Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Return to Chino's Deli and their Ultimate Sandwich

I wrote about Chino's Deli a few weeks back, writing about their sandwiches and a promise to try their 'Ultimate Sandwich'. That day has come though, as I visited their stall again for the expressed purpose of ordering their best seller.

I had mine with extra pickled jalapeƱos and it went particularly well with the sharp cheeses included in the sandwich. Their menu listed it as such: "baguette, beef bacon, mushroom, caramelized onions, monterey and cheddar cheese and gravy." The pickled jalapeƱos could be added at the customer's option.

A real sandwich is often defined such that when you're eating it, it's all over you. It was practically dripping all over me. Fastidious eaters may frown at the mess it makes but a true foodie would enjoy the experience.

The Ultimate Sandwicj by Chino's Deli.

Pardon the flash, the menu board at Chino's Deli, there's a lot more I need to
try but so little time, and money.

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Have A Painless Mongolian Barbecue Experience at Green Haven Vegetarian Restaurant

I've always found Mongolian Barbecue to be a misnomer. It is not Mongolian and is not exactly barbecue. It is actually a Taiwanese innovation and involves stir frying meat and vegetables. But the way it is prepared is said to evoke the way Mongolians prepare their food in large, round solid iron griddles.

Green Haven Vegetarian Restaurant in Limketkai Center is the only restaurant in the city that serves Mongolian Barbecue. It has been around a while and markets it as a uniquely vegetarian buffet. It has fresh greens and meats. It is one of the few restaurants in Cagayan de Oro that serves ostrich meat and it is included in their meats selection along with pork, chicken, seafood and veggie meat.

You actually prepare your meal from the fresh ingredients available from the buffet tables. Preparing it can be daunting especially if its your first time, but I have few tips to make it painless.

  1. If you want a lot of greens in your bowl, try to put at least twice and then some more than you plan to eat, it shrinks during stir frying and you'll end less than the greens that you planned.
  2. Don't overdo the sauces, pick one, I recommend the barbecue or teriyaki sauce. You'd want to have a unified flavor tying your bowl.
  3. The meat substitutes (veggie meat and tofu) actually go well with any meat you pick. Also, a little shrimp enhances pork or chicken.
  4. You can never have too much garlic.
Feel free to experiment to suit your food to taste. You can return to the buffet tables to refill your bowl. Just be careful to finish all of it or you'll be charged a penalty if you can't finish it all.

This was how my Mongolian bowl looked like:

I think I finally got the hang of it.
This was how they laid out the ingredients.

The meats section.

Children age 4 below eat for P100. Ages 5 and up for P350.
Google Map directions to Green Haven Vegetarian Restaurant

View Larger Map

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just Desserts: Cheesecakes at Vienna Kaffehaus

One of the best places in indulges sweet in Cagayan de Oro is Vienna Kaffeehaus on the corner of Chaves and Velez Streets in the city. It's been in the city for a while, it has a nice Bohemian ambiance. One could almost expect Maria to come out of the kitchen singing that the hills are alive with the sound of music.

Vienna Kaffeehaus has been around in the city for quite some time that most newer residents or visitors don't really know it is there, but it has been a fixture for almost two decades. Still, it seems that their furnishings are almost as old. The table we had was quite worn and its laminate flaking away.

They still have the best cheesecakes in the city, so naturally, my grad school classmate and I ordered two of them, their Chocolate and Blueberry cheesecakes.

From right, Bluberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Cheesecake
 and a cup of Schwarztee (German for black tea).
They also need to refurbish their furniture.
What I like about their cheesecake is the texture. Most commercially available cheesecakes rely too much on gelatin to smooth and fill it out. This one I could definitely taste and feel the cheese. It's a bit sweet, so to dial down the sweetness I paired it with some German black tea.

This is supposed to be a dessert post but ordered some Bruschettas too, as I was curious on how they would prepare their appetizer and it was glorious! It had the tomato salad in olive oil but it had real olive bits too and it was sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. I just love olives and that just became my favorite appetizer in this cafe.

Olives in my Bruschetta? Win!

So dessert and then an appetizer, I seem to have mixed up the order of my meal. I'll definitely be back to try some of their main courses. I've heard good things about their pasta and would definitely would want to see for myself if it makes my grade.

A closer look at the Blueberry Cheesecake.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Six out of seven of my students
love the desserts in Vienna Kaffehaus!
Google Maps directions to Vienna Kaffehaus:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kumbira 2013 Recap

If there is one food festival cum trade show that has totally identified itself with Cagayan de Oro, it's the homegrown Kumbira. Now in its 17th edition, it is the premier food event in the city and it is most anticipated by restaurants and cooking schools alike. 

I attended my first Kumbira as a blogger this year and I was quite excited. I'm also a comic book enthusiaist and the best part of the hobby is attending comic book conventions. I approached Kumbira as the Comic Con of food and cooking. It wasn't really; it was more of a trade show for people in the restaurant industry, rather than for ordinary attendees. Still, it was fun to be in a place where there was so much food and some of it was even free.

The main show was held in the Atrium of Limketkai Mall, where the creative food displays and live competitions were to be found. There were also satellite venues in some establishments around the mall where the seminars were conducted.

The Atrium was the place to be to fully experience all Kumbira 2014 had to offer. It exhibited the food displays done by both students and professionals. Most of the pictures I took were of it. I mentioned free food and some of the booths did offer free food sampling. Just be careful though, since some of the food apprently were not for public consumption. I made the faux pas of assuming some sausages were for sampling, which unfortunately were not. Thankfully, they were gracious enough to let it go before I embarrassed myself further.

So what was your Kumbira 2014 experience? Feel free to add your comments.

Here are a sample of the pictures I took. You can get more from the CDOmnivore FB page by clicking here.

Kumbira 2014 preparing for the opening ceremony.

Bread display entry.

Dessert display, this year's theme is fantasy.

Fried rice competition live on site.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Snacking Around XU: Sbarro at Centrio

In my last post, I mentioned some awaited stores and brands that made their Cagayan de Oro debut when Centrio opened, Sbarro was one of those stores. In fact, it was one of the first the opened together with the mall. I still remember the packed tables when I first visited Centrio two weeks after their opening.

Sbarro's, the multinational restaurant chain that specialized in Italian-American dishes is one of the few places in Cagayan de Oro where they serve both New York and Chicago pizzas. It is the Chicago Deep Dish pizza that is my priority in any Sbarro's visit. One can rarely find deep dish pizza anywhere in Cagayan de Oro and  a slice here is often enough to soothe any craving for the loaded pie.

So I ordered two slices, a Hawaiian New York style and a Chicago Deep Dish. Actually, the Hawaiian slice was for someone else, I just can't stand Hawaiian, I think it's an abomination to have pineapple bits in pizza. Whole pies are displayed on the counter inside glass panels, as are their pasta. If the Filipino carenderia concept would be used to sell Italian-American fast food, this would be it.

New York style Hawaiian slice
A customer would choose a slice or two from their available pies for the day and they would heat it in the oven. The slices then are served with the deep dish slice slathered with tomato sauce. Sbarro's also has a loaded condiment counter where aside from the ubiquitous salt and pepper shakers, one could elect for dried basil or garlic powder instead.

Chicago Deep Dish slice
I sometimes think that the oven was not hot enough or it just needed a little more time. Maybe I came in at the wrong time, instead at late afternoon, I should have went at lunch. But the pizzas, even when reheated just didn't tasted fresh. The New York slice was okay but the deep dish was not.

Google Maps directions to the Sbarro at Centrio:

View Larger Map

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sandwiches at Chino's Deli

Little did the 4th Earl of Sandwich knew that when he asked from his kitchen to put thinly sliced meat and cheese in between two pieces of slice bread so that we won't be interrupted while playing cards that he would be ushering a culinary revolution that would sweep the world. Actually that was just the legend of how the sandwich was named. The concept of wrapping meat with bread has been around ever since man learned to bake bread.

The legend may only be the inveterate gambler's only claim to fame, but it makes a great introduction for my next blog post. When Centrio opened a few months in Cagayan de Oro, I thought at the time that new mall would be great opportunity for some of my favorite Manila stores to set a beachhead in my part of the Philippines. Army-Navy, Italianni's and Bread Talk have erected their branches. I'm still waiting for Fully Booked and the world's largest restaurant chain, Subway. Now Subway, the purveyor of fine sandwiches the world over, is the one that I most excited to see. Although I have not heard any hint of rumor, still I hope they consider opening in Cagayan de Oro. In Subway's absence, one store has stepped up to challenge of providing the city's residents gourmet sandwiches and that is Chino's Deli.

The Chino's Deli Stall beside the cinemas at Centrio.
Chino's Deli has been around for a while, since 1990 as their Facebook page indicates. They have been making meat products for 23 years now but their sandwich store in Centrio was the first time I encountered the brand. They have rented a nice space right beside the cinemas on the third floor and it was when I watched The Wolverine that I first noticed the stall, but as is my custom I went straight into the movie theater without any snacks. After the testosterone-driven stab-fest action flick, I had a craving for meat and I thought of the stall just outside the theater and ordered my first sandwich from Chino's Deli.

Chino's Deli Cheesesteak sandwich ordered to go.

I had their Cheesesteak, which had thinly sliced pieces of their beef bacon with caramelized onions,  topped with a cheese sauce and served in a toasted baguette. The cheese sauce already made it a winner in my eyes but I have to objective here. I love their bread, French style bread with a soft crumb inside. It was toasted perfectly. The meat was flavored a bit too sweetly for me and it could have used more onions in my opinion. After the euphoria of eating a sandwich slathered in cheese sauce subsided, I admit that it wasn't as thick as I initially thought. Still, it was a good sandwich and no doubt I will be back to try their touted "Ultimate" sandwich.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Snacking Around XU: Little Miss Funnel Cake

Little Miss Funnel Cake sounds like the title of a nursery rhyme, but that is the name of a stall on the corner of Velez and Gaerlan Streets that sells funnel cakes. Funnel cakes are interwoven webs of batter shaped by squeezed out drippings of a bag with a nozzle appliance and the resulting mass is then deep fried. It is usually served powdered with confectioner's sugar and at the customer's option with fruit preserves and ice cream.

The store itself is pretty small but decorated in the manner that makes it look like it was lifted entirely from an illustrated nursery rhyme book. It has a few tables and chairs and an al fresco ambiance. But I was pretty impressed that they had free WiFi, which is appropriate since Little Miss Funnel Cake encourages its patrons to post on their social media sites their funnel cake experience. In fact, I heard all about this stall from the posts of connections on my Facebook news feed. It is certainly not a bad way to gain exposure.

I ordered a couple of the their fried dough cakes, Apple Cinnamon and Blueberry. The Apple Cinnamon smells divine since it's sprinkled with cinnamon. It also had a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a few pieces of apple preserves. The Blueberry funnel cake came with a generous spoonful of blueberry preserves and ice cream.
Blueberry Funnel Cake

As I expected, the cakes were sweet when tasted; that was why I ordered water but they've ran out. I had some cola instead which gave me a rush from all that sugar. I would have wanted to have some tea with my cake but Little Miss Funnel Cake's beverage menu could only offer soft-drinks. I'm definitely bringing my own drink should I return for more funnel cake.

Apple Cinnamon Funnel Cake
Overall, it's a nice place to have some sweet snacks. The decor and al fresco ambiance gave it a cozy feel. I suggest going there in the morning or better, in the late afternoon, when the sun isn't as punishingly radiant. Plus, they have WiFi, so one need not miss out on their internet diversions and perhaps tweet or post pics of your food porn.