I've been getting a lot of queries about friends asking me if it's okay to bring their children to the beautiful, majestic El Nido in Palawan, and here's what I can say:



Traveling to El Nido with children
El Nido becomes a lot more fun and excitement when you travel there with children. Well, there are some intrinsic benefits of traveling with young children even if they are too young to remember the trip. For those planning a trip to the El Nido, can look for direct Manila to El Nido flights to enjoy a fast and comfortable mode of travel.

 El Nido is a popular destination within the Philippines, and if you have still not been there, this is the perfect chance to plan a trip there with children. All you need to do is book Jetstar airline online and take advantage of special offers for families and kids. Explore the quintessential Philippine paradise in the Palawan region that is made of more than 45 islands with loads of lagoons and caves. It is like a perfect playground for the kids!

 Visiting El Nido with kids
 El Nido is sure to floor you and your kids because of those postcard-perfect islands, gorgeous lagoons, and white sand beaches. The best part is that El Nido is easy to navigate and explore on foot. Most of its attractions are within a short walk and are well connected. It is like being in another world as you enter the secluded landscape of El Nido

Where to stay
 There are plenty of family-friendly islands that can fit within your budget. One can stay at lovely private houses or one of those comfortable beach resorts or one of those lovely private houses that can be had on a modest budget. One can even rent a place through Air BnB. And for those with adventurous families, can hop around the islands on a sailboat and camp and BBQ whenever they want.

Where to eat
 When it comes to food, there is surprisingly a good range of restaurants. El Nido Boutique Art Café is popular among families, and here one can enjoy a wide range of dishes and a child-friendly menu. L’Assiette is another good choice where the whole family can enjoy some great meals along with a great view. And if your kids can’t do without a pizza, head for Little Italy. Children love those ice creams and fresh crepes sold by the roadside vendors.

Activities not to be missed by any family
 Although there is plenty to do and see in. El Nido with your family, there are activities that should not be missed.  
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         Kayak or paddleboard to explore the islands. The small children can sin the paddleboard but make sure they wear life jackets. The catamarans are a excellent option for two people and one child.

·         Relax and laze around on the beaches and watch a glorious sunset from El Nido Beach. You will find everybody making a special trip to the beaches to enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

·         Book an island-hopping tour on a Bangka boat and do carry your snorkel and mask. Take your kids to those deserted beaches, stunning sandbars, and explore huge caves and hidden lagoons with them. They will never forget the experience their whole life.
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          Rent out a tricycle and explore the town and its boutique shops. Stop wherever you want and whenever and enjoy tasty food and meals at any of the leading restaurants.

El Nido is safe for kids and makes for a spectacular playground for kids. However, if planning to go on one of those island-hopping tours, make sure to carry life jackets for children. It is recommended to carry cash as many shops and restaurants do not accept credit card and there are very few ATM machines in El Nido. The right time to visit El Nido with your kids is between December and February when the temperatures are comfortable and cooler.



Rewind to a couple of weeks ago we rediscovered our love for Yakiniku at Gyu-Kaku. Hailed one of the best Yakiniku restaurants in Japan, they landed in Manila a few years ago, which obviously shows that I am not the type of person who'd give in to trends, except when it comes to social media and digital marketing (because that's my job or else I can't eat and spend and be merry when I want to hihi).


What I would give in to, however, are good dining deals, which is why looking at their everyday unlimited BBQ promo, it easily convinced me to try Gyu-Kaku (finally!). Although I have to be honest that they initially invited me to try this at their Shangri-la Mall branch (it was paid for by a dear friend), it only proved that it is worth paying for and I'm making sure to visit again.




In a way, Yakiniku differs slightly from KBBQ, for example, their use of special grills and coals to achieve a distinctive taste as you cook your meat and vegetables. With Korean BBQ, there isn't a ton of veggies for cooking except for onions and garlic, but they are still available as side dishes such as kimchi and pickled bean sprouts, radish and cucumbers. Gyu-Kaku, in the meantime, adds carrots, capsicum, shitake mushrooms, eggplant, and pumpkin.






They also serve everything a la carte instead of standing up and going to a designated area for meat refills. Just sit back, relax and enjoy cooking and eating as much as you can.

So how do you maximize this buffet style to the fullest? My key takeaway: you don't need to try everything and in large portions. A little bit of everything can give you an opportunity to check on what you really like, and once you find it, don't stop. It's just like dating and choosing the one you really love, right? Right And make sure not to waste any food along the way :P





Some downsides if you're a slow eater: the buffet time is only strictly 90 minutes, so it's best to arrive hungry and move fast. Wastage will also be charged, so again, don't abuse yourselves too much. For more details, read the terms and conditions on their menu before you proceed.

Not the best photo, but also sharing is a photo of my foodie friends for life, all of whom I totally missed since I don't see them as much as I would like to. Love these guys so much!


Cheers!
~
Nines

Visit Gyu-Kaku Philippines at the East Wing inside Building Shangri-la Mall, EDSA Corner Shaw Blvd, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, 1550 Metro Manila. For reservations, you may call (02) 631 7243.

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Step into a new level of delectation with exclusive Theme Nights and A La Minute Stations on selected days of the week. From Thursdays to Saturdays, Corniche at Diamond Hotel Manila presents special sets of dinner buffets to cater to a diverse range of palates which I think would still be impressive to the most discerning of guests.


Recently I tried their much-anticipated Seafood Night, where the finest local fresh catch takes center stage inside their massive restaurant. Reward yourself with a range of local fish and seashell varieties, such as fresh and saltwater shrimps, mud crabs and blue crabs, rock and slipper lobsters, lapu lapu, squid, mussels, clams and more!


Have them the way you like it: drenched in garlic butter, grilled, tamarind bisque, steamed or baked with butter and cheese! On the back end, they also make sure to feature their staff, with a weekly 'Chef of the Day' to make sure and surprise you with his/her cooking prowess and preparing your food exactly the way you want it. 

This is a great deal especially for those certified Dampa fanatics and 'enthusiasts' (hehe) who spend thousands ordering weighed seafood, farmers market style and pay a few hundred bucks more to have them cooked the way they want it. At Corniche, Php2,990 can give you unlimited access to all the fresh catch that you can get, and it already includes access to their Carving station (they have one of the most succulent steaks I have ever had), Japanese Station, Bread and Salad Station, Filipino Station, Chinese and Dessert Station! Can you get that in a Dampa? NOPE!

Check out the photos from last Friday's dinner:















In the meantime, Thursday nights are all about the 'Flavors of China' which highlights Diamond Hotel Manila's Chinese Sous Chef Yang Yong and his team. Enjoy traditional dishes like Salted Egg Crab to more modern dishes like the Kung Pao Prawns, as well as undisputed classics from their Dimsum stations. 

Saturday nights appeals more to the meat lovers, with a 'Steak Night' like no other. Relish on smoky and juicy meats from sirloin to lamb chops to grilled veggies combined with flavorful sauces.

See detailed prices below:
Thursday, Friday, Saturday Theme Night dinner buffet rate - Php2,990.00 nett per person
Lunch buffet from Mondays to Saturdays - Php2,380.00 nett per person
Dinner buffet from Sundays to Wednesdays - Php2,480.00 nett per person.

Promo will happen I think around August? Make sure you call them first before paying a visit at Corniche. 

BONUS: They have one of THE BEST UBE ENSAYMADAS in Manila! 
Make sure you go home with a box for you and your loved ones!

Corniche at Diamond Hotel Manila is located at Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila. For reservations, call (632) 528-3000 ext. 1121 or e-mail restaurant_rsvn@diamondhotel.com

Cheers!
~
Nines

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Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila’s culinary team at Café Eight restaurant comes together to showcase the culinary heritage of Mexico and its popular cultural celebration – Cinco de Mayo. From May 3-11, 2019, diners can feast on a buffet spread inspired by the rich diversity and vibrant flavors of the Mexican cuisine.

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From the Spanish words ‘La Rumba’ or the party in English, guests can only expect a festival of gastronomic experience in a jovial atmosphere at Café Eight. Flavorsome appetizers such as Chicken Taco Salad, Stuffed Jalapeño, Pork Empanada, Pinto Bean and Chili with Avocado Salsa, and traditional Mexican soups such as Pozole, Tripe, and Albondigas will keep one’s taste bud alive and kicking.



Get ready with a sombrero on because Café Eight’s live and carving stations of Stuffed Beef, Tacos el Pastor, Chipotle Marinated Dorado, Beef Chimichanga and Fajita Sandwich will transport you to the streets of Mexico. In addition, the main dishes such as Gambas al Ajillo, Enchiladas, Pork Carnitas, Vegetable Chili Lasagna, Lamp Barbacao Adobo and Meatballs Enchilada and more will surely leave you with a full belly and flame-kissed lips. Don’t leave Café Eight without satisfying one’s sweet appetite with Churros, Flan de Manga, Corn Cheesecake with Tamarillo and Apple Burrito.

Here are some of the things that I've tried as well:

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Whether Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner or just craving for Mexican classics and some modern twists, book for seats for P1,470++ per person. The rate includes the buffet and unlimited Mexican beer. Guests can also avail of the buy one get one free on all Tequila cocktails.

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For more information or reservations, please visit the official website at http://www.crimsonhotel.com/manila/, call (02) 863-2222 or email dining@crimsonhotel.com.

Bonus: Crimson Alabang isn't just another hotel in Alabang. Aside from being a good venue for business travelers and a place to unwind and enjoy for families and friends, their staff are also very accommodating and friendly that they deserve to be on my list of most accommodating hotels in the city. Just so you guys know, I've been here a few times and never left it unnoticed :)

~
Nines

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Mango Tree, one of the most notable Thai restaurants in Manila, finally renovated its flagship restaurant at the corner of Bonifacio High Street Central along 7th Avenue, and I am so pleased to have seen the changes since my last visit here! 

Mango Tree's refresh now includes charming interiors, additional facilities and a twist on their menu concept which they believe appeals more to modern diners who prefer both authentic Thai cuisine and something more adventurous.

This wide 200-seater restaurant now includes a chic solarium for 20 and an enclosed 40-seat area for private functions. Guests can also hang out at the resto's millennial-vibe stylish bar which connects to their high-ceiling with plants and greenery, clearly offering a sense of escape and tropical tranquility. 

I felt more relaxed and exciting at the same time as soon as I arrived at the door, and instead of the food, I instantly thought of who else I might invite just so I could go back and have some drinks at the stunning bar. 

What's also remarkable is the fact that Mango Tree's team will now be putting events and catering as a major part of the business. With an already established clientele, it is expected to even grow further. If you're in that part of BGC and would like to settle for something different, then this venue is perfect for any kind of celebration.

Now, off to their menu. The culinary side has been given a major refresh with a menu that is defined by good taste and preference, and they've decided to categorize these diners into two sections. One section is for the 'Purist', defines as diners who appreciate traditional tastes of Thai cuisine and seek to experience the dishes loved by the world; and the 'Adventurous' diner, or those who seek to go beyond boundaries, and are in search of new tastes from the four regional cuisines of Thailand. 

But while it would be great to get myself on a plane to fly straight to Thailand, at least with Mango Tree's new direction I can appreciate more on what Thai food is all about, and personally I like how they combine sweet, sour and spicy flavors that can only as distinctive as their culture, their people and their history.

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Some of the tasty dishes that we sampled during that time include a Watermelon Salad with Dried Shrimp Floss (Tangmoo Goong Haeng), a refreshing palate cleanser of fresh watermelon and shrimp floss mixed with a tad of sugar.

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A super spicy but now favorite of mine, the Stir-fried Crab in Curry Sauce (Phad Phong Ka Ree), is a simple yet delicious crabmeat dish with egg and yellow curry sauce. No fake crabmeat here, people.

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Meanwhile, the Thai Tapioca Dumplings (Sakoo Sai Moo) is a street favorite made with steamed tapioca balls seasoned with ground pork and ground peanuts, takes center stage as part of their Adventurist menu.

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The Grilled US Pork Collar (Kor Moo Yang), marinated grilled US pork collar served with Isan jim jaew sauce perfectly executes the flavors of the region.

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And the Stir-fried Lady Finger Okra (Okra Fai Daeng) which is topped with garlic, bird's eye chili and yellow bean paste accompanies greatly with the meats served to us during that time.

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For those who prefer poultry, the Isan Grilled Chicken, deep fried chicken marinated with special Thai herbs served with Isan jim jaew sauce, is also super good!

Just in case you don't know what Isan jim jaew sauce is, it is a sauce made from fish sauce, onions, sugar with notable sour notes from local lime or tamarind, and spicy notes from freshly chopped or sometimes dried chili.

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Thai desserts resemble the flavours of Filipino desserts for a tad bit, but having them at Mango Tree makes it more interesting. Their Tri-colored Mango Sticky Rice is a popular choice with is attractively tri-coloured with coconut sauce and fresh, ripe mangoes.

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I cleansed my palate even more with some simple Thai-Style Mochi, glutinous rice balls with grated coconut and palm sugar. The use of glutinous rice is quite familiar because of our exposure to bilo-bilo, the only difference being the preparation. And it's still delicious!


My only advice when dining or chilling out at Mango Tree is that you don't have to feel intimidated. The new look caters to all and the dishes are spectacular. If you're tired of the usual and want to try something new, then Mango Tree in BGC would be a good choice for either a nightly cap off, date night with friends or even special get-togethers with the family! 

Nines

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Visit Mango Tree and sample their all-new menu selection now. For information and reservations, call (02) 217-2367.

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