Penang Street Food Bingo

While researching about the must try foods in Penang, I had the idea of making a Bingo card to challenge myself to try more dishes beyond my usual CKT, assam laksa, and murtabak. My friend Cla helped make it possible (with the eating and the designing), and after taking it for a spin last July, it’s now ready for download!

Penang Street Food Bingo

Two files are available for download: a single card in JPG, which you can use in your mobile device (just edit with your favorite image editing app to mark the items you’ve tried), or if you’re more of a pen and paper kind person, a printable version is also available in PDF. The print version has two cards, and is optimized for printing in letter or A4 sized paper.

We may have been too enthusiastic in ordering food.

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Some notes:

  • You can cross off a lot of items in the card by going to hawker centers. We went to Joo Hoi Cafe on Penang road, and we were able to have good assam laksa, lor bak, otak-otak, chee cheong fun, and cendol.
  • I know tandoori chicken isn’t exclusive to Penang, but Restoran Kapitan in Lebuh Chulia makes really good tandoori and naan.
  • If you’re going to Kek Lok Si temple, you can head to Sisters Curry Mee for breakfast, and then have asam laksa at the Air Itam Market for lunch.
  • If you want to go off the beaten path though, head to Bayan Lepas for some really good (and spicy) curry mee and kway teow th’ng at the Dhoby Ghaut Cafe.
  • For murtabak, you can try the ones they have at Hameediyah Restaurant. Their biryani looks good too!
  • Roti canai in Jalan Transfer is great for breakfast. Make sure to head straight to the stall with the huge curry pot, or you might end up with eggs on toast instead. They also have teh tarik and nasi lemak here.

Here’s my updated Penang map, with the hawkers and restaurants I’ve tried (or want to try). It also includes the location of the cat street arts (the green star icons).

For souvenirs, you can try out the pastries at the Ghee Hiang. Their Tau Sar Pneah are really good. My friend who lives in Penang bring home boxes of these everytime he goes home to Johor.

Downloads:
For mobile devices (JPG): Penang Street Food Bingo (51)
For printing (PDF): Penang Street Food Bingo (58)

Watching the Australian Open in Melbourne

The Australian Open 2017 is officially launched today, and single session tickets go on sale tomorrow (October 11). If you’re a tennis fan who wants to watch AO next year (or in the coming years), here are our tips for you based on our experience with attending the Australian Open last January.
Continue reading Watching the Australian Open in Melbourne

Travel tips: Queenstown, New Zealand

I’ve just returned from a 12-day trip to New Zealand. I spent 4 days each in Auckland, Rotorua, and Queenstown. To be perfectly honest, the only place I knew about in New Zealand is Matamata, because that’s where Hobbiton is. Queenstown was very much under my radar, because it’s labeled as a hub for high adrenalin adventure travel. That’s not my thing. I didn’t have much expectations for Queenstown, and I was blown away by its natural beauty as soon as I caught a glimpse from the plane window.

For friends who are flying into Queenstown in the coming weeks, and for everyone else headed to New Zealand, here are my tips and suggestions for traveling in Queenstown.
Continue reading Travel tips: Queenstown, New Zealand

#FlyForFreeFaster with GetGo Unionbank Credit and Debit Cards

Last May, GetGo, Cebu Pacific‘s lifestyle rewards program, officially launched the GetGo Unionbank Credit and Debit cards that would earn points GetGo points faster (and therefore fly for free faster).

UnionBank GetGo Debit Card

At the launch, we had the chance to use the GetGo Unionbank Debit Card (which comes in a very cute aquamarine color) at R.O.X. If you’re not a big fan of credit cards (or can’t apply for one yet), this is a good alternative. Think of it as a prepaid card: just load it up, and use the amount you loaded to shop in physical stores or even online. You can also use it as an ATM card to withdraw cash, when you need it. For every Php 88 you spend, you get 1 GetGo point.

For faster point accumulation though, you can earn faster with the Gold and Platinum GetGo Unionbank VISA Credit Cards — you get 1 GetGo point per Php 30 spent. What’s more, all points accumulated within your billing cycle automatically gets transferred and converted to GetGo points at the end of the cycle. No more hassle of calling the bank to convert points, or worry about them expiring.

What’s even better is that if you use your credit or debit card to pay for your Cebu Pacific flight, you earn GetGo points from that purchase, not just the points from the ticket itself.

For example, if you booked a round-trip flight to Bangkok, you earn GetGo points not just from the base fare and add-ons, but also from the total amount (including taxes).

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Using this mock booking, you earn 1,809 GetGo Points (3,899 + 3,899 + 1,250 divided by 5). If you use the GetGo debit card to book this flight, you get an additional 124 GetGo points (10,934.06/88), or 364 GetGo points if you used your GetGo credit card.

As with the rest of the bloggers and writers who attended the launch, I was given both the debit and credit cards. I have only used the debit card twice: first at ROX, and then at lunch the following day. I continue to use it only to access Unionbank’s online banking facility so I can pay for the credit card.

UnionBank GetGo Credit Card

The GetGo Unionbank VISA Credit Card is widely accepted worldwide, and since it’s PayWave ready, it’s so easy to use. If you’re shopping at a merchant that has the PayWave NFC reader, paying for your goods is just a matter of tapping your card on the console. No more signatures, no PIN needed. If you’re worried about the security of your card, Unionbank sends out an alert email every time the card is used, so if you received an alert for a transaction you did not make, you can contact the bank immediately (without having to wait for your account statement at the end of the billing cycle).

I am in Melbourne right now, and will be here for the next couple of months. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to fly with Cebu Pacific and earn GetGo points from flights, so it’s great that I can still earn while I’m here. Since I arrived last July, I never had the need to exchange money or withdraw from the ATM, since credit card payments are widely accepted. Since I arrived, I have already managed to earn more than 1,000 GetGo points!

If you’re worried about ballooning debt, here’s what you do: don’t spend more than what you can afford and always pay the balance in full.

UnionBank GetGo Credit Card

GetGo Unionbank Platinum card holders also get additional perks: they get early alerts for all Cebu Pacific seat sales and exclusive sales priority check-in for Cebu Pacific flights, free 5kg extra baggage allowance on Cebu Pacific flights (provided you buy baggage allowance), and complimentary access to the MIASCOR Sky View lounge in Terminal 3.

To apply for either the GetGo Unionbank debit or credit card, visit their website at getgo.unionbankph.com/how-to-apply.

Makati Poblacion Food Tour

Despite living in Makati for more than two years in the mid 2000’s, I never really got to explore the city much. Ironically, it’s when I went back to living in Quezon City that I started discovering and frequenting Makati’s various districts.

I was already familiar with Salcedo Village, Legaspi Village, and Little Tokyo, but it took an invite from Lokal Hostel to get me to have a wander around the Makati Avenue area. Lokal Hostel is located right smack in the middle of P. Burgos, Makati’s red light district (and they have the a very cheap ensuite private room at Php 1,400 per night considering its very central location). Normally, I would have balked at the prospect of exploring the red light district, but a quick walk around with Don of Lokal Hostel proved that there’s plenty of gems hidden in this part of Makati.

Lokal Hostel

Last June, I took some friends around the area for a food tour, and it was an amazing variety of cuisine and flavor profiles. Better still, it’s a big enough area that there’s ample walk between two food stops.

If you’re coming from different places, and are driving, the best place to meet and park is A. Venue Mall. They have both open air parking and underground parking. While waiting, you can try the Petit Puffs of Happy Cream Puff, my favorite cream puff place. They’re light, fluffy, and not overly sweet.

Tambai

From there, walk to Tambai along Felipe Street. Tambai is really tiny, and it gets really crowded, so it’s best to start here. They open at 5pm, and it’s good to be there as it opened, when the kitchen is not too busy yet. Recommended items: Beef rib finger, soft shell crab, chicken skin, grilled zucchini, grilled garlic, isaw, Brew Kettle.

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El Chupacabra is quite popular, but for my taco fix, I prefer to walk over to Tacos Chingones right at the edge of Rockwell. This is an outdoor, sidewalk eatery with an actual taco cart, so cross your fingers that the weather cooperates with you. All the tacos I’ve tried are good, so go with whatever strikes your fancy.

The climax of rich taste at Joe's Snack Grill

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There are many Korean barbecue grills in Quezon City, but my favorite is Joe’s Snack Grill, found at the corner of Cayco and Don Pedro. In all the times I’ve eaten there, it’s always 80% Korean diners, which I take as a good sign for the quality of their food. They do impose a minimum order though (3 orders for a table of 4 diners), so make sure you’re ready to eat.

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While I was designing our food tour, I came across Empingao, a newly opened Latin American themed restaurant. After studying their menu, reading reviews, and looking at the places included in our tour, I decided we have to try their Elena Ruz: a very rich sandwich with turkey ham, strawberry jam, and cream cheese.

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As we were winding down, we headed over to Crepe Amelie, which is located at A. Venue. They have both savory and sweet crepes, as well as a variety of mille-feuille. Since I’m crazy for crepe cake, I ordered four (the strawberry crepe cake is the best and the cutest). Though they were all good, I should’ve ordered just 2 crepe cakes and 2 dessert crepes. All the more reason to go back, I suppose.

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Our final stop is Beni’s Falafel. While this seemed odd (especially right after having dessert), I put Beni’s last because they’re open 24/7. So even if you end up going elsewhere and staying until after 1am, Beni’s would still be open. I’m not the biggest fan of falafel, but their hummus and shakshuka is the best.

Interested in doing your own Makati food tour? You can view my Google Map (and export it so you can create your own map with it) or download my Makati Food Tour (306) with the places I’ve considered, as well as individual menu items. Tweak as needed.

For this tour, we contributed Php 1,000 each (we’re a party of 8). This covered all the food (drinks are paid individually), and parking fee for two cars. It’s rather pricey, but for 7 food stops (including Happy Cream Puff), it’s not too bad, right? This tour is best done on a Saturday, starting at 5pm if you want to avoid the crowds. Depends on how fast you eat and walk, it can be done in 3 hours.

Huge thanks to Lokal Hostel for showing me around the area (waaay back in 2015!), and giving me the confidence to explore Makati poblacion!