Friday, December 30, 2016

First Bite: Milk Trade

Once upon a time, there was a sudden craze for egg waffles. Instagram, Facebook and food apps were bombarded by these delectable bubble waffles in different shapes and sizes. One particular shop that I wanted to visit was Milk Trade. But its location was not attractive at all. I do not want to brave the Makati traffic just for it. Hence when I was able to visit Century City Mall a month back, I made sure that I get to stop by this popular egg waffle place.

Hello, Milk Trade!
R and I rushed to Century City Mall right after a big feast and headed straight to Hole in the Wall. We were so worried that we would be greeted by a closed sign as we got there a couple of minutes before 10 p.m. and a few sites noted that Milk Trade closes that time. 
Luckily, it was still open and the friendly staff of Milk Trade entertained us. She also didn’t turn into a grumpy lady while R and I discussed which waffle goes best with which steamed pudding. After 5 minutes or so, we went with the staff’s recommendation—Matcha Egg Waffle with Chocolate Steamed Milk (PHP150). 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Instagram Wonderland: Teaspoon Café

One of our Pampanga Food Crawl stops was this adorable café that seemed to have been designed as an Instagrammers’ paradise. Every nook and cranny are screaming cute and with lifestyle bloggers with us during the food crawl, they sure went crazy with the place.
Hello, Teaspoon Café.
“I wish I dressed nicer” was the first thought that came to mind when I entered this charming place. One could score the perfect profile picture here. But aside from its picturesque space, Teaspoon Café offers savory dishes, decadent desserts and nostalgic milkshakes. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

First Sip: Satchmi

I have been hearing a lot of good things about Satchmi, a hipster café located at SM Megamall’s posh Fashion Hall. I’m actually familiar with the brand as I know one of the owners way back when they were still selling vinyls in bazaars. Satchmi sure is a brand that shows how passion plays a key role in a business’ success. Anyway, this entry is about my coffee experience.

Hello, Satchmi!
It has been almost a year since I have planned to visit this place. However, the place is always packed whenever I pass by. 
As an impatient foodie, I simply could not wait more than 10 minutes for a cup of coffee especially when there are a lot of coffee shops nearby. But my last Megamall visit was a lucky one as I spot an empty spot at the communal table when I passed by the adorable café with inviting interiors

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

First Sip: La Lola Churreria

I had to visit a few showrooms a few months back and booked an Uber before things become chaotic. I got a call after getting in my Uber car and was informed that I could use the company car and have one of the guys drive me around. Sweet was the first word that came to mind. But it turned really bitter, salty, umami… anything but sweet, when things became crazy. And let me explain why.

Since the company car was finally available, I decided to be dropped off at Uptown Mall and wait for the car to pick me up. I was told that the driver was on his way but it will take him at least 15 minutes to reach me. It’s such a waste to just sit inside the mall and count the number of flies that pass by so I went up to La Lola Churreria and bought Iced Mocha (PHP130, large) to go. 
There was a bit of order back log so I had to wait for a while before my drink was served. 
But the servers do not seem to be proactive as they did not trigger my number to activate (or vibrate and light up) when my drink was ready to be served. I noticed my drink, alone on the counter, yearning to be loved. I asked the server if the drink was mine and true enough, it was my iced mocha. The server apologized though after I told her that I wasn’t sure if it was mine as my number did not light up. 
Not sure if it was because this La Lola branch was new but these servers needed to be trained. They also kept on chatting with each other making the preparation time longer. 

Anyway, my iced mocha drink was lovely. It wasn’t that sweet and it had a nice chocolatey and tinge of caffeine taste. The texture was slightly rough so try not to order this if you have an itchy throat.

*Continuation of bitter, salty, umami story: The driver eventually managed to pick me up after half an hour and we had to go back to the office to change cars as the car he brought was coding that day. We quickly switched cars and went out again. But the driver got a call from an irate colleague and demanded the car to be returned as his bike was in the trunk of the car. In short, I ended commuting again and wasted almost an hour and half from this mishap. :(

La Lola is located at 3rd Floor, Uptown Mall, 9th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. It is just a few steps away from the Uptown Cinemas. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Love at First Bite: Bistro Kalzada

I always think of fancy and expensive whenever I hear the word degustation. I first had my first degustation experience at the lovely abode of Dedet de la Fuente for her massive Pepita’s Lechon holiday degustation which lasted almost 5 hours. Since then, I tried other degustation menus and some cost an arm and leg. With more and more establishments offering fancy tasting menus, I would have never thought that I’d get to discover a restaurant that would challenge this and at less than PHP600 for two at that! 

Hello, Bistro Kalzada.
Located along the busy Magiting Street inside Teachers Village, this small and homey restaurant is owned by a dynamic chef couple who have professional culinary training abroad. Pursuing their dream of starting their own restaurant, they opened Bistro Kalzada last July this year and have been slowly getting the attention of locals who frequent the area.
A tasting menu was prepared for us when we dropped by a few Sundays ago and for starters, we were treated to a lovely plate of Beef Brisket Enchilada (PHP95). 
I was surprised when I found out that this beautifully plated appetizer only costs PHP95. And it was not just beautiful, it was actually tasty too! The beef brisket bits were succulent making each bite packed with flavor. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Action Star in Training Adventure: Mountain Clark Firing Range

I have always wanted to go to a firing range and unleash the action star in me. But I had no idea though that it would also bring out the scaredy cat in me. I was palpitating as soon as I stepped inside the firing range. 

Hello, Mountain Clark Firing Range
This was our second Pampanga trip stop and it was perfect as we were all so stuffed from the spectacular Amare feast. 

This spacious compound, known internationally to train combat teams and special services, will groom you to be the next star in 24. It is divided into three areas, each specialising in different defense skills. 
We first visited the shuriken area where we were trained to be ninjas. I tried the easiest ninja star (there were three types to choose from) and threw three times towards the target. And… I failed three times. The others though seem to have some Naruto blood in them as they could properly throw and hit the target with ease. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Restaurant Love: Buta+Wagyu

Buta+Wagyu is one of our favorite restaurants as its succulent A5 wagyu are just too good to be to enjoyed once. However, it’s also too pricey to be enjoyed on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. But when there’s something to celebrate, one of our top picks is Buta+Wagyu.

Hello, Buta+Wagyu!

Knowing that this is R’s favorite restaurant to date, I suggested this Japanese wagyu place as the venue for R’s pre-birthday dinner. R’s parents and sisters were okay with the idea and I quickly placed reservation as soon as I got a go signal. We decided to have dinner there on a Thursday night.
I was the first to arrive and I ordered a few appetizers for everyone to munch on as we decide on which mains to indulge in. I got Organic Pork and Wagyu Gyoza (PHP280) and Organic Pork and Wagyu Kimchi Mandu (PHP320) for sharing. When R and his family arrived, we ordered two Double Stone Grill Samplers—Ohmi (PHP8,500) and Kagoshima (PHP7,000), and three orders of 200g Steamed Wagyu (Rib Eye Hida, PHP1,640/100g). There is also a cooking charge of PHP300 on top of the cost of the wagyu dishes.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

First Bite: Sasa Asian Cuisine

Estancia used to be one of my favorite malls when I was still living a lot closer to this place. It being a less popular choice for mall goers and having free unlimited wi-fi (to compensate for the poor reception), this mall has been some sort of paradise to me. And after two years, this mall has become one of the promising foodie havens in Pasig City with its numerous restaurants. One of which is Sasa, an Asian restaurant which opened just a couple months back. 
Hello, Sasa Asian Cuisine!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

First Bite: Made Nice Supper Club

I have been an active looloo user for over a year now and it never seems to get old. I just love the looloo community and I truly enjoy listening to each and everyone’s food and adventure stories. Coming from different walks of life, each member are like spices and herbs that make the community a lot more interesting. And what’s a fun community without regular meet ups, or in our case, eat ups? Our resident PRO, J, arranged a looloo holiday dinner open to all active reviewers and it sure was a festive one! Our venue? The new restaurant across Your Local called Made Nice Supper Club.
Hello, Made Nice Supper Club!
It could be challenging to spot this place if you have no clue where it is along the foodie Esteban street. It is across Your Local and beside a bridal store. With its minimalist MN signage, you have to remember those two landmarks to avoid missing it, as some of us did. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

First Bite: Char Casual Dining

It has been quite a while since I last visited Uptown Mall as the Christmas rush traffic has been too much to handle. I think the last time I’ve been here was two months ago and I was surprised to see Uptown Parade turning into a foodie destination with new restaurant concepts filling the area. One restaurant that caught my eye was Char Casual Dining. I wanted to check it out that same day I saw it but R was not in the mood to walk from Uptown Mall to Uptown Parade. I then decided to just pay the new restaurant hub a visit some other time. But I didn’t foresee that I’d be visiting it a few days after.

Hello, Char Casual Dining
I got an invite from Char a day before its media event and since I was just a few blocks away that day, I decided to swing by the newly opened restaurant. (I was so glad that I didn’t drag R to Char the weekend I saw it because we would have just been greeted by a closed sign and he would have hated it.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

First Bite: Lung Hin

The crazy Manila traffic usually limits my range of where to eat. But when I got invited to attend a scrumptious dinner at Lung Hin, a Cantonese restaurant of Marco Polo Ortigas, I said yes forgetting that there's forever with EDSA. And true enough, it took me long to get to the beautiful hotel. My exhaustion was soon swept away though upon stepping in the classy restaurant on the 44th floor. 
Hello, Lung Hin
I was first greeted by the front hostess who assisted me to the private room reserved for us. While walking through the main dining area, I was impressed by the sophisticated modern Asian interiors. 
I was so worried for being the last one to arrive but I actually came just in time for the signature drink, Earl Grey Tea with Grapes and Peach Flavored Syrup.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Love at First Bite: Foggy Mountain Cookhouse

Long weekends usually mean staycation but since R and I miss the cool (and kind of fresh) wind of Baguio, we decided to head to the land of ube jam and strawberries for a short getaway. We usually sleep in whenever we’re at the summer capital of the Philippines; but thanks to R’s love for Pokemon Go, he agreed to the idea of us eating out for dinner. I have a long list of restaurants I want to visit but there is this one place that I was very interested in. And after making the necessary arrangements, we found ourselves in front of the gate of Chef Babes Reyes’ home, owner of Foggy Mountain Cookhouse. 

Hello, Foggy Mountain Cookhouse!
Noted as one of the best local strictly by reservation only restaurants, Foggy Mountain Cookhouse requires at least one day heads up before diners drive all the way up to its homey establishment. 
I sent Chef Babes a message 4 days in advance as I was worried that the place might be packed given the long weekend. After half an hour of panicking, the friendly restauranteur replied confirming my reservation and inform me that I had to pre-order our mains at least a day before our reserved date as some of the dishes had to be marinated overnight. I sent him a message before the ordering deadline and chose Split Pea Soup (PHP175), Norwegian King Salmon (PHP700), Brick Oven Roasted Boneless Lamb Leg (PHP650), Pasta in Egg Sauce with Truffle Oil and Parmesan Cheese (PHP180), and Cookhouse Iced Tea (PHP150, pitcher).
I got a message from Chef Babes a few hours before dinner and was informed that his Norwegian salmon did not arrive and suggested that we get Smoked Salmon Carpaccio (PHP700) instead. Since R and I are both hardcore salmon lovers, we agreed.
With the help of Waze, we didn’t have a hard time finding Foggy Mountain Cookhouse. The location could look intimidating though to big cars or low vehicles as the steep and narrow road sure made us worry. Parking is limited and if unlucky, you’d have to back up when one of the diners leave before you. 

We were warmly greeted by the staff (and the neighbor’s cat) and were ushered to our table. 
After 20 minutes or so, our appetizers—mixed greens in orange vinaigrette and salted flat bread with hummus dip—were served.
Honestly, the appetizers look really sad with its poor plating. Taste-wise though, we enjoyed the flat bread with hummus. The greens were the usual crisp veggies with a slightly tangy dressing. 
Next served was our cinnamon pineapple iced tea which tasted like churros in liquid form. It was sweet and refreshing. I just didn’t like the slight rough texture of the drink because of the undissolved cinnamon. 

R and I both enjoyed the Split Pea Soup which we were told took 2 hours to make. 
The broth was thick and oozing with flavor from the ham hock stock and Italian garlic sausage. The grainy texture of the soup and the soft sausage cuts were simply delightful! I just had to pause from time to time as the soup was too salty for me. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

First Bite: Nikuya by Buta+Wagyu

I have been excited for Nikuya’s opening ever since I found out that it is the baby sister of Buta+Wagyu, one of our favorite restaurants to date. Marketed as the more affordable version of the upscale wagyu place, this Japanese Korean restaurant focuses more on yakitori, shabu-shabu and a handful of rice dishes. I was invited to its media event but couldn’t make it given the Christmas rush. But thanks to a work holiday, I finally got to visit this place with R. 

Hello, Nikuya!
We were warmly greeted by its hostess Erica and were quickly ushered us to our table. 
While appreciating the restaurant’s interiors, I realized that Nikuya has very limited seating capacity. Given that each table is equipped with smokeless grill and induction cooker, even solo diners will end up occupying a table good for four or six, especially if they would like to order grilled and/or shabu-shabu dishes. I also noticed that there are no tables  available without griller or induction cooker for those who would just like to order ready to eat dishes like bibimbap or rolls. In short, it is best to book a table before paying this place a visit. 
Aside from the usual kimchi and dilis, Nikuya also serves pickled radish as part of its wait snack. 
While munching on it, the staff was busy preparing our Shabu-Shabu (PHP598) with Sukiyaki and Pork & Chicken broth. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

First Bite: Poke/Poke

You know that the local food scene is getting crazier when more and more cuisines and dishes are being introduced to the market. Just a few months ago, I had my first ever poke bowl and I fell in love with the concept of rice topped with fresh raw fish. It’s like the Japanese chirashi but casually plated. As a hardcore sashimi lover, I instantly said yes when I got an invite to Poke/Poke’s preview event last Thursday.

Hello, Poke/Poke!
Okay, poke may not exactly be an entirely fresh concept here in Manila as there are already a handful of restaurants offering this Hawaiian treat. However, Poke/Poke is the first of its kind to offer Create Your Own Poke Bowls. For those who do not want to think of the ingredients to put in their bowls, fret not as Poke/Poke also has nine standard signature bowls to choose from.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Now Open: Le Petit Soufflé SM Megamall

I am a big fan of the Tasteless Group ever since my first Hole in the Wall visit. My love for it was further fueled up when I attended a sponsored eat up at Le Petit Soufflés Century City Mall branch. Since then, from Fowlbread to Freezer Burn, I have nothing but love for this amazing group of innovative chefs and restaurateurs. But I always go back to my greatest love Le Petit Soufflé when asked which among the Tasteless Group restaurants I fancy the most. This is why I was so thrilled for Tasteless Group as well as for the foodies of the north when I found out that Le Petit Soufflé released the news that it will open its second branch and it'll be at SM Megamall's Fashion Hall. 

Hello, Le Petit Soufflé!  
I messaged Chef Miko one evening asking him when this awaited restaurant will open as aside from its scrumptious savory dishes, I was excited for Workshop, Le Petit Soufflés bakery. I then got an invite from Chef Miko saying that they will hold a special preview on December 6 and 7 for media and bloggers. Sadly, I couldn't make it on both dates due to overlapping events.  Luckily, it was a holiday for me last Thursday hence I asked (and prayed hard) if I could drop by on that day instead. Unfortunately, since it was the last day before the grand opening, they decided to close the store to do last minute prep work for the big day. Talk about wrong timing. *insert crying face here*

Friday, December 9, 2016

Happy Tummies at Happy Tables

It is really fascinating how the Manila food scene has grown from a place with limited restaurants to a bustling city filled with food choices here and there. And with the growing number of food parks or hubs, you could tell that the restaurant industry is on fire! And just a couple of weeks back, we visited a new food park along the long stretch of Congressional Avenue and we were impressed. 

Hello, Happy Tables!
This food park, rather, a restaurant hub, is the brainchild of Happy Tables’ owner Oye Peralta. With his passion of offering quality dishes, he took the time and effort to do extensive food tasting to ensure that each and every dish offered in Happy Tables would delight the growingly discerning foodie market. The end result was a well curated list of restaurants that spoiled us when we visited. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Freezer Burn's Holiday Specials

Nothing screams “Christmas is near” than the good ol’ bibingka and puto bumbong. These two holiday staples are slowly popping here and there again and it is not surprising that the innovative ice cream parlor Freezer Burn will incorporate it in its offerings sooner or later.

Hello, Freezer Burn!
I was lucky to be invited by High Street's favorite dessert shop to sample some of its limited edition Christmas flavors and I decided to go for Simbang Gabi (PHP225, solo | PHP295, regular) and Santa’s Fave (PHP225, solo | PHP295, regular). Too bad I couldn’t sample all as I was alone when I dropped by and I do not have the heart to waste awesome ice cream just to take photos and a few spoonfuls. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Love at First Bite: FOO'D by Davide Oldani

Foodee Global Concepts is at it again in bringing new brands that elevate local dining experience. This time around, they introduced to the market FOO'D by Michelin-starred chef Davide Oldani. 

Hello, FOO'D
I was greeted by a very simple looking dark door with a minimalistic restaurant signage. The exterior alone exuded understated elegance. Stepping inside further reinforced the restaurant's sophisticated ambiance with its dark hued interiors and yellow lighting. 
I was greeted by Foodee Global Concepts' Eric Dee who gave me a quick tour of the restaurant and shared with me the overall concept of FOO'D. 
Eric mentioned that FOO'D remains consistent with Chef Davide Oldani's passion to provide affordable luxury food with Italian inspiration. True enough, its full course meals are indeed affordable at PHP800 for a 3-course and PHP1,200 for a 4-course meal. They also offer some upgrades for antipasto, primo, secondo and dolce at reasonable prices ranging from PHP150 to PHP550. And with his immense popularity in Madrid and a wait list of over 18 months, I was really giddy to try Chef Oldani's signature dishes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First Bite: Kumori Cheese Tarts

Kumori has been a favorite of the foodie community ever since it opened its first store in Manila. With its mouthwatering cheesecakes and other delectable baked goods, it’s not surprising that many went crazy and got hooked. I have to admit, I’m one of them. Though pricey for a small cheesecake, I’d find myself buying a few to satisfy my moist cheesecake cravings. And when a fellow foodie recommended Kumori’s cheese tarts, I just have to try it if it is at par with Hajuku Kobo. 

Hello again, Kumori!
After doing some errands, I went straight to the Kumori kiosk in Landmark’s food court and ordered three cheese tarts to go. For PHP60 per piece, I find it a bit steep for a small tart. But if it’s as good as they claim, then I’d definitely get my money’s worth. 

I decided to get three tarts that day and ate one as soon as I paid for it.

Monday, December 5, 2016

First Bite: The Glass Jar

I was thrilled to try crocodile meat a few years back and visited a couple of restaurants just to sample this not so usual piece of protein. I first had a bite of it from a  Japanese restaurant in Manila and followed by a small café kiosk in Wilcon. And I was underwhelmed both times. It was not as special as I thought. And it was very tough too. In short, crocodile meat didn’t leave a good first and second impression. But third time’s the charm!
Hello, The Glass Jar.
This adorable restaurant on the second floor of Wilcon Home Depot along Chino Roces Avenue is the newest baby of the kiosk inside Wilcon serving crocodile dishes. And this one is not just nicer and bigger. It also revamped its dishes and turned me into a fan of this healthier source of protein.
We started our meal with some Classic Cocktails and I chose Woo Woo (PHP140).