Tag Archives: Food

Hungry in Ma-LAZY-a (Kuala Lumpur)

kuala lumpur j.anne gonzales blog

While occasionally a nomad, a traveler-cum-navigator is the last apt thing to describe my physical potential, if any at all. Traveling is not my cup of tea and “tourist” will never appear in any “About Me” page about me.

beautiful malaysia

Since I deplore road trips, curse truck drivers, provoke squabbles with locals and get lost more often than not, it is quite safe to say that there is no better place for me than my room.

kuala lumpur trip

However a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was inevitably set—by silly me. Blame promos and pad thai (long story) and mandatory leaves.

As a forewarning, do not expect photos of the city or temples, since I failed miserably in summoning my inner Dora. Instead, let us find joie de vivre in what keeps me alive and kicking. That’s right—food—the only local term I learned, mangan—oh wait, I think that’s eat. Well, even better!

street food kuala lumpur

Bukit Bintang houses that Jalan Alor a.k.a. the street food section of the city. It’s supposed to be a hotpot of Malaysian-Chinese-Indian fares that border on the adventurous, exotic—and what I went there for—cheap!

While the food was certainly cheap, prepare first to get baffled by strange and colorful signs, non-English speaking folks and people all over the roads.

street food bukit

If you are patient and easily amused by the tactics of local merchants, then you will delight in this. If you have been living in a sheltered glass room all this time though, just google Jalan Alor. If you have dietary restrictions, I empathize with your plight. Being part vegetarian, I nearly died looking at the signs and temporarily found partial solace in the word Chicken. Still, vegetarian, halal, no meat? No luck.

I would like to explain that I had KFC for my first meal (a very late dinner) in KL out of desperation. I ordered a very strange meal consisting of one piece of chicken (NO GRAVY… WHAT?), a hash brown with jalapeno cheese sauce and afish sandwich. The chicken tastes very different from the Manila version and is 100% more grease stricken. The fish sandwich was bland and the mayonnaise, not really that delectable. Why I am reviewing KFC Malaysia is a pure waste of space and as you can see, no photos! The Manager of the branch though kindly took our orders with motherly patience—perhaps smelling the NOOB in us.

jalan alor chinese food

I visited Jalan Alor in the morning because I wanted noodles for breakfast. The only purchase in made in Jalan Alor in the evening was a bottle of coconut juice for RM5 and that does not make me adventurous, just very thirsty.

mr lim bukit bintang noodles

I had chicken curry dry noodles for 2 consecutive mornings but from 2 different stalls. I love chicken+curry+noodles but the main reason I went for this dish was because it was the safest in the bunch. Everything else smelled of rice and meat and I did not want to risk any more verbal blunders with the local merchants.

For example, in Mr. Lim’s noodle store I asked if they had a vegetarian noodle dish and this guy who must be Mr. Lim kept on nodding and prodding me to a table. I guess it was more of a gestural exchange, rather than let’s-talk-business, and so I settled for the curry dish. By pointing at the photo, of course.

street food malaysia

Afraid that this would happen again the next day, I settled for that same dish in a neighboring stall. Same format, except that they did not ask for my money right away. Having Mr. Lim’s as comparison, this was reduced quality and the noodles were less fresh tasting. In short, Mr. Lim has a lesser competitor and after this experience, I stopped eating curry noodles for breakfast.

stolen from miji gonzales

The next known station of comfort for backpacking newbies can only be the Foodcourt; the Pavillion has become THE absolute home in KL. It fed us and provided very clean bathrooms—a guest could not ask for any more!

jenina gonzales malaysia blog

pavillion tokyo street

Foodcourt denizens include the usual Malaysian, Chinese and Indian stalls, but with certain specialties or focus like Penang, rice, soups, egg tarts (Macau), curry, balls and combo meals.

foodcourt malaysia

There are International cuisines spread around for those who are sick of noodles and mee goreng. Might I suggest Subway or Carl’s Jr. which are also on the same level.

vegetarian cuisine malaysia

I settled for noodle dishes from the foodcourt, having spotted the signage Vegetarian Cuisine. I can’t go wrong with a name like that! It was veggie, stir-fry noodles and fake-meat land. It’s the place you go to when you don’t want to talk anymore. It’s also a place with a very short line—and I learned why.

pavillion foodcourt

I first ordered the Char Kway Teow with its rice noodles and very mild soy based sauce. The fake barbecue meat provided the sweet contrasting flavor and while the dish tasted very clean, it left a lot of room for dessert.

noodles pavillion foodcourt

My other order here was—trying to be more adventurous—the mushroom stir fried noodles. The photo showed what looked like a very tasty Hainanese noodle dish. However the noodles used were dry egg noodles which I really have an issue with since I find this kind musty and dry. The sauce did nothing and the fake-meat (which I think is soy) redeemed the dish. Next time I ought to just buy 3 servings of that fake barbecue and eat it sans the carbs.

Another stall displayed all raw items for hotpot: vegetables, tofu, fish balls, fish cakes, seafood, mushrooms and everything that you can find in an Oriental grocery chiller. With noodles and a choice of plain or curry soup. There were so many toppings I wish the server knew English because I wanted to ask what each one was, but he looked so miserably bitchy I had to settle for the obvious choices.

lazy black cat blog malaysia

Still, I could not resist buying from this place, so that I can finally CREATE my own seafood curry noodle soup! I dunked in greens, silken tofu, all sorts or balls and fish cakes and a stick of kani, wide flat noodles and curry soup. All for RM25! So expensive, I almost fell on my butt when he announced the price. I literally almost ran out of cash! So much for gluttony, but this gluttony paid off as well since it was one heck of a delicious soup. It was a coherently curry-fic noodle soup and the toppings floated all over the bowl. Nothing was scrimped, everything went well together and it was an authentic curry experience. I would never ever find anything like that in Manila. Namaste!

klcc suria

A side trip to the KLCC Suria Foodcourt brought me to the services of a friendly Indian stall, where it took me 10 minutes to order chicken tandoori, dhal, naan and chickpeas (it was a meal). His English was fantastic; my decision making ability, a pain.

indian food malaysia

The Chicken tandoori was fab, though my brother squirmed at the taste of the dal. I suppose pureed lentils are not that mainstream and I ended up finishing his bowl as well. Lentils are friends.

Actually the dal was so filling I almost did not finish the naan. The chickpeas look so plain but had that Indian flavor that made me enjoy this odd looking meal.

tidbits cottage soybeans malaysia

A juice-smoothie place, Juice Works, was like a local version of Jamba Juice but had all sorts of add-ins like muesli and Weetabix. It was strangely alluring I had to try one. The name of the smoothie was so long  but it had mangoes and strawberries, muesli, soymilk and vanilla ice cream. It was a meal on its own but I dare say it was just a mid afternoon snack for me. See those soybeans, yes—now that’s the snack!

busy day sandwich starbucks

Being tourists, it was inevitable to reach out to Western flavors for comfort and solace. I kid you not when I say I craved for a Starbucks Green Tea Frap in my hour of need, and I did get it. Grande, no whipped cream and very expensive.

Starbucks is not worth reviewing though I managed to take home that “Busy Day Sandwich” for my next day’s breakfast. That sandwich has egg and minced chicken curry that would be much more enjoyable had I eaten it on the same day.

malaysia subway sandwich

Subway Malaysia offers the Chicken Tandoori sub—very tempting—but I went for Crab and Seafood, which is also notavailable in Manila. I’ve been eating a lot of chicken lately, I was close to getting recruited in the poultry-vore society. Nothing much to say since Subway is pretty much straightforward, except that in Malaysia, they have no yellow mustard and olive oil. Oh dear. Mustard is like, my salt and pepper!

malaysia ice cream baskin robbins

Baskin Robbins is another haven for lost children and one which necessitates at least 2 visits. First time I managed to order that Brownie a la mode, topped with Jamocha Almond.

dessert pavillion mall

It was the  best meal a kid could ever have; ignore calories and sugar content. The next day the promo ended and so I had 2 scoops of ice cream. Jamocha again and what tasted like chocolate mousse. The lava cake will be missed.

portuguese per-peri kuala lumpur

Nando’s Peri-Peri is a big thing in other countries, does not exist in Manila and has a fine share of long queues in Malaysia. This too warranted at least 2 visits. Purportedly the real thing when it comes to Peri-peri, Nando’s is a refuge for the lost and the chicken lovers.

The chicken is so filled with flavor, even no-skin eaters will enjoy its full peppery zing. Bottles and bottles of chili, sauces and dressing flood the sides and they all complement the already fabulous chicken roast. The garlic peri-peri sauce is meant to be taken home, just that the bottle was darn too large to fit in any bag!

lazy black cat malaysia food

The sidings were all right but I believe the potato wedges topped with cumin were the winner. The coleslaw may seem unappetizing but made safe for Halal, poses a number 2 favorite. Tried the Spinach which falls under the “Fino” siding (supposedly the special ones belonging to the more expensive category) and it was on the plain side. I suppose—how else can you embellish spinach? If given a 3rd chance (highly doubtful), I would go for the potato wedges+coleslaw combo. Again, highly doubtful unless Nando’s pays a visit to Manila—oh, please do!

The green tea egg tart on the photo is not from Nando’s but from the nearby Pavillion foodcourt. I bought it in an effort to go green and to pair it with my spinach. It did wonders to get rid of the spinachy after taste which we all hate!

sashimi malaysia oriental store

The grocery is another nirvana for the weary and hungry. Most of our cash was spent here, buying snacks (chickpeas and that curry flavor Roller Coaster), spreads (sugar free peanut butter), cookies (the usual), candies and more sweet treats. There is a Japanese section in Isetann, Lot 100 with all sorts of Japanese viands, candies, rice snacks and sushi/sashimi by the piece.

pavillion supermarket bukit bintang

In Mercato at Pavillion Mall, I found a BLACK CAT brand of peanut butter, but what I bought was another brand that was sugar free! I bought 2 jars and alongside other heavy purchases, lugged them all around in my H&M knapsack, which thank God made it to Manila in pristine condition!

grocery kuala lumpur

We also found a rare spread: Cadbury milk chocolate. Take that, Nutella! Or not—since we bought Nutella too!!!

j.anne gonzales travel blog

I’ve eaten more than I visited places.

I never saw the National Mosque and got lost finding Petaling Street.

kuala lumpur train

We alighted the monorail and ended up in the wrong side of town and I am sure I tasted liver in one of the noodle breakfasts.

komuter batu caves

A KK salesman screamed at me, while our cabbie refused to shake my hand.

Is Malaysia truly Asia? It’s up to you to decide. All I did was be a lazy backpacker who ran out of cash so many times.

So if you ask me about Malaysia, hmmmm, all I can say is: Praise the gods for H&M, Peri-peri and Baskin Robbins!

If we share the same beliefs, then book the next flight to Kuala Lumpur!

In the spirit of tourism though, here are some photos that may seem relevant for those who ended up in my blog looking for tips and treasures: SEPHORA (note the all caps), Batu Caves, Trains. That’s it, what do you expect? (Thanks to the unsuspecting @mijigonzales for the photos grabbed from his Instagram when I was too lazy to take photos on my own!)

candies in malaysia miji gonzales

shopping malaysia cosmetics

malaysia miji gonzales

malaysia travel sights

train kuala lumpur

kuala lumpur attractions

crepe cake dessert malaysiaj.anne gonzales malaysia kuala lumpur

trip kuala lumpur sightseeing

kuala lumpur tokyo street

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Soi What? (Soi, New Glorietta)

j.anne gonzales food blog

Once I get a craving for Pad Thai, there’s no stopping me. Pad thai seems to be my 2013 comfort food which people close to me may find strange since I dislike peanuts, abhor fish sauce and have never been to Thailand—like that matters—but I just felt like adding it.

What’s more alluring than pad thai is pad thai with that crafty egg net. As I tell my peers, who can say no to egg served so artistically? I would welcome that with an open mouth and an empty plate!

soi thai restaurant lazy black cat

Soi Thai Restaurant at the new Glorietta (that’s what they call it, I swear) serves Thai food, which personally I did not care about, since I only went for the egg-netted-pad-thai. Turns out, the Vegetarian Pad Thai is not bedazzled with that lusty egg net! So if you are after the egg like me, go for Chicken Pad Thai, which thank goodness, we had the proactive gluttony to order.

That evening, we were advised that the Pad Thai noodles would go from fettucine flat to rounded slim—about twice the diameter of vermicelli. Like I care.

j.anne gonzales blog manila

When the noodles came though, it seems that I do care. The thin noodles were interesting to masticate but then again, you go looking for that flat chewy presence that makes pad thai, well, pad thai. Plus the serving seemed so miniscule, I could finish a plate and still go for other dishes and 2 kinds of dessert (which I did in retrospect). The sauce was ho-hum in sweetness and the tofu barely there. At least the chicken chunks were on the average size. Of course the egg did not make that big of a difference and only made an ooooh impression for the photo op. After the first bite, I could honestly say that I would not be dreaming of this anorexic noodle dish for the poor, much less crave for Soi more.

thai food glorietta makati

The Seafood Curry though was interestingly something I couldn’t stop eating, until the very last morsel of curdled curry. It was a bizarrely arranged dish that somehow tasted so well. Even the onion tasted so damn good! Imagine that.

chicken new glorietta restaurant

The Pandan Chicken and Grilled Squid did not deviate from their expected taste, so they were both on the safe side. Turns out I am not quite a fan of grilled squid—not sure if it was me or does grilled squid just taste so raw? Must be all the burnt calamari I’ve been eating.

seafood glorietta restaurant

Oh, and half of the pandan chicken was chicken skin so if you’re a skin-hater like me, consider it bit of a rip-off. Rip off the pandan leaf to unveil a rip-off. Nice.

Soi Glorietta was packed that Friday night; I imagine people really love the noodles and rice which seemed to flood the other tables. Since I only came for the pad thai and was met with an anorexic dish that had more nuts than soy, I’d say better luck next time. With noodles that thin—pho hoa skinny—I’m better off going to the gym.

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The Spiral Never Ends

spiral-sofitel-21-ateliers

I may be lazy and always hungry but I would never lie, especially when reporting about a Sunday brunch at Spiral, Sofitel. Sure, we had to go through aunti-pathy and heinous methods to earn our way to that golden meal but it was worth all the torture. The taste of fresh parmegiano brought me to nirvana.spiral-sofitel-jenina-gonzales

The 21 Ateliers is what earned Spiral its bragging rights in the buffet business. It would be silly and unrealistic of me to rummage through and collect a wee bit of something from each of the 21 though, because contrary to popular belief, I am not a hoarder. If it were my last meal on Earth then I would most probably focus on the items that matter most to my life. And so if you were expecting an atelier-by-atelier detailed analysis, go find Our Awesome Planet or an indiscriminate blogger.

spiral-sofitel-pasta

 

Because I will not post any photo of my foie gras (actually the top photo shows the raw form, find it!) though I did manage to sample a Nerds-size morsel. I may have said last day on Earth but I still remain to be a boring vegetarian.

 

Who ate my cheese?

spiral-sofitel-cheese

The cheese and cold cuts cold station with push buttons built for the art thief is so resplendent, I had to go for seconds. The Mona Lisa could live and thrive here and yes, she will get really fat but happy. The hard cheeses especially were so spectacularly cut and served, it was imperative to incorporate them in my subsequent meals.

Green Streak

spiral-sofitel-salad-lazy-black-cat

Lettuce, caviar and all sorts of raw materials could create any salad you desire in Spiral. I settled for the Caesar dressing which was all right but with a smorgasbord of  shrimp, caviar, cheese (again), seafood, and broccoli (stolen from the Indian station), it became the salad a la lazy black cat once again. Meow!

 

Delhi-cious Delights

spiral-sofitel-indian-food

The North Indian station was barely visited which made it double attractive to me. Abound with lentils, curry, paneer, papadom and chappati—it was a New Bombay fest of all sorts. Best of all, it was a vegetarian haven, or so I was told though there were chicken dishes.

Truffling Situation

spiral-sofitel-truffle

While I couldn’t dabble in the pasta lair for fear of OD’ing on the carbs, at best I tried a platter of the spinach gnocchi, that parmesan thing with truffle cream sauce. Add in a bit of cheese from my abundant cheese platter and voila, pasta perfection.

 

Italian Job

spiral-sofitel-lobster

The pizza ovens were fantastic and the aroma memorable but I settled for the lapu-lapu (baked) and cheese-topped lobster (baked again). A bit on the dry side, still the fish was worth returning for.

Asian Invasion

spiral-sofitel-dumpling

spiral-sofitel-asian

You will probably hate me for NOT having visited the popular spots in our very own region. I admit, the Chap Chae was tempting, and so were the tempura, ramen, noodles, dumplings (I had the vegetable ewwwness), peking duck, more dumplings, kimchi and teppanyaki (which I heard was divine) but I got stuck in Europe and decided to park there till dessert. Told you I was a picky eater.

Like Tea for Chocolate

spiral-sofitel-dessert-lazy-black-cat

The dessert station was the inevitable pitstop, and calorie counting was forbidden. The Paris Brest deserved the highest award and was the only cake I had for seconds. Hazelnut and chocolate mousse combined—more of Paris BEST!

spiral-sofitel-dessert-j-anne

The carrot cake was not so bad given its bland-moist composition, while the dark chocolate truffle and Spiral chocolate chip cookies made superb toppings for my strawberry-chocolate ice cream combination. Glad I did not indulge in the Asian carbs since it was the sweets that made my Spiral brunch the best heist ever.

So, do you still think I’m boring?

PS

I considered forcing this as my pre-birthday brunch but fate reproves those that plan and so I was reduced to a mere mortal. Ah well, I have 8 more lives anyway.

spiral-sofitel-mojito

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Agave: Ay, Carumba!

mexican restaurant

If Chicharito were to visit Manila one day and crave for a cilan-terrific burrito—both of which are extremely surreal—I’ve made my list where to take the striker. There’s Orale and Ristra’s, but let’s not forget the list which is banned from even making its way in his consciousness: Mexicanto, Mexicali, Baja Mexican Cantina, Taco Bell (how dare we bring Chicha to fast food) and Agave (BGC and Eastwood).

For those awed by the word Agave, I was too, until I learned that it is nothing but a juicy plant of the tropics and not a secret ingredient. Now if you think Agave, the restaurant, harbors a secret ingredient in its Mexican fares, that again brings disappointment.

mexican restaurant manila philippines

Agave may be a Mexican joint but it disrupts the exotic vibe by assaulting its kitchen with the Pinoy extract. The tangy burst of flavor, much anticipated spice and touch of cilantro and other unidentified herbs are absent. What we get are flavors straight out of our neighbor’s kitchen, the one reading about Mexican 101 whose name might start with Manang.

The disillusionment cannot be concealed, since I was highly expecting a glorious Mexican fiesta to kick Ristra’s ass. Sadly enough, even CPK and Chili’s can whip up a better tomato masterpiece with their American set-up.

j.anne gonzales food mexican restaurant

The quesadillas are plainly assembled and the pico de gallo, consumable in 2 bites. The lack of generosity in the cheese is a sign of Third World penury and my cheese fixation thrived for weeks from this deprivation. The tortilla is far from freshly made and is desert dry all throughout. The vegetables come in skimped portion to match the waitress garb, and the only thing that comes in abundance are the shorts which I find no interest in.

bonifacio highstreet restaurant jenina lazy black cat

The same formula follows for the chicken enchiladas, only made more distinguished with the tomato sauce that dressed the wrap. Requesting for the rice to be replaced with side salad was a sensible choice, since poco is the new pico de gallo here. The enchilada remains boringly standard, and there is nothing savory, fajita-like, tangy, smoky or just yummy about the chicken. It is just, well chicken. Pollo, but no loco.

Which brings me to the fact that I have once again been fooled like the time I spent at Rue Bourbon, when I learned after the first greasy bite that they sell drinks, not food. Food is perhaps just a government requirement to set up shop but drinks up, we’re a watering hole, duh. Oh duh. I’ve been had again.

Agave is that place where you go for beer and alcohol and more drinks to come. No such thing as a grande fiesta, just a terrible taco or that que barbaridad quesadilla. If you want Mexican food, go somewhere else because Agave is just a plant that cannot even afford decent cheese!

Lo siento, Chicharito we will have to take you elsewhere. While it might please me to hear you yell “Que Barbaridad!” in your own way, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of my meal. I’ll just bring you EDSA, MRT or my room instead. 

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Wildflour, You Wild Thing

Wildflour cafe bakery fort boni j.anne gonzales

You have to pardon my imagination when I visualize Indian sitting on feral terrain when dining at a place called Wildflour Cafe + Bakery (BGC), which when pronounced sounds more like Wild Flower. The place of course is the opposite, with its prim and proper decorum, complete utensils and ladies in waiting. If any, it’s BGC corner lot posh and veers away from the blue-collar combo meals.

But I am neither posh nor blue-blooded, only green loving, but then again, I can also do wild—with piercings and tattoo on the side which I bet you didn’t know. Getting into the wild flower character, I ventured to order something anomalous that required memorization and spelling skills: Mediterranean Vegetable Tartine. A tartine is an open-faced sandwich, and Mediterranean and vegetable are as simplistic as they could get.

bonifacio global city restaurant

Truth be told, I ordered the Mediterranean Vegetable Tartine not because I wanted to play peculiar (already am) or piss off the server with long names (wanted a tip, so un-pissable). Summoning the vegan mode, this was the best thing on the menu with hummus, arugula and what tasted like roasted eggplant. If Wildflour were a dish, this would be it: smoky, light and veggie wild—I kid you not!

fort bonifacio cafe bakery

Of course bellies must be filled so other orders were made: Crispy Potatoes and Macaroni and Cheese. Well they were more of sidings really, but loaded with enough carbs to enable us to walk home, in theory. The potato wedges were crisp yet addictive in their odd sizes with a wee bit of dip good for one bacon lover. The Macaroni and Cheese was served on that mini casserole which conjured home cooked meals and tasted just that way. Creamy, satiatingly cheesy yet still firmly gourmet, this is a mac and cheese to crave for and worth all that walk.

food gourmet lazy black cat jenina gonzales

More wild explorations to Wildflour Cafe + Bakery are stipulated, especially with their desserts, sweets and other fares. Meantime, gotta save up on kinetic energy and currency, since I seem to be running low on both. Unless someone gives me a ride. Or cash. Or both.

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Rue is Me! (Rue Bourbon)

I give myself a huge DUH on the forehead. Not an “L” but a duh. The Homer “Doooh!” could do too. As the name suggests Rue Bourbon is that place where you go Friday night for drinks, finger food and more drinks. It is not, I repeat, NOT, a place you expect to get your salad fill. What part of Rue Bourbon suggests veggie shots? Nada.

eastwood restaurant

Still, the name Rue was so catchy—the word synonymous to regret and lament—a visit was necessitated. Forget that the second word with twice as more syllables (and characters) happens to be Bourbon.

ancho ranch salad eastwood

With the “green” selection close to nil, there was no choice but to idiotically order the Ancho Ranch Salad with Buffalo Fried Shrimp. Idiotically, because the salad was sprinkled with bacon, I had to fish out the leaves at the bottom of the pack, which was not that many. The serving was small for its price, and despite this burgeoning of shrimp at the top, credit must be given to the Cajun batter—thick, crisp and zesty. It is the flavor that you know is so tangy, it must be filled with ingredients you would rather not inquire about. No wonder this place is a drinking haven.

eastwood lazy black cat

The Bayou, properly named, was a marchland of grease and batter. To those who do not know me, you might as well not date me and order the Bayou at the same time, because will have to learn the hard way how annoyingly obsessive I could get with the batter. The batter, in this case, makes up 50% of everything; we ended up filling a bowl with fried batter from the calamari, fish, shrimp and 4 giant onion rings. The Bayou may be a savory seafood serving, but it is also a breaded bayou of grease. Eat with caution, or then again, drown with drinks!

Being sober 100% of the time, I spied the grease and small servings of the food groups that matter in our biological system being served all over the place. But I can’t blame Rue, after all, health food isn’t in its menu and everyone seems to know that. Well I do too now.

Before getting  kicked out for leaving batter all over the place, a graceful exit was the only way to save face, and yes, stretch! With proper company and drinks, Rue Bourbon will certainly be the tee-totaler’s place of preference.

As for those seeking the greens, our quest continues.

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Aria Hungry? (Aria Cucina Italiana)

pasta pizza aria manila

Whenever I dine in a restaurant-pitcher-list (like Aria Cucina Italiana BGC), I lean towards ordering the utterly unusual just for the sake of experimentation. While I am not the most adventurous diner, I still tend to be curious of dishes that cannot be concocted in our kitchen, not because of absent skills, but more of the deficiency in tools and ingredients. Cough, truffle, cough.

aria jenina gonzales j.anne

This is perhaps to explain how I ended up with oven baked potato gnocchi topped with simple marinara sauce and without a hint of bread on the side. I’m guessing if they wanted to torture me with spuds, no other carbs should steal that starchy limelight.

potato gnocchi aria

With the ever safe pesto, pansoti and even arrabiata in the menu were all prized prospects, I stubbornly went for the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina. Not a fan of spuds to begin with, not to mention the squashy and boring kind, this was not the best choice for someone who wanted something red, hot and al dente! The marinara sauce was average and nothing fancy loomed in the sauce, making this easy-to-digest dish something for the generous conservative.

Aria Pizzas

The Rucola e Pinoli  pizza (arugula, pine nuts, truffle cream) was the prize order of the day, single-handedly finished by the lucky guy who ordered it. Light, crisp and with that oomph factor, any person could live off on that pizza and consider himself solved for the rest of his eating career.

aria pizza fort

The Quattro Stagioni (4 flavors) pizza has a thicker dough, perhaps the less gourmet version to cater to the plebeian taste. While the pizza’s composition was still grand, cheesy and delectable, having tasted that truffle makes everything else pale in comparison.

The desserts were imperative, despite the starchy redundancy. It did not matter if I was about to start the new year with a an expanded waistline, I hate to leave Aria with a satisfied look; smug is out of the question.

Aria dessert

The Mousse ai Due Cioccolat was a splendid cup of dark and white chocolate mousse and hazelnut to ward off the meal’s not-too-pleasant aftertaste. While looking quite miniscule, it’s all in the presentation. This little cup can certainly fill you up, and no matter how full you feel, you will finish it. Blame the sweet tooth. And the potato.

Aria has been a pleasant ride and more so for those who are hungry for gourmet Italian fares right smack in BGC. Inventive and the usual (by usual we mean pesto, carbonara, etc.) pasta and pizza selections are on the menu and if you decide to deviate as I did, make sure it’s something that you have been dying to taste all your life and want it now.

And so potato gnocchi, you are absolved.

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Chicken & Beer (Literally)

Hearing “chicken and beer” as my first-day-at-work break lingo was a pleasant shocker, which then turned to delight. Awesome, wasted before the day ends! I love this job.

That relishing moment, though, ended in a jiffy, since it finally came to reality that Chicken and Beer is a place and not a lunchtime practice of my new corporate mates. Ah well at least a moment of sheer amusement managed to perk me up, and everybody loves chicken, including me.

Chicken and Beer Eastwood

Chicken and Beer (Eastwood) manages a second floor joint with servers that make that dizzying bow whenever they approach customers. It feels sadistic to have them do that even when just asking for water, and boy do I drink a lot. It’s torture for the patrons too, having to watch their 90-degree front bends that are nothing graceful or the slightest Korean.

To be honest I did not order the chicken meals and combos—which from staring at the menu I gathered are offered with various kinds, cooking method (grilled or fried) with sidings (chap chae, rice, coleslaw) and presentation (rice meal, bento box). The chicken just did not seem that appealing, and judging from the plates of my companions, they thought so too.

Nearly tempted to order the pasta, I still opted for the salad, which at its price of over P200, I thought would be a hefty serving for hungry old me. The Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken ought to be a collective serving, but when it came with the white bread croutons and miniature chicken bits, I already wondered what I would be having for me next meal. Soon.

Eastwood J.Anne Gonzales

If the serving size was not bad enough, the plate was drenched in Caesar dressing that ranks substandard and reeks of shoddy substance and the toppings were totally third world. The chicken, in particular, which should be the crowning glory of this dish, was a raw piece of disaster. Whenever I spy a bit of pink in my chicken, it brings me one step closer to being a pure pescatorian.

Given a generic restaurant name, what is there to expect but generic service and servings. With Bon Chon just about everywhere (in Eastwood too) and its awesome Chap Chae, Caesar salad and of course chicken, why the need for beer, huh? 

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California Salad Kitchen

Sometime I wonder if I could just stick to being a salad blogger, you know, hop in the green bandwagon and wave off that organic finger while I’m at it.

Imagine, my order would usually end at page 1 of the menu, right next to appetizers. I could spend the rest of my idle time, tapping my fingers in disdain as my companions decide on poultry or fish, what siding to go with that or if it ought to be whole wheat or flour. Make up your mind, someone’s hungry!

cpk trinoma

At California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) which I would like to rename CS (salad) K since I partook in no form of pizza during my last visit, hence leaving me with guilt should I use the word pizza. Pizza? Pizza!

Salad chosen was the Original Bbq Chicken Chopped Salad because Mexican was my craving, and the salad’s smorgasbord of toppings ought to emulate any form of fiery fiesta flavor! Well fiery is a bit of an overstatement, but the smorgasbord sums it up: jack cheese, tortilla strips, chicken, tomatoes, green onions, black beans, cilantro, corn, etc.

The presentation was so coherently managed, I ended up eating black beans and corn – which I normally hate ingesting in real life. The overall dressing is ranch, but the chicken is doused with a barbecue sauce so when you mix the entire batch, you get a sweet-herb-creamy dressing that guarantees fullness that warrants no need for any form of dessert, calorie and waistline-wise.

CPK trinoma salad chicken

Overall, the salad’s effort at presenting a Mexican masterpiece fares better than other local versions, since it partially captures the “original” tangy chicken flavor and the cilantro effect is amazing. Chopped and ready-to-eat, it makes solo eating quite fun and effortless.

For not craving any more pizza, mozzarella sticks or pasta, other than this festive salad, I’d say this dish is quite the success in the salad-only pursuit. Price-wise, it may be a bit steep, but this can be addressed by some beggar jobs on the side.

All for salad. You know I’d do anything just for the greens.

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A Blondie Moment

Cupcakes by Sonja Lazy Black Cat

They say blondes have all the fun, but the Blondie Bar by Sonja’s Cupcakes (Serendra) is often overlooked and ignored in favor of the more colorful cupcake bunch. The brunettes (like that choco cream pie) and red (velvet vixen) heads have better mileage in Sonja’s little  shop, but for those who like to look up at the cookie jars, that’s where this flaxen treasure lies.

The Blondie Bar may pale in comparison to the creamed up cupcakes and shimmering denizens of the lower chiller, but for those who’ve tasted it, they will agree that “Everyone loves blondes.”

Sonja Cupcakes Blondie Bar Jenina Gonzales

The main bar may be a simple composition with buttery flair but interspersed with walnuts and chunks of Valrhona chocolate (dark and white), this turns into a blonde bombshell. Nothing compares to its morsels of sweet gratification and fresh oven baked texture. Great with tea, better enhanced when warmed up, the Blondie Bar is everything but dumb.

J.Anne Gonzales Blondie Bar

If any, it’s dumbfounding.

So no more crying when Sonja’s runs out of the Bunny Huggers carrot cake or Valrhona milk-choco hazelnut tart. The Blonde is in.

And no more blonde jokes.

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