My Reviews

Balay Dako

4.0 Stars
Filipino
10

It was my lola's 85th birthday yesterday and before today, she hasn't seen Taal. Ever. So my mom and titas decided to celebrate her birthday in Balay Dako.

Given the weather, it was no surprise that really thick fog greeted us the moment we arrived in Tagaytay and sadly, the famous view was nowhere to be found. And since it was raining, the tables in Balay Dako's veranda can't be occupied so it took us nearly two hours to be seated.

Balay Dako's breakfast buffet is only available during weekends and holidays. It's basically a Filipino cuisine feast priced at 700 bucks per head. The main stations include the ulam (which includes dried fish, tocino, adobo), egg station, rice station (dump some rice and mix-ins in a bowl and they'll cook it up for you), breads (banana bread, ensaymada, etc.), salad, kakanin (palitaw, puto bumbong, etc.), and drinks (coffee, teas, and juices).

What I count as my absolute favorite here is the Corned Beef. It's so, so good! And yes, it's not your canned corned beef. The meat is really tender and flavorful. In the four times I've eaten here, this and the bacon are the only ulam I get to pair with my rice.

I usually just go for plain rice but today, I decided to go for the fried rice. Salted egg has always been one of my simple joys (though I usually don't end up liking salted egg-flavored stuff) and I really love eating a meal composed of rice, salted egg, and tomatoes. That's it. Haha. So I went for that combination when I had my fried rice done. Unfortunately, I found the finished bowl of rice to be too peppery and I ended up wishing I just mixed it all myself and added a little soy sauce. Haha

Other favorites include everything that was perfect for the extra cold weather: champorado, taho, and mainit na tsokolate.

Don't expect too much with the salad bar and you'll be fine. Haha. There was also a basket of balut and penoy, which I chose to stay away from. If you like Kansi, it's also present in the buffet so don't miss out on it!

Balay Dako also has a store where you can find bottled fish in a variety of sauces, jams, and other pasalubong. As per my usual, I got a tub of another favorite of mine, galletas, though I was told that the jams are their bestsellers.

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Manilachon

4.0 Stars
Filipino

I honestly won't be surprised if naming lechon restaurants <insert place name here> + -chon becomes a trend all of a sudden. Haha

I was in SM North yesterday looking for a place to eat a quick lunch. Luckily I discovered the newly opened Manilachon. The whole thing's pretty straightforward. You order and pay at the counter, wait for your food, and then snag a table. The utensils, water, and even the soup are self-service so I guess it's soup-all-you-can.

I had the Lechon Porchetta Classic Meal for Php 149. It was good and the lechon was super tender. The accompanying tomatoes cut through the oiliness of the pork and when paired with soy sauce and vinegar, everything's just 128076🏼. Problem is a lot of the lechon slices had a lot of fat and I found the rice serving to be pretty small.

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Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina

4.0 Stars
Mexican
2

Eating in the UP Town Center branch of Silantro is like playing a game of chance. Whether you come during lunch, dinner, or some "dead hour", snagging a table takes a lot of luck and timing. And, if luck and timing fail you, a lot of patience. It's no surprise, though, that Silantro is always packed with diners. It's one of the few places in the whole mall where you get value for money. And the prices are pretty cheap too.

But luck was on my and my best friend's side when we attempted to eat here and we were able to quickly get a table when we arrived. As always, we ordered the regular Nachos. It may seem like it's not much but I swear it's so good! Do enjoy it with the provided sauces to maximize the yumminess of the nachos.

We each also ordered a soft shell taco and opted for two meat toppings. We both went for beef and lengua. The tacos were just okay for us. Some of the meat chunks were slightly tough and we didn't really like the inclusion of the white onion. I think it would've been better if they caramelized the onions a little before adding them on top so that they taste sweeter and would pair better with the meat,

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Cafe Via Mare

5.0 Stars
Filipino
3

It's quite amusing to see all the clutch reviews for the #loolooDroneGiveaway come in one after the other. Hahaha. Anyway, on to my own clutch review:

One of my three balikbayan titas coming home this month arrived last Sunday and naturally, all she wants to eat is Filipino food. So earlier today, we decided to eat in Via Mare since Manam was closed for the day and she really wanted to eat some pako. The biggest bummer, though, was the Ensaladang Pako was not available. 128148

As I've been feeling under the weather, the only thing I ordered was the Arroz Caldo with chicken. I found it to be just okay, although the serving size was big enough to make sure I came out full. There were around 4 big chunks of chicken but it needed some patis and Calamansi to get the flavor to my preference. Though I eventually chalked this to me being sick and my tastebuds being bipolar.

My mom and Tita split the Salpicado and the Tiyan ng Bangus Asado. Again, both came in generous servings and the Tiyan ng Bangus Asado was the instant favorite among them. As my Tita kept saying in Kapampangan, "Manyaman!"

She also had the Lumping Ubod, which disappeared shortly after she lathered it with the sauce. Again, she found it really delicious.

What I appreciated most about the experience was the service! Our server saw that I wasn't feeling well and, without being told, he gave me a glass of warm water with lime slices in it and told me that it'd help me feel better. To be honest, the water and the thoughtfulness really did make me feel better so kudos!

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Nail Tropics

4.0 Stars
Nail Salon
5

My Tita and I had our nails done in this branch earlier today. We came in just a few minutes after opening so the staff entertained as right away. There were around eight chairs for customers, plus a private room.

I had gel nails on my hands so I went for the gel removal service, which costs Php 200. But since my nails were already really long, I wanted to have them cut and cleaned so I had to shell out an additional Php 95.

My Tita and I both went for the pedicure spa, which is priced at 500 bucks each. Overall, service was very good. The nail artisans are very thorough with their job. The one removing my gel nails took the time to explain to me the proper way of remove the polish from my nails (basically, don't attempt to just chip the polish and pull it off your nail). The pedicure spa is inclusive of a short back massage after the service.

Customers should note that the "regular" nail polishes are quite limited. If you want better brands and more color options, you have to shell out an additional 60 bucks for them.

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Pablo

3.0 Stars
Dessert
3

Pretty happy that there is a Pablo branch that is more accessible to me now that the Greenbelt store is open. It's mostly a counter and kitchen with very limited seating (around four stools off to the side). The limited seating made the whole coffee + mini tart promo quite awkward 'cause it kind of makes you assume that you can order coffee and tart and sit down to enjoy them. Unless your timing is on point, that will be pretty hard to do.

I dropped by twice since the store's opening (today and last Saturday). During my first visit, my family and I took advantage of the Buy 1, Take 1 promo and bought two regular cheese tarts to take home. I already knew based on older Pablo reviews that to compare the one we have here to the one I got to try in Japan would be a mistake, but I guess it's something that can't be helped.

My parents were the first ones to try the cheese tart when we got home and five minutes later, they called me to ask, "Kala ko ba regular yung binili mo? Bakit lasang mangga?" 128528 Yep, the glaze on top of the tart made them think that regular flavor = mango flavor. When I cut my own piece, I saw that there was too much glaze on top of the tart. I took a girl and got some of the crust and the cheese without the glaze and they both tasted okay. Texture sort of reminded me of Goldilock's' egg tart.

For my visit today. I got the chocolate mini cheese tart and I was lucky since they were fresh out of the oven when I came. I ended up liking the chocolate one more than the regular one, though I feel like the chocolate flavor overshadowed the cheese. Also, the crust wasn't as firm as I'd hoped and broke as I was taking my tart out of the bag.

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Mad Mark's

4.0 Stars
Ice Cream
4

Finally, a Mad Mark’s review that does not have the Signature Steak in it HAHAHA

Mad Mark’s now occupies the space that once had Vanilla Cupcake Bakery and I managed to convince my dad and my sisters to have our late lunch there last Saturday. Generally, they were amazed at the big servings and the cheap prices.

I forgot what the appetizer’s called but it’s a mix of the fries and fat chips (pretty much are like Shakey’s Mojos) topped with a bunch of things like ground meat, onions, etc. It was really good and the mix of ingredients was like a pop of flavors in your mouth. Though I think they used too much seasoning on this since my dad, who ate this the most, came out with a headache and heavy eyes.

We also ordered the Zing Wings (half dozen) which are tangy as advertised. Good sized wings that somehow reminded me of Frankie’s honey mustard wings.

One of my sisters got the Fried Yard Bird Classic. Basically some chicken tenders with chili powder on top and served with rice and a salad. Pretty big serving and she found it hard to finish since she was stuffed. But she said it was good.

Another sister of mine got herself an ice cream and went for two scoops of Half Baked Madagascar. Her exact words were, “I don’t know what this is but it’s good.” HAHAHA.

Even if we dined it at around 3 pm, the place was still packed. Service was rather slow but I chalked that up to the place still being on soft opening. It was also pretty warm in the restaurant so it’d be nice if they could boost the a/c up a little just so diners could eat comfortably.

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Frankie's New York Buffalo Wings

5.0 Stars
Wings
4

One of my friends has never eaten in Frankie’s yet so when our small group of friends (aptly named the Happy Three Friends) met up for lunch, it was eventually decided that we’d eat here.

Based on my previous experience, I already knew I wasn’t going to order honey mustard wings again so I went for the flavor Nic S recommended (Thank you!!!) in my review for the Frankie’s UP Town Center branch. I got half a dozen garlic parmesan wings (Php 199) with an additional ranch dip (Php 25) and no rice since I got worried that the umay might kick in before I could finish my chicken.

First bite pa lang, I understood why so many people like the garlic parmesan. It’s really yummy! The saltiness of the cheese goes so well with the garlic and the chicken. Malinamnam siya, swear! And it tasted good with the ranch dip! The umay came towards the end of my meal so yep, I think I made a good call ordering the dip.

My first-timer friend went big and ordered the Wings World (Php 369), which is made up of a dozen wings in three flavors: garlic parmesan, Nagoya tebaski, and smoky BBQ. Like me, he didn’t order rice. I asked him how he found the chicken. He answered with legit na nasimot na chicken bones. Haha!

Our other friend got Frankie’s Classic Buffalo and opted for the boneless chicken with rice (Php 199). That one was good too! Tangy and mildly spicy. I think that if I don’t end up ordering the garlic parmesan again in the future, I’d go for this.

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JiPan

4.0 Stars
Japanese
2

Jipan is my family’s go-to Japanese restaurant in Glorietta so yep, we were pretty bummed when it had to close down for a short time to undergo renovations. But now that it’s open again, we wasted no time had dinner there the other day.

This particular branch of Jipan is always full, it’s amazing. Even when it’s not lunch or dinner hours. The restaurant itself is very small and has only around three table so the rest of its seating are out where all the mallgoers can watch you eat. Haha. If you’re the type to get distracted by people walking past you as you eat, this may not be the place for you.

One of my sisters ordered the Miso Ramen. The serving size was pretty big and she wasn’t able to finish it. The amount of broth was generous and was really flavorful. The miso flavor was also just right and wasn’t too overwhelming.

Another sister ordered the curry rice. I wasn’t able to ask what kind specifically it was but she enjoyed it. The curry sauce wasn’t nakakaumay according to her and was really flavorful as well.

I had the Okonomiyaki, which amusingly tastes like a particular brand of takoyaki we had back in Japan. The Okonomiyaki was really good. Again, generous serving size. I was able to share it with my sisters. Jipan also didn’t skimp on ingredients so there was something to munch on with every bite.

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McDonald's

4.0 Stars
Fast Food
2

Enjoying ice cream doesn’t always mean you have to order those artisanal ones or those from foreign ice cream chains. Sometimes, the good ol’ soft serve from your favorite fast food is more than enough to satisfy an ice cream craving.

Last weekend, I dropped by a McDonald’s branch with a dessert counter after seeing the advertisement for the sundae with the mix and match toppings online. Basically, there are now more options for toppings for the McDo sundae. Adding one topping will cost you Php29 while two toppings will cost you Php 39. The toppings you can mix and match are:

- hot fudge
- strawberry syrup
- hot caramel
- banana crème sauce
- sansrival bits
- crushed Oreo
- Koko Krunch Duo
- crushed graham

I already gave my order for a sundae with two toppings before I was informed that they ran out of sansrival bits 🙁 So I ended up going for the usual combination of crushed Oreo and hot fudge. This was how the server prepared the sundae: she placed some soft serve in the cup, added the crushed Oreo, placed more ice cream, and then finally some hot fudge on top.

I found that it was best to mix everything so I got both the Oreo and the hot fudge with every spoonful. Generally, I found the whole thing to be just okay, though the option to mix and match toppings is a plus point since it adds something new to your regular McDo sundae.

Rating this a 3.5 and rounding off!

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