Of running, trade-offs, and indulgences (Johnny Steams’ Steamed Burger, Balamban Liempo and Manila Q’s Bagwang and Vigan Longganisa, Mercato Centrale)

Me saying I’m health conscious would be an understatement. I don’t count calories, but I definitely watch what I eat, yes, even at buffets. I go to the gym, I play badminton, I practice yoga and I run as often as my crazy schedule allows me too. I flip out when I see people react to one, the pre-weight loss photo I keep in my wallet, and two, to the fact that I haven’t eaten rice in nine years.

According to Wena, "gupit matakaw". Hahaha! I know I'm still in good shape because I haven't returned to this point. Dapat lang! :-D

Another side of me allows myself to indulge once in a while though. Keywords: once in a while.

Last week, after a ten kilometer run care of Run United 2, Eia, Ivan, Alen, her parents and I had breakfast at Mercato Centrale. I know. I was there the day before. Haha! At the table, I distinctly remember this exchange with Alen’s dad after he saw the amount of food we ordered for our post-run breakfast:

Tito: (Jokingly) Tumakbo nga kayo, andami niyo naman kinain.
Me: Haha! Kaya nga po kami tumatakbo para puwede kami kumain ng marami.

Roughly translated, Tito was kidding about the how eating a lot after kind of defeats the purpose of doing body-friendly activities like running. My response? That’s exactly the point! We do something good so that we don’t feel bad about doing something sinful later. (At least in terms of health and food ah.) Right? Right? :-D

Passed by this signage multiple times before finally giving in.

For that day, I finally got to try out the very intriguing Johnny Steams’ steamed burger. I know right? Burger? Steamed? A must try just for the novelty of it, I told myself. The ate attending the stall recommended their Opa! Burger (their bestseller according to her), and I obliged. The tarp menu described it as “100% pure premium beef topped with our secret Greek garlic yoghurt dressing, fresh greens and melted cheese”.

Muntik na ko mapaso just to get this shot. :-P

*drools*

Johnny Steam's Opa! steamed burger.

At the table, and after the mandatory autopsy shot, I took a bite. It was texturally… interesting – like a juicy burger that didn’t have a crust. This is how I know this wasn’t my kind of burger because I’m not used to eating crust-less burgers (in fact that’s what I look for when I eat new ones), and I’m not a fan of wet patties (reason why I don’t eat McDo burgers). Fortunately, the medium grind, the flavor of the beef and the dressing made up for it. In summary, it wasn’t bad, but I think it isn’t for everyone, especially for purists like me.

These two weren't hungry AT ALL. :-D

On the other end of the table, Eia and Ivan shared four dishes (I knooooooooow. Gutom much?) – a bready deep dish pizza, paella negra, cheesy baby potatoes and lengua pastel – from one stall I unfortunately wasn’t able to take note of. Eia noted that the paella negra was better that the one they had at Sofitel and we all took turns gobbling the cheesy baby potatoes. I even dipped the fries that came with my burger in the yummy, albeit cold, sauce.

Power breakfast for two.

Alen’s parents shared their Ilocano delicacies to the group: spicy Vigan logganisa and Bagwang, Manila Q’s interpretation of bagnet. Oh my heavens. Heart attack-inducing goodness! The Vigan longganisa, my sausage of choice of all sausages in the world, had the anticipated garlicky flavor with an added unexpected heat. The bagwang, on the other hand, was a very well executed bagnet. Poorly cooked ones tend to be tough, but that one was not. One bite of salty, tasty and tender pork after another. Haha!

Sayang I wasn't able to get a good angle of the Vigan longganisa.

Manila Q's Bagwang: bagnet done right.

As if that wasn’t enough, Alen shared her Balamban Liempo as well. It had a very cocky tagline of “tastier than lechon” but I have to say, it was indeed better than most lechons I’ve tasted. Not better than the killer ones in C. Padilla at Cebu, but a real contender. Meaty, juicy and tasted of tanglad and a myriad of spices, I kept on asking Alen if I can have more from her plate. Gaaaah. I want a plate. Now.

Living up to its tagline.

This photo doesn't give justice to the awesomeness of this dish. Yuuuuuuuuum...

Whew. I just realized this is already my fifth consecutive post on food. Eek! I guess the “once in a while” qualifier got a bit stretched. Time to get back to regular programming. Kailangan ko na sumexy for Korea!

Up next, a new post on the WS&J project. I’m excited to write about it. Clue: new toy! :-D

Of smart days, Android and dilis (Yaku Japanese Grill, Podium)

Back in college, my barkada and I have a running joke that we passed the UPCAT because the exam was scheduled on one of our smarter days. For me, it helped that my head got bumped too on the ride to Diliman. Hahaha!

You know days like that? Days when you seem to have all the solutions to all problems and all the answers to all questions that come your way? I got reminded of the these days last week at work.

I’m part of a team working on a project nearing its implementation phase and we had this meeting to discuss all the open issues before we deploy the tool. We’ve been deluged by issues and defects and I called for an hour-long meeting to attempt to close them. Turned out that day was our smart day. I remember how amazed we were that we seemed to have closed one issue after another. The momentum was there so much that the supposedly one hour meeting that started 9 AM finished just before noon.

Team ITIL-slash-Android on our smart day! Me with my one year old Galaxy S, Miss Maan with her Galaxy Mini and Miss Eds with her new X10.

Noon equals lunch and I thought I’d joke my project lead to treat us one as a reward to our being brilliant that morning. I wasn’t expecting her to say yes but she did! She agreed that we deserved some sort of prize for being able to identify workarounds and resolutions for our project. Sweet!  A few minutes later, we were in Yaku at Podium.

Yaku Japanese Grill, Podium

I’ve been eyeing the restaurant for some time now after a couple of visits to its neighbor Shi Lin. That and I’m missing someone who’s currently in Japan.

Yaku Japanese Grill, like most Japanese places, is characterized by simplicity in aesthetic with an abundance of natural elements, mostly wood. I saw an area where one can seat on pillows and dine in front of a low-lying table. I think the ceiling fixtures needed replacement or repair though. Oooh! Check out these bottles!

I know more than a couple of people who would like this. :-)

First time to see a table setting like this. Me thinks its neat.

The place serves complimentary fried anchovies and green tea, both very good. We all can’t get enough of the sweet and crispy dilis! I believe it was single serve only but we just had to ask for more. Good thing the waiters were nice enough to give us additional servings. The green tea, on the other hand was mild and calming. I’m not sure if it was bottomless, but like the dilis, we were given refills upon request.

Gaga over dilis. Trust me. These were goooooooooood...

Green tea is love.

For our lunch we ordered Spicy Tuna Maki, Tofu Steak, Beef Yakiniku and Unagi Sushi. The silken tofu stole the show in spite of being difficult to eat with chopsticks. It was like hot taho turned into a viand. The sauce was perfect with generous portions of mushrooms. The tuna maki was fresh and the spice did not overwhelm the flavor of the fish. The beef I found a bit sweet, but at least it was tender. Finally, the eel sushi wasn’t malansa and it was plated in such a pretty way.

Spicy tuna maki: tuna with spices and mayo.

Tofu steak: tofu with ground pork and leeks, served on a sizzling plate.

Beef Yakiniku: beef slices with special sauce topped with sesame seeds.

Unagi sushi: eel! Pretty.

Look, it even has shrimp!

After lunch, we were treated to coffee too! Frappes in hand, we returned to the office and continued working on our project. We ended at four in the afternoon, tired but fulfilled, and wishing everyday was a smart day. And no, not just to get free lunch. :-)

They had wasabi ice cream pala! I should've tried that...

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