SIZZLING delicacies and “silog” meals have always been part of an average Thomasian’s day-to-day budget. With limited allowances given to students, the search for affordable yet delicious meals within the University’s premises has become an essential part of every college journey.

But other than those grilled entrees offered by nearby carinderias, restaurants surrounding the University have not only catered the affordable yet delicious standard raised by consumers. They also offer a variety of food choices, taking pride of the foreign and international cuisine that they market to their Filipino patrons.

Love for food

Kazams owner Irene Ramos-Dy decided to open a restaurant that takes pride over the international cuisines they offer to their customers.

Standing along V. Concepcion Street in Dapitan, Kazams has been the common ground for the many international and local cuisines it showcases in its menu. With just a few months in the business, it makes use of its cozy place and wide variety of food choices, ranging from oriental to western dishes, to attract customers.

The business started to operate in June of this year.

The idea of putting up Kazams was brought by Dy’s natural love for food. Together with her husband Ignacio, she would habitually travel around the world to eat all sorts of food and taste the specialties every place has to offer. From these experiences and adventures, Dy was able to nurture and hone her cooking skills.

Dy gained her cooking expertise from her mother who was a natural cook. When she was still a child, she would voluntarily involve herself whenever her mother worked in their kitchen to learn more about the craft of preparing sumptuous meals.

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Growing up in Nueva Ecija, Dy was used to eating homecooked dishes such as bulalo and pinakbet.

“If I taste a certain dish, I already know how to make that recipe,” she said. “I want to share to everyone what I think is delicious.” Commerce alumna Karina Sanchez owns the Asian cuisine restaurant at Casa Vida’s third floor in Dapitan Street. Wok With Me got its name from Sanchez’s idea of using “wok,” a Chinese cooking equipment characterized by its round bottom in her recipes.

“Karina really loved cooking and she is very generous when it comes to food,” restaurant manager Benil Alberto said. “We update our menus once in a while to cater the best food we can serve to our clients.”

Wok With Me is well-known for its authentic Asian specialties. Its first clients in the 90’s were resident doctors of the UST Hospital. But now, they provide catering services to the various faculties and colleges of the University.

Korean invasion

Standing along Antonio Street near Dapitan, Korean restaurant Hanayo caters the varied preference of Thomasians when it comes to Korean dishes.

Hanayo, meaning “the best” or “only one” in Korean, offers recipes that are all-original and personally crafted by its owner, Gloria Marcelo-You.

“When I fell in love with my husband, I also came to fall in love with Korean food,” You said.

Inspired by her friends and family to open her own restaurant, You opened Hanayo near the University on July 6 of last year. Their second branch is located in the University of the East-Recto area.

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Hanayo was supposed to be just a take-out counter of Korean delicacies, but You decided to extend the business into a larger entity offering Thomasians better, healthier, and more affordable food.

“My kids did not want much of fast-food therapy every day, so I thought of giving them the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “I also wanted to help other kids to try a different taste of good food without spending too much money.”

You was able to learn various cooking styles from her husband’s Korean and Taiwanese friends.

With books and experiences guiding her cooking endeavours, she was able to formulate Korean food specialties that are able to capture the preference of most food-loving Thomasians. She helps in preparing the food to be served to the customers and makes sure that they are in top quality and freshness.

Hanayo’s specialties include beef stew, bulgogi, chap chi, and sweet and spicy pork.

“I just want each recipe, if not perfect, close to perfect,” You said. “I put up this restaurant to help students eat healthy food while getting the worth of what they pay for.”

With just more than a year of operating the business, You is glad for all the positive feedbacks Hanayo has been gaining all the while.

“Hanayo has a heart for students from all walks of life,” she said. “We treat our customers like they are our own kids.”

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