Tag Archives: Where to eat

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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Fall Out Guy: Cheesecakes by Guy

eastwoodm, cheesecakes by guy review

Anything with the word “Cheesecake” is enough to get me off my lazy bum, so a drive to Eastwood albeit Katipunan traffic is tolerable… for the first 10 minutes.

However, the promise of cheesecake is so enticing, we waive all horrible external factors and hum to the sound of dessert.
cheesecakes by guy where to eat

Cheesecakes by Guy was the choice lunch destination because of its novelty and of course, cheesecakes. Before lunch proper, that’s right, we had already ordered the cheesecakes. Not pre-ordered. Ordered alongside our coffee accompaniment.
dessert quezon city

The Red Velvet Cheesecake is a rogue presence and just screams “Order me!” Its cream cheese and red velvet combination is perfect with coffee, though more on the dry side.
jenina gonzales blog food

The Chocolate Cheesecake is meant for those who’ve declared war on their diets. Whilst it does manage to kill off any sugar craving, it is best enhanced by its Iced Cappuccino to temper any excess sweetness. Again, my only comment is that it is a bit high on the dry department.

cheesecakes by guy coffee The coffee drinks are freshly made and perfectly arranged. I asked my syrup to be placed on the side (vs mixed) and that did the job of maintaining the bitter punch which I like with my cheesecake.
eggs breakfast cheesecakes by guy

The Salmon Benedict was a pair of glistening perfection (for the eggs). All right to the taste, but nothing remarkable to comment on. Between cheesecake and this though, you know who the winner will be.
blog cheesecakes by guy

The Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelette was made of purely egg whites, so the omelette was tender and light. As an egg loving person, it was okay but I wonder where the  yolks went. The overall dish is minimalist, so do not expect to get overly full from this protein package – which is why the cheesecakes are there on display!

Overall the Cheesecakes by Guy experience was uniquely filling. I had cheesecake for appetizer, and nothing beats dessert going first! I hope there will be a next time–like the call of the green tea cheesecake!

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Binondo Food Tripping 2

where to eat chinese food

The best food trips are spontaneous and random and can go as impulsive as just craving for downtown ramen – and look where the tide whirls us to – Binondo, Manila!

Good gracious, the powers of hunger and traffic-less Sunday! Well, generally breezy.

binondo eats

I have grown to have a penchant for the Binondo food, having mastered the one rule: Stop asking questions!

At the start, I inquisitively asked about meat content, of vegetarian dishes, about strange exotic names and Chinese translations.

Sometimes, it’s best to stay safe and look for common keywords: chicken/vegetable/seafood and opt for the un-adventurous sounding terms: soup, the easily dissected dumpling and my newfound discovery, misuaProblem solved, sans the angry dispute and broken China.

Binondo Food trip sincerity chinese restaurant

First stop on this second food tripping leg leads us to a famous Sincerity. I don’t know why, but people Sincerity seems to be a top-of-mind foodie destination. If any, Sincerity definitely does not relate to the honesty of the food and could be more of a feng shui thing – or simplicity if you must insist on a trait.

fried chicken binondo

where to eat binondo

Sincerity is best known for its breaded fried chicken, so let’s start with that. Tender juicy and sincerely oily with a bit of sweet, it’s the perfect comfort food! It’s delectable on its own, but do make sure to ask for spare napkin, especially if you like to eat with your fingers.

The catsup remained untouched because aside from not eating catsup, it just seemed irreverent to violate the original taste with bottled sauce.

sincerity binondo

Then came the Oyster Cake which was more of an Oyster omelette with a surprise, which Google, with its multitudinous posts, purports as a famous Taiwanese delicacy.

Having researched why “cake” assumed the title role came the simple fact that potato/tapioca starch is added to the egg mixture for that pudding-like consistency that I got so addicted to, I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day. A bit of a warning though, do not finish single-handedly unless your stomach can seriously stomach that much shellfish!

manila food trip

I seem to be following a strange order but this was another breakthrough order -which was actually the first to arrive! Duck Misua came with the thinnest, almost gone misua noodles which makes you want to slurp some more. Tastes like the perfect remedy for anyone under the weather or just craving for a bit of duck in soup form. It was gone in less than a minute, so it was hunger in pure sincerity.

Not very photogenic (honestly, it looked blehhh) but it was an awesome accompaniment to the entire Sincerity ensemble.

cafe mezzanine binondo

Next on the list was Cafe Mezzanine which sits atop Eng Bee Tin. Cafe Mezzanine, A Fireman’s Coffee Shop, has this CSR thing going on, since its sales are tied to the Manila firefighters, so eat and beat the fire! Or perhaps, fight hunger and fire – at the same time?! Okay, on to the food.

Since it was a diet-y day, the food ordered are not are grand as Sincerity but just as mouth watering.

binondo manila where to eat

Appetizers were the Super Tofu and Camaron Rebusado. These small items were affordable and came in angular plates. Nothing fancy but enough to keep you full, if you prefer a light meal.

binondo food trip noodles

The Kung Pao Chicken Noodles came as quite a surprise. I was a expecting a wee to medium serving based on the photo, but what came seemed to be an equivalent of 3 to 4 packs of instant noodles worth of egg noodles, topped with cabbage, carrot, peanuts and sweet chicken bits!

I had to pause for a moment – because the dish was all mine! Sweet and silky, it was an enhanced pancit canton with a sweet tinge. It was also enough to keep me full for the rest of the day – and have a free breakfast for the next morning. Sweet! 

manila binondo

And so another successful Binondo Food Trip! If you have the time, do visit the Binondo Church.

It may get stifling hot during mass or crowded days, but during off peak hours, you can marvel at the glorious ceiling, statues and all else God-made. Dessert no longer required.

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Binondo Food Tripping

Manila food trippingBeen hearing a lot of buzz and drone on food trips, walking tours and whatnot in Binondo, Manila. Like it’s the new tourist hub of Manila, when everyone has had their fill of ramen and tonkatsu – which is kinda funny since Binondo has been there for like, forever.

Ying Ying Restaurant Binondo Manila

 

I can remember visiting Chinatown when I was a kid, and they were not food trips per se. Actually, my lola never really reached the popularity of that term, but she knew the essence of #foodtriptayo circa 80s, when we frequented Ongpin for Crispy noodles, fresh lapu lapu, century egg, and The Shrimp Balls of my childhood grease. Ah yes, and that was the time that awesome Milo Bar was sold in Manila, chunky and large, not like the ones we have today. #bestchildhoodever

Today though, Binondo remains to be the bustling center for legit Chinese delicacies and products from, where else, China. Of course 168 presents Divisoria merchandise in a mall-friendly fashion, not to mention the construction of Lucky Chinatown for those who just want a basic mall, but Old China is still very much in the air, with the kalesas, structures and of course, the food!

While I’m not food tripping addict, I just happened to pass by and eat. No walking tour or immersion whatsoever. Nothing planned, happened to get hungry so eat, pay and get out.

Binondo Food trip jenina gonzales

Ying Ying Restaurant is a multi-level restaurant that looks ho-hum from the outside, a bit crowded upon entry, and just really bustling with moving people and servers. It’s all right though, so long as you’re seated quickly to avoid headbutting beer bottles or chicken feet.

Vegetable dumpling

The menu is filled with so many interesting items, you will swear there must be an imminent visit. Unfortunately Ying Ying did not have Peking Duck (that day), but there were hordes of other dishes to discover and try, like all sorts of dimsum and single-serve appetizers in those staple saucers.

Ying Ying Binondo Review

Hakao Binondo Manila

The Hakao was delightfully fresh, while that Vegetable Roll was definitely a mysterious pocket of hodge-podge veggies. I spied mushrooms and carrots–and since it goes well with the usual calamansi and soy sauce–just great!

Toasted Noodles Ying Ying

where to eat binondo

The toasted noodles with chicken looked strange, outside its soupy form, so we enjoyed it al dente, bordering on the pancit side. The sizzling oysters is perfect for a lunch siding, or just pulutan. It was so flavorful, it may have contributed to the taste of my pancit-like toasted noodles turning it into a seafood fest.

Mix and match, and yes, end with a cup of tea–or make that two!

 

Binondo restaurant review

Tasty Dumplings is so close to the Binondo Church, it makes sense to have a tasty snack there after Mass.

Now that I’ve typed the word “tasty” twice in one sentence, I take it I’m not allowed to use it in the next paragraph or people might think my vocabulary just went down the drain from eating too much dumplings.

chinese food manila philippines

So this restaurant seems to be known for its breaded pork chop / chicken chop because people seem to order it a lot. It’s the batter, probably like those hoisiny Taiwanese batter that when deep fried, leaves off that awesome crunch. That’s it.

And it goes well with rice or noodles, the latter I purposely chose because would you just look at the size of that bowl?!

My chicken leg noodle order (seriously, the part was specified in the menu) was really filling and contrary to how it looks like, was far from gagging salty.

Tasty Dumplings Binondo

We had that kuchai (?) vegetable siding which looks like dilis but in reality tastes like fermented sweetened stems. Might be an acquired taste, but not for now.

If I were to come back, it would be for the dry noodles or more dumplings this time. As you can see, I am a sucker for dry noodles / pancit, or maybe it’s just the heat.

I know that there are so many other joints to discover and conquer in Binondo, so I should probably call this the first leg of the food trip. Chicken leg. Yeah.

Ah yes, there really should be more than that first leg huh. Maybe some duck, soy milk and like real vegetables. #WillStopNow

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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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