Monthly Archives: August 2015

Tampopo

In 1985, Japanese director Juzo Itami created a comedy film in which a woman who owns a dilapidated ramen shop struggles – and eventually succeeds – to create the ultimate bowl of ramen noodles. The film was called Tampopo, and is now widely regarded as a cult classic.

And thanks to Tampopo’s impact, a lot of restaurants across the world have named their ramen restaurants after this film, hoping to replicate the same success as the ramen shop owned by the film’s lead heroine, who also happens to be named Tampopo. One of these restaurants just happens to be located here in the Philippines, in Greenhills to be exact.

Tampopo’s franchise here in the PH is owned by basketball player and heartthrob Chris Tiu, and his business partners, TY Tang and George Huang. Tampopo manages to combine two of my most favorite Japanese dishes – Katsu, and ramen.

Interior. Loving the open space!

Menu: Hokkaido ramen (hakodate original ramen, deluxe hakodate ramen), Kyushu ramen (deluxe tampopo black pig shabu ramen, tampopo black pig tonkatsu ramen, tampopo chicken tonkatsu ramen, tampopo black pig shabu ramen), Hokkaido soba, Side dishes, Rice, Seafood specials, Layer pork cutlets, Premium US pork, Seafood, Don (special katsudon), Chicken, Foie gras & truffle.

Dad had the Spicy Seafood Ramen.

Sui Gyoza. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the actual plate of gyoza served to our table, so you guys will just have to settle for this LQ picture. *facepalms -_-* The gyoza was a bit small, but the taste was just okay. The skins that they used for the gyoza were much thinner, compared to gyoza from other Japanese restaurants. As you can see from the pic, their gyoza comes in two types – Steamed, or fried.

Original Kyushu Ramen for mom. The broth was super creamy, almost tasting like salty milk.

And here’ their specialty – The Tampopo Premium Tonkatsu Ramen! This is a thing of beauty. The broth is pretty much a combination of the two other ramen dishes that we tried – It’s slightly spicy, but still retains the creaminess of the tonkotsu broth. Meanwhile, the katsu is decent, even though it’s a little bit on the thin side, and kinda lacks that good layer of fat, even though the menu claims that it’s made from Kurobuta pigs, which has more fat content than other pig species. The breadcrumbs used for this katsu were imported straight from Hokkaido.

Okay, so in my honest opinion, I feel like Tampopo needs to step up their game when they want to compete with the PH’s current top ramen chains such as Ramen Nagi and Ippudo. Their specialty of bringing together two delicious types of Japanese food already makes them stand out amongst its ramen shop rivals. But the taste of their ramen is already enough to make Juzo Itami proud.

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

Tampopo is located at G/F Greenhills Shopping Center, Promenade 3, Annapolis St Greenhills, San Juan. Tel no: (0917) 854-7440. Links: Official website || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram: @tampopo_ph

Wild Ginger

Earlier today, my parents and I dined at Wild Ginger for the second time. I could barely remember any concrete details regarding our first visit to this Southeast Asian restaurant, since it happened eons ago – All I know was that we ordered their take on adobo, as well as some pad thai. The reason why I chose pad thai was because it was considered as one of the best in Manila. Anyway, I came back to Wild Ginger so I could try some of their other delicacies.

Interior. Nothing too fancy-schmancy.

Menu: Nibblers and starters, Pork, Soup, Salads, Beef, Chicken, Noodles, Dessert, Vegetarian and side dishes, Fish, Drinks.

Roti Prata with Curry Dipping Sauce – Indian flaky bread, and one of Wild Ginger’s most popular dishes. The roti pieces were thick and less greasy, compared to other Asian restaurants that I’ve been too. Very nice.

Beef Rendang – Indonesian beef stew. I decided to try out this dish instead of ordering the Pad Thai, which we tried out the last time we came here. OMG – I feel like Beef Rendang in general is slowly becoming one of my favorites, the more I get to try it. The slow-cooked chunks of beef practically melted in my mouth, and their curry had this harmonious balance of spicy and sweet – As if each and every ingredient wants to make their presence known.

Premium Oxtail Kare-Kare – A favorite local stew with vegetables, and bagoong on the side.

Crispy Tawilis – Special native whitebait fried with loads of garlic.

For dessert, we had their Sticky Toffee Pudding – The texture/taste of this British-Australian based dish kinda resembled a typical moist banana cake, but it’s still delicious, especially when combined with the toffee sauce. “Murderously addictive”, indeed.

Compared to last time, I think my dinner here was so much better… Not that my previous visit to Wild Ginger was bad, but I’m sure you get my drift. I’ll be sure to return here so I can try their beef rendang (and their pad thai too!) for the second time.

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

Wild Ginger is located at Power Plant Mall, Estrella St cor Rockwell Dr Rockwell Center, Makati. Tel no: (02) 898-1859. Links: Facebook.

Torch

After a trip to Pampanga during the long holiday, we decided to pass by UP Town Center to have lunch, and ended up choosing Torch. I guess you can say that Torch has a similar concept/menu as restaurants like Red Garlic and – A mishmash of different cuisines, like American, Italian, Japanese, etc. I heard that one of their very first branches kept getting mixed reviews from customers, so I kinda lowered my expectations – Yet deep inside, I was still so excited to try their food.

Interior.

Menu: Appetizers (appetizer sampler, truffle fries, buffalo asian wings), Soups (mushroom bisque, roasted pumpkin soup), Salads (soft-shell crab salad), Pizza (white truffle sausage pie, gambas pizza, garden pizza, margherita pizza), Panizza (steak panizza, white truffle sausage panizza), Steak (US angus tenderloin salpicao medallion), Sushi (volcano roll, vegetarian roll, cream cheese salmon, smoked salmon truffle), Burgers (ultimate torch burger, classic burger), Beef Pork Poultry (jabanero baby back ribs, chicken yakitori), Seafood (smoked jabanero glazed salmon, shrimp popcorn, baked fish fillet in tangerine teriyaki), Pasta (burger mac and cheese, chicken cannelloni, blackened chicken alfredo, meatball pasta, tartufo pasta), Breakfast (salpicao tenders, tocino fingers, bacon and eggs, US angus beef tapa), Skillet omelettes, Dessert (fried bread pudding, chocolate fountain, panna cotta with fresh fruits), Drinks (juices, shakes, soft drinks, coffee & chocolate, tea, beer, wines, cocktails).

Their Milo Dinosaur was great, but it had way too much ice in it.

Philly Cheesesteak Pizza – Classic Philly cheesesteak sandwich filling on a fresh, oven-baked thin crust, topped with mozzarella and cream cheese. My mom absolutely loved this pizza so much. I loved the extreme thinness of the crust, and it almost felt like I was eating a delicious sheet of paper with cheese, tomato sauce, and shreds of juicy steak on top.

Torch’s Signature Roll – Sushi roll filled with soft-shell crab, ebi tempura, unagi, tamago, and Japanese cucumber, topped with fresh wakame seaweed, kani, and ripe mangoes. The rice had a nice, sweet finish that didn’t taste weird at all. You may think that there’s too much going on with this sushi dish, but all of the ingredients provide a nice balance of flavor.

Bacon & Egg Carbonara – Cream-based classic carbonara in fettucine, topped with poached egg and bacon bits. The pasta could use a little more salt, but other than that, it was just fine. The bacon strips/bits were also perfectly cooked.

First of all, I love how we pretty much covered all the bases when it comes to Torch’s bestsellers – Pizza, sushi, and steak (in the form of our pizza’s toppings). I had a great meal here, I’m already excited to try out more of their dishes the next time I return.

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

Torch is located at UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Tel no: (0917) 512-0000. You can also find them at Greenbelt 5, Trinoma, and Greenhills. Links: Facebook || Twitter || Instagram: @torchresto.

St. Marc Cafe

St. Marc Café is a popular Japanese patisserie that serves delicious bread, baked fresh everyday. It was brought over to the country by Mr. Ben Chan, the owner of Bench (a man who needs no introduction, really). Mom and I had dessert here after having lunch at Tim Ho Wan, and I was really excited to try out their Chococro (more on that later).

Interior. Nice and stylish, but a little dark.

Menu + Pastry pictures.

And here’s our plate! The two pastries tucked inside the red/green wrappers are St. Marc’s signature dessert, the Chococro. ‘Chococro’ is a portmanteau of ‘chocolate’, and ‘croissant’. We got the regular Chococro, whose rich chocolate filling is made from high-grade cacao beans from Ghana and Ethiopia, and the matcha variety. My only complaint is that these babies are too small – That aside, the croissant itself has a smooth, velvety texture that melts in your mouth, like butter. The matcha variety was fine, but I think I prefer the original Chococro more.

Here’s a closer look…

Meanwhile, the triangle-shaped pastry is their Almond Sugar Pie, which honestly sounds more like a term of endearment instead of a dessert name. It’s still a darn good pie, though, super flaky and moist on the inside, with a light dusting of sugar and almonds on top, hence the name.

And lastly, we have the Egg Salsa – A fluffy popover bread with poached egg and salsa stuffed inside it.

I wasn’t really a fan of their Premium Hot Chocolate – I found it slightly bitter, and wished that I had ordered their milk tea drink instead.

We really wish we could’ve ordered more (like their sandwiches, ice cream, waffles) but we were still a bit full from our lunch earlier. But I’m pretty sure St. Marc has more delicious desserts/pastries in their roster – And I can’t wait to try them all next time.

Ambiance/Interior: 4.5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

St. Marc Cafe is located at SM Megamall, Mega Fashion Hall, Julia Vargas Ave Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Links: Facebook.

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers started out as a small burger joint located in the tropical island paradise known as Hawaii. Its owners, Rich Stula and Teddy Tsakiris, want to give the humble burger joint a modern, unique twist, so they opened up the first Teddy’s branch in 1998. Their first overseas branch opened up in Japan (I’m guessing it’s because Hawaii has a rather sizeable population of Japanese-Americans), and the second one is located here in Manila (in Greenbelt). Another overseas franchise just opened up recently in Thailand.

Apart from the Greenbelt branch, Teddy’s has another restaurant open in Shangri-La Mall, where we had our dinner earlier.

We were seated outside, so I guess this pic serves as both a shot of their interior and exterior.

Menu: Starters, Salads, Specialty burgers, Sides, Sandwiches, Kid’s menu, Teddy’s seafood special, Entrée, Rice, Dessert, and Beverages.

Their burgers and some of their dishes come in three sizes: Big (which is actually the smallest size), bigger, and biggest. You can also choose the doneness of your burger patty.

I ordered the Kailua Burger, with teriyaki sauce, swiss cheese, grilled onions, and caramelized mushrooms. Hmmm, this wasn’t so bad! I guess I just really like the combination of onions, melted cheese, beef, and mushrooms together. The size of the hamburger was also just right for me – I thought that it was going to be one of those super-huge/tall burgers with two or more patties sandwiched in between.

Mom had the Loco Moco Curry Bowl, 100% beef chuck patty and a fried egg on top of a bed of Japanese white rice mixed with curry sauce. The curry rice had so much flavor! And of course, a burger patty + fried egg + rice meal is always a surefire winner for me. ^^;

For dessert, we had the Peanut Butter Skillet Brownie – Old-fashioned peanut butter mallow brownie topped with vanilla-Reese chili ice cream, and drizzled with vanilla espresso sauce. The most enjoyable part is towards the end, when you mix together the cold, melted ice cream and the warm espresso sauce, creating a wonderful sensation on your tastebuds.

I’m so glad they decided to bring Teddy’s here because their food was just SPECTACULAR! Their burger patties were just pure, smoky, meaty goodness. I can’t wait to return because there’s still so much that I want to try.

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

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers is located at Shangri-la Plaza Mall , Shaw Blvd Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. You can also find them at Greenbelt 3. Links: Official website || Facebook

Wicked by Cravings

Here’s a fact: Everybody loves dessert. I definitely do, and I’m sure you do too. So what better way to celebrate everyone’s passion for dessert by taking a trip to Wicked, located at Shangri-La Mall’s East Wing?

Wicked, owned by Cravings, promises to truly satisfy your sweet tooth with their arsenal of sinfully good desserts, ranging from sweet pies, cakes, brownies, and cupcakes. They even have a fondue! And bacon! And if dessert isn’t really your thing, then not to worry – They have some pasta dishes, savory pies, and sandwiches in store.

Interior + Obligatory shot of the cakes/pastries.

Menu: Cupcakes, Sweet tarts, Pasta and sandwiches, Wickedly sexy, Cakes, Junior cakes, Breads, Macaron de Paris, Merchandise items, Bars, Wickedly toxicating, Wickedly sinful, Coffee and tea.

Warm Salted Caramel Pecan Tart, laden with whole pecans, honey, butter, and topped with a small scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. Yummm!!!

Reese Peanut Butter cupcake – Creamy Reese peanut butter cake topped with frosting and jelly. The peanut butter frosting was fantastic, but the cupcake base crumbled too easily. Barely tasted any jelly.

Mac and Cheese, which was delicious and offsets the sweetness of all these pastries that we ate.

Sticky Buns – Melt-in-your-mouth buttery and soft dough, with gooey caramel pecan topping. Best served warm. It tasted similar to cinnamon rolls. I thought the taste was okay, but my mom found it too sweet.

My drink was the Aphriki Masala, a type of chai tea latte that had a nice balance in flavor – Not too strong, and not too mild either. Very fragrant too.

My mom had the Dallah Earl Gray tea, served in this really cool pot which only pours the tea if you place it on top of the mug.

Oh, and one of the waitresses gave us a sample of their Mallow and Graham Chocolate Bark… I guess she must’ve sensed that I was a blogger because I kept taking pictures of their food, hehe. The bark was delectable too – As the name suggests, it had giant pieces of marshmallows, and bits of graham crackers mixed together, all smothered in rich milk chocolate.

It may not be the most filling of meals, but I still enjoyed it – Some of their dishes are a bit overpriced though (like their cakes), but I’m sure it’s totally worth it. It also gave me a bit of a sugar buzz in the end, hehe. In short, Wicked definitely managed to quench my thirst for decadent dessert! ^^

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

Wicked by Cravings is located at 5/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Shaw Blvd Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 654-0614. Links: Facebook.

Pinac

(Jeez, this blog is on a roll when it comes to Filipino restaurants lately…)

We came back to UP Town Center after two months and decided to go to Pinac, a restaurant that specializes in Kapampangan cuisine. It’s actually one of the very first restaurants built in UP Town, back then when they still only had one building, hehe.

I’m completely aware that Pampanga is a hotbed of some of the best Pinoy dishes out there, and to learn that there’s a place that cooks Kapampangan food is just exciting.

Interior.

Menu: Soup, Salad, Appetizer (lumpiang ubod taquitos, crispy hito balls, mustasa at buro), Fiesta (lengua, smoked tadyang with yellow mango chutney), Meats (beef caldereta eggplant parmigiana sinigang, sinigang na ulo ng salmon sa miso, sinigang nab angus sa bayabas), Seafood (salted egg paro, adobong hito sa alagaw), Noodles (aligue pasta), Vegetables, Rice, Solo meals, Group meals, Desserts (brazo de mais at salabat, dulce de leche cheesecake), Drinks

Sizzling Tofu – Tasty sisig without the guilt. It was great at first, but when the dish got cold? Meh. (._. ‘’)

Beef Kare-Kare – A peanut-based oxtail stew with blanched string beans, eggplant, and bokchoy. Best paired with steamed rice (Indeed!) and crispy pata.

Inihaw na Liempo with Atsarang Capampangan. It kinda looks like a rack of baby-back ribs, hehe. But the meat is very tender, and has a nice, smoky aftertaste. Not much bones in it too, which is great.

Chicken Binakol soup.

We all had a nice, wonderful and filling meal at Pinac – Heck, even my super-picky dad enjoyed his time here, which definitely says a lot. I feel like Pinac is one of the more underrated restaurants in UP Town Center (along with Red Onion, which closed down not too long ago *sheds tear*). Seriously, more people need to give this a try, especially if they want to taste some authentic Pampanga-based dishes.

Ambiance/Interior: 3/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4/5 (taste), 3/5 (presentation)

Pinac Heirloom Capampangan Cuisine is located at 2/F UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Tel no: (02) 775-9450. Links: Facebook.