My Reviews

Ogawa Japanese Restaurant

4.0 Stars
Japanese
5

I was definitely ecstatic when I saw the opening of Ogawa being promoted online. Fresh Sashimi from Japan?! Drool. Sadly, my first time in this delightful Japanese joint was not documented. That was about a year ago and I barely remember the meal but I vividly remember having a grand time.

I'd say that for a Japanese resto, it's overpriced. It may not be the most expensive but I didn't find the quality and serving in terms of value for money exactly satisfying. I shied away from it as a go-to option despite its proximity to work until I was invited for a birthday a few days ago. So here, I give a quick run through of some Japanese dining staples that starred in my meal a few days ago. Take note that I ordered typical no-fuss dishes. I've always believed that you can gauge the quality of the resto from the basic things found in the menu. The Japs like to eat raw and high frequency food so that's basically what I stick to when I go to a Japanese restaurant.

Salmon (Shake) sashimi - OMG. I think I just found the best Salmon Sashimi in Manila. I'm not a fan of Salmon. I'm more of a Tuna girl and to fall ultimately in love at first bite meant it was some really good sashimi (or hunger). No, it was THAT good, I swear!

Tuna (Maguro) Sashimi - Also of good quality but Salmon is sill the clear winner.

Ebi Tempura - It was nothing you wouldn't expect from this typical Japanese dish.

Agemono (Soft Shell Crab) - I was just curious but I wouldn't really order this again. The blend flavor and texture was a bit confusing and did not really stand out.

Wagyu Cubes - Loved it. Really melts in your mouth. At 150 per stick, was it worth it? Maybe.

Agedashi Tofu - Just another basic order done in a not so basic way. It was quite a notch above what I expected. The tofu was of good quality.

Overall, I'd come back here just for fresh Salmon. You'll notice it's heavily flocked with Japanese businessmen. This makes it seem legit enough but I'd still prefer to go to Little Tokyo to get my sushi fix. Interiors are superb, though!

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Masuki Mami House

3.0 Stars
Chinese

Well... I don't get what the fuss is about but their best-selling original mami wasn't anything special. Perhaps it's the overall experience that people enjoy or the simplicity and value for money. But personally, I thought it was ordinary and felt that the brown sauce was a sad effort in making it appear more enticing than it actually is.

P.S. The siomai was a ripoff at 35 php. Sadly, I did not enjoy my time in this restaurant.

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Silanguin Cove

4.0 Stars
Great Outdoors
8

Zambales might just be the closest geologically inexhaustible destination near the metro. From its picturesque mountains to its numerous surf spots, it is, without a doubt, an adventurer’s paradise.

Its scenic coves are one of its key features. I mean who has not heard of the frequented Anawangin cove and Nagsasa cove? Both characterized by the beach covered in volcanic ash and lined with lush pine trees, perfect for those who mind long boat rides. They're the most accessible though heavily congested and developed.

So, if you’re looking for a spot that’s more isolated and private, and you can endure a 1.5 hr boat ride – sort of don’t mind getting a shower on the way, then do take time to visit Silanguin Cove, the farthest one from San Antonio jump-off point.

Being a rarely explored alternative among the famous coves of the Zambales coast, Silanguin is perfect for those who prefer a more intimate hideaway. When I found out about this beautiful and secluded getaway, I booked myself and dragged a couple of fun souls and enjoyed an incredibly chill weekend full of good vibes.

Unlike Anawangin with a gorgeous lake hidden behind the crisp pine-lined facade, or Nagsasa cove which offers a short trek to a sunset viewpoint, Silanguin promises an exclusive experience -- a very private affair. During our short stay there, only about 3 other groups were around and it was so refreshing. There is a waterfall that you can choose to trek and unlike the two coves I've mentioned, Silanguin offers a beach that is pure and not covered in volcanic ash – This could be good or bad depending on what you want to experience.

From Silanguin, a quick 15-min boat ride to the Blue Lagoon is a definite cherry on top of the experience-- one of the highlights of our trip. From there, you get front row stunning view of the Zambales mountain range and a nice cool pool that you can enjoy whilst watching the sun come down on your way back to camp.

I could say that it was one of the most relaxing trips I’ve had in a while. Definitely one for the books!

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Pasha Grill & Shisha Lounge

4.0 Stars
Middle Eastern
2

In the middle of the concrete jungle in BGC is the quaint, pioneering establishment of the developing central business district. The colourful, Mediterranean-inspired setting of The Fort Strip is an iconic dining spot with vast culinary options - a must-visit for the gastronomically adventurous.

One hidden gem is Pasha, a Turkish delight tucked between a high-end Japanese restaurant and classic Filipino favourite.

I came here during one lunch date with a good friend of mine. He had the Argos Meatballs, which was served with hummus, kisir, and tomato salsa while I had the classic Chicken Shawarma, served open-face. The meatballs were tasteful, juicy, and filling. It’s a hefty lunch choice, which’ll keep you good until dinner time. The shawarma on the other hand was a bit too dry for my taste. Having it open faced, though, was the only upside as I was able to choose and adjust the ingredients according to my taste. It's worth a try.

Being the only Middle Eastern restaurant at the Strip and areas close to it, it isn’t half bad. Its location is central to most office buildings in BGC, which makes it pretty accessible. I went here during the day but like most establishments at the Fort Strip, I believe that it also makes for a good chill drinking place in the evening - Shisha included.

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Apo Reef Natural Park

5.0 Stars
Great Outdoors
9

We are so darn lucky to exist in an archipelago surrounded by such lush aquatic life and bountiful marine ecosystems with majestic dive sites. I’ve always had a fascination for the big blue sea and the underwater world beneath it.

Going to Apo Reef means you’ve got to have the hydrophilic hormone in your system. Around 80% of the activities would involve swimming and snorkeling and there’s absolutely no point in going there if you don’t enjoy those. Expect to say hi to sea turtles, different species of fish, rays, and corals in technicolor, where your Go Pro would be a worthy companion. It’s a haven for Freediving and Scuba Diving and is second to the famous Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

But, as it is majestic, pursuing it may also be an equally toilsome chore. Visiting Apo Reef is like a persistent lover pursuing a long courtship and finally getting that coveted kiss from his dame. It is not for the faint-hearted, it’s for the adventurous souls.

Don’t mind long car rides? Then you can definitely endure the 10-hour ride via land and sea to Apo Reef. It can only be reached via Sablayan port in Occidental Mindoro, which is already a 6-hour trip from Manila. Top that off with another 2-3 hours in a speed boat. Yikes! But so so worth every aching bum and stiffing neck.

Begin your day by passing by Banderang Putol, where you can get up close and personal with plenty of fish in shallow waters surrounding an assortment of hard and soft coral. This is perfect for swimmers who aren’t comfortable with going too deep. Make your way to Banggan Coral garden — a site for sprawling fan corals and reef shark, then head to the island to set up camp.

Prepare for the extremes. When you get there, you’re completely detached. There’s no reception and the island offers only minimal comforts. Of course, you have to be willing to sleep in a tent or a hammock. There is a decent bathroom, which is short of a haunted deserted scene. Prepare to bring your own supply of H2O and be sure to have someone who can start a fire. Oh, and make sure your power banks are fully charged as there are no outlets on the island!

Besides the lush aquatic life people come to see, the island offers a unique side trip — a towering 110-foot lighthouse. As one of the tallest in the country, climbing this modern structure gives you a breath-taking 360-degree view of the crystal clear waters and the verdant mangrove forest, where you can enjoy a magnificent sunset and a glimpse of the Calamian group of islands. I just wish you all the luck and guts to brave the narrow, steep, knee-shaking (but perfectly safe) stairway to the top.

Day 2 would welcome you with a gorgeous sunrise and a unique experience of clinging on to the sides of the boat just above the drop at the edge of the reef. This is what they call Tawiran Apo and is the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. It's pretty deep so you can encounter some really large fish. Oh and it could get a bit nauseating for some. Lastly, don't miss Pandan island and catch a glimpse of the largest Pawikans. They're amazing!

The story of my brief weekend getaway to the world’s second largest contiguous coral reef system is no joke. It was definitely one of the most interesting yet painstaking trips I’ve had to date. For water babies and mermaids, it’s definitely a must-see. I can't wait to go back!

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Diniview Villa Resort

5.0 Stars
Hotel
10

The undeniable charm of Boracay's postcard setting and the timeless appeal of its bustling party scene keeps it on every traveler's bucket list. The continuous development across the island is slowly turning the island into an urban nightmare but a quiet escape to Diniview Villas would mean a raw and natural experience of its unspoiled beauty.

Along the narrow road going to the tranquil Diniwid beach, is a refreshing tiny blue sign with the words “Diniview Villas, Your house in Boracay” that’s difficult to miss. From that point, a thrilling 2-minute ride to one of the highest points in the island slowly unravels the lush green hilltop sanctuary nesting eight exclusive and exquisitely designed villas that you can call your own little piece of paradise in the heart of Boracay.

As one of the early foreign settlers in the island, owner of Diniview Villas, Julia Lervik always had the idea of preserving Boracay and its natural topography. Originally acquiring the plot of land in 2004 to build her home on the island, the charming owner of Diniview Villas, who hails from a family of artists in Sweden, expanded the property to provide a tropical escape, a temperate environment where her friends can retreat in the harsh cold months of their home. Soon, these individual and uniquely designed villas began to decorate the lush hillside, each with their own stunning views of Diniwid beach and front row seats to the famed Boracay sunset.

With all the different accommodations across the beach, catering to the diverse crowd who come to enjoy the island, Diniview Villas proves to be a refreshing escape. It's strategically positioned to provide solitude away from the clamorous environment, but is still perfectly accessible from the main road via trike and is a quick 5-minute walk to the beach. Its location is ideal as it gives you the relaxing ambience without sacrificing accessibility and proximity to the sought-after lively Boracay scene.

Each villa has been oriented to give guests the feeling of isolation in a lush tropical setting. All villas are artistically crafted and incorporated with native elements in an open layout for a light and breathable space that gives you best experience of the island. Although rooms are fully air conditioned, common areas are left open so you can enjoy the fresh air and raw island vibe. Each of the villas have their own personality and captivating charm, all uniquely named after the key element that inspired their design. I had the privilege of staying at the Sand Villa, the only one with a romantic outdoor shower installation, and is conveniently located beside the pool area -- one of the key attractions and most picturesque spots in this quaint resort. The Sun Villa would pertain to the modern minimalist space situated at highest point that catches the most sunlight. The big Talisay tree cascading over it would characterize the Tree villa. The Salt Villa, being the largest is also the most luxurious and stunningly designed. My personal favorite -- The Boat villa, has an actual boat embedded onto one of its walls. How resourceful and creative!

On the downside, accommodations like Diniview Villas don’t usually have in-house chefs that can prepare meals for guests but all villas have fully-equipped kitchens with a one-time serving of complimentary breakfast items along with a scrumptious fruit basket upon arrival. They also conveniently offer shopping services for a minimal fee when there’s something you need outside of the premises. Service is definitely one thing that makes it stand out, as I did not meet a single employee without a charming smile and a genuine concern for my comfort and needs.

Having experienced quite a number of hotels and resorts across the island, I could definitely say that Diniview Villas is one that will give you a unique and raw experience of Boracay. You may have to shell out a bit more than the usual but it’s definitely worth it! And despite the various modern and luxurious options available on the island, I'd opt for an establishment like Diniview Villas that applies sustainable design practices and has a heart for the environment!

#UnicornGiveaway

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H.I.D. Burgers

4.0 Stars
Burger
2

Now you must be wondering why it's a photo of a chicken and not a burger. Well, you must have noticed that most burger joints serve buffalo wings as these two go hand in hand to satisfy your ultimate comfort food cravings. That, plus the fact that I ruined my burger before having had the chance to take a photo! Hahaha! But anyway, this new burger joint near my office is situated conveniently in the corner of a gas station, which makes it an easy meal stopover.

The price is comparable to most burger joints - the burger itself? Well, I wouldn't say it was terrible but I've had juicier patties and crispier bacon in my past encounters. The chicken was pretty good, though. But they could definitely improve on the sauce. It wasn't the best meal but I'd give this another go 'cause you could never go wrong with burgers!

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Nagsasa Cove

5.0 Stars
Great Outdoors
7

Having a rather spontaneous, half-baked first time camping experience and an even more unprepared consciousness for the stories of paranormal activity in its sister cove, Anawangin, I returned to the mountainous coast of Zambales with my closest kin, just a bit more primed and mentally equipped.

Zambales is only a three-hour drive from Manila, but it offers a kind of picture you never thought would’ve existed just on the outskirts of the capital. Frequented for its glorious surf spots and scenic hiking trails, the coves of Zambales offer a pleasurable and charming escape from the bustling city life. Aside from the more populated and commercialized cove mentioned above, Nagsasa is a more remote and pristine option.

From the jump-off at Pundaquit, it’s roughly an hour away by boat. It’s not too bad given that you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the panoramic view of the mountain ranges and see a mix of private and tranquil enclaves that invite you to dock. Keep your heart still and wait for the grand view that awaits you at the last turn. Notice how the shore is lined with pine trees that were built by the Aetas when the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo consumed the natural seabed and covered it in a blanket of ash, though still abundant in marine life, which you can see clearly through the spotless waters. It’s magical, really, though not nearly as exquisite as the view from the top of the mountain to the left of the cove. It’s a quick 20 min hike that you should do just before the sun sets.

Enjoy an evening free from the conveniences of technology and listen only to whispers and songs of fellow campers alone, while you seemingly wait for your campfire to die down and call it a night. In the morning, grab a quick bite and prepare for a trek to the waterfalls. Make sure you do it briefly and avoid the 12 o’clock sun or you’ll come back baked like a hot potato.

I isn't for the faint-hearted, It’s clearly for the adventurous and the so-called cowboys. Because if you’re not afraid of roughing it, then roughing it in pitch black darkness could get to you. It’s an amazing experience and something that you should do at least once in your life.

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The Lind Boracay

5.0 Stars
Hotel
10

Imagine walking into an enchanting and delightful place where every corner greets your eye with elegant design and intricate detail — a place where art and creativity is incorporated even into the most basic elements. Picture yourself enveloped by a structural canvas where the only thing brighter than the playful balance of color is the bright smiles of the most accommodating and warm personnel.

It’s where you’ll find yourself in a trance, consumed, reminding yourself to take a step back and realize that it isn’t a dream. You’re in a vibrant cloud of wonder and luxury and you never want to come down — something you’ll get to experience with The Lind Boracay.

At the far end of the more upscale area of White Beach, home to most luxurious resorts and hotels in Boracay, is the fresh contemporary resort that nestles quietly, discreet of its world-class amenities. Its facade does a wonderful job in containing its magic from the maddening crowd of Boracay tourists. The modest frontage conceals a sprawling wonderland that is every Millennial’s dream.

The Lind’s stunning interiors and brilliantly furnished space displays class in a fun and vibrant way. The mix of semi-industrial detail with candy colored pieces and tropical prints keeps your senses alive — that is apart from the aroma of the scrumptious food they offer at their three restaurants. This secret spot is definitely for those who want to experience luxury sans the usual classic elegance. Here’s one of eclectic chic with a touch of quirk and penetrates your soul, ultimately making you feel like it’s a sin to refrain from taking photos.

See how Interior designer Manny Samson’s vision brings life to the already brilliant architecture and enjoy a refreshing fusion of bold prints and patterns and irregular silhouettes and forms. Watch how the staff wears their intricately designed ensemble with pride by none other than the amazing Francis Libiran. For someone who loves art and design, the Lind is a wonderland and a feast for the eyes – a showcase of true Filipino talent.

As I rushed to my garden view room on the first floor, a refreshing scene welcomed me. The scent of the clean bed sheets was inviting enough that I had to keep myself from diving in. The rooms illuminated slow and steady as the details carefully revealed themselves. I especially love how their attention to detail comes down to even the toiletries, which were a bit too pretty for consumption. Everything was well thought of and personalized to make clients feel overwhelming love and service – the management clearly spoils them, making them indulge completely in their well-deserved vacation.

Set in the poolside restaurant, Tartine, the breakfast buffet (P1,586++ net per person) offers an amazing selection of freshly baked pastries apart from their extensive display of local and international fares! Modifications in the menu are done daily but expect to see the staples such as eggs, pancakes, bread, cereal and of course, bacon! They can’t skip the bacon. Feel free to come as early as 6:30AM till it closes at 11AM. Enjoy your meal with a fine cup of coffee and jump in the pool afterwards to start your day! Apart from Tartine, indulge your taste buds with several other dining options. Experience hefty options at Crust and watch as they prepare your food in their rustic brick oven. End your day with cocktails at +36 (a name creatively acquired from the island’s area code) and lounge in the most photographed and Instagram famous lobby level, while listening to your favorite tunes. I must say they have a selection of creatively concocted beverages that are already a visual delight.

One of the highlights of The Lind is their beautiful ballroom with a panoramic view of the famed Boracay sunset. It’s also the perfect venue for intimate gatherings. Apart from the events room, they have a typical boardroom, also instilled with fun colorful eclectic accents shying away from the typical meeting venues. What especially got my attention was the kids’ room, which is apparently one of the plus factors for clients in booking the Lind as their accommodation provider.

The Lind Boracay is the brainchild of the owners of the popular wellness chain, The Spa, which makes perfect sense that they have their own Spa within the resort, how convenient! As expected, it was quality service and a very rewarding 1-hour well spent.

You’ve probably seen photos of this fun and modern hotel in Boracay with a youthful vibe circulating online. It’s fairly new, just over a year old yet it managed to claim the No. 1 spot on TripAdvisor, an achievement that can only be backed by exquisite luxury and incomparable service.

#Halloolooween2016

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Sunnies Cafe

4.0 Stars
Café
3

I was always skeptical about this place. One look at it and I think, this is too good to be true. The uber cute retro interiors and the polished furnishing has made me feel that this was designed to cater to the Instagram + Foodie generation. I waited for the hype to calm down and when a good friend was hungry enough to take me out, we ended up here one Friday night.

The menu is creative enough, consisting of eye-catching dishes that sound innovative and enticing with solid comfort food, and a wide range of refreshments. Being that it was my first time, I opted for the best-sellers/chef’s recommendation and I got the following:

Crispy Tacos Php270 10084100841008410084
(asada steak, fried quail eggs, homemade crispy parmesan taco shells, cilantro cream sauce)

Could be their most photographed dish online. And why not? Those quail eggs are adorable! It was a heavenly delight. The taco was perfectly crisp and tasty and the combination of the meat and sauce was amazing!

Baked Squid Ink Lasagna Php360 10084100841008410084
crispy clambers, creamy cheese sauce, homemade tomato jam, basil oil

I was expecting a dished soaked in black sauce but this was entirely new to me. It was very tasty. My favourite among the three.

Butcher's Steak Php480 1008410084
sous vide hanger steak, french beans, roasted marbled potatoes, scallion brown rice

I don’t know if it was the sauce but I wasn’t especially pleased with this one. The steak itself was bland. Could’ve used a bit more pepper and the rice did not complement the meat at all.

Overall, I would say that it was definitely better than I expected but the serving is quite small for the price. Would love to come back and try more!

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