Category Archives: Food

Creating an Experience That Sells

My friends Mary and Elias drove me down from the Cloud forest mountain town of Monte Verde to the Pacific coast here in Costa Rica and they insisted we stop in the beach town of Manuel Antonio.

I feel in love with this place immediately!

I also fell for an experience that I want to share with you because it is a classic teaching example on how you can “create an experience that sells” and attract more clients to your business.

Half way to the beach we drove past a restaurant called “El Avion” with, you guessed it… an AIRPLANE in it! Ouuuuu how curious that made me, I wanted to go and check it out.

The restaurant sat a top the mountainside with a sweeping view of the blue, blue ocean. I invited my friends to stop for lunch there. Now this is a pretty tourist town with at least 100 resto’s to chose from, but it was the airplane restaurant that won our wallet that day.

The food was alright, nothing extravagant really except the prices!

And here in lies the lesson… this restaurant beautifully “created an experience that sells” and was able to CHARGE MORE for that experience. Same food you can get anywhere else really but the EXPERIENCE is what let’s them get away with charging more for it. AND to tell you the truth I was MORE than happy to pay for that experience.

• 1- They piqued my curiosity with an airplane, I just HAD to see it!
• 2- Offered a once in a lifetime experience of having lunch overlooking this sweeping gorgeous view of the ocean.

In truth we decided to eat there just for the experience of being able to overlook the ocean while we ate, the airplane was what drew us in.
So I hope this story illustrates the key teaching points on how you can create an experience that sells.

How can you illicit CURIOSITY from your potential clients?

Perhaps it is a special sale that you offer, a bold statement about a promise only YOU can deliver, something for FREE that is really, really juicy, or a story about something wild and new.

The saying goes – curiosity killed the cat!

How can you create a “once in a lifetime” experience for your client? What kind of products and services can you deliver or OVER deliver on value so that they feel blown away or awed and “special”.

Everyone LOVES to feel special!

The restaurant was also perfectly set up in the flow of day in and day out traffic of it’s ideal clients – tourists with money to spend on having “the once in a lifetime experience” to go home and show off about”. Hence ahem… my photo’s.

You see it isn’t the PRICE of something that sells it’s the EXPERIENCE.

So… what kind of experience are you selling? What stories are you sharing with your clients? What messages does your business speak to your clients?

I leave you with some thoughts to ponder from sunny Costa Rica! And if you want to read a fabulous book on the art of persuasion I highly recommend a book by Robert Cialdini called the “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” very interesting read.

Backpacking Information on East Timor

  • Population: 857,000 (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Dili
  • Area: 14,609 sq km (5,641 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Tetum and Portuguese (official), Indonesian and English (working languages)
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 56 years (women), 54 years (men) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 US dollar = 100 cents

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is one of a few countries who have not always had it easy, and to this moment still remains shaky. Overshadowed by the repute of neighbouring countries, Timor-Leste neither suffers nor benefits from the international media, and with a freshly self-determined nation and underdeveloped tourism industry, the new republic has a rocky but bright road ahead. East Timor is the first new sovereign state of the 21st century. After having been assaulted with violence and control by Indonesia for almost a quarter of a century, Timor-Leste has definitely seen better days.

What remains hidden to the world’s eyes is East Timor’s rich cultural heritage from tens of thousands of years of civilizations and culture, enriched and given more depth and flavour by 4 centuries of Portuguese colonial occupation. The Land of Discovery, Timore-Leste just 400 miles to the north of Australia, is an inviting peace of secretive mystery with lots of treasures in store on land and sea. Instituted as a nation just of late in 2002, the people struggle with a lower than middle income economy with billions of oil dollars in the bank that have not been mostly utilized and disseminated to rebuild it.

Within decades of resistance from Indonesian military, slaughter of a third of the population is one of the worst brutalities that nearly wiped out a nation the world has seen in the 20th century. True, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. But the real story is how splendid and refreshing an escape Timor-Leste is now because it is a land too far out, too far gone.

GEOGRAPHY

Timor-Leste (8 50 S, 125 55 E) is the largest of the Lesser Sunda Islands with an area of 14,874 km2. The terrain is basically mountainous, especially to the north and east. The Paitchu Rnage and Iralalaro are easternmost, the latter being possibly the last of tropical dry forest within the country home to extraordinary flora and fauna and top priority for conservation. The north coast features abundant coral reef systems. The highest mountain is the Tatamailau with an altitude of 2,963 metres above sea level. The lowest point is the Timor Sea that separates Australia from the country. It is rich in petroleum, natural gas, and gold.

CLIMATE

The climate in these parts is tropical with a mean temperature of a roasting 30 °C, quite like the countries nearby with 2 seasons of hot and wet, but the pattern is rather screwed up. The hot and dry season is through the months of June to October, what is to most SEA countries the rainy season, and the wet and rainy season is from November through May. The onslaught to nature of a slash and burn agriculture does very little comfort in the heat or the flooding.

PEOPLE

But as a nation of a people with a deep sense of community, always helping each other one out in times such calamities strike, the Timorese are the country’s real treasures. It is that one place where you’ll enjoy more the company of locals than the place itself. And East Timor has a population of 1,131,612, that’s a million times the hospitality and smiles. Back then, journalists are not welcome in Timor-Leste, but the tiny nation is slowly but surely opening up to the world and tourism.

RELIGION

East Timor is also one of just two nations in the South East that are predominantly Christian (Roman Catholic, 97% and Protestant, 1%), the other being the Philippines. On the other hand, Muslims constitute 1% of the population, Hindus, 0.5%, and Buddhists, 0.1%. The Timorese are mostly Austronesians and Papuans, while a small enclave of Chinese form the minority. Christianity unfortunately is one of the main catalysts to violence of Indonesian Muslims toward the Timorese such as the mass murder of 1999 in Suhai and kidnapping of thousands of children in 2002 to indoctrinate Islam.

LANGUAGE

TETUM, an Austronesian language, and PORTUGUESE are the two official languages of the state. At present, there are more than 25% of Timorese and growing proficient in Portuguese for purposes of communicating with the world outside. The form more widely used is Tetun-Dili, apparently the Tetum learned by Portuguese colonizers in DIli which has evolved to have immense Portuguese influence. ENGLISH and INDONESIAN are considered as trade languages, significant as vehicles to business, education, and foreign matters. As a sum, there are around 16 indigenous languages spoken all over the island.

ATTRACTION

Indeed Timor-Leste is a small land with big offerings. With its sort of reversed climate, this country makes a great getaway when all else in Asia is cloudy and wet. Even with a backtracked but budding tourist infrastructure, there’s just enough magic and beauty to compensate for the butt-painful road travel especially for the adventurous, without undue travail. Timor-Leste is an underground paradise, an underwater surprise teeming with an eclectic range of marine life and pristine coral reefs.

First off, there is Dili where the country’s best beaches are in holed up, much like the ghost pipe fish, leaf scorpion fish, and angler fish. In the North Coast, on the other hand, from Tutuala to Liquisa to the west, are superior shore-diving in the world with reefs plotted as near to the shore as possible 10 metres near like Bubble Beach where marine life is rare like barracudas, octopuses, and critters. Atauro Island, however, is a snorkelling hotspot, no doubt. Same and Ermera’s large coffee plantations are also worth the visit.

To the east of the country is the Nino Konis National Park-one of the last surviving tropical lowland rainforests in the world where the traveller can go trekking, diving, and bird-watching (Timor Bush Warbler-distinct endemic bird species). The park has been well protected in part to the country’s ECOTOURISM agenda with its rich coastal environment. In Timor-Leste, a tenner a day is beyond a possibility.

FOOD

To most outsiders, Timorese cuisine is a blank page, and there is some truth to it. With an economy and agriculture that’s way far from developed to sustain and supply an entire nation, and almost half the population below the poverty line, food to the Timorese is mostly consumed to get by. Nonetheless, the most innovative creative cuisines come from the ingenuity of a group of people who have close to nothing. Rice is a staple but in the absence of, there are sweet potatoes, cassava, taro and corn. There isn’t much insight to a national dish as of yet, but the common Timorese meal is one with rice, meat, and spices, closely resembling Indonesian cuisines of “rice and spice”. There are Western foods served in restos and cafes in the urban Timor for the more affluent foreigners who live and work there.

Timorese gastronome is an amazing fusion of Malay/Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese influences. Fish, specifically fried fish, is among the most popular dishes here the cuisine of fish termed as pepes, while curries, like chicken recipes, are a famed fave, but Indonesian food is very close to the Timorese’ heart and stomachs if not for proximity and influence. Fresh dessert is characteristically Timorese which could be anything from bananas, mangoes, papayas, and watermelons. Fruits can be eaten during or after the meal because dessert per se is not a culinary concept in Timor-Leste. Dessert can also mean snack like pudim de coco or the Portuguese custard tart creme caramel. And they eat dog too, sometimes. Nowhere has the saying “danger is what makes life worth living” been more true than Timor-Leste where people are not shy of optimism and forgiveness.

Memorably Romantic Date

Make a good impression. Before asking your lady love out, plan your date carefully. Ask around about romantic date ideas that worked for them and visualize what would happen if you did the same (for a specific situation). You may have noticed that dating ideas that work are those that don’t seem contrived, that appear natural. If you have dated your intended more than once, you may already be aware of what she likes or dislikes. On the other hand if you don’t, make sure to do your research and learn as much as you can about her that you can use when setting up your date. What details would be helpful when selecting from romantic date ideas? These include: her favourite colour, flowers, brand of chocolates, restaurant and interests.

After knowing the answers to these basic questions that you can get from people close to her or from personal observations, you are then ready to choose from those relevant dating ideas. Knowledge is power. Below are some dating ideas you can apply and customize, based on what you have learned from your research.

Book a Romantic Dinner for Two in a Posh Resto

Well-meaning friends will advise you to take her out and get to know her better. If your lady love likes Italian cuisine, choose a restaurant serving Italian food. Pre-book a table for two in a posh restaurant. Impress her with your gentlemanly ways by pulling out a chair for her, ordering the food she is particular with and openly sharing / listening to meaningful conversations.

Sing Her a Song

Serenading continues to be in the top list of many romantic date ideas. If you have the voice, say what you will with music. A well-rendered song or a soulful song sets the mood. If she wants to hear you sing, do sing. Put a smile on her face and yearning in her eyes.

Write Her a Poem or Letter

Dating ideas that appeal to one may not appeal to another. An introvert may not be as verbally expressive in showing he cares compared to a person with the gift of gab. You can say what you want in a letter. Pour out your feelings in a poem or letter that comes straight from the heart.

Give Her Your College Ring to Show Commitment

Offered and taken tokens are tres romantique! You can give your college ring or other item showing commitment.

Recommendations From the Best Online Diets

Let’s go ahead and get the juicy details on 3 things the best online diets recommend:

1. Leave off the sauces. – Yup, I know this is one hard thing to do and tough to resist as I can only imagine. You might want to think of sauces and their counterparts (gravies, toppings, grated cheese and dressings) as globs of fat that are placed over otherwise nutritious foods. Well, if you really thought about it, in many cases they are precisely that. Lets take a baked potato for example. Taken by itself it has relatively few calories and high fiber content. Add rich toppings to it however, and the calorie count will most definitely soar.

2. Eat small meals regularly. – Frequent eating is actually a good rule to follow and most of the best online diets are in favor of it. As long as the quantity is small each time you eat, its actually more helpful than harmful. This is because hunger is never allowed to build to the “breaking point” – where you can no longer take it and dive in to every delectable treat in the fridge or in the fast food restos on your way from work. Also, blood sugar levels are maintained at an even level and this can result in the elimination of hunger signals and produce a more steady level of energy.

3. Avoid fad diets. – Clearly one common personality of the best online diets is they discourage fad diets. You may have an idea of what I’m referring to. Some examples are grapefruit, liquid protein, lettuce and cottage cheese, all fruit or all vegetables, and absolutely no carbs, sugar or salt. Do you know what all these diets have in common? Zero balance. These kinds of fad diets only work in the short term because they lower calorie intake. But you see, over the long haul, they can deplete the body of important nutrients and throw your system way out of balance.

Three Shopping Malls in Makati For Tourists

The biggest and the best malls in the whole Philippines are within its financial and economic capital, Makati City. And today we will discover the top 3 shopping malls in Makati and what it offers to anyone who wants to visit them.

Glorietta – The top in our list is Glorietta Malls. The main reason why it is in the top of our list is because in Glorietta, everything you need is within your reach. It is composed of 4 malls that are interconnected and the fifth one is detached from the 4 other malls but is just within walking distance from the other. Everything you want; from clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories, to everything you need like foods, fresh produce, and others is all right here. It is also a famous tourist destination because of the many US restos and café that have their branches here like HardRock Café. Glorietta is also near MRT or Mass Rail Transit which is a more convenient way to go around Metro Manila. It is also a prime place for businesses and condominiums. One reviewer said that if there is a theme song for Glorietta Malls, it would be “Almost Paradise”.

Greenbelt – if you want to escape the bustling and heat of the Metro, then Greenbelt is the place where you can hang out. Like Glorietta, Greenbelt is composed of 5 sections which are also situated in Ayala Center, Makati City. It is also adjacent to Glorietta and SM Malls. If you are on a food trip, there are almost an unlimited number of restaurants that you can choose from Greenbelt 1-5. If you prefer to eat fast foods, then you should roam around Greenbelt 1 because most of the fast food chains are concentrated in that section of Greenbelt. But if you want to eat in sit down restaurants, then you can go to Greenbelt 2-5.

Power Plant Mall – this is considered as one of the “poshest” mall in Makati. If you are looking for branded names in fashion, this is where you must visit. They have restaurants, shopping spaces, and cinemas where you can relax after shopping. It is also less crowded here compared to Glorietta and Greenbelt Malls. They also hold events for children on holidays and special occasions.

Hong Kong Transit An Overnight Stop in Asia’s World City

After clearing customs and immigration, proceed to the luggage storage counter at the ‘Meeters and Greeters Hall’, where you can store your trolley or bag till you come back…

Buy an Octopus Card from the Airport Express Counter at the Arrivals Hall: This electronic stored-value card is accepted on most public transport and will make your life easier when traveling around Hong Kong as you won’t have to bother about small change…

Now you can hop on the Airport Express Train, with which you travel all the way to Hong Kong Station, or you can take a bus (A11/N11 travels to Causeway bay, Wanchai and Central – on Hong Kong Island, while A21/N21 travels to Mong Kok and Tsim sha Tsui – in Kowloon)

In Kowloon
The “Symphony of Lights” is a nightly orchestrated light, sound and laser show featured on 37 key buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbour. Awarded the world’s “Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by Guinness World Records, this spectacle is staged nightly at 8:00 pm and is best viewed from Tsim sha Tsui’s Waterfront Promenade (you can also enjoy it from Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai, on Hong Kong Island).

Not too far from there, in the area of JordanTemple Street’s Night Market is a good place to fetch a few bargains and feel a bit of a true Hong Kong market ambience… The brightly lit stalls are selling everything you can think of… and there are also more than a few food-stalls and eateries around, where you can indulge on simple, delicious Chinese food.

The market is open daily from 4 pm to 11 pm (although it gets busy only from 7 pm and onwards).

The area of Mong Kok, north of Tsim sha Tsui and Jordan, is famous for its open-air markets and late open shops. It is also chock-a-block with many authentic eateries and restaurants where you can enjoy some delicious local food at reasonable prices.

Ladies’ Market, along Tung Choi Street, and parallel Sai Yeung Choi Street South are Mong Kok’s best late-open shopping streets.

The area of Tsim sha Tsui (between the waterfront and Jordan’s Night Market) is Kowloon’s most busy and vibrant district… especially in the evening, when the streets are packed with diners and party goers. As a matter of fact, Tsim sha Tsui itself comprises a few different wine & dine precincts:

Knutsford Terrace: a small terrace street, lined with bars, pubs and restaurants, is Tsim sha Tsui’s smaller version of Lan Kwai Fong (although the ambience here is far more relaxed…).

Hillwood Road, north of Kimberley Road and Knutsford Terrace, has been nicknamed “Hillwood SoHo“and it boasts a few good Chinese and Asian restaurants, alongside some nice cafés…

Ashley Road somewhat resembles Wanchai’s Lockhart Road, with a good mix between restaurants, resto-bars and nightspots (forget about the girls though…).

Classy restaurants, as well as some nice cafés, can be found in Tsim sha Tsui’s leading hotels, as well as in the large shopping malls…

On Hong Kong Island
Victoria Peak (or simply “The Peak”) is one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist attractions. The world-class views of the city and the harbour are simply spectacular… especially at night, when the countless skyscrapers are flashing in millions of dazzling lights…

ThePeak Tram is the most popular (and scenic) way of getting to The Peak.

It operates daily until midnight and climbs the full distance in approximately seven minutes. You can board it at the Lower Terminus, on Garden Road, Just a 10-15 minutes walk from Hong Kong Station (Airport Express) or MTR-Central.

Up at the top, there is a variety of restaurants, cafés and shops.

Causeway Bay is Hong Kong’s trendiest shopping district. The relatively compact area around Causeway Bay MTR Station houses some of the city’s best department stores, shopping malls and prestigious shops. Hong Kong yuppies consider Causeway Bay as the city’s “fashion barometer” – The place to go to when you want to know what’s new and “in”…

Other than countless fashion boutiques and glitzy shopping malls, Causeway Bay has more than a few good restaurants, cafés and nightspots.


Hong Kong’s modern business district – Central,is conquered by sparkling skyscrapers that accommodate the Asia-Pacific head office of international corporations, alongside bank managements, foreign consulates and stylish shopping malls.

Thanks to its “international ambience” and well-heeled shoppers, Central concentrates some of Hong Kong’s most glamorous restaurants, like Caprice at the Four Seasons Hotel, Toscana, Grissini and Le Parisien, among others…

Just a stonethrow from Central, Lan Kwai Fong (often abbreviated as LKF)is possibly Hong Kong’s most popular and most famous nightlife arena: The small quadrangle of streets, formed by the L-shaped Lan Kwai Fong Street and neighboring D’Aguilar Street, is packed with bars, pubs, clubs and some excellent restaurants that make it a popular choice for locals, expatriates and tourists alike.

Still around Central (and LKF), the SoHo is another extremely popular wine and dine district. Unlike Lan Kwai FongWan Chai and some of Hong Kong’s other nightlife areas, SoHo is more about quiet bistro-style restaurants and cafés, where you can enjoy a romantic evening, or have your coffee alfresco, while watching life on the street go by…

Lockhart Road in Wanchai (Wan Chai), together with some of the streets around it, form one of Hong Kong’s most popular nightlife areas, where discos and nightclubs can be found next to girly bars, posh restaurants and casual cafés… No matter what you look for, you’ll probably find it in Wanchai.

Must-Try Restaurants In Boracay

It is not surprising for Boracay to be included in the popular vacation choices of local and foreign tourists. The island, considered as one of the prized treasures of the Philippines, is full of resort spots and entertaining bars for all kinds of tourists. Aside from its water activities and the premier white sand of the Boracay beach, one of the best things that can spice up your vacation experience is the food. Here are the four best restaurants that you should not miss in Boracay:

True Food Indian Cuisine

If you have a flair for authentic Indian food, True Food Indian Cuisine is your top choice. The restaurant provides a homey feel to your breakfasts, lunch-outs, snacks, or even dinners. The best Indian meals that you can enjoy here are Maseha Tare Ko, Mushroom Dopalza, and Chana Ki Dal. Are you a meat lover? In that case, you can choose the popular Tundori Chicken. Food prices range from 200 to 500 pesos, taxes inclusive.

True Food Indian Cuisine is located at Station 2 near White Beach. It is impossible to miss this very popular Indian restaurant.

Dos Mestizos

The Boracay Island is an old patch of land, surrounded by the serenity of ocean waves. During the early development of the island, it had a couple of pioneer restaurants that have attracted countless tourists. Dos Mestizos is one of these restaurants that started out as a hole-in-the-wall establishment. As time went by, Dos Mestizos became larger and more popular.

Dos Mestizos specialises in making delicious Spanish food. Among the favourites are Paella Mariscos, Boquerones, Marinated Anchovies, and Spanish Valenciana. Dos Mestizos is located at Calle Remedios, Sitio Manggayad.

Smoke Resto

The Smoke Resto is a well-defined Filipino favourite. If you want home-cooked Filipino meals, this is the right pit stop for you. You can buy the famed Filipino Bulalo for just 260 pesos and the Beef Salpicao for 120 pesos. Smoke Resto’s Kao Pad, also known as Bagoong Rice, is available for only 140 pesos.

Smoke Resto is located at D’Mall in Station 2, White Beach. Since this is a popular Filipino restaurant, you can just ask around for directions.

Kasbah

Original Moroccan cuisine is the specialty of Kasbah, a popular restaurant located at Station 1. Aside from the cuisine, you can also indulge in the restaurant’s Moroccan culture with your friends and family. The Kasbah bestsellers are Kemiah, kebabs, lamb tagine with vegetables, and lamb stew flavoured with Moroccan spices.

After the meal, you can have a refreshing drink of the well-known Moroccan mint tea. A budget of 1,000 pesos above is enough to enjoy the delights offered by Kasbah.

Before having a reservation for a hotel at Boracay, it is advisable to create a list of the restaurants that you are planning to visit. If you are looking for properties in Boracay, be sure to choose a location that is near your favourite restaurant-you wouldn’t want to travel far just to enjoy the meal that you love, right?

All About Washington, DC Restaurants

Welcome to the Nation’s capitol! Yes, folks talk politics in this town like the rest of us talk about our sport’s teams. But they aren’t really that bad – the D.C. folk really do know how to loosen up those ties. D.C. is a town that loves its Happy Hour – a time when you can catch up with friends or meet new ones.

We saw you smuggle your after-work change of clothes into your cubicle so that you’re ready for the 5 o’clock bell. Go ahead, leave your car in the office garage – you can always cab it home or Metro it back to work the next morning.

Like most cities, Washington, D.C. is a collection of smaller neighborhoods (there are 14 of them), each having its own flavor and charm. Architecture and attitude changes from one block to the other, creating a cultural patchwork that can be fascinating for locals and tourists alike. The city has plenty of energy from all the politics, government, and colleges in town. From the Vietnamese places in Arlington, V.A. to the charming brownstones of Georgetown; from the urban feel of the Connecticut Corridor near Woodley Park and Cleveland Park to the alternative minded Dupont Circle, each area in this city offers up something unique.

One of our favorite things to do in D.C. is to just waste the day or night away on the Mall. But remember, this is not the shopping type. It’s the Quad or grassy park in between all the cool national monuments and museums in the heart of the city. The Smithsonian museums are free and allow you to explore art, history, space, and much more. You also feel the National pride as you stroll through the Mall. So, even if you hated science class, you’ll still have fun whispering inside the Capitol rotunda. While in the area, you must stop by the Spy Museum – with all its interesting tidbits about the real James Bonds. Just try to remember your alias as you navigate through the interactive maze of espionage. And, make a reservation since the lines are known to get a bit out of hand.

Worked up an appetite seeing all those landmarks in our nation’s capitol? When you’ve had your fill of historical lessons and facts that you’ve forgotten since the 6th grade, it’s time to get your groove on. Here then are our journeyPod Picks for wining and dining your own party (political or not), while in D.C.:

Restaurants

CityZen (Downtown) – Located at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (1330 Maryland Avenue SW, at 12th St.), CityZen’s chef extraordinaire, Eric Ziebold was voted as one of ‘America’s Best New Chef’s’ – and the restaurant one of the ‘Hottest Restaurants in the World.” This American-French restaurant (with Asian roots) boasts soaring ceilings and an exhibition kitchen – where you can watch your scrumptious dishes like foie gras risotto, chicken and dumplings or proscuitto with melon get prepared. Three and five-course tasting menus are also available and will not disappoint. With an 800-bottle wine cellar, a sophisticated lounge, dining area, and a signature martini or champagne cocktail – CityZen will allow you to indulge in a fine culinary journey.

Mate (Georgetown) – An upscale Latin-sushi lounge, this place is simply… hip. Another jewel in the crown of bar guru Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld (creator of Chi-Cha Lounge and Gua-Rapo), this fusion retreat takes over prime corner real estate in one of the last remaining retail spaces at the Ritz-Carlton complex. Known for its verba-mate teas, the restaurant also features imported blends from Argentina mixed with rum and fresh fruit, mojitos and even verba-mate-infused soup. Don’t miss out on the maki-like rolls with zesty Latin ingredients, along with the traditional dishes like platonas. While there’s no dance floor here, Mate turns into a sexy night spot when DJ’s spin. Mate can be found at 3101 K St NW (at 31st St. NW).

Zola (Downtown) – An elegant contemporary place serving American fare, Zola is set amongst restored classic architecture (located in the historic Le Droit Building) and offers an interestingly eclectic wine list. With a little pinch of espionage, patrons can peer through a small spy hole into an adjacent booth and glimpse others feasting on smoked beer and cheddar fondue, roasted lamb tabouleh or potato gnocchi (that’s pronounced enyaw-kees). Though desserts range from simple to sweet, make room for the peanut butter trifle and the chocolate bomb. Zola can be found below the radar at the International Spy museum building at 800 F Street NW (at 8th).

IndeBleu (Downtown) – The motto for this place is: “Mingle below, sup above, seduce throughout.” Combining the intrigue of the Near East, the sophistication and class of Europe, and the style and energy of the capitol of the world, IndeBleu temps you with an experience like no other. Offering a contemporary fusion of French/Indian fare in the main dining room, street foods and world rhythms in the sensual lounge, and playful assortments of cocktail options in the bar -what else do you need? The pillows, sunken nooks and floor-to-ceiling couches do indeed help. This place is especially busy Wednesdays through Saturdays when DJ’s spin international tunes. IndeBleu can be found at 707 G. St., NW (at 7th St.).

Filomena Ristorante (Georgetown) – One of Washington’s most celebrated authentic Italian restaurants, Filomena is a landmark that has endured the test of time for nearly 25 years. Located in the heart of historic Georgetown (1063 Wisconsin Ave NW, at M St.), “pasta mamas” are known for whipping up enticing homemade pastas in the restaurant’s storefront window. Inside, you’ll be blown away by the lavish portions and the bargain basement (no pun intended – the restaurants is located below street level) $10 lunch buffets. Filomena’s menu takes you on a tour of Italy with its culinary delights, like the pasta mama’s tender ravioli stuffed with Italian cheeses and spinach and gnocchi della. As for a sweet ending of your tour, you won’t miss out by choosing any of the awesome cakes baked daily in Filomena’s own bakery.

Mie N Yu (Georgetown) – This place is so exotic, you’ll be fooled into thinking you’re in a completely different country. Formerly the space of Georgetown Station, everything about this place is a feast for the senses. Nearly every inch of the 7,000-square foot restaurant/bar is adorned with red and fuchsia silks, brocade and velvet, antiques, relics and other colorful trinkets reminiscent of a Moroccan bazaar. A Silk Road theme throughout, Mie N Yu gives anyone and everyone license to recline in the Dragon Lounge, sip cocktails in the Red Baroque dining room and order food and specialty drinks in the Turkish Tent or Tibetan harem room (keep on the lookout for the wrought-iron bird cage). An English-inspired bar, complete with DJs spinning eclectic grooves from across the globe, rounds out this unique dining destination. At 3125 M St. NW (at Wisconsin Ave.).

Local 16 (U Street Corridor) – This place may sound like a place for union workers, but the name really just refers to its location. A dinner-only destination for grown-ups, Local 16 is notches above its neighbors and wonderfully below the radar screen of the “bridge and tunnel crowd.” Eating here means eating with the locals. A split between a hip bar/lounge and a cozy dining room, Local 16 serves amazing dishes like the fried oyster po’ boy and coleslaw and the salmon with haricot verts. After 11 p.m., you’ll notice most of the diners piling out and the locals piling in. Checkout two indoor bars, an outdoor terrace bar, DJ’s and a mixed crowd of folk who just want a pint. Local 16 is located at 1602 U St. NW (at New Hampshire Ave. NW).

LIMA (Downtown) – This resto-lounge on K Street offers strong Latin influences on its menu – with a few international-fusion curveballs to keep things interesting. With a dining room above and a lounge in the basement, LIMA is dark, sultry and sexy. Just be careful of indulging to the point of losing your footing on the “invisible staircase”! Representing a winning combination of cuisine, design and ambiance, LIMA will have your palette tantalized with sensual and savory dishes that include ceviche, salad, steaks and seafood. At 1401 K Street NW (at 14th and K Sts.).

Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar (Capitol Hill) – A new wine bar and restaurant in – of all places – Capital Hill. Though it sounds an odd place to open such a trendy, hip restaurant/bar, success speaks for itself. Their menu bears a southern European influence, and it offers the best cheeses and meats of the Italian, French, & Spanish variety – all served in various combinations with olives and other treats on a wood cutting board. Sonoma also has, arguably, the largest collection of wines by the glass or by the flight. Sonoma is located at 223 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE (2nd Street S.E.).

Galileo’s (Foggy Bottom) – Renowned for its Italian and innovative cuisine, Galileo himself would have been proud of this place. It has been recognized by food critics as one of the best Italian restaurants in the country and Roberto Donna as one of the nation’s best chefs. The restaurant’s daily-changing menu offers numerous dining options: a casual meal at the bar, an elegant meal in the main dining room; and a culinary crème-de-la crème experience in a private dining area and kitchen, where Donna prepares the 12-14-course tasting menu and entertains you. FYI: Donna makes his own ham for salami and proscuitto, and his sausages, pastas, mozzarella, marmalades and breads are all made in-house. Galileo’s is located at 1110 21st St. NW (between L & M Streets).

Zengo (Downtown) – A Latin-Asian hotspot, Zengo (which translates to “give n’ take) merges Chef Richard Sandoval’s heritage with his love of Asian fare. Located in the restaurant hot zone near the MCI Center, Zengo is part serious and sophisticated restaurant, part sleek and sexy lounge. With intriguing shareable dishes like tacos filled with pickled ginger and empanadas laden with Thai chicken – this place is definitely worth checking out! The cocktail menu is one place at Zengo where its Latin and Asian interest don’t mix – so stick with the classic caipirinha’s, martinis or sake. Zengo is located at 781 7th St. NW (bet. 7th & H Sts.).

Tapaq Bistro (U Street Corridor) – One of the hottest new places in DC, this five-story Bistro boasts a restaurant, lounge space with multiple bars and a killer roof-top terrace (for all-season use and a 360 degree panoramic view of the city). Embracing the flavors of the Mediterranean from Turkey to Morocco, Tapaq’s tapas-style fare offers an exquisite and elegant blend of taste and presentation. Be forewarned: You may experience a bit of an “attitude” at the door, because Tapaq really does enforce a strict no-jeans, no-sneakers dress code that has been known to ruffle a few feathers. Found at 1336 U St NW (Bet. 14 & U).

Cabanas (Georgetown) – Offering upscale authentic Latin-American fare, coupled with the option to dine indoors or out, Cabanas is another choice in the heart of Georgetown. A place to see-and-be-seen spot, the outdoor patio seating is flanked by palm trees and overlooks the harbor fountains. The menu offers delicious options that range from chili-dusted calamari and shrimp/scallop ceviche to fish tacos and corn/crab fritters. Don’t miss the frozen Mango Margaritas! When weather permits, try to catch an outside table. Found at 3050 K Street NW (at Thomas Jefferson).

Café La Ruche (Georgetown) – This French-inspired old favorite (open since 1979), features contemporary artwork, flags and old photos scattered across the walls in this 19th century building. Known for having some of the best quiche you’ve ever tasted, the menu also showcases traditional French favorites such as potato and leek soup and croquet monsiers. Café La Ruche also offers good wine and superb desserts – all of which can be consumed in the adorable garden-like outdoor seating area that overlooks cobbled streets of Georgetown. Café La Ruche is located at 1039 31st Street NW (at M St. NW).

Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place (Georgetown) – An establishment as old as the waterfront itself, it’s hard to imagine a better view in all of D.C. Resting on the Banks of the Potomac River, this Harbor spot (with views of the Kennedy Center, the Key Bridge and Roosevelt Island) is usually packed with everyone who goes to the waterfront in G-town by boat or otherwise. And, it seems as if every young Washingtonian finds their way here for after-work drinks and seafood. Try the hot crab dip, which always makes for a good start. Tony and Joe’s can be found at 3000 K St NW (at 30th).

Ceiba (Downtown) – Latin inspiration guides the menu and décor at Ceiba. The cuisine bounces through Brazil, the Yucatan, the Caribbean and Cuba – while the décor boasts Mexican tiled floors and tropical murals. Located in the historic Colorado Building (at 701 14th St. NW, at G St.), Ceiba features a multi-leveled dimly-lit dining area filled with patrons chowing down on traditional Latin American dishes of ceviche. Appetizers like the Jamaican crab fritters and foie gras served with corn cake are not to be missed! Adding authentic caipirinhas & mojitos – how can you go wrong?

The Palm (Dupont Circle) – Some institutions never change. If you can’t find your Senator on Capitol Hill, you better check The Palm. This is where the city’s most powerful have long been its most loyal patrons. A spot for negotiating and deal-making over a juicy (huge) steak is as infamous as the restaurant’s signature martini! But you don’t need to be a politician to enjoy the great food, white-jacketed waiters, dark suits and high heels here. Keep an eye out for Larry King and Tim Russert as both have been known to pop in. The Palm is located at 1225 19th Street NW (Bet. N & M Sts. NW).

Taste of Carolina (Shaw District) – Feel like Dixie-style dishes, but can’t make your way down to the South? Experience southern food and hospitality at its best at a Taste of Carolina. This restaurant serves up the South in high-style in a two-story townhouse turned restaurant and bar. Representing some good ol’ food, the menu offers a variety of choices, from fried fish sandwiches and BBQ chicken, to Homemade Pound Cake. The bar at Taste of Carolina definitely buzzes at happy hour, but the best seats in the house are at the bay window nook. Keep in mind: you can also find karaoke, poetry reading and live jazz on weekends. A Taste of Carolina is located at 1930 9th Street SW (near T St. NW).

Sequoia Restaurant (Georgetown) – Walk through the doors at Sequoia, and you walk into the land of beauty – beautiful décor (high ceilings, warm lighting and cherry wood), beautiful people (the city’s well-healed elite can be found here) and beautiful views (located right on the Potomac’s Waterfront). Offering indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurants boasts three dining levels and a gorgeous patio area – where the sexy singles swarm to sip their cocktails under the white lights. The restaurant serves everything from fancy burgers to pan-seared Chilean sea bass. You must must try the duck dumplings and crab cakes. Jacket and tie are required. Sequoia is located at 3000 K St. NW (at 30th St. NW).

Old Ebbitt Grille (Downtown) – Established in 1856, Old Ebbitt Grill is the oldest dining saloon in the city. Located across from the White House (and steps away from the museums in downtown Washington), Old Ebbitt serves American Traditional Cuisine, offering the largest selection of oysters in the area. A favorite of Presidents Grant, Cleveland, Harding and Roosevelt, Old Ebbitt offers casual dining with service to locals and visitors alike – always a popular meeting spot for political insiders, journalists, celebrities and theater-goers. Old Ebbitt Grille is at 675 15th Street, NW (between F and G).

Shoestring Guide to Hong Kong

If there is one thing I am good at it is living beyond my means.

Though not necessarily a commendable trait, it has made me a hardcore bargain hunter for everything – from food, to sleeping quarters, to clothes, to transportation.

I may not be rich, I must admit, but street smart– yes I am!

Based on my recent budget trip to Hong Kong, I have crafted a scheme so frugal it will make any Pinoy proud.

This is for all the wanderlusts, who are short on cash.
Transportation

BUS = US$1.00 and up (depending on destination)

You will be amazed how cheap, well organized and safe it is to ride a bus in Hong Kong. There will always be a bus stop near you so spot that. DO NOT flag a bus in the middle of the road, it will squash you mercilessly! Always opt for the second deck seating for the best view.

DOUBLE DECKER TRAMWAY = US$.50 (flat rate)

Hong Kong’s cheapest mode of transportation!

Unfortunately the TRAM’s route only covers the Hong Kong Island side. But if you’re in the area you can go from Causeway Bay, to the Shark’s Fin City to Louis Vuitton in Central with just 12 bucks! Everyone MUST ride the TRAM, at least once, for the whole old school HK experience.

STAR FERRY = US$2.00

This the cheapest and most scenic way to traverse Kowloon and Hong Kong island.

MASS TRANSIT RAILWAY (MTR) = US$1.00 – US$15.00 (depending on the destination)

Not necessarily cheap, the MTR is the most convenient and my favorite way to go around the city. As they say, once you go MTR you can never go back to our local MRT.

*Taxis are the most expensive way to get around HK, so if you want to be a smart travel just say no and walk to where you’re going.

Sleep

CHUNKING MANSION = US$15 PER PERSON

Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Do not be scared of the ghetto façade, the Mansion is safe and dirt cheap (no pun intended). The place has relatively clean beds and each room has its own bathroom with hot water.

Recently featured in Time Magazine, Chunking Mansion is said to be the melting pot of races in Hong Kong with Indians, Middle Eastern people, Nepalese, Sri Lakans, Bangladeshins and Nigerians calling this their turf.

Entertainment

SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS = FREE!!

Star Ferry Terminal, Kowloon

Every night at exactly 8 pm there will be a laser light show. You will hear a musical accompaniment to the laser light, which includes thousands and thousands of lights on various Hong Kong buildings bouncing off each other. Green and white lasers will shoot out from the top of the sky scrappers. It’s an amazing opulent experience that is, best of all, free!

VICTORIA PEAK = US$20.00 ++ (WITH FOOD)

Hong Kong Island

The Peak is an SOP destination. Its open rooftop platform offers the best 360-degree view of HK!

Go there around sunset so you see HK’s skyline at night. The cheapest way to get there is via open-top bus.

The restaurants and bistros are steep on price so opt for good ol’ McDonalds on the second floor. Take out your food and eat it al fresco on the roof deck.

OCEAN PARK = US$30

This is a happier place than Disneyland, especially if your 13 years old and up!

The latest attraction is the SkyFair, here you ride a helium balloon to get a spectacular view of the coastline and South China Sea.

LAN KWAI FONG = US$10

Central District, Hong Kong

The L-shaped cobble stone lane has trendiest pubs, bistros, restos and clubs. This place is an expat magnet so if you’re into white boy yuppies you may find your match here.

However alcoholic beverages sold at the bar are worth gold. The solution is to load up on the nearest 711 (a 6pack Tiger beer cost about P300), get bubbly with booze then head to Lan Kwai Fong and just go people oogling.

Shopping

MONGKOK STREET MARKET

Kowloon

ongkok street is ‘The shopping tourist mecca’. There are rows of shops that sell sports goods, branded clothes, computer items, comics, collectible toys, cellphones etc.

The most famous area is the Ladies Market. It is 3 blocks of tent domes that sell stuff you can see in Greenhills. However there are nice items to purchase like cute tote bags, hardcore rocker belts, bling quality fake watches and the ubiquitous pasalubong keychains, ballpens, wallets, t-shirts etc.

If you decide to buy something here YOU MUST HAGGLE like your life depended on it.

Haggling in this area is like a metaphor to a girl’s love life. Never show them (boys/hawkers) that you’re into them (boys/items). Always bargain for the best deal which is a 75 percent discount. And if they don’t give you what they want… WALK AWAY. There will be an 80 percent chance the boy/hawker will give in to what you want.

Another tip if your gonna buy the Hong Kong printed T-shirts the good price is 6 shirts for HK$100 (or P100 each)

LAI CHI KOK

Kowloon

This is fashion wholesale paradise!

To get here ride the MTR, go down the Lai Chi Kok station. Take Exit C.

Cheap bags, t-shirts, jeans, belts, accessories, you name it’s here. Haggling is a must. The US$30 leather bags you see in the US as expensive stores are just worth US$15 here.

H&M

Causeway Bay??? Hong Kong

For me this is the better than Mango, Sarah, Dorthy Perkin or Top Shop combined. This Swedish brand has the cheapest yet trendiest goods. Lucky for me and my friends we came in during sale season and we bought kick ass shirts for as low as P300 and patent leather bags for as cheap as P600! The accessories are lovely!

H and M caters to all kinds of taste whether you’re a wannabe hipster like Lindsay Lohan or a polished trendsetter ala Ashley Olsen.

You cant go wrong with a store that has acquired the talents of such bigwigs as Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor and Rolf, and yes… Maddona and Kyle Minogue!

BOSSINI

Dowdy as the brand may seem this clothing store is practical and if you look close enough you can find decent casual, office wear. Check out their SIMPSON tees sold for a steal.

Giordano

Gone are the cheesy Giordano plain tees with Frog logos, remember the 90s? In Hong Kong, Giordano has put up a Concept Store that has become classy and trendy. Check out their print ad which models Korean Superstars including Rain!

The Concept Stores have quality goods and the designs are minimalist but well structured. As expected the stuff is more expensive than your regular goods. A collared polo shirt can cost US$20, but it’s worth it!

The question now is what happened to Giordano Philippines?

HMV

CD heaven, enough said.

DOG FRIENDS FASHION STORE

Kowloon

Hipster clothing that street fashonistas will relish. I bought a trench patch jacket at a sale price of US$20.00 from US$100

Eats

The Best Romantic Restaurants

If you’re thinking about the perfect romantic getaway, think about Bali. They say that Bali is the break-up island, but that’s not the case at all. Myths about love hitches in Bali have been debunked, and you can splendidly enjoy your romantic vacation in Bali. Isn’t it a wonderful place to ignite the fires of your love and togetherness?

Bali is a city with a laid back atmosphere. You can revel in its dreamy landscapes. In South Bali, you can go a bit farther to the beach town of Seminyak. It is the next town located at the north of Legian. You’ll be engrossed in the luxurious ambiance of Seminyak. As another top scenic and tourist spot in Bali, Seminyak is more uptown and fashionable. You’ll find high-end spas and boutiques in Seminyak, considering that it is Bali’s shopping capital. At daytime, you can relax at the beach. It’s quieter at that time. But what makes Seminyak more attractive to locals and tourists alike are the high-end restaurants. Bring your dearest to wine and dine in Seminyak. It’s the perfect place to nurture your affections and passions for each other.

There are different ways to dine with your beloved in Seminyak. Your dream date comes true in this romantic and sophisticated paradise. Here is a list of the top 5 romantic restaurants in Seminyak:

Lestari Grill and Pasta. Here is the ideal place if you want to indulge in a fantastic gastronomic delight while wooing your beloved. When in Bali, they say you can’t miss this dining destination. The restaurant serves classic European grills and pasta with a touch of the Asian influence. Lestari is found at the heart of Seminyak and it is known to deliver perfection to your table. Foods they serve are grilled according to your preference, but save some space for their lip-smacking desserts as well!

Ku De Ta. Dining experience in the beach front Ku De Ta is unsurpassed. Dine while you are surrounded by the fragrance of the fresh ocean water. The view of the astounding Indian Ocean will take your breath away as you savor the restaurant’s mouthwaterining meals. As you are satiated, you might even be tempted to walk along the beach and dip your feet in the sand.

The Restaurant at the Legian. This is the place to be if you want to dine Asian, French, European and contemporary cuisine. If you’re a health buff, you can ask for their gluten-free options. Dining at the Legian is a spectacular setting. With their varied selections at the menu, but not too many to choose from, dining is made easier. When in Bali, visit the Restaurant at the Legian for a beautiful location with a touch of paradise.

K Resto. This restaurant is known to be the most upmarket of all the beach restaurants in Seminyak. The menu at K Resto is classy. It ranges from Indonesian cuisine to other Asian dishes. You’ll have selections from cheaper standards to the most expensive ones. How about the feeling of eating at the beach with your toes in the sand? You’ll find it at K Resto in Seminyak.

Metis. This is where you get the best of Bali when it comes to French dining. The location is so romantic that swooning over your partner comes naturally. On the way to this splendid paradise of a restaurant, you’ll pass by pretty gardens with full-size lotus ponds. If you’re a foie gras enthusiast, Metis is the perfect romantic restaurant to visit in Seminyak.