Dubai Eats: Chinese Food Indulgence on a Budget

I’m so sick of eating at fancy, over-priced Asian restaurants. For a bowl of noodles, and 4 pieces of dim sum, I would have to fork out up to AED 100 just to satisfy my craving.

There were times when I craved for Hot & Sour soup, but the thought of spending AED 30 for a temporary high is overwhelming as that is almost Php 500 for a bowl, which is enough to feed an entire family back home.

After living in Dubai for more than 3 years, the long search for affordable authentic Chinese food in Dubai is finally over! Thanks to the recommendation of my Chinese friend who has a discerning palate like mine.

Noodle Bowl is located at Dune Center, Al Diyafah, Dubai.

The menu is huge from soups to braised dumplings to noodles, not to mention the rice dishes, stir fried dishes, and traditional congee. There’s a number of vegetable, egg, chicken, beef dishes which made it so difficult for me to choose. The long list of steamed & deep fried dim sums, and cheung feung (or cheung fan) is so appetizing. Ordering was a struggle!

Out of curiosity, I tried Salted Egg Chicken (AED 39) because anything with salted egg is very popular now in Singapore and Malaysia. The quantity is more than enough for one. It was very good.20180803_173103

Cheung Fan is a must. We had Steamed Prawn Cheng Fan (AED 23). Honestly they hit a home run with its flavour.20180803_173015.jpg

Another dish I liked was the Salt & Pepper Squid (AED 39). It is so simple yet  so good. I will come back for this.20180803_173105_001

Their Hot & Sour soup was satisfying and cost only (AED 15), good for one. I wish it had a stronger sour flavour though. The Spicy Wanton in Soy Sauce (AED 20) was also good but not as spicy as I hoped it would be.20180803_173219

The ambiance is not anything special but the portion of some dishes are quite big and definitely good for sharing, and the authenticity and quality are exceptional.

It was our first time here and we enjoyed the food that I totally ignored the fact that the customer service was below average. That or maybe I was just on a good mood.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to everyone who likes Chinese and Malaysian cuisine without breaking the bank. Next time I go I will have their Beef Ho-Fen and Ha Kau Prawn Dumpling.

Would you like to recommend other inexpensive Chinese or Japanese restaurants for us to visit? Please feel free to comment! We would love to hear from you.

15 Kuripot Things to do in Bangkok

Last year, the budget airline Cebu Pacific Air messed up (long story) my booking on my trip to South Korea. To make up for the stress and sleepless nights, they offered a free short-haul trip to any destination of my choice, valid for 1 year. I had no plans of traveling to Bangkok this year but nobody wants to waste a free ticket!

I have always wanted to see the temples in Thailand so might as well book it for the summer. I called the airline and confirmed a 5-day trip to Thailand in between my annual vacation in the Philippines. The fare is free but I had to shoulder terminal fee and taxes, which was Php1,620.
Keep on reading!

My Ukay-Ukay Haul

I was in Ilocos Norte in time for Father’s Day and the family had a simple get-together over a DIY shabu-shabu for lunch. It fell on a Sunday so, naturally, we were slacking after the meal. The 3 ladies in the family planned to go Ukay-Ukay shopping because, why not?

The kuripot in me just had to give in; after all, clothes shopping in Dubai don’t come cheap. Also, I kind of missed the thrill of rummaging through racks of clothes in random colours and styles.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

But before going crazy, I asked myself these questions:
1. What type of work clothes do I need?
2. How many Thursday (aka dress down clothes) do I need?
3. How much money am I willing to spend?

I mentioned in my previous blog that I only have 2 pairs of work pants. They came in generic colours black and blue. I thought if I can fit into (after the lechon feast we had in Cebu a few days back) something cheap, I will definitely buy work pants… again in black and/or blue.

I also wanted to have new work tops that can also be worn as casual tops. A button down shirt would suffice, I thought. Or maybe something white that I can use with pants or skirt.

For Thursday clothes, I wanted something that I can use during the summer. A light dress or tunic that can be worn with flats would be good, or maybe jeans as I have not worn jeans for years because it is difficult to find a pair that fits!

I decided to have a budget of Php 2,000 max for shopping. Nothing more than that!

I kept in mind only the things I was willing to spend on, as I knew it would be difficult to make wise decisions when I am faced a hundred different choices!

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So there we were in Jekol’s Ukay-Ukay, in a sea of used clothes in a small room with no proper ventilation, no fitting room, and with only one mirror located at the far end. I felt excited.

The humidity and mess add to the charm.

Shopping here takes a lot of patience!

Dresses cost Php 280 each, while tops cost Php 200. Work pants Php 280, while jeans were a whopping (as per Ukay-Ukay standards) Php 380, except for Levi’s which were for Php 500!

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Shorts and skirts were between 200-280, depending on material and length. There were so many choices!

If you’re not willing to spend hours, you will lose the chance to get good quality – almost brand new – items. You have to examine the material & make, and imagine yourself wearing it as you may need to find something to pair it with. This is the reason I go for generic colours – I am too lazy to mix & match!

The place was packed as, apparently, they displayed new stocks today. My lucky day, I guess.

I tried on the clothes on top of my clothes to see if they fit well. Also, I made sure the buttons are complete, and checked for holes & stains.

Some clothes looked really pretty & stylish but looked old & worn out. I spotted a number of branded clothes too but they did not fit me well, so I skipped.

I got myself Zara & G2000 work pants, 2 casual/work tops, 2 jeggings (one is Uniqlo) and 1 H&M tunic. I paid 1,900 for all 7 pieces.

My patience were put to good use today and i’m so proud of myself! Quality versus quantity, always.

Fancy thrift shopping too? Any recommendation where I can go next? Tell me about your favourite Ukay-Ukay find!

Lechon Cebu

I love lechon (roast pig) so much. I mean, I really really love it. Thinking about it now makes my mouth water.

Cebu is the lechon capital of the country. From Dubai, we traveled to Cebu to spend time with Rod’s parents. His dad is based there so he knew where to go to satisfy my lechon cravings.

We went to 3 lechon restaurants:

Cebu”s Original Lechon Belly. Located at SM City Cebu, this was our first stop. We had both the original (Php 560/kilo) and spicy (Php 600/kilo) versions, plus puso (rice).

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I liked the orignal flavour better than the spicy variety. I wish it was spicier as I have a high threshold.

Zubuchon. Also located in SM City Cebu, we bought a kilo for take out. The place was packed when we got there, full of locals and tourists alike. The lechon tasted so good. I remember making happy sounds.

The meat is packed with flavourful herbs and was so delicious, I didn’t even need any sauce for it.

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Cnt Lechon. On our 3rd day in Cebu, we headed to Ayala Center food court to try out Cnt Lechon. The meat was juicy and melts in your mouth, and the skin oh so crispy. For me, this is the best tasting lechon. Not too salty but so flavourful! It was also reasonably priced at Php 750/kilo (good for 4-6 pax).

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I was also amazed at how the skinny young lady chopped a whole pig using a giant knife with ease. She’s got skills!

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Dip it in the soy sauce & vinegar combo, matched with ice cold Coke, and you’re on your way to a great meal.

The best thing about lechon Cebu is that there is no, or very little, fat on the meat!

Tony Bourdain was right. It really is worth flying all the way to Cebu for.

Investment Planning Basics by Randell Tiongson

After going on a 3 week holiday with Tricia to Bangkok, Singapore and Laoag, I was back to my usual weekend grind of attending Financial Literacy seminars on a Friday, a weekend.

Randell Tiongson, one of the country’s most respected experts in Personal Finance, and the Director of RFP Philippines was the first speaker during the seminar. During the seminar, Randell reminded us once again about the basics of investment planning, and how to properly plan and select our investments. I know a lot of people who want to invest but are clueless as to which investment is right for them and how to get started; but they are also not willing to spend time to learn and hear from  industry experts. Instead they go to social media and ask in different Facebook groups for advice where they get trolled, or scammed. Every day I see people asking the same questions; “What is the best investment?”, “Where should I invest my 100K with a potential to earn X amount in 1 month?”, “Should I invest in Real Estate?”, etc. Despite the fact that there are a LOT of other financial advice and posts where they can freely READ information on how to plan investments and where they can go to seek professional advice, some people still prefer to just get spoon fed. Too lazy to do the necessary work. They would rather have someone else do the thinking for them.

One of the Key points that Randell discussed during the seminar was that one should select investments based on his or her Risk Tolerance, Objectives and Timeframe. If you’re a person who is about to retire 5 years from now, investing in the Stock Market is probably not the right investment for you. Stocks may have been great when the market was bullish a couple of years ago, but now that the market is bearish and with no clear signs of reversal yet in sight, you might lose sleep and leave this mortal plain early due to the anxiety if you invested in stocks today. If you are in your 20’s  or 30’s then by all means go all-in on stocks because you will have more than enough time to recoup your losses and wait for the market to reverse in case the market stays bearish for a long time. If you’re planning on saving for your child’s education 10 years from now, investing in Time Deposits will not help you achieve your target amount. We need to remember that there is no such thing as BEST INVESTMENT. It all depends on what is suitable for you. Investing is never a One Size Fits All solution. 

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Even after you have already selected your investment, the work does not stop there. Once you have begun funding your investment, make sure to monitor it periodically. If for example you invested in the Stock Market a couple of years ago, your portfolio right now will be in the red or close to it because the recent drop has wiped out all of the gains from 2018. Analyze your positions and determine if you should add more. If you are an investor and have 20-30 more years before retiring, then you might want to add to your positions now that the index heavyweights are cheaper. If you are a trader, then you might want to avoid the market for now and put your funds somewhere else or remain in cash. After you’ve done your analysis, and studied your options make the necessary adjustments and re-balance your investment portfolio accordingly to ensure that your investments are still able to beat inflation significantly and that you are able to make money. I remember early this year during Money Talks 2018, one of the people I follow, Tony Herbosa said that we need to be like water. Don’t be too rigid. Adjust to the situation accordingly.

If you want to learn how to invest, and pick the right investment for you don’t just go to Social Media and ask questions in forums. 90% of the time you’ll only get trolled or flooded with answers that don’t make sense like, “PM me”. Go to a Financial Advisor. Ask a Financial Planner and get professional advice. Attend a Financial Literacy Seminar. Be informed so that you can make an informed decision and not just follow anyone’s advice and end up making the wrong decision, or worse- scammed. Financial Literacy seminars will only cost you anywhere between AED 100-250 depending on the topics discussed, and some are even free; but I guarantee you that the amount you’ll lose to scammers and wrong investment decisions because you didn’t have the right information are going to be way higher.

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. -Jeff Rich

 

 

 

Understanding the X-Curve.

Just recently while I was on holiday, I heard a friend’s husband died in his sleep. They said he died due to “bangungot” or in actual medical terminology, Acute Pancreatitis. He was about 33-35 years old if I’m not mistaken. Before he died, he managed to put up a successful rolling store business in Mindoro. The business was successful enough for him to afford buying their own house, and own car, and even a few gadgets for his two sons. I am not sure if my friend knows how to manage or operate the business since she was more focused on the kids. She’s a teacher by profession. This sudden and unexpected death prompted me to finish this blog.

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L.A. Eats: Pampas Grill Churrascaria

I am a certified meat lover. Back in Dubai, Texas de Brazil is our go-to “meat heaven” and would spend a fortune just to have different types of meat. We would do that only on special occasions – last I remember it was my birthday from two years back – as the price is a bit too much at AED 165/person, without drinks.

Located in The Original Farmers Market at The Grove in Los Angeles, Pampas Grill Churrascaria is a casual, cafeteria-style Brazilian BBQ. My friends took me there for brunch.

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In Pampas Grill, you pay by the pound and there is a huge variety of sides and meats to choose from. The place has a buffet style setup, starting with a salad bar, followed by sides and last, the Brazilian BBQ.

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They offer many types of meat including Sirloin Cap, Top Sirloin, Spicy Chicken, Garlic Chicken, Pork Loin, Garlic Beef, Brazilian Sausage, Lamb, and Bacon Wrapped Chicken. I was practically drooling as they were cutting the meat! I highly recommend the Top Sirloin and Garlic Beef – tender, juicy and flavourful.

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For the sides, I had collared greens and fried plantains. I came with two friends and we all ordered different things and picked up different proteins, starches, veggies and sides.

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My meat craving for was fulfilled without the guilt of over-eating. I was not feeling too stuffed and bloated afterwards! I must say, during my visit to L.A., this was definitely one of my favourites.

L.A. Eats: Porto’s Bakery & Cafe

Porto’s is a very popular Cuban bakery chain in California. Being the tourist that I am, I had to see for myself what the rave was all about. We went to the branch in Buena Park, California.

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The storefront is quite spacious as it has both a bakery and a cafe.  The first struggle was the long line, and took us about 15 minutes before our turn. The second struggle was having to choose from the myriad of pastries, breads, cookies, and muffins and cakes. Most of them under USD 2 (AED 7.34) only!

Keep on reading!

L.A. Eats: In-N-Out

Fast food. I am not a big fan but as I am frugal, this is a good alternative if I am tight on the budget. I need all the carbs I can get so I can survive all the walking and sight-seeing. My heart wants steak & potatoes… but at times, I can only afford patty and fries.

In-N-Out is a massively popular California-based fast food burger chain. I have tried Five Guys and Shake Shack in Dubai but as I am not a burger person, both were just ok-ish. While in LA, I had to try In-N-Out to satisfy my burger curiosity.

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Keep on reading!

L.A. Eats: Bludso’s Bar & Que

It was a week after I booked my flight when my friend asked me the one question that I always love to hear. “Where do you want to eat?” 

As there is nothing more American than BBQ, besides apple pies & burgers, this was the first that came to mind. She told me to check out Bludso’s and, oh my, I drooled! The brisket, ribs, sides and beer looked mouth-watering.

Keep on reading!

A Kuripot’s Guide to a L.A. Holiday

I just returned from my solo holiday to meet with family & friends in the United States. I booked it last January and started to save up and make my budget at the beginning of the year. I had four months to financially prepare myself for a trip to Los Angeles, California. How do I write about kuripot tips on a trip to this expensive city?

It sounded impossible – just the thought of spending US dollars made me nervous! My ticket (taken from my Travel Fund) cost me AED 3,200 which for me is expensive on its own and I still had to set aside enough money to eat and go around for a week’s stay.

Keep on reading!

Why join IMG (International Marketing Group)?

The first time I went to an IMG (International Marketing Group) Seminar in the Philippines was around 2012. The speaker at that time was Benj Santiago. Unlike the other attendees and members who were very enthusiastic and receptive, I was rather- indifferent. After the orientation was the Financial Check-up with one of the IMG associates. Again, I was not really interested and gave the usual canned reply- “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” I left the IMG office thinking that I just went to “another MLM group” that doest not serve my needs. Fast forward to the last quarter of 2017, and I realized how wrong I was and somehow regretted not signing up sooner.

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Why do Filipinos avoid Financial Literacy Seminars?

Financial Literacy is very low among Filipinos. Compared to our neighbors in Asia and the US, our country has the least number of people who are financially literate, and secure. Many would attribute this to a lack of knowledge or awareness, but the sad truth is that even though Financial Literacy advocates are everywhere and offering FREE Financial Literacy Seminars and talks across the country- even abroad for the OFWs, a lot of Filipinos still cannot be bothered to attend these seminars.

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50% off on Basic Goods and Commodities!

We don’t normally write about PROMOS or SALES however, for this specific event we will make an exception. While taking a break from work, I came across an article in Gulf News saying:

50% discount on grocery items in UAE for one month

Click on the link above if you don’t believe me.

As it turns out, this is in observance of the International Day of Happiness and will cover over 600 stores in the UAE including major chains like Lulu Hypermarket and Carrefour.

This “consumer” friendly move is an initiative from the Ministry of Economy, and will run from March 20 and April 20.

If this pushes through, expect long queues in participating grocery chains and stores.

For those who are planning to open their wallets during this period, please don’t forget about Earth, and bring re-usable bags and trolleys.

If you’re looking to fill those balikbayan boxes, better wait for further announcement about this, and take full advantage of it should it push through. However, we would still recommend that even if there’s a sale as big as this, exercise prudence and discernment with your spending. Don’t just go out there and fill your carts with things you don’t really need, specially with perishable items because you could end up wasting money instead of saving.

It doesn’t matter if something is on sale. If you do not need it, then you’re still spending more than your intended budget.

Happy shopping!

 

Learnings from MTUAE 2018

This is our second time to attend Money Talks UAE, and this by far has been the best and most interesting one we’ve been to. The conference was supposed to start at 1PM, but due to technical glitches it started at nearly 2PM, cutting the entire conference time short by almost two hours, and forcing the speakers to shorten their discussions a bit. It was not the full-day conference like the previous ones; a bit short on time, and cut even shorter due to technical difficulties, but definitely not short on information and new learnings from the excellent speakers.

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I have X amount of money. Where should I invest?

This is a question that we often hear from people who have heard about investing so many times before, and now have the money to do so. It’s really great that a lot of people nowadays are more aware about the importance of investing, and are willing to give it a go. The Philippine economy is really doing well, and investing for your future now is one of the best things that you can do for your future self. For Overseas Filipinos, this is one of the many ways you can take advantage of the higher salaries that you’re getting from your employment abroad.

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Valentine Tips from a Cheesy Kuripot

I am a SUCKER for Valentine’s Day!

It makes me smile whenever I see couples being romantic. Everything just seems better and happier on this day of the year. By now you must have booked a romantic dinner date or ordered flowers or chocolates to be delivered to her office. If not, what are you waiting for?

No budget for a date night? No problem. As I am kuripot, I believe there are ways to celebrate this special day without spending a fortune. Well, maybe this is just me, but I would rather have time (and a lot of attention) on this day rather than presents (unless it is something I really, really like).

Keep on reading!

VAT is this?!

In the first quarter of 2017, talks about VAT being introduced in the UAE, and other parts of the GCC caused quite a stir among the residents- expats and locals alike- and for good reason. The GCC has been tax free for a very long time, making it one of the most competitive regions in the world to do business. Personal Income tax is also inexistent in this part of the world making it one of the most attractive places for expat workers since they get to have a higher take-home pay at the end of each month.

Keep on reading!