Latest Resto Finds

Ensaymada @ Diamond Hotel Bakery

Well its around that time again where the air is significantly cooler, the foot traffic is a little bit more thicker, and everyone has a spring in their step. Yes it is Christmas season again. And since Christmas is just a few days away in the Palma family we have traditional food always present. For our family it is most definitely Excellente Ham, Tablea Tsokolate, Marca Pato or Marca Pina Edam Cheese, Ensaymada, and Pandesal. You will always find this spread on our long family table.

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Philippine Street Food Series (Part 2)

What started out as an interesting feature on Philippine Street Food has now become a quest, a pilgrimage if you will, in featuring some of the most authentic Philippine Street Food. For this feature, Isaw and the infamous Balut are on the menu. This may not be for the faint of heart. (pun intended)

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Philippine Street Food Series

On a warm sunny day, a few food trips back and a few calories and pounds gone, you would find me playing in the street with the neighbors. After running around for hours without a care in the world, one does work up an appetite. I was lucky. Just around the corner you would find the neighborhood entrepreneur grilling some stuff on sticks. Or maybe the ambulant vendor pushing around a wooden cart with a gas stove and pan frying some Fish Balls. Yes I am talking about Philippine Street Food. I grew up to these delicacies and am quite fond at how unique and interesting each one tastes like.

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Tsumura @ Makati CBD

I’ve always been asked about those special niche places where dining is at its best and not everyone frequents it. I have an aversion towards restos in Malls because they tend to go for the generic taste which drives traffic rather than the authenticity and of the meal. Don’t get me wrong, I know quite a few restos in malls which do offer quite good cuisine, but I am more inclined towards those hidden gems scattered all over the metro.

Tsumura is definitely one of them. Hidden in the heart of the Makati CBD, lies one of the most authentic Japanese restos. Being heralded and a nominee for one of Manila’s Best Kept Secrets for Japanese cuisine, Tsumura actually is a place you must check out at least once in your life.

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Max Brenner Chocolate Bar

Nobody doesn’t like chocolate. I know of exactly just one person who doesn’t like chocolate. (Yes Richard, I am talking about you) Chocolate is one of the first things you start eating as a kid. When you break up with someone you turn to chocolate. When your sad you got chocolate. Chocolate both comforts and is an aphrodisiac. So when Max Brenner opened here in the Philippines, I promised myself that once I have enough money I will definitely have to check this place out.

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Damaso at Greenbelt 5

Named after the main antagonist in Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel the restaurant sits adjacent to Fely J’s another well known Filipino Restaurant. Damaso offers Filipino fares with a slight twist and hint of history. From drinks named Tubig ni Maria Clara (Maria Clara’s water) to Crispin and Basilio, the restaurant has themed a mix of Filipino and spanish influences. The place was quite small, but with an outside dining area which it share’s with Fely J’s it becomes quite spacious.

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Bagoong Club Manila

What is Bagoong?

Bagoong alamang is Filipino for shrimp paste, made from minute shrimp or krill (alamang) and is commonly eaten as a topping on green mangoes or used as a major cooking ingredient. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavor, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong alamang is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. This bagoong is rarely used in this form, save as a topping for unripe mangoes. The paste is customarily sauteed with various condiments, and its flavour can range from salty to spicy-sweet. The colour of the sauce will also vary with the cooking time and the ingredients used in the sauteeing. Cincalok is the Malaysian version of ‘fresh’ bagoong alamang.
Unlike in other parts of Southeast Asia, where the shrimp are fermented beyond recognition or ground to a smooth consistency, the shrimp in bagoong alamang are readily identifiable, and the sauce itself has a chunky consistency. A small amount of cooked or sauteed bagoong is served on the side of a popular dish called “Kare-kare”, an oxtail stew made with peanuts. It is also used as the key flavouring ingredient of a sauteed pork dish, known as Binagoongan (lit. “that to which bagoong is applied”). The word bagoong, however, is also connoted with the bonnet mouth and anchovy fish version, bagoong terong.

Shrimp paste in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
Shrimp paste corresponding in consistency and presentation to Blachang is not found in the National Capital Region of the Philippines but can be found in such places as Dumaguete in the Visayas.

I’ve recently been researching on places to take foreign guests that fly into our country. Being a Foodie, the group I am with usually turns to me when recommending a place to eat at, and since I wasn’t able to take Tim, (my malaysian boss) out to this place I thought I’d give it a whirl and try it out for myself.

If I had one word to describe a Filipino meal or cuisine is, it would be hearty. Most dishes are almost never served in a single serve or plated style, instead viands and dishes are served family style, meant for sharing. Passing one dish to other exchanging stories along the way, this is at the core and heart of every Filipino meal. Rice, soups, viands, all lumped into a bowl being passed along a long table swapping funny anecdotes here and there and the occasional burp in between, are as much as part of the meal as rice. Bagoong club does not disappoint.

It sits tucked away in the heart of Quezon City, among the burgeoning food scene of Tomas Morato. It quietly blends in among the residential homes and nightlife spots, just waiting to be discovered, and discover it I did.

There was ample support for parking along the road and since it was not located along the main road, parking is not really a problem. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, without reservations, and yet we were able to get a table. (luckily!) I suggest though that if you are heading their way, that you call to get a reservation.

You enter the foyer, and the wall is adorned by snippets of features and the center table has some of the trophies they have been awarded. I knew we were going to be in for a treat. (Be careful though, the plaque on the table says that they were awarded as the best Kare-kare in Manila. I don’t know if my standards are just high, but keep your expectations in check!)

A waitress will lead you inside and around the different dining places. Obviously this was a house before converted into a restaurant and I really appreciate how cozy and homey the entire place felt. From the hardwood tables and chairs to the cracked floors, this strangely felt like home, and home is where the best Filipino Food is usually located.

Upon sitting down, they serve you with complimentary appetizers. Singkamas with Bagoong Asya (asian flavor spices) and Bagoong Umaga (with Chili). I really appreciated this because I was really hungry and it was extra great that it was free. It was already a great chance to sample their bagoong.

Since we were late, they already initially ordered Ukoy or Okoy (Php 215.00) to tide them over till everyone arrived. I was amazed at how huge the serving was. This was definitely a plus. The veggies were crispy and the entire okoy was not too oily. It was tasty and hot when it was served. Perfect way to start a Pinoy meal.

We quickly placed our orders as everyone was getting restless due to hunger. A definite must-order was the Ginataang Hubad na Kuhol sa Malunggay (Php 215.00). I love kuhol. And had I not been craving for Kare-Kare the entire week I would have ordered another dish of this. To anyone dropping by, ORDER THIS!

We of course had to order the Binagoongang Combination (Php 390.00) which was pork either fried or grilled. For me it was just ok. Nothing worth saying. The bagoong was not too evident and needed some extra bagoong to make it tasty.

Another winner was the Inihaw na Pusit na Binusog sa Bopis. (Php 320.00) The squid was excellently cooked because it was not chewy at all. The Bopis (Bopis (bópiz in Spanish) is a spicy Filipino dish made out of pork lungs and heart sautéed in tomatoes, chilies and onions. Bopis is a uniquely Filipino dish traditionally prepared from assorted pig parts. These assorted parts are usually the heart, kidneys, lungs, and intestines. The liver and brain, along with the ears and the face is reserved for use in cooking sisig.) went well with the smokeyness of the squid.

We also ordered some Laing Espesyal (Php 205.00) so we could have at least some vegetables! The laing went down smooth and the coconut milk did not overpower the leafy taste of the Taro leaves. The shredded pork rinds which acted as a garnish actually highlighted the dish and made it really explode with flavor even more.

For those who have problems with Uric Acid I don’t recommend this one, but it’s really good! Bulalong Munggo (Php 330.00, good for 2-3 people) was another surprise which got me slurping up every last drop of the soup!

I’ve been craving for Kare-kare (Php 390.00)  these past few days and I’ve been wondering how to convince my mom to make some for Sunday Dinner.  Remember I mentioned how they got the different accolades they have received on the foyer? I definitely noticed this one.

Bagoong Club is one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the Philippines with the best Kare-Kare – from Sooo Pinoy Evolving Filipino Flavors: The National Search for the Ultimate Pinoy Dish.

Paired with the a restaurant known for its bagoong I knew I chose right in getting Kare-kare. I ate this a lot! I really do love kare-kare and I think Sooo Pinoy was right in awarding the best kare-kare to this place. Aside from my house, this definitely was one of my top picks for best kare-kare. The tripe and tail were all so tender that I was sucking the bones and cleaning my plate. I wanted to order another serving of rice but I controlled myself. I’ve already eaten so much.

We also ordered Bagoong Club Calamares (Php 210.00) for the kid with us and I think she ate most of it since she really did not fancy the bagoong I think.

It was indeed a hearty meal and definitely was not over yet. What kind of meal does not end with dessert?

Quezo De Bola Cheesecake. (Php 170.00)

I love this dessert. I think its even better than New York cheesecake. I love queso de bola, but going beyond this, the cheese was not too overpowering and the cheese taste was just right. If not for anything else, I will comeback for the cheesecake. Trixie and Denise, you guys will like this.

Calamansi Torte (Php 135.00)

This was reminded me of Heny Sison’s Lemon Walnut Torte. It was strangely familiar as well as really good. Cakes are good enough to be eaten alone or to be shared.

The verdict? For the amount of food we shared and number of people there it was definitely worth it. I ate with 7 people and we all paid Php 420.00 each. The service was really fast and the waiters were really courteous and attentive despite having a half full house. I would definitely come back. This is a well recommended filipino restaurant.

The Bagoong Club

122 Scout Dr. Lazcano, Sacred Heart, Quezon City.
Tel. 929-5450 and 929-0544

Operating Hours:
11:00am-3:00pm; 6:00pm-11:00pm Monday to Sunday

HOW TO GET TO BAGOONG CLUB:Via Tomas Morato
– along Tomas Morato going towards ABS-CBN, make a right at street after Anabel’s and Starbucks. Bank of Commerce is in the corner.
– along Tomas Morato going towards E. Rodriguez, when you see Alfredo’s on the right, take a left on the opposite street with Bank of Commerce and Starbucks in the corner.

Via Scout Torillo
– on Timog going to rotonda from EDSA, make a left at street with Metrobank in the corner (Scout Torillo). Take right on Scout Dr. Lazcano.
– on Kamuning Road going to T. Morato from EDSA, make a right at 3rd stoplight (Scout Torillo) and left at Scout Dr. Lazcano.

OTHER BAGOONG CLUB ARTICLES:

WIKI -FOODIE ON THE BAGOONG CLUB

Flaming Wings

It’s been awhile since my last feature and I thought it best to go back to the roots for this one. How I wish I were a serious food blogger and food writer back in college. The places and dishes I ate and for the prices, oh boy. So imagine my delight when The Club wanted to eat at Flaming Wings. Flaming Wings is located just outside of Ateneo and it was one of places my blockmates and college friends would frequent because of the affordable prices for the quality of food. Don’t expect too much though as it is frequently full because of university students and dormers who live nearby.

The origin of where the Buffalo Wings seems to trace back to 5 stories from Buffalo, New York. The first one being, that Buffalo wings were first prepared at the Anchor Bar, located at 1047 Main Street (between North Street and Best Street) in Buffalo, New York, United States on October 3, 1964, by Teressa Belissimo, co-owner of the Anchor Bar with her husband Frank. Upon the unannounced, late-night arrival of their son, Dominic, with several of his friends from college, Teressa needed a fast and easy snack to present to her hungry guests. It was then that she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings (normally thrown away or reserved for stock) and tossing them in cayenne hot sauce. While the wings were deep frying, Teressa decided to serve left over celery sticks with blue cheese to her son and his friends to tide them over.

The Buffalo wing may vary in spicyness and hotness, but it must be sour in my opinion to be really called a “buffalo wing”.

When you order your set of wings they ask you for which kind of sauce to order and what dip you want to go with.

  • 3 wings …………………………. P143
  • 5 wings …………………………. P235
  • 15 wings …………………………. P690
  • 24 wings …………………………. P1068
  • Tenders …………………………. P88

As for the sauces:

  • Original
  • Inspired by the original Buffalo, New York Recipe. A bit tangy with the right amount of heat
  • Mild n’ Sweet
  • Can’t take the heat? A tamed blend with a hint of honey
  • Wild
  • Caution: Way Hot!
  • Smokey Barbecue
  • Good ol’ Southern Style Barbecue. Superb smoke sweetness with a little kick
  • Caribbean Jerk
  • True taste of the island. Strong combination of Herbs and Spices with a twist of lime.

The Dips:

  • Bleu
  • Cheese
  • Aioli
  • Honey Mustard
  • Balsamic Mayo
  • Ranch Wasabi Mayo

I had the Original sauce w/ blue cheese, because last time I ate here (way back in college!) Original was pretty spicy.

I ordered it with blue cheese since I’ve been craving for some for the longest time. I was however disappointed because it wasn’t spicy at all. Despite a healthy dose of hot sauce, it tasted just right. I regretted not geting Wild. I will definitely try that out next!

I also had some of the Caribbean Jerk, which tasted a bit funky. I didn’t quite enjoy it because it deviated too much the real buffalo taste which I really quite look for in my wings.

The chicken really had crispy skin and the sauce really crept inside the chicken making it really tasty and perfect. Definitely worth it and it ain’t even so expensive!

We also ordered some pull apart bbq pork which was spiced really well but I was too focused on wings.

Pulled Pork BBQ Plate …………………………. P148

Slow-cooked pork doused in barbecue sauce. Served with a side of coleslaw and rice pilaf. (Add 20 to upgrade rice pilaf to mashed potato)

Now for the best part, DESSERT! I remember that students specifically went to flaming wings for the dessert. Whether it be a brownie a la mode or the infamous Wicked Oreos, it was THE dessert place for students, primarily because it was cheap.

Basically its an Oreo cookie deep fried in batter served with a dollop of ice cream and sprinkled with chocolate or cinnamon powder.

My review is not yet over. I think I can get better pictures and try some hotter wings. The hotter the wings, the better I think.

Verdict? Definitely a time-old classic for me! One of the few wings places I will keep on visiting and coming back to!

Flaming Wings

Katipunan Ave. Loyola Heights,

Quezon City

Tel. no. (+632) 929-6900

Other Branches:

5624 Taft Ave., Malate Manila

Tel. no. (+632) 524-7429

BF Paranaque

Phase III 302 A. Aguirre Ave., Parañaque

Tel. no. (+632) 829-5782

Ramen Bar in Manila

I previously posted on Ukkokei Ramen in Makati, which I dubbed as one of the authentic ramen experiences in Manila. But although the entire experience wasn’t pleasant, at least the food was. Fast forward a few weeks later, I get an email from Ramen Bar’s owner in eastwood inviting me to try out their version of Ramen. I quickly obliged as I was doing the research for the Ukkokei article, I chanced upon several blogs extolling this particular resto. I certainly didn’t want to pass that up!

After a quick battle with some food poisoning (ironically! ok so I don’t really think I used irony properly here), I trotted off to Ramen Bar in Eastwood with a fellow blogger named Elyoo. Elyoo being a fashion blogger, was dressed quite awesomely.

We quickly placed our orders in and started chatting amongst ourselves.

On the table:

  • R.B.S #1
  • Sapporo Miso Ramen
  • Chicken Karaage
  • Yakiniku Beef
  • Kakuni Buns

R.B.S. #1 is  Soy infused Tonkotsu Ramen topped with tamago, naruto, nori, negi, chasyu, and Kakuni. Tonkotsu is basically pork bones stewed as compared to the Miso base which is lighter version of Ramen. The reasoning behind the Tonkotsu base is because this is favored by Japanese consumers in Japan because of the climate. Due to the colder climate experienced in Japan, the heavier soup is supposed to keep them warm during winter. According to the owner, (who SMS’ed me all the way from the UK!) since the climate in the Philippines is warmer, the lighter soup is more appealing to us. (Just like Ukkokei’s!) But Ramen Bar will be coming up with their own version of a lighter soup base not to mention a few more side dishes and he promises to have me over once these dishes are on the menu again. I can’t wait!

I’ll be leaving the Sapporo Miso Ramen for Elyoo to review because I didn’t really try out her meal.

Check her out she was wearing something similar:

  • Tamago is soft boiled eggs marinated for 48 hours
  • Tonkotsu is pork bone soup boiled for 20 hours
  • Chasyu is Sliced Pork
  • Kakuni is Braised Pork Belly
  • Naruto are FIsh Sticks
  • Nori is Dried Seaweed
  • Negi are spring onions

Sapporo Miso Ramen is Miso infused Tonkotsu Ramen topped with Tamago, Naruto Negi Chasyu, Butter and Corn.

The Chasyu was absolutely divine. And the Kakuni? Perfection. They were so tender and soft that the meat was literally melting inside my mouth. They were definitely worth whatever I was paying for it.

The Chicken Karaage was definitely a surprise! It was really good! It comes with a plate of salt and pepper but didn’t need anything. What I particularly like about it was that it was boneless. It made for eating it easier.

Highlight of the night was the Beef Yakiniku (焼き肉 or 焼肉) meaning “grilled meat”, is a Japanese term which, in its broadest sense, refers to grilled meat dishes.

Today, it commonly refers to a Japanese style of cooking bite-sized meat (usually beef and offal) and vegetables on gridirons or griddles over flame of wood charcoals carbonized by dry distillation (sumibi, 炭火) or gas/electric grill.

The beef was tender and sweet and for the price was actually quite a lot. I would definitely order this again and again. I think this would go well with some Yakimeshi.

For dessert we ordered Tempura Ice Cream. It was basically vanilla ice cream, deep fried in batter. Its usually eaten in one big bite topped with some chocolate syrup. The medley of flavors of both hot and cold were simply great. I liked in particular the complex flavor of the ice cream and the egg based batter they used for the coating.

All meals come with either hot or cold tea. For the cold tea, they basically add ice cubes and makes for washing down the ramen and other fairs quite enjoyable.

Overall the food was quality. I could see that it was trying to bring the most authentic experience possible to ramen dining. To the communal table sharing, to the look and feel of the restaurant, you could see that great thought and care was put in setting this restaurant up. Food quality was excellent. Service was top notch. The food came out so fast that I was really pleased. In my book, excellent service means that the restaurant cares for the customer. Some people might find the price a bit too steep, but you can’t pay for quality. I on the other hand found the price to be just right. Php 380 for a HUGE bowl of ramen is already ok. If you don’t have a big appetite I recommend sharing one bowl and trying out the Kakuni Buns too. In terms of Ramen, you can’t really compare Ramen Bar and Ukkokei. But in terms of experience, Ramen Bar is a place I will be coming back to whenever I am near the Eastwood area.

*side note: To the bloggers out there, the management allows for you to take pictures!

Ramen Bar
G/F Eastwood Mall
Libis, Quezon City
570-9457

Cajun Red Rock by Chef Tony

I usually don’t blog family gatherings. Its not because I don’t eat out with my family, but its more likely because there is just so much chaos and so many things happening at once, its usually pandemonium during meal time. Imagine, holding up the eating because I need to take pictures of the food while 5 of your cousins nag you to death about hurrying up? Absolutely the worse condition for blogging I must say.

But this time it was different. Gone were the petty arguments over dinner table and light jabs. Gone are the teasing and taunting, in its stead conversations about my blog, work, fashion, and girls take its place. I remember thinking when did we grow up? My cousin was in 4th year high school already about to enter college and my other cousins are about to enter the “real world”. And here we are celebrating yet another birthday of our Amma and another dinner together as a family.

They picked Cajun Red Rock at Retiro because it was something different. No chinese food this time. (My Amma living in Banawe would usually pick some chinese resto for our get together.) I have heard about this place at the restaurant that spurred the creation of Chef Tony’s Popcorn. (which I have yet to try.)

My aunties ordered for the entire group and being on the other end of the table, we got 3 fares.

We got a plate of ribs with 2 sides: of slaw and mashed potatoes. The ribs were well cooked although a bit more tenderness was something I desired. I wanted the meat to literally fall of the bone.

We also got some Fish and Chips for starters. The fish was well cooked and was tender while the skin was crispy and tasty. I’ve always liked fish and chips and this was no exception.

Lastly, we ordered Creole Chicken which was both creamy and tasty. The dish was quite unique as it did remind me of carbonara and yet, it had a very smokey taste to it. The creaminess and smokiness melded together very well in my opinion.

These were all the dishes that we ordered that night. I realized how different in terms of culinary exploration I am from my family. They ordered very conservatively which left the foodie in me wanting more. I guess for our family, food isn’t actually why we get together but rather the conversation and convention of eating together as a tradition.

Cajun Red Rock
108 NS Amoranto St. (Retiro St.), Quezon City
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