20 June 2014

Checking out the HK Food Landscape: My foodie trail in HongKong! (Part 2)

To continue with my Hong Kong foodie adventures, friend K brought me to the neighborhood IKEA store. We were quite hungry when we got there and the first thing that greeted us before we went in for the furniture was the friendly IKEA cafeteria. I had heard many things about the IKEA food but I think it’s just hype. They were good but nothing that I would describe as spectacular. They were just “bang for buck” eats.



We had their famed meatballs and they’re really nice and filling. We also had some of the sausages and of course they were showcasing cream puffs and they happen to be one of my “happy food” items so I bought a whole tray to take home. They staved off our hunger pangs before we went furniture window shopping.





The very next day and right before my take-off, we had to have the HK “Crystal Jade” for lunch. We went with friend K’s officemate and buddy, P.


We went straight to ordering the Xiao Long Baos, which are their specialty and a slew of other dishes as well. The Xiao Long Bao experience was great. I loved the soupy broth and they did this very right I think. Compared to all other XLB’s I have eaten here in PH, I think theirs is just super! The broth was tasty and very savory that I think I had quite a couple of XLB’s during that lunch. The XLB wrapping was very delicate and the whole piece of dumpling was just cooked right. It was so flavorful and I really enjoyed every bite.


Aside from their bestseller the XLB, we also had some French green beans with minced meat. This dish really reminds me of sautéed green beans with ground pork that my ma cooks. Not really stellar but good.


Then I saw from their menu that they had some steamed white chicken in Chinese wine. We ordered this and the chicken was steamed beautifully. The chicken meat was so tender and juicy. This was a real treat.


We also ordered some of the more basic ones – the sweet and sour chicken fried to a crisp and cooked with pineapples and peppers. We also ordered some gyoza that they had. The Japanese version is better in Japanese restaurants so maybe we will just leave the gyoza’s to them but again they say that the gyoza was something that came from China. How true that is, I do not know.



Lastly, I ordered some chicken soup and I did not expect to get a really hearty and delicious chicken soup. The chefs can really make the chicken soups. To sum it all up, I had a more than pleasant lunch at Crystal Jade and I look forward to eating there again.


I have eaten at the Crystal Jade’s here but there is just really something about the Crystal Jade in HK.

I love you HK, I will be back that is for sure. I still have to discover more food secrets from your quaint and busy streets.

XOXO
EV


12 June 2014

Checking out the HK Food Landscape: My foodie trail in HongKong! (Part 1)

Whenever I visit a new country, I always make it a point to check out the local food haunts. I think that food is so much a part of culture so it’s a must to eat whatever is the specialty or whatever each country is known for.

Thanks to my great host, friend K, I was able to check out the local food scene. The first one we went to was this small restaurant which was just near her office. It was pretty straightforward and no frills kind of place. We had some really good fried rice here and fresh dumplings. It was one of K’s staples.

Their kitchen counter
Seafood fried rice

Freshly made steamed dumplings
Next on our food stop was one of the restaurants that the famous Anthony Bourdain featured in his tv show. It was called Mak’s Noodle, a traditional Cantonese restaurant in Central HK. A very small and unassuming place which makes you share tables with any customer if you are eating alone. If there is something to really understand about HK, it is that real estate is highly expensive here hence the reason for small spaces. It was again another straightforward and unassuming place to get some really good HK food. We ordered their Dumpling Noodle Soup and I had this really great tender beef brisket on top of springy noodles.


The Dumpling Noodle Soup was very hearty and the broth was really tasty as well as the huge and meaty dumplings that came with the soup. It was really great comfort food.

Dumpling Noodle Soup
The beef brisket I had was one of the most tender ones I have ever had to-date. They were soft and very tasty. The noodles were also just the kind I wanted. They were not too thick and they were cooked just right – al dente.

Noodles with Beef Brisket
After our nice dinner, we went off walking to explore the streets of HK. It was really nice to go walking around. The weather was also just perfect. Since friend K was feeling the mood for some ice cream, we had some at Haagen Dazs. She had ice cream and I had some coffee. There goes the caffeineholic in me.



XoXo

EV

21 March 2014

Restaurant Feature: My first foray into Izakaya Kikufuji @ Little Tokyo Makati

For months really I’d been raring to go to Little Tokyo to explore and check out one of the main restaurants there – Izakaya Kikufuji but I just didn’t have the right timing always that is until I met up with an old friend from way back for some lunch. He was also fond of Japanese food and so I decided that we should check out Izakaya Kikufuji.

It was kind of crowded during the Saturday lunch hour so we just sat at the bar facing the sushi chefs and I was so excited to see them in action. This post is many months late so I’m not sure if I can still relay all the essential details but one thing is for sure, the restaurant had pretty decent fresh fish and I loved the food that I was served. I loved it so much that the very next week, I brought other foodie friends to enjoy another lunch there.

It’s value for money Japanese fare. I highly recommend it! 5 stars for Izakaya Kikufuji!

Assorted Fresh Sashimi - Tuna, Salmon and Uni
Friend DR suggested this delicious sushi. He says he's eaten better so I'll have to take his word for it. Not so bad though!

One of my new favorites - Crispy tuna salad! This was really delicious for me.
Since it is an Izakaya place, we got ourselves a few and sampled them. There was one with enoki mushrooms, cherry tomatoes wrapped in bacon, leeks and some other good stuff I was not able to take note off because I was busy eating! LOL!
After the meal there was even complimentary iced coffee which I liked! Nice one!


Overall it was a very pleasant first time at this restaurant and I suspect I will be coming here often and introducing it to friends as well who appreciate good food!

XoXo
EV

02 March 2014

Restaurant Feature: Bowls of Ramen at Mitsuyado Sei-Men

Ramen craze has been going around the metro ever since last year if I’m not mistaken, and foodies have been relentless in their search for the perfect bowl of ramen as well as ramen shops sprouting here and there. One such shop would be Mitsuyado nestled in the bustling Jupiter Street in Makati. It’s been getting rave reviews from ramen lovers and foodies so naturally I had to check it out. 

I went one Saturday night if I can still remember it right because of the delay this post has taken but it was with SinfulBombs and MommaBombs (both foodie enthusiasts). We ordered Japanese gyoza as appetizers and 3 steaming bowls of Japanese ramen – Chasyu, Tan Tan Men and Cheese Tsukemen.

We all loved the gyoza they served us. Cooked just right and tasted really flavorful. We ordered a second serving of these lovable dumplings because they were good.


When our ramen bowls came, we were all excited and we tried out each of these ramens. MommaBombs had the tan tan men and we all loved it. It was spicy, tasted like curry and the noodles were al dente.



My Chasyu ramen was not really to my liking after all the hype Mitsuyado has created. My ramen was served to me lukewarm, almost cold and I did not like the taste much. I do not have fond memories of it but maybe a second visit is in order to re evaluate this ramen.

The Cheese tsukemen that SinfulBombs ordered was also not to our liking. The ramen noodles also arrived cold and the cheese looked like it had been sitting stagnant for a bit. It did not tickle our taste buds as much as the tan tan men had.




For that night we came to the conclusion that among the 3 ramen bowls we had, the tan tan men reigned supreme in taste. But who knows maybe a second visit will be a better experience. Not so impressed with Mitsuyado just yet.


XoXo
EV

27 October 2013

Comfort Food with Friends @ Mary Grace Serendra

Whenever I hear the store/restaurant Mary Grace mentioned, I normally equate it to their yummy lemon bars and other comfort desserts. I don’t normally equate it to pastas or salads or pizzas for that matter. I normally think coffee, tea and pastries but they actually have a lot more than that. When my sorority sisters organized a small get-together in Serendra in Fort Bonifacio, we all decided to eat at Mary Grace.

At first glance, what would strike you is their cozy and quaint ambiance. I guess this is what calls out to their customers. Wooden tables, wooden chairs, checked tablecloths and a sort of garden setting beckons the passer-by to just sit, relax, drink coffee and eat some pastries. This is something that I find very charming. It blends in with the total concept of Serendra. The only problem that I see is that they have trouble accommodating big groups of people. They cater more to 2-4 guests judging from the layout and space. Because there were quite a few of us, we had to push together 2 tables and added a few chairs just so we all could fit.


We then proceeded to order some pizza and pasta for lunch and added in some salad greens as well to counter all that carbohydrate. Their home made special brew teas were very refreshing, fruity and delicious. Not your usual run-of-the-mill powdered tea concentrate which I try not to drink nowadays because of all their sugar content.

All in all, they’re quite good. Not fantastic but okay for the price range and I like their pizza’s a lot. Not too doughy and they’re quite thin and packed with good ingredients.

Caesar's Salad
regular spaghetti and meatballs
Carbonara
Spanish-style Sardine pasta with olives

Margarita Pizza
All the pasta's and salad orders are good enough to share and the pizza is for 2-3 people. Overall, Mary Grace is not really fantastic but speaks of comfort food for the pizza and pasta crazy food lovers. 

P.S. Don't forget to try their desserts when you're there!

XoXo
EV


02 October 2013

The Tastes & Flavors of Bangkok: Sawasdee Ka!

Just a few months ago, I was lucky enough to travel once again to Thailand for a work meet. Eagerly I anticipated the visit to temples this time as well as tasting yet again authentic Thai dishes. We went to a lot of different restaurants and I was a bit pressed for time at work so I was not always able to document what I ate and where but it was yet again a pleasant interlude into the land of elephants. Below are the pictures I was able to take eating my way around BKK. Enjoy!

Upon arriving in BKK and after we got settled in our nice hotel, we were taken by our boss to this wonderful cafe inside a mall. Very quaint and very quirky. They had nice interiors and an even nicer menu offering plus the gorgeous French cafe manager who we got to know. He even spoke Filipino!


Berry Smoothie for Detox
Grilled Smoked Salmon and Avocado sandwich! Yum!
For dinner, we got to eat at this Chinese restaurant which served both Thai and Chinese food. We had some Thai staples including the customary Thai Iced tea and of course Pad Thai. All the food that we had at this place was really good. No complaints here!




Part of our work itinerary is of course listening to good music as we are in the entertainment industry. We watched a show at the Sheraton in BKK and had some drinks as well.

Lovely Pica Pica for free!
my limoncello, this drink packs a hard punch
I had a mini white wine tasting thing going on too! I love the Sheraton!
And then, there were the out of the way stores and cafeterias selling really cheap but really good food which me and colleague A went out to explore.

Another version of the Pad Thai. Friend A loved this dish so much
Chicken in green curry sauce!
Thai noodle soup quite similar to the Pho in Vietnam because of the side serving of fresh veggies
Always present in Thai restos. Their 4 basic needs for sauces.
As always Thailand/Bangkok does not disappoint in terms of food. There are just so many interesting dishes that I have yet to try in Thailand and I'm sure I will be back sometime soon for another food feast again.

XoXo
EV

19 September 2013

On The Buffet Table: Hyatt’s Li-Li Buffet

Buffets are a dime a dozen here in the metro and the variety of food choices in buffets are really overwhelming especially if you are the type that loves all kinds of cuisines like I do. One weekend lunch, I and fellow foodie Sinfulbombs decided to take on one of the hotel buffets here in Manila – Hyatt’s Li-Li’s buffet. They offered the Chinese dim sum buffet at a reasonable price so both of us jumped on the chance to finally check it out after weeks and weeks of talking about it.


Li-Li’s ambiance is really very Chinese. Gold and red are the predominant colors in their interiors and immediately we were welcomed by their Chinese-gown clad receptionists who quickly showed us to a table. We were served with hot tea and some pickled vegetables as well as roasted peanuts together with their menus for us to order.


Unlike usual buffets where food is placed and presented in chafing dishes, Li-Li’s has theirs to order. It is a buffet but you just order then they will be prepared fresh and served to you but you can order as much as you want. I prefer this type of set-up because it means that food is prepared fresh and I think this minimizes waste too.

We planned to order in batches as we wanted to try everything that their dim sum buffet had to offer. First up was their Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (Hargaw) but more commonly known as “Hakaw”. The dumpling had juicy shrimps and the skin was not too thick or too thin. This was a great starter and it was very flavorful too.

Steamed Shrimp Dumpling (Hargaw)

Next that was served was the Steamed Shrimp and Dried Seaweed Roll with asparagus and fish roe. The rolls had a soupy presentation and they were steamed just right. This dim sum was very tasty although I would not say that it was a star.

Steamed Shrimp and Dried Seaweed Roll with asparagus and fish roe

Next up we had a few more dumplings like the Steamed Fresh Scallops Dumpling, Steamed Crabmeat Dumplings with Black Mushrooms and one other dumpling that I forgot the name to but still tasted really good. All the dumplings so far tasted yummy and did not disappoint. Sinfulbombs and I also enjoyed a good time catching up with news.






We also had some Steamed White Fish with Chilies and this was something that we both loved. Very tender and carefully prepared delicate white fish seasoned lightly with bits of chilies giving that light and spicy kick. We also ordered some Steamed chicken and Char Siu pork.

Steamed White Fish with Chilies
Steamed chicken
Char Siu
Coming up on the list is also one of our shared favorites – the Taro Puff. The taro puff was crispy and light on the outside and oozing with creaminess on the inside of the crispy shell. It was just perfect. We also had some Pan Fried Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp and Baked Barbecue Pastry Puff.

Taro Puff
Baked Barbecue Pastry Puff
We finished off with all the desserts that they offered so we can try them all out and we ended up lounging around for a good 30 minutes because we were so full from all the dim sum before our Li-Li experience ended. Indeed it was very great value for money. The ambiance, the taste and everything else was all worth the price tag that it had. I certainly would like another Li-Li dim sum so I can try out the other things we did not get to order during that day!




We love you Li-Li! Til the next time!

XoXo
EV