Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When in Japan: Ichiran (Best Ramen Ever)

Why do we always love the things bad for us? I am not talking about drugs or anything illegal. One of my addictions is ramen. The sodium in a bowl gloomy weather must have is one of my top 5 favorite dishes and a trip to Japan is nothing without indulging in a bowl or two. And so when R and I spotted a ramen shop with a long queue outside, we just have to line up and find out why locals (and tourists) line up for it. 

Hello, Ichiran!
I have read about Ichiran online and all articles say that it is one of the best ramen joints in Japan. Knowing this made me so excited to order a bowl. I asked R to share a bowl with me since I wasn’t that hungry but he was; so we decided to go with one bowl each. And it was a good thing we did as sharing was not allowed. 
Before entering the dining area, we had to line up to place our order from the ramen vending machine. There was only one type of ramen with a handful of add ons to choose from. You could also adjust the richness of the broth based on your preference. I went with no spice with a lot of spring onions, a bit garlicky, firm noodles and with rich broth. R went with the same but with mild spice. A bowl cost about JYP800-1000. The machine also takes our payment in return of food stubs which we have to give the servers inside. 
I was surprised that the dining area inside was the Japanese individual dining booth type. I have been dying to dine in one for the longest time! (No wonder sharing was not allowed.) R and I managed to get seats beside each other. Yay! <3
While waiting for our ramen, our shelled tamago (egg) was served. We were still dazed from the experience that we didn’t think of removing the shell while waiting. 
Our ramen arrived next and it came in a rectangular ceramic bowl with lid. Upon lifting the lid, the ramen looked very simple yet unexplainably mouthwatering. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

First Bite: Papa Diddi's

I still vaguely remember the first time I visited Papa Diddi’s (which I have yet to blog). And just when I thought that Papa Diddi’s is all about cold treats, I came across its Sapphire Bloc branch and found out that this daddy can whip up savory dishes as well. 

Hello, Papa Diddi’s!
Unlike its cramped Maginhawa branch, Papa Diddi’s Ortigas branch is a lot more spacious and had more interesting interiors. Just look at that book chandelier! 
I passed by the area at bit past 9 p.m., coming from an event hosted by Real Living magazine, hungry and craving for something warm and filling. 
After a few minutes of flipping the menu pages, I decided to go with Champorado and Bagnet (PHP199) because I’m a sucker for breakfast dishes. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

First Bite: Samba

Shangri-La chain of hotels has been known to offer superior services. These past years though, the spotlight has been on its dining establishments. From the well loved Heat, Senju and Summer Palace of Edsa Shangri-La to Inagiku of Shangri-La Makati, tastemakers have grown to be fascinated with the new additions Canton Road and Raging Bull of Shangri-La at the Fort.  And late last year, a new restaurant was added to the list and it is designed, just like the others, to give us a gastronomic experience worth remembering.

Hello, Samba.
This Peruvian restaurant on the 8th floor of Shangri-La at the Fort, may seem to be a bit misplaced at first given that Canton Road and Raging Bull are both on the 3rd floor.  However, one would understand why this restaurant is placed there upon stepping in its al fresco dining area.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hunt for Tiramisu: UCC Café Terrace

It all started with a few reviews raving about this tiramisu from a  classy pizza restaurant. It sure made the rest of us curious and went to the said restaurant a few days after. And sadly, some of us went home disappointed as the tiramisu didn’t have the flavor or texture they were looking for. So what makes a tiramisu spectacular? Well, for one, it has to be chilled, soft and moist. The espresso and liquor should also not overpower the chocolate taste of the dessert. With these in mind, the looloo gang started a hunt for the best tiramisu. Our first stop: UCC.

Hello, UCC Café Terrace!
UCC was deemed as one of the top places to buy tiramisu. Our expectations were high as UCC in general is a good restaurant and serves delectable dishes. 

We ordered two orders of Tiramisu (PHP220 each) for sharing. J and R also ordered coffee to kickstart the day. 
While waiting for our desserts, R’s Kori Kohi was served first and it looked interesting. The coffee was frozen and turned into iced coffee cubes. In order to enjoy the drink, you have to pour some warm milk. And R loved the drink! I will definitely try to make some at home. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm in Lava again with Lava Cheese Tarts

It has been a while since I last dropped by Lava for my cheese tart fix. I try to avoid it as I’ve had a lot during Christmas break. But when my tummy craves, my whole body follows.  And so, I found myself in front of Lava one early afternoon.
Hello again, Lava Cheese Tarts!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First BIte: Providore Backyard

It was just a few months ago when Providore delighted my tummy with its superb Bone Marrow Burger. I had a quick chat with A, one of the owners of Raintree Restaurants and I got an insider info that they plan to open an al fresco dining area to serve early morning meals and after work drinks. And last February 8, Providore Backyard, finally opened.

Hello, Providore Backyard!
The chic white shed, faux grass and bar were the first things we saw as soon as we stepped out of the air-conditioned section of Providore. Not only does the set up recreate a “backyard look”, it also exudes a very homey and relaxed ambiance perfect for that well deserved nightcap.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Restaurant Love: Chaya

A trip to Chaya is always one of the things that excite me whenever R and I visit Baguio. Discovering this hidden gem along Legarda Road has been one of our fondest Baguio memories. Just thinking about its superb sashimi and sukiyaki make me drool for hours. And a few months back, we decided to escape the scorching Manila heat and headed to Baguio one rainy Friday late afternoon. As we reached Baguio with grumbling tummies, we couldn’t think of anything else but Chaya. 
Hello again, Chaya! 
Unlike our first visit, the place was packed with locals and tourists alike. As we were expecting to hear the dreaded phrase, “we’re full and could not accommodate you”, we were ushered to the back part of the restaurant which happens to be a dining area as well. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

When in Baguio: Arca's Yard

Baguio is one of my go-to places when I need to relax, unwind and get fat with strawberries. Thanks to TPLEX, our trip to the land of ube halaya and cold breeze has been cut in half. Since then, I’ve visited Baguio a lot more but I always miss the opportunity to visit Arca’s Yard due to scheduled hibernation. But I finally managed to drop by this picturesque restaurant before bidding farewell to 2016. 

Hello, Arca’s Yard!
This place has been highly recommended by a handful of food apps and reliable foodies. My smile was that of Cheshire Cat (from Alice in Wonderland) when I found out that we’ll have lunch there on New Year’s Eve. Worried that we might not have seats, I sent the place an SMS to reserve us a table for six hungry individuals. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Love at First Bite: Visco's Restaurant and Cake Shop

We all know that Baguio is the land of strawberries and anything strawberry. There’s strawberry taho, strawberry sorbetes and even strawberry sinigang. But let’s not go crazy and talk about savory strawberry-flavored dishes. Let’s stick with desserts, particularly shortcakes. And by shortcakes, I mean, Visco’s.

Hello, Visco’s Restaurant and Cake Shop!
I’ve been reading a lot of great reviews about this cake shop along Upper Session Road for years. However, R and I usually avoid city center whenever we visit Baguio as we’re both not so fond of traffic, worrying about parking and crowd. The foodie in me could not take it any longer though and wanted to take a bite of the famous shortcake to know if it really is one of the best in the country. With frustrated tastebuds, I asked R and his parents if we could pass by the bakeshop one evening after dinner for me to buy a slice or two. And they said yes! *twirl*

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

First Bite: Wok2Go

In order to survive in Manila, one must learn to move and act fast. And with the intense daily struggle with city traffic, we are challenged to do several tasks at the same time. Thankfully, a new food concept understands our need to be always on the go and three brilliant minds thought of Wok2Go.

Hello, Wok2Go.
This refreshing concept by Kim Garcia, Marc Soong and Angie Mead King located at Venice Grand Canal Mall is designed to allow its diners to enjoy its savory dishes while being on the move.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love at First Bite: Bamba Bistro

Our third Aguirre stop is a well-loved restaurant that is known to serve really good pasta and other comfort dishes. And I have to say this now (or forever hold my peace), this was my favorite stop in Aguirre. 
Hello, Bamba Bistro!
The small restaurant has a very warm ambiance that reminded me of La Creperie. There are only a few tables inside and we had to wait for a group to bill out before being accommodated. 

It took a bit of time though (and it was also humid outside) so I asked if we could take the two small tables by the window. The server tried to put the small tables together but given the tightness of the space, she struggled. We then just decided to wait for the table inside the main area but placed our orders beforehand so that we do not have to wait longer. We ordered Duck Ravioli (PHP495) and Huevos Flamencos (PHP210).
We were ushered to our table right after it was cleared and soon, our appetizer was served.
The Huevos Flamencos came in a small clay pot placed on a wooden plate. The chorizo, ham, ground beef, stewed tomatoes combination topped with egg was delicious. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

First Sip: Black Canyon

I have been hearing that there’s a café in McKinley that offers one of the best milk teas in the metro. Since R and I were already in the area, we decided to head to the popular café to try some of its talked about drinks. 

Hello, Black Canyon!

Black Canyon is located along the strip of restaurants in Tuscany so it is easy to spot this cafe. 
It had simple no frills interiors and the counter was the first thing you’ll see once you step inside. You may opt to order in front or have one of the wait staff approach you. 

I went with the bestseller Cha Thai Yen (PHP120) while R ordered Matcha Green Tea Glacier Frappe (PHP180). We also ordered a bowl of Taro Balls in Coconut Cream (PHP78) as dessert. (We just had lunch at Nihonkai Tsukiji when we dropped by this shop.)

While waiting, R and I took advantage of the free wifi and charged our phones while we catch some Pokemon. 
Our bowl of taro balls was served in less than 10 minutes and it made me realize why it was cheap. The bowl used was small and if you have a  big appetite, you could eat this in two mouthfuls. Taste-wise, it wasn’t that impressive. 
It had a faint taste of taro and the coconut cream didn’t help much. I was also slightly disappointed as I was picturing something like bilo-bilo or rice balls. It was my bad though to expect such from taro balls which was more mushy than sticky. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

First Sip: Deété Organic Café

What happens when two corporate slaves get to visit the concrete jungle of Makati filled with new food finds? They go crazy. And that was what exactly happened to R and I when we visited Century City Mall after a filling Indian feast. We filled every inch of our tummy with food and capped the night at one of the newest coffee shops in the mall.

Hello, Deété Organic Café.

We wanted to enjoy a hot beverage to help us digest all the food we ate and thought that it would be a great idea to stop by this place before heading home. It was already almost 11pm when we got here and we were welcomed by jolly servers. 
Deété has a lot of drinks to offer and it took us quite a while before we finally settled with Green Tea Latte (PHP140, 12 oz) and Black Tea Latte (PHP130, 12 oz). At first, we were unsure if we should get the warm or cold version of these drinks so we asked the barista for recommendation. And he gave the funniest reply. He said that he loves cold drinks and it solidified his fats. It sure made us order warm drinks.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

First Bite: Wasabi Warriors

Wasabi Warriors caught my interest when it first opened on the ground floor of the posh The Gramercy Residences. This Japanese sushi place exuded a cool vibe as I’ve seen the local “it” people raving about Wasabi Warriors’ rolls. And when it opened a branch in Serendra, I went to look at its menu and was surprised that its rolls are quite affordable. For a sushi place that started in a classy building, I had the impression that it would be pricey. I’m not complaining though as more affordable prices mean more food! 

Hello, Wasabi Warriors!
This small well-lit Japanese joint was the first stop of our sponsored Good Food Tour and I literally ran towards this place right after work. Luckily, they were still serving miso soup when I got there. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

First Sip: Recession Coffee

The pay what you want scheme doesn’t seem to be a very sound business model and it takes a lot of guts to implement one here in Manila. And to have multiple branches with such payment scheme takes more guts than when Maximus Decimus Meridius fought for his life when he was pitted against a tiger. Anyway, you get it; pay what you want empowers the customers to pay whatever they feel like for what they are getting or ordering. And with great power comes… abuse. Some would pay way below than what is expected. The upside though is that since it’s unconventional, it gets attention. 

Hello, Recession Coffee
I first heard of this café when it opened its first branch in Eastwood. A few foodies posted their experiences with some being pleasant and some ending on a sour note. I took note of the common thing I saw in each post… that the coffee was just so-so. The stingy bone in me wanted me to muster the courage of just paying PHP1 for my coffee; but I simply couldn’t if I were to buy a cup on my own. And so, when I dropped by its newest branch in S Maison, I ended up paying PHP20 as my next smallest change was PHP500 and I don’t want to ask for PHP499 as my change. (Well, it was a crisp bill.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

First Bite: Privatus Dining by Radical Culinary Inc.

The term fine dining never fails to scare my wallet as it always sounds so expensive. But I was proven wrong by a few establishments, one of which is Privatus Dining by Radical Culinary Inc. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to go to this restaurant as the location seems to be a bit off from the usual roads I take. But reading the beautiful write up of Esquire about this foodie destination made me think otherwise and soon, I found myself in front of the restaurant (which happens to be very easy to spot as long as you have your Waze on). 

Hello, Privatus Dining.
Located at the second floor of EMPro compound, we were greeted by sophisticated modern industrial interiors enveloped by warm yellow lights.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Freezer Burn's Latest Flavor: Lemon Chicken Ice Cream

We fell in love with Freezer Burn since it launched one of the weirdest desserts, Ketchup ice cream and Fries. Such unique and never heard of flavor raised eyebrows and made some dessert lovers iffy to try it. But for some reason, it worked and made us foodies nostalgic about our fast food runs where we top our sundaes with fries. But Freezer Burn’s latest creation got me very intrigued as I never imagined lemon chicken as a sweet treat.

Hello again, Freezer Burn
Chef Miko’s teaser message about its latest creation, Lemon Chicken, got me so curious that I kept thinking about it during my El Nido escapade. Yes, I was thinking about lemon chicken while snorkelling! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Love at First Bite: Ping Pong Diplomacy

I've been waiting for Ping Pong Diplomacy's opening ever since I saw its board up in SM Aura a couple of months back. Clueless of what this restaurant will offer, I was sure of one thing... that it'll be superb given that it's the brainchild of the Tasteless Group. From hits like Wrong Ramen, Le Petit SouffleHey HandsomeFowl BreadFreezer Burn, Bad Bird and so on, it's guaranteed that this new foodie destination will be just like its big brothers (or sisters?). And when I found out that they finally opened this week, I just have to be one of the first to indulge in its mouthwatering dishes. 

Hello, Ping Pong Diplomacy
Before I drool again as I recall all the dishes I enjoyed during my visit, let's do a bit of recap on history. 

Ping Pong Diplomacy is actually part of American and Chinese history and an important one at that as it was the first contact of both countries after two decades of neither diplomatic or economic relations. So why ping pong? The two countries' first exchange was through a game of table tennis during the 31st World Table Tennis Championships. If you've seen Forrest Gump, you'd get what I mean. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

First Bite: Bliss Bowls

My Instagram feed was filled with beautiful bowls of mouthwatering bowled treats for weeks and I could not help get curious by it. Upon quick research, I found out that these Instagram worthy treats are from Bliss Bowls, a new player in SM Megamall that offers healthy smoothies in a bowl. 
Hello, Bliss Bowls!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

New Year New Dishes: Osaka Ohsho Latest Offerings

I usually avoid SM Megamall because of the insane traffic that seems to surround the well-loved mall. However, I simply could not say no to The Relish Group’s invite especially if it means feasting on some Japanese treats. And so, I found myself braving the traffic one Wednesday night. 
Hello, Osaka Ohsho!