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alostdandelion

Pandora's box.

Hwangso Ga: Lunar New Year Celebration

Lunar new year, also commonly known as Chinese New Year, is widely celebrated by other Asian countries as well – Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China and etc. The only difference is how they call it. But mostly they refer to it as new year, like how they refer to the standard and usual new year, January 1st.

So, how do we celebrate the Lunar new year? We celebrate it with our family, our loved ones, our friends, sharing delicious dishes in one table, one gathering, one celebration. People usually prepare certain dishes in order to celebrate the new year, and which of them has meanings attached to them. 😉

Like for instance, here in PH, when you say Chinese new year, people will automatically associate it with Tikoy or rice cake. Just like how it tastes and its sticky texture, it is said to bring the family closer together (sticky) and bond with lots of sweetness (sweet taste) during the current year. It’s like a wish and a belief that eating the said delicacy will bring the family a strong bond.

In Korea, they usually prepare tteokguk or rice cake soup. The same ingredient, only that the rice cake used here is not very sweet like our Tikoy. 😊

Since it’s the new year, I scheduled a date with my long close college friend. The last time we went out to see each other was… 2 years ago? So I asked to meet with her, and yes because we’re celebrating the new year, we opted for something delicious and… Korean. (Because we’re both Korean drama and music enthusiasts).

We went to the nearest yet most delicious buffet I’ve ever been to.

Hwangso-Ga, located at 1535-1551 M. Adriatico St, Ermita, Manila, just right beside Robinson’s Place Manila, is one of my favorite Korean buffet restaurants. Not only do they offer neatly cut meat, the side dishes are superb and tasty as well. The restaurant’s service is a plus too, thanks to the friendly staffs who accommodate customers. 😊

Since it’s a buffet, yay, it’s an eat-all-you-can with unlimited beef and pork! The meat were cut nicely, with the pork cut like how they should be cut. I mean, with other Korean barbecue houses, the cuts of the pork and beef are the same, sometimes it’s confusing to know which is which, but if you’re a fan of samgyupsal, you’ll eventually know the difference.

With the price of Php499, you get to enjoy these delicious delicacies, UNLIMITEDLY! 😊 PS: no service charge! You can also buy add-ons like softdrinks and… drum roll… soju! 😊

This restaurant has always been a favorite, and I will always, always come back to eat with friends and family. ♥

Also, just a TMI; Korean boy group BTS once ate here after their The Red Bullet in Manila concert held last December 7, 2014. 😉

Pal Danji

Have you ever randomly scrolled through your Facebook feed and seen videos of mukbangs? Mukbang, coming from the Korean words Muk (to eat) and Bang (broadcast) is a video coverage of a person or persons eating their choice of food. Basically, it’s an eating show; and I have no idea how people get that satisfying feeling watching this kind of videos, including me.

Now, for my question! Are you someone like me, who tends to crave for this certain dish after having watched it get featured in someone else’s mukbang? Being the Kpop/Kdrama fan I am, seeing mukbangs on my feed is not new, and what I came across from I-can’t-remember-when, is the famous Korean delicacy Samgyupsal.

Samgyupsal, from the Korean words Sam (3), Gyup (layer), Sal (flesh), literally means 3-layer-meat of which are the fatty layer, the pinkish meat layer, and the reddish meat layer. Samgyupsal is also commonly known as grilled pork belly. Yum! 😊

So after craving for Samgyupsal, we came across this newly opened Korean BBQ House found next to our office building. Yes, it’s in Makati! Yay to working people! Work hard, eat harder! 😊

Pal Danji, located at Eton Tower Makati 128 Dela Rosa St. corner V.A. Rufino St., Legaspi Village, Makati, opened its doors sometime last December. This branch is owned by Grace Lee. The restaurant offers unlimited servings of pork, chicken, and beef to satisfy your cravings. to your heart’s extent!

We went there last 31st of January to try and see how their samgyupsal tastes like and… we were not disappointed. We went there during lunch time and expected a lot of people dining. It was a full house when we arrived, and we were second in line. I guess office workers need meat for energy. 😉

The line didn’t move for about half an hour or so, of course because it’s an eat-all-you can restaurant, we had to wait. Not to mention the major cleaning of the tables and the hardest to clean, the grilling stone used for cooking the yummy meats. After finally getting seated and settled at our table, we noticed that the line was getting messy. The line was supposed to be inside of the building, not outside (walkway). Let’s please fall in line properly and not take advantage of others. ☹

So we sat for about another 10 to 15 minutes waiting for our orders. But within that span of time they served us soup, side dishes, drinks, and drum roll… Tteokbokki and cheese dip! We were so happy to see cheese and tteokbokki served; they can at least ease our hunger because we were in line for like an hour. PS: Tteokbokki is a Korean snack with rice cake and fish cake in sweet and spicy sauce.

So after eating all the tteokbokki, can you even imagine how hungry we were, haha, they eventually served our orders. Finally, meat! We opted for the Unli 488 – unlimited serving of pork, chicken and beef. 😊 They have a variety of marinade, from salt and pepper to soy and spicy. It took some time for the grill stone to heat, but afterwards the grilling went smooth. This is my forte, cooking samgyupsal. ♥

The side dishes were superb too, and you can order as much as you want because they’re in unlimited servings too. 😊 The side dishes were sweet cucumber with carrots, sweet potato, kimchi, yellow radish, plus the tteokbokki and the cheese dip itself. If you want to rid of the umay, eat the side dishes simultaneously with the meat.

Overall the dining experience was great. Our cravings were satisfied, and the food was indeed tasty. For its price I must say that we were really happy with the food served. 😊 We give this restaurant an 8/10! We also commend Kuya Fernando Lapuz for being a very attending and approachable staff. Kudos to you kuya!

Will we dine here again? Definitely! Actually I am already planning to go back and satisfy my cravings as I write this. 😀

How I eat Samgyupsal (more on how to eat samgyupsal for your money’s worth, how to maximize the unlimited dining experience)

I suggest you feed yourself with meat first, literally eat meat only. When you get that umay feeling, or the feeling of getting fed up with the taste or food you’re eating, you can try the side dishes to cleanse your palate. Once you’re ready again, dig in! You can add some of the side dishes in the lettuce wrap to make it more even tasty.

When you feel like you’re about to feel full, this is optional, eat meat with rice. 😉

Panda Express

“From our family to yours.”

A lot of people may mistake Panda Express as Food Panda, because of the common word panda. But heads up, they’re two different things. 😉

Panda Express is a fast food restaurant chain founded 1983 in California, US. They serve American Chinese cuisine with mouthwatering flavors that will surely satisfy and tickle your taste buds.

The very first Philippine Panda Express branch opened last 12th of December 2019, located at the upper ground floor of SM Megamall, Building A, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. A LOT of people welcomed its opening, causing long queues and hype over the internet.

Panda Express offers a variety of dishes, varying from chicken, beef, pork, and seafood. (With veggies too!)

Curious on how they serve their food, and of course, dying to know how the food tastes, we went all the way to SM Megamall to try Panda Express! Even a month after their opening, there was still a long line waiting for customers outside the restaurant. Staffs will be there to assist you, so fret not!

Even if there was a line, the queueing was smooth; all thanks to the accommodating and approachable staffs of Panda Express. Kudos!

We originally planned to eat at the restaurant to experience the ambiance, but since we were in a hurry, we decided to have our orders wrapped, to go. The containers were sturdy, I was so sure our food wouldn’t spill. They even doubled the paper bags to make sure it didn’t break. (We ordered a whole lot!)

We ordered:

1 plate (2 entree, 1 side) Php245

Savory shrimp

Brocolli beef

Chow mien

1 bigger plate (3 entree, 1 side) Php295

Orange chicken

Kungpao chicken

Asian grilled chicken

Steamed rice

For the quality, we give Panda Express an 8/10. The dishes were tasty but there’s a sense of familiarity to them. They tasted common and similar to those of Chinese restaurants found here in PH. Nothing extraordinary, but tasty. 😊

For the quantity, we give Panda Express a 10/10. Because for its price, you get a whole lot of what you ordered. We actually kept some leftovers and ate them the following day.

All in all, Panda Express is nice, especially if you’re an enthusiast of Chinese cuisine like me. I like how sweet and salty the dishes are. 😊

EXTRA:

It is revealed in interviews and widely known through the internet that Kpop boy group BTS loves to eat Panda Express. Intrigued? I guess yes. 😉

Lasema Spa and Jjimjilbang

Have you ever felt tired of the city life, with all the never-ending schedules, hours spent being on traffic commuting to and from certain places, and all of a sudden you just feel like you’re drained and lost all energy in you? It can be your body, telling you to take a break from the endless activities. And what better way is there, than to treat and have yourself pampered? How about unwinding, detoxifying and healing your weary body in a nice and relaxing spa – the Korean way?

You have probably seen or heard of public bathhouses that are well-known and well-embraced in Korea, maybe from social media, a friend, a relative, or should I even mention, through Korean dramas. You would often see episodes or segments where they air scenes taken at public bathhouses, showing how crowded these places could get, and how even people of another nationality can come to embrace the healing activity as well.

But what exactly is a public bathhouse?

Koreans refer to these as jjimjilbang, or a large, sex-segregated public bathhouse in South Korea, furnished with hot tubs, showers, Korean traditional kiln saunas and massage tables. Jjimjil is derived from the words meaning heating. (Wikipedia)

You might be wondering what these bathhouses hold in store for consumers; so let me show you what they have to offer, and most importantly, how to enjoy them fully, the correct and sanitary way.

Last December 20, 2019, we visited a Korean public bathhouse we learned of through Facebook and decided to give it a try. Spoiler alert, we had fun!

Lasema Spa and Jjimjilbang is located at 8846 Sampaloc St., corner Estrella St., San Antonio Village. It’s near the business district of Makati and operates 24 hours a day. So, visiting any time convenient for you is a yes! Lasema offers what actual Korean public bathhouses offer in Korea, so fret not, and let me tour you around the place. The bathhouse is at the second floor of the building where a big reception area awaits you.

Here’s a floor directory for your reference.

Now for the exciting part, how exactly do you enjoy a public bathhouse?

There are steps on how to indulge yourself with the benefits of each amenity they have. I will be explaining below so that when you go and visit, you can have a good time and enjoy the amenities to your heart’s extent.

How to Enjoy a Jjimjilbang, the Korean Way

  1. Choose package. You will be asked to choose which package you want to avail. After selecting the package of your choice, they will be handing you a wrist strap with a bar code (for purchasing food and extra services), with your locker number and a key, 2 towels and a shirt for you to wear inside.
  2. Locker room. You will be escorted to the locker room. (Female and male locker rooms are separated). In here you can change into the shirt that they provided. Photos and videos are not allowed here since this is where you change clothes.
  3. Wet Sauna. For first timers, chances are you’ll be shocked to see fellow customers without any clothes on, even underwear. It’s a policy in wet saunas to be completely bare when you step in to take showers and soak into the tubs. With this way, your body gets to enjoy and absorb the relaxing herbs in the warm waters completely. Lasema offers a variety of herb tubs you can soak your weary body into, and we guarantee that you’ll enjoy them. PS: make sure to wash yourself very well before soaking in the tubs!
  4. Massage. After all the cleaning and scrubbing, indulge yourself with Lasema’s massage service. My friend tried the massage and gave it a thumbs up. She was very happy and satisfied she said she’ll come back soon. They offer a variety of massage including Shiatsu, Thai and etc. The ambiance was calming, paired with relaxing music playing in the background.
  5. Kilns. Kilns are the steam / sauna rooms in public bathhouses. You can try the steam rooms Lasema has to offer, and my personal favorite is the Himalayan salt room. The temperature is just right!
  6. Repeat or Rest/Sleep. Congratulations you have completed the process of enjoying the public bathhouse the Korean way! You can either repeat the steps, or sleep and take a rest in the sleeping and resting area.