My Reviews

Anchor Point

5.0 Stars
Diner
10

Feel like you might want to take a break from always running a tight ship and treat the family to some tasty burgers, pizzas and pastas?

Well, then... When you dock at the newly opened eatery along San Rafael Street in Mandaluyong's Barangay Plainview, you will find plenty for the family to love.

One: The resto's interiors leading to a seaside adventure.

The resto is situated in a converted two-story house festooned with nautical-inspired furniture and artwork, inspired by Chef Junjie Templo's stint as a seaman chef and further refined by the San Rafael branch co-owner Cathy Donato - Miaque's design sensibilities.

The best thing about the resto's design is that diners can interact with the decor. Take a pic of yourself as a ship captain in the outdoor deck, make-believe you're climbing up waterfalls in the hallway, or let your kids have a go in the rocking horse. If you let your inmer child out, there won't be a dull moment here.

Plus, check out the washroom with a wall-to-wall painting of a seaside dock! Who would have thought going to a resto's restroom would be so entertaining!

Two: Yummy munchies while waiting for your meal.

Start of your meal with some appetizers - platters of fries or nachos with oodles of cheese, peppers, onions, meat and other toppings!

Three: Its Burger Varieties.

Pinoy families have grown to love burgers and here, there's enough variety and affordably priced items to have you and your fam coming back for more. Check these out: the crunchy chicken sandwich Captain's Crave (Php109), fresh veggies and all-beef Anchor Point Burger (Php129), burger-with-bacon Quarterdeck (Php139) and so much more!

Want to prove your burger mettle? Take the Black Out Challenge (Php450 with fries | Php480 with nachos). Finish this monster of a triple patty burger and its accompanying sides in five minutes and it's free.

Four: Its Chicken Meals.

There's nothing like chomping down on a juicy piece of chicken and at Anchor Point Diner, there's plenty to choose from: from its original recipe Chicken Fritoz (Php99), savory Garlic Parmesan (Php119), spicy Texas Wild Wings (Php109) and my new fave Teriyaki Chicken (Php109).

Feeling extra hungry? Get a Bucket of Ten for only Php250! That should fill up the fam's tummies!

Five: Pizzas and Pastas

Hearty and filling, these crunchy-yet-chewy thin-crust pizzas (made with hand-kneaded dough and baked fresh everyday) and yummy pastas will sate the fam's hunger while making your taste buds happy!

Choose from two pizza sizes - Sailor at 9 inches and Captain at 12 inches - and from four yummy flavors - English Margherita (Php149 | Php199), Hawaiian Sunset (Php169 | Php219), Vegan Garden (Php179 | Php229), and of course, my absolute fave, Triple Cheese (Php189 | Php239).

Pastas come in two flavors: Shrimp Olio (Php129) and Italian Bolognese (Php99).

Six: Best value combo meals!

Despite the ala carte dishes being priced quite affordably already, these are further mixed and matched into combo meals with iced tea that not only give you a variety of flavors in one complete meal, but also super savings. Prices for single-person combo meals rangesfrom Php129 to Php259.

Plus, a family of four can dine on a combo of chicken, pasta, pizza, rice and drinks for only Php550, while a group of six can do the same for only Php859.

Seven: Cap off your meal with decadent dessert frappes!

There's a special treat for the family member who has a sweet tooth: dessert frappes in your choice among three yummy flavors at only Php95 - Rock & Load for chocolate lovers, Strawberry Kiss for strawberry fans, and the dessert drink that truly captured the taste of summer at sea with its zesty sweet cucumber frappe, Sweet Innocence.

Eight: It's home-grown.

Anchor Point Diner is all-Filipino, originating from Mataas na Kahoy in Batangas. It has since expanded further in the region to include branches in Sto. Tomas, Dagatan and Tanauan.

This first branch in Metro Manila is located in Barangay Plainview, Mandaluyong City. It will also serve as the commisary for all Metro Manila branches.

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Tweedle Book Cafe

4.0 Stars
Café
10

A bookworm and a foodie, that's me.

The bookworm in me allows me to be happily content practically anywhere, and even all by my lonesome, so long as I have a new or my favorite tome in hand.

The foodie in me, on the other hand, gets me seeking new gastronomic experiences in both new and familiar places, often with close friends, because sometimes, breaking bread is more fun when you have people to break it with!

Imagine my delight when I discover establishments that cater to both passions!

Such is Tweedle Book Cafe, a small eatery located in a more out-of-the-way section of the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato vicinity.

Named after the zany twin characters Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Tweedle Book Cafe is like stepping into your dream library: the kind where you can chill and lose yourself in the pages of your favorite book while sipping on some rich hot chocolate.

Aside from the wall-to-wall shelves of books, the place is filled with references to literary works: from planks of wood citing famius authors, to clocks showing purported time in fictional settings and to a secret door masked by Platform 9 3/4.

What makes the place even more appealing is its imaginative menu which a couple of my friends and I sampled when we went here on a lunch adventure.

Cheeseburgerballs Pasta (Php230). Just think: if you can have your favorite meaty burger, loaded with so much cheese, but in a bowl nestled in pasta and tomato sauce. Sounds good?

Hangover (Php280). Ever had case of the munchies the morning after a night out drinking with friends? This rice bowl with beef sukiyaki, kimchi and egg has a whole lot of comforting heartiness and a bit of spice to kickstart your morning.

Juan Tamad (Php180). This is named so because this dish of corned beef and spam cubes in fried rice is so easy to make that you would have to be really, really lazy to still go out and order it (which I was, and no regrets here!).

Choco Lava Cake (Php120). Served piping hot, this chocolate cake with a molten chocolate center that oozes out with each spoonful.

These lovely dishes took some time getting to our table but fortunately, they were worth the wait. Also, our group was able to entertain ourselves chatting (and poring over Anne Rice's books in my case).

On my next visit, I'll try items from Tweedle Book Cafe's Chocolate drinks and Tweedled coffees.

Book lover or not, this foodie haven is worth checking out!

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Miyazaki Gyu

4.0 Stars
Japanese
8

Just when you thought that you've tasted all there is to good ole' steaks, here comes Miyazaki Gyu introduce us to a truly luxurious steak experience.

The restaurant got its name from the Miyazaki Prefecture in the Japanese island of Kyushu. It is the word's second largest producer of beef from Japanese black cattle - referred to as miyazakigyu - which is known for having a high level of marbling, making the meat as tender and flavorful as can be.

The restaurant not only sells high-grade beef but also treats its diners to the optimal preparation of the meat, thereby maximizing flavor and texture. That is actually the driving force behind the resto: showcasing to local diners the full potential of miyazakigyu, as envisioned by its executive chef and youngest Iron Chef contender Kensuke Sakai.

Hubby decided to treat the family to the experience of eating such high-quality beef so we spent one of our weekend lunches over the holidays checking out its offerings.

The restaurant embodies a combination of Japanese simplicity with its clean lines and bamboo accents, and of luxurious opulence with its gold and leather interiors.

A display of its various meat offerings takes pride of place, giving diners the option to take some home.

For our luxurious miyazakigyu lunch, we had:

Beef Sushi (Php650). Slivers of tender wagyu draped over sushi rice and lightly doused with ponzu sauce served as our appetizer.

Hubby, my daughter #ExhibitA and I split orders of various beef cuts - Chuck Roll or Premium Steak (Php22/gram), Habaki or Special Part Steak (Php25/gram) and Top Round or Prime Marble Steak (Php32/gram) all cooked to medium doneness so we can savor their taste, juiciness and tender texture.

Hamburg Steak (Php900). Our little boy #ExhibitB, on the other hand, was treated to this tasty grilled ground beef burger patty.

All of these meat dishes are preceded by a light vegetable salad and a steaming hot soup with slivers of wagyu beef.

The steaks were served with sauteed bean sprouts, minced herbs and a bit of salt to bring out more of their flavor.

We also upgraded to the House Special Garlic Rice that went so well with the wagyu steaks.

Given its price range, dining at Miyazaki Gyu is really not for everyday enjoyment; for me, it's for those rare occasions when you feel like you deserve a break from the ordinary. Its premium-grade wagyu surely takes you to a whole new level of experience.

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Dohtonbori

4.0 Stars
Japanese
9

After a bout of running errands in SM Megamall, Hubby and I decided to have lunch at the Dohtonbori located in foodie haven Mega Fashion Hall.  I found it funny that despite the restaurant being around for the past three years, I've only just gotten around to it recently.

Named after one of Osaka, Japan's principal tourist destinations known for its rich and varied gastronomic options as well as its vibrant nightlife, Dohtonbori is driven by its philosophy of "Teppan Communication."  This philosophy strives to make the environment surrounding the teppan - the iron plate on which the restaurant's signature dishes are cooked - enjoyable and fun, where diners can experience a sense of being connected with each other as they share a meal.

The restaurant's premises is reminiscent of the streets of Osaka, with light-colored pine wood walls, brightly-colored streamers and even a vintage bike on display!

For our midday repast, we opted not to avail ourselves of Dohtonbori's claim to fame: the okonomiyaki. These are savory pancakes popular in Japan but unfortunately unganiliar to Hubby and myself. (Well, we'll probably try them on our next visit.)

Instead, we decided on ordering dishes that are more familiar to us, which include:

Endamame (Php90). Served freshly steamed and lightly salted, this is Hubby's go-to appetizer whenever we're at a Japanese resto.

Ajitama Ramen (Php350). Firm ramen noodles in a steaming soup base (I opted for the rich Tonkotsu broth), served with a melt-in-your-mouth piece of chashu pork, aonori seaweed and the tasty soft-boiled egg tamago.

Tempura Zaru Soba (Php350). Cold Japanese soba noodles served with dipping tsuyu sauce, wasabi, spring onion, shredded nori, and sesame seeds.

USDA Angus Striploin Yakiniku (Php750). A 200-gram well-marbled piece of striploin expertly cooked by a wait staff on the teppan right on our table.

Our lunchtime foray into this piece of Osaka gave us a tasty and filling meal that fueled us up for the rest of our mall errands.

Did you know that Dohtonbori works with the Autism Society of the Philippines on its Autism at Work Program? This means that staff are trained and well-equipped to assist persons with autism who visit the restaurant. Furthermore, persons on the autism spectrum are trained, employed and accepted as part of the restaurant's staff and the whole Dohtobori family. Being a mom of a child on the autism spectrum, I'm happy to support establishments that help to get differently abled people such as my son be more integrated into the mainstream and more productive members of society.

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Señor Pollo

4.0 Stars
Mexican
5

One fine day, my coworkers and I developed a hankering for a hearty lunch. We settled on the Senor Pollo branch in the nearby foodie-friendly Tomas Morato area.

Entering this resto is like stepping into a vibrant and lively Latin-inspired world. From its subdued lighting that highlights colorful artworks that adorn the brick walls to the flavorful dishes it serves.

Its Latin-style roast chicken offers a break from the usual Pinoy-style roasted chicken that we usually go for. It's juicy and tender meat encased in flavorful herb-seasoned skin, accompanied by a piquant chimichurri sauce and paired with tasty side dishes, ignites an explosion of tastes in my mouth with every forkful.

Our party of three split among ourselves two orders of Half Roast Chicken with 2 side dishes each (Php499). Our side dishes consist of two cups of Cilantro Garlic Rice, a cup of Herbed Brown Rice and Senor Pollo's famous Cole Slaw.
This Latin-style happy lunch turned out to be a tasty break from our usual haunts.

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llaollao

4.0 Stars
Frozen Yogurt
5

Frozen yoghurt lovers will have something to cheer about this Christmas: Llaollao's Holiday Sanum Collection!

Recently, I was able to try one of the sanums in this collection: the Mango Brava (Php199). Cubes of succulent mango fruit and mango sauce interspersed with layers of black chocolate sauce, muesli lotus crunch and graham crunch balls, and

It was a decadent and delectable dessert snack that got me energized for the journey home from Makati amidst the holiday rush.

Other variants in the holiday sanum collection that I'm looking forward to trying are:
Toffeenut (Php199). Frozen yoghurt with muesli lascasitos, almond crunch, biscoff crunch, milk candy sauce and nocilla sauce.
Banoffee Pie (Php199). Frozen yoghurt with crushed oreo almond brittle, slices of banana, black chocolate sauce, milk candy and lotus biscuits.

Pronounced "yao yao," Llaollao is a Spanish yoghurt brand recently introduced in the Philippines by Foodee Global Concepts. Dedicated to serving all-natural and healthy frozen yoghurt to froyo-hungry Pinoys, it offers several dessert and beverage options that incorporate this delectably creamy and tangy ingredient.

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Kidzania Manila

5.0 Stars
Playground
10

Children can only aspire to what they know exists.

This is central to Kidzania and its Director of Education Dr. Ger Graus' philosophy.

When you enter Kidzania, you enter a sprawling but kid-sized edutainment zone where children can explore and discover on their own while learning how to operate in the real world. It is a mini-metropolis, where the kids can fill roles in establishments such as a bank, a school, a hotel and more, while imbibing Kidzania's culture, economy (it has its own currency - kidzos - that kids get paid with after fulfilling their tasks), and even language (say "Kai!" for "Hi!" and "ZanK-U!" for "Thank you!").

The fun learning roles kids can take part in at kiddie-fied real-world establishments or brands include:
Actor or Street Performer (Star Magic - Acting Academy)
Artist or Student (National Bookstore - Art and Design Academy)
Pilot or Cabin Crew (Cebu Pacific - Aviation Academy)
Pastry Chef (Goldilocks - Bakeshop)
Client or Banker (Bank of the Philippine Islands - Bank)
Free Reader, Book Display Designer, Creative Story Teller, or Book Writer (National Bookstore - Bookstore)
Plant Engineer (Coca-Cola - Bottling Plant)
Crew Member (McDonald's - Burger Shop)
Customer, Car Designer, Car Salesperson (Honda - Car Dealership)
Tourist, Tour Guide, or Safety Inspector (Victory Liner - City Tour Bus)
Clean Energy Engineer (First Gen - Clean Energy Center)
Cable TV Service Installer (SKYcable - Climbing Building)
Cookie Engineer (Cream-O - Cookie Factory)
Culinary Student (Lady's Choice - Cooking School)
Logistics Officer or Pick-Up and Delivery Team Member (LBC - Courier Service)
Treats Inventor (Oishi - Creative Hub)
Fashion Model (Penshoppe - Fashion Boutique)
Firefighter (Pioneer Insurance - Fire Station)
Gas Dispatcher or Mechanic (Shell - Gas Station)
Electrician or House Painter (First Balfour - Hime Finishing)
Home Shopping Host (O Shopping - Home Shopping Studio)
Health Care Worker (Johnson & Johnson's - Hospital Baby Care Training Center)
Paramedic (Green Cross - Hospital Emergency Room)
Surgeon, Assistant Surgeon, Anesthesiologist, Instrumentalist (St. Luke's Medical Center - Hospital Operating Room)
Receptionist, Wait Staff, Housekeeper (Holiday Inn - Hotel)
Production Engineer (Magnolia - Ice Cream Factory)
Laundry Operator (Champion - Laundromat)
Feature Writer or Comic Artist (Metro Publishing - Magazine Company)
Marine Conservationist (Century Tuna and World Wildlife Fund - Marine Research Lab)
Recording Artist (Star Studio - Music Studio)
News Writer (Philippine Daily Inquirer - Newspaper)
Pharmacist (Mercury Drug - Drug Store)
Pizza Maker (Yellow Cab - Pizza Parlor)
On-Cam or Off-cam Talent (ABS-CBN - TV Studio)
... and so much more!

Parents accompanying their kids won't be bored either. They can hang out at the Parent's Lounge where they can sip of some coffee as they watch TV or surf the net powered by SKYzone.

Hungry little ones can sate their appetites with the Belgian Waffle, Purfood Hotdogs, Goldilocks and McDonalds outlets inside the park.

Kidzania is where kids can take a first fun glimpse at adulting.

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Chef Jessie's Place

5.0 Stars
Café
10

Chef Jessie Sincioco, Hotel Intercontinental Manila’s very first Filipina pastry chef and recipient of multiple international awards and recognitions in her field, never dreamed of having her own building.

The renowned restaurateur behind culinary brands such as Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie and Chef Jessie Rockwell Club, now has another feather in her cap (or toque blanche, to be consistent with her profession): a newly constructed building set within one of the Makati suburbs surrounding the Central Business District.

The structure is designed to house, not just Chef Jessie’s corporate offices, but various dining choices that showcase the chef’s culinary creations as well.

At the ground floor, which will house a bakeshop and a coffee shop, diners can relax and unwind with their favorite brew and Chef Jessie’s signature pastries.

The mezzanine will be the home of a restaurant that features intercontinal fare, while the third floor will be made available for rentals and events as a function hall that can cater to small groups or large gatherings (or the oft-maligned tita conferences :-)).

The upper floors will house the corporate offices of JCS Gastronomie, Inc., the company that manages her culinary establishments.
Given Chef Jessie’s religious bent, a small but beautiful chapel which will hold masses every Friday is also given pride of place in the building.

Anticipating that ample parking space will be a major consideration for her diners, she acquired another lot near the building to serve as a parking lot.

The new building, Chef’s Jessie’s Place is something that the chef can consider all her own, a significant portion of her solo ventures.

She credits the acquisition and construction of the building to a special blessing, along with the honor of being tasked to prepare all of His Holiness Pope Francis’ meals during his celebrated visit to the country in 2015. This same year was coincidentally the year when the lot on which the building was erected became available.

Chef Jessie has definitely come a long way. From joining and winning the Great Maya Cookfest in 1983 with her now iconic mango cake recipe, to getting hired immediately after the competition by a top honcho of Intercon, to launching Le Souffle with expat partners, to now being the name behind top restaurants, she has proven, time and again, her strength, culinary genius and her mettle.

And with all that’s in store with the highly anticipated grand opening of Chef Jessie’s Place, slated to be in early 2019, we can look forward to more exciting things from Chef Jessie.

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Banapple Pies & Cheesecakes

3.0 Stars
Café
6

Eating out with coworkers who are not among your usual lunch companions presents quite a quandary: trying to find a restaurant that will appeal to the varied tastes and preferences of such a diverse group.

We solved this dilemma by going to the nearby branch of Banapple and took advantage of its various home-cooked style comfort food such as:

Soup of the Day (Php105). A freshly made, hearty and creamy mushroom soup to fill the tummy and warm the soul.

Sirloin Garlic Beef Tapa (Php280). Tender beef slices marinated in a sweet yet garlicky marinade and served with seasoned garlic rice and creamed parsley eggs.

Breaded Fillet of Cream Dory with Honey Thyme Mustard Sauce (Php255). Crispy herb-crusted fresh fish fillets drizzled with warm honey thyme mustard sauce and served with butter carrots and served with seasoned garlic rice.

Bacon Fried Chicken Steaks with Milk’Shroom Gravy (Php275). Creamy milk and mushroom gravy smother crispy chicken fillets and topped with bacon bits and served with corn relish and seasons garlic rice.

Pan-fried Pork Loin with Herb Mushroom Gravy (Php265). Tender pork slices and are seasoned with herbs, pan-fried, smothered with a thick herb and mushroom gravy and served with glazed butter carrots and seasoned garlic rice.

At over Php250 per order, these rice meals are not cheap. While quite flavorful and familiar, the dishes have a tendency to provoke a feeling of “umay,” there being so much of a particular taste that you just grow tired of it.

Still, these are not too shabby for a resto that started as a small operation, baking pies and cakes for family, friends and referred food establishments.

Also, as I’ve mentioned several times before, Banapple's claim to fame, for me, would always be its desserts. The Banoffee Pie, in particular, is a delightful confection. I brought one home recently for my dad’s birthday. The graham cracker crust is well-formed and compact. The caramel filling is rich and decadent while the bananas inside are sweet but still has a firm texture. The cream topping is whipped stiff and in shape, allowing it to hold thick dark chocolate shavings.

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Ombu Kusina

5.0 Stars
Filipino
10

Lately, restaurants touting “modern Filipino cuisine” have sprouted up all over the metro.

But what is modern Filipino cuisine?

Simply put: it is the flavors you grew up with but broken free of traditions surrounding them, even incorporating foreign influences. It is composed of tastes and textures familiar to you but applied and presented in exciting and novel ways. In short, this is not your grandma’s cooking.

Unless your dear Lola is part of the visionary team behind Ombu Kusina, of course.

Ombu is a modern Filipino restaurant located along Mother Ignacia Street in Quezon City. Having recently revamped its interiors, it also recently launched its special holiday dishes. And your friendly neighborhood Jellybeans is among the lucky foodies who were able to attend its exclusive food tasting event.

Ombu’s newly renovated premises are simply impressive. White subway tiles serve as an elegant backdrop for light-colored plush seats, darkwood tables and the feast laid out for us.

And said feast consisted of Ombu’s signature dishes such as:

Dilis Rice (Php80 per cup: Php170 for sharing). Your favorite sinangag (garlic fried rice), lightly flavored and topped with salty crispy fried dilis (anchovies).

Salted Egg Spaghettini (Php260). Al dente spaghettini noodles tossed in a sauce of salted egg yolks, sprinkled with tomatoes, diced cucumber and salted egg whites. The salted egg sauce was evenly spread throughout the noodles and the cucumber provided a fresh contrast to the sauce with every bite.

Sisig Pizza (Php520). The classic pork sisig and egg tops a thin-crust pizza drizzled with garlic sauce.

Binagoongang Talong (Php300). Fresh eggplant and lechon kawali served with a thick bagoong (shrimp paste) sauce. While I found the sauce a little too thick for my taste but the crispy fried pork belly is just yummy and went well with the Dilis Rice.

Seafood Mix Laing (Php290). Taro leaves wrapped around a mix of shrimp, crab meat, onion and lemon grass, slowly cooked in light coconut milk.

Also part of the feast are new additions to the menu such as:

Adobochon. Flavorful roasted pig with tender meat and crispy skin served with adobo sauce on the side.

Flaming Chicken. Tender and juicy chicken flambed right before our eyes.

For dessert, we had Frozen Brazo de Mercedes (Php180). Delightful layers of frozen soft meringue alternating custard filling, ice cream and graham cracker crust.

The dishes were expertly prepared and given a fresh twist by Ombu Kusina’s chefs.

So for a great taste of modern Filipino cuisine, check out Ombu Kusina.

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