JJ Yulo

He cooks dinners for Pinoy Eats World, pens reviews for Spot.ph. But what does the all-around food guy have in his pantry?

June 27, 2012 | by Becky Kho

He runs food tours and cooks dinners for Pinoy Eats World, and pens restaurant reviews for Spot.ph. What does the all-around food guy have in his pantry?
                                           Yummy.ph | People | JJ Yulo
Where do you do your food shopping?
I go to Metro in Market! Market! for my "supermarketing." I like the Asian food section and the condiments sections there. I do love The Landmark and Cash & Carry as well. For delis, well, Santis and Terry's for premium goods, and S&R sometimes for bulk goods and some produce and proteins. I love my neighborhood Monterey Shop because I’m friends with the owners and the butcher, and they take care of me. For seafood, vegetables, and fruits, I head to Farmer’s in Cubao. And of course, Salcedo Market is always an option. It’s got a real community vibe to it and generally the quality of the stuff is quite good.

What are mainstays in your pantry?
These days, I’ve fallen in love with this red rice from Isabela. Brown rice is there too. (Oh fine, and some white rice too, for those special moments.) Also olive oil, vegetable oil, butter, spaghetti, tomato paste, mustard, chili sauces, anchovies, ketchup, and breadcrumbs, among other things. Nowadays, one of my favorite pantry staples is this small brand of smoked bangus from Bacolod.

You travel extensively. Any food shopping concepts you've seen overseas that you'd like to come to Manila?
I'd love to see a more organized kitchen supply store, with sales people who actually cook and use the equipment to assist shoppers. For Pinoy purposes, [it would be] a cross between Rustan's, Gourdo's, and the shops in Quiapo—so all price points are covered. A food hall, like the Ferry Building in San Francisco, would also be nice. While we’re at it, a shop with a knowledgeable staff that actually researches and gets the best products from up and down the Philippines would be fantastic!

You also cook for the Pinoy Eats World dinners. Can you share some of your favorite sources of ingredients?
For ultra premium items, Bacchus is king. It doesn't get more premium (and pricey) than this. Proceed with caution or your wallet blows up. Generally, Santis is great for premium meats and cheese. I also dig the steak cuts from Melbourne Prime. Terry's for anything Spanish. For Japanese stuff, I head to Cartimar (yes, they sell more than pets).

Do you have any suggestions for home cooks on how to manage the food budget better?
The more you cook, the more you learn to not waste stuff. If you have spare vegetables in the fridge that’s going bad, pickle them, or cook them and use it as a component for a dish. For example, if you have old leeks, caramelize them and put them in a soup. As for shopping, go to a market to buy vegetables—it's cheaper.

Favorite budget buy? Favorite mid-range buy? Favorite splurge?
Respectively, eggplant, chiu chow chili oil, and good cheeses.

For the schedule of Pinoy Eats World food tours and guerrilla dinners, go to Facebook.com (search "Agapiolo Pinoyeatsworld").

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Photography by Cres Yulo

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