Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why go to a Mall? Lunch at Planet Grapes & Dinner at Hukad in Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines

Whenever I go back to my hometown, Cebu, Philippines, I always spend a good amount of time at the malls. It is a given thing, which I have, in the past, tried to fight against with. I prefer local and traditional places than a humongous concrete box filled with shops. But helaas, when the current is strong, the wisest thing to do is go with the flow.

Planet Grapes Ayala Centre Cebu

Our lunch spread at Planet Grapes in Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines.

Planet Grapes Ayala Centre, Cebu

So in Cebu, I was able to visit the big malls such as the Ayala Center which is this blog post about where I had a long and lazy lunch with BFF Badiday and dinner later in the evening with the sister. I also visited SM City and the newest addition, SM Seaside. These are the 3 mega malls in Cebu where you can practically spend a whole day without noticing the time. There is also a good number of smaller to medium-sized malls scattered in the city and in the bigger towns.

But why go to a mall and spend your time there? Well, there are many reasons why malls are popular and much preferred by the Filipinos, and upon a closer inspection, I realise that their argumentation actually make sense.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]


Or going to and spending time at the malls.

These reasons I have gathered are based on observations and experiences, as well as personal needs of my circle of family and friends. Other people may have a totally different reason for picking the mall as the meeting/dining/shopping place.

Ayala Centre Cebu

  • The Philippines is in the tropics and this means it is a humid 30C all year around. The air-conditioned mall, therefore, offers the much-needed respite.
  • The smog outdoors is a huge problem in big cities in the Philippines, so outside the islands and beaches, as well as nature parks which sadly the cities have a shortage of, any alfresco activity such as shopping and dining which are very much common in Europe, are best done indoors.
  • Most of my family and friends will not meet in a place without car parking. The major malls in Cebu offer convenient parking and most of these are free.
  • There is a wide variety of shops, cafes and restaurants available in the malls. Many like the idea of combining errands, a bit of window shopping and meeting family and friends for lunch or dinner in 1 place. Given the horrible traffic in Cebu, it’s the most convenient and less stressful solution.
  • Safety is another thing people look after. Safety in terms of not being mugged, being scammed with modus operandis and for their cars not vandalised as well.
  • Malling has become a subculture in the Philippines. It is the only country in the whole world that has a high density of malls. Out of the top 100 largest malls in the world, 35 are in the Philippines. That says enough. 

Ayala Area Cebu

It can get traffic here in Ayala but it is moving. I always drive on my own when I am in Cebu.

Christmas Tree Ayala Centre Cebu

This is one of the new cafes in Ayala Centre that has a very nice view, the La Vie Parisienne, obviously a French-inspired cafe.


In Ayala Centre, I met up with BFF Badiday, one of my old best friends from school. Badiday was a term of endearment we used with each other and with our close friends that somehow got stuck on us, and every time we see each other and these other friends, we scream ‘Badiday!’. It has become a local friendship lingo for us. Fun times.

Planet Grapes Ayala Centre, Cebu

The business woman is always busy.

BFF Badiday now runs a very successful business in the music industry in Cebu. She and her husband are proud owners of a contemporary rock music school. They cater to individual or group enrollment but they can also take control of the music class or department of a school. In addition, they offer lights and sound services for corporate events and large parties.

Most of my friends and family that I grew up with have their own successful businesses now and sometimes I wonder – What if I have stayed? What business would I be engaged in now?

Anyway, it is a lovely catch-up time with BFF Badiday. I always look forward to this but it is a catch-up that is not complete without food. We ordered too much I think but that was not a surprise. Luckily, I made sure not to eat breakfast that morning otherwise I do not think I can handle the amount of food we have just gobbled up.

BFF Badiday also told me that she liked Planet Grapes because not many people come in here so it is never busy and noisy. It is a new cafe restaurant with a slogan – Street food meets wine. She had the idea that many people get intimidated by the walls of wines that dominate the view from the outside of the cafe restaurant. I just hope that business turnover is doing well for this place. Most hospitality businesses that do not make at least a cost break-even within 1-2 years tend to go out of business in the third year of operation.

Whenever I meet up with friends and family in Cebu, I am never given the chance to foot the bill. They say I am the visitor, so I always end up spending less during my trips to the Philippines. Not that I am complaining =). That’s the Filipino hospitality I guess.

After our lunch, we shopped around a bit. BFF Badiday is going to Hong Kong and Macau with the whole family clan on her husband’s side and she needed a new set of warmer clothes as it is 10 degrees colder there.

Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu
Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines

I always go for the window seat with a view =)

Lechon Kawali (Fried/Grilled Pork) Rice with Omelette.

Their version of Chorizo burger with sunny side up egg and a side salad.

Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines
Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines
Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines

This is their Turon Trilogy which is a mix of ube, jackfruit and banana. Really nice and delicious! Highly recommended to try this if you visit this cafe.

Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines

Turon Trilogy dessert: Ube, Jackfruit and banana

Planet Grapes at Ayala Centre Cebu, Philippines

The cafe restaurant is located in the newest wing of Ayala Centre, just beside the NBA store.


In the evening, I met up with the sister. She had dinner already with Myrhh so she just accompanied me in Hukad, a Filipino-Cebuano restaurant that offers unlimited rice to go with the dishes. Hukad means to ‘serve the rice’ which is a term specific to the Visayas region, which is also the reason why this restaurant is offering the unlimited rice concept. This has played very well with the locals because rice is the most important food staple that everyone eats.

In the Philippines, a meal is not a real meal if there is no rice. People here eat rice 3x a day.

As you can see, just for this particular day, I have already eaten a lot, which is why I always gain a few kilos every time I am in the Philippines. *sob*

Other than that we enjoyed the Christmas lights in the garden area of the Ayala Terraces. We sat outside at the terrace because the ambience was much better. The lights turn into different colours every few seconds, and every half an hour they play the lights and music show.

Hukad Restaurant at Ayala Centre, Cebu, Philippines
Terraces Ayala Centre Cebu

We decided to eat outside the restaurant on their small outdoor terrace. It's better ambience with all the Christmas lights.

Hukad Restaurant at Ayala Centre, Cebu, Philippines
Hukad Restaurant at Ayala Centre, Cebu, Philippines

My dinner: Adobong kangkong (sauteed water spinach), Baby prawns and rice. I like that they use the banana leaf as a plate. My sister had a sago at gulaman (tapioca and jelly) dessert drink.

Terraces Ayala Centre, Cebu, Philippines
Terraces Ayala Centre, Cebu, Philippines

The changing colours of the Christmas lights at the Terraces Ayala Centre.

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Cebu City (Cebu - Visayas Region), Philippines

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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