Friday, October 28, 2016

First Bite: Kandle Cafe

I have been hearing a lot of good reviews about Kandle Café. I must admit, I was so curious and dying to visit the adorable café. But two words discourage me from going... Quezon City. As a self proclaimed resident of the South (self proclaimed because my friends refuse to believe that Fort Bonifacio is "south") I hardly visit that part of Quezon City. But a very tempting food crawl invite to Tomas Morato made me brave Manila traffic to join the well planned food trip. And of course, one of the stops was Kandle Café.

Hello, Kandle Café!
This is probably one of the few restaurants with ample parking space. We didn't have a hard time parking at all. 
We were greeted by a homey facade and an adorable porch with Kandle Café on it. 
As we moved closer to the dining area, I noticed the beautiful lush landscape beside the al fresco area. It was very charming and that sight made it clear to me why this place was named one of the best (affordable) date places in Quezon City.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

First Bite: Acacia Hotel's Acaci, The Lobby and A Steakhouse

Alabang seems to be a very distant place if you reside somewhere in Quezon City or what we call “North”. This is why I hardly get to explore the serene and posh area of Metro Manila. I was lucky though to be invited by Acacia Hotel to celebrate with them the launch of celebrity chef Boy Logro’s dishes in its Acaci restaurant. 

Hello, Acacia Hotel.
It was my first time to step foot inside this Filipino restaurant and I was impressed by its high ceiling lobby. I was also mesmerized by the beautiful abstract art that adorns the spacious area. 
It was then when Acacia Hotel’s Senior Sales Manager, Jason Dinglasan, mentioned that the abstract art near the elevator is actually a dragon split into different canvasses and the metal art on the wall against the front desk is a bird’s eye view of an acacia tree. 
Acacia is one of the shortest, if not the lowest, hotel in Alabang. So do not expect a striking view from its roof top. 
But what Acacia could offer is its accessibility to the malls and other establishments. It is also located right across the road that gets closed every Sunday to cater to joggers and bikers. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

First Bite: Tower Restaurant

I always get so excited whenever I go to Quezon City for a food trip as I’d always discover a gem waiting to be found. One of which is this Filipino restaurant with a name far from being thought of as an establishment that offers Pinoy favorites

Hello, Tower Restaurant
This fancy looking restaurant that exudes a vibe of offering French dishes is actually named as such because it is located on the ground floor of UAP (United Architects of the Philippines) building which happens to have a radio tower on top. 
The first thing I noticed as soon as I stepped in was the predominant use of white and red for the interiors which confused me even more as it gave an impression of being a Chinese restaurant. But we were quickly corrected by the friendly owner, Architect Jojo, who also conceptualized some of the dishes offered to us during our visit. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Bite: Chiara's

I have seen a handful of posts and reviews about this gelato place in Venice Grand Canal Mall. I got very curious when I found out that one cup of three scoops only cost PHP120. Three scoops of gelato for less than two hundred bucks? I was sold! But it took me a while to visit this place as the famous and green Grand Canal could be very crowded with… selfie sticks. But after having lunch at Nihonkai Tsukiji, we decided to hunt for more Pokemon and ended up in the newest tourist destination in Manila. Since we were already there, I figured that I should swing by and try Chiara’s.
Hello, Chiara’s.

The place was packed when I visited on a Sunday afternoon. The gelato store’s area is quite small and gets too crowded once five or six customers are inside. They do have al fresco area though in front of the store. I really wouldn’t mind dining outside if only it wasn’t so humid that day. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

First Bite: Isla Una

I make sure that I visit at least two restaurants whenever I go to Ortigas. With the horrific traffic, I just have to maximize my trip. And when I was invited to a sponsored dinner at City Golf, I had to look for another restaurant to visit afterwards. I then remembered that there is this picturesque Filipino restaurant that was featured countless times in several blogs. 

Hello, Isla Una.
Isla Una’s interiors is like haven in a sea of pubs and bars within City Golf. Though technically also a bar, its interiors say otherwise. Or at least for the ground floor. I couldn’t really comment on the second floor dining area as C and I were already too comfortable with the couch by the leafy wall on the ground floor.
Since we just had dinner, C and I opted to just order some cocktails and desserts. We went with Yema Palitaw (PHP130) and Churros (PHP150) for our sweets and Alamat ng Pinya (PHP160) and Mayora (PHP200) for drinks. 
It seemed that everyone wanted to enjoy the live band on the second floor as we owned the whole ground floor to ourselves. It was perfect too as we could move from one table to the next in search for the best light to take photos without bothering anyone. 
And after table hopping for 10 or so minutes, we began to eat and sip. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

First Bite: COCA

A message from P never fails to make me smile like that creepy cat from Alice in Wonderland. It was an invite for COCA, a Thai restaurant under the same group as Mango Tree. I immediately typed "YES!" faster than my next heartbeat.  And after a week of waiting, I finally found myself in front of Mango Tree's baby sister. 

Hello, COCA
I had an impression that this place is a seafood restaurant as its ads before kept on highlighting its humongous crab dish. I'm a fan of crabs but I absolutely hate removing its shell just to get to the delectable white meat. And so, I shunned the idea of dining here… till I got a COCA gift certificate from looloo. And my plan to visit was moved earlier thanks to looloo and COCA’s generous invite. 
I guess all of us were excited to indulge in a Thai feast as everyone was already in SM Aura before 7 pm. I thought I’d be able to get back my early bird title but some were already around as early as 5 pm! 
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by shades of browns and maroons which somehow reminded me of Mango Tree. It still exudes a fancy feel but it was more casual with its brighter lighting. 

C, A and I were the last ones to arrive and appetizers were already on the table. 
We first sampled the Salmon Grapow Cups (PHP180) which confused us if we were indeed munching on salmon. The color and texture were different from the salmon I know. 
The salmon bits of this one were tougher and quite close to ground beef. However, if you try to slowly enjoy the filling, you’d get the salmon flavor. It was just a bit too salty so make sure you eat it with the cup. 
I enjoyed the Roast Duck Salad (PHP380) more than the first appetizer because of its interesting play of flavors and textures. The crunchy skin and cucumber strips went well with the watermelon chunks and duck meat. It had a light taste and was refreshing at the same time! I had to get two to three servings of this one. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

First Bite: Vitto's Wine Bar and Restaurant

As mentioned in my post on Sauceria, I am far from being called a wine connoisseur. I’m not exactly fond of wine except when I indulge in a succulent piece of meat. But I do not say no to an invite to a wine place as more often than not, it also serves good food. And such was true with Vitto’s Wine Bar and Restaurant.

Hello, Vitto’s Wine Bar and Restaurant!
This small restaurant is located at the quieter side of Tomas Morato and could be easily missed out by those who are not familiar with the area or hardly check any food app or social media. Thanks to T of Zomato, I finally got to visit this lovely place!
As we wait for the other foodies joining the Tomas Morato Food Crawl, we were given glasses of red Italian wine and white Californian wine. (I loved the white wine more as it was sweeter than red.)
Soon, mouthwatering dishes were served one after another. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First Bite: The Olive Treat

Ber months are definitely the season to be a fatty. With Christmas just around the corner, I could feel my pants getting tighter and my schedule starting to become a hot mess. I have always been away on weekends for events or dinner out and I was getting tired of being away from my bed or couch all the time. Hence, I was so happy when I finally got to stay at home once again on a Saturday. Staycation was something I needed to recharge. And it was made even more special with some delectable dishes from The Olive Treat.

Hello, The Olive Treat!
I got a sweet message from Mark of The Olive Treat asking if I would like to try their Sisig ni Olives (PHP300/half kilo | PHP500/kilo) after seeing my comment on Foodgrammerph’s post. I quickly said yes and inquired about its famous Stuffed Iberico Chicken (PHP550/whole chicken). To my surprise, Mark offered to give me a sample of his roasted chicken and Birthday Spaghetti (PHP900/pyrex) too. After a few more exchanges, we have finally set on a date for the delivery of the mouthwatering dishes. And true to his word, he got to my place on time. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Bite: Brick Burger

"Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome! When we’re living our dream.” Those lines have been stuck in my head ever since I watched The Lego Movie. I still go crazy whenever I hear it and I just have to sing along! And I got crazier when I found out that a Lego themed burger joint opened a few months back, I just have to visit it soon!

Hello, Brick Burger!
The place was packed with families on a rainy Sunday afternoon but we were lucky to score the last vacant table. 
We were quickly assisted to our table and were handed menu cards. There are not a lot of dishes to choose from as Brick Burger focused on comfort dishes such as chicken wings, pasta, hotdogs, fries, nachos and of course, burgers. After much thought, we went with Cheesy Mac (PHP210) and Fries (PHP65). 

Monday, October 17, 2016

First Bite: Raging Bull

I was so curious about Raging Bull ever since A mentioned it during our lunch at Canton Road. As a steak lover, I just have to pay the restaurant a visit. And two weeks later, I finally did. Thanks to Zomato!

Hello, Raging Bull
Just like its Chinese restaurant neighbour, the facade of this restaurant is fancy with its touches of dark browns and gold. 
The interiors of the dining area is equally elegant with its dark finishes. I could imagine the cast of The Godfather dining here. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Not Your Typical Cup: Happy Beans Rainbow Coffee Latte

Flat white, 3D latte art, coffee with flower petals and now, colorful cup of coffee. Wait, what?! Yes, your usual black or brown cup of joe had a bit of makeover and it made coffee lovers go wild. Well, almost. 

Hello, Happy Beans!
This adorable coffee shop is located at the 2nd floor of Metrowalk, inside Mall of Korea. 
I was so giddy when I finally step foot inside the Instagram-worthy café where every corner deserves a photo or two. We got to the place a bit late but the friendly staff welcomed us with a big smile on her face. We were told though that we could only order drinks during that time as the kitchen is already closed. It was okay as we came to try Happy Beans Rainbow Coffee Latte (PHP128).
While waiting for our drinks, we took several snapshots of the place, from the cute salt and pepper shakers to the shelf full of board and card games. 
I then noticed the barista prepping the milk. It signalled me to approach the bar to take some photos of her making the colorful cup of caffeine. I happily asked her if she could prep it on the counter so that we could take photos of it. However, I just got an annoyed and loud “Teka lang miss. Ginagawa ko pa.” reply from the barista. She said it a couple of times too every time I approach the counter. She also banged some of the tools she used on the steel counter which I thought was to let out her annoyance. I figured that I must have been very annoying that night or that she was PMS-ing. 
But she was not annoyed. She was actually frustrated with the new machine they got that night. She could not get the right temperature to make the perfect milk to create the popular rainbow coffee latte. She threw away perhaps four to five cups before serving ours. 
After getting the right temperature, she called me back to take a photo of the magical transformation of coffee.
I was at awe when I saw her make the latte art. At first, I thought that she puts the latte art after pouring coffee, just like how others make it. 
But she actually makes it WHILE pouring coffee. I have no idea how she makes it but I was very impressed. 
The coffee beans are sourced locally and were sadly overpowered by milk. It was like drinking a very milky cup of cappuccino. Then again, it was perfect that time as it was already almost 10:45 pm when we got our coffee.
And to make up for the long wait, Zappy, the head barista whom we thought was pissed with us, didn’t let us pay for our coffee. She didn’t really have to as she already won us back when we witnessed how challenging it is to make rainbow latte. 
I’ll definitely be back to try the other drinks and perhaps some of the savory dishes. 

Happy Beans is located at 2nd Floor, Mall of Korea, Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Meralco Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City.

Happy Beans Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf's Tea Appreciation Workshop

Tea has been one of my staple drinks ever since I discovered that tea is still delicious even without sweeteners. It helps me unwind and relax and I feel healthier after enjoying a cup or two. But as much as I love tea, I do not know much about it except that it soothes the mind and has anti-aging properties. And so when asked me to attend a tea appreciation workshop hosted by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, I immediately said YES.

Hello, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf!

I must admit, despite being a regular in BGC, it was my first time to set foot inside CBTL’s Bonifacio Stopover branch. It is smaller compared to its bistro counterpart and the one in High Street but it still has the warm and homey vibe that its patrons love. 
After registering and having a small chat with Nella of CBTL, we sat down and enjoyed our complimentary vegetarian sandwich which had a lovely serving of carrots, onions, and mushrooms among others. 
Despite the thickness of the bread, it was served as a light snack because of its filling; hence making this sandwich a lovely morning snack. It’s filling but not too heavy to put weight on those eyelids. We were also given a huge cookie which I wasn’t able to eat as I was saving space for lunch #1 and lunch #2. 
After half an hour, the workshop finally started and we were introduced to the two legends of tea and how tea is planted and cultivated. It may sound boring but it was surprisingly interesting. I am always fascinated by how the food and drinks we enjoy are brought from farm to table. But let me skip the educational part which you could Google and focus on the teas I discovered during the workshop.