Friday, July 29, 2016

First Bite: Lemuria

R wanted to bring me to this fancy place that he finds really beautiful. Luckily, we scored a Deal Grocer promo for its six course degustation at PHP1,450 per head. Not bad. Not bad at all. 
Hello, Lemuria!
I made a reservation for two at 6 p.m. one Sunday and we got there a bit past 6 as traffic was a bit crazy in Quezon City. 
We were greeted by one of the staff in butler outfit and assisted R with parking. When we step foot inside Lemuria, I was awed by the restaurant’s well tended garden and picturesque interiors. 

We were the only diners when we arrived. It was like R reserved the whole place for us. <3
We were served some complimentary bread with butter and balsamic vinegar to start our meal. 
There were two kinds of bread, both warm and fragrant. I liked the darker one with nuts as it was moist and way softer. The pale coloured bread was rather tough.
After a few minutes, we were given our first course, the Amuse Bouche, which is basically cherry tomato with cheese. 

The serving size was too small for it to leave a lasting impression. I totally forgot about it when I slurped the next dish which was the Caramelized Cabbage Soup with Lardoons and Sour Cream
The soup reminded me of some Chinese cabbage soup, only creamier and a tinge of sourness. 
Next served was the Sautéed Kale and White Onions with Chorizo and Crumbled Goat Cheese

Thursday, July 28, 2016

First Sip: Where's Marcel?

Pearl Drive was my place to be back in college because my alma mater is located there. I’d frequent a few establishments that offer pocket friendly dishes and I would occasionally splurge on a meal or two when I feel like I deserve it after a gruelling long exam. Fast forward to present, I would still find myself being a stingy foodie. But I wouldn’t scrimp on a cup of coffee especially if it receives a lot a good reviews. And that’s how I found myself in front of Where’s Marcel.

Hello, Where’s Marcel?
Why is everyone looking for Marcel? And more importantly, who is Marcel?

Well, for those curious, the coffee shop is named after Marcel Ruggieri, a coffee enthusiast who often wanders off to Costa Rica and Columbia, two popular coffee regions to look for the perfect beans. It takes pride in being a strong supporter of local businesses and engage in direct trading with farmers. The crop-to-cup concept has developed Where’s Marcel as an establishment that is more community-based. And this Melbourne born shop decided to have Manila as its first location offshore.
Aside from its expansive coffee menu, it also offers a bunch of savory dishes such as sandwiches and pasta. But since I planned to have dinner elsewhere, I settled with one Revel Bar (PHP55) and a cup of Marcel’s Dirty Chai (PHP170, 12 oz). 
The place was pretty empty on a Saturday night so it was a perfect place to hangout and catch up with friends. The place also offers WI-FI so this place could also be a nice spot to do those term papers. 

First served was the revel bar and it was delectable.
The oatmeal gave the snack a lovely chewy taste and the melted chocolate chips made the bar sweet yet not overwhelming. For PHP55, it was a pretty good find. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

First Bite: 7107 Culture + Cuisine

I have been planning to visit 7107 Culture + Cuisine ever since I read some articles about this hip place. Restaurants that offer Filipino favorites with a twist (such as Locavore and Kartilya) never fail to get my attention. The only thing that keeps me from visiting this place is its odd and inconvenient location. It is inside Treston International College along University Parkway, Fort Bonifacio. But after reading yet another article and drooling over its mouthwatering menu, I had to brave the heat and visit this place ASAP. 
Hello, 7107 Culture + Cuisine
I was greeted by nice colorful interiors in contrast with warm wood wall accents, grey oak tables and metal chairs. The overall look of the place is very chic. 
There is also a sari-sari store inside where you could buy some local goods.
I wasn't really hungry and just wanted to try an appetizer, one rice bowl and dessert. (Yep, I wasn't hungry that time.) I was planning to get Bulalo V2.0 rice bowl but they removed it from the rice bowl category. I was not surprised though as they priced it at PHP149 which seemed very cheap for a deconstructed bulalo dish. I then eyed Spinach and Goat Cheese Lumpia (PHP215) but figured it might be better to be ordered when I'm with someone to share it with. I was worried that reheating it will affect the crunchiness of the lumpia wrapper. 

So I ended up with Malunggay Pestocino (PHP275) and Maja Blanca Panna Cotta (PHP115) for dessert. I skipped appetizer as I didn't want to ruin my appetite for dinner. 
Service was quick but a bit messed up as first served was my dessert.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

First Bite: The Dessert Kitchen

It is undeniable that The Dessert Kitchen has really photogenic desserts. I have been eying to visit this Hong Kong dessert shop for the longest time but I never manage to do so because 1) I don’t have any other business in Rockwell and 2) Manila traffic is crazy. But I managed to pay this place a visit on Father’s Day weekend and it sure was packed!
Hello, The Dessert Kitchen!
The small and quaint dessert place was very busy on a Saturday afternoon. There were only four bar stools and a table vacant when we arrived. Luckily, the table that was vacated could accommodate four. 

It took us a while to order as the menu was quite extensive. Shaved ice, pudding, soft serve ice cream, eggette… name it, The Dessert Kitchen would most likely have it.
We went with the award winning and bestseller Purple in Love (PHP258), Tofu with Hokkaido Red Beans (PHP168), Matcha Red Bean Eggette with Strawberry Ice Cream(PHP288) and Sakura Warabi (PHP168). 

Service was quite fast considering that the place was busy. Purple in Love was served in less than 10 minutes. 
It looked pretty good and the serving size seemed generous as it was overflowing. Then again, it might be because the bowl used wasn’t that big. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Salted Egg Chips Craze: Stella Wood Fired Bistro

I am a big fan of salted eggs. I would go crazy every time I see some in bazaars and end up buying at least half a dozen of these delectable poultry goods and enjoy it with tomatoes. I'd also order any dish with salted egg in order to satiate my undying desire for it. Unfortunately, not a lot of restaurants carry salted egg dishes. And so when Mela of Raintree Group posted Stella's newest salted egg creation, my tastebuds clamored for it and I can't let a week pass by without giving in to my tummy's desires.

Hello, Stella Wood Fired Bistro
No heavy rainfall can come in between me and my salted eggs! Okay, fine. I was just so lucky that the rain stopped by the time I clocked out of work. 
I managed to get to Stella around 6:30 pm and there were only a few tables occupied. I figured the heavy rain earlier and the fear for carmaggedon scared the bistro's regulars and potential customers. (I was wrong though as more diners came in past 7 pm.) 
The restaurant has a chill vibe and seems like a perfect place for friends to catch up or a casual date over a few cocktails and light dishes.
I was quickly ushered to my table and I ordered a plate of Salted Egg Chips (PHP220). While waiting, one of the staff noticed that I put out my fan as I was feeling a bit hot. She quickly adjusted their small electric fan and pointed it towards me. I was impressed with her proactiveness. 
My plate was served in a jiffy and Chef RJ who prepared it took some time off to explain the dish to me.

Friday, July 22, 2016

First Bite: Mama Rosa

I follow several notable foodies on Instagram and when they say this restaurant or that café is their favorite, I get curious. I just have to know if these foodie approved places are worth my time and money. And so when chef and food columnist Angelo Comsti said that Mama Rosa is one of his all-time favorite restaurants, I just have to visit the place. And I went with my mom as it seemed appropriate to bring your “mama” to Mama Rosa.

Hello, Mama Rosa.
I was worried that that place might be packed so I asked my sister to make a reservation for four. We got to the place around 1 p.m. and were lucky to score the parking space in front of the restaurant. And when we got in… surprise! The place was empty!

Famished, we quickly ordered the following: Kinilaw na Isda (PHP280), Kalabasa soup (PHP90, Halaan (PHP120), Mango Chicken (PHP225), Lechon Kawali (PHP220) and Guinataang Sigarillas (PHP160). 
While waiting for our orders, we were given some chips and dip. 
First served was the Kinilaw na Isda and the tuna chunks came in three variants. One had green mangoes and coconut cream, another had salted duck egg, tomatoes and black beans, while the last one had cucumber, radish and kamias. The one with the coconut cream was the spiciest as it had red chilies in it but I still manage to eat half of it as the spice level was still tolerable. I loved the one with salted duck egg best as there was a contrast in texture and the saltiness of the egg balanced the tanginess of the dish. If you love tangy dishes, you’d love the one with kamias.

I was so delighted with the generous serving of soups. Each bowl was good for sharing. The pumpkin soup was good for 2-3 while the halaan was good for 2. 
The pumpkin soup had a nice thick texture and I loved its sweet flavor. It was the ideal pumpkin soup
The halaan had a nice light taste which was perfect for a starter. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

First Bite: Kartilya

New restaurants never fail to attract me like fly to light. I just have to try it ASAP. And so when T posted a teaser of her newest business venture, I got curious and plotted it in my foodie calendar. But I guess I was busy with other things and forgot about it till A shared an Instagram post announcing that the said restaurant is now open. 

Hello, Kartilya
This new Filipino restaurant sure made me drool with its photo of Liempo Queso Fundido. For Kartilya, liempo is not enough to tease the tastebuds that's why they drowned it with cheese. I showed the said photo to an officemate and he hurriedly called someone to have dinner there. (Do not underestimate the power of cheese!)

Since my favorite date is still miles away, I bugged some of my favorite foodies if they are game to visit this new restaurant on its first day. Well, most couldn't make it as they already made plans or were too far away to make it. A though, the instigator, changed his mind and decided to tag along.

We arrived around quarter to 7 and the place was half full. Not bad for a first dinner service. 
The restaurant, which used to be Wolf & Fox Gastropub, is well lit from the inside (it is dark outside and the place could be mistaken as closed) and the walls are decorated with capiz windows. The tables have dark finish too with designs that could pass as your furniture stored in your provincial home.

I was already a bit full from my quick stop at Poco Deli (which opened nearby) so I just went with the dish that made me almost bite my phone, Liempo Queso Fundido (PHP274). I wanted to stick to just one dish but I couldn't resist the Pinoy Baked Oysters (PHP152) and Pinoy Sausage Platter (PHP385). 

Service was quick and our Liempo Queso Fundido was served first.
It was not as overflowing with cheese as I imagined but it was still one cheesy dish. A noticed that the fatty part of the liempo was not charred till crispy. Apparently, you could request for the chef to grill the fat and serve it crunchy. We found out a bit too late though. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

First Bite: Frank & Dean Café x Kitchen

After a heavy brunch from Locavore, my favorite foodies and I craved for some sweets to cap the meal. We read mixed reviews about Frank & Dean so we were a bit hesitant to head there. But the bright sun made the decision easier for us. Since Locavore and Frank & Dean are within the same area, we opted to just give it a try and see if it is really a waste of tummy space as others say. 

Hello, Frank & Dean
The place was rather empty when we got there around 1 pm. Only two or three tables were occupied and they didn’t even seem like customers. Apparently, we were right. They were scheduled to showcase their talents during Frank & Dean’s Common Ground (which serves as a venue for local artists to be heard and discovered). We decided to stay for a while since we heard that they will be serving free coffee and pastries for the ones who will watch the show. (Hey, don’t judge. It was a tempting offer.)
As much as we like free treats, we also try our best to be loveable customers so we ordered Paprika Fries (PHP190) and Beignets (PHP60). 
These two dishes were served in less than 10 minutes and we ate it as slow as possible to give us a reason to stay a bit longer. 
The beignets are like bavarian munchkins without the filling and left inside the fridge to be forgotten for weeks. The doughnuts were quite hard and not worth its price. It says a lot when you only had to pay PHP60 yet feel that your order was still a rip off. It was a really sad dish. 
At least the paprika fries did not disappoint. It was just like the ones I get from Pablo’s Pub. (Trivia: Frank & Dean and Pablo’s Pub in Forum are under the same owner.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Now Open: Locavore BGC

Locavore has been one of the hottest restaurants since 2014. With its crazy wait list and social media buzz, foodies and not-so-foodies flocked to the humble industrial looking restaurant along Brixton, Pasig to taste its delectable (and photogenic) sizzling sinigang and equally delicious but not so photogenic lechon oyster sisig. Two years passed and people still line up just to dine here. And it turned crazier when it opened its newest branch in Forbes Town, BGC. 

Hello, Locavore BGC
I have been planning to visit this place for weeks now. I already had my fair share of its famous sinigang and sisig but I was so curious with its new dishes exclusive to its brunch menu which is only available from 9 am to 2:30 pm daily. 
Since having brunch here is near impossible given that I'm a corporate slave with a one hour lunch break, I figured visiting here on a weekend would be my only option. And since my weekends have been already planned out for the rest of July, I thought that I'll have to delay my duck congee calling for a few more weeks till... today. 

I was supposed to be feasting in Aguirre with some of my favorite foodies but due to transportation challenges, we made last minute changes and ended up in BGC with Locavore as our first stop. 

I hurriedly walked (because Uber was not cooperating and kept on insisting that there should be surge at 10:30 am) to Forbes Town thinking it will be packed with diners by lunch time. I got to the place glowing with sweat with a few tables still vacant. 
I was quickly ushered to the nearest vacant table and I ordered Duck Lugaw (PHP320) and Champorado ni Speedy (PHP280) thinking it'll take them quite a while to prepare it especially since the place was quite busy that time. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ramen Love: Ippudo

Ever since we brought Uncle H to Ippudo, he has been craving for more. He messaged R that he wanted it for dinner last Saturday but he had an event to attend to. He couldn’t help think about it and messaged R again the next day and said that he wanted it for lunch. But since R and I already had plans for lunch, Uncle H just ate at home. The urge though was strong and he went to BGC and picked us up to join him have dinner at… you know it.

Hello again, Ippudo!

I had no idea that the operation hours of this branch is not the same as SM Megamall’s. It has a break in between and resumes its dinner operations at 6 p.m. (until 3 a.m. for those craving for ramen at odd hours). 
The place wasn’t packed then as we arrived at 5:50 p.m.. We were asked to wait for a bit outside as they prepare our table. In less than 2 minutes, we were ushered to our table. 
R’s parents went with the usual ramen bowls and Uncle H’s favorite gyoza. I spotted a new product offering and went with Hakata-Style Classic Tsukemen (PHP485) with cold noodles

It took my bowl a bit over 20 minutes before it was served. R’s and his parents’ ramen bowls were already half empty when my bowl arrived. I guess it was because it is prepared differently. I just wished that the staff informed me about it so that I could have prepared myself and ordered another appetizer while waiting instead of just staring at my companions eating. 
It was worth the wait though as it was really good. I loved the contrast of the cold noodles and the hot dipping sauce. I’m so glad I listened to the server’s recommendation. I also liked that I have full control on how flavorful each bite will be. I could dip and soak my noodles in the broth for a while to make my noodles warmer and for a more flavorful mouthful or I could just lightly dip it to take a break and avoid being too overwhelmed by the richness of the broth. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

First Dibs: llaollao Philippines

It has been quite a while since I first saw an Instagram post featuring this new yogurt place opening in Glorietta. Curious with this new and rather late yogurt player, I did a bit of research and discovered that this brand is quite popular and well-loved in Europe, particularly in Spain. It is also a craze in Singapore where it has its largest store. Several foodies were giddy about the opening and their excitement was as contagious as the worst virus. Without knowing its taste or what sets it apart from other brands like Red Mango and White Hat, I became ecstatic with the store’s grand opening. And finally, the day llaollao (pronounced as Yao Yao) opens its doors to the public has arrived!

Hello, llaollao
Located at the ground floor of Glorietta 2, across Landmark, it is a store that doesn’t even need to demand attention as you’ll easily spot it. The brightly lit and and predominantly white store makes it an ideal photo shoot location for its mouthwatering swirls. 
This Spanish frozen yogurt shop boasts of its stores using natural ingredients which provide healthy values such as 46% of calcium recommended daily allowance for a medium-sized tub. They also use skimmed milk making it perfect for the calorie counter foodies. Oh and llaollao’s frozen yogurt has zero trans fat and is gluten-free. Winner!!!

Sanum is llaollao's signature parfait and it was a hit during its media launch and I could see why. The three layers of fresh fruit, two crunches, syrup and frozen yogurt combination was presented ready to be Instagrammed. And we finally get to indulge in some thanks to the llaollao team! 
Just like most yogurt shops around, you could also customize your yogurt based on your preference. In llaollao, you could play around with three types of fruits, two crunches and one sauce. With several toppings to choose from, combination possibilities are endless! (Okay, fine, there are roughly 700 possible combinations.) I went with a safe mix of strawberry, kiwi, dragonfruit, Filipino White Chocolate Biscuit, muesli with chocoates and Lotus syrup. Only one size is available for Sanum and it's priced at PHP199.
The yogurt base was thick and had a creamy consistency. It was not icy at all! It was also slightly tangy so do not expect the usual vanilla ice cream tasting yogurt that'll make you question if you are indulging in a healthy treat.