Thursday, November 26, 2015

First Bite: The Coffee Academics

Whenever I visit a different country, I always ask locals for recommendations as I believe that they know the best ones around. And during my trip in Hong Kong, R’s friend C, recommended The Coffee Academics. Since I’m in love with coffee, I asked R if it’s okay for us to have brunch there and when he said yes, my tummy twirled for joy. And so one morning, we headed to…
The Coffee Academics
The place is very charming with its warm interiors. 
The wooden fixtures made the place homey and ideal for casual meet ups with friends.
Soon, we ordered the following: Slow Poached Eggs Benedict with a cup of cappuccino (HK$98) and 24-Month Aged Iberico Ham Croque Madame (HK$108).
First to arrive was my cup of coffee. It didn’t have a strong kick but it was a good way to start the day without upsetting the tummy. It was also great for those who are starting to learn how to enjoy coffee without sweeteners.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Restaurant Love: Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza

A few weeks back, my college friends and I pushed to meet for dinner on a week night since our schedules are all packed with meet ups and travels in the next weeks to come. And since most of them are working in Ortigas, L and I had to brave the traffic going north. And we survived to have dinner at…
It has been quite a while since I last visited Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza. I think it was over 3 years and it was with my favorite Takaw Trio (T3) friends. Anyway, this time around, we tried Mushroom Pizza (PHP375), Prosciutto Pizza (PHP445), Carbonara (PHP220), Pesto Pasta (PHP225), Nutella Soup (PHP195) and Crack Pie (PHP55, slice). 
We also ordered a pitcher of Calamansi juice (PHP150) to help us digest the food we were about to consume. (And it was a bit too sweet.)
M was amused with how the Pesto Pasta was served as it was all bundled up. It reminded us of semi cooked instant noodles. The texture itself was also a bit hard and it had a slight sweet taste which could have been from the cream. 
The pesto itself wasn’t very oily which was great but I wish that it had a stronger pesto flavor over cream.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When in Hong Kong: Café de Coral

The Hong Kong food scene is quite overwhelming with all the choices this not so small country could offer. This is the very reason why I didn’t really list down the restaurants I want to visit because I’m bound to find a good restaurant or two in every street. But one restaurant included in A’s recommended restaurants was Café de Coral, a popular quick service restaurant chain in Hong Kong and since we were hungry and were in front of the place, we gave it a try.

Hello, Café de Coral.
The place is very much a notch higher fast food chain. You order in front and head inside to line up again for your food.
R got the Soya National Farm Chicken and BBQ Pork with Rice (HK$42) while mine was Soya National Farm Chicken and Roasted Duck with Rice (HK$42). We also upgraded and got their newest hot beverages. Unfortunately, I forgot what these were called but mine was with ginger.
R’s chicken and pork barbeque dish was great! The tender chicken and pork were glazed with the lovely sweet sauce and it went well with the blanched veggies. The pork though was slightly dry.
My dish, which just had duck instead of pork, was pretty good too. The duck meat was tender and well flavored too and the chicken, just as delightful as the one on R’s plate. The only thing I didn’t like about mine was that the duck was quite bony making it a bit troublesome to eat.
The drinks we ordered were perfect as it was getting chilly that late afternoon and it was freezing cold in the restaurant. We had to dilute it a bit though as the drinks were a bit too sweet to be thirst-quenching.

Overall, it was a pleasant early dinner (though I thought it would be cheaper than the usual restaurants).

Café de Coral has several branches in Hong Kong. Click here for the list of branches.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Taking Gifting to the Next Level

Christmas is just around the corner. (Okay, a few more corners.) The trickling Christmas decors are all over the Metro and despite the intense heat, I still want to sing, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." And with November halfway over, I started to think... what do I want to give my loved ones and myself this holiday season?

And so... here's my shopping list this Christmas. Let's start off with my parents.

I want to give them the gift of HEALTH.
With my parents not getting any younger, I want them to stay strong and mobile. Before, I was supportive of them learning how to use the new technology but I realized how much time they wasted in just sitting and staring at small screens. 
I plan to buy them something that will make them fit. Simple free weights and workout outfits would be a nice start for this. Let's throw in a few workout videos. (Or they could just search YouTube too for that. Yay for free workout videos!)

As for my sister who looks so frail, I want to give her a bucket of fat! (I kid.)

I want to give her the gift of SUCCESS.

We all heard it before. We are how we dress. If we dress poorly, then chances are, we won't make it up the ladder (which is usually true if you want to go corporate). There were also studies that show that those who dress smarter and wear make up to work are more often than not paid higher than others who dress not as sharp or do not groom themselves as well as their colleagues. 
Given this, I want to buy my sister a few sharp office outfits that are bound to impress and a few cosmetics to make her look lovelier. (Because she already thinks she's pretty.)

For R who makes my heart skip a beat every time, I want to give him the gift of HAPPINESS.

I know R is happy to some extent but no one can ever say that he or she is too happy. The nice thing about these gifts--health, success and happiness, is that it is limitless. I want him to experience a different kind of happiness through cooking. 

I love to bake and he likes sweets. I think that those two are perfect. A nice baking day would be a fun experience for us and a nice memory to keep (and hopefully yummy brownies to enjoy). 
Oh, let's also throw in a new pair of bedroom slippers as he had to give away the ones he recently bought. 

For myself, I want the gift of CREATIVITY.

Well, technically, you can't buy creativity (which I wish I could) but there are ways that could help me discover (if there is) and enhance my skills. 
I plan to buy some canvas to practice painting and hang on my empty wall my masterpiece no matter what it'll look like. I also intend to buy some oil pastel in case I fail with using real paint. Let's also add an apron for the artist feel. And if I surprisingly do well, I'll definitely give my love ones some artworks too!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First Bite: Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung. Those three syllables are music to foodies’ ears and eyes when they found out that this famous chain is finally opening its doors in Manila, thanks to Moment Group of Restaurants. I couldn’t really join or understand the hype as I have never been to one but I was told that it was very similar to Tim Ho Wan which I was not really crazy about. But then I had the opportunity to try this well-loved Chinese restaurant when I visited Hong Kong a few weeks back.
Hello, Din Tai Fung.

We visited the Din Tai Fung Miramar Mall branch since it was the one nearest our hotel. And it sure was a good call as when we arrived, there was no line at all. The mall, which was renovated in 2008, was pretty empty except for this restaurant with a massive floor area.
The first thing I noticed was that there’s a time limit for dining. I forgot to take note though up to how long we could stay. But the French way of dining is definitely out.
We settled with the following dishes: Steamed Pork Dumplings/Xiao Long Bao (HK$58), Braised Beef Noodle Soup (HK$82) and Steamed Taro Paste Dumplings (HK$43) for dessert.

While waiting, we enjoyed our warm house tea (which apparently not the house tea we are used to as we had to pay HK$9 per person for this and water is more expensive).
First served was our xiao long bao which were pretty good. It was juicy and flavorful and dipping it in the black vinegar sauce made it even more delectable. It was also served piping hot so we had to wait a bit to let it cool. However, Lugang Café’s xiao long bao wasn’t far from Din Tai Fung’s. I could settle for Lugang anytime.
The braised beef noodle soup was something else though. It was probably one of the best noodle soups I’ve tasted. The noodles were cooked just right, not too hard nor too soft and the broth had this lovely sweet yet salty flavor. It wasn’t oily too. And the braised beef… it was so soft and flavorful too. (Waaah!  I am drooling now.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Love at First Bite: Adaäm and Yves Organic Bistro

Getting to know fellow foodies have perks. I would have not heard of Adaäm and Yves Organic Bistro if it wasn’t for K. And after some stalking, I discovered that this is one of the newest restaurants in BGC. The location alone made me interested since it’s relatively near where I work so… I decided to pester one of my friends and dine there ASAP.
Hello, Adaäm and Yves Organic Bistro!
The place, where the entrance is along 6th Avenue, looks bare from the outside. There are about 8 tables inside with high ceiling making it look very spacious. The place is dimly lit hence it made me think right away how I’ll manage taking photos especially since I didn’t bring my other phone as additional light (for dramatic purposes).
I walked all the way from SM Aura to get here and I was hungry since an hour ago so I was already in my hangry state when I sat down.
Still in its soft opening, the server who assisted us had no idea what are being offered. He did suggest the “bestsellers” which happen to be the two most expensive dishes in the menu. When I asked him what makes it different, he just read the menu to me which, admittedly, annoyed me and made me snap.

Before losing it, I ordered Tuna Turner (PHP285) and Pink Floyd (PHP230) while J went with Noli Me Tangere (PHP495). [Side note: After telling the server my order, I think he spaced out and asked for my order again. He sure tested my patience.]

Service was quick though and in less than 10 minutes, Tuna Turner was served. And it was difficult to shoot it!
When Adaäm and Yves said it was a sashimi grade tuna loin, they were not kidding. It sure was fresh and delightful! The tangy taste from the lemon juice and slight oiliness from the olive oil made it a great appetizer to start the meal. 
The taro chips reminded me of the blue potato chips I usually get from flights.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Love at First Bite: Sweets House Cha Cha

I am so overwhelmed with the food choices here in Hong Kong. There are just so many options. The supermarket alone, such as City Super, has a wide selection of snacks, drinks and yes, sashimi! I am so in love with it that just visiting the supermarket gives me the thrill I get from riding Space Mountain. And one night, R’s good friend C introduced a delightful soft served ice cream to us.
Hello, Sweets House Cha Cha!

This sweets concessionaire is located inside City Super, Times Square, Causeway Bay. Here you have two options for your soft serve, matcha or Hokkaido Milk. R opted for Matcha in waffle cone (HK$32) so I went for Hokkaido Milk with mochi (HK$34) which C also recommended (sans the mochi).
First served was R’s matcha and the first thing I noticed was the inviting vibrant green color of the matcha. It sure looks like it has a strong and powerful flavor. True enough, it did. And R liked it. It had that slight bitter taste that you’d get in matcha. This is a must-order for those who just could not get enough of green tea.
My Hokkaido Milk was served next and up close, you could mistake it as typical vanilla ice cream. But this one has a milkier and creamier taste. It was like eating sweet milk… in ice cream form.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Love at First Bite: Tsumura Sushi Bar & Restaurant

Mr. Tsumura has a huge fan. This fan can’t stop raving about Tsumura Sushi Bar & Restaurant that after antigravity yoga, he invited me to have late lunch there. (And a couple of months later, we went again, this time with his dad.)
Hello, [Mr.] Tsumura!
The place wasn’t packed when we went. I guess there are more people during dinner. R knew which ones to order and chose Aburi Sake (PHP80/piece) and Toro Teriyaki (PHP550). Since it was pretty warm that day, I opted to get Cha Soba (PHP330).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

McCafé Macarons

I don’t know why McDonald’s is so irresistible. I always find myself attracted to it whenever I travel or simply cross the street. The bright M makes me forget the horrifying tale of Supersize Me. Anyway, one of the reasons why I visit McDonald’s in other countries is to find out how different these are from the ones in Manila. We all know that there’s the squid ink bun and taro pie. But I never thought that Mcdonald’s could be so fancy.

While looking for a place for lunch (which eventually became Sushi One), we spotted McDonald’s. The signage promoting its Salted Caramel and Tiramisu Latte caught our attention and skipped Sushi One’s tempting chocolate lava cake to try the latte.
We decided to stop by the famous clown’s place and ordered Iced Tiramisu Latte (HK$32, Grande) and added HK$10 to avail one Salted CaramelMACARON.

Monday, November 2, 2015

When In Hong Kong: Ikea Bistro

I love Ikea. I simply could not resist visiting one whenever I find out that there’s one nearby. The adorable and affordable furniture pieces make me want to redesign my place ASAP. But aside from the smart space pieces, one thing I love about Ikea is… IKEA BISTRO. Oh meatballs!!!

Hello, Ikea!
It has been a while since I last visited one. I remember getting meatballs and soft-serve ice cream every time I visit. It was a sweet reward after walking around the huge Ikea store.
This time around, it was even more thrilling to look around especially since I now have my own space to spruce up. But let me skip my whole I-wanna-try-that, I-wanna-sit-on-that-one, and ooh-what-is-that-cool-thing phase and go straight to the mouthwatering snacks Ikea offers.
I was surprised that despite the massive size of the store, they scrimped on the bistro area. It makes you remember that you’re in Hong Kong where space is as precious (and expensive) as diamond.

Anyway, nothing can hinder me from getting my meatballs, even when the bistro is packed.
We got an order of Swedish Meatballs (HK$9, 5 pieces), Hotdog with Soft drink (HK$10), and Smokey Honey Sausage (HK$10, 3 pieces).