My Reviews

KFC

4.0 Stars
Fast Food

Open on Sunday :) Less one star because they didn’t have nuggets so I had to get a chicken burger instead.

Plus it’s a good spot for Pokemon GO players trying to take down the raid boss at the nearby gym. If the gps isn’t drifting.

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Costa Coffee

5.0 Stars
Coffee
9

When Peanut informed me that a few |ooloo reviewers were going to have breakfast at the new Costa Coffee at McKinley West, I immediately reserved my weekday morning!

Costa is one of the brands I haven’t fully gotten a handle yet, its old BGC branch at One World Place being a bit too far for a midday coffee break. Alas, that massive comfy space is no more, but we now have this cozy, accessible place along Lawton Avenue (still too far from my office, darn it!)

We started with a quick intro to their coffee, particularly the flat white family. Flat white has become my go-to drink ever since I discovered it, since it has that punch from the coffee but with the bitterness dampened by the cream. I feel like lattes are usually on the more milky side while cappuccino is more foam. We got to try the regular flat white, flat black and flat mocha, which may be my new fave cup of hot mocha.

Champion barista Gwen even demonstrated how Costa makes their signature cortissimo - down to the amount of their exclusive Mocha Italia coffee grounds and the extraction time! We also got to learn what makes a perfect flat white, though I don’t think we’d be able to duplicate without undergoing the grueling training the Costa baristas have. It was a fascinating session for any coffee enthusiast.

The coffee was paired with slices of Black Swiss Roll and Checkered Ebony Cake, unique desserts that contain activated charcoal. Overall I felt the cake portion of the desserts were a tad dry, and if the formula could be improved then these two could become both addictively yummy AND healthy.

Costa is not all hot cups of coffee though. They have the Frostino which are ice blended drinks for those times we’d like to chill. We got to try Berry Vanilla, Mint Chocolate Chip and Roasted Hazelnut Chocolate (my fave) and they were all yummy - even the mint one hahaha!

We also got to try the Summer Coolers - fruity drinks perfect for this draining summer heat. Grapefruit Coffee Lemonade seemed to be the crowd favorite, but Passionfruit Coffee Lemonade and Tropical Blue Cooler aren’t at all bad either.

Finally, we had a taste of the new Gourmet Rolls - five sandwiches that will keep the hunger pangs at bay for the price of another cup of coffee! I feel like Costa read my mind on what would make great sandwich filling, and with enough variety to suit every mood or craving. I was anticipating the Hawaiian Shrimp Roll which tasted great, but the Spiced Tuna Roll with the seared tuna slices snuck up on me and held my heart hostage. I can’t wait to try these again - maybe I’ll get the Chicken Aubergine, Katsu and Coleslaw and Hearty Fish in between my two favorites 128523 Extra props for having healthier choices - three of the five are actually seafood which I’m trying to eat more of, instead of that awesome Bacon Toastie 128542

A big thanks to the Costa Coffee crew for accommodating us - it was a fun and tummy-filled morning! We certainly learned a lot about the art of coffee-making Costa style. Thanks to Pea and Roegan for making this happen!

* This is a |ooloo rendezvoos sponsored by Costa Coffee

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The Bellevue Manila

5.0 Stars
Hotel
6

I booked a stay here for Wanderland weekend, because the titas needed a place to crash 128518 Ticketholders get a discount of 500. Unfortunately, I found out too late that an ARC member can get as much as 50% off the published rate! 128557 Maybe next time, eh?

This is a very strategic hotel to the Northgate business hub, and it's rather large too. There were a couple of events going on during the weekend, and a few wedding parties having their preps as well. It was really quite busy! However, the check in and check out was orderly, if a bit long. There is an actual queue that can have you standing for 10-15 minutes - hope they put seats there too. Good vibes from the check in/check out staff and their system looks flexible to the demand.

The room itself was neat, but showing signs of wear. Our room, which was a deluxe twin, even had a small kitchen. They have complete amenities: bathtub and separate shower, hot and cold tap, cable tv, ironing board and iron, bedroom slippers, thick terry robes, room safe, and phone. The toiletries were of good quality - I really loved the scent. And the pillows were very, VERY tempting to take home. I had a really good night's sleep and almost extended my stay just to hibernate, if I didn't have somewhere else to go.

The internet was par for the course, but I got free downloads of several newspapers and magazines through PressReader. This alone made it worth the price for me, since I can enjoy these materials long after my stay.

The only thing missing that I found in boutique hotels is an iPod/iPhone dock system. Not a biggie.

The free breakfast is at Cafe d'Asie - separate review for this.

We didn't get to fully try the services, but we did experience pleasant service from the bellhop and staff when we were looking for our bag of Purple Oven goodies. We misplaced it when we checked in at noon and It was already past midnight when we discovered it was missing. It took some time but it was brought up to our room as soon as it was found.

All in all a great stay, though the hotel is looking a bit tired considering it's supposed to be five star. It's definitely earned 5 stars for service.

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Starbucks Coffee

4.0 Stars
Coffee
2

It's really mind-boggling when we think about how much a place has changed over the years. The first influx of fastfood chains happened in my high school and college years, then the tea shops came several years later. Now, our sleepy college town has a Starbucks.

As far as typical stores go, the experience here is consistent. It's probably a mid-size store, like the size of the first floor in 6750. Probably around 50 seats in all, with a number of tables for 1-2 people (they know that students will be their main customer). Washroom is very spacious.

Right now the lines can get rather long, and the seats are almost always occupied. Hopefully it will ease soon once people get over the novelty. Definitely, school breaks between regular and summer terms and for Christmas will offer some relief 128514

Also, THEY DO NOT HAVE STRAWS. So unless you have your own straws from elsewhere, you might want to refrain from ordering a Frap or a Coffee Jelly drink. As for the iced drinks, you can always gulp them straight from the cup. Now that I'm more conscious of waste management (and our town has a problem too, believe me), I can only admire Starbucks for not providing a straw altogether and potentially losing a sale instead of offering a spoon (I'm looking at you, McDonald's across the street).

PS I love how they got my name (almost) right without asking if it started with C or K 128518

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Isaribi Tomas Morato Japanese Restaurant

5.0 Stars
Japanese

I was looking for a Japanese resto that's open late and midway between Makati and North EDSA, and found this place on |ooloo. Reviews were recent and seemed legit (hi Mich M 9786️), so I texted my cousins to head to Tomas Morato for a late dinner.

First item to be served was this really fresh-looking salmon sashimi. We were bowled over and I thought it was a good omen.

We had a medium-priced order of wagyu, which was cooked on a portable grill at our table. I honestly didn't notice if it was really melt in your mouth tender, but it definitely wasn't tough.

A couple of us split the tonkotsu ramen, which was flavorful and filling though it came with hard boiled egg. Still a good buy.

California maki looked a bit different - it was all white rice with no orange color, with the reddish roe lumped at one side. It was a bit loosely rolled so you have to be careful when using chopsticks.

They ran out of asupara bacon, so we had enoki bacon instead. Three rolls in one stick for Php 60? Not bad at all.

Service was good. The guy who took our orders seemed very knowledgeable about their menu and made recos that made sense.

Place looked clean and well kept. Overall a very good experience. And the food was very reasonably priced. I'd definitely come back if I had the chance (QC is just too far for regular weekday dinners).

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After All Bar & Grill

3.0 Stars
Bar
7

Last week I had the chance to try out After All from an invitation through Julie L. Luckily my busy season was just starting to wind down and I was free that night, so it was a go.

After All is a restaurant along the N. Garcia side of the mall, with access from inside and out. It has the ideal location for late night drinking since it doesn't have to rely on mall hours, and the dark, woody interior is definitely conducive. An acoustic band was already starting their set, and apparently the place has similar entertainment every night.

Shortly after we arrived, we were each served with an order of 🥃 Calibre, the resto's take on cuba libre. I enjoyed this especially once we mixed in the sugar completely in the drink. Just the right combination of sweet, sour and bitter.

We then got to try out the following items from their menu:

128020 Bellissimo Buffalo Wings (Php 220) - A good bet if you love lots of sauce with your wings. However, this batch was a bit undercooked. I also can't help comparing these with my favorite wings places, which offer more variety at a better price.
127844 Crispy Shrimps (Php 250) - I haven't had these in a long while, and usually the ones I've had are made up of the really small shrimp. Overall a solid dish, as I was able to eat the whole shrimp, skin and all.
128025 Calamares Fritos (Php 240) - Didn't get to try this but seems ok.
128046 Beef Salpicao (Php 330) - This one was rather underwhelming. I love salpicao when it's really flavorful, and the flavor for this batch didn't stick well. The sauce was a bit thin too.
128055 Glazed Balls of Fire (Php 210) - This one was ok, the balls were a good size and not intimidating.
127858 Romanian Deviled Squid (Php 210) - The squid didn't seem overcooked, which was great.
128061 Crunchy Pork Sisig (Php 280) - This dish is as expected, but the chicharon may have suffered from overexposure (in other words, it wasn't that crunchy).

Overall the resto has some solid menu items that can see you through a meal. The dishes for the most part relied on sauce which seem more flavorful than the meat. I'd love to see at least one item really stand out and become a signature dish, especially with the price point, but perhaps it's not among the ones we tried that night. I'd go back for that Calibre though.

*This was a sponsored eatup by After All.

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Fundamental Coffee

4.0 Stars
Coffee
3

Dear Fundamental, wer na u? I came here craving for your Old Fashioned Cappuccino but you are closed. Like, manila-paper-lining-the-glass-walls closed. 128542

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% Arabica

5.0 Stars
Coffee
5

I'm gonna weigh in before I get a ton of recos! Hahaha!

Tbh I wasn't even aware of this brand until Dennis O let us know it wasn't opening on the previous scheduled date. (This peak season had me with my head buried in the sand, I swear!) Lucky for me, I had a client meeting nearby and my teammates decided to have lunch at Senor Pollo so we walked off the big meal and... why not get coffee on the way back?

Coming in blind, I asked the barista (there's at least 5 of them in this small space 128561) what they would recommend, and they pointed me to the Spanish Latte. It's not as sticky sweet as Vietnamese Latte, and I loved it! But the big hit of the day for us was the Milk Chocolate Cookie - a big chunk of dough filled with lots of chocolate pieces and nuts. SO. GOOD. It was all we could talk about! Di ba Norman Lester T?

So the next Monday, we made the trek back just to have more of the Spanish Latte and the cookie 128523 Though the latte didn't seem as sweet as the first time 128542 I would've been able to customize by adding one or two of those simple syrup tubs that's available at the counter. Cookie is as great as we remembered, even now that it's already a day old 128540

If you're in the area and want to have a unique coffee fix, try this one out for size! They have single origin beans too, which bumps up the price by about P20 per cup. Don't expect the laid-back feel just yet as they have quite a small indoor space and rather hard wooden booths and benches. Apart from that, I loved the clean, bright and airy look of the interior and it's a place guaranteed to keep me coming back.

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Tim Hortons

4.0 Stars
Canadian

I'm still waiting for the rumored branch at Insular Life building to open. Until then, I'll be content that there's a newly opened branch here in Ayala Center.

Angela Marie C tipped me off that you can have a Small Brewed Coffee for F R E E if you bought items minimum of Php 10. Like they're practically giving away their coffee! I bought two Timbits and got my Double Double on the house. Yay!

The place is really small though. Like seating for only 18 people - I counted. But at least they have a washroom. It's also beside Bon Chon and Shang on the other side, so it's a bit strategic - I think you can pop in for a to go cup without any hassle.

Again, THIS IS NOT A DRILL - FREE COFFEE for a Php 10 purchase. Only till today. So if you're in the area, come on over! I think they're open until 1am.

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Nonna's Pizza & Pasta

4.0 Stars
Italian
2

It's rare for me to go to Nuvali area even if I go home to Laguna every weekend. So when we had a meeting scheduled in the area, I took it as an opportunity to get my teammates to have late lunch here. And they agreed, yay!

We arrived at around 1:45 so we had the place almost to ourselves. Because of that, everything got served within 20 mins or thereabouts.

We had the following:

127838 Complimentary toast and marinara dip - a group of four would need at least a couple of servings 128514
127812 Mushroom Chicharon - their bestseller. It's good but I feel it's overpriced.
128032 Fresh Salmon Carpaccio - except they have no supply of salmon and gave us Mahi Mahi instead. Kinda disappointing, but the dish was good on its own regardless. The fish was really fresh and the slices perfectly thin.
127829 Margherita and Tutti Formaggi Pizzas - I thought having two pizzas won't be enough for three guys and a girl, but these went a long way. They're what you'll expect them to be, and I didn't feel shortchanged by the toppings. The chili honey is especially good with the cheese pizza particularly with the blue cheese.

It was great to come in past lunch time because service was fast and focused.

The wash room seems a bit run down compared to the rest of the restaurant, so I don't like it much. There's definitely room for improvement.

It's great to finally get back here after my loooong day on Tagaytay food crawl with the kaladkarins last year. And good to know the food is as good as I remembered.

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