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Giving ‘mobile diner’ a Pinoy twist

Zest Magazine checks out Red Bus Mobile Diner in Tagaytay.

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Food trucks aren’t – as of now – THAT common in the Philippines. Yes, we get the occasional trucks/vans turned into food outlets (the inside of the van turned into a kitchen or something), e.g. there were some right across De La Salle University in Taft Ave. in the City of Manila a few years back, until they were “kicked out”, thanks to the urging of local businesses that were threatened by them. Not surprisingly, these food trucks aren’t exactly second nature to us as, say, those in Roosevelt Street in New York, or the streets around Central Park or Hyde Park; or in the streets of LA.






Having said this, ONE food truck that managed to somehow survive can be found in Tagaytay; though this one isn’t a food truck per se, but more of a diner that makes use of the food truck concept to make a mark (i.e. the truck was converted into a mini-kitchen; but the same truck is no longer functional). And so welcome to… Red Bus Mobile Diner.

WHAT’S THERE

To start, and as was already noted, this one isn’t “mobile” – that it, the “food truck” doesn’t move from one place to another to sell the goods. Instead, whatever vehicle that’s there is only for show (even if it is also where the grilling happens).

The “truck” is also NOT a truck (per se) – it’s more like a van.

Behind the vehicle is a “shed” that houses the wooden tables/benches for the diners. And these are “swamped” by knick-knacks on the walls – from old road signs to an antiquated jukebox to an old telephone to… a poster of Audrey Hepburn. Stuffs – I suppose – for the diners to check (a la museum) while waiting for the meal/s to arrive.

Menu-wise, there’s not much here; just burgers and some Mexican fares. And yes, some lemonades plus local beers as pantulak (chase down the food).

WHY GO THERE

The easy answer to “Why should I visit the place?” is “NOVELTY”. As was also earlier said, there isn’t that many “food trucks” in the Philippines. And at least in my experience (while living in New York), some of the best foods that can be had are from these food trucks. So any – I say ANY – attempt to be one of those good food sources is worth checking out.

But novelty can also go so far. And here, it is good that Red Bus actually has some good offerings.

Tried during the visit were:

  • V8 Burrito (P280 for beef; P275 for chicken). It has Mexican rice, grilled meat, veggies, and the company’s “18 ingredient salsa”. This one’s not bad; but it isn’t great either. Because instead of tasting the meat, the taste bud is – instead – overwhelmed by the Mexican rice. I assumed that this was because the intention is to make this a meal by itself (knowing how there are Pinoys who can be stingy and who may complain that the servings here are too small and aren’t very filling); but having savored real Mexican burritos that can be finished after just two or three bites, the stuffing of this one didn’t live reach that level of “YUM!”…
  • Red Hood Bacon Burger (P200). With Angus beef patty topped with grilled bacon, and then stuffed with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. When the waiter and the waitress to serve us recommended this, they names a so-and-so TV personality who claimed to have liked this after taking a small bite after it was given her for free. Obviously, I was apprehensive – it’s like believing Kris Aquino “promoting” Huma Island in Palawan, after the management also said that she stayed there with her entourage for free (!). Fortunately for Red Bus, this burger is yummy, with a nicely grilled patty, soft-with-crunchy-parts bacon, and fresh veggies.
  • Wasabi Burger (P190). Almost same as the above, but sans the bacon and with the wasabi. In idea, this should have worked (heck, “wasabi ice cream” even works!). The problem for me (and my companions who also tried it) is that instead of the wasabi adding to the flavor, it overpowered the entire burger. Now… if they can find a way to turn this into something that will titillate the palate, instead of overpower it, this could be really good. NOTE: Better eaten with ketchup that somehow neutralized the wasabi)…

Other offerings include quesadillas (P150), fajitas (P260), nachos (P140), Triple Cheez Pwiz (P210), El Mejicombi Salsa Burger (P200) and Simple Jack Burger (P180).

As is the case when wanting to best enjoy grilled stuffs, these offerings are great with beer (P60 per can here)…




WHY AVOID THE PLACE

That the burgers are somewhat… expensive is apparent; so for those with limited budget, this place isn’t a must-visit.

And then there are the “limits” – e.g. there’s no service water, so if you find that wasabi in the burger too spicy to your liking, better order the P50 lemonade or P140 milkshake beforehand. The ketchup used is also of low quality (you can always tell that the ketchup’s cheap because of that fake, plastic-like taste). Considering that the burgers are already somewhat expensive, you’d think the owner wouldn’t mind coughing up extra (and minimal) cash to give clients water to drink for free, and serve better ketchup…

Tagaytay is also NOT always accessible to everyone, particularly those without private vehicle/s. As such, visiting just for a burger may not be everyone’s idea of “fun”…

IN THE END…

All in all, though, the Red Bus experience wasn’t all that bad at all – I’d say it was even fun being there (after braving the rollercoaster-like streets of Tagaytay). So I’d say…

If in the area, try to check it out.
If with budget (particularly if you’re the one paying the tab for all your friends), check it out.
If keen to taste some QUITE good burgers (and stay away from fastfood joints), check it out.

But if you have doubts, there are others you can also check (e.g. Mac Daddy’s in Lucban) until you’re all ready to take a ride in the not-that-mobile diner called… Red Bus.

Red Bus Mobile Diner is located in Tagaytay.




Believing that knowing on its own is not good enough, "you have to share what you know, too", Mikee dela Cruz gladly shares through his writing. A (BA) Communication Studies graduate, he had stints with UNAIDS, UNICEF and Ford Foundation, among others, writing "just about everything". Read on as he does some sharing through Zest Magazine.

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Destinations

Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers venue for weddings

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers a charming blend of modern sophistication and timeless elegance, perfect for bringing dream weddings to life, from the grand entrance to the intimate moments, we ensure that every wedding is a distinct and unforgettable experience.

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Every couple has envisioned their perfect wedding, meticulously planning every detail from the outfits to the rings. The venue is such a vital element, and we’re thrilled to offer an option that might be just what you’re looking for.

The newly opened Lanson Place Mall of Asia offers a charming blend of modern sophistication and timeless elegance, perfect for bringing dream weddings to life, from the grand entrance to the intimate moments, we ensure that every wedding is a distinct and unforgettable experience. 

A Bespoke Wedding Experience

Lanson Place Mall of Asia’s attraction is the Saffron Grand Ballroom, a beautiful space perfect for a dreamy wedding celebration. It has a classic elegance and offers a versatile setting that fits any style, making it a great venue for all sorts of events.

The Saffron Grand Ballroom is a spacious, pillarless, high-ceiling ballroom that spans 676 sqm. It features a dedicated lobby, with a grand staircase that leads seamlessly into the ballroom where the magic unfolds. Couples and their wedding entourage can use private dressing rooms, equipped with vanity mirrors and a sizable lounge area, as they prepare for the special day. Couples can also customise the Saffron Grand Ballroom, tailoring the venue to their heart’s desires. 

In addition to the ballroom, the Courtyard, a tranquil oasis on the third floor, provides a harmonious backdrop for intimate wedding ceremonies, seamlessly blending the sophistication of contemporary architectural design with the warmth of nature’s embrace.    

“Every wedding should reflect the couple’s unique story,” said Rheinna Laberinto, Assistant Director of Events. “We want to make sure that each wedding is as distinctive and memorable as the couples themselves.”

Exceptional Management and Service

At Lanson Place Mall of Asia, personalised service begins the moment couples start planning their wedding. Lanson Place’s team of event specialists collaborates closely with each couple to curate a tailored wedding experience that caters to their particular needs and desires.

From hand-picking the perfect menu and overseeing table layouts to managing guests on the big day, the Lanson Place dedicated event specialists meticulously consider every element of the wedding. They make sure the big day is flawlessly executed, allowing couples to focus on celebrating their love. Whether couples envision a lavish ceremony or an intimate gathering, the team of devoted hosts is committed to making every wedding day stress-free and memorable.

“We understand that weddings are one of the most important days in a couple’s life, and we are honoured to be part of that journey,” said Laurent Boisdron, Vice President & General Manager. “Our commitment on your special day is all about you and we pay much attention to detail to ensure that every wedding at Lanson Place Mall of Asia is not only beautiful but truly unforgettable.”

Design a wedding as unique as your love story with Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila. Discover how Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila can craft the wedding of your dreams by visiting Lanson Place Mall of Asia Manila’s booth at the Themes and Motifs Bridal Fair this 22-23 June 2024. Avail of the best bespoke wedding packages and make your special day truly unforgettable.

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Dining Out

Citadines Bacolod City brings new restaurants

Standing tall in the heart of Bacolod, this sleek urban oasis beckons guests with its contemporary design and unique island hospitality. Offering modern amenities, stylish interiors, and the distinct Negrense warmth, travelers can seamlessly transition from the bustling streets of Bacolod to the serene comfort of their accommodations at Citadines Bacolod City.

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Citadines Bacolod City, the Ascott Limited’s newest addition to its property roster, is the next go-to destination in the Visayas region, offering modern and comfortable accommodations for both business and leisure travelers.

Standing tall in the heart of Bacolod, this sleek urban oasis beckons guests with its contemporary design and unique island hospitality. Offering modern amenities, stylish interiors, and the distinct Negrense warmth, travelers can seamlessly transition from the bustling streets of Bacolod to the serene comfort of their accommodations at Citadines Bacolod City.

The property offers an array of accommodation options tailored to meet the diverse needs of guests. From Studio Apartments to Two-Bedroom Deluxe Rooms, each space is thoughtfully designed to provide the utmost comfort and convenience and ensures there’s accommodation suitable for any type of stay. Additionally, guests can take advantage of the inviting communal areas, which include a stylish lobby lounge, a well-equipped fitness center, and versatile event spaces.

During the sneak peek into Citadines Bacolod City, guests can savor culinary delights at the property’s in-house restaurants. Options encompass the Lobby Café which is Pureza, Grab and Go with Tam-is, Namit for all-day dining, Fuego Bar and Lounge for bar and lounge experiences highlighting steaks, and Adlao for poolside refreshments.

“Tam-is,” a charming corner on the ground floor, is named after the Hiligaynon term for sweet. Providing a quick grab-and-go option for food, like coffee and pastries, for guests who are always on the move, Tam-is greatly lives by the ideal that ‘life is sweet’ and is a nod to the joys and richness of life’s experiences. “Puerza” completes the lobby’s artisanal bakery and café experience by offering finely crafted European-style boulangerie and French viennoiserie for a sit-down and relax experience throughout the day.

At “Fuego Bar and Lounge,” guests can enjoy a menu featuring a variety of steaks, antipasti boards, sides, and cocktails that draws inspiration from the flames of the majestic volcanoes that surround the Negros region. Located on the second floor alongside the “Namit” all-day dining restaurant. It promises an unforgettable dining experience through its various unique ala carte dishes inspired by local and Southeast Asian cuisine.

When it’s time to unwind by the pool, retreat to “Adlao.” From fresh fruit platters to savory appetizers, guests can savor a tempting selection of snacks, refreshing juices, and expertly crafted cocktails all while enjoying the peaceful nature of the space.

“We are excited to offer guests a sneak peek into Citadines Bacolod City and provide them with a glimpse of the modern urban oasis and the different culinary offerings we have been working on,” said Jose Mari Medrano, Citadines Bacolod City’s Executive Chef.

Citadines Bacolod City’s signature program, City Hacks, and its staff, known as Citazens, offer guests an authentic local experience. With personalized recommendations and insider tips, Citazens help guests take full advantage of the city’s authentic local experience. These can include immersing in the city’s culture, cuisine, and hidden gems. Furthermore, for those looking to dive deeper into the food culture of Bacolod, the property’s Citazens are well-equipped to offer city hacks to help navigate the culinary scene with ease, guiding guests to the most authentic eateries and culinary hotspots.

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Destinations

Boracay’s OG Japanese restaurant turns 17

Located at the center of the lively D’Mall, Station 2, Boracay, HAMA provides a Zen-like, casual ambiance that perfectly complements its beachfront location. It’s easy to spot, as strings of red and black Japanese lanterns line their alfresco roof, while the inside seating area has wood and stone natural elements, reminiscent of a minimalist Japanese garden.

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HAMA, Boracay’s top Japanese restaurant celebrates its 17th birthday, as it continues to proudly offer a unique blend of traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine. From fresh sushi to mouth-watering teppanyaki dishes, HAMA strengthens its reputation further as a must-visit gastronomy destination on the island.

Located at the center of the lively D’Mall, Station 2, Boracay, HAMA provides a Zen-like, casual ambiance that perfectly complements its beachfront location. It’s easy to spot, as strings of red and black Japanese lanterns line their alfresco roof, while the inside seating area has wood and stone natural elements, reminiscent of a minimalist Japanese garden.

The name “hama,” meaning “beach” in Japanese, is a fitting tribute to its close proximity to Boracay’s pristine white sands and gorgeous blue seas, which a 3-minute walk can access. This casual setting, combined with the vibrant atmosphere of D’Mall, makes HAMA an ideal spot for intimate lunch outs, and family gatherings. Since its opening in 2007, HAMA has built an esteemed reputation as a favorite dining spot among tourists, known for its memorable authentic Japanese dishes that delight first-time travelers, and patrons coming back for more.


HAMA’s tender and delicious pork tonkatsu rice bowl

Owned by the successful duo Juan Elizalde and Paolo Occhionero, the same masterminds behind the other island-popular dining establishments ARIA Cucina Italiana, Boracay Beach Truck, and Cafe Del Sol, HAMA continues to impress with its diverse menu. Diners and patrons can enjoy traditional Japanese dishes with innovative modern twists, catering to various cravings and tastes, ensuring a dish and drink for everyone. Signature offerings include the exquisite sushi boat with 32 pieces of their bestsellers, flavorful teppanyaki udon with juicy, well-seasoned beef, and hearty bowls of ramen with rich and decadent broth. 


Be wowed by HAMA’s 32-piece sushi boat, perfect for big groups

The restaurant’s sushi and teppanyaki stations are standout features, showcasing the chefs’ expertise and providing customers with a captivating dining experience. The dishes are reasonably priced, and designed to be shared family-style, allowing guests to sample a variety of flavors in one meal, while extending their travel budgets, too.

Other than the relaxing ambiance, delicious food, and reasonable price points, the team’s warmth and excellence in service are what people recognize and love about HAMA, too. Under the leadership of COO, Ernesto Casas, who has been with the group for a decade and counting, the staff and team members are always ready to serve with eagerness and enthusiasm, giving traveling diners a pleasant and memorable experience every time. 

For those vacationing in Boracay, HAMA is a culinary destination not to be missed. Its commitment to food quality, dining ambiance, and customer satisfaction ensures an unforgettable dining experience that stands out on this beautiful island.

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