Tag Archives: restaurant

My Silantro Love

Silantro Fil-Mex | UP Town Center

silantro head.png

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

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

papis fritas silantro uptc.jpg

Papi’s Fritas

nachos silantro.jpg

Nachos

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

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

lamb tacos silantro.jpg

Lamb Tacos (Completo)

chicken tacos.jpg

Chicken Tacos (Medio)

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

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

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

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

silantro up town center.jpg

Oh, here’s what we ate:

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

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

 

 

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Le-zy Black Cat goes to Le Petit Souffle

century city mall

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

How do you like it meow?

century city mall restaurant

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

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

le petit souffle dessert

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

where to eat makati, dessert

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

no no souffle

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

where to eat restaurant century city mall

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

vegetarian food makati

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

le petit souffle makati

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

le petit souffle dessert

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

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

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

 

 

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Seeing the Flight: Wingman UPTC #ThursdayQuizNight

Wingman quiz blogger review uptc

Chicken Wings have soared amongst its finger food brethren that it has become a commodity in the appetizer universe.

Wings with beer, bar delights, or simply finger licking forget-my-date moments are the best way to enjoy those bony numbers.

The only thing that can top this wing bling moment is to enjoy these Chicken Wings in countless various flavours. On second thought, I can top that even more… flavoured wings with spud-delights and Thursday Quiz Night!

What better way to savour those wings while chaneling your inner Google!

Wingman trivia night uptc

Wingman at U.P. Town Center recently launched its Quiz Night, initially unveiling it big time with the Bloggers Quiz Night. Four competing teams became even more competitive as the event was speckled with spuds and wings, and the occasional beer for round winners.

Trivia quiz night qc

Our team, the Kool Kids, with the intentional K, tried to the best of our capacity, life experiences, pop culture knowledge and residual caffeine to answer the trivia questions.

It was a combination of teamwork, effective brainstorming (for some people I just met for the first time) and dexterous handling of the chicken wings (all served with carrot sticks and ranch dip).

Qc quiz night wingman

This was my first time to join Quiz Night, so it was a mixture of panic, mental block and hunger—all happening at the same time. However the Kool Kids were just as cool, so the overall experience was interactive and enjoyable.

I felt quite old though, having guessed ChumbaWumba in a second—while the rest of the team was hmmmm-kay. #90sKid

Wingman_wingman appetizer

The appetizer sampler was a vast collection of sides: onion rings, shoe string fries, potato wedges, and curly twists. The pretty assortment just makes you want to shove everything in your mouth at one point—and drown them all down with beer!

Wingman trivia night up town

Flavoured chicken wings qc

Chicken wings qc up town center

For the chicken wings, Team Kool Kids tried Classic Buffalo (medium), Garlic Parmesan, Mango Barbecue, Jamaican Jerk, and Ragin’ Cajun. Not much into the “sweet” wings, the Classic Buffalo, Garlic Parmesan and Jamaican Jerk made the top choices, while on my next visit, I do hope to try out the Moroccan Chermoula. Sounds intriguing, right?

The wings are bathed in their sinister sauce, and strangely all go well with the ranch dip—especially the spicy ones.

The Kool Kids did not win; we were somewhere in between, so we had no shots or beer rewards. We did get to have awesome fun though, and dessert—so that was a sweet bonus!

Wingman dessert

For dessert, we were graced with the Black Pepper Brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. It’s the type of dessert that you forget the name, then after the first bite, as you fan your mouth in bewilderment, you realize, oh yeah, it’s the black pepper! You can call it the McCormick lava cake, but inside it’s dry and peppery—so eat as much ice cream as you can!

Wingman trivia night

Overall, it was a fun Thursday night experience which deserves to be christened #ThursdayQuizNight.

Try it out if you’re near the area, and get the chance to win shots, or if you’re on the losing end, at least learn some cool trivia on Justin Timberlake.

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Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

 

ilocos norte travel laoag

Last in the Ilocos Series comes a smorgasbord of food—by smorgasbord, I mean like a hodge-podge of delicacies, best to name then Unclassified.

To spare you from more chaos, I have refrained from making breakfast posts, since they are not particularly interesting and are eaten out of obligation. And they could bore the city lights out of you.

 johnny moon la preciosa review

Back to the Unclassified, the remaining untackled Laoag restaurants were chosen out of hunger and logistics: Johnny Moon Café and La Preciosa.

 Pagudpud Blue Lagoon

As a finale/bonus/more Unclassified, there is also our Pagudpud Paluto Take Out Lunch Special—a name so long can only describe the choice left for travelers who never plan!

 review johnny moon ilocos

To start off, here’s a bit of trivia we got from the Juan Luna House tour guide:

The restaurant Johnny Moon is not an attempt at creating a cool-sounding joint; it’s an alias for Juan (Johnny) Luna (Moon), who is an Ilocano local.

Juan Luna Self Portrait ilocos

Here’s Johnny!

C-O-O-L. I will admit, even I hadn’t thought of that!

Still awed, we walked to Johnny Moon for dinner.

 Johnny Moon Review Ilocos Norte

Because of a parade (Ilocos Norte-cum-Flores-de-Mayo-cum-local-fiesta), most roads surrounding the Capitol were closed so we had no choice but to walk to Johnny Moon.

We actually had no idea where we were going and asked nearby vendors—who magically brought out a crumpled map of Laoag and directed us spot on. Amazing, these northern folk.

 Johnny Moon Cafe Ilocos Interios

Johnny Moon, as per the tour guide, boasts of the bagnet sandwich and bagnet empanada, which sadly, I met with a pork-er face. If she only knew I was after Juan Luna, she could’ve made up a Spoliarium Sandwich that could’ve gotten us to Johnny Moon sooner.

Having walked to Johnny Moon was a perfect excuse to have double carbs (or triple, including dessert), for dinner! I don’t regret choosing this place for our finale dinner in Laoag; it was Luna-art all over and the food just affordable!

 ilocos pasta

First was the Laureana Pasta Verde which is malunggay pesto with tinapa flakes topped with what seems to be danggit.

Fishy never became this awesome, seriously.

I absolutely love the texture that the crushed danggit provides, while the pesto gives off that comfort food vibe perfect for Juan Luna’s ‘hood. The serving is good for one—but enough to tackle other dishes—wink, wink!

 bagnet empanada

The Ilocos Empanada has 4 variants, if I recall. Two, I can’t really eat but must be bestsellers (longganisa and the winner, bagnet), the plain one and vegetarian. The difference between vegetarian and plain is the egg, and since I love breakfast for dinner, plain it was!

A newbie in the Emapanada-eating society, I had no mighty expectations and just recognized that orange-y crust that can only indicate something interesting inside its crisp, deep fried shell. For P40, I can afford the letdown.

A letdown is certainly was NOT, though. Oil aside, the empanada was delectable and the uncanny ingredients (papaya shavings, bean sprouts and egg) were a melancholy combination. Supposed to go with catsup (no thanks) or the famed Ilocos vinegar (amazing!), I savored it in its bare glory—yummy! This was my first empanada ever and I’d say, I’d be back for more—if Ilocos wasn’t so darn far!

Oh and if you were to ask me to design my own empanada, it would be the plain jane with cheddar cheese. Awesome! I can just imagine the melted cheese erupting after the first bite—purr-fection.

 dessert laoag

Being the finale, dessert cannot be overlooked. While I was already full from the carbo loading, I still went for the Johnny Moon Banana Split with Dragonfruit Ice Cream.

It was a creamy and fruity break from the oil and sodium, and it was a delectable ending for a tiring evening. While I can’t say that I can actually detect the full flavor of the dragonfruit from that wee serving (approximately a scoop), the entire experience was artfully satiating.

La Preciosa Laoag Review

You will notice that organization and order do not exist in my world, since I started with Johnny Moon (last dinner) while I neglected the 2nd dinner, so here goes: La Preciosa.

La Preciosa was chosen for its logistics, and more importantly, because it was recommended online—somewhere with a photo of a huge slice of carrot cake! Sold!

Of course before dessert, dinner had to be served.

 La Preciosa Ilocos Menu

We had more fish for dinner, the fried Bucto (appetizer), Boneless Bangus and Crispy Dinuguan (for the meat eater).

 seafood restaurant ilocos

The Bucto was meant to be a giant version of fried dilis, but I found it absolutely so huge, I think I only managed to eat a handful. Or maybe because the fish head did freak me out and reminded me of well, severed fish heads. I try not be visually un-inspiring, but even the lazy black cat knows when to say “no” to too much fish heads.

 Crispy dinuguan La Preciosa Review

fish ilocos laoag

The Boneless Bangus was my main course and was just so-so. I mean, how else could I possibly describe boneless bangus, huh?!

Don’t remember picking stray bones, so that makes this worthwhile, but the opposite of adventurous.

If any, you should be chucking a book at the monitor for the boredom I may be causing you. I’ll understand.

 la preciosa dessert

Which brings me to the highlight, the Carrot Cake.

The carrot cake can be spotted from a distance because it literally floats in a crown of shredded carrot. The cream cheese frosting holds all those carrot stays into this boulder of beta carotene goodness. Further scrutiny shows that the cake itself is studded with walnut and not much of carrot (seriously, no orange in the batter), but not that it matters—unless you hate raw carrots!

La Preciosa shines in the dessert-pasalubong department, and that carrot cake continues to radiate its orange shreds in my phone archives. Impossible to delete.

La Preciosa has other interesting looking cakes in its menu, just as visually resplendent, but I regret having been born with only one stomach. Maybe in the next life—9 stomachs too?!

 Welcome to Pagudpud Sign

Last but not the least is the longest entry in this post: the Pagudpud Paluto Take Out Lunch Special!

The story behind it:

Blue Lagood/Pagudpud was utterly filled with people; no cottages would take us in and we had to seek shelter in the remotest resort (so remote, its name is negligible). The only recourse for hunger is to go to the main “Paluto” section (near Hannah’s) and take out whichever fish we fancy.

 Blue Lagoon

It was a kilo of Dorado that caught our eye, grilled—with an awful waiting time of 45 minutes! Someone got extra hungry and bought a paluto-longganisa from a nearby vendor, while I had a banana. Boring, as ever.

paluto where to eat pagudpud

The Dorado was decently sliced and grilled, with a siding of tomato and onion—on the house. It tasted fresh and self-sufficient on its own, though a bit of kalamansi-soy sauce on the side did wonders as well.

From my tone (and awe), it may seem that I do not frequent Dampa in Manila—you got it!

Still, eating freshly grilled fish by the sea—in that remote cottage—was just so zen-inspiring and calming. Lunch on the sand, sans the unruly tourists, turned this Pagudpud meal into a stellar picnic.

pagudpud food

So this ends my Ilocos Series. It was a grand adventure, that turned me into a lazy BRONZE cat.

The color will pass, but the memories, always online and in my mental map of things to remember.

 Rocks shadow selfie

There were a lot of wrong turns, lost moments and spacing out while driving (not to mention a Buscopan incident), but all in all, it was a Labour Day Weekend, wonderful and well spent!

Now, back to reality, mates! Till the next holiday!

 

Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

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Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

 

laoag restaurants review

Enough with this fasting! I have obligingly posted the sights and structures, I may now proceed with the grand-tastic portion of my ILOCOS SERIES: Food!

laoag restaurant

Sorry epicurean seekers. The highlight of my Ilocos food trip was not the empanada.

Instead—drum roll please—the envelope reads: P-I-Z-Z-A!

As biased as it may sound, being the constant proponent of #pizzanight, it was the pizza that gave me the gastronomic bliss, the shivers and the *sigh* moments. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I would like to tackle 2 places where the celebrated local pizzas have graced our dining table: Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant (Laoag) and Herencia (Paoay).  

Laoag restaurant review

Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant was the first destination because it was in my #1-to-eat list, and because it has pizza and pasta, which I can’t bear to live without.

Let me add the word “fusion” so as not to label me a boring blog which shuns gastro-adventure.  

Saramsam Laoag Interior

The fact that an Ilocano restaurant serves pizza is a telltale sign that it’s got some fusion fares worth tasting. And that maybe brick ovens are the kitchen norm up North. Perhaps—I didn’t ask for a tour.

Saramsam moved to Balay da Blas and has a strict reservation-cum-starts-serving-at-7pm-only scheme, so patrons had to wait outside till the clock struck 7:00. Being deviants—tired and lazy deviants to be exact—we asked to be seated inside, as we waited for the clock to strike 6:59.  

That’s when we ordered the Poque-Poque Pizza (LARGE), Saramsam Pasta and Pork Dinakdakan (not mine).

 talong pizza laoag saramsam

The Poque-Poque Pizza, in its 11-inch glory, was a crazy-messy-lovely sight to behold. It’s got mozzarella cheese, deconstructed tortang talong (eggplant), onions and tomatoes, hence the shambolic appearance.

The waitress instructed us to pour chili oil and their diluted bagoong(fish paste) sauce—and what wonders these did! Imagine that I do not eat bagoong, but that watered down condiment just turned the pizza into an exotic surprise! Seriously, they all went together—fish paste salty, creamy cheese and that smoky eggplant.

I finished 75% of the entire plate.  

j.anne gonzales food blog

The Saramsam Pasta was a combination of basic kitchen ingredients like red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, shrimps (a bit small for me), ripe mangoes, and last but not the least, cilantro. That cilantro added to its oomph factor and turned this pasta into a summer pasta fare.

The components fused into a harmoniously sweet and salty affair—that complemented the awesome pizza.

 Saramsam Ylocan Review Restaurant

Lastly, this Dinakdakan was not mine (it’s pork) but looks just picture friendly and tastes (as I was told) just as remarkable. A perfect pulutan to go with beer!  

Herencia Paoay review restaurant

paoay restaurant

  Herencia Café is hard to miss; it’s in front of Paoay Church and posters are abundantly strewn in the nearby streets.

Its claim to fame is serving the “First” Pinakbet Pizza—and I am not quite sure if being first actually translates to yummy, delicious, to-die-for or just hmmm-kay.  

Herencia Menu ilocos norte

A sucker for pizza though—you guessed it—this was a mandatory destination.

Let me be clear though. Despite my vegetarian tendencies, I’ve never been a fan of the pinakbet-bagoong tandem. But, to yield to foodie adventure, we had the pizza combination: ½ Pinakbet and ½ Mushroom (boooring, I know)—for a hefty premium of P70.  

Ilocos Pizza Pinakbet

I chose the Mushroom Pizza because other options were MORE boring like Tuna and Does Queso (2-cheese) Basil. Imagine, 2-cheese! Sadness.

The Pinakbet-Mushroom half-and-half was a splendid cheesy sight, but my bias told me I would like the mushroom more. Correct.

After Saramsam’s Poque-Poque Pizza episode, my pizza expectations went Paoay sky-high, but the Pinakbet Pizza’s toppings were not as copious (compared to the photo). I could count the sitaw (stringbeans) and ampalaya slices, and they could not possibly be a significant source of the day’s recommended veg serving.

It was a bland offering, despite another watered down bagoong condiment on the side. I highly enjoyed the Mushroom Pizza, though with just button mushrooms (and a wee onion slice), this fared badly as a foodie adventure. Just comfort food variety.  

paoay restaurant where to eat

The Pasta Ilocana looked glorious with its cheese and longanisa toppings.  

Please note the olives. Olives in Paoay–cool!

Paoay Herencia Menu

The Tuna Pomodoro Pasta was a creamy-milky affair, but loaded (or redeemed) with chunks of canned tuna. This gets another comfort food award, and went well with the mushroom pizza. If you hate the cloying feeling of too much creaminess, go for the Pasta Ilocana, if you eat meat anyway!

All in all, attempts at the gastro-adventure fares backfired as I found solace in my comfort food staples of tuna and mushroom.

Ah well. It must be the heat.

Still, pizza is pizza and #pizzaisthebest.    

Stay tuned for the last food post of the Ilocos Series, D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S and MORE!

Ilocos Series: 1. The Sights

Ilocos Series: 2. In the Brick of Time

Ilocos Series: 3. Ilocan-Pizza and More

Ilocos Series: 4. Unclassified Food Trips (Johnny Moon & La Preciosa)

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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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La Petite Camille: Vietnamese Fill

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Who’s Camille? Beats me. Might be the French inspiration of the place, after all La Petite Camille (Greenbelt 5) specializes in Vietnamese-French fusion, and not cupcakes as the name might suggest.

 lazy black cat review greenbelt

Sure the place is flooded with yellow and white furniture, a pleasant and proper domicile for those little Camilles, but the food is more of Vietnamese and where the heck is the French?!? Well as far as what we ordered, yep, it’s really Vietnam all over. No forks needed, just chopsticks (or hands) please.

I still question the French part, but with a fill of Vietnamese noodles, I had no time to process gastronomic fusion, nomenclature and whatnot and just had to dig in when the food came—or is it stab in?

 vegetarian food greenbelt makati

It’s funny how the appetizer, the Fresh Spring Rolls, came in last. The French influence is apparently absent in terms of the order of food service because they massively screwed up and served everything in reverse. Merde, eh?

Back to the Fresh Spring Rolls, because they came in last, we were already filled with the main dish noodles, and to spy more rice noodles popping from these carefully wrapped rolls was not too enticing. Still, with the hoisin sauce the rolls were made bearable. But having to shove that large a roll, when I was already full, was quite the challenge! If only they served that first, I’d have something better to write about.

 seafood restaurant makati

The Salt and Pepper Cuttlefish was served somewhere in the middle. I needed a few chunks before finally narrowing down its taste; it’s similar to the shrimp balls we eat in Chinise restaurants. You know that taste, right? Those awesome prawn balls that burst with crunchiness on the outside. That breading plus soft cuttlefish in the inside is La Petite Camille’s version. The sauce—we can do without. Better off with calamansi and soy sauce instead.

 Vitenamese French restaurant manila

The Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken does not look appetizing but is greatly more delectable 10x over its looks. On the blander side—which greatly favors the health conscious—it’s got vegetables, egg and succulent chunks of chicken. A hungry person can finish a serving, which is what my brother did. Goes well with that cuttlefish for thatprawn-y flavor on the side.

 j.anne gonzales blog

Pad Thai with Prawns was the other noodle dish. With the same noodles and toppings (more or less), I had a difficult time differentiating the photo from the previous dish. Then I realized that this has a siding of nuts—which they graciously set aside rather than sprinkle on top!

Having requested a mildly spicy serving was a smart idea because I did not need a water fest so far from home. The Pad Thai is (expectedly) sweeter and more flavorsome than the Stir Fried noodles. While I adore Pad Thai, having the latter as comparison makes me go for the Stir Fried Rice Noodles. Think of it as a toned down version of Char Kway Teow. Not bad huh. Still, the Pad Thai is great and “al dente” and so French-approved.

 jenina gonzales blog food review

4 dishes and 2 diners—so it would be accurate to say that the meal came with a large bill! With no time (or money) for dessert, it was all right. The meal was ultimately filling and I remember the first bites of the noodles were interspersed with Mmmm and “I need to take a photo of this!” 

Still, if the appetizer came at its properly appointed time, I’d have been more satisfied and at ease. Imagine having Hoisin for dessert. Weird.

Or is that how they eat in France? Oui?

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To be or to Chelsea

serendra restaurant

Having a collection analogous terms, “Chelsea” can spur quite a debacle in our household.

Imagine the common name, like say, Chelsea Clinton or Chelsea Dagger. Then here comes the futbol fanatic saying he adores Manchester United and that Chelsea FC is bleh. All right, understandable.  Not to be forgotten, we next get a smothering list of London and NY related places, which are more than a handful.

Oh, the Chelseas of Webster! No wonder Wikipedia can’t get enough of you!

lazy black cat review restaurant

But really now, being a food blogger in Manila, when I say Chelsea, it can only mean one thing: Chelsea Market & Café, at Serendra, Bonifacio High Street (there’s another at Podium). Sure, it’s a copycat version of the “real” Chelsea (NY) but what can I do, I live in the Pacific so I have to make do with what I can access logistically.

To be honest, I did not want 2013 to end without having visited Chelsea Market & Café. What a silly wish, you might wonder, but for a northern dweller like myself, trips to BGC can be quite arduous. Luckily I did get my wish –  that was 3 days before the New Year –  one cloudy Saturday (or the last for 2013), we finally hopped in our car and decided that yes, Chelsea it is!

jenina gonzales blog food

I did make a reservation 2 days before, but the bookkeeper seemed to be lost in his own battle with his body piercings, so that reservation was made in vain (and his chunky planner may have been a spells book in disguise, I did not bother to inspect). Good thing we were quite early and managed so secure a couch adjacent to the IKEA wall. If IKEA were to partner with a restaurant, this would be it.

Bonifacio Highstreet restaurant cafe

Before orders were made and inquiries tossed around, let me tell you that the place already screamed of slow service. It was in the air—oh, and my nefarious instincts are rarely wrong! Slacking pace—New Yorkers would have a riot on this objectionable trait!

When the order taker finally came to mind—perhaps perked up a bit with a sip of Red Bull—our orders came crashing in. The hunger we kept to ourselves suddenly materialized and out came words like pizza, confit, warm water, cheese, red wine, and no, make it 5 cheese! It was a mess of a notepad.

appetizer chelsea market cafe

To top off the chaos, my auntie decided to twist things a bit more—had the pasta sauce changed from pesto (Oven-Roasted Seafood and Tomato Cream Pesto) to Marinara. It was an entirely new dish—and the chef permitted this common abomination we like to call Seafood in the Red. Really now, it was just a bit of Ragu mixed with seafood and voila, customer service at its finest! As for gastronomic satisfaction, I leave that to the lucky diner—not me!

appetizer chelsea serendra

For starters we had a wee serving of the Warm Gorgonzola Dip with Vegetable Sticks and Potato Wedges. I am not kidding when I say “wee” since each vegetable type must equal 4 servings and not a sliver more, except for the caper—but who likes capers? The potato wedges came in a bit of abundance in proportion, so we thank the chef for this oily bounty. The gorgonzola dip was warm and creamy with this hearth flavor, but with a very small amount of vegetables for dipping, all that good cheese was left to waste.

salad chelsea fort

The Roasted Garlic Portobello Mushroom Confit came in a surprise platter because what landed on our table was a nest of arugula—lovely! Underneath the rocket forest came the sweet and succulent Portobello which made hearts out of our eyeballs for a nanosecond. With pesto spritzes, shaved cheese and cherry tomatoes, this made the gorgonzola dish hide in the shame of its scarcity.

pizza pasta fort restaurant

The Pizzas (All Meat and Five Cheese) came in thin crust variety and were consistently topped with arugula. Now I know whose pantry to raid when the arugula stocks in groceries are depleted, which is like, always.

vegetarian pizza bonifacio fort

The Five Cheese Pizza has that star beside its name in the menu, so I figured it should be the better pizza—not! Well, it tasted so-so and hmmmm-kay—for a Chelsea dish. It wasn’t that spectacular and was served not-so-piping-hot. Even the wee slices of apples alongside the arugula could not make a difference—since they were miniscule to begin with. Had I known it would be a mediocre cheese dish, I might have gone for that Greek Panko salad instead. At least the cheese on that one is more, apparent.

j.anne gonzales blog food

When the Southern Style Cornflake and Oatmeal Crusted Fried Chicken came, it looked like something that came from grandma’s kitchen. Still with arugula and potato wedges, the breading is a meal on its own—cracking sweet and oaty! A good pairing with the sickly pizza.

steak salad fort restaurant

Just a photo of the Grilled Roasted U.S. Rib Eye Steak, though nothing can be said about it. If you press for information, call my Ossan, but I really, really doubt if he can give any helpful input. Best he could say is: It did not go with red wine. Because really, it did not go with red wine. I warned you.

fort bonifacio restaurant menu

Despite a heavily starchy lunch, we still went for dessert. A trip to the Fort necessitates the hoarding of more calories, to bring us home safely, and with the chiller so close to our table, EQs are lost as hunger surges once again.

best cheesecake manila

100% mine, the New York Chocolate Chip Brown Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Longest name in the bunch with perhaps a proportionate amount of saturated fat. With cheesecake interspersed with cookies and more cookie dough in the base, it was cheesecake heaven until I finished half the slice. The other half called for tea and a kilometer of walking. Still, I persisted and finished the damn slice. Pretty damn good—but I doubt if I can take on this challenge again!

ice cream gelato dessert bonifacio

The others had the Super Ice Cream Sundae, Nocciola Gelato and that  Four Layer Toblerone Torte.

dessert serendra fort

The Ice Cream Sundae is Super because of the obvious add-ons, most of which seemed to be cream. If you’re a fan of cream and just 2 scoops of gelato, you will delight in this. If you hate cream like me, get a cake.

cake dessert chelsea

The Four Layer Toblerone Torte has repetitive layers of that cake/merengue and crème filling. The novelty is in the height and not the assortment of the layers, if you’re thinking Mango Bravo. If you like uber sweet and Toblerone, go for it. Otherwise, check the menu for something that summons your dark gluttonous self.

lazy black cat review food

Our local Chelsea experience can be summed up as a calorific, overpriced slacker’s meal. The food was on the mediocre side and did not exactly fire stars from my eyes. Whilst we know the ingredients were of the supreme and fresh kind (well I do hope so), the overall package is not worth waiting for again.

So if you’re going to summon New York, that hurry-that-pace-and-move-in-a-flurry because that’s how they are in we-hate-waiting East Coast—then our local Chelsea will freeze you in time and you better pop in a microwave dish instead.

food trip manila

But since I’m in the New Year positive chakra forgiving mood: As for Chelsea Market & Café, you’re almost there; buy a watch with a timer and get back to me once you remember to serve the Toblerone Torte. (Yup they forgot about it.)

Fair enough, yow.

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TORCH that Diet!

Torch restaurant review

Torch is supposed to be this comfort food hang-out, but it was really funny because when we first visited their U.P. Town Center branch, it was filled with properly clad seniors and a backpacking baby—we literally stuck out like a sore pinky. Us, in our near pambahay-hipster garb and bagong gising look, the supposed cherished target market.

lazy black cat quezon city food

Anyhow, we still managed to get ourselves seated, perhaps proving ourselves financially capable by means of good English, proper courtesy and my brother’s wolf tattoo + mine combined. #feelingbadassagain

bottomless nachos torch

With BOTTOMLESS NACHOS as the first item to welcome my hungry eyes, it was inevitable, without another second of breath or thought  that we go for. DUH, BOTTOMLESS NACHOS. It was that or get out and stay out.

With the bottomless nachos comes the expected bottomless salsa. Unlike Chili’s similar counterpart, Torch serves its corn nachos on the thicker side, like Orale Mexican Taqueria at the Fort. You don’t get a crisp (like Chili’s), it’s more of a massive crrrrruunch and oops there goes my tooth.

On the bright side, it doesn’t leave the nasty crumbs on your clothes, which can be a drag if you’re wearing black or velvet or both.

comfort food manila

The salsa is fabulously chunky and slightly on the sweet side—but not horribly Jollibee spaghetti sweet—just pleasantly semi sweet. The good thing about it is that it does not taste like it came from a can, which can be the rusty sour taste we’ve gotten used to. This salsa isn’t conducting any energy.

To quote my bro: it’s like mango. Right. Mango. Comfort food. Riiiiiiight. So smart.

Of course it would be quite embarrassing to leave as is. I know I’m stingy but since I was treating my brother, I should offer the courtesy of a secondary dish.

quezon city restaurant

And so we had the Gambas Pizza. More carbs, woot! The pizza crust is so remarkably thin, you will really need floss if you’re out on a date. Otherwise, who cares?

Crisp, slightly toasted but brimming with cheese, what’s desirable about this minimalist pizza is that the shrimps have that Chipotle flavor that goes well with the salsa. Actually it goes well with everything! Unfortunately with that much carbs in one meal, one can only eat this much—like at least 3 refills of that salsa.

restaurant up town center

The old people seemed to enjoy their flamboyantly presented meals, so did the backpacking baby and what seemed to be his dad’s flambé. Ours was a festive feast for 2, and even lacking a proper family, turned out to be an indulgent experience. 

Still do not know what I’ll be having the next time around – but surely, this calls for a next time. Like next week?

I had to have the Family Mart twirl-all-you-can Green Tea ice-cream to cap off that comfort lunch at U.P. Town Center—couldn’t think of anything else! Twirl-all-you-can! #IcanDIEnow #Socanyou

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