Belly Bao

Hello Everyone! Finally I’m back with an all new Review Sunday (on a Monday – sorry about that) on the blog! I had a pretty hectic day yesterday and didn’t get around to finishing this post. I spent yesterday morning hanging out with my sister, the afternoon with a fellow food-loving friend, Miao, over some cold drinks and cake, then went to indulge in the not-as-amazing-as-I-thought-it’d-be fireworks display for Singapore’s 50th National Day (might I add also, being sardined between sweaty, wet, and smelly people; it was so gross). Then ended the night meeting Alex, talking about anything and everything while we strolled around the area and eventually made our way to have some food.

So onwards with the review – I’ve only ever been to this place once, but have heard many things about it before it even started shaking up the Sydney scene permanently. I think, that is if I am not mistaken, Belly Bao first started dishing out these buns at various market stalls across Sydney about a year ago. I managed to visit a stall at the Paddington Markets on a Sunday afternoon before the found permanent residency at the GoodGod Small Club in the Sydney CBD.

Belly Bao

So the first and not quite last, but won’t be back in a while kind of thing, time I visited the club was with my friend Marissa on a Thursday, maybe Friday night after she had finished her work. We got to the place at around 6:30pm and the place was already packed. The line to order food was not too long, but a good 20-30minute wait, so while Marissa was lining up to order food, I went around the club quite possibly 7-8 times to look for a seat, and occasionally approach people that looked like they were about to be done, asking if I could have their seats when they were done. Thank goodness I was able to snag a seat for a two just as Marissa was about to be next in line to order the food. So yes, if you do plan on visiting on a Friday or Saturday night, be prepared to hunt down seats for a while and battle the noise a bit (well it is a club after all).


SLOW BRAISED PORK BELLY: Pickled mustard greens, coriander, crushed peanuts, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

The braised pork belly was well cooked – tender, juicy, and packed with flavour. However, I was not a fan of the pickled mustard greens and the coriander. I was able to look past these because it was actual a delicious bao overall. Perhaps a little bit more kewpie mayo or a spoonful of the stock that the belly was braised it would have been nice as it did feel a bit dry with the steamed bun.

CRACKLING ROAST PORK BELLY: Crackling, pickled radish, coriander, and kewpie mayo ($6.50)

Though I did not have this bao when I was at the club, I did have this when I visited their Paddington Market stall before they opened permanently at GoodGod. Like the first bao, this was also as delicious as the first – tender, juicy pork belly with a nice crispy crackling skin.

SOFT SHELL CRAB: Watercress, chilli aïoli, and lemon vinaigrette ($7.50)

Now, I love a good soft shell crab, however I was kind of disappointed with this bao just because the soft shell crab wasn’t as crispy as it could be. It had a bit of a crunch, which I’m guessing came from the shell of the crab anyway, and it was a bit chewy more than crispy. Although I really wanted to love it, it was a sad let down. If it had been the crispy soft shell crab aI hoped it’d be, it would’ve been a great bao especially paired with the chilli aïoli and lemon vinaigrette!


Belly Bao - Belly Bao spicy half chicken
SIDES & SNACKS: Belly Bao spicy half chicken ($15.00)

Beside the baos, we also got a couple of sides and we didn’t need to think twice about getting some fried chicken; I mean, who doesn’t like fried chicken? Or better yet, spicy fried chicken? Absolutely delicious, crispy skin on the outside, and tender, juicy meat on in the inside. It wasn’t really that spicy to be honest, but it’s alright for someone who can’t take spicy I guess. Or if you don’t do spicy at all you can just opt to have the non-spicy chicken 🙂

Belly Bao - Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli
SIDES & SNACKS: Sweet potato fries drizzled with chilli aïoli ($7.00)

You can honestly never go wrong with sweet potato fries, NEVER. This was a pretty hefty order though and I don’t think we even finished them because we were too full in the end to down them all. The fries weren’t very crispy to be honest which was a shame, but were still nevertheless oh so good. For some reason though, I found their chilli aïoli super spicy – even more spicy than the spicy chicken so not sure what happened there!


BAONANA SPLIT: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana slices, salted peanuts, drizzled with Nutella ($6.50)

Before I begin, I just want to say that I wished they did more desserts for their menu because their golden fried baos are heaven on earth. Maybe they could consider changing up the dessert menu once in a while like how other places change up their dessert flavours once every two weeks. That may just very well attract me towards the place even more! Anyway, I can’t really fault this dessert because I love banana and Nutella, and everything else paired with it. If I had to nitpick this dessert, I just wished that the Nutella was a bit more like a sauce 🙂

STRAWBELLY BAO: Golden fried bao with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberry slices, drizzled with condensed milk ($6.50)

From the two desserts, this was the once I actually ordered while Marissa had the first. I’m glad this was the one I ended up because I loved the strawberries and condensed milk drizzle over the whole dessert. It was delicious indeed!


Belly Bao - CHERRY MELON POP & GG ICE TEA(LEFT) CHERRY MELON POP: Freshly juiced watermelon & green apple popped sweet with Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters ($9.00)

(RIGHT) GG ICE TEA: Our classic house-brewed ice tea with fresh mint ($9.00)

Overall, I wouldn’t say that the food is really outstanding, but it’s a pretty good interpretation of traditional Taiwanese street food, “not how grandma remembers it”, or as one has questioned, is bao the new taco? They’re definitely a little more than just average, but would probably not score it more than a 7 out of 10; I just didn’t feel any fireworks as I had a bite of my slow braised pork belly bao. The dessert bao though I feel were on an entirely different level to the savoury baos, and so if I were to score the savoury and sweet separately, I’d give the dessert a higher ranking. Other than that, I suppose that the baos are a good value for money. One of these babies, plus a side or two, with dessert filled me up real good, each bao only setting you back about $6.50 on average. I believe that Belly Bao could have chosen a better place to locate their residency – something more in line with the history of how they started out would have been a much more enjoyable scene I believe. I was imagining a quirky café on the corner of a suburban street that isn’t too far away from the city, like perhaps Bronte or Coogee, with some outdoor seating. I was a bit disappointed to hear that they’ve teamed up with a club scene which feels like the complete opposite of what their food is about I guess; then again this is just my opinion. I’d give the ambience a 4 out of 10, possibly 5 if I am being generous – but yeah, dark, noisy, super packed, not quite the way I want to enjoy these delicious baos.

Belly Bao
53-55 Liverpool Street
Sydney, New South Wales
Australia, 2000

– Ally xx


In Asia Restaurant & Bar

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! I think I will keep the introduction short today just because you’re about to dive into a 2200 word review below and I’m already tired of typing and spinning words out of my brain at this hour of the night. Seriously though, if university essays were this easy to write in less than 4 hours, I’d never hate writing essays (most probably)…

About three months or so, I actually don’t remember, I attended a talk organised by General Assembly on the Business of Food Blogging. It was there that I met Brendon D’Souza from brendonthesmilingchef, and he was indeed a happy smiling chap. Last week he invited me and a few other bloggers for an Instagram Meet Up at In Asia Restaurant and Bar in North Strathfield. He told an interesting story about how he came to know about this restaurant; basically he and his family were driving along looking for a place to hold his graduation dinner. They came across In Asia and I think he pretty much fell in love with the food here and even said that the Popular Popcorn Parfait dessert sold it for him. He met the owner of the restaurant and talked about organising a food blogger’s event to basically build up a social media presence of the restaurant. I’m really glad that Brendon organised this event because it was definitely a great experience for not just me, but for everyone else who was a part of the night. I met a lot of other food bloggers, and shared a few laughs over the night as we all started getting a bit tipsy from the drinks.

Let’s get straight into their menu and what I thought of their awesome dishes:

Vodka, fresh strawberries and limes, with candy floss ($16.00)

I remember seeing one of the blogger’s ordering this drink across the other table. Rachael and Angela, who were seated in front of me, bolted over to take a picture of this very photogenic drink that looked like a fluffy unicorn. I wasn’t bothered to get up, only because I was sitting on the inside of the booth(?), not sure what kind of seating it was, but it meant that I had to ask people to get up for me, slide over, and then get out. When the girls returned, we decided to all order a cocktail each and share so that we could get a taste of what In Asia had to offer. I really liked this drink, mainly for the fairy floss and vodka combination, but you can’t really go wrong with strawberry and lime.

Baileys, Frangelico, Kahlua, cream, chocolate syrup, and Toblerone shavings ($16.00)

This was something that I’ve not actually seen before elsewhere, but then again, I’ve only been to how many bars in my life? Yeah, not a lot. Anyway, this was by far my favourite cocktail of the night; alcohol and chocolate? Don’t mind if I do! I’m not a heavy drinker myself, but I’d definitely have 2 or 3 more glasses of this. For me, I couldn’t really taste the alcohol, but that’s okay because it tasted more like a chocolate drink to me, and I like that!

Bacardi, Soho Lychee Liqueur, fresh lychees, and lime ($16.00)

I am currently obsessing over lychees so this drink was also a favourite of mine that night. Loved the sweetness of the lychee paired with a tangy lime. I very much enjoyed this drink and would definitely come back for more of this… And the two above as well *cheeky grin*

with chilli purée and lime sauce, fresh pear ($15.00)

I love love love love LOVE scollops. Have I told you how much I really love scollops? Well, as you can tell for my love of scollops, it is without a doubt that this was my favourite entrée of the night. The scollops were cooked perfectly and surprised me with that great kick of heat. I say surprised because I wasn’t expecting it to be that big of a kick to my mouth. I found it quite spicy to my liking at first, but loved it as I had more of it. The pear was a nice touch of freshness to the dish as well.

with pickled papaya, fennel, cashew nuts, and crispy pork crackling ($15.00)

I honestly cannot remember what my tastebuds were going through when I had this dish. I mean, it was not a bad dish, but I feel like I didn’t have an overwhelming reaction towards the dish like I did with the other entrée dishes. The calamari was cooked well, and the salad was dressed nicely too. I like how they’ve added the crispy pork crackling in the dish for that added crispy element, but they were all gone before I could get any onto my plate (yes, most of the bloggers who I shared the dish with picked most of the crackling out)!

with roast coconut, crushed peanuts, ginger, chilli, lime, and caramel sauce: 2 pieces ($12.00)

As soon as this dish hit the tables, I was flabbergasted by its presentation. Loved the shot glasses. Moreover, I was impressed with the flavour combinations in such a little piece of betal leaf wrap. You’ve got the roast coconut, crushed peanuts, together with the ginger and caramel sauce I presume, that is topped with the tender, melt in the mouth poached prawn topped with roe and a tangy hit with a thinly sliced piece of lime, all wrapped in a peppery betal leaf that gave a nice fresh crunch to everything. It was a bit of a guessing game on how many bites you should take with this; it feels a bit big for one bite, but not big enough for two if you get what I mean. I tried two bites, but then you’re left with just the coconut and peanuts at the bottom without the prawn for your second bite. So I just went for it in one bite for my second serve. I find it quite expensive though because that means that one betal leaf wrap if $6.00; it’s quite a spectacular dish, but I don’t know if I’d pay that much for it.

with wasabi mayo and sweet chilli sauce

I had a look back at their main menu and didn’t see this dish so I can’t say how much it’d cost you to order this. There’s nothing much I can comment on this only just because it’s salt and pepper calamari; I mean you can practically get it anywhere you go. Nothing special, but I did like the tender calamari, however not a big fan of wasabi myself.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - SALAD: TEA SMOKED DUCK BREAST
with roasted rice, chilli, lemongrass, Vietnamese mint, and tamarind dressing ($22.00)

I felt like it’s quite similar to a Thai dish known as Nam Tok in terms of flavour, but anyway this was a very innovative dish and the flavours were a nice accompaniment to the duck. I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell that the duck was tea-smoked, but nonetheless, the duck was delicious and I wanted more!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - STIR FRY: WAGYU BEEF
with asparagus, shallots, and onion with hoisin sauce ($28.00)

Again, this was nothing special for me because I know how to make a mean beef stir-fry myself. I mean, it’s a good, simple, and humble dish, but nothing really as innovative as what I’ve already covered from this point on their menu.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - MAIN: CRISPY SKIN SALMON
with IN ASIA’s spiced Kumara mash, cashew nuts, sweet potato chips ($27.00)

I wasn’t a fan of this dish for several reasons: firstly, I thought that it was a curry-based dish because of the ‘sauce’ and then I was surprised when I re-read the menu again at it was actually kumara mash. In my opinion, it was a bit thin for a mash. I like my mash creamy no doubt, but this felt like it took creamy to a whole other level. Secondly, though the salmon lived up to its crispy skin, it was however overcooked to my liking; it was a bit dry on the inside for me. The only thing I liked on this dish was probably the sweet potato chips. Sorry!

with tamarind sauce, pumpkin mash, and navel orange

This I liked better than the salmon dish, and I loved the pairing of the duck with the navel oranges. Though the skin wasn’t as crispy as I thought it would be, it was still a very good dish, and that’s also mainly because I love duck no matter how it’s cooked (just not overcooked of course). You may have noticed as well that there is no price – same what I mentioned above for another dish, I couldn’t find it on their actual menu so sorry to say I can’t make out how much this dish would cost if you want to order this dish.

with grilled pear, black sesame, pickled radish, and ginger ($28.00)

This dish wasn’t actually on the pre-planned menu that the restaurant had for us. One of the girls, as she called herself, “that annoying person who just doesn’t like seafood”, ordered this off the menu as the owner of In Asia suggested that she did as he felt bad for having pretty much a seafood-heavy planned menu for the night. I am actually glad that she got to order off their menu and shared a little bit of her food with everyone else because this was a really REALLY lovely dish. The wagyu beef was cooked perfectly and was very tender. The grilled pear, I mean, where do I even begin with this pear? It was so good and paired so well with the beef. It was a match made it heaven.

with crispy panko egg and sweet tamarind sauce ($23.00)

This was another dish that was ordered off the menu, and yet another great dish that made me happy that she doesn’t like seafood. This was actually my favourite main dish of the night. The pork belly was crispy and sweet, and that panko egg was just lovely. I honestly wanted more of this dish, but since we were only sharing, it made me sad that I could not have more that night. I would definitely recommend this dish if you’re ever thinking of dining here. It is a must! I would definitely go again if it weren’t so far from where I live!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MONKEY SNICKER
with banana pudding, passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut, and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

Finally on to dessert! This was probably not one of the best desserts of the night just because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other dessert that you’ll see below, both in terms of presentation and flavour. This didn’t really wow me that much I’m sorry to say!

In Asia Restaurant & Bar - DESSERT: MRS B'S FIRST KISS
with organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried, palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet ($14.00)

I apologise in advance because I cannot comment on the flavour of this dish, and I will tell you why. So when the desserts arrived at the table, everyone went nuts for this dessert, as well as the one below because of their spectacular presentation. It was almost too beautiful to eat! So I got my pictures, and then I had a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. I thought, okay I’ll go to the bathroom quickly since the other bloggers were still busy taking pictures of the desserts. Came back about 2 or 3 minutes later and this dish was completely demolished. Lesson of the night? Hold it in, no matter how urgent it is. It’s not worth it especially if dessert is concerned and you’re sharing one dish with about 12 other bloggers. I was so sad!

with IN ASIA’s crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn, and caramel jersey cream ($14.00)

Okay, at least there was a good quarter or so of this dessert left when I came back from nature’s calling. Thank goodness because this dessert was the absolute bomb. I loved the flavours and different textures that you got in each mouthful of the dessert, and I didn’t think that grilled corn would be such a great compliment to the overall dish. The presentation was on point as well. Well done In Asia for this dessert!

There were some ups and some downs with the dishes that we had over the night, but I can safely say that the positives overpowered the negatives greatly. There was really only one dish that was a let down for me, and the others that had minor issues based on just my personal opinion and palette is nothing major to say that it was a bad dish. I’d rate the food of the night a solid 9.5 out of 10; the food really blew me away and clearly the definition of modern (kind of, sort of fine dining) Asian cuisine. For me, it’s sort of somewhere in the middle like it’s not casual but not extreme fine dining either. Not only did the flavours and textures impress me, the presentation of some of the dishes, mainly the entrées and desserts, really blew me away. The service was great as well, though I wasn’t sure why it took quite possibly close to 30 to 45 minutes for the light menu (which were the tea smoked duck salad and the barbecued calamari salad) to come out to the table after entrées – I wasn’t complaining though because I had a pretty hefty entrée to begin with. I’d give the service an 8 or possibly 9 out of 10 anyway. Now, value for money – the dishes here are pretty pricey to be honest but I guess you can say that you actually do pay for what you’re getting. If you’ve got the money to spend, definitely spend it here, otherwise it’s not really a place you can just rock up to if you don’t have the money or for a casual dine.

In Asia Restaurant & Bar
181 Concord Road
North Strathfield, New South Wales
Australia, 2137

– Ally xx

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

Hello Everyone! Can’t believe that it’s already the end of June! How time flies by much too fast. I’ve got just about a month left here in Sydney and then it’s quite possibly goodbye for a while. I wish I could stay, I really do, but it’s time for me to move on…

Sorry for the late post; I just got back home from a rather late dinner out with Amrita and Kevin. We had French Galettes and Crêpes in Randwick at Four Frogs Crêperie, exchanged conversations and laughs, and got up to a little mischief on our walk home. Basically Kevin managed to command Amrita to get into a shopping trolley that we found on our walk and pushed her down the street for a good 10 minutes or so I guess. He gave her a pretty rough ride by letting go on some occasions and leaving her in the middle of the road which made it all the more funny, especially Amrita’s priceless facial reactions.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Anyway, besides that, this morning/afternoon I was in the kitchen making a lovely Kale and Quinoa Salad to go with my Roast Pork Belly Cracking. The crackling was no doubt well cooked; juicy, tender meat with a crackle to die for, paired with a chilli, garlic, lemon, soy sauce dip that made it all the more enjoyable. Of course, all that delicious but fatty belly needed to be paired with a light and healthy salad. I’ve never actually cooked quinoa before, but I have had quinoa at cafés. While I was cooking it, I could smell something burning, and at first I thought it was the quinoa because I could’ve sworn the smell was coming from the pot, and then I remembered my almonds. My poor almonds we’re slightly over-tanned on one side as I forgot that they were roasting in the oven.

Roast Pork Crackling Ingredients

Kale & Quinoa Salad Ingredients


*Includes time needed to set aside the pork belly in the fridge overnight to draw out extra moisture for a crispy crackling when roasted.


For the pork belly crackling

  • 750g pork belly
  • 5-6 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more for rubbing
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Oil for rubbing

For the dipping sauce

  • 4 tbsp dark or light soy sauce
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, slices
  • 1 lemon wedge, juiced

For the kale & quinoa salad

  • 150g organic quinoa
  • 50g roasted almonds, unsalted
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small chunks
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Ground salt and black pepper to season
  • Lemon juice


  1. Pork Roast Prep: Score the skin with a very sharp knife. Place the meat in a large pot with water, salt, whole peppercorns, and bay leaves. Boil for about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat and drain, placing in a large bowl lined with a paper towel. Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours. Refrigerating the meat will help to draw out any remaining moisture. Remove from the refrigerator and bring back to room temperature prior to roasting in the oven.
  2. Roast Pork Crackling: Preheat oven between 220-240C (425-475F or gas mark 7-9). Rub oil and plenty of salt into the scored skin, really getting it into the slits of the score marks. The fat under the skin will react to the salt and that is what makes the skin puff up and crisp up. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 160C (325F or gas mark 3) and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Kale & Quinoa Salad: While the pork belly is roasting in the oven, blanch the chopped kale in hot salted water for about 4-5 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Add to a large serving bowl together with the roasted almonds and avocado chunks.
  4. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa in and cook for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain thoroughly and add to the serving bowl. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Dress with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and about 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix around until well combined. Top with feta cheese.
  5. Dipping sauce: Add all the ingredients together in a small bowl and mix well.
  6. Serve for the family and/or friends and enjoy!

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad

Roast Pork Crackling with Kale & Quinoa Salad


– Ally xx

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Hello Everyone and welcome back to an all new Review Sunday! Most of the food that you’ll see here have either already been touched on in previous reviews, and/or recipes, so I may not write much about the food only because it’s nothing quite so special. Kamayan sa Palaisdaan has both a Hotel & Resort, as well as a restaurant, both carrying the same menu but differ in ambience. It is the ambience of the restaurant just down the road from the Hotel & Resort that made me want to write a review and share this place with you – floating bahay kubos on bamboo rafts!

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Other than the ambience, I couldn’t really pick out anything special from their menu that really made me want to say, “I’m coming back here for this particular dish!” Though they say it’s an ideal getaway restaurant for seafood lovers, the seafood did not really impress – well I mean, we barely ordered any seafood to be honest.

I don’t know why I am so negative when it comes to reviewing Filipino food. The only reason I can think of is that most of the food that you get dining out, you can easily cook it up yourself at home and it tastes exactly the same. From the dishes that you will see below, I can definitely cook up all the dishes. I guess it’s because I know how to cook these dishes, that I comment the way I do. I’m not saying that these are terrible dishes; if anything, they are my favourite dishes to have when eating at home. It’s just that when I dine out, I want to eat something that I can’t cook myself (or I guess in my case, haven’t attempted to cook yet).

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SINIGANG atbp: Sinigang na Sugpo
SINIGANG atbp: Sinigang na Sugpo (₱320.00)

Sugpo, as you can already tell from the photograph above is prawn (or shrimp if you’re from that part of the world that calls them that despite being huge-ass prawns). Sinigang is a soup that is characterised by its sour and savoury taste that is most often associated with tamarind. This is a dish that my mom would make a few times a month, varying between different meats such as beef and pork, and seafood like prawns and fish, accompanied by all sorts of vegetables from daikon, water spinach, okra, taro corms, etc. This is a dish I love especially when the weather is quite chilly.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SINIGANG atbp: Tinolang Manok
SINIGANG atbp: Tinolang Manok (₱255.00)

This is another dish that my mom would always make, and also great for cold and rainy days. Tinola is a ginger and onion based soup with manok (chicken) as the usual main ingredient, best complimented with green papaya wedges (an alternative is chayote/chokos) and chili leaves. Again, a dish that I love, but very close to the way that I’d make it at home.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SIZZLERS: Sisig Pork
SIZZLERS: Sisig Pork (₱205.00)

Of course, a meal in the Philippines would not be complete without sisig! I was actually quite disappointed with this sisig dish though – it came to the table, not only without a freshly cracked egg on top of it, but it also wasn’t sizzling and was very dry.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - IHAW: Inihaw na Spareribs
IHAW: Inihaw na Spareribs (₱310.00)

I love ihaw, and I love spareribs. Sadly, these ribs were dry and weren’t very tender.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - IHAW: Inihaw na Pork Chop
IHAW: Inihaw na Pork Chop (₱320.00)

The pork chop option was much better than the spareribs; juicy, tender, and full of that lovely char-grilled flavour.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - VEGETABLES: Chopsuey Chicken
VEGETABLES: Chopsuey Chicken (₱185.00)

Whenever we dine out, we try to avoid dishes like chopsuey, but because we couldn’t decide on any other vegetable dishes (I know there’s chicken in it but it was somehow placed under the ‘vegetables’ section on the menu). Why we try to avoid this dish is simply because it’s basically just stir-fried vegetables and nothing more exciting to that.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - PRITO: Daing na Bangus
PRITO: Daing na Bangus (₱160.00)

Bangus (milkfish) is the national fish of the Philippines and can be prepared and cooked in various ways. ‘Daing’ refers to dried fish from the Philippines. Fish prepared as daing is usually split open, gutted, salted liberally, and then sun and air-dried. I love eating fried bangus with a bit of pickled green papaya on the side with plain rice. But honestly speaking though, why order fried fish at a restaurant? In my case, because I love it and I couldn’t find anything else in the menu that attracted me to it.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - SALADS: Ensaladang Pako
SALADS: Ensaladang Pako (₱125.00)

Quite possibly the worst dish from this place based on my taste buds and opinion. For starters, the taste of what seemed to be raw pako (an edible Fiddlehead fern) did not sit too well with me; it tasted bitter. What made it worse for me were the raw onions and the obvious canned sardines in tomato sauce. Why did I order this? Well I didn’t, my uncle did. I don’t think I even touched this dish after a small bite of just the pako.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan - JUICES: Buko FreshJUICES: Buko Fresh (₱60.00)

Fresh coconut juice straight from the shell, need I say more?

Overall, as I have already mentioned above, the menu is pretty average and can honestly be found in many other restaurants (and homes no matter rich or poor) across the Philippines. I guess it’s safe to say that if you are going to the restaurant for the food, it’s not worth the trip to this place seeing as it is also quite hard to find. However, if you want to dine in a bamboo hut on a bamboo raft floating over water, then you may want to make the trip here just for that experience. Dining at the Hotel & Resort isn’t bad as well as it provides a lot more recreational activities that you can enjoy aside from dining, and it also overlooks Mount Banahaw. So ambience and dining experience is a sure 10 for me. Service probably an 8 as even though there were quite a few staff members, it was pretty hard to flag one down whenever we needed something. Food – probably a 5; 6 if I’m feeling generous, but nothing more.

Kamayan sa Palaisdaan

Barangay. Dapdap
Tayabas, Quezon

– Ally xx

Crispy Pata (Deep-fried Pork Leg)

Crispy Pata (Deep-fried Pork Leg)

Hello Everyone! After spending the past month in the Philippines, I thought that it’d be a good idea to share some of the foods that I came across and ate along the way. A classic dish that I will be sharing with you is the very famous Crispy Pata, or Deep-fried Pork Leg. Crispy Pata can be found in most eating places in the Philippines; one place that we dined at while staying Lucena City specialises in this dish and is even called Bubbles Crispy Pata & Restaurant. I remember the first time I came here with my cousins from the Barrientos side, my cousin JR joked about ordering a crispy para dish EACH. I think we ended up ordering one between two people, which, looking back, in my opinion is still quite a lot to eat between two; but just like me, he loves him some crispy pata. What I love about this very simple dish, is the crispy skin and of course the very tender meat beneath that layer of crispy goodness.

Crispy Pata (Deep-fried Pork Leg) Ingredients

As you probably would’ve already figured out from my description above, and the photographs, Crispy Pata is a famous Filipino pork dish that uses a whole pig’s leg. The leg (or pata) is made tender by simmering in water along with other spices, mainly peppercorns and bay leaves. It is then deep-fried until the texture becomes very crunchy. The dish is then served with various dipping sauces, the main being a soy-vingear sauce with chopped onions, or along with some pickled green papaya known as atchara, served as either a main dish with steamed rice, or as beer food known as pulutan.

Crispy Pata is definitely an easy dish to cook, but be cautious as the process does involve dangerous steps. Deep frying a whole leg can cause the hot oil to be uncontrollable. It is a must to slightly (not fully, as the cover can pop-up due to pressure) cover the cooking pot while frying. What my mom does is that instead of submerging the whole leg in scalding hot oil, she adds enough oil to submerge at least half of the leg and fries it for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. She then cautiously turns the leg and fries the other side for the same amount of time in medium heat until it becomes crispy. This is quite possibly one of the reasons why I only ever have crispy pata at a restaurant or when I’m home and my mom is there to do it for me – I don’t like the frying process!

Crispy Pata (Deep-fried Pork Leg) Ingredients


*Includes setting aside the boiled pork leg in the fridge overnight to draw out the moisture before deep-frying.


  • 1 whole pig’s leg (about 2 or 2.5kg)
  • 12 to 15 cups water
  • 8 to 12 cups cooking oil
  • 6 pcs dried bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp salt

For the soy dipping sauce

  • 1/3 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • Juice of two calamansi**

For the vinegar dipping sauce

  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 red bird’s eye chillies, halved
  • Whole peppercorns

**Calamansi (or calamondin), is a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a kumquat. It is widely cultivated in the Philippines and primarily used in cooking to flavour foods and drinks. If calamansi isn’t available, you may substitute it with lemon or lime, but the taste will not be the same. I can’t say exactly what the difference in taste is, but I think calamansi is a tad more sour than a lemon/lime, and has a slight orange taste to it.


  1. Pour water into a large cooking pot along with the bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in the whole pork leg and simmer under mediumm-high heat until the leg becomes tender (about 1.5 to 2 hours).
  2. Remove the tender leg from the cooking pot, transfer to a plate large enough to fit it and set aside until the temperature goes down. Once it has cooled down, place a clean cloth above the leg and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the fridge a few hours before cooking to bring it back to room temperature. Some recipes I’ve seen don’t require you to refrigerate the meat, I do it so that it draws out excess moisture from the leg.
  3. At this point you may want to rub on some different spices such as garlic powder, ground black pepper, and salt onto the skin. If you do, let it stand for 15 minutes for the leg to absorb the rub. If you don’t want to season it any further, which is what I did, then you can move onto frying.
  4. Heat a clean large cooking pot (preferably with cover), over high heat and pour the cooking oil in. When the oil becomes hot, turn the heat down to medium high. Carefully lower the leg into the hot oil and deep fry. Cook until one side becomes brown and crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes, and then cautiously flip the leg to brown and crisp the other side. Be extra careful in doing this procedure.
  5. Turn the heat off and remove the crispy pork leg. Transfer it to a wide serving plate.
  6. Combine all the ingredients together for the separate dipping sauces dance serve together with the crispy pata!

Crispy Pata (Deep-fried Pork Leg)


– Ally xx

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict

Hello Everyone! Today’s post will actually consist of two recipes; one leading to the other that is. So I’ve been debating whether I should actually post them as two separate posts but then I thought to myself that I wouldn’t be able to do a proper write up (i.e. a story for Vidhya) if I had just posted the first recipe. She would’ve been so mad at me if I didn’t have a story for her! But I do have a good story to tell about the second, which I kind of already mentioned it to Vidhya briefly when I saw her in the kitchen on Monday afternoon.

Anyway, so what happened was that somewhere during the beginning-mid year, my friends and I went out for brunch on a fine weekend. I suggested that we head on over to John Smith Café in Waterloo specifically because I saw a whole lot of Instagram posts about this heavenly Pulled Pork Cronut with Hollandaise Sauce! I was seriously drooling all over my phone, so naturally I made it my mission to head on over and drag my lovely ladies Jialing and Yvonne along too. We planned to meet for brunch, and but of course brunch turned into late lunch as Jialing and I adjusted our timings to suit Yvonne. When we got to the café the waiter (possibly owner) showed us to the table and said that he had good news and bad news. I honestly forgot what the good news was, but the bad news was indeed BAD news. So bad that I just can’t even. They ran out of pulled pork. I was so devastated that I even told the guy serving us in a sort of like sad little girl voice “but I came specifically here for that!” To which he replied “I am very sorry about that, but here’s a cronut on me!”

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict

Oh well, at least I got a free cronut. But what I really wanted to say is that I really wanted to go back another time to devour this Pulled Pork Cronut of theirs – but sadly it’s already nearing the end of the year and I have no been back! So I thought to myself, why wait to go back if I can possibly just whip one up of my own at home? Minus the cronut that is; just the pulled pork, eggs benny style. I know it’s not the same thing, but who doesn’t love pulled pork eggs benny for a big Sunday breakfast/brunch/lunch?

First things first, the pulled pork. This recipe for beer-braised pulled pork is just so great. Why I have chosen to braise the pork in beer is because, well I’ve had a 6-pack of Corona lying in my closet for quite possibly 7 months now. For those of you who know me, I don’t drink beer. I just don’t like the taste of it. So why do I have beer in my  closet do you ask? I bought it for a prank video I filmed for my Major Design Project for an anti-binge drinking campaign. So instead of drinking it, or giving it away, I decided the only way I can ‘consume’ it would have to be incorporating it into my cooking – hence the beer-braised pulled pork. So technically you don’t have to follow this pulled pork recipe, you can find another one to use, or if you have one of your own up your sleeve then be my guest!

*Note: my casserole dish was a wee-bit too small for the meat I had. Oops! I didn’t have anything bigger so I ended up using only half of the vegetables and half a bottle of beer. Ideally you would use all! Also, you can find the original recipe for this beer-braised pork shoulder over on The Kitchn. I tweaked the recipe a little bit, and of course to suit my not-so-good oven that jut takes double (sometimes triple) the amount of time to cook anything. I also kept the fat on the pork shoulder – that’s where the goodness is!

Beer-braised Pulled Pork

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Ingredients



  • 1kg pork shoulder
  • 355ml beer of choice
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large brown onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 large carrot, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp ground rock salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp plain flour


  1. Preheat oven to 200C. Combine the brown sugar, cumin powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork with the spice mixture and allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Sear and brown the pork on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and transfer to the casserole dish. Sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant. Then add in the tomatoes and cook until soft before adding the carrots and celery. Scrape the bottom of the pan while mixing to bring up any browned bits.Transfer the vegetables to the casserole dish with the pork.
  3. Pour the beer over the meat and vegetables and cover. Cook in the oven for 5 hours, checking once or twice, until the meat is extremely tender. Once done, transfer the pork to a plate and shred using a fork.
  4. Strain juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the flour in and stir continuously to get rid of any lumps. This will be your gravy to go with your pulled pork eggs benny.

Beer-braised Pulled Pork

Beer-braised Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict with Sriracha Hollandaise Sauce

This is where shit gets real. Sriracha Hollandaise Sauce? Yes please! Also, please see the original ideas that I got form Pineapple & Coconut (basically where I got the idea to use English Muffins and Sriracha Hollandaise sauce for this recipe).

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict Ingredients



For the Eggs Benny

  • 1 cup pulled pork
  • 3 tbsp pulled pork gravy
  • 2 English muffins, lightly toasted
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed
  • Handful of snow pea shoots
  • Pinch of paprika

For the Sriracha Hollandaise Sauce

  • 3 large free range eggs, yolks separated
  • 175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1-3 tbsp sriracha sauce (depending on how hot you want it)
  • Ground salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Sriracha Hollandaise Sauce: Place a heatproof bowl over a medium saucepan that is quarter-filled with water. Make sure that the bowl should fit snugly into the pan without touching the water (lift the bowl to check and remove some water if it does). Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to very low so the water is barely simmering (there should be almost no movement at all). It is important that the water is barely simmering while making the sauce – if it is too hot, the egg yolks will cook too much and the sauce will curdle.
  2. Place the egg yolks and the 2 tablespoons of water in the heatproof bowl and place over the pan. Whisk the mixture constantly for 3 minutes or until it is thick and pale, has doubled in volume and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted.
  3. Add the butter a cube at a time, whisking constantly and adding another cube when the previous one is incorporated completely (about 10 minutes to add it all in). If butter is added too quickly, it won’t mix easily with the egg yolks or the sauce may lose volume. At the same time, it is important that the butter is at room temperature and added a cube at a time, so that it doesn’t take too long to be incorporated – if the sauce cooks for too long, it can curdle.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pan and place on a heatproof surface. The cooked sauce should have the consistency of very lightly whisked thickened cream. Whisk in the lemon juice, sriracha sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Poached Eggs: Bring small saucepan of water to the boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low-medium – the water should be just simmering. Add in the vinegar and stir. Crack one egg into a small bowl and quickly, but gently pour it into the water. Repeat with the other egg. A really soft poached egg should take around 2 minutes, but if you want it a bit more firm, it will take about 4 minutes. To check if they’re cooked right, carefully remove the egg from the pan with a slotted spoon and give the yolk a gentle push (you can tell just by your instincts if it is under or overcooked – or perfect)!
  6. Assembly: Combine the pulled pork and gravy in a small bowl. Spread each English muffin with mashed avocado and top with the pulled pork. Place the poached egg on each and top with a generous amount of sriracha hollandaise sauce. Crack a a little pepper on top, sprinkle with a bit of paprika, and decorate with  snow pea shoots. Serve immediately!

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict

Beer-braised Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict


– Ally xx

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Oxtail Kare-Kare

Hello Everyone! So I was just browsing through all the posts I’ve uploaded since I got into a regular uploading schedule and I realised that I actually haven’t posted a savoury dish in a while. I’ve been posting about cakes, cookies, and muffins these past few months! The last savoury dish that I blogged about was back in October with The Ultimate Brekkie (for those who have not seen it, click on it and prepare to drool, seriously).

Today’s recipe is a little different, or may be different to some of my readers/viewers. It is one of my most favourite dishes of all time, and only because my mom used to make it on a regular-enough basis to always have this orgasmic sensation with every bite. It may not suit the taste buds for many I feel, but seriously, every person I’ve made this for, well okay 3 people, loved it so much that they’ve even gone and tried to make it for themselves!

There are a few things to cover in this recipe that many may not know about, so I’ll start of with what even is Kare-Kare. Pronounced kah-reh kah-reh, it is a traditional Philippine stew flavoured with ground roasted peanuts or peanut butter, onions, and garlic; creamy, rich, and thick. Traditionally, a palayok (clay cooking pot) is used to cook this dish and it is also used as the serving pot. Typical meats that make the base for this stew include oxtail (sometimes this is the only meat used), pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef stew meat; and occasionally offal, or tripe, rarely goat or chicken. Besides the meat, vegetables are also cooked with the stew and these include a range of (but are not limited to): eggplant, Chinese cabbage (or other leafy greens), long beans, okra (lady fingers), daikon, etc. – usually equaling or exceeding the amount of meat in the dish. The overall dish is then coloured (and flavoured) with annatto seeds, which is extracted by add the seeds in oil or water. Since I didn’t have some in handy, I just left them out – I feel like it didn’t have a significant effect to the overall flavour of the dish.

This dish is often served and eaten with shrimp paste known in a Philippines as bagoong (pronounced ba-go-ong). Sometimes it is spiced with chilli, or sautéed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and sprinkled with calamansi (small round lime) juice. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavour, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. I sautéed a whole jar of shrimp paste and only used about a generous tablespoon of it on the side for this dish. The rest I put back into the jar and into the freezer until for later use. There are many other dishes that you can make with the sautéed shrimp paste and it may pop up in my blog a few more times!

I cooked up this dish for our supposed International (Asian) Feast Night that we had been planning for a while. I say “supposed” because instead of having food from 5 different Asian Cuisines, we ended up only having 3 and it turned out to also be Lydia’s farewell dinner. Basically Lydia cooked a dish from China, Vidhya from India, and me from the Philippines. Jialing (who did not show up by the way because she had a staff dinner) was supposed to make a dish from Malaysia, and Marissa, who already went on holiday, was supposed to make a Vietnamese dish. I was seriously so tired that night, I mean first of all, I had just come back from my Outback trip and only felt the tiredness after returning back. Secondly, I worked from 9am-5pm that day, and when I got home, I straightaway went into the kitchen to cook. I was SO tired that I actually seriously fell asleep at the table after dinner, during dessert. Talk about an induced food coma!

So for this night, which by the way happened about 3 days after I got back from the Red Centre, I decided to make my famous Oxtail Kare-kare. I also made a chicken version for Vidhya because the only meat she eats is chicken (and fish). I’ve never actually tried the dish with chicken before; it turned out okay but in my honest opinion, it wasn’t as flavourful as the Oxtail. I have made this dish in the past as well where I used pork hock/leg, pork shoulder, beef shank or gravy beef, and my mom made it a few times with beef tripe – all these cuts of meat work perfectly well with the dish. Some butchers sell oxtail either whole or cut. If your local butcher happens to seek them whole, just kindly ask them to cut it into rounds for you, that’s what I did. I remember as a little kid that I would always love the bigger cuts because they had more meat in them… Until someone ruined it for me saying that “the bigger the cut, the closer it is to its bum!”

Oxtail Kare-Kare Ingredients



For the stew

  • 1kg oxtail, cut into rounds
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 5 dried bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (a very generous tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground salt and pepper
  • Buk Choy, separated
  • Eggplant, sliced diagonally
  • Long beans, cut into 1-inch long strings
  • Okra (lady fingers), whole and then sliced later once cooked

For the sautéed shrimp paste

  • 345g bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed then minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, halved and then sliced
  • 1 tbsp sugar


  1.  Add the oxtail, bay leaves, rock salt and whole peppercorns to a large pot with about a litre of water, or enough to submerge the meat. Boil for about 1 to 1 and a half hours until tender. If you are using a pressure cooker (which I don’t have), 30-35 minutes should do the trick! Once the meat is tender, remove from the heat and set aside. Do not throw away the stock.
  2. While your meat is tenderising, move onto sautéing the shrimp paste. Heat oil in a medium-sized frying pan and sauté garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the tomatoes in and sauté until they have softened. Add the shrimp paste in and give it a good mix. Add in the sugar and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside. You may need to heat it up again before serving.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat in another pot and sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant. Add the the oxtails, season with ground salt and pepper, and give it a good stir. Add the peanut butter to two cups of the stock and stir until the peanut butter has softened. Add the peanut butter mix to the oxtail and bring the heat to low. Let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes. If you want your stew to be less creamy and thick, add more stock to your liking.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook your vegetables for no longer than 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the cooked vegetables to your oxtail stew just before serving. Serve hot with sautéed shrimp paste and enjoy!

Oxtail Kare-Kare


– Ally xx

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

Hello everyone! This is another Filipino dish that I really love. I have a lot of favourite Filipino dishes actually, but there are some that I cannot bring myself to eat – I’m pretty sure they taste good, but a little bit off putting for me, and yes, I am talking about the infamous dinuguan (a savoury stew of meat and/or offal, simmered in a rich, spicy dark gravy of pig blood, garlic, chilli, and vinegar). I get the shivers every time I think about this dish. Anyway, enough about this dish for it’s thankfully not what today’s post will be about.

Lechon Kawali is basically a pan-roasted pork dish popular in the Philippines. It is usually accompanied by sarsa ni mang tomas (basically a sauce blend of liver, vinegar and spices that give that distinct sweet and spicy taste it is famous for), ketchup, or soy sauce with calamansi (Philippine lime). Lechon kawali is cooked by boiling then later deep frying a portion of the pig.

Lechon Paksiw is essentially a term associated to a dish that is cooked with vinegar, garlic, onion, and sarsa ni mang tomas sauce. It is a pork dish made from leftover roast pig which is known as Lechon. However, fresh pork can also be used to make lechon kawali. Traditionally, as mentioned above, the pork is deep fried. Because I don’t like deep frying stuff, I roasted the pork in the oven like I would do for pork crackling – the result I find is better, not oily and the meat remains tender and juicy on the inside where as deep frying has a tendency to make the meat tough and dry.

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali

PREP TIME (see below)* | COOKING TIME 1 HOUR 20 MINS |

*If you plan on making dish, plan for about 1-3 days ahead for resting time in the refrigerator.


  • 1kg fresh pork belly or shoulder
  • 1 bottle (330g) mang tomas all purpose sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup pork stock
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 6 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • Ground salt
  • Oil for rubbing


  1. Score the skin with a very sharp knife. Place the meat in a large pot with water, 1 tsp of the whole peppercorns and half of the bay leaves. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain, placing in a large bowl and let to cool to room temperature. Reserve the pork stock for cooking later. Once the meat has cooled down, refrigerate uncovered for at least 24 hours or for up to 3 days for a better result. Refrigerating the meat will help to draw out any remaining moisture. Remove from the refrigerator and bring back to room temperature prior to roasting in the oven
  2. Preheat oven between 220-240C. Rub oil and plenty of salt into the scored skin, really getting it into the slits of the score marks. The fat under the skin will react to the salt and that is what makes the skin puff up and crisp up. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes and then bring the temperature down to 160C and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 20 minutes. Then cut the pork into chunks.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients into a large pot together with the pork belly chunks. Simmer for 20 minutes and then serve with steamed rice.

Paksiw na Lechon Kawali


– Ally xx