If there is another thing that excites me aside from checking out a new restaurant or writing, it’s a ticket to a new destination. The opportunity to see another dimension of the world’s beauty is an empowering feeling that alters my perspective, while I take on unfamiliar roads outside my comfort zone.
And with a country like ours, blessed with rich natural resources and tourist attractions – the possibilities are endless. Cebu, in its charming candor unwraps my curiosities again for a new route, a different culture, and cuisine.
It was a remarkable trip for me because for the first time, I traveled with my mom and sister. I never get to travel with them often considering our conflicting schedules at work and this was an ideal moment to spend quality time with them.
I have quite high expectations for Cebu since it’s a developed metropolis as Manila and known to have great tourist attractions, activities, and food to try. But I said to myself that I’ll leave all my pre-judgments and just embrace the happenings with an open mind.
Our itinerary was not tightly packed and we didn’t commute that much for my mom’s convenience. We often traveled by bus and cab only.
Continue to read along as I relay to you my adventure series in Cebu. This post is about our first day in Cebu and my review of the hotel we stayed in Oslob.
Here’s the summary of our itinerary:
We took a hassle-free, up-to-date flight via Air Asia at the break of dawn.
I was impressed with Mactan Cebu Airport that’s bigger in size and better in facilities. There are lots of shops and food stalls too.
Day 1: Check-in at a hotel in Oslob
We intended to get settled early at Oslob on the first day because we want to be spared from the hassle of travelling too early to meet the schedule of whale shark watching.
From Mactan airport, we rode a cab to South Bus Terminal where the buses heading to Oslob are found. The taxi bay is just a five- minute walk from the airport. Travel time going to the terminal was 1 hour or more depending on the traffic. Prepare at least 200-300 pesos.
The ETA of the trip from the terminal to Oslob is 3 hours so we had enough time to rest. Ticket price for the ordinary bus is Php 134 while Php 145-Php 150 for the aircon.
We had reservations at Sascha’s lodge via booking.com. It’s safe to do advance booking so that you can already advise the driver where to drop you off and pre-select your preferred amenities according to your budget. Sascha was just along the highway but it was located at the far end of Oslob. Rates can be found here.
Sascha bested all other options, with its good reviews, reasonable price and pretty amenities. It faces the coastline of Cebu that gives a majestic view of the ocean. It also has a stunning outdoor pool and an open-garden style restaurant.
While scouting for restaurants near the hotel, I entered this Germaroze Guesthouse which is just beside Sascha. Its pretty facade is also eye-catching and the rates are the same with Sascha. Sadly, we’re already booked.
Anyway, I still admire our hotel’s simple yet sleek look. Those white-washed walls, high ceilings and white curtains give that fresh, homey vibe and neat aura. There’s even a sign outside to take off your shoes when entering the receiving area to maintain the tidiness of the place.
WiFi tends to get really slow so I stay here often to secure my net connection.
There’s nothing much on the room amenities but I appreciate that it’s clean and well-maintained. We were only provided towels and no toiletries, but that’s pretty fine with me.
The beds and pillows were comfy to give us a good sleep from the exhausting day.
We just rested at the hotel because the over-all travel time was really tiring. We took time to fix our stuff and plan our itineraries for the coming days.
The food in the hotel was way too expensive and we didn’t like the options so we rode a tricycle going to Bayan (which is 10-15 minutes away from our hotel) to have our dinner.
One side of the street has these eateries serving freshly grilled seafood, chicken and meat at very affordable prices. Seems very inviting for a heavy, sumptuous dinner we all deserved.
We ate with bare hands! We had red eggs with tomatoes, grilled eggplants, grilled Tulingan, chicken and pork barbecue, isaw and balun-balunan.
All food stalls have water basins where you can wash your hands before and after eating.
That ends the first day and there are more stories to be told about my Cebu Trip.
Read the next installment of my Cebu series: Cebu Adventure Series Part 2: Whale Shark Encounter, Chasing Waterfalls at Aguinid, Lazing Around Pebbles Beach and History Lane at Museo Oslob
Update: THE PLACE IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED
SM Aura is aptly tagged as one of the premiere malls in the metro, with its top-of-the-line stores, boutiques, restaurants and facilities. That being said, it makes one reluctant to dine at its restaurants with the limited range of choices that can suit your budget. But if you move around, you’d still find reasonably- priced dining places with good food and perky ambiance. That’s when we found Love Shack at the lower ground floor of SM Aura.
I’ve been hearing a lot about Love Shack in blogs for places to look forward in SM Aura. I thought the restaurant is mostly about burgers and ribs, but the large menu outside gave us an idea what to binge on aside from that.
Maybe the name “Love Shack” was lifted from an old groovy song in the 80s. But from the word itself, I agree that there are many details to be loved about Love Shack.
Love Shack is basically a tiny restaurant but its mirrors create an illusion of space and width. The high chairs and tables were strategically placed at the center to maximize space, resembling a contemporary island kitchen. The little trinkets and decors added sophisticated touch to the minimalist interiors of Love Shack. I also liked the contrasting warm colors of the chairs, the fresh flowers on the table and the tall white mug that served as utensils holder. These are the small details I loved about Love Shack. Simple yet not underrated. And I felt like eating at a close friend’s home – that certain feeling of familiarity and being at ease.
Rumors are heard about Love Shack featuring high quality burgers. We can attest to this when my friend ordered Pulled Chicken Sandwich with wedge potato fries. The buns were soft and firm, the chicken had this savory taste with a hint of sweetness – similar to Chicken Asado. It’s served on a wooden board with two complimentary sauces, catsup and mustard.
I don’t know if it is just me, but I find the knife poked at the middle of the burger quite distracting. But otherwise, the burger was good. Their burgers are lightly infused with shitake mushrooms and garlic seasonings that produce the distinct flavor in the meat.
The Pesto Pasta was quite bland and dry. Perhaps we were looking for a creamier texture or added sauce to please our taste buds. Good thing it’s only priced at Php 150.
The Fish and Chips are breaded fish fillets with catsup, chili aioli and lemon and served with potato fries on the side. For added kick, the chili aioli does the trick. The fish nuggets are crisp and soft inside but its taste can be improved more.
It was quite overpriced for five fish nuggets, but it’s already as good as a filler to the belly.
The creamy texture of the Pumpkin Soup indicates the freshness of the pumpkin juice. It also has the subtle notes of ginger and cinnamon but not that overpowering. Dip the bread unto the soup and it’s a perfect starter for the main course. Some prefer it bland and pure, some prefer it a bit salty. To adjust the taste according to your preference, the salt and pepper are just within your reach. For me, I like it the way it is.
The Arroz con Pollo is a combination of Paella Rice and Roasted Quarter Leg Chicken. The succulent chicken quarter was infused with herbs and spices that went well with the rice. This platter holds the promise of a hefty rice serving with abundant ingredients that suit well to your liking, although I was looking for seafood in it. Better squeezed with lemon to balance that rich umami taste.
My friend ordered the Truffle Chicken served with a cup of rice and three kinds of sauces: truffle gravy, ketchup and mayo. This has the same roasted chicken above but this time with truffle mushroom gravy. The truffle gravy was just right and not overbearing.
Loveshack is not merely a burger joint as there is a wide variety of offerings to try. In my opinion though, their forte is undeniably in their burgers. I still have to taste their popularly- talked-about ribs to validate this verdict.
With value for money, pleasing interiors and selective delicious items, Love Shack could be one of your options when eating at SM Aura.
Lower Ground Floor, SM Aura Premier, C5 Road Corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Contact no: +6328565941
You may check their Instagram and Facebook for more details.
Opening Hours: 10 am to 10 PM M-S
Hearty breakfasts in the morning are my delight. Waking up to toasted bacon, sunny egg yolk and fluffy pancakes, sipping coffee while the sunrise peeks through the window, I take pleasure in eating my heart out in the morning before I start my day. And since I always associate good breakfast meals with fresh mornings, I’ve never been a fan of all-day breakfasts because for me it’s suited at the beginning of the day.
This has changed for once when I visited Early Bird Breakfast Club on a late Friday night – a pretty restaurant tucked within the hyped, party place at the Fort Strip Taguig. And as the name connotes, breakfasts served any time of the day are their specialties. But they don’t just serve morning meals – they feature delectable food items with a streak of twist enough to capture one’s attention.
Here’s the catch: the menu is printed in a newspaper style. I find this too nifty since newspaper reading would always be an integral routine in breakfast time. The newspapers handed to diners are new, without folds or crease. Flipping the pages of the menu will remind you of your usual news reading in the morning – just that this time you’re searching for the best food around.
A first timer at this place, I ordered the Early Bird Full English which I generously shared with my friend because the serving size is good for two. It includes one English Banger, crispy Bacon, fluffy scrambled eggs, button mushrooms, hashed potatoes, toasted bread, roasted tomatoes and baked beans. The eggs are soft and creamy just the way I like it. Bacon was cooked in such a perfect manner that I loved. I have not outgrown my dislike for pork so I skipped the English Banger and gave it to my friend instead and she loved it. Over-all, that was one seriously heavy meal that filled my tank at one sitting.
The Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato Soup was nonetheless another peculiar creation of Early Bird. A stack of toasted bread filled with Cheddar, Mozzarella and Gruyere with sweet and spicy onion relish served with roasted tomato soup on the side. One word: Heavenly. Dip the gooey cheese sandwich in the tomato soup as it is a perfect combination. The tomato soup was not too sour, just enough to complement the soft bread and cheese.
Now this was my favorite: Sunny Salpicao. So far this was one of the best salpicao I have ever tasted. Tender chicken fillets drenched in a sweet savory sauce, with mushroom slices and topped with egg – what a masterpiece! I was longing for rice that day and this meal made me forget I was taking breakfast in the late evening.
Look at the presentation, isn’t that gorgeous? But it’s the sauce, really, that made me fall for it. The chicken was well-marinated. The sunny side up egg was certainly a perfect match for this delicious treat.
The French Toast Fondue is their signature dessert, toasted bread served with three sauces: cinnamon sugar, maple syrup and melted chocolate. I admire this dessert in terms of taste and unique presentation. The three dips were served in egg shells, delicately trimmed to serve as sauce containers. Of all, the melted chocolate stood out.
The potato fries were equally good too. Fried to the right crispness and not too oily. Nothing really unusual, but it was served in a glass canister which I find classy. Instead of ketchup, tomato salsa was its main dip. It was a nice finger food to nibble in between conversations, after the heavy meals.
Their line of beverages had the right mix of fruity flavors and sweetness that don’t overwhelm the palate. Refreshing coolers indeed.
The artistic flair in the food presentations was but exceptional. But what I really like in this restaurant is the lovely ambiance of their interiors. The high ceilings give the illusion of a wider space and the pastel colors give that homey feeling to the entire restaurant. The bright interiors are reminiscent of that happy aura when taking breakfasts.
The mezzanine area is also open to diners who prefer privacy. But I assume it’s much cooler to stay downstairs.
The huge mural displays a garden setting which is ideal for pictorials, and matches the floral printed high chairs.
If you wanted to have a change of mood and experience delightful breakfasts any time of the day, then head to Early Bird Breakfast Club now. Good news for party goers, Early Bird is open 24 hrs every Friday and Saturday.
Early Bird Breakfast Club
Ground Floor, Fort Pointe 2 Building, The Fort Strip, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Phone Numbers:+6328089269 +63 9165393678
You may check their Facebook, Instagram or website for more details.