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If you’ve been my friend for a while, you’ll know I’m crazy about milk. This is not a paid advertisement. I just am. When I travel, I always hit 7-11 to sample the local dairy. This is how I know Bangkok serves Yakult in 1L bottles. This is how I know Japan’s dairy can be both light and so creamy. Spain’s Cacaolat and Hong Kong’s Kowloon Dairy made me realize that milk tastes better when served in a glass bottle (vs the typical carton). So yeah, enough of that.

Cocio
Cocio is here and it’s nothing short of amazing. It’s an old favorite from Denmark, may well be the best chocolate milk in the world and by an unbelievable stroke of luck, it’s available in the Philippines.

What I like about Cocio is its simplicity. They use just 3 ingredients: sugar, milk and cacao. There aren’t any additives so everything sinks to the bottom and you have to shake it well. I don’t like mixing and shaking stuff so to me, the gratification is delayed yet well deserved.

Cocio
There are two variants: Classic and Dark. I’m particularly fond of the Classic for its balance. It’s light, creamy and I can drink 3 in one go if I’m feeling really fat. It’s not overpoweringly sweet yet the cacao still stands out which is what I love about it.

Cocio
At the launch, they said the Dark variant was exclusive to the Philippines. If you’re looking for a bold, full chocolate taste, this is the one for you.

Cocio
Out of curiosity, I tried mixing the Classic and Dark and heating it up. Something light and subdued melted in with bam in your face chocolate and I was sold. I dub thee The Clark and I suggest you try it this way. Double best.

For all interested readers, Cocio should be everywhere by now. Some friends of mine have spotted it already in Family Mart and Landmark for starters and the rest should follow suit.

Cocio
Thanks to Jiv and the kind folks over at GeiserMaclang for inviting me to the launch. Non-required reading but here’s what the folks at Vice Munchies had to say about Cocio too.

Cocio
Have you tried Cocio yet? If you have, which do you like better? Or are you weird like me and prefer the made-up Clark?

It’s strange but I’ve been visiting Osaka yearly for 3 years now and I find that sukiyaki shops are hard to come-by. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of restaurants and food everywhere – but the thing with Japan is that most (if not all) restaurants just serve the same kind of food. If you want sushi, you go to a sushi place, ramen shops will only have ramen, katsu shops will only have katsu, you get my drift. I always stay in the Shinsaibashi area which is just walking distance to Dotonburi and Namba – and I don’t know if it’s just me but sukiyaki restaurants are few and far between. There seem to be a lot of shabu-shabu Japanese hot pot places but nope, not a lot of sukiyaki joints.

The first time I discovered Syabuya Sukiyaki was on one of the last few days of my trip last year. I was hell bent on eating sukiyaki and lo and behold, a google search came up and lead me straight to the mall – Namba Parks.

Sukiyaki Namba Parks
Tried both the Japanese Beef Lunch Set (¥2,037) and got Imported Beef on the side just to try. The lunch set comes with everything in this photo but since it’s a set, this is pretty much your whole meal.

Sukiyaki Namba Parks
I never ordered the Imported Beef again – as you can tell by the photo it’s lean and barely has any marbling.

DSC04113
Their menu is pretty straightforward. You pick if you want Sukiyaki or Shabu-Shabu. Beef or Pork? Japanese beef or US beef? Do you want to eat a set or unlimited? When you pick the unlimited option, everyone in the table has to get the same thing.

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
I went back with my family and we all got the Unlimited Japanese Beef Sukiyaki Set (¥4,298). This comes with unlimited everything – beef, rice, raw egg and veggies. It’s a steal at Php 1570 if you ask me cause you’d be hard pressed to find unlimited sukiyaki this good at this price point anywhere in Manila.

DSC04115
Just a closer look at the Special Japanese Beef. Check the marbling on that thing! It’s embarrassing to admit but I think we finished twelve of these trays total. Sulit na sulit! Lol.

DSC04116
It’s a full plate but enoki is all that matters. They served us about 4 small extra plates of enoki.

DSC04114
If you’ve never tried sukiyaki, it’s basically a Japanese hotpot stew. You start by letting the soup (soy sauce, sugar, mirin) boil, slowly adding leeks and some onions for a bit more flavor then when it heats up, you dip thinly sliced beef in and swish until it cooks.

DSC04119
What really sets this dish apart is the quality of the meat. Because prep is so simple, the ingredients really do stand out. Just by looking at it, you can tell Syabuya’s Japanese beef is top-notch.

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
Swish til it’s brown!

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
When the meat cooks, you dip it in in a separate bowl with beat raw egg and eat it. You can have it alone or with Japanese rice or noodles or tofu or veggies. I particularly enjoy eating it with rice and sometimes enoki. Dipping it in raw egg is a must. It enhances the flavor, adding a creaminess to the bold taste of the meat and the sweetness of the sauce. It just balances everything out better.

DSC04121
This is all the natural oil that came from the fat in the beef. The soup had zero oil in it, just had to take a photo for reasons unknown.

DSC04122
The aftermath. Thankfully they remove the trays of beef every time they see them empty otherwise our table would have a little tower.

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The bill!

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Sukiyaki Namba Parks
The restaurant is located at the 6th Floor of Namba Parks – it’s in the area where all the other restaurants are so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

Syabuya Sukiyaki
しゃぶしゃぶ食べ放題 しゃぶ家 なんばパークス店
Phone: 06-4396-1729
Namba Parks 6th Floor, 2-10-70,
Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku,
Osaka-shi, Osaka, 556-0011
Menu & More Info from Gurunavi
Click to see their Japanese calling card!

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
I’ve been eating in Sandaya for almost a decade now. It’s the family’s go-to spot for a great Yakiniku dinner. We’re creatures of habit and when we like a restaurant, we go very frequently and end up ordering the same thing. Sandaya’s always been a staple for us and for the longest time I thought I already wrote about it but when I did a quick search today I discovered I haven’t yet. This was so weird to me it’s like a bunch of aliens hacked my blog and deleted it or something I could’ve sworn I’d written about it before.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
Anyway. We just get about 5 orders of CAB Angus Beef Boneless Short Ribs (Php 350 each), a cup of rice each and a side order of kimchi and we’re done.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
We were too excited about the kimchi so this was taken in the midst of the meal.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
I think other than the fact they serve really good beef, their dipping sauce sets them apart. There’s this red paste type sauce (I think its gochujang) and then there’s this light soy sauce based sauce that you mix together. I ask the waitresses for minced garlic to mix in with my sauce for the ultimate one-two punch combo for bad breath. So I mix 2 parts red sauce with 1 part brown sauce and grab a chopstick’s grip worth of chilli and there’s my sauce.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
When I eat in restaurants where I have to cook my own food, I like to pace myself and eat slowly. It’d suck to get full fast and get sick so you might as well soak up the family time and conversation.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
Sandaya’s charcoal grills fire up quickly so cooking is fun and convenient. They give you tongs too so you don’t need to touch the raw meat with the same chopsticks you feed yourself with.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
After you grill it to perfection, you fish it out of the grill, dip it in the sauce and take a big bite with some rice.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
I like it with the fat burnt crisp around the edges. It’s also nice that they don’t slice their beef too thin so it’s still nice and juicy when you bite into it. Other restaurants slice their meat so thin that it shrinks so much when you end up cooking it.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
I highly recommend this place. If you’re feeling carnivorous and want to be satisfied, make that reservation ASAP and you won’t regret it. I have yet to find a yakiniku restaurant in Metro Manila that can top Sandaya. What’s the best yakiniku restaurant you’ve ever tried?

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
The best thing about Sandaya? Your clothes don’t smell like food after eating there. I kid you not.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
Ralph’s is right under it so you can do an alcoholic grocery run after.

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
Drive slow when you’re on Pasay Road aka Arnaiz Avenue and watch out for the red sign. Or Ralphs! Or The Love Garden! You’re there!

Sandaya Yakiniku - Makati
This must be the place! Climb the stairs to the 2nd floor and enter this dark door.
Sandaya Yakiniku
Right on top of Ralph’s and The Love Garden
2nd Flr. Colbella Bldg.
910 Pasay Road
Makati City
Phone: 8932039

Operating Hours:
Mon – Fri 17:00–23:00
Sat – Sun 11:00–23:00

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.

The Wholesome Table
The Wholesome Table is this new-ish restaurant at Bonifacio High Street Central that serves organic, all-natural food. The general trend in eating these days is to go ethical – which basically means that we should think about the moral dimensions of what we’re consuming. Don’t eat at the earth’s expense. Carina and I decided to grab dinner there last Saturday to see what the hype was all about.

Honestly, the menu was overwhelming and there were a lot of interesting options I wanted to try. I was bent on ordering the meat loaf but Carina laughed so hard in my face so I retracted. Who orders meat loaf anyway? I know it sounds funny but the description sounded great – mashpo and all.

I decided to go all out. I thought, I’m at this organic restaurant might as well get something vegan. I got one of the two vegan options on the menu, the Vegan Burger (Php 390).

The Wholesome Table

When the order came, it was massive which is something I was really happy about. What I didn’t like though was that the patty was served to me at room temperature and that it was under-seasoned. As you probably might remember from my past entries, I’m not hot on bread so I had this burger open faced. Taste wise, I liked the onion jam a lot. I think it made the dish OK. The patty was crumbly and didn’t stay in place very well, it didn’t help that it didn’t taste like much either. Maybe I should’ve gone with the meat loaf.

The Wholesome Table
Carina didn’t feel like having meat that night either so she ordered the Vegetarian Bolognese (Php 490). I honestly wouldn’t call this bolognese, I find the name to be deceptive at best. They used tofu in place of ground beef which I felt really worked for this dish, they got the texture down perfectly so I did not miss traditional beef. What was lacking in this bolognese though was the tomato sauce… No trace of the red sauce, nope. I wish they just named this dish Cheesy Cream of Tofu Pasta since it was slathered in cheese and white sauce. This was better than the burger but also under-seasoned, some black pepper did the trick.

The Wholesome Table
All the smoothies in this restaurant come with a hefty price tag at about Php 250 on average. Carina had the Be in Bliss (Php 250) which contains carrot, orange, coconut meat, banana, mango, pineapple and lime. Sounds like a whole lot but when we tried the smoothie, we couldn’t taste the eclectic blend. It was pretty good though, blunt, not too sweet.

The Wholesome Table
I was looking forward to dessert. The first and last time I ate at Wholesome Table, I just caught up with friends and had panacotta which I liked. This time around I wanted to sample some of that organic duck egg Creme Brulee (Php 150). I was really excited too because I had the best leche flan in my life in Pampanga and it was made with duck eggs. I thought this would be at par. I was so wrong. This was the worst thing I ordered that night. The creme brulee was rough and dense like tamago, a far cry from custard. It was obviously overdone.

Overall, the Wholesome Table is still in the soft opening stage so I don’t know how much will change in the coming days. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing. I don’t know but to be honest, I enjoyed the ambiance of the place, everything it stands for and I like it in entirety conceptually – what was on my plate though begs for improvement.

The best thing about the place was that the waiting staff is commendable, they really knew their way through the menu and were so easy to deal with. I liked that they were attentive. Maybe I’ll be back when the hype is gone and see how things improve when they’re in full swing. It’s still too early to say.

The Wholesome Table
UG/F Bonifacio High Street Central, 30th St cor 7th Ave
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Phone: 867-0000

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

When I’m craving good Korean food, only one place comes to mind and it’s always Korea Garden. I’ve been there so many times through the years and it’s weird just thinking that I never got around to writing about it til now. It’s been around as long as I remember and they just have one big branch in Jupiter St, Makati.

Korea Garden w Isa
Just last week I was there twice; on Sunday for dinner with my family and again with Isa and Carina for a big free lunch thanks to Isa’s mom. If my memory serves me right, Isa’s grandma moved to Manila in the midst of war for love. She is also Korean and an amazing cook which explains why Korea Garden exists and why it’s been around for so long.

On to the food! Since I ate there twice in a week, I’d like to include the dishes I had for both occasions. When I was with my family, we ordered the staples, things we usually order when we’re there. But at lunch with Isa and Carina, Isa’s mom ordered more interesting dishes for us, things that probably don’t come to mind first-hand when you think of Korean food; a bulk of them I actually encountered for the first time.

Korea Garden w Isa
Always the main event. The Korean Beef Stew (Php 370) here is unrivaled and I don’t think I’ve tasted anything better than theirs. Time and time again my mom has tried recreating the dish at home, it’s always good but it’s just not the same. Korea Garden’s beef stew just tastes like it’s been boiled for hours with meat so tender, it just falls off the bone. The broth is bold and boasts a spicy after taste. It’s also best appreciated with a steaming cup of white rice.

Korea Garden Sandy
Another staple for us is the Chicken Kui/Spicy Chicken (Php 330) which we all attacked before I could sneak a photo in. It’s marinated in this sort of chili paste before getting grilled. It’s simple but it’s the kind of taste you look for every once in a while. They use chicken thigh fillets for this which is a plus because I love dark meat.

Korea Garden Sandy
I’ve always preferred Kalbi Cui (Php 430) to bulgogi just because I think short ribs just taste better. It’s kind of sweet, marinated with a soy sauce base and grilled. It’s tender and something I have to order every time I’m there.

Korea Garden Sandy
Chapchae (Php 310) is Korea’s version of pancit. Safe to order for the kids considering how subtle the tastes in this dish hour. It’s made with sweet potato noodles which are bouncy and have a slippier texture, mixed in with some veggies and beef.

Next up, we have dishes from the time I went with Isa and Carina. Not mainstream like the first batch, most of the food I tried with them that day, I just tried for the first time. I enjoy getting exposed to new food especially when I find that they’re really good.

Korea Garden w Isa
Here’s something I ended up loving but wouldn’t have had the guts to order myself. Yuk Hue is basically Korean steak tartare. I hadn’t ever tried steak tartare, never thought of it or had the chance to order it but hey, this was surprisingly really, really good. You mix it all together well before having a bite. The ground beef is already perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper, sesame oil and leeks before you mash in the jicamas and egg yolk. It was refreshing because of how cold the meat was but boasted such genuine flavors. Something I’ll most likely order the next time I’m there.

Korea Garden w Isa
We were served an assortment of pancake dishes as well. Admittedly, I’m not really a pancake person but I gave these guys a shot. Above is a photo of the Pajeon which had seafood and a lot of green onions.

Korea Garden w Isa
We also tried the Bintaetok, a mung bean pancake. I really couldn’t tell the difference between either but they were both alright. Again, not a pancake person!

Korea Garden w Isa
This gorgeous spread is called Gujeolpan and it reminded me so much of peking duck for the sheer fact of needing to enclose meat and veggies in a wrap. Once a dish for Korean nobles (I tell ya, it’s presentation), how you eat this is basically cram everything or whatever you want in a wrap and dip it in a sweet soy sauce before biting. Patient people or people who like sandwiches and wraps will enjoy this.

Korea Garden w Isa
We also had this Samgyupsal with Beef Tenderloin which was just alright. I find that the Pork Belly version is much tastier and easier to eat cause the pork’s easier to bite off. For those who have never eaten this and want to, I’ll save you from the awkwardness of not knowing how to properly eat this. First, take a lettuce leaf, put a piece of meat in it along with some raw garlic, then slather on the ssamjang and take a bite.

Korea Garden w Isa
Look at this! It’s got tuna sashimi. I learned that this cold noodle dish is called Hwe Naeng Myeun made with a really spicy thick, chili sauce, vermicelli noodles, tuna sashimi and veggies. I felt so refreshed eating this but it’s the kind of spicy not everybody can handle.

Korea Garden w Isa
Carina loves spicy food as much as I do but this, she couldn’t eat. I enjoyed this a lot, it had different textures and was tons spicy I couldn’t eat it without sipping water after a couple of bites. Really good though.

Korea Garden w Isa
Dates for the day!

Wow, that was a lot of food. Bottom line is, Korea Garden’s where I go when I need a good Korean fix. Been eating here for years and the food’s always consistent and I know this because I only always order the same things. For those of you who haven’t ever eaten here, where do you go to get good Korean food? I’m curious.

Korea Garden
128 Jupiter St.
Bel-Air, Makati
(02) 895-5443
Operating hours:
M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, Su: 11:30AM – 2:30PM
M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, Su: 5:00PM – 10:00PM

Three days ago, I went to The Village Tavern in BHS Central to celebrate their first anniversary with other folks in the media. It was my first time there and to be completely honest, before I got their email invite I hadn’t ever heard of the place. I also learned that the restaurant was a franchise from the US. Interiors are spacious with a whole lot of tables and lights are quite dim, far far away from the rundown look of a typical tavern.

The Village Tavern

We were all served 7 entrees in total and I was seated in a table with 5 other people since I didn’t know anyone there. The upside was, I got to meet other nice people who enjoy writing about food. The downside? Sharing single-serving entrees with like, 5 other people. That was hard.

The Village Tavern
For starters, they sent out two full-size servings of Crispy Clams with Spicy Lemon Dip. Loved the spicy, sour dipping sauce but I’d appreciate the dish more if they used bigger clams. These ones were so small I couldn’t even fork them. They were pretty good though but best eaten with yer hands.

The Village Tavern
Next up was this huge salad which was quite alright as well but kind of lacked dressing. It’s called the Fully Loaded Romaine Heart and consists of romaine lettuce served with bacon, red onions, tomatoes and topped with a bleu cheese dressing.

The Village Tavern
Roasted Bone Marrow‘s kind of a really in dish these days but I was still glad to see it on the menu. An interesting thing head chef, Josh Boutwood did here adding some apple cider vinegar dip to the picture.

The Village Tavern
Typically, bone marrow’s served with bread and herb salt which they did here. The acv dip gave it a kick though that took it to a wholly different dimension. Forgot to mention, there was fried parsley that came with the dish as well but I didnt think it made much of a difference.

Ok, just so everyone knows, the next few dishes I am posting were split between me and 5 other adults so I basically only had a little taste of each.

The Village Tavern
This is a Pan-seared Atlantic cod fish cooked with Spanish chorizo, garlic served on a bed of roasted potatoes and caramelized onion. Wasn’t such a fan of the texture of the fish, since it was dry and rough. What was under the fish though was a different story. The chorizo, potato and onion combo was delicious. We enjoyed every single bit of it sans fish.

The Village Tavern
This is the 35 oz Tomahawk steak in all it’s glory. This was presented to us for photographic purposes only. If one were to order this, I suggest it’d be best to split this between just 3 people. An average serving of steak is 8 oz, this one’s just 35 oz and you have that huge axe handle to consider in terms of weight. Be warned.

The Village Tavern
Here’s the Tomahawk, served to our table of 6. We had half a strip each, it was kind of sad. Imagine, strangers splitting half a strip of steak with each other. In all honesty, this really wasn’t anything great. Meat was lean and it didn’t have the melt-in-your-mouth quality you look for in a steak. Also, it wasn’t served to us hot. Probably was the display steak we all photographed divided by all tables. Served with mustard which I didn’t try cause I wanted to get a bite of just the meat to judge its bare quality.

The Village Tavern
Again, divided into 6 this was the last of the main dishes and it was seriously the best. This sous-vide rosemary infused rack of lamb was wow worthy. So good, I was upset I had to share with 5 other people. I mean, really, I could’ve gobbled up two of these myself just cause it was that excellent. The lamb was perfectly pink, tender and easily slipped off the bone served atop a bed of mash potatoes. In the sous vide bath for 2 hours, I could really taste the rosemary in every bite. I only had 3 bites though so I’m definitely coming back for this.

The Village Tavern
Dessert came in the form of a Frozen Lime Souffle. Yup, we all split this. This tasted interesting, the sorbet in the middle didn’t even taste like a sorbet. It was refreshing, a nice palette cleanser.

I don’t have the prices up for this post cause these new dishes all weren’t priced yet when served to us. I think these guys will start showing up on the menu next month so head there for some lamb when you can cause that’s what I plan to do.

Village Tavern
(2nd floor across Jamba Juice)
7th Ave. corner 29th St. South,
Upper Ground Floor, East Superblock
Bonifacio High Street Central
Mobile: +63 949 761-6258
Operating Hours:
Sunday to Thursday, 11.00am to 11.00pm
Friday to Saturday, 11.00am to 12.00mn

DISCLAIMER: Opinions and photos are mine. Food was free but if you read the whole thing, it’s obvious I’m completely honest. I’d like to thank the Bistro Group for hosting us that night and Perkcomm Inc. for the invitation.

Yesterday, my family and I had lunch at Grace Park for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect, given that I always thought it was going to be some Korean restaurant when it was still boarded up. I was happy to find though that it’s Gaita Fores’ newest business venture which reflects Italian-Filipino farm-to-table, organic food.

Grace Park
The menu was light and clipped to a recycled piece of cardboard. Skimmed through it quick and knew I wanted the Muscovado Beef Belly so that’s exactly what I got.

Grace Park
For starters, we had Fried Field Mushrooms with Asiago Cream (Php 280) which I thought tasted rather bland without the dipping sauce. The mushrooms were deep fried in what resembled tempura batter and I thought the cheese sauce balanced it out quite well. This was just okay probably not something I’d order again. I’d rather take my chances on the Baked Chicharon which we didn’t get to try.

Grace Park
My brother had some Cauliflower Clam Chowder (Php 225) which was creamy and had big clam pieces. Wish it came in a bread bowl though, those are always the best.

Grace Park
Mom got the 3-page Salad with Honey Dijon Dressing (Php 220) which she liked. I didn’t try it so I can’t say how it tasted.

Grace Park
Before I talk about my food, I’d like to post photos of other people’s food. Here’s a shot of half an order of Fettuccine Truffle Cream Pasta with Organic Egg (Php 550) which was my lola’s. It smelled really awesome from across the table, magic truffle oil.

Grace Park
My brother got Chicken Parmigiano (Php 510) which I didn’t get to try because I didn’t ask him and I guess I just generally wasn’t in the mood for tomato sauce. Yes, I like run-ons. Now what.

Grace Park
My cousin got the OMG Burger (Php 795) which is like, OMG so expensive for a burger. It’s got double beef patties, a thick slab of bacon, a lot of cheese and this unique bread I don’t have the chops to identify. Tell me what it is, the top bun looks like it has dinosaur scales. It was pretty darn yum but nothing mind-blowing and in all honesty, with my own money, I would not pay for a $20 burger.

Grace Park
Here’s my order, Muscovado Beef Belly (Php 510) and it came with some roasted potatoes and greens. I looked at photos of this online and saw cherry tomatoes, was a tad jealous I didn’t get those but I was too hungry to ask. Ate there on a Sunday and service was particularly slow even if we were one of the first to arrive there. I had my food in around 45 minutes. So yeah, I was starving.

Grace Park
The belly was generally tender in parts but the bottom layer was kinda stringy, chewy and just didn’t have that melt-in-your-mouth quality you generally expect from slow-roasted meat. I thought the muscovado glaze was unique and tasty and appreciated the caramelized onions atop the beef, wish there was more though since I’m kind of an onion fiend. I’d probably order something else next time since I prefer Cibo di M’s catered Beef Belly to this one.

Grace Park
Since Grace Park’s a pretty new restaurant, I think some entrees are kind of hit or miss so I’d give it a little more time before going back. Service was efficient but rather slow. I say this because they were quick to refill our glasses but when my lola asked for some parmesan to go with her pasta, it literally took forever to the point that I had to walk to the bar to get it myself. Over all, I loved the look of the place and the concept though so I’ll be back to try their other stuff. I think for the quality, prices are reasonable.

Grace Park
beside Bizu
One Rockwell,
Rockwell Drive,
Makati

Open 11 AM to 3 PM and 6 PM to 10 PM
(0939)-93-GRACE
PLDT: 843-PARK (7275)

Wrong Ramen
I heard about Wrong Ramen months ago from Dwight (of Pepper.ph) when it was still in its planning stages and now it’s up and running. I’m glad that there are people in the country toying with different concepts for restaurants and the fact that the food culture in Manila really is growing. I think people are more open to the experimental and experiential nature of eating which is precisely why restaurants like this exist!

Wrong Ramen
Wrong Ramen is pretty straight forward about what it is. They have posters upstairs which echo their philosophy and one of them asks this question: “Would you rather do right ramen wrong? Or wrong ramen right?” Definitely, wrong ramen right. I enjoyed the Dan Matutina art, the posters and the scrabble tiles on the walls. The interiors and how they fixed the place up is worth noting, it’s super cute. On to the food!

Wrong Ramen
My mom got the Wrong Ramen Tantanmen (Php 395). Carina wanted to get the Sea Men Ramen (Php 345) but they didn’t have it that day so she got the Tantanmen as well. They were both pretty happy with their orders. I tasted it and liked that the broth was full and nutty except I wanted it to be spicier. Right now the menu describes it right, their Tantanmen really has a spice kick you only get as an aftertaste. Absolutely loved the combination of the ground pork with chashu bits. I liked it so much that when Carina and my mom were full, I dug through their bowls for the leftover meat. Comparing this to Ukkokei’s Tantanmen, nothing beats that still.

Wrong Ramen
Wanting to get something “wrong”, I braved an order of the Buffalo Chicken Tsukemen (Php 445). Generally, I really like buffalo chicken so I didn’t think this was much of a risk. Tsukemen’s what they call dipping ramen and in this case, I had a buffalo sauce soup base to dip my pepper coated noodles and chicken karaage in. The soup base had bits of bleu cheese floating up top. I tried the soup first and it got the buffalo flavor down pat, perfectly Franks Red Hot Wings in a consistency welcoming enough to swallow as a somewhat sour soup. I tried the noodles alone and they were perfectly al dente, bouncy as it should be. I liked the karaage on top, it was good and fried to a crisp. Only issue was, I found the karaage so little maybe 2 more pieces would’ve been perfect.

Wrong Ramen
I didn’t really treat this as a dipping ramen cause I found that when I dipped the noodles in the soup, the pepper just got lost in the broth. I’d scoop the soup up first, fill the spoon with rolled noodles and take a bite of my karaage. I thought this was perfectly executed but it’s really not for everybody. I can’t say I’d order this again because biting into my mom’s order made me wish I opted for a more traditional ramen instead. It’s just a preference kinda thing. Kudos though, they pulled this off.

Wrong Ramen
For starters, we got the Enoki Fries (Php 150) just cause it sounded so interesting. These were really good but I couldn’t seem to appreciate that these were mushrooms. They were light, peppery and salty, just a nice fried little snack. I don’t know if it would’ve made much of a difference if extremely thin potatoes were used. I imagine these would taste amazing as onions too.

Wrong Ramen
When they asked what I wanted to drink I asked if they had any Calpis water. They said they didn’t but towards the end of our meal they brought out some home-made Calpis shots and Kitkat. Gah, calpis is so good and refreshing it reminds me of a combination of Yakult and Pocari Sweat.

Wrong Ramen
I think Wrong Ramen‘s definitely the kind of place you should check out if you’re looking to try something new. If you want hardcore authentic Japanese food, this isn’t the place you’ll get it so don’t expect that. To me, it was worth the visit and I’ll be back soon to try the rich version of the Wrong Ramen Tonkotsu (Php 380). I think that’s their flagship dish.

You’ll find Wrong Ramen at between the Apple store and the skate shop in Burgos Circle, Fort Bonifacio. If you need more info or want to make a reservation, call 823-8249.

Disclaimer: I am friends with the owners and the meal I had was free. I’m completely honest with my opinions here and I wasn’t paid to write this.