My Reviews

Cocina Peruvia

3.0 Stars
Peruvian
10

Cocina Peruvia is no stranger to me. I've tried it last year in its BGC branch and it was technically not love at first bite. However, I loved its Galera de Chocolate and that was good enough reason for me to go back for more.

Hello, Cucina Peruvia.

This Peruvian restaurant has been around for two years and after spoiling the Bonifacio Global City crowd, it has finally made its way to the north, Vertis North to be exact.

Its newest branch gives a similar vibe with its blue and orange interiors and cute accents.

We started with a refreshing glass of Iced Tea (PHP90) and it deserved to be called a house blend as it definitely did not taste like your usual glass of iced tea. It had a nice blend of tangy and sweet taste.

First dish served was Ceviche Nikkei (PHP290) and I couldn't think of a better way to start our meal with than this. Salmon chunks swimming in coconut milk and citrus juice was great! Its tangy taste definitely whet my appetite. (Note: I'm a fan of ceviche or kilawin so I'm biased with this one.)

Next served was Anticuchos de Corazon (PHP320) and I wasn't very excited to eat it after finding out that it's skewered beef heart. But its mouthwatering aroma was just too much for me not to give it a try. And surprisingly, it was tasty with its salty and slight spicy flavor from the chimichurri and aji amarillo sauce. I wasn't too crazy though with its tough texture.

I got scared when Rocoto Chicken Wings (PHP200) was introduced as a spicy dish. Rocoto, or the Peruvian red pepper powder was described to be similar to Sriracha. I was surprised though that it was very mild for a spicy dish. Considering that I have very low spice tolerance, for me to claim that the dish wasn't spicy says something.

Three pasta dishes were served next namely Pasta a la Huancaina (PHP250), Chorizo con Pasta (PHP250) and Pasta Verde (PHP250).

I sampled Pasta Verde first and it was awesome! I loved the lovely taste of cilantro which was well complemented by garlic, onions, lemon and Parmesan cheese. I might be a bit biased though as I love pasta dishes with a nice herbal flavor.

Pasta a la Huancaina reminded me of carbonara with its creamy taste from the huancaina sauce which is the Peruvian cheese sauce made by blending aji peppers, cheese and onions. Though the pasta itself had a nice light flavor, the chicken chunks were very salty. Best to eat the chunks with a forkful of linguine.

Chorizo con Pasta was described to be hot with chili too but it also lacked the heat we were looking for after hearing that this dish is spicy. Taste-wise though, it was good. It was like your usual pomodoro pasta but with a bit of herb taste from the cilantro oil.

For mains, we had Lomo Saltado (PHP450 | PHP1,190, grande), Adobo Peruvia (PHP400 | PHP1,190, grande), Arroz con Mariscos (PHP450 | PHP1,190, grande) and Pollo a la Brasa (PHP380 | PHP750, grande).

The Lomo Saltado was extremely salty. Though I understand that the
meat should go with the fried potatoes, it was just too salty for my liking. The beef tenderloin strips were not as tender as I wanted it to be too. Needless to say, I didn't fancy this dish.

As a chicken lover, I was excited to try Pollo a la Brasa. Also, I only equate Peruvian dish with chicken. Peru = Peruvian Chicken. Its golden brown skin paired with what looked like perfectly seasoned fries made me drool. But it was dry and a bit on the bland side. The skin was packed with flavor but the marinate didn't go all the way to the white meat. I guess you have to put a generous serving of chimichurri or aji cilantro for taste. The fries were good though.

Cocina Peruvia's version of Seafood Paella, Arroz con Mariscos had generous serving of shrimps, mussels and squids. However, the flavor was not properly mixed. Some parts were too flavorful while some were on the bland side. Best to mix this before scooping a portion. Drizzle it with lemon juice for a lovely contrast of flavors.

My favorite entree was Adobo Peruvia. The pork belly was very tender and the cream sauce made it not your usual adobo. It didn't use vinegar or soy sauce like how we Filipinos do it but this creamy version was spectacular. The dish could be too flavorful though so it is best to pair this with rice.

To cap our feast, we indulged in Galera de Chocolate (PHP350) which was an instant hit with everyone. Its rich dark chocolate tart was definitely hard to hate. The corn and potato crisps added texture to the divine treat (though unnecessary) and the figs gave it a bit of fruity taste.

We all left full and ready to hit the sack. Overall, it was a fun night. I have some favorites I would love to go back to. But given the misses as well during the night, I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars. BUT, I will definitely go back for more Adodo Peruvia!

Thank you, looloo team for the invite! It was a pleasure to be with old (members but young... at heart) and new faces again!

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Providore

4.0 Stars
International
5

It was just a few months ago when Providore delighted my tummy with its superb Bone Marrow Burger. I had a quick chat with A, one of the owners of Raintree Restaurants and I got an insider info that they plan to open an al fresco dining area to serve early morning meals and after work drinks. And last February 8, Providore Backyard, finally opened.

Hello, Providore Backyard!

The chic white shed, faux grass and bar were the first things we saw as soon as we stepped out of the air-conditioned section of Providore. Not only does the set up recreate a “backyard look”, it also exudes a very homey and relaxed ambiance perfect for that well deserved nightcap.

Since we wanted to stick with some light snacks, R and I opted to go with Cali Dog (PHP295) and Steel Plate Nachos (PHP395). For drinks, we went with Red Sangria (PHP275) and Margarita Berry (PHP225).

First served were our drinks and both were pretty good.

The red sangria had a good amount of fruit chunks to make the drink sweet and refreshing.

The Margarita Berry was delightful too. Though it may not have the same punch as other margaritas you’d get elsewhere,

I liked that I could have a glass or two of this delectable drink without having to worry about wobbling home.

The huge plate of nachos was served next and it was packed with cheese, guacamole, onions, pickles and tomato bits guaranteeing each mouthful to tickle your taste buds.

What I loved most about this dish though was that the nacho chips remained crispy despite swimming in toppings for 20 minutes or so. (We had to wait for Cali-Dog before indulging in this great for sharing plate of goodies. Coz, flatlay.)

Though the Cali-Dog didn’t have what we’d call mouthwatering plating, it made up for its lack of Instagram worthiness with taste.

I love the snap I get from each bite of the hotdog and the generous serving of sauerkraut, mustard and bacon bits. The fries on the side were perfectly seasoned too and complemented the hotdog.

Though we were only able to try the casual snacks and bar chows, Providore Backyard also offers breakfast meals. And great news to early risers! This picturesque al fresco dining area is open as early as 8 am. Fret not night owls as you could still get your late night grub till 2am.

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LAVA Cheese Tarts

4.0 Stars
Dessert
5

[Super late post.]

It has been a while since I last dropped by Lava for my cheese tart fix. I try to avoid it as I’ve had a lot during Christmas break (or any break in general). But when my tummy craves, my whole body follows. And so, I found myself in front of Lava one early afternoon.

Hello again, Lava Cheese Tarts!

This time around, I noticed that Lava has a new variant and it’s a sweet one at that. Literally.

Presenting, Gorgonzola and Honey Cheese Tart.

This is perfect for those looking for a sharper cheese taste beautifully balanced by the sweetness of honey. (If you are a fan of honey and cheese combo, then you would love this!)

Though pricier at PHP85 per piece compared to the classic or original at PHP80, I do not mind the small price difference as the stronger taste is worth it! Plus I'm the market of this combo as I feast on slices of cheese and honey once a week! It is definitely a nice treat to have.

I still have yet to try its coffee but I prefer pairing my cheese tart with milk.

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Papa Diddi's Handcrafted Ice Cream

4.0 Stars
Ice Cream
6

I still vaguely remember the first time I visited Papa Diddi’s (which I have yet to blog). And just when I thought that Papa Diddi’s is all about cold treats, I came across its Sapphire Bloc branch and found out that this daddy can whip up savory dishes as well.

Hello, Papa Diddi’s!

Unlike its cramped Maginhawa branch, Papa Diddi’s Ortigas branch is a lot more spacious and had more interesting interiors. Just look at that book chandelier!

I passed by the area at bit past 9 p.m., coming from an event hosted by Real Living magazine, hungry and craving for something warm and filling.

After a few minutes of flipping the menu pages, I decided to go with Champorado and Bagnet (PHP199) because I’m a sucker for breakfast dishes.

While waiting, I kept thinking of which pants to destroy to recreate the denim placemats of Papa Diddi’s. And I was not yet done with choosing which pants to murder when my food arrived. I was impressed as it didn’t take them more than 10 minutes to serve my order.

My champorado and bagnet were served on a wooden paddle that seemed to be meant as pot holder. On the side were milk and sour salt.

I sampled the champorado first without any milk and it was already good. It was chocolatey and the grains were not overly soft or mushy. I then poured some milk after and it didn’t really do much difference to the taste.

The bagnet on the other hand was crunchy and salty, creating a nice contrast against the sweet champorado. I sprinkled it with some sour salt giving the crunchy pork a stronger (and tangier) taste!

I can’t wait to try Papa Diddi’s other dishes!

P.S. Papa Diddi’s air conditioning units are pretty powerful. Make sure you have a cardigan or shawl handy when you drop by.

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Gringo

4.0 Stars
Fusion
3

Ola amigos and amigas! Those are the words that come in mind when I think of Gringo, a restaurant known for its delectable baked chicken. And when I found out that Gringo opened a branch in BGC, I was beyond ecstatic! I could finally sink my teeth into some of Gringo’s well-loved chicken.

Hello, Gringo.

After a tiring walk around High Street and Burgos Circle to do some errands, I decided to reward myself with a nice meal before heading back home. And it was the perfect time to stop by Gringo.

I was warmly greeted by one of the staff and ushered me to a vacant table. He quickly handed the menu and gave me a glass of cold water.

After some thought, I ordered Quarter of Gringo Original Chicken with two sides (PHP225). For sides, I went with marbled potatoes and roasted squash. I also got a glass of House-brewed Iced Tea (PHP75).

Service was fast as my glass of iced tea was served after three minutes. And it sure was no Nestea or Lipton.

I have nothing against the two popular brands but I just do not like it when restaurants claim that they served house-brewed iced tea only to drink those ready-to-drink ones. Gringo’s iced tea has a nice dark tea taste which I love. But it’s best to wait for the ice to melt a bit as the drink could be a bit too flavorful to quench one’s thirst. (But hey, that means more iced tea!)

My plate of baked herby chicken was served next and I quickly took some snapshots without realizing that one of the sides I got was wrong. Instead of squash, I got eggplant. But the staff quickly replaced it after I pointed it out.

And true to most reviews, Gringo’s chicken delights and tickles the taste buds. The poultry marinated in various herbs and lemon was indeed flavorful and juicy. It was like a healthier version of KFC, only way better! It didn’t need any of the two sauces it comes with.

I would have preferred my sides to be a bit mushy as I found both to be too hard. But I guess it was cooked as such to add texture to the beautifully moist chicken. Just don’t expect for equally tasty side dishes as these ones were lightly seasoned.

Overall, it was a very pleasant dining experience. I didn’t get weird looks from the crew as I get the centerpiece from the other table for flat lay. Service was quick and everything was affordable.

Will I go back? Definitely!

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Taco Bell

4.0 Stars
Fast Food
5

Would you believe me if I tell you that I've never been to Taco Bell before? Well, aside from it having few branches in Manila, I'm always more inclined to visit a non-fast food Mexican joint for my taco fix. I'd find myself just walk past its purple and yellow facade without any second thought. But last week was different.

Hello, Taco Bell.

I was at Trinoma last week for the opening of my favorite yogurt, llaollao. I came in a bit too early for the VIP party so I decided to look for a place to have late lunch instead. I was leaning towards getting Turks Shawarma but I bumped into a friend who wanted to go for Taco Bell. Since I've never been to Taco Bell, I figured that it's not a bad idea.

We saw this meal for two that includes nachos, fries with sour cream, tacos, churros and drinks priced at less than PHP400. Sweet deal right?

I had zero expectations from this American joint as I haven't really heard much about it from my friends as well.

I first tried the fried potatoes topped with sour cream and cheese and it was pretty good! In fact, it was super duper good that I finished it in record time and found myself wanting more.

The nachos had a pretty generous serving of cheese and ground beef. It was pretty good too, though definitely not part of my top three.

The tacos were very oily and you need a plate for it unless you want to sport an oil stained pair of pants. It was definitely rich in flavor though I felt super guilty indulging in this fattening treat halfway through my taco.

The churros was great too. Unlike the other dishes, it was not oily. It also had that lovely crunch. The dip had a nice rich dark chocolate taste perfect with the churros.

It was definitely a great first experience at Taco Bell. It somehow made me sad though to know that I've been missing out for years! I should have visited this place a lot sooner. But here's to more Taco Bell visits!

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Hapag Heritage Cuisine

4.0 Stars
Filipino
8

There's nothing more comforting than Filipino food. Always rich in flavor, each bite never fails to make me feel like at home. And at Hapag Heritage Cuisine, I didn't feel just at home, I felt like I had a gastronomical trip around the Philippines.

Hello, Hapag Heritage Cuisine.

This Filipino restaurant tucked inside the foodie haven Teachers Village was one of the stops of a sponsored food crawl I've recently attended.

Stepping inside would transport you to your favorite grandparent's home where you get spoiled with scrumptious homemade food. The quaint ornaments displayed on the shelves and wooden furniture makes one feel right at home.

For this visit, we sampled Tinapa Roll (PHP210), Bagnet Vigan (PHP350), Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas (PHP360), Kare-Kareng Baka (PHP370, regular | PHP560, family), Tinapa Rice (PHP250), Binagoongang Kanin (PHP240), and Suman (PHP130).

Service was pretty fast as the dishes were served in less than 15 minutes.

I first sampled the Tinapa Roll and it was on the salty side. It wasn't surprising though as the small smoked fish does have a salty flavor. It is best to dip it in the sweet brown sauce it comes with or you might want to try dipping it in vinegar.

The Bagnet Vigan was delightful! Sourced all the way from Vigan, Ilocos Norte, this local favorite has that addicting crunch that would make you want to finish half of the plate (or the whole plate if you're extra hungry). Best to pair this with rice.

I fell in love with the Sinigang na Bangus. The grainy and sweet broth with the soft milkfish was delicious! It even made those not fond of this dish into fans! It was so good that we had to request for a second bowl. I also liked that Hapag carefully filtered the guava seeds as I didn't get a single seed after wolfing down two servings.

Kare-Kareng Baka was good too. I liked that it had generous serving of ox tripe, beef brisket, beef knuckles and vegetables. The peanut-y sauce was spot on too. It was thick, just the way I like it. However, as I was about to finish my second spoonful, I noticed that there was a small piece of hair on my portion. It sure made me lose my appetite for it.

I prefer the Binagoongang Kanin over the Tinapa Rice as its blend of sweet and salty flavors was more interesting for me. Also, I got hurt by some fish bones from the tinapa rice. So be careful if you decide to get the latter.

To cap our meal, we had Suman with Gata. It was your usual sticky rice with thick coconut sauce topped with slices of mangoes. I consider this dish more Asian than traditional Filipino though.

Overall, it was a pleasant visit and I'll definitely swing by again for some bagnet and sinigang na bangus sa bayabas.

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Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice

4.0 Stars
Singaporean
8

Wee Nam Kee has been around for several years now, but for some reason, it never succeeded in attracting me to any of its branches. And the weird part is that I love Hainanese chicken. But it was in my fate to eventually step inside Wee Nam Kee and that day finally came two months ago.

Hello, Wee Nam Kee!

We visited its Serendra branch one Friday night and we were instantly greeted by warm yellow lights and a crowd feasting on some Singaporean signature dishes.

Plate after plate of scrumptious looking dishes were served on our table while another server was busy serving everyone glasses of Iced Lemon Tea (PHP70 | PHP95, bottomless).

As a Wee Nam Kee first-timer, I didn’t know that the dishes served to us were the Singaporean restaurant’s new offerings.

The Laksa Lava Fish Cake (PHP195 / 2 pieces) was an instant favorite as the beautiful contrast between the silky fish cakes and crunchy breading was addicting.

The delightful laksa curry filling also added oomph to the dish making it a superb appetizer. If you happen to have very low tolerance to spicy food, fret not as this dish is mildly spiced.

My eyes were on the Cereal Soft Shelled Crab (PHP658, 2 piece) and Chili Soft Shelled Crab (PHP658, 2 pieces) as soon as both were placed on the table. And both did not disappoint in the taste department.

The Cereal Soft Shelled Crab, just like its sister Cereal Prawns, were crunchy and had a divine sweet taste with a bit of spicy kick. But just like Laksa Lava Fish Cake, its spiciness was tolerable.

Chili Soft Shelled Crab, on the other hand, had onion rings as the bed of the battered soft shelled crab covered in sweet-spicy sauce that gave a gentle hot kick at the end of each bite.

The Braised Beef Brisket with Potatoes (PHP380) was another dish that tickled my tastebuds. The succulent beef brisket chunks and potato balls were beautifully coated with a peach flavored sauce that made the dish enjoyably sweet. But I had to eat this with some rice as it is quite rich in flavor.

A trip to Wee Nam Kee is not complete without indulging in its bestselling teamed Hainanese Yellow Chicken (PHP455, small | PHP898, medium | PHP1,688, large).

I managed to get a portion of the tender and juicy poultry and loved it with a generous serving of ginger.

However, if I were to choose between steamed and roasted, I’d go with roasted (PHP234, personal set | PHP352, small | PHP618, medium | PHP1,045, large) as I love its smokey taste. And with Wee Nam Kee’s superb culinary staff, the chicken remained moist and simply delectable.

Overall, it was a great dining experience. All the dishes served to us were delightful and would make me go back for more.

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Abaca Baking Company

3.0 Stars
Café
6

Abaca is not a foreign name to those who frequent Cebu. As one of the popular restaurant groups in the city, a visit to any of Abaca Group’s restaurants is a must. I’ve been to Maya, Abaca’s Mexican joint last 2015 after my trip to Bantayan Island and I was impressed by its nachos and very flavorful Asada Fajitas. This time around, I made sure to drop by its cafe counterpart, Abacá Baking Company.

Hello, Abacá Baking Company.

Located a few steps away from Maya, this place has a very chill and New York bakery vibe.

Since there are only high stools on the ground floor, we decided to head up to the second floor. I was hoping that some of the staff would help us carry our luggages (as we were on our way to the airport then) upstairs but we didn’t get any assistance from anyone even when some were just idle when we arrived.

We were approached by a server with a very red nose and handed us menu. With hoarse voice, she mentioned their bestsellers and we decided to go for Tomato Soup (PHP195), Skillet Breakfast (PHP495) and Calamansi (PHP55). For dessert, we went with Fresh Fruit Tart (PHP225).

First served was a glass of tangy calamansi juice.

Drinking it as is would be like pinching the tastebuds as a mere drop was tangy enough to make one’s face scrunch. In order to avoid wrinkles, it is best to pour some syrup in. However, foodies fond of sweet drinks may not find one shot of syrup enough.

Next served was our piping hot bowl of tomato soup (that day’s Daily Soup) served with a thick buttered brioche.

As a tomato soup fan, I was excited to take my first sip and compare it with Cicada’s Roast Tomato Soup. But I was slightly disappointed by it.

Unlike Cicada’s, Abaca’s version was slightly watered down. Also, serving size was smaller and pricier. But if you plan to order a lot of dishes, Abaca’s soup would be a better option as it was lighter in the tummy, just like how appetizers should be.

After a couple of minutes, a skillet filled with fried eggs, bacon, country style sausage (patties), beans, tomatoes and thick toasts graced our table. It sure made us thankful for not ordering another dish as this one looked really filling.

And it was filling. But that was about it. Sadly, it was not impressive on the taste department. It was pretty much ordinary. The only thing that stood out was the fluffy toast.

At least the fruit tart’s taste gave justice to its steep price.

The huge fruit slices and chunks were indeed fresh and went well with the smooth and creamy custard and crunchy tart.

I guess it’s best to order pastries from Abacá and head over to Maya for savory dishes.

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Kamameshi House

3.0 Stars
Japanese
8

Japanese restaurants never fail to charm me like light to fly. I’d go to one for lunch or dinner if I have the chance to do so. And when I spotted New Kamameshi House during one of our Pokemon Go runs, R already knew where we were going to have dinner.

Hello, New Kamameshi House.

I heard that this Japanese restaurant is one of the pioneers in Quezon Memorial Circle. With it having several years of being in business, my expectation from this place went up a bit.

There were not a lot of people when we dropped by around 7:30 pm on a Sunday night. In fact, there were only 2 other tables occupied then.

We were quickly assisted by one of the staff who patiently waited till we decided on getting Tori Kamameshi (PHP165), Uni Temaki Sushi (PHP163), Ebi Tempura Meal (PHP220) and Tempura Maki (PHP206).

While waiting for our food, we were served some complimentary appetizers and house tea.

I must be famished as I finished mine in less than 2 minutes. (Well, I also happen to be a sucker for bean sprouts.)

Soon, a lovely lone Uni Temaki Sushi was served and it tasted just as good as how it looks. I liked that Kamameshi House was generous with its uni. Even my last bite had sea urchin! The rice used was great too and not the paste-like type some Japanese fast food chains use.

R’s Tempura Maki was served next and the ones without Japanese mayo were on the bland side so make sure you spread that eggy goodness on all the rolls.

The Ebi Tempura Meal which was composed of two prawn tempura, two veggie tempura and misoshiru (soy bean based) soup was decent. I was trying to figure out if it was value for money or not. But it might seem to be a bit on the pricy side given that you only get two small ebi tempura while other restaurants offer a bit more at that price. However, if you are particular with your rice, Kamameshi House offers better quality carbs to pair your tempura with.

My Tori Kamameshi was served last and I was intrigued with the traditional rice cooker looking container of my chicken rice.

Apparently, this is how kamameshi rice is prepared. It is cooked in an iron pot called kama along with other ingredients ranging from meat, seafood and vegetables. And by cooking rice on an iron pot, you can’t avoid having slightly burnt rice at the bottom. But this, according to Wikipedia, is the best part of the meal as it gives a desirable flavor to the dish while adding texture as well.

My Tori Kamameshi had an enjoyable light taste. The chicken bits were succulent and were made even better with the light soy broth. The rice was great too and true to what Wikipedia claims, the burnt part was actually the best part for me as it added crunch to the dish.

Overall, it was a pleasant dinner and I would love to go back and try the other kamameshi dishes.

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