Monthly Archives: April 2016

Yumi

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It’s time for our yearly (insert sad trombone noise here) trip to Century City Mall!!! For 2016, our target was Yumi, a Japanese restaurant that puts a different type of spin on their dishes. Yumi currently has two branches: Aside from the one in Century City Mall, they also have a branch in Greenhills. I was really excited about stepping inside this restaurant because I’ve wanted to do a review on this place, even before it officially opened.

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The interior in this particular branch is pretty cramped, and we ended up on the second floor (which also had limited seating space >_< Not to mention the ceiling was too low!). But despite all that, I loved the chill vibe that the restaurant exuded.

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Menu: Sashimi & sushi, Makimono, Moriwase, Temaki, Chirashi, Soup & salad, Noodles, Ramen, Beef, Chicken, Pork, Seafood, Tempura, Yakimono, Donburi, Bento box, Extra sides, Desserts, Sushi platters.

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Gyoza, the classic Japanese dumpling.

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Our other appetizer was the Crispy Mushroom – Oyster mushrooms that were lightly breaded, then deep fried. It came with its own tangy dipping sauce. The mushrooms had a lovely crunch to them, but it did leave a greasy taste in my mouth after eating too much.

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Dynamite Roll – Chopped spicy tuna roll. Pretty good, but not as spicy as I thought it would be.

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Tori Kuwayaki – Deep fried chicken with teriyaki sauce. Served on a bed of breaded tofu. The sweet teriyaki sauce complimented the bite-sized chicken pieces perfectly. I loved the breaded tofu as well.

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Buta Miso Ramen – Tonkotsu ramen with tori-gara miso soup noodle, buta miso marinated pork, and ground pork. Also includes satsumage, onion leeks, quail eggs, and enoki/shiitake mushrooms. Dad thought the soup tasted bland, but it was fine to me.

TBH I was really baffled when I learned that we had to pay so much cash for our meal, because… While the food at Yumi was good, it wasn’t that spectacular. But I guess Yumi is still a decent choice if you’re more than willing to spend a couple of bucks on Japanese food.

Ambiance/Interior: 4/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5 (taste) 3/5 (presentation)

Yumi is located at Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave Poblacion, Makati. Links: Facebook.

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Cafe Arabelle

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After our usual trip to Tagaytay for my parents’ anniversary, we headed over to Solenad/Nuvali for a quick lunch. One of the newer restaurants found in this area is an Italian café called Café Arabelle (I’m gonna assume it’s new because I haven’t read a lot of reviews for this place). Aside from the usual pasta and pizza, Café Arabelle specializes in grilled meats and burgers/sandwiches.

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Interior.

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Menu: Soup, Salads, Appetizer, Entrée, Pizza, Burger, Sandwiches, Pasta, For sharing, Platter, Kids menu, Desserts, Shakes, Coffee.

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Pumpkin Soup for our appetizer. It had a very silky texture, and had a sweet aftertaste too. Had the right balance of bacon, croutons, and soup. One of the best soups I’ve had in a while.

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Onion Rings – This dish had a hint of spiciness to it. The onion rings themselves weren’t greasy, which was just excellent since I tend to feel really queasy after eating onion rings.

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Chicago Pizza with sausage, oregano, mozzarella, and parmesan. Crust was practically paper-thin, so it took me around four slices to feel full. This dish was decent, but they just need to work on the crust a little bit. The pizza itself could use a little bit more toppings too.

Our meal here was so much better than I had initially expected, and I was pleasantly surprised. Food is really cheap as well. I would recommend this place if you’re looking for a good brunch/lunch/dinner spot to hang out in.

Ambiance/Interior: 4/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5 (taste) 3/5 (presentation)

Cafe Arabelle is located at Ayala Mall, Solenad, Santa Rosa Laguna. Links: Facebook || Twitter || IG: @cafearabelle.

Heat @ EDSA Shangri-La Hotel

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Thanks to a promo at my dad’s office and my parents’ anniversary, we finally had a good enough reason to step inside EDSA Shang and dine at the famous Heat buffet. I can’t even remember the last time we went to Heat – Even the main reason for our visit escapes me. So after we got our reservation, I was ecstatic and more than ready to see how much the buffet has changed over the years.

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Interior. As usual, I only took pictures of the dining area since taking pictures of the buffet wasn’t allowed.

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It just so happened that Heat had this promo going on called ‘Mad for Lobster’ – So we took the chance to try out some lobsters for ourselves since 1.) It was pretty much inevitable, considering the promo 2.) It’s not every day that you get to dine in a high-class buffet that serves lobster. The lobster meat had this hint of sweetness to it. Very fresh and goes really well with butter.

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Seafood Soup and Beef Soup. The broth of the beef soup had a refreshing, garlicky flavor to it. Loved the thinness of the noodles too!

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I filled my first plate with fried stuff + a small piece of bread – Two pieces of Fried Chicken Skin, a slab of prime Rib Eye steak, and a fish finger.

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Sushi and maki plate.

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My second plate consisted of more Maki, Coffee Ribs, a Spinach Dumpling, a piece of Roast Duck, and another slice of bread. The coffee ribs tasted amazing, but I wasn’t too fond of the meat’s texture (maybe I just ended up picking the tougher cuts). The roast duck was a tad too greasy, and the spinach dumpling was bland. Overall, I wasn’t really a huge fan of this second plate.

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Dad had his usual plate of tuna and salmon Sashimi, Shrimp Tempura, and more Lobsters.

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Even more seafood.

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Mom had two pieces of Salmon, steamed Hakao, Coffee Ribs, and Seafood Pie. The seafood pie made her feel queasy.

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Finally, my dessert plate: Their famous Bread and Butter Pudding, Tea Cakes (was quite challenging picking this baby up using a pair of steel tongs… whew!), Banana Split Cake, Cup Cake, Cheesecake, and my favorite, the Butterscotch.

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Panna Cotta, another Banana Split Cake, a scoop of Ice Cream, and Egg Pie.

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Mango Crepe with strawberry syrup.

It’s really nice to dine at Heat again after a long while! Although I must say that my past two dining experiences were a bit better than this one, I still think that Heat is one of the must-try hotel buffets in Metro Manila. It’s a little bit pricey, but still worth it.

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

Heat is located at G/F EDSA Shangri-la Hotel, 1 Garden Way Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 633-8888. Links: Official Website || Facebook.

Poco Deli

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In 2008, a young couple with a passion for artisanal hand-crafted deli meats decided to take things a little bit further by opening up a restaurant in Kapitolyo, that showcased some of the best hand-crafted artisanal German and Italian sausages, as well as homemade ice cream and cake. They decided to name their deli ‘Poco Deli’, since “poco” translates to “small” in Italian. Poco Deli’s dishes are all created using the freshest ingredients, while their sausages, which are made from 100% pure meat, are also cooked using traditional German and Italian techniques. Most of the recipes that they use come from family and friends who live in Europe.

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Interior. Slightly cramped (a “poco” deli, indeed!), but still gives off a sophisticated feel.

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Menu: Sausages cold cuts & cheese, Comfort food, Pizzas, Pastas, Gourmet sandwiches, Desserts, Drinks.

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Wagyu Sausage – Served with bacon rice (basically just plain white rice topped with fried bacon bits), and two sunny-side up eggs. The sausages here at Poco Deli are pretty huge, and packed with so much meaty flavor. The sausage casing itself was a bit tough, but I still managed to finish the entire thing.

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My parents had the Spanish Callos – Tripe or chorizo sausages slow-cooked for over 10 hours. Also comes with a serving of bacon rice.

Eh… No offense to the owners, but my dining experience here was just ‘meh’. Also… I felt like their dishes were slightly overpriced? Like the callos, for instance (and the serving was too small!). Food tasted average as well, at least for me anyway. I have no problem with people who love to eat at this restaurant – But I do hope that they end up lowering the prices of their dishes in the future.

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

Poco Deli is located at 21 East Capitol Dr Kapitolyo, Pasig. Tel no: (02) 477-4332. You can also find them at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. Links: Facebook.

Wingman

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So I only have two restaurants left to review in UP Town Center, and one of them is Wingman – And if the name isn’t obvious enough, this restaurant serves deep-fried chicken wings. They opened their very first branch in The Collective – You might remember that place as the seedy, dimly-lit area that we visited when I reviewed Wabi-Sabi a couple of years ago. Luckily, we won’t have to travel all the way to Makati anymore just to try their specialty.

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Aviation-themed interior. Lighting is too dim, but then again this place also doubles as a bar.

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Menu: Wingman wings (classic buffalo, garlic parmesan, Moroccan chermoula, prairie fire, wing dela cruz), Burger bar, Sandwiches and wraps (roast beef dip, big fred burger, buffalo chicken wrap, Wingman cheesesteak), Wingman favorites (iron skillet queso, chicken fingers), Salads (grilled Cajun ceasar salad), Sides, Dessert.

(BTW sorry if my pictures look really shoddy at the moment – My camera’s lens isn’t working properly so I had to take pictures using my iPhone instead. I hope they don’t come out too big ><)

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Pulled Pork Tacos. 3 soft-shelled tacos, chipotle pulled pork, cabbage slaw with tomato salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. These look more like quesadillas, TBH. The pork had a lovely, smoky flavor, and the taco shells were finely toasted too. A pretty decent dish.

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Corn Puppies – 6 bite-sized corn dogs with honey mustard and ketchup.

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We picked two flavors for our wings – Lemon Pepper (left) with a tangy lemon spice blend, and Mango Barbecue (right), which uses barbecue sauce, and fresh fruits. The wings that they used were just perfect – Not too big, and not too skinny. I loved the crispiness of the skin too.

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Black Pepper Brownie for our dessert. Should’ve ordered their deep-fried coke instead, but I can’t resist a good brownie/cookie ala-mode. I can actually taste the bits of pepper as well, although the taste was immediately overpowered by the cool vanilla ice cream.

I really enjoyed Wingman’s laid-back and hip vibe – Apart from the food, of course. I’ll be sure to come back (but during the daytime, though… hehe.). Oh, and you want to exercise your brains for a little bit, you can also join their weekly trivia quiz, which happens every Tuesday at their UP Town Center branch.

Ambiance/Interior: 3/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4.5/5 (taste) 4/5 (presentation)

Wingman is located at UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Links: Facebook || IG: @wingman_ph.

Din Tai Fung

“The world’s greatest dumplings” – Forbes magazine

“Shanghai’s greatest culinary joy” – Time magazine

“The world’s second best chain” – CNN

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I’ve never felt so lucky to step inside Din Tai Fung – Considered as one of the best restaurants, not just in its native Taiwan, but in the entire globe. It has garnered rave reviews from top periodicals and websites. Anthony Bourdain once called eating their dumplings ‘a deeply religious experience’. So, judging from those statements alone, I think it’s pretty certain that this isn’t just your typical dumpling shop.

Din Tai Fung first opened back in 1958, starting out as a humble cooking oil shop in Taiwan. Thanks to the public’s high demand for cooking oil, Din Tai Fung decided to turn itself into a restaurant in the 1970s, specializing in delicious soup dumplings, or xiao long bao.

In the early 90s, The New York Times did a review on Din Tai Fung, calling it “one of the world’s top 10 restaurants”. Its Hong Kong branches have also garnered several Michelin stars through the years. Din Tai Fung currently has over 100 locations all over the world.

Last December, Din Tai Fung’s delicious dumplings finally landed on Philippine shores. Thanks to the Moment Group, DTF opened up their first branch in Megamall, located right next to Tim Ho Wan (which, in case people forgot, is another Michelin-starred restaurant… Whew, talk about direct competition ._.). We ate there earlier today, and to our surprise, we didn’t have to wait a while to be seated. The line wasn’t too long either.

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Interior. As expected, the scene inside was just sizzling with energy, because of the customers and the waiters. Where can I get one of those cute white hats that the kitchen staff wears? Kidding! ^^;

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Menu: Appetizers (Taiwanese kao fu), Xiao Long Bao, Pot stickers & snacks (shrimp & pork pot stickers, crispy chicken wings in shrimp paste), Dumplings wantons & shao mai, Vegetable dishes (stir fried Chinese broccoli leaf), Featured dishes (sweet & sour pork), Fried rice, Soups and noodle soups, Sauced & fried noodles (dan dan noodles with spicy sesame & peanut sauce, fried noodles with vegetables), Hot and cold desserts (chocolate lava xiao long bao).

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Their famous Pork Xiao Long Bao. The skin was absolutely firm and had a decent amount of soup inside.

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Stir Fried Watercress.

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Salted Egg Yolk Prawns. The prawns had a lovely, clean taste and the salted egg coating didn’t overpower the shrimp flavor.

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Porkchop Fried Rice. This is one of their bestsellers. The pork didn’t have a single piece of fat in it, and it was very juicy and flavorful. Goes well with the rice too.

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Fried Rice with Salted Fish.

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Shrimp Pork Wontons with House Soy Sauce.

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And for dessert, we tried their Golden Lava Salted Egg Yolk Bun.

Wow. What an experience!!!! Isn’t it amazing that a lot of these world-famous restaurants such as Din Tai Fung are finally opening up here? I hope they end up branching out so that more people in the PH will get the chance to try out these world-class soup dumplings.

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

Din Tai Fung is located at G/F SM Megamall, Mega Fashion Hall, Julia Vargas Ave Wack Wack, Mandaluyong. Tel no: (02) 997-1935. Links: PH Facebook.

Om Indian Kitchen

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Indian food!!! Huzzah!!!! *claps*

There are two reasons why I love this particular cuisine: 1.) It’s really delicious 2.) I rarely get to eat it, so stepping inside an Indian restaurant, or eating at a buffet with a bunch of Indian dishes in it is always a special occasion for me. The last time I did a review for an Indian restaurant was in 2013. Now, we’re going to be taking a closer look at Om Indian Kitchen, located in Rockwell The Grove. This restaurant is owned by Suman Gogna, the mother of Samir Gogna aka Sam YG of Magic 89.9.

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Interior.

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Menu: Starters (samosas, pakoras, papadums), Roti and rice, Sides, Mains (mutton rogan josh, butter chicken, daal tadka, vegetable kofta, palak paneer, seekh kebab), Drinks (lemon ginger cooler), Desserts (gulab jamun ala mode).

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Masala Chai for my drink – Milk-based black tea cooked with aromatic spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Was not expecting this drink to taste bitter, because I always had this notion that chai tea tasted similar to Singaporean teh tarik or even Thai iced tea. But I still managed to finish the whole thing! (Plus it kept me up all night too… Strong coffee/tea-based drinks tend to do that to me ^^; )

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Fish Amritsari – Marinated fish, battered and fried into Punjabi style fish fingers. The fish was really tender, and had this lovely, sort of spicy aroma to it.

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Biryani Rice – Basmati rice made aromatic using whole spices and saffron. We picked the chicken version.

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Roti – Unleavened traditional Indian flatbread, made from whole wheat flour.

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Chicken Tikka Masala – Indian curry chicken chunks in a creamy, spiced curry. Curry was a little bit watery, but still had a pleasant kick to it.

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Gulab Jamun – Sweet fried dough balls served with saffron-infused syrup. After taking a bite out of this, I think it’s safe to say that it’s still my favorite Indian dessert. I wish they could’ve served more than one piece, though.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m so glad that I got the chance to eat Indian food again after so long. It’s one of the more underrated cuisines here in the PH, in my opinion. I would gladly come back to this restaurant if given the chance, since it’s both tasty and affordable.

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

Om Indian Kitchen is located at G/F The Grove by Rockwell, E Rodriguez Jr Ave Ugong, Pasig. Tel no: (0917) 506-7288. Links: Facebook || IG: @omindiankitchen.