Archive | August, 2013

Kenji Tei: Why Do I Love Thee?

18 Aug


In my quest for a great Japanese restaurant that serves everything that my family like, we were led to this full house of a restaurant in Greenbelt 5 last month. We do not really go to the third floor anymore as most of the shopping finds are in the first two floors. One of our secrets in finding great restaurants is seeing people line up for a table. This is definitely a hot pick!

Kenji Tei restaurant is an authentic Japanese Ramen House serving not just the most flavorful ramen but also the best tasting crrrunchy California Maki in town! We love the resto’s swanky architecture, too!

Why do we keep coming back?

Let me count 10 ways:

1. Salmon sashimi

I love their version of this fresh salmon dish. It is super fresh, very pink, eight big slices of tender and soft meat. My youngest son Jaime’s favorite!

2. Crunchy California Maki

Our favorite dish. We just have to order 2 of these! It is served with the crrrunchiest breading. My eldest son Miguel’s favorite.

3. Yakisoba

This stir fried noodles and vegetables dish is also packed with a generous helping of stir fried pork. Yum!

4. Chahan

This is my own favorite. It is a Japanese fried rice like no other. Very tasty and generous helping of so many ingredients. You can eat this as a complete meal. My ultimate guilty pleasure is the Gomoku Cha han, a seafood fried rice delight!

5. Crispy Chicken Teriyaki

This grilled crispy chicken glazed with teriyaki sauce is guaranteed to let you keep coming back for more. My husband Gerard’s favorite.

6. Ebi Tempura

ebi tempura

The biggest crunchiest ebi tempura we have ever tasted. We always order the 5 pieces. My daughter Andrea’s favorite. Thankfully, it is NOT all batter, but the prawns are big too!

7. Shoyu Ramen

One of the best tasting ramen I have ever tasted is this soy-based ramen with 2 pieces of chasu. Never fails to warm my tummy.

8. Yasai Itame

This stir fried vegetables, seafood and pork combination is not too oily. Just the right mix of vegetables, too.


9. Gyudon

Although I would have preferred it served mixed in already with the bowl of rice, my eldest son Miguel still gobbled it all up in just a few. The tender beef and onions are simmered very slowly, flavored in dashi, soy sauce, and mirin.

10. Tofu Steak



Breaded tofu with mushroom and pork topping. You can eat a bowlful of rice just with the sauce alone. Just the right saltiness!

You may need to call for reservations as the line can get really long.

For our Japanese food fix, this is definitely at the top of our list.

Life is Amazing!

Blogger’s Note: For table reservations, contact Kenji Tei:

(+632 ) 754 – 3098

3/F Greenbelt 5, Makati

Take NOT The Road Less Traveled

14 Aug

road not travelled

I am sharing with you the Valedictory Speech of 16-year old Mikaela Irene Fudolig, a Summa cum Laude BS Physics with a GWA of 1.099 who led the graduating class of 2007 with the highest honors at the University of the Philippines Diliman. She also received the Best BS Physics Student award and the Dean’s Medallion for Excellence in Undergraduate Studies at the UP College of Science. She also qualified as a regional finalist for the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. 

Only 16, Fudolig is the youngest student to have graduated from the University in the recent years and one of only two admitted to UPD without a high school diploma and without taking the UP College Admission Test.

She was only 11 years old and a sophomore at the Quezon City Science High School when she was granted permission to enroll at UPD as a non-degree student, having volunteered for a prototype Early College Placement Program the UPD College of Education was spearheading. After earning remarkable grades for an academic year, the Department of Education endorsed her admission to UPD, which was approved by the UP Board of Regents on May 30, 2003.

She won first prize in Cluster 2 Individual Category for her project entitled:”Cleaner Air near Gas Stations: Recycled Activated Carbon, Terracota and Single-Fired Earthenware Granules as Filter Adsorbent for Gasoline Fumes.” The project sought to use recycled materials as substitute for activated carbon used to control air pollution in gasoline stations.

She is now a PhD student and Professor at the National Institute of Physics at the University of the Philippines Diliman, with interest at econophysics, mathematical modeling of behavior in systems, and biological systems.

Here’s the Valedictory Speech of our modern day child prodigy:

fudolig gifted child

Her graduation photo in 2007

“Take Not The Road Less Traveled”

One of the things that strike me as being very “UP Diliman” is the way UPD students can’t seem to stay on the pavement. From every street corner that bounds an unpaved piece of land, one will espy a narrow trail that cuts the corner, or leads from it. Every lawn around the buildings sports at least one of these paths, starting from a point nearest to the IKOT stop and ending at the nearest entry to the building. The trails are beaten on the grass by many pairs of feet wanting to save a fraction of a meter of traveling, no matter that doing so will exact some cost to the shoes, or, to the ubiquitous slippers, especially when the trails are new.

What do these paths say about us, UP students?

One could say that the UP student is enamored with Mathematics and Pythagoras, hence these triangles formed by the pavement and the path. Many among you would disagree.

Others could say that the UP student is naturally countercultural. And the refusal to use the pavement is just one of the myriads of ways to show his defiance of the order of things. This time, many would agree.

Still, others will say that the UP student is the model of today’s youth: they want everything easier, faster, now. The walkable paths appeal to them because they get to their destination faster, and presumably, with less effort. Now that is only partly true, and totally unfair.

These trails weren’t always walkable. No doubt they started as patches of grass, perhaps overgrown. Those who first walked them must have soiled their shoes, stubbed their toes, or had insects biting their legs, all in the immovable belief that the nearest distance between two points is a straight line. They might even have seen snakes cross their paths. But the soiled footwear, sore toes, and itchy legs started to conquer the grass. Other people, seeing the yet faint trail, followed. And as more and more walked the path, the grass gave in and stopped growing altogether, making the path more and more visible, more and more walkable.

The persistence of the paths pays tribute to those UP students who walked them first – the pioneers of the unbeaten tracks: the defiant and curious few who refuse the familiar and comfortable; the out-of-the-box thinkers who solve problems instead of fretting about them; the brave who dare do things differently, and open new opportunities to those who follow.

They say how one behaved in the past would determine how he behaves in the future. And as we leave the University, temporarily or for good, let us call on the pioneering, defiant, and brave spirit that built the paths to guide us in this next phase of our life.

We have been warned time and again. Our new world that they call “adulthood” is one that’s full of compromises, where success is determined more by the ability to belong than by the ability to think, where it is much easier to do as everyone else does. Daily we are bombarded with so much news of despair about the state of our nation, and the apparent, perverse sense of satisfaction our politicians get from vilifying our state of affairs. It is fashionable to migrate to other countries to work in deceptively high-paying jobs like nursing and teaching, forgetting that even at their favored work destinations, nurses and teachers are some of the lowest paid professionals. The lure of high and immediate monetary benefits in some low-end outsourcing jobs has drawn even some of the brightest UP students away from both industry and university teaching to which they would have been better suited.

Like the sidewalks and pavement, these paths are the easiest to take.

But, like the sidewalks and pavement, these paths take longer to traverse, just as individual successes do not always make for national progress. The unceasing critic could get elected, but not get the job done. The immigrant could get his visa, but disappear from our brainpower pool. The highly paid employee would be underutilized for his skills, and pine to get the job he truly wants, but is now out of his reach. And the country, and we, are poorer because of these.

Today, the nation needs brave, defiant pioneers to reverse our nation’s slide to despair. Today, we must call upon the spirit that beat the tracks. Today, we must present an alternative way of doing things.

Do NOT just take courage, for courage is not enough. Instead, be BRAVE! It will take bravery to go against popular wisdom, against the clichéd expectations of family and friends. It will take bravery to gamble your future by staying in the country and try to make a prosperous life here. It might help if for a start, we try to see why our Korean friends are flocking to our country. Why, as many of us line up for immigrant visas in various embassies, they get themselves naturalized and settle here. Do they know something we don’t?

Do NOT just be strong in your convictions, for strength is not enough. Instead, DEFY the pressure to lead a comfortable, but middling life. Let us lead this country from the despair of mediocrity. Let us not seek to do well, but strive to EXCEL in everything that we do. This, so others will see us as a nation of brains of the highest quality, not just of brawn that could be had for cheap.

Take NOT the road less traveled. Rather, MAKE new roads, BLAZE new trails, FIND new routes to your dreams. Unlike the track-beaters in campus who see where they’re going, we may not know how far we can go. But if we are brave, defiant searchers of excellence, we will go far. Explore possibilities, that others may get a similar chance. I have tried it myself. And I’m speaking to you now.

But talk is cheap, they say. And so I put my money where my mouth is. Today, I place myself in the service of the University, if it will have me. I would like to teach, to share knowledge, and perhaps to be an example to new UP students in thinking and striving beyond the limits of the possible. This may only be a small disturbance in the grass. But I hope you’ll come with me, and trample a new path.

Good evening, everyone.

To read more about this gifted child, read more here:  Inquirer.Net

3 Things I Love About Yabu: The House of Katsu

12 Aug

The Bar at Yabu: The House of Katsu 

I am not fond of Japanese katsu (or deep fried battered pork) but I wanted to try out this Japanese food craze hitting Manila. My sisters and I went to lunch in Yabu in The Atrium 2/F Megamall before watching Four Sisters and a Wedding. The restaurant is wholly Filipino-owned (by Joe Concepcion of Unilever RFM Selecta) but the chefs are all trained by a Japanese chef of a popular tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo. 

Katsu, is a Japanese food which consists of a breaded, deep fried pork cutlet. It is often served with a finely shredded cabbage. Katsu originated in Japan in the 19th century.

At Yabu, set meals are served with unlimited finest Japanese rice called “Koshihikari,” miso soup, Japanese pickles, unlimited cabbage with sesame dressing, and a bowl of fruit.


Here are the 3 things I love about Yabu:




Katsu made with Yabu’s Kurobuta premium tonkatsu. Kurobuta is is also known as the Black Berkshire Pig, the world’s finest pork, also known as the “kobe beef” of pork because of its marbling, softness, and flavor. It is imported straight from Japan; tender, juicy and flavorful pork in a crisp golden panko crust. Flavor is indeed made much more exquisite with this High King of Katsu. I ordered the Rosu (porkloin) kind, with a sliver of glistening fat trimming its edges and deep fried in crisp golden Panko (bread crumbs). 

My Rating: 4/5 





This is a mixed set that lets you dive into the depths of four flavors: Salmon, Black Tiger Prawn, Creamy Crab and Oyster. This is a super treat as the Salmon melts in your mouth. Just be careful with those mayo!

My Rating: 4/5





Yabu katsu is drizzled with a light and sweet miso-based sauce, accompanied by nori, bonito flakes and a fried egg on top. A hint of shiso, or Japanese basil, is also found in the dish adding an unexpected freshness. This is my sister’s favorite!

My Rating: 4/5


Before our meals were served, we were given a small saucer filled with sesame seeds, a wooden grinding stick that reminded me of a small pestle, and we were advised to grind the sesame seeds with it. Then we were told to put in 2-3 scoops of their special Yabu thick sauce. It smelled heavenly!

 Just grind, pour, and mix!


We were also introduced to different types of sauces to try with our ordered dishes, most especially the Goma sauce: 


I guess my sisters truly enjoyed this Yabu experience because of its observance of careful and fine Japanese tradition of serving meals, from grinding and mixing the sesame to the sauces to the delicate placement of each and every ingredient to create a wonderful set!



No wonder it is Esquire’s Best Restaurant in the Philippines and katsu as “Dish of the Year 2012.”


What’s your favorite at Yabu? Tell me…


Life is Amazing!



10 Most Inspiring Women

12 Aug

I have personally handpicked the 10 most inspiring women from the world of film, music, politics, fashion, sport, and more. The list is a mix of celebrities and everyday heroes I look up to for their particular work and/or character. They may or may not be the most influential but I draw my inspiration from them and I hope you will, too.

These are my top 10 most inspiring women, in no particular order of importance:

#1. Oprah Winfrey 

Oprah is an American media proprietor (Harpo Productions), talk show host, actor, producer, and philanthropist. She is the world’s first self-made billionaire. She rose from being unimaginably poor to being one of the most influential and loved personalities in America. Her charity work is beyond impressive – she’s founded a school in South Africa, as well as Oprah’s Angel Network, which gives educational grants, and she personally donated $10m to rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina, just one of the few causes she’s supported. Her multi-award winning talk show centers on inspiring and helping people, remarkably making some of her guests become celebrities. I honor her for overcoming adversity to become a benefactor to others.

#2. Margaret Thatcher

Love her or loathe her, the “Iron Lady” changed the way women are viewed in politics. She is the first and only female Prime Minister that UK has ever seen and the longest-serving politician of the 20th century. I honor her for her uncompromising politics and leadership style. I greatly admire her courage, determination, and strong will. My favorite quote from her is this: “You do not follow the crowd because you’re afraid of being different. You decide what to do yourself, if necessary, you lead the crowd, but never just follow.”

#3: Madonna

After 30 years in showbiz, this American singer-songwriter, actress, author, director, entrepreneur, and philanthropist is still as popular, driven, and talked about as ever before. She is still the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and is referred by international press as the “Queen of Pop.” Her ability to constantly reinvent herself whether in her music, fashion, and in her image meant she’s never fallen from grace, never boring, and she’s shown women like me that it’s ok not to act our age. 

#4. J.K. Rowling

From being a struggling single mom to a billionaire author/philanthropist, this British novelist’s story is truly remarkable. The Harry Potter books and ensuing movie franchise captured the imaginations of children and adults all over the world. The books have sold over 400 million copies translated into dozens of languages and have become the best-selling book series in history. Her rags-to-riches life story has inspired me to pursue my passion against all odds.

#5. Miriam Defensor Santiago

She is a Judge-elect of the prestigious International Criminal Court in The Hague, and a member of the Senate of the Philippines, serving her third term. She is a prominent lawyer, former well decorated trial judge, a former Asian Nobel Prize Laureate, and lecturer on the constitutional and trial law. Her outspokenness, charisma, and flamboyant personality with witticisms and humor cause malls to close down for the day and cause traffic to stop anywhere she goes. She is well loved for her pick up lines and memes. I admire her for her courageous and brilliant crusade against corruption in the country. While not everyone can appreciate her honesty and strong opinions, undeniably I am inspired by her as a feisty force to reckon with in the Senate. She is a living legend in Philippine politics, the Iron Lady of Asia, the Miriam Magic.

#6. Lea Salonga

This Womanity Awardee for the Arts has been making Filipinos proud ever since she earned critical acclaim for her first international role as Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, which earned her a Tony and Olivier awards for her work in musical theater. She has also been recognized as a Disney legend for the voice she lent for numerous Disney films. She is currently a Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and a judge of The Voice Philippines. I greatly admire her for breaking through as a Filipino artist in the international broadway and musical theater.

#7. Lelia Ojano and Melinda Yusay

My two moms share this spot as they both inspired me in so many ways. They are both 72, still strong, and raised us well. They both have adversities in their childhood, and came out as victors. They have courage, strong will, determination, sacrifice, and dedication to their vocation. They passed on good values to us and they showed us love in so many ways. They made us feel that we didn’t lack anything even if we didn’t have everything. They have undoubtedly helped us to define our own lives and live it meaningfully. We became good citizens and good parents because of their example.

#8. MaZenia De la Cruz

She is the mother of Rafe Totengco, a celebrated New York-based Filipino designer who specializes in women’s shoes, handbags, and small leather goods. Tita Zen, as we fondly call her, is a young woman trapped in an old lady’s body (she’s now 73). Her zest for adventure brings her to the most unlikely places like the Machu Picchu, hiking in the mountains of Canada with her friends, or exploring Europe on her own with her big, heavy photography paraphernalia. I admire her for her open-minded, non-judgmental attitude, always seeing the good side. She is a perennial student, at the ripe age of 70, still studied Photoshop, Adobe, and Web Design. She keeps herself busy with Tai-chi, ballroom classes, and doting on her grandchildren and children. She is always on the go, never tires, and has full of energy and spirit. Now, that’s what I call living the life.

#9. Gloria Viola

This unassuming former teacher we call Tita Glo, has been leading Marriage Encounter seminars since the 1980’s together with her husband Tito Del. She has braved countless hours of road trips to the far-flung North because of her mission to help couples with their marriage. Her strong love and soft heart for the orphans prompted her to open her house for abandoned babies and later to adopt one even in her 60s. Her selfless love and untiring dedication for the mission is a difficult act to follow. I admire her zeal for the Lord, her love for the orphans, and her commitment for the mission.

#10. Lorna Verano

She is a life coach, a great mother, and remarkable stateswoman who became the 3rd Filipina next only to Cory Aquino and Imelda Marcos to have ever addressed the General Assembly in the United Nations. I admire her for her strong will, honesty, and courage. She has a strong opinion about everything, and she is never wont to follow. Her zest for life is extraordinary, you will be amused to find that she can beat you in target shooting, ballroom dancing, and Zumba! She will always be “forever 38. 

What makes these women inspirational? Certainly not fame, more like a sturdy inner self, overcoming adversity, making the world change, and doing it all to better humanity.

Tell me, who inspires you the most?


Life is Amazing!


Top 15 Books I Love That Will Always Stick With Me

8 Aug

I am reminded of the note that was passed on to me in Facebook way back in 2009. 

Here are the rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. I’m interested in seeing what books you choose.  

Well, here’s mine…

My Top 15 Books I Love That Will Always Stick With Me:
1. Devotional Bible – for its endearing life and love story of God and His people
2. Didache or Daily Bread – for its daily devotions to inspire me and others
3. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne – for its life-changing Law of Attraction and Positive Thinking concepts

4. The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery – for its lesson: “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
5. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – for its practical advice on showing people your love by speaking different love languages
6. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – for its greatest lessons in life from a dying man

7. No Wonder They called Him The Savior by Max Lucado – for its thought-provoking explanation of the cross and its grace
8. His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. Willard Harvey – for its revolutionary building an affair-proof marriage recommendations
9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – for its value of raising my financial IQ, turning me to be an entrepreneur leading me to enjoy my financial freedom

10. 10 Weeks to a Better Marriage – for its practical week-on-week guide for new couples in their marriage
11. Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom – for its life lessons of people who significantly made an impact in life
12. The Millionaire Next Door – for its insight into the life and habits of real millionaires

13. Sun Tzu’s The Art of War – for its strategy and tactics in warfare, and I discovered in life as well
14. Gary Larson’s The Far Side “There’s A Hair On My Dirt: A Worm’s Story” – for its surreal comic depiction and comparison of insects and animals to humans

15. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – for its ‘final talk’ on what really matters more in life
There… I have so much more to add, but in the span of 15 minutes to think, this list is my top of mind.
What’s yours?
Life is Amazing!

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