8/30/14

Dong Juan: A Piece of Cebu in Quezon City, Manila

Hello, dear readers!

How have you been? I know I've been dormant on the blog for so long now. Do forgive me, I've been very occupied with school and Team Brownie. I'm on my final year in university so please bear with me. I hope you'd still look forward to my posts though they will be coming so rarely now. I'll still try to catch up on what I've been wanting to share with you guys. As much as I miss blogging, I am trying my best to excel in and not neglect my academics while juggling my little business on the other hand as well. I'll need all the encouragement and support I can get, so praying for me would be very much appreciated. For after all, none of my accomplishments are of my own strength alone. :)

Anyway, here's a post about one of my favorite Cebu restaurants opening their doors in Manila… Read up and enjoy!

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If I'm not mistaken, Dong Juan, a Cebu home-grown restaurant, is one of the most featured restaurants in my blog. I think I have at least three posts about them (I even joined a chili burger eating challenge they once had) and I think that says a lot. I've mentioned before that Dong Juan and I go a long way back. It all started with that first bite of their burger three years ago that was probably the consummation of my "meat-lovingness". It was also one of the first few restaurants I wrote about on this blog.

Needless to say, I have always believed in this restaurant's potential. In its two years of commercially breaking through the Cebu food scene, Dong Juan persists to break boundaries beyond Cebu. Besides the growing empire they've built in Cebu (more or less 10 branches), they also have branches in Bohol, Cagayan, Davao, Pampanga, and most recently, Quezon City in Metro Manila! 


Dong Juan in Mother Ignacia, Quezon City is probably their most beautiful branch to date. It is set in an ancestral house, owned by Severino Reyes -  a Filipino playwright  more popularly known by his pen name "Lola Basyang"- across St. Mary's College. You can't miss it! 

Severino Reyes' painted portrait in the new Dong Juan branch 

I had the special privilege of being invited to their grand opening at the end of July with my entire trip sponsored by the generous hosts, Mr. Barney and Mrs. Aubrey Borja. I was flown in to Manila on a Friday morning and was accommodated in Tune Hotels, Quezon City. But before I was dropped off at my hotel, I was brought to Dong Juan for lunch. 

I was so amazed at how pretty the interiors were, all the while retaining their signature look with decorative blocks, tall coco dividers, and local painter Paul Arenas' lively paintings. I could say it evoked the same simple yet cozy charm of their first branch in Guadalupe, as if one was dining in a friend's home.


This branch had a staircase leading to the second floor where there were several rooms for special occasions or functions such as business meetings or intimate birthday celebrations. The entire floor is also available for exclusive bookings.   


They also have a cute little spot under the staircase if you feel like getting a bit more privacy. Since this branch is snuggly situated within the vicinity of the country's top TV networks, ABS-CBN and GMA, expect to find local celebrities dining here. And I bet this would be a favorite spot in the house.


For lunch, I ordered their Popeye Shrimps, Fish n Chips, and a Cheeseburger. Oops, excuse the gluttony. If you dine with me, you'll get used to it. I just like variety in my meals. ;)


There was not a trace of disappointment as all the dishes were just as good as their original branch! Well done, Dong Juan! Keep this up and the whole neighborhood will be scurrying to your doorstep again and again. 

The grand opening was to be in the evening so I headed to the hotel to rest from my early flight that day and freshen up for that night's affair. I was excited and curious to see which celebrities would show up. I was betting on Martin Nievera to be there because I remembered Dong Juan's post on Facebook, showing pictures of him dining in the Persimmon branch in Cebu and even going back the next day because he loved it.


When I arrived at the event, I was brought to the second floor where most of the celebrities were seated. True enough, the first person I spotted was Martin Nievera! He was very jolly, friendly, and talkative - the life of the party. We were introduced and chatted a bit along with his friends. It was to be a festive night - unlimited burger steaks, chili wings and crispy pata, and not to mention, the spontaneous crooning of the guest entertainers in the likes of Martin Nievera, Luke Mejares, and Jimmy Bondoc. 



Of course, I had to have photos with some of the celebrities I spotted:

with Martin Nievera
(hanging the giveaway gifts on each of his ears)
with Ogie Diaz
with Jimmy Bondoc! 
spotted: Claudine Baretto

Dong Juan Mug Cake
Dong Juan's Manila settlement looks promising and definitely something Cebu should be proud of. Expect to find familiar Dong Juan menu staples such as their burgers, pizza, and pasta. They also have a new addition to their dessert menu - mug cake which comes in 5 flavors: Dark Fudge, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, and Speculoos Cruncy Cookie Butter. It's quickly becoming a favorite by many and I really recommend you try it. Other dishes I'd recommend are their Gambas al Ajillo pasta (a personal favorite), Onion Rings, Pork Sisig, and Sizzling Pochero. So, I'm inviting everyone in Metro Manila to drop by Dong Juan and have a taste of one of Cebu's most innovative restaurants. :) 

Ze "babe" with Dong Juan's sweet couple Mr. Barney and Mrs. Aubrey Borja & their friends

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Borja! Keep soaring and more power to you!


Dong Juan
72 Mother Ignacia Ave. cor. Scout Reyes
Quezon City, Manila

Contact: (02) 374 0265

Facebook: Dong Juan Mother Ignacia
  

6/17/14

Manila Chronicles (Part 2 of 3): Spaced Out

            Here’s the continuation of my Manila trip from the end of last year. Sorry it took me so long to finish this. I’ve been drowning in a lot of backlogs but anyway, this is one of the times I’ll be baring myself to you as I share my first ever roller coaster ride. :D

Day 3 – Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013


            Enchanted Kingdom used to be just a familiar place I’d keep hearing about from friends who’ve been to Manila… until this day. I only realized during our trip that I haven’t been to any ‘legit’ local amusement or theme park. I’ve been to Hongkong’s Ocean Park and Disneyland and Singapore’s Sentosa. But, this was finally the day I’d get to meet the wizard in the purple robe.


            If I had been here before the international theme parks, I would’ve thought it was pretty grand for our third world country. The entrance, though not as magically grandiose as Disneyland’s, was good enough to believe that there was something to look forward to.

6/10/14

Cebu in the Bag Celebrity + Bloggers Food and Fashion Bazaar


Hear, hear, dear readers! For those in Cebu, the biggest sale of the year is happening on June 13-15 (Friday to Sunday) at three venues - Ayala Center Cebu, Parkmall, and The Outlets at Pueblo Verde - in commemoration of Cebu Business Month. I have to say the most exciting one is at The Outlets at Pueblo Verde where there will be a Celebrity + Bloggers Food and Fashion Bazaar from 4:00-10:00 p.m, the first of its kind in Cebu! 


Of course, I'm going to be there to sell my Team Brownie goodies. I'd really appreciate it if you come over and try some of my warm brownie cups. This is a chance for us bloggers to meet our readers and you can bring home some souvenirs from us, too. This big event will be attended by celebrities such as beauty queens and Manila's top bloggers - Kryz Uy, Lissa Kahayon, Camille Co, and David Guison - aside from Cebu's very own bloggers who will be selling their own products and merchandise. 


Team Brownie and more of the interesting new food to check out will be there. Some of these are only around during bazaars like these too so don't miss it! 


If you don't know where The Outlets is or find it quite a distance from where you are, no worries! FREE shuttle rides to and from Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu are available for you to drop any excuse for not being there. Just refer to the poster below for the schedules. 


BPI card holders are given special privileges of getting in the bazaar for FREE during the first hour which is 4:00-5:00 p.m. to get the first glimpse of what's in store. All you need to do is present your card! The first 100 shoppers each day also get a free bag.


For non-BPI cardholders, you can get the chance to MEET & GREET the celebrity bloggers for only a minimum purchase of P500 at the Bazaar or P1,500 from any of the stores at The Outlets. 


You've got nothing to lose for dropping by really. Feast your eyes and taste buds on all the beautiful people who will be there, and the food and clothes that the bloggers will be selling! So, I hope to see you there! Save the dates! ;)


 MEZ 2, Basak, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu


5/31/14

Pizza Republic Pick + Mix by Giuseppe Genco

Buckle up, Cebu! Something very exciting is about to open its doors very very soon! Like, TOMORROW soon! 

I was privileged to be invited to the dry run of a restaurant that's the first of its kind in Cebu two weeks ago. I've noticed this development in Lahug beside Chikaan during the recent months and I forecasted that it may be a spin-off of Project Pie in Manila. Since I saw this before my Manila trip (which I'll be telling you about soon!) earlier this month, I was hoping to go check out Project Pie so I can compare it. But upon hearing of the lack of customer care and considering the innumerable choices for my restaurant marathon, I was convinced to leave this for the next trip instead. 

Giuseppe is reputed to make the best pizza in town. Even celebrity Chef Gene Gonzalez has this on his list as one of the best restaurants in Cebu. Pizza Republic Pick + Mix by Giuseppe Genco is a fast casual restaurant that offers quality Italian pizza cooked in a wood-fired brick oven at a very reasonable price. Keywords there are quality, Italian, and reasonably priced!

5/29/14

Getting Cozy with Kuya J

Kuya J's has long been in my Cebu Secret Chows list back when it was a little home restaurant in Capitol. It breaks my heart when a Cebu Secret Chow spot moves on to join the "commercial bandwagon" before I get to write about it as it was. I'm just selfish like that. However, at times, when it proves to be the right direction for them, I move on and feel happy for their progression.

Leaving its original nook in Orchid St., Capitol Site, Kuya J's has branched out to Escario St., SM City Cebu, and most recently, SM Consolacion. 

I was invited to their SM City Cebu branch last month but just the night before, I had dinner at their Escario branch for a high school reunion where I had a taste of their Crispy Catfish, Crispy Pata, Sinuglaw, and Baked Scallops. I enjoyed everything and was curious to see if the quality was the same in the SM branch. 

 Kuya J's in SM City Cebu took over the space that was formerly Goldilock's. The restaurant has a modern Filipino design and markedly comfortable seats. I was led to their function room to join the media and bloggers for dinner. 14 dishes awaited us, most of which were new on the menu, and these came simultaneously to our tables. Boy, were we in for a treat.

For appetizers, the Chorizo Dinamitas, Lumpia Presko, Tokwa't Baboy,  Baked Scallops, Chicken Tagudtud, and Sinuglaw were laid out on our table. Whew! And that's just the appetizers. I don't know what will become of us if the number of entrees will exceed this. I'm not complaining though. I just feel sorry for the imminent leftovers.  

Chorizo Dinamitas
deseeded jalapeño with Cebuano chorizo & cheddar cheese wrapped in pastry wrappers, deep fried and served with garlic mayo dip
This would have to be the most interesting one. I don't normally fancy stuffed peppers but I loved the texture and flavors of this one - mandatory crispness from the pastry wrapper, heat from the chili that slowly creeps up your throat, creaminess from the cheese, sweetness from the Cebuano chorizo, and a welcome coolness from the garlic mayo dip. This is a must-order when dining here.  

Lumpia Presko
sauteed crabmeat & bamboo shoots stuffed in malunggay-infused wrapper with sweet garlic sauce
This already healthy dish is made even healthier with their version of malunggay-infused lumpia wrapper. Indulge in this nutritious morsel to lessen the guilt of engorging in the Crispy Pata that follows… because it's almost impossible not to order that Crispy Pata when you're in Kuya J's. You'll see. ;)

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