Monthly Archives: March 2015

Akira

(Warning: This is the most pic-heavy post that I have on this blog so far.)

I finally had my (super-delayed) birthday dinner at Akira, a teppanyaki restaurant owned by the same people behind SumoSam, Mister Kurosawa, and Johnny Chow. I have tried many types of teppanyaki dishes before, like the ones found in affordable Japanese restaurants. But I have yet to experience dining inside an actual teppanyaki restaurant, complete with flipping cooking utensils, and my entire meal being prepared in front of me in a speedy manner.

Interior. We ate here in the middle of the afternoon, so there weren’t any customers around. The place can get pretty packed during lunch/dinner hours.

Menu: Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Noodles, Sashimi, Sushi, Sushi rolls, Teppanyaki, Teppanyaki ala carte, Ala carte, Fried rice, Executive bento, Desserts, Shakes, Drinks.

Ebi Tempura. The fried batter had a lovely crunch, but I didn’t like the shrimp very much.

Seafood Ramen.

Miso Soup, which came with our teppanyaki set.

Here are some of the ingredients/seasonings/tools that are going to be used for the teppanyaki dish that we will be sharing. We tried Set C, which consisted of the miso soup, Akira fried rice, fried veggies (yasai itame), grilled shrimp, chicken, and beef.

…. Those aside, let’s move on to the main event: The show itself! It all starts with our chef introducing himself, then tossing around some cooking utensils in an acrobatic fashion….

Then… He places some oil on the hot teppan, lights a match…

WOOOOOOOOOHOOOO!

So now that the teppan is nicely oiled up, the chef places some slices of shrimp and chicken on the side, and starts chopping up the veggies.

Then he mixes the veggies into the rice, and adds some soy sauce and lots of oil.

He starts performing even more acrobatic tricks, once again involving his utensils, and an egg. The best part was when he tossed the egg into the air – It landed neatly on top of the griddle scraper, causing the egg to crack open.

Ta-dah! Instant fried egg, which was also mixed in into the rice.

He sets the rice aside, and starts chopping up even more veggies for our Yasai Itame.

Afterwards, it was the shrimp and chicken’s turn on the chopping block…

… And now the final item on the set, the US tenderloin beef.

Here’s the end result! Since everything was cooked right before my eyes, I made sure to eat every morsel of my dish – Yes, including the veggies. The shrimp/chicken/beef all tasted fresh (the shrimp, especially – A huge contrast to the one that they used in the tempura).

It was (very) fantastic, overall. The food was excellent, and props to our teppanyaki chef for putting on a great show! ^^ Akira is definitely a must visit if you want to have a truly enjoyable Japanese dining experience.

Ambiance/Interior: 5/5
Service/Staff: 5/5
Food: 4/5 (taste), 5/5 (presentation)

Akira is located at 5/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Shaw Blvd cor EDSA Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 654-3920. Links: Facebook.

Hotstar Large Fried Chicken

I have always loved Taiwanese-style chicken chops – My favorites are the ones that come from milk tea shops like Serenitea and Chatime. I love the excellent combination of the peppery, crispy skin and the boneless chicken meat.

Recently, my cousins took my grandmother to this restaurant in Shaw Boulevard called Hotstar Taiwanese Fried Chicken. Mind you, it’s very hard to please her appetite because she’s so PICKY. But guess what – Hotstar’s crispy chicken earned her praises, and it’s now one of her favorite restaurants. So I myself wanted to find out more about her budding addiction to these babies. I already knew about Hotstar’s first branch located in Pasay, so I was really glad that they opened up two more branches near my house (the one in Shaw Boulevard, and one in Eastwood, which we visited).

As expected in a new establishment, the place was filled with curious customers.

Menu.

I tried the Original Large Fried Chicken (left), while dad had the Large Crispy Fish. I was expecting to be wowed by the flavor of the chicken, but it didn’t have enough spice in it. The serving was huge though, and it definitely overpowered the small cup of rice that came with the dish, hehe. The chicken fillet itself was super thick – One consisted of purely meat, while the other had bones in it.

Mom had the Classic Spaghetti, which she really liked.

It was great, but I still prefer the ones served in my favorite milk tea shops. In my opinion, they could still improve the quality of their chicken – The flavor, especially. But I do have this feeling that Hotstar is going to gain a steady following in the future, because 1.) It’s cheap, and 2.) Delicious. I just hope I’m right.

Ambiance/Interior: 4.5/5 (they need more seats! plus I noticed that they don’t have a fire exit… <_<)
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

Hotstar Large Fried Chicken is located at the second floor of Eastwood Citywalk 2, Libis, Quezon City. Links: Facebook.

Hole in the Wall @ Century City Mall

(Hey, that rhymed! *coughs*)

Honestly this area was the last place I imagined myself visiting when I came to Century City Mall to do a review. I haven’t set foot here since I did my Caliburger review one year ago, and the place has somewhat changed just a little bit.

I could describe Hole in the Wall as somewhat like a fancier foodcourt – It is, literally, a hole-in-the-wall area – Once you step inside, you will be taken to a magical (for me, anyway) and surprisingly roomy space filled with all sorts of different food stalls. I tried my best to get a picture of each stall. I absolutely loved the diversity that they had in this place – No two stalls sell the same type of cuisine. Let’s start first with the places that we didn’t get to try out:

(Be warned: Lots of pictures coming up!)

Posporo, which specializes in Pinoy street food.

Spruce, for the health buffs (salad + cold-pressed juices).

Smoky Bastard, selling ginger ale and craft beer.

Phobobo – You can already tell what kind of food they sell from the stall’s name.

Liberation Shawarma, from the same people behind Sarsa.

The Beef – This stall was unfortunately closed when we came here, but I’m gonna assume that they sell (or will be selling) roast beef sandwiches?

And Tiny Duchess, if you want some eclairs for dessert.

So basically our goal that day was to buy/eat food from as many different stalls as we possibly could. Hehe.

Dad’s order came from Bad Bird – A stall that specializes in umami fried chicken and “dirty” rice. This is their Dirty Rice Plate, which comes with two pieces of chicken, “dirty” rice (made from bacon, chicken liver, egg and bonito flakes), and kimchi. The umami chicken itself definitely lives up to its name because it’s packed with a delicious savory and salty flavor.

His dessert was a little slice of soft and fluffy Japanese-style cheesecake from Green Cheese + Drip coffee.

Mom’s lunch was from Kwong’s Provisions. Their specialty is Chinese food. This is their Braised Short Ribs Rice Bowl, with some rice, veggies and peanuts on the side. The meat was soooooo tender, and practically melted in my mouth. She thinks it’s salty, though.

I had this extra large Pastrami Reuben sandwich from Mister Delicious. It came with a side of kamote chips. The pastrami is made from wagyu, which was a definite treat. Aside from the pastrami, the sandwich also had coleslaw, Russian dressing, and emmental cheese in between two slices of fresh rye bread.

Lastly, my dessert came in the form of three extra-large cookies from Scout’s Honor – Red Velvet Chocolate Chip, Thin Mint, and Samoa Dreams. I’m a huge cookie fiend, so I just couldn’t pass this up. Too bad I was already feeling a bit full, so I skipped the milk. Delicious, but I’m glad that they were served cold, because they crumbled easily when they got to room temperature.

I feel like Hole in the Wall deserves a second visit from me since, as I mentioned earlier, there’s still so many delicious food stalls that I want to buy from. It was such a great experience, overall. ^^

Hole in the Wall Food Hall is located at the fourth floor of Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City.

Meat Plus Cafe

Meat Plus has always been a go-to destination when it comes to Subic. Different cafes/restaurants have come and gone, but Meat Plus has always been here to satisfy both tourists and residents’ appetites. We first ate here several years ago on a whim, when the little boy in their billboard managed to convince us that we can’t leave Subic unless we try out Meat Plus’ steaks and burgers. Hehe. Unfortunately, I had a bad cold during that time, so my first experience here was pretty… Meh. But since we’ve been visiting Subic more often these past few years, I knew that I had to go dine at Meat Plus again.

Interior. The restaurant is almost always packed!

Menu.

Cheeseburger for mom. This is what I ordered during our previous trip here. I couldn’t really appreciate it very much, thanks to my cold. But now, it’s a lot tastier and more flavorful than I remembered.

Beef Salpicao – The chunks of meat were absolutely chewy and juicy.

Tenderloin Steak. Mine was cooked medium rare. It had the same pleasant, juicy, and chewy consistency as the salpicao, but it sort of lacked saltiness. Good thing my dish came with a small bowl of gravy, and a bottle of steak sauce.

I guess the reason why people keep coming back to Meat Plus is that they get to gorge on delicious and flavorful steaks at a low price (US-grade steak for less than 500 pesos! Imagine that!). But with the advent of commercial centers and malls sprouting all over Subic nowadays, I’m really hoping that Meat Plus can still keep its popularity and present standing. I also hope they can keep the quality/taste of their food too.

Ambiance/Interior: 3/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 3.5/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

Meat Plus cafe is located at 6 Sampson Rd. Olongapo City, Zambales. Tel no: (047) 252-6096. You can also find them in Clark, Pampanga.

Chef Samurai

Our yearly trip to Subic happened once again, and during our first night there, we ended up having dinner at this Japanese restaurant called Chef Samurai. This resto is owned by a restaurateur couple who are also big fans of Japanese food.

You may think that this place is a huge restaurant, but it’s definitely smaller on the inside. The interiors were kinda dull too (I didn’t get to take a picture of the sushi bar).

Menu: Sashimi, Sushi, Maki, Soup, Salads & Starters, Favorites, Ramen, Rice bowls, Rice, Spaghetti, Sandwiches with sweet potato chips, Dessert.

Ebi Tempura – Slightly bland. Oh, and I found a dead ant embedded inside the fried batter. Blech.

Meaty Gyoza, filled to the brim with ground pork.

Shoyu Ramen – This comes in two versions: The regular version, and light version, pictured here. The light flavor has lesser soy sauce, therefore, less saltiness.

Tuna and Bonito Aglio Olio – The noodles were chewy and slightly dry, but that’s what made this dish unique, in my opinion.

Miso Ramen – The broth has a VERY strong and flavorful miso taste.

Spicy Tuna Maki – This dish was my absolute favorite. The rice, spicy tuna chunks, and crunchy flakes of tempura batter all create a perfect balance of flavor. I didn’t really like the red strings that were placed on top of the rolls, since they reminded me of those long whisker-like appendages that you find in shrimp heads. >_<

I felt very full after my meal due to the large amount of food that we ate. Chef Samurai’s dishes are not only delicious; they’re very cheap and filling too. They just have to be careful and observe cleanliness when preparing their dishes.

Ambiance/Interior: 2/5
Staff/Service: 4.5/5
Food: 3.5/5 (taste), 4/5 (presentation)

Chef Samurai is located at Raymundo St, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales. Links: Facebook

Bawai’s

“Bawai” is the Vietnamese term for ‘grandmother’. It also happens to be the nickname of one of Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen’s owners, Yong Tatlonghari. Bawai’s first opened up in Tagaytay back in 2007, with a second branch opening up in White Plains in 2013.

Bawai’s White Plains branch used to be the home of a veteran actress, so as expected, the interior gives off an intimate, sophisticated, homey vibe.

Menu: Entrees (ca nuong xa ot, com suon cha, bo nuong xa, tom nuong me), Noodle soups (bun buo hue, pho bo kho), Dry noodles (bun tam), Desserts, Beverages, Appetizers (goi cuon, banh cuon, banh xeo), Salads (bawai’s salad, goi rau muong).

Our appetizer was the Cha Gio – Crispy fried spring rolls filled with minced pork, chicken, veggies, and herbs. Served with slices of lettuce and a tangy chili dipping sauce.

I had the usual Pho Bo – Beef noodle soup with slices of tenderloin and oyster blade, mixed in with herbs and spices. The noodles were flat, but had a firm consistency. The soup was warm and refreshing, with a nice, clean aftertaste.

Dad had the Curry Ga – Slow-cooked chicken in curry-infused coconut milk, with thin slices of onions. He kept praising the dish, and even ordered extra rice/soup. This is a very big deal for me (and mom) since most of the time, he never really enjoys the food in the restaurants that we visit.

Hu Tieu – Seafood pho with a pork-based broth. Also includes slices of pork belly, squid, crab sticks, and shrimp.

Banh Da Lon for dessert – A nice and warm cake made from pandan and yellow mung beans. I wanted to try this dish because I thought it was an actual cake, hehe. It was still delicious, though.

Ca Phe Sua Nong – Hot drip coffee with condensed milk at the bottom. Disappointed that we never got to try their iced coffee.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream – I really like how the sweetness of the caramel wasn’t too overpowering. Good, but we should’ve tried their basil ice cream instead.

I really liked Bawai’s warm atmosphere, as well as the fact that I was able to enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine (all thanks to Yong Tatlonghari’s Vietnamese roots). I would highly recommend this restaurant if you want to go on a fancy dinner date, or just eat some great Viet food.

Ambiance/Interior: 5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5 (taste), 4/5 (presentation)

Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen is located at 79 Katipunan Avenue, Bellitudo, White Plains, Quezon City. Tel nos: 442-8874, 0917-885-1445. You can also find them in Silang, Cavite.

Sunrise Buckets

When this blog was first starting out, I made a promise to do a review on Sunrise Buckets, the little chicken wing restaurant located in The Grove. And now, after two years(!) I finally got the chance to visit the place again – And this time, instead of ordering takeout like we usually do, we decided to dine in so we can try their other dishes.

Sunrise Buckets was started out by two sister chefs who loved to travel, learn various cultures, and of course, try out different types of food. They get their inspiration from loyal customers as well – In fact, it’s what gives them the drive to continue running the restaurant. The ingredients used in Sunrise Buckets’ wings are all natural, and 100% authentic.

Their interior has a nice, wonderful beach/surfing theme, with TV screens playing surfing videos.

Menu: Starters, samplers, 25 mouthwatering sauces, Wings and boneless, Classic SB burgers, Special burgers, By the bay, Entrees, Set meals, Special dogs, and Fries.

Some of the 25 flavors used for their wings include: Smokin’ bbq, Juan’s buffalo, Hot ‘n spicy smokin’ bbq, Sunrise original, Hot hickory, Real American buffalo mild/hot/extra hot, Jim beam jalapeno, Black peppered, Jack daniels, Spicy jack, Honey jalapeno, Piping hot bourbon, Ultimate crazy hot, Honey mustard, Spicy Dijon, and Hot and sticky maple.

Okay, so at first we ended up ordering this whole set meal that consisted of chicken wings, pork chops, coleslaw, and rice. But then to our disappointment, the server told us that we can’t order the whole set. And the reason? They were out of coleslaw. That‘s it. Everything else on the set was on hand – Except for the coleslaw. I don’t want to go too much into detail, but it was truly a WTF-worthy moment. They could’ve just replaced the coleslaw with corn and carrots, or something -_-

*heavy sigh* So we ended up ordering these instead…

Jack Daniels Chops and Salpicao Chops. The main difference between these two is that the salpicao chops are dry and come with vinegar dip, while the Jack Daniels chops are slathered with this sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. The similarity, however, was that both of these chops were tough and hard to cut into. -_-

Garlic Parmesan Wings. Chicken wings covered in special butter-garlic sauce, then sprinkled with herbs and parmesan cheese. Pretty much the only saving grace of our meal.

Our experience here was a disappointment. Which is a shame, really, since I really wanted to like this restaurant too. I feel like we could’ve had a better time and meal here if it wasn’t for that little flub with our order. We could’ve tried more chicken wing flavors too. I would still recommend Sunrise Buckets though, especially if you’re only planning to go there for the chicken wings.

Ambiance/Interior: 5/5
Staff/Service: 2.5/5
Food: 3/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

Sunrise Buckets is located Retail 2A The Pavilion, C-5 Ugong, Pasig. Tel no: (02) 234-1382. You can also find them at Madison Square in Greenhills. Links: Facebook || Twitter