My life. Your resource.

{October 22, 2010}   Thoughts about Max’s Restaurant

Max’s of Manila to me was a rest stop on our way to visit family after a 20+hour flight into Manila from the New York City area. It served Filipino dishes, but it is most known in the Philippines for its fried chicken recipe.  It is sometimes playfully called “The House that Chicken Built.”

Because California and Hawaii have much larger Filipino populations compared to New York, Max’s followed its clientele to open up stores throughout the two states.  As a Filipino-American living in New York City, I always felt that when it came to serving our community in the east coast, we were always getting the short end of the stick.   ABS-CBN, Jollibee, and Max’s are examples of those establishments that catered mainly to California Filipinos, while here in New York, we were years behind, but luckily, locally owned Filipino businesses catered to our needs.

Well, Max’s is now open in Jersey City!  After much anticipation, I finally had the luxury of attending last night for dinner.  It was all that I had expected, and was happy to see that the locals were flocking to check it out.  I ordered their pancit canton, which was delicious, and along with it, I had a San Miguel and a halo-halo for desert.  Very typical Fil-Am–yes, it was!  The restaurant is currently in its soft-opening phase, but they are ready and able to serve their full menu.  The portions are of family size, and therefore, I could not eat my entire plate of pancit, so I ended up taking it home that night.  I do highly recommend you go.  This is a must-visit venue if you are ever in the Philippines, but for now, you don’t need to go there if you want to sample dishes that are a part of the Filipino way of life.

I do caution however for you to wait a few more weeks before going.  The soft-opening period is also a time for them to make the necessary adjustments so that they can run a more efficient establishment.

Max’s of Manila is located at 687 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ

(201) 798-2700


Since 2006, my sister and I started this tradition of going to the Whitney Biennial, an exhibition that addresses the current trends in American contemporary art today. The Whitney Biennial, in the art world never ceases to generate controversy among art critics. Every two years, a group of curators are selected, and these experts have the herculean task of touring the United States in search of works in artists’ studios to find the very best, and the most current in contemporary art in the United States. The works selected comprise the exhibition that occupies 5 floors of the Whitney.

This year, the Biennial tries something rather fun and in keeping with today’s times for the Whitney commissioned “special edition” sandwiches to accompany the exhibition.    “Sandwiched” is a temporary pop-up cafe with sandwich creations by notable chefs of the Union Square Hospitality Group.  These sandwiches will be available until the end of the Biennial.

At sandwiched, I tried the Cured Salmon which consisted of cured salmon, avocado cream cheese, cucumbers and radish on a sourdough rye.  The sandwich was made by Carmen Quagliata of Union Square Cafe.

For dessert, I tried the Fluffer Nutter which was actually a sandwich made of two peanut butter cookes and the peanut butter and marshmallow filling.  The Fluffer Nutter was made by Pastry Chef Jenny Giblin of Blue Smoke.   I then washed down my meal with a glass of Hudson Yards Merlot.

I personally, am biased towards any kind of sandwich with Smoked Salmon, but please be advised, they have other sandwiches as well.   If you are interested in their menu, you may visit it below:

Also, when you get to the Whitney, try taking in the Whitney Biennial.  It will turn your world upside down.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at:

945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
New York, NY 10021
General Information: (212) 570-3600

How to get here:
Subway: 6 Train to 77th Street
Bus: M1, M2, M3, M4 to 74th Street
Car: There are several parking garages nearby the Museum.

Happy Hump Day! If you are looking for bargains this weekend, try going to some of these sample sales as discovered in AM New York:

Rock & Republic: This Friday, 4-9PM; Saturday-Sunday; 9AM-7PM at the Metropolitan Pavillion, 123 West 18th Street, 4th Floor between 6th and Sevent Avenues, 212-463-0071.

Cynthia Steffe: Thursday-Friday, 10AM-5PM, 550 Seventh Avenue, 10th Floor between 39th and 40th Streets. 212-403-6200.  All women’s pieces between $5 and $50

French Connection: Wednesday-Sunday 10AM-7PM, Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, between 15th and 16th Streets.  212-543-4300.

Okay, so that was a little corny.  It’s been ages since I’ve entered a post, but after coming back from “My Little Secret,” a speakeasy that recently opened in Manhattan’s Little Italy, I found the inspiration to write again.

Located on 149 Mulberry Street, you won’t find this place if you are looking for a sign that reads “My Little Secret ” because it’s a speakeasy.   Rather, you need to look for a big burly bouncer standing by a red velvet rope that opens to a staircase leading to a basement entrance.  There is no secret knock, or code to get in.   Once you’re inside, you will find yourself in a bar with low ceilings and the ambiance of a wine cellar noted by the wooden barrels on the wall.

Basement Entrance to My Little Secret. Photo Courtesy of B. Teh

Photo by B.Teh

They have a unique cocktail menu with each drink costing $13.  Wine and beer is also available.  Try the “Smoking Secret Cocktail” which consists of Mekhong, Domaine de Canton, honey, Fee Brothers and Angostura Bittters.  I liked this drink because it didn’t have the usual syrupy sweetness that I find when I drink Cosmos and Martinis.

The waitstaff was friendly and very accommodating.  They even shared with us an additional secret to the venue, but I won’t give it away, you have to speak to Vinnie or Daniela.

My Little Secret is located on:

149 Mulberry Street; 646-448-4535;

I love Atlantic City.  It’s a place where I can bridge my love for being by the seaside with the comforts of urban living.  I can choose to bask in the sun at the beach, or enjoy a night out at one of the many hotel bars and lounges.  I don’t very much care for the gambling, but the option of shopping, spas and restaurants motivates me to return to this New Jersey city periodically.

On this most recent trip, I discovered two places in the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.  They are Alto Vino and Red Square.

Alto Vino is the newest addition to the Tropicana’s menu of things to experience apart from gambling.  Located on the the top of the North Tower, it offers wine from the world’s leading producing nations, California, and New Jersey.  Yes!  New Jersey produces wine.   To complement your wine, charcuterie, cheeses, and desserts ranging from $3-$6.  You can sip wine and admire the view as this wine bar boasts one of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean and Boardwalk.

At Alto, I tried New Jersey red wine produced by Tomasello Winery.   I am familiar with their product, but can only find it South of Middlesex County.  I also ordered a prosciutto and helped myself to cheese at the bar–it was complimentary that night.

At Red Square, located at the base of the Trop’s Havana Tower, I dropped by briefly to sample their Chocolate Martini.   At the entrance, you will be confronted by Lenin’s statue, its likeness not at all intimidating as the larger-than-life original formerly located in Moscow’s Red Square.  It has an encyclopedic selection of vodkas from around the world and boasts a frozen bar and a vodka vault.  You can order entrees and caviar if you are having a craving for a little luxury.   If you want to expand your vodka vocabulary beyond Grey Goose, Absolut, and Stoli, try their sample flights.  You will learn about less familiar brands that only a connoisseur would know.

For more information on Alto or Red Square, please visit:

I moved to Manhattan in August 2001, shortly after graduating from Saint Peter’s College to pursue a Master’s Degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Shortly thereafter, I started to notice that my pores started to get clogged from the daily city grime.  Having a history of bad acne as a teenager, I decided to confront my skin problems head-on by going to the spa for monthly facials.     As a thirtysomething, I have not been as diligent.  Because of this, I have started to get problem pores again which now require the attention of a facialist. 

Luckily, my breakouts have not been out-of-control.  But now, I have decided that enough is enough.   Today, I would like to share my experiences at the newest Bliss location in the northeast.  The Hoboken branch at the newly opened W Hotel. 

Prior to this experience, my last facial was at Bliss 57 three months ago.  A very nice, yet firm Russian woman gave me the biggest guilt trip because it had been a year since my last facial and the negligience was clearly obvious.  That day, I told myself that I would make an effort to take care of my face, but, my crazy work schedule kept me from maintaining this routine. 

On a positive note, at least it would not be for another year before I see someone at Bliss.  So, I entered the very cosmopolitan lobby of the W, and proceeded to the entrance of the spa.  The receptionist at the front led me to the locker room where I received my robe and blue Havaiana flip flops both of which I wore as I waited for my aesthetician.  I filled out a form on my skin and health history, and I had light snacks–the usual, brownies, cheese, and refreshing orange infused water.

At about 1:15, Shayla, my aesthetician greeted me and escorted me to my treatment room on the second floor.  Shayla, a twenty-something lady asked me questions about my skin history, and my daily regime. 

Bliss photo taken from

Bliss photo taken from

This newest addition is quintessentially Bliss.  With its robin egg blue colors, bright lights, and Diana Krall playing in the background, the interior resembles a cosmopolitan girl’s ideal living room in the city.  Unlike other spas which recreate the ambiance of nature with the use of bamboo, dark browns, and waterfall sounds, Bliss’ decor speaks to the cosmopolitan woman.

Shayla started my session, the “Best of Skintentions” facial, with a shoulder massage to relax me before the tortuous extractions that waited for me.  She then massaged my skin with what smelled like an spa-strength version of  Bliss’ Pore Dissolving Cleansing Milk followed by a hot towel steam infused with eucalyptus oil to open up my pores and a mask to draw out the impurities.

Then came the horrible part–the extractions.  Although, I’ve had my experiences with overly heavy-handed aestheticians, Shayla was surprisingly gentle.  For about 15 minutes, she purged out some of my most troubled areas.  She finished my experience with a leg and arm massage, a facial cleanser and moisturizer.  I completed my experience with an aroma steam shower and went on my merry way.

The service was exceptional, as always.  Like a physician, Shayla prescribed some products to upgrade my skincare regime.  They were:


you may purchase it at or Sephora

Can be purchased at or Sephora


Can be purchased at and Sephora

Can be purchased at and Sephora

These products assist in managing blackhead buildup for a clearer complexion.

My experience at Bliss has exceeded my expecations, and even though the prices are slightly steep, you will find the service to be exceptional.  One word of caution though–during the facial sessions, you will be asked to upgrade your services by adding either a peel, or mask.  If you are comfortable with spending additional money, then go right ahead, but please be advised, you are not obligated to add services. 

That’s all for now!  If you would like me to recommend or check out other spas, please let me know : )

To learn more about Bliss, visit:

{July 18, 2009}   Sound Asleep with Sona

For the past few months, I’ve been having problems sleeping.  My boyfriend-now-fiancee is a loud snorer and I, being a light sleeper am kept awake especially on those crucial nights when I need ample rest, like, say before the beginning of a work week.   He’s tried the nose strips, but they would eventually slip off of his face and he would proceed to snore loudly. 

Well, around Christmas season 2008,  I was walking around in the Newport Center Mall in Jersey City, and I found the answer to my prayers–The Sona Pillow. 

According to,  “The Sona Pillow is a clinically proven medical device which has been extensively studied through research and sleep studies to treat snoring and mild sleep apnea.”  With its shape, the pillow is designed to cause the sleeper to sleep on the side which allows the sleeper to open up breathing passages.  The result leads to a sound and restful sleep for the person with sleep apnea, and a peace of mind for me. 

My boyfriend tried the pillow and has been using it for about three weeks now.  After completing the first night’s sleep, he claimed to have noticed feeling more energetic than before.  On my end, I also noticed a change, as I too have been enjoying a more peaceful night’s sleep than usual because his snoring seems to have subsided, but not completely–it’s not as loud as it used to be.  

By observation, Sona in is effective if you sleep on your side–this is also indicated in the product packaging.   Side sleepings enables you to open your breathing passages.  It is not effective for those who sleep on their backs. 

With any product, Sona has its drawbacks on my fiancee.  It tends to slip off of his head when he uses it, so once in awhile, either he or I have to pick it up from the floor. 

Like any products, it is advisable that you consult with your doctor before purchasing Sona. 

Sona can be purchased in Brookstone by visiting:  or by going to a store near you.  It costs around $100.  I managed to to get it on sale around Christmas season, but if the extra $30 was the difference between good and bad sleep, I would definitely pay the extra money.


{December 6, 2008}   Coming in January

Are you a modern girl living in the New York City area?  This blog will cover events, shopping, food, and leisure in NYC based on my activities every week.  Once active, readers will also have the opportunity to make suggestions on new restaurants, nightlife, or maybe that new spa that claims to work wonders on one’s skin.

Stay tuned.

et cetera