Thursday, October 8, 2015

Toki Japanese Restaurant


Toki Japanese Restaurant over at BGC is for me one of those fine dining restaurants that has a high level of standards that one would definitely enjoy. I had the privilege to take some photos of their dishes and try their food as well. Their sushi is really delicious. 

I also love their sukiyaki. The beef is so soft and tender. They used the freshest vegetables. The mushrooms are really delicious. I also loved the tofu. I never tasted tofu like that before. It's really something. 

Had enough of these and I was really enjoying eating it. The soup is bursting with flavor! It was great timing coz it was raining that time and every sip is just perfect. I must say again, the tofu is really something. This whole sukiyaki dish is absolutely delicious. 

Time for dessert and I had this one. It has mixed fruits, a panacota and some ice cream (I forgot the name on the top left though, sorry). It's quite enough for dessert. Panacota is really good. 

Lovely interior as well! This is one of the big rooms in the restaurant. There also smaller rooms with a grill inside for your grilling needs. There are also tables all over for those who dont want to squat. The place is really zen like. The interior is exquisite. No wonder celebrities and politicians love to dine here. It's quiet. Ambiance is top notch. And the food is really good. 

Visit Toki Japanese Restaurant at the corner of 32nd and 5th over at Bonifacio Global City. Im sure you will have a great time. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tao Yuan by New Peach Blossoms

When you hear about Peach Blossoms, it’s one of those restaurants who is an icon in the food industry. It’s been there for so many years that every time I go to SM North EDSA, I see their restaurant still standing amidst the growing number of establishments growing around it. Talk about Trinoma Mall in front of you. 

They opened another restaurant called Tao Yuan along congressional avenue. It's not your usual kind of chinese restaurant. Instead of color hues of red and gold, this restaurant is in shades of baby blue and pink! Yes you heard it right! It has this chaby chic feel that you will definitely love.  

They also have this really delicious Malunggay Shake! When I saw this in their posters.. i was instantly intrigued how its like... That time i was really thirsty and I gave it a try!  And yes. It was really delicious! It has those Malunggay bits in it and it's made with cream. 

You got to try their pancit! It's one of the best miki bihon pancit i ever had! It has this sweet smooth taste. It has this flavor that wants you to have more! You have to try it to appreciate it! 

Their fried chicken is delicious as well! It's crunchy and very tasty. They have this sweet and sour sauce available for this one but i want it without any. I just love as it is. Try it guys. 

Tao Yuan by New Peach Blossoms  is located at Chimes Square in Congressional Extension. It's a new place and very accessible. Great environment as well. It's not that congested and it has this village like feel..away from busy streets, high traffic and congested buildings. Feel free to visit their facebook page for more information. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

It's in El Nido Palawan !

Oh my... its been a while since i visited my blog. It's been what.., 5 months after my last blog post. Anyway, I suddenly reminisced my last Palawan adventure and it came to me that I haven't written a blog about it yet. So I decided to do this and yeah, i kinda miss writing stuff.  So here it is! My top choice for all the Palawan trips that I had. Welcome to El Nido. 
By far, El Nido is my favorite. I really love the beaches that we went to. It's so damn many I forgot all of their names! You might think this blogpost is one heck of a crappy one...probably yes.. I think I'm gonna agree with you! Haha. So anyway. I went with my beach thirsty adventure seeking  friends and I thank them enough they planned this trip all so well. This was my first time in El Nido and it was a blast!

 They found the trip through AirBnb and it was my first time to hear about it. It's one good deal because the trip covers almost everything! From airport pickups, to boat rides, accommodations and food! We went to this place called Talikwas Ecolodge and its located in Talikwas Beach. One of the Islands in El Nido.  

The place is absolutely majestic! It has one hell of a view! It's actually a cliff side and they made a house on the side of it. They do outdoor yoga sessions on that platform over there and it really connects you with nature! If you're a yoga fanatic, this place is well worth it!

You can just imagine the fresh air massaging your face as you kill time standing at the veranda. We had booze session here but we decided to go inside though because of the freakin' mosquitoes  (a mosquito repellent is a must out here) and flying bats! (bats scare the shit out of me..)

You kinda have to stretch your legs a little coz you have to walk up the stairs going inside the house. It's all good though... A little exercise is always a plus.  Every great thing starts with the first step...and this is how it looks like :) 

Life here is fairly simple. People usually earn from fishing and tourism. The place doesn't have electricity but they have a little ingenuity by producing power by solar energy! Yes, they are that  high tech. And car batteries are provided so you can charge your phones.    

 Ok enough with the yapping. It's time to go island hopping! It's amazing that the house we're staying, they have their own boat! So they toured us around the islands. It's so beautiful! Ang ganda talaga ng Pilipinas! Ang ganda talaga ng Palawan! Thank God for the weather because everything was clear back then. 

The waters are calm...and crystal. You can see the corals from the boat. Kinda scary holding a camera while shooting this. I just made sure the camera is glued to my hand and not get clumsy. I so wanna jump into the water from here!  

The view is just amazing. Away from traffic jams. Away from the hustle and bustles of the city. Away from the dreaded MRT...  Everybody needs  a break and what a way to spend quality time in a place like this... When I was there i imagined my eyes as a camera, capturing every detail, every moment...storing data inside my SD brain. I love it. I really love it...

At long last, we arrived at the beach and we're all crazy to hit the water and lounge at the sand! Of crs, we had to make the obligatory  jumpshot! It's amazing we only had this one with one take! I think the boat driver is one heck of a photographer!  

 What a weekend indeed. This is what living should be. To be alive! You don't have to think about anything. No past. No future. What's important is the moment. I just lay there and grabbed a bottle of JD and just had a gulp. I had this set on timer.. hehe. 

This is one of my favorite photos! The sun is so high and it turned the waters really blue! That moment was really heavy and intense! How I wish I can go back... The Philippines has a lot to offer. No wonder why we have a lot of tourists in our country. We really need to extend our efforts to preserve these natural resources.  For our kids.. and for the future generations! Many thanks to Mommy Rose and all her staff from Talikwas Ecoldoge. You're all too nice! Thanks you so much for the warm hospitality. If ever we go back, expect us again! :) 

 Where is this place again? It's in El Nido Palawan

#itsmorefuninthephilippines #wanderlust #pinoytraveller #havecamerawetravel #palawan  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Feast for the Eyes : Food Photography Workshop at PCCI

I have been fascinated with food ever since I was a kid. I normally take photos of food before I eat it. Sometimes, it makes my mom angry because food is meant to be eaten, not photographed. But I'm thankful I did because now, it became my profession as an advertising photographer. I am very lucky to be sponsored by our company to attend this really nice food photography workshop handled by veteran advertising photographer Mark Floro. He is considered the best in the food photography business. Workshop was  held at Philippine Center for Creative Imaging in Makati. 

It's a 2 Day workshop and  almost 70% of the class is all hands-on. It's nice because learn faster when I apply what I'm learning.  I learned how to use different kinds of lighting : (1) Softbox - my 2nd favorite kind of light. I use this more often in the studio and on location.  (2) Diffusion - kind of lighting  where you use something to diffuse the source of light such as diffusers, umbrellas, or even acrylic glass. (3) Hardlight - It's difficult to master. But once you get the hang of it, you can get  nice highlights and shadows in your photos. Lastly (4) Window light or Natural light. My favorite! Why? Its natural, and it doesn't require electricity. Its everywhere and easy to diffuse and reflected. Harness it properly and you will be rewarded with soft, smooth and well lit images. 

I shot this with a very unique setup. First time to do this. It's a makeshift spotlight (the ones you put on ceilings) diffused with a huge acrylic glass.  I asked myself, what the hell is that?!  From afar without the light on, i wondered why is the light being blocked? I never knew that material was translucent. I thought it was a piece of board or something. When the spotlight is on, the result is a really soft, controlled light depending on the distance of the bulb to your acrylic board. If you move the spotlight further, light becomes weaker and softer... when you move it closer, hard light is created. Out comes  deeper and stronger shadows. It's a good set-up but very bulky.

One of the best things I learned from the workshop is the basics in food styling.  Professional food stylist Tonette Asprer showed us how to properly style a porkchop. You got to have good art skills doing this because you literally have to paint your food. In pictures, it has to look super delicious but in reality, the food is uncook and basically not safe to eat. Sir Mark said that there are three things on how to make food look good in photographs : (1) Hire a food stylist (2) Hire a FOOD STYLIST and (3) MARRY a food stylist! Mark Floro's wife is one of the best  food stylist in the country and they work as a team. :) 

Food stylists are like make-up artists, they make the model look fabulous! In this case our model is a Porkchop.  I used a softbox for this shot. Mark floro taught us to use continuous lighting because it's easier to control the highlights and the shadows. You can also work in live view. When the camera is connected to the computer, (tethered), you get the photo that you want with a press of a button. Framing,conceptualizing and composing your shot is way too easy.  

Ms. Tonette  showed us how to food style ice cream. This is the real money maker she said. Ice cream is very hard to shoot for the simple reason ice cream melts really fast! Unless you shoot it inside a freezer.  With FAKE ice cream, you'l never go bad no matter what. Ms. tonette showed us her secret ice cream dough that looks like clay dough. When you scoop it out with an ice cream scooper, it looks so real!

Before, they used mashed potatoes to make fake ice cream.  Now, it's  different. It looks like a mixture of different baking ingredients which is actually a trade secret.  When you add food color to mashed potatoes, it's hard to achieve the right color tone that you want. With this magical dough, its base color is white, its easier to add the right color into it. 

It's my turn to use the  hard light set-up. Same spotlight like before but this time its nothing goes between the lightsource and the food. It's challenging but once you know how to control it, you will get really nice highlights and shadows. Photo on top is the chicken using hard light. Lightsource is coming from the leftside and then reflected on the right with a makeshift cardboard reflector ( reflective gift-wrapping foil + foamboard ). I also used some feathers mounted on an empty spray can using  blu-tac. Take note : the feather that I used came from a Philippine Eagle!!!! Yeah it's crazy. Feather is quite big! :) What are the feathers for? Used it as a flag(to block light)  to deliberately generate soft, creative shadows onto your food. :)  

On to my next favorite light is the window light. I use this more often. There's something about natural light that enlightens me. It's really nice when diffused and reflected. Besides you dont have to carry lighting gear. All you need is a piece of cardboard as reflector. On this photo, i used a diffuser at the back of my fake ice cream and then placed my makeshift cardboard reflector at the front. 

Tried the same set-up with this salad. The lettuce from the salad is translucent and it made the green color stand out! I love this photo! I originally shot it with all the white space on top in provision for a header text. 

This is usually my usual angle. Back lit , (or side lit) then reflected by a cardboard on the opposite side. I just love this technique because it's so simple yet it creates beautiful highlights and shadows that shows the texture of the food. 

2nd day of workshop, Sir Mark told us to use our favorite lighting set-up and try to shoot all the food prepared for us. I chose the setup that i use more often -  the Softbox.  I played with the spaghetti. Asked for Ate H (Ms. Tonette's assistant) for some uncooked pasta and some raw ingredients like tomatoes, red bell peppers.. onions... for my back drop. The stem on that tomato is too damn perfect because thats a gumamela  flower stem! Originally its all withered, blackened and ugly. Took out a the gumamela stem then glued it on the tomato using  mighty bond! Voila! Picture perfect tomato stem! One of the magic tricks i learned that day. Pretty neat huh? 

Next up is the ensaymada. I really love ensaymada and i love it with coffee.  Grabbed a cup and placed it beside  the ensaymada using a gold fabric. Then i sprinkled coffeebeans all over to add that "effect" that i don't know what is it but it looks good. The best thing about this photo is that, Sir Marked liked it :) I had another shot but with a teaspoon on the side. He told me, sometimes you just have to remove the unnecessary elements into your frame to make it more appealing. It's important to point the attention of the viewer on to the food, not on anything else. The food is always the hero. Not the spoon, fork or your china..

One of my classmates from Dubai, (who happens to be a policeman, like CSI kind of policeman!) saw my Lumix LX5. I normally use it as my back up camera and shooting behind the scenes. He asked me what is this camera and i showed him what it does. I boasted out its  amazing macro features and took this image for him. He was surprised! The Lumix LX5 is really good camera for a very reasonable price (i think now its selling less than 10,000 php)! What makes this good is the Leica glass that creates sharp and vivid photos. 

This is the last part of the workshop... learning how to shoot splashes, flowing water, steam, and flames! The workshop staff already prepared the necessary lighting for this exercise. First up is the splash technique which is kinda messy. My partner, dropped a piece of onion onto a bowl of water and I photographed it. Timing is everything! 

This is what it looks like when cropped.  I think i gave my partner a free bath ! Let me share the camera setting for this one : 

1/125 | f/13 | ISO200 | AWB

For steam or smoke, light should come from the rear left side and then flagged (blocked) by a piece of cardboard to prevent glare from the lens.  Camera setting : 

1/125 | f/8 | ISO200 | AWB

Now this one is the coolest part of the workshop. Learning how to shoot flames! I love flames! specially on grilled burgers, hotdogs, BBQS! Again light should be at the back and shot really dark. Make sure your environment is safe and controlled to shoot flames. You dont wanna start a fire or something. Anyway, here's the camera setting for these photos : 

1/15 | f/5.6 | ISO 1200 | Sunny or Tungsten set WB to 10000K, 5000K or 2500K

Here are a few key notes from the Workshop : 
  • Be very gentle with chefs. Appreciate their food very well. 
  • In food styling, food must LOOK good . Not taste good. 
  • "Tulo Laway Factor"
  • Do not "oversell" your food photo.
  • When you shoot rice perfectly, everything goes well. 
  • STRONG VISUAL impact
  • Charge more if you do action shots
  • Use props!
  • In food styling : First - Do feasibility meeting - concept, ideas, sketches, drawings Second : Pre production Meeting - the details. what plate to use, what kind of color the placemats are.. etc Third is the Photoshoot itself.  

Basic Food Styling Tools :
  • Tweezers
  • Spray Bottles
  • Small Brushes
  • Glycerine
  • Cleaning Supplies (Cotton swabs, paper towels)
  • Pins (T-Pins specifically)
  • Scissors
  • Knives (Bread, Paring, Slicer)
  • Bamboo Skewers , Toothpicks
  • Mighty Bond
  • Pen Torch
  • Cosmetic Sponge
  • Squeeze Bottle for sauces

I learned a lot! Many thanks to Ensogo for sponsoring me to go to this workshop. I really wanted to attend this but its kinda pricey and just settled for you tube tutorials in food photography and food styling.   It's an honor to be here. I really wanted to pursue a career in advertising photography someday and I believe this is one of the ways. I wanna thank Sir Mark Floro for showing us his brilliance in his craft. Salamat sir! Thank you for all the inputs! I also want to thank Ms. Tonette and her staff for showing us the basics in food styling. I actually want to learn more! Food styling is art! It teaches you discipline and patience. Also to my classmates from the workshop. You guys are awesome!I had fun. If you want to attend workshops at PCCI, you might want to check out their website at .

Mixin' Bowl SM North

Do you love macarons? What are macarons by the way? According to Wikipedia : A macaron is a French sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring. I tasted one of these when i went on a photoshoot before... one thing i instantly noticed is that, its not cheap. But indeed very delicious! 

For 40 pesos (or more)  a piece, this dessert should be really delicious and yes it is delicious indeed. I had one at Mixin Bowl over at Skydome at the rooftops of the newly renovated SM North EDSA. I arrived there early to plan out my shoot and good thing i did because i came out with pictures something like these. 

I used a couple of color gels to create a certain mood that goes along with the color of the food. I used yellow, red even blue gels to make the background somehow dramatic. I love the result. :)

 Besides the macarons, they also sell pastas, cakes  and other dishes. I really love their carbonara. It's so delicious. For sure if i drop by here next time, I'd order this once again no doubt. 

 I also love their blueberry cheesecake. I love the texture, the creaminess and the sweetness of the cake. It's really good. I just had this one after eating my delicious carbonara. Im sre you will love this one as well....

I also tried their delicious chocolate cake. This is a triple layered chocolate cake that is screaming with goodness! Its delicious! Best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or tea. 

Visit their restaurant at SM North EDSA just beside Skydome. They also serve different kinds of breads and I even saw some waffledogs out there! Give them a try im sure you'll love it.  

Barrio Fiesta

There's always one place I ever think off when it comes to a buffet of Filipino food...  Barrio Fiesta. When I was young, we used to eat out here specially when there are family gatherings, Barrio Fiesta is always the first thing we ever think off. I was delighted when I was assigned for a shoot at Barrio Fiesta over at Araneta Center in Cubao, because i had to re-live moments with family. I was also delighted because i have to taste their delicious kare-kare once again! This is one of my favorite dishes at Barrio Fiesta. I bet a lot of  you as well. 

Another favorite of mine is their Lechon Manok! The skin is so crispy and the meat is so juicy. I love this so much that's its a standard procedure to order Fried Chicken everytime we go here.  .

This is my first time to try their delicious Seafood Paella! It's so good. That fresh crab on the top is the winner. I am a sucker for seafood and to have this kind of dish in front of me is one hell of a treat! 

I really had fun shooting here. The staff is really nice. They accommodated me pretty well. Place is clean and the food is just delicious.