Monday, August 4, 2014

Cinemalaya 2014 Presents: Sundalong Kanin

It's that time of the year again, and I'm excited to support Filipino films that have nothing to do with some dude with a barbell, Tang Ina Isa Pa, Vic Sotto saying "Nye!", or Kris Aquino's kid.

Cinemalaya celebrates independent Filipino films, and one that you should definitely be on the lookout for is Sundalong Kanin. This is where young actor Enzo Pineda makes his debut into the independent film industry and where you see a dapper Marc Abaya speaking in Japanese.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Gourmet Comfort Food at Bamba Bistro

I am finding more and more reasons to pay BF Homes Parañaque a visit nowadays. The restaurant scene is poppin', and I am very happy to live close enough to experience the lot! I was saddened when I discovered the institution that was Gourmet Burger had closed its doors - that place was such a staple of the Aguirre Avenue scene and a favorite with the students and drinking crowd.

As sad as I was there for a moment, I was equally as happy to discover that the folks who put up Gourmet Burger had just moved to another part of the huge village, with their newest baby, Bamba Bistro, serving up a few of the old burger favorites and a lot of interesting new dishes - the chef's take on comfort food, on soul food, on downright good food!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ladies Luncheon at Sweet Bella Cakes & Pastries

I had felt like I was adrift at sea after moving back to Las Piñas from Bonifacio Global City. Although I was surrounded by most things familiar in my old hometown, I felt like I was a whole country away from friends, co-workers, and all the good restaurants! Thank goodness for Mama Jane and her pseudo-adopting me whenever we go out as a group!

Jane also introduced me to a lovely group of moms who blog in Alabang, and I was invited by Michelle, who owns the blog Momma N Manila, for a ladies luncheon at Sweet Bella Cakes & Pastries in Molito. I'm a longtime fan of Sweet Bella, and Jericho and I spent a lot of time at their Molito branch when the weather was a lot cooler, taking my dog out to run around the grassy areas and sniff around while I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and a small cake or one of their cheese rolls. Saying yes to Michelle's invite was a no brainer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mesclun Bistro's Cool Salamig Treats

This has been one scorching summer! My electric bill has been through the roof and I for one have been looking for cheaper ways to cool down that don't involve a block of ice and an electric fan. When summer is hottest is also the time when all the innovative Filipino desserts start making their appearances, and Mesclun Bistro is no exception.

Owned by Chef Kat Kuhn-Alcantara, she has partnered up with Arce Dairy - a businesses that her family also owns and operates - to come up with Salamig treats to cool you down and keep you happy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pampanga Eats: Bánh Mì Vietnamese Eatery

It had been a long day of eating when my foodie family and I went up on a day trip to Pampanga that we took a respite from all the chomping to enjoy a quick shopping free at Puregold Duty Free before heading back down. I wanted to spend more time perusing the home and living section - I am in dire need of nice looking flatware and dishes, but I doubt I would've found any there I suppose - but got distracted with the shelves upon shelves of chocolate. I ended up going home with a huge tube of Malteasers. Heh, priorities.

Before going back to Manila, we had a quick pit stop for dinner at Bánh Mì Vietnamese Eatery. I had no idea what I was in for, but if my homeboy Spanky says its the shiznit, then it's the shiznit!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pampanga Eats: 1930s Ensaymadas at Homemade Treasures

I had first met Chona Ayson earlier in the year, during one of JJ Yulo's Pinoy Eats World events at the Podium Mall. There was this very reserved woman selling ensaymada, mamon, all other sorts of pastries that she'd make and bring down from Pampanga daily for that weekend event.I wasn't a fan of the localized brioche bun - one of the big chain bakeshops ruined it for me a long time ago - but Chona gave me a sample to try and - ding! - just like that, I was in love with the pillow-y soft ensaymadas of Homemade Treasures.

Chona has been a long time friend of many of the guys in my little foodie family, and as luck would have it, a trip to her beautiful kitchen in Pampanga was part of the itinerary.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pampanga Eats: Downtown 1956 Café by Bale Dutung

I'm ashamed to admit, I've never really gave Filipino food its due. A Filipino restaurant will be the last one on my list to try as I find most of the cuisine to be either too salty or sweet (and 90% pork-based) and mostly best enjoyed with a big bowl of rice. Sinigang just isn't the same with a loaf of sourdough bread, no matter how much I try to make it work.

My aversion to Filipino restaurants was more or less the case until I happened to switch the TV channel to TLC, where Anthony Bourdain was in Pampanga, eating his way around the city with his trusty guide as vigilant advocate of the local food and arts, Chef Claude Tayag. I learned more about my country's intricate and various cuisines watching his 15 minute segment than I did eating it at home - which is kind of embarrassing now that I come to think about it.

I had wanted to pay Chef Claude Tayag's Bale Dutung, but we paid Chef Claude's  newest restaurant instead, Downtown 1956 Café by Bale Dutung, an homage to classic Filipino favorites executed with a Claude Tayag twist.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pampanga Eats: Mila's Tokwa't Baboy & Sisig

I had made plans to hit the beach for a week and just forget about the world this month - but life got in the way. So, I went up to Pampanga for a whole day of eating instead. Haha! Spanky Enriquez, the full fledged Pampanggeno in our foodie fampack, organized a trip up to the culinary capital of the Philippines to sample some of the harder to find and newer spots in the province. Honestly, the only thing I've only really known about Pampanga was the Duty Free shopping place, so I was thrilled to be going there to do something other than shop. My foodie mom, Jane Go, adopted me for the day, and I spent most of the day with her and her super fun teens!

We were all up pretty early and made good time on our way up north, stopping by a Starbucks and Cinnabon for a much needed jolt of caffeine and sugar. The sun was beating down on us, and we were really feeling the intense summer weather the higher up north we climbed.

Our first stop for lunch was Mila's Tokwa't Baboy & Sisig, an institution in Angeles City that even Anthony Bourdain stopped to pay a visit at when he toured some of the Philippines' foodie spots. He's way more adventurous than me, diging into the kambing papaitan like it was a bowl of pho.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Corniche's Arabian Delights at Diamond Hotel

Growing up in the Middle East, Arabic food here can be hard to come by. No one seems to be able to figure out what shawarma really tastes like, I have yet to see a real cup of strong Turkish coffee in my entire 16 years of living here, and a tiny square of baklava costs an arm and a leg. Seriously, what gives? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only kid who grew up in the dessert and enjoyed the cuisine, and with a big chunk of our OFWs living in the KSA, the UAE, Omman, Quatar, and Iran, there doesn't seem to be enough Middle Eastern restaurants here to cater to us who have come back from said country.

Enter the Corniche at Diamond Hotel that embarks on an Arabian Delights culinary adventure every Tuesday, seeking to perfect those much-loved Arabic dishes, trying to achieve the authentic taste of the Middle East. At just P1,980 per person, this was a themed buffet dinner I definitely did not miss out on!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Affordable American Favorites at Wham! Burger

Jericho and I found ourselves wandering around the Mall of Asia a few weeks back, while I tried my luck at furniture shopping. For one of the biggest malls around, it sure had a very small Our Home and even smaller Dimensione, but I still found a few items that were perfect for my tiny apartment, nonetheless.

Walking around a mall got us feeling peckish, so we ducked into Wham! Burger for a bite to eat. Can I just say, I love how accommodating the staff is of bloggers. When I requested them to to wrap up our orders so they wouldn't look all squished and disgusting in the photographs, they did us one better and presented it so beautifully, it made featuring them so easy. Seriously, always serve your burgers like this and the people will come.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Make Me Blush Nail Spa & Beauty Lounge

I am so thankful that Jane of my foodie family has pseudo-adopted me. She is the best! Not only do I finally feel like I'm not alone living in the south, I also like that I suddenly have two sisters that I can get all girly with! Case in point: we schlepped all the way to Quezon City from Alabang to try Make Me Blush Nail Spa & Beauty Lounge! Oh, I also have a super cute brother now, too, but he's too busy with his darling girlfriend to come out with us a lot. You know how it goes.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Bowlful of Laughts at Ramen Nagi

Whenever I think of Hong Kong, images of duck (the peking kind, not the Disney), pork buns at Tim Ho Wan, dimsum at at Lin Heung Tea House, Temple street night market, and of course, the small but always packed Butao King Restaurant along On Lane Street.

The Black Butao King had always done a great job of warming my tummy on cold, snowy nights in Hong Kong, so I was ecstatic to learn my favorite noodle place had finally come to the Philippines! My happiness, though, was cut short when I learned how long the lines and the wait time was for a bowl of ramen! I gave it a few months, thinking the lines would shorten eventually, but I think they just got longer when people found out the Philippine franchise lived up to it's Chinese counterpart.

Jaz and Eric of EricJaz Foodies had already been there a couple of times, and were raving about how good the ramen was, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to go there. I had to get my ramen fix. Good ol' Mama J was also in the mood for a spicy noodle fix, so off we all went to Butao King's Pinoy sister, Ramen Nagi.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chairman Wang's Prime Beef Noodle House

While on a three-day weekend staycation with my foodie family at Bellevue Manila and B Hotel respectively, the guys who lived up north made the most of their south side trip by trying out some of the newer restaurants in the area. Molito, especially, is slowly turning into the go-to place for good grub down south. The lone Starbucks store over there now has lots and lots of company, with new restaurant concepts and old franchises popping up left and right.

One of the new restaurant concepts is Chairman Wang's Prime Beef Noodle House. Recently opened, we headed over there - Jericho, Justice, a few other friends, and I - curious to see what kind of Chinese food they served (aside from the obvious). In truth, I was expecting it to be some kind of high-end Chowking joint, but was pleasantly proved wrong. And then some.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Brunch at Caviar Restaurant & Champagne Bar

I had paid Caviar Restaurant & Champagne Bar a visit a month ago, enjoying a marvelous dinner and giving the chef a big hug in sheer joy of finding my new favorite fine dining restaurant in Alabang, I promised myself that I'd be back soon to try their Executive Lunch and Sunday Brunch. The Sunday Brunch was a bit tough, being that it's usually just me and good ol' Jericho going out and the brunch requires at least four people to enjoy the family style meal.

Nevertheless, somebody must've heard my pleas as our Bellevue staycation included a special Sunday brunch with the rest of my foodie fambam at Caviar. So yeah, I was all giddy Saturday night, dreaming of all the good food we'd be in for the next day. Yey!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Getting the Scoop at Carmen's Best

I read somewhere that “... everyone knows that ice cream is worth the trouble of being cold. Like all things virtuous, you have to suffer to gain the reward.” I think the same applies to making it.

I met the Ice Cream Man himself, Paco Magsaysay, during a Carmen's Best event hosted by the fun folks of Nuffnang. He was soft-spoken, friendly, and very proud of the new flavors he was unveiling for us to taste. And why wouldn't he, Carmen's Best Artisanal Ice Cream has been raved about ever since Paco started selling them in pints, at times made to order, as they run out in the shops so fast, out of his home in Alabang.

When I mentioned we'd be having a long bloggers weekend in Alabang, Paco offered to give us a tour of his facilities (before they move it to a bigger location), and we were very honored to have been invited into his lovely home. We went on a Saturday night, with most of my friends bringing their kids along - or in Jane's case, having her kids represent while she stayed entertaining a guest at Bellevue - Paco broke out the soft serve ice cream machine, as well as a few other treats for us to enjoy while we chatted away about ice cream.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Supersized Games & a Poolside BBQ at The Bellevue Manila

My foodie fambam and I spent a luxurious 3-day weekend at the Bellevue Resort and Hotels properties in Alabang a few weeks back, staying at the business-friendly B Hotel while enjoying all the amenities of the family-oriented Bellevue Manila. We have The Queen of the South, Jane Go, and BHR's owner, Ryan Chan, to thank for such a wonderful time!

One of the highlights of our weekend was definitely our time by the pool at Bellevue. Of course, once the kids jumped in, there was no coming out, and while the parents looked on, we entertained ourselves with some of the other activities (and munchies!) around the pool.

You'll see what I mean...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Pink Wasabi's Kashi Makis

When The Queen of the South, Jane Go of Sugar & Spice, throws a staycation, not only does she make it so epic that everyone has to roll home, she makes sure that everyone goes with a little something more than fond memories!

Take, for instance, Chef Anna Chua's Kashi Makis from My Pink Wasabi! Anna dropped by for lunch with us at Prime Cafe at B Hotel and handed out boxes of her famous Kashi Maki! I had been wanting to try these babies out for so long, but just haven't had the time to head on over to The Collective in Makati for a box. Good news for us Southern folks, she's considering opening up a branch in Alabang, so I'm crossing my fingers I'll be seeing more of her around soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dim Sum All You Can at Bellevue Hotel's Phoenix Court

Ever since I discovered the crazy beauty of dim sum buffets in New York's Chinatown, I have been trying to fill a void in my greedy, greedy soul for something much like my experience in the States. After two years of searching, I think I have finally found it in Phoenix Court in the The Bellevue Manila in Alabang of all places!

This is so much better in so many ways, as you don't have to stand in line for over an hour with a bunch of hungry tourists and irritated locals while waiting for your party to be called, you don't have to share a table with anyone, and although the dim sum does take a while to get to your table, you're pretty much assured that no other has gone through them in the kitchen who may or may not have sneezed on the basket you see before you.

Now that would be unfortunate.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Epic Alabang Staycation at B Hotel

I love staycations!

Getting away from it all without having to leave the city allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds, and this was definitely the case when I checked in at B Hotel in Alabang, which was just a stones throw away from where I live. This was convenient for the weekend-long staycation, as I could still check up on Mr. Wiggles every night, make sure he has enough water in his bowl and gets fed and walked, before heading back to hotel to get some shuteye.

This was one epic staycation, and I have the Queen of the South, Mama J and her fambam, to thank for for having me over and treating me to some Bellevue hospitality.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A 4-Course Dinner at Le Jardin Cuisine de Gils of Trois Gourmands

I heard about the French dining concept from Vietnam the guys behind Huat Pot were bringing to Manila early on, but had read quite a few mixed reviews online from the folks that tried the place during it's dry run. Whatever people were saying online, the idea of a lush, bringing the indoors in, restaurant concept on the penthouse floe of W Fifth building in BGC left me feeling like a giddy little girl, and I was dying to go up and experience the place for myself.

Jericho and I decided to have dinner Le Jardin with our friend, Mike, one evening, and after sitting down to an beautifully executed meal, and long, interesting chats with the owners, the waitstaff, and the chef, discovered there were a few misconceptions about the place. First off, it isn't a fine dining restaurant, hence the unclothed tables and super casual set up (the servers have buttons with their names on them!). No formal dinner jacket required - heck, you can even come in shorts if you'd like, although they do draw the line at flip flops and banana hammocks. Second, they don't do degustations - you can go to their neighbor for that. What you get at Le Jardin is a full-course meal, served the right way, which can sometimes be mistaken for formal dinner service.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Back for More at Pink Panda Southeast Asian Diner

I've been back to Pink Panda Southeast Asian Diner more than a few times now, and this place just keeps giving me more reasons to come back. Maybe it's because they aren't afraid of using chili in their dishes, which I love. Maybe it's because the Malaysian and Singporean flavors remind me so much of the fun times I had with my dad, exploring those countries with him. Maybe it's because it tastes all too familiar to the Filipino palate yet also somehow different.

There's something about Pink Panda that always has me coming back for more, and this time, I was determined to bring a few of the guys from my foodie fambam along with me.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vikings Luxury Buffet at Megamall #EatLikeAViking

Although Vikings Luxury Buffet has been around for a while - with their first branch at the Mall of Asia, which then expanded to SM Marikina, and North Edsa - I hadn't yet step foot in the sprawling buffet place, but not for lack of trying, They are just always so full and the waiting list is always so long (I'm referring to the MOA branch), I always end up giving up and just looking for another place to eat. As you can tell, patience isn't one of my virtues.

So when the newest Viking Luxury Buffet place opened in SM Megamall, I told myself I was definitely going get in on that before it got too crowded! I figured that going there for lunch on a weekday would have less of a crowd and invited Jericho, his sister Justice, and the good ol' Dude For Food, Gerry, to come with. The Vikings tag line is #eatlikeaviking, and I was pretty confident Gerry would definitely represent in that respect!

On weekdays, lunch goes for P688/person and dinner is P888/person. On the weekdays and holidays, lunch and dinner are both P1,088/person.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dude Food at The Southern Kitch

After moving back to Las Piñas from Bonifacio Global City last year, it was so frustrating for me to have to take a tricycle or car almost everywhere - 7-11, grocery store, fruit stand - when back at The Fort this was all just a walk (albeit a long one) away. And being a foodie, the proximity of decent restaurants is a must - which unfortunately are few and far between in this area, which is why I always end up heading over to BF Parañaque for new places to try.

But things seem to be looking up for me in the restaurant department, with a few good places popping up here and there. One of the recently opened restaurants at BF Resort Village is The Southern Kitch, a comfort food joint that offers dude food. Now, I don't exactly know what dude food is, but it was something definitely worth checking out, so Jericho and I headed over there one afternoon to check them out. And we were not disappointed.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Makimono Dinner at Ogetsu Hime

Jericho, Justice and I were left to our own devices on a Wednesday afternoon, so when one of Jericho's clients backed out of a photo shoot last minute (check out his portfolio here and e-mail him for a quote), we somehow ended up walking around SM Aura Premier looking for a place to eat.

Initially, the gameplan was to finally go and check out Ramen Nagi, but the lines were so long! Still craving for Japanese food, we ended up walking around the Skypark some more and parked our butts at one of the booths at Ogetsu Hime for a lot of their makimonos and teppanyaki.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Olives Restaurant at Thunderbird Resort Rizal

With Semana Santa just a few more days away, it seems as if everyone's been busy planning a trip either out of the country, out of the city, or into a hotel suite - anywhere to get away from the doggone heat! For the people down south, this usually means Tagaytay or Batangas, while for people up north it's Antipolo or Baguio thereabouts. Hehe... I'm obviously not a Northman.

I had never been to Binangonan before (gasp!), so when Olives opened in Thunderbird Resort Rizal, a quick trip up there was in order. We were supposed to take Jericho's car, but the trip up was way too far for us, coming from Las Piñas, and Jericho wasn't in the mood for the long drive, so we took one of the free shuttle service that regularly picks up and drops off people there.

The honest truth was, I wasn't expecting much. I mean, what else is there to see in Binangonon anyway? But it seems I had underestimated the city up on a mountain, as what I saw turned out to be one of the best excuses to head up there whenever an occasion or the heat warrants it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Luncheon with Rockstar Chef Todd English

When living in the Philippines, Middle Eastern food can be hard to come by. Really, really good Mediterranean restaurants are few and far between. As far as restaurants in that region goes, I like to head over to Al Batra in Makati when I need an Arabic fix and there is always Black Olive in Capital Commons for when I want something a little more Mediterranean. I have yet to try Greek Kouzina, but I've been hearing some nice things about them, too.

So, with that empty part of my life tummy to fill, you could imagine how pleased I was when I got to sit down to lunch with rockstar chef Todd English at the Raffles' Long Bar one afternoon. He had just opened Todd English Food Hall and is adding a little something special to Spectrum's buffet line up this month, so the kind folks at Fairmont Makati rounded up a few people to say hello to Todd and give it a go. This is actually very apt, as Todd English's Food Hall in New York is at historic landmark, The Plaza, which happens to be managed by Fairmont.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Crimson Hotel: Dinner Buffet at Cafe Eight

After a short afternoon tea at Crimson Hotel, we were famished with all the gabbing, and stayed long enough for the dinner buffet at Cafe Eight. Jane's daughters left, and was replaced by her husband Jeff, a.k.a. Kap. The night was still young, and dinner is always a good excuse to hang around a buffet table, so with that in mind, we proceeded to the cafe-cum-restaurant.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pinky Up! Dainty Afternoon Tea at Crimson Hotel

As most of my friends know, I was born and grew up in Dubai, spending most of my life being surrounded by Brits. I went to an English school, revered Remembrance Sunday by wearing a Royal British Legion poppy and donating to the Poppy Appeal, celebrated Mother's Day on the last Sunday of March (also called Mothering Sunday), and stuffed myself silly with mince pie and Welsh cakes whenever Christmas rolled around. Making the move to Manila was hard for me, but like most kids, I learned to adapt. But what I really missed the most about my old life, was tea time.

Tea time is a magical twilight hour for little girls (and even grown ones!), where they sit at home or in posh hotel lobbies with their mom - dad can sometimes make an appearance, too - patiently waiting for their handsome server to appear with a pot of Earl Grey and dainty teacups along with tiers of little scones, French pastries, mini cakes, cookies, and finger sandwiches. Which is why I'm not only ecstatic seeing the tea revolution currently starting in the Philippines, but I am overjoyed that places like the Crimson Hotel offer affordable tea sets for two, for only P550++.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bulgogi Brothers Spices Up Their Menu #7NewKoreanClassics

One of my favorite restaurants of The Bistro Group (aside from Village Tavern) is Bulgogi Brothers! I love this accessible Korean BBQ joint, with the Korean wines, the heart-shaped beef patties, and other dishes that are friendly to the non-Korean Western palate. But with the release of their 7 New Korean Classics, they've definitely taken it up a notch in the spice department - which is just the way I like it!

My foodie fambam and I met up at Bulgogi Brothers' Greenbelt branch to check out the new line up of dishes - everything from crunchy Korean fried chicken to the latest US-grade beef cuts one can cook (or have somebody else cook!) on the grill top.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
Going Japanese Casual at Watami
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Yee-Haw for Tex-Mex at TGIFriday's
Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Midas Hotel & Casino: Taking In the Sunset Lounge

I have to say, I got the Midas Hotel & Casino pegged all wrong! What I thought to be another outdated, blah hotel is actually one of the best-designed places I've been to in this part of town. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear the Starwood people owned this!

Along the stretch of hotels along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay stands the Midas Hotel & Casino, an upscale, boutique hotel built for sassy businessmen and women, well-researched tourists, romantic couples, and the flush yuppies of Metro Manila.

So yes, it's very posh and a suite for the night here will cost you a pretty penny, but did you know that you can also enjoy some of Midas Hotel's comforts for a mere P500 per person? The Sunset Lounge is open for guests and walk-ins between the hours of 4 to 8 o'clock in the afternoon, with complimentary coffee and tea, with cocktails and food for those who wish to stay and unwind for a few hours before heading up to their suites or back to brave the crazy Manila traffic.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Midas Hotel & Casino: Yanagi Cosmopolitan Japanese Cuisine

I have a love-hate relationship with hotel buffets. I love that they have such a wide array of food to offer. I hate that my tummy can only hold a finite amount. I also hate that I always seem to panic, simply being overwhelmed with so much good food that I don't know where to head for every time I stand up for a new plate. Which is why I like small buffets that concentrate on quality versus quantity, like that of Spectrum. But thanks to The Mommist, I have now found a new favorite small buffet place that serves up excellent Japanese cuisine!

Yanagi, located at the Mezzanine at the Midas Hotel, is a Japanese buffet that doesn't feel like a Japanese buffet. Priced at a very affordable P1,088 per person, it doesn't cost like a Japanese buffet either. I thought this demanded a bit more investigation, and so a few folks from my foodie fambam and I headed over there one sunny Saturday afternoon to enjoy a spot of lunch.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cignal's Feast of Colours Brings Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian to Manila

I remember enjoying brunch at The National at the Benjamin Hotel over by Lexington a few years back, sitting down with foodies and chefs to a big plate of Steak & Eggs and glasses of mimosas. The general manager at the time was Filipino - a classmate of Chef Laudico way back when, as it turned out. I learned the name, Geoffrey Zakarian, from my chef friends, who said he was the name to look out for in the next couple of years, as he an up-and-coming superstar in the industry. And a season of Iron Chef later, and yes, he is a superstar.

Geoffrey Zakarian's taste, style and passion for fine cuisine have defined his storied career as an accomplished chef that has presided over some of the country's top kitchens. The chef also has a heart of gold, as he came to Manila a few days back to whip up a one-of-a-kind five-course dinner gala for the most discriminating foodies in the country, held at Sofitel Philippine Plaza called "Feast of Colours", with the proceeds of the gala going to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

I may not have had an extra P10,000 in my pocket to join the gala dinner, but I was one of the lucky few to get invited to the media event earlier that day to try Chef Geoffrey's take on a classic Filipino dish.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pink Panda: Southeast Asian Diner Celebrates Its Grand Opening

I've been to Pink Panda quite a few times now, and it's fast becoming my favorite place to get my Singaporean-Indonesian-Malaysian-Filipino fix. This time around, however, I dropped by Pink Panda a few days ago to celebrate their grand opening! Has it only really been a little over a month?

It was a fun night, with lots of food going around and part-owner Erwan Heussaff carting around a trolley of booze, mixing cocktails for everyone. Fun times!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Going Japanese Casual at Watami

Being such The Bistro Group baby, I made it a point to visit the only restaurant of theirs that I haven't been to yet - Watami. Popular in Japan, this restaurant may be a dime a dozen over there, but the branches in Metro Manila can be harder to come by, although The Bistro Group did make it a point to put them in the best foodie malls in the country. Aside from the original branch at the Mall of Asia, there is also the newest one that had just open on the 6th floor of Shangri la Mall.

The Watami restaurant branch that I ended up going to was in the harder-to-find Glorietta branch, which is actually located outside of the mall, near the Holiday Inn and next to Lugang Cafe. I was going around in circles inside the mall for a good while, 'til I asked a security guard where the heck it was and finally got pointed in the right direction.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
Village Tavern Introduces Char-Grilled Wagyu Burgers
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Yee-Haw for Tex-Mex at TGIFriday's
Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

6 Steps to Achieving the Perfect Sunkissed Tan

It's weird how we Filipinos are blessed with a beautiful golden hue and beaches a hop, skip, and a jump away, yet the majority of products we see in beauty aisles are all related to becoming unnaturally white. I remember when I was in high school, the soap in the shower was Silka Papaya, Block & White lotion was all the rage, my mom had me taking glutathione before it became all the rage, and I was to wear a jacket and tote an umbrella around no matter how hot it was outside to maintain my glow-in-the-dark complexion.

Yes, I was the "ideal color", but I wasn't happy. I looked pasty and sickly. I tried to get some color on me. I really did. But everytime I'd lie out on the beach to brown up, I just ended up turning lobster red one day and sunburned the next - no matter how much sunblock I'd slather on. I just couldn't understand it. "Was this the effect of too many whitening products?" I thought to myself. I had almost given up all hope of ever being golden like Solenn, until that trip to Cancún  a few years back where a friend of mine taught me her secret for bronzing up and staying that way - no matter what the weather.

So if you've always wanted to rock that perfect sun-kissed tan 12 months out of the year, here's what you need to do:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Magosaburo Now Serves Affordable Lunch Sets

Although the Japanese restaurant Magosaburo is known for their hedonistic (in the nicest way possible!) degustations and extravagant lava stone steak dinners, the restaurant also has filling lunch sets that not everyone is aware of. The ideal place to enjoy long, lazy lunches or executive business meals, Magosaburo's lunches aim to impress and fill you up without having to break the bank.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Luxurious Lava Stone Steak Dinner at Magosaburo

If you're looking for a Japanese restaurant to impress your date that serves the best cuts of meats, uses only the freshest ingredients, has an amazing chef, and treats you to an all around dining experience, then bring your significant other to Magosaburo at the Fort Strip.

I had first read about Magosaburo in Anton's blog, and was so impressed that I was looking for an excuse - any excuse! - to visit the Japanese fine dining restaurant. So when my foodie fambam and I got invited to dinner there, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl, dreaming about all those prime cuts of Wagyu meats being served - the marbling, the texture, the flavor! I couldn't wait to go!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Village Tavern Introduces Char-Grilled Wagyu Burgers

As far as The Bistro Group is concerned, my favorite restaurant happens to be Village Tavern. You kind of know what to expect, but at the same time their Corporate Chef, Josh Boutwood, is always whipping up something new in the kitchen, it feels like there's always a surprise waiting for me every time I pay them a visit.

Case in point: I dropped by to say hello a couple of days back, and the next thing I know I'm sitting down and wiping my chin off with burger juice, oohing and aahing over Chef Josh's newest delectable creations - his huge char-grilled Wagyu Burgers! They were so good I almost forgot they came with a side of fat fries.

No, I'm lying. I ate most of the fries. I love fries. More fries!

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
All Night Happy Hour at Village Tavern
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Yee-Haw for Tex-Mex at TGIFriday's
Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

12 Lent-Friendly Restaurants in Metro Manila

As most of this predominantly Catholic country starts to observe the Lenten Season, people also get incredibly choosy when it comes to restaurants they dine in that don't have Lenten Specials. But Lenten Spaials aside, most restaurants here already have vegetarian and pescetarian options, and they hardly taste as boring and bland as most carnivores imagine them to be. At the very least, they all look a lot more appetizing than Jollibee's Tuna Pie!

Take Pink Panda's beautifully plated Prawn Toasties and Tom Yum Shots (P285) for instance - crispy shrimp toast canapés are paired with a red curry shrimp paste sour prawn and mushroom broth, with a plump prawn half-dunked into the broth. Take a bite of the toast, a sip of the broth, and a bite of the shrimp. It's like a Lent-friendly Asian tequila shot! And it looks so puuuuuurdy!

Here's a list of my top 12 Lent-friendly restaurants in Metro Manila in no particular order:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Italianni's Introduces Their Breakfast Creations

I had always wondered why the Italianni's at Greenbelt was always packed in the mornings. Whenever I'd happen to be in the area, I'd see businessmen and women enjoying their power breakfasts over iPad presentations, groups of Sex in the City cliques sitting down for a bit of catch up before they start their day, and expats sipping their coffees while going through the newspaper or tablets.

Until I discovered that they had breakfast meals! Other than your usual Filipino, Western, and continental favorites, Head Chef Josh Boutwood of The Bistro Group has also come up with a few Breakfast Creations to add to the menu, too. Enjoying brunch is always a great excuse to wake up early, so I bugged Jericho until he grudgingly agreed to go with me to their Bonifacio High Street branch, one of two branches that are open for the hungry breakfast crowd.

Invited by the good folks of The Bistro Group, I was lucky enough to get to try a little bit of everything. Thank goodness for that - I don't think I could handle so many eggs in one morning.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
All Night Happy Hour at Village Tavern
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Yee-Haw for Tex-Mex at TGIFriday's
Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Friday, March 7, 2014

Kat's Café Shares the Love of Baking in Las Piñas

It's refreshing to meet young business owners who aren't in it for the money, but instead use the business as a jumping off point for their passions in life, like Kat. I met the shy, soft-spoken owner of Kat's Café one afternoon while trying out some of the items off her menu. I appreciate how she treats her space like a food playground of sorts, experimenting with flavors and techniques, coming up with delicious discoveries, and making almost everything from scratch - right down to the bread for her sandwiches.

Jericho discovered this super cute place, and it was only a few blocks away from my building. Usually I'd expect to travel to Makati or BGC for a decent sandwich that uses artisan bread. Whoever would've thought I could have that in my own backyard and in Las Piñas, of all places?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Osaka Ohsho: Best Gyoza Place Opens in Megamall

Although I had my weekend and then some recovering from a bout of severe hyperacidity, this didn't stop me from heading over to Megamall to check out the newly opened gyoza place, Osaka Ohsho. The popular concept from Japan was brought to the sunny shores of Man-illa by the same group that brought us Wee Nam Kee, and since I was a huge fan of the Singaporean concept, I had the same expectations for this restaurant being pretty awesome, too.

Known as the #1 gyoza place in Japan, their secret-but-not-quite to success is the proprietary blend of Japanese flour they use to make the gyoza skin, keeping it thin but sturdy. That, and the obvious fact of using only the freshest ingredients to make the gyoza stuffing, ensuring the best quality Japanese dumplings.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Yee-Haw for Tex-Mex at TGIFriday's

When I accompanied a friend of mine visiting her sister in Houston, Texas, I fell head over heels in love with the food (I miss you, Cracker Barrel)! Aside from discovering the ice cream brand Blue Bell and reveling over the chalk-that-melts-in-your-mouth-what-the-hell-is-this astronaut's ice cream, I was hooked on everything Tex-Mex, which was mostly composed of seared steak, deep-fried onions and okra, lots of corn, sharp cheeses, and heaps and heaps of spicy layers of flavor like chipotle and jalapeño. And Lawdy, one plate of their food could feed four starving Asians!

That being said, you could imagine my excitement when I was invited to TGIFriday's to try out their newest Tex-Mex dishes. The TGIFriday's branch at Greenbelt had recently gotten an overhaul in the looks department as well, so I was excited to check out the new, sleek, modern interiors.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
All Night Happy Hour at Village Tavern
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Celebrating Chinese New Year at Modern Shanghai
Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spanish Iberico Pork Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

The tonkatsu scene seems to have taken a backseat to the overwhelming ramen craze that has taken over the fair city of Man-illa. I have still to understand why noodles has taken over the imagination of Filipinos, willing to shell out a little under P500 for a bowl of broth, noodles, and porcine part. The only noodle god I recognize and worship is the Black Butao of Awesomeness.

And then there's the tonkatsu scene with the humble breaded pork cutlet done every which way. I've had the Hire, Rosu, and Kurobuta, but I was curious to taste Tonkatsu by Terazawa's Spanish Iberico Pork version. So - my curiosity needing to be satiated - Jericho and a few of our friends went to The Bistro Group's katsu baby in Greenbelt to see and taste the difference for ourselves.

Read more on The Bistro Group's other restaurants:
All Night Happy Hour at Village Tavern
Bulgogi Brother's New Barbecue Specials
Modern Shanghai's Guide to the Xiao Long Bao
Celebrating Chinese New Year at Modern Shanghai
Saturday with the Bulgogi Brothers

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sexy Comfort Food at Borgo Café in BF Homes Parañaque

While the flourishing foodies of the north have their gems at Teacher's Village, the foodies down south have the ever-growing restaurant scene in BF Homes Parañaque to be proud of. Every so often, Jericho and I like to hop in the car and head on over to the humongous subdivision, perusing the long street that is Aguirre Avenue for the latest café, bistro, tuck shop, or balls out restaurant that we had yet to try.

We try to mix it up every time we venture out there, as there really are a lot to choose from - from quaint little bakeries to the more established watering holes. There's always something for everybody! Lately, we discovered Borgo Café, a restaurant that serves comfort food with a very healthy twist. This hole-in-the-wall has great promise and is definitely one of the few along the strip that we'll keep coming back to!

Read more on restaurants in BF Homes Parañaque:
Ritchie's Diner: Classic American Favorites at BF Homes Parañaque
Mediterranean Made Simple: Sophia's Cusina at BF Homes Parañaque
Super Cheap Korean BBQ at Chang Teo
Dim Sum Delights at BF Homes Parañaque's Mandarin Palace
Don Limone at BF Homes Parañaque

Friday, February 21, 2014

Enjoying a European Brunch at Hatch 22 Café & Bakery

Being the sucker that I am for brunch, meeting up with friends for just that on a lovely Thursday morning was just the excuse I needed to check out the Heusaff siblings' restaurant, Hatch 22. It had opened at the Rockwell Powerplant a few months ago and I had yet to check it out. Jericho, on the other hand, came along in the hopes of being able to make googley eyes at Solenn. And to try the food. But mostly the googley eyes at Solenn part. Haha!

I initially thought Hatch 22 was a very American kind of bakery-cum-café, but was pleased to be proved wrong. Not that I have anything against American food, I was just looking for something a bit different. I found most of the food (and the drinks) quite European in terms of flavor and presentation, which I realized was probably the influence of two of the owners being Fil-French. Duh.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting Very Cheeky at Pink Panda #WhereIsPinkPanda

Where is Pink Panda? That's the question that has been going around for the past two weeks, so Jericho and I made it our life's mission (at least for this week) to discover where the hell the new Pink Panda Southeast Asian Diner is and what kind of food they serve.

As it turns out, Pink Panda is located right next to the A. Venue mall, at the Y2 Residence Hotel. We almost passed right by it, but stopped to admire the quirky bamboo furnishings and decor only to see the small pink sign outside. So that's where it was! We went through the bamboo door, having no idea what we were in for, taking a seat by the comfortable, tufted blue booth. As it turns out, this place has me written all over it: It's cute, cheeky, and neon pink!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ogetsu Hime Opens at SM Aura Premier's Skypark

The people behind Dad's and Saisaki have a surprise for everyone - and that's their newest baby Ogetsu Hime! After giving Filipinos a taste of Japan at a pocket-friendly price, the group is now introducing how Japanese food should really taste like at the Skypark level of SM Aura Premier.

Named after the goddess of food, Ogetsu Hime serves high-grade sushi and sashimi, makimono, robatayaki, tempura, teppanyaki, and sukiyaki. The only thing they have seemed to have left our are the katsu, ramen, and dessert!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Top 10 at Pinoy Eats World's Romantic Eats

I had been wanting to check out JJ Yulo's Pinoy Eats World since it first launched last year, but the thought of schlepping over to Podium for an afternoon of perusing food, food, and more food, was enough to make me snuggle even deeper into my duvet in a pseudo food coma.

But when I was told that Irene from my foodie fambam would be selling her delectable cheesecakes at Pinoy Eats World's Romantic Eats this weekend, Jericho and I made the effort to go over to Podium Mall so support her as well as our good friend Cecille Chang's Silk Road.

The second floor of Podium was set up with flowers and a big sign, ushering curious customers in to take a peek at what everyone had to offer (there were a whole lot!). From everything to organic cotton candy to  classic Thai favorites with a twist, there was a little bit of everything for everyone that weekend.

Here are my top 10 vendors from the weekend's Romantic Eats:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Celebrate a Sweet Valentines at Rastro

With the popular malls and Bonifacio High Street filling up with couples on Valentines day, the trend this year seems to be to celebrate at home, to go out either the day before or the day after, while others would rather celebrate the Hallmark holiday sometime in the month of February, not necessarily on the 14th, which is pretty smart. And if your ideal romantic evening consists of sharing shucked oysters, delicious cocktails, great food, and good music with your special someone, then I suggest you bring your date to Rastro.