NIKKEI? That refers to a Japanese who has migrated and permanently settled elsewhere and imbibed the culture of the host country without losing his Japanese character entirely. A fusion, in a manner of speaking. In the culinary world, the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian dishes such as what are served in this restaurant in Rada Street in Legazpi Village just a block or so away from the Greenbelt complex.
There were recommendations not to miss the Parmesan Scallops. We heeded such advice and had them for appetizers. It was almost sacrilegious to have these beautiful, fresh scallops swimming in butter. But topped with slightly torched Parmesan cheese, it's simply irresistible. We enjoyed these as we sipped our Nikkei Mojito to refresh and clean our palates from all that buttery-ness.
From Buttery to Fatty. That's the Buta No Kakuni I had with Chahan. All that pork belly, ponzu, katsuboshi and leeks goodness in a bowl. My 2 friends both went for a healthier lunch of saba shioyaki. This mackerel and gohan meal is perfect if you're still feeling guilty over the holiday indulgence. But not so for one other member of our party who recklessly asked for his beefy Lomo Saltado lunch.
We didn't have a chance to try their ceviches but we've heard those are good too. The portions are modest so those with big appetites may need more appetizers or side dishes. In our case, we were good with what we've ordered, thinking we'd try the other interesting, creative, trendy dishes on the menu. Besides, we needed room for their homemade ice cream of ginger, sesame and wasabi. 👍
Seriously? Those chicken tenders and chicken skin dipped in truffle ketchup wasn't bad at all. Doubtful over the truffle but still, a steal for P165. Especially when each bite and dip are followed by a spoonful of "dirty rice". There are times when you don't want to see a litany of food options and can only manage between choosing if you want your chicken spicy or regular. So when told I'd be treated to a P165 lunch here by this generous grandkid of mine, I readily agreed without much expectation. I'm not paying. It's cheap. And not much options. Ergo, no serious thinking before feeding.
The Birdhouse is on the 4th floor Food Hall of Up Town Mall in BGC. One of the newest to spring up in this mall-crazy corner of the capital. Lots of food stalls here, plus a few more on the 2nd and 3rd levels. Pretty neat. Lotsa space. Hipster vibe. Upon entering the mall, we felt transported somewhere in Australia or America.
I would love to go back and check out the other stalls here. And yes, try the other flavors of those yummy thin-layered crepes in Papermoon. Good ambience. When I think of P165 meals, I'm thinking crowded food courts, noisy, not neat at all, and mediocre meals. In Birdhouse, no way I'm judging based on the standards applied on P1,000 or even P500 meals. Listen up guys, the bird costs only P165!
I'm Angus Steakhouse is right next to Santi's Deli along Yakal Street in Makati. Traffic can be bad in this area at certain hours so I suggest you choose your timing well. It being the start of year, my 2 friends and I set out for a lunch date here. We were in a celebratory mood, and decided we should honor this good bottle of Insignia 2011 with a good lunch.
White linens and good wine. It's a good way to start the year. We chose 2 appetizers: the broiled scallops wrapped in bacon and Chilean blue mussels. Both were so good we wanted to repeat our orders even before deciding on our main course. And we actually did! Can't resist another plate of the Japanese scallops so perfectly seared and paired with tomato chutney. It was so good it was a chore not to ask for a 3rd plate. After all, each order only had 4 bite-size pieces!
As for the main course, we decided against a steak lunch. Having indulged in those hot appetizers, and having dipped way too much bread on their sauces, we knew we can't do justice to a steak dish. Instead, we ordered off menu and asked for Tagliatelle al Funghi. Two orders for the 3 of us. We didn't even finish these 2 orders of pasta. Not because it wasn't good but because we were way satiated with our appetizers and wine. Err, the bread too. But a good meal demands a good finish. So we had desserts!
The I'm Angus dessert sampler was perfect for us. The mascarpone passionfruit cheesecake, the blueberry cheesecake, and the chocolate mousse were good for tastings only. My 2 friends weren't keen on these finishers, so I felt obliged to indulge 😂 So there. It was an afternoon well-spent. We didn't waste any food. And we didn't waste even a drop from that bottle of Cabernet. All put to good use. Cheers!
Finally, I booked my complimentary room at the all-suites 6 star Maxim's using my Indulge card. Been trying to use this room voucher but realized the Indulge card privileges involved circuitous procedures before one gets to enjoy her privileges. I almost gave up, till I realized that I'd end up a big loser for paying a sum for this card that won't let me indulge!
Earlier, I tried booking a room directly with Maxim's but was advised to make my bookings via Indulge. Don't ask me why. So I called Indulge but lost my patience as the phone calls went either unanswered or took forever to merit attention. Then they asked for a date and said they'd arrange with Maxim's reservations. I got a text message 2 days after, advising me that no rooms are available. The next time I made reservations, I asked for a non-smoking room and was told they can only book the reservation but can't guarantee if it's non-smoking until the very day of check-in. What kind of service is that?
On the day we checked in, they gave us a smoking room. Having gone all the way to RW, we took what was available. Can't complain about the room size but I wouldn't call the room a suite. The decor was dull. No, it was tasteless. The bathroom was huge but dark. Perhaps so to hide trays and tissue boxes which are broken and simply repaired and held together with tape! And they call this hotel 6 stars? Mind you, and this may seem trivial to some, but those times I called to make reservations and to confirm, I must have talked to at least 5 people. None of them could speak fluent English. I resisted speaking in Pilipino just to test how they'd deal with foreign guests but seriously, no one spoke good English. Not only that ..... when asked why they can't reserve a non-smoking room ahead of the booked dates, I didn't get a plausible explanation.
I am sorry that I have to rant about Indulge Card and Maxim's Hotel but I'd like to save you the expense. Def no value. The free breakfast was awful. Worst buffet spread I've seen. We came at 9am and found crumbs of bacon, fried rice, emptied chafing dishes. You also need to ask them to fry sausages rather than having some ready. And be sure to go back to pick them up! Be patient with your coffee. We were midway through our breakfast before they served mine. No water unless you ask, and that involves some waiting too. No juices from the buffet spread. The fruits look pale too. How can they even think of charging P800 per person for this mediocrity?
The only thing I enjoyed here is the pool area. But still, far from the service we get from Manila Pen for one,where a lifeguard is very visible (I couldn't find any in Maxim's), a refreshing drink is offered as soon as you take one of the beach chairs, and the spa and shower rooms are spanking clean, bright and cheery. Oh well. Never again. Indulge Card is a joke. And Maxim's Hotel is a 6 star fluke.
I love breakfast food so wonder not that all-day breakfast places score high in my list. So we trooped to Crisp in, where else but on the 28th (between 8th and 9th avenues) Street in BGC to indulge and start our day right.
It's been a while and I'm having trouble recalling exactly what we ordered. Let's see. There's Benny's and Greens, Adobo Flakes, Big Breakfast -- all yummy. Can't complain. For sure, they do their eggs well, sous vide eggs or not.
I always score restos by the quality of coffee they serve. I never fail to have coffee wherever, and whenever, so at least that's common in all dining places I've tried. That's important for me. I'm sure it's good coffee, much like how they do their coffee in Hatch 22 (what's with the numbers, Erwin H?). But I'm not so happy with the fellow who served us. He tried to be friendly, accommodating and attentive, but you never leave freshly-brewed coffee in the counter, waiting to be served. Since it took awhile, I was so eager for my cuppa that my eyes were set on the coffee machine. This fellow was chatting the seconds away that I needed to stand up to fetch my morning brew. Worse, he took forever to fetch the sugar and creamer!
Do you see the plate above with those 2 fluffy eggs and a pair of sausages, some salad and potato cubes on the side? Fork and knife ready, that plate was snatched away from our table before the silvers landed. Turned out it wasn't what we ordered. Without much ado, he snatched and served that same plate at the next table. Our jaws dropped, not knowing what to say! Good thing we took time to snap a photo or that pair of sausages would have gone solo. Oh well, at least that surprise maneuver perked us all up, bursting in laughter. Still a good start, despite the coffee and the switch.
It's a long weekend. It's drizzling. And we've decided to treat ourselves to an Ilonggo-Pinoy lunch in this resto ran by Chef Tonyboy Escalante along the ridge overlooking Taal Volcano.
As expected, Chef Tonyboy's unmistakable brand of good, quality cooking and service didn't disappoint. But this time, he brought those dishes to the table at more affordable prices. We didn't err ordering the very Ilonggo batchoy and inasal. And we couldn't wait till dessert time to enjoy the freshly-made piyaya. I'm not really that fond of this Ilonggo delicacy but seeing it freshly-made right here was just too inviting.
Beef steak isn't what I'd normally order when eating out. I mean, it's everyday fare like sinigang and menudo. Nothing really special, but the elves wanted it. For our vegetarian guest, we added fresh lumpia, escabecheng plapla and ginataang puso ng saging. The entire set may not be a perfect match but we ended up savoring our lunch and enjoying the view.
I enjoyed the fish -- not your usual plapla drowning in the escabeche sauce. Rather, it's fried to a crisp and doused sparingly with a sauce reduction that leaves you wanting for more. The fresh lumpia is par for the course while the puso ng saging is just like how your mom would cook the vegetable dish.
What's more, we bought a lot of foodstuff from the Balay Dako Deli Shop. From uraro to lengua de gato to loaves of bread and biscocho, we happily brought home these yummy souvenirs.
Wa (Japanese) Gyu (cattle). When in Japan, wagyu is the norm for beef lovers. But which wagyu? I am NOT a meat lover so I haven't tried all, but I made sure I wiped away my confusion over this delectable beef.
What sets this beef apart from the pack is its marbling. What is marbling? That marble pattern in a slice of beef refers to the streaks of FAT which render this meat so succulent, melt-in-your-mouth, nearly buttery. Is it because of the cattle breed? Or how the cattle was raised? It's both. There are several breeds of this much-demanded Japanese cattle predisposed to marbling. These 4 are Japanese black, Japanese brown, Japanese Poll and Japanese Shorthorn. Whichever cattle breed and region (Kobe? Matsuzaka?) it comes from, be sure to order A4 or A5 quality for your wagyu porn.
They say Kobe beef reigns supreme. But Matsuzaka comes close in terms of intense marbling and tenderness. A third, Ohmi, is likewise umami! All are from the Kansai region of Japan. Whichever way you want it cooked, this wagyu is so unforgettably tender and juicy unless you burned it.
In Hokkaido, their high-quality rice pairs well with Hokkaido Snow Beef. It's a good break from all that seafood that's so bountiful in this northern island of the rising sun. Very "wagyu" in flavor, fattiness and tenderness. Speaking of fattiness, the Japanese claim their wagyu is rich in Omega 3. The good cholesterol -- so eat on!
There are many ways to eat your wagyu. Sukiyaki, yakiniku, shabu shabu, sashimi, etc. I like mine grilled for a few seconds with the littlest plum salts. Umami.
When in Osaka, make a reservation at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M off Dotonbori. Nearest train station is Namba Station. I bet you'd go for a second dining visit!
Nope, we weren't blue at all. Conrad Hotel in MOA is a luxury hotel with a grand view of Manila Bay. Sure, other hotels near the Bay offer the same breathtaking view but Conrad takes it several notches higher. The lobby at the 3rd floor has glass windows from floor to ceiling that makes it impossible for any guest to miss sunrise, sunset, evening fireworks or even just the huge Ferris wheel by the bay.
Choosing where to dine can be a chore but my bet is you can't go wrong with any choice. The Lounge is perfect for coffee and desserts, but best for cocktails especially around sunset. A hearty appetite is what you need dining in the Brasserie while a more discerning taste (for Chinese cuisine) should rest well with China Blue. All 3 dining outlets are on the 3rd floor.
This is one classy Chinese joint. Really. I love the interiors, the appointments, the high ceiling, the handpainted charger plate, the glass windows overlooking the bay. The function room at the corner means unobstructed views of the Bay and the 7pm evening fireworks. Feast for your eyes and a feast for your bellies! The spacious room even has a lovely Chinese painting adorning a corner where a "waiting sofa" is.
I know. You want to know what we ate. I had a most savory clear soup while my friend went for the standard hot and sour soup. Except that it wasn't your "standard hot & sour soup". I would have wanted the soup to come a tad later after we've feasted on the dim sum but it wasn't my luck. You see, I tend to confuse my taste buds easily that I've made it a habit to take one dish at a time. But both are best eaten while still hot, so what to do, what to do?
It would be a shame not to linger and straight away dig into the dim sum. I mean, we so enjoyed how they looked, plated and all. Not your ordinary wild fungus, nor taro dumpling, nor truffle mushroom buns. The fungus was the best-tasting in all its "blackness". The taro dumpling with scallops looks different from what we've been used to, and tastes divine. But the steamed truffle mushroom siopao? How did they make those buns look like huge mushrooms? I kinda miss the truffle but I just love the playful presentation of these Chinese buns!
Midway through this feast, we decided we can do more healthy items like more stir-fried mushrooms served with a special vinaigrette, some Shanghai-style soya-braised fish, more tofu, and bang -- noodles & wok-fried rice 😂 Oh dear, all diet plans whizzed through those glass windows straight into the waters of Manila Bay. Everything we ordered was good, plated perfectly and promptly served.
We resisted any dessert suggestions and struggled to rise from our chairs. But not without making that final look at the handpainted charger plate and beautiful cups where we poured the fragrant tea from Chrysanthemum bulbs. But we weren't yet ready to go. We passed by The Lounge and imagined ourselves enjoying cocktail hours here while waiting for the sun to set. We checked out the Kenneth Cobonpue wide stools and before long, we made ourselves comfortable in the lounge. Coffee, Cappuccino flowed. And a single order of panacotta. T'was the only way to end a beautiful day. 😘
It enjoys good reviews. It even earned a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor in 2015. Zomato speaks highly of it and gave it 4.5 stars out of a perfect 5. Despite the downpour, we didn't waste our reservation here. And mind you, we walked 3 blocks from our hotel to this great dining adventure.
For starters, we tried the chawan mushi, my all-time comfort food. Especially on a rainy day. Warm, delicate flavors in a small cup. Enough to prep you for the rest of the dinner. The Little Mermaid sashimi platter is the Chef's selection of the freshest sashimi samplers. Went so well with the Niniku Tempura which are really cloves of garlic dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried to perfection. Claimed as a Sapporo specialty dish, it is served with miso paste and sea salt. I like how the sweet miso paste combines with a dash of sea salt to give the cloves a completely different level of umami.
Of course I couldn't resist ordering a bowl of ramen. It's my "winter dish" here in Gold Coast. After all, Hokkaido ramen always makes the cut, right? Hmmm, not so. It's good but I guess Hokkaido ramen is simply too salty for me. I was warned enough about that, but I knew I just had to see and taste for myself. Anyway, the wagyu made up for it even if I was already feeling full at that point.
And so we ended the wet night on full stomachs, cravings satisfied. Fully agree with the TA recommendation to put this on the list when visiting Gold Coast. Good food, great Japanese-inspired appointments down to the table and tatami mats and lanterns, easy to spot location in a boulevard lined with an interesting mix of fine-dining Oriental restaurants.
Touchdown. Sydney. And we didn't waste time. After a series of booboos --- like a bag from the carousel dropping on my foot, dropping a new jacket and losing our way --- we settled on lunch in Salt Meats Cheese.
Lovely place, with a very young working crowd. It's a dining place looking more like Century Mall's Hole In The Wall in Makati, Philippines. Except that each stall has its own dining area. From gelato bars to coffee joints to pasta & pizza parlors. You'd like the vibe here. Vibrant, yet classy.
The pappardelle was a generous serving. The fresh orange juice was good to be split and shared. We hardly finished our pasta, Italian burger, rocket salad and truffle fries. Too much. I guess we weren't that hungry after all. But I did pick on the good, savory sections of that Italian burger. Properly "dissected", I enjoyed the sirloin, cheese savings and raclette (hmmm , yes) atop and under the burger chunks, and did away with the bun. Yum!
Or perhaps we felt full prematurely early after digging into those truffle fries. T'was soooo goooood! With cheese and an inviting aroma of truffle, our fat fingers quickly got busy popping each piece into our greedy mouths. I can imagine an even bigger crowd in the early evenings after work especially when the nearby bars get busy.
This Italian gourmet corner in Alexandria looks like a favorite among many yuppies. Find it in 21 Fountain St, Sydney NSW 2015, Australia