Monday, August 24, 2015

The Backyard Food Truck Community

If you're from the South and is looking for someplace to spend a chill weekend in, try heading over to The Backyard Food Truck Community in Dasmari├▒as!


The place is just along Aguinaldo Highway but you can miss it if you're not really looking. It's an enclosed area so from the road, you have to keep an eye out for the sign.


The place itself is really  just like a big enclosed backyard. It was practically an empty lot with food trucks parked inside. That Saturday, there were three food trucks parked: Taco Express, SWAT (Sausage With A Twist) and FugoWagon.


So glad that the rain let up so we had the chance to sit outdoors. It wasn't really a big deal though even if it was raining a bit cause they had tents set up in case that happens.

What's really cool about the place is that apart from the food trucks, it has become a hub for artists to showcase their works and just hang out with fellow artists. There was an outdoor screen where they played short independent films (some were Cinemalaya entries), a corner for musicians, and while we were there, a group went about doing a "spoken word" session. There was also a table set up for henna tattoos and a make shift booth selling shirts. It indeed felt like a "community" of artists.

After getting my nachos (I had a bad craving!) it started raining so we decided to go inside the cafe. The cafe was the only permanent structure inside the backyard, it wasn't really much of a cafe cause they only sold one type of coffee (Cafe Barako) but it had a cafe feel to it, and it was the only place you can get drinks.

The cafe is really cute. Apart from the mismatched chairs and tables, there were so many pieces of art too. What I like most are the artworks on the walls that weren't permanent. When we arrived there were only a few artworks on the wall but as the night went on, there were more being added (some done on bond papers only) that were merely taped on. It was a really a nice touch though and added to the artistic-slash-informal theme of the whole cafe.

It was also cool cause they had a collection of board games and if you're bored (or isn't into poetry or film showing) you can just go inside the cafe and play instead. We played board games with the owner's 9-year old son, who beat us in all the games (haha!)

Overall, we had a great time at The Backyard Food Truck Community. It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday night. I enjoyed the relaxed artsy vibe of the place and how the atmosphere was just nice and warm. If you're ever in the South, try dropping by. I think this is an experience you would want to try :)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheBackyardFTC
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thebackyardftc

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Foodie Friday: Union Social Eatery

Since, it's still Friday in the time zone I'm in, this Foodie Friday post is technically still on time. For this week's Foodie Friday, let me introduce you to Union Social Eatery. There are 3 locations in the greater Toronto Area and the one I ate at with my dad is the one in Mississauga. This location is large (around 100 seats) and when we showed up to have a late lunch on a Friday (1 pm) it was still full and people were still coming in and waiting for seats, all signs of a potentially good resto.


The restaurant pitches itself as a premium casual eatery with good food and a large selection of alcoholic beverages (read, bar with supposedly good food). You can see the well stocked bar behind the greeters' table as soon as you walk into the restaurant, in the picture above. The menu consists of bar classics such as burgers, nachos, fish and chips, tacos, etc. Looking over the menu, available here, shows that many of these have been upgraded such as premium toppings on the burgers, grilled fish tacos and also a good assortment of salads and other food. The greeting and wait staff were prompt, courteous and attentive to the needs to of the customers as we were eating and didn't push menu items too hard or pretentious and were overall easy to interact with. They were around just enough to gauge and attend to our needs without being intrusive. Now onto the the main event: the food!


My dad had the grilled fish taco with wasabi napa slaw and fresh lime on the side. They were very good and the wasabi slaw and lime gave it a very novel and Asian twist to tacos. My only complaint is that the fish had a hint of a fishy taste but otherwise very good. And with 3 tacos to an order, it's more big enough to feed most people and a steal at $11.98 CAD.


I ordered the nachitos (nachos) with beef brisket chili on top cause I had the sudden craving for nachos after talking with Ninin (hello, pangga­čśś) and had to get some. The plain nachitos don't come with any meat on top and are suitable for vegetarians and have just the right amount of kick with the jalapenos in the salsa and cost $13.98CAD. For an additional $3.50CAD you can add beef brisket chili or ancho chicken on top in case you're bulking and need the extra protein.

The dessert menu looked good (cookies with ice cream, cheesecake, brulee) but we were so full we couldn't handle anymore food. They also have drink specials for every day of the week, in case the occasion calls for a little bit of booze. My first experience at Union Social Eatery was good and I'll definitely be back next time I'll enough space to have some dessert. 4 out of 5 ninja stars for Union Social Eatery ★★★★

Union Social Eatery webpage:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Love is Kismet

Kismet - a word that means a power that can control what happens in the future; fate; destiny.

For today's post, let me do a throwback Thursday and share with you a short film from the Cornetto Cupidity series. This short film came out in 2013 as part of the Cornetto Cupidity series, which are short films done by Cornetto (the ice cream brand) as a campaign to engage the teenage audience. The first 4 of the series of films were shot in Istanbul, LA, Hong Kong, and London, incorporating new music from up-and-coming acts.

My favorite film is Kismet Diner, written and directed by Mark Nunneley. It is one of the most well received films of 2013 and won the Cannes Silver Lion and the Manhattan Short Festival Award. Everything about the short film is perfect-- the plot, the acting, the music-- everything was spot on!


I had my boyfriend watch it the other day and he was moved by it. It was just so beautifully done! And can I just say the songs are perfect? They chose the right artist to feature for this film. I had a big Lotte Mulan infatuation back in 2013 and how can I not when all her songs that came out in the film were just amazing? You can check out the EP here:

There have been more films added to the Cornetto Cupidity series because of how popular and successful the campaign was. If you wanna see all the films, you can check out the RSA Films website here.
Have a great Thursday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Power Pumps

"Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she will conquer the world"
-Marilyn Monroe

And that is exactly what I did a few weeks back-- bought myself awesome pumps to strut in:

I am very picky with my work shoes and for the longest time, I've been buying shoes from Naturalizer only. My godmother convinced me to try other brands though to increase my style options cause Naturalizer has very limited styles.

I wanted classic black pumps and there was so many options available. My priority though was comfort and value for money. I saw these ones from Zara and I thought they were pretty and even if the heels were high, they were light enough and easy to walk in. I really liked these babies until I wore them for an entire day at work. They hurt so much! It didn't have enough cushioning in them and made the the soles of my feet ache :(
Zara black pumps - Php 3,950.00
Next are these nude pumps from Aldo. I believe every girl should have at least one pair of nude heels in her closet. It's such a versatile color and I love how this pair has pointed heels. This pair has more padding and it feels more comfortable in. Even with the height it doesn't feel so steep. It feels more snug around my feet too. Cause my biggest problem with heels without straps is that my feet are too thin that my feet slip off them when I walk. I lack the meat/fat necessary to make it snug. But these ones are definitely a keeper. Very comfortable to walk in, plus it's really stylish!
Aldo nude pumps - Php 4,695.00
Last are my biggest steal, the strappy mary janes from Marks & Spencer. Yup, you read that right-- Marks & Spencer! Not a lot of people know that they sell shoes and I also don't usually go there for shoes, but while I was browsing around the store, I chanced upon these babies that were on sale for Php895.00! It was such a steal that there was no way I would pass up these cuties. They ended up as my go-to pair cause I love the fact that it has straps. But these are also not meant for long walking. They're not cushioned  enough to last the whole day. But they are very light and easy to walk in though, so a few hours for a cocktail party in this pair won't be uncomfortable.
Marks & Spencer - Php895.00 (on sale)
After that recent purchase, I conclude that the only brand that could work as my work shoes is Naturalizer. In terms of long-lasting comfort and wearability, Naturalizer wins by a landslide. My only complaint is that Naturalizer doesn't have a lot of styles to choose from and aren't as stylish as other brands. If you want comfort and durability though. Naturalizer is the way to go. If you want style, then you can take your pick from the brands I listed above (Aldo as the running second!). Whatever you choose, just remember that a great pair of shoes can take you places. So pick well, ladies! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Vietnamese Coffee: Some More Experience Required

As many of you may or may not know, Ninin and I are avid fans of coffee. So, on a hot summer day, I figured, what better to enjoy than a cold glass of iced coffee? And even better, why not a cold glass of Vietnamese iced coffee since I had a new set of coffee toys to test.

Metal filter and coffee grounds with chicory
The basic requirements for Vietnamese coffee are the metal filter and coffee grounds with chicory, Trung Nguyen is one of the more popular brands along with Cafe du Monde. Coffee is made by placing the coffee in the filter, wetting the grounds a little to let them "blossom" (coffee term, still trying to figure it out) screwing the inner part of the filter in to let it compress the grounds and pouring the remaining water into the filter for the rest of the cup. My personal favorite is to have it with condensed milk for the sweetness and richness. Having successfully made coffee different ways (French press, pour over), I figured this method would be simple enough for me to handle, but I learned very quickly there are lots of places to make mistakes (because I made them all).

Ready to go (not pictured boiling water and ice)
So I set up by placing a couple tablespoons of condensed milk at the bottom of my cup and placing the filter on top of it. My first mistake was using too much coffee, the instructions said 3 teaspoons, but they meant 3 level teaspoons not heaping. Using that much coffee affects the whole process because of the way the filter works. The inner part of the filter screws in and compresses the grounds and also controls how fast the water flows through the filter. Using too much coffee makes it hard to properly screw the inner part of the filter on properly and adjust how fast the coffee flows by screwing or unscrewing the inner part. Vietnamese coffee usually takes about 5 minutes to make but because of my blunder, the water hadn't filtered through by the 10-minute mark. This is where mistake number 2 happened, hearing that unscrewing the inner part would release pressure and help the water flow faster, I did just that. But with all th e grounds, the inner part came loose and the water still wasn't flowing because the grounds were too compressed from the beginning. Mistake number 3 was stirring the compressed grounds with a spoon to "help". It helped the water get through the filter....along with the grounds. After all was said and done, I stirred up the coffee with the condensed milk and added ice. The end result was really awesome tasting but had some coffee grounds in it. The lessons learned today will be used for making the next Vietnamese iced coffee even better.

The finished product (notice the floating grounds). But practice makes perfect.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Read my lips

If you followed my old blog, you'd probably know how hard it is for me to find a good lipstick brand cause I get allergic reactions to most brands. I get chapped lips which I thought was normal, but apparently it was the manifestation of the allergy. For years, it was always just tinted lip balm for me. I used Revlon's Colorburst balm which had amazing colors, but still ended up chapping my lips.

Well a year ago, I found myself using my first MAC lipstick and I think I finally found my lipstick partner for life!

L-R: Russian Red, All Fired Up, Flat Out Fabulous
I finished my first tube of MAC lipstick a few months back (Girl About Town) and after that I got the Russian Red (a MAC classic) and two other matte shades just because. Let me feature here my two latest lipstick tubes from MAC.

First is All  Fired Up, a reddish-pink shade:
I love that this shade is red but not a deep red. It's good if you want to wear a reddish shade for everyday. Normally, I don't wear the Russian Red cause it's too red and calls too much attention. This shade however is more subtle but has enough red to make your lips pop!

Next is Flat Out Fabulous:

I love its purplish-pink shade! I really like pink lipstick but it's hard to find the right shade for my skin tone. Some get too pink that they look neon, while some are too dark, they're bordering on violet. This one is just the perfect mix! And while I was online, I found out that this shade is actually the matte version of Girl About Town (my first MAC lipstick!) How cool is that?
L-R: All Fired Up, Flat Out Fabulous, Russian Red
I can't say my lips don't completely chap anymore with MAC cause they still do but it's not as bad as the other brands. And when I say not as bad, I mean they don't dry up on a daily basis or chap as badly. I really think I finally found my lipstick partner for life with MAC!

How about you, do you have the same sensitive lips problem? What brand do you use?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Foodie Friday: Arisoo Japanese-Korean Eatery

For this week's Foodie Friday, allow me to feature one of my go-to Korean/Japanese eatery, Arisoo.


Arisoo is  a Korean & Japanese eatery in Cartimar. It's basically what it is, an eatery. Not a fancy restaurant but the food is great... and very cheap!


I go to Arisoo when I'm craving bibimbap. It's only Php160.00 but the taste is comparable to the ones in regular Korean restaurants costing Php350.00 and up. All the meals come with miso soup and kimchi too so you know you're getting a good deal.

My colleague, got the Korean beef stew:

She claims the stew is a bit more oily than she's used to in other restaurants but for the meager Php130.00 price tag, I think this isn't such a bad deal.

Lastly, my favorite. The one dish that makes me go repeatedly to Arisoo, the CHEESE TOPPOKI.

Cheese Toppoki - P130.00
It's the first time I've tried cheese toppoki. I was wondering why I don't see this dish in regular Korean restaurants. Then I found out toppoki is actually a street food item in Korea. So maybe that's the reason it's not in Korean restaurant menus. But because Arisoo is an eatery, hello Toppoki!

Cheese Toppoki is made of toppoki (rice cakes), fish cakes, vegetables and Korean pepper sauce (Gochujang). The one in Arisoo has cheese though which cuts into the spiciness of the pepper sauce. it made it creamy and spicy and bit salty, I love that there are also small chunks of cheese mixed in too! The best part of it is that they allow me to have my toppoki with no fish cake, making it vegetarian-friendly :)

Arisoo has a wide menu selection (sorry, no picture) that includes samgyeopsal, kimchi chige, japchae, and others from the Korean menu and gyoza, tempura and teriyaki dishes from the Japanese menu.

When my colleagues and I are looking to eat something tasty, our default choice is Arisoo. It's an easy choice-- tasty and cheap, how can you resist?

Arisoo Korean & Japanese Eatery
#Plaza8, Cartimar Shopping Centre
Leveriza St. Pasay City, Philippines
Facebook page: Arisoo Facebook Page

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sunday Baking

One of my favorite scent pairings is the smell of the rain and something freshly baked. So one rainy Sunday, I found myself baking one of my favorite recipes: red velvet and green tea crinkles.


I experimented on making these crinkles because there was a time I was obsessing over green tea. I got packs of green tea powder in Taiwan and wanted to make something out of them. It was all green tea cupcakes at first then I got bored and figured, maybe I could make crinkles too. And since I love red velvet, why not red velvet flavored ones too? *wink*


I decided to sell these crinkles a few years back but because of my busy schedule, I haven't been able to bake for a while now. I'm so glad I got to bake again though. I love how it fills our house with wonderful smells and I absolutely love seeing the smile that these crinkles put on my friend's and colleagues' faces.

Available for orders!
Rainy days are baking days! Something for me to look forward to during the rainy months in the Philippines :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Foodie Friday: Love for Reese

It's Friday and I'm in love! ♥ (Hello, pangga!) Fridays will now be Foodie Fridays here at The Nininja, which means you can expect a food post every Friday! It can be a restaurant feature or food item, as long as it's edible, you can read about it every Friday here on the blog.

To start Foodie Friday right, let me feature here some items from one of my boyfriend and I's favorite chocolate, Reese:


My boyfriend was kind enough to share these Reese items with me, both of which really made me happy because not only is Reese one of the few chocolates I eat, we also don't have these items here in the Philippines. So excited to try them!

I went for the Reese Snacksters first because they're the easiest to eat (hehe):


Inside are pretzel sticks and a chocolate peanut butter dip which really tasted like Reese's cups! I love that it stayed true to the peanut butter-y taste with just hints of chocolate. The consistency is not very smooth but it is what I expect from a Reese dip. I mean, the chocolate itself has that textured peanut butter inside too so the dip version should have that same texture.

Next, the Reese Spread:


My boyfriend was raving about the spread before I got to taste it so I had high expectations for it. Well, Reese did not disappoint! It was like a peanut butter spread with a bit of chocolate... like 3/4 peanut butter, 1/4 chocolate-- which, when you think about it, is how the actual Reese peanut butter cups are. Amazing!


I am truly amazed at these Reese products. If you're a fan of the chocolate (like us), I think you would enjoy these items too. For some who's not used to the taste and consistency of Reese's, they might not like it just because of the novelty of these items. I must admit even the first bite of the spread made me uneasy cause I was used to the taste of nutella or peanut butter but the taste of the spread is so new to me! But since I'm a fan of the peanut butter cups, the adjustment was easy for me.

Thank you to my boyfriend for sharing these cool Reese finds with me! Two thumbs up for these!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Cinemalaya Eleven

It's that time of the year again!

I've been attending Cinemalaya for a decade now. It has been a tradition for me. It didn't even matter if there was a film I wanted to see or not, I would still be present every year. This year however, I find myself second guessing whether to attend or not.

For this year, Cinemalaya will only be holding the competition for the short films category. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love short films. What made me sad is that there will only be a handful of new Filipino films this year :( I get it though, they want to improve the quality of the full lengths but it still doesn't make it less sad.

Instead of Philippine-made full lengths, Cinemalaya will feature Asian films. Of the ones on the list, these two (kinda) interests me (pictures and description taken from the Cinemalaya website):



Having just entered puberty, bride (Dilan Aks├╝t) had been forced to marry with groom (Ilyas Salman) who is more than fifty years older than her and who just returned to his hometown after doing years of jail time. Sitting in the nuptial chamber with horror, she will start to face with realities after grandfather-aged groom steps into the room. – Sabri B. (Hanoi 2012)








Three orphaned siblings find themselves battling with a corrupt local police chief over ownership of their mother’s ancestral home, in this playfully stylized, deadpan-funny tragicomedy. (Cultural Resistance Film Festival, Lebanon, 2014)





Cinemalaya also has an Indie Nation section which will feature newly-minted independent films produced in the Philippines. This section will only have one-time screenings. There are a couple of films I found interesting but because they were only one-time screenings, their schedules played an important factor on whether I want to watch them or not.

I'm not sure how many of the films I'll be seeing at Cinemalaya this year, or if I will be seeing any of them. But the ones I end up seeing, I will definitely be writing about. If you ever bump into me at CCP, don't hesitate to say hi!

For more information on the films and screenings, click here: Cinemalaya website

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Filling up at the City of Dreams: MERIENDA

The second part of our pig out day at the City of Dreams highlights one of my favorite meals of the day: MERIENDA.

We were so full from lunch but really wanted dessert and something warm so it was easy to gravitate to the nearest cafe from Prego-- the Cafe Society.


Cafe Society is easy to find. It is right smack in the middle of the City of Dreams' upper floor, and with this display greeting you from the escalator, I don't think you would miss it:


Yup, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Those are actually tubs of ice cream! Let me give you a better view:

It was definitely a trap. Why put all these goodness smack right in the middle of the upper floor?? *drools* I haven't even looked at the cafe menu but I already had my mind set on getting ice cream. I mean, how can I not? You can pick from 18 flavors and 14 toppings!

But let me delay it a bit and show you our pastry and coffee choices first:
Latte and pistachio and raspberry sans rival
Cappuccino and Lemon Raspberry White chocolate
The coffee weren't so special so let me skip that and focus on the pastries  first:

This one is super! I remembered my boyfriend when I took a bite of this because he likes sans rival and this one is really really good! It had layers of cake interspersed with cream and raspberry and pistachio. You can get bits of pistachio with every bite with a little bit of sourness from the raspberry. The little cubes at the top are white chocolate which were tasty as well!


I ordered the lemon raspberry white chocolate without really knowing what it was so I was pleasantly surprised to be handed this little white bomb. It was like a chiffon lemon cake bomb with a hollow inside filled with raspberry preserves.

I absolutely loved the consistency of the cake. The lemon taste was not very strong and the white chocolate icing that covered the entire cake cut through the sourness, creating a perfect balance in your mouth. This one is very good! I absolutely love that it went perfectly with my cappuccino.

And now, the ice cream:
Top: green tea | Bottom: avocado
OMG. I died and went to ice cream heaven! The ice cream was just perfect! It was flavored so well and had the right balance of milk and sugar. I enjoyed that it had a smooth consistency too! It was so good! Plus, they had big scoops which made it even better-- cheap and tasty, how can you go wrong with that?

Overall, I had a great merienda at Cafe Society. If I ever find myself at the City of Dreams, it will definitely be one of my stops. I am excited to try the ice cream in a cone or with toppings. Or maybe a cookie? Or two? *drool* 4 out 5 ninja stars for the Cafe Society! ♠♠♠

And oh, sharing here a photo of their menu:



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Filling up at the City of Dreams: LUNCH

Sticking out like a palace in the stretch of Macapagal Boulevard, is the gold covered walls of the City of Dreams. I know it has been a while since it opened to the public (in February this year) but it is not until now that we got to see what's inside that majestic place.


Everyone knows the City of Dreams as a Casino, but it also houses 3 hotels in its compound. But that day, we actually only had one agenda: TO EAT. So I won't make this any longer and just go to the main event-- the food.

The City of Dreams houses a number of restaurants at the upper ground where we spent most of the time choosing. We got super excited with the choices-- there was Asian, Filipino, Korean, Taiwanese, a Gastropub and Italian. We let our stomachs decide and ended up at the crowd favorite:


Italian food always has a soft spot in our hearts so choosing Prego was almost a no-brainer for us. First dish: the free bread. Okay, fine. It's not the first dish but allow me to feature it here because it is too good to not be given a few moments to shine:


The flat focaccia is my favorite! (the triangle ones) They come with three spreads/dipping sauce too-- butter, pate and tomatoes soaked in oil. I absolutely loved the tomatoes! It was nice and new to me cause I'm used to dipping my bread in a vinaigrette + olive oil combo. The concept is actually like that, with the tomatoes giving the much needed tangy-ness. But the cool thing about the tomatoes is that they also give it texture. It was so nice to bite into something and not just feel like you're eating oil and bread. The best part about the free bread? It's unlimited.

Now, on to the appetizer!

Assorted Italian Cuts, with pizza puffs served with gorgonzola and mascarpone cheese sauce - Php 590.00
How can one resist Italian cold cuts in an Italian restaurant? Well I can cause I'm vegetarian, but not the rest of my family of course! This dish was the perfect appetizer to start our Italian lunch. Everything was simple yet really tasty. The mascarpone and gorgonzola cheese sauce really did it for us. It went perfectly with the meat and vegetables.

Next, the main dishes:
Truffle Sauce Risotto - Php 590.00
My godsister and I split this dish. We both like risotto and would get it whenever it's available on the menu. This dish however, was a bit of a disappointment. The truffle sauce was overpowering. Like they went overboard with the truffle just to make it decadent. There was also no other texture on the dish, nothing to cut its "softness". At times it was like eating oatmeal which was a total letdown for us.

Large spinach ravioli filled with cheese fondue in porcini mushroom sauce - Php 490.00

The next dish saved the risotto by a mile! The ravioli was really tasty. It also had the right texture with the mix of the soft ravioli with cheesy insides and the chunky mushrooms. This one's a keeper :)

Last but not the least... the pizza.
Pizza due Gusti - Php 470.00
Our pizza had sauteed mushrooms, spinach, italian sausage and parmesan cheese. This one is another keeper! Owing to the fact that the restaurant had a brick oven, the crust was perfectly cooked. It was thin and toasted in all the right places!


Overall, our experience at Prego was very pleasant. It was a bit on the expensive side though but for the overall dining experience, Prego gets a 3 out of 5 ninja stars ♠♠♠

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