Tag Archives: Taguig

Walk the Tuk Tuk

tuktuk bayani rd.

Bangkok-bound next week, I have had this string of Pad Thai cravings that deserve restraining. Still, I can never say no to hunger. Add in the word “noodle” and all senses evaporate and reach for the nearest fork.

Which is why we discovered Tuk Tuk, this neighborhood hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. Al fresco in its garage atmosphere, it sits along Bayani Ave., Taguig, beside the neighborhood carwash. There is something very Ong Bak with the scenario but I will save the Thai references until after our BKK debut.

The thing about Tuk Tuk is that I think it was originally meant to be a spa place, but the owner found inspiration in the grocery, cleaned up the garage space and Sawatdee ka, let’s set up a restaurant!

thai restaurant taguig

Another funny thing is that it reminds me of Moonleaf, with the cork board and post its written by happy diners and frequent patrons. From the post it notes, I learned that the beef curry is the bomb, the servings are huge, and that the red chicken curry is best eaten with rice! We ordered the last item; let us see.

tom yum tuk tuk

For a hot day bordering on some rain, we ordered Tom Yum Soup because we were under the impression it was Tom Yum Noodle Soup. Instead we just got spicy-sour tamarind soup and a couple of shrimps, good for an appetizer but by no means a full meal. It’s something reminiscent of a Knorr commercial, so it reminded me more of red sinigang than a Thai dish.

thai taguig where to eat

The Pad Thai, as described by the server, contains only squid and shrimp, and came in with a calamansi slice and chopped peanuts. Typical of a pad thai dish but let me clarify, ONE shrimp. The serving is good for a mediocre person and I’ve seen larger servings such as that of Sen Lek’s, which is way cheaper. The first bite was enveloped with such sweetness, I wondered if I scooped the sugar side. Nope. It was sweet all throughout. If it was ever meant to be a sweet-sour-salty kind of dish, the cook may have forgotten the other palates or he feels he has the mission to spread sweetness to the world. Or maybe it was the pad thai mix?

tuk tuk red curry chicken

The Red Chicken Curry was well awaited because I wanted to bathe the pad thai with curry sauce—and counter that sugary presence! Unfortunately we can conclude that the chef intended to slaughter the world with sweetness, and the curry was more of sweet coconut curry than Thai-spicy-curry. The chicken bits were all right but the dish was awkwardly served on a plate—than a bowl—so it may have been a long, winding trip from the kitchen. Maybe the green curry would’ve been more curri-fied? We’ll never know.pad thai kit landmark

So much expectations, but then again, it’s just a hole in the wall eatery, a neighborhood joint, for those who forgot to visit the grocery or are too lazy to cook.

If you have a hankering for legit pad thai, you know where else to go… on the side though, the Landmark grocery has this pad thai kit! Have your own pad thai fill and add in your choice ingredients (no more pesky peanuts for me) and never complain about awful noodles ever again!

 

 

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Skippy’s Bar and Grill: Ripper Tucker, I Reckon!

the forum bgc australian bar restaurant

If you bludgers want to bog in and get some Ozzie grog and footy, Skippy’s (The Forum, BGC) is the boozer for you.

It’s a spiffy joint for earbashing, billiards and booze. There’s a roo on the wall too—so give it a burl why don’t ya?

Skippy's Bar and Grill Sports Bar

Seriously, Skippy’s Bar and Grill located at the Forum BGC is the dinky-di (real thing) if you are looking for Aussie grub and drinks. It’s the place you go to after work to unwind, grab a pint, watch a game or just get the billiard table humming. It’s at the GF of The Forum, BGC, so if you want to run on the grass or just get some sun, you’re at the right place!

What’s ripper about Skippy’s is that they’ve got nightly bands too on a rotating basis, so if you’re tired of balls and bar fights, you can just chill or sing along (if they let them blokes). The place is practically adorned with Australian relics, road signs and whatnot, it’s like taking a dive Down Under, and that’s even before the grub came.

Skippy's restaurant fort bonifacio band

Skippy’s Bar and Grill specializes in Australian food, which I knew nothing about beforehand. I had imagined skewered roos or beer battered vegemite—or anything with vegemite for that matter—but they’ve got the usual fares, like pizza, salad and meats with some Australian flare—deep fried, heavily battered and big on breakfast!

australian food manila philippines

If you’re big on drinks, Skippy’s menu will also not disappoint. It probably allots a half its menu pages on drinks, cocktails and liquor. Non alcoholic drinkers (like me!) will go crazy too over the choices on fresh fruit shakes and juices.

Personally, that freshly squeezed lemon juice was just so “Good onya” it went well with the deep fried fares.

drinks bar forum bgc

Skippy’s is not just a bar with a billiard table; its TV screens are dedicated to showing sports shows, including the World Cup. Did I say World Cup?

Indeed the bar intends to stay open during the wee hours to show the 2014 World Cup because there are a lot of fans, and heck, a lot of them who are already sick of streaming and eating just popcorn!

aussie food drinks manila taguig

 

But back to the food. As mentioned, Skippy’s has this whole barrage of Aussie food and snacks, it’s not just a footy affair. It’s got breakfast, salad and even rice meals; craving of any sort, including lamb or tapa, is guaranteed to be solved.

Here’s a quick peek on the roster (in no particular order):

breakfast menu fort bonifacio global city

Breakfast platters for the hungry!

Big Breakfast has 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, toasted bread, and butter. Basic Breakfast is, well, a subset of the big one, as it depends on your appetite. Not limited to mornings.

 j.anne gonzales blog review Skippy's

Drinks Galore! Too many to mention but personally, as a boring drinker (aka non alcoholic), the fruit and juice selection is sufficiently well stocked.

The Greens are in. Part vegetarians and dieters have something to rejoice about with the salad selections.

salad bgc forum fort

Skippy’s Salad – Fresh lettuce, veggies with egg, grilled chicken and cheese, served with homemade dressing.

vegetarian fort restaurant bgc

Green Salad – Fresh lettuce mixed with assorted green vegetables and tossed with cheese, ham and egg, served with home made dressing.

lazy black cat food review restaurant

Spicy Chook Fingers – Coated breast chicken fillet fingers. Best served hot and eaten with… your fingers!

j.anne gonzales lazy black cat blog manila

Potato Scallops – Such wondrous deep fried spud creation. Golden crisp and sprinkled with sea salt, it’ll be your number one spud serving!

food where to eat fort bonifacio

Chicken Parmigiana – Tender cheese and crumbed chicken are topped with homemade tomato sauce and grated cheese. This one was a winner since it combined all that cheese and chicken goodness with chunky fries–comfort food variety!

Here’s more to feast your eyes on:

pizza pasta skippy's bgc

Shawarma Pizza

australian food manila philippines review

Aussie Burger

food review the forum fort bonifacio

Shepherd’s Pie – Homemade pie from fresh ground lamb and vegetable, oven baked

appetizer skippy's bar and grill

Dim Sims

Skippys baby back ribs

Baby Back Ribs 

Skippys Sirloin Steak

Sirloin Steak

It’s a lot to bog in, yeah?

Give Skippy’s a burl and while at it poke some balls or chill with the band. It’s a sport bar for real, right in the middle of BGC–with a live band inside and grass outside, so it’s got all the elements of fun and frolic.

If, like me, you insist on having Vegemite Sanger (Sandwich) on the menu, you can make suggestions in their FB page or Instagram account.

I reckon, with Skippy’s own set of sanger, desserts and whatnot, you’d forget about Vegemite entirely. I sure did.

 

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Brasas de SM Aura

sm aura food court

Despite receiving an “Excellent” grade in Spanish throughout high school, all my classmates know that was a joke. So haha! Or better yet, jajaja! For the life of me, I would not survive in Spain, or New Mexico with my current diction, and my Spa-galog will not help feed me either.

 brasas latin american street food

Which will explain, why, when I read Brasas, the first thought that came to mind was of an “arm” (for brazo) and then “braces” (out of desperation). Discontent flooded my head and so to put an end to this seemingly infinite guessing game, I googled the damn term: Hot coals. Muerto.

 Brasas SM Aura

That’s why everything is grilled and involves a kind of barbecue set-up, plus the “Street Food” title giveaway. Whilst there were no real coals in SM Aura, which would be really amusing considering that it was the SM AURA PREMIER, there was that stir fry mechanism that was good enough, I suppose.

 Brasas Latin American Street food

I ordered the only thing that the diet would allow, which started off as difficult since a lot of terms involved carne, patacones, pulled pork and more carne, was salad—chicken salad specifically. Even the fries are topped with meat, so it’s salad or hunger for me!

 lazy black cat review

The chicken salad is topped with tortilla chips and carrots, and I opted for Cilantro Lime vinaigrette because it seemed to be the healthiest choice (over orange walnut and honey lime Dijon).  The dressing actually tastes like its name which was terrific because I love both cilantro and lime, so their combination makes it even better. Unfortunately it came in a wee serving, so I had to scrimp on the dressing, rather than slather and slurp, which I normally do on rare occasions when the dressing is fantastic!

 jenina gonzales food blog

The chicken is supposed to be the “brasas” highlight, and it was in fact really tasty, smoky and quite plenty!

The flavor went well with the dressing and for its mediocre portion, was good enough for a hungry me. I’ve had other similar chicken-topped salads, but by far, this was surprisingly a decent choice for its price.

Not to mention after a sad experience with my Chicken Salad at Chihuahua for 2x the price, I’ve been quite down—so this new find has redeemed the chicken salads of Latin America! Ole!

 j.anne gonzales food review blog

So for those who may find it difficult to find tables and seats in the regular SM Aura restaurants (damn you Yabu, Todd English, Ramen Nagi), do visit the generic food hall. It does not disappoint.

It has Sbarro, Four Fingers, Slice, Pepper Lunch, that Chinese dimsum place and yes, Brasas.

Find a comfy spot and let the Brasas warm your appetite, not your wallet.

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S&R, Sacrifice and Sore Throat

While watching a game at Emperador Stadium, a family walked past us bearing (well, more of flaunting) their S&R paper cups. In a totally unrelated event to follow, a couple shared our bleacher and brought out that yellow box that screamed S&R FRIED CHICKEN.

What a sick joke. That’s it. We just had to take the bait.

After the game, we just had to pay a visit to S&R at BGC. The pizza was calling, and no more Nolita—no more money!

BGC gourmet pizza

Bonifacio highstreet pizza

In the last game, we had dinner at Nolita and for some reason, I found the Cheese Pizza ultra salty, so I had to go for a quick Jamba Juice breather after.

Back to S&R, since it was Lent I fell prey (or pray?) to that Tuna Margherita Pizza heavily advertised in-store, my inner pesky-torian just screaming to be satisfied. While my companion basked in the glory of 2 slices + fries, I had my sacrificial tuna slice.

Unlike the fabulous photo that gleamed of grease and tomato puree, my pizza was on the dried out side. It was just, tinapa dry, sans the gourmet flair.

What the heck is tinapa in English?

 bgc s&r grocery

While the cheese was studded with herbs and basil, the fact that the sauce and cheese were not as resplendent as expected made this pizza a letdown and so if I were given a second chance for my Lenten slice, I’d have gone for that Shrimp Pizza. That one has the juicy shrimps that turns sacrifice into gluttonous sensation.

The cheese pizza, is still, hands down, el cheap-o magnifico! Best cheese pizza for its price!

And so, with this disappointing dinner, I had to atone by giving in to dessert by another heavily advertised treat: Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Fudge Cake.

S&R cake chocolate

I was slightly dyslexic at first glance and read it as chocolate fudge cheesecake—way, way better huh?! But my eyesight returned and reduced this to a mere chocolate cake. With fudge. Given its price (about P130/slice) and brand, I expected way more! Like five thumbs up, I’m getting the whole cake next time around!

Instead, I got a killer sweet cake with no hint of dark fudge; it was more of sugary brown icing on standard chocolate cake. If there were secret fillings of custard or deep dark chocolate or even pockets of cheesecake or choco chips, then I’d have gotten a smile of some sort. But no, it was sweet all throughout, with no layers of varying degrees of sweetness. Since I ate this straight—no water, a little chit-chat—I got a sore throat after!

This must be what you call punishment. Oooh.. I can’t wait for Easter! By then, I can have all the Blue Bunny in S&R! No more cakes!

On the side, I am glad I could spend time burning off my idle time calories from this Sole Skate. Saw this on sale, bought it and now, where else but to try it out in one of those BGC empty streets! Instead of kicking balls, at least I can ride my wheels.

skating manila

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Foodgasm IV: Eaters Always Win

Foodgasm mercato blog review

After attending #Foodgasm4, snappy hashtags filled my head and I realize the #sugarrush was to blame. Imagine #foodporn #Ihave NeverEatenThisMuchFoodinmyLife #midnightmercato #EatLikeTheresNoTomorrow and of course #ohyeahJudgeforaNight grilling me throughout the evening.

Imagine the fear of never waking up thanks to #foodcoma, but luckily, I still did.

 Foodgasm blogger judge

As a blogger-judge-attendee in Foodgasm IV last 08 March 2014 at Mercato Centrale, I realize the only thing missing was a gavel. To pummel my hand from too much eating. Kidding aside, it was a breakthrough experience for someone who has never eaten more than 10 courses in her life. This is so Game of Thrones and I swear, I think I saw Joffrey Barratheon smirk at me.

 Foodgasm4 mercato taguig

As the part vegetarian who has and will always be the inconvenience to hosts and fellow diners, I grievously report having failed to eat everything in the checklist, but was graciously assisted, the “meat” slots have been filled out.

So with our powers combined, we managed to eat majority in the list—except for 2 due too fortuitous circumstances. We tried though. #damnNotoriousUPlines 

Foodgasm lazy black cat plate

After listing my Top 4 (the perfect square – how erudite), lemme just go through the rest. The sugar rush has subsided but still, I am capable of the snappy one (or four) liners. I realize though that I failed to get the contestants’ calling cards and give out mine!

I was nearly rendered sleepless the evening before, grooming my accidentally scented lazy black cat calling card—and I ended up eating and clicking, so not networking. Priorities, priorities.

Mercato taguig foodgasm event

Ah well, here’s Lazy Black Cat’s Top 4:

Foodgasm oreo whoopie cupcake

1.     Chef Francesca’s Cupcakes – Oreo Whoopie Cupcakes

Any dessert that combines Oreo + Cupcake is enough to make me swoon. Add in the Whoopie component and we’ve got a faint spell! The Oreo sandwich cupcake concept is not entirely new, but it’s strangely addictive. It goes well with milk and ice cream, and heck, why not water so long as you get one! This ode to Oreo may sound lame-o, but believe me, a bite of this and you’ll know what Foodgasm is all about! Oh. Yeah. #OreoRules

Foodgasm Niku Niku crabmeat

Foodgasm fishcake mercato winner 

2.     Niku Niku –  Crabstick (People’s Choice Winner)

Best placement and lighting goes to Niku Niku, the crunchiest crabstick of the evening! Tasty especially with the Kewpie mayo and nori cover, it makes a crisp kani snack or siding. Would’ve made this my numero uno, if not for a little paper altercation. #mybad

 Foodgasm Pesto gourmet tuyo

3.     Buenavi Food & Beverage – Pescado Gourmet Tuyo

Buenavi’s Tuyo Pasta was like finding a needle in a sweet haystack. Amidst the flurry of sugar and chocolate and all things fattening in Mercato, there it was, that sea-inspired pescatorian glory, sprinkled with cheese, with just the right amount of green. This seafood pesto variant has that tuyo crunch, sans the artificial saltiness and fishy aftertaste. Perfect for lent and my go-green diet; how I wish I was given a full plate to finish! #bitin

 

Foodgasm cheecup mercato

Foodgasm Cheecups team johnny

4.     Team Johnny –  CheeCups

The best way to lure me is to set that cheesecake trap—and what more with several cheesecake samplers… in cups? Turmoil. With tiramisu, blueberry and Oreo, amongst others, the CheeCup lineup is hard to resist. A sucker for cheesecake, this has to make it to my Top 4 because I can’t afford a cheesecake revolution. Hey, that just sounds like an awesome flavor. #TeamCheesecake

 

Food trip mercato dessert 

And here’s the rest of the pack and the rest of the comments. If it’s courteous and trite, it didn’t come from me-at!

 Foodgasm Monkey Bread

Ruby Red Kitchen – Parmesan Herb and Original Cinnamon Monkey Bread (2 entries) 

No monkeys were harmed in the process of making the Monkey Bread, I think. The bread is chewy and fabulously tasty. That Parmesan Herb just called out to me and with a dollop of cream cheese, transformed into perfect pasta companion—or on its own! The Cinnamon version is just as delectable and cinnamony, a sweeter (and SOFTER) alternative to the usual rolls.

 Foodgasm batak sesame cupcake

Cuptain Cakes – Batak Sesame Cupcakes

Batak is the new matcha and the cupcake brings forth an aroma of sesame seeds. If you’re not keen on sesame, give this cupcake to me instead! Best with tea and a much bigger serving size.

 Country Okonomiyaki fries mercato

Country Fries – Okonomiyaki Fries (Innovative Winner)

The idea of okonomiyaki fries was enough to make me violate my No Fries rule. Country Fries was kind enough to remove the bacon (they actually shouted the order, so diner-style) and turn it into vegetarian Japanese fries. The fries were fat, fab, and oishii!

 Foodgasm Yema Crinkle

Mau’s Cupcake Café – Yema Filled Crinkle Sandwich

 Two crinkles with a yema center. Love the crinkles but my weirdness dictates a ho-hum approach to yema and so I met this sandwich with a half and half heart.

 Foodgasm blogger judge chocolate rhum balls

Cooking Ina’s Kicthen – Gourmet Chocolate Rhum Balls

Catchy name makes for a real chocolate rum-ble. So many flavors including wasabi amongst others! The flavor of rhum lingers (for me) so eat sparingly and don’t be like me, eating one after the other until my world really rumbled. Or was it crumbled?

 

Foodgasm best food mercatoFoodgasm Mercato Event happy monster

The Happy Monster – Elvis Pie

 I absolutely adore bananas and peanut butter and chocolate. Add in a graham crust and whipped cream on top and that’s the Elvis Pie. It’s not as rocking as I thought it would be since I could whip this at home (or I think I could). But the pretty stripes are worth the wait and make a perfect gift.

 Foodgasm Flan pastillas dessert

Modern Desserts – Pastillas Flan

 Pastillas and leche flan are my hometown products—my lola even makes them at home—so pardon another ho-hum approach on this godly offering. Still, love your own—and points for the packaging, the only dish served fit for my OCD! Never seen flan served so neatly, syrup stains begone!

Mercato Polish pierogi 

Babci Kuchnia – Polish Pierogi

 Some people are just—okay let’s hear it—not that into strange meat-topped feasts in an evening filled with mainstream treats. Still, it was fun watching Gambit dissect this. A for innovation!

 Foodgasm Bacon Cookies

Baking Bad – Bacon Cookies

Living up to its name, the presentation was purposely ‘bad’ and the signage in whiteboard marker—just wicked! Still people seemed to line up for the cookies with bacon, so Gambit had two (my share) but being used to bacon breakfasts, deemed it a cookie with a wee bit of bacon. Couldn’t tell if it should go with syrup?

 Foodgasm March 2014

Chorizo de Cebu

Chorizo de Cebu Philippines

Another meaty mayhem with an umbrella, my only takeaway. Chorizo is chorizo, however way you cook it. Best served hot and oily, nothing fancy.

 foodgasm contest 2014 mercato

Chili Chili Bang Bang and Hunger Buster

 The funny thing is, the chili and the burger were the most queued for and popular spots—and we avoided them at all costs! Having spent 4 years in UP circumventing lines and finding ways around them, being line-averse just stuck like gum on my shoe.

Also, seeing girls with 4 plates of that chili and guys dumping burgers in their mouths in ONE bite—life would go on without us getting our share. Give chance to the hungry. Charity counts. I’ll live.

 Midnight Mercato Fort

The lines were probably the giveaway, especially the patience these people put up in the Hunger Buster line. I was so sure the burgers were the winner—and I am glad that others got to enjoy these meaty treats, on my gracious behalf!

Foodgasm 4 Official Pubmat

Foodgasm IV: Everyone’s a winner

The experience being a blogger-judge for a food event was just otherworldly. I came to Mercato with no expectations, except to get filled and dragged along my hungry self for a night of tasting, judging, point, shoot and clicking.

 So absorbed was I with the surroundings that I forgot to take a #selfie. Is this the abnegation talking—or was I in that food high? Perhaps.

Foodgasm mercato jenina gonzales 

Despite the crowds, standing room and table sharing (really how sweet), the overall atmosphere was engaging and reasonably memorable for a newbie. Everyone was so into their food, it was like hippie foodie heaven and everyone just gobbled and chewed and trolled like there was no tomorrow.

 Mercato food blogger event

I admit the “networking” part for me failed but this was my first time; my christening in the world of food blogging events. I enjoyed it so much that should there be a next time (HINT, HINT), I promise to come more prepared, with a higher camera clicking dexterity, the flair for #selfie, a spare hand for shaking and card exchange and a higher high to talk to my table peers. And yes, to be early.

Still, it was an awesome initiation into this foodgasmic tradition and at least I succeeded in #nofilter.

I am hungry once again and cannot wait for the next food event. FEED. ME.

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Foodgasm IV: Bring your own Appetite

March 2014 foodgasm mercato

Define Foodgasm.

It’s a rousing gastronomic fest and a scandalous food trip. A trip to taste heaven which you’ll always want more of—after that first bite.

 You can probably tell my excitement level has reached tsunami high. Well, not because of the outrageous connotations of the event name, but because I have been invited as a blogger-judge to the Foodgasm this 08 March 2014 at Mercato Centrale.

 Mercato taguig foodgasm event

Me and the imaginary gastro-gavel.

Imagine judging all 20-ish new and innovative dishes to be offered to Manila’s foodies and being instrumental in the fate of the Foodgasm Champion.

Imagine eating all evening, discussing sauces and seasoning, while snapping photos, and eating some more. Now that’s Foodgasm, huh.

 Foodgasm 4 Official Pubmat

This Foodgasm event will start from 6-11pm at Mercato, BGC. I know there are ticket prices and transpo considerations, but what you get is an evening of awesome food high. The best of the best competing for your palate. Ah, that’s the life!

Oh and the main organizer, UP Ecosoc, my previous neighboring org put up this video of the event, so check it out if you have the time.

And if you’re busy as a bee like this cat, then just remember 03.08.14 @ Mercato. That’s it!

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Bono Noche! (Bono Artisanal Gelato)

review bono jenina gonzales

A stranger once posted on my blog and called me stingy. Lucky guess. It’s just like saying “You’re smart, lazy black cat!” and yes, I won’t complain. Now if you call me a little bad thief, ah well, that depends.

Back to stingy. This penny-pinching side of me hasn’t gone away till now, the hangover from Christmas over spending and that mindless gluttonous spree.

 Dessert sweets SM Aura

Despite my hankering for premium gelato, I have not come close to getting a darn scoop of Bono Artisanal Gelato, because I always end up comparing it vis-à-vis other similarly priced items: Jamba Juice, Starbucks Chocolate Cake, 4 Hot Fudge Sundaes, a bag of Baked Doritos—catch my drift? And I always end up buying the others.

 milo dinosaur Bono gelato

Luckily the Year of the Horse galloped by with a generous heart and thrust a Bono Gelato-Valentine’s Promo to the unsuspecting crowd at SM Aura (I suppose the other branches as well). The rationale was to eat the gelato with your sweetheart, but with an appetite for dessert that can match a family’s, I took this promo as a calling to my penury stricken wallet. In short, all mine.

 food trip manila taguig

P180 for 2 scoops (originally P250), so long as a scoop was one of the 3 chocolate flavors mentioned. Okay, I don’t remember the other 2, except for the one I chose, Milo Dinosaur! Who can resist Milo Dinosaur in Bono Gelato form? I literally grew up draining Milo from the can and eating every crumble, bit and speck.

 Speculoos bono gelato

So it was Milo Dinosaur, and pardon the cliché, Speculoos. The reason why I chose Speculoos is, humbly speaking, we have not tasted “Speculoos” except for a Speculoos Cookie (from Belgium, I think). As for the Trader Joe’s spread and all its evolutions and imitations, nay! Loser. Dieting loser.

The Specu-Milo combination was a splash of old and new sweetness, and being the 80s kid that I am, Milo rules. Speculoos is overrated, with cookie butter bits as expected. It went well with the heart-shaped wafer though, but being the biased old-school patron, Milo made me think of home—when it was still home sweet home. However for Speculoos, it was sweet with a spicy kick, so it’s still something noteworthy and deserves an ooooh on the first bite.

You can just imagine how long it took for me to fall asleep right after. The hangover from the smooth richness of the gelato was invigorating and if any, made me do anything BUT sleep.

Bono Artisanal Gelato is the premium of all those who consider themselves on the same gelato pedestal, and with the way the creaminess just haunts you while awake is a testament to its superiority.

If given the chance, the money or the promo, I will go for a Red Velvet-something else combination. Maybe that Movie Night everyone is talking about.

And if you’re an insomniac like me, treat it like tea and have it earlier during the day. Bono noche!

 cronuts taguig SM aura

On the side, my bro had a box (of 3) of Bronuts, still at SM Aura Premiere. He just had his Amaretto from Bono Artisanal Gelato the other day so he was not as deprived as his stingy sister.

 

While enjoying my supreme scoops, he flicked a bug from that blueberry cronut. That’s one down. (Actually it went to our other brother). The other one was the floss that went to our maid (seriously, she’s a foodie), while he devoured the oreo right in front of me. Perhaps, it was hmmmm-kay but next time around, don’t ever question the gelato. Never.

 

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Lugang: Walk in the Pork

Chinese Restaurant SM Aura

I know that everyone loves Lugang; it’s a pork mine for meat lovers and Cantonese food fanatics. Unfortunately I do not fall in any of its target segments. If any, I am the anti-thesis of the typical Lugang patron. It’s not that I chastise the place, but then again let’s just accept the fact that it’s just not for me. I am so used to rejection by now.

Still, I had to try it somehow. A girl’s gotta eat.

Taguig Chinese restaurant

Unlike me, my brother is normal and falls well within the Lugang market sphere. In fact, he is spot on, the bull’s eye, because his world revolves around dumplings and noodles, and yes, he is a meat eater.

 Lugang Cantonese Dumpling

Normal for him would be to single-handedly have these for lunch: Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shiao Mai and Cantonese Stir-Fried Broad Rice Noodles with Beef. No left-overs, not a single shred of noodle left behind. I took a shrimp from the shiao mai but managed an invisible sweat bead after ingesting that bite—afraid of pork juice. Ah well, I’m still alive aren’t I?

 Lazy black cat review chinese food

We had quite a good laugh when the waitress announced that noodle dishes were good for 3-4 persons. When the dishes came, they warranted a hearty choking guffaw. We could eat a plate each, good for one, gluttonously without sharing with the other. That’s how messed up hungry we always are.

So I take it Lugang folks eat with small portions. Sorry we had to burst your expectations with our fancy appetite.

 Vegetarian food SM Aura

In order to appease my vegetarian expectations, I had no choice but to settle for the ONLY vegetarian noodle dish, the Cantonese Mushroom Stir-Fried Noodles. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to describe this dish. It’s the usual Chinese flat noodles fried with very few mushrooms. The proportion of the mushrooms with the noodles was horrendously unmatched and very stingy of Lugang.

With that much noodles, I’d finish off 2 cans of button mushrooms—my, they are the cheapest kind—but no, I could count the mushrooms and they were less than the fingers on my hand.

I expected vegetables and more greens, but this dish is very discriminating for vegetarians—which is why I did not finish it out of satisfaction, but out of disappointment.

I wish a seafood version was available because the mushroom kind was a Lugang letdown.

The Chinese lady at the other table (we were that close) complained about a bug in her rice. Then she threw away the rice on the table, to make her point, and this literally brought the server’s face to pallid death. The Chinese lady had a table filled with go-grow-glow foods, the kind you order when you have parents (and grandparents) around, and her dishes of broccoli and greens looked tempting. Salivating, for me.

Sometimes I wonder if I had ordered the broccoli-spinach dish instead (over the mushroom noodles), would I have complained less?

Maybe—but then I would have nothing to write about. Vegetables at Lugang—even I would admit, how boring!

 

 

 

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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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Pizza High from Cantinetta

Burgos Circle-Rizal Drive can be an unnerving sphere of lights for the high and hungry. Filtering down the choices to comfort food does not even help a bit. There’s Jozu Kin, Rue Bourbon, Tuscano Italian Wood Oven Pizza and the lure of Sweet Bella.

But when hunger calls, there’s only one dish for the lost, and that’s pizza. Hence, Cantinetta wins.

Cantinetta Four Cheese Pizza Burgos Lazy Black Cat

A rare feat for me would be to ditch salad and pasta altogether, albeit their sinister appeal. Foregoing the likes of Caprese and Canneloni Ricotta e Spinaci was rather uncharacteristic, but no regrets as to their replacements.

Being our self-imposed Pizza Night at Cantinetta, it was mandatory to order only the pizza that would give that absolute high.

The Quattro Formaggi and Fontina Porcini e Tartufo were selected based on cheese content, vegan friendliness and yes, more cheese – and there’s also the case of the truffle oil as for the latter.

Cantinetta Pizza Burgos J.Anne Gonzales

So as not to spoil every bit of detail to those who have yet to dine at Cantinetta, let me skip the small talk on the dough (light and chewy, I could finish the entire serving), ambience and service (bene).

The pizza, though, is graced with a generous spread of cheese, I would imagine dreaming of this dairy vision for weeks. The Four Cheese seems to be a subset of the Porcini-Truffle pizza (yes let me call them by their English names, please) but are equally delightful. The mushrooms and truffle oil lend a gourmet flavor to the pizza, making this pizza preference surpass every bit of potential pasta choices I earlier had. The crust by no means hinders the overall flavor, as it is light and crunchy, yet chewy towards the center.

Next time, should we be less vicious in our appetite, that caprese and canneloni deserve a chance on our plates.

A dopo, Cantinetta! Yes we got stoned from all that pizza but no references to the other green stuff.

(A dopo = See you later!) Shame on you.

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