Tag Archives: international

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!

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote 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.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (5 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!

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Rating: 8.1/10 (8 votes cast)