Terror in the sound of silence in A Quiet Place

Imagine having to live your life in silence, not as a form of meditation or therapy, but as a matter of survival.

For the Abbotts, a family caught in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by deadly creatures who hunt by sound, silence is a way of life. They walk gingerly along paths marked by sand that muffle the sound of footfalls, or paint that indicate floorboards that won’t creak. They communicate to each other using sign language, a skill they acquired because of a deaf family member, or by changing the color of the Christmas lights that surround their home. When upset or in pain, they hold back their screams. Silence has become integral to the movie that when sounds do come in, the effect is jarring.

Still, the Abbotts have carved a thriving life despite the near-constant fear and the death of one of their own brought about by one of the creatures. Pregnant Evelyn (Emily Blunt) homeschools the children while dad Lee (John Krasinski) studies the creatures and scavenges for supplies that will help them cope. Eldest daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds), though deaf, is independent and willful, capable of venturing off on her own. The surviving son Marcus (Noah Jupe) is perceptive and bright; he seeks to bridge the growing gap between Lee and Regan due to their feelings of guilt, blaming themselves for the death of youngest child Beau.

It is the tension within the family that magnifies our fear for them and the love and cohesiveness among them that makes us root for them, especially when they face the monsters in a final showdown.

Thanks to Diva for inviting me to catch the advance screening of this gripping thriller, magnificently helmed by John Krasinski.

A Quiet Place is now showing in Metro Manila cinemas. View screening schedules here.

Catch Diva on SKYcable ch 37 in Metro Manila.

Review Rundown: Ramen Joints in Tomas Morato

Much removed from the instant noodles that we used to associate with the dish, ramen nowadays, especially for foodies, call to mind creamy full-bodied broth from rich meaty stock, firm noodles as well as tender meat, sumptious seafood, crisp vegetables, and flavorful aromatics.

Ramen shops and Japanese restaurants that offer this tasty Japanese noodle dish have sprouted all over the metro, especially in the Tomas Morato area in Quezon City.

Personally, I gravitate towards ramen with chashu (seasoned pork slices): the more tender and melt-in-your-mouth, the better. While my preference when it comes to broth is more towards the shio (salt-based), I’m usually open to eating shoyu (soy-based) or miso-based ramen.

Here is a rundown of the ramen I’ve sampled among such restaurants located in this foodie-friendly area.

Tonkotso Ramen (Php295) at Omakase

Rating: 3/5

I found the blend and contrasts of textures from the creamy broth, the crisp black fungus and the firm noodles interesting but somewhat lacking in flavor.

Check out my restaurant review here.

Tokyo-style Ramen (Php250) at Ariake

Rating: 3.5/5

Again, it’s the blend of textures among the noodles and crisp veggies that give this ramen a boost.

Read my restaurant review here.

Chasu Ramen (Php245) at Tokyo Bubble Tea

Rating: 3.5/5

The cuteness of its kawaii surroundings is apparent in the pretty presentation of this miso-based ramen.

Read my restaurant review here.

Shoyu Ramen (Php250) at Kimono Ken

Rating: 4/5

Despite my marked preference for salt-based ramen, I found the flavor from the chashu slices full-bodied, amply complemented by the nori garnishing, egg and aromatics.

Read my restaurant review here.

 

Tonkotsu Ramen (Php300) at Isaribi

I loved the rich milky-white pork-broth (with a bit of a garlicky taste) with firm ramen noodles, thin slices of green onion, half of a tamago (soft-boiled soy-tinged egg), and slivers of chashu pork belly.

Read my restaurant review here.

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Why not try your hand at preparing Japanese cuisine at home?  Check out these recipe books from Amazon.com!

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Ramen craving satisfied at Osaka Takoyaki, SM East Ortigas

My #RamenPhase is still going strong which is why I was excited with the opening of this new Japanese resto near my place.

Located at the second floor of SM East Ortigas, Osaka Takoyaki has a sprawling space with pine wood chair and tables can accommodate around 50 diners. It’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide the store with a lot of natural light but it made me feel a bit exposed, akin to eating while in a fishbowl, in contrast to the coziness of other Japanese restos. Its proximity to the gaming arcades and the loud upbeat ambient music from the mall also detract from the zen atmosphere.

The wait staff are friendly and helpful. Upon entry, I was greeted with “Irasshaimase!” or “Welcome!” in Nihongo. As soon as I was seated, I was offered a cup of barley tea to drink while waiting. Before leaving, the wait staff would make a small bow. These small gestures do make me as a guest feel valued and welcome.

I ordered a Tonkotsu Ramen (Php299) which was served steaming hot and prettily presented due to the pops of color from the pork slices, aromatics and the tamago against the creamy broth. In terms of taste, my ramen was satisfactory, the broth and pork slices were well-seasoned with the sliced green onions adding a bit of herby flavor to contrast with the dish’s saltiness. In terms of texture, however, I found the noodles too firm and the meat not as melt-in-your mouth as I would like. It even has some tendons that are hard to chew. The meat could benefit from a few more hours of slow cooking.

Overall, on the basis of I think Osaka Takoyaki has a good value-for-money proposition and, with a few improvements, has the potential to be one of my favorite ramen places.

Check out my reviews of other places where I gave in to my #RamenPhase craving:

 

Osaka Takoyaki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Why not try your hand at preparing Japanese cuisine at home?  Check out these recipe books from Amazon.com!

Want to try some recipes today? There’s no need to leave home to shop for ingredients.  With Honestbee, just order your groceries online and you’ll get them delivered right at your doorstep at your preferred time. Use this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.  You can download the Honestbee app on iTunes or Google Play.

If you’re in the US and an Amazon Prime member, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh to get your groceries delivered to you.

6 Things You Need to Consider Before Visiting Art in Island Museum

Art in Island differs from most of the other art museums wherein the artworks are admired from a respectable distance and must not – under any circumstances – be sullied by the hands of those who admire them.

Being an interactive 3D museum, Art in Island invites its visitors to “be part of art,” to immerse themselves in the pieces by taking creative poses and taking lots of pictures. It features illusory art pieces, murals and installations wherein elements trick the eye; these are best enjoyed when concretized in images that you get to take home with you.

I recently visited the museum right before the Holy Week break together with my daughter – slash – partner-in-crime. While we were able to enjoy a lot of the exhibits, we made some rookie mistakes which we hope to remedy on our next visits.

For folks who are planning similar outings, here are six things you would need to plan on before you head on to Art in Island:

  • When to go. As with most things in life, proper timing is essential. Not surprisingly, the museum tends to get crowded during weekends and holidays, with the notable exception of Holy Wednesday (when we made our visit) and Maundy Thursday (yes, I asked!). Although the museum is open from 9.30am to 9.30pm, I would advise going when you still have quite some energy in you; the exhibits are spread across a sprawling two-storey building and there will be a lot of walking involved.
  • What to wear. Again, with all the walking to-and-fro, it would be best to be in comfortable clothes. Note, though, that you will be required to leave your shoes at the reception counter so if you don’t fancy walking around barefoot, bring a pair of footsocks. Also, since you’ll be taking a lot of pictures, wear something you won’t mind seeing yourself in again and again.
  • How much to pay. The standard entrance fee is Php500 but students, senior citizens and persons with disability can get their tickets at only Php400, provided they present their relevant IDs. Birthday celebrants can get in for free on the day of, one day before or one day after their birthdays; they just need to present their valid IDs. These fees already include one-time access to the museum (once you’ve made your way to the exit, you can’t go back anymore), and access to whatever shows are ongoing inside the museum (unless otherwise specified, of course).
  • Who to go with. Expect to take a ton of pictures and to walk around a lot. Therefore, consider going with people who are game to take in the entire experience. A camera maven with a good eye for angles and light, and is willing to to take multiple shots to get your desired pic right, is a god-send.
  • What else to bring. A camera, of course! It can be your phone cam (hopefully fully charged), your fancy DSLR or whatever suits you.
  • How to act. Since the museum is a public place, expect to encounter lots of other people, especially if you go during busy days. Take turns in taking pictures with the installations. In fact, why not offer to take others’ pictures for them and make some new friends?

Art in Island is located at 175 15th Street, Brgy. Socorro, Quezon City (a short distance from Cubao). For inquiries, call 02-4211356.

Bingsu treat at Jang Da Bang Cafe

Despite the spate of relatively balmy weather these last few days, there’s no denying that summer is already here.

And with the hot summer days, icy snacks like bingsu are a godsend.

I discovered Jang Da Bang Cafe during one of my Korean Food adventures at my favorite Korean resto, Jang Ga Nae, with my daughter – slash – partner-in-crime. After indulging ourselves in our favorite Korean dishes, some of which were quite spicy, we decided to try out the cafe right next door for dessert.We were happy to discover that Jang Da Bang has the same owner as Jang Ga Nae (as if the similarity in their names was not a dead giveaway, duh!). In fact, in our subsequent visits, the family developed the habit of ordering our preferred bingsu dessert at Jang Ga Nae (included in our bill), then hopping over to Jang Da Bang where our freshly made bingsu will be waiting for us.

While Jang Ga Nae’s interiors have the quintessential Korean grill resto look and feel, Jang Da Bang has a brighter and more airy ambiance. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in a lot of natural light that brings out the pops of color in the displayed artwork and plants. It has a more relaxed atmosphere compared to its sister-store, making it an ideal place for hanging out.

We have sampled its two fruity bingsu offerings: mango and strawberry. Both have finely shaved ice flavored with condensed milk and accompanied by cornflakes for texture and red bean paste for added sweetness. A regular-sized order of either is good for sharing among three: myself and my two kids who apparently inherited their “sweet tooth” from me.

Our preference is the mango bingsu (Php199 for regular). Aside from cubes of sweet ripe mango, it also has bits of peaches, pears, nata de coco and the occasional cherry from – standard can of fruit cocktail, and is topped with vanilla ice cream.

The strawberry bingsu (Php205 for regular) on the other hand, suffers in comparison to the other variant only because the tartness of the strawberry bits is not adequately countered by the sweetness of the strawberry ice cream topping.

Going here for dessert after our Korean lunch has become a weekly family habit which will likely continue on for quite some time.

Jang Da Bang is located right across Jang Ga Nae at 8137 Plaza Ortigas, Jose Escriva Drive, Ortigas, Pasig City (behind the University of Asia and the Pacific).

Jang DaBang by Jang Ga Nae Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ultimate Katsu Experience at Saboten, BGC

I have been hearing a lot of good things about Saboten for quite some time. My predilection for katsu has led my family to its BGC branch one weekend as our lunchdate.

In keeping with the cuisine it offers, Saboten’s interiors have a Zen-like quality. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and lanterns provide a mixture of natural and warm light that shows off the glow of the light pine wood and beige furnishings. Large slabs of black stones offset with white pebbles serve as elegant walkways. The area is clean and uncluttered, a suitable environment for feasting on our favorite Japanese food.

For appetizers, Hubby and I sampled the endamame (Php99), soybeans steamed while in still in their pods and served with a light dusting of salt.

The kids, on the other hand, busied themselves with preparing our katsu sauce by crushing the toasted sesame seeds, then mixing it with the prepared sweet brown sauce.

Our main dishes consist of set meals which are served with refillable shredded cabbage, pickles, rice and miso soup:

  • Tenderloin Set (Php450 for large)
  • Shrimp and Tenderloin Set (Php595)

The katsus are juicy with the crunchy panko breading providing a texture contrast to the tender meat inside. I especially liked the rolled cutlet with cheese; the melted extra salty goodness inside blends well with the tastes and textures of the katsu sauce and rice.

Saboten is indeed a special treat: its offerings are quite pricy so it’s not our standard weekend meal. That said, we would come back most probably to celebrate another family occasion.

This Saboten branch is located at Ground Floor, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Saboten Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

New Japanese hangout at Omotenashi

My daughter was craving for gyoza so when she accompanied me to my office last Wednesday, I gave in to her craving by having our lunch at nearby Omotenashi Japanese Restaurant and Bar.

The term omotenashi directly correlates to Japanese hospitality.  It is the combination of words “omote” which refers to the face one presents to the public and “nashi” which means “nothing.”  The resulting word means “selfless service,” anticipating the needs of the guest and providing service from the heart.

From the outside, this Quezon City Japanese restaurant may seem like a rowdy drinking hangout, especially with the banners promoting its beer promos.  Inside, however, the decor is more subdued: natural light from the windows is soft which bounces off from the white walls decorated by paintings of fish and traditional Japanese scenery, and pictures of the food offered inside.  That said, I find the interiors lacking the zen quality I’ve come to expect from Japanese restaurants.

We ordered Gyoza (Php188), Ebi Tempura (Php378 for 5 pieces),Chicken Teriyaki (Php328) and Gomoku Chahan (Php188).  The gyoza, or minced pork dumplings, were served hot and had a good balance between the pork and aromatics in each bite.  The tempura and chicken were well-seasoned and went nicely with the chahan, or Japanese fried rice.

I took advantage of a reservation app that gave me 20% discount on the food items so, even with a 10% service charge, my total bill came out as less that Php1,000.

I had some misgivings about the service charge, though. Despite being polite and helpful, the lone wait staff was a long way from the quality of service that the name and tenet of omotenashi implies.  Some more training and support from the restaurant management may be in order.

This branch of Omotenshi Japanese Restaurant and Bar is located at 42 Sgt. Esguerra Corner Eugenio Lopez Street, South Triangle, Quezon City.  For inquiries, call +63 9178148511.

Register to Eatigo through this link and get up to 50% off your food bill in this resto and various other restaurants in the metro as well as Php100 worth of rewards.

Check out my reviews of other nearby Japanese restaurants:

Omotenashi Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato