Saturday, July 18, 2015

LA Eats: Mama's Lu Dumpling House

This gloomy weather (we have been getting rains this week) makes me lazy, sleepy and makes me want to eat!  Rain and food just go well together!  Haha!

This kind of "bed" weather calls for something hot and piping!  So I thought of sharing with you this place we went to in Monterey, California called Mama's Lu Dumpling House.  

*(Okay, the Grammar Nazi in me would say, it should be Mama Lu's but I am writing the place's name the way it was posted on the restaurant's door, haha)

Image from this blog site

We had Xiao Long Bao . . . 

They were okay, but I prefer Din Tai Fung's because I like their dumpling's skin/dough better because it's thinner.  (You may read about by dining experience in DTF here) 

And Spicy Wontons!  I love spicy food but they weren't kidding when they said spicy!  These were so spicy that I wasn't able to enjoy them as much as I want to!  If you have a high tolerance for spicy food, you would love these!

And for our picky eater, we ordered some Yang Chow Fried Rice

We also tried one of their popular dishes, Deep Fried Fish with Seaweed which was good!  

We also enjoyed the complimentary peanuts they served.  The peanuts are mixed with some salt and sugar, something new in my book.  We were about to finish ours when I remembered to take a photo of it, haha!

Personally, I would go to DTF for my Xiao Long Bao and Spicy Wontons BUT I want to go back to Mama's Lu to try the other items in the menu!  They have a pretty extensive menu!  Yep, there's more to them than XLBs and Wontons!  Their other popular dishes include the Beef Wrap and Green Onion Pancake.     

What is also nice about this hole-in-the-wall place is that their food (which is flavorful!) . . . is not reasonably-priced. . . because it's cheap!  Prices range from $5-6.99!  (Not $7. . .but it's $6.99! Haha!)  It is probably one of the inexpensive dining places we've been to here in LA.  

Good food, extensive menu and excellent prices only  mean one thing. . . .MUST.COME.BACK!

Mama's Lu Dumpling House
153 E. Garvey Ave., 
Monterey Park, CA

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pampanga Eats: Matam-ih Restaurant in Clark

Something serendipitous happened last Sunday.  I was supposed to go to Manila to visit my Ninong and Ninang (our godparents in our wedding who are such a lovely and loving couple!) but guess what?! They were in Clark (which was a 30 minute drive from our home) for the weekend!  Talk about perfect timing!

So I was going to meet them in a restaurant which sounded like (because I wasn't sure, haha!) "Watami" (though there is really a Watami restaurant in Makati, haha) in Clark.  After a few turns and U-turns (and a Ninong who stood by the road to give me an easier time finding the place!)  I finally got to the place!  It sits on a lot by the main road of Clark (along M.A. Roxas Highway).  It is ironic how friends from Manila are the ones who told me about this place!  Wait, but I have an excuse!  I've been gone for a year and the place just opened last August 2014.  (Heehee)  

The name of the restaurant is. . . MATAM-IH!  And it serves Kapampangan food!  (But it does sound Japanese right?  Haha!)

Matam-ih means "delicious" in the Aeta (pronounced as Eye-ta) dialect.  The Aeta are an ethnic tribal minority group who live in Central Luzon.  The restaurant actually employs members of this tribe.  I've read in some articles online that one of the reasons why the owners (the Rodriguez family of Capas, Tarlac, led by Mayor Antonio Rodriguez Jr. and his son Antonio "Third" Rodriguez III) put up this restaurant was to give them source of livelihood.  A big population of this tribe can be found in Tarlac.  I love how the owners kept this ethnic group in mind as they conceptualized the restaurant. 

MATAM-IH is an open air restaurant with a pavilion-like structure. 

The restaurant also has air-conditioned rooms like the one pictured below which is good for 16 guests and requires a minimum consumption fee of Php 4,000.  The fee includes 3 hours use of the room. 

There is also a bigger one (good for 60 guests) with a minimum consumption fee of Php 10,000.

Our sumptuous lunch consists of . . . . 

Fried Hito with Mustasa and Buro (Fermented Rice with fish)

Inihaw na Liempo - loved this!
Wish it came with sawsawan (dipping sauce) made of vinegar and garlic, heehee

Begukan Babi (Pork Binagoongan) - 
It is also good, it has a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness

I am not sure if this is Pinakbet or just mixed vegetables, haha!  I like how the vegetables were cooked, they weren't mushy.

Adobong Pusit (Loved this! My top pick, reminds me of home)

We (meaning 6 adults! haha!) also had Sinigang and Laing (which was also good!).  I wasn't able to take a photo of the other food because we were busy catching up!

We also got a chance to talk to one of the owners.  She was so nice and pleasant and she even gave us free dessert!

By the way, I'm not saying everything is good because we had free dessert. . . but because we really enjoyed our lunch!  (Thank you again Ninong D and Ninang A for the nice lunch!)  

Manggang Atin Inangit
This dessert was delicious!  It is made up of sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, topped with vanilla ice cream, chunks of yellow mangoes and I forgot what the brown topping actually is.  I asked what it was.  But it is sweet, like caramelized brown sugar, I think.

When you dine in this place, you will also be serenaded (singing and chanting) by this group.  Kindly watch and give them some of your precious time and hope you spare some tip for them too.  It is not easy performing in front of a group! 

They ended their performance with funny pick-up lines for each of one of us in the group like this one:

Q: Ma'm, google ka ba?


A: Kasi lahat ng hinahanap ni Sir, nakita niya sa iyo!


I love this place because food and service is good!

When you are in Clark and you are craving for some local and Kapampangan food, please visit Matam-ih Restaurant and I hope you enjoy their food as much as we did.  

I know for sure, I'll be back before I leave for LA! 

MATAM-IH Restaurant
Lot 1-D, M.A. Roxas Highway, 
E. Jacinto St.,
Clark Freeport Zone

For more details, please visit their FB page.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What's in my name?

Compared to my last name when I was single (made up of 9 letters), my married name is shorter (5 letters!) and easier to spell.  I am sure people who know me will agree!  Haha!

But there are still times when people don't get it right.

Two years ago. . .

Same place. . . last week.

Billion. . . De Leon. . . .

Yes, they still don't get it! Haha!

Pampanga Eats: Meat Plus Café and Cookbook Kitchen

One of the things I am thankful for in my life is having a sister.  Here is a fun fact for you (I think I've mentioned this in an earlier post), we share the same birthday.  We are not twins. . . we were born six years apart.  I guess our Mom thought it was cool for us to have the same birthday, haha!  

I don't know exactly when we got closer but I am sure glad we did!  We love each other but if there's one thing she hates about me. . . it is the fact that I was the one who chose her name!  She wished I did a better job in doing so, haha!  (Sorry sis. . . at 6 years old, I had a limited choice and didn't know better!  But kudos to our parents for the vote of confidence, haha. . . For the record, her name is not bad at all!)

One of the things I love doing with my younger sister is having spontaneous lunches (besides shopping, heehee)!  And this is one of the things I truly miss doing since moving to LA last year.  Now that I am home, you can say we are making up for it! 

Here are two places which we have visited in the past weeks:


I have been hearing about Meat Plus for the longest time from family and friends who frequent Subic. It is even hailed as a Subic landmark!  Luckily, I don't have to go there as we have one right here in our city.

If it's your first time to try this place and you don't know what to order, I suggest you go for the BBQ Pork Ribs because it is consistently good.  

I know. . . the presentation and plating can be better.  A side of veggies would be nice right?  This dish tastes better than it looks!  The meat is so tender and moist and the BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy. . .like a mild American BBQ sauce. 

My sister got a Cheeseburger.  It was not bad but I will get my burger somewhere else.

And we tried their Steak too.

I should have ordered it medium-rare (this was well-done).  The meat was a little bit chewy.  The best thing about this plate. . . the mashed potatoes!  Because it was made of real potatoes!  I enjoyed it though it needs a little more salt.  Well, less salt is actually good! 

Someone was really happy with what is in her plate!  

I think they used bowls and not scoops for the ice cream!  Haha!  For Php 160, I think it is reasonably-priced.

It is a good place to eat because there are more than enough choices in the menu.  You can also buy your preferred meat cut from their ref and for a minimum fee (I think around Php 150-200), they can cook it for you.

It was just my first time to try this place but I'll be back to try the other items in their menu. =)


1) 6 Sampson Road
Subic Bay Freeport Zone

2) G/F Northwalk III Building
Manuel A. Roxas Hwy,
Clark Freeport Zone
Angeles City

3) G/F Kingspire Business Centre
Km 71 Mc Arthur Hi-way
City of San Fernando, Pampanga



The first time I tried Cookbook Kitchen was in their original branch (a hole-in-the-wall type place which added to its charm) in Mandaluyong.  I heard from the waiter though that this place is now closed.  I remember the best (and most popular) dishes we tried were the Pork Steak with Honey Mustard Sauce and the Parmesan Crusted White Fish.  For dessert, they are known for their Kittin's Scarlet Cake.

Today, I have a new favorite dish and it always, ALWAYS hits the spot for me!

Pasta Adobo!!!

If you like Adobo, you will love this!  And don't get weirded out that you are eating it with pasta noodles, haha!  It has fresh tomatoes, pork adobo flakes and garlic bits!  Yummers!  

Another family favorite is their Fish and Fries which comes with 2 dipping sauces: creamy pesto and spicy red wine (I think. . .sorry Mommy Brain moment). 

We also tried their Coffee Musdslide (okay, I'll be honest, it's either Mudslide or Mudpie!  See, it was so good that we forgot the name, haha!)

Reminiscent of Friday's version

This place is cozy, a good place to get some comfort food and offers good service from its staff.  I am sure I am going back for some more of that Pasta Adobo and MORE from its menu! 

Cookbook Kitchen
Greenfields Square
Km 76 McArthur Hi-way
Sindalan, City of San Fernando,

Cookbook Kitchen
Libis Eastwood Mall
E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave.,
Bagumbayan, Libis, QC

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