Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Angels and Dominoes

Angel’s Pizza is such a queer name for a pizza place, I had to convince myself that this was Domino’s in its past life. Having reinforced this myth in my obstinate right brain, I finally conceded to the fact that domino=angel. Very logical indeed.

As for the pizza, it tasted very much the same. The crust was its usual chewy self, somewhere in between light and fluffy yet still crisp and easily digestible and far from Pizza Hut doughy-the-carbs-can-kill-me-now.

The flavors/variants, I must say, had an amazing roster it could be difficult to memorize them all in one sitting. Not that I tried to or would want to as this would serve no purpose, but Angel’s fanatics out there might get a kick out of this information overload.

As for me though, scanning was the order of the day, amidst colorful menu layout and cherubs all over the place. I found what I wanted (in short, what I can eat), that Shrimp Pesto Pizza. I had to order the supreme-like pizza for the meat eating companions, a compromise so as not to burden them with my fishy disposition.

The shrimp pesto tasted the way it's supposed to, pesto laden crust with bits of shrimp. I didn’t grow a halo while eating the pizza, but neither did I form anything from the bad side, so I suppose this translates to a neutral pizza. 

Neutral is not the best way to describe pizza, as this may not be helpful to readers so let me be more specific, the pizza may do with 20% more of its existing toppings. I found it lacking in that aspect, and also found myself reaching for more condiments to address the seeming lack in substance.

Instead of reaching for more slices, I actually thought of my next meal. Not the best way to end a first date.

As for that meat pizza, it seems that they liked it more than my shrimp pesto. That or people are becoming more compassionate to those who seemingly eat less. That must be why they call it Angel’s Pizza.

Nah, I don't buy that.  Maybe they found my pizza neutral as well.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

High and Guangzhou

And just when I thought I was skilled in the art of communication, a trip to China brought this so-called proficiency to shame where my non verbal gestures deemed useless and my well enunciated English, inept.

 Illiterate in the land of international cuisine, Renminbi and hoisin, it can be quite embarrassing to succumb to the global goods (in short, Mcdonald’s and Starbucks) and English speaking retailers, or what sounds like English. Hear me though; once the locals start serving you hot water to drink and almost send a vacuum to your hotel room (itwas just a voltage inquiry, for the love of Lao Tse), it’s best to stay safe, sound and IBS-free. ate

Good thing Peko and Poko are spelled in English. And Glico. And Lotte. Saved by 7-11!

In the territory where the Watson’s lady couldn’t tell Bi-o-re from Ni-ve-a and nearly tore my arm off trying to whiten my wrist, it’s best to stay silent. Keep quiet, look, click a bit and eat what was ordered in English.

So don’t look for photos of snakes, chicken feet and rabbit heads. I never said I was the adventurous kind.

For heaven’s sake, I couldn’t even order a decent milk tea without getting a line to form behind me. In real life, it's Lost in Translation, sans the enjoyment, Bill Murray and all the fun in between.

But of course, a girl's gotta eat.



Starbucks was an imperial haven for the foreigners with English speaking baristas who obligingly heated your food and perfectly understood the necessity of non fat and NO whipped cream. The Smoked Chicken Salad was Asian inspired and very filling, it was like dining near home.

I never thought I'd call Starbucks a second home but I'm loving that green logo.






McDonald’s Guangzhou has subtitled menus beside the cashier (not the one in front). Bring a magnifying glass though as it can be a tough debacle with the photos, text and cashier. The Chicken Wrap is worth the wait despite attempts at failed gestures. Spicy, flavorful with cabbage and spinach wrap, I’d swap our local Mcdo for this Chinese counterpart anytime!

The Lamington Cakes were rather popular, and while I never got the chance to research their history, content and cultural significance, the McCafe version (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavored) was rather endearing and for once, I found myself enjoying coconut. The coconut shavings provide the texture for the smooth cake within. Hail Lamington!

The Spaghetti House mayhem caused me to spend 80 Yuan for dinner. Turns out they had a menu for the middle class variety but no, they decided to feed me baked lobster pasta for dinner despite my pauper get-up.

Ah yes, it must’ve been my royal English, especially when I inquired, “Do you have OR?”

Very queenly indeed.

The Dakasi milk tea fiasco caused a line so long I was glad I couldn’t understand swear words in Chinese. And I had the gall to order the longest and most peculiar drink in fine print. Now that’s taking my sweet time and sweet my green tea with brown rice milk was. Sweet yet utterly memorable.

After all saying “50% sugar” would certainly take another 10 minutes and a line 10x long!

Bruce Lee Logo-bearing Kung-Fu is a fastfood place frequented by local kids. Cheap, convenient and serves hefty meals, I understand why a lot of folks coop up in this joint. Congee, rice meals and noodles are common menu items but they do have that curious looking almond jelly that could make local giant Chow King shudder with its lack of Chinese authenticity. Boo-yah!

Guangzhou Sheraton's Breakfast Buffet wasn't that bad either. With fresh tomato juice, smoked salmon and fried noodles as part of the morning roster, what's not to love about this place? Oh yeah, just that they forget what water is. H2o? Agua?

Chaa ("tea") then.

Delightful cheese selection and cereals, soy milk, the crunchiest melon I have tasted in the East - if I could live on breakfast alone, it would be here!

Of course nothing ever goes according to plan, there's lunch, dinner and that obligatory midnight snack. Too many to mention, here's a smorgasbord of stuff I may have eaten, sniffed or clicked by accident.

Don't ask for details, or all you'll just get is a "Meow!"


Though I never got to say it back then, here's my chance, despite the opposite placement.

Nihao, Guangzhou!

It was good while it lasted. Now I'm back to teabags and local ramen. Ah well, the price to hear decent English once again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No Fuss, Nolita (BHS)

New York style pizza is rather hard to come by in Manila, being the district for thick crust mayhem and cheddar cheese. Oh and there’s also this issue of self-service—the folks seem to hate it. Carrying trays is so blue collar, and so the New York mind of an independent eater barely works in the high and mighty Metro Manila.

For the self-sustaining and autonomous though, here’s one place that might cater to your lifestyle and preferences, gourmet-wise that is. Nolita at Bonifacio High Street is the New York Pizza haven that summons Little Italy in this garage style nook that blasts Euro rock as if I was chilling in my own room.

Handmade, freshly baked and topped with fresh and inventive toppings that can surely beckon any New York native, Nolita’s pizzas are worth the long drive from home. With flavors that range from cheese, pepperoni to spinach and artichoke there’s a slice for every gastronomic preference. Menu items are listed on the chalkboard and for certain, there were flavors I missed like the slice with the fried egg (Breakfast?), tomatoes and feta cheese (Greek?) and Broccoli (I suppose cruciferous slice?). Never mind the names, since point-and-heat is the way to go, no proper vocabulary necessary. This is New York, man.

Starters are also available, and the onion rings (Beer battered with Sriracha dip) alone were enough to forego another slice of pizza. With pasta (gluten-free, cool huh) and burgers on the menu, not to mention a horde of desserts, there’s so much to taste and discover at Nolita, it warrants a number of visits in the future.


The service was excessively slow, it took 50 minutes to get me a slice of cheese pizza. New York traffic? I don’t think so, just the case of the I-forgot-you-because-all-you-got-was-a-cheese-pizza-you-simpleton. Sheesh, I suppose discrimination exists even in Little Italy.

Oh and no apologies or compensatory damages, just “I forgot!”

Next time I commit a crime, I ought to try that. “I forgot.” Might get me off life sentence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Starbucks Hoji-what?

The local plebeians have found their drinking pleasure in the conveniently sprinkled milk tea joints all around Metro Manila. I for one am guilty of this menace, and have adopted the milk tea jargon of “no pearls”, “less ice” and my favorite, “zero sugar.”

The last spiel has earned me gawks and sneers that the cashier will certainly mark as the zaniest she has encountered in her front-office life, but if I had the time, I’d certainly have told her, better my decisive and time-saving action than the band of kids behind me dishing out statements that sound like “Ummm”, “Hmmm” and all other rhymes. It seems that it will take her forever to get them to order, unless they head for cover at the nearest McDonald’s. 

Yet again I digress from my feature photo. Starbucks Hojicha.

I have not been to Starbucks for a while, and curious about this Hojicha drink which has been flooding my dreams and consciousness, I’ve decided to finally confront this poster drink.

Resuming an upper class stance, I’ve decided to drop the hoi polloi Moonleaf mindset, put on my best English and go for “One Grande non fat Hojicha Frap with Earl Grey Jelly for J.Anne!” and since it was lunch, that chicken pesto on panini which looked quite enticing in that flat presentation.

The Hojicha came sans the cream, sugoi! But that was the best part out of this hoj-experience. If I were to rename this gloriously presented drink, it would be: 110% Sweet Earl Grey Frap, further sweetened by the Earl Grey Jelly. This is best partnered with something horribly bland and crisp, and I am glad I went for panini than the Oreo Cheesecake that was winking at me from the chiller.

In terms of the tea flavor, the Hojicha is certainly the supreme being that perhaps contains 10 teabags worth of tea which would please the Queen of England. 

Being used to mildly sweetened to bland drinks, the Hojicha certainly blasted my system to hyper-sugar mode—though I needed it at that time, reliving Tom Hanks in his The Terminal experience. Other than this outlier experience, I believe that should I have a tea fix, I would resume to my eternal favorite, the one drink that will never let me down, despite horrendous exams and long drives: Green Tea Frap without whipped cream.

 As for that chicken pesto panini, the actual name escapes my mind. Perhaps my subconscious decided to bury it in my mental oblivion since it wasn’t that spectacular to begin with. I’ve had other better tasting and worth recalling Starbucks sandwiches and this surely isn’t one of them. Filled with chicken, pesto and cheese, it was hmmm-kay but not dream-worthy.

 Especially when it’s something I can replicate at home. 

 But still, I am sure glad I didn’t go for that Oreo Cheesecake or the bathroom would’ve been my destination and not China. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hoshide's All That: Yu and the Rest of the Force

He’s fast, he’s skilled and though he’s outgrown reading manga we’ll still write one for him. Global FC midfielder and Healthway Agility Awardee of the United Football League (UFL) First Division Yu Hoshide’s story may not involve bionic powers or the Kamehameha but with adventures that hail from Tokyo to Trinidad and Tobago that involve short stunts with judo and a stolen freezer, this makes him a legit football hero with a hat. Ikuzo! (“Let’s go!”)

A Word with Yu

Yu Hoshide was born in Tokyo, was schooled in the traditional Japanese fashion and never really heard a Tagalog word until 2009. “Grabe!” as the present Yu would say.

Bringing bento for lunch, dabbling with the piano (“All my relatives from my dad’s side had to learn to play the piano” he tried to explain) and having kendo/judo classes as a kid, that’s pretty much how Yu-chan’s life passed by. The kendo classes were mandatory, and while Yu never got he chance to hit an actual person in real life, he made swooshing motions in the air to show us that, yes, he’s still got the flair. All right, Yu, we won’t take your iPhone.

Like most Japanese kids nowadays who want to be a professional athlete when they grow up, Yu decided to take that same path: “I’ve always wanted to be a professional football player!” He was five years old then and that ambition never faltered.

He was also five years old when he started attending the Takashi Madaira Soccer Club. Tokyo boasts of about a hundred (or was it a thousand?) soccer clubs, so we can just imagine the volume of activity and fanbase in our neighboring country. And that’s not considering baseball which is another popular sport in Japan.

“Why not baseball, Yu?”

“Noooo.. I really like football.”

 “Good to know. So do we.”  And we couldn’t imagine you in that baseball outfit.

In High School, Yu moved to the Mitsubishi Yowa Soccer Club, a much more prestigious organization for skilled players. We learned this because he “quantified” the application process. From a hundred to two hundred applicants they only select the chosen few for their team, and Yu was one of those. Sugoi!

College at the Meiji University brought him much closer to the football dream. Passing the football exam he became a full-fledged scholar, taking up Political Science. While he claims that Math and Japanese History were his favorite subjects, it’s rather obvious that Yu would ditch his books just to don a jersey.

Trinidad and Time-to-go

Yu’s been with quite a number of football clubs in various countries, it would be exhausting to go over each of them. With local highlights and exotic entertainment worth retelling, I’d say let’s run through this decade’s worth of stories in a jiffy.

2000–07, YKK AP (Kataller Toyama of the J.League): Yu played for several years in Japan before his quest to play for different football clubs in different countries or as I’d like to call it, his “world tour.”


2008, Harrisburg City Islanders (USA): Yu found the opportunity through the Internet and played for the club for one year.


2009, Northern Virginia Royals (USA): A friend of his introduced him to the club, but he only played for three months because Joe Public wanted to see him play and eventually signed him up.

2009–11, Joe Public (Trinidad and Tobago): His friend Fabien Lewis, who’s Trinidadian, helped him get into the club, which is one of the biggest clubs in the Caribbean and was owned by the former VP of FIFA. He played for Joe Public for one and half years.

 2011, Grecia Stone (Ecuador): His Japanese friend back in junior high used to play here and recruited Yu. Don’t bother asking him for Spanish expressions and foodie experiences. He only played for one month.


2011, Sporting Club de Goa (India): The club was looking for a central midfielder, but Yu only played for one and a half months.


2011–present Last but not the least Global FC (Philippines)


Asian Invasion

Before Global FC, Yu has never been to the Philippines and knew nothing about the Philippine time, traffic, the wonders of Pasay road and the kindhearted street children—all of which introduced themselves to him one at a time. Still, he’s gotten used to the weather, the people and muttering “Hay nako” in the same Pinoy despairing tone seems so natural, it makes us wonder who was late for practice this time.

One thing that was far from despairing though was how Yu ended up with Global FC. Yes, the internet was once again an ally in his movement, but this time, he’s got YouTube to thank.

“They watched my game on YouTube then asked me to go to the Philippines,” narrated Yu.

Next thing he knew, he was part of the team, commissioned as Captain and living in Magallanes.

Why the Philippines? Is it the beaches, the politics or just our warmhearted citizens that made Yu leave India and its blessed curry?

“I wanted to move to an Asian country so that I will be closer to my parents. When the tsunami hit Japan I was in T&T and never learned of it because there was no Internet. At least in Asia it would be easier to travel and visit them,” explained Yu.


Oh and he admits that the curry in India doesn’t compare to Japan’s “ka-ri.”

Rock and Gol.

For those who don’t follow Yu Hoshide on Twitter and are unfamiliar with his chill pill, his favorite hangout is Starbucks—which branch, we’re not telling. However, if someone hollers “Tall Caramel Machiatto for Yuuuuuu!” then expect the ever zen-like Yu to get that rate googly-eyed look. Perhaps this is the only moment in his life that he gets that manga expression, thanks to that green sun. Kampai!


Trying to give an enterprising tip to our good friend Yu, here’s an excerpt of our conversation:

J.Anne: Yu, you’re always at Starbucks, they should make you their endorser.

Miji: Yeah!! So you could get a free venti Caramel Machiatto all the time.

Yu: What’s that word you used?

J: Endorse?

Y: En-..?!?!?!


Y: What’s that mean?

J: Looks at Miji mouthing “help him!”

M: Endorse. You know, endorse. Like promote.

J: Like you tweet and tell people you’re at Starbucks so they give you free drinks in return.

Y: How do you spell that? (typing on his phone dictionary)

M: E-N-D-O-R-S-E

Y: Reads…

J: Or we can just skip to the next topic.

Y: Ah. Ahhhhhhh! (Finding the translation, understanding the translation or just checking someone’s Tweet?)

M: Hay nakoooo, you did get it, right?

Hay nako, Yu

Speaking of endorsements, Yu is a master in this field since he does promote a Japanese brand (or is it Brazilian, heeeelp) of clothing named Gol., which is why we considered him the perfect ambassador of the Caramel Machiatto. Imagine Yu Hoshide, swift, sporty and savvy, the perfect guy to represent Gol. Even in his stint in the Philippines, Yu still carries the Gol image, which inspires that worldwide brand recognition from Global FC’s midfielder.


When not in his customary Global FC jersey, Yu parades around in his Gol. Shirt and/or cap. Aside from being a football superstar, we’ve got a fashion icon as well.

And now’s the time to say, “Ahhhh…” Grabe!

Yu and What Army

Yu lost his iPhone recently to a band of street kids who blatantly took it from him and ran off before Yu could tweet about it. Using judo was not a top of mind reaction in a place like Manila, and he certainly hadn’t thought of giving them a bicycle kick—so this experience, he says, ought to be charged as a donation. How kind of Yu to let this Manila initiation pass by easily.

But that’s not the highlight of his Manila stay.

“I’m renting this car and it’s brand new and color white. One day while I was driving, a girl just went in and told me her destination,” Yu narrated this hilarious story.


“I said, ‘no taxi!’ and she was surprised and sorry and just left,” he said with so much amusement. At least now Yu can consider an alternative business, but, of course, he’d have to consult Misagh Transportation Company first. We wouldn’t want Misagh to think Yu’s getting all cute or the red cards might start pouring from the bleachers.

A Piece of Yu

Despite this so-called Asian Invasion, Yu does miss home, particularly his family, friends and Japanese food.

While Sushi remains to be his all-time favorite food, yakiniku and banana cue rank next in his list. At least banana cue, a local dish, albeit being street food (Manang’s Special), has found a special spot in his discriminating palate.


What does not deserve special honors is the dreaded Filipino time, which Yu has the misfortune of coming across all the time.

“When people say training starts at 9 a.m., they should be there by 8 a.m. but here in the Philippines, people arrive at 9:30 a.m.!” Yu still in disbelief at how we Filipinos have a knack for delaying time.

As for Yu, 8 a.m. it is. Maybe this would give him ample time to finish that grande caramel machiatto or find the opportunity to revive his judo skills so that he can deliver killer scissor kicks on the pitch.

Yu names Jerry Barbaso and David Basa as his close friends. Befuddled by this choice, we asked the obvious (Is it because Jerry looks Japanese or is it because David is quiet like you?) but got no straight answer. Whatever it is, at least Yu’s found oniichans in the team to torment or tutor, whatever the case may be.


Yu claims that he can cook a mean okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), complete with the animated flipping gestures that is so Cooking Master Boy. Of course, we never got to verify that as well. But so long as we’ve not heard of recent kitchen fires, then at least we can say that, well, Yu’s a responsible cook.

Catch Yu Later

Among the Global FC players, Yu is certainly one of the seasoned players, having participated in clubs outside Asia and played in games all over the world.

“I’ve been in 10 or 20 countries, just to play football,” claims Yu.

He’s lived in other continents, and while he hasn’t mastered the local lingo (which would’ve been a lot of help trying to translate Angel Guirado’s speedy Spanish that only de Murga can catch up with) his exposure and experience definitely elevate him to the level of Yu-San. The younger players look up to him for his on-field wisdom while training coaches can rely on him for support and guidance.

Once could attest to Yu’s veteran playing skills with his graceful and well-thought-of touches and passes and, of course, his agility. In fact, during the awarding ceremony of this season’s UFL, Yu Hoshide was named the Healthway Agility Player of the season. Guess we’re not the only ones impressed by Yu’s on-site activity and swift and accurate delivery of beautiful passes.

With the depth of his experience, his movements appear as second nature, creating a sense of instinctive action. Hopefully he can pass on this acumen to the younger ones, especially as they start training for the UFL Cup in October.

May the Force be with Yu

Yu is not the only one to brag of an award for the 2011–2012 Season of the UFL. For those who have been living underground for the past few days or are just away from the football radar, Global FC has been hailed as the Champion for this season, besting other strong teams like first runner up Kaya FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC.


In the last match against Loyola Meralco Sparks FC last June 26 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, the game ended with a draw and sealed the championship for Global FC—which already was leading in the points race. With fans energetic and the Global Force screaming their endless battle cheer, Global FC finally scored its year-long goal: To be the #1 team! Yu was named Healthway Agility Awardee, #14 Carlie de Murga was Most Valuable Player Awardee and Global FC also bagged the Fair Play Award.


Like we said, if we could perhaps add another award, it would be the Best Cheering Squad/Group—and hands down, we’d bestow the prize to the Global Force. Enthusiastic, battle ready, spontaneous, interactive and witty, their cheers have more impact than an LSS (last song syndrome).

Yu Bet!

If you happen to see Yu gallivanting around the malls or coffee shops, don’t think of bowing just to get his attention. Chances are passers by might think that you’re falling asleep on your toes. A whiff of coffee might help, or the old reliable, “Konnichiwa!” But remember, Yu-san’s the quiet type so blurting out “Kawaiii!!” will be met with a run. Instead, engage in sensible conversation and don’t fret, he’s got a dictionary at hand.


 Follow Yu Hoshide on Twitter: @yuhoshide

Follow J.Anne Gonzales on Twitter: @LazyBlack_Cat

Follow Miji Gonzales on Twitter: @mijigonzales