17 July 2016

The Maginhawa Chronicles: Artsy Cafe - a delicious revelation!

Who hasn't heard of the famous street in Quezon City - Maginhawa? Foodies and food neophytes alike flock to this place to experience all the tasty pleasures it offers in just 1 stretch of a long street. It's like "the destination" for all who are in search of good value eats.

For this first peek into the delicious treasures of Maginhawa, we check in to the Artsy Cafe located at 36 Maginhawa Street. The first thing you will notice would be its quaint color scheme. It has pastel blue colors and white lacey trimmings. Very quaint and cozy. I forgot to take a picture of its interiors. I think I have been there for a total of 3 times already but I am in need of more visits to further explore their menu. (wink) (wink)

These are some of the dishes I have had that speak to my taste buds so far. Their market salad. You have 2 options with it, you can either have chicken or shrimp in it. When we had it, we picked the one with chicken. Fresh leafy greens, local tomatoes, cucumber and carrot sticks, grilled chicken strips, olives, grapes, and a very generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. This dish alone can serve as 1 meal for any person. Light and refreshing but also filling.

For a healthier sisig option, they offer the Bangus sisig. Their own fishy version of one of our beloved sizzling meat dishes this time with bangus flakes. Really good and much more healthier than its meaty counterpart. This is a heaping sizzling dish as well.

And for one of my more favorite ones in this restaurant - their gigantic T-Bone steak. It's a huge plateful of a steak grilled to your liking paired with buttered vegetables and your choice of either mashed potato or a cup of rice. I have always opted to have mashed potatoes with it since I want to avoid the carbs. This dish is one of our favorites really. A good deal and delicious too. I haven't eaten here in Artsy without ordering this every time. Really good value for money!

All dishes mentioned here are below the PHP300 price tag. So it is really good value for your money. Artsy Cafe has a cozy ambiance and although the menu is not that extensive yet they really do offer delicious eats at good value.


They also have an all-day breakfast selection....


13 July 2016

Restaurant Feature: Checking out Ippudo Manila at SM Megamall

Rainy days lately make me see bowls and bowls of ramen in my mind. For this write-up, we are going to be traversing our taste buds through the famous Ippudo. Their first branch here was opened a year ago I think if I am not mistaken at the SM Megamall. Ippudo is best known for their tonkotsu-based ramen. Tonkotsu is the broth made from pork bones. It has a creamy texture and is white in color. Ippudo is mainly known for this kind of ramen.

One slow Sunday afternoon, me and the girlfriends decided to check what the fuss was all about and we queued up to wait our turn to eat in Ippudo. Since they just newly opened at that time, they were also testing out some of their products and gave them out to their guests for free. (wink)

The servers gave us free Crispy Corn so we could all nibble on it while waiting for our ramens to be served. The corn was nicely fried and topped with paprika and seaweed. We loved it. It wasn't oily but very lightly fried and a nice opening to a creamy ramen lunch.

We ordered one of their classics as well - Oroshi Ponzu Gyoza. It was their original pan-fried dumplings and they topped it with some grated radish and spring onions and served with their ponzu sauce. This was savory and yummy. 

Now for the highlight of the lunch - our steaming bowls of ramen. As it was my first time there, I decided to go for their most traditional/original one. In this case it was the  Shiromaru Motoaji ramen. This was the classic Hakata-style ramen. Ultra thin noodles served in their traditional tonkotsu broth with pork loin, kikurage, and some spring onions. A little bit of bean sprouts also graced this bowl of ramen. I liked it and would like to try it again. I think Ippudo and Ramen Nagi are quite comparable although I think Nagi is more adventurous in their offerings. Definitely deserves another sit-in soon!

They also gave us this product they were testing out. Chicken karaage in between their signature steamed buns with their Ippudo sauce. The chicken was crispy on the outside and tender in the inside and to counter the fried component, it was served on a bed of shredded cabbage inside the steamed buns. This was quite filling and nice and I wouldn't recommend eating this together with the ramen since you will be quite full after. I am not sure if they continued to serve this product. 

So definitely another visit in the works and probably in their newly opened branch at BGC.  



29 June 2016

Spiral's Champagne Sunday Brunch at the Sofitel Manila

For all foodies out there, the Spiral buffet at the Sofitel is at the top on the must-eat list. The buffet boasts of a lovely cheese and cold cuts section which will make your mouth and your cheesy heart water but aside from that they also have a total of 21 dining ateliers guaranteed to satisfy the demands of your foodie cravings above and beyond so here I found myself with a colleague from work one lazy Sunday and trying out their Sunday champagne brunch. 

From the time the wait staff seated me at a cozy table/couch, they were already asking if I wanted some champagne and also gave me their signature Spiral bread which was crusty on the outside and soft and cuddly on the inside. It was served warm together with a slab of butter and it was really bread I wanted to munch on a lot. That means something because I am not really a bread person but I have to give them kudos for their bread. Really good!

I then proceeded to do my first round. I got some shrimp cocktail and a lovely selection of cheeses, a little bit of prosciutto and iberico hams plus some candied fruits and fig. When I arrived back at our table, a glass of bubbly was already waiting for me. Good job Spiral!

For my 2nd plate, I got some sushi (salmon and tuna) with pickled ginger, oysters from France, and smoked salmon topped with caviar. All very delicious and the quality of the sushi was good. The oysters - perfect.

The 3rd plate concentrated concentrated on lobsters and coconut crabs, and I tried a piece of California maki to boot. Normally in buffets, I try to avoid rice, and any other carb since it makes you feel full fast but 1 piece is not so bad. ;)

One cannot do the Sofitel buffet without the obligatory and famous foie gras. I requested it on a small bed of risotto which I loved. 

I tried some of the roasted meats, pork loin, ribs and etc but I wasn't so enamored of them (need to do the buffet again *wink*). 

My 4th plate was my Asian tribute. I had some jellyfish, roasted suckling pig (lechon), and Singaporean Chili crabs. I also inserted another lobster here which I had cooked at the French station. I had them cook it with butter. Yum!

I also had some spinach gnocchi but I didn't finish it as I was already buffet-haggard at this point. Sometimes I cannot believe I have this much of an appetite but hey I skipped the carbs part so I guess that was the key.

Again, I had another cheese plate with fruits and nuts to go with it. I just have a soft spot in my cynical heart for cheeses! Hahahaha! 

Always always room for dessert. The Spiral had overwhelming towers of melted strawberry chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate fountains. I got an eclair, creme brulee and a strawberry panna cotta. 

I have to say this Spiral Sofitel buffet is everything I had imagined it to be and more but I still missed some dining ateliers here of which I promise to make up soon. This is one of those things you do once in a blue moon and you won't feel cheated at all even if the pricing is really high. Quality of the food and everything is really great. See you again soon Spiral!


22 June 2016

1st Experience with Pink Panda in Makati

This post was due ages ago but I have been very busy with other pursuits in my life and other interests that I have not updated in a while. Once upon a blue moon when my "Team Anilams" group was all in the same zip code, we decided to paint the town red as it was also friend C's birthday. We were choosing where to go for some grub that was not in a heavily trafficked area and we decided on Pink Panda. One of the babies of famous celebrity Erwan Heussaff. The restaurant promised to be an Asian fusion one with specialties from Asian countries delivered with certain twists. For that dinner event, we had really good and had a good time as there was also some live art to keep us entertained but mostly we entertained ourselves pretty easily. :)

To start the meal off, we ordered some Wild Vietnamese rolls. There were 6 rolls in total. Half of them were fresh vietnamese rolls which I absolutely adore and the rest were fried ones. Best of all they had some nuoc nam sauce and peanut sauce of which I am absolutely fond of. These were a great start.

Then we had some Tom Yum soup. Shrimp and mushrooms in a sour but creamy soup base which had a lot of spicy kick to it. This is one of my staple dishes whenever I go to Thailand and one of my favorites too. For some reason, I love sour tasting things. ;)

When it is someone's birthday you cannot not have noodles and for this occasion we had some Pad Thai. Another Thai favorite of mine. Noodles cooked with bean sprouts and tamarind paste with either chicken or shrimp and topped with an egg.

We also ordered a Pink Panda recommended dish. Their Pink Panda special fried rice. Fried rice with cabbage and carrot strips, shrimp, chinese sausage, and an omelette with some crispy fried wanton wrappers topped for an extra layer of crunch.

What's a special occasion without some kind of a pork dish. This pork dish was a good one. Melt-in-your-mouth goodness, cooked in a clay pot with beans and leeks sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds.

Beef had an equal presentation also with their Crispy Beef Rendang. Fried tender short ribs of beef  in a spiced coconut sauce with some pickled vegetables to cut through the richness of the sauce.

We had their Panda buns as well to cap off the meal. Everyone had fun over dinner especially about even portions (an inside joke). Great birthday and a great time with good friends.



07 November 2015

The Pattaya Experience: Baan Pictory and Pattaya sidestreets...

Last year, we were on a recording jaunt for the company and we ended up in the well-equipped and amazing Karma Sound Studios located just nearby the famous "Pattaya" in the outskirts of Bangkok. 

We also stayed in a very charming resort owned by 2 very charming French gentlemen who had decided to settle down in Thailand and build a business there. We were well taken cared of and the food was very sumptuous all around during that trip. 

We had a welcome dinner hosted for us in the resort by the owners and it was a beautiful dinner spread indeed.

All the requisite Thai dishes were there and so much more. It was spread out all in one setting and we immediately got down to business. For appetizers they had Thai-style fried chicken wings, fried spring rolls, and my favorite shrimp cakes! So yummy! 

We also had another one of my favorites - the Tom Yum. Spicy and sour soup with tiger prawns, mushrooms, kafir lime leaves, and lemongrass. This is always a winner and comfort food for me. Baan Pictory's kitchen prepared this perfectly together with the delicious shrimp cakes.

Lastly, dessert was the bomb. Traditional sticky rice with mangoes and coconut cream. Delicious, rich, satisfying, and a perfect end to a great dinner.

I think we literally had this everyday for the rest of our stay there. :)

Morning's at the resort were also enjoyable treats with a continental breakfast and Thai breakfast served buffet style. But what caught my attention was their version of our Filipino "arroz caldo". Their version is not that starchy, more like clear broth but with a heavenly burst of flavor with each spoonful that we really liked having it every day.

As we were already near Pattaya, we were granted a chaperoned excursion by the 2 owners and the big boss. We also stopped by their favorite French restaurant there which is right smack in that district but mind you, they served us really amazing food. We had steaks and fritters (mine cooked to medium). The steak was humongous but wonder of wonders I actually finished 3/4 of it until I called it quits and finishing 3/4 is quite a lot considering that it more than half the big plate. It was just pan fried and cooked with some sauteed onion garnish and it was amazing. The quality of the beef itself was the showcase of that dish.

One of our French hosts also got us to try his beef stroganoff and it was a lovely dish with very tender pieces of beef and beautifully cooked. The French do really know their food.

It was also during this night that I first got to try one dish I always dreaded to try for fear of it's taste or some other thing - the steak tartare. Can't get any more french than that. Pure raw beef. I dreaded trying it out since I cannot imagine having to eat raw beef but to my surprise I wasn't repulsed by it and I found it really nice. I just didn't get to take any photos of that lovely beef.

The food I had was amazing in Pattaya and the red light district was really a sight to behold. I think I will be visiting this region again.

Sawasdee Thailand!


26 February 2015

Ramen Fuss: My Ramen Nagi Tastexperience

Ramen places have been sprouting all over the metro like mushrooms. Nowadays we have a variety of really good ramen places to choose from as compared to a few years ago when the only ramens we could get where from the Japanese fastfood chains.

Ramen Nagi is one such example of a nice ramen chain which has come to our PH shores. Although it is somewhat a fastfood chain but the restaurant has it’s roots in Japan and is dedicated to serving a really good bowl of ramen.

Since they are mainly a ramen place, there are only 4 variations of ramen that customers can customize once you get there: Butao King (tonkotsu broth), Black King (garlic and squid ink combo), Red King (spicy), and the Green King (cheese and basil). For some reason, my favorite among the 4 is the Black King one. I love how it taste with all that squid ink and al dente ramen noodles. They also serve some side dishes that go well with a bowl of ramen.

As of this writing I have made many visits to Ramen Nagi since it turns out my friends also love it. Basically this is a rundown of what I have eaten there and what I recommend. By the way, they don’t allow take aways in all their branches and this is because they don’t want the quality of their ramen lowered down. I always think I cannot finish one big bowl but I really do. Blame it on that rich and flavorful ramen broth! :)

For our side dishes, me and my friends almost order the same thing. We had their Nagi Star Salad. This is a refreshing salad with lots of crunch. It is composed of sliced cabbages and lettuce mixed together with some crispy fried noodles and topped with some sesame oil and a secret Ramen Nagi dressing. This is a really rich tasting salad but it is really good.

Next up, always on the table is their gyoza. They serve them perfectly cooked and piping hot all the time and we all just love it. I haven’t been disappointed with their gyozas ever. Really crispy bottom and soft and tasty insides.

I have also tried their Chicken Karaage and it is just delish. Crispy and very flavorful and the meat is so juicy inside. Kids would love this.

Now when you take your seat at Ramen Nagi you are immediately given a sort of paper checklist of how you want to customize your ramen. This is also a feature which I like very much because you can tailor fit your ramen to suit your tastebud demands for the day. Also, you can order extras like tamago, green onions, noodles, and etc. They also have condiments in each table like pepper, sesame seeds, pickled garlic, and spicy bean sprouts.

The first ramen bowl I tried in Ramen Nagi was their Black King and I immediately fell in love. It is spicy and rich but not “umay” as some would call it. It is also yummy with Tamago. The garlicky and squid ink taste really does it for me. This ramen is very flavorful and rich and one that you should try! I make sure to sprinkle some sesame seeds on top as well. This is one that I really love. A favorite of mine.

I also did try the Butao King and while it is also tasty and delicious as well with the soft chasu slices, somehow I find it not as rich as the Black King which I like. The broth is very milky though and really good as well. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Ramen Nagi really has a simplistic approach to a bowl of ramen by just having 4 variants and sometimes they have another flavor they rotate but it is limited to certain months. Here you won’t be confused to what kind of ramen to order and also I think just by having4 variants that they would really do their best to serve it at optimum quality at all times. Do check out Ramen Nagi for a ramen fix. I promise it won’t disappoint.


19 January 2015

Hole-In-The-Wall Alert: El Chupacabra at Makati Avenue

Hole-in-the-wall restaurants are one of my favorites. They are great finds when it comes to good food without breaking your bank. One of my recent favorites is a Mexican inspired little restaurant along the busy streets in Makati avenue - El Chupacabra. They serve really good Mexican food and during the weekends, they are packed and you will need to wait for a table to become available because they have limited seating only.

My friend B was the one who introduced me to this little gem and I have been introducing it to friends as well because they really serve good food in here and you can just come as is. No need for a posh get up or whatever. Some of the seats they have are literally on the streets already because they just have a little space.

So one weekend I brought friend D, M, and their other friends and we had our dinner here. It was packed so we had to wait for at least 45 minutes to an hour to get a table but we had a good time and while waiting we ordered one of their signature dishes - Nachos Especiales. This was a huge platter of nachos with everything on it - beef, cheese, and etc. So while waiting at least we had these to munch on and friend M, D, and me had a little catch up moment before the rest of the gang arrived.

We also ordered some cheese quesadillas - Gringas and they had some carnitas in them. These were also delicious with coriander paste, salsa, and sour cream to complement the dish.

Tacos were of course a must-have. I ordered a Carne Asada taco. One was enough to satiate my stomach since they have a good sized serving and the nachos got to my tummy too. These were yummy and so good. Simple but really delicious food.

We also had some barbeque as well. We ordered the small sticks and the meat on the barbeque were juicy and so tasty. I love their barbeque here by the way. It’s really good and yummy.

Of course we ordered a pitcher of margarita as well to quench the thirst and we ended up with a good night. El Chupacabra is really a must-try place for anyone. They serve really good Mexican food without the huge price tag. The place has a very different vibe as well. It just evokes a very relaxed feeling from me whenever I am here.

Thanks to friend B who introduced me to this place! :)