Eats Boracay

Notwithstanding the misadventures with my choice of hotel, everything went well with the latest trip to the island. It did not feel like it had been more than three years since my previous visit until I decided to venture outside Station 1. There are new hotels, shops, tiangge, and restaurants, all of which I did not recall having seen in previous visits. Most of all, there are more clubs now than I can remember–all right, I knew only places like Cocomangas or Epic, but the new ones are just proof of how alive the night scene is on this island.

On our first night, we hit Club Paraw, which takes quite a long walk along the beach if you are staying in the more crowded/popular sections of the island. While it was already open by the time we arrived at past-11, the party did not start until midnight. By then, the place was packed with partygoers–mostly inebriated–grinding to lively dance beats.

Inside Club Paraw

One upside of my hotel’s location is that there are a number of food stalls selling pancakes, waffles, hotdogs, sliders/bugers, and dimsum. Sometimes, eating street food can be really comforting. I tried the Korean hotdog, having no idea what exactly it was, initially. It turned out that it was a sausage dipped in sweet batter, fried, dipped in batter again, and fried again. It must have been the most unhealthy mix of carbs and oil that I had in many months, but to a hungry traveller, it might as well be manna from heaven.

Korean hotdog is served with a sprinkle of sugar and a dollop of ketchup.
Super sweet lemonade. The only thing missing was vodka.

Dinner on the first night was at Steakhouse Boracay on Station 1. I loved my beef steak (medium rare), served with tartar sauce and stir fried veggies. While the menu is a bit high-end or pricey, the serving sizes are massive; I could not even finish half of my steak.  It goes without saying that the steak was best consumed with a glass of red…or two.

Steakhouse Boracay, steak
Did someone say, huge serving of steak?

California red Steakhouse Boracay
I had nearly finished my glass before I remembered to take a photo for posterity (i.e., blogging)

I could not find Zuzuni’s, one of my Boracay favourites, so I ended up at Cozina, which I think is what now occupies the former Greek restaurant. The Spanish restaurant has only been around since January, according to their Facebook page. For lunch, I had chicken with bacon slices and herbs inside, set in tomato sauce, and garnished with fried potato strips and some greens.

Cozina Authentic Spanish Restaurant Boracay
Grilled chicken with bacon, herbs, and tomato sauce. Yum!

Cozina serves one of the best mojitos I know. It’s a must if you’re in Boracay.

Mojito Cozina Boracay
Cozina Boracay red wines
Want some red to go with your tapas? Cozina has a few selection.
Cozina Spanish Restaurant Boracay
Inside Cozina. I love the simple unpretentious interiors.

Besides food, what I like about Cozina is the service. They have among the friendliest and efficient attendants and they never fail to smile or ask if there is anything you need. They ask how you like your food, and such. The only time I remember someone asking me how I liked my food was when I was in New York, and that was years ago! I give Cozina two thumbs up for both food and service, and I am definitely going back on my next visit to the island.

For Italian fare, the slightly fancy Don Vito Restaurante on Station 2 in front of Mandarin Island Hotel is worth a visit. I thought I had enough of meat for the weekend, but then again, I knew it was okay to be a little naughty with my diet once in a while, so baby back ribs and Chardonnay sounded all right. I would pay it back with more time doing cardio and Body Combat, plus good old-fashioned strength training session with my Fitness Trainer.

Don Vito Boracay
Baby back ribs. Just the right serving size for a hungry traveler.
Don Vito Boracay
Don Vito Boracay
Chardonnay went well with the ribs. Not a famous pairing, but it was fab.
Don Vito Boracay
Outside Don Vito.
Where I did not stay, hah! Mandarin Island Hotel.
Don Vito Boracay
One of the guys explained that he did not knew Cosmo was a “pa-girl” drink. I don’t blame him; he missed all of Sex and the City.
Don Vito Boracay
Watermelon Shake. No alcohol.

Cure for Hangover

After having too much to drink the first night, I woke up with a massive hangover. Unfortunately, there was no food served at the hotel, so I had to crawl out of bed hungry and force myself to walk in blinding sunlight for a good meal. My search was rewarded with a fabulous American breakfast served all day at the Bamboo Chinese Lounge: more bacon than I was willing to finish, two eggs (I asked the staff to serve only egg whites), fruit slices, jam, butter, wheat bread, and orange juice. Coffee was an additional order, and diners have options between Lavazza and local brew. I decided that my coffee didn’t have to be fancy.

American breakfast, Bamboo Lounge Boracay
Bamboo Lounge’s American Breakfast. Not in the photo: jam, butter, and bread slices.
Orange Juice served at Bamboo Lounge Boracay
It’s real orange!
Bamboo Lounge Boracay
Inside Bamboo Lounge

Afternoon Coffee

Coco Cafe is a good alternative to “that coffee chain”. The place is right beside Coco Bar, where one can also ask for fish and chips.

Coco Cafe Boracay
I would guess they’d ran out of cup sleeves, so they served my to-go coffee in double cups.
Coco Cafe Boracay, Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips are okay. On the other hand, I wasn’t excited about the mayo-and-ketchup dip. 

As much I as I love their coffee and their fish-and-chips is not bad at all, I just enjoyed the place’s interior, for some vague reason. Maybe it has to do with the massive logo installed on the ceiling and the fact that it’s not packed to the rafters like Starbucks.

Coco Cafe Boracay
Inside Coco Cafe.
Boracay Coffee
Coffee is hard to come by early in the morning. 

Anybody up for some Filipino food?

Tom Parker Bowles, Camilla Parker Bowles’s son and food editor of Esquire Magazine, visited Manila to discover this “dreadful” metropolis’ culinary secrets. It turned out that the trip was well worth braving the horrors–actual or imagined–with which Westerners typically define this megacity of roughly 20 million souls, majority of which live under $1 a day.

Anyone for Filipino food? (Tom Parker Bowles, Esquire Aug. 2011)

Coffee in a teabag

Finally, local barako coffee manufacturers have come up with a clever idea of selling coffee in teabags. Since jumping motherships last January, I’ve been deprived of brewed coffee at the office.  If there is anything that I miss from the former stepmothership apart from the 15-minute commute, social network access, the considerably decent cafeteria and choices of restaurants around the block, the endless supply of sodas, energy drinks, and teas, it’s free brewed coffee.

And since I’m the coffee junkie who drinks the brew for its caffeine content, the usual 3-in-1s from Nescafe and San Mig don’t cut it with me. As far as I’m concerned, those instants are desserts and not drugs. On certain sluggish days when I didn’t get enough sleep the previous night (or nights in a row) or I had eaten too much rice at lunch, I had to take a trip to the nearest mall and buy a venti latte at Starbucks (no sugar, please).

A recent trip to the SM Hypermarket produced this fantastic thing that has happened in this ever-late-to-the-party corner of the planet: coffee grounds in teabags. Yey! All you have to do is steep it in hot water for three minutes, and then voila! Brewed coffee! At P140 per box of 10, it’s not cheap, but considering that a 3-in-1 pack costs P11 at the cafeteria (or P5 to P6 per packet if you buy a box at the supermarket), or that a tall brew at Starbucks is roughly P85 or more, the Siete Barakos coffee is well worth the price.

Coffee in a teabag
Mmmm…. coffee!