Tag Archives: greenhills

I Scream! #icecreamfordinner

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For a string of lonesome weeks, I had #dessertfordinner and #icecreamfordinner on Friday nights.

My night cap and stress killer and tear-catcher, the shoulder to cry on and the punching bag to abuse with my profanity—that was ice cream!

And so Ice Cream Nights was formed. Yes, I did scream for ice cream—scream so loud, getting a sore throat was imminent, but I do not care.

It was fattening and an act of gluttony, especially if I had dinner #2 at home, but #dessertfordinner was the Friday norm.

In St. Marc Café, two visits were warranted since I went through a “cone” phase. For some reason, I dreamt of waffle cones and detested plastic cups!

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The Rikyu was fine since it came with a side scoop of matcha ice cream. At the bottom of the cone was the excellent surprise of frosted flakes! Of course they were too sweet the first time around, so make sure you have access to water before you burst into chatter, laughter or near-death choking fits.

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Madonna came next and was bathed in frozen chunks of strawberries and chocolate syrup. The strawberries were fine but my hangry side wanted more oomph and juice, and the chocolate syrup tasted like Hershey Brown Cow—making the cone really sticky that I felt like a 5-year old!

Not sure if I was more stressed than usual because I finished the cone even before we reached the end of the parking lot. This is the part where I eat at home again.

Oh Madonna, you small and sticky, girl!

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Rita’s Italian Ice is a Greenhills favorite, but I really am not fond of the “ice”. Love the custard, hate the ice. Hence, I had to order the custard swirl sundae cone.

Too embarrassed to walk around licking a large cone, I had it inverted on a cup “to go”. Lovely. Just look at it!

It took so long to finish in the car, we were nearly halfway through EDSA northbound. Worth every lick! Haha!

Last but not the least is the newly opened Honey Crème in Trinoma. Found at the GF near Gourdo’s, it’s so new, the aircon doesn’t even seem to be working yet (or not even installed? Haha).

I had it to-go but in reality, there’s no to-go plan or cover or paperbag, so it really seems that I was just talking to myself.

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The guy who concocted my Organic Multi Grain Cup did not seem like an enthusiastic creator and left me as I was asking about the “take out” method. Hmm.. I guess they want us to eat it in their Purgatory tables. I ate it while walking and tried not to finish it before reaching the parking lot again!

It was a tiny cup for P175! The grains were supposed to be a mixture of health seeds and nuts but all I could detect was polvoron-like sesame grains and honey.

It was okay, but it was too damn small for its price. When I got home, I ate a big bowl of salad with Doritos. Hunger not solved!

That’s it for Ice Cream Nights! My next target is BLK 513 at Megamall, which is likely to happen in 2017 given the traffic and mayhem. Anyway, there’s Rita’s Italian Ice in UP Town Center in case of emergency and Jamba Juice in Trinoma has a new peanut butter banana split—will do for now.

 

 

 

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It’s a Cookie, yo!

It doesn’t take a brain to tell you that when we say frozen yogurt cookie, expect something sour in between. No, the frozen thing in the middle does not magically turn into sweet creamy bliss once sandwiched in between cookies. The laws of matter tell us that once a yogurt, always sour. If any, it gets more sour as the minutes pass. 

Yoh-froz came up with this frozen yogurt-cookie sandwich to battle the likes of Sebastian’s ice cream (my favorite) and the DQ sandwich cookie. Of course if you want ice cream-sweet, then go for the others. However if you are on a diet, the Yoh-Froz cookies will do.

sandwich yogurt cookie

I went for the nastily named Frookie Monster, because my undying love for oreo made me do it. The oreo bits (if it was even Oreo) were painstakingly crushed and went strangely with the frozen yogurt.

The first few bites can be surprising since I was expecting cookies and cream, not cookies and sour cream.  Still, it was strange yet satisfying and future crave-worthy.

Imagine my dismay when the Yoh-Froz at Hobbes and Landes Trinoma disappeared all of a sudden. Guess it’s back to Red Mango. 

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The Ristras Rampage

A delusional descendant of Speedy Gonzalez, it has become my lifetime quest to honor my inanimate forefather by finding decent Mexican cuisine in Manila. While there seem to be a handful, they’ve been quite the letdown, serving crusty tortilla wraps, scrimping on salsa and forgetting that pico de gallo and guacamole are actually part of the Spanish vocabulary.

It is no wonder that whenever I suggest Mexican food when dining out, people just stare at me as if I’ve gone loco. But no, it’s just that: Tengo mucho hambre! (I’m very hungry!)

This hunger was ultimately solved by this little joint along J. Abad Santos St., near P. Guevara: Ristras. At first glance, people may find it quite tedious to read the exhausting menu, but once you get the hang of it, the order process can be strangely interesting. I have learned the difference between a fajita and burrito (it’s the beans, hombre) and realized that these two can be ordered naked. If dining with la familia grande, giant nachos and burritos are likewise in the menu listing for all those hungry hermanos y hermanas.

Best of all, each item is wrapped-created on the spot, which gives way to customized creations and less of OMG-what’s-this-in-my-burrito? situations.

Nine Layer Dip and Nachos

Nine Layer Dip and Nachos P255

While I’ve lost count of the nine items that comprise the dip – let’s see, cheese, jalapeno, beans, guacamole, okay I give up – it was Cloud Nine nevertheless. All nine flavors come in harmony and create that Mexican masterpiece to complement the chips. Nothing overwhelmingly stood out to steal the show and it was nacho heaven sitting on this cloud nine dip.

Chicken Quesadilla

Chicken Quesadilla P320

This grande serving is meant to be shared (by a family even) but this was mine to enjoy and finish to the very last salsa bit. And I did. The chicken looked like tofu cubes in the creation process but once tasted, burst with savory seasoning that my taste buds will forever crave. The chicken, cheese, pico de gallo and onions melted together into this wonderful que-sa-di-ya. The tortilla wrap was chewy and “fresh”, and so were the guacamole and salsa. Eaten together, messed up and splashed all over the paper plate, this was perhaps the closest that I could ever have to a Mexican fiesta. (Unless of course I do get to go to Mexico. Ole!) It was rather on the expensive side, but this trip to Mexican food heaven merited a couple of satisfied burps and for that, I shall return.

Steak Burrito

Steak Burrito P340

Not mine, but it was fun to watch the meat-eater endeavor to finish this carbo frenzy of a wrap. As if the choice between cilantro rice and chorizo rice was difficult enough, but to down this giant creation, it needed more than just a Coke and a Hail Mary. Flavorful as it is colorful, I believe Mr. Burrito will go for the que-sa-di-ya the next time around – but of course sharing is another option.

Ristras served us a rather glorious food fiesta, to make up for the faux Mexican joints that have been flooding Manila and their nasty fares that rely on Quickmelt cheese, butter and canned tomato sauce. At least at Ristras, everything was natural, fresh, authentic and well, mucho gusta! Gracias!

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Got Tea? Top 6 Milk Teas in Manila v.2

As I read my previous top milk tea list (Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila), circa September 2011, I cringe and apologize for showing inexperience and passing off this passé list as a work of a tea connoisseur. Evil dazes and big question marks met my shallow judgment, and I admit that Kozui made it to the list because I found its green tea-inspired theme so kawaii (“cute”)!

The superficiality and naiveté have got to end, and so I proudly bring out the 2011 Top 6 Milk Teas in Manila v2. No list is perfect, as no taste buds are alike, so treat it as a guide to this cat’s pet drinks to end 2011. Before you read on though, please not that I am disorganized, hate tapioca pearls, have a propensity to misquote prices and detest sugar, extra sweetness and creaminess—which my list will considerably reflect. Other than these flaws, tea is my next favorite drink to water, and so I wage war to those who screw up this life-changing brew.

Chatime Philippines Jenina Gonzales

1.       CHATIME  

Chatime remains as the undisputed milk tea provider as it combines price, flavor, variety and location. The customizable ice setting brings bias to my decision, being constantly allergic to ice-dominant drinks. Chatime’s got mousse, frap-like concoctions, milk teas, fruit teas and the add-ons that you’d expect from the typical milk tea fares—in large servings, so P100 already ensures one mighty burp. A loyal patron of the matcha mousse with pudding, I’d brave storms just to order this comfort drink. With an extensive offering that includes interesting and novel categories such as QQ Jelly and Oriental Pop Teas, I ought to live beside a branch. With newly opened branch in Unimartuh-oh, Happy Lemon’s got one less reason to be happy.

Serenitea Jenina Gonzales

2.     SERENITEA

Serenitea brews teas right in front of you, so as far as “organic” goes this has got to be the closest to Mother Nature’s green heart. With roasted rice and whatnot topping the drinks, there’s the feeling of natural goodness that every cup delivers. Going 0% sweetness wouldn’t be a problem because the tea’s flavor is strong, vibrant and soothing. Spying the Serenitea branch along Jupiter was awesome sight for the Makati dwellers and workers, who need a break from the sugar-infested drinks and syrupy fares of the central business district. Genmaicha Tea Latte makes my top list, and with pepper tofu, potato and chicken chops in the menu, not to mention Amaretto Tea Latte, there’s always a reason to find peace in Serenitea. 

Gong Cha Philippines J.Anne Gonzales

3.       GONG CHA 

Gong Cha collects lines for a living because every Gong Cha branch is perhaps never without a patron. Gong Cha offers milk teas, even “creams” up drinks for the non tea lover and offers fancy combinations (creative mixes) for the adventurous. Youngsters and yuppies may find delight in the ice cream and coffee offerings, so it has evolved into a tea-coffee place that can’t do without cream. Gong Cha’s tagline is probably: Location, location, location—and has effectively lived by this mantra. Properly situated, even in foodcourts, no one can ever “not” find Gong Cha. It finds you, and so popularity vote goes to this one.

Happy Lemon Philippines Jenina Gonzales

4.       HAPPY LEMON  

This will sound very immature but I have to say it still: Chris Tiu’s milk tea place. Chris Tiu + kawaii-sounding drink names in that signature smiley cup are enough to send giggly girls flocking to Happy Lemon. In Eastwood, Greenhills, etc. and soon in Trinoma, expect kids to arrive in hordes and sample the “rock salt and cheese” everyone’s talking about. The fancy names do live up to their expectations and produce fun and delightful drinks. I’ve found much love with my Matcha faves (matcha with adzuki bean and pudding and matcha with malt). From yakult to yogurt and lemon series, there’s a lot more reason to visit Happy Lemon than just basketball and boys.

 Cha Dao Philippines Jenina Gonzales

5.       CHA DAO 

Cha Dao is amazingly cheap, you can expect change for P100—and we’re talking Large with add-ons already! Assam and Wintermelon are crowd pleasers, but you can still expect the common favorites: Green tea, matcha, oolong, chocolate and classic. Why, they even have Kopiko – so very Pinoy!  Black sugar seems to be their not-so-secret ingredient, while the popping bobba as an add-on is sure to be a favorite (count me in). A locally established joint and based mainly in the Quezon City area, now there’s more reason to chill at home. Oh yeah, they deliver too!

Moonleaf J.Anne Gonzales

6.       MOONLEAF TEA HOUSE  

Flying to the moon may be a rare occurrence, but finding a P55 milk tea in Manila isn’t. Moonleaf’s got a pretty simplified menu scheme, 2 price segments (P45 and P55) for the drinks and add-ons—all offered in those XL cups (they’re really huge).  Wintermelon’s still on the list but so is my new favorite Oolong. Don’t be hasty in judging the giant coolers; they contain fabulous and tasty brews of various teas (like Jasmine and Black). Student’s choice award would probably go to Moonleaf as it bests others in terms of price, location (scattered in Diliman area, among other places) and taste (rich in flavor and caffeine). Note for the insomniac: Do not consume after 3pm or you’ll end up a zombie like I did! Note for the students: Now you can party, errrr, study all night!

That’s it for my Best 6 for 2011. I ended up with 6 because I couldn’t choose between Cha Dao and Moonleaf, so I included them both!

Many haters may distrust milk teas and deem them ‘’faddish drinks cloaked in Asian health myths” but since they contain mainly milk, tea, ice and some sweetener, can’t say they’re detrimental to our health either. With inexpensive choices available and unsweetened varieties part of the menus, the appeal is compelling and universal. At least they taste better than coffee (for me), supposedly harbor less calories than frozen yogurt and sit well with the budget friendly.

Milk teas are actually doing some kind of public service by getting the population to drink tea, disguised with fancy names and flavors—but tea nevertheless! That’s some kind of feat for a nation that discriminates vegans, hates anything that taste like leaves and thinks tea is “grandma’s drink.”

All rigth, tea time!

Previous Links:

Top 5 Milk Teas v.1: Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila

Chatime: It’s Cha Time! (Chatime @ SM North)

Happy Lemon: Promenade Picks: BonChon Chicken and Happy Lemon

Gong Cha: Going, Going, Gong Cha!

Cha Dao: Cha Dao To-Go

Moonleaf: Fly me to the Moonleaf Tea House

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Bon Chon Fish Tacos

That’s right. For those of you who consider Chicken Bon Chon to be well, a chicken place, that is partly true. Spotting the Chap Chae poster at the entrance of the Promenade branch piqued my curiosity, but I wasn’t in the mood for noodles then.

What did catch my attention was the Fish Taco that retails at P75. Ah yes, I haven’t had a decent fish taco in months, so it was time to refresh my taste buds, and that meant devouring at least 1 taco. Reading on, I realized the value of thoroughly scanning the menu and not just deciding spontaneously based on the best looking photos, as I found exactly what I was craving for: Fish Taco Meal (2 fish tacos + drink for P150). Perfect.

At first glance, you can already assess the overall appeal of the fist taco. Here’s what I thought: If you’re not a cabbage person (good thing I am), you will hate the taco.

Seriously, the taco is composed mainly of cabbage shreds with a light mayo dressing. The cabbage feast was mildly enjoyable, and underneath all these baby shreds, a chunky dory marinated in the same flavor as the original Bon Chon Chicken. Allow me to re-christen it as the Bon Chon Fish – really soft, tender, tangy and a fantastic breather from the nest of cabbage that surrounded it. Pescatorians will finally get the chance to enjoy the taste of Bon Chon in this excellent seafood selection. The only downside: the pita wrapper. It was hard, toasted and definitely a challenge to masticate. And, my fork broke! That’s the type of fight it put up against me, trying not to be eaten. In retaliation, I tore it with my fingers and ate the tacos partly with my hands – very out-of-character!

In the midst of this wrapper struggle, a big mess was made. Hence, no photos of that fabulous fish fillet. As an apology, here’s the regular Bon Chon Chicken leg. Imagine it without the bones – same coating and color but soft, white fish steaming from within. Yum, huh?

Next time, my self-made Fish Taco + Chap Chae super combo!

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Promenade Picks: BonChon Chicken and Happy Lemon

After years of non-existence in my mental malling destination, Greenhills Promenade finally makes a grand entrance with the opening BonChon Chicken at its ground floor foodcourt-ish section. Alongside Singaporean and noodle stores and with Happy Lemon manning the revolving doors, it’s Asian food bliss.

Despite the lengthy queue and the spiteful stares of the standing crowd—hoping to grab a table in the foodcourt’s limited seating capacity—BonChon Chicken’s debut finally draws in people by the hordes. For once, we don’t have to force ourselves on Mexicali, Pepper Steak or Hizon’s. Hurrah for the chicken homecoming!

BonChon Chicken, with its twice fried chicken and special sauce, has been hailed the Best Chicken in America. The Chicken Chops are tender, sweet and mildly crisp. The batter is chewy and compact, making the 4-chop serving very filling. Pair it with fries for a zesty sidekick. With the fares a bit (okay, greatly) on the oily side, there’s a reason why Happy Lemon is just around the corner.

As expected, only Happy Lemon can match the queuing length and time at BonChon Chicken. With the in-line May-I-Get-Your-Order personnel and the vibrating flying saucers, you might think that efficiency is finally brewing at Happy Lemon, but not really. Compared to our previous visits, the Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese has dwindled in taste (the tea concentration, more specifically) and the Crispy Cocoa Matcha with Brown Jelly  and additional Aloe had too much ice and NO cocoa and aloe. Checking the receipt—Hey, I paid P10 for thatI want my aloe!

Hopefully, this lackluster experience will not be the service norm. Coming up with nicknames is my specialty and I’ve already brainstormed the following: Zero Intensi-TEA, Where art thou, my Aloe?, Matcha Misery, and of course, the apt no-brainer: Unhappy Lemon.

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Got Tea? Top 5 Milk Tea Joints in Metro Manila

Just last year, people barely cared about tea, considered it a post meal obligation and called it a Chinese influence – which was weird because I was actually drinking Japanese matcha.

After being snubbed for centuries, fast forward to the present: Filipinos welcoming and bombarding the milk tea joints with the same Pacquiao intensity. Strange what these Asian popstars can do to our dietary preferences. From frozen yogurt and gelato to chai latte with pudding—much better though, wouldn’t you say?

Scouring through the Metro you will spot them everywhere, with names that have nothing to do with tea to a myriad of adjectives that could possibly describe drinks. Let’s not be fooled by flashy names and pink colored teas though; TASTE still matters. Oh, and location as well.  

Here are my Top 5:

1.       Chatime – Found in some SM Malls, Chatime provides fast, cheap and cha-rming (“tea”) drinks with customizable ice and sugar settings, not to mention the plethora of toppings that includes rainbow jelly, coconut jelly and aloe vera. With huge servings and a vast menu selection, you’ll never get tired of this place and neither will your wallet. With oolong tea, chrysanthemum tea and a host of Oriental pop teas included in the selection, and the mousse variants that will take straight to froth heaven, you’ll find yourself asking: So, when’s our next Cha Time?

 2.       Happy Lemon – Insanely popularized by Chris Tiu, females first flocked to Happy Lemon for the purpose of a celeb sighting. However, with its casual ambience and trendy, enticing and fancy offerings, everyone has been raving about Happy Lemon, the place and the owner—an added bonus. With innovative drinks including malt, yakult, yogurt, blueberries, coffee, and an assortment of teas, one trip is never enough. First timers encouraged to order the bestseller Green Tea with Rock Salt and Cheese can only say, amidst frothy smiles, “This rocks!”

3.       Serenitea – One of the pioneers in the local milk tea scene, Serenitea fuses organic and fun tea drinking in its giant swirly cup. There’s something very zen about the sight of real tea leaves (genmaicha, oolong, assam, black, green, jasmine—you name it) being scooped from their tranquil homes and brewed to our desired tea concoction. Savor the aroma that’s enough to summon Buddha for a sip of Grass Milk Tea or Passionfruit Fruitea. Straightforward and simple, de-stress at Serenitea with its peaceful atmosphere, yummy tea drinks and delightful menu fare. Yes, they serve delish snacks as well.          http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-z1zR5QEKf7w/Tdp4IMBR0XI/AAAAAAAABhM/mrwMu5jIaSc/s1600/0147%2BTealogy%2B006.JPG

4.       Tea.ology – Unfazed by the stocking dilemma at Mercato Centrale, I fled to Tea.ology’s Il Terrazzo branch for a queue-free experience. Undulating patience required, drinks are concocted to match each buyer’s tea and sweetness preference. With an atmosphere that mimics local cafes—complete with magazine racks, tempting product visuals and ornate sounding drink names—Tea.ology provides the less sinful alternative to the local calorific hangouts. Who can resist Roasted Barley Milk Tea, Dark Chocolate Milk Tea or Kyoto Matcha Milk Tea? This place is something even tea novices would pay their respect to. Amen to that. 

http://foodplace2go.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Kozui-3.jpg5.       Kozui Green Tea Café – Winner of the “Going Green” campaign is awarded to Kozui’s teas which are mainly—what else would you expectmatcha/green tea.  Not to be outdone by the more prominent milk tea joints, Kozui  (Tomas Morato) offers its green tea blend in various concoctions and fruity flavors. Not to be missed, the ice blended Korichio ventures to the “frappy” drink but with fruity fusions and of course, whipped cream! While Kozui’s food selections may be short on the so-awesome-I’ll be-back department, its tea drinks can certainly boast of the delicious tea twist. Green, but certainly not mean.

Will the Philippines be in the running as the next Tea Capital, perhaps in Southeast Asia? At this rate, I should hope so. Forget the frozen yogurt shops and coffee joints that are making us fat, pudgy and too chatty for our mates.

This time, let’s make time for tea!

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It’s Cha Time! (Chatime @ SM North)

Chatime Philippines Jenina Gonzales
There was a time when Happy Lemon single-handedly reigned supreme among the Taiwan-based Manila milk tea joints. Sure we’ve got Serenitea, Kozui and Quickly but they seem clumped in the Greenhills area, quite a distance from the Northern clique. It’s not that I hate going to Greenhills, it’s just that a weekly spree in the area (as much as I love it) can cause quite a dent in my pocket, and a very shallow pocket I have at the moment.

At this time of economic and tea deprivation, a lifesaver finally brews at SM North EDSA. Chatime, properly situated near the entrance of the Sky Dome and just a short walking distance from TriNoma is finally open and ready to dish out our favorite tea drinks!

Craving for taro milk tea or something more exotic like a passion fruit green tea brew—Chatime’s exhaustive menu listing is enough to compete with Happy Lemon, sans the fancy sounding names. Not only can we adjust the sugar settings (100%, 75%, 50%, 30% and zero), we can also choose how much ice to place in our drinks! Pretty neat, considering that half the population is nursing either a sore throat or a cold on account of the monsoon season. 

                                                                                                  

  

  

Always a first choice, I mindlessly selected the Matcha Mousse (large, 50% sugar, 70% ice with P15 pudding = P110), while my brother went for the Oolong Tea Mousse (large, 50% sugar, 70% ice with P15 pudding = P105). Call it sibling revelry, even if for a day. I was first expecting a frap-like concoction, judging from the name “mousse” which ought to have been a no-brainer, but what was served was a gigantic glass of frothy whipped tea swimming with awesome pudding.

At P95, large is well, an abysmal treat for any tea lover. Blending well with matcha or oolong tea, the pudding’s mild sweetness complements the tea’s delicate bitter taste (we did choose 50% – and no regrets, whatsoever).

http://www.maureenscribbles.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/0159-Happy-Lemon-004-green-tea-rock-salt-cheese.jpg

The mousse-froth, as it turns out, is Chatime’s version of the Rock Salt and Cheese of Happy Lemon. The result is a delirious mix of flavors that makes one brilliant, flavorful and gigantic tea drink. Next time (I suppose there definitely will be one), I will try out the 30% sugar, so that I can enjoy more of the “tea” and its kick and less of the sweetness (aka calories).

At a more affordable price than Happy Lemon, a more convenient location than Serenitea and a premium tea selection compared to Quickly (and other cheap milk tea joints), Northern dwellers ought to make time for Chatime. The walk from TriNoma (should you park there like we do) may be quite tedious, but rest assured, the trip home would be on Froth 9.

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