SleepEatGolf Guest Author Post on AirportsMadeSimple

The Wet Markets of Thailand

I recently had the opportunity to write a guest post for the website AirportsMadeSimple.  I found Deb’s site on WordPress. Her site focused on travel related posts and articles. I really like the info she provided and contacted her when I noticed she was looking for guest authors in 2014.

After a couple of email exchanges we both agreed that  SleepEatGolf would be slotted in to her schedule for 2014. I then suggested that since I was traveling to Thailand, an article on a wet market in Thailand might make an interesting post for her readers. She agreed and I then had my first assignment for a guest post article.

I really love seeing the wet markets in countries I visit. I find the environment incredibly exciting and interesting. All my life I grew up going to Western style supermarkets, which don’t really give you any idea of where your food source comes from. Wet markets in Asian countries are the complete polar opposite of this type of experience. I guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation of where your food comes from if you visit a wet market.

Don’t just do the touristy night markets. Take an early morning visit to the wet markets and get an eye opening view of something truly unique and culturally different from what you see everyday.

Be sure to check out the complete article at Deb’s great site AirportsMadeSimple! And check out some of the other great posts on this site!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

EG Golf Driving Range

Home on the Range

The game of golf can be time consuming and an expensive hobby. If you’re not very good it can also be a very frustrating game. Some days you just can’t seem to hit the ball worth a damn and what started out as a stress-free 9 or 18 hole round, walking outdoors and playing with friends can turn into a 2 or 4 hour nightmare of hacking around and double-bogey scores.

Form

On those days when I just don’t have the energy, desire or time for a 9 or 18 hole round, I head to the range to hit some balls. The range is a cheap, stress-free place to be outdoors and still able to practice some basic fundamentals of the game. I can also spend as much or as little time as I want there, unlike a golf course where I’m committed to 9 or 18 holes.

EG Golf Driving Range

Summertime in the Philippines is hot, especially in April. It’s 90 degrees plus everyday and more humid than usual. Spending 2 or 4 hours on a golf course in Angeles City is not an ideal situation in this stifling heat and humidity.

Signage

EG Golf Driving Range is an unpretentious, no frills driving range and golf shop that is the perfect place to go when I can’t make it out on the course, but still want to swing some clubs or hit some balls. It’s not a fancy place but it completely serves its purpose and the prices are very reasonable.

Affordable

Mid-mornings and early afternoons are less crowded due to most golfers heading out to play rounds of golf. Early evening hours provide a cooler opportunity but last call Monday to Saturday is 8:30pm and 7:00pm on Sundays.

Pro Shop & Repair Services

EG Golf has a pro shop with a fairly large selection of golf clubs, gloves, apparel, bags, shoes and balls available at reasonable prices. Their selection of name brand golfing products makes EG Golf a one-stop shop for all your golf related needs.

Spikes

Sticks

EG Golf also has a repair shop that can re-grip, repair and make other custom adjustments to your sticks that will help improve your game on and off the course.

Fix Sticks

Practice Before Your Next Game

Spending time on the range can only help improve your golf game and EG Golf Driving Range provides an excellent, not overly crowded and unpretentious place for your to work on your mechanics.

Hitting Balls

If you’re looking for a high-end, country club style range then this probably isn’t the spot for you and there are other places in Angeles City for you to hit some balls. But if you simply want to get some warm up swings in before heading out on the links for your next game then EG Golf provides a completely adequate and fairly priced arena to suit your needs.

EG Golf

EG Golf Driving Range is located on Fil-Am Friendship Highway near the intersection of Angeles-Porac-Floridablanca-Dinalupihan Road, Barangay Cut-Cut. EG Golf is kitty-corner from the Jollibee restaurant at the corner of this intersection on Friendship Highway.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Didi’s Pizza

Pizza Box

Filipino Style Pizza

Filipino pizza is an animal all its own. It’s definitely not suited for most Western tastes but Filipinos eat it up and Didi’s Pizza has been serving up their own version of pizza in Angeles City since 1972.

History

Some key differences versus between Filipino style pizza and Western style pizza are:

  • Filipino pizzas typically uses a sweet tomato sauce
  • Locally produced, processed cheese is used
  • Meat toppings are usually of a Filipino variety

While the flavors and toppings may be unusual to foreigners who are used to 100% mozzarella cheese, Italian style sauce and imported meats, the Filipino style pizza is unique and can be a nice alternative. In any case it’s still pizza and even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

Deluxe

Didi’s Pizza

Jollibee is the safe Filipino food stop that will impress any Filipina if you suggest it as a meal option. But if you really want to blow her away tell her you want to treat her to Didi’s Pizza for dine-in or delivery.

Rest assured, you may not like the pizza but Didi’s has a least one menu item that you will likely enjoy and return for: BBQ pork ribs.

I’d heard about Didi’s Pizza and stopped in one day to give it a try. I ordered a small combo pizza and a snack portion of the BBQ ribs. While the pizza was ok for my tastes, the ribs were spectacular. I’ve had ribs at numerous restaurants in Angeles City. Two things have always been true:

  1. They were exepensive and overpriced
  2. They were average at best in taste

Didi’s ribs were meaty, cheap and they are covered in a delicious sauce that reminded me of homemade barbecue sauces I’ve tasted at rib houses in the U.S. I was immediately impressed and knew I’d be back again for the ribs.

BBQ Ribs

Dine-In or Delivery

Dining in at Didi’s can be extremely difficult. It’s one of the most popular restaurants for local Filipinos. I highly suggest utilizing their delivery service. One night I suggested to my girlfriend that we order Didi’s Pizza for delivery.

Home Service

She looked at me with utter shock and surprise that I would suggest this restaurant. She immediately ran to the room to get the menu before I changed my mind or told her I was only joking.

Didi’s Pizza has very fair prices and a nice sized menu offering pizzas, ribs, fried chicken, burgers, spaghetti, Filipino noodle dishes and other Filipino dishes.

Many Foods

On this occasion we ordered 1 large Combination pizza, 1 BBQ Ribs dinner and 1 order of Pancit Canton. Total price delivered was 521 pesos (approximately $11.84).

Pizza, Noodles & Ribs

While I personally prefer Western style pizza like S&R serves, Didi’s has a good tasting, thin crust that I really enjoy. I added some real 100% mozzarella cheese the next day and popped some left-overs in the toaster oven and was extremely impressed with how well it turned out for a small meal.

Didi’s Pizza is a good, cheap option that will make your Filipina happy and it’s a nice change of pace from Jollibee. Let you girl order what she likes, try a Filipino style pizza if you’re adventurous and make sure to give the BBQ ribs a try for yourself.  You won’t find better ribs for less money in Angeles City and you might find yourself ordering them again and again.

Didi’s Pizza is located in Balibago, Angeles City just off of MacArthur Highway on Mon Tang Avenue between Marlim and S. Rivera Lim Avenue near Diamond Subdivision.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (6 votes cast)

Coffee Na

Streetview

Beat the Heat & Get a Seat

It’s April in the Philippines and that means it’s hot. Malls are overcrowded with window shoppers looking to cool off and coffee shops are filled with people sitting around and drinking iced beverages to beat the heat.

Iced Drink

It’s nearly impossible to find a seat to sit back and relax in the malls or at your favorite coffee shop because they’re so crowded. It’s even harder to find a coffee shop that has a large, indoor, air conditioned seating area. Many places have outdoor seating, but with the heat and humidity it’s very uncomfortable.

Hand Drip Coffee Na

Fortunately there is a fairly new and large Starbucks style coffee shop on Friendship Highway (just before Timog Park Homes in Barangay Anunas) called Coffee Na. This is currently my favorite go to spot when I want to sit back and relax in a quiet coffee shop to work on my laptop or just relax with a delicious cup of Joe.

I know I’ll get exactly what I’m looking for:

  1. A great coffee or juice beverage
  2. Large air conditioned seating area
  3. A quiet, not overcrowded environment
  4. Nicely decorated, cozy ambiance

Non-Smoking

Coffee Na prices are extremely reasonable and they have a large selection of coffee and non-coffee beverages. Prices range from 70 pesos (approximately $1.57) to 240 pesos (approximately $5.39) for exotic blends. Most drinks average around 170 pesos (approximately $3.82).

Coffee Na

Roasting Whole Beans On Site

One thing that really stands out at Coffee Na is that they have a coffee bean roaster right in the front of the store. I can’t recall ever seeing any of the major chains or local coffee shops I’ve been to actually roasting their own beans! This alone is worth the trip and the aroma that fills the cafe is incredible when it’s in operation.

Whole Beans

Coffee Na also sells whole bean coffee. The days of only being able to get Nescafe powdered coffee in the Philippines are over. Coffee Na has several types of whole beans to choose from:

  • Coffee Na House Blend roasted on site — 100g for 250 pesos (approximately $5.62)
  • Arrabicca — 100g for 150 pesos (approximately $3.37)
  • Kenya — 100g for 350 pesos (approximately $7.87)
  • Mandheling — 100g for 300 pesos (approximately $6.74)
  • Ethiopia — 100g for 250 pesos (approximately $5.62)

Snacks & Deserts

Coffee Na also serves some pretty fancy and tasty snacks and deserts. Their selection of snacks includes English Muffins with ham and egg, Ciabatta with cheese and ham, Bagels with cream cheese and Honey Bread with whipped cream.

Breads

The deserts are little masterpieces of confectionery goodness and vary from day to day. Cakes wrapped in fondant come in various flavors like Oreo, black forest, chocolate, blueberry, carrot, red velvet and tiramisu. The macadamia nut chocolate chip cookies are also excellent and my desert of choice when I visit and are available.  I’d advise getting there early as supplies of these deserts are limited and sell out quickly.

Delicious

Additional Information

Coffee Na has all the bells and whistles of name brand coffee shops without the trendy name and is a great spot if you’re looking to avoid huge crowds. Their location in Korea Town keeps away most tourists who think this area is too far away or for Koreans only. They are open from 8am to 1am everyday and also have free Wifi.

Smoking

They have outdoor seating with less than 10 chairs and a very large indoor, non-smoking area. The indoor smoking area is a smaller section far enough away from the non-smoking area.

Puff Away

More importantly they are serving up great coffee and non-coffee drinks at reasonable prices by a friendly and knowledgeable staff of baristas.

Friendly Staff

If you find yourself in the Friendship area of Angeles City and are looking for a spot to grab a drink and snack to beat the summer heat then be sure to check out Hand Drip Coffee Na for a refreshing and tasty beverage. And don’t forget to stock up on their selection of whole coffee beans for home brewing.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Grand Central Suites

Fields Avenue Hotel

TYPE: Full Service Hotel
RESERVATIONS: Highly Recommended
ROOM TYPES: 20 Rooms — Standard, Deluxe, Suites & Jacuzzi
RATES: See Attached PDF, prices as of Mar. 18, 2014
PAYMENT: Cash & Credit Card with additional 5% surcharge
LOCAL PHONE #: (045) 331-1820
ROOM SERVICE: Available from Gotham Bar & Cafe during business hours, plus numerous other surrounding restaurants that are open 24hrs.
LOCATION: See Map Below


View Grand Central Suites in a larger map

Grand Central Suites in the Heart of Walking Street

If you’re traveling to Angeles City and want to be in the very center of the nightlife scene then Grand Central Suites is a place you should look into for accommodations. This hotel was formerly known as the Orange Lion, but it has been completely renovated inside and out over the past year and a half by the new owners. If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel right in the middle of Fields Avenue, then Grand Central is a place you should consider.

An additional floor has been added making it a 3 story building with 20 rooms in total. All of the rooms have been refurnished to a high, luxurious standard that include Serta mattresses from the U.S., hard wood or tiled floors, leather furniture and large flat-screen TVs.

Grand Central Suites

Standing Out in a Crowd

While there are other hotels in the area and more being built, Grand Central seems to be focusing on standing out from the others in the area whom you would hardly notice if you weren’t looking.

Patio

The large, outdoor patio seating with Gotham Bar and Cafe and a coffee and juice bar is the first difference that sets it apart from other hotels in the surrounding vicinity. While this concept didn’t seem like a viable or attractive option a few years ago, the city’s beautification and renovation of Fields Avenue project now makes this a hot spot to relax and watch the world go by during the day or at night. It’s one of only a handful of establishments that offer this type of outdoor seating and its location and set up put you closer to the action than the other options.

Well Appointed Rooms at Attractive Prices

I was skeptical of what the rooms at Grand Central would look like but was pleasantly surprised at the two rooms I had an opportunity to see. I was able to view a Deluxe room and a Suite. Both rooms were much nicer than I had imagined and were more than fairly priced when compared to what other hotels are charging.

A walk-through of the Suite room can be seen below:


Serta Bed

The rooms were spacious, clean, nicely and simply decorated in warm and dark colors. All furnishings were solid and the beds are U.S. Serta mattresses that are extremely comfortable.

Leather Couch

Both rooms I saw had a leather couch and ottoman in the sitting area where you can view the 42″ flat screen TVs. The main differences between the Deluxe and Suite rooms was the overall size. The Suite room also has a separate sleeping area and additional 42″ TV as well as an upgraded bathroom setting. 

Suite Room

The bathrooms and showers in each room were large and shower areas had rain forest shower heads.

Restroom

Each of these rooms also had a balcony facing the back which was a nice touch giving the rooms additional natural lighting, but not much in the way of scenery. Opting for one of the 9 rooms with balconies facing Walking Street offers better viewing but more noise due to the area being a hot spot of bars and clubs.

Back of Grand Central Suites

The Deluxe room for 3000 (approximately $67.42) and Suite room  3750 (approximately $84.27) are fair prices for a mid-range, full service hotel of this quality in this location.

A walk-through of the Deluxe room can be seen below:

Additional Amenities

Grand Central also provides it guests with:

  • Free WiFi
  • Cable TV
  • Air Conditioners
  • Refrigerators with mini-bar snacks
  • Toiletries
  • CCTV security system

Refrigerator

It’s important to note that an elevator has been installed but is yet to be in working order. If you have issues with walking up a couple of flights of stairs please take note. Staff are hopeful that this issue will be fixed in the very near future.

Overall Impression

Grand Central Suites is a very attractive option if you plan on eating and hanging out mostly in the Walking Street area during your visit to Angeles City. Their location simply cannot be beat as you are right in the middle of the action.

There are more than enough restaurants, shops, clubs and bars in the surrounding area and nothing is more than a 10 minute walk away. You can really minimize your transportation costs by staying at Grand Central Suites.

I’ve watched this hotel go from being the dark and small Orange Lion to the well lit, nicely designed hotel that stands today. While there have been construction and restaurant issues in the past, it finally seems as if Grand Central has found it’s identity and is poised to become a well known hotel in the ever changing landscape of Fields Avenue and Angeles City.

Fake Books

It’s rare not to see one of the owners on site and the staff is a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful group who do their best to make sure your needs as a guest are met.

Pretty Girl

If you are planning a visit to Angeles City in the near future, be sure to consider Grand Central Suites for your lodging. They offer a comparable experience to some of the more expensive hotels in the area.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

S&R Pizza

Combo Pizza

The Quest for U.S. Style Pizza in Asia

One food that is never quite right in Asian countries is pizza. In the Philippines there’s strange toppings like canned tuna, canned corn, pineapple and processed cheese instead of mozzarella. Hawaiian pizza is the pie of choice in the Philippines.

I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and was brought up on some of the best pizza in the world. The best you can do in Asia are places like:

  • Pizza Hut
  • Shakey’s
  • Sbarro
  • Greenwich

Once in a while you can find an Italian restaurant that does a nice pizza. While these choices are ok, they are a far cry away from a Chicago deep dish pizza or even a New York style pizza. It can be extremely frustrating and disappointing if you live in this part of the world for an extended period of time when you have a pizza craving.

S&R Warehouse Shopping

S&R is a warehouse shopping experience almost exactly like Costco or Sam’s Club in the United States. There is a yearly membership fee that costs 700 pesos (approximately $16.00 per year). A branch near Angeles City finally opened in neighboring San Fernando. Before this you had to travel all the way to Manila with coolers of ice in a day long, traffic induced, 4-hour round trip nightmare.

But it was always worth the traffic and distance to bring home a pizza that looked and tasted just like the one’s you can get at Costco or Sam’s Club. Fortunately that trip now takes about 1 hour round trip with the opening of the San Fernando branch.

S&R Prepared Foods

Like Costcos and Sam’s Clubs, S&R has a food kiosk and eating area after you check out. They carry many similar items you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever eaten at Costco or Sam’s Club.

Lines

Some items you can get are:

  • New York Style Pizzas (Pepperoni, Combo, Cheese, Garlic Shrimp & occasional specialty flavors)
  • American Style 100% Beef Hot Dogs
  • Calzones
  • Baked Rolls (Chicken & Beef)
  • Cheeseburgers
  • French Fries
  • Salads
  • Soup
  • Roasted & Fried Chicken
  • Ice Cream & Deserts
  • Coffees

More Foods

New York Style Pizza

First, this is not New York style pizza but that’s what they call. I for one am thankful it’s not New York style pizza. There’s nothing worse than that sloppy, floppy, greasy New York style pizza in my opinion. What’s great about trying to pick up an over-sized piece of pizza and watching the toppings slide off onto the floor before you even get a bite?! But maybe that’s the Chicagoan bias in me. 

The pizza at S&R is virtually identical to what you get at Costco and Sam’s Club. If I didn’t see them making them behind the counter I’d swear they were importing them in from the States. The crust is not too thick and not too thin. The sauce is your typical, familiar Italian style and the toppings taste exactly like you would expect from an American pizzeria. In fact, this is the closest American style pizza you can find in the Philippines. More importantly they are using a quality mozzarella cheese and aren’t being skimpy about it.

Cheese

While I enjoy the hot dogs as my go to meal when I’m there, the pizza is the best thing on the menu and I usually order 1 or 2 to take home to freeze. They reheat amazingly well in a toaster oven and I always try to keep a steady supply in stock.

Pizza by the slice costs 99 pesos (approximately $2.23) with whole pies available for 499 pesos (cheese, approximately $11.21), 549 pesos (all other flavors, approximately $12.33) and 599 pesos (specialty/seasonal, approximately $13.46). The slices and whole pies are huge, larger than a typical American large pizza. If you’ve eaten Costco or Sam’s Club pizza you’ll understand.

Other Flavors

A membership at S&R for access to the pizza alone is worth the $16 per year plus you can shop in the warehouse store. The 30 minute drive to San Fernando is well worth the trip. I hope the success of this S&R branch reaches corporate heads and they open a branch on the Global Gateway Logistics City complex in the Clark Freeport Zone near Angeles City. I think they would do well in pizza sales alone due to the number of foreigners and ex-pats calling Angeles home who can only get mediocre, expensive pizzas here.

If you’re missing great American style pizza then S&R is the spot that will bring back memories of home!

S&R is located near SM Pampanga on Jose Abad Santos Avenue in San Fernando is open to members 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)

J. Co Donuts & Coffee

Donut Franchises in the Philippines

Donut franchises in the Philippines and South East Asia are big business and the latest player to enter the marketplace is Indonesian company J. Co. They are expanding rapidly across the region and competing successfully with more well-known brands in the area like:

  • Krispy Kreme
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Mister Donut

Currently J. Co is opening roughly 30 stores a year and have a presence  in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and China.

Peacock

The J. Co Phenomenon

Pampanga saw the opening of their first J. Co store at SM Pampanga in San Fernando, a short 20 minute drive from Angeles City. Signs at Marquee Mall in Angeles City suggest that construction of a J. Co store is “Coming Soon,” which could mean anything from a few weeks, months, years or not at all.

Based on what I saw the first few weeks when the SM Pampanga branch opened, customers can expect 2 hour long lines at the Marquee Mall branch when it opens until the hype winds down.

San Fernando Location

I recently dropped in to the SM Pampanga branch again and was able to walk right in, order my donuts and coffee in less than 10 minutes. I even found a seat inside which was nearly impossible on the first visit. While the hype has certainly died down, the donuts remain a special treat that everyone should experience at least once.

Artisan Donuts with Clever Names

The donuts at J. Co have names like Alcapone, Tiramisu, Choconuttzy, Jcoccino and Mona Pisa. While the names may seem a little goofy, the donuts are artistic masterpieces that are just as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat. Their flavors are unique, unexpected and delightfully different than what you get at other chains.

Artisan Donuts

Individual donuts are 42 pesos (approximately $0.94) each, 1/2 dozen 230 pesos (approximately $5.15), 1 dozen 350 pesos (approximately $7.74) and 2 dozen 550 pesos (approximately $12.30).

Store Interior

The decor of the store interior is very warm and cozy. Comfy faux leather bound seats and wood and iron legged tables are inviting resting spots to enjoy your donut creations and beverages. For some reason this chain seems more inviting and comfortable to me than any Krispy Kreme or Starbucks I’ve visited.

Warm & Cozy

Italian Coffees & Frozen Yogurt

J. Co is not just donuts. They have an extensive drink list of Italian blended coffees, cappuccinos, lattes, frappee cappuccinos, non-coffee drinks, teas and frappes. They also have some frozen yogurt selections with various toppings, but the donuts are the real draw.

Drinks

Continued Expansion & Success

J. Co seems to be in a position to continue their successful run due to their unique brand and flavors of donuts. Their success in infiltrating surrounding Asian countries is somewhat of a rare feat that is usually only attained by large, Western corporations.

Donut Creations

It’s refreshing to see a quality product and success story originating in this part of the world. Perhaps J. Co will even spread to the U.S. as their success continues and branches like Krispy Kreme continue to die out in the United States. In my opinion J. Co is the best donut chain in the world right now. If you find yourself in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philipines, Singapore or Shanghai, China make sure you stop by for a delectable donut from J. Co.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (5 votes cast)

Walter’s Bistro

Drop-Ins

I eat a lot of meals at home, but I often find myself running errands and stopping by smaller restaurants and cafes for a quick snack or even a full meal. In most of these cases I’m unprepared or just not in the mood to do a full SleepEatGolf review.

Sometimes these places really don’t warrant a full-on review, but that’s not to suggest that they aren’t putting out delicious food. I’ve decided to do some smaller reviews I’m calling “Drop-Ins.” These will be my initial thoughts and impressions of places I drop-in to when I’m out and about.

If they really pique my interest or I think they’re something special, I’ll head back at a later date and do a full SleepEatGolf review.  At a minimum, I hope these Drop-In reviews provide you with some new information of places you may be overlooking.

Dropping-In on Walter’s Bistro

One day while trying yet another Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich at a place called Banh Mi Ngon, I noticed that next door was a small cafe with six or eight Europeans eating, drinking and talking in what I perceived to be German. I was immediately intrigued by this place as I love German food, but don’t eat it nearly as much as I’d like. I decided to head back there the next time I was looking to eat out in order to investigate further.

Tonight I dropped in to Walter’s Bistro. I was surprised that there was no indoor seating and at the small size of the menu. There’s a breakfast menu featuring American, German and Filipino breakfast plates and a snacks menu.

The snacks menu consisted of:

  • Hungarian Goulash Soup with bread — 145 pesos (approximately $3.25)
  • 2 Vienna Sausages with mustard and bread – 145 pesos (approximately $3.25)
  • Toast Hawaii (ham, cheese & pineapple) — 155 pesos (approximately $3.48)
  • German Bratwurst with bread — 130 pesos (approximately $2.92)
  • Käse Kreiner with bread – 130 pesos (approximately $2.92)
  • Currywurst with french fries – 185 pesos (approximately $4.16)
  • Nürnberger Bratwurst with sauerkraut and bread — 160 pesos (approximately $3.60)

On Saturdays there’s a special schweinebraten dinner available for 290 pesos (approximately $6.50) that includes salad and dumpling as well as daily specials. Alcoholic drinks and imported German beers are also available.

My order was the Nürnberger Bratwurst with sauerkraut and bread for me and Currywurst with french fries for the girlfriend with 2 bottles of soda. The waitress grilled our sausages on the gas grill right in front of us.

Nürnberg

Both dishes were much better than we both expected. The bratwurst were small, but full flavored. The sauerkraut was delicious and was a great accompaniment to the sausages. German brown bread is always good.

The Currywurst was plump, juicy, mildly flavored and had a nice, slightly sweet and spicy curry sauce on top. The fries were crisp.

Plump Sausage

While the portions were rather small, the price was right. I wanted to try the Käse Kreiner with bread, Hungarian Goulash Soup with bread, or Vienna Sausages with mustard and bread but unfortunately all were sold out for the day.

The total bill with tip was 445 pesos (approximately $10.00). I think Walter’s Bistro is great little spot for a light German meal, quick snack or a place to enjoy a few specialty beers. I will definitely be back and hope the other sausages are just as tasty and authentic as what I tired tonight.

Walter’s Bistro is located on Perimeter Road in Angeles City between The American Hotel and ABC Hotel, next door to Banh Mi Ngon. Look for the German man holding a mug of beer statue out front.

Beer

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery

Sign

OPEN: Monday to Saturday 12:00pm until 9:00pm, Closed Sundays
PAYMENT: Cash Only
SEATING: Indoor/Non-Smoking, Seating for Approximately 30 People
TAKE AWAY: Encouraged, All Menu Items Available for Take Out
DELIVERY: Available for Local Area, Additional 50 Pesos Outside 3km
LOCAL PHONE #: (045) 888-5805
CATERING & SPECIAL EVENTS Available, Contact Rex Soriano at Above # for Details
MENU: See Attached PDF, Prices and Menu as of Feb. 19, 2014
LOCATION: See Map Below


View Banh Mi Saigon in a larger map

The Lost Art of Sandwich Making in the Philippines

I recently returned from a quick trip to Thailand. One of the first meals I ate was at a place I’d typically avoid at all costs while on vacation. I ate at Subway. In fact I ate at Subway probably three or four times during the course of my week long visit.

You’re probably saying to yourself: “Chris, why are you talking about Subway when your whole concept for SleepEatGolf is about eating where the locals eat, street food and hole in the wall types of places?”

Why was I eating at Subway for $5 to $8 (sandwich only!) when the local foods in Thailand (particularly the street foods and small cafes) are incredibly fresh, delectable and only about $2 to $3 for an entire meal? I’ll tell you why.

It is near impossible to find a delicious sandwich here in Angeles City. Once upon a time there was a place called Subdelicious that allegedly put out a decent sandwich. That place is long gone and was replaced by Phillies which according to many people is very hit and miss. I personally haven’t been there in a few years due to a poor experience.

Don’t get the wrong idea, there’s plenty of places in Angeles to get a sandwich. Almost every hotel has a version of the highly overrated (yet very popular with Filipinos) Club sandwich. There’s also a couple of deli type stores/restaurants that will piece together a mediocre Subway-like sandwich for you. But for some reason those have never hit the spot for me and were always underwhelming. I was craving a sandwich that wasn’t boring.

The Banh Mi Sandwich Invasion

While there are always rumors of a Subway franchise opening in Angeles City none have ever come to fruition. Hopes were high with the opening of Marquee Mall and the SM Clark extension but they never materialized.

Subway’s absence and the lack of a quality sandwich available has opened up the market to one of the best sandwiches in the world: The Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. As reported on SleepEatGolf previously there are now several Vietnamese style restaurants that have staked a claim in Angeles and each one does their own version or versions of the world famous sandwich.

BBQ Pork

Thankfully, each restaurant has their own spin on how to create this masterpiece that balances the subtle and unique flavors that comes only from Vietnamese cuisine. I can honestly report that there are finally establishments in Angeles City to experience a proper, high quality sandwich that will make you forget your wishes of seeing a Subway franchise open here.

Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery

I found Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery completely by accident. I was traveling to Angeles City Proper looking for a company to have business cards printed. Fortunately I made a wrong turn and found myself staring at a small cafe with a sign simply reading “Banh Mi Vietnamese Sandwich Eatery.” I had just finished lunch but the place immediately struck me as a place I needed to return to very soon. Nothing made sense.

  1. I was far away from where most tourists ever visit in Angeles.
  2. I didn’t see any other foreigners nearby.
  3. There were no other restaurants in the adjacent vicinity.

These three things signaled to me that I may have stumbled upon a great find. In my experience these are usually the places serving up the best food.

Vietnamese Food

Some workers were outside painting words on a brick wall that looked eerily similar to what one would see at a modern American style cafe. I could barely see into the eatery as the shades were drawn due to the hot afternoon sun. What I could make out was an interior that looked clean, urban and modern. All of this struck me as very American in style and design. I decided that I would be back very soon to explore what quality of food this previously unknown, unheard of place was serving up.

Inside

Kitchen

The Return to Banh Mi

A few days later I was driving back to Angeles City Proper to pick up my business cards and planned on stopping by Banh Mi to sample their sandwich and get a better look at the place.  When I walked in the place was packed with 30 well dressed Filipinos. Time seemed to stand still and the festive environment changed to complete silence as I walked in and everyone stared at me.  I immediately sensed that I had dropped in uninvited on a private lunch.

This faux pas didn’t stop me and no one was asking me to leave so I walked up to the counter and ordered the BBQ Pork Banh Mi sandwich for 95 pesos (about $2.16). The luncheon seemed to be wrapping up anyway and I found a seat to dig in to the sandwich. I was immediately blown away at the high quality and deliciousness that danced around in my mouth and taste buds. I had finally found the elusive sandwich I’d been searching and hoping for in Angeles City.

Inside

The Next Day

I was so impressed with the sandwich at Banh Mi that I went back with my girlfriend the next day for lunch. I couldn’t wait to share this new find with her and I now had an excuse to try additional things on the menu.  We ordered:

  • Fresh Spring Rolls
  • Fried Spring Rolls
  • BBQ  Pork Banh Mi
  • Chicken Banh Mi

I also had a chance to speak with owner and Filipino American Rex Soriano. Rex has an impressive and extensive background in the restaurant business working and living in the United States for half his life. He’s worked for well known restaurants  and chefs like Nobu, Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. He opened Banh Mi about 2 years ago in Angeles  City Proper after finding a common love of Vietnamese cuisine and culture with his half-Vietnamese, half Filipina wife and full Vietnamese mother-in-law. He has future plans to open a branch in Manila and will occasionally add specialty items of his own creation to the current menu. More info on Rex can be found at the end of this article in a sit down video interview.

Employees

Menu & Food Review

The menu at Banh Mi is refreshingly small. Too many restaurants here give you a menu the size of a Bible. I usually take this as sign that they do everything pretty average and nothing is spectacular. Many times there are several items that are not even available.  Banh Mi specializes in 10 simple and authentic Vietnamese dishes and each item that I’ve tried so far have exceeded my expectations. They also have authentic Vietnamese style iced coffee available.

Fresh Spring Rolls – This delicious 2 piece item for 99 pesos (around $2.25)  comes with your choice of a peanut sauce or a pineapple alubebe (fermented fish sauce with pineapple) sauce. A well made, fresh spring roll is a healthy and filing option that is a great change of pace from your typical fried  variety.

Light Snack

The filling consists of Vietnamese noodles, crisp and fresh cucumbers, lettuce and basil along with shrimp and pork wrapped in rice paper. I went with the peanut sauce which was just sweet enough and complemented the rolls nicely. All in all the fresh spring rolls were spectacular.

Fried Spring Rolls – An order of 7 pieces comes with fresh lettuce, cilantro and a Vietnamese dipping sauce for 95 pesos (around $2.16). These were fried to perfection and nicely filled on the inside with a ground pork, noodles and carrot mixture. They were crisp and not oily. The sauce was vinegary and slightly sweet with a hint of garlic. While fried foods aren’t the healthiest option, wrapping these up in the lettuce and cilantro takes a lot of the guilt away and makes you feel like it’s a healthy snack.

Crispy

Meaty

BBQ Pork & Chicken Banh Mi – As the name suggests this establishment specializes in the Banh Mi sandwiche. This is the jewel in the crown of this cafe. The owner Rex Soriano has a deep rooted love for the Banh Mi sandwich and has created his own 3 versions with the help and guidance of his Vietnamese mother-in-law. His cold cut sandwich is made using pork belly and Vietnamese ham both of which he cures and processes in house. The sandwiches are priced from 90 to 99 pesos each (around $2.05 to $2.25).

The BBQ pork has a unique taste and texture. The bread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. There’s a subtle pate spread which lifts the sandwich to another level, but most people (including myself) who despise liver will never realize what the unique flavor is. The meaty filling is topped with a dash of soy sauce, fresh cucumber, pickled carrots, pickled daikon radish and fresh cilantro.

Roasted Foul

Each layer of the sandwich is expressed in each bite and the flavors that mix together are heavenly. For those who want an added punch a siracha sauce is available table-side and with take out orders. There is also chili garlic sauce available that goes great with the sandwich.

For those less adventurous the chicken sandwich is the way to go. It’s depth of flavor is not nearly as exciting and complex as the BBQ pork or cold cuts, but it’s still a tasty sandwich nonetheless.

The Search is Over — Angeles City Now Has Bona Fide Sandwich Eateries

After years and years of searching for a sandwich that was on par with Subway the Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich and cuisine has arrived in Angeles City in force. There are now several restaurants that serve this distinctive, appetizing sandwich. Each place has their own spin or twist on how they prepare the sandwich and each restaurant is serving up a viable option for meeting my sandwich eating needs.

Flavor Nation

I’m looking forward to trying the rest of Rex’s dishes on frequent future visits. Tourists and expats alike should see another side of Angeles and check out the creations of Rex Soriano who is likely one of the best chefs in town you don’t know about. He’s focusing on food he loves, keeps the menu small to maintain authentic tastes and has a cozy cafe that foreigners will find warm, familiar and welcoming. If you’ve lived here for any number of years you owe it to yourself to get your hands on a proper sandwich at Banh Mi Vietnamese Eatery.

Below is an interview with Rex Soriano, owner of Banh Mi Vietnamese Eatery. Check out and subscribe to our SleepEatGolf YouTube Channel for additional videos coming soon.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.8/10 (4 votes cast)

The Cruise Buffet Restaurant

Sign

OPEN: Daily 6:00pm to 11:00pm
PAYMENT: Cash & Credit Card
SEATING: Indoor/Non-Smoking
LOCAL PHONE #: (045) 322-7944
MENU: All You Can Eat International Dinner Buffet with Nightly Standards and Variations Including Soft Drinks
PRICE: PhP599 (Approximately $13.31) Per Person, Discount for Children Available Based on Height. Prices as of Jan. 24, 2014.
LOCATION: See Map Below


View The Cruise Buffet Restaurant in a larger map

Las Vegas Style International Buffet in Angeles City

December 2013 saw the opening of a new Las Vegas style international buffet called The Cruise. The restaurant is located in Balibago, conveniently located near Fields Avenue Walking Street.

I first noticed this new establishment while driving on MacArthur Highway, but due to heavy construction was unable to explore it in more detail until Christmas. My cousin had mentioned how he stopped by for a meal and thought it was really good. He suggested we head there for Christmas dinner.  I was skeptical as I hadn’t heard anything about the place and he tends to be more interested in quantity over quality when it comes to food.

Christmas dinner was excellent and the restaurant itself was remarkable. I made plans to meet at a later date with Texan, Korean-American and Front of House Manager Jeff Choi, who with his family owns and runs The Cruise Buffet Restaurant.

Impressive & Opulent Decor

The Cruise is unlike any restaurant currently in Angeles City. It’s design, layout and decor immediately reminded me of a Las Vegas buffet. The long entryway is a marble lined floor with wood lined pillars.

Entrance Hall

The first buffet station is shaped like the bow of a ship and that part of the room opens up with a dramatic mural painting of a cruise ship perched high atop overlooking the middle buffet sections.

Buffet Station

The entire restaurant is well themed. No details have been overlooked and no shortcuts have been taken in the interior decorations. Ceilings and lighting in the restaurant are modern and add to the unique ambiance of your dining experience. It’s truly an extraordinary, awe-inspiring atmosphere from the moment you walk in.

The dining rooms are massive and can seat 180 to 200 people; an ideal and available setting for large parties, groups, receptions, private luncheons and events (contact Ms. Jherty for information). Each table is set with a cloth napkin and silverware set while plates are neatly tucked away inside buffet station compartments. The seats and booths are soft and comfortable with a white faux-leather covering. Every detail from lighting, background music, seating and buffet structure has been well thought out from every angle.

Seating

The Cruise Docks in Angeles via Texas & Korea

I finally made plans with Jeff to stop by again for dinner and an in depth review. I was greeted immediately by a waitress when I walked in and soon after that I was introduced to a Filipino Floor Manager named John who guided me around the imposing buffet providing finer details of the dishes while I took photos and video of the cornucopia laid out before me.

Front Desk

After I filled my plate with a few items from the over 40 delectable choices in front of me,  I was joined at my table by the friendly, outgoing and affable Front of House Manager/Co-Owner Jeff Choi. Jeff is a wonderful host and truly understands as an American (and a Texan) what Westerners expect at a buffet dining experience.

Plates and Items

We spoke about how The Cruise Buffet Restaurant concept came to be, why Angeles City and what future changes we could expect from this new and exciting eating establishment.

Jeff came to Angeles City to visit his brother who has lived here for over 10 years. After visiting some buffet restaurants in Manila and seeing a lack of large, Las Vegas style buffets in Angeles, the idea of The Cruise was spawned. Jeff quit his job managing 6 sushi restaurants in Texas and moved to Angeles City with a concept, background in restaurant management and a family with roots in the community familiar with running businesses and ventures here.

The concept of The Cruise is to take you on a culinary journey of various cuisines from around the world. Each night you can find a variety of foods of different styles that give you a “best of” taste from numerous Asian cultures and international dishes with over 40 items to choose from.

Some highlights of the dishes include:

  • Japanese sushi

Rolls

  • Korean dishes

Korean Food

  • Chinese dim sum

Dumplings

Homemade Recipe

  • Filipino dishes

Filipino Food

  • Classic American selections

American

There is also a carving station and grill station with plans for an ice cream machine in the future, daily lunch, as well as possibly having some special themed nights and special dishes.

This is certain: Jeff intends on keeping The Cruise interesting and not settling on putting out the same food night after night or sacrificing quality.

Embarking The Cruise Buffet

The Cruise has only been open a few months. Like most new restaurants tweaks and changes have been made as they navigate the diverse clientele of Angeles City. The dinner buffet currently costs 599 pesos (approximately $13.31) and includes soft drinks.

Jeff also assured me he will not be changing the quality and tastes of the foods that comes out of his kitchen.  His multi-cultural background, attention to detail and work in the restaurant business ensures that all items being served are up to his high standards and tastes.

The main dishes are made each day using mostly fresh, local ingredients in small quantities to ensure freshness. You will be hard-pressed to find a dish or item that is pre-made. If an item runs out, you may have to wait a few minutes as dishes are not stock-piled in warmers. In my opinion this is more than acceptable. I’d much rather have delicious, hot and fresh food served on a buffet rather than something that’s been sitting in a warmer for a few hours.

The buffet stations seem to go on forever. It is a vast spread of ice filled troughs for the plated cold dishes and individual warming plates for hot main dishes. The video below shows a walk-through of the buffet’s extensive size:


Each dish is tastefully garnished with carrot, cucumber, tomato flowers or parsley which is a small, yet brilliant touch that adds to the overall dining aesthetic.

Ice Trough

The choices are endless and each dish I sampled was delicious. I went out of my way to try unfamiliar dishes and dishes I thought for sure wouldn’t be up to par such as the Chicken Casserole and Pork Meatballs. To my surprise these turned out to be more delicious than I could have imagined! It’s nearly impossible to taste over 20 hot dishes and just as many cold items, but I did my best to sample a little taste from each cuisine.

Grade A Pork

The Sushi Bar

Rolls Galore

The sushi bar is a maki roll lovers dream come true. On my visit there were 10 maki rolls and a limited selection of nigiri sushi. There was also some shrimp and vegetable tempura off to the side. The roll selections were very tasty and well presented. This is not a sushi restaurant and with so many other choices I was content with the selection presented.

MakiFried Goodness

The Carving Station

Another highlight on the buffet is the carving station. I passed on the delicious looking pork roast due to many other dishes having pork. I’m hopeful that Jeff can find some quality U.S. or Australian beef or perhaps a turkey to add to the carving station’s rotation.

Pork Roast

The Grill Station

The grill station was tempting with fresh squid, shrimp and pork but I was more interested in trying additional dishes on the buffet. These items are cooked to order and served table side.

Squid, Shrimp & Pork

Even More Hot Dishes

While many buffets try to entice you to fill up on carbohydrate filled side dishes, bread and pastas, The Cruise offers an extensive mix of protein based items featuring fish, pork, shellfish and chicken. Beef seems to be lacking, but this is to be expected since quality beef is cost prohibitive and often difficult to come by in this part of the world.

Spicy PrawnsSeafood

The Salad, Fruit & Desert Bar

A section of the buffet is dedicated to a salad bar with make your own and pre-made salad and fresh fruit selections.

Salad BarWatermelon, Mango & Pineapple

There is also a small selection of breads and sweets for desert if you possibly have room.

Cookies and Cakes

Yet Even More Items

There are many, many other items like soups, fried rice, mini-Clubhouse sandwiches, canapes, pizza, Korean noodle dishes, vegetable sides, made to order carbonara, won-tons, lumpia and other finger foods that I simply didn’t have room to try on this visit.

Finger FoodsKorean Noddle

Thankfully many of these items are permanent fixtures on the buffet so I’ll have an opportunity to try them on the next visit.

Extraordinay Service

One other point worth mentioning is the service. From the moment you walk in to the moment you walk out the wait staff is very attentive, but not overbearing. Not once did dirty plates stack up on the table on this visit or my previous Christmas visit after numerous visits for refills. While there is a walk-up drink station, I never needed to use it as there was always an attentive server ready to refill my water or beverage glass before I needed it.

Cold Beverages

The staff does their best to ensure that dishes on the buffet stay fresh and filled, but can become slightly flustered if a large group of 20 enter at one time. These are normal growing pains that I suspect will be rectified in the near future as the kitchen and wait staffs become more accustomed to runs and rushes that can occur at any buffet.

Set Sail For A Fantastic Culinary Voyage

The Cruise has dropped anchor in Balibago, Angeles City and have set a new standard on what customers can expect for buffet dining. The limited buffet competition in town should take note of the quality, atmosphere and pricing structure that The Cruise has instituted. The maiden voyage has already shown they are by far the best value for the money and they have successfully navigated through the stormy roll and turbulent first month of business .

The price at 599 pesos (approximately $13.31) is extremely competitive, the food is high quality and the taste is excellent. The atmosphere rivals and in many ways equals or surpasses VariAsia in ABC Hotel. The Cruise is strategically located in an area that is easily accessible by tourists just a few hundred meters away from Walking Street. Other buffets are much further away, much more expensive and often missed by visitors unless it happens to be in the hotel where they are staying.

Street View

Jeff Choi and his family have finally brought an affordable, high quality, Las Vegas style buffet to Angeles City that will appeal to local families, single persons, small groups, large groups and couples. They’ve incorporated great service and delicious food choices at the right price and provide an incredible dining atmosphere. They have reset the standard on what a buffet restaurant experience should be like in Angeles City and expats will feel as if they’re back at a world famous Las Vegas casino buffet. All aboard for The Cruise Buffet Restaurant and be prepared to enjoy the culinary voyage you’re about to embark on!

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.1/10 (8 votes cast)

Angeles City, Philippines & SE Asia Reviews of Where to SleepEatGolf