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    Patricia

    Majority of my friends call me Trish, I guess you could call me that too. I'm a transcriptions editor with a really messed up body clock and never ending affinity for films, food and written words. I like street art, sweets, neutrals and monochromes, sushi, window seats, golf carts and lazy weekends.

    Some of the things that completely preoccupy me are my fixation with the now defunct The Civil Wars and their beautiful art of sadness, Oh Sehun, sleeping, CSS and HTML, @iameden, and those damn hypnotizing Tasty videos. Top country in my travel bucketlist? Iceland. But the one that will always have my heart? Hong Kong.


    Here I am again attempting to continue blogging about last year's super duper awesome trip to Hong Kong. I was stuck with the day 1 post for the longest time. Haha. Since day 2's really heavy on photographs, I decided to split it to 2 parts: first one's our sort of photowalk to see the street art, and the second part will be all about the rest of our activities for that day: visiting The Peak, Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, eating at the one-Michelin-star restaurant One Dimsum, wandering the streets of Mong-kok, spending a few hours at Victoria Harbour and lastly, visiting Kubrick Cafe. (There's still too much to write about! T_T)



    Waking up the next day to this beautiful view once again: lines and patterns created by the buildings, the pipes and the parking spaces, aligned taxi cabs at one side of the road, pastel-colored structure, shapes, colors, the overall feel of being in the city. Ah, what a fine way to start the day. I'm not even going to hold back myself saying it -- I love you, Hong Kong.

    My original reasons for being here were the neon signs and Wong Kar-wai, but after getting a taste of HK's street art in Gough Street, I researched more about it the last minute and asked Jom if it is possible to squeeze it in our day 2 itinerary.

    . Monday, February 27, 2017 .

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    . Monday, February 27, 2017 .


    Here I am again attempting to continue blogging about last year's super duper awesome trip to Hong Kong. I was stuck with the day 1 post for the longest time. Haha. Since day 2's really heavy on photographs, I decided to split it to 2 parts: first one's our sort of photowalk to see the street art, and the second part will be all about the rest of our activities for that day: visiting The Peak, Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden, Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, eating at the one-Michelin-star restaurant One Dimsum, wandering the streets of Mong-kok, spending a few hours at Victoria Harbour and lastly, visiting Kubrick Cafe. (There's still too much to write about! T_T)



    Waking up the next day to this beautiful view once again: lines and patterns created by the buildings, the pipes and the parking spaces, aligned taxi cabs at one side of the road, pastel-colored structure, shapes, colors, the overall feel of being in the city. Ah, what a fine way to start the day. I'm not even going to hold back myself saying it -- I love you, Hong Kong.

    My original reasons for being here were the neon signs and Wong Kar-wai, but after getting a taste of HK's street art in Gough Street, I researched more about it the last minute and asked Jom if it is possible to squeeze it in our day 2 itinerary.

    . Saturday, February 18, 2017 .


    I like food, there's no denying that. And I find even more immense pleasure when I stumble upon places that's inspired by, or is in one way or another referencing films. That's why I was thrilled when the next Zomato foodie meet-up I was invited to was in Me Love You Long Time in Tomas Morato.

    We were told that the resto was started by a group of people from the UP Cineastes, which was originally meant to be their tambayan that soon progressed into a full-blown restaurant. Naturally, the name of the place was something related to a film, and that film is Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. (Watch that famous 'Me love you long time' scene here.)


    . Friday, February 17, 2017 .


    I've been stuck in this writing drought for a few months now and I wish this would go away soon. Well, I've managed to spew out a few posts recently but I've never gotten past the important ones like Zomato reviews and the continuation of our Hong Kong trip. I've been meaning to take a day off work to finally get things done but let's see how the week goes.

    Anyway, while I'm in the middle of this scarcity of creative juices, I've always been on the look out for inspiration on the Internet. There are a few personal projects that I made sure I kept my eyes on, hoping and praying that some of their inventiveness would rub off of me and inspire me to write and start a project of my own. *wishful thinking* Here's a few of them:

    1. Krystal Jung and June One Kim's collaboration, I Don't Want To Love You, and this music video.


    The first 2 minutes, I have to admit, creeped me out because it was very reminiscent of the famous scene in the Japanese horror film, The Ring. Don't worry, there was nothing terrifying! The overall aesthetic was dark and beautiful. And the song's in English so yay! I only knew Krystal as an actress and model, but I wasn't aware that she's actually from the girl group f(x)! This release also came with an online photo book that you can check out at beastsandnatives.com.

    2. Nadine Lustre's 'Luster' perfume launch.


    I've always professed my admiration for the couple and love team JaDine, and gawd, this girl just rocks my world every time! From their amazing travel video (that she made!) to her impeccably curated Instagram feed to the trends she set, her music choices, her style, her photography and videography skills, and her confidence, this girl is just unstoppable! She knows what she wants and she really takes control!

    A few weeks back, she started tweeting and teasing some breathtaking photos with the hashtag #LadyLuster that got everybody thinking what's her surprise. The big reveal happened last Valentine's Day that Luster is first of her perfume line which will be available this March. Grabe this girl! I love all her personal creative pursuits!

    3. Adorama's Through The Lens.


    I knew about Through the Lens when I saw a write up about it on Hypebeast. The video above is the first webisode I saw, which coincidentally featured locations from Japan and Hong Kong 💕. Adorama says of it,
    An original docu-series about the evolving aesthetic of photography as seen through this generation’s creator class.
    Apparently, Through the Lens is already a big hit in YouTube. They feature different photographers with each episode, usually those with big followings on Instagram (from hobbyists to amateurs to pros), and shows the viewers their entire process of capturing of images, and sharing their inspirations, tools and tips to the world. I know I'm miles away from being of the same caliber to these featured photographers, but I find each webisode absolutely inspiring. 

    4. Conversations of Us.


    Conversations of Us, which is the brainchild of Bart Vanlaer and Eena Macaspac (a real life couple who explores the world constantly), was originally their travel and lifestyle blog. They later reformatted it to a platform for people who want to communicate through writing. What's more interesting about this project is you get to send (and/or receive) letters from people all over the world who are also participating.
    Conversations of Us will now function as a community of people who writes. Not professional writers, but a community of people who communicate through writing letters. We would want to create a platform on where we could bring back the old style of communication, because sometimes one person just needs some sense of enlightenment to get through with his/her day.
    . Saturday, February 11, 2017 .


    Taking Back Sunday is one of the few bands I faithfully listened to since college, which is, like, ~10 years ago. Yep, that's long I've been a fan of this band (You could say I'm a decade under influence LOL). So much has changed from that era in my life when I'd blast out loud their Tell All You Friends CD to now that they're on their 7th album. Crazy.

    I always had this personal connection to their songs because in one way or another, I'd relate to it especially the ones post-TAYF. Funny, at times, it feels like a big chunk of their music was somehow written for me. I grew up with their albums. I had a handful of people listening to them as well. They were there throughout rough patches in my relationships. Musical heroes? They're definitely on the top of the list.

    With Tidal Wave, there's no more apologizing for bleeding on someone's shirt, no more "I'm so sad because she broke my heart but I'm going to be okay," no more screaming eternally after being dumped -- well, there's still feelings, of course, but there's being broken, there's optimism and there's redemption.

    Here's their recently released music video for Call Come Running, and man, that ending. That ending killed me. Nobody else does it like these guys do.


    . Tuesday, February 07, 2017 .



    I've been working in Ortigas for 5 years now and our go-to food trip favorites have always been in the areas of Kapitolyo, SM Megamall, Emerald Avenue, and sometimes in Katipunan. When I got an invite from Zomato for a food crawl at The Grove along C5, it hit me why we never bothered checking this place out given that it's a few corners away from our office! And when I knew about the variety of restaurants we'll be visiting, I realized, wow, there were plenty of options nearby all along and most of the time, me and my friends can't agree on where we want to eat. LOL.

    Anyway, for those not familiar, The Grove (by Rockwell) is a resort-like high-rise residential condominium located in Pasig City. At the ground level, it has what's called a Retail Row, which is a group of restaurants and coffee shops. It's right across Tiendesitas and SM Hypermarket too! It's super, super convenient to live here. (Lol, of course, pricey too~)

    Chef Jessie Grill


    Jessie Sincioco's a well-known chef/restaurateur that's already got some great places under her name: the elegant Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, 100 Revolving Restaurant in Eastwood, and Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie in Makati. She's also known as the chef who cooked for Pope Francis when he visited Manila back in 2015.

    For our first stop in this food hop, we were whisked inside Chef Jessie's latest venture, the Chef Jessie Grill. The interiors had that elegant ambiance but everything is simple and tasteful. As Chef Reo Sincioco (Chef Jessie's brother, who was there to explain the restaurant's concepts and dishes) said, they try to incorporate the bahay kubo theme to their restaurant, which is evident with the bamboo accents all around. The result? A homey but at the same time modern touch.

    Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs
    Grilled Kesong Puti
    Alugbati Salad and Baked Manila Clams
    Salmon Fillet
    Peach Cobbler and Green Tea Cheesecake
    We were served pretty interesting and unique dishes like the Grilled Kesong Puti and Alugbati Salad (with dulong dressing), Sizzling Pork and Lamb Sisig and Baked Manila Clams. My personal favorites were the Grilled Kesong Puti (melted carabao milk cheese FTW!), the Baked Manila Clams (tasted fresh and delicious) and the Salmon Fillet. The Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs was a runner up too (just because I'm craving for seafood lately). It had succulent meat falling off the bone! Out of the 2 desserts, the Peach Cobbler was my pick. One, I'm not a really big fan of anything green tea. Also. it had an appealing mix of layers and textures. Just look at the colors! There were peaches, nuts, chocolates and cream. Not too sweet as well.

    I could totally picture my folks dining here (and I might take them soon, whenever they're ready to bravethe city traffic haha). Great food, cozy ambiance and super courteous and friendly staff!

    Chef Jessie Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Backyard Kitchen + Brew


    As soon as this Margarita Fishbowl hit the table, I was on my phone messaging Terr that we should come back here for drinks. I figured this place is perfect because we could just slip in here after work and it wouldn't be too much hassle to get home. Though it looks like a laid back and chill resto (or maybe it appears that way because we went there early afternoon), I could imagine the place packed for late night drinks and after work grub. (Loved the Margarita Fishbowl by the way, I had 2 glasses and I felt a very light buzz already. Haha. I had to stop because we still had 3 restos to go to!)

    Backyard -- maybe that's why the place was designed all-wood -- outdoorsy, simple and comfortable. You know those backyard afternoon grill and drinks with your friends? I think that's what they're aiming for. Backyard Kitchen + Brew is Chef Ed Bugia's (Pino Resto Bar, Pipino Vegetarian, BRGR: The Burger Project, Pi: Breakfast and Pies) latest brainchild and the The Grove branch is one of 4 already.

    Nose-to-tail Fettucini
    Coffee-crusted Baby Back Ribs
    Between these 2 beautiful dishes that were served to us, hands down the Coffee-crusted Baby Back Ribs is my choice. I love how rustic the presentation of food is! I was really excited to try this being the pork lover that I am. The meat was slow cooked to that spot-on tenderness and I loved the light aroma and the bitter undertones because of the smoked coffee spiced rub and the tangy contrast of the coating of barbecue sauce. It came with a hefty serving of potato salad and a grilled corn on the cob.

    They told us that the Nose-to-Tail Fettucini was named that way because they were able to utilize some top to bottom parts of chicken, pork and beef like pork cheek, beef brisket, ox tripe and chicken liver -- all combined with tomato sauce and dressed over homemade noodles. I was expecting to be wowed by this dish but it was a bit flat for me.

    Definitely, definitely coming back to try more from their alcohol selection as well as other intriguing dishes like Salted Egg Chicken Skin, Sinigang na Batchoy, Mac & Cheese Nachos, Uni Carbonara, Slow Roasted Pork Belly and Bibingka Pancakes!

    Backyard Kitchen + Brew Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Asakusa: Home of Tempura

    Yes! Our first Japanese restaurant for the day is a tempura house! We were able to try a limited number of dishes only so let me just gauge them based on that. But the first and foremost thing I love about Asakusa (actually pronounced as 'ah-sahk-sah') is the interiors:

    From Asakusa's Instagram account
    I loved the overall colors, and although they were a Japanese restaurant, they added modernity to it. The place is well-lighted and had an industrial Second is this wonderful, flavorful Tuna Salad:

    Tuna Salad
    You have the option to make it spicy, but this one served to us was the regular one (will definitely try that in the future). The name Tuna Salad may sound plain and simple but it's actually raw tuna on top of tempura cracklings with vegetables and finished with a special dressing. Can you just imagine the textures in this dish? Smooth, fresh fish contrasted by the crunch of cracklings and vegetables and laced with that special dressing (Is this some kind of ultadelicious secret kewpie?) is a full blown party in your mouth. Everyone on our table agreed that this was our favorite.

    Samurai Tempura Set (Black tiger prawn, fish, squid, eggplant, French beans) and Chicken Karaage Teriyaki
    The tempura was light, crispy and low on the grease. The coating-meat ratio was okay too. I'm always disappointed when I'm served with a humongouos tempura only to reveal the fact that it had a tiny piece of meat inside after a bite. Totally not the case here at Asakusa! Though I must say nakakabitin! Hehe. The Chicken Karaage Teriyaki had tender meat and bold flavors. Definitely begging to have some rice to go with it.

    Just found out that they also serve makis and udons and sobas! Me and my friends looooove Japanese food. Can't wait to take them here to satisfy our very random maki cravings!

    Asakusa: Home Of Tempura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Sunrise Buckets


    I've always wanted to try Sunrise Buckets for as long as I can remember. I love breakfast food and their name has always popped up on some 'top 10' lists and 'must-try' lists. It escaped my mind that there was actually this branch near work so paying them a visit was pushed and pushed to the bottom of my list. This was another reason I was ecstatic about this food hop. I finally had the opportunity to sample Sunrise Buckets' food!

    Now contrary to what I know (and as you can see on the photos), Sunrise Buckets offers so much more than all-day breakfast. They have chicken wings in all imaginable sauces and flavors (even has boneless ones, yep!), a wide array of burgers, hotdogs on buns, meat entrees, salad, appetizer favorites like nachos and onion rings, pasta, milkshakes, non-alcoholic drinks, and cocktails and beer! The number of pages of their menu was really overwhelming. Haha.

    Pork Salpicao
    Sadly, I still wasn't able to try their breakfast food, but I was able to taste their customer favorites. First one is the Pork Salpicao. I don't know how many times I've mentioned here in my blog how I'm not a fan of salpicao (but I've found few ones that I've likes) and SB's pork rendition was a good one. The meat was tender and garlicky. But again, I'd maintain my stand that salpicao's not the first thing I'd look for in a menu.

    Chicken Wings and Nachos Overload
    These two, the Chicken Wings and Nachos Overload, I enjoyed stuffing myself with very, very much. Hehe. I'm deeply in love with chicken wings and I can eat quantities of it any time of the day, let me just get it out there, so this was a superb treat for me. Even though it took a while for us to dig in (food photo ops are necessary in foodie meet-ups like this LOL), the chicken skin was able to retain its crisp and the smothered BBQ sauce on it was lip-smacking good. Same goes for the nachos, love that the nachos were covered with cheese (I know, sinful!) as opposed to those other restos that just drizzle the melted cheese on the top. There was a substantial amount of meat too! Yum!

    Flavored beer shots: Strawberry (or was it raspberry?) and Mango
    The beer shots looked really pretty but I skipped on trying it out because I don't like beer and I've already had 2 glasses of margarita earlier at Backyard Kitchen + Brew. Hehe.

    At least being able to try their other offerings gave me a whole new perception of this place. It's a nice hangout place with friends on a weekend afternoon over drinks and pica-pica food. But this is not the last you've seen of me, Sunrise Buckets! Operation trying their breakfast food failed, but I'll surely come back for it next time!

    Sunrise Buckets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Hanamaruken


    Our final stop was another Japanese restaurant! \(*^▽^*)/ (*confetti*) This time, their specialty is ramen, and they have a popular one named Happiness Ramen, which is also their signature dish. Hanamaruken is actually a popular restaurant in Osaka, Japan (40 branches!) and did you know that their first international branch was here in the Philippines? Yep. It was in Trinoma, opened way back 2013. In total, they have 3 branches already, the other one's located in Alabang.

    Plus points for the warm, inviting interiors again! Everything is predominantly wood with touches of iron on the lights and chairs. It feels very comforting.

    Tiger Prawn Tempura and Drunk Man Bowl
    Now that is what you call a big ass prawn! Hahaha. We were really surprised with how ginormous the tiger prawns were! I always had these experiences in some restaurants where in the menu, it was indicated how the dish is served with prawns (not shrimp, but prawns, stated clearly) but in reality, they were just average-sized shrimps. Glad to know that Hanamaruken and I both use the same dictionary. Hehe. Kidding aside, that tempura serving's already a bang for your buck!

    I know the Happiness Ramen is supposed to be the star of the show but the Drunk Man Bowl outshone it for me. No bias here since both are pork dishes. I just fell in love with all the components in this rice bowl: kakuni (that's literally translated to "pork cut square and simmered," and two sunny side up eggs on top of rice. It's garnished with chopped leeks and chili. The perfect rice meal for breakfast (adding egg to anything transforms it to breakfast), lunch or dinner, and a nice bowl to have after a massive hangover. You just can't go wrong with it. The meat just melts in your mouth! If you're not a ramen person and you find yourself in here with friends, order the Drunk Man Bowl!

    The Champon and the Curry Tan Tan Mien
    We also had a taste of the Champon (a Chinese-inspired ramen that contains stir-friend pork, shrimp and fresh vegetables in shoyu tonkotsu broth), which reminded me very much of chopsuey, and the Curry Tan Tan Mien, which is the one with more heat.

    The Happiness Ramen
    Here's a closer look.
    A big chunk of flavorful and tender, slow-braised soft bone pork rib on top of soft noodles in shoyu tonkotsu broth. I've read some other reviews that this dish seem to be too salty and overrated for other people, but I actually found it good. Hey, I'm no ramen expert here and so far I've managed to completely consume only 1 bowl of ramen ever, but this is not at all salty to me. I was really impressed with the noodles because it just had that right of chewiness to it and that slab of meat had the perfect mouth-feel and it was indeed delicious. Fitting for those rainy, woeful days. Hahaha. The serving's big enough for 2 people, too! So did the Happiness Ramen manage to leave a smile on my lips? Yes, ma'am.

    Hanamaruken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    So that concludes our food trip in The Grove. Truly, there's something for everyone there. Whether if you have business meetings and appointments, when you want to eat after a late night of booze, when you're craving for something Filipino, or just simply when you just want to indulge yourself with good food, there's always something to try here at The Grove.

    And funny, it was just right under our noses all this time! More often than not, me and my friends are craving for something Japanese and we always have a hard time figuring out where to eat because of time and location concerns. LOL. Also, the place is very kid-friendly, so there's no problem having your child run and roam around.

    This has been a very long blog post, so I'm cutting it here. Leaving you with the view of Tiendesitas at sunset. So pretty. (。♥‿♥。)

    A big thanks again to Zomato Philippines for inviting me!
    . Monday, February 06, 2017 .


    There's this whole new trend to restaurants and cafes the past years: incorporating some other activity other than just eating. I'm not really sure when it all started, but for the past 2 years, I've been attending bloggers' events and hanging out with friends at restaurants that offer something extra than just food. This definitely adds another dimension to the dining experience plus it makes the customers stay longer and possibly spend more. Locally, we've got establishments that double as book shops or libraries, boutique stores (I've seen a couple of these in Imus, Cavite), and there's also a bunch of board game cafes sprinkled around the city.

    Zomato held a foodie meet-up earlier this month at Game Over PH in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Yep, it's a gaming restaurant! More than board games, they also offer PC gaming and consoles. If you're a game geek, this would totally be a wonderland for you! I could totally imagine me and a couple of my friends spending a late afternoon here, probably playing board or card games (or that's just me because I suck at video games).


    For a Monday night, I didn't expect the place to have this much crowd. I realized that they have a bar as well, I guess people flock here for some after work drinks, too. As the night when on, the music got louder, the lights got dimmer, and eventually, a DJ set-up his equipment right next to me, it made me aware that Game Over PH is actually a popular place people go to. (This was further solidified by another missed opportunity to meet my OTP in da flesh. Huhu. Yes, they were there the same night -- or early morning, perhaps.)

    Look at that extensive selection of games.

    Ghosts on the loose!



    Game Over PH has 3 playing lounges: one with the 95-inch TV (pictured above) and two with 55-inch TVs. There is also another separate room that's set-up like an Internet cafe for those that fancy PC games (Counter Strike, DotA2, Rainbow Six Siege, etc). The lounges come with a PhP 950 and PhP 550 consumable fees, respectively, good for 1 hour, and the rate for the computer rental is PhP 80 per hour.

    Love this mural on the wall! It's by Kookoo Ramos. Have you seen her works in McKinley Hill? (1, 2)

    On the table:

    Spicy Chicken Skin 💜
    Beef Nachos and Chicken Tortilla Wrap

    Yakiniku Beef Rice Toppings and Game Over Ribs

    Sisig Pizza 💜
    Game Over Burger
    Beef Salpicao and Shrimp Gambas
    Creamy Salmon Pesto Pasta and Salmon Parsillade Rice Toppings
    Molten Lava Cake 💜

    Tiraccino (Tiramisu capuccino) 💜


    I guess I could safely say that most of what Game Over PH's offering is good with alcohol, or food that is easy to eat if you're the type that's able to multitask. There are rice meals, yes, but if you're planning to stay long, the pulutan dishes are your best bet.

    My favorites would be the Spicy Chicken Skin, Sisig Pizza, Creamy Salmon Pesto Pasta and the desserts Molten Lava Cake and Tiraccino

    Others found the spiciness of the chicken skin appetizer too much, almost to the point it took away the joy of eating the sinful goodness of crunchy chicken skin, but I actually loved it. Dip it in the onion-vinegar concoction and it's even better. I didn't expect that I would enjoy the Sisig Pizza, to be honest. I've always had this love-hate relationship with sisig. Surprisingly, this one, I liked. If only I didn't have work that night, I would've ordered some alcohol to go with this. For the Creamy Salmon Pesto Pasta, it was really flavorful. There's this big chunk of salmon on top that's seasoned to complement the pesto, which was a tad salty. By the way, the Salmon Parsillade Rice Toppings is basically the same thing, just (obviously) change the pasta to rice, but the former's much more enjoyable. I suggest you have that instead of the rice meal.

    All the beef dishes was just okay, nothing grand (also, a bit tough and chewy), save for the Nachos. There were hefty portions of beef, tomatoes and cheese but not too much that would make the nachos sag. It was a great way to start the snackathon we had that night. Same goes for the Chicken Tortilla Wrap, Shrimp Gambas and Game Over Ribs, they were good, but just that. Good.

    Both desserts were terrific! Being the sweet tooth that I am, I was really looking forward to try Game Over PH's version of Molten Lava Cake. I guess we were all clutching our pearls when the cake was sliced, anticipating that liquid chocolate center. So glad we weren't disappointed! The clash of the warm fudge-y chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream was just perfect. As for the second dessert, I think capuccino tiramisus are not really a foreign concept anymore, but their presentation was, I thought, wonderful. That smooth texture of the mix of capuccino and tiramisu was contrasted with the crunch of rice crispies. YUM YUM YUM! What a great way to cap off the night!

    I would love to come back here with my friends since I know they would enjoy places like this, even their kids would love it here, but Game Over PH would not be the first resto that would come to mind if I want to eat out on a weekend night. But that's just the tita in me speaking. Hahaha. There are some hit and misses with the menu, but if you're after the gaming and not the food, this is a must-visit hub for you.

    ***

    Game Over PH Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Game Over PH is located at 31 Xavierville Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
    Operating Hours: 4:00 PM - 1:00 AM, Sundays thru Thursdays
                                    5:00 PM - 3:00 AM, Fridays and Saturdays
    Contact Nos.: (02) 273 9150 /  +63 933 028 5298
    Official Facebook Page
    @gameover.ph on Instagram

    . Friday, February 03, 2017 .


    "Kinain na ng K-drama." That's what most people say nowadays when they acknowledge the fact that they indeed have succumbed to the magic of Korean dramas. I, for one, ain't a stranger to binge watching a handful of Asian series. For me, it all started with Meteor Garden. I religiously watched it back when I was in high school and I think the affinity for Asian dramas stuck ever since.

    Though admittedly, I'm not at the high level of fangirling in this aspect. I usually just watch whatever's the talk of the town. I remember a friend telling me to watch Pinocchio and My Love from the Star 2 years ago but didn't pay much attention to it. But last year, I've sort of rekindled my liking for Asian dramas, specifically Korean ones. I binged on episodes of Oh My Venus (because So Ji-sub!!!) and it sort of snowballed into this Korean drama frenzy for me.

    The other series I was able to see last year were Descendants of the Sun, Healer, School 2015, finally got around to watching My Love from Another Star, K2, One Sunny Day, W: Two Worlds, and rewatched Coffee Prince, among others. I can't bring myself to watch Cheese in the Trap just yet.

    For today's Yay + Nay, I'm going to go over the 3 most talked about K-dramas that my radar managed to pick up. Around November last year, I've first learned about Legend of the Blue Sea, and later on, Goblin, which were both generating international buzz. I mean, who wouldn't see these shows when they're headlined by the likes of Gong Yoo, Gianna Jun and Lee Min-ho? I was really excited to get my Korean drama fix once again!

    Goblin: The Lonely and Great God: A BIG FAT HELL YEAH WATCH THIS!!!


    Quality-wise, I think Goblin is an absolute must watch for K-drama fans. Definitely one for the books. Goblin actually came out 2 weeks after Legend of the Blue Sea and I can't help but notice a lot of parallels between the two.

    So just why should you devote your time to watch this gem? First, Gong Yoo's in it. If you've seen him in Coffee Prince, you'd certainly get what I mean. Him being in this drama after 4 years of no small screen presence is a pretty good reason to watch this. He was just amazing opposite Yoon Eun-hye!!! There's no denying that he's a great actor. (You should also check out his other films like The Crucible, The Suspect, A Man and a Woman, Train to Busan and Age of Shadows.) Here are other great reasons to watch Goblin: the breathtaking cinematography (Every frame is impeccable and satisfying! The colors, the transitions and overlapping of scenes were just perfect. This alone was enough reason for me.), the superb soundtrack (which added a whole new depth to the scenes), the adorable and comedic bromance between the Goblin and the Grim Reaper (and sometimes, Deok Hwa), the casting (They got it to a tee right down to the actress playing Eun Tak's aunt), the second lead romance (Lee Dong-wook and Yoo In-na got that on-screen spark), the infectious smiles of Eun Tak, the melancholic but beautiful plot (I swear it always took a turn in the most unexpected way), and Sun Hee Sunny's sass. Even the CGI was not cheap-looking. And before I forget: When Gong Yoo cries, we all cry.


    All these things add up to make Goblin an awesome and worthwhile watch. It's been a while since I've felt excited for a show. It surpassed all my preconceived notions and expectations but I have to say that this is also the kind of drama that you should enjoy while it lasts because the ending was poetic but bittersweet. You kind of know the ending will be sad but you're hoping that there will be some twist and they will live happily ever after. But I am glad that the conclusion stayed faithful to the story line and didn't deviate just for fan service. Plus, I got to discover Kim Go-eun and Yook Sung-jae's great acting chops! I loved the former's films like Eungyo and Coin Locker Girl, (she was so bad ass!) and the latter's School 2015 as the second lead, which, up to this day, I believe deserved the girl more. Hahaha.

    I was so emotionally invested and I have to admit I was exhausted when this drama ended. Goblin definitely set the bar higher for Korean dramas. I've managed to convince some of my friends to watch this and so far, everyone loved it.

    Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo: YES YES YES YES YES!


    WFKBJ is an example of a K-drama that I had no interest in watching but a lot of my Twitter friends love it so I decided to give in. There are a few K-drama storylines that I'd rather not watch: sageuk (or historical), the overused high school setting, rich boy poor girl (Umay na sa The Heirs! I disliked that so much!), and anything related to sports. And this, with the title actually beginning with a sport, I automatically decided "Nope!"

    But a lot of people were raving about it... for a long time. This aired back in November, competing against Legend of the Blue Sea, but I only got to watch it after Goblin was done. And I'm happy I decided to give it a chance this because it is one of the best out there. Seriously. I don't know how I'll emphasize that more. It tanked on ratings (I believe for the sole reason that it was in the same time slot as Legend of the Blue Sea) but the writing was really very, very good. It's realistic and the story is sound and solid. Do watch this!!! I highly recommend it!

    The things I loved about Weightlifting Fairy:

    1. Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk had this insane chemistry (they are out-of-this-world cute!!!) that can make your toes curl with happiness whenever they have a scene. I ship them so much, I wish they'd date IRL. Hahaha. I was a bit bothered that NJH played the goody-goody swimmer boyfriend character again after School 2015. It was even shot in the same school! I'm glad I've seen this before School 2015. He's waaay better in WFKBJ!

    2. It promotes self-love, self-reliance and body positivity (which reminded me of my other fave, Oh My Venus). It's really rare to find a K-drama that tackles all of that in a not too heavy way. Kim Bok-joo is an unconventional female lead and I love it how she's super relatable and did not fit the mold of the usual appearances of K-drama leads. There was no complicated love story where the male lead terrorizes the hell out of the female lead to show her he likes her (hahaha), instead we get this love story that started from friendship and Joon-hyung actually supported Book-joo in all her endeavors.

    Best boyfriend ever.
    3. The celebration of friendship and family! The loving relationship with parents, the squad that's always got your back, the big brother that's always looking out for you, and the ever supportive and dependable coaches and teammates. Of course, it's not always rainbows and happy days, but there's no backstabbing friends that perpetrated an elaborate scheme because she's jealous of the female lead, no psycho ex-girlfriends, no rich mom making all the stops for the female lead to stop dating the male lead, no secret siblings, no cliche tropes of the usual K-dramas. I AM JUST SO HAPPY.

    4. The cameos and references! It was so cute that Lee Jong-suk made an appearance in one of the earlier episodes (and that W banter haha!) and when they sang Fantastic Baby by BIGBANG (and I saw a G-Dragon poster up in one of there girls' dorm). I'm pretty sure I missed other ones that I'm not super familiar with.

    5. The simple story line. There are no cray plot twists, no foreign locations, no CGI needed, no tragedies, just the pure, unadulterated joy of being infatuated. It's an enjoyable, light adventure that makes you want to fall in love all over again. Weightlifting Kim Bok-joo tells us that great love don't need to be hurtful to be worth it.


    Legend of the Blue Sea: It's okay.


    I'm not a big fan of Lee Min-ho (sure, he's a looker), but when I learned that he starred this K-drama together with Gianna Jun, I was sold. Powerhouse Hallyu stars as leads! This must be awesome! When I saw LotBS, I was almost done watching My Love from Another Star and I noticed that much of Gianna's character there was brought to this one. It's not a bad thing actually. I loved her over the top and funny as hell acting in LotBS! Especially that scene when her then unnamed character and Joon-jae were crossing the street!

    I found the first episode really engaging. There were cameos by Kim Sung-ryung and Krystal, which played Kim Tan's mother and ex-girlfriend, respectively, in The Heirs. I thought that was cute. The jump of scenes between the past (Joseon era) and the present provided that sad and comedic contrasting injections to the series. Gianna Jun was excellent as the mermaid, especially the part when she was captured during the Joseon era and she was all wistful and sad and she perfectly communicated with her eyes.

    I eagerly watched the succeeding episodes until all the cliches started happening. I really didn't like the submissive character of Sim Cheong. It's too much for me. And the irritating push and pull of their relationship (if you could call it that.) I guess I've grown tired of this type of plot after being exposed to too much. Although Gianna Jun and LMH are gorgeous actors, I felt that there wasn't much chemistry between them. Then, I don't know, it got really boring for me. LMH's acting skills started to pale in comparison to GJ and a lot of the things happening are... unsurprising. The evil step mother trying to get Joon-jae's inheritance (chaebol trope), the mother that was under their noses all this time, the murder, the attempt of a love triangle, etc. There was just too damn much drama happening, it's confusing. The scene where they were trying to get a confession from Joon-jae's stepmother by pretending to go along with her evil plans was super cringe-worthy. When Joon-jae revealed he recorded their conversation and the police appeared behind the stacks of boxes (they were inside some sort of warehouse), I just had to stop watching. Seriously?!?! How predictable can this get? It's like the writer stopped trying.

    It's good that they concluded on a happy note. I couldn't imagine LotBS ending tragically, then the story would just be this big conflict after conflict after conflict. On the other hand, there were a few good points that I loved about this K-drama:

    1. This cameo: My Sassy Girl reunion!!!


    2. So Ji-sub references. YES! In Episode 2, you'd see Sim Cheong losing sleep over fangirling and you could see she's got So Ji-sub on the screen. In Episode 7, together with Jo Jung-suk's character, they cry while watching So Ji-sub's The Master's Sun.



    3. This couple. They are so cute together. I wish they had more scenes especially in the finale.



    4. THIS SCENE. HAHAHAHA. I COULD MAKE THIS MY RINGTONE. SOMEONE MAKE A REMIX. HAHAHAHAHA.


    ***

    If you're planning to watch these 3 dramas, I suggest you watch Goblin first. The ending is not as happy as one would expect, so it might leave you a sad, unsatisfied feeling, but in hindsight, it's the perfect way to conclude the story. It's definitely top notch and nothing like you'd seen before. Weightlifting Kim Bok-joo would be perfect to watch next since it's all good vibes and cute and realistic. I wouldn't necessarily discard Legend of the Blue Sea. It's an okay watch on a weekend.

    My K-drama obsession, I thought, would end after seeing Kim Bok-joo, but I'm now hooked with Tomorrow with You (because Shin Min-ah!) then I'm planning to watch Signal next!

    What do you think of these 3 Korean dramas? :)