My Reviews

Coco Mama

5.0 Stars
Ice Cream
4

I always feast on cold treats whenever I'm basking under the sun. With ice cream and fruit shakes as my staples when at the beach, I've received a handful of recommendations to try Coco Mama in Boracay. However, I never saw its store after being there for 4 days. And I wouldn't have thought that I'd be trying it for the first time in... Manila.

Hello, Coco Mama!

This popular ice cream joint from Boracay is known for its coconut ice cream. It being vegan, non-dairy, lactose-free, gluten-free and having low glycemic index makes this an in demand dessert to most foreign visitors who are more particular with food.

I have to admit, finding out all those properties didn't sound too tasty to me. But lo and behold, it was actually really good!

Imagine the classic ice buko stick but creamier. That's pretty much what Coco Mama offers. Each spoonful is light and refreshing. I now understand why it became a hit in Boracay.

Do try Coconut Ice Cream with Mango (PHP110) for that nice blend of fruity flavors. It also has a bit of sticky rice and coconut shavings for texture.

I can't wait to have another serving or two soon!

Thank you Roegan T and Hole in the Wall for the invite!

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SpiceBird

4.0 Stars
International
3

The shutdown of Boracay has made summer a bit darker for most. As the favorite summer destination closed down last April, it was goodbye not just to Laboracay and all those fun festivities but also farewell (at least for half a year) to some of our favorite food establishments in the island. Thankfully, Nowie and Odette Potenciano figured out a way to bring its mouthwatering dishes to Manila.

Hello Best of Boracay!

Crowd favorites Spicebird, Fat Rice, Poketo and Coco Mama found its way to Manila last June and have been delighting Manila foodies' taste buds since then. Its pop up stalls are located at Hole in the Wall and will be in town until August 15, 2018.

I have been trying to schedule a visit for quite some time now but traffic never cooperated with me. But I finally manage to get to Century City Mall early last Tuesday.

Spicebird was the first stall to greet me and I couldn't help reminisce about my first time in Spicebird. I remember its generous serving size and oh so succulent pork belly and pulpo.

Though not all of Spicebird's dishes are available here in Manila, its smacktacular pork belly and chicken are ready to tickle your taste buds. I also noticed that they serve chicken skin! I have to go back for that!

For this visit, we sampled Piri-Piri Chicken Board (PHP320, 1/4 | PHP545, 1/2 chicken) and Piri-Piri Pork Belly Board (PHP390).

Piri-Piri Pork Belly wasn't new to me but its piri-piri chicken was. But just like its pork belly, one bite of the succulent chicken was enough to turn anyone into a fan.

Each bite was bursting with spices that you don't even need the sauces to complement your meats. But do try Spicebird's homemade sauces though for that extra flavor and heat. It's also great with chips! And if you're not into spices, you'd enjoy its garlic sauce.

Pork Belly was insanely huge making it bang for the buck! The slabs we go had the right fat and meat ratio and each forkful had that nice meaty texture that won't make you feel like you're digesting cholesterol.

Both boards are served with spice rice, vegetable chips, honey vinaigrette salad and milky roll making it great for sharing!

Thank you for the invite Roegan T and Hole in the Wall!

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Poketo

4.0 Stars
Asian
2

Say "Let's have Japanese food for lunch/dinner" and you would have my complete attention. And that was pretty much how Poketo caught my eye when I visited Street Market Boracay. It would be hard to not take notice of Poketo with the aroma of its grilled skewers. And it was a no brainer for me to brave Manila traffic when I found out that Poketo's in Manila.

Hello, Poketo.

Poketo is another concept from Street Market Boracay and is known for its scrumptious grilled yakitori. I've tried its wagyu yakitori last year and though quite expensive for an island meal, it was worth it.

This time, we tried its Yakitori Bowl (PHP320) which comes with three yakitori sticks of your choice with furikake rice, onsen egg, tempura flakes, nori and pickles.

I tried chicken breast and pork belly which were both beautifully marinated. I loved how tender both meats were that getting it off the stick was effortless. A harmony of savory and sweet flavors, it was well balanced by the furikake rice which had a slight seafood taste. The onsen egg gave each bite a smooth and silky texture while the tempura flakes gave it crunch. It was a bowl of complex textures that work great together.

But if you wish to just order yakitori a la carte, it is available at PHP75 per stick.

I'd go back for more of its pork belly! I'd probably skip the Yakitori Bowl so that I get to have more space for other dishes.

Thank you Roegan T and Hole in the Wall for the invite!

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Fat Rice

4.0 Stars
Asian
3

I still remember how challenging it was to find Street Market Boracay last year. As the newest (and only) food park in the island back in March 2017, hardly anyone knew Street Market Boracay, Station X or even Hue Hotel. But I was determined to try it out as the people behind the food park are the power couple Nowie and Odette Potenciano. I managed to find Street Market Boracay after almost an hour of asking around and it was worth it! The place was beautiful and filled with interesting tenants. One of the stalls that caught my eye was Fat Rice and I feasted on its divine wings.

Hello, Fat Rice.

Fat Rice has been one of my favorites during my last Boracay visit. R and I were actually considering to head to summer destination a few months back to relax and indulge in good food but it was put on hold when the island was forced to close. Thankfully, my favorites found its way to Manila serving its bestselling dishes for a limited time at Hole in the Wall.

Borrowing the stall of Liberation Shawarma, Fat Rice offers mouthwatering Asian dishes from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. And for this visit, we had Beef Rendang (PHP390) and Cereal Salt and Pepper (PHP390).

I was a bit hesitant to try beef rendang knowing that it's usually served spicy. But it was surprisingly not spicy at all. I'm not sure if they made it mild to cater to everyone but I didn't get a hint of heat at all. Or perhaps it as because I only took a small chunk and that the spice was not spread out. Nonetheless, it was a lovely sweet yet savory dish.

The beef was very tender and flavorful. It is definitely a meal you need rice to enjoy with.

I didn't expect to fall head over heels in love with Cereal Salt and Pepper as I don't like dry dishes that will make my throat itch.

Despite being generously covered in cereal, the pork spare ribs remained juicy. The cereal bits also did not mask the delicious five-spice the meat's seasoned with. It might be a bit too salty for some but it's something you can easily solve with an extra spoonful of rice.

I would definitely make sure to drop by Hole in the Wall again to have another serving of these two amazing dishes.

Thank you Roegan T and Hole in the Wall for the invite!

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La Maripili

3.0 Stars
Café
2

Churro has been one of my go-to afternoon snacks ever since my mom spoiled me to trips to the classic Dulcinea. I've been an avid fan of this deep-fried treat dipped in thick hot chocolate and I couldn't help myself from ordering it every time I see it on the menu or at the amusement park.

Hello, La Maripili.

La Maripili is no stranger to southern folks. After all, this is where its all started. It has been talked about and hyped that it made me want to brave the traffic just for a serving of churros. But my schedule was uncooperative and I ended up just drooling over the photos. Thankfully, it opened another branch at Ayala Malls the 30th.

I've heard several mixed reviews recently about La Maripili which further delayed my visit. But when P invited us to try it out and lured us with free churros, how can one say no?

The place looks very pretty and perfect for catch up sessions over some savory and sweet snacks.

Since we were full from dinner, we opted to have Large Churros (PHP270) paired with Hot Chocolate (PHP110), Salted Caramel (PHP110) and Suizo (PHP160) dips.

I liked that the churros were fried to perfection. Golden brown, crisp and not oily at all. However, the dips were not as good as I hoped.

Salted Caramel was too sweet for my liking and for some reason, I don't find it great with churros.

The hot chocolate dip was decent though not as good as the ones I've had from other churro places.

And the Suizo which we thought was special was mediocre as well. It was like having a hot chocolate drink topped with whipped cream.

I was told that its savory dishes are better than its churros. However, it makes me hesitate to try it given that it fronts its churros as its bestseller and it failed to impress me.

Service though was great. The servers were attentive and very polite.

Will I go back? Maybe but definitely not anytime soon.

Thanks, Peanut D for the treat!

P.S. Photos are not uploading right so won’t upload it anymore. 128557 It’ll be up in my blog soon.

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Genki Sushi

4.0 Stars
Japanese
10

A concept born in 1968, Genki Sushi has grown from a Japanese sushi bar into an international brand. It opened its first store in Manila 3 years ago and it has been expanding ever since. Its success can be attributed to its extensive menu of pocket-friendly sushi and maki and interesting way of having it served. And Genki Sushi beefed up its offerings even more by addingi bentos and rice toppings.

Hello, Genki Sushi.

It has been a long while since my last visit at this quirky sushi bar. I still recall how much fun I had ordering my favorites and the giddiness I felt whenever my "race car" or "train" arrives with my orders. This time around, I didn't focus much on the novelty of how the food's delivered and focused more on the dishes. And for this visit, I got to try some of Genki Sushi's newest dishes.

Rice is a staple in every Filipino meal. And great news for those who can't stand rice-free meals as Genki Sushi added bento boxes and new rice toppings to its menu.

Bento boxes are perfect for guests who want to save time on choosing which ones to get from its long list of dishes. And Genki Sushi launched three bento boxes to choose from -- Shrimp Tempura Supreme Bento (PHP650), Chicken Katsudon Bento (PHP480) and Chicken Black Pepper Bento (PHP480).

Though I find the bento boxes to be a bit pricey, these come with either sashimi or gunkans, salmon skin or edamame and a bowl of miso soup making it quite bang for the buck. In fact, you can split the Shrimp Tempura Supreme Bento with a friend!

I wasn't able to try all the bento boxes as it was spread out to different tables. Our table got Shrimp Tempura Supreme which got a handful of praises for its perfect ratio of batter and shrimp. Unlike other tempura under the same price range, Genki Sushi's version is not crazily battered and it uses reasonably sized shrimps. Taste-wise, it was your usual classic tempura. Plus points though for not being oily. It also comes with half order of salmon and tuna sashimi, California Maki and a quarter serving of salmon skin. It's definitely one filling bento meal fitting for those who are extra hungry.

Among the four new rice bowls served, I got to try Tuna and Tofu Rice Bowl (PHP380). I noticed that it had ample tuna and tofu cubes and it also had some asparagus which gave the dish more bite or crunch. Though good, I'd rather spend my money on more sashimi as I could get cooked tuna at a better price and serving size elsewhere.

Or perhaps I'll give Genki Sushi's Perfect Pairings a try. Available in Black Pepper Chicken Don (PHP310) and Chicken Oyakodon (PHP290), these come with an option of Fried Salmon Skin or Salmon Miso Soup as side dish. And the salmon miso soup's serving size is huge!

There were several new dishes presented to us that night such as Salmon Croquettes (PHP150) which was a tad dry for my liking. It also didn't seem to go well with the other dishes I was enjoying that night. Perhaps this would be better as a snack? Then again, this is just a personal preference.

The Spicy Double Salmon (PHP160) was pretty good. Topped with a thin slice of salmon and stuffed with more salmon goodness, this would be something salmon lovers would enjoy. It seemed to have been slightly torched based on the color. It was hard for me to tell though as I ate my share after some time which made the maki cold, if ever it was indeed torched.

I wasn't expecting to like Genki Sushi's Garlic Butter Wings (PHP290) but I did! It was pretty good. Each bite was flavorful and had a bit of crunch. Though quite pricey for its serving size, I wouldn't mind having this again on my next visit.

And speaking of garlic butter, Genki Sushi's Garlic Butter Corn (PHP150) is good too. But for its price, I'd rather make my own at home as it's a simple and uncomplicated dish.

Other new dishes served that I wasn't able to try were Shrimp Garlic Butter (PHP140), Salmon Taberu Layu (PHP130), Tuna Tataki (PHP120), Tuna Salad Gunkan (PHP110) and Salmon Black Pepper Chicken Don (PHP220) which falls under rice bowls.

Aside from the new dishes, we also feasted on our favorites. Our table ordered Salmon Belly Sashimi (PHP250), Salmon Sashimi (PHP250), Tuna Sashimi (PHP250) Northern Tail Sashimi (PHP250) and Yellow Tail Sashimi (PHP250).

Among the sashimi plates we've had, our favorite was Yellow Tail with its snappy and firm texture that was so addictive!

Salmon Belly came close second!

For dessert, we had Mille Crepe (PHP180), Strawberry Mille Crepe (PHP200), Matcha Double Fromage (PHP180) and Chocolate Mousse Cake (PHP180).

I'm not a fan of crepe cakes and sadly, the ones from Genki Sushi did not convert me into a fan. I found it bland and too clean tasting to give me that sweet ending I look forward to with desserts.

The Matcha Double Fromage cake was not bad at all. With an attractive price tag of PHP180, this is something I'd definitely get whenever I'm craving for a green tea dessert. The green tea taste was pronounced yet was beautifully balanced by its cheesecake-like base.

But the best dessert award goes to Chocolate Mousse! It was a decadent piece of chocolate heaven. Each bite was smooth and I loved that despite being chocolatey, it was not overwhelming.

And if you're a fan of Meiji desserts, do try Strawberry Gunkan (PHP220)! This adorable dessert which was made to look like a gunkan is made of chocolate mascarpone, strawberry rice crispies and wrapped in a thin slice of black bread (or crepe). It tasted like the cone/diamond like strawberry and chocolate treat from Meiji, sans the crunch.

Thank you Genki Sushi and |ooloo for the lovely dinner. I discovered new favorites and I'll definitely be back for more.

And thanks again Genki Sushi for waiting for us to finish. We’re so sorry for not realizing the time. We were just having too much fun catching up over good food.

Visit www.whatmaryloves.com for the complete set of photos.

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Mimi & Bros.

4.0 Stars
American
9

I simply cannot resist comfort food. And now with how things are going in Manila, I need daily supply of good food. Thankfully, a new restaurant just opened and it offers dishes that would definitely make get by a bad day.

Hello, Mimi & Bros!

This charming restaurant situated at the corner of Crossroads, one of the pioneer food hubs in Bonifacio Global City, is now ready to tickle your taste buds with glee!

Currently on soft opening, Mimi and Bros offers familiar dishes like buffalo wings, tacos, fried chicken, burgers and ribs, all interpreted in a refreshing and delectable way.

I got to try a handful of dishes from its menu during its media event last Wednesday.

For starters, we tried Breakfast Nachos (PHP355) which was topped with scrambled eggs, chorizo and corn! The chunky and flavorful toppings complemented by the thin and crisp chips is a great way to start a meal.

Mimi's Fried Chicken (PHP255, quarter with one side | PHP425, half with two sides | PHP685, whole with three sides) is nothing short of delicious! The beautifully battered chicken was crispy in every bite and was seasoned well that you don't even need to put gravy on it!

I actually forgot about the gravy after one bite as it was already good as is. But, I liked it even more with Cilantro Mayo. It gave my crunchy meal that slight tangy flavor that I love.

Another must try here at Mimi & Bros are the pork ribs! There are three kinds of pork ribs to choose from -- Classic BBQ Pork Ribs (PHP695, half slab with two sides | PHP1195, full slab with three sides), Smokey Bacon Pork Ribs (PHP775, half slab with two sides | PHP1345, full slab with three sides) and Rootbeer BBQ Pork Ribs (PHP695, half slab with two sides | PHP1195 full slab with three sides).

Each one was tender and packed with sweet barbeque flavor.

But if I were to choose just one, I'd definitely go with Smokey Bacon! The bacon strips gave a slight salty taste which added contrast in flavor.

For sauces, I highly recommend that you go crazy. I tried half of the sauces and loved each one with Cilantro Mayo as my favorite!

If you're not into pork but want something heavy, I suggest that you try its 6-Hour BBQ Beef Shortribs (PHP685 with three sides and three sauces). This may not be as flavorful as the Pork BBQ Ribs but it has that divine pure beefy taste that would leave you wanting more. Pair it with one of the many sauces for that extra flavor.

I was very excited to try the sinful Chicharon Crusted Pork Chops (PHP425) as I love crunchy dishes. But the chicharon crust left me underwhelmed. It was a bit too chewy which I raised to Chef Ed. He told me that it must have been overcooked as it such should have not been the case. I liked the contrast between the salty pork and sweetened apple slices. I'll still give this another try though and I hope that I'll be wowed next time.

I also got to take a bite of Bro's Burger (PHP285) and Bro's Rib Sandwich (PHP245) which were both great! Bro's Burger, described as 70% Beef and 30% Bacon, sounds like my kind of burger and it was amazing! The chunky patty was oozing with flavor and I didn't even need to put on condiments!

Bro's Rib Sandwich was lovely too with its slight sweet taste. But I'd go with Bro's Burger anytime. (Note: These are just samples and not the actual size of the burgers.)

And if you're thirsty, try one of Mimi & Bro's cocktails! With its drinks designed by ABV, it would be hard to pick a favorite!

Though quite pricey at PHP250-350 per glass, you'll surely get your money's worth.

I'll definitely be back soon!

Note: Half of Mimi & Bros turn into an al fresco space after 5 p.m. as inspired by walk up bars in L.A.

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Ramen Nagi

4.0 Stars
Ramen or Noodle
4

I love ramen but most of my friends know that Ramen Nagi is not in my top 5 list. I didn’t exactly had a smooth start with the never-empty-ramen-shop’s Black King, hailed as the emperor of rich taste. It overwhelmed my taste buds which prefer delicate flavors. Hence, I avoided Ramen Nagi for years and only began to warm up again when I tasted its limited flavors, Veggie King and Cheesy Tomato King. But it was this store’s latest creation that convinced me why Ramen Nagi is definitely not just hype.

Hello, Ramen Nagi.

Fast food has always been our staple meal whenever we’re at the airport. With only 30 minutes to spare, we stick with the two redheads. But last Saturday, we tried something different and went with Ramen Nagi.

Known for its fast service, we all ordered ramen. While my companions went with the classic Original and Green Butao King, I decided to go for Crab King (PHP490), Ramen Nagi’s limited flavor of the month.

This bowl of firm ramen noodles swimming in creamy kani and tonkotsu broth topped with whole deep fried soft-shell crab was delicious! Unlike its other limited Kings, this one had the perfect umami level that would make you finish your bowl without finding it cloying. Each slurp of the broth brought out the beautiful blend of land and sea. And the best part was that I didn’t find the soup oily at all!

I enjoyed every mouthful of this wonderful bowl that I hesitated to share some with R. I wanted to savor each bite as this was the first and last time I would get to have this as it was only available for only two weeks.

I took my last spoonful with mixed emotions. Dramatic as it may sound but it’s true. I felt happy for having tasted this mouthwatering masterpiece and rather devastated for not finding and trying this out sooner so that I could have more of it.

Hmm, perhaps I should make a petition to have this in the regular menu? Anyone willing to support me on this?

#looloosummergiveaway2018

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Vatos Urban Tacos

5.0 Stars
Mexican
10

With the crazy number of restaurants opening here and there, you must be bestowed with supernatural powers if you could keep up and visit all. First impression could make or break a restaurant and I often mentally give it a "deadline" on until when it'll stay open. But there are a handful of restaurants that impressed me and made me look at my calendar on when I could visit again. And one of the restaurants that tickled my taste buds with glee is Vatos.

Hello, Vatos.

I've never heard of Vatos before until last weekend. Apparently, this restaurant and bar opened back in February and is a franchise that started in Singapore and Korea by three Korean-American founders who want to share their love for food.

Located along 5th Avenue, fronting Fort Strip, Vatos exudes a fancy and intimidating vibe with its dim lights and high ceiling. But one would be surprised with its menu of reasonably priced dishes and beverages.

The first thing I noticed upon entering is the quirky lights shaped as top hats giving the place a bit of Kingsman feel. Then when I looked down, it became a bit more industrial with the pipe accent on the tables with the inverted faucet as bag hooks.

While waiting for the rest to arrive, we were served with complimentary basket of Fresh Chip and Salsa which comes with fresh corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa verde and roasted onion chipotle salsa. If one serving is too little for you, you can order another for PHP95.

I first thought that it was rather plain, ordinary and not exactly appetizing. But after taking my first bite, I simply could not stop. It was addicting! It was like I was charmed really bad by the dips, especially salsa verde which had a delectable refreshing taste! The roasted onion chipotle salsa was good too though it might be a bit too salty for those with low tolerance to salty dishes.

Vatos Cowboy Queso (PHP390) was served right after everyone arrived and again, it looked plain and nothing special. But that was my absolute favorite that night. You simply should not hastily judge a book (or dish) just from its appearance as it could make your jaw drop with what it has to offer. The molten queso dip served on a sizzling bowl is a marvelous blend of pepper jack, cheddar cheeses, black beans, pico de gallo and cilantro lime crema giving it a complex and deep flavor. Each mouthful was cheesy and chunky thanks to the black beans and pico de gallo. I could go on and on admiring this fantastic dish but there are a few more to share.

Next served was a basket of Kimchi Carnitas Fries (PHP390) which I thought to be the same as the one I've tried before in another restaurant. But again, I was proven wrong. This one had more spunk! Topped with braised pulled pork carnitas, kimchi, melted cheese, sour cream, cilantro, onions and a bit of Vatos hot sauce, this snack is not your ordinary fries. Despite having several ingredients fighting for your taste bud's attention, each one was well-defined yet blended harmoniously resulting in a smacktacular piece. And what I loved most about this was that the fries remained crisp despite the heavy toppings! R wanted to know how Vatos makes its fries but it seems to be a top secret and will remain a mystery for us.

We then feasted on three kinds of Vatos Urban Tacos namely Spicy Chicken (PHP280, 2 tacos | PHP380, 3 tacos), Korean Pork Belly (PHP320, 2 tacos | PHP450, 3 tacos) and Chili Lime Shrimp (PHP280, 2 tacos | PHP380, 3 tacos). We were told that it is best to eat these with your hands. But the tacos had generous filling that would make me eat like a kindergarten student if I eat it with my hands. Everything will be all over me! So I opted to stay proper and used my fork.

I found Spicy Chicken to be... well, very spicy. That is when eaten as a whole; because of the Vatos Hot Sauce. Surprisingly, the spicy marinated chicken wasn't that spicy and this could be a let down for those with very high tolerance for heat. But you can have it adjusted to be milder or spicier! Just request in advance. They can even have the hot sauce served on the side if you have near zero tolerance like I do.

Korean Pork Belly had a more familiar taste as it was just like eating samgyupsal! Served with ssamjang aioli and onions, it had that slight spicy, salty and tangy taste that I love.

Chili Lime Shrimp was like munching on mini tempura with that mouthwatering cilantro and lime taste. I'm a big fan of lime and cilantro combination so this was an instant hit for me. It was lighter too so this would be a great option for those who would drop by Vatos for after dinner session.

Second to the last dish served was Honey Tequila Chicken Wings (PHP420) which I hastily judged again as tried-that-nothing-new. But this was amazing! Though I was slightly intimidated by the deep-fried-masa-battered jalapeños and thought that this was one of those seriously spicy wings, it was quite mild and very addicting! Its sweet and spicy honey tequila glaze was flavorful enough that I didn't even bother to dip it in the blue cheese dipping sauce it was served with.

As we continue to savor every dish in front of us, we tried some of Vatos' signature drinks such as Vatos' Ritas Sexy Sanchez and Grow a Pear (PHP480 each) and Makgeolitas in Mango, Passion Fruit and Classic flavors (PHP350 per glass).

The Makgeolitas, blend of tequila and Korean rice wine makgeolli, were refreshing! My favorite among the three flavors served was classic or lime. Curious how to differentiate one from the other? It's all in the number of straws. One straw means Mango, two straws is Passion Fruit and three straws stand for Classic.

I had to practice intense self control over Vatos' Ritas as Sexy Sanchez was seriously good! It had that lovely berry taste that I found hard to resist. It was one sweet drink that kept seducing me to have more. And it didn't help that the huge glass was in front of me during dinner.

I then decided to move to the other side of the table, not just to avoid Sexy Sanchez but to indulge in more Vatos Cowboy Queso. Screw self control. I cannot keep myself away from this chunky dip! I ate so much with gusto that the friendly gals behind Vatos knew my favorite right away.

And to cap our meal, we munched on some Nutella Nachos (PHP225). Though this was nothing special as it's just crispy tortilla triangles dashed with cinnamon and sugar and topped with (almost) everyone's favorite Nutella and vanilla ice cream, I liked how Vatos made its dessert aligned and consistent with its offerings.

Overall, two thumbs up Vatos. I will definitely be back for more!

Thank you, Vatos and |ooloo for the invite! Fun night as always! 10084

Note: Drop by on Tuesday for Taco Tuesdays! Vatos gives free taco for every order (comes in 2 or 3 pieces) of their Urban Tacos! 🌮🌮🌮

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Versus Barcade

4.0 Stars
Bar
10

Tired of the normal night out with friends where all you do is drink, chat and maybe dance (when someone gets overboard in alcohol)? What if I tell you that there's a new bar in town that could make your mundane night a little bit funner? Hint: Barcade.

Hello, Versus Barcade.

Tucked inside the quiet side of Uptown Parade lies this spacious bar that mixes drinks with a different kind of fun. Stepping inside is like travelling through time as the place is a marriage between modern and the 70s or 80s with its nostalgic arcade games.

We were too excited to even bother look at the drinks list and went straight to the game room which has enough games to entertain a group of about 20. There were two pinball machines, Street Fighter themed machine, and even Mario Kart.

There's also this air hockey-like game where the goal of the players is to keep their pucks in the 1, 2 or 3 pointer grids to earn points. I tried it several times and after what seemed forever, I managed to score 1 point.

The best part here is that you can play all these fun games for free during its soft opening. Versus Barcade is still working on the best way to manage its game room but I'm sure that if ever they do charge per play, it will be worth it!

After trying some of the games, we headed back to the main dining area and tried some of the drinks and bar chows.

We had Mr. Pacman (PHP1,250) and Mrs. Pacman (PHP1,200) for sharing and we each ordered other drinks to try. I went with Bedtime Stories (PHP380) simply because I saw the word "cacao".

For bar chows, we tried Kwek-Kwek, Chibul (Chicharon Bulaklak) and Chikin (Chicken Skin). I didn't see the individual prices of these dishes but it is available as part of a set of 2 appetizers/bar chows and one main dish for PHP600. I don't think it's priced badly as you'd definitely get your money's worth if you pair your quick bites with the likes of Gambas or Beef Salpicao.

All of the bar chows were very straightforward and prepared without any frills. But one thing I liked about all three was that each one was done right.

Chibul and Chikin were crispy and enjoyable to eat. I had to stop myself from grabbing another serving of both to give others a chance to try it too. But seriously, I can't wait to get my hands on more!

Kwek-Kwek was paired with this brownish sauce which I first thought was for squid balls. Though good, I still prefer it with vinegar.

We also had a hefty serving of nachos.

Mr. Pacman is a mixture of Casadores Reposado tequila, Orgeat Syrup, Vanilla Syrup, Fresh Orange Juice, Lemon Juice and Chocolate Bitters. Though unpopular with our group because of its slight bitter taste, it was light enough to be enjoyed even by those with low alcohol tolerance.

Mrs. Pacman, on the other hand, reminded me of punch. The Beefeater London Dry Gin, Spicy Mango Syrup, Aperol, Lime Juice and Orleans Bitters mix works better for me as I had three glasses of this drink! It was a bit sweeter than Mr. Pacman and tasted lighter too in terms of alcohol.

My Bedtime Stories was one of the last drinks served and it was a lot darker than I imagined. The drink was bitter because of Johnnie Walker Gold but it was complemented by Frangelico, milk, gingerbread syrup egg yolk (as emulsifier) and cocoa powder to garnish. Sadly, even with cocoa, it was something I wouldn't order again. Maybe I'll just go with a non-alcoholic version of it which Pat D had.

And speaking of non-alcoholic, you can request for mocktails at Versus Barcade too! You could either choose the ingredients yourself or have them surprise you with their concoction. Price starts at PHP300 and could go as high as PHP800 depending on the ingredients. Peanut D liked her “The Peanut” drink. 128514

Versus Barcade also has a second floor perfect for those who want a bit of privacy. There is one arcade game there for entertainment too!

And if you happen to be a smoker, this place also has its own smoking area which is located at the back of the game room, near Mario Karts.

We went on a Monday and the place was pretty much ours till around 9 p.m. We were told that the crowd could get crazy on weekends where this barcade would be like a standing room event place. So for titos and titas of Manila, I highly suggest that you go on a week night and try to come early. They close at 2 a.m. on weekdays and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Overall, it was a fun visit and I will surely be back to play all the other games.

Thanks |ooloo and Megaworld for the invite!

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