Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Piattos cheese flavored potato crisps.  Piattos chips also comes in other flavors: sour cream and onion, roadhouse barbecue, nacho pizza, and roast beef. 

Piattos chips are cut into distinctive small bite-size hexagonal potato wafers.

They are sold under the Jack 'n Jill brand by Universal Robina Corporation.


Prior to Piattos chips coming on the Philippine market one would have trouble recalling even a somewhat decent locally made potato chip.  Predecessors like V-Cut were very uneven products often with overcooked burnt chips filling half the bag .  To get edible potato chips one had to rely on imports—and shoestring potato snacks like Pik-Nik seemed to make up most of those.   Piattos was a distinct improvement and became a less expensive alternative to imported Frito-Lay or Pringles chips, although probably still not a satisfying substitute for those who like larger or rippled potato chips.  For them the newer potato chips from Oishi might be a better alternative.  Actually Spuds, which like Piattos are manufactured by Universal Robina, would be my first recommendation, but that line seems to have been phased out since I don't see them in supermarkets anymore.  It seems the premium potato chip market in the Philippines still isn't that large.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

MAXIMS TOWER - Hotel at Resorts World Manila

Maxims Tower Hotel in Manila

Maxims Tower hotel in Manila is a new all suite luxury hotel that opened in late 2010 in the Newport City development next to Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines. Maxims Manila is integrated into the Resorts World Manila (RWManila) complex which has a popular casino and shopping arcades and is connected to the Manila Marriott Hotel.  (Update: The Remington Hotel has also opened next door.)  RWManila is a joint venture between Alliance Global a listed conglomerate associated with Andrew Tan probably known more for Megaworld and Genting Hong Kong (formerly Star Cruises).  RWManila was conceived as an integrated entertainment resort similar to Resorts World Genting in Malaysia and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

Hotel Rates
Contact Information
Other Hotels

Boutiques at Maxims Tower ground floor
The Marriott hotel is connected to Maxims

Maxims Tower Hotel Rates

A Maxims Suite has a listed rack rate of $300 per night not including 12% VAT and 10% service charge but a discount of up to 40% might be availed of for elite Resorts World members, a designation determined by previous play at Resorts World casinos.  A discounted listing for as low as $170 has also been observed on a hotel travel site.  A tax exemption is granted to foreign guests upon presentation of a foreign passport on check in.  It might be worthwhile to call and check the rate at the neighboring Marriott for a comparison to make sure one is getting a reasonable rate.  If money is not a consideration, one also has a choice of DeLuxe, Corner, Executive, Signature, Ambassador, and Presidential suites or Royal Villa. Complimentary Wi-Fi, breakfast, and parking are included for all rooms.

Restaurants and Food Outlets

Common area
Passion Restaurant

Casino area

Cameras are not allowed in the casino area.  More restaurants can be found in the integrated Newport Mall, Marriott hotel, and other nearby Newport City buildings.

Contact Information

Telephone: (+632) 908-8888 or (+632) 908-8000 loc. 8220
Website: http://www.rwmanila.com/hotels-at-resorts-world-manila/maxims-tower
Email: maximshotel@rwmanila.com


Is Maxims Tower one of the best hotels in Manila? The Department of Tourism hasn't given it yet an official hotel rating, but the facilities for the most part raise it to the level of a top class hotel.  On the other hand one gets the impression the Maxims hotel plays a largely complementary or secondary role in the Resorts World complex which mainly revolves around its casino. Indeed the Maxims Tower does not have much of a hotel lobby or reception area to speak of.  Rather the foyer doubles as an entrance for the mall.  A small desk on the side, manned by a kind but also very busy individual who is constantly on the phone, serves as reception (Update: replaced recently by a larger more formal and better staffed reception desk).  For a self-proclaimed six-star luxury hotel this is likely to make for a disappointing first impression.  Early hotel reviews also seem to indicate the staff aren't as polished as they could be.  Still the slightly larger rooms, new facilities, and touted butler service might go some way to make up for it.

Casino at Maxims Tower Resorts World Manila

The casino is reputed to be the largest casino in the country and hosts a leg of the Asian Poker Tour.  It's a lively venue with a live band or show of some sort usually performing at Bar 360 in the middle of the casino area with gaming tables to one end, slot machines on the other, and restaurants tucked away on one side.  People are encouraged to become members.  Upon membership they are given membership cards which allow them to earn points by gambling at the casino, the points can then be redeemed for rewards and discounts.  With such perks RWManila has become a popular gaming destination but it is likely to face stiff competition in the future when a planned casino development hub along Roxas Boulevard is completed. 


Friday, September 9, 2011

Kanin Club

Kanin Club photo

Kanin Club is a restaurant serving Filipino cuisine.  It was founded in 2005 by two couples, Anthony and Emely Mendoza, and Tony Cancio and Mariela Luna who are also the owners of Cafe Breton.  The story goes that Anthony and his friends after cycling around Laguna would regularly stop by the café owned by Tony, a fellow biking enthusiast, to rest and replenish but felt that the crepes on offer weren't enough to satisfy them.  Instead they wanted something heartier—rice.  Thus Kanin Club the Filipino restaurant was born.    

For impressions and a restaurant review Kanin Club's branch at Westgate Alabang Muntinlupa was visited.   Its other branch locations are its original branch in Santa Rosa, Laguna, UP-Technohub in Quezon City, and Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati.

Contact Info and Schedule
  • Kanin Club Paseo de Sta. Rosa - Tel: (049) 544-0332 Weekdays: 11am-2:30pm 5-10pm Weekends, Holidays: 11am-10pm 
  • Kanin Club Westgate, Alabang - Tel: (02) 771-1400 Weekdays: 11am-2:30pm 5:30-10:30pm Weekends, Holidays: 11am-10:30pm 
  • Kanin Club UP-Technohub, QC - Tel: (02) 332-5978 Daily: 11am-10pm


The Kanin Club Alabang branch is relatively small—cozy or cramped depending on one's mood and the number of other patrons.  Its interior evokes something between an Old Manila and a 70s retro chic with the capiz panels under the glass tabletops, wood tables and benches, colored stained glass windows, bright Filipino food-related expressionist paintings, and prominent wooden counter.

Kanin Club's menu is composed mainly of Filipino food with a smattering of foreign inspired dishes that have become popular locally.  The food was good and a distinct interpretation usually with a twist on standard Filipino recipes was noticeable.  We ordered the crispy dinuguan, seafood kare-kare, tinapa rice, and a sago't gulaman shake.  The crispy dinuguan seems to be a popular choice, but while agreeable enough, I must confess a little disappointment with it.  The crispiness of the pork bits of dinuguan is novel but it brought to mind a comparison with chicharon, making me think of the dish as more appetizer than main course.  The mildness of the dark blood sauce was also perhaps too innocuous.  Dinuguan while standard Filipino fare could be seen as a little more on the daring side for those new to Filipino cuisine and I found myself missing the stronger sour and spicy taste of a standard interpretation of the dish.

Kanin Club Kare-Kare
Seafood Kare-Kare
Kanin Club Dinuguan

The seafood kare-kare was more impressive with a bolder flavor than what one often finds; the distinct taste of what seemed like coconut came off well.  I do wonder though if the rich sauce will stand up well to repeated tastings or become cloying if eaten too much too soon.  The tinapa rice was fine with the smoked flavor of the fish being delicately balanced with the aromatics in the fried rice.

Kanin Club Tinapa Rice
Tinapa Fried Rice

Service and Value
Service could have been more attentive but was otherwise okay.  The price of the meal was slightly higher than what was expected but still within a reasonable range.

Other Filipino casual dining restaurants similar to Kanin Club in serving slightly more sophisticated Filipino dishes would be Abe, Crisostomo, and Serye.

More Information:

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    List of Food Kiosks in Metro Manila

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Philippine Vinegar

    Vinegar is called suka in Filipino.  Philippine vinegar is usually derived from sugar cane, coconut, or nipa.  Vinegar made from coconut sap or nectar from a coconut palm's inflorescence is called sukang tuba.  Vinegar made from nipa sap is called sukang sasa and has become closely related to the town of Paombong, Bulacan, which claims to be the vinegar capital of the Philippines, hence the term sukang paombong being adopted by some products.

    Vinegar is a common ingredient in Filipino cuisine being a fundamental ingredient in many basic Philippine preparations.  The defining characteristic of paksiw dishes is their use of vinegar.  Adobo and kinilaw use vinegar as well. Vinegar is also a common condiment at the Filipino dining table where it is commonly mixed with crushed garlic, soy sauce, siling labuyo, or some combination thereof as a dipping sauce to accompany a meal of fried fish, steamed shrimps or crabs, grilled liempo or crispy pata.  Such flavored or spiced vinegar (sinamak) is also sold pre-prepared in supermarkets.  Local brands include Datu Puti, Amihan, Silver Swan, Marca Piña, Lorins, Supremo, Tentay, Mother's Best, and Del Monte.

    More information:
    • Fresco, Mary Charlotte O. (July-September 2001). Making vinegar a business venture. BAR Research and Development Digest 3(3). Bureau of Agricultural Research, Philippines.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Sili | Philippine Chili - Siling Mahaba, Siling Labuyo

    Philippine chili photo

    Sili is the Filipino term for chili peppers.  Hot Philippine chilies are generally one of two varieties of chili: siling mahaba (also known as siling pangsigang, siling espada, and chili picante) or siling labuyo.  Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum var. annuum) are locally called siling bilog ("round chili") or siling parasko.

    Description of Sili 

    Siling mahaba (translation: "long chili") is usually a bright green but gets redder with age.  Despite its name, it grows to be only about a finger long although it is longer than the other commonly found hot chili pepper in the Philippines, siling labuyo.  Likely a cultivar of Capsicum annuum longum, siling mahaba packs about the same heat as a jalapeño.

    Siling labuyo (translation: "wild chili") are smaller and much hotter—at one time even being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest chili although the habañero and other hotter chili peppers have since been identified. Their taxonomic classification is less clear with some saying they're Capsicum frutescens while others suggest that they too are Capsicum annuum or even Capsicum chinense because of their greater heat.  Genuine Philippine siling labuyo are becoming increasingly hard to find in Filipino markets where they are being supplanted by bird's eye chilies from Taiwan that keep better and which are also being labeled as siling labuyo.  The Philippine variety can be distinguished from its Taiwanese counterpart by its length; Philippine siling labuyo is shorter.

    Origin of Sili

    Philippine chilies, like all chilies, are believed to have originated in the Americas—some sources saying around Mexico, others in Peru—and were spread around the world by European traders, primarily the Spanish and Portuguese.

    Uses of Sili

    Siling mahaba as its alternative name suggests is often used in sinigang to give it an extra kick.  It's also used in dinuguan.  Siling labuyo is an ingredient in dishes like Bicol express.  It has been used to make hot sauce and to give extra flavor to vinegar to make spiced vinegar.  It is also sometimes supplied at the table for those who might wish to combine it with soy sauce, fish sauce, or vinegar to make a dipping sauce. Chili leaves (dahon ng sili) from the plant can be used in cooking as well such as in the Filipino dish tinola,

    There are non-culinary uses as well. Siling labuyo, is used in Philippine herbal remedies and as a homemade insecticide.  The chili's capsaicin content which makes it hot to the taste buds also generates therapeutic heat when prepared with coconut oil as a topical ointment for body aches; when mixed with water it can be sprayed on plants to kill and ward off insects.

    More information:
    • Hot Pepper. (n.d.). Department of Agriculture, Philippines.
    • Nagpala, Ellaine Grace L. (October 2007). A fresh look at siling labuyo. BAR Chronicle. Bureau of Agricultural Research, Philippines. 
    • Perry, Linda; Dickau, Ruth; Zarrillo, Sonia; Holst, Irene; Pearsall, Deborah M.; Piperno, Dolores R.; Berman, Mary Jane; Cooke, Richard G.; Rademaker, Kurt; Ranere, Anthony J.; Raymond, J. Scott; Sandweiss, Daniel H.; Scaramelli, Franz; Tarble, Kay; Zeidler, James A. (February 16, 2007). Starch Fossils and the Domestication and Dispersal of Chili Peppers (Capsicum spp. L.) in the Americas. Science.
    • Sokolov, Raymond. (April 1993). Why We Eat What We Eat: How Columbus Changed the Way the World Eats. Touchstone.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Philippine Bangus | Milkfish

    Milkfish, a silvery scaled fish

    English Milkfish
    Filipino Bangus
    Scientific Chanos chanos
    Other Giant herring

    Milkfish, known in the Philippines as bangus, scientific name Chanos chanos, is the sole specie in the family Chanidae in the order Gonorynchiformes in the subclass Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish).  It has a bright silvery sheen, a relatively small toothless mouth, and a single dorsal fin.  Milkfish can grow to over a meter long although the ones found in markets are generally smaller.

    It is an important aquaculture and commercial fish species.  Milkfish farming has been practiced for around 800 years and provides much of the current supply.   In 2007, milkfish made up 17% of global finfish production behind only the 40% share accounted for by Atlantic salmon.  The Philippines and Indonesia account for the vast majority of production.  In 2009, milkfish contributed to 14.03% of Philippine aquaculture production behind seaweed (70.23%) and ahead of tilapia (10.53%). 

    Comparison to Other Philippine Fish
    Philippine waters are home to myriad fish species, many of which are not found elsewhere.  But out of all of them, the milkfish has managed to capture the attention of Filipinos the most.  There are other notable fish in Filipino culture to be sure.  More popular with the masses is the inexpensive galunggong—but it has a fishy taste (malansa). The grouper or lapu-lapu (a name it shares with a national hero) on the other hand is commonly served in fine restaurants. Another prized fish among foodies is the maliputo, as is the increasingly rare ludong. But these usually have no role in the everyday lives of people. The tasty yet relevant fish most everyone in the country can get behind is the milkfish which is considered unofficially by many to be the Philippine national fish.

    Milkfish has a distinct flavor; it is not a neutral bland white fish. Still its natural flavor is mild enough that it can be cooked in the manner of neutral white fish, but it tastes best when its flavor is selectively paired with complementary ingredients and cooking methods.  It is said that somewhat smaller milkfish taste better.  Milkfish from Dagupan/Bonuan, also have a reputation for their flavor. They can be identified by their slightly smaller and more pointed heads.

    Before cooking, the milkfish is cleaned by removing the scales and guts.  It also has many small bones that will need to be removed at some point, either in preparation or later while eating.  Still, deboning is optional for some recipes.  Fortunately the small bones are usually clustered together facilitating their removal.   The skin is often left on as it can be separated from the meat at the dining table as well or simply eaten.  A dark meat lining lies between the white meat and skin and helps to naturally separate the two.  The milkfish's belly fat has a flavorful taste.  Indeed the belly is a prized portion of the fish.  Boneless milkfish belly cuts sold in Philippine markets command a premium.

    There are many popular Filipino milkfish recipes such as paksiw na bangus, sinigang na bangus, rellenong bangus, pinaputok na bangus, bangus with tausi, and bangus sisig.  In my view, however, the qualities of milkfish are shown to best advantage by frying it in oil.  The classic—and in my book definitive—way to cook milkfish is that used in daing:  marinate in vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic and then fry to a golden brown. I see this cooking method applied to other fish but milkfish cooked this way is especially good.  The vinegar and garlic moderate and blend with the flavor of the milkfish's belly fat without overwhelming it.  Fried milkfish is often served with atsara as a side dish or condiment.  On the other hand cooking milkfish as a paksiw or sinigang has been shown to retain more of its nutritional attributes.

    Pritong Bangus Milkfish

    According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference raw milkfish contains the following nutrients:

    Nutrient Unit Value per 100.0g # of Data Points Std. Error 85g
    Water g 70.85 2 -- 60.22
    Energy kcal 148 -- -- 126
    Energy kJ 619 -- -- 526
    Protein g 20.53 1 -- 17.45
    Total lipid (fat) g 6.73 2 -- 5.72
    Ash g 1.14 1 -- 0.97
    Carbohydrate, by difference g 0.00 -- -- 0.00
    Fiber, total dietary g 0.0 -- -- 0.0
    Calcium, Ca mg 51 1 -- 43
    Iron, Fe mg 0.32 1 -- 0.27
    Magnesium, Mg mg 30 -- -- 26
    Phosphorus, P mg 162 1 -- 138
    Potassium, K mg 292 -- -- 248
    Sodium, Na mg 72 -- -- 61
    Zinc, Zn mg 0.82 40 0.040 0.70
    Copper, Cu mg 0.034 41 0.002 0.029
    Manganese, Mn mg 0.020 -- -- 0.017
    Selenium, Se µg 12.6 -- -- 10.7
    Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid mg 0.0 -- -- 0.0
    Thiamin mg 0.013 1 -- 0.011
    Riboflavin mg 0.054 1 -- 0.046
    Niacin mg 6.440 1 -- 5.474
    Pantothenic acid mg 0.750 -- -- 0.638
    Vitamin B-6 mg 0.423 1 -- 0.360
    Folate, total µg 16 -- -- 14
    Folic acid µg 0 -- -- 0
    Folate, food µg 16 -- -- 14
    Folate, DFE mcg_DFE 16 -- -- 14
    Vitamin B-12 µg 3.40 1 -- 2.89
    Vitamin A, RAE mcg_RAE 30 -- -- 26
    Retinol µg 30 -- -- 26
    Vitamin A, IU IU 100 -- -- 85
    Fatty acids, total saturated g 1.660 -- -- 1.411
    Fatty acids, total monounsaturated g 2.580 -- -- 2.193
    Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated g 1.840 -- -- 1.564
    Cholesterol mg 52 1 -- 44
    Amino Acids
    Tryptophan g 0.230 -- -- 0.196
    Threonine g 0.900 -- -- 0.765
    Isoleucine g 0.946 -- -- 0.804
    Leucine g 1.669 -- -- 1.419
    Lysine g 1.886 -- -- 1.603
    Methionine g 0.608 -- -- 0.517
    Cystine g 0.220 -- -- 0.187
    Phenylalanine g 0.802 -- -- 0.682
    Tyrosine g 0.693 -- -- 0.589
    Valine g 1.058 -- -- 0.899
    Arginine g 1.229 -- -- 1.045
    Histidine g 0.604 -- -- 0.513
    Alanine g 1.242 -- -- 1.056
    Aspartic acid g 2.102 -- -- 1.787
    Glutamic acid g 3.065 -- -- 2.605
    Glycine g 0.986 -- -- 0.838
    Proline g 0.726 -- -- 0.617
    Serine g 0.838 -- -- 0.712

    More information: