Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Sip: Precynct

Checking Looloo or my Instagram feed never fails to make me drool. I always see new dishes, drinks or places I have yet to try or visit. And one of the drinks that made me drool (and stalk) was the Faux Cappuccino of Precynct, one of the new coffee shops at The Grove by Rockwell. I planned to pay Precynct a visit last December only to be greeted by a closed sign. Apparently, they made last minute announcements on their holiday shutdown. Boo! But my curiosity remains strong and I tried to stop by again last week and it was a successful visit!

Hello, Precynct!!!
We arrived around 3PM and we were famished given that we skipped breakfast AND lunch. I was starting to see flying crispy pata and fried chicken when we got to the small and quaint coffee shop.

The server gave us the menu and it was all drinks. Nothing else. I got confused why they didn't offer any savory dishes and it made me check their Instagram account again and confirmed that they do serve meals. However, I didn't know that it is only available during lunch and dinner time. >.<
Anyway, we opted to have lunch elsewhere (*ahem* Backyard) and come back here for an after meal drink

When we got back, I finally ordered Faux Cappuccino (PHP160). YAY!
The server told me that it is best enjoyed by sipping from the cup. I read it somewhere too  so I gave it a try. It was a messy, not exactly cute, sip.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First Bite: Backyard Kitchen+Brew

I still remember the first time I visited Backyard. We only ordered its famous butter beer since we saving space for our Mecha Uma tasting menu dinner. And since there are just too many new restaurants here and there, I didn't get to visit Backyard again till last week. Well, we didn't really plan to visit Backyard but since we failed (once again) to have lunch at Asakusa, we ended up stuck between Backyard and Burger Pub. Thinking that I just recently blogged about the latter, I convinced R that we go for Chef Ed Bugia's restaurant. 
Hello, Backyard Kitchen + Brew
This time around, we ordered non-alcoholic drinks Lemonade (PHP65) and Home Brewed Iced Tea (PHP85). For our hot meals, we went for Slow Roasted Pork Belly (PHP275) and Backyard Burger (PHP285).
First served were our drinks and both were very refreshing. The lemonade was delightfully tangy while the iced tea had a nice citrusy flavor with a tinge of honey. Yum!
In less than 10 minutes, the Slow Roasted Pork Belly was served. Now, that's fast service! 
As one of Backyard's specialties or recommended dishes, it did not fail in the taste department. I truly enjoyed the rich flavor of the pork belly. Succulent meat covered in a sweet and mildly spicy sauce. 
In order to offset its overwhelming taste, I ate some of the crunchy and slightly tarty coleslaw and delightfully cheesy mac and cheese after each bite of the pork belly. It was a harmonious dance of flavors! And the good thing about this affordable dish was its generous serving size! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Restaurant Love: Toby's Estate Coffee Roasters

I have always been a fan of Toby's Estate. I love its Flat White coffee as I need not add sugar to make it drinkable. I still remember the first time I tried it in Century City Mall after exploring Hole in the Wall, then a new foodie place. It was love at first sip. But I never get a chance to try its other offerings such as savory dishes and desserts till last month.

Hello, Toby's Estate Coffee Roasters!
I finally got to visit the Salcedo branch of Toby's Estate which serves savory and sweet dishes! Yay! But since we were all full from our Tsumura Sushi Bar & Restaurant  lunch, we just focused on drinks and desserts.
I was planning to order Toby's Estate's popular dessert Bucky's a la mode (PHP260) but J mentioned that it is not as good as the Sticky Toffee Pudding (PHP190). I trust J's taste so I went with the latter. For beverage, I went with my favorite Flat White (PHP150) and R ordered the Iced Chocolate (PHP150, 16 oz).
First served was the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Served on a dented tin bowl, the others commented on its poor presentation. "It looked like a dog's dish!" says one of my companions. And to be honest, it does look like one. Some restaurants do the same but manage to pull it off nicely. I'm just not sure if it was the dents that made it look so sad. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

First Bite: Burger Pub

The Grove by Rockwell has evolved from a mere events area for birthdays or bazaars to a foodie haven. Indeed, it does not offer a lot of choices yet but it has a pretty good variety from Filipino dishes to Japanese, Indian to American staples. I have been eying the tempura place there for quite some time but every time I plan to visit, it gets cancelled. I blame traffic (and lazy bug) for it. And when I finally decided to visit The Grove, the tempura place was closed! *ugly cry* But a new burger joint made me smile. 

Hello, Burger Pub.
The place is quite small and could perhaps sit at most 25 diners.
Positioning itself as a no-frills burger place, its interiors have an industrial, semi-finished look. Even the menu was very simple. (Though not sure if they'll make it more extensive since they seem to be still testing out their menu.)
I ordered the Pub Original (PHP345) while my mom went with the server's recommended off the menu Ragu Bolognese (PHP335). We also ordered iced tea (PHP120) for beverage.
First served was the iced tea and I noticed its very dark color. It somehow reminded me of milk tea. And it... doesn't taste like one. It had a very strong tea taste to the point of it being too bitter for iced tea. It wasn't that refreshing too because of the after taste that stays in your mouth. It was not worth my PHP120. (And we ordered two glasses of it so that makes it PHP240!!!) 
My mom's pasta was served next and serving size was quite generous and good for two. 
It was also delightfully meaty. Each bite was guaranteed to be packed with meat. I also liked the firm pasta complementing the soft and juicy meat sauce. The parmesan added a tinge of tart and further enhanced the dish's taste.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Love at First Bite: Honey Creme

It's nice to share a good dessert with someone. But when I really want to try something new (or not so new) and could not drag anyone to get fat with me, I turn into the-heck-with-it-imma-try-it-by-myself-coz-I'm-independent. And that was what happened when I got to leave work early and went to SM Aura to do some grocery shopping. After months of waiting, I finally got (or decided) to try Honey Creme. 

Hello, Honey Creme!
I was planning to pay Honey Creme a visit with R but every time we plan to have dinner at SM Aura, we turn lazy and just eat whatever's available or nearby. But a few weeks back, I had some time to spare so I decided to drop by this ice cream place that has one of the most Instagrammed walls.
The place was quite empty when I passed by around 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. 

With 10 varieties to choose from, I went with Caramel Popcorn (PHP165) as I was in the mood for some popcorn. 

It was such a treat to see how they prepare my cup. The server was very generous with the toppings and even struggled to pack more popcorn in my cup. (Thank you!!!)
Now to do a mini pictorial with my delectable cup!

The place is very small and there are no tables available for diners. There is a bench though against the grass wall which was occupied by an elderly and her grandchild. Since I really want to have a nice backdrop for my ice cream, I asked them if I could hold my ice cream pictorial beside them. The old lady just smiled and moved her paper bag to the other side of the bench.

*Click.* *Adjust for better lighting.* *Click* (x10)
Now for a spoonful...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Love at First Bite: Milkcow

Cotton candy on ice cream??? Whuuut? That was my reaction a year ago when I heard about Milkcow. I wanted to visit its first branch in Eastwood several times but every time I try to visit, it gets cancelled. I recall that my first attempt was unsuccessful because of the long line. My second attempt was a failure too because the people I was with were rushing. My third attempt went kapoof because that Hot Star cheap-o sundae was just to tempting. But I was finally successful last weekend!
Hello, Milkcow!!!
The brightly lit place was full of cow decors. There are cows on the wall, on the mirror and even on macaron divider. It was screaming adorable!
When I was about to order, I was surprised that there were a lot of options to choose from. I thought they only have less than 10 variants. In short, I was a bit overwhelmed and ended taking my sweet time to choose "the one".
I was torn between M1 Milky Way (PHP110), which is the plain ice cream and M8 Milky Crisp (PHP170) which has rice crispies and macaron. However, my desire for a nice and colorful photo won and I ordered M8. (It seems to be more Instagram-worthy.) My friends ordered M3 Milky Cube (PHP170), M4 Snow Drop (PHP170), M5 Milky Pearl (PHP150) and M12 Milky Pop (PHP150).
While waiting for my ice cream (which was not a long wait), I quickly took photos of my friends' orders before they (or the heat) ruin the nice swirl of ice cream. 

Now to taste 'em all...
I noticed that the ice cream base is indeed very creamy. Though not as smooth as gelato, it was very rich in taste. It was undeniably milky

My rice crispies topping added crunch to my dessert and the macaron (I chose salted caramel) added more taste. I sparingly put macaron per spoonful though as I find it too sweet. The macaron (priced PHP60 per piece) though was good. Consistency and taste could easily compete with other pricier macarons (except Laduree and Tuileries Confections). 
The M4 Snow Drop or the ice cream with a huge fluff of cotton candy was lovely. No wonder a lot order this one. I thought they just buy it for its Instagram-worthy look. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

First Bite: Din Tai Fung Manila

Din Tai Fung is probably one of the most talked about restaurants last year. Its huge "opening soon" banner has captured the attention of foodies and every one was on the look out on social media for the official opening day announcement of the well-loved Taiwan-based restaurant. It finally did last month with free Xiao Long Bao for the first 100 guests. I would normally visit on its first week (or even attempt to be one of the first 100 for free food) but since traffic was not very pleasant and knowing that this restaurant will have a blockbuster line, I decided to wait till I do visit SM Megamall. And thanks to the super delayed Christmas lunch with college friends, I braved the crazy Saturday traffic and giddily hopped towards Din Tai Fung. 
Hello, Din Tai Fung!

K was the early bird in our group and managed to get a number for us. However, for us to be seated, everyone from the group has to be there. Since some of us were late, we had to wait a bit longer for us to get a table (because our number was long been called). On a positive note, we could already place our order while still in line. At least that cuts down our wait for food. We ordered Din Tai Fung House Special (PHP155), Pork Xiao Long Bao (PHP315, 10 pcs; PHP160, 5 pcs), Vegetarian Mushroom Wonton Noodle Soup (PHP265), Sweet and Sour Pork (PHP245), Salted Egg Yolk Prawns (PHP375) and Shrimp Fried Rice (PHP210). 
When we were finally complete, we waited for a couple of minutes before we were assisted to our table. I think it wasn't that bad. (Then again, it was already 3 PM when we visited and the place was still packed. So just imagine how busy the place is during lunch.)
The Din Tai Fung House Special was served right away and it looks appetizing. I loved the slight tart of the dish making it very refreshing and a great appetizer. I also love the delightful seaweed texture and beansprout crunch.
The server also tried to upsell by offering the Stewed Spongy Gluten (PHP235) which we said yes to as we were really hungry. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

First Bite: The Clean Plate by Twist

Thanks to the Holiday shutdown, I could visit R at work and have lunch with him. But since the installation of my new shelves ended late and the Christmas traffic was worse than a typical weekday, I arrived almost 2PM and R already ate. I ended up having lunch alone. :( Perk though was that I had more time to explore and check the new restaurants. Buuut...there weren't a lot of interesting restaurants in Trinoma. Most of the establishments there are the ones you find in other malls. I even checked Looloo if I missed out on any. Sadly, I didn't missed out any interesting or new restaurant. That was it. (T_T) Then I spotted... The Clean Plate.
Hello, The Clean Plate!
The restaurant that promises healthy dishes (hence the name) has very charming and warm interiors. It made me feel comfortable and at home that I didn't mind being the only loner when I visited.
I ordered a bowl of Rustic Tomato Soup (PHP195) and a plate of Pro-Biotic Chicken Tocino + Veggie Rice (PHP295). 

Service was quick and I got my bowl of piping hot soup in less than 10 minutes.
It was tangy, thick and undeniably flavorful! The slight spice of garlic and onions made me whet my appetite even more. It had that mild heat that makes you keep on eating, or in this case, slurping. What I loved best about this dish was the huge chunks of tomato for me to munch on. It was really hot though so I made sure to enjoy it bit by bit.  
As soon as I finished my soup, the tocino arrived and it looked scrumptious.

I got a piece of tocino and noticed that the chicken meat was slightly tough. And my first bite confirmed that it was not only tough but dry as well. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

First Bite: Morganfield's

When I find a new restaurant, I stalk. I visit its social media pages. I check all hash tags with its name and occasionally drool on several food photos I see posted. I lurk in Looloo and read every single review about the place. And one of the places I stalked last month was Morganfield’s, the new ribs place in town that recently opened in the hardly open Uptown Mall in BGC. (Take note, BGC. It is not the UPTown Center in Quezon City. It’s the one beside Valkyrie and The Palace Pool Club. Clear? Okay, let’s move on.) So just imagine how happy I was when the adorable P of Looloo invited me to Morganfield’s for their first eat up (known as rendezvoos by the Looloo users) for 2016.

Hello, Morganfield’s!

I arrived a bit too early (I did the same last time with Le Petit Soufflé) and got to have a one-on-one chat with E, marketing head of Morganfield’s. 
From our short talk, I found out that Morganfield’s is a brand developed in Malaysia that focused on delivering delectable American dishes and specializing on ribs
I asked how they differentiate themselves from other ribs places here and in the US and she told me that it all boils down to the ingredients. E was proud to say that their ribs are sourced from Spain and that they are one of the few, if not the only, ribs place that serves “full slab”. She even told me to see it for myself on what a full slab should look like. (Cue: *Oooooh~*)
After a while, the others arrived and we all went gaga over the adorable mugs. And I was pretty amazed that they made the mugs gender specific. The blue mugs have pig snout with mustache and were given to the guys and the pink mugs with snout and lipstick were given to the ladies. I loved that the server took time to make sure we get the right ones. And I do hope that they keep it that way even when they're packed and busy. 
Here's the other mug design. 
Even their aprons are adorable!!!
I was starting to see flying pigs and imaginary ribs on the table when our drinks were served. I got the Agua Fresca (PHP195) which was a blend of watermelon chunks and juice with lime juice, served with rose syrup and a scoop of calamansi sorbet. The serving size of the drink was decent and could last me the whole meal if I'm not too thirsty. My issue though with my drink was... it was not thirst quenching. It was too sweet! I didn't even got a hint of lime or calamansi. All I got was the taste of syrup. Good thing the servers were very quick with my request for hot water. (Note: Hot water helps me eat more.)
As soon as everyone got their drinks, our first dish arrived. And it was the... Smokin' Duck Salad (PHP395). I absolutely loved this one from the salad dressing to the duck meat

The soy vinaigrette has that Asian flair to it. It was slightly sweet and salty and unlike other vinaigrette dressings I tried, this one had no weird and bitter aftertaste. Delightful! 
The greens were crisp and definitely fresh. There were slices of boiled egg and century egg too but I didn't notice that there were only two wedges for each kind. I felt really bad for getting one wedge of century egg just for myself. >.<

The applewood smoked duck was superb! Not sure how it was prepared but it reminded me of applewood smoked duck bacon. It had the right amount of fat and it was very flavorful but not overpowering. 

After putting together the greens, applewood smoked duck and century egg... my guilt for getting one wedge of century egg went *poof*. (Well, thanks too to K for saying it's a-okay for me to have it.) It was a must-order dish! Oh, did I tell you that this is not even their bestselling salad?
And just when we were about to finish our salad, the Awesome Threesome (PHP495) plates were served.

This set reminds me of the Trio platter of Chili's. This one also comes with spicy chicken wings and some carrot and celery sticks. But instead of some wraps, this set comes with Crab and Spinach dip and Russet Potato Skins.
Everyone loved the spicy chicken wings. Though flavorful enough to be enjoyed on its own, it was also great with the sour cream dip. (Note: Non-spicy food lovers rejoice! It is not that spicy. In fact, it was very very mildly spiced.)

I dipped the nacho chips on the crab and spinach dip which was very thick and creamy. It was a bit bizarre at first as my taste buds were yearning for spinach and "artichoke" instead of crab. It was good and had a nice seafood flavor to it. Though I still prefer to mix my creamed spinach with artichoke.

And I felt bad for the Russet Potato Skins. It was cold when I got to take a bite. The cheese also solidified. I bet it would have tasted so much better when it was eaten hot and fresh from the oven. But we have duties... click before lick. (Okay, it sounds terrible but I couldn't come up with a wittier way to say that we foodies have to take photos first before eating.)

I blame the scrumptious Jim Beam BBQ Iberico Baby Back (PHP950) for making the potato skin wait. It was served right after the Awesome Threesome.

But... boy oh boy! I can't turn my back from this baby! Named as the king of all glazes, this piece of juicy (and tender) meat was oozing with flavor. Why is it called Jim Beam, you ask? In order to prepare this dish, they use 300ml of Jim Beam to marinate the baby back with. Yes, we're referring to the alcohol brand. And no, you won't get drunk but you'll be intoxicated with its aroma and succulent meat.
And then finally... the skateboard ribs.