Sunday, August 4, 2013

Revisiting the City of Pines - Baguio 2013

2013 has been so far very very good to me.  Juggling work and making my mom and dad happy is not really that difficult. It has been a promise upon starting this year that I will spend more time with ma and pa and will find ways to have short trips with them. I know it’s a little far off since this year started but we finally had our first (definitely not the last) family trip this year. 

I was indeed blessed to have started this good year working for a new company. That alone is so much of a grace and it was definitely followed by so much more things that I have been aspiring for a long time now. God has been so good to me and one way of saying thanks is to return the blessings  He has been giving me by making my mom and dad happy. This trip I hope gave the things that my parents deserve, and that is to relax and enjoy simple pleasures in life.  As a birthday present to my mom (her birthday by the way is July 23), we decided to have a short Baguio vacation.

C Boutique Hotel Baguio

Visiting Baguio after so many years had been fantastic for me and parents. It was pure nostalgia in almost everywhere  we go. We spend a lot of summers in Baguio for short vacations when I was a little girl. Visiting Burnham Park, Mine's view Park, Botanical Gardens, The Mansion and Wright Park has always been delighting as a child. Though we haven't really visited all of those, we still get to revisit some of those memorable place and then some.

Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, Benguet 
Mom and dad loves to eat and I totally got ecstatic as soon as I realized that I am the one whose going to prepare the itinerary for this trip. Our focus: FOOD!!!

Chinese Cuisine at Rose Bowl 

Pancit Palabok of Ganza Burnham Park

Mom's Birthday Dinner at Hill Station
Breakfast Pizza at Pizza Volante
For this Baguio Getaway Series, I will be featuring some food spots in the summer capital of the Philippines:

I will also share a quiet little boutique hotel in Baguio:

And my visits to some cool places in the city:

It was indeed a fab time with ma and pa. Plus the fact that the visit to Baguio also gave me the opportunity to see a good old friend and her hubby's art gallery. I will definitely be back there in no time. :)

Enjoy the posts and please feel free to share other awesome places to visit in Baguio. I do know that I have yet to explore the entirety of the place but hey, Baguio is just a few hours away from Manila and now that I have somehow familiarized myself around, I'm betting that my visit to this fantastic place would be frequent. 

Rose Bowl Steakhouse and Restaurant (Baguio City)

It has been a tradition for our family that we should spend one great meal at Rose Bowl during our visits in Baguio. This time around, after so many years of not visiting the city, Papa told me that our Lolo Dad (grandpa) know someone from Rose Bowl, saying that he was the one who would always  attend to us whenever we dine there. But since papa's memory is somehow on the rusty side, failed to recall the name of this mysterious "kumpadre" of Lolo Daddy. I was somehow hoping that I could recall our visits there but my memory back in those times were as forgotten as my failed relationships. Hahaha! Hey I was too young then!

We spent a fantastic lunch at Rose Bowl. One thing puzzled me though. I know that Rose Bowl touts on its authentic Chinese dishes, but how come they call the place a steakhouse? But seriously, I don’t care. I just cant wait to reminded of how excellent their food is!

The old Rose Bowl that I can remember was near Burnham Park. Their new location is at General Luna Road (very near 50's Diner). The new place has huge windows that gave off a fantastic view of Baguio.

They still have their signature lazy susan tables that definitely reminded me of my childhood. (Now I wonder why we don’t consider  having a lazy susan table  at home anymore...) 

 As our Chinese restaurant order staples, we got some Chinese food favorites.

Chicken Feet - Php 95.00

Japanese Siomai - Php 95.00

Rose Bowl Fried Rice - Php 199.50 
Fried Shrimps (Camaron Rebusado) - Php 369.50 
Sweet and Sour Pork  - Php 219.50
Verdict and Recommendations:

I will give Rose Bowl a 4/5. The food and the service is equally delighting! I love how the staff is well trained and how their service is as fast as lightning. I love how the restaurant is spacious, perfect for  big family dining. However, I find the prices a little steep (but hey, I'm a cheappy) though for the quality of food and the service, it's  worth the price.

Don’t miss ordering their Rose Bowl Fried Rice together with their fantastic viands. Most of the dishes that we ordered are worth trying but one must order their famous Sweet and Sour Pork. I heard that the Pata Tim is also a winner though we weren't able try it.

Will definitely be back there soon to try their other offerings.

Rose Bowl Steakhouse and Restaurant
88 Upper Gen. Luna Rd. Ext. Baguio City, 2600
Telephone: +(63 74) 442-4213 or 442-5374

C Boutique Hotel - A Terrific Haven in Baguio

Aside from my mom's birthday, which was the real reason why visiting Baguio crossed my mind, C  Boutique Hotel's rainy day promo of booking one night and get the second night free sealed the deal. I have heard about C Boutique Hotel from a friend in Baguio who recommended it to me and as soon as I checked the photos online, I know that I have to book for a room for us to stay.

Taken from their website
I have made a reservation online about a month before the travel date and everything was a breeze. The online booking system they have is pretty reliable, plus the Manila office ushered me through some booking changes I made prior to our arrival date. (I initially booked for a Studio Suite but decided to change it to a Deluxe Suite with Loft)

C Boutique Hotel is located at a quiet residential area along Gibraltar Road. Most cab drivers are not really aware that this hotel exist since I am guessing that the hotel is fairly new.

*Travel Tip: When taking a cab in Baguio going to this Hotel, make sure you memorize the address for easy navigation. Tell the driver too that this one is near Wright Park. :)

C Boutique Hotel's facade
I failed to print a copy of my booking confirmation, which made my first few minutes in the hotel a little irritating. (well, just a little). The front desk person was asking me to forward the confirmation email for them to print but the problem was the wi-fi connection that time wasn’t really working well. It probably took us a good 15 minutes trying to connect to the internet so I can forward the confirmation to the front desk email. I was getting a little frustrated when they finally said that everything was ok (perhaps they have already found my confirmation mail in their database) and that we can finally go up to our room.
The Hotel Interior

Dining Area

Bonfire Area

The staff handed us some welcome drinks as soon as we occupy our room. Mom and dad were delighted on how spacious our room is. The Deluxe Suite with Loft can accommodate four people and there's just the three of us who will stay there.

Our welcome drinks

I find the rooms spacious and uncomplicated. I love the simplicity of the interiors plus the fact that they hang artworks done by Baguio artists which from what I heard are also for sale. A friend of mine from Gallery ErGo,  a local Baguio artist says that some artworks are made by their friends.

I claimed territory on the loft bed while mom and dad occupied the rest of the beds in the room. The room is equipped with fans instead of A/C which is just fine for it turns a little chilly during the night.

I was a little turned off by my front desk experience but they made it a point to get back on their feet and show us what great service is all about. I could say that I am a pretty demanding customer, calling the front desk for restaurant reservations, calling cabs to pick us up, requesting for this and that, but they happily complied to every single request that I made. Good job! 

Overall, I totally enjoyed my stay in C Boutique Hotel. Service is totally excellent and the place is fantastic, far from the hustle and bustle of  Session Road. I will give it a 4.5/5. Will definitely back in this hotel again next time I go to Baguio City. :)

C Boutique Hotel
No. 5 Arellano cor. Moran,
Barangay Gibraltar, Baguio City 2600
Phone Number: (074)619-0158 / 0908.5021696
E-mail Address:

Pancit Palabok of Ganza Restaurant (Baguio City)

After visiting strawberry farm with ma and pa, we went to Burnham  Park to roam around and have a quick bite at Ganza. I seriously cannot remember the last time that we have been there  but all I can remember was that Ganza in Burnham used to be a place  where we rest our weary feet after wandering around Session Road and Burnham.

Snacking on some delicious Filipino merienda favorite at Ganza is always such a delight. I never really liked Palabok when I was a kid but now has become a favorite as my palate became more adventurous growing up. Ganza is well known for their Pancit Palabok with Calasiao  Puto, Bibingka and Puto Bumbong. That beautiful breezy mid morning, we decided to order their Pancit  Palabok with Calasiao Puto.

Pancit Palabok with Calasiao Puto - Php 75.00
Ganza's Pancit Palabok is defintely one of the best tasting Pancit Palabok I have ever tried. The thick sauce taste superb and the toppings of shrimps, shredded pork, chicharon and other things delicious made the entire dish wonderful. Goes very very well with the small, sweet, sticky Calasiao Puto on the side.

Must not miss this classic merienda spot when in Burnham Park. :)

Ganza Restaurant - Burnham Park
North Football Grounds
Baguio City, Philippines 2600

Classic Filipino Cuisine at Solibao (Baguio City)

Mom, dad and I never wasted a single minute when we were in Baguio.  The agenda was really to revisit all the places that we've been to in Baguio when I was still a little kid. No doubt Solibao  is on top of our list.

Solibao have a lot of branches around the city and the one that we have visited was the one in Burnham Park. As soon as I stepped inside, I vividly remembered memories of  my aunts and cousins whose in the US, my grandma and my grandpa, most especially my childhood days. Solibao is the usual lunch spot for me and the entire family whenever we visit Baguio.

This time its just me, with my mom and dad whose dining. It was pretty easy for me to order since my dad knows exactly what to order in Solibao. For lunch that day, we ordered their Famous Kare Kare and Sizzling Bangus Belly. 

Beef Kare Kare - Php 280.00 
Totally love the Kare kare! The peanut sauce is delectably thick and the beef is super tender. It would have been better though if they pay more attention to the bagoong that comes with it. I am very particular with my bagoong and their version is a little too salty for me. A slightly sweet bagoong could have worked better but nevertheless, the entire dish is superb!

Sizzling Bangus Belly - Php 190.00
I was a little disappointed with their Sizzling Bangus Belly. I was expecting a much intricately prepared Bangus dish and was foiled to see pieces of fried bangus with some veggie garnishing on a sizzling plate.

I still want to order more dishes on their menu but mom and dad told me the food we ordered is enough for us three. Sure enough, we weren't able to finish everything.

We, of course wouldn’t want to skip dessert and so we ordered their famous Puto Bumbong.

Puto Bumbong - Php 45.00 
I am not a Puto Bumbong fan and I would definitely choose Bibingka over this. I would say that I was pleased with the few bites that I took of this puto. Love the fact that they used muscovado sugar instead of the regular sugar which made this Puto Bumbong better than what I have tasted before.

Verdict and Recommendations:

If you have been frequenting Baguio since your childhood days then you would definitely agree with me when I say that this place is a must visit place to dine whenever one is in the City of Pines. They have branches all around the city to visit. I would give this place a 4/5.

Service in this particular branch needs some improvements though. On that particular visit, we have experienced being served a dish that we didn’t order, which apparently was the dish the wait staff thought we were ordering. We also experienced being given untidy soup bowls while we were waiting for our orders. But fine, since this place has sentimental value for the family, we all just let it go and didn’t made too much fuzz over it.

Kare kare and Puto Bumbong are defintely must try's!

I am also sure that their Pancit Palabok and Bibingka are winners, so one must try ordering those as well.

For us, we ordered the famous Pancit Palabok in their Ganza Restaurant.

Solibao Restaurant – Burnham Park
South Football Grounds
Baguio City, Philippines 2600
Telephone Number: +(63 74) 442-6797 

Affordable Breakfast at 50's Diner (Baguio City)

I have been hearing about 50's Diner from both travelers and locals of Baguio. Most of these people are raving about how affordable their offerings are, some says it’s a must try restaurant since it has been in Baguio for quite some time now. With all those things I have been hearing, I know that a visit to that place during our visit in Baguio will totally be included in the itinerary. 

We started our second day in Baguio by having a hearty breakfast in 50's Diner.

The fa├žade and the entire restaurant looks like an old American diner with posters of American pop icons, neon lights and of course a jukebox.

We were handed the menu and there goes the dilemma once more. What to order?! I have been researching about this place prior to our visit and I somehow know what to get but haven't stopped contemplating since I want almost everything that they have in their menu.

Since were having breakfast, I decided to order their Pancake Tower but was told that it is not available at that time. I was sadden by the news since I have definitely been looking forward in having that humungous  serving of pancakes. I just decided to order the regular ones. Pa ordered the Fresh Egg with Hotdog and Bacon, while Ma got her favorite Spam  with Egg

Hot Chocolate - Php 65.00 
Spam with Egg - Php 90.00 
Fresh Egg with Hotdog and Bacon - Php  - 85.00 
Chicken Spears - Php 105.00 
Pancake with Coffee - Php 95.00
We shared the pancakes  which was surprisingly huge and we all love it. Its fluffy and it’s the way pancakes should be cooked! It was better though if they just serve a bottle of maple syrup instead of a small portion of it with the pancake. I know that I could ask for an extra maple syrup but just decided not to do so.

Mom and dad's orders were nothing but ordinary. It was a little pity to see a strip of poorly cooked bacon on dad's plate. I tried having a bite from mom's plate and thought that their garlic rice is good.

Chicken Spears was served with fries on the side and I am unsure if it was the Baguio temperature or it was really served cold to our table. But most probably the latter. I wish they have served us freshly fried fries instead of the cold soggy ones.

Verdict and Recommendations:

I'll give 50's Diner a 3/5. Food is ok, service is ok too, but nothing really exceptional.

Must try their Pancakes! Oh so fluffy! I loved their Hot Chocolate as well.

They have a lot of things in their menu and I know I wanna go back there to try a lot more. The milkshakes and the plated combos I heard are must try's too.

50's Diner
92 Upper General Luna Road, cor Brent Road
Baguio City 2600
FB page: 50's Diner

Mama's Birthday Dinner at Hill Station (Baguio City)

It was mom's 59th birthday and I wanted to make her birthday a memorable one. We have started our weekend with a surprise trip for her with dad in Baguio City and we have celebrated our last night in Baguio with a special dinner at Hill Station.

Hill Station has been said to be one of the best restaurants in Baguio City  for the restaurant have won the Miele's Best Restaurants in Asia awards. I knew for sure that I must bring ma and pa there.

The ever so helpful front desk people of C Boutique Hotel made reservations for us that night and I am personally excited to visit this place and try their dishes.

It was a Sunday evening and I was expecting that there will be lots of people dining that night but I was wrong. The place wasn’t as packed as I was expecting which made us appreciate the peace and quiet. 

Perfect for dinner dates!

I was mesmerized by the old charm of the place. It was really romantic and for a moment, I wished I had someone special with me to dine with mom and dad that night. It was dusk when we arrived at the restaurant and I love the effect on their huge windows. Fantastic!

Service was excellent too. We were greeted with smiles and was paid good attention by their wait staff. We were given the menu and off we go ordering.

Again, it was a little difficult deciding what to order for the offerings they have in their menu all sounds delectable. Hill Station has an impressive selection of dishes  from European, American and Asian cuisines.

Their monthly specials for July
We decided to have their Hill Station Green Garden Salad for starters. Ma decided to order one of their July Specials which is the  Javanese Fried Chicken, I told Pa to get the Moroccan Spiced Baby Back Ribs, and I ordered the Short Rib Ragu with Fettucine.

Complimentary Bread served with Olive Oil and Dukkah, a nutty and aromatic dip that went perfectly well with the bread.  
Hill Station Green Garden - Php 240.00 
A soup that was served with any order of their  monthly specials.

Javanese Fried Chicken - Php 280.00
This Javanese Fried Chicken looks like an ordinary fried chicken but wait till you've tasted the green curry sauce that goes with it. I went ballistic when I tasted it. Super fantastic with their perfectly crispy fried chicken!

Moroccan Spiced Baby Back Ribs - Php 395
The Moroccan Spiced Baby Back Ribs is to die for too. Fall off the bones meat and the heavenly Moroccan spices plus the risotto made it as one magnificent dish. Totally a must try!
Short Rib Ragu with Fettucine - Php 280.00
The Short Rib Ragu didn’t really made me wow but Papa loved it. He even asked me to exchange plates so he can finish the entire pasta dish. I didn’t mind coz I was enjoying the Baby Back Ribs anyway. :)

Verdict and Recommendations:

Hill Station is a 5/5! Excellent service, romantic ambiance, and delectable food! Sure they deserve the Miele's Best Restaurants in Asia award.

Must try their Moroccan Baby Back Ribs. Super delish! The Javanese Fried Chicken is also a must try though I am not sure if they will have it as a regular in their menu.

To end the night at Hill Station, I have whispered to our server that It was mom's birthday that night and before we left, they gave a luscious carrot cake with a birthday candle and sang a happy birthday song for mama.

Happy Birthday to our lovely Mama! We love you! 
Sure you have to dine in Hill Station when in Baguio. It was indeed a fantastic experience!

Hill Station
Casa Vallejo
Luneta Hill, Upper Session Rd., 2600 Baguio City, Philippines
Telephone: +63 74 424-2734, 423-9100, 423-9558