My Reviews

McDonald's

4.0 Stars
Fast Food
5

Lagi kong inaabangan ang paganunsyo ng McDonald's (na itatago natin sa pangalang Ronaldo) na ang kanilang sobrang sarap na piniritong binaluktot na patatas ay mabibili na uli sa kanilang mga munting tindahan. At pagkalipas ng ilang buwan ng pangungulila, dumating na ang pinakainaaabangan na balita! Nagbalik na ang kulot na patatas!

Ngunit dahil sa tindi ng trapiko sa Siyudad ng Maynila, ako'y napilitan na ipalipas ang ilang linggo at naghintay na lang ng pagkakataon na mapadpad sa lugar na may tindahan ni Ronaldo. At iyong araw na yun ay noong nakaraang linggo.

Ako'y masayang pumasok sa tindahan ni Ronaldo at bumili agad ng isang binaluktot na patatas. Binayaran ko ang kahera nang Php69 at naghintay para sa aking inaasam-asam na pagkain. At nung dumating, ako'y nagulat.

Bakit ang liit???

Malungkot akong lumabas sa tindahan ni Ronaldo at unti-unting ninamnam ang bawat isang kulot na piniritong patatas. Masarap pa rin naman.

Pero, napagalaman ko na meron pala silang mas malaking klase na tawag ay Pinakamatalik na Kaibigan Binaluktot na Piniritong Patatas na nagkakahalagang Php139.

Sana yun na lang binili ko kasi bitin yung maliit. May naligaw pa na diretsong patatas.

Ngunit napaisip din ako. Mukha ba akong walang kaibigan? 128542

#loolooweeklychallenge #linggolinggonghamonnglooloo

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Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie

4.0 Stars
Café
10

Missing the dishes you've had during your European tour? Or curious what Germany, Italy and Spain have to offer aside from the usual fare you get from other restaurants here in Manila? Look no further as Vanderlust is here to satisfy your tummy's wanderlust desires.

Hello, Vanderlust Bistro + Patisserie!

Tucked inside one of the small streets of Tomas Morato is this quaint restaurant that became popular for its Schneeball, a traditional German pastry that you smash with a mallet.

We were greeted by the hands on and friendly owners Val and Anthony who played with their names and wanderlust to come up with the name Vanderlust.

We started our meal with some Arancini Al Margherita (PHP138, 3 pieces, PHP248, 6 pieces). The beautifully battered risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella had a lovely contrast of textures. It reminded me of mozzarella sticks with its bed of margherita sauce, only heavier.

I took a bite of Bocadillo de Calamares y Pescado (PHP288), a famous sandwich in Madrid and I liked it.

The golden brown deep fried calamari and white fish sandwiched by baguette and topped with tangy aioli serves as a nice, light on-the-go snack. Just make sure to request for more aioli if you want a stronger flavor.

Mon Cheri Poulet (PHP398) is a newly added dish and was an instant favorite by several foodies. It was hard not to fall for the honey glazed chicken thigh balanced by the fluffy spinach omelet. And if that killer combo was not enough, a crunchy strip of bacon might do the trick.

The Catalan Baked Fish with Potatoes and Asparagus (PHP378) was my favorite. The delicate taste of the white fish covered by herb-seasoned crust with olives, sauteed potatoes, asparagus and tomatoes on the side was superb! It was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The mild taste of the seafood was well complemented by the herbs and veggies.

Another favorite of mine was the Cacio E Pepe Mushroom Truffle (PHP388). I love that Vanderlust did not scrimp on truffle as the pasta was oozing with its delectable aroma. It was cooked to perfection too as it was not cloying at all.

The Espagueti con Albondigas (PHP268) was the other pasta dish we tried that night. Though the menu mentions that it's a spicy dish, the bowl of pasta served to us only had mild heat. I heard though that you could request to increase its spiciness if desired. This dish is also available in olive oil if you're not fond of red sauce.

If you want something more familiar, do try the Schweinekotelett with Mustard Cream Sauce (PHP428). It's basically pork chop topped with mustard sauce and paired with German fermented cabbage and mashed potato. Those who like to munch on something crunchy would enjoy this dish.

I was already very full when we got to desserts.

I had a bite of Vanderlust's Tradicional Churros (PHP98, 6 pieces). I liked that it had that nice bite to it and that it was not overly oily.

The chocolate dip was great too though I still have another place in mind for the best chocolate dip.

They also have flavored churros but I was not able to try any.

I wasn't able to try any of the Cannoli (PHP120, 3 pieces) as I was running out of tummy space. But others seemed to have enjoyed it.

After smashing some Schneeballs (Original - PHP120/piece | PHP699, half dozen; Chocolate - PHP145/piece | PHP799, half dozen), I tried chocolate and I was surprised that it was not that sweet.

In terms of sweetness, this would be perfect for our dear grandpas and grandmas but its hard texture would make it difficult for them.

Service was prompt though especially for the dishes. But since we stayed on the second floor, it was hard to request for refills of water.

I'd definitely swing by again for the truffle mushroom pasta and churros!

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Joey Pepperoni Pizzeria

4.0 Stars
Pizza
9

Joey Pepperoni is no stranger to me as I've worked with Kettle Foods Corporation before and handled this pizzeria for a short while. I still remember going crazy over its delectable pesto pasta and how I make sure I dine there for lunch every payday. And years and other pesto dishes later, Joey Pepperoni's version still delights my taste buds.

Hello, Joey Pepperoni.

This local pizzeria rebranded a few months ago and added new product offerings. Shifting to brick oven also changed how Joey Pepperoni makes its pizza. Now with a puffier and thicker crust, it made carb lovers twirl with happiness.

During our visit, we feasted on Pepperoni Fries (PHP170), Mozzarella Bites (PHP195), Joey's Supreme (PHP210, 8" | PHP440, 12"), Bianca (PHP195, 8" | PHP390, 12"), Meaty Legend (PHP210, 8" | PHP450, 12"), Rosemary Chicken (PHP240), Chicken Parmigiana (PHP235), Pesto Pasta (PHP165), Banana Nutella Pizza (PHP140).

The Pepperoni Fries were so good! It was so cheesy and the pepperoni slices added that delightful meaty flavor to the dish.

I could have finished the whole dish if only there were not a lot of dishes for us to try and if I was not competing with other foodies who fell head over tummies with this smacktacular dish.

The Mozzarella Bites were good too. The batter was crunchy and the mozzarella inside was soft and gooey. The dish was well complemented by the marinara sauce it came with.

It was no surprise for the pesto pasta to be a hit during our meal. Everyone liked the herby taste of the green pasta.

But if you want something heavier, you might want to go with chicken parmigiana which comes with a huge slab of breaded chicken fillet topped with cheese. It may be a bit too tangy for those who are used to sweet red sauce. But it would surely delight anyone who prefer the Italian version.

For the pizzas, everyone liked Bianca the best. The blend of mozzarella, white cheese, and bleu cheese with anchovies, garlic and arugula made this pizza a winner! It was flavorful yet not overwhelming. And the fact that it was topped with arugula made me feel that I was eating something healthy.

Joey's Supreme was pretty good as well. Its generous serving of mozzarella cheese, cheddar, pepperoni, bacon strips, mushroom, green and red bell pepper, onions and black olives made this dish value for money. Two slices of this could be enough to fill you up.

Meat lovers would enjoy Meaty Legend as it is topped with pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon strips, and of course, mozzarella cheese. This is perfect for those who avoid greens.

I also liked the beautifully grilled and baked rosemary chicken. It had a lovely garlicky and tangy taste which was well complemented by rosemary. I wouldn't mind having this for lunch for days!

The Banana Nutella Pizza was quite hard to slice. But I guess it was made like that for you to avoid sharing it with others. I wouldn't mind finishing one whole of this as it was so good! The chewy crust topped with banana, cinnamon and Nutella was bliss.

Overall, it was a lovely meal. I'd definitely swing by again for Bianca, Rosemary Chicken, Pepperoni Fries and my all time favorite, Pesto Pasta.

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Soru Izakaya

4.0 Stars
Japanese
7

There's a new Japanese restaurant in Maginhawa that's making a lot of buzz since it opened last month with its beautiful plating and Instagram-worthy spread. I was a bit iffy to try it myself as I've been to several restaurants that focused more on design than taste. But curiosity hit me bad and soon I found myself in front of Soru Izakaya one Saturday afternoon.

Hello, Soru Izakaya.

We were welcomed by dark and warm interiors as well as Japanese inspired murals and wall designs. There were not a lot of diners too at 4:30 p.m. but the place was quite warm as not all A/C units were on.

We decided to go with Spicy Maguro Salad (PHP290), Oh Umi Maki (PHP390), Shake Belly Aburi (PHP220), Kuro Dragon Maki (PHP480), Aburi Moriawase + Sake Carafe (PHP480), Bacon Enoki (PHP65), Saikoro Wagyu Cubes (PHP135) and Shiitake Mushrooms (PHP50).

First served was the platter of aburi--shake, maguro, saba, horse mackarel and tako.

Since there were four of us, I was only able to taste the maguro (tuna) and it was pretty good. It was a bit spicy from the wasabi but it enhanced the taste of the aburi. Though the platter seems a bit pricey, the free sake carafe made it a good deal.

Next served was the plate of Kuro Dragon Maki. I have to admit, we ordered this because I was hoping I'd get to take a photo of Soru's beautiful plating and artistic way of serving Japanese mayo. Unfortunately, instead of a dragon design, I got abstract wiggly lines. Though I was disappointed with the presentation, the maki's taste didn't. It was pretty good. The unagi was fresh and I loved how the cream cheese, ebiko and teriyaki sauce added flavor without overwhelming or masking the beautiful seafood's taste.

Spicy Maguro Salad was served soon after and it was not the type I was looking forward to.

The tuna bits were not as fresh as the one in the aburi platter.

The dish was also very dependent on the spicy Japanese mayo as the parts that didn't get much of the dressing were on the bland side.

The salmon belly aburi was great. Served warm and topped with teriyaki sauce, truffle mayo and ikura, a bite would bring you straight to salmon heaven.

I just found the price a bit too steep as other well-loved Japanese restaurants offer this for less than a hundred a piece. I guess truffle mayo costs an additional thirty bucks.

It was love at first bite with the Oh Umi Maki. The plate of shrimp tempura and salmon cubes topped with salmon and tempura flakes and sweet teriyaki sauce and fragrant truffle mayo made my taste buds go crazy. Though purists would say that there are too many things going on and masks the delicate taste of salmon and shrimp, this plate of goodness is absolutely delectable! I might be a bit biased though as I love salmon.

The yakitoris were great as well. Each one was drizzled with a sweet sauce.

My favorite was the wagyu stick. It had a nice bite to it and was seasoned well.

Overall, it was a good meal but pricey for an establishment in Maginhawa. Service though needs a bit of improvement as the servers were not so attentive during our visit.

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Palm Grill

4.0 Stars
Bar
7

Tomas Morato has turned from a drinking hotspot to an area filled with restaurants offering affordable and delectable food. New concepts seem to open every month and I often find myself overwhelmed by the growing number of options. But hearing that this new chicken place offers superb "green" poultry made it a bit easier for me to decide.

Hello, Palm Grill.

I was greeted by a space with high ceiling, drop lights and lovely contrast of grey, green and yellow interiors which exudes a chic vibe. Some tables even have grass mats for that garden or picnic feel.

I sat near the bar and got a glass of Lemonade (PHP60) while I wait for the foodies joining me for lunch.

For our feast, we had The Green Chicken (PHP229, solo | PHP349, duo | PHP649, league), Chicken Satti (PHP159), Spaghetti in Pesto Sauce (PHP159), Pinoy Sliders (PHP229), King Carlos' Famous Fish & Chips (PHP289) and Chef Mike's Moussaka (PHP189).

We all started off with the much hyped green chicken.

This chicken, slow cooked in coconut milk and seven Asian spices then grilled, was absolutely scrumptious! I usually get slightly disappointed after someone says that a certain dish is super good. But this one deserves all the praises and superlative adjectives. Each bite was flavorful and the lovely blend of sweet yet salty tastes was something that'll make one want more than just a few mouthfuls.

I next sampled the platter of Pinoy Sliders, Fish & Chips and Pesto.

The pinoy sliders which is stuffed with chicken patty makes one remember of the good ol Sunday afternoon in the 90s where mom would whip up a filling merienda. The crunchy yet juicy patty was simple and very straightforward. However, there is something to it that charmed my taste buds. Is it because it tastes just like the ones from home?

The fish & chips dish was pretty good too. The batter was light while the fish was fresh and soft. It was flavorful as is but a lot better with the tartar sauce.

The pesto pasta was very simple too and went very well with the chicken sandwich and fish & chips. [Note though that these are not the actual serving sizes of the pinoy sliders, fish & chips and pesto and were for tasting purposes only.]

Then things got a bit hotter when we sampled the Chicken Satti, the spicy thick soup with rice balls and skewered grilled chicken.

I had a tiny bite of the rice ball with some sauce and it was too spicy for my liking so I didn't even dare to get another bite with the chicken.

And yes, I didn't attempt to try the other chicken variant they call Labuyo Chicken which is in a whole different level of spiciness.

I just munched on the delectable cheesy moussaka which tasted just like lasagna. This one is absolutely perfect for kids and cheese lovers!

Overall, it was a lovely lunch and I had a blast talking with the owners Miggy and Nelson. The only hiccup I noticed was the slow service time. But I'm sure they'll get used to bigger crowds soon.

Again, congrats Palm Grill and see you soon!

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Banh Nam

4.0 Stars
Vietnamese
5

I love how Manila is turning into a melting pot of various cuisines. The city that used to be dominated by American fast food joints and Filipino eateries is now a thing of the past. Fast forward to present, we have all kinds of dishes from different countries with some we still could not even pronounce correctly. One of my favorites lately is this delightful sandwich popular in Vietnam. Yes, I’m talking about banh mi. And recently, I discovered this shop that sells really good ones.

Hello, Bánh Nǎm.

This Vietnamese shop offers two of the yummiest things Vietnam has to offer and it is serious in providing the best kind.

It took Bánh Nǎm several months before its president, who is Filipino-Vietnamese, was able to find the perfect supplier to make its baguette. And for banh mi, the crunchiness of the bread is very (very) important.

Limiting its offerings to four kinds of banh mi and a handful of drinks allowed Bánh Nǎm to focus on what it makes best. As a result, each banh mi-- Bánh Mí Thit Cha (PHP110), Bánh Mí Ga Nuong (PHP125), Bánh Mí Heo Nuong (PHP130), Bánh Mí Que (PHP60)-- is bound to satisfy every person’s craving for this famous Vietnamese sandwich. And to complete the banh mi experience, Bánh Nǎm also offers Ca Phe Sua Nong (PHP65), Ca Phe Sua Da (PHP65) and Wintermelon Juice (PHP60).

I’ve sampled the bestseller Bánh Mí Heo Nuong or Roast Pork and Bánh Mí Ga Nuong or Grilled Chicken and both were really good.

I loved that despite its affordable price, Bánh Nǎm does not cheat you with mediocre and thin fillings. I enjoyed munching on thick slices of sweet roast pork and juicy grilled chicken. And the bread was definitely on point. This is why even the Bánh Mí Que or Stick Liver Pāté was a hit too despite it being just bread and liver pāté.

As for the drinks, I sampled Ca Phe Sua Da or Iced Vietnamese Coffee and I liked it a lot. The coffee taste was strong yet not too intense to the point of your eyes popping out due to bitterness and acidity. The amount of condensed milk was perfect as it was enough to sweeten the drink but not overpower the coffee. The Wintermelon drink was a crowd favorite too for those who are not fond of coffee.

Trivia: Did you know that the Bánh Nǎm team frequents Vietnam to get most of its ingredients? This brand’s passion to provide authentic banh mi and Vietnamese coffee is really impressive!

Bánh Nǎm is located at 5th Floor, Podium Mall, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Bánh Nǎm is also located in Alabang Town Center, SM Southmall, Venice Grand Canal and Paseo Center, Makati.

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Tori Ichi Yakitori & Bar

4.0 Stars
Japanese
10

I once passed by this new yakitori restaurant on my home one time and took a mental note to visit it soon. But food gods had other plans and made my visit sooner. And sweeter too as it was a sponsored eat up by Epicurean Partners Exchange, Inc. and looloo (hiii Peanut D). We were told to skip lunch as it was bound to be a very festive night for the tummy and it sure was!

Hello, Tori Ichi!

It would be easy to miss this two-story Japanese restaurant located at the corner of 4th Avenue across Kuppa as a huge metal sculpture blocks its facade. But no art can go in between me and my love for Japanese food.

I was warmly greeted by high ceiling with drop lights, wooden furniture and comfy-looking seats with lovely prints. I headed up to the function room on the second floor and I was welcomed by Mackis of Tori Ichi and the looloo gang.

We were given a quick overview of Tori Ichi before indulging in some of their bestsellers and we were all surprised to find out that this place isn’t that new at all. It has been on the exact same spot for two years now. But everyone, even those who work and/or live in BGC, had an impression that this place is new as we’ve never seen it before. We all figured that it must be that huge sculpture.

Mackis also gave us a rundown of Tori Ichi’s offerings and what makes it different from the other yakitori places. First off, Tori Ichi uses premium wood-turned-charcoal called binchotan allowing the yakitori to be grilled to perfection without the nasty burnt smokey taste. Second, Tori Ichi has specialties per location despite having the same menu. Its BGC branch specializes on yakitori while its MOA branch focuses more on sushi. With that said, Tori Ichi positions itself to be not just a yakitori place but a destination that would satisfy your Japanese food cravings. And we were invited to find out if it will satiate ours.

We first shared and sampled the Meijin Set (PHP950) which comes with 20 various yakitori. Among the bunch of options to choose from, my favorites were Asparagus Bacon, Yakiniku, Chicken Tail, Enoki Bacon, Mochi Bacon and Corn on Cob.

I have to admit, I’m quite biased with the ones with bacon because... come on, it’s bacon! The asparagus had that delightful crunch I love from fresh stalks. The enoki was just as enjoyable but some strands got stuck in between my teeth and it bothered me for several minutes.

Yakiniku was something I’d expect to like in yakitori shops. And true enough, Tori Ichi offers good beef yakitori. Just make sure to eat it right away to enjoy it at its best texture.

I’ve never had chicken tail (or butt) before and I was surprised that I actually liked it. Who knew chicken butt could be so yummy? I love the soft, chewy and crunchy texture of it and I would have eaten the whole thing plus 5 more sticks if I was dining alone.

But the biggest surprise for me was the corn on cob. At first, no one was really minding it as it was a bit messy to eat it. But since I was hungry, I picked one up and ate it. And it was the buttery salty kind of corn that made me turn into a cob monster.

Next served were the new maki rolls Spicy Deep Fried Tuna Maki (PHP185) and Shake Kawa Maki (PHP140).

I was excited to sample the two as I was picturing a beautiful contrast of soft and crunchy textures. However, only the Shake Kawa Maki was able to deliver. The Spicy Deep Fried Tuna Maki wasn’t spicy at all and that means a lot coming from someone with very low spice tolerance. It would have been more enjoyable if it was spicier and if the batter or seaweed is covered by tempura flakes for crunch.

The Shake Kawa Maki had nice crunchy salmon skin bits and for PHP140, it was bang for the buck.

We didn’t have to hurry taking photos of the next set of dishes as these ones are best eaten cold. Yes, up next were Hokkigai (PHP420) and Shimisaba (PHP195).

You might be thinking, Hoki-what and Shimisimba? To be honest, I’ve never heard of these too but it turns out that these are surf clam and mackerel. (I usually just call mackerel as saba).

Though I prefer my mackerel fried rather than cold, I was impressed that this dish didn’t have a strong fishy taste. Texture-wise, it was different from the ones I’m used to and I couldn’t say that I liked it.

I prefer the surf clams more as it has that slight chewy texture that I enjoy from munching octopus and squid. The taste though was too delicate that it’d be too bland without the soy sauce and wasabi.

Last savory dish served was the Tojidon (PHP375) or shrimp tempura with egg over rice. It was like your usual katsudon bowl but instead of pork cutlet, this one had tempura. It was good but nothing spectacular for me. But the others enjoyed it and some even went crazy with the chili powder. Maybe it’s better if spicy?

We capped the night with some Matcha Ice Cream with red beans (PHP80/scoop) and it was pretty good! I loved that the matcha taste was evident yet well balanced by the sweet red beans.

Some of us also got a sip of Gekkeikan Nigori sake (PHP550/300ml) to welcome the long weekend and let’s just say I’m not a fan of sake.

Overall, it was a good meal and fun company. I’d definitely go back for more of the bacon yakitori but I think I’d swing by its MOA branch to try its sushi and sashimi.

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Hook by Todd English

5.0 Stars
Seafood
10

I'm so thankful that I live in a country that has access to several kinds of seafood. However, some of my favorites cost me an arm and leg (at times two legs). But that was about to change thanks to this new Todd English concept called Hook.

Hello, Hook!

Just like the other Todd English restaurants, Hook has dark interiors and a bit of pub/bar vibe to it but with a touch of class. I was first greeted by a beautiful showcase of seafood ranging from humongous fishes in different colors to the freshest oysters I've laid my eyes on.

Eric welcomed us and ushered us to our table and suggested that we try the Three Tiered Seafood Platter (PHP3,500) and (Not) Paella (PHP750). As clueless diners, we let him surprise us with his choices.

While waiting for our food, we were given glasses of champagne to pair with our meal. And it was a pretty good way to cap the week.

After a few minutes, one of the friendly staff members served our three tiered platter and we were pleasantly delighted by it. The fresh seafood platter was a beautiful sight. Mouthwatering oysters, scallops, salmon, tuna, shrimp, uni, crab, snapper and mussels filled all three trays and it made us feel that we were in seafood heaven. And apparently, we were! Who knew heaven has a satellite branch in Uptown Parade?

I first sampled the oysters and it made me tear up with its freshness. Its slight sweetness was simply addicting. I skipped the sauces for me to fully enjoy its divine taste.

Up next were the white clams which had a rich taste that reminded me of pico de gallo. I loved the snap I get from munching these little goodies!

One of my favorites was the scallop motoyaki. It also had that desirable snap I like from seafood and the creamy taste made this seafood a winner in my book (and R’s).

The chilled shrimps were excellent as well and I loved it with the Yuzu sauce for additional taste.

The mussel with what tasted like Korean ssamjang is among my top 3 favorites. I just loved how the fresh mussel and slightly spiced thick red paste created a gastronomic party for my taste buds.

The snapper topped with chopped onions was also fantastic. Its soft and smooth texture turned me into a snapper fan.

After unbuttoning our pants, we started to feast on the topmost tray which had crab with uni slab, tuna poke and salmon with ginger scallion jam.

I am quite a purist when it comes to my seafood so I was overwhelmed by the strong tastes of the tuna poke’s dressing and the ginger scallion jam on the salmon sashimi. Though both were amazing, I had to wipe off some of the dressing or topping from these two seafood favorites for me to enjoy.

The crab meat placed on the crab shell and topped with uni slab and ikura was another story though. These three loves were served plain and fresh, just the way I like it.

The place became crowded around 8 pm so it took a bit before our (not) paella was served but it was definitely worth the wait.

Okay, you must be wondering why it is not called paella when it looks like one. Well, one word... risotto. Though other places do offer paella with risotto instead of paella rice, I guess Hook is being very transparent that they don’t use the latter. Taste-wise, it was amazing. The flavorful grain topped with seafood and saffron ticked my taste buds with glee and made me utter delicioso!

But this beautiful pan was overshadowed by Mr. Penguin (PHP450). This dessert, inspired by Todd English’s to die for chocolate dessert, is a combination of black and white cake, caramel sauce, dark chocolate ganache and truffle oil. And it was love at first bite. I was ready to dance like Michael Jackson (which was planned to be the dessert’s name till they realized it might leave a racist impression) after one spoonful. It was so chocolatey but not the type that would make you gasp for water. The rich tastes of chocolate ganache and caramel were beautifully balanced by the cake. I can’t wait to have more of this!

It was definitely one dinner to remember. I will be back soon, Hook!

Note: Hook has a delectable happy hour where you could score your fresh oysters from Aklan for only $1 instead of PHP70 per piece. It’s a steal!!! But even without the promo, the PHP3,500 platter is already a good deal given its superb quality!

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Kushikatsu Daruma

4.0 Stars
Asian
10

No double dipping! Finally, one restaurant said it.

Though I'm not very strict with the no double dipping rule, I still cringe whenever someone I barely know dips his or her bitten food in the communal sauce. I guess that is what Kushikatsu Daruma wants to avoid... a sudden lack of appetite due to what kids call "cooties". Then again this newest addition to Uptown Bonifacio's roster of restaurants have to mess up a whole lot before I lose my appetite for its mouthwatering offerings.

Hello, Kushikatsu Daruma.

I was greeted by modern Japanese interiors and friendly servers who ushered me to my table. Soon, Charlie Paw joined me and suggested that I try Beginner Level (PHP480, 9 sticks).

While waiting for my food, I was given a bowl of greens. It's not exactly a wait snack or appetizer though as it is meant to serve as palate cleanser.

The Beginner Level is composed of Classic Kushikatsu, Prawn, Chicken with Garlic, Tonkatsu, Leeks, Potato, Camembert Cheese, Chikuwa and Tsukune. Unfortunately, they were out of chikuwa and tsukune (chicken meat balls) when I dropped by and these were replaced with shiitake mushroom (PHP59/stick) and quail egg (PHP79/2 sticks).

The sticks were served three at a time and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful golden color of the batter. Charlie mentioned that its flour (for batter) and sauce are sourced from Japan. Even its oil, though not sourced abroad, is not your usual kind in order to achieve the delectable crispy yet not oily coating Kushikatsu Daruma is known for.

I went with quail egg first and it was like your premium kwek-kwek. The delectable quail eggs covered in the crisp batter and dipped in Kushikatsu Daruma's special sauce made me forget my love for the bright orange treat. The sauce, which tasted like a lighter tonkatsu sauce, added flavor to the stick without being overpowering.

Prawn would remind one of tempura. Though good with the special sauce, it made me crave for the usual tempura dip. This is one of my favorites and it is a safe bet for kids. Just add a cup or two of rice and your kids would surely stay put.

Chicken with Garlic is also one a great option to order when with kids. Juicy and garlicky, I enjoyed munching this one with only a light coating of the special sauce.

Tonkatsu or pork loin was pretty good too. However, if I were to compare it with other tonkatsu places, this one won't be on top of my list. But it's part of my top 5.

Classic Kushikatsu, though similar to tonkatsu, was better. The beef was seasoned well and was flavorful enough to be enjoyed as is. The cut of the classis kushikatsu was also a bit bigger than tonkatsu.

My tastebuds were starting to get too overwhelmed after I finished my fifth stick and I decided to eat some of the greens and skipped dipping it in the special sauce. And when I was ready to indulge once more, I went with leek. The crunchy onion-like vegetable turned out to be a great light start.

The shiitake mushroom, which is not part of the beginner set, was my favorite! The chewy texture of the huge mushroom went well with the crunchy batter. The slight sweet taste of shiitake also made it so addicting.

The potato and camembert cheese were my least favorites in the set but it would be something kids might enjoy as these are similar to potato and cheese balls.

Charlie also let me try Chicken Intestine (PHP79/2 sticks) and Chicken Gizzard (PHP79/2 sticks). The two popular street snacks were "Osaka-fied" and I was definitely curious on how different it would be.

Well, aside from the assurance that you're munching on clean food, these two snacks were also covered in the heaven-sent batter. I enjoyed the chicken intestine more than the gizzard as it was more familiar and didn't have that fear factor texture. (Sorry, I really am not just into gizzards.)

Overall, it was a nice dining experience. Though the dishes are slightly on the expensive side, its superb batter make up for it. I'd definitely go back and stuff myself with more prawns, classic kushikatsu and shiitake mushrooms. I'll also order rice on the side coz... I love the Asian way of dining.

P.S. They are only open for dinner during its soft opening. Follow them on IG for updates on when they'll open for lunch. 128522

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Main Street

4.0 Stars
Canadian
10

I always see Main Street whenever I pass by Tuscany. I also noticed it while making my rounds in Kapitolyo when I hunt for new restaurants. But for some reason, I was never lured to pay this restaurant a visit. It may be because I was in the mood for something else whenever I see it or perhaps because of the several lukewarm reviews about its food I've read online. But food gods (a.k.a. looloo) paved the way for me to find out myself if I'm missing out or not at all.

Hello, Main Street!

I was greeted by a well lit black and white signage and a dining area with warm yellow lights. The brown tables, lovely natural stone tiles and tan couches added warmth to the space making it quite homey and quite fitting in Kapitolyo.

We were in for a treat as we were served a lot of dishes!

First served were the poutinerie bowls-- Bacon (PHP230) and Smoked Pulled Pork (PHP240).

Both fries are hand-cut and topped with mozzarella cheese curds. But the bacon bowl, aside from homemade applewood smoked bacon bits, had dark gravy while smoked pulled pork had barbecue sauce, chipotle mayo and chives.

Despite both bowls sitting for over half an hour because of our passion for flatlay, I was impressed that the fries were not soggy at all and were still enjoyable.

Though both had a note of sweetness and have similar taste, I'd go with smoked pulled pork as it had more flavor and the chipotle mayo and chives made it not your usual fries.

For pasta, we sampled Italian Sausage Penne (PHP290) and Classic Carbonara (PHP320).

The Italian Sausage Penne was the least popular dish that night as it was the only plate that we were not able to finish. Though the sausage was juicy and flavorful, the tomato basil cream sauce was too overwhelming. In fact, it had that pungent smell that I'm not fond of.

The Classic Carbonara on the other hand was a crowd favorite. The creamy sauce overloaded with eggs was delightful and made extra delectable with bacon bits and parmesan cheese.

While waiting for the pizzas, we feasted on Main Street's bestselling Buttermilk Fried Chicken (PHP290) and Spicy Chicken Sandwich (PHP260).

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich was stuffed with one overwhelmingly huge chicken fillet topped with buffalo sauce, shredded cabbage, ranch sauce and pickles. I loved that the sandwich was just mildly spiced and that the chicken was juicy. However, it would have been better (and easier to eat) if the chicken fillet was a bit thinner.

I was a bit underwhelmed with Main Street's bestselling fried chicken. Though good as it was crispy and juicy, it wasn't extraordinary or something that would make me go back for more. In fact, it was overshadowed by the Classic Carbonara.

Chef Adam must be enjoying our company when he served all four pizzas for us to try.

Meat and cheese lovers would love Steak and Gorgonzola (PHP350). The perfectly baked pizza was topped with succulent sliced kitayama flank steak and gorgonzola cheese drizzled with olive oil and balsamic reduction. The strong taste of gorgonzola and balsamic were balanced by arugula allowing the taste buds to appreciate the flavor of the steak.

My favorite pizza that night was Bacon and Rosemary (PHP280). Topped with applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella, white cheese and rosemary drizzled with olive oil and honey garlic, it was a harmonious blend of flavors! The slight saltiness of the bacon was beautifully balanced by honey and rosemary added that delectable herby taste which made this pizza a winner in my book.

The Italian (PHP290) was pretty good too. The sausage slices were juicy and I find it a safe order when with kids.

Seafood Lovers (PHP360) was the most expensive among the pizzas and you'd understand why when you order it. Topped with fresh mussels and shrimps, this pizza good for 2-3 is actually bang for the buck. However, I found this dish to be on the bland side. Best to drizzle some chili oil to enhance the seafood's taste.

I was a bit iffy to try the Miso Glazed Salmon (PHP390) as it looked a bit overcooked and the miso mustard sauce seemed a bit too thick and could overpower salmon's natural taste.

I was pleasantly surprised though that it was quite good. The salmon remained moist despite the outer layer being too fried. The sauce also did not mask the fish's taste.

For desserts, we had Apple Crumble (PHP200) and Fudge Brownie a la Mode (PHP190).

Both sweets were pretty good! I loved that the apple crumble's spiced apples remained crunchy and not mushy. It was also bliss eating it with ice cream.

But I enjoyed the fudge brownie a lot more than the apple crumble as I'm a hardcore chocolate lover. But aside from it being so chocolatey, I loved that the edges of the brownie were crunchy. I'm not sure if it was intentional or if it was over-baked but I like it that way.

I also tried Margarita (PHP180) and got slightly tipsy when I reached the half of my glass. I'm not sure if I was too tired from work or if the drink was too strong. But if you want cheap cocktails, Main Street is a great option for you and your friends!

Overall, it was a pleasant dinner. Though no savory dish particularly stood out for me to go back anytime soon, I'm glad I was able to join this fun looloo rendezvoos. I'll definitely swing by for more of the fudge brownies!

Nice to meet you Sun M Jackie S Julienne D Mico C Camille S and Clarisse D (can't tag you for some reason 128517)! And it's always fun seeing you EJ B and Marc M! Thanks for the invite Peanut D!

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