted by a Christmas tree wrapped in black. Lady Eve had the decorator in a bit too early. The table was set with candles and black roses. A monster’s feast of Seafood Pasta, Pork Ribs, Pork Belly, Pork in Potatoes, Grilled Salmon, Grilled Chicken, Beef in Mushroom Gravy, Chicken Macaroni Salad, Ice Cream and Assorted Cookies and Pastries on it.

Her name is Lola. She WAS a showgirl.

Her name is Lola. She WAS a showgirl.

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Giving Lilia Cantipay, yet again, a run for her money was Gran Regina. Zee was frighteningly real as The-Ghost-Of-That-Jose-Mari-Chan-Christmas-Album-That-Just-Refuses-To-Crossover-To-The-Next-Life.

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As usual, Migs exerted tons of effort by coming as recently canonized Filipino Saint, Pedro Calungsod. Kung Fu King Chu Yan was all smiles as Joker while the Dragon Lady of the South took inspiration from Neverland and came as Petra Pan.

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The rest of the cousins went crazy with American Horror Story and various TV series horror characters.

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It looked like we made good on making it bigger and better this year. The challenge now is how to top all this in the next one. Now who or what do I go as? Suggestions, anyone?

Hallow’s Win

Our very first family Halloween Party

Our very first family Halloween Party

 

Fire Prevention Month

Fire Prevention Month

 

Easter Celebration

Easter Celebration

Ah, Halloween. That other most wonderful time of the year. Over the years, The Island has slowly caught up with the West in the celebrations. Our clan of four families started our annual event a few years back to add to what used to be monthly, themed excuses to get together, dress-up and pig-out.

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Each year proves more challenging with the need to top the previous’ antics. I’ve gone as Petunia The Dairy Godmother–wearing an inflatable suit, Doctor Facilier The Voodoo Man and then a “Shokoy” for our Pinoy Monsters & Mythology-themed year. Skipping the year I was on sabbatical abroad, we were determined to bring the crazy times back.

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Taking inspiration from Rick Genest A.K.A. Zombie Boy, I tapped the talents of my high school batch mate and artist, Zach, to do my skeleton tattoos in ordinary, black permanent marker pens. Three hours of solid work and Juan Calavera came to life. We would have gone for more detail but we were pressed for time. The night had to begin.

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Coming from their office’s working Halloween celebration, The PussyKat had to chuck her Chinese Opera crown and face paint, as Puccini’s deadly and deathly Princess Turandot, to a more utilitarian Evil Aunt for ease of movement and, possibly, to comply with the requirements for #TitaMoves. I caught up with her and budding iPhone photographer, Isabel, who played a gender-bender Shark-Girl to her absent Lava-Boy, over their staple dimsum.

Dimsum Break's Steamed Fried Rice, Spring Rolls and Empress Rolls

Dimsum Break’s Steamed Fried Rice, Spring Rolls and Empress Rolls

Needing to keep all skin-and-bones in character, I had the KFC Gangnam Zinger Burger instead of a full meal. Basically your regular Zinger with a “Gangnam” sweet and spicy sauce, it would have made me bust a Psy if they used Kimchi instead of the usual lettuce. The Zinger fan in me didn’t allow any disappointment, though.

KFC Gangnam Zinger

KFC Gangnam Zinger

News of heavy traffic enroute to Paradise Village made us decide to skip that Trick-or-Treat event and waited out for the 10PM All Hallows Ball at The Cable Car. Coffees paid for seat space at the Starbucks of the Ayala Expansion Wing. A bathroom hallway shoot followed.

Nuts Sablee & Café Ameriano at Lady Jane

Nuts Sablee & Café Ameriano at Lady Jane

The day, the prep and the long wait was starting to zap the sap out of us. The Undead needed to stay alive and Lady Jane at One Paseo offered more caffeinated power. As usual, I’m all Café Americano but had a rather pricey Nuts Sablee cookie to go with it. The cookie was perfectly vanilla-plain, allowing the individual tastes of the almond, walnut, squash seed and peanut to pop from up top. Shark-Girl’s friend Patrick joined us shortly in his no-costume costume as a celebrity furniture designer’s doppelganger.

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Supernatural figures crowded The Cable Car from the outside including versions of pop characters from fiction. PR Pixie, Paula, erstwhile Goddess of the Cable Car and The Scrapyard, ushered us to our reserved table right smack in the middle of the action. Ordering a round of drinks, I bumped into King of the Cable Car and Lord of The Scrapyard, manager Nathaniel who later swung by with a plate of complimentary munchies. Ghouls cannot live on human innards alone.

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Pat and Issa disappeared and returned to surprise us with Yellow Cab Pizza. I’m pretty sure that was an explosion of flavors but the tongue numbed by alcohol could no longer discern and the mindset turned more zombie. “Fooooood.”

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We were waiting for DJ Karl Chua to start his set but several rounds of drinks started amplifying everything. Or maybe we were just getting too old. Anyway, we decided to miss out. Driving by the outdoor Barcode party, we made our way to IT Park for yet another refresher meal. Feline, female, finicky and fickle, The PussyKat took forever to decide on her food choice and the lull of sleep tugged a greater pull on our eyelids. I later crawled into my bed with the roosters starting to call out the sun. Another day. Another night. Another party.

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To be continued…