Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Foodaholic's Vignettes Of The Past Part I

I've been trying to recall how my love affair with food started because there are times when daughter asks me about it.

Hmmmm ... having a senior moment now- help!

But I'll try. One of my best memorable food and restaurant experience was at the restaurant of Good Earth Emporium. Ayan, buking na my age! hahaha. Anyways, Good Earth Emporium was a nice department store along Avenida (near Carriedo) in Manila. Aside from being a department store, it also had a sort of arcade with rides and a carousel (hope I'm not mistaken here or maybe I'm thinking about Quad?). Anyways, there's this restaurant inside Good Earth Emporium (not sure if its called the same, too) that serves Chicken-in-a-basket. This was my favorite and one of my most memorable food experience. The fried chicken pieces was served in a basket, hence the name. I love going to the Good Earth Emporium with my father especially on Saturdays because he usually brings me to his office along Avenida. And while he did his work, I was left to play with pens and papers and there's the promise of lunch or dinner at Good Earth or Quan Yin Chay in Soler Street.

Then there's also Savory in Escolta. Escolta was the Makati of bygone era. Of course, I wasn't born during its heyday but I witnessed the transition of Escolta from being a busy merchant's street to almost a ghost street after the LRT (Light Rail Transit) was launched. And yes, even the glory of Avenida died down with it.

But let's go back to Savory first. As a small child, I've been aware that my father was a vegetarian and my mother always used to cook two different set of meals of us during breakfast, lunch and dinner. But I love them both so I grew up not picky on what food I eat. And I think that I must have loved chicken so much back then because even if my father was a vegetarian, he doesn't balk at the idea of letting me eat meat, as well as take me to restaurants that serves meat. Another chicken restaurant that we visit which is also near Escolta (and still exists up to now) is Sincerity Fried Chicken in Nueva Street. Chicken again! hahaha

Aristocrat along Roxas Boulevard was also another family favorite that serves chicken. We used to don our Sunday best when we go there and celebrate special occassions there such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Day, graduations (graduations because my mother was a high school teacher back then so every March of the year, she joins the graduation program in her school). The Aristocrat then was very different and smaller from what it is now. It also had a waterfalls inside the restaurant and lots of plants/garden inside. There was also the Aristo-back and I think it is still there now?? Also, my father's best friend- Tio Peping or Jose Santos was the son of Lola Sion (Asuncion Santos- Reyes) who married into the Reyes clan. Also, I would always tag-along with my ninong and his family during Valentine's Day at Aristocrat. Its a family tradition for them to have dinner at the restaurant and since I'm my ninong's favorite, I get invited to dine with them.

Quan Yin Chay was the vegetarian restaurant that my father patronized before. It was along Soler Street. I remember me and my father going through the back entrance of his office building and ending up in Soler Street like magic. And because it was really a very old childhood memory, my recollection of that back alley was in black and white. Really, no kidding! But I can describe well the food that we used to eat at Quan Yin Chay. There was the different kinds of seaweeds in different sauces, the tofu with tausi, the unknown vegetables, the mock meats, etc. And there's the buchi. Not exactly vegetarian fare but yummy nonetheless. ;)

My father and I also used to go to the restaurants or food stalls near the mosque in Quiapo. I really can't recall what we ate there but since my father was with me, maybe they also had vegetable dishes, too. Then we also had several meals at the Ananda Marga when it was still located in Paco years ago. Now this was really a vegetarian restaurant. Imagine people in saris with prayer beads and smelling of exotic spices.

Then there was the famous smorgasbord in Chinatown. I think this (smorgasbord) was the father of eat-all-you-can and buffet phenomenon that we are experiencing right now in Y2K. I love the cheeses and the salad. Okay, I can't remember what I ate here. Maybe I just ate cheese and salad, hahaha.

Vienna Bakery in Echague Street famous for their Vienna bread, raisin bread and bonete.

3M Pizza. Maybe I just love Manila so much that in my mind, the very first branch of 3M Pizza was along Echague Street in Quiapo. I really enjoy eating the pizza here. The memory of the gooey cheese and tomato sauce on a thin pizza crust always makes me smile even up to now.

Coney Island Ice Cream. I'm not sure if it had other branches in Metro Manila before but the ice-cream parlor that we go to before was in Welcome Rotonda. My favorite was the bubblegum ice-cream. It was pink in color and really, really tasted like bubblegum. I like this better than Magnolia House.

Magnolia House. All I remember in this restaurant was the banana split and the spaghetti, and of course the big grassy area for the kids to play.

Tropical Hut. Because one of my aunt loves to perform on stage and is a member of the Metropolitan Theatre Company back then, we always get dragged to watch her perform. And whenever they perform at the Meralco Theatre in Ortigas, we always end up in Tropical Hut at the corner of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA. Aside from burgers, I think I had milkshakes here.

Gloria Maris near Folk Arts Theatre. Laureate lunch or dinner about once or twice a year at this restaurant. Then afterwards, will watch the sunset at the back of Folk Arts Theatre.

Eating mami and siopao in Ongpin, Sta Cruz or Quiapo was a special treat especially with tales of numerous cats being killed because of siopao demand. Well, I guess I didn't believe it because I am still fond of siopao up to now. And yes, you have to remove the skin of the siopao because it is dirty. I don't know why its dirty. But on the other hand, the piping hot siopao has a soft skin that you can eat (yes, I eat siopao skin now) while the siopao that was left behind on the counter had "dry" skin. Hence, you need to peel it off because its a bit hard.

Hopiang Munggo, Hopiang Baboy, Hopiang Sibuyas. All are yummy, really, really yummy.

Kiamoy, haw flakes, prune candies, white rabbit. These were the usual pasalubong that my father brought me.

Barrio Fiesta. I remember we treated my aunt, her Dutch husband and her Dutch father-in-law here many, many years ago. It was somewhere in Ermita. They have cultural dances every night.


It warms my heart whenever I think of my childhood, of those times that me and my parents shared a meal together. Of the many laughter that we shared and the many stories I was told.


Part II coming soon. :)