Tag Archives: Nachos

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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BOXPARK MNL: Eating Outside the Box

boxpark-mnl-congressional-ave.-quezon-city.jpg.jpeg

Welcome to District 1 (QC), BOXPARK MNL! To grace our ghetto district with a food park is a gracious gastronomic sign!

Northern foodies will finally have options other than Cocoy’s Pares, a Veneto and our string of lechon manok stalls.

For 2 consecutive Saturdays we scoured BoxPark MNL along Congressional Ave. for early dinner fares. Unfortunately we missed Cajita churros on both accounts—so 2 points for Mr. Diggins for being the consistent dessert provider.

Points also for the hasty service, Mr. Diggins, so we start off the gastro-journey with you.

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Mr. Diggins serves ice cream with waffles, with 4 topping/flavours to choose from. We consistently bought that Black Bay because it seemed like the best choice.

Come on, can’t go wrong with chocolate popcorn and syrup!

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I had tried the Great White as a novel choice, and whilst the pretzels did look pretty, my heart still lingers to the Black Bay. With the very filling waffle, cooked on-the-spot, a good deal at P95!

We normally eat at the Thai Food table, since it has a roof (#Nona) and that cozy corner garden ambience. This explains why most of the purchases went to this stall, but don’t get me wrong, they were all worth it—including the wait!

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We loved the Pad Thai since it was quite a steal at P100, had shrimps and loads of tofu. The flavour was acceptably Thai (and not too overwhelming), it was filling on its own and only gluttony would dictate buying from the neighbors. The Thai Fried Rice was the rice counterpart, but I really find noodles the more enjoyable carb option.

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The lady cooks the food upon order, which can take some time during peak hours. Luckily Mr. Diggins kept us company during those waiting hunger pangs.

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The chicken tenders came from 1957 Chicken Stop and had gravy and cheese dip choices. From the looks of the cheese dip, you could guess it was diluted Cheezee whilst the gravy is the normal one. The chicken tenders were, well, tender and fresh, and partially reminiscent of a slight KFC peppery flavour.

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Colonel Frank’s serves hotdog sandwiches with a twist, but my brother was not interested in any innovative venture and just wanted to enjoy a plain dog on the brioche. He got what he wanted (no idea how he communicated this plain jane request), but was not too happy with the bread (he was expecting French flair) and the hotdog (had better)—which is probably why Colonel Frank’s is best enjoyed with the mac and cheese on top.

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Pie Guys opened a bit late (or we came too early) so the Mashinator (Pulled Pork) came in during dessert time. With spuds and pie forming the crowning glory, it was comfort food variety that was really filling. We had to bring home the other half of the crown.

Last but not the least is the Mexican place with the longest name: Plaza de Taqueria Mexicana Cantina. The “Taqueria” held quite a queue one early Saturday afternoon because it was one of the few stalls open.

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The Taqueria, that day, was quite busy: the orders didn’t come at the same time (forgivable), the girl kept on referring to the enchilada as “chalupa” (so we thought it was the wrong order) and they forgot my fish tacos (but pretended not to).

While I have no idea how the back kitchen operates, I could imagine it was topsy-turvy with folks calling everything and each other “Chalupa!” Kaloka.

While the food items certainly looked lip-smacking delectable, they were more mediocre than their beautiful plating.

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The nachos were hmmm-kay and the fish tacos held tiny fish chunks and more salsa.  The salsa was spicy great, but the portion was on the pequeno side.

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The Quesodilla seemed pretty comfy in its wooden block, but when a slow eater finishes it in a jiffy—you know someone wants to have dessert ASAP!

While I haven’t tried everything in BoxPark MNL (Cajitas huhu), our initial verdict that that we shall come back for Thai Food’s Pad Thai! And if we have room for dessert (wait, we always do!) it’ll be Black Bay by Mr. Diggins.

Goodie, finally a QC foodie destination right along our ghetto Congressional Avenue! Finally a spot on the map!

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High Five: 5F Mega Food Hall

megamall food court

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

Megamall Food Hall

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

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

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

SM Mega Food Hall

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

Mega Food Hall Tex Mex Nav

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

Tex Mex Mega Food hall

Mexican food megamall

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

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

Mega food hall mexican

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

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

Mega Food Hall Nav

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

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

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

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Chihuahua Mexican Bar: Dog eat Dawg

Salad make your own makati

Dawg. Live like a gangsta, might as well speak like one, ayt? But that title hits the restaurant spot on—everyone knows what a Chihuahua is, right? When you’re eating at Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar (Greenbelt 2)—you got it—you’re gonna be eating like a dog, un perro.

Like the doggie bowl, concave metal contraption when Taco Bell’s little best friend eats from, if he has a home, well that’s where they serve your grub at Chihuahua.

Greenbelt 2 bar restaurant

I’m not one to complain though, since we’re gangsta. Heck, if you make me eat with my hands—uh oh, I’ve got my limits—no gracias. I like my utensils clean and spiffy but that gigantic metal bowl –cum-chamber-pot, why not?

It’s Mexican food and lo siento, I forgot my poncho-bib.

Enough gangsta talk, since I’m already getting a headache from the misspelled red-underlined words.

jenina gonzales food blog

Chihuahua Mexican Grill is a Mexican joint where, when you enter, you see the strangest folk, corporate beagles playing Uno Stacko—and having a crap of fun out of it. They must have been there way too early, so they were probably wasted as well. I like to go with the latter theory because getting high on wooden games and posting photos on social media as if this was the most fun thing on Earth, is not really NOT a fun thing to do on Earth.

Now if the guy at the next table were to photobomb their wholesome game with his unwholesome finger, now that deserves a “Like!” from me.

No, it did not happen though. Boo.

Greenbelt bar mexican

Now I have to talk about the food because it was what we went there for, not the games or photos of weird people flooding the walls or those pretentious sluts. Stop talking. Concentrate. Food.

The food is served Chipotle or Ristra’s style, the one where you fall in line and order what you want. The create-your-own Mexican meal so that if your food sucks, you have no one to blame but yourself.

It’s kind of pricey from an average worker point of view, but the restaurant has to pay off a lot of entertainment and leisure costs to get Uno Stacko loving weirdos to keep on coming back. Now if it were poker night. Hmmm..

Mexican hang out makati

Since it was a late dinner, I opted for the Chicken Salad.  As simple as that. That doggie bowl comes with fresh lettuce topped with guacamole, queso, pico de gallo, salsa, beans, corn kernels and lean marinated chicken.

It’s the condiments table that makes up for the flavor and aye carumba! experience – jalapenos, pico de gallo, all sorts of chili and tomatillos! Oh yes. I could live with that.

tacos nachos mexican greenbelt

And then we have Nacho Grande: A colossal mound of nacho chips topped with queso, chili, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, sour cream, grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, and jalapeños.  Good enough for one and happy enough to forego the burrito.

I’d say, if I had a second time around, I’d choose a lazy lunch hour for that Mexican visit – with daylight to see my food, more time to burn off the carbs and ample idle time to enjoy those tomatillos!

B-ADDENDUM: I did manage to return to Chihuahua for that lazy lunch hour. Unfortunately the chillin’ part backfired as we were met with equally languid service and lack of pico de gallo and other condiments. It was like the place was wiped clean (or kitchen bare) the night before and we were left with chicken scraps (literally) and an absence of fresh produce. With this uncool experience, I have learned to make my own nachos at home. Mexican food craving, solved!

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The Village Tavern: That Scrummy Supper

jenina gonzales food

The Village Tavern is perhaps the closest thing to an Irish pub that I would find in this life—unless I manage to sneak into someone’s luggage to the United Kingdom, an idea I find rather feasible given my size. I have always envisioned the authentic pub as brick-layered, partly rustic, showing the occasional football game with screaming-jostling abound. A leprechaun or Ron Weasley might make a surprise visit but other than that, mugs clicking are the staple.

bonifacio restaurant bar

The Village Tavern in BGC offers a different perspective to the classic pub theme, elevating the experience to high end, grandiose American, gastronomic experience. Perhaps relying entirely on the word Tavern is a misnomer worth welcoming, since focus on meticulously prepared food will find greater appreciation in a hunger stricken place like Manila. The meticulously prepared food also has a price, a bit too much of it. Let’s just say Ron Weasley would go all “Blimey!” once he reads the menu and might have to skimp on Butterbeer for a week.

restaurant taguig

The serving size ought to make up for the costly meals, but for those served for the solitary diner, best to credit presentation and restaurant lighting as contributing factors to the food cost.

bonifacio high street restaurant

The Tavern Nachos are the usual kind, glammed up a bit with monterey jack, cheddar, salsa, sour cream. Being the resident vegetarian, the beef was requested to be placed on the side—to which they obliged. There is nothing absolutely special to say about the nachos, since nachos are always exemplary unless topped with Kraft cheese, so as a default appetizer, nothing beats nachos. Except anything with mozzarella.

jenina gonzales restaurant article

The Onion Rings are probably the cheapest item in the menu, probably because they were more batter than onion. As an inexpensive siding, they were hmmm-kay. As a person allergic to oil, grease or trans fat, stay away.

j.anne gonzales fort bonifacio

The Jalapeno Poppers are said to be the bestselling items in the menu, frequently favored by food bloggers or anyone who loves to get creamed and spiced up at the same time. Unfortunately, the bacon prevented me from digging in, but with the sour cream cheese and fried presence, these poppers find it impossible to be everyone’s favorite. Again I’d be bound to ditch this over something with mozzarella, or the nachos for that matter—and the meat eaters will agree.

j.anne gonzales food review

Another strange and fatty concoction of Chorizo and Cheese – not mine.

food trip bonifacio highstreet

The Flash Fried Calamari was a dash of seafood splendor. Albeit a small serving, the bite size pieces found themselves all over my salad and plate. They were cute to look at and left a lasting memory in my palate. They also disappeared in a jiffy – like a flash someone ate ’em all!

Taguig american comfort food

What I am grateful for is salad. Anywhere I go, salad is normally the safest choice. Having seen the Chicken Thai Salad served about 4 times since I got to The Village Tavern, it warranted an order – just for me! Maybe it was the towering greens or the wonton strips or the Asian allure. For me, it was the curiosity. A bit on the sweet side, but with cabbage, edamame and delectable chicken strips, this was worth the rare caloric fest.

bonifacio central restaurant

The Black Pizza is sadly not mine. Topped with meat and pepperoni, I can only stare and sniff. My, my, the black crust alone was drool-worthy so I needed a bite, at the very least! Look at those herbs; they were calling out to me!

Black Pizza Bonifacio global city

Good thing there was a meatless niche and graciously sliced for me. Ah yes, this cheesy chunk of black pizza was fantastic, chewy and teary-eyed yummy all throughout. Being a crust hater, this is one of those rare occasions I happily finished the crust. It was a mind boggling crus-terrific slice. I wish there will be vegetarian or seafood options for this one!

mussels cappellini seafood

The angel hair Mussels Cappellini is exotically named and brandished on a soup bowl. The pesto-white wine sauce complements the mussels but others, like myself, may find it on the sea-salty side. Perhaps my parmesan was uncalled for, or my palate is just unfamiliar with Chilean mussels, which is strongly the case. Pardon the seafood deficiency since my most extensive background hails from the overly bland cream dory. Overall though, the angel hair and soupy texture lighten the saline rush and we get a pure mussels madness—with all that iodine and zinc, we should be getting smarter, awright?

dessert lazy black cat

I Instagrammed my Double Decker Cheesecake, labeling it as death, or a welcome to it as such. Though double in layers, it could perhaps feed a family, a large one for that matter. The layers of Chocolate and Cheesecake make you forget that you are in a watering hole where drinks and friends are the reason for convening; with this giant slice in front of you, only the cheesecake matters. It’s brick of a cheesecake will make you forget even your BFFs, guaranteed a near sleepless night and will make you wish you didn’t order those jalapeno poppers instead.

vegetarian bonifacio restaurant

Trying to personify vegetarian in the dessert arena, ordering the Very Best Carrot Cake was imperative! The cream cheese icing was a tad too much after having a creamy salad, but a dollop here and there could be spared.

Chocolate torte lazy black cat

That St. Barths Chocolate Torte at the background was not to be messed with. Sweet through and through and only with the vanilla ice cream to counter the sugar kick, this was the devil in disguise. Good and evil on a plate. You ought to consider confessing after this uber-sweet-treat.

If there’s a reason to go back to the Village Tavern, it’s to eat all those blasted desserts. Big enough to feed a village—so that’s where the reference comes from, mate!

restaurant bar fort bonifacio

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Mexican Mayhem: Orale Taqueria Mexicana

fort strip mexican

The only thing I hate about Orale Taqueria Mexicana (Fort Strip) is that it is so freakishly far from where I live, that I cannot eat there whenever I want to. Which is like everyday.

orale mexican taqueria fort strip

Logistics aside, Orale is like a modified Ristra’s where chili and salsa are abound and the place looks more like Mexico than a Philippines-trying-to-be-Mexico. It smells like a Nacho Libre setting too.

manila fort strip mexican restaurant

The Nachos are home (or is it store?) made and are crispy grande. By that I literally mean BIG crisp, one where your teeth totter on the brink of falling, but the freshness and queso mucho make up for this headbang. In the end you stuff yourself silly and find the crunch so memorable and yes, earth shaking.

j.anne gonzales mexican food orale

The Pollo Asado Quesadilla and Pollo Asado Enchiladas denote how much we love chicken, yes I know. What a poultry killer. Back to the comida, the chicken is so flavorful and piquant, we don’t regret ordering 2 chicken dishes. Mixed with the vegetables and cheese and loads of carbs, this is one Mexican meal that is far from Third World.

fort strip food mexican manila

They give you all sorts of salsa, it becomes a sauce fest. Even for a minute or two, poverty is eradicated from the world and everything is just grande. Grand, huh.

food fort strip philippines orale

The Burrito seemed just as filling. Ah yes, the diner was at loss of words which should be translated as… zzzzz. Death from beef.

In Mexican food-deprived Manila, Orale is the only haven for authentic Mejicano meals. This makes Mexicali, Agave and Baja Mexican Cantina seem like half breeds. After a visit to this place, Orale has become the new benchmark for Mexican mayhem.

Unless Chipotle comes over to the Philippines. Then that would be just sweet. Grand. Susmaryosep.

j.anne gonzales blog

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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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Andale, Baja Mexican Cantina

In preparation for my much awaited escapade at Baja Mexican Cantina (Greenbelt 3), not only did I brush up on my rusty Spanish, I also summoned my faux Latin roots (having once believed we were related to Speedy Gonzalez) and managed to perfect pronouncing quesadilla with the ethnic twang, “It’s que-sa-di-ya, entiendes?

Just this night, I was the Perezosa Negra Gata (Lazy Black Cat in Spanish) who was and still, mucha hambre!

The excitement died down, even before I could bring out my bolero, as the place became a Baja Siesta Fest.

Service was rather slow, as if exemplifying the siesta time. This lazy pace at 7 in the evening though made me consider blaming the time zone difference but then realized that perhaps their “Tia Maria” cook was still tossing the dough for the burritos. If I could only scream, “Andale, andale!” like my ancestor Speedy, then maybe things would’ve gone better. But since this is Manila, I wouldn’t want spit on my salsa.

The food came in long and irregular gaps, which in turn gave my companions their gossip break, and as for me, space out time.

Frozen Iced Tea
Cheese Quesadilla

Cheese Quesadilla

Slap in the right amount of cheese in between flour tortillas, grill and voila! Nothing could go wrong with this Mexican appetizer. Baja’s sauce on the side provided the much-needed flavor and spice. However we found the wrapper a tad too thick, thus engulfing most of the cheese. There’s a reason it’s called Cheese Quesadilla and not Quesadilla con Queso.

Nachos Supremo

Nachos Supremo

With gigantic balls of whipped cream, salsa and cheese, this one’s the appetizer champ. The toppings are finely placed and additional orders of salsa, cheese or guacamole are available at less than P50 per topping. The only fare that has been met with appreciative nods and lip-smacking praise, I believe should I return to Baja, it will be solely for this nacho fiesta.

California Burrito

California Burrito

A beef-filled entree, I watched as slivers of French Fries erupted from the sliced Americanized burrito. The ground beef was everywhere, too tedious for me to pick, and so I left this fare to the meat-eaters. They ate in the Mexican fashion, slow-paced but not engaged in the meal. It seems that the Hamburger-cum-Burrito was not welcomed by their discriminating taste, or perhaps the hybrid attempt simply did not satisfy either genre.

Fish Fillet Vera Cruz

Fish Fillet Vera Cruz

This fish went from “fresh catch” to “gone in 60 seconds”. The fish was fresh and if it helps, so white, I just couldn’t stop shoving pieces in my mouth. The batter was also mildly Mexican, not overwhelming or irritatingly greasy. Whoever  Vera Cruz is, well here’s our message to you: Muchas Gracias, Senora! Unless it’s Tio?

Wet Burrito (with Chicken)

Wet Burrito (with Chicken)

The rice was placed on the side (as requested) and inside, it was 90% beans and 10% chicken (and chicken skin). The chicken was literally bathed in purple, and for a minute I thought I was eating dinuguan and ube (both of which I do NOT eat) in one mighty wrap, devoid of vegetables. If I could rename it, it would be the Fat-Wrap Bean Burrito. In grade school science class, we learned about the 3 Gs of Nutrition: Go (carbs), Grow (protein) and Glow (vegetables). Simply put, this burrito’s so wet, it’s lost all its glow.

With other more enticing and conveniently located Mexican joints in Manila, it’s “Adios!” to Baja Mexican Cantina in the meantime. Should you decide to have a fish taco-nacho buffet in the future though, count me in!

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The Corn Identity

It’s just fitting to inaugurate this junk food fest by starting with the world’s widely produced grain, CORN (scientific name: maize). From corn snacks to corn-on-the-cob to cornflakes, corn is undeniably the most recognized carbohydrate with gastronomic significance across all nations and demographics. The junk food empire is not spared by the maize’s proliferation and has in fact become its ally in spreading the goodness of corn chips to the snack market.

Frito Lay may be the undisputed king of corn chips, but local varieties are popping up and charming the taste buds of the Filipino snacker. Find everything that’s got corn in this section—from corn to tortilla chips to those puffy snacks that always give us the orange touch.

We’ll weed out the natural corn killers, so that you can slash them off your eating list and replace them with the worthy junk. Now isn’t that much better than snacking on oatmeal everyday?

 

1. DORITOS (FRITO LAY)

The corn-tortilla-chip epitome, Doritos has surpassed every brand made known to man and continues to expand its flavors and cater to every local taste. What’s more, it launched the Baked! Doritos version (Nacho Cheese) which can be considered the holy grail for every calorie-counting snacker. One serving (1 oz) consists of 120 calories (80% of the original) and 0.5g saturated fat (1/4 of the original).

Keep to the serving size though, since we wouldn’t want you to become bloated with the excess salt (220 mg or 20% more than the original).

Doritos continues to be the unsurpassed tortilla chip and top-of-mind brand because its blends in the perfect nacho cheese goodness with the right crisp. Most will surely agree that it’s the ultimate comfort food of this generation.

Country check. To date, the following have been listed as flavors available in the Philippines market: Nacho Cheese, Barbecue, Ranch, Taco and Baked Nacho Cheese. Flavors we wish were made available: Salsa Verde, Seaweed (Nori), Cheese Enchilada and Sour Cream and of course, Reduced Fat Nacho Cheese!

2. TOSTITOS (FRITO LAY)

Next-in-line in the corn chip kingdom, Tostitos expands its reign not by its flavorful variety but by its monochromatic contours. Here we have Restaurant Style, Crispy Rounds, Multigrain, SCOOPS! and Restaurant Style with a Hint of Lime. Calorie-wise, munching on mediocrity poses no fatal risk, but binge on 2x the serving size and make sure that you have a cup of tea to resuscitate your arteries before they decide to take a break from this world.

Salt threats aside, what’s terrific about Tostitos is its mildly delectable taste that goes just right with every dip! There’s also that hint of Mexican authenticity that makes every experience feel like a salsa-riffic fiesta! The Restaurant Style, with 140 calories and 1g of saturated fat, can really give Baked Doritos a run for its corn silk. Go easy on the cheese dip or reach for salsa and have a delightfully whole grain snack sans the orange fingers.

In a snack world where long sounding ingredients flood every packaging, here’s another reason to hail Tostitos—only 3 ingredients! Now that’s all-natural!

What we want to sample in the Philippines: SCOOPS! Hint of Jalapeno and Roasted Garlic and Black Bean.

3. TORTILLOS (GRANNY GOOSE/URC)

Tortillos has got to be the staple in every person’s pantry, field trip, drawer and study group. There’s something about the salt-laden chip that screams zest and vigor, fun and friends. If Doritos is the universal comfort food, then Tortillos is the Pinoy comfort chichirya (snack). Amazingly, its nutritional information falls within safe levels, despite its flavorsome thin rolled chip. Keep within the right serving and get your daily dose of junk food high form Tortillos.

While barbecue is the popular choice, the cheese and sour cream varieties offer a bit of novelty for adventure-seekers.

4. TOSTILLAS (URC)

Doritos’ petite half-sibling sans the cheese explosion and the enjoyable munch. This is the localized version of Doritos that can actually satisfy the taste buds of the less discriminating folk. But for the rest of the elitist populace, nothing can replace Doritos. If we’re going to while away on empty calories, make it count! After all Tostillas just has the same calories as its Frito Lay counterpart, with twice the saturated fat content!

5. MR. CHIPS (URC)

Mr. Chips veers from the Doritos wannabe segment by adding the extra crunch that it is known for. But with a cheesy flavor that screams “artificial” we’re better off munching on other cheesy alternatives. With its 5g saturated fat content per serving, that’s already 25% of our day’s needs. Calling Mr. Obesity!

5. HUMPY DUMPY (STATELINE)

Ah yes, the aroma of a freshly opened bag of Humpy Dumpy is enough to send us running for the nearest gas mask. However it isn’t actually the smell that should bother us but rather what’s in it.

More than 170 calories per bag and with 6g saturated fat. That’s like saying, eat 2 bags of Humpy Dumpy is all you need to get your day’s quota of sat fat. Time to dump this killer Hump.

 

6. CHIPPY (URC)

In every 80s kid’s stash was the ubiquitous Chippy. Every teen or adult who sees a bag orhears the Eraserheads commercial (Bogchi: a moniker of “snack/food”) would probably reminisce on recess time and the patintero sessions of his childhood days. But that is so 90s. Today, Chippy is like munching on peppercorn—hard and peppery and no imagination whatsoever. Perhaps it’s the spirit of barkada that keeps Chippy alive, definitely not its 7g saturated fat content.

Kudos for the newly launched Chippy O’s – Garlic Flavor for nearly halving this lethal saturated fat amount to 4g. Still considered hefty, but a large improvement from its big barbecue momma.

7. FRITOS (FRITO LAY)

Like Chippy, there’s something very plain and unimaginative about this product that screams “recycle bin!” If you’re looking for the standard corn snack, go for Tostitos—whole grain goodness for 20 less calories and just the same list of ingredients.

If you’re one boring bloke, then indulge. After all, Fritos’ fat content is one of the lowest in this list.

8. TAQUITOS (URC)

In Mexico, taquito is popularly known as flauta, a lightly fried rolled-up tortilla with filling. Funny how Taquitos became more of a Tortillos copycat than a replica of its namesake (which would’ve been loads better). With more calories, salt and fat content, let us welcome Tortillos’ evil twin—the one we hide in the closet and forget ever existed.

9. CHIZ CURLS (URC)

Even the Powerpuff girls on its packaging cannot hide the fact that Chiz Curls is one puffy disaster. Calories, fat and sodium content zoom higher than Buttercup can fly. With 10g saturated fat, you’ll certainly get pudgy before you can spell “partially hydrogenated.” That’s right, Chiz Curls is dangerously smothered with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil—that’s the bad oil they use in fast food. Might as well kill yourselves with French fries; at least they won’t give you orange fingers. Chiz Curls gets an F in all accounts—a junkie food catastrophe that deserves a major makeover!

10. CHEETOS (FRITO LAY)

The tagline “Dangerously Cheesy!” does not seem to scare us one bit, but read between the lines.

Cheetos is hazardously fattening and wins the horrorific award for servings us cholesterol laden corn. The sodium content is sky-high and the saturated fat, well, it surely isn’t that pleasant. If you insist on snacking on the cheese puff kind, go for Baked Cheetos—the lowest calorie content (130 calories) after Baked Doritos (120 calories) and stays within the 1g level of saturated fat. Now that’s one danger we can face!

11. CLOVER CHIPS (LESLIE’S)

We never understood what a four leaf clover has got to do with a tapioca-flour-cum-corn snack, but we are fortunate enough that it has outlived much of its competitors. Clover Chips is one of the rare kinds in the market that is salt mine disguised as a vitamin-packed chip. Enriched with vitamins, Clover Chips goes a long way by fortifying itself with fat and salt too. Had Leslie’s toned down the bad stuff, Clover Chips would’ve been one of the best local snacks. Tough luck for now.

As a side note, the last Clover Chips we ate only listed the CALORIE CONTENT in the nutritional facts portion. Where on earth are the others? Are you hiding them from the curious eaters? I’m one curious cat, beware.

12. CHEEZY (LESLIE’S)

Cheezy’s tagline “Outrageously cheesy” is so outrageously crafted, even a five-year old can tell which snack it was copied from. Why, even the syllables are a perfect match—well done! The calories are at par, but wait, the saturated fat content is at a whopping 7g (vs Cheetos at 2g). That’s 33% —how horrible! Uh-oh, guess Chester Cheetah wouldn’t be too happy to hear about this outrageously calorific copycat that’s about to get crunched.

13. NACHO (LESLIE’S)

Nacho promotes the loud crunching sound that its spicy corn chips could possibly offer. Aside from sore jaws, expect a swelling sensation as well, after ingesting 1/3 of your day’s saturated fat quota. It also doesn’t help that for a simplistic corn chip, it has 5 lines in the ingredient list—and that doesn’t even include the vitamins yet. Craving for that cracking experience? Go for peanuts instead.

 

14. CHUMBOS TWIRLS (URC)

Next to Cheezy, newly introduced Chumbos is Jack ‘n Jill’s answer to the Cheetos phenomenon. The overall lookscreams Cheetos, but with a name like Chumbos, is it a nutritional mumbo jumbo? With 20 more calories but less than 2g saturated fat than Cheezy, this makes Chumbos a cheesier choice than its Leslie’s counterpart. Still, with a host of flavoring, MSG and partially hydrogenated oil in every spiral, go easy on the twirls and promise not to finish the giant bag in one go or you’ll certainly end up like Dumbo.

Sorry for not having posted a picture of Chumbos yet. I will, soon, but in the meantime, you’ll surely spot this giant orange bag a mile away in the grocery should you decide to go junk food shopping.

15. CHEESE RING (REGENT)

Ring shaped chips can be a real attraction. Eat it with all fingers and pray that you can still wash those orange-tinged fingers by the time you shake hands with your boss. Hygiene aside, the Cheese Ring package may be minute in size but massive in fat. Imagine this little bugger lugging around 6g of saturated fat—already 32% of your day’s needs. It also carries with it 3g of sugar. No wonder kids get hyper just looking at the shiny blue wrapper. Next time you get a ring craving, grab a bag of Roller Coaster (review to come) and get that cheese fix.

16. KORNETS (GRANNY GOOSE/URC)

Kornets reigns as the uniqueness champion with its conical shape and semi sweet taste—but that’s not the only distinct thing about it. This corn snack also contains 2 strange ingredients for a kiddie concoction: non-dairy creamer and aspartame. If you worry about the coffee component, well you’re safe as only the creamer is present to provide the creamy texture that makes Kornets delectable. As for aspartame—the sweetness aspect. The big question is: why does Kornets still contain 2g of sugar? That’s a hefty dose for a small package. At this rate, we might as well be eating corn ice cream.

Well, that was quite a mouthful. Need some time to digest all these? I certainly do. This calls for tea.

However, do check out the nutritional facts portion for a more in-depth approach to the science of food, while those looking for a smashing summary can inspect What’s in Your Pantry/Bin.

Eat well!

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