I enjoyed my breakfast goodies off the breakfast buffet and again, out of my takeout bags. They were really very nice about it. 👍 For sure, I’d recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Hoi An.
I love Hoi An. This former port city just south of Danang is so well-preserved that visitors can still enjoy this melting pot’s Ancient Town. Its architecture is a good mix of French colonial buildings, Chinese tea houses and shops, and ornate Vietnamese temples. It even has a Japanese Covered Bridge! Not far from the city center’s row of shops and dining outlets along and near the canals is a more quiet neighborhood hotel called Belle Maison HADANA Resort and Spa. Just under a kilometer from the more touristy spots. Well, some may wish to be where the action is but given the crowd congregating in a few blocks of tourist spots, you may want to consider being just a few blocks away from the chaos, somewhere more quiet.
The hotel guests can use any of the hotel’s smart-looking bikes for free. Named after some local fruits, one can pedal into the tourist spots riding “Rambutan”, a small red fruit with soft spikes, tasting like lychees. Being a resort and spa hotel, the hotel lobby looks very inviting and relaxing, with a good view of the hotel pool — certainly a favorite spot in this hot and humid season. I am not certain but it looks like all rooms have balconies overlooking the pool. Breakfast is served in a salon that opens up to the pool too except that it being summer, the glass doors are closed and the air conditioners are thankfully running!
Breakfast offers a wide selection. On the day we departed, I asked if I could pack some of those delicious banh mi sandwiches to eat at the airport since we have a noontime flight and I wasn’t sure there is a dining outlet at the Danang Airport. The waitress came back to our table with 2 plastic tubs and ziplocks and invited us to take out whatever we want!
I enjoyed my breakfast goodies off the breakfast buffet and again, out of my takeout bags. They were really very nice about it. 👍 For sure, I’d recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Hoi An.
If you like hotels with a history, you can’t go wrong booking your stay in Hue here. It is the very first hotel in Central Vietnam and based on records, the hub of French colonial life here. Its history dates back to 1901 when a French businessman named Morin set up this colonial-inspired building around 2 beautiful courtyard gardens and a tiny pond. It was and still is understandably a perfect choice for milestone events and affairs, and grew to be a favorite of celebrities and business circles.
We got ourselves a big, spacious room with a balcony overlooking the bridge spanning across the Perfume River. The location is perfect. It’s right in the city center, just 10 minutes away from the famous Pho Di Bo walking street, which is the city’s heartbeat. In the mornings, breakfasts were served in the courtyard by the tiny pond. It would have been enough to sip your coffee paired with an assortment of bread and pastries here. But the breakfast spread here has gained its own reputation for being among the best — like the Bun Bo Hue which is served here like it was in royal courts of old. My only problem when I tried this specialty dish is that I had no one to share the beef and vermicelli soup dish with. I was overwhelmed by the generous serving — and seeing those huge chunks of beef nearly gave me a migraine so early in the morn. I must confess I wasted more than half of the bowl, hoping I can switch to other options from the breakfast buffet. But even half a bowl was too much for a morning upper. I actually felt I could skip lunch that day!
The lobby, the corridors, the courtyard gardens, the rooms scream history. The furnitures are of colonial vintage but hotel boasts of modern amenities including good WiFi connection in the spacious rooms. In short, we’re happy with this century-old Hotel. We didn’t have a chance to try the pool nor the spa, but those welcome drinks in the lobby were very refreshing, and the wet, cold towels surely peel away the summer woes. Service was excellent too. Would we recommend it? Por supuesto!
We passed this restaurant on our first adventure in Hue’s walking street but decided to dine in the less busy street perpendicular to it. On our 2nd night and seeing it received good reviews, we tried it. Glad we did. It’s even better than Golden Rice Restaurant, in our books. Considering our spring rolls fix, we ordered duck rolls this time. The portion wasn’t so generous but we disciplined ourselves NOT to order a 2nd and 3rd serving like we did in Golden Rice. 🙄
The grilled meats served with vermicelli, herbs, cucumber slices, and crispy fried onions were so savoury. The flavors and textures blended well as we picked the ingredients and mixed them in a bowl, then seasoned with the concoction of shrimp paste, chillies, shallots, etc. The taste was “clean”, refreshing and savoury all at the same time. We paired this with papaya salad, stuffed squid and a tofu dish. Yum!
I think this is our best meal in Hue. And this time, we finished off with the “real” banaba flambé. While we enjoyed the “Vietnamized” flambé in Saigon, it awakened our cravings for the real thing. Paired with vanilla ice cream, how can you go wrong?
On our first night in Hue (say “whay”), we dismissed the cyclos and instead walked towards Pham Ngu Lao. From the corner of this walking street, we instantly liked the vibe. Maybe touristy, even hipster, but we absolutely liked it here that we just had to head back on our second night. Both nights, FIFA games were playing and the expat and local crowds were in their elements watching from the several sports bars in the area. Every now and then, you hear shouts and applause from the cheering crowd.
It was easy to spot Golden Rice Restaurant along this busy, crowded street. Like most shops and stalls here, the frontage is narrow and the interiors deep. The service staff are friendly, but not pushy. We haven’t gotten over our spring rolls fix so we immediately ordered 2 of that. Minutes later, a 3rd order. 🙄 We likewise tried the Nem Lui - those kebab-like barbecued meats skewered beautifully in lemon grass stalks. Served with rice paper, lettuce, cucumbers, vermicelli and the ubiquitous mint and other herbs, we rolled our Nem Lui as if we do it everyday and dipped them in a tasty blend of shrimp paste, chillies, shallots, ground peanuts, sesame seeds, and fermented beans. Yum!
For our green leafy veggies, we ordered Morning Glory. Like our kangkong. Cooked in garlic, its simplicity was perfect accompaniment to the Nem Lui. The pancakes were also good but we liked our vegetable spring rolls more. So with mango smoothies. Tried ordering the Com Hen (Clam Rice) but there was none. Either that or the waiter couldn’t understand what we’re trying to order. Showed him a photo (a good way to order by showing file photo from your travel research) but he kept saying “no oysters”. We ordered more rolls instead 😂 Out in the streets, we found stalls selling Com Hen but I was too afraid buying street food so we never got to try it.
There are many dining options on Pham Ngu Lao Street, as well as in the street perpendicular to it. No worries, I speak of only 2-3 streets all in a compact area comprising this pedestrian-friendly area. Many bars and cafes too. And despite the blaring music from street bands, and the cheers from sports fans, we all enjoyed our time here.
You may have tried Bistro Pamana in Tagaytay, or in Boracay. But you may not have heard there’s one right in Makati near the Greenbelt Complex. Just a couple of blocks away, along Perea Street (#106), is this branch serving all of Bistro Pamana’s best-selling dishes. Think Kare Kare a la Barrio Fiesta, Crispy Pata, etc.
It was a Saturday, and it was a late lunch. I called to reserve, but when we arrived, there was hardly a lunch crowd. Maybe they are busier on weekdays. We were only too happy to “miss the crowd” and settle for a quiet lunch. The menu offers many choices. It was tempting to order their famous Kare Kare — after all, the owners are from the Ongpauco clan that made this local dish its signature item in Barrio Fiesta. Instead, we chose some dishes which are obviously Filipino favourites but served with a twist. Like the Okoy for starters. And the Sinuglaw — a Visayan dish which combines “Sinugba” (grilled) and Kinilaw (cooked in vinegar). The okoy was served crisp and tasty, with a vinegar dip. The sinuglaw consisted of grilled pork (liempo) and kinilaw na salmon. Yum.
We wanted to try their Sinigang Ribs and the Crispy Adobong Pusit. The latter was really crispy, very inky black and served with a dip of mayonnaise and crab roe or “aligue”. We weren’t sure if we’d like the dip but it turned out alright. We could have ordered more but there were only 3 of us and the appetizers were sooo good we were nearly out of room for the main dishes and desserts. But who can pass up on “turon with ube ice cream” and “palitaw”? The palitaw never made it as a photo as we devoured it like we haven’t had our proper lunch. Wellllll....
We knew we were in trouble as we moved to exit out of the bistro. This shelf of boxed goodies were on display, inviting us to take home more sinful food. The Chef-Manager was around to assist and so convincing! There was the Lechon Belly Roll, available in 3 slices, ready to be warmed for a dinner for 2-3. Or how about the Bulalong Corned Beef? Many frozen items to choose from. These food items make ideal takeout dishes for working moms and busy singles. One can even take out several packs and organize a party at home. Judging by how we enjoyed our lunch, the boxed selections must be just as enjoyable.
After a few visits, I dare to make a few observations. China Blue is consistently good. C Lounge still a great place to watch sunset, except that their coffee service was better before. And the Brasserie I’d rather forget.
This time was a dimsum lunch. Fish lip soup here is tops. (I remember the other 2 soups I tried here before were also good) As for the dimsum, the truffle mushroom buns were still as I remember. The Xiao Long Bao, hakao, pork siomai, taro with scallops and the bean curd were delish. But the top marks go to that basket of “imitation green pears and carrots” bearing duck filling (pears) and pork (carrots). Soooo good. I had one of each on top of 1 piece each of the xiao long bao and other dimsum.
The flavours burst in your mouth with each morsel. Dimsum was never more fun. And I thought I had fun with that mushroom-looking truffle bun! For starters, we had our fill of that fish lip soup which stayed hot the whole time because it was served on a bowl warmed by a tea candle underneath. Oh, China Blue always plates their food soooo well. This served me well as I simply love taking my own sweet time when dining. 😍🍵🥢
The next time I’m back, you’d find me ordering this fish lip soup and basket of pears and carrots plus the truffle buns. I also do remember a great sorbet dessert here but we chose to move to C Lounge for our coffee and later, afternoon tea set for sharing. Scones, tea cakes, spring rolls, etc served in this special wooden tray with all sorts of contraptions. The coffee wasn’t served in a similar “contraption” I remember, though. (Check it out : https://jollybelly.weebly.com/blog/not-so-blue-in-china-blue-conrad-hotel )
Anyway, the C Lounge at 4pm isn’t as good as around 5:30pm. The afternoon sun can be blinding so choose where you’d sit. But come sunset, it’s a superb place to be. You may even choose to step outside right where you have an unobstructed view of the Ferris wheel and the bay. Lovely sunset by the Bay!
We had a very, very late lunch last Maundy Thursday here. After visiting a few churches along the Ridge running from Tagaytay through Alfonso, Cavite, we headed back towards the Junction and found Rolando’s near other favorite dining destinations like Balay Dako and Leslie’s. Our very first time to dine here and we were all pleasantly surprised. First off, the restaurant is so easy to spot — right along the ridge! — and the space and high ceiling are both refreshing and relaxing. Unlike other bistros with cramped space and charmless decor, Rolando’s is a visual feast.
The lunch crowd has gone by the time we got there. It was like past 3pm, nearly 4pm even, but the service staff led by its Manager Neil were all so very attentive. The menu is one huge, irresistible temptation though. An invitation to gluttony. Initially, we thought we’d do with a healthy fare like ordering the baby tawilis and seafood platter. Them crabs and shrimps and squid and mussels always win though. One seafood platter. We were also convinced to order an additional baked fish dish upon Neil’s suggestion, which turned out to be soooo good. You think we had way too much? There’s more!
Our lunch turned out to be a feast. The seafood platter and baked fish with bulalo soup would have been enough. But. And more buts. Crispy Pata is as Filipino as one gets and it’s almost criminal not to have it on the table especially when with balikbayans. A standard fare, if you ask me. Thank God we were able to resist ordering Kare Kare, which is an ubiquitous partner to the Crispy Pata. Plus we “needed” to order Pancit because someone in our group is celebrating her birthday. Not just one order of noodles but 2!
We enjoyed the seafood, and likewise the meat. The shellfish was good, the baked fish done to perfection, the crispy pata and bulalo always a hit, the baby tawilis a crunchy and fresh surprise. I do not know how we found the room for all these delectable dishes. To think that we even ordered appetizers of sisig and we even had our buko shakes 😂😂😂
I wasn’t kidding when I wrote that the menu was an invitation to indulge. How can you resist sisig and bulalo? Why dine in Tagaytay if you couldn’t even enjoy your baby tawilis? Why not order an entire seafood platter if you can’t decide which among mussels, squid, crabs, shrimps and fish to feast on? The big plus though is the service and attention we received. The staff was most accommodating, especially Manager Neil. So gracious and efficient, the rest of the staff take their cue from him. How refreshing!
Nearly forgot. We even had shrimps cooked another way. And Pork Binagoongan which was hardly touched. Not because it wasn’t good, but because we FINALLY reached that threshold! Gosh, I honestly thought we’d never get there. By now, you do take my word re gluttony, right? A bottomless pit? Babette’s Feast. And it was Lent. We sinned. Wayyyyy too much.
Lastly, how can you celebrate birthdays without the noodles for long life? And a birthday cake so you can make a wish and blow a candle? For good measure, we had the option to enjoy Tagaytay fruits as well as some Ginataang BiloBilo just so we don’t go home regretting NOT ordering them. Oh, Lord. Forgive us 🙏🏻
Thank you, Rolando’s. We’re rolling over with satisfaction. We’d be back, perhaps before sunset for cocktails before a sumptuous feast. It must be lovely waiting with a drink while watching the sun set from your porch. 🥂🍺🍷
I love lemon in my water and I love olives. This Greek taverna is our newest find in Baguio City. Not sure how long it’s been standing along Outlook Drive, but it was our random find. Actually intended to dine in Chef’s Home but .... the Chef wasn’t home. Lemon and Olives was the first restaurant we passed along the same drive and we were not sorry we stopped to dine here instead.
It looked cool from the street and there was a free parking slot out front and we took it! We planned on a Thai dinner but ended up going Greek. The place looks much better inside with a balcony that looks out to the darkness. I can tell it looks out to the pine trees and the mountains but at night, al fresco dining doesn’t offer any view. And so we chose to dine indoors where the decor and lighting suited our moods better. Besides, it was a cold night at 12 degree Celsius. The staff were friendly and nice, but the Chef/Owner seemed a bit grumpy. I’m guessing here but he looked Greek so we got excited ordering and waiting for our dinner. Never mind that the Greek chef was hmmm...... a tad grouchy.
We had the Poikilia - an assortment of appetizers like my favorite tzaziki, hummus, pita bread, sausages and our best find: saganaki cheese. We ordered more of the panfried Greek cheese sticks and pita bread. Soooo good. So was the grilled octopus! I was quite happy with the saganaki cheese sticks, tzaziki, grilled octopus and the Greek salad, that I refused to move on to the entrée. Oh, the cheese and that mollusk just made my day. Stuck to it, and munched on those tentacles ever so slowly. Not even when my friends’ orders of grilled lamb, souvlaki and gyros was I tempted. Besides, the Greek salad had Baguio’s freshest greens in a bowl with feta and olives. Quite filling, by itself.
The food photos you’d find here were sourced from the Net. We were too excited we forgot to take photos. By the time we remembered, the plates have been wiped clean. But take our word for it. It’s goood. Especially when washed down with wine. Or perhaps, you’d prefer ouzo. I’d likely have that very Greek beverage the next time. Yes, there’d be a next time. And I don’t care if the Chef is still grumpy. I’m coming back!
Not Paella Marinara. Nor Paella Mariscos. It’s another rice dish from Alicante called Arroz A Banda — literally translated to side dish. But no, make it your main dish. And if you’re having one, feast on it in this place called Casa Benigna in Calle Benigno Soto, 9 right in Madrid. Don’t bother with a map, cab it. Rather hard and complicated to locate it, but trust me, this place that doesn’t look much from outside gets really full.
Best to call and perhaps make reservations if you want to be sure you get seated. The Casa staff here are accommodating but the place can get crowded. They make your paella while you’re served their baked bread and seriously good butter and olive oil. The appetizers can be very filling but be sure to leave room for your paella or arroz.
We enjoyed the bread, olive oil, butter, appetizers, and the rice dishes very much here. Couldn’t be better. Such a great food find. They make most everything here except the vino! They even gave us a tour of the kitchen and the private rooms. You should meet the Filipino staff manning the kitchen. Very well-trained by the Spanish owner-chef. And the decor is very interesting, to say the least. Our spot where we had our main meal was right under a “clothesline” of chef’s uniforms. Very pretty.
I really like how they spruced up the place. From outside, it’s just a door. Once let in, you pass a bar and led into the main dining hall with 5-6 tables and farther in, a couple more private function rooms. The restaurant manager Kuya Eduard Gregorio has been doing this for the last 30 years he’s been in Spain and certainly knows his trade. If we didn’t restrain ourselves, we wouldn’t stop partaking of that really, really good butter when he left the entire tub on our table. (Check out 3rd photo on this page) He also made sure we didn’t leave without trying their own desserts and having dessert wine. He even capped the entire dining adventure with steaming cups of manzanilla. When you dine here, it is like feeling invited to someone’s home. Seriously.
Dining in Casa Benigna is a most pleasant adventure here in Madrid. I’d be back dining here in a heartbeat, just like many of the locals who all seem regular patrons here. It could only be because of the food and service here. But next time, I’d like to try one of the private rooms. Cozy 🥂
If you are going to Barcelona’s iconic landmarks like La Rambla and La Boqueria, be sure to drop in at Bar Pinotxo. Hard to miss because it’s up front. As you enter the Mercat, veer to your right. There you’d find a corner bar with orange letters spelling Pinotxo Bar. Grab a stool, or stand behind whoever is sitting on it, ready to claim the stool once vacated.
Their xuxo is a bestseller. Tasted like a good, crusty cross between a doughnut and a croissant, but with custard filling. They put one piece on the plate then expertly halves it with a SCISSOR! Pair that with cafe solo or cortado or con leche, or ask for txocolat caliente. Yum.
Also tried the garbanzos to load up on more carbs 🙄 and mushrooms which they call bolet in Catalan. Not setas! The mushrooms were a bit salty but that’s fine to mix with and flavor my chickpeas. The waiters are very friendly and Pinotxo himself was there manning the bar and chatting up everyone.
There are more offerings from this very informal 14-stool bar like squids, clams, sausages. But we simply can’t eat more. Que aprofiti!