Agara Ramen: Fills the Tummy, Warms the Soul

If there is one thing I have been wishing to grow in number here in Baguio, that is for more ramen houses to open. Why? Well, hello! With Baguio’s perfect cold weather, having a bowl of hot ramen is what we need! Don’t you agree?

I am a self-confessed ramen person. I am fastidious with my ramen choices. I get easily disappointed if I learn that the ramen served looks and tastes like an instant noodle. My love for ramen is rooted in the fact that it is a culinary art – from the richness of its flavors, its aesthetics and the seemingly delicate techniques used on how they are prepared. A bowl of ramen holds a distinctive place in my tummy. When I slurp its soup and noodles, I feel the warmth filling my stomach, radiating happiness to my soul.I have always thought that Baguio’s weather is perfect for cafes and ramen bars/ restos. Unfortunately, we only have a few that serves really good ramen. I was delighted when Ramen Nagi opened but in the long run, one will feel burdened by the pricey cost of their ramen despite serving really good food. There are other Japanese restos here BUT the ramen they offer doesn’t come across authentic – taste most importantly.

So when I have heard of a new ramen bar (yes, it is a bar and not the usual resto) opening in my lovely city, Baguio, I got excited to try what they have to offer, hence I literally stormed my way one cold, foggy night. The place is called Agara Ramen, a 14-seater, industrial accented bar with a striking brick mural and tiled wall. Some people may have an impression that the place is a tad small in space but I think that is exactly what the owners have envisioned it to be (just like what most Japanese ramen bars are – small, intimate space for people eating ramen together).The menu of Agara Ramen is very straightforward. They offer 6 ramen styles. This includes the following:

  • Chuka Soba (a pork, chicken, fish, and vegetable broth noodles)
  • Tsukemen (a dipping ramen made with livestock, vegetable broth with soy sauce)

***These two are Agara Ramen’s menu flagship.

  • Tonkotsu Shio (sea salt base and pork broth) – if you like something light then this is for you.
  • Tonkotsu Shoyu (soy sauce and pork broth) – This I personally like.
  • Miso Ramen (strong pork miso soup) – My favorite. Because it is miso. I love anything miso.
  • Tantanmen (spicy pork broth soup in sesame seed paste) – Not my cup of tea, just because it is spicy.

Just like other ramen restaurants, you can also add tamago (Japanese soy sauce egg), chashu (braised pork belly), and/ or nori (seaweed). They also serve gyoza (dumplings) and karaage (fried chicken skin). All of these can be perfectly matched with a glass of Japanese barley tea (mugicha) or maybe a can of soda.My Agara Ramen experience was made more special because I got the chance to see how some of these ramen are prepared (and even eaten). The owner, Sir Ray Costa, gamely showed how it’s prepared. Please allow the photographs I took to further do the talking.As the weather here in Baguio becomes colder (and stormy), having a bowl (or two) of ramen is good way to quickly warm us up. I may just switch between ramen and some local noodles my brother makes (Ilocos miki). So if you are up for something “ramen-tic” belly-filling, and smile-inducing — a bowl of ramen goodness at Agara Ramen is what you probably need.

Agara Ramen is located at the Ground Floor of Rancho Guillermo Bldg. (beside Maybank), North Drive (where NBI’s entrance gate is), Engineers Hill, Baguio City. They are on their soft opening (grand opening will be on the 8th of September 2019). They are open from 11AM to 12MN (Monday to Thursday); and 11AM to 02AM (Friday to Sunday). You can also check out their social media accounts: fb.com/AgaraRamen (FB page), @AgaraRamen (both in Instagram and Twitter).So what are you waiting for? Fill your tummy, satiate your buds’ taste – “eats” a wonderful world after all. Take “eat” easy!

Sweets to Try in Baguio City

Sometimes, we do not need to stay too healthy nor focus on eating what is right to keep the body fit and functioning. Our sweet tooth is a part of this wonderful machine, so we have to honor it and spoil it from time to time… to time.

If you have a sweet tooth like me, then, you might want to try these palatine-satiating, delightful sweets once you are in Baguio. They are some of the perfect matches to your hot coffee or tea while reading a book, watching a movie or just lazing around while the weather gets all cool and cozy.

1. Vizcos’ Strawberry Shortcake. An all-time favorite from among locals and tourists alike. This dessert makes use of fresh strawberries and imparts a creamy sensation that seem to melt in your mouth.

2. This avocado-flavored dirty ice cream at the Slaughter house. (well they also have strawberry and mango, but this is my ultimate favorite). If you happen to be in the area for their “bulalo and ihaw-ihaw” look for a local vendor of this ice cream who happens to be just hanging out in the area. Dirty has never been this delicious!

3. The egg tarts of Glycosweet. A small, hole-in-the-wall cafe near the Victory bus terminal (Manila-bound) bakes these small but mouth-watering sweets. So far, they are the best egg tarts I have tasted (besides the ones I have tried in Lisbon, Portugal).

4. Taro Ice Cream of Aura One Hotel. This surprisingly good ice cream topped with a taro chip, is not all smooth and creamy since a gritty feeling will be felt by your mouth. It comes from the bits of taro incorporated in this sumptuous dessert.

5. Ube Champorado of Lihim ni Maria. Another hole-in-wall cafe/resto in Baguio that offers dleiciously unusual desserts and drinks is Lihim ni Maria. I personally like their version of champorado that makes use of a local red rice from Kalinga infused with ube. You’ll end up saying “what a beautiful gastronomic experience” when you taste this.

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6. Sweet Stop’s Apple Brownie & Cassava Cake. This delicious duo are my favorite at this pretty cafe along Session Road. They never fail to compliment any of the flavored hot tea I drink whenever I come by to satiate my sweet tooth cravings. And, you get to buy these sweets at a very affordable price!

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7. Arcas Yard’s Kamote Pie. This signature dessert from the uberly cozy and relaxing cafe-restaurant along Ambuclao Road will never disappoint your taste. I like how soft and not so saccharine it is. It’s a perfect pair for my artichoke tea (an Arca’s Yard fave drink).

8. Mugwort Bread of Le Vain Cafe/Bakeshop. This is an interesting bread at least to me. It’s called a mugwort bread with walnuts, chestnut and red bean. i have learned wayback my Pharmacognosy days that mugwort is a natural anti-malarial but I never knew it is edible. So i did a little research and to my surprise, mugwort is indeed a famous bread from among Koreans and Japanese. Fascinating and delicious too!

9. Ube Taho. Well Baguio is famous for its strawberry taho for sure. But do you know that recently, a new flavor has been abuzz from among visitors? I have just tried the ube counterpart and I personally like it better than the much sweeter strawberry taho. I never thought ube would blend well with this soya product.

So whether you just want to cheat on your diet or maybe just wanting to give in to that outright urge to eat something saccharine, then give these lovely sweets a try. And I am pretty sure you’ll end up with a grin. 😁😁😁

Take it easy.

Captivating Auckland City

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From among the cities I have been the past 12 months, I have left a piece of myself in the City of Sails. The moment I have set foot in Auckland, I knew right there and then that I would love the city the way I have always loved my ex-girlfriend. I tried my best to think through the reasons why I have been enamored by Auckland but I almost always end up lost for the right words.

Because of this dilemma, I just opted to let you see this beyond alluring city through my lens. Here are some of my uncountable Auckland City photographs.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

In Photos: Hong Kong

ong Kong is an autonomous territory, and a former British colony, located at the southeastern portion of China. It is one of the most visited travel destination at this side of Asia because of its a vibrant, skyscraper-studded skyline and the many natural and man-made attractions. It also boasts off its highly urbanized centers as it is a well-established global financial hub. Furthermore, Hong Kong is a shopping paradise, and a food destination. Day or night, Hong Kong is simply mesmerizing.

Here are some snapshots during my brief Hong Kong visit. Will add more soon.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. take it easy everyJuan.

BADU: A Sumptuous La Trinidad Diner- Café (Benguet, PH)

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” – Cesar Chavez

Most tourists/ visitors come to Baguio not only for its cool weather, but also for the various cafés and restaurants that offer palatine-satisfying cuisine. Nearby Benguet capital, La Trinidad, is frequented because of its famed Strawberry Farm. What most people do not know and recognize, is the fact that the region’s “salad bowl” is also home to an array of must try local eateries. Case in point is this very simple, yet gastronomically satiating diner – café along Km. 6 in La Trinidad, Benguet.badu7

BADU, may literally be translated as the local term for “dress”, however it is actually named after the owners surnames. This diner-café made its humble beginning in July 2016. One of the co-owners, Sir Abner Bayangan, enthusiastically talked about his eating place with a clear mission, and that is “to serve a 5-star menu to anyone and everyone at an affordable price”. It may sound too good to be true but one really has to pay them a visit and try the food they serve. Most of the meals in their menu are actually with a hint of Cordilleran flavor. Because of this, they have slowly attracted locals to come and dine their restaurant. They also boast off their signature cakes & desserts, and coffee & tea.

My friends and I were pretty fortunate that we have chanced upon Sir Abner in his food place. For me, the next best thing to eating food, is talking about it.  So, I personally love how passionate when the owner started sharing stories about BADU. So while waiting for our food to be served, we got the chance to know more about BADU. Aside from wanting to serve quality food at affordable prices, Sir Abner said that he wants BADU to be a place where people can spend time talking with each other, eventually starting a community, and remember happy moments.

BADU may not be as fancy looking as other cafe – restaurants within Baguio and La Trinidad, but its simplicity and the FOOD experience make up for it. Besides, investing on the grandiosity of a place can be superficial in the long run.

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Now on with the FOOD experience at BADU: As I have mentioned earlier, most meals and even pasta have a touch of Cordillera. In particular, the food we’ve tried has “kiniing”.

“KINIING” 101: According to “Slow Food for Biodiversity”, “kiniing” is a cured pork product made from meat obtained from locally raised native black pigs. To prepare the product, the lean parts of the meat are thinly sliced while guava leaves are first boiled in salted water. This decoction is removed from the fire, the guava leaves are removed, and the water is transferred into a container where the meat can be soaked for a few minutes. The use of guava leaves acts not only to scent the soaking water, but also creates a smell that drives away flies or other insects that might destroy the meat. It also helps to harden the meat.   Next, the meat is smoked over pinewood to help preserve it and add flavor. For tastier kiniing, the meat is hung in the “suuban“, the top of the clay stove used for daily cooking, for a month or two.

My personal verdict: Generally, all “kiniing” food were surprisingly good. I like how the kiniing blended well with the white, creamy sauce of their “Kiniing Alfredo Pasta”, the “Kiniing Poppers” (a local wine-infused kiniing) tasted really good, their signature meal called “Badu Rice” is definitely a hungry-man’s meal as it contains 3 different dishes (a Szechuan flavored pork dish, a stir-fried vegetable dish, and my favorite of the 3 – a kiniing-stuffed chicken cordon bleu). But from among the meals served, my taste buds would agree with my stomach that the “kinisig” – a kiniing-infused sisig was the star of the table.

And for dessert, we got to try an array of their saccharine delights. They have various ice cream cakes (in vanilla, chocolate, and matcha flavors). But the matcha cheesecake, ice cream cheesecake, and lemon cake all made me want to forget a possible surge in my blood glucose level. They were that good!

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It was a gastronomically delightful afternoon with new found friends at this modest place. Thank you to Sir Abner for sharing his place of love, bravery and community to us. Thank you for reminding us who also dream of owning a cafe/ restaurant someday, that putting up such business isn’t all about profit… that money will follow when we do things right. (Thanks too, to Momshie Sheryl of I am Storyteller for inviting me to join you). Shout out also to Chiki of Turistaboy, Relyn of Hello, Relyn, Demy, Shemen, and Sir Kurt (my pleasure to meet you all).

So, the next time you are in La Trinidad, whether you are there to visit the Strawberry Farm and Stobosa Houses, or climb Mount Jumbo and Mount Kalugong, drop by BADU and experience their food.

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BADU is located at the 3rd Floor of Amos Bldg., KM6 in La Trinidad. Your landmarks include the last gate of Benguet State University (this is the gate closest to its athletic/ playing area), and its walking distance from the entry point of the Strawberry Farm. You can also visit their website HERE.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be Juanderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Lucia’s (A Delightful BnB Experience): Baguio City, PH

If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace. — Gaston Bachelard

Baguio is one place I never get tired of bragging about to my friends. I tell them to visit its various tourist attractions (Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Botanical Garden, PMA, Tam-awan, BenCab, Session Road, John Hay to reiterate some), which is a staple to anyone coming to the city of pines. I also encourage these friends of mine to explore the local cafes and restaurants (like Arcas Yard, Café by the Ruins, Vizcos, Sweet Stop etc) that offer some really palatine-satiating food and beverages. Lately, I have also been suggesting them to come to Baguio and just laze around, chill, and experience a true blue staycation.

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An overnight stay or two in one of Baguio’s bed and breakfast places is one experience I recommend someone to try. And maybe, you’ll end up discovering new things about Baguio, and yourself. Just like my recent know-how in a charming, and serene house-turned-BnB called Lucia’s.

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Lucia’s Bed and Breakfast (named after the owner Ms. Lucille and her daughter Lia) is a classic Baguio home I have always seen during my formative years – homey, and pleasant in every corner. I am not usually very good with describing things to the least detail but what caught my interest (in terms of the house’s features) are the following: the murals, the peculiar accents, quotes, and vibrant color of each room, the wooden floor, and wooden window borders! My eyes almost always ogle in excitement whenever it sees something wooden. All the elements of a desirable BnB are exemplified by Lucia’s – from the warm, personalized service, the hospitality, the mingling with other guests, to that “beyond sumptuous” breakfast, and of course, the relaxing stay.

 

My 2-day “staycation” at Lucia’s wasn’t just about pampering my physical self for a much-needed rest. My stay at Lucia’s made me realize a few things. These realizations were inspired by the names of the BnB’s rooms.

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  • The best way to learn something is to LISTEN intently to someone else’s stories and shared experiences. I had a great deal of time exchanging stories and ideas with the BnB’s manager and her family. We talked about travel, Baguio life, and much more.
  • To LAUGH with all my heart whenever I find myself staring at the ceiling… smiling because I remembered a funny, silly experience. Having had a lot of “me time” during this staycation, it made me reminisce a lot of past experiences. To which I end up laughing at myself.
  • I have also re-discovered that despite being an adult, I still LEAP with joy whenever I see something really enticing like a lovely art piece (like some of those that I have seen within Lucia’s home) or hear an interesting story (like when Ms. Cate, the manager, told me about her climb to Mount Pulag before).

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  • The 2 breakfast meals I had at Lucia’s was a gastronomically LUSCIOUS experience. I both love the breakfast calzone and chicken fajita in a veggie tortilla that was served during my stay! It was so palatine-satiating that I wish they could have their own café soon and serve those dishes.
  • My LOVE for Baguio has never been this intense. I admit, I used to feel a love-hate relationship with this city, but having left it, made me recognize that there is no place like Baguio. Lucia’s BnB is Baguio in a nutshell – it’s a place of love, warmth, and the very essence of a home.
  • We all have a LOONEY side in us. In my case, I’d say, my crazy soul, can range from mild to wild. I’m used to spending time alone, and during these times, I tend to go a little berserk (in a good way) because I get to have more opportunities to entertain my crazy ideas. And I actually like it.
  • Lastly, my wonderful stay at Lucia’s reminded me of how happy it is to LIVE. I had a great time exchanging pleasantries with the kind and accommodating staff of Lucia’s. They made my stay exciting and at the same time, fulfilling. True enough, the life and soul of a house, are the individuals who live and make it a home.

 

So, if you are yearning for a tranquil Baguio stay with your family or friends or a love one, Lucia’s BnB is a perfect choice. They have 7 bedrooms to choose from, with ample bathrooms, 2 living rooms, a dining area, a kitchen, and even an indoor recreational space. Also, they have a garden and an outdoor breakfast area.

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Here is a summary of the room rates at Lucia’s. Please do note that there may be changes without prior notice hence it is best to contact them for validation purposes.

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Lucia’s Bed and Breakfast:

Address: 7 Navy Base Road, Extension, Baguio

Phone: 0917 530 3623

 

Lucia’s Bed & Breakfast is easily accessible via Leonard Wood Road. It is near Teacher’s Camp, Baguio Botanical Garden, SLU Navy Base campus, and a handful of cafes and restaurants of the Newtown Plaza Commercial Complex. Lucia’s has a parking lot so bringing in your own car isn’t a problem. Both public jeepneys and taxi frequently ply the area.

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Special thanks to Ms. Catherine Saranglao (Lucia’s manager) for accommodating me, for the awesome travel stories we shared; Sir Emerson Bimuyag (Lucia’s chef) for the sumptuous and healthy breakfast, and of course to Ms. Lucille Yambao (Lucia’s owner) for opening your home to travelers, backpackers, and tourists who would like to experience Baguio’s warmth.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJuan.

Travel Pills & Elixirs

Dr. Jim Nicolai, a former Medical Director of an Integrative Wellness Program, once said – “Where health is the destination, wellness is the journey…

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It isn’t a secret to my friends and colleagues that I have this undeniable knack for travelling and sense of adventure. I like to be marooned by the sometimes unforgiving sun or get soaked by the unpredictable rain whether I am at the beach or on top of the mountain. Weird as it may seem to some people, but getting lost nonchalantly in a foreign city enlivens my spirit. But these sense of enthusiasm and interest dampen when I get sick. That is why, I try my best to make sure that I am always at my best element… that I am always healthy – physically, emotionally, and even mentally!

A previous post of mine tackled about the basic things that I pack inside my (travel bag). One of the essentials is your personal medicine kit. So in this write up, I am sharing to you my simple health habits, the products I use and believe in, and some secrets (my travel pills and elixirs).

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Getting stressed and experiencing fatigue are common during travel. And surprisingly, there is no single cure for stress. If our coping mechanism isn’t able to resolve these stressors, they eventually take a toll on us and could lead to symptoms like headache, body pain, cough and colds, sleepless nights, and many more.

I am pretty sure these warning signs have at one point hindered you from going on a trip or a long-time planned beach getaway and the like. And it sucks to think that all the excitement would totally die down just because you are sick. I hate having headache, and I despise having cough and colds. So what do I do? As a pharmacist, I actually have some personal rituals and favorite products (yes, you read that right I have my personal biases). Hahaha! So read along.

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To make sure that I won’t get sick, I hydrate myself with enough fluid (not necessarily water) like juice, tea, and energy drinks (hello, Gatorade ® which is still my super tried and tested hydrating fluid). I eat alooooot of fruits. Shout out to my all-time favorites – watermelon, strawberries, bananas, and oranges (well, whichever is in season). If my trip involves some mountain climbing activity, I allot some time to do running and brisk walking.

Pack my med kit. So what’s inside it? I consider the following my travel pills and elixirs:

  • Vitamins (Enervon Activ ® now, Enervon ® syrup when I was young. Because it’s our mom’s choice.)
  • Hand Sanitizer and isopropyl alcohol (not ethyl)
  • Paracetamol – this is for my sudden headache which could really turn my mood 360 degrees, hahaha)
  • Tuseran capsule (I go for this one to manage my cough and colds).
  • Some anti-histamine (because at times I experience cold allergies).
  • Antidiarrheals (I usually go for loperamide).
  • Ginger candies like Gingerbon ® to suppress dizziness and vomiting.
  • Band-Aid J, cotton, wet wipes
  • Povidone Iodine (my antiseptic of choice)
  • Insect repellant lotions/ sprays (Off ® with chamomile is my choice).
  • Strepsils ® – favorite lozenge!

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During my recent Europe trip, my preparedness was tested when on several occasions I some sort of got sick. Traveling around the Baltic area (Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania) was memorable because I spent several days (7 am to 9 pm), walking around the key cities. I had terrible headaches at night and even got cough and colds. These were most likely due to the warm weather during the day and the nasty and biting cold temperature at night. I am really glad I have my anti-fever/ mild painkillers with me. Good thing too, I packed several Tuseran ® 2-in-1 capsules for my cough and colds. Since I am compliant with whatever medicines I take, in no time, I was back at my normal state – healthy and kicking. (PS: Being compliant with your medication’s dose and schedule is very essential to getting treated. That’s me being a pharmacist).

 

From cold Iceland to rainy Poland to humid Manila – my body was probably shocked with the outright adjustments it had to undergo. So I had another episode of cough and colds (and sore throat). This time, because of this sudden change in temperature, I had developed allergies (urticaria). Could you just imagine the burden, especially at night? I was worried because I have scheduled speaking engagement in Zamboanga in 4 days’ time.

Coincidentally, I was talking to physician friend of mine one time when she suggested that I try the new Tuseran Night ®. Keen about the medication I intend to take, I went on to search what it contains. Since it both contains diphenhydramine and phenylpropanolamine, I was convinced it will do wonders for my cough, cold, and allergies. (Shout out to Doc Nessa for the suggestion!) I still have a few pieces of my Tuseran capsules and cetirizine (anti-allergy meds) left from my EU trip but I opted to try out the new Tuseran Night ® (which by the way is in syrup form). And boy I am glad I did go for it because it’s like an all-in-one form of relief for my cough, my colds, my allergies PLUS I get to sleep better. Thanks to diphenyhydramine’s anti-allergy effect.  (Ooooooooooops, sorry guise if my pharma background is making your nose bleed upon reading these). Hahaha!

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Aside from preparing those medications, during any of my travels, I also drink a lot of tea products. Lemon – Ginger Tea and Black Mint Tea are my favorite. If I could get hold of honey, I would often mix it with my drink. Also, I like having probiotic drinks that usually helps me with my GI problems.

I have asked my equally adventurous friends to share some of their health tips and practices.

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The information I have shared here are my personal choices. Of course it is still best to go visit your general practitioner, or a doctor who can specialize the medicine you need during your travel/s. But, it is also good to note that as individuals who like travelling, make sure you always have an extra space for your own medication kit!

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Thank you to Jan of The Kapampangan Traveller, Hance of The Restless Pinoy Traveler, Jeff of Donde si Jepepips, Jonel of Eljontology, Jit (aka @aren_emdi), claro (aka @claro.i) and Aljen (aka @dirtikid).

So remember, stay healthy and safe travels. Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderust. Take it easy everyJUAN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Stop (Baguio City, PH)

I am certain that I have a sweet tooth. And I like eating individually served desserts because I find it more fun to eat. I also love spending some time writing my thoughts, reading a book, or just allowing my mind to think about random things. And I love doing these things together a cup of tea or coffee.

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I recently discovered a small café along Session Road that presents all the good things I look for in a food nook. Sweet Stop along Session Road in Baguio City is my new favorite place to go to especially during the late afternoon. They offer a delectable range of the finely baked (and really affordable) goods, snacks and drinks. They also have all-day breakfast meals (which I yet have to try).

 

I personally love all the pastries I have tried especially their apple brownies, and green tea and strawberry cupcakes. (Well I have a very soft spot for anything matcha!) The butterscotch and cassava cake I have tasted also go well with whatever tea I chose to drink with.

From among their drinks, my palate agrees that the blueberry frappe is wonderfully thirst-quenching. I happen to have tried also their sardines pasta and I must say that anyone who likes their food spicy, must try this.

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I kind of like how simple everything is inside Sweet Stop. And it is a plus factor for me that it is located at La Azotea. Why? Spending some time at this dessert shop in the afternoon or early evening means being treated with free live music from a bar in the same building! Sweeeeet, ayt? (And did I mention that they have very polite and attentive staff? They do!)

 

So if you are in for some saccharine goodness that will satiate your palates’ cravings, stop in to taste what this café has to offer. Whether it is a “me time” on your part or you want the company of your friends or some family members, Sweet Stop is definitely a great stop!

Sweet Stop Baguio @ the Main Floor, La Azotea Building, Baguio City

Telephone Number: 423-3738/ 619-1229

Facebook: Sweet Stop Baguio

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Update: I got the chance to meet the very lovely owner of the cafe Ms. Theresa and her daughter, Andrea one afternoon. I have learned that they personally do all the baking! Now that is wonderful. Kudos for putting up this barely 3-month old, cozy cafe.

Don’t be a wasted soul, be JUANderlust. Take it easy everyJUAN.

 

Vanilla Café (Baguio City, PH)

Since I left Baguio 2 years ago, more and more cafes and restaurants have sprouted in the City of Pines. Whenever I go home, I make sure to visit one of them. My previous stay led me to try Vanilla Café. Tucked in an unobtrusive place along Ignacio Villamor Street in Baguio City, lies this dining place that is being gradually recognized.

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My initial impression is that Vanilla (Bean) Café offers a homey, comfortable for those who would want to just hang out or those tired folks looking for something refreshing to the senses. With the café’s vividly decorated, pastel interior, anyone who enters this abode will surely be delighted. Ironic as it may sound, but I adore how inequitable everything viewed and that it actually made the cafe organized. I personally love the dining area outside where one can marvel at Baguio’s pine trees and smell the cool, fresh air. One’s palate will feel the excitement even more once they get to see the display of saccharine goodness – from cakes and other pastries. They also serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Since I was alone, I can only order a meal that’s good for my tummy. With so many foods to choose from, it was a bit challenging as I wanted to taste all of them. In the end, I settled for a pasta called Spanish Armada (a linguine pasta with sardines, black olives my love, and egg – which by the way made everything in this pasta beyond palatine satiating to my taste), frozen strawberry shortcake for dessert (I am big fan of strawberries that is why I chose this), and a pot of warm Earl Grey tea. It was one, gastronomic meal!


I would definitely come back and try their other food offerings when I go home to Baguio. In the meantime, let the photos in this short write-up entice you to give them a visit. They are open as early as 6am until 12 midnight!

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Kamiseta Hotel,, Ignacio Villamor St, Baguio, Benguet, Philippines
You can also check out Kamiseta Hotel as the café is its resident food place.

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Don’t be a wasted soul, be “juan”derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…

Baguio Holes-in-the-Wall (Benguet, PH)

“The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” -Mark Twain

Holes-in-the-Wall: these are out-of-the-way, small places like cafe, bar or restaurants that are not considered to be fancy,expensive or unpretentious… Places to eat where they impart a more homey vibe.

You see, I love eating, and I want to enjoy eating all through my lifetime. Despite my lean frame, I actually eat almost everything (well except those with fresh vinegar). I believe that the next best thing to eating food, is talking about it. And that exactly is what this write-up is for. This blog will be constantly updated whenever I get to visit a hole-in-the-wall gastronomic hub in the City of Pines.

BEANS and MUGS

Address: 2nd floor of Filipino – Chinese General Hospital’s drugstore, M. Roxas (Trancoville), Baguio City, Benguet.

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This tiny cafe that offers some of the better freakshakes I have tasted, is hardly noticeable. I think my room is even bigger than its space. Nonetheless, I like its simplicity. Found at the 2nd floor of a drugstore and is in very close proximity to a hospital along Trancoville, Beans and Mugs have so far delighted my sweet tooth for its Matcha Freakshake and Strawberry Freakshake.

YAMASHITA JAPANESE NOODLE HOUSE

Address:Beside the famous 50s Diner, Leonard Wood Rd, Baguio, Benguet

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I am a self-confessed ramen lover. And for the longest time, Baguio didn’t have a single ramen house. And so when I have heard of Yamashita, I was more than delighted. It is just a small restaurant with chairs and a single long table in front of the cooking area. Nonetheless, the wakame ramen I have tried is satiating enough for my palate. Moreover, I think the price is reasonable!

GLYCO SWEETSHOP

Address: 72 DPS Compound Access Road, Baguio, 2600 Benguet

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One of my all-time favorite desserts shop in Baguio. Glyco Sweetshop’s cupcakes are some of the best. I particularly love their green tea cuppies. The Portuguese egg-tart is also something every visitor should taste because of the delightful balance of sweetness and the right crust texture. Despite the bakeshops name (glyco which means “sweet”), the desserts they offer aren’t very sweet which to me is a good thing.

GAME and GRUB BOARDGAME CAFE

Address: 2/F 111 Jungletown Rd, Baguio, Benguet

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I love their specialty drinks (shout out to Mango G’s!). They charge customers Php50 to rent boardgames. So while waiting for your order, might as well explore all the board games you could play (although my friends and I opted to play cards without bet!) Food prices in general isn’t that bad.

TRAVEL SIPS COFFE

Address: #11 Marcos Highway, Baguio City

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A coffee shop that is an ideal stopover, near 2 hospitals in Baguio. It is conveniently located along the main highway. They serve both hot and cold drinks (and some desserts too). Just like most cafe’s in this write u, it is small with few seating options. Nonetheless, it has a pretty cozy ambiance for you and your friends to chit chat for a few hours.

CHEF’s HOME

Address: 13 Outlook Drive (corner Romulo Drive), Baguio City (near The Mansion)

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This food abode owned by a Malaysian chef (Chef Alvin Emuang) has established itself as one of the best places to eat in Baguio City. Offering an array of authentic Asian cuisine, the very modest restaurant (that looks more of a carinderia) is heaven for good, good, good food. Looking into their menu, a typical Filipino could obviously say that most of the foods aren’t the usual ones we eat everyday. To most, the, the taste could be very strong – spicy, sour, sweet. But for a person who likes trying out almost everything, I say EAT and ENJOY! I personally love their ROTI! So yummy!

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…