Monthly Archives: January 2017

M Grill

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As usual, on the way home from Tagaytay, we stopped by Solenad in Sta. Rosa to have our lunch. We ended up at this place called the M Grill and Banh Café – Basically two restos merged into one spot. They serve two of the more underrated types of Asian cuisine (IMO) – Vietnamese, and Mongolian. I haven’t tasted Mongolian food yet, so I was really excited (and makes me wish I had tried the Mongolian beef bowl that they served back in my college).

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Interior.

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Menu: Mongolian Grill, Teppanyaki, Appetizers & Pasta, Teriyaki, Szechuan, Vietnamese (hot coffee, cold coffee).

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Kung Pao Chicken pasta. I find it interesting that they would serve pasta here, instead of actual noodle dishes. I have been craving for dry noodles for quite some time now – But despite the good flavor of the sauce and the tenderness of the chicken, this wasn’t enough to satisfy my noodle cravings. Also, we asked our waitress to tone down the spiciness of this dish, but I don’t think she listened to our request.

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Cha Gio, aka Viet spring rolls. Crunchy on the outside, nice and flavorful on the inside. Pretty harmless, unless you dip it in the bright orange chili sauce. This was our only order from Banh Cafe’s menu.

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Szechuan Mushroom a very tasty appetizer, comprising of tofu pieces and sweetened mushrooms. Ironically, despite having ‘Szechuan’ in its name, this dish was actually the least spicy one of the bunch.

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My dad had the One-Way Bowl – Just your typical Mongolian bowl with beef and a crapton of veggies. I would’ve enjoyed this dish very much – I just couldn’t handle how mind-numbingly spicy it was. It felt like my lips were going to fall off any minute.

Not bad for my first Mongolian food experience! Although I had a hard time dealing with how spicy everything was. I couldn’t really tell if my tolerance for spicy food is getting low, or if the food there is just simply too hot to handle. I wasn’t too okay either with the fact that our waitress ignored our request for the kung pao pasta. But it was a nice meal, overall.

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

The M Grill (and Banh Cafe) is located at Cinema Building, Solenad 3, Nuvali, Don Jose, Sta. Rosa. Links: Facebook.

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Denny’s

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On the heel of my recent Applebee’s review, I’m going to be talking about another American dining establishment – Denny’s! There is a reason why Denny’s is known as “America’s Diner” – They have been serving delicious comfort food since 1953. Just like most US franchises that I’ve previously reviewed, Denny’s diner was already familiar to me even before they opened up their first branch here. I actually thought that their branch in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, was their first one – Turns out they were also located at Uptown Parade in BGC and in UP Town Center.

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During our trip to Tagaytay for the Chinese New Year holiday, we decided to stop over here and have a hearty breakfast before continuing our journey.

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Interior.

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Menu: Drinks (hot beverages, cold drinks, fresh juices premium lemonade, milk shakes), Slams, Omelettes and Pancakes (omelets, pancakes), Favorites, Soups and Skillets (soup, skillets), Appetizers and Salads, Burgers, Sandwiches (diner sandwiches, open-faced sandwiches), Classics (seafood, steaks), Desserts, Liquors in a family friendly diner?!? say it isn’t so!

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Hot Chocolate – This is the second time in a row that I was served creamy, yet bitter-tasting hot chocolate. Eh.

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Lucban Longganisa – Flavorful Lucban longganisa served with egg, garlic rice, and vinegar dip.

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Cream Cheese Cinnamon Pancake Plate – Two buttermilk pancakes drizzled with cinnamon sauce and cream cheese icing. Served with two eggs plus two strips of bacon and fries. I guess you can say that Denny’s puts the ‘cake’ in ‘pancakes’ because man oh man, just look at the size of those things! But I guess I should already expect this, being an American establishment and all. The dish was loaded with flavor though, and I enjoyed the sweetness of the pancakes despite their huge size (I was never a fan of thick pancakes, TBH). The bacon and the sausages were tasty too, and their saltiness helped balance the flavor of the pancakes.

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Loving the look of their maple syrup bottles as well.

I think it’s safe to say that Denny’s is the last place everyone should go to when they want to cut a couple of calories, hehe. I think I gained fifteen pounds just from that pancake platter alone! I would come back to Denny’s for sure, but I think I’m going to try something else next time (and share my dish with a companion too).

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

Denny’s is located at Vista Mall, Sta Rosa Tagaytay Rd Santa Rosa, Laguna. Links: Official Website || PH Facebook || Official Facebook (US) || Twitter || IG: @dennysdiner (US) @dennysph (PH)

Epic Coffee Roastery

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Epic Coffee Roastery is a small coffee shop located in Kapitolyo. It is owned by the same people behind Poco Deli, which is located just a couple of steps away. Despite being a tiny coffee shop, you really can’t miss it since the signage outside has a bright yellow-green hue to it, which stands out especially at night.

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Loving the cozy interior. Lots of quirky displays, including a shelf displaying vintage cameras (which reminds me, I can’t believe it’s almost a year since I started taking pictures for the blog using my iPhone – Yes folks, I still haven’t gotten around to purchasing a new camera >_<)

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No menu pics here – The items were written on chalkboards placed in various corners of the café. Unfortunately, was not able to get a picture of their cakes either. T_T

Menu items: Sandwiches, Epic’s comfort food, All day breakfast, Epic’s ice cream (Same as the ice cream served in Poco Deli!).

Drinks: Ice blended, Frappe, Classics, Hot & cold, Flavored latte/Cappuccino, Poured over

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Pastrami Sandwich. The pastrami was just alright, but it was overpowered by the amount of greens that accompanies the sandwich (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers). I loved the combination of the slightly salty pastrami and the sweet jam that they used – Although the jam made me feel queasy later on.

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While I was deciding which drink to get as a partner for my sandwich, I noticed that they had Hot Chocolate on the menu. I asked the waitress if their version of hot chocolate was bitter, and she said no – So I ended up ordering it, thinking that it tasted like warm Milo or Swiss Miss. I was wrong – It still had a hint of bitterness to it, and it lacked sweetness. Bleh.

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Desserts: a slice of Pudding and Rainbow Cake. The cake might look beautiful, but taste-wise, the pudding surpasses it in every way.

Although I clearly enjoy the café’s chic, industrial look, the food was just alright to me – Not too spectacular, but not that bad, either. I still won’t hesitate to give this place another go, though.

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

Epic Coffee Roastery is located at 102 East Capitol Dr Kapitolyo, Pasig. Tel no: (02) 631-0057. Links: Facebook.

Mr. Pizza

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*dramatic voice* At last… IT IS TIME, MY FRIENDS!!

Time to try out Mr. Pizza’s hand-kneaded and hand-juggled goodness.

Being a fan of Korean entertainment, I actually have heard about Mr. Pizza even before they opened up their flagship branch in Greenbelt. In fact, I was already feeling ecstatic even while the resto was still being constructed and the only thing they had on display was the banner. Hehe. I originally planned to celebrate my birthday here, but I just couldn’t wait any longer – I wanted my Korean pizza, and I wanted it now.

There is a good reason why Mr. Pizza is Korea’s number one pizza chain – All of the ingredients that they use for their pizzas are grilled and baked to perfection. And since they’re a Korean pizza chain, they also use Korean ingredients for their pizza, including bulgogi, dak galbi, and even kimchi.

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Interior, with obligatory monitor showing K-Pop music videos and Mr. Pizza ads.

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Menu: Set menus, Premium, Smarty, Classic, Pasta and rice (premium pasta, classic spaghetti, risotto), Side and salad (side dish, salad), Drinks (soda, alcohol).

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Ms. Chicken, fried chicken wings covered in a sweet and sticky glaze (not like the typical Korean fried chicken).

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Oven-baked Bacon Cream Spaghetti – Smooth béchamel sauce meets bacon and cheese. Served piping hot. Loved the gooeyness of the cheese as well. This dish was very enjoyable.

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And here’s the piece de resistance: The Potato Gold pizza! This is Mr. Pizza’s all-time best seller, which contains savory pieces of bacon, corn, and buttery potato wedges. Yes, potato wedges. I know potato wedges are the last thing that comes into your head when you think of pizza toppings, but… In this case, it totally works! And let’s talk about the hand-tossed crust. Mr. Pizza’s crusts are the reason why they stand out amongst the other pizzas here in the PH, in my opinion. I mean… Where else can you find a pizza place that serves eggta (egg tart), mocha bun, and cream cheese pizza crusts? Anyway, our Potato Gold pizza came with the Gold Crust – Chewy dough filled with sweet potato mousse.  ‘Delightful’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. The sweetness of the potato mousse blended really well with the salty wedges and bacon.

I still have a couple more restaurants to visit here in Greenbelt, but I honestly can’t wait to finish them all so I could pay another visit to Mr. Pizza. I really want to try all of the pizza crusts, especially the egg tart crust and mocha bun crust. Ah heck, just send all of your dishes to my doorstep, please.

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

Mr. Pizza is located at G/F Greenbelt 3, Makati Ave cor Esperanza St Legazpi Village, Makati. Tel no: (02) 729-0333. Links: Facebook || IG: @mrpizzaph

Applebee’s

I already knew about Applebee’s way before they opened up their first branch here in the Philippines. But what I didn’t know, though, was that it was actually a bar/grill – I had expected it to carry a similar family-friendly concept like its sister restaurant, IHOP. My family and I were supposed to have dinner here last Christmas, but unfortunately, things didn’t push through.

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Exterior. Didn’t expect that we would end up climbing one long flight of stairs…

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Interior shots. The main dining space is located on the left side of the resto.

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Menu: Appetizers, Steaks and ribs, Pasta, Sizzling entrees, Chicken and fish, Sides, Under 600 calories, Salads, Burgers, Handhelds, Desserts.

(Believe me, it took every ounce of my strength not to order their chicken fingers)

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Everything on the menu was a bit on the pricey side… We ended up ordering three dishes instead. The first one is the Sriracha Shrimp – Crispy shrimp coated with rich and creamy Sriracha chili lime dip. I love clean-tasting and juicy shrimp, so I enjoyed this one. If you have an aversion to spicy food but still want to try out this dish, you can ask the waiter to separate the sauce from the shrimp itself.

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Three-Cheese Chicken Cavatappi – Grilled chicken over cavatappi pasta, bruschetta tomato, Alfredo sauce, and parmesan blend. Pasta was perfectly al dente, but the dish itself lacked a bit of flavor.

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Our last plate is an appetizer platter consisting of Pot Stickers (Shrimp and pork filled wontons served with Thai peanut and soy dumpling sauces), Green Bean Crispers (Battered and fried green beans, with lemon aioli), and Boneless Chicken Bites (Lightly breaded tender chunks of boneless chicken, served with either a honey BBQ, sweet & spicy, classic buffalo, or Korean BBQ sauce). The chicken bites were spectacular! Very juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The pot stickers were just alright – Since they were deep-fried, they gave off a rather greasy aftertaste. The green beans were a major surprise. As you guys know, I’m not really a fan of vegetables – But I ended up eating most of green beans, and was pleasantly delighted to find out that they actually tasted pretty nice, especially with the dipping sauces.

I really want to come back to Applebee’s since I feel like there’s so many more delectable dishes that I gotta sink into (like the chicken fingers, their ribs, and desserts). I’m just super relieved that the place is highly accessible near where I live, since that means I’ll be able to return here whenever I like.

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

Applebee’s is located at Eastwood Bagumbayan, Quezon City. You can also find them at BGC. Links: Official Website || Official Facebook || Twitter || IG: @applebees (Official), @applebeesph (Philippines)

Lung Hin @ Marco Polo Hotel

My mother decided to start off the year by taking us to a staycation at the Marco Polo Hotel. I was honestly floored by the swankiness of this place – From the staff’s behavior, to the room itself, to its facilities. Who knew that a tiny hotel in the heart of Ortigas could be so fancy?

Unfortunately though, there was a downside to all of this fanciness – Cocina, the hotel’s restaurant, was waaaay too pricey for our budget – Like really pricey. So we had to settle for another resto located in the same hotel: Their Chinese bistro, Lung Hin. This restaurant, located on the hotel’s 44th floor, specializes in Cantonese-style cooking, and tasty seafood (a staple in Cantonese cuisine).

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Very chic interior.

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Menu: Special recommended dim sum (trio homemade traditional steamed rice roll, steamed handmade crispy shredded radish rice roll), Chef’s recommendation (pan fried wagyu beef rib eye, deep fried hong kong pigeon, homemade tofu with assorted mushroom in superior broth), Steamed dim sum (steamed shrimp dumpling with gold leaf, steamed pork siomai with truffle sauce, steamed bamboo shoots roll with superior sauce), Pan fried and deep fried (pan fried radish cake with xo sauce), Appetizers (drunken shrimp, stir fried squid with mashed salted egg and seasoning, deep fried crispy tofu with seaweed salad), Soup (double boiled chicken soup with matsutake and abalone, fish lips with dried scallop soup), Barbecued and marinated, Abalone (braised south african ten head abalone with black mushroom and broccoli in supreme sauce, braised sea cucumber casserole and assorted seafood in hot pot), Bird’s nest, Live seafood, Seafood (sautéed u.s. scallops with fresh ginseng and black fungus, steamed crab claw on egg white bed, braised silver cod fish with shallot in hot pot, stir-fried crystal prawns, three flavored prawns, stir-fried scallops in xo sauce, stir-fried prawns and asparagus in xo sauce), Beef & pork (deep-fried spareribs with black vinegar sauce, angus beef short ribs in barbecue sauce, braised beef cheeks with tofu), Poultry (deep-fried pigeon), Vegetarian (steamed stuffed vegetarian treasure in inari bag, stewed tofu and eggplant in hot pot), Noodles/Rice (pan fried crispy egg noodle with prawn ball and minced pork, braised lobster flavored inaniwa noodles with crab meat, fried hometown style bihoon with barbecue pork and prawns, dried scallop fried rice in egg whites), Dessert (yuzu jelly, black sesame masachi)

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Baked BBQ Pork Bun. The bun itself was a bit crumbly, while the meat inside had a rather sweet aftertaste. IDK… As much as I love these pork buns, they’re all starting to look/taste the same to me. ._.

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Yang Chow Fried Rice.

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Fried Glutinous Rice Dumpling. This was really tasty! Kinda like butchi, minus the sesame seeds and red bean filling.

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Sauteed Fresh Mushroom and Garoupa Fillet. “Fresh” is indeed the best term to describe this dish. Very tasty too. The sauce wasn’t too overpowering, which was excellent.

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Deep Fried Boneless Chicken with Sliced Almonds in Lemon Sauce. The chicken itself was already great, and the almond slices give it an extra crisp. The meat was not too thick, and not too thin.

Although I was fairly satisfied with our meal here, I still have this nagging feeling that Cocina serves better food. I still feel very lucky that I got to step inside a place like this, though.

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

Lung Hin is located at the 44th floor of The Marco Polo Hotel, Meralco Ave cor Sapphire St Ugong, Pasig. Tel no: (02) 720-7777. Links: Official Page || Facebook