15 October 2016

On The Tummy Spot: P.H.A.T Pho at Serendra

Ever since I had the chance to visit Vietnam a few years back, I have become a big-time fan of Vietnamese food that I try to eat it every chance I get but the quest for a decent Vietnamese restaurant here in Manila is not that easy. But there are a few here and there who can satisfy my cravings...

One of them would be P.H.A.T. Pho in Serendra. This Vietnamese joint is part of The Abaca Group of restaurants so I have high expectations and thankfully these were all met one Sunday lunchtime.

For starters I ordered one of my favorites - Goi Cuon with chilled shrimp. I can eat a handful of these in 1 sitting. These are rice paper wrapped rolls with vermicelli, peanuts, fresh herbs, daikon, carrots, mushrooms, and plump blanched shrimps with a nuc nam (sweet vinegary sauce - my fave), or the peanut sauce. I loved how it is so refreshing when you eat it and these ones from P.H.A.T. Pho were at least akin to the ones I had in Vietnam that just thinking about it makes me want to eat it again. I love these rice rolls!



My sister ordered herself the Saigon Baguette Banh Mi. A banh mi are the sandwich thingies in Vietnam. Very popular in Vietnam in the streetsides and everywhere, P.H.A.T. Pho's version pretty much stood up to its original counterpart. The baguette was crusty outside and soft in the inside. The sandwich layers had pickled vegetables, cilantro, cucumber slices, scrambled eggs, spring onions, cha lua, pressed meatballs, ham, and liver pate. The banh mi was so filling indeed and delicious as I was able to take a bite out of it.


Then we had P.H.A.T. Pho's noodle bowl-bun which was topped with grilled lemongrass pork and this was a bowl of amazing. Cold vermicelli noodles garnished with Vietnamese sausage, greens, cucumbers, crushed peanuts, daikon, pickled carrots, and fried shallots. This was just lovely! The pork was grilled just right and the flavors were amazing in this bowl. No need for rice, the cold vermicelli noodles were perfect. 


Lunch at P.H.A.T. Pho was great. I can't wait to eat there again! 

XoXo
EV

 

24 August 2016

On The Tummy Spot: Hole-In-The-Wall at Century City Mall

Just a few months ago, me and my other foodie friend SinfulBombs decided to meet up and explore a food place we had been talking about countless times. It was Hole-In-The-Wall at the Century City Mall in Makati. The concept was that of a cafeteria style common dining hall with several different food stalls offering different kinds of food and beverages. That alone got us excited because it meant we could try out different dishes in 1 sitting. (Yes, we love these kinds of eating places!)


So I went around and checked to see what kinds of food were being offered and finally decides on some of the Bad Bird's Corn and Coleslaw plate which had 2 pieces of chicken (you can have the spice level adjusted to safe, spicy, or chemical), corn on the cob (slathered with kewpie mayo, bonito flakes, cheese, and togarashi), and coleslaw. And since we were curious about the sweet potato waffles, we ordered them ala carte - 2 pieces of thin sweet potato waffles served with a dollop of luscious miso butter and maple syrup. 


We loved the umami fried chicken seasoned just right and really crisp on the outside but tender inside. The coleslaw was a perfect foil to the fried food plus the corn was just really yummy with the bonito flakes! I've heard the dirty rice plate is better so more reason to visit again.



Friend SinfulBombs had Mister Delicious’ Classic Corned Beef Reuben, a delightful stack of home made and chunky corned beef and sauerkrat, with a slab of emmental cheese and Russian dressing on rye bread. It was humungous to say the least and heavy. A sandwich meal indeed. We first paired our yummy eats with some refreshing craft ginger ale from Mister Delicious. It was I think around 750ml and because we liked it so much, we bought another bottle again after we emptied out the first one. Really a must-drink when in Hole-In-The-Wall.


Sister K came around after a while with the Mum and Z in toe and we ordered another batch of the Umami Bird's chicken plate plus another of Mister Delicious’ sandwich, this time the Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich - chunks and chunks of heavenly smoked pork, fresh coleslaw, and slathered with some tangy and sweet BBQ sauce. Another heavy sandwich masterpiece which the sister paired with ice cold coke!


Truly the Hole-In-The-Wall experience was a good one that this visit would be the first among many. They also have craft beers available in bottles and on tap in there. A nice place to just sit back and relax. There is a cookies and milk shop too for dessert and a healthy options stall for the green lovers.

XoXo
EV





04 August 2016

On The Tummy Spot: The Maisen Katsumabushi Tastexperience!

A few years back the Philippine Japanese restaurant market changed for the better with the addition of tonkatsu chains from Japan coming over and opening their branches here. I'd say they were very welcome additions for the foodie demographic. 

Some of the big chains are Yabu, Saboten, Maisen, Tonkatsu by Terazawa, and little mom and pop shops with authentic Japanese chefs or Japanese-trained chefs have also opened up their little tonkatsu places all over the PH. Needless to say tonkatsu is one of the many things I get immense pleasure from especially if the quality of the pork is great, the cabbage fresh, and the pickles lovely.

I think Maisen was the latest to open here with THE Ben Chan behind it and their first store opened in the posh Greenbelt location. 

One hot summer day when I was running errands and debating where to eat lunch solo, I decided to make myself comfortable at Maisen. I like the coziness of their interiors and the fact that when I was shown to my table, I was immediately offered either hot or cold house tea and a cold towel to refresh myself. I appreciate these little comforts. For me, it speaks about the thoughtfulness of the restaurant.


I was debating whether to get the Kurobuta tenderloin katsu set or just the plain tenderloin katsu set (which is what I normally get in tonkatsu restaurants) when I saw something interesting in the last few pages - one of Maisen's specials which was a Katsumabushi set. It included tenderloin bite-sized katsus over rice served together with dashi stock, onsen tamago, and a delightful variety of side condiments (sesame seeds, wasabi, and green onions) that I decided to just order it. I usually am quite visual with the food I order so this one caught my eye.


There are also instructions on how you can enjoy the Katsumabushi set so you needn't worry should you decide to try this out on your next tonkatsu craving. I tried to eat it in all the ways they instructed in the menu so I could figure out how I wanted to eat it. You can just eat it however way you want but the best one for me would be to put the rice and katsu piece in the bowl provided, sprinkle sesame seeds, dab a little of the wasabi, put some green onions, then pour the dashi stock on it. This was how I preferred it. One more thing I loved in this set was the Onsen tamago!! This foodie just has a penchant for eggs. ;)


I liked what I had here and I loved that the lunch crowd wasn't in yet so I got to enjoy my katsu in peace. Raring to go back to check out the quality of their other katsu sets to compare with my Yabu, Saboten, and Tonkatsu by Terazawa experience.

 XoXo
-EV-

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.

P.S.

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

XoXo
EV


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.  

XoXo
EV

 

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!

XoXo 
EV

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.

XoXo
EV