Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ooma 

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Ooma is a brand new restaurant located in SM Megamall. It is owned by the Moment group, the same people responsible for creating 8 Cuts, Manam, Phat Pho, and Linguini Fini, among others. The name ‘Ooma’ comes from the Japanese word ‘umai’, which aptly means ‘good’. Ooma’s main goal is to create Japanese comfort food that pleases the modern-day palate.

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Interior. We were seated all the way at the very, veeeeery back of the restaurant, which made me uncomfortable. Good thing the waitress was able to find us some slightly better seats ten minutes later.

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Menu: Small plates, Tataki, Maki, Ooma taco-maki, Ooma aburi-maki, Hot plates, Hot bowls, Udon & chahan, Desserts.

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O-Gyoza with unagi sauce, scallions, togarashi, and sprinkled with melted cheddar and mozzarella cheese.

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My dish was the Scallop and Tuna Aburi Maki. Just look at this beauty. It has torched scallops, tuna, cucumber, sesame seeds, seaweed crumbs, scallions, teriyaki sauce, kimchi aioli, and spicy mayo. The spiciness of the maki doesn’t hit you at first, but the sensation eventually spreads all over your mouth the more you chew it. The Aburi Maki (with ‘Aburi’ meaning ‘to burn something’ in Japanese) is Ooma’s signature creation.

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And you can use this nifty brush to coat your maki with just the right amount of soy sauce, so it won’t break apart right before it reaches your mouth (one of my food-related pet peeves).

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Ebi Tempura – Served with aonori, tempura sauce, and two dollops of avocado mousse and aligue mayo. This was pretty good, but I don’t really like it when a shrimp dish still has the whiskers on.

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Dad had the Buta Kakuni Katsudon – Breaded slow-roasted pork belly, onions, eggs, carrots, pickled onions, seaweed, and house tare.

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Our dessert was the Half-Baked Chocolate Lava Cake with ginger crumbs, and vanilla ice cream. I can’t pass up a delicious warm lava cake. The cake itself was nice and moist, and naturally goes well with the ice cream. I could barely taste the ginger, though.

I think Ooma’s dishes tend to focus more on presentation instead of taste – Because even though the food is visually pleasing, a couple of them (namely the tempura and the katsudon) still could use a little more salt. But the one thing that I do like about the restaurant though is their new take on traditional Japanese dishes, giving them a completely fresh and modern spin.

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

Ooma is located at 3/F SM Megamall, Mega Fashion Hall, Julia Vargas Ave Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Links: Facebook || IG: @ooma_ph.

Maisen

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I got the chance to pay a visit to Megamall after a while, and had lunch at this katsu place called Maisen tonkatsu. This Japanese restaurant first started out in the Shibuya district back in 1965. The reason why its first branch got plenty of attention was because of its location – Its owner, Chiyoko Koide, managed to successfully convert an old bathhouse dressing room into a katsu restaurant. Now, Maisen is more popularly known for two things – Its katsu, and the kind hospitality of its staff.

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Interior.

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Menu: Kurobuta sets, Katsu sets, Seafood, Katsu picks, Donburi, Curry, Maisen specials, Sandwich sets, Maisen selections, Sides, A la carte, Desserts and beverages.

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Tenderloin Katsu Set. Maisen only uses the best black Berkshire pigs for making their katsu. The lean meat was very flavorful and fresh with a distinct umami flavor, even if it lacked that huge layer of fat that I really enjoy. And for the first time ever, I also ended up gobbling down that huge serving of shredded cabbage, which tasted fresh and crisp. This dish was served with a bowl of miso soup, rice, and fruits.

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Chicken Katsu Set for mom. Like my katsu set, this one also came with miso soup, fruits, rice, and cabbage.

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Dashimaki Tamago – Nice, huge pieces of Japanese-style sweet scrambled eggs.

IDK… Our dining experience here was good, and the food was really tasty too. But honestly, I’ve become desensitized when it comes to this whole katsu craze – Probably because, with the exception of a select few restaurants, none of these katsu restaurants have really stood out to me. I guess it’s due to the fact that 85% of them all tend to look and taste very similar? But if you’re a pure katsu connoisseur, then I think this restaurant is still worth a try.

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

Maisen is located at SM Megamall , Julia Vargas Ave Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. You can also find them at Greenbelt 5. Links: Facebook.

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique

(As with most birthday entries, this post is pic-heavy.)

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Alright lads and lassies, bring out your dainty china cups, saucers, sugar cubes and fresh milk – Because it’s time for some tea! I had my (late) birthday lunch at TWG in Shang earlier, and it feels refreshing to not celebrate it in a Japanese or Korean restaurant for once. Hehe. Tea is one of my favorite drinks. It was actually one of the things that I didn’t like at first when I was little, but eventually came to love as I grew up.

TWG, which stands for The Wellness Group, started out in Singapore – A country known for exporting and importing tea leaves of the finest quality. Now known as an institution when it comes to tea-making, TWG is very passionate about tea and sends their tasters to different parts of the globe, in order to sample different brews. TWG has over 800 variants of exclusive blends and fine harvest tea drinks, as well as delicious desserts and dishes that are sure to go well with this beloved beverage.

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If there’s one thing that I love about TWG, it’s their interior.

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Menu: All day dining, Main courses, Crepes, Desserts, Tea ice creams and sorbets, Tea time, Tea cocktails and mocktails, Wines and champagnes.

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They also have this fancy gold book that tells you in great detail about the restaurant’s history, and how their teas are made.

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Eggs Benedict – Homemade toasted English muffins topped with two poached farmhouse eggs, served with creamy hollandaise sauce. I had the turkey ham version. The muffins were a bit tough, but it was still fine to me. I pretty much ate almost everything on my plate, including the salad/alfalfa sprouts.

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TWG Tea Lasagna – Beef ragout with TWG’s signature homemade tomato and fresh basil sauce infused with Moroccan Mint Tea. It came with this huge and chewy bread roll.

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We had their famous English Breakfast Tea. This was accompanied by a tray that had two freshly-baked Scones, with whipped cream and TWG’s own tea jelly. We were nearly fresh out of tea when the scones were served, which is a shame since the tea and scones/cream/jelly tasted really good together.

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Of course we couldn’t leave the place without trying out their famous Macarons, which are flavored with some of TWG’s more popular tea variants – Here is the Moroccan Mint (right), and the Vanilla Bourbon Tea & Kaya (left). We ordered two more flavors for takeout – Vanilla Strawberry, and Buttered Popcorn, kept in a nice little box.

Well, what else can I say? Everything about this place just screamed sophistication and class. Although I sadly can’t imagine myself coming to this place on a regular basis (because of my budget hehe), it was still pretty cool that we got to dine in a place like this. Definitely one of the more memorable entries in this blog, for sure.

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

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique is located at Shangri-la Plaza Mall, East Wing, Shaw Blvd Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 654-1421. Links: Official Website || Official Facebook || PH Facebook

Kung Fu Kitchen

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We chanced upon this restaurant the year before, while taking a leisurely stroll inside Subic’s Harbor Point mall. I made a promise to come back and do a review on this restaurant, and that’s just what I did – And, unfortunately (for them), it just so happened to be their last day of operation. This made me wonder what the fuss was all about when it came to their food.

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Interior. Very spacious, but the wall decoration is quite messy.

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Menu: Steamed rice bowls, KFK fried rice, Frying kicks, Kung fu dimsum, KFK soups, KFK congee, KFK masters, Lapu lapu king fish, Snake mountain roast, Seafood specials, KFK vegetables, Jumping shrimp, KFK long life, Dessert.

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Fish Fillet with Taosi. Nothing out of the ordinary.

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Beef Brisket. The serving was a bit small, and the beef brisket cubes themselves were slightly tough/tasteless.

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Taiwanese Pork Chop. Well this one was a bit better – It had a nice and lovely spiciness to it, and went really well with the sweet dipping sauce. I guess I just really like Taiwanese chicken chops/pork chops in general. However, the edges were also tough and dry, like leather.

After trying out Kung Fu Kitchen’s dishes, I’m not really that surprised anymore as to why they’ve decided to close shop – Although the food there wasn’t that bad, it was really bland and mediocre. My only advice is that if the owners of Kung Fu Kitchen do decide to open up another restaurant, they shouldn’t even think about making the same mistakes as they did here.

Ambiance/Interior: 3.5/5
Staff/Service: 4.5/5
Food: 3/5 (taste) 3/5 (presentation)

Kung Fu Kitchen is was located at G/F Harbor Point, Rizal Highway, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales. Links: Facebook.

Ramen Sora

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Yes, it’s that time of the year again where my family and I go on a yearly excursion to Subic to celebrate my birthday!! This year, my first resto pick is Ramen Sora and Yakitori Bincho-Tan – Two Japanese restaurants rolled into one. The owners of Gerry’s Grill brought in the Sapporo/Las Vegas-based Ramen Sora to Manila early last year, with Yakitori Bincho-Tan following suit a couple of months later.  All of the ingredients that they use for their dishes are directly imported from Las Vegas.

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Interior.

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Menu: Appetizers (salad, side menu), Sushi (Japanese tapas, maki sushi), Toppings, Rice, Ramen, Yakitori (pork, chicken, vegetables, seafood), Beverages

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Tokutarou Gyoza – Tokutarou blend handmade pork and vegetable dumpling. This may look like an ordinary plate of gyoza, but for some reason it had a rather sweet finish to it? That’s not a bad thing, though – In fact, it further enhances the tastiness of the gyoza.

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Mom and I shared this bowl of Deluxe Sora Ramen with nori, menma (aka bamboo shoots) and five pieces of pork chashu. They didn’t have tonkotsu broth, so I got my second favorite instead – Shio. Mmmmm. As you can already tell, this huge bowl of ramen will definitely fill you up. I still felt full even though I shared my bowl with another person.

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Spicy Ramen for dad. He had the miso soup base, if I remember correctly. This ramen surely lives up to its name – I only got to try one strand of noodle from his bowl, but I had to chug down a glass of water afterwards.

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For our yakitori, we had three types: Pork Belly with Negi Sauce, Chicken Thigh with Tare (house teriyaki sauce), and Teba (chicken wings). Everything came straight from the grill, so they tasted fresh and juicy. Very delicious.

I’m glad that the guys behind Gerry’s Grill decided to open up an authentic ramen/yakitori joint here in Subic so more people who live in that area can try delicious Japanese food. It’s one of the better Japanese restaurants in the area, in my opinion.

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

Ramen Sora & Yakitori Bincho-Tan are located at Waterfront Road, Subic, Zambales. Links: Official Website || Official Las Vegas Website || Facebook

Spice and Cleaver

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Aside from ramen joints and high-end bakeries, another type of restaurant that I have noticed is slowly gaining popularity here in Manila are the ones that serve handcrafted sausages. One of these restaurants is Spice and Cleaver, located in Estancia Mall. This resto serves sausages that use all-natural casings and don’t contain any nasty extenders (thank God!), so you can expect sausages that contain 100% meat.

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Interior.

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Menu: Eat first (appetizers), Plantation (salad & vegetables), The links (artisanal sausage, old traditional sausage), Puffiza, Egg & flour (pastas), Flaming pit, By my side, Others by demand, Sweet endings

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Cheese Spaetzle – European style mac n’ cheese. A fresh new take on the popular American comfort food. Since they used spaetzle instead of the usual elbow pasta, this dish can be pretty filling.

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My sausage was the Mamasan – Chiang Mai original pork sausage made with curry paste, chili, and kaffir lime leaves. The slightly sweet sauerkraut goes really well with the sausage… It almost feels like I’m eating a Sabrett hotdog, except the bun is replaced by mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes themselves were also pretty nice. I do have one complaint about this dish, though… I’ve read in several reviews that this sausage was supposed to be spicy, but I barely felt any tongue-numbing sensations while eating it. Oh, well.

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… What was really spicy though were the two dips that came with their Buffalo Chicken Fingers. The look of this dish reminded me of beer-battered fish and chips, although I was half expecting it to look like boneless, deep-fried chicken fingers slathered in buffalo wing sauce. Hehe. The taste was pretty decent, although I would find it bland if they didn’t have the two dipping sauces.

Our meal here wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that great either – Although I have to say that it is nice to try something different once in a while. I actually don’t even mind at all if more restaurants that specialize in deli meats and sausages open up sometime in the near future. ^^

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

Spice and Cleaver is located at LG/F Estancia Mall, North Wing, Meralco Ave Kapitolyo, Pasig. Tel no: (02) 703 0237. Links: Facebook.