Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Gluttonous Year

Disclaimer: Yet another random blog but is surely something from the bottom of my heart (and tummy).

I can’t believe that today is the end of 2011 and awesome 2012 will begin. So many things happened to me this year and I do not regret any of it. I have experienced a lot and visited so many different places this year and met awesome people who are as passionate as I am when it comes to food and exploring Manila.

To end the year, I’d like to highlight some things that made this year extra special.

Oh how I love this place! The Old Manila feel plus the numerous kalesa makes this place an ideal dating and hangout place for me. I remember touring a not-so tourist here and I was the one who ended up enjoying it more. It was like a blast from the past. Educational, fun and truly memorable.

I have mentioned before that I have never been to Binondo till June 19, 2011. It was a rainy, rather, stormy day when we decided to explore Binondo in search for some warm soup. We went to Ying-Ying, a popular Chinese (well, almost every food establishment there is Chinese) restaurant in Chinatown. The congee was bland but the experience was… delicious. (Okay, perhaps that sounded a bit wrong.) Now I always find myself in Binondo searching for food; may it be exotic dishes like Soup #5 or ice cream from the Chinese supermarket or the got-almost-everything Korean mart. Plus, this was the place where I got my first kalesa ride!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

KitKat gone Japanese

I love Japan. Anime. Kawaii fashion. Oh-so-yummy food. And… KitKat in Green Tea, Melon, and Strawberry flavors???
As a certified Japanese wannabe, the highlight of my 3 week vacation in US was not my stay in L.A. or Florida but my Narita stopover. I had so much fun planking, running around, laughing, and panic buying.
I bought some Japanese ice cream (duo flavor in a cone), a clock (yes, I’m an impulse buyer), several key chains screaming “I Love Japan” and so much more. 

While buying practically everything I find appealing, I noticed a pile of KitKat boxes in different colors. Green Tea? Strawberry? Melon? *Happiness.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Drunk with Pandesal: The Bread Bag Pandesal Bar

Pandesal. What could be so special about it anyway? It is just… pandesal. Bread. Pandesal. Round messy-to-eat bread. I hope that you won’t think that I dislike it as I prefer it as my Sunday morning breakfast. It’s just that I was wondering what made it, well, special. One gloomy Thursday afternoon, a small quaint café showed me how special pandesal could be.
After “window” shopping for a big project, my colleagues and I stopped by The Bread Bag Pandesal Bar. Who knew that there’s a “bar” for pandesal?
We entered the place and practically loved everything we saw—from the scribbles on the glass outside to the chalkboard menu, up to the tape used to seal the cups.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Moshi Moshi: Moshi Koshi Noodle Boss

My boss has been telling me about this new Japanese restaurant called Moshi Koshi and how good the food was but for some reason, every time I plan to visit that place, something happens—my sister will be crying her eyes out because of our ex-pet Kermit the hermit crab, traffic, or something else that seemed to be bizarre. But come Christmas, one of my wishes came true.

Konnichiwa, Moshi Koshi Noodle Boss!

The place was empty when we arrived. I guess people were too busy lining up to watch the MMFF movies. (I watched Segunda Mano which turned out to be comedic!)

Just like a fast food chain, you have to approach the counter and order there. I ordered Kaki-age Udon (PHP140), Ebi Tempura Teishoku (PHP185), Chicken Teriyaki Bento (PHP220) and Japanese ice creamCoffee and Green Tea (PHP55 each). Really affordable for Japanese food, right?

The service was also quick. First served was the ChickenTeriyaki Bento. I was planning to have it for myself but apparently, my sister wanted it. It was served with miso soup and four side dishes, one of which was shredded chicken that seemed to be more like chicken spread (and made me crave for bread).

It was the sweet and slightly oily type of chicken teriyaki. The meat was tender and well cooked. My sister also enjoyed the sidings (and she usually ignores these little things). For a price of PHP220, it really was worth every penny (uh, cent… uhm, peso).

Next served was the Ebi Tempura Teishoku which came with miso soup and one siding—potato salad. The ebi tempura was not the oily and 80% bread crumbs type. The shrimps used were fresh as well. The sauce that accompanied the dish was quite sweet. I was looking for a bit of ginger taste but I’m not sure if it was very mild or if it was not there at all. It would have been nice to have ginger to add some spice.

My mom loved the kakiage udon. It was a bit sweet because of some vegetables and the broth itself. The udon was really thick and filling. I could manage to only eat one string at a time. It was a bit oily for me though. Nonetheless, it was a good dish especially during the cold and rainy days.

The highlight of my visit though was the dessert. I wasn’t really expecting much from the ice cream as Moshi Koshi’s a noodle place but the ice cream, especially the coffee flavor, was really… really good!

I loved the texture of the coffee ice cream. It was very smooth and it was almost like gelato. It was creamy and had that coffee taste without the bitterness of it.

The green tea flavor on the other hand was not as smooth as coffee. It was a bit grainy for me. But, tea lovers out there, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy this. The tea taste was very strong yet, just like the coffee flavor, it was not bitter. Ice cream love!!!

I will definitely go back to try the other dishes and of course, another round of ice cream.

Moshi Koshi is located at #431 Shaw Boulevard, corner Ideal St., Mandaluyong City. It is right across the Goldilocks plant and Puregold Shaw.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not Just A Bakeshop: Jipan

Oh soft croissant bread stuffed with gooey chocolate filling… where did you go? That bread was the reason why I used to frequent JiPan, a Japanese inspired bread shop located at Glorietta and Megamall. When they stopped selling the bread I love the most, I was heartbroken and decided to go somewhere else till one night, we were reunited.
I never noticed that JiPan also offers savory dishes aside from bread. They have breakfast to dinner meals that are reasonably priced and some of them sound tempting. So, one night, during our last minute shopping spree, we decided to have dinner there.
My sister was not in the mood to eat dinner so she just ordered Corn Soup (PHP130) while my mom decided to go for the Chicken Teriyaki Set (PHP230) while I went for the Seafood Teppanyaki (PHP240) and Zaru Soba (PHP180). I also ordered Papaya Shake (just to avoid possible indigestion).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Arabian Night: World Class Persian Kebab

For some odd reason, I craved for shawarma in the middle of the night. I even told my mom that I plan to go to some place one night just to satisfy my begging taste buds but since it was almost 11pm that time, she didn’t allow me to go out at all. Thus, my craving lasted for two days. Luckily, a friend was planning to have a mini shawarma dinner (and I had no idea why) and I thanked the food gods for it. 

One Friday night, I found myself standing in front of the World Class Persian Kebab. I heard from some people that this place serves really good kebab. I’ve known them as foodies so I trust their taste.

As we entered the place, the first thing that registered to my mind was a carinderia type of place as it was not a pretty sight at all. We decided to dine at the second floor and the set up there was much better. It looked more… Arabian.

The menu was quite extensive. There were different kebabs and other Mediterranean dishes and very affordable as well. I have this knack though of unknowingly ordering one of the pricey dishes available. At least this time, it was still very much affordable. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I-Feel-Elite-Sunday: Bistecca

My friends and I have this tradition of having dinners to celebrate all kinds of occasions—Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, and yes, even Halloween. This year, since we all felt that so many things were worth celebrating and that we were on our “feeling rich” mode, we decided to go all out.
I want steak! I do not care where we were going to have dinner as long as the restaurant serves steak. I was thinking of Mamou but my friend suggested that we go for Bistecca. I was intrigued by the Truffle Fries everyone has been raving about so I agreed. 
We had a 6PM reservation and still full from our heavy lunch and movie snacks, we entered at 6:15 (we got scared that they might cancel our reservation!) and sat down to check the menu. 
The steaks are priced at PHP250-450 per 100g. We ordered The Bistecca 122 and the smallest cut available that night was 1.1kg making our steak worth PHP3,245. We also ordered the famous Truffle Fries (PHP220) and Spicy Caesar Salad (PHP295). I resisted the temptation of ordering an alcoholic drink and ordered a fruit shake instead.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Exotic Food Trip Stop: Abe Restaurant

If you checked my previous entries, you’d know that I like, uh, love exotic dishes! Blame Balaw Balaw for turning me into a normal-people-do-not-consider-this-as-food freak. I fell in love with exotic dishes ever since I tried Uok. I just can’t describe how happy I was every time I discover a yummy exotic dish. I just can’t.*Big smile here*
Part of our Fear Factor Exotic Food Trip itinerary was Abe just so we’d feel a bit more… posh after jumping from one place to another in Binondo

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ai shite iru Wani-sama: A Shiro Shiro Crocodile Meat Love Story

Crocodile meat. I was sold with those two words alone. T's friend J truly has a way with words… and coupons. She managed to score some really great coupons from Cash Cash Pinoy. Instead of paying PHP1,240, we get to dine for only PHP250 each (the coupon was worth PHP499 and it was good for two).
It was one gloomy Saturday but it did not stop us from going to Manila to eat… crocodile meat!
With a big signage plastered (or was it painted?) outside Boulevard Mansion, we were able to find Shiro Shiro right away. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Breakfast Lovers Haven: Agahan

I love breakfast. In fact, I love it so much that I do not mind eating it for lunch or dinner (given that it was freshly cooked). Garlic rice, tapa, scrambled eggs, sunny side up, hot chocolate, boneless bangus, pancakes, I could just go on and on and on but I’m too afraid that I might end up eating my keyboard.
I got an invite from Adee Caluag to check her first ever business venture, Agahan. The name itself was enough to convince me to pay the new restaurant a visit. 
Cute interiors. A big smile was plastered on my face when Adee said that the color combinations were inspired by Real Living
While checking the menu, my friend asked who Nico, Joanne and Ligaya were. Apparently, 2 of them were crew members (or one was supposed to be a crew member) while Ligaya (or Gay actually) is Adee’s sister. I find it brilliant that the owner thought of naming the staff’s creations with their names. It gave them a sense of ownership and a happier work environment.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My date with Five Guys!

Writing this entry made me realize that I practically ate nothing but burgers in the States. But, I just have to try this one as I heard that this was the favorite of Obama. Yeah!
It was our first day in Florida when we decided to go shopping for a bit. So off we go to this big outlet mall carrying Nike, Adidas, Skechers, Converse, Forever21, Payless and so much more.
Our last meal then was a 6am breakfast at IHOP, a diner famous for their pancakes. Since we were trying to save money for the chocolate sale on the first of November, we opted to have lunch at the food court. There my mom saw Five Guys. She shared with us how it was the favorite burger of Obama and that she tried it in Washington (I think).
Fine. Let’s try the President’s favorite burger chain. We were too hungry to argue or look for another restaurant or food stall anyway.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Exotic Food Trip Stop: Café Mezzanine

Exotic! That’s the first thing that comes to mind whenever I hear the word Binondo. Yes, not Chinese nor hopia… EXOTIC. I find it funny that it was just this year when I first visited this place, and now, I just can’t get over it. Soup #5, Turtle Soup, Frogs, Eels… these things charm me in a very odd manner.  

November 26, 2011. Fear Factor: Exotic Food Trip Edition. 
I invited several friends from Couchsurfing to a different kind Binondo Food Trip. Unfortunately, I was not aware that the word “exotic” could turn them off like The Grinch seducing the mommy who kissed Santa Claus. Alas, I was able to gather 7 people with the help of a fellow CSer. 
Our first stop was Café Mezzanine known as the Volunteer Fireman’s Coffee Shop. There we ordered Soup #5 (PHP250) and Special Kiampong (PHP50 per serving). I also ordered Coffee Float (PHP90). 
I was so excited to try Soup #5 because it was quite exotic. Bull’s balls? How can that not be exotic? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Yab U Yabu: The House of Katsu

New restaurant. Long lines. So much buzz. I JUST HAVE TO DINE THERE. Yes, that’s pretty much my train of thought whenever I go out.
There’s this new Japanese restaurant at SM Megamall Atrium and the traffic seemed to be endless. My boss, Frannywanny, was the one who introduced Yabu: The House of Katsu to me and I instantly fell in love with it even without trying the food yet. Tonkatsu? Katsudon? KATSU?! LOVE.
As an ultimate Japanese food lover, I’m always open to try new Japanese restaurants (or eat all you can places—for salmon sashimi!). My first attempt to dine there was a total failure as we went during lunch break and the line was crazy. I didn’t know that I had to reserve to make sure we could get a table. The second attempt was a failure as well as I tried to invite my mom to have lunch there and she told me that I kept on bugging her to make salad for me yet I pig out all the time plus our lunch out trips were starting to bother her especially when she receives her credit card bills.

But my long wait (fine, it wasn’t really long but one week of waiting for katsudon was quite hard for me) was over. I managed to invite a few friends to check the place out with me. (Actually, I was even willing to reserving a table for one as I cannot wait much further.)
Woohoo! Finally, Saturday! 
A friend and I met at around 12:30 pm (at the brink of me passing out due to hunger). I was so glad that we managed to get seats right away (and we should since I asked for us to be waitlisted for 12:30 pm). We managed to get a table right beside… Gabby Eigenmann’s! (Just sharing.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Painting Makati... PINK!

I was pretty excited when I saw a huge tarpaulin over a vacant space in Greenbelt 5 with the words “Pinkberry Swirling Soon”. At that time, I haven’t tried Pinkberry yet but since a lot of Hollywood celebrities love it and assuming that some of them are picky eaters, then Pinkberry must be good. And I was able to confirm it myself when I tried it during my vacation. Pinkberry love!
I was determined to try Pinkberry here in Manila on its first week of operations to the point that I braved the Christmas rush and the dark night just for it. Paranoid, I was speed walking from the MRT to the malls and back. My travel time going back was less than 20 minutes.

Anyway, I was glad that I was able to meet with some friends on my way to Pinkberry as I might have spent half an hour finding my way to the store (as I have absolutely no sense of direction). 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Cheesy Sunday: Elbert’s Cheesesteak Sandwiches

I always frequent Rockwell ever since my internship days in one of the companies nearby and one of the things I noticed was that it houses several good restaurants. I promised myself to try all of the restaurants. So far, I have visited 19 food establishments there and one Sunday afternoon, I was in the mood for sandwiches.
My sister and I were on our way to the Rockwell Tent to visit the Moonlit Bazaar (again on that same weekend) as I was on the lookout for a costume for a Christmas party. Since we ate lunch pretty early, our tummies were grumbling at exactly 4pm. 

I had my eyes on the sandwich place with pink neon lights for the longest time. I often pass by it whenever we were on our way to the parking lot but I never got the chance to try it till my sister and I craved for something light yet filling (if there was such a thing).

Finally, Elbert’s Cheesesteak Sandwiches! 

Monday, December 12, 2011

And the winner of the In-N-Out vs. Tommy's match is...

“In-N-Out is nothing!” That was what one of our hosts in the US told me when I told him that we ate at In-N-Out and loved it. Of course I was shocked with his comment convincing me to believe that there’s a way better burger. Well, I know that for sure there is but on the fast food level, In-N-Out was pretty good. “You have got to try Tommy’s,” he added.  As a foodie, that sentence intrigued me… a lot.
While on our star hunt, we spotted something else as well… a Tommy’s branch! Finally, I could taste the so-far-I-was-told-that-it-was-better-than-In-N-Out burger! 
I was still pretty full that night as I had a heavy dinner and we came from a birthday party as well where I attacked the salad bar (aside from my slices of pizza and chicken drumsticks).  But gluttony took over and I ordered cheeseburger… with fries and cola. (Well, the ad was tempting!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Greetings from California... Pizza Kitchen.

My sister have never tried to dine at California Pizza Kitchen before so one random Sunday afternoon, we decided to go to Rockwell and have one late lunch there.
I’ve never dined in CPK’s branch in Rockwell so it felt so weird that the place was quite small (as I was used to the [former] spacious Shangri-La branch located at the ground floor). There were only a few diners when we arrived so we got a table right away. We got the one with a couch! Yey!