Sweet X Manila
I’ve been meaning to try Sweet X for a while now. I’d see photos their food on my instagram feed, hear rave reviews about onion rings when I’d bump into random friends but I never did get the chance to swing by until Aldous invited me to sample the wares at a blogger dinner.

Sweet X Manila
I really like how straight-forward the place is. It’s open, pay as you order and pretty much self-service. There’s a whole lot of parking space which is great – by my standards and the menu isn’t cluttered. They serve burgers, wings, sides and milkshakes and that’s pretty much it. Price point’s pretty good just between Php 140 – Php 230 for everything on the menu.

Sweet X Manila
The fries came first and these were made of real potatoes. I could tell by the skins. These were fried to perfection, crisp outside with a wet hot center. Found these to be a tad salty so I asked the staff for garlic aioli to eat with it. Yummy.

Sweet X Manila
The wings come in 4 flavors and I was lucky to sample 3/4. They all cost Php 220, whatever you get. That’s Soy Honey on the right and Buffalo on the left with some garlic aioli in between. Didn’t try the Soy Honey cause there was one order for 9 people. The Buffalo was great, had a nice spicy kick to it and they were crispy even with the sauce. I hate when wings get soggy after getting sauced up. Served with garlic aioli, it was nice but it’d be even better if they had blue cheese to keep it classic.

Sweet X Manila
Honey BBQ was nothing special. The chicken was fried perfectly but the sauce is the typical American BBQ you’d prefer to taste when chowing on baby back ribs. Take my word for it.

Sweet X Manila
Saving the best for last, their Sriracha Lime Wings are absolutely awesome. This is a taste I want in my mouth forever. Just imagine the combination: SRIRACHA + LIME. It’s spicy, tangy, crispy and juicy all in one unforgettable combo. I know I’ll order this every time I’m at Sweet X.

Sweet X Manila
I’m usually a sucker for onion rings but I kid you not when I say these ones rank pretty high on the charts. The batter is light yet crispy, it’s lightly seasoned and combined with their garlic aioli it’s an absolute knockout. Ordering this always.

Sweet X Manila
I’m not gonna lie. When they served us the Cheeseburger (Php 170), looks-wise it wasn’t mouthwatering attractive. I’m not much of a burger person but I thought this was pretty good. I had the sandwich open faced and I generally enjoyed the taste and quality of their beef. It’s your basic cheeseburger but it’s done just right.

Sweet X Manila
For dessert, I got a Strawberry Shake (Php 160) because they were all out of Green Tea which I was curious to try. Most of their milkshake options were rich, chocolate-based flavors so I wanted to stay away from that. Based on the shake I had, the consistency was nice. It wasn’t fat and thick like melted ice cream and it wasn’t sickeningly sweet.

Sweet X Manila
If you’re craving for some really good chicken wings, a decent burger and kickass onion rings, I suggest you head on over to Sweet Ecstacy. It’s really worth the visit. I’ll definitely be back for those wings.

Sweet Ecstacy
10 Jupiter St. cor. Asteroid St.,
Barangay Bel-Air
Makati

Universe Gastrolounge
I haven’t been too present in the blogosphere but once in a while, I get to sneak out of work and try new places with fellow blog-folk. When Aldous invited me to join and sample the dishes Universe Gastrolounge, I just had to be there.

Universe Gastrolounge
I learned that Universe was Opus re-branded, owned and managed by the same group. Never went to Opus so I have absolutely no point of reference BUT I did know that Chef Aracama handled food so I had great expectations. (This is because of the time I had a shoot at Republiq and they fed us Korean Steak Tacos which were awesome. So I asked the waiter who the chef was and he said Aracama and I was loyal forever.)

Universe Gastrolounge
When I stepped in I thought Universe looked pretty cool. It had a comfortable lounge vibe with exposed brick walls, those neon scripty lights and a huge chalk wall. We were about 6 bloggers there so it was an intimate event with a whole lot of food. I didn’t get to try everything and since there was just so much but so I’ll write about the stuff I particularly enjoyed in more detail.

Universe Gastrolounge
I don’t particularly enjoy white bread but I liked the Black Bikini. It’s a grilled sandwich with prosciutto, truffle jam and cheese. This is something I’d want to recreate at home.

Universe Gastrolounge
We were served other sandwiches too like the Patty Melt and the Monte Cristo Benedict. But since my bread quota was up, I just had the potato chips and garlic aioli.

Universe Gastrolounge

Universe Gastrolounge
For starters, we also had Chicken Cobb Salad, Mixed Mushroom Dip and Patatas Bravas.

Universe Gastrolounge
I was surprised to find that they served sushi! First non-Japanese place I tried that dished out sushi.

Universe Gastrolounge

Universe Gastrolounge
Featuring the Electric Eel, Futo Wacky and the Crunchy Caterpillar.

Universe Gastrolounge
When it comes to pizza, I feel that the ones with the fewest ingredients work best. The Italian Sausage pizza they served was topped with just crumbly Italian sausage and roasted garlic – all soft and paste-y.

Universe Gastrolounge
If you’re into more American flavors, the BBQ Chicken pizza was alright as well.

Universe Gastrolounge

Universe Gastrolounge
We had the BLT (Bacon, Linguine & Truffle) Pasta as well as the Linguine Vongole. I don’t know why but I honestly don’t enjoy linguine noodles so I thought that the pasta was just OK.

Universe Gastrolounge
For mains, I thought the best thing they had was the Café Rep’s Crispy Bagnet Pork Belly which was served on a bed of kimchi rice with lechon sauce. I could eat kimchi rice with anything but honestly, the bagnet was a winner. Easily the best dish on the menu.

Universe Gastrolounge
Hesitant to try the Meatloaf and Gravy at first, my curiosity got the best of me. It wasn’t half bad. Paired with the mashed potatoes and gravy, it felt like eating a block shaped burger steak.

Universe Gastrolounge
The Boneless Beef Riblets tasted exactly like the chicken on the BBQ Chicken Pizza so like I said, if you’re really into the American BBQ taste – go for it.

Universe Gastrolounge
Dessert was a favorite for everyone, I think. The Trailer Park Monte Cristo is a deep fried, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. This doesn’t look like much but it was so good I had to stop myself from devouring the entire plate.

Universe Gastrolounge
They served us the Banana Foster Sundae as well which I didn’t get to try cause I was already guilty for having the Monte Cristo. Looked good though!

Universe Gastrolounge
If I found myself back at Universe or in the midst of friends who just want to go out and party, I’d take comfort sitting out and eating. They don’t call it a Gastrolounge for nothing.

TAMBAI
I love BBQ. The simplicity of cooking raw meat over fire and eating off a stick just appeals to me and it’s precisely why I think Tambai is pure genius – the perfect marriage between yakitori and Pinoy barbecue. It was my first time there tonight and I’m definitely going back.

TAMBAI
First thing’s first, I spent about Php 700 without even noticing and that’s a lot for a meal I ate on the street. I eat a lot though so sue me. The menu is as straightforward as it gets. There’s the regular yakitori and its jumbo brother, the laki-tori. Meat prices range from Php 20-40 for the smaller sticks and Php 120-180 for the bigger ones.

TAMBAI
Ventured out with my grade school buddies Gia and Mikee (she took all the photos here) to catch up. It was everyone’s first time which was great cause we all got to experience it together.

TAMBAI
Thought a cold beer would go well with the sticks so I had a bottle of Brew Kettle (Php 45) which is reputed to be the Filipino Hoegarden. I found this to be true. Someone once told me they sold bottles of this in 7-11. They’re not on display so you need to ask for them specifically. Under the table kinda thing.

The first thing I tried when I got there was the US Beef Isaw Yakitori (Php 40). I don’t really like isaw so this was kind of a daring move on my end. Taste-wise it was good but I really couldn’t get over the texture so I had a bite and moved on.

TAMBAI
Since I got back from Korea, I’ve been obsessed with kimchi rice so I order this every chance I get. Tambai’s Kimchi Rice (Php 50) is too good for words. It just hits the spot and that’s all I can say.

TAMBAI
It’s also best paired with the US Beef Short Rib Lakitori (Php 180). When I go back, this is all I’m ordering. This and the kimchi rice. The meat’s tender and well seasoned and it just made me love beef more than I already did. One wasn’t enough so I had two and I don’t regret it one bit.

TAMBAI
I got two more lakitori sticks – the US Chicken Leg (Php 120) and the US Pork (Php 120). Yakitori’s typically chicken so I enjoyed this, being on the more traditional side with the teriyaki glaze. The pork was bland and on the tough side so it’s not something I’d recommend.

It was a random Thursday night when I visited but the place was packed. Head over early or just prepare to eat standing up. Have the US Beef Short Rib paired with the Kimchi Rice and tell me what you think.

Tambai
5779 Felipe Street,
Poblacion, Makati
(Across El Chupacabra, right next to H&J)

Feels weird to write about anything else but food on this space but I’m going to give this a shot. I’ve been wanting to expand the blog a bit more and write about other things (not limited to stuffing my face) so here’s me writing about something else I really love: shoes.

SHOES
If you’ve known me a while or if we’re close, you’d figure out shoes are really my weak spot. I used to be terrible and just mindlessly splurge until I gave myself some rules (I’m only allowed to buy when I’m abroad now). I’m a boring shopper to be honest but I’m probably any marketer’s dream. I’m the kind of person that buys the same thing in different colors. I sure hope writing about this will help me curb my consumerist greed.

SHOES
I only used to wear Adidas for football when I was playing varsity back in college. I’ve always gravitated toward classic styles so I thought the Adidas Gazelle OG would be perfect. I wear gray pants a lot so I don’t know why I bought gray shoes. Either way, I am happy with how this fits and how slim the silhouette is.

SHOES
Gazelle’s are surprisingly comfy despite being thin along the sole. They look good with absolutely anything. You could pair them with pants, shorts, a dress, a suit, whatever and they’d still look cool. That’s why classics are the best pieces – you can dress them up and dress them down.

SHOES
I’ve been preparing for a tennis tournament so apologies to everyone around me but I’ve been really obsessed. Of course I found a way to sneak this in. I went through a lot of tennis shoes, I would just get Nike before but found that they’d break easily. Adidas looked cool – I had the Barricade – but they were just way too heavy. So when I went to Japan, I thought to try on some Asics for a change. Now, I use the Asics PRESTIGELYTE AC and they’re the best tennis shoes I’ve ever owned.

They’re lightweight yet well-padded and the Gel technology makes me feel like I’m walking on clouds even while in the court. AC stands for ALL COURT by the way so whether you play on grass, clay, shell or hard courts, you can use these. There was no break-in period for these guys so I highly recommend Asics to everybody. They have great running shoes too.

If you’re looking for Asics, I know Zalora’s pretty well stocked. They don’t have tennis shoes but for running, futsal or volleyball they have a wide range of different sneaker styles. I’ve got my eye on the Onitsuka Tokuten but it’s a shame they ran out of my size.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

When I got home from Seoul, my mom said “Mukhang yinakap mo lahat ng aso doon ah! (looks like you hugged all the dogs there)” to which I said, “I love them all and I love Korea because they love dogs”. I couldn’t leave without visiting a dog cafe. We found Bau House accidentally on the way back home from trying to locate a famous Korean BBQ restaurant that ceased to exist, close to the Hapjeong station. Through the window, we saw a neat looking cafe with lots and lots of happy dogs so we said we’d be back.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

And back we were. The nice thing about Bau House is that it’s a big cafe with two divisions. Up front is where the small dogs hang out and out back is where the medium to large size dogs are.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

So here’s the drill, to hang around the adorable dogs, each person has to order at least one drink and with that you can stay as long as you want. The drinks are about 8000 won (about $8) and even if they’re pricey, they’re actually pretty good. Liana and I had a Banana Yogurt Shake while Carina had a cuppa coffee.

Bau House Dog Cafe - Seoul

The dogs there were all pretty sweet, they go up to you, sniff you, beg to be pet and sit on your lap. The dogs also mostly speak Korean but once in a while you’ll meet one who responds to ‘sit’. When we got there, these two dogs flocked to Carina to sandwich her.

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When I’m in another country, the first thing I do is look for a convenience store or a grocery to explore. I could spend an entire day at the grocery, noting the differences in produce, learning about the things that fill up their shelves. I wonder about their local fruits, how their meat looks, the kind of fish available, the spices and mixes, the ready-to-eat section and of course, the snacks. Convenience store shopping is something I do almost ritually when I’m abroad. It’s sort of become this obsession to discover the next awesome foreign snack or drink.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds

I gage how affordable staying in a certain country is based on how much they sell a liter of mineral water at the convenience store. In Seoul, a bottle costs 900 won which is equal to Php 36. I learned that on day one. Not bad.

They have a whole lot of different convenience stores in Seoul and each of the stores have a different selection. The one closest to us was 7-11 but there’s also GS25, CVS CU Later, Family Mart, Mini-Stop, etc. It never ends.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
I tend to gravitate towards Yakult-like drinks everywhere. Among the three I tried, this was the absolute best. Unlike Thailand and Japan, Korea doesn’t serve their probiotic drinks in bigger bottles. This was about 500 won.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
Wasn’t hot on kimchi until I found this inside a GS25 freezer – Spam with Kimchi Fried Rice for about 3500 won.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
After 3 minutes in the microwave, you get all of this junk. Beautiful. It was such a perfectly honest dish, I scarfed down the whole thing for breakfast while Carina was in the shower. I find this frozen meal to be great because it delivers what it promises. It’s simple and straightforward and that’s what I like when it comes to food. You get a generous helping of Spam with a possibly pedestrian tourist friendly version of Kimchi rice. Nothing too sour or aggressively spicy, just enough.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
This trip’s new discovery – Samjak-Kimbap, also popularly known as Onigiri in Japan. Samjak-Kimbap is basically triangular shaped Korean fried rice, wrapped in dried seaweed (nori). These go for about 800 won and come in different interesting flavors. The ones I tried and enjoyed were the Tuna Kimchi Rice, Fire Chicken Rice, Jeonju Bibimbap, Chicken Galbi Rice and Beef Galbi Rice. In some shops, the wrappers didn’t have any English translation so we’d just hope for the best.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
Seoul has a great instant noodle selection and since I’m more drawn to instant pancit than I am to instant ramen, I decided to get my staple: Paldo’s Bibim Men. This is both sweet and spicy but not in the overpowering way that you can’t taste anything else. This was 1200 won in 7-11.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
The serving’s big, noodles are perfectly bouncy. And you can find this in SM grocery stores in Manila for about Php 38. Go try it please.

You might be wondering why I didn’t go and try other pancits in Korea. I actually did once but it was just too spicy I failed to document the entire experience. I kind of died not being able to feel my tongue cause. My basic tourist tip is to avoid black and red packaging with chillis on them if you don’t want your mouth to burn.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
We were fortunate enough to have a kitchenette in the apartment we were renting so when we were at HomePlus, one of the bigger grocery stores in Seoul, we bought two bags of Bibigo Korean Royal Court Dumplings at a buy one take one deal for about 7000 won. There were about 20 dumplings per bag so this was practically a steal.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
Carina boiled them to perfection and we had them for two days worth of breakfast. These dumplings tasted like a mix between gyoza and kuchay dumplings – pork with chives but with noodles in them. Yummy. We ate these with no soy sauce but they were still so tasty.

Seoul Mini Mart Finds
It was cold one day so I opened the ‘warmer’ (aka opposite of a ref) and pulled out this interesting looking drink. I’m guessing it’s Black Soybean Milk. It was comforting and tasted like a combination of black sesame and soy milk.

That concludes this post. I thought I took more photos of the other things I ate and drank but I guess I decided to ‘live’ more than I remembered to document. I suppose that is a good thing? Tell me about what you eat when you’re abroad? Which country has the best probiotic drink? Japan’s Bikkle still takes the cake for me.

Paras Birthday

For Tita Ginger and Tito Dading’s joint birthday celebration, they opted to treat us to a fine home-cooked lunch. Tita Ginger is my mom’s sister and also one of the finest cooks I know. She understands food on a highly technical level and I notice that what she makes is forever evolving. When she calls to tell me she has mastered prime rib, I know we’re all in for a spectacular meal.

Paras Birthday

I got to lunch a bit late so I barely reached the Chili Con Carne for starters. Luckily, my ultimate favorite – Spicy Tuna Sashimi – was there and there was a lot of it to go around. Tita Ginger’s version of this strays a bit from Sugi’s but is just as tasty. It doesn’t have the usual tempura crumbs; the little wonton bowls they come in give its needed crunch.

Paras Birthday

The Green Salad with Candied Walnuts, Fried Onion and Raspberry Vinaigrette looked really good and was. But I didn’t touch it because I was saving precious stomach real estate for steak, spinach au gratin and cake.

Paras Birthday

More sides! Mashed potato, corn on the cob and creamed corn were present. There was also pasta with sundried tomatoes and black bean garlic sauce topped with green onions and Parmeggiano Reggiano.

Paras Birthday

The star of the show was the Prime Rib Au Jus. Lovingly cooked to perfection, I enjoy my steak pink and a wee bit bloody served with the roast’s drippings. Tita Ginger’s steak could rival any restaurant’s and it’s definitely the kind of prime rib you’d be happy to pay for.

Paras Birthday

The crust was nice and tasty – salt, cracked black pepper and garlic perfectly coating the sides of the steak. The beef itself was tender, beautifully marbled and flavorful. I enjoyed eating this so much, savoring every bite.

Paras Birthday

I realize looking back at my photographs from the weekend that I have zero photos of the Spinach Au Gratin. It was so mind-blowingly awesome I just ate it all and forgot I had a camera in the first place. I don’t know about anyone else but I think the perfect siding to a juicy Prime Rib steak is creamed spinach. I told my tita this and even if she hadn’t ever made creamed spinach she said she’d give it a go and came up with this. It was so good. I just don’t know how else to describe it. One of my titos even said he could eat the spinach as is, with rice. If that isn’t convincing enough, I don’t know what is.

Paras Birthday

When we were all full and busy digesting it was time for dessert. There were freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, pomelo slices (the healthy choice) and of course, Tito Dading’s favorite, the San Marcos Cake (Php 700).

Paras Birthday

So funny I forgot I had the San Marcos cake two years ago, Tita Ginger even showed me an old blog entry to prove I did. I had two slices that day just cause it was deceptively light even with the creamy icing.

I really appreciate our family gatherings when someone cooks, we get together and just share a meal at home. I prefer it to eating out just cause everything tastes better and there’s no pressure to rush to leave. Plus, eating at home means you can go back for seconds and maybe even have leftovers for the day after.

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