Adios, Tummy Ticklers!

I got a message from Candy 2 days ago about the small Mexican food cart in Shangri-la’s 4th floor closing down

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It’s been around for 18 years, I knew it back then as Tummy Ticklers. My siblings and I would go there after spending an afternoon at the old Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. Fun times!! Shangri-la has always been my family’s go-to mall since we were little kids. Tummy Ticklers/Taco Cabana/Mexicana Food Corner has been a big part of our mall experience all these years. I immediately messaged Maxx and we decided to go with Clara. I met up with them at my mom’s condo near Shangri-la.

Charlie, Maxx's dog, was chilling on the couch
Charlie, Maxx’s dog, was chilling on the couch

The three of us walked to the mall and went straight to the food stall.

So ghetto haha
So ghetto haha


It sold more than just Mexican bites – they’ve got imported chocolates and candies and even a few cosmetic products.



The food stall doesn’t even serve exceptionally great Mexican snacks. I guess there’s just a sense of nostalgia and comfort in their corn dogs, cheese puppies, and “natchos”

Almost half of their menu is marked "not available"
Almost half of their menu is marked “not available”



When I asked why they were closing down, they said they would no longer be able to pay rent at the mall. Oh well. It was great knowing ya! An Instagram follower of mine commented that they’ve extended until May 10 but I can’t confirm that. From what I know, today’s their last day so if you share a bond with the food stall like we do, I suggest you go today and tickle your tummy before it closes down!

Mexicana Food Corner is located at the 4th floor of Shangri-la Plaza Mall, right beside Sabrett and Toys R Us.

Eat Buy Try: TuanTuan + Satchmi + Matrix Biolage Anti-Frizz Serum

My first stop today was at Matrix Salon to get my hair color retouched. It only took an hour to retouch the violet shade and get my hair treated so it doesn’t get too dry. I also asked what I could do about all the frizziness and they gave me this anti-frizz serum to shut me up.


LELZ. Just kidding, they’re very friendly over there. Can’t wait to try this out and see if I can get my frizz under control. Nakakainizz kasi ang frizz. Ask your salon if they have Matrix products!

Since it was just a quick session at the salon, I was able to meet up with Maxx and the Youngs (omg that sounds like a band name, Maxx and The Youngs) for lunch at TuanTuan, Megamall. It was my first time there.

Lauren givin' some side eye
Lauren givin’ some side eye


It was also my first time to eat pork buns. I told Maxx I had previously tried the yummy pork buns at Ippudo and she said those aren’t real pork buns. Hahaha I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean!! But yeah, the pork buns at Tuantuan looked very different from the ones at Ippudo.

They're like toasted siopao. Yummy!
They’re like toasted siopao. VERY yummy! We got the crispy barbecued pork snow buns.

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How I Slimmed Down For My Wedding Day

I got a lot of people asking me how I lost weight and slimmed down for my wedding. My plan was to go all out intense training at the gym 2 months before the wedding. Then I badly sprained my ankle last Dec. 20 so my gym plans disappeared. It’s a good thing I was on Diet Diva‘s program for months prior to January so I gradually slimmed down – I didn’t want to do anything crazy like go an all liquid diet or something. I probably would have gone batshit bridezilla if I deprived myself of food. Hahaha! Here’s exactly how Diet Diva helped me quickly shed pounds without having to starve myself.

Just for reference and because I’m a good sport (hehehe) here’s a photo taken back in Tokyo, a day before Jim proposed to me 8 months before the big day. Look at how tight my dress was (and how horrible my hair looked in Japanese weather haha).


Also, here’s another one of me and Maxx meeting with my official wedding photographer J Lucas Reyes back in April.

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Ika nga ng Instagram commenter na si iloveashsy (kung sinuman siya) I looked like a pregnant…

a pregnant what???

Now we know why people assumed I was getting married because I got knocked up. Apparently, I had packed on a few pounds. UGH. Although I didn’t want to look totally unrecognizable and be stick thin on my wedding day, it was important to me that I looked like myself.

The article and interview below originally appeared on and was written by Marj Ramos.

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Kyoto’s Kitchen: Nishiki Market

Our fourth day in Japan was spent going around the famous Nishiki Market (Kyoto), a really long and narrow arcade that stretches for five blocks. It’s lined by over a hundred shops and restaurants. It’s known as The Kitchen of Kyoto because you can sample many of the city’s cultural delicacies all in one place. The history of the place is amazing:

Nishiki has a long history that originated about 400 years ago, but its true beginnings go back even further. When Japan’s capital was first transferred to Kyoto, the distribution network for goods was undeveloped and citizens couldn’t enjoy eating a wide variety of foods. In 1573, a lot of local merchants visited Kyoto’s Imperial Palace to dedicate local products, such as fresh fish and game for meat. Gradually, they got used to cooperating in order to keep these products fresh by utilizing the abundance of freezing underground water beneath Nishiki, which remains 15 degrees C even in summer. Even today, this water guarantees the freshness of fish sold in the market. (source)

Here are some photos I took that day.

Jim “gathering good energy and balling it up” for good vibes
We're heeere
We’re heeere


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On our second day in Kyoto, we were set on taking a cooking class we found on TripAdvisor. If you’re not familiar with the app, it gets your location and tells you the top-rated restaurants, attractions and activities nearby. One of the top activities near our area was a traditional Japanese cooking class held by WA Experience Kafu and it had rave reviews, mostly for the very friendly instructor named Kimi! I e-mailed her in the morning and asked if there was an available slot for the day and inquired about how much it would cost for 2 persons. She replied within the hour and said we could go at 2pm and a class for each person cost 7,500 yen (a little less than PhP3,000). So we finally got out of bed and checked the weather outside.

My husband the dinosaur

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Dinner at Nobu

I used to always read about the restaurant and “Hollywood Hotspot” Nobu when I read gossip magazines or PerezHilton. Note the past tense because I haven’t been up to date in any gossip – Hollywood or otherwise. So when I found out we were dining at Nobu for my almost in-laws’ 34th wedding anniversary, I was surprised because I didn’t even know it was opening here. Need to be less self-absorbed and brush up on current events, Saab! Anyway, it was a great dinner before 2014 ended!

Happy 34th, tito Gerry and tita Bing!
Happy 34th anniversary, tito Gerry and tita Bing!

Nobu is named such after its head chef and founder Nobu Matsuhisa. He is well known for blending traditional Japanese dishes with South American ingredients.

The white fish sashimi with dried miso was excellent!
The white fish sashimi with dried miso was excellent!
Negi Toro (fatty tuna and scallion)
Negi Toro (fatty tuna and scallion)

Matsuhisa was made even more famous when his customer, actor Robert De Niro, was so impressed and offered to partner up with him. Apparently, he even had a small role in Martin Scorsese’s Casino and did some cameos in Austin Powers: Goldmember and Memoirs of a Geisha. Daming raket ni kuya!

Nobu style tacos
Nobu style tacos
Super yum: Yellowtail with jalapeño
Super yum: Yellowtail with jalapeño
House Special sushi
House Special sushi
Do yourself a favor and order this: Crispy pork belly with spicy miso
Do yourself a favor and order this: Crispy pork belly with spicy miso

It was a fab dinner and I’m glad to have been invited!


Nunki the emotera!
Nunki the emotera!


After dinner we went outside where it was so pretty and quiet.



On our way to a cabana, which was surrounded by water, Nunki got too excited and walked straight ankle-deep into the shallow pool. Brave girl, buti nalang she didn’t cry haha.


Wet socks SUCK!!

There we heard stories of tita Bing and tito Gerry’s love life. This made Nunki kind of force Jim to kiss my hand. She had to teach him how to do it too hahaha



Jim and the girls

My bridesmaids ate Mia, Chelo and our flower girl Nunki!
Guess where she learned all her poses!

Jim’s cousin works at Nobu and arranged a little tour for us! We got a little sneak peek at their beautiful hotel rooms.



Framed Japan-themed prints
Framed Japan-themed prints


Chelo captioned this "Banyo King and Queen"
Chelo captioned this “Banyo King and Queen”

Thank you SO much to Chelo for sending me these photos from her new camera woohoo!! I’d also like to thank Una, Ely and Eon Buendia for the pretty dress I wore that night. So flattered that you think I’m a size UK 6. Miraculously, it fits me. Hehehe.

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Most of all, I’d like to thank The Bacarros for inviting me to dinner and for giving me the best gift of all: Jim. TEEHEE.

Nobu Hotel is located in City of Dreams Manila, Asean Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Manila. +632 800 8080

EAT, BUY, TRY: Mrs. Graham’s

Hey guys, I’m happy to announce that my segment Sabi ni Saab (lol) is back for another season of Taste Buddies! Fun!! So I had my first taping day last Friday and one of the locations we checked out was Mrs. Graham’s on Sct. Rallos st. QC, a bakery that specializes in macarons!

It’s such a cute and cozy place, I tell ya!




Here’s what it looks like from outside. That’s our segment producer ate Em, standing in for me to check for blocking!


Mrs. Graham (that’s her actual married name, how perfect for a baker???) makes us look bad by being a baker and a crafty wife. Plus, she’s a regulation hottie who has a kid at 27. Hahaha. Na-pressure naman ako matuto magluto at maging mas crafty AND magka-anak. Charot. Look at these macaron hanging lamps she made from old electric fans!!!


Mrs. Graham’s has got a great sweets selection



They’ve also consigned other home-based bakers to sell their sweets at their shop! Like these cupcakes by Sweet Cheeks.

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes by Sweet Cheeks
Chocolate Yema Cupcakes by Sweet Cheeks


We featured their special Christmas edition macarons for the episode.


Gingerbread Reindeer
Gingerbread Reindeer
Peppermint. Those are crushed candy canes on the side!
Peppermint. Those are crushed candy canes on the side!

All around the store, you can find quirky items. They did a very good job of paying attention to detail.


Their sign for a co-ed bathroom
Games you can borrow!


Mrs. Graham’s is a supporter of small local arts and crafts companies so they have a corner dedicated to crafty products!

I’m obsessed with these comic wallets and pouches by Krafty Pirate!!!






Hodge Podge keychains




MT washi tape


Thank you so much to Chris and Anna Graham for letting us feature their bakery!



EAT: Gingerbread Reindeer Macaron
BUY: Krafty Pirates wallet for P150
TRY: Chocolate Yema cupcakes from Sweet Cheeks

You can visit Mrs. Graham’s Bakery at 51C, Scout Rallos St., Barangay Laging Handa, QC.


If you want to see Sabi ni Saab on Taste Buddies, watch it every Saturday on GMA News TV (channel 11) at 8:45pm. Belle Daza changed networks and had to leave the show so Solenn Heussaff‘s newest Taste Buddy is the amazing Iya Villania! Please support the show and let us know if you have any restaurant you want us to feature. ;)


Happy 2nd Birthday, Bear!!

My bear turned 2 last Saturday, September 20! I was originally planning to have another birthday party for her like the one we had last year but because of the storm I decided against it. Medyo BV that her birthday falls on a rainy day every year. Well, at least the sky cleared a little on Saturday so we could take her out! Last year, Joey’s birthday party was sponsored by Whole Pet Kitchen!

Effort hanapin sa Instagram yan dahil 1 year ago pa.. Hahaha! That was back when Whole Pet Kitchen was just selling treats for dogs and cats out of their website and Instagram account. Now they’ve got their own dog cafe!! It’s been open for months but I was only able to go last weekend!


My bear is freshly groomed kaya mukhang puppy heehee. Whole Pet Kitchen’s pet deli and barkery is just near Greenhills, on Recto st. beside P. Guevarra – location isn’t the best since the road is pretty tight. Make sure to carry your pet until you get inside the store to avoid accidents! Crossing my fingers they open a bigger branch somewhere more accessible! Mag-franchise kaya ako?! Haha I wish.


Once you get inside you forget about everything else because of the sweet ambience! The place is pretty small with only 3-5 tables but the air was surprisingly clear and fresh considering all the animals that come and go!


If you want to hold a small party for your pet, it’s possible to hold it in the store but if you want a bigger celebration at home, Whole Pet Kitchen delivers their cakes and pastries!


The nice servers told us it was all about disinfecting every so often. They also don’t use any chemicals to clean their floor since they know dogs tend to lick it when eating fallen food so they only use water and vinegar!

Look at my happy birthday girl!!



We ordered one of their best-sellers: lasagna for dogs! Here’s Jim trying to steady her head for a photo and Joey’s just all GIMME THAT


Bunny and Bear


The server said that most dogs eat only the beef and sauce, leaving the pasta behind but with Joey, it was gone – pasta and all – in less than 10 seconds!!


To keep the birthday feel, I got lasagna for myself as well!


Don’t worry, I got the pet LOVERS’ one!! They’ve got a whole menu for humans! Check out their menus for both people and pooches here.


Silly girls




Bought pup cakes for take home which I subsequently left overnight in the car so I had to throw it out. Haay. Look how cute pa naman. And Joey loves these so magpapadeliver nalang ako hehe.


Playing with Mr. Jack, the “mascot” of Whole Pet Kitchen who was a little cranky that day haha but he was sweet to me naman!


Joey made a new playmate named.. Wait for it.. Angus!! So cute!!! He was such a heavy breather snorter and so playful I wanted to take him home. But he was so heavy, Joey got stressed nung dinaganan siya. LOL.


And here is my busog higad bear hybrid



I made the terrible mistake of misplacing Joey’s baby book (where all her vaccinations are recorded) but I knew she was due already anyway so I took her to the vet yesterday where she got her blood tested (just a routine thing!) and she got all her shots for the whole year as well. Now I know that she’s due to go to the vet during her birthday week! So happy her blood tested fine. I found some ticks on her kasi. Even if you use Frontline or any other ant-flea thing, there will probably be one or two that will be immune to it. Always play with your dog and pet him/her thoroughly to make sure there are no weird bumps on her skin. Be especially careful if your dog’s as fluffy as mine because those fuckers are harder to find.

Another way to make sure your pets are healthy are by feeding them quality food. That’s why I like Whole Pet Kitchen – they use only the finest ingredients and Joey loves the taste of their treats! Browse through their catalog for both dogs and cats!

Thanks for all the birthday greetings for bear!!:)

Whole Pet Kitchen: Pet Deli & Bark-ery Dog Cafe is located at 349-D CM Recto street near P. Guevarra Street, San Juan City.
They’re open TUE-FRI 10am-6pm, SAT-SUN 9am-9pm. Tel: (+632) 3572753 (calls only) or (+63917) 8488857 (SMS only) Email:


#DetoxDiva For The Next 2 Weeks!

I’ve been on a 1,200-calorie/day diet care of the fabulous food delivery service, Diet Diva!

For the next 2 weeks though, they’ve stepped it up a notch by introducing #DetoxDiva – a two-week program for rapid weight loss! They’ve decided to go Pescetarian with their meals. This means elliminating meat from land animals (pork, chicken, beef) and including fish, vegetables, fruits, plants, legumes, grains, eggs, & dairy products.

#DetoxDiva promises me exciting benefits:

  1. Weight loss & healthy changes – “we replace bad food with good, and [you can] use your newfound energy to exercise more and be more active overall.”
  2. Clearer skin & clearer thinking – “by focusing on specific types of ingredients, we lose that sense of fogginess, and are able to think more clearly during a detox”
  3. Improved sense of wellbeing – “when you detox, you feel good, and when you feel good, good things happen.”

#DetoxDiva does not provide breakfast meals but has recommended a list of healthy meals you can eat every morning! I went for 1 cup of whole grain cereal with 200ml of low fat milk!


I just finished eating lunch for the day: sweet and sour fish fillet with brown rice! What a big portion! I feel full but with no regrets ;)


Today’s snack is an orange and anti-cellulite tea from TeaTox. I got a freebie discount card for TeaTox with my #DetoxDiva subscription!


Dinner is a simple ceasar salad!


There were other freebies that came together with my first day on #DetoxDiva including a free class at PlanaFORMA!

detox diva


So excited! Been loving this healthier lifestyle. If you feel like trying it out together with Maxx, Lauren and I, then give Diet Diva a call! :)

#DetoxDiva available at P1,900/week via
Tel no: +632 434-DIVA (3482)
Mobile: +63917 703-DIVA


Ippudo is Now in the Philippines!

Funny story a couple of weeks back when Jim and I were in Singapore for a night and we were deciding where to have dinner, my Trip Advisor app kept saying Ippudo. Being a know-it-all, I told Jim that there was already an Ippudo in Manila so we should eat at a place we didn’t have back home. When we got back I realized I was thinking of a different ramen place so I was kicking myself for not going to the restaurant while we were in Singapore. But I guess everything really happens for a reason. 2 nights ago, I was invited to a private tasting event for a new restaurant just about to open on our shores: Japan’s highly acclaimed ramen emporium, Ippudo!

I got there at half past 7 and met with the rest of the family. We were very excited. I’m not ramen-crazy like Maxx but I appreciate all kinds of good food.



We were served guacamole and chips while waiting for the program to start.


We said hello to our friend Mike Concepcion, son of John Concepcion who is responsible for bringing Ippudo to the Philippines! They are also behind the amazing katsu place Yabu.


Also trying out the new ramen place was cute couple, model Georgia Schulze and Azkal Armand del Rosario!


When Maxx introduced us (for the nth time haha), Georgia said “hey, I’ve met you before!” and what little social skills I had went flying out the window when I responded with “I see you in magazines.” WHY. But yes, I used to see her all the time in my Candy and Seventeen magazines back in high school.

We were ushered back outside to catch the start of the program. There were 5 huge drums and I got so excited! 5 men entered and started an amazing drum routine with matching shouting. Somehow it sounded very Asian. I know, ang labo ng description ko. But I really enjoyed it!



Mari Jasmine was the evening’s host. She is such a cute girl with an Aussie accent and we were very surprised when she started speaking in fluent Japanese! Apparently, she spent the first 5 years of her life in Japan! Jim was very impressed so I flashed him the rock on my finger. LOL.


John Concepcion gave the opening remarks. He is such a good speaker! He said Yabu was actually inspired by Ippudo so he’s very happy to be bringing his favorite restaurant to the Philippines!


We were then introduced to Japan’s “Ramen King” Shigemi Kawahara – founder of Ippudo. He earned the title of Ramen King and a place in the Ramen Hall of Fame after three consecutive first place wins on a Japanese television program where ramen mavens compete to create the best ramen.


We witnessed “Kagami-Biraki” or sake barrel breaking ceremony where SM vice president Steven Tan, John Concepcion, a representative from the Japanese embassy (at least that’s what I heard, ack, somebody correct me if I’m wrong!!), and Shigemi all broke the lid of a barrel full of sake and toasted to their partnership!



Then they hung the “noren” to officially open the restaurant!



Finally, we get to taste the food yayyy!



They provided a handy guide on how to enjoy ramen



They served each of us all the side dishes on their menu and they were all yummy! This one is the Goma Q or Japanese cucumber


Dashimaki Tamago


Curry Cheese Harumaki – I LOVED THIS


Ippudo Hakata-style Gyoza


And my ultimate favorite out of everything I tasted that night – the Ippudo pork buns. I can practically eat a hundred of these in one sitting.




Japanese beer to wash it all down


I chose the spiciest ramen Karaka-Men (rightmost on the menu above) with hard noodles


Happy tummies!


Writer Erica Paredes was sitting next to us enjoying her own bowl of ramen!


Maxx was crushing extra garlic on her ramen when somebody offered to do it for her. It was Shigemi himself! Photo oppp!


Shigemi Kawahara is best known for turning the Hakata-style, tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen into the delicate creamy version that earned Ippudo its national acclaim. The first-ever Ippudo was in his hometown of Fukuoka City, Kyushu and it only seated 10 people. Today, Ippudo has about 120 branches worldwide and they serve around 45,000 customers daily.


My babies are growing up so fast!


Mama is in Hong Kong right now on vacation with her friends. Hi mama!!!! We miss you!!


Fun time! Will definitely go back! There are other items on the menu I’d like to try like the classic Ippudo rice dishes, the Garlic Teppan Tonkotsu rice and Hakata Meshi. I’m sure there will be a long line though haha!


Ippudo Philippines is located at the 3rd floor of Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall. It officially opens on September 10 and will operate from 10AM-10PM daily. Learn more about Ippudo Philippines by visiting their website You can tag them on Twitter/Instagram via @ippudoph!