Thailand’s Coca Restaurant Brings Thai Flavors to SM Aura

One of my favorite Asian destinations is Thailand. I like how it looks and feels like the Philippines, except the public transportation is better, there are more shopping options, and the local culture is embraced and respected. One of the must-see things in Thailand is a visit to the historic Grand Palace and Ayutthaya. Another is to try the local cuisine. I love Thai cuisine’s complexity of colors, flavors, and smells. Recently, I discovered Coca Restaurant at SM Aura, a Thai import that will soon fulfill my Thai food cravings.

Coca Restaurant is a well-known hot pot place in Thailand. It was established in 1957 by Srichai Phanphensophon and his wife Patama, who created authentic recipes using fresh ingredients. The restaurant opened in Manila around 2013, and I’m a little surprised it took me this long to discover this Thai gem.

I got to Coca Restaurant’s Thai food and here’s what I thought:


We started off our meal with the Salmon Grapow Cups, or stir-fried salmon with hot basil and chili served in fried wonton wrapper cups. I almost didn’t recognize the salmon as it was cooked in a unique way, but I liked how the chefs dared to cook things differently. It was a sign of things to come. And oh, the salmon grapow cups come with a kick so make sure to pair it with some Thai iced tea (P90)!

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The Starbucks 2017 Planner is Here + Planner Giveaway


I’ve been using planners since 2005. I am incredibly forgetful so I need a notebook to list down everything I do. I can’t survive without it because it’s like a personal assistant, reminding me what I need to do for the month, the week, and the day. That’s how structured my days are: everything is planned. The tradition lives on even if technology has encroached on my life, and I’m excited for next year because I’ll be able to use the Starbucks 2017 planner!

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Single Origin Opens in Rockwell + Promo!


I am a huge fan of breakfast food and places that offer all-day breakfast dining. The thought of waffles, pancakes, and fruit preserves can put a smile on my face, and the idea that you can have it past noon can fill my heart with joy.

A popular breakfast place in Manila is Single Origin. Their Bonifacio High Street Central branch is popular for its cafe and bar setup, cleverly combining breakfast food and premium coffee with cocktails. A date took me there once for breakfast and I loved the dark atmosphere.

Just recently, the guys behind Single Origin opened a new branch in Rockwell, and despite offering the same menu, the vibe is completely different. If Single Origin in BGC is moody, Single Origin in Rockwell is bright, airy, and warm. That’s because half the restaurant is made up of floor-to-ceiling glass windows that bathes the place with light and the promise of a good day.

I had the pleasure of dining at Single Origin’s Rockwell branch during its soft opening and here’s what I found:

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You Can Now Book Restaurant Reservations on the Seats App


I am a planner. I’m the kind of person who plans everything out, and who gets minor panic attacks when things don’t go as planned. I’m trying my best to be a little more spontaneous, but I thrive when I know what’s going to happen next. This trait of mine extends to dining. When I was still with my boyfriend, we would discuss where we’ll eat on the weekend as early as Monday.

Because of this, I always make reservations. I hate it when I’ve psyched myself up the entire week that I’ll eat in the new Japanese restaurant and arrive there with the place packed. I used to call restaurants’ landline numbers to book a table, but now I can make restaurant reservations using an app. Thank you, Seats, for existing.

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I Enjoyed the French Wine Culture at Sofitel Wine Days in Manila


Since I started hanging out with my mom and her friends, I started to appreciate wine. I liked the mellow buzz it gave me, as well as the nuances of each variety. I like white for its light flavor, rose for its refreshing burst, and red for its deep full-bodied intimacy. So when Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila invited to be the only online attendee for its Wine Days, I was excited to go.

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Hey, Hanoi: Food

One of the highlights of my trip Hanoi was the food. Vietnamese cuisine is known worldwide, and I got a firsthand experience of how good it was. I tried the staple banh mi, pho, and spring rolls, and I still crave for it today.

The trick to eating in Vietnam, and anywhere else, is to eat where the locals eat. Many of them eat in holes in the wall or on humble stands next to busy intersections. Most of the time, proprietors set up clusters of low tables with even lower chairs, a challenge for someone like me who stands six feet tall. The experience was definitely worth it.

In the six days I spent in Hanoi, my favorite meal would have to be the bún chả at Bún chả Hương Liên. It became famous when food authority Anthony Bourdain took US president Barack Obama, there and the food they ate became the Obama special: bún chả (fatty grilled pork in soup, vermicelli noodles, and loads of leaves), fried shrimp roll, and a cold bottle of Hanoi beer. Not bad for P180.

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My Mother’s Rustic Sourdough

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Starbucks releases limited-edition Manila and Cebu mugs

Along with picture frames, candles, and towels, mugs are considered to be one of the worst gifts to get during birthdays and Christmas. But I’m not like most people. I enjoy receiving candles, towels, and mugs, especially if they are designed well. I think I’m easy to gift: I like receiving luxurious versions of everyday things.


Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (1)


Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (6)


Mugs are one of my favorites. I have a lot of mugs, which I use both at home and in the office. I like sipping something warm when I’m in a contemplative mood. It’s incredibly soothing during moments of calm and stress.

Imagine my joy when my friends from Starbucks sent two mugs from their Collector Series City limited-edition collection. The new mugs feature relief landmarks from Manila and Cebu. And what a coincidence, my family is from Cebu!


Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (3)


The Manila mug features Paco Park, Luneta Park, the National Museum, the Manila City Hall, Liwasang Bonifacio, the Philippine Post Office, the Palacio del Gobernador, and Fort Santiago. The mug also features a colored jeepney, one of the city’s most iconic figures. It’s a beautiful design that highlights famous sights in this very colorful city (Note: must explore the city again).


Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (2)


The Cebu mug features Fort San Pedro, the Halad Museum, Lapu Lapu Bridge, Magellan’s Cross, Basilica del Santo Nino, Carbon Market, and the Mactan Shrine. Like the Manila mug’s jeepney, the Cebu mug features colored guitars, one of the city’s favorite pasalubongs. I was a kid the last time I’ve been to Cebu, so most of the landmarks are hazy, but it sparked a wanderlust that made me want to visit my mother’s hometown.


Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (4)


Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (1)


The Collector Series City mugs will be available in all Starbucks branches starting tomorrow. The Manila and Cebu mugs will retail at P550 and P650 in NAIA 1.