Sunday, 28 October 2018

Michael Learns To Rock: Still Asian Tour 2018 - Philippine Leg (Manila, Cebu, Laguna, Davao)

Michael Learns To Rock: Still Asian Tour 2018 (Philippine Leg)

This December, the 1990s pop band Michael Learns to Rock will return to the Philippines for a four-city tour as part of their Still Asian Tour 2018/2019. Produced by Ovation Productions, the group will be performing at the SMX Convention Center (Davao City, Davao del Sur) on December 4, Sta. Rosa Sports Coliseum (Sta. Rosa City, Laguna) on December 6, Waterfront Hotel Ballroom (Cebu City, Cebu) on December 7 and Smart Araneta Coliseum (Quezon City) on December 9.

This is the sixth visit of the group in the country, having performed here on August 31, 2017 (Kia Theater), September 19, 2015 (Smart Araneta Coliseum), November 22, 2008 (Smart Araneta Coliseum), November 6, 2001 (Araneta Coliseum) and 1992.

Jascha Richter (Vocals, Keyboards)

Michael Learns to Rock, also known as MLTR, is an award-winning Danish soft rock band (from Aarhus, Denmark) composed of  Jascha Richter (vocals, keyboard),  Mikkel Lentz (guitars), and  Kåre Wanscher (drums). Bassist Søren Madsen, the original band’s fourth member, left the group in 2000.

Formed in 1988, the band has, over the course of their career, sold over 11 million records, with the majority sold across Asia where they’ve earned great success aided by the hugely popular single "Take Me To Your Heart," awarded the "most downloaded single of the year 2006" (with 6 million or more paid downloads). 

The band has attributed its success in Asia to their clean-living image (their path to success has never been about scandals, divorce, drugs or any extreme way of living but always been about the music) and to singing in English, despite being Danish, as a second language. What sets MLTR apart from other mainstream acts is their ability to craft good tunes oozing with commercial appeal.

Kare Wanscher (Drums)

MLTR has earned Gold and Platinum status for records in many countries and won many awards, including "The Best Performing Act of the Year" at the 1994 SEA Grammy Awards in Singapore and the 1995 Gold Preis Award from the radio station RSH in Germany. The band has recorded nine studio albums as well as a number of live and greatest hits albums. They have played in excess of 600 concerts across the world, with no signs of stopping, and also have an estimated 50 million video views on YouTube and more than 50 million streams on Spotify.

Their string of monster radio hits include  "The Actor" (peaking at No. 1 on the Danish Singles Chart and performing well in NorwaySwedenIndonesiaMalaysiaSingapore and the Philippines) from their first album Michael Learns to Rock; "Sleeping Child," "25 Minutes" and "Out of the Blue" from  their second album Colours (released in October 1993, it sold over 1.1 million records);  "That's Why (You Go Away)" and "Someday" from their third album Played on Pepper (sold over 1.2 million records, with most of those sales from Asia);  "Paint My Love" from the greatest hits album Paint My Love; "Take Me to Your Heart" (a remake of Jacky Cheung's "Goodbye Kiss"), "It's Gonna Make Sense" (played as the farewell song on the Philippine reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother), “My Blue Angel” (which went on to top the Danish Album Chart).

MLTR will also be performing cuts from their 9th studio album “Still,” released last March 21, 2018, featuring the hit songs “Everything You Need” and “Hiding Away from Life.”

Mikkel Lentz (Guitars)

For SMX Convention Center (3/F, SM Lanang Premier, J.P. Laurel Ave., Lanang, Davao City) tickets, contact (0922) 695-0284 and (0956)  726-7671. Tickets are priced at PhP4,710 (VIP), PhP3,660 (Gold) and PhP1,310 (Silver).

For Sta. Rosa Sports Coliseum (Leon Arcillas Blvd., Sta. Rosa City, Laguna) tickets, contact (0928) 770-8737 and (0995) 456-0270. Tickets are priced at PhP4,710 (SVIP), PhP3,660 (VIP), PhP2,620 (Lower Box) and PhP1,570 (Upper Box).

For Waterfront Hotel Ballroom (Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City) tickets, contact (0915) 535-3873 and 232-6888. Tickets are priced at PhP4,710 (SVIP), PhP3,660 (VIP), PhP2,620 (Gold), PhP1,880 (SP Balcony), PhP1,570 (Silver) and PhP1,050 (Balcony). Provincial concert tickets are also available via SM Tickets and

Smart Araneta concert tickets are now available via TicketNet at (02) 911-5555 and; SM Tickets at (02)470-2222 or Ovation Productions at (02) 532-8883. Michael Learns To Rock Live at Smart Araneta Coliseum tickets are priced at PhP4,750 (VIP), PhP4,250 (Patron), PhP3,750 (Lower Box), PhP2,750 (Upper Box A), PhP1,750 (Upper Box B) and PhP750 (General Admission).

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Hotel and Inn Review: Nathan Hotel (Hong Kong)

Date of Stay: October 21-25, 2018

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *********
Rooms: **********
Condition and Cleanliness: **********
Staff Performance: **********
Room Comfort: *********
Food and Beverage: *********
Other Amenities: *********
Value for Money: *********

Nathan Hotel

The hotel at night
The 4-star, 15-storey Nathan Hotel, centrally located in Kowloon, was opened in 1968 and is one of the oldest hotels in Hong Kong. Operated by Luk Hoi Tong Co., Ltd., this now half century old hotel has 189 guestrooms and has undergone renovations and face-lifts over the decades. 

Prominently situated at the center of Nathan Road (the city’s main thoroughfare), in Yau Ma Tei, it is just a 300 m. (5-min. walk) away from the Jordan MTR subway station.

Yau Ma Tei, a great choice for travelers interested in street food, street markets and convenient public transport, is surrounded by major shopping (with popular brands such as Rolex, Cartier, Gucci, Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton nearby) and entertainment hubs. The hotel offers easy access to famed attractions including Temple Street (200 m.), a short 3-minute walk away, and Jade Market (300 m.). Famous shopping spots such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok are a 15-minute stroll or a 5 minute MTR subway ride away.

Front Desk

Reception Area
We occupied an elegantly decorated, 20-23 sq. m. Smart Room (Room 610) interconnected with a 46 sq. m. Smart Suite (Suite 609).  

Each room uses warm lighting to create a cozy atmosphere and were equipped with 4-star amenities such as a 48-inch flat-screen LED cable TV, a minibar, in-room safe, work desk, tea/coffee maker, free bottled water and hairdryer.  Our private ensuite bath came with free toiletries, bathtub and a shower with a stand alone rainshower head.

Hotel Lobby

Ours rooms were also equipped with a handy smartphone, for free use, with built-in city guide (in multiple languages), unlimited 4G data and local and international calls to Australia, Mainland China, Singapore, UK and USA. All rooms include free Wi-Fi. 

The 46 sq. m. Nathan Suites (9th- 12th floor) and Platinum Suite (13th – 14th floor) all have a customized pillow menu.  The latter also has an iPod dock.

Room 609
Room 609

The Nathan Lounge, on the 9th floor, offers complimentary beverages and self-serve coffee and tea plus free internet and a selection of magazines, newspapers and travel books for all guests. 

The Platinum Lounge, on the 14th floor, offers complimentary use of computers, high-speed wireless internet and multi-functional entertainment facilities for guests on the Platinum Floor.

The restaurant also offers a number of food and beverage outlets. 

Room 610
Room 610

The luxurious, modern, yet traditional fine dining Penthouse Restaurant, where we had our daily Western-style breakfast, offers cereals, bread, croissants, juice, brewed coffee, tea, pancakes, fried rice, sausages, hash browns, bacon, noodles, etc.  It also has a salad and egg (scrambled, fried, omelet) station. 

It also serves traditional Cantonese food and seafood brilliantly created and prepared by Chef Fok.  

The Penthouse
The Penthouse

The Bali, the hotel’s open-air bar embracing the air of Indonesia, is embellished with Balinese-crafted furnishings and offers cocktails, refined vintage wines and excellent Balinese dishes. Two private dining rooms, with audio-visual equipment, are available for private gatherings.

The Bali

The Nathan Cellar, featuring handsome sofas, banquettes, wooden floor and intimate lighting, offers a variety of outstanding wines from an exclusive rare wine list from both classic regions of France and elsewhere in Europe as well as from the New World. It has a new Italian-designed, enomatic wine serving and preserving system that keeps the color, taste and aroma of their wines at a ‘first- time taste’ quality by preventing oxidation. With the new dispensing system, you can taste up to 8 different types of wine in smaller tasting portions of 25ml, 75ml or 150ml.

Nathan Cellar


Also at the ground floor of the building is a Starbucks outlet.  The 24-hour fitness center, at the 6th floor, has 6 treadmills, elliptical, stationary bike and free weights sets. 

The hotel also has a 24-hour Front Desk, a tour desk and a 24-hour self-service business center (photo copying and computers with printer access) at the lobby.  

The hotel offers currency exchange, airline tickets, airport shuttle, daily housekeeping, dry cleaning, laundry, concierge, luggage storage, ground transportation arrangement, local tours (China, Macau) and car rental.

Fitness Room
Tour Desk

Business Center
The hotel is also located 300 m. from Tin Hau Temple; 500 m. from Hong Kong International Hobby and Toy Museum; 600 m.  from King’s Park Hockey Center, Bruce Lee Club, Yau Ma tei Wholesale Market and Yau Ma Tei Theater; 1.4 kms. from Harbor City; 2.8  kms. from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal; 3.3 kms. from The Landmark; 3.4 kms. from Lan Kwai Fong; 3.5 kms. from SoHo; 4.1 kms. from Happy Valley Racecourse; 4.3 kms. from Hong Kong Stadium; 4.4 kms. from Wong Tai Sin Temple; 4.7 kms. from Victoria Peak; 7.7 kms. from Ocean Park and 24.2 kms. (40-min. drive) from Hong Kong International Airport.

Nathan Lounge
Platinum Lounge

Nathan Hotel: 378 Nathan Rd., Tau Ma Tei, Hong Kong.   Tel: (852)2388-5141. Fax: (852)2780-1643. E-mail: Website:

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Launch of Grand Wine Experience 2018 (Pasay City, Metro Manila)

Grand Wine Experience 2018

The Grand Wine Experience, the most illustrious wine event of the year organized by the Philippine Wine Merchants (PWM), is now on its 18th year and, this year, PWM proudly brings you “Diversity” to celebrate and showcase that no wines are ever the same and that each one of them has their own unique taste and are prepared in hundreds and even thousands of ways.

Last October 16, this grand annual event was launched at the multi-awarded CRU Steakhouse of Marriott Hotel Manila.  On hand were three of the four Joseph brothers (Ralph, Ronnie and Raymond) of the Philippine Wine Merchants, Marriott Manila General Manager Bruce Winton, as well as wine distributors, wine connoisseurs and members of online and print media.  From the elegant open-themed kitchen, Executive Chef Meik Brammer and his staff prepared a four course lunch that featured CRU’s specialty - US Prime Rib Eye. 

Check out "Restaurant Review: CRU Steakhouse"

Members of print and online media and wine connoisseurs at CRU Steakhouse 

La Poiane Valpolicella Ripasso
Classico Superior 2011
Pirramimma Ironstone
Shiraz 2013
This was complemented by four superb wines – the La Poiane Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superior 2011, the Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012, Pirramimma Ironstone Shiraz 2013 and the Montes Late Harvest Botrytis Grapes Gewurztraminer 2014.

The very nice La Poiane Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superior 2011, a medium red blend wine from Italy with good acidity and nice fruity flavors, had initial aromas of raisin, balsamic and underbrush, followed by hints of toasted oak (which gives it a somewhat vanilla/buttery flavor) and espresso. A very enjoyable and drinkable wine, it complimented rather than overpowered the food it was paired with.

Raymond Joseph (left), Ralph Joseph (second from right) and Ronnie Joseph (right)

Marriott Manila Gen.
Manager Bruce Winton
Ronnie Joseph
The Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012, a bold, full-bodied red wine from Veneto, Italy, doled out layers of juicy black cherry marinated in spirits, fig, cinnamon, mocha and nutmeg framed in velvety tannins. It also doled out aromas of blue flower, baked plum, exotic spice and pipe tobacco.

The Pirramimma Ironstone Shiraz 2013, a rich and luscious table wine from Australia, went well with our delectably juicy steak.  Pirramimma was founded by Alexander Campbell Johnston in 1892 and has been owned and operated by the Johnston family ever since.  Dense crimson-purple; Pirramimma has some of the oldest petit verdot plantings in Australia, if not the oldest. 

Executive Chef Meik Brammer (right) with his kitchen staff

Montes Late Harvest
Botrytis Grapes
Gewurztraminer 2014
La Poiane Valpolicella
Ripasso Classico
On first take, the Montes Late Harvest Botrytis Grapes Gewurztraminer 2014, from Curico Valley, Chile, smelled high-toned and much like pine.  However, with time, it came out with flavors of baking spices, vanilla, lychee, apricot and honeydew melon.

The prestigious 2018 Grand Wine Experience, which will feature over 500 world-class wines, spirits, beers and Japanese sake, plus a sumptuous, well curated buffet also prepared by Chef Brammer, will be held on November 16, 2018, Friday, 5 PM at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel, Newport City. The rate for the Grand Wine Event is Php 6,000. For registration, click here.

The Joseph brothers with Bruce Winton (second from left) and other guests

This year’s co-presentors are Future Trade International; Moet Henessy Philippines, Inc.; Emperador Distillers, Inc.; Diageo Philippines, Inc., Premier Wines and Spirits, Inc.; Best World Beverage Brands; Cie Ace Corporation, Gran Cru Wines and Spirits, Inc.; Booze Online; Calabra Company Limited; Tanduay Distillers; Global Noble International Corporation; Golden Wines; Robinsons Supermarket; Starbucks Philippines; Nissan Mantrade; Philippine Airlines and Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (PAGCOR).

Grand Wine Experience 2018: Grand Ballroom, Marriott Hotel Manila, 2 Resorts Drive, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City. Tel: +632 853-9894.  Fax: +632 831-7951. E-mail: Website: Facebook: For tickets, contact Jorge Joseph 09178537501 & use the discount/referral code: JORGEJ.

Restaurant Review: CRU Steakhouse (Pasay City, Metro Manila)

CRU Steakhouse

The excellent CRU (from a French wine term meaning "growth place"), the award-winning steakhouse of Marriott Manila, is known for their specialty - US Prime Rib Eye. CRU Steakhouse reinvented the steakhouse experience by introducing dry ageing—a unique method that involves hanging the meat in a refrigerated cooler, keeping it at a specific temperature and humidity.  After 10 to 28 days, it comes out with a new array of flavor and depth.

Table for 8

Together with wine connoisseurs and members, we got to dine here during the 18th Grand Wine Experience Media Launch. 

The experience of sinking our teeth on their delicious quality steaks was made even better by their extensive list of superb wines, truly a good match.  The set menu featured a four-course lunch with appetizer, soup, main course and dessert.

Check out "Launch of Grand Wine Experience 2018"

Marriott Manila Executive Chef Meik Brammer (right) with his kitchen staff

The appetizer was Bonito Cured Atlantic Salmon with shrimp crackers, local anchovy dressing and compressed apples served with La Polane Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superior 2011, a red blend wine. The Mushroom Expresso, served in an expresso cup with truffle brioche toast and parmesan, tasted really great.  It was served with Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012, a bold, full-bodied red wine.

Bar Area

The main course was the delectably juicy US Certified Angus Rib Eye, medium rare, with potato confit, Provencal vegetable ragout and shiraz wine sauce. The steak was hand-cut, hand-seasoned and carefully prepared and the finish product was perfect – perfectly marbled, tender, tasty, fatty and cooked evenly from the inside out.  The serving size was perfect and, to be honest, I was actually already full after just eating it.  Truly, one of the most enjoyable experiences for every meat lover. This main course was served with Pirramimma Ironstone Shiraz 2013, a rich and luscious table wine from Australia.  

Mushroom Expresso, served in an expresso cup with truffle brioche toast and parmesan

Dessert was the simply divine Citrus Egg Nest with olive oil, chocolate Madeleine sponge, light mandarin orange mousse, lemon cream, orange compote, vanilla panna cotta, served with Montes Late Harvest Botrytis Grapes Gewurztraminer 2014.

Bonito Cured Atlantic Salmon with shrimp crackers, local anchovy dressing and compressed apples
(photo: Bob Zozobrado)

This multi-awarded restaurant, with its modern décor, exuded a sophisticated dining experience and ambiance.  Perfect for a great date night, its sleek interior had of lots of dark wood and various shades of red velvet but the lighting was perfect.  The open fire from the central grill area added a lovely warmth to the place. The quality of the food was superb, consistent and top notch. The service was wonderful, the servers were polite and attentive without being suffocating and we never had to look far for the waiters. We felt very well looked after.

US Certified Angus Rib Eye Steak

This amazing lunch, prepared by affable Executive Chef Meik Brammer and his staff from the elegant open-themed kitchen, together with very attentive and friendly service, introduced us to a world of flavor and hefty satisfaction. We can see the chefs calmly and efficiently going about their business in the open kitchen, heightening our expectations of an excellent lunch.  Aside from the various US and Australian beef cuts, there is also seafood and a nice selection of starters and desserts on the menu.

Citrus Egg Nest with olive oil, chocolate Madeleine sponge, light mandarin orange mousse, 
lemon cream, orange compote, vanilla panna cotta

Recently, last February 4, 2018, CRU rolled out the Sunday Roast (Unlimited Steak), its best value-for-money dining offer yet. Steak lovers can now enjoy unlimited servings of U.S. Certified Angus Beef rib eye steak for only PhP1,300 net per person.  

Bar Chow - Inasal Marinated Boneless Chicken Wings and German Beef Slider
Stuffed Cocktails  - Tiramisu Martini, Salted Caramel and Irish Coffee Cocktail

Its menu includes a complimentary appetizer or starter (choice of Garden Salad or Creamy Mushroom Soup), two side dishes (sauteed organic root vegetables and herb roasted baby potatoes) and a dessert serving of Classic Apple Pie. This offer is available every Sunday for lunch only (11:30AM to 2:30PM). 


Also just recently, during the 2018 World Luxury Restaurant Awards (a prestigious global culinary excellence competition hosted by Galgorm Resort & Spa in Northern Ireland on July 14, 2018), CRU Steakhouse won in three categories -  Country Winner for Fine Dining Cuisine Category,   Country Winner for Luxury Hotel Restaurant Luxury Steakhouse Category   and  Regional Winner for Luxury Steakhouse Category.

CRU Steakhouse: G/F, Manila Marriott Hotel, 2 Resorts Drive, Pasay City, Metro Manila 1309.  Tel: +63 2 988-9999 and +63 2 988-9990 loc. 8109.  Open Sundays – Thursdays,  6PM – 10:30PM and Fridays – Saturdays,   6PM – 11:30PM.  Dress code is strictly smart casual (no shorts for men, no flip-flops).