Maple
Once upon a time, there was a place called Maple and it was just one place and it was tucked in a mini-mall across a church near my house. Now, Maple has expanded to two other locations namely Alabang and Shangrila Plaza’s East Wing. I haven’t checked out the Alabang branch but I was invited by their good marketing folks to have dinner at Shangrila.

Maple
It was nice cause they told me I could go bring Carina which was perfect because before that night she hadn’t ever tried it. Here’s my photo of her with the feast we had. The food was served really quickly so we were eating all the entrees at the same time.

The photo above is also the only photo I have that features their tall glasses of Country Iced Tea (Php 105). I drink a lot so I loved how big the drinks were, it was really refreshing too and they came with big orange slices.

Maple
First up was the Texas Wedge Salad (Php 350) and I loved it for two reasons: sunflower seeds and blue cheese. The salad consists of a huge ice berg lettuce sliced in wedges, served with a creamy blue cheese dressing. I really enjoyed the crunch that the sunflower gave the salad as well as the spicy tang of the raw red onions.

Maple
Their Prime Rib Tapa (Php 520) is pretty much my Maple Staple. A slab of steak on a bed of garlic rice with two runny sunny side up eggs is the best meal for any regular human like myself with a voracious appetite. I order this all the time but I find that a lot of the time, they serve the steak on the rare side. Had to have this cooked again on both sides for a minute each to get it to medium perfection. Their marinade is on the sweet side which I’m fine with although I’d enjoy it more if it were spicy.

Maple
I ordered Black Truffle Pasta (Php 510) because I had no idea Maple even had pasta to begin with. Is this new or something? Was always too caught up with breakfast options to notice. To be honest, I thought this didn’t have a distinctly truffle oomph BUT it was really good in an expensive carbonara way. It was generously topped with prosciutto and had thick slices of picnic bacon all throughout. Tastes better than it looks, even to folks that don’t like cream sauce *cough* Carina *cough*. I’d definitely order this again but request for them to add more truffle oil.

Maple
Don’t let the name fool you. Maple’s Blackened Chicken (Php 450) is possibly the strongest dish in this roster. I ordered it once before but only appreciated it again this time around. It’s grilled chicken breast marinated in cajun spices served with blackened rice and creamy spinach. Can’t beat the flavor on this thing because everything just balances out quite nicely.

Maple
For dessert, they served us Apple Pie with Streusel Topping(P240). I was never the apple pie type of person, I’d always pick chocolate given the choice so I’d be the worst judge on this one. I tried it and it was alright. Carina said it would’ve tasted better if they heated the pie. I did enjoy the vanilla ice cream it came with!

Maple
Thanks a ton, Trixie for having us over! It was a great private dinner and we really enjoyed it.

Maple
Maple in Shangrila’s East Wing is also the only branch with a reading corner for the kiddos.

Maple
Maple
LG/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall, East Wing, Shaw Blvd cor EDSA
Wack Wack, Mandaluyong
(02) 477-8027

G/F Commercenter Alabang, Commerce Ave. Cor Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

2/F San Antonio Plaza Arcade, 50 Mckinley Rd
Forbes Park – North, Makati
(02) 621-6211

Like Maple on Facebook
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Hot Star - Philippines
It’s funny but just a few days ago I saw an article about Hot Star on my newsfeed. I’ve never been to Taiwan or anything but what really hooked me was their soft serve ice cream flavors. I mean, really, gulaman and almond (jelly) ice cream? I knew I just had to try it.

Hot Star - Philippines
The next day I get an e-mail from GeiserMaclang inviting me to sample the wares so I jumped at the chance. I had time for it, Pasay was relatively close and hey, this was an invitation to get a sneak peek of food I actually wanted to eat. This is a great example of a perfectly timed PR invite.

To be completely honest, I’m nuts about fried chicken and all I can say about Hot Star is that it’s basically chicken chop heaven and here is photographic proof.

Hot Star - Philippines
Hot Star Original Chicken (Php 110) – The classic. Good if you like it clean but wait til you try the BBQ.

Hot Star - Philippines
Hot Star Crispy Chicken (Php 110) – I don’t know why they singled this out as the ‘crispy’ variant considering that they’re all actually crispy. I liked this least because it was just peppery to me.

Hot Star - Philippines
The Hot Star BBQ Chicken (Php 125) was, in my opinion, the best of the bunch with a sweet soy glaze. Richard Chua, the owner, mentioned that the BBQ variant is actually the Original fillet with a special sauce.

Hot Star deceptively uses chicken breast for all their chicken needs. I say deceptively because I was never someone who actually enjoyed eating white meat but I kid you not, their fillets are juicy as thighs. They have these special secret preparation methods used to cut the breast a certain way to make them look as big as they are. I would think the chicken chop’s as big as Shaq’s hand! Considering the price point and size, it’s kind of really a bang for your buck.

Hot Star - Philippines
If you really, really like spicy food, they provide chili powder you can add to your meat. I wouldn’t suggest this though because it’s the kind of spicy that overrides the rest of your tastebuds.

Hot Star - Philippines
Richard mentioned that they really developed the Philippine branch from scratch. Pretty much everything on the menu sans chicken chops are special items exclusively for here.

Hot Star - Philippines
Yup, spaghetti. The ties that bind the local fast food market. Hot Star’s spaghetti reminds me so much of pizza. It’s like Domino’s spaghetti with no cheese. Quite peppery and not as sweet as I’d expect. I do hope they consider serving this baked with cheese.

Hot Star - Philippines
They serve Chicken Skin (Php 45) as a side dish option and a full order comes with 3 sticks like this. Absolutely deadly but worth the heart-attack.

Hot Star - Philippines
The Almond Smoothie was just alright in my book. It did taste like almond jelly but it was too icy to appreciate so I wasn’t fond of it. Different strokes for different folks.

Hot Star - Philippines
Highlight of my night!!! I finally had the chance to try their soft serve options. At just Php 15, they’re really worth it. I loved how creamy the almond ice cream was, the flavor was there as well. The black gulaman was just spot on. It’s just like eating sago’t gulaman in ice cream form.

Hot Star - Philippines

Hot Star - Philippines

The verdict? I think I would be eating at Hot Star a lot more if they had a branch in Makati. If you’re in the MOA area, give it a shot and you won’t regret it. If you some how just end up passing by cause you forget you want to eat there then at least try their ice cream. Good stuff. I look forward to when this place kicks off and expands.

Hot Star Large Fried Chicken
Blue Bay Walk (Across Blue Wave/Petron)
Diosdado Macapagal Avenue,
Pasay City
Open from 10AM to 10PM

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
I don’t update as often because I’m usually pummeled with shoots and work and whatever else but thankfully, last week, I found the time to sneak in a media launch. Pablo’s is your friendly neighborhood pub (with grub) tucked in the middle of BGC, right across where the old Par 43 used to be.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
Never was much of a drinker so I came just for the food. Here’s a photo of some bottles, just cause. One of the owners told me they have whiskey lockers that you can rent out and keep your drinks in for the next time around so not a drop is wasted.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
My friend Mikee and I got there a little late but they were nice enough to send some fresh appetizers over our way. The Pablo’s Chicharon Bulaklak (Php 250) was served to us room-temp which isn’t the best way to enjoy deep fried intestines. Taste-wise though, it was good and reminded me a lot of fried chicken for some reason. I would’ve probably raved about it if it were served fresh and piping hot.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
Pablo’s South American Wings (Php 360) were my absolute favorite of the bunch. Maybe I’m biased, I love wings. These were perfectly seasoned and juicy and buttery, can’t go wrong with butter. This is definitely something I’d come back for.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
For a steak this big, The Escobar (Php 998) is actually pretty affordable. It’s 400 grams of US Angus Ribeye served with buttered vegetables and a tiny scoop of mashed potatoes. Oh, and it comes with gravy.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
Asked for a medium rare steak and I thought this looked just about right. I’m really particular about steak and meat so to be completely honest, this is something I’d rather just cook up myself and eat at home. As far as Pablo’s is concerned, this was alright. I mean, if you’re craving steak and can’t cook for yourself, this is probably the most decent inexpensive steak I can think of at The Fort. It’s well-seasoned and filling but the meat isn’t as tender as I’m used to.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
If you want to hide from the rest of the pub, you can rent the secret Glenlivet room for a consumable amount of Php 20,000. Not bad considering you can invite as many people you want to split with and you can order 20k worth of whatever food and drinks Pablo’s has to offer.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
The Glenlivet room also boasts its own sound system apart from having cable tv so it’s pretty much tucked away and just there for you and your friends to enjoy.

Pablo's - The Forum, BGC
If you’re the kind of person that needs to pre-game before a night out, Pablo’s is perfect for just that. Make sure you come a bit earlier though if you’re looking for a quiet dinner cause I think at about 10PM, the DJ’s start spinning.

Pablo’s
2nd Floor, The Forum Building,
7th Ave cor Federacion Dr. (near 25th St.),
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Operating hours: Daily, 5pm-2am.
Contact #: 0916 6187045

LES Bagels
Hello again, world. I haven’t had the chance to update my blog lately cause of work and real life stuff but now I’m back and because I have a life, I can fill this page up again with some posts. I was with Carina today and she was telling me about this new bagel place at the Fort, she read about via Pepper.

LES Bagels
I’m pretty picky when it comes to bread and bagels are pretty whatever to me so I just went along to check the place out. It was around 8PM already when we were there, so unfortunately they were all out of the interesting bagels. We just had ‘plain’ and ‘sesame’ bread to choose from.

LES Bagels
I wanted to get the onion bagel originally so I didn’t end up ordering anything. Since Carina really wanted to try this out, she ended up settling with a Sesame Bagel with a Sundried Tomato & Basil Cream Cheese filling (Php 180).

LES Bagels
Naturally, I took a bite out of her order and thought it was just alright. The filling was generous and good but too simple for me to actually want to pay for. It kind of bothered me that the bagel wasn’t warm. I guess I’m not much of a bagel person but to be honest, I thought the cream cheese filling would’ve been perfect inside a hot pandesal.

LES Bagels

LES Bagels
We were alone upstairs so we thought it’d be fun to play with their mirrors.

LES Bagels
From visiting, I learned that if you order just the bagel, you pay Php 40 but if you decide to fill them up with any of their fancy cream cheese variations you’ll need to add Php 140. If you do decide to head over and eat, I suggest you go early so you’re there in time for when everything’s still in stock.

L.E.S. Bagels
Tuscany Residences
Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill,
Fort Bonifacio
Tel. Nos. +632-804-0423 or +63915-258-5685

The Cake Club
I’ve been to Cake Club a couple of times before but always just to grab a bite for dessert. I suppose they get that a lot with a name like Cake Club, it’s an instant hit when you’re looking for something sweet, obviously, cake. This week (edit: Last July), I was invited to an event especially for folks like me who blog about food. It was a Cake and Wine Pairing Night, hosted by the kind people from Sommelier Wines and the Diamond Hotel. But before we dove right into dessert and alcohol, they fed us a full dinner; favorites from the Cake Club’s set menu.

Yep, you heard me right! They serve savory dishes as well. I’ll reupdate this when I get a hold of the prices but yes, if you haven’t looked through their menu and only ever enter here when you want cake or ice cream or macarons then this is actual news for you.

The Cake Club
They started us off with French Onion Soup (Php 250). This was generally alright, I usually like my onion soup with a burnt cheese top. This particular dish was topped with a slice of bread and melted Swiss cheese that was stringy and chewy. It was a mess for me to eat but I liked that the broth was light and the onions were caramelized perfection.

The Cake Club
Next up was a salad known as the GM’s Favorite Salad (Php 250). The greens were nestled in a mini-Parmesan crisp basket which was a practical solution that packed a punch of flavor. In my opinion, that was the highlight of the salad.

The Cake Club
We were bombarded with a slew of main courses but I can’t complain. This is what a table of food bloggers looks like. Notice how everyone’s standing, moving dishes to opposite unused tables to get the perfect shot.

The Cake Club
I’ve always been really big on beef belly. So I was glad when an order of Slow-Roasted Beef Belly (Php 415) came out on a heap of brown rice. The meat was tender and had that melt-in-your-mouth quality, the fat was sticky with a gelatinous consistency. Pretty awesome.

The Cake Club
Mentaiko Spaghetti (Php 370) is basically this creamy Japanese dish with cod roe, naturally it tastes pretty fishy. I thought this was pretty good but could’ve afforded to be a wee bit fishier.

The Cake Club
Roast Chicken with Haricot Vert & Potatoes (Php 415) I distinctly remember enjoying the gravy here and thinking that the chicken was tasty and well-seasoned.

The Cake Club
Salmon with Rissoto (Php 455) Usually I’m a sucker for salmon and found nothing wrong with this dish. I liked how creamy everything tasted.

The Cake Club
Okay, so I’m not much of a fries person but when they brought out their Truffle Fries (Php 180), I was suckered in. These fries are absolute perfection, the truffle essence distinct.

DSCF6513
So the event was for a Cake & Wine pairing but since I’m not much of a drinker, I’d like to turn you all over to a guide on The Pickiest Eater for more detailed information on that. I really did enjoy all the sweets though,
especially the Baked Cheesecake.

The Cake Club
Been hearing good things about The Cake Club’s ice cream so when I told Melanie from PR about it, she whipped out some taste samples for us. Here’s a bite of their Salted Caramel Ice Cream which I thought was excellent.

The Cake Club
Made some new friends in this event, here’s Richie & Rina from The Pickiest Eater.

The Cake Club
Then here’s Melanie from The Diamond Hotel with fellow bloggers, Guia and Sumi.

The Cake Club
Me being a poseur with some wine + Spanky, who invited me to the event.

Apologies this post was so delayed it was in my drafts but I never got around to finishing the thing. :0 Had such a great time meeting fellow lovers of all things food, maybe I’ll bump into them again sometime soon.

The Cake Club by Diamond Hotel
2F East Block
Bonifacio High Street Central
Taguig
6213176

I remember the first time someone told me about Va Bene, I thought it was really funny there was this authentic Italian restaurant right by the gas station outside my village. I’m so used to thinking of convenience stores and the standard fast food joint when nourishment and gas come up in the same thought bubble. I mean, I did get a 1.5 liter bottle of Coke just three days ago when I loaded a full tank at Shell.

Va Bene Pasta
When you get to this particular Petron station, you’ll find that the commercial establishments are aplenty. There’s your standard convenience joint, a coffee shop, a yogurt place, cake shops, a ham store, a shoe repair shop, some fast food joints, a doctor’s office and lastly, Va Bene Pasta Deli, which arguably boasts some of the best pasta dishes in Makati.

Va Bene Pasta
I was there at lunch on a weekday and was greeted with a lot of empty tables. To me, this isn’t a bad sign, it just means I’ll probably get faster, better service. The space is small and the walls are adorned with numerous awards Va Bene’s received throughout its lifespan.

Va Bene Pasta
My childhood friend, Alex was here for work from Singapore and I hadn’t seen her for months so it was nice to catch up. I picked Va Bene not knowing that she stopped eating white carbs so that day had to be an exception.

Va Bene Pasta
For starters, we were served some bruschetta. This is a freebie everyone gets after ordering. This simple appetizer consists of bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil olive oil, and parmesan. It gets pretty addictive once you start eating it but because it tastes so fresh and light, you end up finishing it all and not feeling very full afterwards. This is a good thing assuming you have a big appetite and a full pasta order awaiting.

Va Bene Pasta
What sets Va Bene apart from other restaurants is that they make their own fresh pasta daily. The restaurant is run by Chef Massimo Veronesi who was the chef of Mi Piace Italian at the Peninsula for 5 years before starting Va Bene. Alex had the Blank Ink Tagliolini (Php 390) with seafood marinara in light tomato cream sauce. Despite breaking some diet restrictions, Alex was really happy with this dish. The servings were generous, there was enough pasta, sauce and seafood to fill her up. I managed to have a bite of this and thought it was excellent. I think the squid ink pasta gives the marinara a bolder seafood flavor.

Va Bene Pasta
Here’s what I always get: Organic Eggs Tagliolini (Php 390) with portobello mushrooms, white wine cream sauce and truffle oil. It’s basically my go-to truffle pasta. Whenever I’m craving that, this is the only place I want to eat it. Noodles are al dente, the cream sauce and mushrooms are a predictably safe albeit winning combo for comfort. It isn’t doused in truffle oil but the general whiff and subtle aftertaste is there. If you only need to try one dish there, it’s this.

I know a lot of people who are fond of their ravioli dishes but generally, if pasta’s what you’re looking for it’s really hard to order anything wrong at Va Bene. The only real issue I have with this place is that parking is so terribly difficult so hitch a ride with someone or commute so that doesn’t need to be a problem. If you’re looking for authentic Italian food on a fairly decent budget, Va Bene gives a bang for your buck.

Va Bene Pasta Deli
2/F Petron Gas Station, EDSA
Dasmariñas Village – North, Makati
(02) 556-9442

There was a time I kept seeing photos from Sunshine Kitchen come up on my Facebook feed. Always photos of friends, cross-posting via instagram. Only one thought filled my mind everytime I’d see them, WHERE IS THIS PLACE? When can I get my hands on that beautiful Pizza al Nero?

Sunshine Kitchen

Next thing I knew, I found out the place was just at the Fort so when Carina and I didn’t know where to grab dinner we just headed straight there. It was almost 10PM but a quick online search told me they were open til late.

Sunshine Kitchen
Of course, we ordered the 6-Hour Slow Roasted Porchetta (Php 480) to share. We decided we’d save getting pizza for another time cause we weren’t as hungry as we thought. Getting this was a no brainer, it’s basically an Italian lechon recipe and tough to get wrong. Problem was, I feel like we headed over at the wrong time. The meat was tender and tasty but the skin was hard and chewy. Far away from the experience I expected, peeling the skin off with my fingers and biting into it to find a resounding crunch. Maybe it was cooked at lunch, reheated in the oven and served to us at 10PM? I’ll never know but somehow I felt that this couldn’t have been right. The rice pilaf and green beans on the side were generous and good as well, keeping the Pinoy appetite in mind.

Sunshine Kitchen
Served with freshly baked rolls, the Creamy Crab and Shrimp Dip with Artichoke (P 380) was brought to us piping hot. I’m really particular about the temperature of my food so I enjoyed this. The serving was generous, there was a lot of crab meat, shrimp and artichoke in this and the bread was good. This falls into the category of baby food in my book though cause it’s pretty safe-tasting, comfort food too for someone who likes thick, cream based stuff.

I still keep reading rave reviews about this place and that’s enough to get me back in there. I’d probably go back at lunch just to get a decent serving of Porchetta. I’m getting curious about the stuff of dreams every other review I read on the internet talks about, the melt in your mouth tender meat paired with skin so crisp. I’d also like to give their squid ink pizza and Cabanatuan longanisa a shot. Til next time, I guess!

Sunshine Kitchen
2nd Floor, Fort Pointe Building,
The Fort Strip,
5th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio,
Taguig
Phone: 0929-813-9775

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