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My Silantro Love

Silantro Fil-Mex | UP Town Center

silantro head.png

Not to mess with the English dictionary but let us start by clarifying that “cilantro” is Chinese parsley, otherwise known as coriander; whereas “Silantro” (with an S) is the Fil-Mex restaurant that is the subject of the blog post.

When you say Fil-Mex + UP Town Center, only one place comes to mind: Silantro. Synonymous to lines, QC, cheap treats and expansion wishlist, this place is a haven to the northern foodies craving for vegetables disguised with Mexican flavors.

papis fritas silantro uptc.jpg

Papi’s Fritas

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Nachos

As to the presence of cilantro in all of Silantro’s dishes may be a question reserved to the chef.

In my incessant munching in between sips of water, what stuck in my gastronomic memory were bits of onions, salsa and the occasional cheese. So much for Mexican food savant.

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Lamb Tacos (Completo)

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Chicken Tacos (Medio)

Rather that describe each dish, which by the way consistently offered that signature Silantro flavor (in a positive way), I’m learning to be concise in my writing. On point. Let’s give it a try:

Silantro’s dishes give out that much awaited Mexican punch, in a price and atmosphere that are most acceptable for the Pinoy palate. I fully appreciate the mucho serving size without sacrificing flavor.

The intensity of the zest, flavors and salsa, coupled with the heaps of vegetables (lazy black cat approved) gives it a health edge as well. All in all, the queuing was all worth the wait.

While not much can be done about the queuing time, a girl can just wish that this can be managed. How? Well that’s not my problem. =)

silantro up town center.jpg

Oh, here’s what we ate:

Nachos, Papi’s Fritas, Lamb tacos (Completo), Chicken tacos (Medio

Wishlist-wise, do open a branch in Trinoma or The Block. We absolutely hate the parking system in UP Town Center. It is a labyrinth and a burden to the hungry and impatient.

 

 

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Do’s and Dohtonbori

Neko

DO say “Konnichiwa” to Maneko Neki and Daruma-san!

If you are lazy and blessed with non-cooking abilities like me, DO try Dohtonbori for that wonderful grilling experience.

I had my omelettes cooked by the waiter, which is part of their service for the lazy ones who refuse to get their pores steamed early in the day.

Our visit at Dohtonbori SM North was perfect timing–early enough to get front seats and before the noisy, lunch time crowd set it. DO sit where it suits your fancy; in our case, near the pitcher station, and since it was a steamy session with the grill, our tiny glasses had to be refilled a gazillion times.

DO order the Quattro Formaggi. The 4-cheese omelette is perfect for non meat eaters. It also offers that creamy and homey touch that makes you want to put your feet up and watch anime all day. Drizzle it will whatever sauce on your table, and it just gets better!
Omelette Yakisoba Dohtonbori

DO also order the Omelette Yakisoba. While it does have meat in it, I had ours cooked on the side. Ta-dah what we got was a meatless Yakisoba!

Cooking YakisobaPerfectly cooked and seasoned–it was all worth the wait! I drizzled all the condiments on our table and each bite just got better and better. The noodles were chewy and lent that texture needed for balance the omelette’s softness.

Mixing it with the Quattro Formaggi was also a good idea!

CAlamari

If you’re just into the omelette experience, you DO NOT need to try the Fried Calamari. The 9 squid pieces were just mediocre, heftily breaded and with a sauce that was nothing extraordinary. If you wish to splurge on the Dohtonbori experience, you’re better off with anything cooked on the grill!

Am planning the next visit–now that the rainy season’s begun and the pores won’t be as angry as Daruma-san =)

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Grub a Bite or Two @GrubHubPH

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1 Grub Hub Visayas Avenue

Being a Quezon City girl, it’s fun to see interesting food place popping in our locale. From food parks to expanding malls, QC is becoming a destination, and we’re not just talking Maginhawa here.

 

2 grub hub wall mural 2

Moving further up North, one of the new eye-catching fixtures is Grub Hub. More like a sprawling green food warehouse, it brings together the artsy vibe with refreshing murals and a happy mix of feasts. If you’re familiar with F.I.S.H. (47 Congressional cor. Visayas Ave.) it just sunk one day and next thing we knew, Grub Hub sprouted its awesome stalls and became a corner favorite of the locals.

4 grub hub mural 4

Open everyday from 11am to 11pm (until 1am on weekends), parking can get a little bit of a challenge. While you can park at the adjacent China Bank (outside office hours), best to visit while it’s early and you get your choice of seats.

5 grub hub junkyard

Seat choices? For real! Depending on your mood or #cotd (craving of the day), you have a range of seating locations to suit your fancy.

There’s the Junkyard that welcomes you with recycled décor, tire seats and artsy tables. By recycled, we mean the previous décor from FISH, reused for this new set-up. Organic art—my kind of place!

7 Grub hub the greenhouse

Then there’s the enclosed air-conditioned space called the Greenhouse. If you opt for a cooler place with plants and peace, this one’s for you.

Alternatively, there’s the Hippieyard, complete with nipa huts and lanterns and the only thing lacking is the sand on your feet. Doesn’t matter though because the Godzilla mural makes up for the trippy-tropical vibe.

10 Hobbit hole day

Not to be missed is the Hobbit Hall where all your food selections are lined up in the hobbit-fashion.

Hop from one stall to another and feel like Frodo going on a picnic. 

11 grub hub mural 3

Good grub

The hub has about 17 food stalls that cater to cravings of every hungry niche—Japanese, Mexican, sweet tooth, vegetarian, bacon, pulutan-questors, budget-watchers and of course, the barkada bundle.

We were not able to eat from all stalls, but here’s a quick glimpse of what Grub Hub has to offer and the top 3 interesting items I spotted from their menu.

Of course, let me start with the places where I bought from, ate and conquered.

12 noble comida stall

Noble Comida

Top Picks

  1. Nachos P195 (Reg), P245 fiesta – Nacho Chips with beef, salsa and cheese sauce
  2. Chicken Quesadillas P145
  3. El Coco Pollo 4 pcs 195, 8 pcs 375 – A unique union of chicken and coconut breading

The first thing I look for in any food park is Mexican food! Anything that rhymes with nacho, goes well salsa and just bursts with aroma calls out to me. So imagine my delight to find every Mexican fantasy I have under one roof – nachos, tacos, quesadillas and pollo dishes that you just have to try.

The cheese quesadilla was such a steal for P125—with a creamy filling and just perfect with salsa. On its own, it can already serve as an awesome meal. The Nachos are such a hit with the kids—I must have seen an order every time I passed the stall. Oozing with cheese and with the right crisp, this is the perfect choice for a grande group!

15 st micks wing bar facade

St. Mick’s Wing Bar

Top Picks

  1. Salted Egg with Curry leaves
  2. Teriyaki
  3. Sriracha Honey

If you’re in the mood for flavored wings, then St. Mick’s just wings it. While they boast of the naked chicken which is delectable enough, plain and unadulterated, they have interesting flavors that you may be interested to try, depending on your mood for the day.

16 st micks sriracha honey wings

We tried the Sriracha Honey wings (P180 / 8 pieces with dip) and got gigantic pieces that offered a delightful sweet crunch. A bit mild on the spiciness level though, so this would be enjoyed even by the kids. The creamy garlic dip that came on the side was a watered down version of the bleu cheese dip we’re used to, but manages to do the job of tempering the wing’s robust flavor.

17 Chillout cooks grub hub

Chillout Cooks

Top Picks:

  1. Anti Depression P229 – Deep fried chocolate hazelnut marshmallows pie + 2 magic brownies + 3 deep fried vanilla glazed cinnamon Oreos
  2. The Original Fried Pie P99 – Pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, Chillout cooks secret sauce, and special herbs
  3. Munchies P249 – The Original Fried Pie + 4 Cheese Fried Pie + Vanilla French Onion Rings

This is Bob Marley meets the deep fryer. Think One Love served in greasy pans. The fried pizza is their thang and their Chillax Menu ought to bring you happy trippy thoughts with the power of magic (seriously they have magic brownies).

Their signature Fried Pizza took longer to photograph, than the actual eating of less than 5 minutes.

The Cheesy Cheese Bombs, I painstakingly tried to preserve. However, the longer it took, the colder the cheese got and at the end of the meal, we were left with 90% dough and.. where’d the cheese go? Best to eat within 5 minutes of serving too!

Papa Beer

Top Picks

  1. Beer Battered Crispy Greens – P65 single, 125 bucket
  2. Chicken Poppers 120
  3. Grablets Crablets P160

The Papa has interestingly named dishes that just beckon you to go for a beer and order any tongue twisters. Grablets Crablets, Onion Rims, Pare Calamare. Glad to see beer battered greens—that’s something new in my list—and boy were they filling! The batter has that sweet-spicy flavor that could really go well with, the Italian Cremosa from Café Fratello (sorry, not a beer drinker).

 

The Pare Calamare was cooked just right, perfectly soft, that it could be eaten sans the sauce. The batter of the calamare was milder and toned down, which would be my preference since I had other flavorful dishes to eat this with.

23 aji sushi stall

Aji Sushi

Top Picks

  1. Cheetos Roll P139– Spicy tuna, cream cheese, bacon, crushed Cheetos mixed with Japanese mayo topped with Cheetos
  2. Golden Dragon Roll P159 – Eel, tuna, ebiko and cream cheese mixed with spicy mayo
  3. Ebi and Vegetable Tempura– P200

When you see Cheetos and Tonkatsu under one roof, you know you can’t possibly skip that place. Aji Sushi offers a not-so-usual take on the favorite Japanese goods. From Alaska Roll to a variety of tempura combos, you can get your Japanese fix here.

 

We ordered the California Maki, Crazy Maki and Fire Roll—all lined up and seamlessly handcrafted. The rice was freshly cooked, that lent to the fresh steaminess of the maki. The Fire Roll was tuna drizzled with chili oil, so no wasabi was needed to get you all fired up! In terms of flavor, a hint of citrus may have livened up the rolls a bit, but for their price, the taste is fairly reasonable.

Café Fratello

Top Picks:

  1. Horlicks Coffee Chocolate Malt Fratccino P120
  2. Oreo Pretzel Cream Frappe P150
  3. Matcha Creamy Milk Green Tea Fratccino P120

Café Fratello specializes in crafting frappes and their own concoction, the fratccino. If there is a brotherhood of creamy goodness, this would be it. I spotted Horlicks and Matcha in the menu, so count me in this… sisterhood. To top it all off, they also have a cookie frap (+cookie to any frap). Isn’t that just sweet?

26 Fratello Blueberry Italian Cremosa

The Italian Cremosa flavored with Blueberry was so large, it took 2 of us to finish that fruity cup! Very refreshing especially in the summer heat, the cream also doubled as a dessert!

27 brooks grub hub

Brook’s Burgers

Top Picks

  1. Chicken Chimichanga P180 – Deep fried burrito topped with chicken, garlic sauce and cilantro
  2. Beer Battered Fish and Chips P160- 1 whole deep fried beer battered cream dory, served with fries and your choice of dip
  3. Grilled Cheese Sandwich Burger P200 – 1/3 lbs pure beef patty with cheese sauce in between 2 grilled mozzarella and cheddar cheese sandwiches *served with our special marinara sauce

Cheese lovers, unite! With deep-fried varieties, fries and cheesy goodness overflowing from Brook’s, you ought to stop and just smell the cheese. My brother stopped and ate the cheese (with his grilled cheese sandwich burger) and fries, but sadly, failed to finish that one last bite. Maybe he was full or maybe… is there such a thing as cheesified?

28 Brooks Old Fashioned Cheeseburger

While typing the menu items, I wonder about that missing marinara from the photo. Looks like someone forgot about the sauce!

Hokkian Kitchen Co.

Top Picks:

  1. Siomai Platter P449
  2. Salted Egg Prawn P239
  3. Chicken Siomai P80

If you’re in the mood for Chinese food, then this place has that wide range of the usual favorites from Cereal Prawns to a Dimsum Platter!

Yang Chow rice is an available option and goes well with the Orange Chicken. The Pork Siomai serves as the rightful pairing for the sweetened chicken. The beef noodles my brother got though was lacking on the “heating” and flavor department, so best to stick with the unbeatable fried rice and dimsum combination.

 

32 Sub Zero gelato

Sub Zero Gelato

Top Picks

  1. NY Cheesecake
  2. Mint with chocolate chips
  3. Strawberry

The only thing that can top a gelato is brownie-topped gelato! From interesting flavors that range from cereal to matcha, the decision even gets more complex when deciding what to top it with.

Mang Larry’s Isawan

Top Picks:

  1. Isaw Manok
  2. Tenga
  3. Gizzard

If you’re from UP, you can relate to 2 things: the food and the queue! From the Hobbit Hall, you can already spy the line and that can only be for the P10 street food. From everyone’s go-to isaw to the adventurous gizzard, you can’t possibly leave Mang Larry’s with just a stick.

Yzzy Eats

Top Picks

  1. Bacon Fried Like Chicken – P165 regular / 85 solo
  2. Parmesan Chick Stick – P75
  3. Japanese Chick Stick – P75

If you keep on hearing BFLC, it’s not a secret code, it’s just their well-known “Bacon Fried Like Chicken”. Use the lingo and enjoy that specially seasoned bacon that gives off our favorite fried chicken feel. If bacon’s not your go-to comfort food, have a chick stick—flavored or plain—and this time the chicken’s the real deal.


Chica’s Chicharronia

Top Picks

  1. Chili Garlic Sisig Squid P175
  2. Crispy Pata with Chicha Flakes P495
  3. Chicharon Bulaklak Platter P150

So many C’s in the menu makes you c clearly that chicharon is the special-c! Everything is crisp and fried, and makes the perfect barkada destination. If you’ve got a pescatorian in the bunch (hint, hint) there’s c-food in the menu for you too!

Papa Natz Pizzeria

Top Picks

  1. Shrimp Parmigiana P319
  2. Margherita P239

The family was gung-ho to try out the Shrimp Parimigiana when we arrived at 11:45am. I was so excited to order the biggest pie the minute I stepped into the Hobbit Hole, so imagine the disdain when I was told that the oven would be ready in the afternoon (literally, in a matter of hours). And so to this day, I will wonder how the Shrimp Parmigiana pizza will taste like and photos in Instagram will always haunt me like a brokenhearted past. #ilovepizza #ireallydo

Porchetta MNL

Top Picks

  1. Chicken Chimichanga P180
  2. Meaty Lasagna Roll up P160
  3. Chef’s Porchetta in ciabatta bread, salsa verde, garlic mayo – P169

Take “porchetta” as the key word, and you know what to expect, a meat fest bathed with Italian flavors. Looking closely at the menu though, the pasta dishes cater to greens

Wicked Kitchen

Top Picks

  1. Gluttony – Soft and chewy freshly baked chocolate ship cookie, ice cream, whipped cream and choco syrup
  2. Greed – Skillet s’mores melted chocolate, puffed mallows, graham crackers P188
  3. Envy – Chocolate milk shake

The Wicked Kitchen whips up the 7 deadly sins in their most delicious form. If you cannot decide between lust or envy, it’s okay to let Gluttony to take over. Best when shared though, so that you can have a taste of more than one—and have greed for last

Joey’s Charcoal Grill

Top Picks

  1. Lamb Shoulder rubber with own blend of Garam Masala with Chimichurri Sauce + Rice P270
  2. Classic Porterhouse/T-Bone with Gravy + Rice P250
  3. Miso Marinated Salmon Belly with toyomansi + Rice P120

It’s a grill that specializes in steaks, so if you’re feeling extravagant and don’t feel like indulging in street food, this lamb’s for you.

Big Tummiez

Top Picks

  1. Churros Ice Cream Sandwich P125
  2. Churros with Ice cream P135
  3. Churros with Matcha Dip P99

Big Tummiez specializes in churroz, and makes any churro fantasy real! Seriously, if you’ve ever envisioned making sandwiches or flavored filling/dips, this place will just haunt you until you give in.

Mrs. Lumpia

Top Picks

  1. Taco Platter topped with mozzarella cheese and served with salsa P199
  2. Beef Shawarma with Shawarma Rice P139
  3. Chicken Shanghai with Sausage Rice P129

Lumpia is just one of the dishes that Mrs. Lumpia has up her sleeve. With kebab meals, beef shawarma, lasagna rolls and lots of other rolls (lumpia), this stall has a smorgasbord of affordable meals that the missus can boast of.

Miggy Piggy

Top Picks

  1. Bacon Belly in Chimichurri P150 – Deep fried bacon cut pork belly in chimchurri sauce topped with salsa
  2. Chori Friedwich – Deep fried buns with chorizo patty splashed with our BBQ sauce
  3. Lechon Kawali P150 – Our take on the classic Pinoy comfort food topped with salsa served with Mang Tommy

Take the 2nd name “Piggy” and you got yourself a mix and match of pork favorites that you can possibly imagine. The Chori Friedwich alone will trigger that impulse to order ASAP, but no worries since sharing seems to be the Grub Hub code.

6 grub hub junkyard2

 

Hub a Seat

All in all, the Grub Hub PH experience was insanely clouded with so many choices that no human—no matter how hungry you are—could find satiation with just one visit. As much as I felt that I still had room for chicken poppers or churros, the tummy simply turned its back on me

Some tips for those who wish to visit Grub Hub:

  1. The early bird doesn’t always get all the worms. By early, I mean opening time. The food park opens at 11am and we were there at 11:45 am on a Saturday. Papa Natz Pizzeria needed hours to pre-heat the oven, and Aji Sushi required an hour to steam the rice.
  2. Hate late. Arriving late also has the downside—not finding a parking spot. So if you live close to the area, we found that riding a bike (may not be an option for a lot) or taking an Uber may solve the parking dilemma.
  3. Bring change. Yes, just like the jeepney that displays “Barya lang sa umaga.” (Change only in the morning), that rule applies here as well. I had difficulty getting change to my P1,000 bill and it was absolutely troublesome for me and the sellers.

33 grub hub greenhouse

  1. No water, no problem. They have a beverage bar where it is actually recommended to buy drinks from. Bringing in other store-bought drinks is a no-no so just best to order their yummy iced tea in mason jars.

34 Hokkian kitchen flatlay

  1. Bring a friend or five! Seriously, going on a date is typical but bringing in the clan will be more beneficial since you will get the chance to try out more dishes from potentially all the stalls!3 grub hub mural
  2. Stop and Stare. While there’s a lot of the commotion in the food sector, find the time to admire the beauty of the place. The artistic murals, painted tables and fantastic lanterns are all IG-worthy as well and deserve a clap, a loving pat or just a camera click or two. I have a ton stored in my phone!
  3. Green minded? If looking for vegetarian or semi-healthy treats, don’t worry. I recommend the Crispy Greens from Papa Beer, the Margherita Pizza from Papa Natz Pizzeria, Mac and Cheese from Brook’s, and the Cheese Quesadilla from Noble Comida. Wicked Kitchen, Sub Zero Gelato and Café Fratello will solve your sweet tooth cravings, so this grub’s definitely for anyone and not just the meat eaters!

 

 

 

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Le-zy Black Cat goes to Le Petit Souffle

century city mall

What I liked about the Le Petit Souffle menu was that it was brimming and skipping with cats.

How do you like it meow?

century city mall restaurant

Admittedly out first visit to Le Petit Souffle (Century City Mall) was redeemed only by the catty menu.

It warranted a second visit because the parfait was not available (tsk, tsk) and it was my priority over the souffle. Hence, we had no choice but to settle with the (slightly delayed) souffle par-tay.

le petit souffle dessert

The Valrhona Guanaja Souffle (adorned by my cats), sank after a few minutes of photo ops. I never had the chance to dig in to its full-bodied souffle grandeur. It tasted like the lighter sister of the angry lava cake.

where to eat makati, dessert

The Matcha Valrhona Ivoire Souffle came heaps of minutes later. Either they whipped up a second batch or forgot all about our green order.

no no souffle

We were not much of a fan of the Frozen Souffle (Souffle Glace). The citrus hints just overpowered the Vanilla Bean, and the flowers did not help calm the raging palate.

where to eat restaurant century city mall

Luckily, visit #2 gave us a chance to sample the savory treats.

vegetarian food makati

My heart goes to the Vegetarian Soba Pasta which was the opposite of the overpowering vanilla bean-citron souffle. It was light yet hearty and still paved the way for dessert. And look at the mushrooms! Love it!

le petit souffle makati

The Squid Ink Rice was a carby feast for anyone who wanted an adequate balance of rice, seafood and egg. It was too filling for one, and a pleasant to-share dish since sharing the black teeth makes lunch even more spectacular. =P

le petit souffle dessert

Last but certainly not the least, finally, the Matcha Parfait makes it appearance after lunch!

This is what matcha desserts ought to be made of!  Perfectly creamy yet matcha-filled, this one was worth the wait. Those Pepero sticks were an added bonus too!

A bit on the pricey side, but this little cup is sure to make the trip to Le Petit Souffle worth the traffic, the wait and the 2nd chance.

 

 

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Hello, Moto! (Motorino)

motorino italian restaurant pizza philippines

Please excuse my gluttony if I tell you that my Motorino experience happened as a 2nd dinner one traffic-laden Friday night in Makati.

To add to the carbo load, I had a full height green tea Family Mart cone in between, that certainly added to the inches to my waist.

But a Friday night is certainly not complete without calling it a Pizza Night.

And so the (unexpected) Motorino (Greenbelt 3) was welcomed with open arms and excited fingers.

salsiccia-motorino

pizza motorino makati

 

Quattro Formaggi and Salsiccia pizzas filled the table with their delectably chewy crust and cheesy splendor. The pizza was baked just right, that you look forward to biting on the center part the most. It’s the type of mindless munching that makes you forget about the week’s woes and focus on the pizza. Just the pizza.

There was something not killer-filling about the pizzas, that you can finish the entire pie, have a hearty burp and move on with life.

pasta motorino makati

The Parmesan and Mascarpone Pasta was a different story but with unparalleled festivity.

The mildness of the flavor was a creamy contrast to the pizza, while the noodles can only make Linguini Fini hide in shame. The genuine chewiness of the noodles made me fork in pasta until the last drop of sauce came into un-being.

It was that homey, confident yet soothing Italian dishes that will make me come back for more.

motorino-greenbelt

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Bros and Ho-Bing Korean Dessert

philippines bingsu

It was never about the Korean craze or the way first timers can easily mistaken this as hoe-pen.

When in Megamall, the number 1 rule (or goal) is to find the spot with the least number of people, and if you do, don’t think twice, grab that seat and eat!

And so we found Hobing Korean Dessert somewhere in the Fashion Hall, overlooking the center area without much patrons.  It was a dead cold spot, made even more frostbite-worthy by our 1 bingsu each rule. 

The Choco Cookie Bingsu is sure to give you the chocolate high to last you till Christmas. The smooth bingsu is what keeps you shoving for that sweet sensation.

dessert megamall

The Strawberry Bingsu was so delicately presented, I ate with the same premeditated and patient pace.

dessert megamall

 

In between were more strawberries, you just have to give a bow of appreciation to the creator of this berry delightful ice masterpiece.

manila bingsu where

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Chido, Gringo!

sm the block restaurant

As criminal as it may sound, I craved for and gave in to Gringo 3 times in a span of a couple of months.

It was that Chido (“cool”), not to mention situated in SM North The Block, which is just way too cool for the QC denizens.

The menu of Gringo isn’t that lengthy, and one look at the place, you know you’ve got to have chicken. And Gringo Original Chicken I had on all visits: quarter, half and whole!

gringo sm north

As much as possible, I wanted the sidings to vary but it would seem that the Roasted Eggplant (left) is the crowd favorite. I had it 3x as well! I just love the way the eggplant makes the healthier replacement to the usual mashed potato.

half chicken with roasted eggplant

I also had the mashed camote (hmmkay), garlic mushrooms, roasted squash and french fries, but it was the eggplant that stunned me on the first bite.

sm north restaurants

The Original Chicken was the way to go because it was already ultra flavorful and succulent, made even more delectable with the in-house sauces. I just poured the sauces on my sidings, and everything became a house party on my plate.

where to eat QC

The Gringo Baby Back Ribs was soft till the last bite, and still goes well with the roasted eggplant.

where to eat sm north

I kid you not when I say the Nacho Grande was a feast of a tray, because the tray occupied the length of the table! Asked to place the meat on the side, it was still generously covered with cheese and what-not.

The nachos are pretty much the same as the chicken siding, but with this gigantic volume, you know you’ll have to walk home.

gringo sm north

The Spicy Tuna Street Taco and Truffle Queso Quesadilla completed the Mexican fiesta. Both rich, indulgent and just zesty, finally we have a second Mexican haven in the northern malls, next to Mexicali!

latin american restaurant manila

Never got the chance to try their desserts, but next time, we certainly will.

Having to go on a walk though, dessert was still pursued, so we ended up in the quaint Casa Italia, still at the GF of SM the Block. It was dark and only the gelato lights radiated and beckoned the dessert cravers.

I had the matcha green tea. One scoop was all I needed to call it a day.

sm the block gelato

 

 

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Solaire Resort and Casino: Lunch Winnings

where to eat solaire

Just to set things straight, I do not gamble; I eat. Hence, the progressive visits to Solaire Resort and Casino were entirely for the enjoyment of eating and free parking.

To inundate myself in the mysteries of probability and card counting, it was mandatory to get that Solaire Card and do some gambling. And boy, that P100 loss was really a tough lesson on my unpromising career as a gambler. Hence, back to regular lunch programming.

lucky noodles

Lucky Noodles is situated in the middle of the pit, contained in the glass walls and brimming with HK style goodies.

I just couldn’t wait to get my first slurp of noodles and recoup my lost dignity from that awful loss!

But first, the things we didn’t particularly fancy.

Firstly, they did not have any jelly fish on hand, so the Marinated Spicy Chicken Salad with Crunchy Jelly Fish, Chili and Sesame Seed came sans the jelly fish and something else (sea-I-forgot). Other than than minor swap, the salad itself was more like dessert!

They should have renamed this Sweet Chicken Salad with Jelly Fish Replacement. The sweetness overpowered the chicken and despite wiping the sauce off my plate or trying to eat it with the lettuce, the syrup just stubbornly clung to the chicken. And so, sad to say, we could not finish this dish, knowing there were other savory dishes in line.

chinese food pasay aseana

The Stuffed Crispy Dough Fritters with Seafood Paste and Mayonnaise Dip was a crisp change but the carbo loading came in too early in the meal. These were like 5 seafood-filled churros, which was you can see, I preferred to dip in my trusted toyo-calamansi concoction.

stuffed crispy dough fritters with seafood paste

The Steamed Pork and Prawn “siew mai” bordered on the in-between and is crowned by an orange caper (in case you were wondering that that orange dot of an ornament was).

lucky noodles solaire

Now for the things we liked and semi loved!

Better known and easier referred to as Pad Thai, the Wok Fried Thai Flat Noodles with Tamarind Sauce, Prawns, Bean Curd Sprouts and Peanuts was really festive but favored more on the salty side of the noodle dish. Hence, a lemon squeeze (or two) helped manage the sodium chloride but we wished there was more spicy zing to it–which was addressed by the nearby chili.

where to eat solaire resort casino

What I loved about this chicken dish was that it was inexplicably umami-rich and addictive! This Wok Fried Diced Chicken and Capsicum with Supreme Black Bean Sauce was the only dish that graced our table twice. The spice and flavor blended well with the garnishing and made extra toppings to our noodle dish. Eat it with the lettuce, as a topping or on its own–yes, it was clearly supremo.solaire restaurant

Lastly, here comes my birthday noodles, the Wok Fried Vermicelli Noodles with Fried Fish Fillet and Vegetables.

Loved it till the last noodle. The fish fillet was NOT salty and the entire noodle dish downplayed all the salt and overpowering flavors.

Despite the thin noodles, everything was just in place and I wish all noodle dishes were as meek and gracious as this one.

chinese food manila

Of course, still not satisfied with a purely savory meal, dessert was in order.

Oasis Garden Cafe provided the sun-graced portion of Solaire but without the sunburn factor, so I still managed to brew my green tea leaves with ample shade.

Brewing my own tea was a blast, and despite my raging impatience, I managed to maintain the strength I needed to burn all my Lucky Noodles tummy earnings.

The carrot cake, which I totally forgot if it had its own name like Carroty Fruit Cake or Creamy Fruits on Carrot or whatever, was on the sweet side. Not that I was expecting a bland carrot cake, but maybe that’s why they have other sugar-free cakes on the stand (which I neglected to order).

Am glad my awesome green tea brew managed to temper the sweetness (it was also not that moist boohoo) so I finished the cake, and the nuts on the side. The beer was not mine though a sip told me, it went so damn well with the bar nuts, which luckily, were unlimited.

solaire resort and casino

This ends my Solaire adventures, having exhausted my GCs. The food trips were fun and made more exciting by the casino backdrop, and this opportunity is enough to be considered a gastronomic win!

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Gain and Simple: Simple Lang

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Tempted to entitle this “Pain and Simple”, I had to stop myself before I give you the wrong impression about the place.

Yes, I was in pain when we ate at Simple Lang, but no, the food did not cause the malady. I was in pain before I learned that we were having dinner in this strangely named place, and with the power of Salonpas and friendly company, I enjoyed dinner rather pain-free.

Simple Lang (Ayala Triangle) is truly named such, and it is rather difficult to type this as my fingers default to the small “L” for lang—if you know what I mean. “Simple Lang” is best translated as “It’s simple”pertaining to the simplicity of the food or perhaps imbibing the comfort food aspect of Filipino favorites.

 

Well, whatever the case may be, there is nothing simple about it or its menu items. Simple is fried fish or grilled squid, but here, we get fancily named items with equally superb plating—and I can’t complain about that! I would just abhor the idea of walking all the way to Ayala Triangle just to get a dose of fried tilapia, which in all honesty and simplicity, I detest.

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To start off, we had Crispy Ukoy and Green Mango because it had that promising Thai twist. Also, most appetizers had meat in them or had exotic specimens I was not interested in at the moment (Gising Gising, Laing or Alugbati—please do not ask for a translation!) The Ukoy was a tad too hard, we feared it would further displace my already painful shoulder. I managed to shove big chunks in my mouth and let my teeth suffer instead.

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The MBT – Monggo Bagnet Tinapa was customized for my dietary preference, placing the “B” (bagnet) on the side. The result was a creamy and heartwarming monggo soup with slightly bitter tinapa flakes. The bagnet-on-the-side became an added viand—a win-win idea!

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The Super Pla Pla came in its gigantic fried glory. It was a leviathan beast with less fish meat than expected. Most of the mass went to the deep fried enlargement (aka pinaputok or “burst”) which translates to ummm… crisp air! The “buro” (sauce) on the side formed a love affair with my peers, but the evident rice grains scared me away. More for them! All I wanted was to pinch the pla pla until extinction—no buro required for me!

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The Calamansi Honey Fried Chicken (sorry, blurred!) was typical in taste and more honey than calamansi (sour). The fried garlic did wonders to this otherwise greasy dish, but I would suppose for the Filipino variety—toyomansi-based fried chicken will always be the supreme flavour! Add more garlic and forget buro!

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All those fried and flavourful viands only contributed to a sweet yet light craving. Ice cream and cheesecake were crossed off the list since Banapple was infinitely filled so we settled with the in-house Turon Bites. This was partly due to our noisy table neighbours who must have not seen one another in 10 years. Boisterous as hell, we couldn’t help but stare at their table every second or so and spotted those pointy sticks!

The turon bites were simply fried banana and mantou morsels drizzled with condensed milk. The barbecue sticks added to the novelty, and the milky bread, I had to forego. The banana bites were enough for me!

Simple Lang attempts to mend my long lost love for Filipino food. It did part of the deal by getting me to eat (with seconds) the monggo soup sans the bagnet. There is still that greasy after-taste that comes with most dishes, so my best refuge would be a long walk or a cup of tea afterward.

Still, with other choices in the Ayala area, there will be other cravings—maybe for more turon?

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Boli-Now or Never! (Bolinao and Hundred Islands Road Trip)

Bolinao & Hundred Islands, Pangasinan Road Trip

bolinao travel philippines

That time we went to Bolinao, Pangasinan was really a disgrace in the road trip society of “anything goes”.

I had a cold, so I welcomed the first northern breeze in a hoodie.. with a major sneeze! How’s that for spreading the germs to the population of 75k?

attractions in bolinao lighthouse

For the ignorant (like me, pre-Bolinao trip), Bolinao is at the tip of the Pangasinan peninsula, so I could proudly claim that I have reached the northernmost point of the country, west-side.

It does have a lighthouse to support that bold claim. And beside the lighthouse is a dilapidated old bunk/house which alternates as a Mexican-horror movie prop, which brings the adequate spookiness when you have the place to yourself. Yes, we did at 6am. How safe.

river malino bolinao
bolinao cathedral

Since “anything goes” was the Bolinao mantra, we did NOT book any room or hotel in advance.

I had with me an outdated blog post of someone who listed room bookings with pre-pre-pre inflation rates, so I was expecting rooms to be 300% cheaper than the actual off-peak rates. Horrible. Good thing we had cash (because there is no ATM around).

hotel accommodation bolinao

We stayed at Punta Riviera Resort because it was the only decent hotel that was available and appeared in view right when I needed to use the bathroom badly.

As previously hinted, the hotel was not cheap by my miserly standards. And so to make up for my sudden poverty, we made sure we maximized the free activities we paid for!
kayaking in bolinao pangasinan

We played billiards and table tennis. We did not swim at the pool (though it was awesome) because it was chilly all throughout and my cold just kept on getting in the way.

Best part was the kayaking in the nearby river. There was some Brazilian feel to it, complete with bugs and getting tangled with the nearby plants. There was no crocodile sighting though, just calm birds, so we made it out of the jungle alive and with just wet feet!
places to see bolinao

Walking along the shore was an imperative activity, as we were scouting for possible hiding places in case of a zombie apocalypse. Since most hotel clients were foreigners, we believe that our speed and familiarity with the terrain would be advantageous to our survival.

We did not find anything fit, just mounds of sand and trees, so just in case, we could always run to the car and flee to Manila.
where to visit philippines

Given that my virus was spreading, laziness was the impending consequence, to explain the lack of sights and attractions visited.

Here is the best effort summary, and a shout out to the floating restaurant (Forgot the name but there’s only 1 anyway) as its grilled Sungayan fish warranted a second visit.

floating restaurant bolinao
where to eat bolinao philippines

The Enchanted Cave was not the most enchanted as surrounding rocks have been fashioned and carved. The cave itself could house a barkada so selfies are sure to contain photobombers (living and not).

Bolinao beach philippines

The public Patar Beach was just scenic, but there were lots of spectators. Still, it was a gorgeous photo op place, and if you don’t mind the crowd, this would be an excellent beach spot.

I mind the crowd though, so in order to create more buzz, I walked through the sand in my Merrells (hiking shoes hahaha) The sand was really hot, so yes they were perfect for making unique sand trails!

Summer vacation hundred islands

After Bolinao, virus free or not, a planned destination was HUNDRED ISLANDS!

Despite its popularity amongst my elementary classmates and how my Sibika teachers always had something cool to say about it, this was my first time to HUNDRED ISLANDS, so I did not expect to see so many boats.

Lingayen hundred islands how to go there

Seriously, there were so many boats, it suddenly dawned to me in between taking meds, that hundred islands = necessary island hopping = save your energy. Typing that was tiring, but the real adventure was 100x more tiring but 200% fun.
boat ride hundred islands pangasinan
Hundred Islands travel philippines

Being a popular tourist destination, there isn’t anything new I can say to old-timers.

I’m pretty sure everyone has seen the view atop Marcos Island, has tried the various jumping points, danced naked somewhere and littered in every island.

what to do hundred islands

Oh my goodness, there is even this Children’s Island that is literally creeping with kids. I had to take a boat to use the bathroom there, and the kids spilled like the crevices and niches, and I had to bully them since I needed my privacy.

Review trip travel hundred islands

The highlight of Hundred Islands for me was the KAYAKING, once again.

It was the only time we got to sail the ocean on our own (away from the boatmen), randomly navigate across islands and attempt to row to China. We failed in the last item and only reached about 3 islands. Maybe next time we can target 5 islands!

Hundred Islands Marcos
what to do in Hundred Islands

Despite the short trip, I have some key takeaways. I do not care if they are cliche or are common sensical, since I need to end this blog post in a semi inspirational way.
Turtle Island lingayen philippines

By the way, my cold had cleared by the time of the Hundred Islands kayak but it could be the sun


exposure blasted all these viruses to bits which is why my tan lasted for 4 months… and counting!

Review trip travel hundred islands

Back to the key takeaways; let’s go with the perfect square, 4:

1. It doesn’t matter how heavy your bags get, bring lots of snacks and food! I swear, Chicken Joy, cheese popcorn and Tortillos made my trip divine. Imagine the island stores selling Skyflakes at P30 and buko juice at P100. Nasty.

2. It doesn’t matter if you overuse your SPF. Underusing it may be your worst decision. I properly used my SPF65 and still became a darkling for months… what more if I ditched the SPF?! I would be hosting a new hue forever!

3. You should really try kayaking. It’s one of the few activities where you are free of the boatmen, kids, zombies and Instagramming idiots. Pure freedom!

4. One trip is never enough. They didn’t call it Hundred Islands for nothing!

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