Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First Bite: Holy Crab!

Part of our Aguirre itinerary is E’s sister’s seafood restaurant. I haven’t been to this place before and it didn’t really make a lot of noise as well hence being out of the looloo radar. But I’m sure glad we stopped by.

Hello, Holy Crab!
The not so new seafood restaurant has the same concept as Boiling Crab in the US and Shrimp Bucket here in Manila. I heard though that Holy Crab was the first one to bring such concept here in Manila. It’s just that the other player was a bit more aggressive in expanding. 
The smell of shelled fish was the first thing I noticed as soon as I stepped inside the restaurant. It reminded me of dampa. It wasn’t funky; but it wasn’t exactly pleasant as well. 
Since we just came from Bamba Bistro, I was a bit hesitant to order a dish for myself so I decided to just share with E and K. 

We ordered Mussels in Garliky-Lime and Salted Eggs Sauce (PHP330), Grilled Tuna Belly (PHP260), and a pitcher of Raspberry Cooler (PHP175). 
Service was fast and first served was our drink which was refreshing but dilluted. 

Mussels were served next and it was a pretty generous serving. One order was definitely good for sharing. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First Bite: Brad & Pit's Ribshack

Ribs became a crowd favorite ever since the popularity of Rub Ribs, Tomahawk and other ribs place that made the delectable piece of savory meat accessible to people with limited food budget. And with its popularity came other food joints and one of the later players is Brad & Pit’s Ribshack.

Hello, Brad & Pit’s Ribshack!
The place was quite full when we arrived and I was thinking how our big party will fit in the restaurant. As I follow the others roam around the restaurant, we were surprised that there’s another dining area at the back of the restaurant. This area actually serves as a private function area for small parties. 
As we marvel over the vinyl cover displays, plate after plate of delectable dishes were placed on the long dark table. 

Dishes served were the following: Mount Nachos(PHP195), Dynamite Sticks (PHP165), Wings (PHP220, small), Taco Sticks (PHP165), Original Rib Mountain (PHP245, small—good for 2 pax), Cubano (PHP135), Steak Combo (PHP225), Blueberry Cheesecake (PHP145), Brownies ala mode (PHP120), Chocolate Milkshake (PHP135) and Cucumber Shake (PHP95). 

Monday, November 28, 2016

First Bite: Jipan's Salted Egg Croissant

I love anything with salted egg. I went crazy with the salted egg prawns of Din Tai Fung and I fell in love with Stella’s salted egg chips. I also hoard those colored eggs whenever I see it in Greenhills. And when I heard that Jipan sells salted egg croissants, I just have to visit it ASAP.

Hello, Jipan!
I used to frequent its SM Megamall branch when I was younger and go crazy with its chocolate croissants. But this time around, I went with Salted Egg Croissant (PHP125). I also had a bag of Matcha Croissants (PHP180, 10 pieces) to go. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Love at First Bite: Miguel & Maria

Marikina is one of the foodie havens I have been eying for the longest time. However, every time I plan to visit this foodie wonderland, it gets cancelled. But thanks to Zomato and ABS-CBN, my dream food crawl became a reality and I finally got to visit one of the restaurants I have been dying to visit. 

Hello, Miguel & Maria!
We were greeted by a facade in black and white hues which gave me an impression that the restaurant would have modern interiors. 
I was instantly corrected as soon as I stepped inside. The restaurant has a warm ambiance with its predominantly dark-colored furniture, wooden floors and walls and rustic displays. 
While waiting for the food, I explored the area and was surprised that it’s a pretty spacious restaurant and it could easily sit around 70 to 80 diners. 

After a short wait, Miguel & Maria’s Ultimate Burger (PHP220) was served.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

First Bite: Maisen BGC

I was so excited when I found out that my good friend F accepted a job offer near my office. I finally have someone to drag with me for random cravings or sudden desire to burn some cash. (And by cash, I mean less than PHP500.) After two weeks of planning, we finally decided to have lunch one Friday at the newly opened Maisen branch at Shangri-La, Fort.

Hello, Maisen!
I headed straight to the new Japanese restaurant in town as I was expecting a long queue. (Maisen had an opening promo where they offered their 80g katsu for less than PHP100 for its first two days.) Luckily, there were a few seats by the bar so I managed to skip the queue and got a seat for me and my friend. 
As I waited for F, I read the menu highlighting Maisen’s new offerings and was curious with Cold Udon (PHP175). After a few more minutes, I decided to order it and paired it with a glass of Calamansi with Grenadine Iced Tea (PHP100, refillable).
Soon, F arrived and ordered a katsu set which I wasn’t able to take note of as I was too hungry as I skipped breakfast. 
While waiting for our orders, I took a peek of the main dining area of Maisen and was surprised that it was pretty small. I think a max of 40 diners will fit the air conditioned area. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bang for the Buck: Baliwag Grill & Restaurant

Whenever I plan of food crawls, I wouldn’t consider Baliwag as one of our stops as its roasted chicken is something I could get anywhere. Hence when Zomato included Baliwag as our first stop in our Marikina food crawl, I was a bit dazed by it. I even considered skipping this stop and head straight to the next one. But I was so glad that I didn’t and let me tell you why. 

Hello, Baliwag Grill & Restaurant!
Thanks to the crazy Saturday traffic, we got to the spacious sit down Baliwag restaurant one hour later than expected. And we were greeted by bad news as soon as we stepped inside, rather, the al fresco dining area. The air conditioned area was closed for an event and we had no choice but to enjoy Manila’s humidity during lunch.

Glasses of service were served within 5 minutes but everything else took way longer than acceptable. Our plates and utensils were given to us after 15 minutes and our food were served one by one after roughly 40 minutes. Some of us even turned hangry already. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

First Bite: Coconut House

I love how Pokemon Go brings me to places. R is not the type who likes to go out and eat but since he is very much into Pokemon Go, we have been going around the city and hanging out in crowded places these past weeks. One of the places we recently frequent is Quezon Memorial Circle which is known to be a hot spot for Pokemon hunting. One of the best spots in the area is Coconut House which has three Pokestops within reach.

Hello, Coconut House!
This restaurant is quite interesting as it is known for incorporating coconut in ALL of its dishes. However, we were still full from our heavy lunch when we opted to hang out outside the restaurant. 
The intense humidity though made me want something cool so I checked out some of Coconut House’s cold treats and decided to get a popsicle. One coconut popsicle only costs PHP8! Talk about cheap thrills! It is also a great blast from the past treat.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Restaurant Love: Single Origin

Breakfast is love. If breakfast is a guy, I’d definitely date him and who knows, marry him as well. There’s something so appealing with breakfast that I simply could not stop having it all day long. And a lot of foodies share the same addiction hence the number of all-day breakfast restaurants around the city. One of my favorites is Single Origin and it surely delighted my tastebuds when I dropped by its second branch a few months ago. 

Hello, Single Origin

This was my first time to visit its Rockwell branch which opened last September and I noticed that it is bigger than its BGC branch. 
I was greeted by warm hues of brown, suspended lights and charming flowers on each table. I also spotted a few communal tables which are perfect for large groups or those who do not like feeling alone. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Promo Alert: Celebrate Friday with Iceberg’s Halo-Halo

Saan ka dadalin ng PHP30 mo?

Sa Icebergs!
The well-loved dessert shop, Icebergs, is celebrating its 30th year this month and to make it festive for everyone, it is offering its delectable and refreshing halo-halo for just PHP30 instead of PHP108!
How awesome is that?!

It is open every Friday (meaning now) until November 25, from opening time to closing time. This promo is valid from opening time to 6 pm. (Fine, I'm a bit late with this news. But hey, you are never too late for sweets!)

You know the drill. It’s FriYAY thanks to Icebergs' halo-halo!
And while you're at it, try some of Icebergs' savory meals like this mouthwatering pasta here! 

See you there! :)

Icebergs is available in these locations: Banawe, Eastwood City Walk 2, Harbour Square (CCP Complex), Katipunan Extension, Metrowalk Complex, Santana Grove, Robinson’s Galleria, SMBY (Mall of Asia), SM City Clark, SM City Fairview, SM City North Edsa, SM City Novaliches, SM City San Fernando, SM Mall of Asia South Wing, TImog Avenue, Tutuban Center Mall and UST.

**Photos used are all from Icebergs. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

First Bite: Bread and Botany

Ever since I heard from my cousins how much Aguirre has evolved from a quiet residential strip to a blooming foodie destination, I always find myself drooling over food pictures captured from that area. Yes, I did a bit of stalking and it sure makes me sad how far it is from my place. But after months of planning and a bit of coordination, my college friends and I finally made it happen and our first stop was Bread and Botany as it is one of the stores that open before lunch. 

Hello, Bread and Botany!
Located at the second floor of Prime Building along Aguirre, the quaint shop seems a bit bare with only a few wall decors, shelves and seats. 

We approached the counter and was greeted by the young lady manning it. She gave us some suggestions on what to get and we eventually went with Tori Sando (PHP230) as we were told that it is one of their photogenic dishes. I also ordered Kyuchimi Fries (PHP100) as side dish. E on the other hand went with McEgg (PHP220), the store’s lightest sandwich option. 

Service was quick as our fries were served in less than 10 minutes. 
Drizzled with several spices and paired with bull gravy, this dish was pretty good though steep for its price. The spices gave the fries an interesting and unique taste, similar to KFC’s fries but not quite. It was served hot and fresh from the deep fryer but the gravy was cold. Well, I guess they wanted to create some sort of contrast. Nonetheless, dipping the fries in the chilled gravy made it more delectable. I just wish that they put the spices evenly as it didn’t seem proportioned. Some were a bit too spiced and salty while other fries were on the bland side.

Soon, our sandwiches were served.
First served was the Tori Sando and I was hoping it would look nicer than this given its price. It was a small sandwich cut in two. I was disappointed with the bread used as it was just a typical slice of bread that you could get from the supermarket. The chicken though was good. It was crispy and flavorful. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

First Bite: 13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining

I got this random SMS from Angelo one evening inviting me to this family owned restaurant along Ubay Street. I am quite familiar with the restaurant as I’ve seen a handful of posts a few days back by Splat Manila. It was perfect timing as I was also invited to Miriam College’s cooking simulation scheduled on the same day where I was assigned as a food critic. *Woohoo!* Anyway, since I was already in Quezon City, I figured that it was the food gods way of telling me to say yes. And I did. 

Hello, 13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining!
I had no idea that Banawe is quite far from Katipunan. What was supposed to be a 25 minute trip turned into an hour and half drive thanks to the holiday road madness. But my annoyance with traffic was soon swept away when I saw the homey facade of 13 Ubay St. Comfort Dining.
We went straight to the second floor where the new menu launch was held. Almost everyone was already there when we arrived and the program already started.
We were given some welcome drinks and we could choose between Ginmansi (PHP200) and 13th Old Fashion (PHP200). I chose Ginmansi while K chose the latter. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Love at First Bite: Paradise Dynasty

S Maison is such a nice place to visit as a it is slowly turning into a space bustling with new restaurants and franchises. It is the first choice of restaurants such as Chibo Okonomiyaki, Uma Uma! and Locavore’s newest baby Carnivale. I’d frequent this place if only it is near me but the hellish traffic makes it a long distance relationship. But thanks to some work related tasks, I ended up in this posh mall once again for lunch. And that was when I spotted a new restaurant on its soft opening. Those two words always work like magic and soon, I was right in front of the restaurant staring at its lighted menu. 

Hello, Paradise Dynasty
I was sold the moment I saw this restaurant’s Specialty Dynasty Xiao Long Bao (PHP388) and asked the friendly hostess if there were any tables available as the place was still packed at 2 p.m.. Luckily, there were a few tables left and I was quickly ushered inside.
I was greeted by yellow lights and wooden interiors and wall decors that look like lanterns or vases. There is also a stone wall with dragon carving on it.
I wanted to get the basket of colorful xiao long bao (which Paradise Dynasty claims to have natural pigments extracted from plants) but was worried that the Szechuan Xiao Long Bao (PHP230, 6 pcs. | PHP380, 10 pcs.) or the red one might be a bit too hot for me. In the end, I went with the safer option and got Signature Original Xiao Long Bao (PHP188, 6 pcs. | PHP 298, 10 pcs.). I also ordered Lotus Paste Bun with Salted Egg Yolk (PHP138, 3 pcs.) because of the words “salted egg yolk”.
While waiting, I had a sip of Paradise Dynasty’s house tea and it was… yes, free. And it was pretty good too! It had a nice rich taste without being bitter. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

First Bite: Lava Cheese Tarts

The cheese tart craze has finally hit Manila with a bunch of bakeshops and new brands offering these delightful treats to the local market. Though most of the prominent players are international brands, we have a handful of home bakers who offer such at a more pocket friendly price. But for foodies who are impatient and want their goodies ASAP, pre-ordering and waiting for days before those cheese tarts arrive are just too much. For months, most of us were stuck with these international brands until a local player decided to join the craze.

Hello, Lava Cheese Tarts
I was so excited to try Lava’s version of cheese tarts especially after finding out that they use local cheeses for its tarts. I even went to Fork Spoon Manila’s Eatscape to Aura event after finding out that they were part of the food crawl. (And it happens to be on the day of my flight to the land of kimchi and free facial masks!) Unfortunately, they experienced some delays and had to move their opening date the week after but invited those who participated during the food crawl to attend its media launch on the 3rd of November at 1 p.m.. And I was still not around that time. *cries* But with yearning tummy comes intense desire and dedication. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Pizza Party at Peperoni Pizzeria

Peperoni Pizzeria sure knows how to tickle my tastebuds. I have sampled a few of its pizzas before and I enjoyed each one. The chocolate lava cake was also something worth ordering as it made me go to chocolate heaven! And when Peperoni Pizzeria invited me to its U.P. Town Center’s pizza party, I just have to say yes despite it being far from me!

Peperoni Pizzeria's U.P. Town Center branch seems to be a bit smaller than its Uptown Mall branch but was the same ambiance. 
It also has the famous "All you knead is love" signage. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Beat the Heat: Rita's Italian Ice

With Manila’s scorching heat, it was not surprising that Rita’s was a hit when it came to Manila two years ago. I still remember the long queue just to get your frozen custard fix. I have to admit, I tried my best not to give in to the craze but eventually found myself lining up a few months later (since it opened its first branch in Greenhills) and was delighted by Rita’s Gelati or a combination of Italian ice and frozen custard. Fast forward to 2016, Rita’s is still getting a lot of attention with its wide array of flavors and combinations to choose from. And I had an opportunity to sample a bunch of Rita’s bestselling items a few Saturdays ago.

I dropped by Rita’s U.P. Town Center branch on a sunny Saturday afternoon and was warmly greeted by its Marketing Officer Angela who treated us to a refreshing afternoon snack.
We first sampled Italian Ice in cotton candy, green apple, sugar-free dragon fruit, mango and kiwi-strawberry flavors. All are light in flavor and quite refreshing. I enjoyed kiwi-strawberry best as its slight tangy taste helped cleanse the palate. R on the other hand loved the bestselling flavor cotton candy. Well, he is pretty biased with anything cotton candy

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Affordable Bites: 7flavors

It was one random day when I got an email from A inviting me to visit 7flavors buffet in San Juan. His name sounded so familiar that I just have to fish. And true enough, A and I have met before back in 2012 when I was still with Summit Media handling Yummy magazine. The foodie community is indeed big yet so small. 

Hello, 7flavors.
This spacious two-storey restaurant is headed by celebrity chef Boy Logro and all the dishes served here are based on his recipes. The first floor is designed for diners who do not fancy buffets and prefer to order a la carte. The second floor tends to be more crowded with its pocket-friendly lunch (PHP399.99 on weekdays and PHP599.99 on weekends including Fridays) and dinner (PHP499.99 on weekdays and PHP599.99 on weekends including Fridays) buffets. 
I read through a handful of reviews before going to this place and most reviews gave it a fair rating and mentioned that it covers the basic dishes and would be considered a value for money place. True enough, the buffet was a simple spread of viands, appetizers and desserts. I spotted DIY taco and halo-halo stations and took a mental note to try it after my first plate. 
My first plate was a combination of crispy kare-kare, steamed fish, oil-based pasta and buttered chicken. All dishes tasted pretty average and something you’d get from the price you pay. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Chasing Summer: iCove Beach Hotel

Days sure pass by fast and with a blink of an eye and summer was already over when we finally decided to go to the beach. It was already the end of July when R and I finally  pushed through with our plans to head North and chase summer.  We chose our accommodation a week before heading out and after browsing through Agoda for half an hour, we settled with iCove Beach Hotel. 

Hello, iCove Beach Hotel
This hotel is one of the newest beach front hotels in Zambales. Quite small compared to the ones you’d find in bigger and busier cities but this is considered as one of the nicest accommodations within the area. It was drizzling when we visited and we were so glad that we got to the hotel early and were able to score parking in front of the hotel. 

We arrived half an hour earlier than our check-in time and unfortunately, our room wasn’t ready then so we had to wait till the original check-in time which is 2 p.m.. We were also bummed to see the published room rates of the hotel. It was cheaper compared to the one we got through Agoda! The place though was fully booked when we went so it was also a gamble if we tried book on the same day. At exactly 2 p.m., we were assisted to our room. 
We got a deluxe 19 square meter room with a queen sized bed, cable television, small fridge and private bathroom.  We do not have a view as our balcony was facing the pathway to the pool. Wi-fi connection was decent and fast enough for us to browse the internet or play games.