My Reviews

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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10,000 Roses Cafe

3.0 Stars
Café
10

I always look forward to my Cebu visits as it means pigging out and indulging in some cholesterol-filled lechon. I also love that most of the new Cebu restaurants pay attention to ambiance and not just offering good food. But one café stood out and outdid everyone in the ambiance category when it filled its front yard with 10,000 roses.

Hello, 10,000 Roses.

This place is at the end of Cordova and the last two to three hundred meters are not accessible by car (or for not VIP tourists like me 128517).

Given the influx of tourists and locals, there is now an environmental fee of PHP20 per person to get in the area of Lantaw and this café.

As soon as we settled the fees, we were greeted by a huge crowd and numerous selfie sticks. Since we do not want to squeeze our way in to get a selfie or two, we opted to go straight to the café to order something.

Unfortunately, the café experienced an electrical problem and we could not order any of its cold drinks because they didn't have enough pre-brewed coffee and ice. (They did get to fix it though after 20 minutes or so but we opted not to order anything anymore.)

We decided to stay at the al fresco area and enjoyed Cebu's skyline and one Chocolate Chip Muffin to pass time.

The chocolate chip muffin was your usual average tasting baked good. And sadly, it was quite forgettable. We opted not to order drinks after being underwhelmed by the muffin.

Since the place was getting even more crowded by the minute, I opted to take photos of the place and of the beautiful scenery before it becomes too chaotic.

Though it is best to visit this place at night to see the roses glow and dance (yep, those are fake roses), this place is also picturesque (sans the crowd) when the sun is about to set. You'd also get to see the skyline and the nearby island.

But would I go back? Not anytime soon. Maybe when the craze is over.

Tip: Most, if not all, dishes available are on the expensive side given its serving size. The only one that seemed bang for the buck is nachos. Drinks, on the other hand, are priced at Starbucks level.

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Wildflour Café + Bakery

4.0 Stars
Café
6

I think most of us are guilty for ordering the more photogenic dish over the tastier one. More often than not, I find myself asking the server if the dish I’d like to order is photogenic and hesitate when I get no for an answer. But there’s a restaurant with a menu packed with pretty AND photogenic dishes. Yes, I’m talking about Wildflour.

Hello, Wildflour.

I’ve never seen Wildflour empty and it proves that this restaurant is not just a craze or have lost its charm after the market lost interest in Cronuts.

The homey café-slash-restaurant is one of Foodgrammer PH’s favorite restaurants and since we miss our fairy god foodie, we decided to have lunch there one time to celebrate how good 2016 was to us.

Ruth S and I arrived a few minutes past 12 noon and we were greeted by F who was already there munching on the complimentary bread.

Since we couldn’t seem to decide on what to order, R and I decided to share dishes and went with French Omelette (PHP345) and Chia Bowl (PHP350). I wasn’t able to take note of F’s order but it was an absolute egg porn dish!

Sadly, service was not as fast as it should have been. It’s just so interesting how restaurants are like printers, it could sense when you’re in a hurry. In our case, we only have an hour to enjoy our lunch.

Half an hour later, our food arrived and all looked so beautiful and seemed like it came straight out of a magazine feature.

After a few snapshots, we finally feasted on our hefty breakfast dishes for lunch and we fell in love (again).

The French Omelette was a fluffy scrambled egg stuffed with ham and ricotta sitting on a delightful tangy bed of tomato sauce and topped with arugula and parmesan cheese.

The tangy sauce and cheese were beautifully balanced by the divine egg and flavorful ham while the arugula added crunch and a bit of healthy taste to the dish.

If I were to choose what I’d like to eat every single morning, I’d choose this bowl of happiness.

I had no idea that a bowl of fresh fruits with chia seeds, almond milk, coconut milk, honey and toasted almonds would make me so giddy. If healthy living means eating this every day, sign me up!

Though it might be pricey, the huge chunks of premium fruits make up for it. (And chia seeds are not cheap too!)

As a treat, F bought R and I some puffed pastry which reminded us of cream puffs. I just don’t remember the name but it sounded like bon bon. I just hope that I didn’t massacred the name.

Overall, it was another pleasant lunch. It would have been better if service was fast. But food and company were great so it was still a lovely experience.

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Ping Pong Diplomacy

5.0 Stars
Fusion
10

I've been waiting for Ping Pong Diplomacy's opening ever since I saw its board up in SM Aura a couple of months back. Clueless of what this restaurant will offer, I was sure of one thing... that it'll be superb given that it's the brainchild of the Tasteless Group. From hits like Wrong Ramen, Le Petit Souffle, Hey Handsome, Freezer Burn, Bad Bird and so on, it's guaranteed that this new foodie destination will be just like its big brothers (or sisters?). And when I found out that they finally opened this week, I just have to be one of the first to indulge in its mouthwatering dishes.

Hello, Ping Pong Diplomacy!

Before I drool again as I recall all the dishes I enjoyed during my visit, let's do a bit of recap on history.

Ping Pong Diplomacy is actually part of American and Chinese history and an important one at that as it was the first contact of both countries after two decades of neither diplomatic or economic relations. So why ping pong? The two countries' first exchange was through a game of table tennis during the 31st World Table Tennis Championships. If you've seen Forrest Gump, you'd get what I mean.

I'm sure you're still wondering why the Tasteless Group named its newest venture such. To answer, it's because Charlie Paw envisions this restaurant to be a place that offers a fresh take on Chinese food; just like how Americans pictured it to be in the 70s. (Note that there was no communication for two decades so the younger Americans then were quite clueless of the Chinese culture, more so for its cuisine.) This is also the reason why the innovative restaurant group tapped chefs Him Uy de Baron and Noel Mauricio, known for their unconventional and fresh dishes, to be the head chefs of this restaurant.

Now that we're on lunch break, let's focus on Ping Pong Diplomacy restaurant.

I was first greeted by a quirky lighted signage that changes lights to depict the movement of a ping pong ball. Such cute facade gave me an impression that I was about to have one fun lunch.

The wall filled with table tennis paddles caught my attention as I stepped inside Ping Pong Diplomacy. And as I tried to count the paddles, I kept thinking how perfect this wall would be as background for food shots!

I saw Charlie during my visit and he did the ordering for me. He chose Crunchy Eggplant (PHP140), Ping Pong Wings (PHP320), Simple Fried Eggs (PHP135), Dan Dan Chicken Skin Rice (PHP285) and Almond Soy Cooler (PHP85). I also ordered Fortune Balls (PHP150) as I'm crazy for mochi!

As I admire the interiors some more, my glass of Almond Soy Cooler was served. I tried my best not to take a sip in order to include it in the food shots and I barely made it.

This drink may come in a small glass but each sip is packed with flavor. I hate almond drinks but I was surprised that I enjoyed this one. The almond taste was pronounced but I'm happy that it didn't taste like medicine as some other almond drinks or desserts taste like. I also enjoyed munching on the jello.

A pretty fried egg topped with scallions, pork floss and sweet Oriental sauce was served next and it was love at first bite.

I love pork floss and eggs but I've never really had those two together at the same time. It sure tickled my tastebuds with its sweet taste. The crunchy edges of the fried egg went well with the chewiness of the floss and the smooth texture of the yolk. This dish made me wish I discovered this pairing sooner.

The striking tower of battered eggplants was pretty good as well!

I loved how true the dish was to its name. The coating was indeed crunchy and was beautifully covered in sweet sauce with a bit of spicy kick. It was a nice contrast against the soft eggplant.

A bowl of chicken wings soon followed and to be honest, I wasn't too excited with this one as I'm not a fan of chicken wings.

But I was surprised that I liked it to the point of not minding the bones. I didn't expect that a 12 spice blend (think KFC with an Asian twist) chicken wings paired with crispy leek and pickled cucumbers would turn me into a fan of this popular finger food.

I was already getting full when the Dan Dan Chicken Skin Rice was served. Knowing that this is one of the talked about dishes at Fire in the Hole (Hole in the Wall's pop up booth last year), I just have to try it, even when I was told that this dish is hot. And by hot I mean spicy.

And it was indeed spicy but not to the point that I'd rush to the kitchen and drink gallons of water. It was manageable and I liked it! The scrumptious rice was a mix of sweet and spicy flavors topped with crunchy chicken skin and fried egg. The result, a gastronomic experience! The blend of flavors brought me to dandan heaven!

I read somewhere that you could request to make this dish a bit spicier if desired. I'm fine though with it as is.

And to cap my meal, I indulged in a colorful plate of mochi in black sesame, taro and ginger flavors topped with sesame crumble served on a bed of pistachio cream.

As usual, Chef Miko, the person behind this dish, wowed me. I loved each mochi and the sesame crumble was a brilliant touch as it added texture to the chewy treat.

Overall, it was a fantastic dining experience. Food was great and prices were very pocket/wallet friendly. I'd definitely be back to try the other dishes and perhaps some more of the ones I've already tried.

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