Feelinguini Hungry: Linguini Fini

linguini fini revie

 

For the longest time, we have lusted over Linguini Fini at the Mega Fashion Hall. Must be the catchy rhyme or the homemade pasta promise.

Nope, it was the rhyme. Linguini Finiiiii. How can you not resist those i’s?

linguini fini compli bread

While I couldn’t drool over the porchetta, pancetta and all other meaty P’s, anything with cheese could suit my fancy. And of course there’s squid!

linguini fini calamari

The Calamari was ostentatiously soft, there was no way you could settle for one, two. Just keep on shoving, but do beware of shoving some chili as well. They do well to garnish but not so much to remedy a sore throat. The dip was just as divine, so scooping is the only acceptable method.

megamall italian

The Bronx Pizza was meat studded, save for 2 plain cheese slices for me (via special request)! For a meat lover, this will do. However for a pizza lover, this was just awright. The dough was not to-die-for, and when I ate my 2nd cheese slice after some time, it was hard and greasy.

While a non pork eater, I could spy chunks of pork fat on the porchetta (5% meat only?) which, I tell you, is no pretty sight (and the pork eater did agree, yes). Maybe next time, stick with the friendly p, Pepperoni!

linguini fini pasta

I went for the basic Pomodori pasta, and learned rather idiotically that linguini fini actually referred to their homemade noodles,as in fine linguini.

After that Aha! moment, we ceased all jokes relating to linguini fini, and if the server was Fini in the flesh, and well, you probably get what I mean, All good. On to the next vocabulary word. (It was digestivo, by the way.)
linguini fini20150226_125514

The Pomodori was a hearty serving of tomato, all twisted in pasta propriety.

The noodles were firm and chewy, and there was a lot going on under that linguini twist. Whilst I relished each bite and delighted in my tomato feast, it was the last few bites that had the clincher.

linguini fini noodle
I guess some strands were just too attached to one another, huh? Sending me their love, in a hard-to-break clump!

Good thing the pizza made me full, so I let this one pass… though with a snapshot to remember them by! Sneaky linguini!

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High Five: 5F Mega Food Hall

megamall food court

Stumbled upon this not-so-secret niche at the 5F of the Mega Fashion Hall. It’s not quite a hush-hush place, since it’s really spacious, but blame me for feeling lazy to get all the way up to visit the ice skating rink.

Megamall Food Hall

I bet Megamall frequent mallers will roll their eyes at my discovery, but let me roll my eyes in return:

The 5F Mega Food Hall is awesome, quiet and my favorite feature is that—you don’t reek of food afterwards!

That is like food hall Heaven for the likes of me! Of course I don’t expect you to feel the same.

SM Mega Food Hall

With an array of tenants that could please even the pickiest eater, I say, any trip to the 5th floor is worth it and warrants a comeback.

Mega Food Hall Tex Mex Nav

Of course I had my cheat sheet beforehand and knew my first destination: Tex Mex. A sucker for anything Mexican and a lover of all things salsa, a taco lunch was necessary.

Tex Mex Mega Food hall

Mexican food megamall

We had the Chicken Taco Salad and Nachos. The Chicken Taco Salad whose name I couldn’t even remember (but I could swear it has the word “pollo”) was okay. I say “Okay” in a sense that when you look at it, you already know how it tastes like.

That’s exactly how it was, mediocre and the straightforward taco salad.

Mega food hall mexican

The Nachos were multicolored and I requested that the beef be separated—a simple request that took some time to process—but at least they got it right!

Despite the overwhelming mix of primary and secondary colors, the entire dish was bland including that awfully yellow cheese sauce. The only flavor that stood out was that of the olives and good thing, olives are friends.

Mega Food Hall Nav

Nav is a neighboring Thai restaurant that serves turmeric! How can you say “no” to that? But I already had the Tex Mex conditioning so I only spied 2 Nav dishes on the spread.

MegaFoodHall20150126_115103

 Pad Thai and Squid (with steak rice, supposedly). The pad thai looked delectably seasoned and the noodles just chewy enough to make you eat slowly and delightfully. The squid tasted like Bon Chon and the rice was devoid of steak. The egg was a curious deep fried presence but sweetened at some point—so some dabbing was involved. Sorry about that.

However with the price range and assortment that the 5F Mega Food Hall has to offer, well, 1) I will be back, 2) I will return, and 3) I shall bring a friend!

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Clearing Out: The Wholesome Table

The Wholesome Table BGCOur first endeavour to visit The Wholesome Table (7th cor. 30th Ave. Bonifacio Highstreet) was met with was not too wholesome, with that one hour waiting period.

Those who know me would know that waiting is a trait I was never born with, and coupled with the adjective “hungry” can only result to disaster.

I did the world a favor by jumping off to neighboring The Village Tavern for dinner. That was the almost visit.

BGC restaurant

The second visit came with a bit of success, partly due to the first timing trauma. Having arrived for lunch on a Thursday at a remarkably impressive 11:30 am, I demanded not only a table, but one with couch seating as well. Early birds deserve the comfy seating, so as not to look dumb, amidst the long wait.

The Wholesome Table restaurant

Lunch was with long-absent peers, so my surreptitious snapshots could not be practiced shamelessly. I only managed a shot of the Eggplant Parmigiana and the complimentary bread. I heard it was potato (hard to believe), but regardless of its root crop origin, it was soft, steamy and righteous enough for the early bird – or anyone who detests carbs!

The Wholesome Table organic food

We also had Chicken Marsala and that Salmon in Basil Cream Sauce Pasta, both of which are kept in the sanctity of my not-too-wholesome belly.

The Salmon Pasta would make a revival on our next visit, but to be accompanied with whole wheat pasta.What I liked about the Salmon Pasta is its light and fresh flavor amidst its salmon and cream components. There was nothing fishy about it.

What is so exciting about this next visit, that I keep on referencing it?

Well for starters, it was a treat so that the orders came shamelessly and excessively. Another was that it was lunch, so we could eat to our heart’s demise and use the “no-dinner” as a pretext (though in retrospect I do remember having dinner still).

organic food bgc

To start of, we had three appetizers, one of which I could not partake in due to its meat content and lonesome serving (3 balls = 4 adults = uh oh).

Lucky them, I managed to forego the Organic Mushroom Fritters. Bathed in tomato sauce, they were supposed to be wrapped in Italian sausage and fried to perfection, but looking at the size, I’d surmise one should be enough.

The Wholesome Table calamari

The Crispy Calamari has that indispensable sauce, but for a group of hungry folks, the ashtray-sized serving necessitated some form of sacrifice.

The Wholesome Table burata

Topped with sweet balsamic vinegar, the Burrata came with a bang and left the table without a trace. I’d swear it never happened!

lazy black cat blog

The Barcelona Pizza, by its name is Spanish inspired and is highlighted by the turkey chorizo, which I feared to try. Never been a fan of chorizo even during my meat eating days, but the shiitake and garlic portion I managed to try were excellently baked into the pie.

The Wholesome Table chicken parmigiana

The Chicken Parmigiana was on the mediocre side, especially if you compare it to its veggie cousin Eggplant Parmigiana.

The parmesan-topped organic chicken was okay, compared to its eggplant-tofu counterpart which was to-die-for!

vegetarian food bgc

The Eggplant Parmigiana  was a tofu joyride in creamy disguise! I will be back for more.

The Wholesome Table chicken

Of course I just had to order the strangest dish in the menu. Ta-dah!

The Ultimate Veggie Burger which I shall describe to the curious: veggie patty of seared mushrooms, zucchini and quinoa, topped with gluten-free, vegan ricotta, onion jam, and field greens.

The Wholesome Table veggie burger

On the side are thin parmesan fries, so it’s a complete meal on its own. The veggie patty may not appeal to the liking of many, since it does not mimic the flavor of meat. Instead, it’s gritty, shroomy with hints of sweetness, while the vegan ricotta offers faint saltiness. While there was no catsup on the side, I felt like it needed a dollop of mustard or relish to get this patty kicking!

Two items I only could stare at (and apparently have no photo proof!) are the beefy entrees.

Graze Land Pizza:  Tomato sauce, grass fed beef strips, baked onions, roasted garlic, fresh mozzarella and grana padano

Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin: Grass fed beef tenderloin fillet with a light demi glaze sauce and served with roasted potatoes

The Wholesome Table tea

On to dessert, which of course was too much – but the gluttons demanded!

The Wholesome Table tiramisu

This odd sandbox is the Tiramisu. Hmm-kay was the general reaction.

The Wholesome Table carrot cake

The Carrot Cake was more like a carrot muffin. Not too moist (was it aged?), the organic carrots, pineapple and raisin combo turned this into a sweet and sour pastry – but tamed by the buttercream cheese. For its price though, I expected a hefty bunny slice!

The Wholesome Table mango panna cotta

The Panna Cotta was the strange one, which I think incorporates a kind of organic yogurt which resulted to grainy panna cotta. It may seem unusual to have un-smooth panna cotta, but you get used to the gritty texture and begin to associate organic with grainy!

All in all, our first reaction to #TheWholesomeTable experience was #expensive for organic meals. In retrospect, we did eat quite a lot and splurged some more for dessert.

After further rumination, perhaps the next visit could be spent on wiser and more sensible meals, such as Eggplant Parmigiana, pizza and a smoothie (which I have yet to try!).

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Into Tahir’s Kitchen

persian restaurant katipunan

Tahir’s Kitchen along Katipunan is painted in blue and white, and could easily be mistaken as a spawn of Vanilla Cupcakes and a shisha. The near-UV blue light is not too picture-friendly and let me warn you that the first batch of photos seemed to have been taken using blue filter. Had to severely edit the photos just to get them back to their realistic state of color.

For a Persian restaurant that ought to be filled with orange-y hues and hints of spice, the blue lights paved the way for what seemed to be an icy meal.

Pardon the metaphor but when Tahir’s is opposite Hassan and Darya – you may end up on the other side of the road, so to speak.

On to the food. Guessing that this was some kind of soft opening, we pardoned the kind waiter for very disappointing words such as, “No falafels today, ” and “We don’t have lava cake yet, ma’am.” Oh Tahir, if you knew I had a weakness for falafel and lava cake – both of which were not available.

On to what were available.

quezon city mediterranean

The Appetizer sampler (Hummus, Green and Black Olives Tapenade, Tzatziki, Tabbouleh (?) + Pita) showcased the dips which is good for the indecisive, but a downfall to learn that not all dips are created equally delightful. Case in point, we gravitated towards the olives tapenade (sooo awesome) and hummus, and left the rest to bathe in the blue light of doom.

meditettanean food quezon city

As much as I love salad, we can always do away with the Mediterranean Salad which is the appetizer sampler in salad form. There was not much novelty as to the taste and the lettuce was not that crisp and lively, so pass.

katipunan restaurant

The Chicken Tandoori was all right. Grilled and tasty but with the same tzatziki and pita bread, you end up wondering why they stock up only one kind of bread. Under the blue light it was getting a bit boring. Good thing the tandoori was a zesty welcome compared to the boring salad.

Tahir's Kitchen kebab fish

The Fish Kebab was presented in the same way as the tandoori, but crumbled once hit by the fork. The saltiness was not addressed by the same set of sauces and pita bread, so it ended up being a seafood mush. Compared to the chicken tandoori, this was not too fun to eat because it slithered on my plate.

And the sauces, say it with me… Again!?!

persian food review

Since the lava cake was not available, we had to settle with the Kulfi Ice Cream which thankfully was a refreshingly novel dessert–one unfazed by the blue hue. Made of homemade yogurt and drizzled with chocolate syrup, it was a redeeming dish and noteworthy in its pure and simple presentation.

However I am a creature of novelty and spicy kicks, and with Tahir’s tamed flavors and atmosphere, this bring down Persian food down to a bland notch.

It may sit well with some folks, but I’d be off to more, say, saucy and zest-filled adventures!

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Tonchaya Drift: Bringing Osaka to the Fort Strip

fort strip restaurant

The ramen rage has been overly hyped, steering folks clear of the real Japanese goods and driving them to carb showdown. Truth is, the best Jap deals come in other jazzy forms – raw, for the adventurous and perky—and bringing the hype in from Osaka and not the big T—tokyo. Catch my drift?

blog review tonchaya

Tonchaya isn’t just that ramen place, it’s a whole Japanese kitchen and bar concept, so you can expect sushi chef and cocktails, and that snobby Tempura crunch we can never seem to copy at home. It’s also intriguingly artsy yet shambolically homey, every nook is filled with paintings, bottles and Japanese food symbols, you’ll find a comfort zone of your own. Even the sign on the kitchen entrance shows a white cat, so there’s something to claw about.

japanese restaurant review

Daily combos or promos are available which are lavishly posted on the walls, like buy-one-take-one tonkatsu Thursdays or maki days.

fort bonifacio japanese restaurant

With the sashimi chiller on display, it is given that maki, sushi and sashimi are abundantly offered and occupy heaps of meals in the menu. I could live on sashimi buffet and rave about it, and miss out on ramen—not the other way around! So good to actually see the fresh catch waiting to be ordered.

tonchaya_jenina_gonzales_maki

Presented first were the usual Japanese appetizer staples. With that much rice on the first course, the white flag of satiation was close to being raised.

The maki was made of sticky rice, so there was not much crumbling going on. Some were a bit on the spicy side too so manage the wasabi on your dipping sauce—or enjoy them piping spicy!

tonchaya_tuna_maki

Here we have the Crunchy Crab Maki (the long rolls), Crunchy Salmon Maki and Crunchy Tuna Maki (looks like the former but has that dotted by a tuna speck).

maki bgc

And then I got confused with all the crunch going on, since I swear I thought it was called Spicy Tuna Maki! I guess I just made that up. Completing the package though, it was spicy, crunchy, a bit sticky and ultimately soy-worthy.

j.anne gonzales food blog

The Chirashidon 8 Kinds showcases various sashimi atop white rice, including Salmon, Tuna, Tamago, Ika, Mackerel, Kani, Ebi and Uni. With roughly two of each, you get the luxury of variety and whilst I never chanced upon the bestselling tamago, the mackerel and uni were mine to fill.

authentic japanese food philippines

 

tonchaya_beef_teppanyaki

The Okonomiyaki looked like a vast pie of curly cabbage generosity. Cabbage, seafood, pork and sauces contributed to this abstract pie art, and bagged the title of crowd favorite. Beef Teppanyaki was another sizzling plate to watch out for, with veggies on the side to minimize the guilt.

tonchaya_tempura_lazyblackcat

The Ebi Tempura was what you would expect—crisp and long—as a positive gastronomic virtue, nothing else. To describe the length on this one—the damn prawn couldn’t fit on the saucer, damn average saucer! Literally had tempura crumbs on my chin after every bite, and boy were those bites aplenty!

tonchaya_chicken_teriyaki

tonchaya_fried_rice_seafood

Rice meals were just as abound in the menu, as heftily exemplified by the Chicken teriyaki and Seafood Gomuko Chahan, the latter being  a leviathan bowl of fried rice—the toppings can suffice as viands. Guaranteed burp—but then again, where’s the fun in just eating rice?

ramen fort bonifacio

Which is why for this hungry cat, a meal is never complete without noodles! Seafood Ramen was just the fix for a rainy evening. With the proper spice level and thick soup, the noodles were pleasantly chewy so each bite was packed with a zing. The seafood was also in abundance, so this should suffice as a meal on its own. Good for sharing, or for a hungry solo, why go for the boring ramen when you could have seafood on a sea of red? Oishi!

bgc restaurant review

With all those pescatorian slurps and bites, there was no room left for dessert. Sadly. Maybe next time.

There’s nothing like a cozy Japanese bar, the type where Naruto could just sit and slurp his noodles without a care in the world. Well Tonchaya’s a bit close to that—with just better paintings and seats.

For those planning to visit this place soon, Itadakimasu! Or better yet, call me. Lol. =P

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A Kuppa Opportuni-tea

BGC Restaurant coffee

Back in the day, I referred to Kuppa as Koopa – an unconscious tribute to the Super Mario Brothers boss. After realizing my linguistic folly, it took me time to adjust my long u to a curt sound and finally get it right. A Kuppa tea, if you please. Of course in Ken’s (Daniels) case, more of, a Cup of Earl Grey Hot Tea.

Now that I got past that video game reference, it was time to pay homage to the actual spot: Kuppa Roastery and Cafe, 31st cor. 4th, BGC. What better time to visit Kuppa than planning it alongside our interview with Fil-Brit Kaya FC/Azkals player Kenshiro Daniels. Ken, for short, is actually a regular at Kuppa, and so the so-called short walk to his usual hang-out would certainly be just “a day in the life of Ken.” Of course the opposite holds true for us northerners – and in hindsight, that was the onset of #MarioPH.

Kuppa is mostly glass and beside another K place. Ah, Kanteen, how can I forget?

Ken Daniels Interview

I had decided beforehand that I would order the Cristina Pizza because it contains a strange but friendly mix of toppings: mozzarella, balsamic, Gorgonzola, figs and grapes. Said to share with a friend, but sorry, I always go solo on pizza – and yes, I did finish it!

The pizza is not that gigantic, so a hungry person can finish a whole pie and still have room for dessert. Since the interview was running long, the Cristina was unaffected by the unyielding chilling temperature because the cheese just remained firm, which is all right for me. Unfortunately for those who hate sweet things on their food, the Cristina is not your kuppa tea. One taste and my brother almost spat a Cristina morsel on my face, screaming, “I hate figs!” I guess he wanted dessert instead.

He did go for the Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza (forgot what it’s called exactly) and loved it till the last oily crumb. Swears my Cristina was the worst choice for a pizza lover and I wasted my evening chewing on figs. At least now I know how figs taste, and indeed, they are better topped on pies or oatmeal.

After Ken devoured his Vongole and Chicken Milanese, we advanced to dessert.

Kuppa desserts

 

j.anne gonzales blog

Chocolate Souffle and Devil’s Chocolate Cake. The Souffle would have gone perfectly with vanilla ice cream, those firm and sticky chocolate forkful of bites to be complemented with cool creamy vanilla. It could’ve done with more height, since one slice is never enough! On the other dish is the Chocolate Cake with layers of devilish fudge. Moist and cool, you will keep on digging it until you end up with an empty saucer.

Ah well, they did say good things don’t last forever – and in this case, 2 minutes.

Kenshiro’s the Man

Ken Daniels Azkal

The Kenshiro Daniels Interview lasted for a couple of hours, interspersed with sneaky pizza bites, text breaks and off-topic stories. Whilst this is for the Kaya FC Website, I reserve the right to post snippets and excerpts, as a form of consolation to me and my new sandals that got drenched on the way to McKinley.

Read about Ken Daniels here.

A little something about Kenny:

When faced with American-born, Filipino–British Kenshiro Daniels for the first time, the choice between bloke or dude, cola or tea, or even bummer or bugger—will clearly stand to boggle. Best to call the lad Kenny, give him a Hi-chew (if none, a high five can do), and ask about his favorite meme. With the wits of Heisenberg, don’t try fooling the 19-year-old Kaya FC player with fake accents and false facts on history—unless you can deflect his mean green fighting kicks.

Ken Daniels was quite the character to interview; he is young and carefree, yet sensible and endearing. The name “Kenshiro” came from the lead character his dad, actor Gary Daniels played, in the movie Fist of the North Star. If you Google “Ken”, it actually means “fist” in Japanese.

With an actor/retired kickboxer for a dad and a Filipina mom + 4 brothers, Ken may have had an interestingly shambolic and colourful childhood . Still, we can thank Manchester United for the “room”, as he ended up loving football and now plays for Kaya FC and the Azkals.

The Manchester United room was Ken’s room back home in Newport Beach. Studded with MUFC fixtures and flags, he literally grew up in Old Trafford with the Red Devils, whilst still enjoying Sinigang, c/o his mom. Now he enjoys walks to Kuppa, which is where the interview took place and boy am I glad that despite the pre-Mario rains and puddles, Kuppa was a comfortable place for the wet and weary. And Ken’s Earl Grey Tea.

The interview was long and best to read it at the Kaya FC Website, with the awesome artwork of @Mijigonzales.

And keep on supporting Kaya FC! That’s Ken and Miji’s team! #UnaKaya

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Hijo D’ Pita: I love cursing my food!

Z compound malingap

One change in the vowel sound and I’m doomed to censorship. Hijo D’ Pita’s name is such a bitch, since I’m always prone to saying the bad word—which admittedly I already am prone to doing on a daily basis.

the zone compound teacher's village

Hijo D’ Pita is in that Z Compound along Malingap St. which is the new hub for cheap street eats. I returned to the Z on a Sunday with high hopes of trying out Meshwe, which was disappointingly closed, so we ended up in the neighboring Hijo D’ Pita. The switch from Lebanese to Mexican was not that bad, since I had planned on ordering some kind of pita anyway.

UP village malingap st

Most of the menu items are pita-based, so we had the Classic Hijo Chili Beef Pita and the Hijo D’ Pita Chicken. Despite the impending darkness, it was wise to read through the menu, since the other chicken pita serving had bacon! Pita me!

Beef Chili Hijo de Pita

Chicken Hijo de Pita Malingap

So the basic Chicken Pita was mixed with its special sauce + condiments and tons of cucumber. The pita is more of a sandwich than a wrap, so expect it to come in a sandwich plastic bag and none of that foil-twist packaging. The side condiments come in the “sweet” side, even that dark sauce which I initially thought was hoisin.

nachos mexican malingap z compound

The Nachos are drizzled with substances that I found too hard to identify in the dark! I remember cucumber and carrot cubes and at least 3 sauces, plus nacho chips that were friendly to the bite.

NACHOS + PITA make the indefatigable combination, so I can’t complain, except that next time around, I would really like proper lighting, so that I would not have to use “flash” on my food.

They say that candle light dinner is romantic but I say that’s Hijo D’ P***!

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Le Ching and Other Smart Street Food Snacks

Le ching too  menu

If you grew up hearing Le Ching over and over, either you were a Greenhills kid, a shopaholic or just always hungry!

chinese food greenhills

Le Ching has become so popular with the local crowd, it refused to change its 80s scheme and instead, expanded as Le Ching Too—which is pretty much straightforward, not too innovative but acceptable, nevertheless.

With its #tbt vibe, it reminds me of my Goldilocks uniform which I sordidly miss, and when Pancake House at the GF of Shoppesville was the height of cool.

le ching shoppesville

For the longest time, I have ordered the Wanton noodle soup—pre-diet days while the father relished those Pork Spare Ribs on rice. However due to deathly August 2014 circumstances, we ended up ordering the most unusual combination.

Le Ching Seafood Roll

Le Ching Tofu

Trying to be adventurous I ended up with Steam Tofu and Seafood Roll. The seafood roll is uncanny and interesting but not that filling which made the steam tofu, the hunger buster in this combo!

chinese restaurant shoppesville

Hardly is the case that I would spy congee on the dinner table, but here it is. Best on a rainy day—but not for a toothache, case in point.

Having posted quite enthusiastically the Binondo series (1 and 2), Le Ching still persists as a tough Greenhills competitor, but its lack of veggie-friendly dishes cannot assure my constant craving in the future.

Since this post is about Le Ching, I have decided to cram in other related streetfood-like experiences, since it would be ludicrously tiring to individually post them.

Pares Retiro visayas ave

saba con yelo pares retiro

Pares Retiro is in my nearby ‘hood, but make no make no mistake of walking alone at night on that “red” side of Visayas Ave. Still, the signage of Pares Retiro is so Westernly amiable, you’d consider this a shelter from the dark side.

Whilst I don’t eat meat, I managed a photo of the beef pares which is supposed to be the best (well the customers all looked happy—or drunk?), and the Saba con Yelo, which is the only thing my appetite could afford, was expectedly milky and sweet—but better with more banana saba!

Mini Stop is our office staple convenience store, so it’s time to get to know its dessert entrees. Skip the cone and go for the Cookies and Cream Sundae—cookies (not sure if it’s Oreo—oh wait, I don’t think so), chocolate syrup and vanilla swirly ice cream—the works. For P25, why must you scrimp on something this cheap?

Isaw Tiendesitas
My first isaw experience can be credited to Tiendesitas. Shame on me for being a UP student and having my first taste so far from home (and at this age)!

Still that wee bite was hilariously death defying—I am sorry, street food aficionados—I think I shall stick to fish balls next time! :)

Quezo de bola cheesecake Elias

Lastly is that “not-so-cheap” Quezo de Bola Cheesecake from Elias, Robinson’s Magnolia. At P200 a slice, I was expecting drool-worthy experience that would haunt my dreams, but this one just was so-so and not something I would crave in my cheesecake list.

Which makes me wonder, what makes a quezo de bola cheesecake desirable? Is it the sharp flavor of cheese or crusty base? I had both—but maybe, maybe just next, I should have tea perhaps? Only Sisa would know

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Z Marks the Spot: The Backyard Reservoir

malingap st. z compound

For the longest time, I miserably could not find the Maginhawa St. joint, only to later discover the Z Compound on Malingap St. Interestingly, these street names have more in common aside from virtues and syllables—do guess—and intersect at the Bayan Tel building, which is a favorite family landmark.

the zone compound teacher's village

It is also a 5-second walk away from Pino, which is another friendly landmark. But of course, you can’t miss that bellowing yellow “Z” sign!

On a rainy Thursday night, the Z Compound was packed mainly with college students and yuppies. It’s a free-for-all place, a bit tough to find seats during peak hours—though you’ll be surprised to see the 2nd floor veranda on some restaurants.

Backyard reservoir menu

The Backyard Reservoir is somewhere in the core of the compound and looks artfully decorated yet still bearing that laid-back and outdoorsy guise.

It manages its slight menu in a chalkboard—but despite the seemingly short list—decisions are still hard to make with the deliriously pleasant sounding pizza and sandwich names! The iced tea looks awesome too–and tastes, fruity!

lazy black cat blog

 

Appetizers are the usual fried fares, but who can say no to mozzarella sticks?

The sticks are firm and packed with cheese, whilst the Curly Fries are reminiscent of the twister fries that everyone just loves. Careful not to eat too much or you’ll miss out on the main meals!

where to eat teacher's village

There are a handful of pizza names though the El Pago (homemade sausage) and Three Cheese Pesto stand out.

The El Pago lends a meaty touch to the thin crust. The Three Cheese Pesto has the right balance of herb and cheese atop the crust—even cold it tastes awesome.

Z compound teacher's village menu

The Sandwiches are crafted generously, the meat almost pouring out of the wheat bread (for the Pastrami and Ham, Egg & Cheese). Of course we could do with sidings, but with curly fries on the menu, this has been addressed.

The Tuna Melt is just freely pouring out with tuna, it is a perfectly balanced (and healthy) meal on its own. The meaty variants are just as chunky and heftily prepared.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for utensils to wolf down these gigantic beasts of bread!

jenina gonzales blog review

Pasta selections come in three: La Onioni, Marinara and Pesto Tuyo.

Whilst the Marinara can do a bit more with the sauce, the Pesto Tuyo is a sure winner. With the usual seafood twist to my favorite pesto, this pasta dish brings out comfort food to the fusion level.

Hungry diners can finish a bowl—but with the price range of the Backyard Reservoir, come on, do share. That’s the Backyard rule—and you still get change, for dessert.

* This fun field trip to the Z Compound was organized by #TeamAldous :)

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Bang Bang Bangkok

lazy black cat bangkok

My first time in Bangkok, Thailand and I swore on a sacred noodle that all meals would consist of pad thai. That was the pad thai plan, but of course, after 2 consecutive heavy noodle dishes and spotting McDonald’s and its local menu (which has Ovaltine!), it took me less than 24 hours to stray away from “the pad thai plan”.

Bangkok airport

Which was all right, I reckon.

As a warning though, my Bangkok post will be devoid of sights, markets (floating and dry) and other common scenes and attractions, because our priority was to shop and eat, and sightsee falls at the bottom of the list, even after, “Check out Boot’s drugstore”. Yes, that is normal for us.

Thai will be done

Bangkok Big C

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Despite the Php unfairly pitted again THB and USD, the meals in the Big C food court proved to be insanely cheap. For 50THB I got Stir Fried Noodles with Shrimp, and that equates to about Php75. The cheapest pad thai I have spotted in Manila has reached the Php100 level and the proportion of bean sprouts to noodles was “pro-vegetarian”.

Bangkok food court pad thai

Bangkok big c

The Tom Yum with Seafood was another food court feast—and without the word “spicy” appearing anywhere in the menu—was a safe choice! Filling as well, with its glass noodles.

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Other food court meals. And why there is French fries, can be attributed to the “pre-loaded card” that needs to be consumed, pronto.

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Seeing Ronald McDonald in a prayer pose necessitates more than one visit to McDonald’s Thailand, so I went there thrice. One for the Chicken McWrap, Choco Overload McFlurry and the Ovaltine Float. I could’ve eaten all three in one sitting, though.

chicken mcwrap

The McWrap was the tolerably spicy and chunky and “green”. With the sweet chili sauce, at first bite, all I could scream was sweeeet! But you get the hang of it. I wanted to buy another one for the airport but it rained so bad, I hoped and prayed there would be Mickey D’s in the airport. Nil.

The Mcflurry was typical and hideously sweet, while the Ovaltine Float took me ages to order because I can be so bad at hand gestures and “float” may have a different meaning in Bangkok. After 5 minutes of bickering with the English menu, finally I got it right. Or wait, the cashier did.

Bangkok mcdonald's thailand

KFC Thailand has a similar wrap but disguised as the usual Twister. It was not as satisfying. Good thing they serve egg tarts (plain and choco banana) which is probably the only cool thing about the Colonel’s franchise. Oh and that Shrimp Donut I never got to take a photo of!

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Bangkok KFC twister

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Another delightful wrap I encountered was the randomly placed Shawarma stand (Tombik Lavas) in Chatuchak. Unplanned and impulsive, I fell in line, ordered chicken shawarma and ate like a weary shopper—which I was. It was awesomely and flavorfully Persian, and I sat beside the condiments—that garlic sauce was life-saving!Bangkok20140823_121922

Bangkok chatuchak food

lazy black cat travel review

Shabu-shabu came as a “heated” lunch treat, in MK Restaurant, which unfortunately only has the tissue holder photo. Too bad! I sat away from my camera and in front of the balls—pardon my priorities—and now I suffer no memories of that sweltering experience and green noodles! Boo.

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Bangkok Arnoma Hotel

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Breakfast food in Arnoma Hotel was all right—buffet and certainly not bland. Fried noodles, muesli, homemade yogurt, salad and omelet (with mozza cheese) completed by power breakfast—though the rest found redemption in the beef stew and crispy bacon. Can’t blame them. Sometimes I wonder why the Thai don’t have much fried fish like our local daing or bangus—those would have gone terribly well with my eggs!

 

Western Cheats

Admittedly, not all meals were Orientally inspired, though not committed on purpose. Occasions when hunger pangs just stripped me of common sense, I had to yield to hunger and buy whatever was on sight.

In Terminal 2 (Manila Airport) alone, I succumbed to the Egg Sandwich of Café France—which was an unwise choice since it’s similar to the staple sandwich I create at home! Still, it was nice to have someone prepare it for me—with layers and lettuce. And in PAL, local ice cream was served, Ube ice cream to be more specific! #Tbt since I can’t remember the last time I ate Ube ice cream – or if I even have!Bangkok20140821_113129

In the Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok), still it was another sandwich escapade, the Chicken Pesto on Panini by Caffe Ritazza. I badly wanted to try The Pizza Company, but I had to buy the entire pie, and with my last remaining Baht, had only about 200THB for dinner. Hence, the Panini (plus pretzels and a banana muffin, not in photo).

Bangkok caffe ritazza

Drinks were abound in Bangkok streets, side streets and anywhere you can possibly get thirsty! I never got the chance to try the milk tea and street iced coffee, since I stocked our fridge with the local version of Yakult (with Stevia)!

Bangkok snacks

Bangkok black canyon coffee

However I could not pass the chance to try Black Canyon Coffee, which has 2 branches in Platinum Mall alone. Too tired and bored, I ordered something with vanilla ice cream on top, something like Matcha Frap with Ice Cream—but that’s not what it’s called. I remember something more glamorous like Matcha Frap Glacier. Glacier! How can I say no to that? Unlike local green tea fraps which pile on the sugar aspect, Black Canyon’s was on the icy side—which favors the sugar-averse like me. Icy and mildly sweet—toped with ice cream—the perfect glacier.

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Last on the Western cheats is the inevitable sin, Baskin Robbins. There is something about its pink andbarren store that screams: Come on over weary traveler! Come and splurge I did—with the favorite Jamocha Almond and Strawberry scoops.

 

Bua wanna know?

Bangkok Bua Restaurant

The only properly documented meal was in Bua Restaurant (Soi Convent, Silom, BKK) which was strategically planned on a Friday night. Bua is located in that “red” part of town, but all I remember were shady cab drivers, nitrogen ice cream and a sports store.

Bangkok Bua Silom Convent

In Bua, we extravagantly celebrated our Thai survival by ordering whatever looked colorful and edible in the menu. It was an elaborate spread, mainly painted with seafood and sauces, with zealous waitresses who refilled my water whenever I waved my hand in need (which came too often).

Whilst I could no longer get into details and actually forgot the exact name of each dish, the pictures ought to suffice.

Bangkok silom What we loved about Bua was its Fried Thai Shrimp Cakes which were adorable soft and filled with shrimp in every bite!

Thailand where to eat

The Laksa with Shrimp would’ve been a runner up, had it not been too freakishly spicy, that I could no longer taste it properly—explaining my constant waving for water!

thailand jenina gonzales

The Pad Thai (with and without the egg nest) were all right, but I believe, more Bangkok adventures would unravel more delectably prepared noodle dishes.

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The Fried Fish was really just a normal dish, but was greatly enhanced by that extravagantly concocted sauce that looked more like salad than just a sauce. Together, the fish was elevated to flavorful seafood staple.

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Temple Run

Our trip to Bangkok was peppered with some sights, to at least make this post travel-worthy.

bangkok temple to visit

Bangkok at traimit gold buddha

A very brief and sheltered trip to Wat Traimit, Wat Pho, and Wat Benchamabophitr completed the tour—not to mention the random shopping destinations.

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The temples were awe-inspiring and expectedly, the weather humid and streaky.

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I did learn that my Buddha counterpart maintains the meditative pose, which is the opposite of the rebellious me.

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Bangkok wat traimit

Bangkok reclining buddha at pho

I bought the same statue but gave it away—and kept the standing Buddha with the hand gesture “stop”. Or does it mean peace?

 

Shop till you drop

Bangkok thailand travel

Chatuchak was accessed by train on both trips, so pardon me for saying that it was certainly an exhausting battle with the haggling, walking and getting lost—which happened 90% of the time.

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Bangkok chatuchak

What made the solo trip worthwhile though was the shopping haul that ranged from the skull bag, cheap shirts and the beaded frog—oh, and that awesome shawarma! I got into an almost fight with a shake vendor so to keep the peace, ordered water instead.

The Bangkok experience was really an incomparable and unique encounter. There were surprises, communication blunders and near muay thai incidents—all sorted out with pad thai and milo candies at the end of the day.

Should I return to Bangkok, I will certainly ride the elephant and feed it a fish stick, while sitting on the meditative pose. If I succeed in that, then that’s as good as Nirvana for me.

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