Holiday Lunch at Marufuku, Ortigas

My family loves Japanese food! The best restaurants are in Makati where we frequent Little Tokyo and Nihonbashitei. They offer affordable and sumptuous dishes. Who would have known that Makati doesn’t have the monopoly on good Japanese restaurants? I discovered a hidden gem in Ortigas – Marufuku.

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I’ve heard many positive reviews about this place, but we have failed time and again to visit it since we don’t pass by the area a lot. Until last week of course! We chose to eat Marufuku for a much needed family holiday lunch. It can also be considered a very late celebration for our anniversary. Andrew and I forgot to “celebrate” it as our weekends were booked with family get-togethers and from being tired with Paul’s energy.

I’m glad my excitement led me to reserve a table because the place was packed. We counted at least two turnovers per table. The restaurant’s ambiance reminded me of the ones in Pasay Road – where authentic and cozy go together.

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Also, the lighting was not too bright or throbbing to the eyes that I couldn’t enjoy the food and good company. The kitchen can be viewed by the diners – typical Japanese setup, showing how the chefs prepare the food. We were initially seated on the counter area facing the chefs, but we opted to move since Paul was with us.

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For our first appetizer, we tried their Salmon Sashimi (P480). We were a little disappointed as it wasn’t that fresh (their tuna sashimi also seems to be covered in ice when we saw it at the counter). At the same time, we couldn’t reconcile how expensive it was compared to similar offerings in Makati.

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Their Spicy Tuna Maki was quite good (P335) as the spiciness was just right for our taste buds. The tempura flakes that go with it still had a bit of crunch!

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Paul got a serving of KurobotaTonkatsu (P490), however, I wasn’t able to take a photo of it because he started eating it before I had the chance. Tonkatsu is one of his favorite Japanese dishes. He complained a bit about it, being a bit on the tougher side. This surprised me as I thought it will be soft given the premium cut of the meat.

We enjoyed the Ebi Tempura (P470 for 5 pcs.) because the shrimp pieces were succulent and plump. The batter also wasn’t too thick and the sauce had a sweet kick together with the radish and ginger mixture.

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In my opinion, the one dish that should never be missed when visiting Marukufu would be the Kaki Motoyaki (P290 for 2 pcs.) – big, juicy Hiroshima oysters that are grilled and topped with a cheesy miso and mayonnaise paste. Under the spoon was a portion of fine salt which complements the oysters and sauce. The taste of this cannot be explained because this has to be experienced. We will surely order this again when we come back!

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We also ordered a rice dish which was recommended by our server so we chose the Yakiniku Kamameshi (P425). I was expecting a generous serving of quail eggs but only found one inside the iron pot. The beef yakiniku was quite tender and went well with the fluffy rice, however, I felt they scrimped on the sauce. It was a little ordinary compared to our own experiences at The New Kamameshi House. Andrew reminded me that their version is really better given that it’s the restaurant’s name. He has a point!

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All in all we were stuffed – there were some misses but it definitely helped us decide to dine here again next time. The service was commendable as the staff were very observant and quick – you don’t get this from all restaurants. At the same time, the place was very relaxing (no loud noises or music) – it seems the other guests were also looking for this while eating here.

I am really glad that we were finally able to try this place! It was a pretty good lunch and oh, I even got a random surprise. Beautiful roses! Thank you ♥

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Marufuku is located at the G/F of Crescent Building, 29 San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig. You can call them for reservations at 02-5703989. They are open from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm & 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm.

Paul’s 7th Birthday

It’s been more than 2 months and I realized that it is time to share the details of Paul’s 7th birthday party! Ever since he was young, he loved looking at all kinds of vehicles – toy cars, real cars, etc. In the car, he would always look out at the other vehicles driving past.

He has a vast collection of Tomica and Hot Wheels vehicles including race tracks and other add-ons. He would ask us to buy him those as rewards whenever he received a Happy Gram or a star from school. We couldn’t get him one every week so rewarding him for good grades and conduct was a good compromise.

In planning the party, I kept on searching online for the best car-themed party and even found a cute vintage concept. In the end though, he told me that he wanted Disney Cars. It may be overused or common, however, we chose to go with that theme since he was the one who requested it. I choose an invitation design in Etsy.

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My cousin and his wife offered to sponsor the venue for the party. How can we resist the lovely St. Francis Shangrila Function Room? We decided to cover the place only with a few balloon drops as ceiling decors. They did a great job in creating a simple backdrop as the venue itself was already beautiful. The balloon centerpieces had the Cars logo and were taken home by the kids.

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They included a welcome sign in the package, however, we didn’t consider that the door cannot be closed – it became pretty warm so I learned my lesson on this. The photobooth was situated near the entrance so the guests can see it upon entering. We commended the staff since they were very friendly and patient.

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For the food carts, I wanted a nostalgic feel so we got dirty ice cream, cotton candy and taho. I wasn’t able to take photos of this but they were a hit! I was considering a fondant cake for the party, however, I felt that it was better to order Paul’s favorite caramel cake which everyone loves: Costa Brava. I’m glad I made that decision because he was so happy upon seeing it.

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Aldino was the host and magician for the party. The guests enjoyed his show especially the bird show and illusion. I first watched him at a party of Paul’s classmate in preschool. I definitely loved his program and he constantly changes up his routine as well.

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I personally chose the menu – fried rice, beef lasagna, chicken teriyaki, baked salmon with spinach cream sauce, sliced roast beef with mushroom and mango crepe and buco lychee for dessert. We weren’t able to take photos of the food because everyone had finished it by the time we could. However, the guests kept on saying that the food was great. The kids’ menu consisted of baked spaghetti, chicken fingers and pork barbecue. My mom sponsored a lechon to go with the food.

Instead of putting a dessert buffet, my aunt brought over bags of mini chocolates which I scattered on the tables. Same with the food, no chocolate was left behind. For the souvenirs, I got assorted toys and pillows – Cars for boys and Frozen for girls which were packed in red eco bags to match the theme.

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It was a very tiring day because I was also the party coordinator. Despite the tiredness, I felt proud that I was able to pull-off a great party for my little one. It may not be a grand celebration but it had everything that he wanted. The big smile on his face was definitely the most important during that day. This event also made me realize that I want to pursue opportunities in the industry so I will try my luck on it real soon. I hope that Paul will always remember this special day because we love him ♥

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Venue: St. Francis Shangrila Function Room / Food: Verleo Catering / Backdrop & Balloons: Eblast Events / Photographer: Justin de Jesus of Delicious Food Photography / Cake: Costa Brava / Magician: Aldino / Photobooth: The Columbia Photo

Spending Time at Segovia’s

The heat signals the height of summer. For parents and their children, this means a welcome break and to prepare for the coming school year. It’s been a month since Paul ended his Grade 1 experience. That means that we will take a break from going to Greenhills unless necessary. With this, I have decided to feature one of the places where I hang out in San Juan.

Given his tight schedule, there really are times when I need to wait for him around the area. I always think of places where I can stay comfortably and enjoy a good lunch while waiting for dismissal to arrive. The first place that came to mind was Segovia’s. Already famous for their melts-in-your-mouth mamon (a family favorite), they added ensaymada and cheese rolls to their selection. Besides the baked goodies, we have also been longtime fans of their reasonably priced, home-style cooking.

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Tucked away in a quiet street right in the middle of San Juan, the outside looks very inviting and homely. The place can accommodate about 20, with an al fresco setting for an additional 6-8 guests. Their simple menu consists of soups, salads, sandwiches, rice meals and pastas. It might not be as extensive in terms of choices but the quality of their food is definitely surprising. I always enjoy reading through strips of Archie comics that are part of the table setting – a character I have been hooked on since my high school days.

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During my visit, I tried their garlic chorizo pasta (P140) to go with my favorite taco salad. Their baked spaghetti is also a steal at P95! The aroma of the garlic and chorizo bits was enticing, delicious, and satisfying. The bread stick had a dab of butter to support the taste of garlic and pork. I’ve been hearing customers order sirloin steak burger, lengua con champignon, and roast beef so these should be a must-try for any first timer as well.

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I previously tried their taco salad (P140), a combination of iceberg and romaine lettuce with tomatoes. The crowning glory of this dish are the crispy shells that go with it. I wish that it had more romaine leaves, though. I couldn’t complain given its serving and price. The homemade honey mustard that goes with it reminds me of the dressing in other organic establishments.

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The cake that I always order would be their moist chocolate cake at P60/slice. For this visit however, I chose to try their cheesecake (P130) for today’s dessert (to balance out the taste of the honey mustard and chorizo). I was pleasantly surprised by the rich, creamy texture with the biscuit crust – definitely something better than the usual graham bottom.

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As a pasalubong for Paul, I thought of ordering the mamon, but was a bit disheartened to discover that it had been sold out by lunch time. They had crazy bulk orders including an order of 300 pieces! It is recommended orders are placed in advance (at least 1 day before). Luckily, the owner informed me that a fresh batch of mamon had just been baked. I happily walked away with pieces of this local sponge cake.

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This is definitely a go-to place if you happen to be in the area ♥

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Visit Segovia’s Cakes and Recipes at 28 Gen. Lim St. Little Baguio, San Juan or contact them at 477-2229 / 725-2849. They are open on Mondays to Saturdays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Keep Moving Forward

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Regardless of age, Disney movies have a very special place in our hearts. My mom still gets excited when watching Beauty and the Beast or the live-action version of Cinderella. One of their least known movies is Meet the Robinsons. I don’t understand why this movie doesn’t get a lot of attention, because the story has a deep meaning in real life.

The hero of the film, Lewis, is a geeky inventor who struggles with numerous failures. All his experiments don’t seem to work – he had just about given up when his latest invention also failed. His mother’s choice to give him up in an orphanage greatly affected his outlook in life negatively in always questioning why he was given away. With the help of Wilbur (his future son) and the time machine, he was instead transported into the future to meet his family – in the awesome world of Todayland.

Mike Yagoobian (or Goob), did not seem to take the loss from the baseball game very well. Instead, he blamed Lewis for what he has become, resulting to his failure to be chosen by adoptive parents. This also prompted him to seek revenge and destroy Lewis’ life when he meets Doris, the bowler hat invented by Cornelius (Lewis’ adopted name). He thought that they were friends and will control the universe as partners.

Unfortunately, Doris has an ulterior motive in helping Goob – to take over the world by itself. Being so focused on his personal vendetta, Goob was unaware of this and helped further the bowler hat’s plans. Lewis experienced the same negativity as well after learning that he was fooled by Wilbur. Clearly, both characters focused on not accepting and letting go which should not be the case.

Experiencing what his relatives felt about failure, Lewis realized that learning from it is much more rewarding.  One of his adopted relatives wouldn’t be able to perfect his meatball cannon if he had chosen to give up after several attempts to create it. He accepted the fact of moving on and learning from it especially when loved ones are there for you. With this, Lewis influenced Goob to do the same thing.

Choosing to dwell on the past will not take you anywhere and that might even lead to worse circumstances. Whenever we wish for things to go our way, there is always something better for us. Seeing how happy he is with his Robinsons family, Lewis chose instead to be left at the doorstep when he finally went back in time.

The song Little Wonders by Rob Thomas, part of the movie soundtrack, also brings a positive message. The small hours that make up our lives will always remain over time. The little wonders, the twists and turns of fate are what we are no matter what. The future is never set in stone but what is important is how you deal with the present. There is always one of two choices when confronting failure: acceptance and moving on, or denial and escapism. It is always better to choose the first one together with my main learning from this film: KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

Getting Started

Hello from The Early Mom!

Creating a blog came to mind long after a significant experience occurred. Then I had my quarter life crisis. I questioned my existence to the point of feeling lost and dumbfounded each day.  After a few weeks of soul-searching, I had an epiphany. One of my main reasons for breathing is being a mother of a 7 year-old boy.

I felt the need to share the ups and downs of this journey so far, especially since I started this profession sooner than I expected. Not all my memories may be as exciting as some, but there will surely be those that may strike a chord with you. While we all have our own roles, it is never too late to keep on learning about them. This opportunity also led me to be more open and enjoy life for what it is.

This, however, will not only be about experiences on motherhood. I will also be writing about food, recipes, celebrations, travel adventures and everything else in between – not to mention random thoughts from time to time. In addition, I will be sharing some moments I’ve had in the past while looking back and reminiscing the good ol’ days.

After all, being a young mother should never define or limit what I am capable of doing.

Cheers ♥