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I walked past D’mall, saw Hukad and found the vibe of the restaurant attractive. Their menu board was out and had reasonably priced Filipino food. I was attracted mainly to the PHOTO of their baked scallops slathered in butter as well as the freshly roasted Cebu lechon belly right by the entrance. I was so wrong and wasted both time and money eating here.

It was 11pm when we were there for dinner and there was just one other occupied table next to our party of 3. The service was terrible. The staff didn’t greet us when we entered and I had to call their attention to hand me a menu.

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When the food arrived, I felt totally ripped off. The baked scallops were so far from how they looked in the menu photo. What they served us were 8 pieces of pathetically tiny scallops – my thumbnail was bigger than the meat on those things. At Php 280 for a plate of 8, they came out to be Php 35 each. Yuck!!! It was absolute highway robbery!

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Here’s a photo of it next to a regular sized spoon for comparison.

Both the garlic rice and Cebu lechon arrived not hot, not even warm but just room temp like it had been left out for the last 30 minutes.

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Good thing we ordered the smallest order of Cebu lechon belly at 1/4th a kilo because this was basically a plate of fat with some bits of skin. This would’ve been fine if I wanted leftovers for some stray Boracay dogs but nope, I was expecting to eat this food. HELLO, what happened to the freshly roasting meat up front. This place is a joke. I know it’s a franchise from Cebu so whoever owns this should really manage quality control because it flat out sucks.

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The laing was the only decent part of the entire spread since it arrived warm (again, not hot). It was mediocre at best lacking in flavor. The next morning though, my friend got food poisoning the next day from this – she was all puke and diarrhea. Probably from the coconut milk they used, maybe this was old.

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I couldn’t take it anymore so I called one of the waitresses to complain. They heated up my lechon because they couldn’t replace it (I guess that’s the norm there. To serve a relatively cold plate of fat after baiting them with roasted meat out front). They replaced my garlic rice. I also asked if the scallops were really served that way to which she said yes. I guess they are aware they rip people off and this is how their business model works. Attract people with decent, modern branding and a nice, laid back, beach front ambience then rip them off by serving shit quality food.

If you find yourself in Boracay, avoid Hukad like the plague. I haven’t eaten in their other branches but since the restaurant scene is booming in the Philippines, there’s really no reason to waste your time in places like this. I should’ve searched for reviews online before even considering eating here. I hope those who read my review don’t make the same mistake I did. There are so many options to choose from in Boracay, don’t be fooled by the looks of this place.

Cable Car BGC
I knew Cable Car to be a drinking place for high school and college kids tucked along Pasay Road in the same building complex as Ukkokei Ramen Ron. Learned about it through friends cause of it’s epic beer pong battles. Being a non-drinker and full-on lola, I was never presented with the opportunity to give the place a visit until Aldous invited me to a blogger dinner there. Yep, a dinner! I didn’t even know they had food.

Cable Car BGC
I think the kind of food they serve here caters to a particular market and it seems to be targeted to young guys who enjoy their food with beer. I swear, everything they served here was full on dude food. It’s the kind of food that guys who don’t cook would probably think of cooking for themselves.

Cable Car BGC
We started with the Sisig Spaghetti (Php 199) which is as straightforward as it gets. Had my doubts about it when it got to the table but I was surprised to find that it’s a strange combo that works. The sisig was generous and crispy too.

Cable Car BGC
The medium Heartbreaker Pizza (Php 650) was served next. It’s an all-meat pizza topped with ham and burger bits. I thought it was on the sweet side.

Cable Car BGC
I thought the Sizzling Seafood Aligue Rice (Php 249) looked pretty interesting but it lacked a bit of flavor in terms of taste. I liked that the seafood toppings were generous but I think this is something you have to eat with meat. It’s a good fried rice base but it isn’t best appreciated alone.

Cable Car BGC
The Buffalo Chicken Rice Melt (Php 199) is drunken comfort food defined. This was a rich dish consisting of buffalo chicken strips, a creamy, cheesy sauce on a generous bed of white rice. This would be awesome if you were drunk and hungry.

Cable Car BGC
Last was the Truffled Tapa (Php 350) which proves to be an interesting dish. You can’t go wrong with Pinoy tapa, two runny eggs, garlic rice with a dash of that truffle essence. The serving for this was generous which is great.

Cable Car BGC
Here’s what it looked like when I mashed it together. Mmm…

Cable Car BGC
To cap the night off, they served us a cocktail each. The Punyeta (Php 110) is what we like to call a traydor or a traitor. It’s the kind of drink that goes down smooth, tastes sweet like juice but will get you smashed as ever once you keep drinking. I don’t drink much so I had a sip.

Cable Car BGC
Here’s a shot of the beer pong tables they have outside. I also saw another game synonymous to battle ship but a giant drinking version. Seems to be the perfect place for college kids to unwind. If you find yourself here and drunk, don’t hesitate to try their dishes!

Cable Car
G/F The Fort Strip,
Bonifacio Global City,
Taguig

2/F 822 Paseo Tesoro Bldg.
Arnaiz Avenue,
San Lorenzo Village,
Makati City

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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)

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.

Señor Pollo QC
Lets start with the aftermath. I ordered half a roasted chicken, two spicy rice sides, one patatas bravas and lechon asado. I obviously enjoyed this meal as did Kathy.

COLOR GRADING
I was in the Timog area that day because we were color grading the music video I did for Ang Bandang Shirley’s Nakauwi Na. It was the first time I was at Quantum and the whole idea of being in Timog excited me cause it meant I could finally go and try Señor Pollo. Here’s a quick flash photography portrait of what the color grading set-up looks like. The entire act takes a lot of hard work and it’s pretty tedious since you can pretty much manipulate colors in any part of the frame. Imagine, Photoshop in video form.

Señor Pollo QC
I was there since 3PM in the afternoon. We were working straight until the evening until we decided it was time to go look for food at around 10PM. Since I was reading up on Senor Pollo all day, I knew we were safe cause it’d be open til 1AM. Finding the place wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, when you’re on Tomas Morato heading straight for the Timog side, Scout Rallos and the F7 building would be on your left. F7 is a nice building with interesting dining choices like Purple Oven and Uncle Moes. The best thing about it? Valet parking. I didn’t avail of this service since there was a lot of space.

Señor Pollo QC
ON TO THE CHICKEN! Kathy and I decided on sharing a Half Order of Roasted Chicken + 2 sides (Php 299). For sides, we picked the Spicy Rice and Patatas Bravas. The chicken itself is served with chimichurri sauce and garlic sauce. We ordered an extra order of Spicy Rice since it was awesome and later found that it was the last batch of rice in the restaurant. Score!

Señor Pollo QC
Oh man, this was heaven. I mean, just look at it. Took my first bite and I was hooked. The chicken was tender and roasted perfectly, that fire roasted flavor was spot-on: hint of sourness from the chimichurri, the creamy garlic sauce and the chicken combined with the spicy rice.

Señor Pollo QC
So. After trying this and liking it so much, I thought I wanted something more. Just a chicken quarter wasn’t enough so I settled on ordering Lechon Asado (Php 200) as well. This was good too but the chicken was way better. I thought the pork was too fatty.

Señor Pollo QC
Aaron and Gen followed shortly and enjoyed their meal as well. Too bad there was no spicy rice left when they arrived.

Señor Pollo QC
We were all happy campers. It was everyone’s first time at Senor Pollo that night.

Señor Pollo QC
Here’s a shot of the menu for reference. Compared to the old reviews I used to read, they seemed to have increased their prices. I can’t complain since they seem to be doing well for themselves. I remember leaving a bit before midnight only to find that they’d already run out of chicken to serve.

Señor Pollo QC
The waiting staff is great too. Knowledgable, polite and just pleasant overall. I drink a lot of water and I really liked how they were sensitive to that cause despite the fact the place was packed, my glass was always full. Can’t wait to be back! Hopefully I find myself in the area soon.

Señor Pollo
F7 Building, Scout Rallos Street,
Tomas Morato, Quezon City
0917-833-1033
Open til 1AM

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