Friday, August 28, 2015

Love at First Bite: House of Bawai

A few weeks ago, R and I decided to go to Tagaytay for a short weekend getaway. I was looking forward to do the Chicken All-You-Can of Max’s but on our way to Tagaytay, I felt car sick. So instead of munching on some fried goodies, R and I opted to visit House of Bawai. I have never been to House of Bawai but I heard that it’s better than Banoi’s, a Vietnamese restaurant I like.

Hello, House of Bawai.
The place was packed when we got there so we had to wait for a few minutes. I was actually worried since it was already 9PM then so I thought that they will just shoo us away. But I was signaled that they will just clear and we’ll be set for a warm and filling dinner.
We quickly chose Bahn Xeo (PHP280), Pho Bo (PHP365) and Banh Da Lon (PHP55). And while waiting, we tried to make the set up romantic by asking for more candles and the server obliged to our request for more candle table ornaments.

Soon, our appetizer arrived.
The crispy savory crepe was a great start. Drizzling the mushrooms, sprouts prawns and pork filled crepe with the sweet sauce made it even more delightful!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

First Bite: Patio Vera

I love giving (nice) surprises. Planning and thinking of what would make my special someone happy already makes me smile. Seeing the person appreciate it gives me a sense of fulfillment and I felt that when I surprised R with a romantic dinner for two at Ninyo. And since it was a success, I decided to do it again with Patio Vera (I got a CashCash voucher worth PHP1,600 for a romantic dinner for 2), yet another hidden gem according to Looloo.

Hello, Patio Vera.
The place is a bit hard to find since it is located in a residential area. The location itself is also a bit shady. But it’s another story when you enter the house turned restaurant.
The garden area and patio are the first dining areas you will see. We entered the house and saw antique pieces and our romantic set up was near the cockatoo glass cage.
The hyper cockatoo kept us entertained while waiting for our food. The adorable bird also distracted us while we were being bitten by mosquitoes. (Warning: apply mosquito repellant if you do not want to be their feast.)
After 30 minutes of waiting, our appetizer was finally served. Presenting, banana wrapped in bacon.
It was quite weird and the contrast between the supposedly sweet banana and salty bacon did not happen as well as it should have.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Love at First Bite: Artisan Emporium

I am now a frustrated foodie. Ever since I left Kapitolyo, I hardly explore. And I found out last week that there are around 5-7 new restaurants in Kapitolyo. SEVEN! I really have to explore this weekend! Anywaaaay, a few weeks back, I went to Spice & Cleaver and while waiting for R, I spotted a new bakery named Artisan Emporium and I decided to check it out.

Hello, Artisan Emporium.
The new bakery was just 2 days old when I visited and the first thing that caught my eye was the display chiller on the counter. They have salted caramel, chocolate and red velvet panna cotta (PHP180/jar). I wanted to get chocolate but the staff recommended red velvet. Thinking that R prefers red velvet, I bought that one instead.
And I totally forgot about it till three days later.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Love at First Bite: Nihonkai Tsukiji

I love it when I randomly discover a good restaurant. It makes me feel that I deserve a Dora the Explorer badge or something. Anyway, I felt that two weeks ago when I discovered Nihonkai Tsukiji.

Hello, Nihonkai Tsukiji.
The place isn’t something that you would instantly notice as the signage of this Japanese restaurant is quite discreet.
Upon entering, I noticed the notable attentiveness of the crew. They instantly handed the menu and one Japanese guy (I’m assuming is the owner) pulled a chair for me to put my bag on.

We ordered Salmon Aburi (PHP85/piece), Salmon Sashimi (PHP340), Makunochi Bento (PHP400) and Tempura Moriawase (PHP380).
First served was the salmon aburi and it was great! The cut was generous and the salmon was fresh. R really liked it and wanted to cancel the salmon sashimi for more of the aburi but the chef already prepared the salmon sashimi.  
The salmon sashimi was served next and it was pretty good too. Again, they used fresh salmon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Bite: Washoku de Azabu

I would never get tired of Japanese food. I’m too in love with sashimi, sushi and teppnyaki. Just a few weeks back, R and I had two Japanese meals in a row and we didn’t mind at all. One of the places we visited that weekend was Washoku de Azabu where the adorable M celebrated her 5th birthday.

Hello, Washoku de Azabu.
Auntie C mentioned that this place serves good food so I had high expectations. I’ve actually never heard of this restaurant before though I’ve been to BTTC. Anyway…

R and I arrived a bit later than 11am so some of M’s guests were already there. We sat beside J’s siblings and adorable kids and ordered Uni Sashimi (PHP240), Salmon Roll (PHP380), Soft Shell Roll (PHP545) and Aburi Salmon Roll (PHP450).
First to arrive was the Uni Sashimi and it was quite good. It had a slight sweet taste which was delightful.
The soft shell roll was okay too. But it was forgettable. I still prefer the one from Omakase or the tako-maki of Ooma.
The Salmon Roll was filling. One roll is a mouthful. I loved the roe on top of it that added extra texture.

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Bite: Spice & Cleaver

I was overwhelmed by the new restaurants in Estancia. There are more options now and some of which are fairly new and I have never visited before. One of which is Spice & Cleaver. I spotted this new joint the night I had dinner at UCC Clockwork. And since I can’t wait to try it, I set my sister’s birthday lunch there.

Hello, Spice & Cleaver!
The place had a few seats left when we got there. But we managed to get a couch at the far end as the ones on the sides seem to be set for large groups.
While waiting for my sister, R and I ordered Fish and Chips (PHP499), Wild Mushroom Tartuffo Pasta (PHP350, PHP430 with prawns), Lamb Sausage (PHP280 for one piece) and house blended iced tea (PHP120).
First served was my iced tea which was served in a small glass. It had a nice sweet lemon taste but for PHP120, this is an expensive drink.
Next served was the lamb sausage with mashed potato base. It was juicy and meaty and I loved it with sauerkraut for that extra flavor and different texture.
R was slightly disappointed with the fish and chips. He ordered it primarily because of the fact that Spice & Cleaver uses halibut fillet. But the beer battered fish fillet served wasn’t something at par with what R expected. It was the frozen kind, he said. It was okay though I prefer Chelsea’s or Fish & Co.’s.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cebu Food Stop: La Marea

I make sure that every time I visit Cebu I stop by La Marea. The café known for its warm brownie cup is a must-visit place for foodies and chocolate lovers.

Hello again, La Marea!
Since we were still full from our Maya dinner, R and I opted to share one cup of Classic Warm Brownie Cup (PHP110) and a slice of Frozen Brazo de Mecedes (PHP85) and Classic Sylvanna (PHP17.5).
First to arrive was the brownie cup. As always, it was a wonderful contrast of warm chocolate brownie and cold vanilla ice cream. It was delectable!
Next served was the frozen Brazo de Mercedes and sylvanna.
The sylvanna was nothing extraordinary and the cake was just okay. I still prefer the one I had from Spätzle

La Marea is located at Crossroads, Banilad Cebu City.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cebu Food Stop: Maya Mexican Restaurant

Cebu has become a foodie haven with restaurants serving delectable dishes. And with its more casual and laidback vibe, I wouldn’t mind living here stuffing myself with lechon. Anyway, since we wanted to maximize our last night in Cebu, we decided to head out and visit Maya Mexican Restaurant. Honestly, I wasn’t keen on leaving Crimson Hotel in Mactan for some fajitas but when they said that it’s beside La Marea… let’s just say that I changed my mind.
Hello, Maya Mexican Restaurant!
The Book of Life inspired restaurant sure screams Mexican vibe with its display of colorful skulls and masks.
I browsed Frannywanny’s blog about this place and since she raved about Asada Fajitas(PHP695), I decided to order that. Other dishes we ordered were Nachos (PHP395), Tinga Quesadillas (PHP295), Carnitas Quesadillas (PHP295) and Mini Tacos (PHP335 for 3 mini tacos). We ordered one more dish but I totally forgot its name and they could not accommodate our request for additional guacamole because they ran out. :(
First served were the quesadillas and I loved the crispy pork confit (carnitas) quesadillas more than the chicken (tinga) quesadillas. Both are filling though with its warm roasted tortillas with charred onions, cilantro and sweet pepper for crunch.
The nachos were served next and it was a beautiful mess. I loved the generous serving of cheese, refried beans and salsa! It was a great dish for sharing. 
You have to eat it fast though if you want your nacho chips to stay crispy.
I went to fajitas heaven with the Asada Fajitas. The grilled Angus beef was delectable. The soft and scrumptious beef tasted even better with the frijoles (beans), Mexican rice, peppers, and onions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Bite: UCC Clockwork

Estancia is becoming a foodie destination with more and more restaurants opening. One of the restaurants that caught my attention was UCC Clockwork which apparently isn’t that new anymore. (I really have to explore the south!) But since I’ve never tried its famous corned beef, I had to visit.

Hello, UCC Clockwork!
The charming café/restaurant had a warm and cozy vibe; but what really attracted us was the buy one, take one cocktails (a deal they offer on Fridays).
Aside from our Lychee Mojito (PHP220), we ordered Mushroom Truffle (PHP150) and Pumpkin Soup (PHP120). We also got Fresh Corned Beef with Kimchi Rice (PHP350), Threesome Breakfast (PHP380) and Clockwork Cookie Cup Screams (PHP190).
The Lychee Mojito was refreshing but the lychee’s taste overpowered the rhum making it taste like juice.
Next served were our warm bowls of soup.
I wasn’t able to take a photo of F’s bowl but he finished his without any complaint so I’m assuming that it tasted okay. My soup on the other hand wasn’t the creamy kind that I like. It was just okay but I enjoyed it with the complimentary buttered bread.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

First Bite: Le Jardin

I love it when I get random messages or invites especially when food is involved.

Two weeks ago, my former colleague M messaged me to ask if I was free the following day for food tasting at Le Jardin. Since Le Jardin is one of the restaurants I wanted to visit, I quickly replied YES! Who am I to turn down free food anyway?

Hello, Le Jardin.
I’ve read about this fancy French restaurant befores. I planned to have brunch here one time with a few friends but it never happened. But thanks to M, I get to try some of its bestsellers.
When I arrived, I was the only guest there. I thought I was too early for dinner. But throughout dinner, only two to three other tables were occupied. (All were couples except for the group of baby boomers near the bar.)
M and I tried the five-course dinner (PHP3,200) which includes amuse bouche, three entrée aux choix (appetizers), plat principal au choix (main course), assortment de fromage maison (homemade cheese) and dessert au choix (assortment of one dessert).
First served were a plate of freshly baked bread and a small serving of amuse bouche (truffled scrambled eggs).
The amuse bouche was delightful with its soft and silky texture. It went well with the warm bread.
It took roughly 30 minutes before the first appetizer arrived.
The Saumon Fumé Maison or house smoked salmon was quite ordinary for me. It was also not as salty as the other smoked salmon I tried before.
The Tartare de Homard au Pamplemousse was served next and it was quite bland. 
The lobster was fresh though and the chilled pomelo was refreshing.
It took almost another half hour before the Lasagne D’ Agneau was served. But it was worth the wait.
Though small, this dish was oozing with flavor. This is one of the tastiest lasagnas I’ve tried. I also loved that the lamb had no after taste. It would have tasted better though if it was served warmer and al dente. But apparently, French pasta is made to be softer or so what the chef told M.