Monday, February 29, 2016

First Bite: Fat Daddy's Smokehouse

Receiving a text message from P always mean good (and yummy) news and her message last Monday was no exception. It was a looloo invite to try Fat Daddy's Smokehouse. At first, I got it confused with the burger joint that has that three letter word that love to settle on unwanted areas. Thanks to P's email. I got the idea that it... could be even better! 
Hello, Fat Daddy's Smokehouse.
I WAS LATE. I underestimated the distance between my place and Burgos Circle. I even got lost due to my lack of night vision. So much for being an early bird.
The group was already enjoying the big tray of Jera’s Ultimate Pulled Pork and Bacon Nachos (PHP550) when I arrived. Even though it was already “touched”, I was still overwhelmed by the huge serving size. This one is definitely good for sharing! I think even 10 foodies cannot finish this dish (assuming there are other dishes).
Taste-wise, it was packed with flavor. I enjoyed the harmony of textures and flavors among the crisp seasoned and slightly salty tortilla chips, sweet and tender pulled pork, delectable bacon strips (which was stripped off its salty flavor because of the Alabama barbecue sauce) and of course, cheese! This dish was far from being short of toppings or sauce!
I tried Chef Pat’s Ultimate Cheese Dip (PHP450) next and it was indeed very cheesy! I loved that it was oh so thick (thanks to the layers of mozzarella and cheddar cheese). Getting a spoonful was a challenge though as there were huge onion rings stuffed inside too! But it did not hinder me from smothering my fried tortilla chips with the scrumptious dip! (There were no toasted baguettes left when I got to try the dish.)

One of my favorites is the Crispy Fried Pickles (PHP120). I was quite surprised to say this as I am not a fan of pickles. But I had no idea that I would enjoy it a lot when deep fried covered with panko and corn crust and dipped in a delightful white sauce which reminded me of ranch. It was a lovely appetizer and made me salivate for more.
Next served was the Crisp Fish Tacos (PHP320) and it was one of my favorites that night. The beer battered Alaskan Pollock had a nice light taste which was a great break from the dishes with very heavy flavors. 
I loved the crisp of the batter and the taste of the garlic sauce. I skipped putting barbeque sauce on my portion as I really wanted to have a break from the sweet barbecue sauce.
Smoked Beef Brisket (PHP550) and North Carolina Pulled Pork (PHP220) were served right after and this marked the end of my break from barbeque sauce.

The 250 gram smoked beef brisket, which was smoked for 16 hours was divine! It was so tender! Though it was one of the dishes with relatively small serving size (because of its thin cut), I’d highly recommend this. It was packed with flavors without it being overpowering. Oh, and this is senior friendly. It was effortless to chew this dish!

The North Carolina Pulled Pork was similar with the ones on the nachos. I guess if you order the nachos, you may opt not to get this anymore.
BLAT, or Bacon, Lettuce, Apple and Tomatoes sandwich (PHP275) was a crowd favorite. Though just like most of the other dishes, this one also have the yummy homemade bacon. But for some reason, this sandwich is a notch higher in the taste department with its refreshing baked spiced apples. It went really well with bacon, veggies and remoulade sauce (a type of aioli) adding nice cinnamon spice that I simply love.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gastro Park Kapitolyo Find #1: El Phante

Last Saturday was a crazy food fest. I scheduled to meet my friends for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Kapitolyo as I realized that I have to start visiting the new ones before it starts to become unmanageable. I was so giddy on my way to Kapitolyo but it instantly disappeared when I couldn’t find Kitchen Diaries Café. There were two location pins, one from Waze and another from Instagram. I went to both and circled both areas like Sisa looking for her kids and I just could not find it. Worn out and sweaty, I decided to give the café a call and… apparently, there was a change in management and they have to close down the café indefinitely. It pissed me off! They could have at least announced it or something! Aaargh. Anyway, I made sure that lunch will be awesome as I planned it to be at…

Gastro Park!
This place is the StrEat version of Kapitolyo. Similar to the Maginhawa branch, this small compound houses several small food establishments offering different cuisines. And on top of my list is El Phante which got good rating in looloo.

I was excited to hand the coupons I got from Metro Deal where PHP200 worth of food will be just PHP99. But I failed to take note that the coupons are only valid from Sundays to Thursdays. It was not a big deal since it was my mistake and prices are wallet-friendly.
I then ordered the bestseller Chili Beef Basil Soft Taco (PHP140). Don’t be deceived by the name of the dish. It was just mildly spiced or so what the server claims.
It took roughly 10 minutes for our order to be served and it was… small. What do you expect from PHP140? I was pleased though that despite the small size of the soft taco, there was a generous serving of ground beef.

Café Love: Wildflour Café + Bakery

It has been a long while since I last visited Wildflour but I still remember its delectable desserts and scrumptious pasta. And since I had an appointment right across the lovely restaurant, I decided to have a nice afternoon snack here before heading to my meeting.

I was assisted as soon as I stepped in but the table where I was being directed to had a LOT of mosquitoes flying around. I quickly told the server that I’d rather sit elsewhere and she ushered me to the seat at the far end of the café.

After reading through the menu and not feeling very hungry, I opted to get Wildflour Reuben (PHP420).
While waiting, I was given a loaf of bread and Wildflour’s delicious salted butter. I managed to eat half of the loaf before my order arrived.
I was greeted by huge multi grain bread sandwiching homemade corned beef coleslaw and crisp potato chips.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Second Bite: Pound

I never waited for food for over 2 hours until that Pay What You Want promo. I don’t know what got into me to make me wait for so long. Well, I guess the idea of just spending whatever you feel like for your burger or slider is attractive. Okay, okay! It was tempting as ice cream for a person who has sore throat! But just when I said I will never ever wait that long… it happened again after 4 days. Darn it!
So hello again, Pound.
Yes, I have been lured to this place again after my new looloo friends R and W expressed interest in the very tempting promo.

R was the first to arrive around 6PM and she was already on the second column of the list. That means over 20 diners were ahead of her. Unbelievable! My officemate A also had her sister B reserve a table and given that she’s ahead of R, I had the seat reservation up by two more to accommodate R and W.

And then the wait game began.

We almost ran out of topics to talk about as we waited 3 hours this time. At least, it was more enjoyable than my last visit where I waited alone.

We quickly ordered as soon as we got settled. R and I decided to share two slider meals—Bacon and Egg Sliders (PHP200) and T.E. Crispy Chicken Sliders (PHP195) while everyone else ordered Amsterdam Burger and T.E. Burger.
Service was quick and in less than 10 minutes, everyone’s burger arrived—except for our sliders. R and I were literally drooling after getting a sniff of the burgers in front (or beside) us.  We had to follow up and overheard that the staff overlooked ours. Whaaaaat???
Anyway, they did make up for it and our sliders were served in 5 minutes or so. Or so I thought.

Friday, February 19, 2016

First Bite: Ippon Yari

A month seems incomplete without a trip to Tagaytay. It is our little sweet haven from the chaotic Manila life. After all, lazing around R’s rest house always sounds like the perfect weekend getaway plan. A few weeks back, R suggested that we check some outlets on our way back and have lunch around the area. I quickly checked looloo for suggestions and Ippon Yari caught my attention with its high rating. Plus, it is said to be the “place to be” for Japanese expatriates who work around the area.

Hello, Ippon Yari.
The place is easy to spot as it is located on the second floor of the Piazza building right across the outlet compound near Adidas. There were only a few diners when we got there as it was already a bit past 1 pm then.  

We were quickly assisted to our table and handed menu. The place has an extensive menu ranging from sushi and sashimi, rice bowls, and tempura to sukiyaki, ramen and teppanyaki dishes. R and I opted to get Salmon Sashimi (PHP220), Unadon (PHP520), Ebi Tempura and Salmon Sushi. (Sorry, I failed to take note of the prices of the last two dishes.)
We asked the server if the chef could have our salmon sushi torched so that we could enjoy salmon aburi. But when the server’s face turned blank and confused, I already knew that we won’t have salmon aburi. And true enough, upon checking with the chef, they can’t serve it. *sad*

Thursday, February 18, 2016

First Bite: Soil Modern Dining

The words “softopening” attracts me like a fly to light and the thought of being one of thefirst ones to sample a new restaurant’s offerings delights me… a lot. And just like any typical night, I browsed through the looloo app and a review caught my attention. Soil Modern Dining, a new player in Molito is on its soft opening. It was just perfect as I was going to visit my aunt who lives in Alabang that weekend and R was game to head there for early dinner. Yay!

Hello, Soil Modern Dining.
We were greeted by nice modern, industrial interiors and I was instantly charmed by its simple yet beautiful table setting. 
Since we got there a tad too early (Soil resume operations at 6PM for dinner service), we decided to just wait outside and enjoy the cool breeze. We headed back after 20 minutes and took the bar seats, right across the open kitchen.
We ordered Bone Marrow Escargot Spread with Lemon Brioche and Onions (PHP180) for appetizer, Tea Smoked Salmon with Potato Gnocchi, Atchara and Orange (PHP335) and Pan Seared Duck with Fresh Pasta, Foie Gras and Mangoes (PHP400) for mains and Basil Lemonade with Blueberries (PHP80) and Warm Tarragon Tea with Star Anise Syrup (PHP80) for drinks.
While waiting for our meals, we were given complementary malunggay bread with seaweed butter. It was served warm and it sure hit the spot. I loved the softness of the bread and the lovely crunch of the crust. I also fell in love with the subtle salty taste of the butter. It was great!

I was still savoring the delightful bread and spread when our appetizer arrived.
I loved the wooden serving plate where the bone marrow was placed. It added a bit of warmth (aesthetically) to the food.
I scrapped a bit of bone marrow, sprinkled a bit of salt and spread it on a piece of bread and it tasted… oily. The taste of the bone marrow escargot was very weak and it was overpowered by the buttered bread. I then realized that this dish is best to be enjoyed without the bread or have a bite of it after getting a taste of the bone marrow escargot. Without the bread, it was actually a tasty dish. It was still oily but it had a nice light taste perfect for an appetizer.

My Tea Smoked Salmon was served next and it was a lovely sight.
The salmon was cooked just right. It wasn’t overly cooked hence leaving the rather small slab of salmon very fresh and moist. It was like enjoying salmon aburi! I also enjoyed the potato gnocchi which was so soft and slightly seasoned to give more flavor to the dish.
The unique atchara (made with some wild greens instead of shredded papaya relish) gave a nice sweet taste and the salted egg cream added a bit of saltiness. It was a great balance of flavors and definitely a must order dish.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Love at First Bite: Asakusa Home of Tempura

I have been dying to visit this tempura place at The Grove for months but it gets cancelled every single time. I blame the lazy weekend bug! There was one time though when we finally braved the Saturday traffic and we were greeted by… a closed sign. I heard my heart break and my tummy whine the moment I saw the glass door signage. But the Year of the Monkey seems to be my year as when R and I visited The Grove during Chinese New Year for dinner, the place I have been eying for months was open. OPEN! *insert creepy mega giant smile here*

Hello, Asakusa
The foodie in me found it so surreal that I finally managed to get inside the “home of tempura”. It was a long wait and I hope that it won’t disappoint.

Famished, we ordered Salmon Salad (PHP208), Emperor Tempura Set (PHP578) and Gyudon (PHP288). For beverage, we settled with the complimentary house tea.    
Service was quick as it was not even past the 5 minute mark when the salmon salad was served.
I loved it! The fresh salmon cuts drizzled with what seemed to be teriyaki sauce went really well with the crisp veggies and tempura flakes. The contrast between the soft and crunchy textures was delightful as well. Though flavor was a tad strong as appetizer, it was still a great starter!
Gyudon was served next and we were perplexed with its appearance. It did not look like the gyudon we know. The meat looked a bit too dark. Tastewise, the flavor was overpowering. It was too sweet for gyudon

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Love at First Sip: United Coffee

Now on our last stop, simply because the establishments in the area were getting ready to close, we decided to go for a nice and quiet place to chat. The coffee shop in the Nav compound made me curious and after our meal at Diner on 16th, we opted to look for it. And thanks to the shop’s signage, finding it was a breeze. But the climb up wasn’t due to my aching knees. >.<
Hello, United Coffee.
There were only two other tables occupied when we arrived. The interiors reminded me of a humbler Yardstickwarm and cozy. We settled in one of the window seats.
The place is still on its soft opening, having opened its doors last December. Menu is not very extensive but since I was already full and slightly sleepy, none appealed to me. The friendly server suggested their bestseller, Espresso + Milk + Mocha (PHP160) and as a sucker for bestsellers, I gave it a try. I wanted to try the S’mores cake but I just do not have space for it anymore. T_T

Monday, February 15, 2016

Love at First Bite: Diner on 16th

Our impromptu Kapitolyo food trip stop #2 is just a few steps away from Taco Vengo! and it was just perfect as it was drizzling that night. This stop captured my interest after seeing a few photos of its mouthwatering milkshakes and diner inspired interiors online. Yes, I’m talking about Diner on 16th.
Hello, Diner on 16th.
The place reminds me of Grease or Hairspray as the interiors have an American diner feel.
Since my sister and I were not so hungry anymore, we opted to order two dishes and one milkshake to share. We got Waffle Florentine (PHP265), Chicken Buffalo Kabob (PHP197) and S’mores Milkshake (PHP134). 
We were informed that the dishes we ordered will take around 15 minutes and since we were still digesting the tacos, we said that we’re willing to wait. (Don’t you just love it when the server tells you how long you’ll wait to set your expectations?)
First served was our milkshake and oohlala… it was overflowing!
Each sip is packed with a lovely milky and chocolatey taste. It wasn’t too sweet or feel like we were having dessert with our meal. I also loved the s’mores on the brim. It was a chewy piece of sweet heaven. 
It’s just a bit messy to enjoy this one as the mason jar was covered with chocolate syrup. Not that I’m complaining.
Waffle Florentine was served next and yowza! For its price, it was bang for the buck! What was served before us was a plate good for sharing. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

First Bite: Taco Vengo!

Ever since my office moved to Fort, I hardly get to visit Kapitolyo, my favorite foodie haven. But thanks to the long weekend, I got to visit this lovely area again and managed to visit not just one but three stops. Our first stop was the raved taco place named Taco Vengo!

Hello, Taco Vengo!
I have been looking forward to visit this place after reading all those positive reviews and seeing mouthwatering photos of tacos. And the place being Instagram-worthy makes it even more irresistible. 
The place is part of the small compound where Nav and Longganisa Sorpresa are located. Though the restaurant does not have frontage, you could easily spot it thanks to its signage alongside the more established food stops. 
Taco Vengo!'s menu is not that extensive but since I'm a newbie, I asked for recommendations and I was told that their best seller is the Shrimp Taco (PHP110 for 1 taco; PHP210 for 2 tacos). I ordered two of that and one Steak Taco (PHP110) and Cheese Quesadillas (PHP120). I was tempted to make my steak taco into a rice bowl but the server said that their fillings are best served with soft tacos. The place has the word "taco" in its name after all. I also got a glass of house blend iced tea while my sister went with a can of soda. 
First served was the saddest looking quesadilla I have ever seen. It was so flat and it looked like it was just a piece of folded thick tortilla. 
And it tasted just like pita. The cheese filling was too mild and there was a very, very faint taste of cheese. The sour cream helped give a bit more flavor though. 
My iced tea arrived next and it tasted...weird. It had a strong herb-y taste which I didn't like at all.
Next served were the shrimp and steak taco
They only served one shrimp taco instead of two and I didn't bother to correct it anyway thinking that the server just got the quantity wrong. But after tasting it, I sort of regretted not calling the server's attention.