Monthly Archives: February 2016

The FIAH Katipunan Pizza Crawl, Part 4: Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza

(At long last, we have arrived at the finale! I already gave some pretty high marks for our previous contender, Canada’s Steveston Pizza. But is Gino’s going to snatch away Steveston’s top spot?)

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Alas, all food crawls must come to an end – And we are ending this four-part special with a bang, by paying a visit to Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza! This pizza restaurant has managed to open a couple of branches across the metro for the past couple of months, thanks to its popularity. Gino’s, which was named after the owner’s son, serves authentic Neapolitan style pizza. I had high hopes for this restaurant since I’m a huge fan of brick oven pizza.

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Interior was smaller than what I expected, although it’s not cramped.

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Menu: Pizza, On the side, Drinks, Extras, Dessert, Appetizers, Pasta.
For this stop, we only ordered two non-pizza dishes, and one of them happens to be a dessert:

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Salted Egg pasta – Freshly-made fettucine with bacon, salted egg, cream, and parmigiano reggiano. I’m a complete sucker for fresh pasta/noodles. This one wasn’t too bad.

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A very tiny slice of Crack Pie. Ahhh, another take on the famous Momofuku creation. Like I said, this one was a tad bit smaller than the last Crack Pie that I ate. Obviously they taste very similar to each other, though I read somewhere that Gino’s version is supposedly the one that’s the closest to the original.

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Our pizza was the SMEGG – Homemade sausage, mushroom, eggs, gouda, and cream. Many food blogs have raved about delicious/unique this pizza is, and it’s not hard to see why. The crust had a nice, pillowy softness to it, but also had a deep, slightly smoky flavor too, as common in many brick oven pizzas. The flavor was a bit bland, I have to admit – Good thing Gino’s has created this lovely condiment called the Spicy Honey – It definitely gave our pizza some added oomph.

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Bonus pic: Our takeout from Cello’s Donuts! Hehe. Back when I was in high school, I had a teacher who was addicted to these babies. The reason why I’m posting this picture is because Cello’s Donuts is owned by the same people behind Gino’s.

Gino’s Pizza gets plus points from me since this place allows students from the nearby universities to get a taste of delicious, brick oven pizza at a very low price. But personally, if I were to sum our dining experience here in one word, it would be… BITIN!!! The servings were too small for my liking, the pie especially. Good thing the taste almost makes up for it.

… And so we have come to the final verdict of this very lengthy pizza crawl! Although I sorta expected Gino’s to take the top spot, I would have to say that Steveston’s Pizza was the pizza place that wowed me the most, and so for me, I consider it as the best pizza place in the Katipunan area.

PIZZA RATING:
Crust – 5/5
Flavor – 4/5

GENERAL RATING:
Ambiance/Interior: 3.5/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5 (taste) 4/5 (presentation)

Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza is located at the second floor of K2 Building, 341 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Tel no: 225 7462. Links: Facebook.

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Burgerpub

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Yes, yes, I know… Another burger restaurant. We were originally supposed to head over to Greenbelt at first, but we couldn’t do it because it was traffic along EDSA thanks to the February 25 holiday. The options were limited, but in the end, we went to The Grove at Rockwell and had dinner at Burgerpub. Burgerpub is a chillout spot opened up by two brothers, who also happen to be music fans.

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The brothers’ enthusiasm for music in also reflected in the resto’s interior. As for me, I absolutely fell in love with their playlist (Any resto that plays a mixture of new wave/post-punk songs automatically has my heart, hehe).

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Menu: Starters, Burgers, Pastas, Dessert.

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Churros – Giant-sized strips of deep-fried dough, with two dipping sauces – Butterscotch and dark chocolate. Normally churros, especially ones as long/thick as my arm, would leave a gross, oily aftertaste in my mouth. But Burgerpub’s version was just the complete opposite of that. Despite its size, it didn’t make me feel queasy at all.

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Croquettes – Filled with jalapeno bits and melted cheese.

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Pub Original – Burgerpub’s original sauce with caramelized onion and sharp cheddar cheese. Not much going on with this burger when it comes to the toppings, but it’s still pretty filling.

It’s kinda sad that Burgerpub is one of the more overlooked restaurants in The Grove area, because their burgers might be simple, yet they’re absolutely satisfying. I’ll willingly come back to this resto if given the chance.

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

Burgerpub is located at The Grove By Rockwell, E Rodriguez Jr Ave Ugong, Pasig. Links: Facebook || Instagram: @burgerpubph

Fitburger

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The Fitburger story began when one of its owners, who, at that time was suffering from severe weight problems, was told by his doctor to shed a couple of pounds or else it could pose some dire consequences to his health. And so that’s just what he did – In the end, he became a fitness consultant and opened up Fitburger, a restaurant that uses ingredients like fiber-rich pita bread, sweet potatoes, and lean beef for their food. One look at their menu, and you can easily tell that Fitburger takes healthy cooking/eating very seriously.

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Interior.

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Menu. Basically just an assortment of different healthy burgers, fries, all-day breakfast meals, and sides. Also listed in the menu is the amount of fat/calories/protein/carbs/sodium packed in every sandwich or side dish.

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Since I’m not really a fan of tomato and lettuce, I opted for the Breakfast Burger instead. It had two scrambled eggs, 90kg beef patty, bacon, cheese, and Fitburger sauce sandwiched between two slices of pita bread. Other than the bacon being a little too thick/tough to chew, it wasn’t that bad! A very savory sandwich, if I may say so myself.

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Fit Chix – Chicken breast strips, Italian herb, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. It might look very plain, but the chicken was pretty juicy and nicely seasoned too.

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K-Fries, aka sweet potato fries. These were nicely salted as well.

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And here are our drinks – Mom had the Cocolychee, while I had the Protein Shake in chocolate flavor. So glad that I finally got to discover what a protein shake tasted like, because I would always get so curious whenever I see those huge jars of protein powder/whey each time we pass by one of those health supplement/fitness stores. Hehe. Anyway, the shake was a tad bit too thick, and I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the chocolate flavor until I got to the very bottom of my drink. Maybe I should’ve tried the vanilla flavor instead. Oh, well.

What I absolutely love about Fitburger’s food is that their dishes are packed with flavor, but at the same time, it’s really healthy for you. Their dishes are proof that not everything you eat has to be smothered in grease, fat, sauces and oil for it to taste good – In the end, it’s all in the preparation and the portion intake.

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

Fitburger is located at LeGrand Tower 2, 188 E Rodriguez Jr Ave Bagumbayan, Quezon City. Tel no: (02) 621-3103. Links: Facebook || Instagram: @fitburgerinc

Tenya Tempura Tendon

My dad was on leave today, and I saw this as an opportunity to do a Megamall review. My first choice was Tenya Tempura Tendon, and you don’t even have to guess what kind of food they serve there… It’s obviously sushi. Kidding. It’s tempura!!!

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Tenya Tempura Tendon is known as Japan’s number one tendon chain. Tendon is basically tempura served on a bed of white rice, accompanied with deep-fried vegetables. Tendon was once considered as a meal only fit for well-moneyed people. Fortunately, Tenya changed all of that – Their main goal was to let the common folk enjoy tendon at a really affordable price. The first Tenya branch opened in 1989. Tenya’s ingredients are directly imported from Japan, ensuring quality freshness and authenticity. Aside from the Philippines and its native Japan, other Tenya branches can be found in Thailand and Indonesia.

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Interior.

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Menu: Tendon, Soba/Udon set, Teishoku, Tempura basket, Kids meal, Sides, Desserts, Drinks

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Mom had the Classic Tendon, with black tiger prawns, kisu, squid, green beans, and sweet potato.

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I had the Kakiage Tendon with shrimp, white onions, and celery. Unlike mom’s tendon, the shrimp in my own tendon were cut into small pieces. It was pretty good! And the plain white rice was really tasty too, especially when mixed with their signature dontare sauce, which had a sweet finish.

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Agadeshi Tofu – Fried tofu topped with ginger, dashi sauce, and radish. The tofu itself wasn’t so bad either.

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Ningyo-Yaki Sundae – Baked Japanese cake snack with vanilla ice cream + a few pieces of caramel popcorn. It is famous in Japan’s Asakusa district. Look at that tiny bear-shaped cake!!!!! Awww This is truly one of those Instagram-worthy desserts that you just want to stare at forever and forget about the fact that it’s edible. Hehe.

When comparing it to the other tempura restaurant that I visited a couple of months back, I have to say that Tenya Tempura Tendon is the better one of the two. It’s a great place to visit for tempura fans and those who are looking for some affordable Japanese eats.

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

Tenya Tempura Tendon is located at 4/F SM Megamall, Julia Vargas Ave Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 837-5036. You can also find them at BGC. Links: Facebook.

The FIAH Katipunan Pizza Crawl, Part 3: Steveston Pizza

(We are officially halfway done with our pizza crawl! Last time, we paid a visit to Sicilian Pizza, and our meal there was actually better than expected. But will Steveston Pizza raise my standards?)

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s amoooreeee…”

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That’s right – Nothing says ‘love’ like a huge slice of pizza. Well, for me, anyways. So what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to pay a visit to Steveston Pizza – A popular pizza chain originating from Canada. They also made headlines a few years ago for offering a pizza that costs – Get this – $450!!! For the curious, that’s equivalent to PHP18,546. Anyway, Steveston Pizza has been featured on popular Canadian and international news sites like CNN, Yahoo, MSN, and the National Post. They also bagged the ‘Best Pizza’ award from the Richmond Review from 2008 to 2011.

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Interior was a bit cramped. Surprisingly, we were able to get our seats right away.

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I was slightly tempted to take their pizza menu home with me because I totally love the way they categorized their pizzas – Some of these yummy categories had really interesting names, like ‘Marguerite Tree’ and ‘Elements’, but my favorite has got to be ‘Journeys’, where each pizza is named after a certain country, and topped with ingredients that are popularly used in that country’s cuisine. One more category that has captured my interest is ‘Colors’.

Menu items: Signature premium pizzas, Classic, Marguerite tree, Elements, Colours, Journeys, All time favorite, Soup, Appetizer, Salad, Pasta, and Dessert.

Just like last time, I’ll be listing down the non-pizza stuff that we ordered here first…

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Maple Iced Tea for my drink. Tasted like ordinary lemon iced tea.

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Chicken Wings. These babies come in three varieties – Sweet, dark, or spicy. We picked the sweet version. The chicken wings themselves were a tad bit small and undercooked, but the sauce completely makes up for it.

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Green Pasta, aka pesto pasta. Noodles were a bit undercooked as well, and the dish as a whole could use a little salt.

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And here’s the piece de resistance of our meal: The Caveman pizza, overflowing with crispy bacon, pepperoni, lean beef, and capocolli toppings. Will you look at that! This is definitely suited for meat lovers –The entire pizza is pretty much blanketed in the darn thing! Meanwhile, the texture/taste of the crust reminded me of Sicilian Pizza’s, except it’s twice as chewy. I also love the fact that the slices are very small/thin, so you won’t feel full immediately after wolfing down a slice or two.

Well obviously I will be coming back here to Steveston Pizza, because I really do want to try more of their wonderful creations. This place already gets high markings from me, but there’s still one more pizza resto left to visit… Any guesses? Hehe.

PIZZA RATING:
Crust – 5/5
Flavor – 5/5

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

Steveston Pizza is located at UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave Loyola Heights, Quezon City. You can also find them at Tomas Morato. Links: Official Canadian Website || Facebook || PH Facebook || Twitter || IG: @stevestonpizza

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

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So for the third time in a row, we skipped all of the Chinese restaurants around the area for Chinese New Year and, instead, tried out this Australian-based café found in Solenad/Nuvali. Harry’s started out as a humble food truck and has grown to become a beloved Australian icon. Their specialty is meat pies and classic snacks/street food fare, like sandwiches, poutine, and soups. Their branch here in Manila also just so happens to be their first one in Asia.

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Interior.

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Menu.

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Chunder Chowder – Hearty and creamy soup full of fresh clams and potatoes. This wasn’t too bad. The only complaints that I have are 1.) The bread bowl was tough to eat, and 2.) The serving size was too small.

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Classic Hotdog – Viennese smoked sheep-cased Frankfurt, on freshly baked roll with cheese and tomato sauce. The bun was delicious and quite soft for my liking, but the hotdog itself was just fine.

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Chicken Poppers – Battered chicken balls and freshly cut spuds. This dish had more wedges than chicken in it. Hmmm.

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Harry’s Chicken – Fiery deeply-fried chicken, served with pepper rice and Harry’s special gravy.

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For my drink, I had the very rich and sinful Dirty Dutch Mudpie.

I can’t really decide if we just ordered the wrong stuff or if the resto itself could use a little more improvement with the quality of their food. I still have faith in Harry’s, though, and I’m actually willing to give them another chance.

Ambiance/Interior: 5/5
Staff/Service: 4.5/5 – Food took a while to arrive.
Food: 3.5/5 (taste) 3/5 (presentation)

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is located at Solenad 3, Nuvali, Santa Rosa. Links: Official AU Website || PH Facebook || Official Facebook

Fire Lake Grill

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Fire Lake Grill is a Tagaytay restaurant that has been around for a decade. It’s just one of the dozens of restaurants scattered across the famous Aguinaldo highway. As its name suggests, Fire Lake Grill serves up delicious barbecued meat and seafood. I have been eyeing this restaurant since the first time we paid a visit to Cliffside Inn, so I’m really glad that I finally got the chance to do it.

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Interior. The first thing I noticed after entering was the Philippine Tatler ‘100 best restaurants’ placard, found right behind their front door.

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Menu: Starters, Soups, Pasta and Risotto, From the grill, Meat and seafood, Desserts.

Okay, sooooo…. When we first stepped inside this restaurant, we honestly thought that this was only going to be one of those places where you can eat some delicious grilled beef and pork for a very cheap price, kinda like House of Minis or even Tender Bob’s. Oh, boy! We were DEAD wrong! Everything was a tad bit too costly for my taste. I guess the price of their food is probably the reason why Philippine Tatler took notice of them. Hehe.

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Spaghetti Carbonara – With parmesan and percorino romano cheeses, smoked bacon, and green peas.

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Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto – With homemade sweet fennel sausages. This was amazing – Loved its buttery taste and the huge grains of the rice.

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BBQ Pork Loin – With fresh cilantro and tomato-jalapeno relish. Accompanied with some country-style potato wedges on the side. It wasn’t so bad? The meat could use a little more salt, though. But I loved the sauce and the crispiness of the wedges.

I have mixed feelings about our experience here at Fire Lake Grill. The food was pretty decent, but I just couldn’t get over how expensive everything was. In fact, I would definitely try out their steak (not to mention their desserts) if I just had enough cash with me. Also, I’m slightly amazed at the fact that this restaurant has managed to survive for such a long period of time despite the price of its food – And especially since it’s surrounded by other affordable restaurants and cafes. A high-end location in Manila would suit this restaurant more, in my opinion.

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

Fire Lake Grill is located at General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Unit 3 Cliffhouse Tagaytay Tagaytay City, Cavite. Tel no: (046) 483-2069. Links: Official Website || Facebook