Monthly Archives: March 2017

Taco Vengo

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Good news! (Well, for me, anyway) Taco Vengo, one of Kapitolyo’s most popular restaurants, recently opened up its second branch in SM Megamall. Taco Vengo is a taqueria that became really popular through word-of-mouth – It has been featured in plenty of food blogs, and recommended by a couple of celebrities. I really wanted to visit its flagship branch, but decided to visit the one in Megamall instead, since parking was way too difficult in that area.

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Interior.

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Menu: Starters, Tacos, Taco samplers, Burritos, Rice bowls, Salad bowls, Quesadillas, Desserts, Sides. Was stoked to see Horchata in their drinks menu (I’ve heard some really great things about this native Mexican drink and I wanted to try one for myself), but unfortunately it wasn’t available. Sigh.

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Honey Soy Chicken rice bowl with grilled chicken, spicy soy bean paste, and kimchi slaw. This was pretty good – I liked the mixture of the spicy slaw with the rice, and the slightly sweetened chicken meat.

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I had the Crispy Fish taco, which had pickled mango, Cajun spiced fish, jalapeno, sour cream, and slaw. Was genuinely surprised that they only served one piece! This would have been a great taco all in all, if it weren’t for the tiny piece of bone I found inside the fish fillet. Hmmm.

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As you guys would expect, I ended up ordering two more tacos: The first one is their Crispy Chicken taco, with a piece of crispy fried chicken, blue cheese, and slaw. The chicken was fresh and piping hot when it was served to our table, and I also liked the hint of spiciness.

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Pork Cheek Confit – With chicharron, garlic sour cream, and salsa verde. The pork cheek itself was greasy, fatty, and just downright sinful. It was super delicious though, I have to admit – Probably my favorite out of all three tacos. Ah, why does fat have to be so bad for you?

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Chichachos for our appetizer – Chicharon, cheese, sour cream, and jalapeno. Served on a hot plate. This was slightly meh, but I did like the fact that it was spicy.

Even with the amount of tacos that I ate, I still didn’t feel full after I left the restaurant – But I honestly couldn’t care less. At least I was able to fulfill my taco cravings and finally got to try out Taco Vengo’s much-talked about tacos. I can’t wait to return so I could try more of their other taco variants, as well as their burritos, quesadillas, rice bowls, etc.

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

Taco Vengo is located at Upper Ground Floor, Building A, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Pasig City. Tel no: 02 8781328. You can also find them in Kapitolyo. Links: Facebook || IG: @tacovengo.

Caution Hot!

A steaming hot bowl of Taiwanese-style noodle soup isn’t exactly the best thing to eat during the first few weeks of summer. But Caution Hot, one of the newest restaurants in Kapitolyo, serves exactly just that – And it has attracted plenty of diners from all over the city.

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The owners of Caution Hot decided to open up a restaurant because of their love for two types of food: Chinese food, and spicy food. My dad’s friend suggested that we try out their food since he’s been to the branch in Maginhawa.

It was actually pretty crowded when my family and I arrived here (it was the resto’s soft opening stage) – So much so that we had to wait for at least fifteen minutes outside before we were seated. Parking was tough as well.

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Not much going on with the interior… We ended up being seated right next to a bunch of overzealous K-Pop fans (“Excuse me, us Ahgases call him Papa Tuan!”), which I admit was slightly amusing, since I am one myself. ^^;

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Menu is very limited – I actually suggested that they put in (spicy) rice meals next time.

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Pork Dumplings – Minced pork with shreds of cabbage. Came with two dipping sauces – I liked the slightly sweet chili sauce as compared to the other one. Not exactly the tastiest dumplings I’ve had, but they’re definitely fresh.

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Dad’s soup consisted of Seafood toppings (shrimp, fish, and squid) in an Assam Laksa broth (Penang-style spicy and sour fish-paste broth with cucumber strips, pineapple bits, greens & boiled egg) and Wheat Noodles (firm regular-sized noodles also used for ramen).

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I had the Classic (non-spicy savory pork bone broth with fried egg, greens and lots and lots of mushrooms) broth with the same wheat noodles, and Taiwanese beef slices for my toppings. The beef slices were super tender and even had a slight hint of sweetness to them. The noodles were very springy, and had a rather chewy consistency, which was really enjoyable. The noodle broth still had a bit of zing to it, despite being labelled as non-spicy. This was actually one of the better noodle bowls I’ve had over the past couple of months!

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Mom had the classic broth with All-Veggie toppings (silken tofu, vegetarian meat strips) and Egg Noodles (Thin wheat-and-egg noodles with the vibrant flavor of egg). Compared to the wheat noodles, these were very thin – Almost looking like yellow strings.

Despite having to wait so long to find a decent parking spot and the cramped, loud vibe of the resto, we actually had a great time here at Caution Hot. And best of all, we didn’t have to pay plenty of cash for these tasty, home-cooked noodle bowls! I can actually see it becoming one of the more popular restaurants in the Kapitolyo area.

Ambiance/Interior: 3/5
Staff/Service: 5/5
Food: 4/5 (taste), 3.5/5 (presentation)

Caution Hot is located at 17 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City. You can also find them in Maginhawa, QC. Links: Facebook || Twitter || IG: @cautionhotmnl

Dean and Deluca

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My birthday celebration does not end with that trip to Subic! Earlier today, we went to Dean and Deluca to finally try out their pizza after seeing it on a TV show a couple of months ago (or maybe almost a year ago… IDK). Dean and Deluca is actually an American franchise – When I used to watch the Today Show on TV (back when they still aired it here) I would always see a huge building with a Dean and Deluca sign in the background whenever they would film shots of the massive crowd gathering in Rockefeller Plaza. So I was really elated when they opened up a branch here in the PH – I probably won’t be able to visit Rockefeller Plaza in a million years, but at least I’ll be able to try a tasty NYC staple!

Joel Dean and Giorgio DeLuca opened up the very first Dean and Deluca branch during the 1970s. The store was highly unique since they sold things like balsamic vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes – Both of which were completely unheard of in American cuisine during that time.

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Interior. The place was surprisingly crowded, which I totally did not expect. Didn’t get to take a picture of their pastries/desserts/cakes, unfortunately. T_T

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You can also find a couple of their products being sold in the restaurant.

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Menu.

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Spinach & Mushroom pizza with garlic béchamel, mushroom, mozzarella, spinach, and caramelized onions. We ended up getting this one because it was the cheapest pizza, orz. Anyway, it wasn’t too bad – The brick-oven sourdough crust was pillowy soft, and I loved the combination of spinach and mushroom. I also liked the hint of sweetness that came with the onions. Admittedly, I only got to eat one slice since I was busy with my own food. Even though this isn’t really my favorite flavor, we’re glad that we still got to try one of their pizzas.

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Truffle Mac and Cheese – With pasta, truffles, and gorgonzola cheese. It seems like the more I eat dishes with truffle oil in them, the more I start to appreciate its taste. The mac and cheese was super addicting, and it didn’t even make me feel queasy (unlike normal mac and cheese). All of Dean and Deluca’s pastas are flown in from the Antico Pastificio Morelli factory located in Pisa. Although pasta imported from Italy is fabulous, but the ones made from fresh dough still have my heart.

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Umami Fried Chicken Sandwich – Aburi fried chicken, miso glaze, and salad in sourdough brioche. I love a good crispy chicken sandwich, and this is definitely one of those good chicken sandwiches. The juicy chicken fillet was just delectable, and words cannot describe how soft the brioche was.

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A lovely cup of Hot Chocolate.

Ugh, why does their food have to be so pricey? >< I would love to come back here soon enough because I really want to try more of their dishes (I see you, beef rendang… I see you). Too bad my wallet (not to mention the location – we hardly visit Rockwell when we’re in Makati) isn’t too keen on the idea, which is unfortunate.

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

Dean and Deluca is located at Ground Floor Edades Tower, Rockwell Center, 18 Amorsolo Dr, Makati, Metro Manila. Tel no: (02) 958 3644. Links: Official Website || Official US Twitter || Official PH Twitter || Official US Facebook || Official PH Facebook || IG: @deandelucaph (PH), @deandeluca (US)

Urban Deli

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Before heading back to Manila from Subic, we had lunch at this restaurant along the road named Urban Deli. I have read several reviews and articles about this place, and according to those who have dined here, they didn’t really enjoy their experience much because the food was too expensive, and didn’t taste anything special. That’s actually a weird thing to complain about, because food at a delicatessen is supposed to be a tad bit pricier in the first place (probably because most of it is imported), if I remember correctly. Anyway, I ended up choosing this place for my review since it was my birthday (hooray!) and of course we had to go somewhere special.

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Interior.

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As with most delicatessens, you will find a selection of meats, imported cheese/butter, freshly-baked bread, and pastries on display (look at the size of those frozen steaks!).

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You can also find a bar on the second floor.

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Menu: Breakfast, Sandwiches, Hot sandwiches, Burgers, Salads, Soups, Pastas, Filipino favorites, Comfort food, Starters, Seafood specialties, Beef specialties, Chef recommendations, Seafood, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Side dishes, Fondue and raclette, Desserts.

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Refreshing Blueberry Iced Tea.

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Fancy water bottle! We didn’t get to take it home, though. Boo!

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Pastrami Sandwich with beef pastrami, lettuce, tomato, cabbage, white onion, cucumber, gouda cheese, and curry dressing. There are four options for the dressing, as well as two options for the bread – A soft roll (which I picked), and a toasted French baguette. The slight sweetness of the fresh roll complimented the peppery pastrami meat, as well as the veggies and cheese (I’m so glad they didn’t use ordinary store-brought cheese for this dish!). It’s easy to eat too – Sometimes when I order a pastrami sandwich, I have to resort to picking out the fillings one by one because of the sandwich’s sheer size. Not with Urban Deli’s!

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Cheeseburger featuring a 140-gram beef patty, two slices of gouda cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce, and Belgian fries with ketchup and mustard dressing. My parents liked the pillowy-soft burger buns, and according to them, the thick beef patty was super filling as well. The fries weren’t too bad either!

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Spaghetti Carbonara – A so-so dish. Would probably appreciate it even more if the grated cheese wasn’t mixed in.

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French Onion Soup – This was quite pricey – One of the most expensive French onion soups I’ve had, so far. It wasn’t so bad. I really liked the piece of bread found in the middle of the soup.

I’m honestly relieved that Urban Deli wasn’t too much of a disappointment (and it wasn’t as overpriced too, as some people have mentioned). I could probably dine here again if I have time – Hopefully I’ll be able to try their desserts and pastries too.

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

Urban Deli is located at Blk. 76 Bicentennial Park, Rizal Hwy, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo, 2200 Zambales. Tel no: (047) 250 2921. Links: Official Website || Facebook || IG: @urbandeliph.

Crab and Belly

Exactly one year ago, during our yearly trip to SBMA, we passed by a restaurant while heading back to our hotel after going to church/early dinner. The place was called Chopping Board, and according to several write-ups regarding the resto, it served home-cooked Filipino dishes. This certainly piqued my interest, so I made a promise to visit the restaurant during my next visit to Subic.

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…. Fast forward to this year’s trip. Well, I think it’s safe to say that we came back to Subic just in time… For Chopping Board to be replaced by another restaurant! Sigh. The new resto was called Crab and Belly, and they’ve only been around since late February. If you can’t tell by the name, the resto specializes in fresh crab dishes and all-day breakfast, among others.

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I say ‘among others’, since their menu features a whole mishmash of dishes coming from different cuisines – Filipino, American, Japanese, Italian, etc.

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Very charming interior.

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Pancit Canton. Had a slightly sweet finish to it, which was nice. For some strange reason I was expecting them to serve the processed, ready-to-cook version. (._.’’)

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Tonkatsu for my appetizer. Not bad! Although the sad part was that it didn’t even have its own dipping sauce (the dish was accompanied by a decent potato salad), so it left a slightly greasy aftertaste in my mouth.

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Cream Cheese and Crab Fried Maki. I had very low expectations for this dish, so the fact that it tasted incredible was surprising to me. The outside of the maki had a lovely crunch to it, while the rice was slightly sweet, much like the pancit canton. A must-try, even if you’re not a fan of maki. Also, our waiter couldn’t even say the dish’s name properly (He kept calling it “cheese and crab maki” and “fried maki”)… Hmmmm.

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Grilled Salmon Belly. Although the salmon was super fresh and grilled to perfection, it could’ve used a little bit more flavor.

Our dining experience here was good enough – And that’s actually a great thing, especially for a newcomer! But even though the food was delicious, they still have plenty of things to improve (esp. with the menu options, and the staff), but this is pretty much a given since they’re just starting out, after all. I wish them the best of luck.

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

Crab and Belly is located at Lincoln St, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Olongapo, 2200 Zambales. Tel no: 0915 702 7461. Links: Facebook.

Big D’s Smokehouse 

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Since we wanted to arrive home early, we decided to head off to Eastwood to do our usual routine (Sunday mass, groceries, dinner) because it was the hangout spot nearest to our house. I ended up choosing Big D’s Smokehouse for our early dinner spot, located in Citywalk 2. I would often pass by this barbecue joint/bar on our way to Eastwood mall, and if I remember correctly, they used to have a branch in Blue Ridge too.

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Interior. The staff was having a meeting when we walked in… Oops. We were also the only customers inside, which made it slightly awkward.

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Menu: Smoked soft bone ribs, Soup & salad, Appetizers, Specials, Pork specials, Smoked beef brisket, Smokehouse platter.

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Home-Style Meatloaf. This dish is a combination of three kinds of meat, seasoned and baked, topped with mushroom sauce and served with Big D’s dirty rice. It tastes decent enough, despite it looking like it was made from a shoddy school cafeteria.

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Chicken Fried Steak – Deep fried chicken breast fillet with our mixture of spices, served with herbed gravy side vegetables. Served with mashed potatoes, fries, or rice. According to the menu, this dish was supposed to be ‘highly addicting’ – And that’s the main reason why I ended up ordering it, as well as the fact that I absolutely love chicken fried steak. Buuuuuut…. It turned out to be a slight disappointment – Because although the meat was tender, the bones weren’t completely removed and I had to pull out at least five tiny pieces from the steak. Ugh.

I probably should’ve listened to that Foursquare tip that tells the reader to try out Big D’s ribs and skip everything else on the menu – The two dishes that we ordered were below mediocre, if I’m being honest. Sigh. It was definitely a mistake on our part though – I’m sure they have tasty dishes on their menu too, we just didn’t get to try them. Maybe next time?

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

Big D’s Smokehouse is located at Eastwood City Walk 2, Garden Ave Bagumbayan, Quezon City. Tel no: (0915) 487-8153. Links: Facebook || Twitter (1) (2) (3) || IG: @BigDsmokehouse