Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Share Your Weight Loss Story

In 2010, I was at my peak. Eeeek I mean peak weight! 67 kgs! This is a whopper for a 4 ft 10 inch tall person.

It took me a year and half to lose weight and now have stabilized to around 50kgs. It's still a little plump but I'm getting better.

One good thing about losing weight is buying a new set of clothes. And the best clothes for me are the ones that fit. So I am very happy to get great fitting shirts from Moderntailor.co.nz


So I'd like to share with you a weight loss promotion from Sachin Mayi.

This is an instagram challenge and it's very easy to join. All you have to do is tag #yourefatshesnot on a weight loss (before and after) photo! Each month from October to December of this year, someone will win a custom tailored shirt worth $80!  Anyone can join but the most stylish shall win :)

Why not share this with your friends and inspire others to keep a healthy weight!




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Monday, May 25, 2015

Exploring Tokyo's Izakayas



No doubt Tokyo is an amazing city. Every tourist says so. There's just this unending feeling of wonder, awe, amazement and glee. Each station within Tokyo's main wards is bursting with choices! The dishes are authentic, stylish, flavourful and delicious.

Here are just some photos.

Some notes about my izakaya trips.

1. It's great for socializing with close friends and family.
2. You can request for a non-smoking section but you better have a reservation. Tokyo's izakaya's are usually packed and when people are partying, there's always cigarettes. It was hard for us just to pick any place. We wanted non-smoking restaurants all the time.
3. There're great healthy choices within izakayas. Good fresh fish and lots of vegetable-based dishes. There's that handy 300Y edamame I just can't get enough of.
4. The chicken karage is a must-try... but of course I tried to contain restrain myself.
5. You can expect to pay around 300-600Y for each little dish you want to try.
6. House tea is mostly free.
7. Beer is not cheap at 1000Y or $9-10 each.
8. Expect to pay 2000-3000Y each person.










The only question then left for me is how do I gather all my horses and find a way to live in this amazing city. I barely scratch the surface each year when I visit and I have this itching feeling there is so much more to see!

If you too are taken by Japan's amazing wonders - technology, nature and culture, I highly recommend this book and this blog on Japan Living and Property Investing.





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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Springvale Cafe, Wanganui

I only go to Springvale cafe once a year in the past. A week ago, I visited them for a quick cappuccino and creative work on some digital banners. The garden was full of flowers. It was pleasant. I knew at that time that I will be back.



I heard about the citation that this cafe is nominated as the best cafe in New Zealand.  It is a good contender.

I had to try their masterpiece. Their entry to the competition: creamy black doris quinoa porridge.


Verdict!
I loved it!! $11.90 all worth it
- too much for a small person like me who is afraid of sugary sweets
I researched about quinoa and found out that it has very high protein content. I ate about 3/4 of the meal but was full for six hours! I couldn't eat. Now I understand why they said this meal can be good for lunch as well. 
- presentation - absolutely creative!

Coffee at Springvale is GOOD. I like their cappuccino.

Springvale cafe is such a lovely neighborhood cafe. Every 30 minutes or so, people were coming in! Groups and families are visibly enjoying their time.

This is an inspirational story to me. I couldn't imagine a neighborhood cafe can be a great contender for a national award.  This cafe is not located within the city center but in a nice suburb in Wanganui.


The real winner here is customer service. I met a lovely lady who just made me feel like a valued customer.  An extra smile goes a long way; eye contact shows sincerity; and perhaps the porridge became sweeter  because of her. I will be back soon... hopefully next time with my parents when they visit me here in Wanganui.



Friday, November 7, 2014

Fat Dog Cafe, Rotorua




Rotorua's Eat Street - Selection of award-winning restaurants and cafes

Fat Dog cafe is one of favorites - big servings, beautiful menu choices and free wifi! Most importantly, it's a 10 minute walk away from MALFROY motel, our accommodation of choice in Rotorua.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Best Cafe in Wanganui is Big Orange

No beating around the bush. The best cafe in Wanganui is Big Orange.
They have the right formula for taste of coffee, value for money, location, customer service and menu options. This cafe is practically a tourist destination in the Wanganui-Manawatu region and perhaps deserves more mentions online.





I consider these top 3 aspects as the main reasons why I would recommend any cafe.

1. Customer Service. Yes it matters. Cafe lovers like myself consider cafes as our little escape on a challenging work day.  A cafe is where some of the best creative juices come out.  It's a place where I can be most productive at work.  I personally feel refreshed after seeing people who are happy and friendly. Most cafe lovers though want to feel they are welcome and they are part of the town's little coffee lover's club. I'd join that club if there was such a thing in Wanganui ;-) 

The entire experience starts with customer service.

2. Menu Options and Pricing
- Perfect combination of taste, presentation, ingredients, serving size and price
- Value for money is the key here. 
- $15-18 for eggs benedict and $4 for a coffee only sound ridiculous if do not get that unique flavour. Often, I pay $18 for eggs benedict... some are ultra-cheesy disappointments. However, Big Orange's Mushroom on Sourdough Toast is a breath of fresh air. It's just the right size and it's just the right price at $16.50.  It has, I believe, the little details which make me appreciate it more: a bit of pesto, parmesan, loads of mushroom, my favourite bread type and I think a bit of balsamic. So there, that's something I can't really make at home.
- I might sound like a broken record but for the others who just read about my posts on Big Orange, they have the best coffee (mochaccino, cappuccino and plain long black).

3. Ambience
- Music (Jazz, Classical, Guitar, some beat)
- Location (sun, sun and more sun) People want to go out and embrace that good vibe. If you don't have an outside area or not much of sunroom in your cafe, I suggest having brighter coloured rooms / furniture and interiors. Plants and fresh flowers help, too. 
- Did I forget to say Big Orange has free wifi on top of being close to a Telecom Wifi zone?

Big Orange transforms into Ceramic Lounge at night and jazz bands play gigs there occasionally. They have wider range of menu offerings now and I get the sense that the management and staff are quite keen to improve their game year after year! I like Big Orange because I like it's one of the cafes where I can see people proud of their work and make extra effort to make their food creations a bit more special... at an affordable price.

No I don't get any favors or fees to endorse this establishment. I just love coffee and I'm a foodie.
And when I get a unique and worthwhile experience, I make sure I write a positive review.

Restaurant and Food Reviews Accommodation Tips Personal Health Investment Ebooks Travel in the Philippines Living in New Zealand

Friday, July 11, 2014

Merry Macarons best in the Philippines

No I am not trying to be precious or fancy by ordering several boxes of French Macarons. In fact I do not see the value in paying as much as $3 per piece (in NZ and AU).

Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, Chocolate
But my attitude towards these little French delights changed when my good friend visited Paris and started making macarons in the Philippines as soon as she got home. I have known Maye since University....  She was one very close friend.  She would make picture collages of our girlfriend trips up north. We studied Psychology in UP Diliman but her creative inclination made me wonder if she made the right choice. :) Kidding, Maye!

She regularly attends food fairs to showcase her creations. Her prices are affordable but the value you get is much more than value of macarons you get at the local cafes.
She must have experimented on hundreds of flavors for her business Merry Macarons.  

My favourites are:
Coco calamansi
Cookies and cream
Red velvet

She does custom shapes and flavors too!




The presentation, flavors and price prompted me to give justice to her craft.  Every year,  on special occasions and for special people, I would order a few boxes of Merry macarons!

Recent feedback from people whom I have given these macarons are:
Soft filling, not dry like other Macs
Rich and exciting flavors! We want to taste all the flavors!
We didn't use to like macarons...
Can I have more? (after having 3 already...)
My recent merry macs order!!

Super yummy Merry Macs!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Magic of Mochi

My love affair with Japan is not yet over.

It started when I was 26 years old, when I tried looking for a way to find work and live in Japan. Since then, I often would just look at internet photos of the values I see in it:

Simple but efficient
Small but self-sustaining
Traditional yet futuristic

Japanese people are extremely creative and systematic. These two traits are too hard to combine.

A simple mochi displays how these two values are highly integrated in the Japanese culture.



This is just a simple set of instructions on how to make Mochi. Note that to make the mochi featured in my blog requires skill and a lot of creativity.

Ingredients

1 cup Mochiko (Mochi flour)
3/4 cup water (180ml)
2 cups sugar - you may reduce sugar definitely 
cornstarch
Anko (sweet red bean paste) or
Add filling if you like - you can add different types of ice cream, chocolate or nutella, cream or caramel, fruity jam or fresh fruit like mangoes, banana 

Remember only your creativity can stop you! 

Instructions

Mix Mochiko and water in a glass (or other heat proof) bowl and mix well. Add some more water if it's too dry, 1 Tbsp at a time.
Steam the Mochiko dough (leaving the dough in the bowl) in a steamer for 20 minutes.
Transfer the steamed Mochi into a pot and cook at medium to medium low heat with 1/3 of the sugar (2/3 cup). When the sugar is completely dissolved, add another 1/3 of the sugar and mix well. Add the last part of the sugar and cook some more until the sugar is dissolved. Take the time to melt the sugar, but be careful not to burn it.
Take the hot Mochi out from the pot onto a sheet pan liberally dusted with cornstarch. Shape as you like.






There is a discipline and technique in making mochi - and making them consistently the same each time - in terms of taste and presentation. And yet, there are hundreds of mochi varieties. Each train station would have an entire 500 ft area where you can buy an assorted range of mochi!




These are my parents shopping for mochi at Osaka train station.