My Small Dot in the Sea of Infinity

The World Wide Web is like an infinite space of knowledge, ideas, opinion and just about anything else under the sun. You can literally be lost in its clutches for days, weeks, months and even years on end. Fortunately, for me, I have managed to found my dot in this web of infinity. A dot I can fondly call my home and theoretically my own.

I have tried to create many blogs, often times subdividing my varied interests, but I always return to my brain child – CEREBRAL INSIGHTS. Somehow, like a first love, I can’t seem to let it go. Like a favourite toy, I can’t seem to find any other blog wherein I could express myself as succinctly or as verbose as I want too. Many times I have been impeded to write for I have taken into consideration my audience and what would best suit them, what their minds can comprehend and what would entertain them. But this has hindered me from expressing who I really am and has led to many fitful nights of wanting to write as eloquently as I can but being restricted by fear that my readers won’t understand.

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Pugon Roasters: An Inexpensive Celebrity-Chef Resto

When I first discovered Pugon Roasters, it was love at first bite. First, I was amazed that the famous celebrity chef – Chef Lau owned it and that the dishes were surprisingly affordable – even outright dirt cheap! Second, I was amazed at the food choices and more so at the succulent tastes of each. And lastly, it was located in my favorite park in the city.

And so it came as no surprise that every chance I got, I would invite friends to meet at Pugon. I loved bringing them there and suggesting my favorite dishes. But lo and behold not all of them loved Pugon as my as I did. And when I probed deeper, it was because their taste buds cannot appreciate the intricate flavors Chef Lau mixed into his creations.

The flagship product is, of course, none other than Pugon Roast Chicken (P99 with rice). It is actually served with artistic flair as would befit any chef. Their chicken is best paired with the vinegar that comes with it. It actually taste was better than Mang Inasal or any other common chicken place but my friends simply didn’t have the taste buds to appreciate the Indian-inspired cuisine. Their claim is that the chicken is roasted in a pugon and as we know anything cooked in an actual pugon is well-worth the taste (think Pugon Pandesal).

But what I love about them is their version of chicken liver and isaw. The Chicken Liver Surprise (P75 with rice) has this distinctive spice taste reminiscent of Indian cuisine. The liver is so soft you can just bite and swallow. But of course who would do that? Best chew the food slowly first and savor its rich taste. Another rather unique dish is Chikenini (P65 with rice). It’s chicken intestines (isaw) fried then cooked in adobo sauce. There are times when it would be so salty but most of the times the taste is just enough. It’s pretty strong taste but to me it’s what keeps me coming back because I find it ingenuous that there is another way of cooking “isaw” (in fact, I should just refer to it as intestines because it is not really “inisaw” (grilled)).

They have other good menu items like the Chicken Croquetas (P85 with rice) which I recommend you share with a group as one order has 5 big pieces and eating all of them can get “nakakaumay”. The barbeque sauce that comes with it though is divine.

The place also serves alcohol such as beer served really cold and hence dubbed beer zero because it is cooled to almost 0 degrees. Of course the have pulutan like Chicken Sisig. They also carry desserts such as cheesecakes, halo-halo and carabao soft ice cream. If you like dark chocolate, I recommend their dark chocolate cheesecake (P130). I’m sure you’ll love it!.

There are other menu items such as a baked bangus and angus beef. I didn’t really try them hence I can’t give a verdict. I merely go back for the chicken liver and chikenini most of the time but I must make a mental note to go back more often and try the other dishes.

Final note: Pugon is a fantastic resto. Their claim of #FastGood is true. Food is served fast and it tastes – and look – good. I love the food and I love their service. But I know the taste is not for everyone so if you are not that adventurous with your taste buds, or you do not prefer Middle Eastern tastes, then proceed with caution. Yet, as they say, YOLO – you only live once – so why not try the sumptuous meals at Pugon Roasters. (Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review though it might sound like one because I just so love the place!)

 

Pugon Roasters by Chef Lau is located at Ayala Triangle, Makati and McKinley Hill, Taguig. Visit their Facebook Page at Chef Lau’s Pugon Roasters.

 

 

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Wabi-Sabi: Beyond My Imagination

Lately I’ve been feeling more adventurous and more exploratory. Blame it on my new found freedom but I really wanted to try as many things as I can now that I have time in my hands. And so, top of my list is to collate as many unique epicurean experiences as possible. I cannot claim to be a food blogger – maybe not yet – but I can most certainly review food and definitely be on a hunt for the most unique experience I can possibly dream of.

Being adventurous, I decided to try out Wabi Sabi after reading about it from two food guides. I searched the net further to find out what it’s about and came across famous bloggers who attested to its taste. And so together with friends, I decided to investigate.

The evening we were about to try out Wabi Sabi proved to be a dreary rainy one. We were close to backing out but I persisted for the sake of trying out something new.

Wabi Sabi is located in The Collective along Maluggay Street in Makati. At first, I thought The Collective was your usual, typical mall. I was badly mistaken. Coming from Buendia cor. Osmena Hwy, I walked to Maluggay and was glad that I easily found The Collective. Upon reaching the building, I harbored second thoughts. I was the first of our party to arrive and I didn’t know if I was in the right place. It looked like an abandoned warehouse from the front. There were several food joints in front but none of them was Wabi Sabi.

I dared ventured in. Inside were walls covered with graffiti – artistic graffiti that is but to my world, it was scary graffiti. Obviously, it was a hipster – artist place and there was even a newly opened gallery. I wasn’t entirely sure if I’ve come to the right place so I asked someone if they knew where Wabi Sabi is. I asked one of the ladies who appeared to work in one of the food joints and she was quite unsure what I was asking. She merely pointed out that I could try exploring deeper into the building for there are other food joints inside.

I took her advice albeit cautiously and all along, as I explored the narrow corridors whose walls all contained graffiti, I felt like anytime soon I will be stabbed or mugged. It was how I would picture out the Bronx in New York.

Thankfully enough that building wasn’t really that big (or deep) and upon two turns I saw Wabi Sabi. I felt relieved. It was just like Anton Diaz’s (of Our Awesome Planet) description – the place looked like a Kung Fu Noodle House. The place is really small and when I arrived there were two big groups occupying almost the entire restaurant. So, having gained a new found bravado, I ventured to explore the building deeper, only to find out it was actually small, and resolved to wait for my companions in the main hallway.

Surprising, all of us were scared and a bit skeptical when we entered into the building. I had a good laugh looking at their faces when they entered the building only to see hipsters, artists and graffiti – being scientists – we knew we were not in our turf.

So on to Wabi Sabi.

Sadly, the joint did not live up to my expectations. I expected a lot given that they have this concept of Ramen Padilla vs Fernando Pho Jr. Their specialty is noodles and they serve it two ways – Japanese ramen (choice of shoyu (P120) or miso (P130)) and Vietnamese pho (P105). We also tried to order their appetizers yet most that were written on the blackboard menu were no longer available. Most disappointing was that their specialty sample dish which allows you to go back for seconds was also not available. Apparently, it was just a promo 3 years ago and they just didn’t erase it from the menu blackboard.

So we basically ordered what was available. The gyoza (P55, 3pcs) which tasted like crab meat was pretty good. So was their Harumaki (P65, 4pcs) which had a seaweed taste probably due to the prominence of the dried seaweed. What we all love was the Bahn Mi (P150, 12”) which was a sub sandwich filled with pulled vegan pork, cucumber, carrots and some other veggies I can’t identify. It really tasted great and you wouldn’t realize you’re eating vegan meat!

For drinks we had two choices – a refreshing Lemongrass Iced Tea (P50) and the usual Thai Milk Tea (P60). For me the Lemongrass was better even if the lemongrass taste was too strong. It was not at all sweet also.

The main dish – the two noodle soup. I got to try the Shoyu Ramen and the Pho. The Shoyu Ramen to my taste was a bit bland. In fact we all agreed it was bland and we had to add some chili powder to heighten the taste. The meat – which was gluten of course – was average. I did not enjoy it actually so I switched with my sister who ordered Pho. The pho tasted strongly of cilantro and all the while I can imagine I was eating leaves. But I preferred it to the ramen because at least it had a strong taste to it. I also found it more filling.

So my verdict for the soup war – I go with Fernando Pho Jr.!

As for the entire place, it failed my expectations and my friends were generally not impressed. There were products we enjoyed but it won’t be enough for us to come back and relive the experience. We also surmised that since we were not vegetarians, we found the soups bland.

And so, in my quest to find out if I would ever be vegan – I’m sad to say my first attempt at vegan dining out in Makati was a flop.

The positive side to all this though was I got to try a new place and gain a completely different experience. Will I be back? In Wabi Sabi, perhaps but just to eat the B-my or the gyoza. In The Collective, perhaps to try Ritual, an organic store which sells vegan ice cream (P110 per scoop).

Will I continue exploring vegan places? Definitely! And not just vegan places but every hole-in-wall resto in Makati.

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Israel vs Arabs: Who is to blame?

Everyday I thank God that I live in a world devoid of war. Yes, there are challenges in our society which many may construe as war but I am grateful that I do not live in a place where a literal war is going on.

Recently, I heard the first-hand account of a pastor who has been to the land of Israel on a mission trip and witnessed the on-going war. He narrated how he would hear bombs explored over his head in the morning, at night, in the middle of a wedding, in the middle of Sunday worship and in many other instances. Israel was being bombed day-in and day-out that it was commonplace to hear loud wailing sirens signalling for the people to enter bomb shelters to avoid being a casualty.

It was also amazing how Israel has this advanced technology called the Iron Dome who can intercept bombs and cause them to explode in the air. Thanks to this technology, many of the people and structures were saved.

He further narrated how the news are all wrong in citing Israel as the culprit in the war. It is actually the Hamas (the Palestinians) who are the culprit for attacking, over and over again, Israel. Israel never wished to fight. They merely wanted to live in peace. But it was when the Hamas broke the line by killing innocent young Israelis that they had to stand up and defend themselves. Hence the bombing that killed thousands more of Palestinian youth. It is cruel but I say that the Palestinians had it coming. Besides, they are so obsessed with obliterating Israel that they even send suicide bombers to Israeli cities – Palestinians with strapped bombs wreaking havoc in Israel.

War is ugly. It is not a thing of beauty. It is something best left to the movies but must never be glorified. In war, every side loses. Even the supposed winner is a loser for the victory gained is claimed in exchange of lives lost. No one really wins in war.

The Middle East conflict where the Arab Nations vs Israel, a Jewish Nation is a simple conflict – possibly the simplest of all world conflicts. One wants the other dead. However, the solution is far from simple – it is a complicated one.

Who is to blame for the said conflict? The video below explains the whole conflict in a very simple way. And from there you can form your own conclusion on who is to blame.

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