I haven’t slept for almost 24 hours but Amor reminded me that we promised to spend time with Ryan (and the fact that she and I have not spent enough quality time together! hehe.) So I agreed to have a late dinner with Amor with the condition that I could catch a few zzzz at her house. Amor’s eyes lit up and everything was all settled.
During the course of the night, details of the dinner kept on changing and 5 minutes before leaving, it seems that Nina, Anton, Beia and Donna were all crashing at Amor’s house to rest before the 11 pm dinner. I was too sleep deprived to actually care about the plans, all I knew was that I was coming to dinner and that it was the first dinner I would be spending with Ryan.
Fast-forward to while I was half-awake…. I was moving in and out of consciousness this whole time so there might not be a lot of details…
Phone calls from Rich trying to find Amor. I think he’ s stuck in traffic. I think I told Donna thanks for taking the phone call to Amor.
Nina or Anton talking to Amor. They were lost inside the village (just like I was yesterday!)… I was blaming Amor’s map! LOL
Donna was asking if I wanted to have dinner now…I told her to ask Ryan… Ryan wanted to rest first. Inwardly, I was dancing a jig as I am almost half-dead from not having any sleep. Nina and Anton were not coming…boohoo!
Amor was changing shirt and telling me that Gabby is sick and she will bring her to the doctor. I was panicking but the rest of my body was not cooperating… Sorry Amor was what I think I said and then my eyelids closed.
The next time I opened my eyes, the wake up call was a lot more urgent. Ryan was already waiting in the living room. The dinner ended up with just me, Donna and Ryan going out. No solid plans except that whatever happens Ryan needs to try a watermelon shake. I was reminded several times that I myself am craving for a watermelon shake.
As we were driving out in Donna’s car, I explained to Ryan that I am pretty much like him when it comes to places in the south. The restaurant will be as foreign to me as it is to him. I explained that for 7 years I lived in another city, 5 years of college and 2 years with work in Ortigas. Donna is the tour guide of the day!
The idea of the dinner was to go to an authentic Filipino restaurant.
Donna’s choice: Hula Hula.
Somone who heard the name might immediately associate it to Hawaii but this is naive little me. I didn’t think to argue until I stepped into the place. Hmmm… Filipino?… and then I remembered it was Donna.
Ryan asked whether it was an authentic Filipino restaurant and I almost laughed but waited for Donna to explain. She said yes and continued to order for us while I gave Ryan the do-not-believe-Donna look.
Since I am writing this almost 2 weeks since it happened, I had forgotten the specific details…. (Sorry Jen and Ryan!)
I still remember the food that was ordered though…
- Barbecued Pork (?) Strips served with garlic rice and plain rice —- why there was 2 cups of rice on one plate was a mystery to me! (Side note to Jen and Ryan: All Filipino meals are served with one viand and one rice. If someone needs more rice then one needs to order for an extra serving of rice…)
- Barbecued Pork Chop served with macaroni salad and rice — There is not much I can say about this dish… except that it was cooked the same way as the one above. Donna must love her barbecue. hehehe.
- Pork Sinigang — Everyone has been raving about sinigang and I bet Ryan has had everyone tell him that this dish is a must eat. I was actually excited to have him try it… but nooooooooooooo! The Sinigang did not taste like sinigang at all!!! The person who prepared it did not give respect to the recipe of Sinigang. There was no hint of tamarind, green mango or even (the less liked version) guava. I put a mental note to whine to Amor later…
— Ryan tried the Sinigang put passed on the pork that was served in the soup. He saw that the pork was served with the skin and said no thank you. I found it funny but not unexpected. I have friends who grew up in this country who do not like eating/seeing pork with the skin when used in stew/soup dishes. They could eat the skin when fried or grilled but they had explained to me that it looks more life like when it’s boiled.
— So Ryan ate Sinigang without the meat and I asked him if he knew the vegetables that were on the soup. He asked what the eggplant was and we had to say it twice for him to understand we meant eggplant. Our accent was confusing him…. I asked him if he knew what Okra was and he said yes. It was apparently some herb or spice in the US. I said no and told him he must be confusing it with something else but he was sure he knows what Okra is and probably they were just using it differently, like dried and crushed or something. Probably and I made another mental note to google Okra when I get home. I pointed out which is Okra in the soup and told him I hated it as it had a real slimy texture. He seemed to like it and said it tasted just like ____________ (I forgot what vegetable he said… Ryan fill in the blank if you remember!)
- Sisig — This dish is normally served in large portions on a sizzling plate. For some reason, Hula Hula does not like serving food in ways that I was used to. One order of sisig was about 4 spoonfulls. We explained to Ryan that Sisig is normally food that you order to go along with your beer and that in the Philippines, food normally consumed with beer is called “pulutan”. Traditionally, sisig is made from all parts of the pig that is not normally served like it’s tail, face, etc. Since it has become a popular dish, sisig is made from just regular meat. Just to be safe, ask the waitress before you order. Not that it makes a whole lot of difference since sisig’s meat is cut in real small squares that distinguishing what part they were before is impossible. Oh… Ryan passed on this dish too. =) In retrospect, I wish Ryan didn’t pass on eating sisig as most of the americans I dined with actually enjoyed this dish.
- The Shakes — I would have to agree that the shakes were the best part of the meal! I had watermelon shake as I wanted to make sure that Ryan was tasting a good watermelon shake… and for once, Hula Hula did not disappoint me.
— Ryan finished the watermelon shake before we finished eating dinner so we asked if he wanted to get another watermelon shake. He actually said he could try another flavor. The choices were guyabano (which we couldn’t translate in English), buko (coconut), ripe mango or green mango. Buko and Guyabano were both not available so it was down to getting mango. I actually didn’t wait for anyone to give a vote and told the waiter and Ryan that he was getting green mango shake. He wasn’t sure if he would like green mango as it’s not ripe but we assured him that it’s great! Ryan had fun with the green mango shake and said it tasted like sour candy (I didn’t remember the name again! You can fill Jen on this one too…:P )
—- Now this may seem funny now (or maybe not)… but as Ryan was consumming the green mango shake I was hoping that his stomach will not get upset at the combination of food he was eating… barbecue, sinigang, rice and watermelon go well together… but add green mango to the equation can actually be disaster. Good thing everything was foreign to Ryan that his stomach did not react to the unusual combination. Hehehe. (I swear I didn’t do it deliberately! The thought crossed my mind when he was already halfway through the glass of green mango shake!!)
I am still teasing Donna about Hula Hula being an authentic Filipino restaurant up to this day… I googled Okra and found out that it is grown in the US probably more known as ladyfinger and/or gumbo….I still can’t believe the US has no mangoes!… and I was wishing Ryan had real Sinigang before he left.