Monday, March 30, 2015

Parrillada Grill, Maginhawa Street

Our lunch out again ended up in Maginhawa Street in UP Village. This time around we decided to go to Parrillada Grill, which was located on the same building as Katsu Cafe, Wicked Kitchen and Via Antonella. We had eaten here before and enjoyed our meal but I wasn't able to take any photos then. I took a few to share to foodies looking for a good grill in that area near Camp Karingal.

Parrillada menu
Their version of chop suey was just right. It was not oily or overcooked. The veggies were fresh and crunchy.
Grilled tuna steak - the tuna was just right including the size of the serving and the thickness. It wasn't hard or rubbery.
Grilled liempo - was also cooked just right so you didn't get a badly charred piece of meat
The staff at Parrillada were attentive and the prices are okay for the budget conscious. In our case, we ordered items to share so everyone could have fish, meat and vegetables. The food mentioned above was shared by three people.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Aka renga

I lived in Yokohama from 1996 - 1999. At the time, there was a lot of developments in the Minato Mirai district. These included restoration and rehabilitation work for many structures in what used to be a major part of the Port of Yokohama. These included former warehouses made of red brick - aka renga - in area that was designated as a park dedicated to these red brick buildings. The restoration and preservation of these red brick buildings and others like it that have been declared as national, prefectural or even city treasures because of their historical or heritage value are most admirable and among the things we could learn from. 

And then there is the commercial aspect of this initiative, which includes holding events in the area as well as selling merchandise with the theme of aka renga. Quite fittingly, I got a box of aka renga-themed delights as omiyage (souvenir or pasalubong) from a student of my second adviser when he visited a few months ago to discuss data collection for his research.

The box was wrapped in paper featuring a print of one of the red brick buildings.
Detailed information on the product is at the back including info stating that it was indeed manufactured in Yokohama.
After removing the wrapper, a simpler box is revealed.
The soft caramel nut cakes are individually wrapped.
The content of each pack was what looked like a lemon square.
A closer look shows crushed almonds on top of a few layers of caramel and pastry.
The bar looks like a slice of sans rival but it is more like a caramel bar. The consistency is like that but in my opinion it tastes much better than your regular caramel bar. Is it the best one around? Probably not and there will be others that would likely be better than this bar but this one's good for a souvenir item.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nuezca Cafe - Maginhawa Street

A good friend spotted this restaurant one time we were looking for a place to have lunch along Maginhawa Street at UP Village. Nuezca Cafe is located at the corner of Maginhawa and Mahusay Streets near Holy Family School. We seem to be always passing it going to other restaurants so one lunch time we finally tried our luck so we could add to our list of restaurants and cafes we have eaten at along this popular "eat street" in Quezon City.

The interiors of Nuezca features hardwood tables and chairs. The furniture outside is of stainless steel or aluminum chairs and tables, suitable for the outdoors.
The cafe has indoor and outdoor areas for dining.
They have a large kitchen, which means they can handle many orders at the same time. This is important in terms of the waiting time for customers, especially those already hungry or are in a hurry for their meals (e.g., those on lunch breaks from their offices or schools).
Their pesto pasta with grilled chicken is good (period).
The chicken tinola seems to use native chicken (we didn't ask the staff) and organic ingredients. It was good and definitely something one should order on a rainy day.
The organic leche flan was good and the sweetness was just right. I don't think the taste had anything to do with it being branded as 'organic'.
The main issue for Nuezca would be the lack of parking spaces for diners. There are few slots available but these are on-street and shared with other establishments along Maginhawa. It is near a corner and vehicles cannot park along Mahusay Street. Of course, people taking public transport (tricycles in this case) or walking would not find any difficulties coming here but then that also defeats the purpose of Maginhawa being promoted for its restaurants. Surely, it is not only for people who live in the area but for others as well to enjoy the food Maginhawa restaurants and cafes have to offer.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When Uan Met Sally - Maginhawa Street

We had lunch at UP Village again and decided to check out some new places we saw this new cafe just across from the Artsy Cafe along Maginhawa Street. "When Uan Met Sally" had a curious name about it and I remembered it being mentioned by a good friend who also likes to try out the restaurants and cafes in UP Village so we decided to try it out.

The cafe offers a cozy place for a full meal or snack.
The owners obviously paid a lot of attention to detail when it came to the interiors of the restaurant.
They have this "Mickey Mouse" fruit bunch on display.
Another photo showing the interesting interiors of the cafe.
They have a nice shop up front that sells some interesting stuff including these rosaries from Israel. These don't come cheap though as the beads are made of semi-precious stones and metal work.
Lemongrass and chamomile blend tea.
They have a good salad on their menu and we liked that they mixed in the grapes and candied walnuts to the greens.
Their take on chicken adobo
Spanish sardine omelet

The food is okay but their current menu is quite limited. It also took a while for our orders to arrive so I guess they also have a small kitchen that's not really designed to handle a lot of orders for meals. I think they are really more a cafe that's suitable for meriendas or coffee or tea after dinner rather than for lunches or dinners. We'll give it the benefit of the doubt in terms of their offerings as they only opened recently.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kampai Sushi Bar in Antipolo

Kampai or kanpai loosely means "cheers" or a toast in Japanese. After watching a movie one evening at the theater at newly opened mall near our home, we decided to take a look at the restaurants there. We decided to try out a sushi bar that seemed to have a lot of customers (so it must be good?). There was even a party at its second level so it was quite noisy inside due to the music and the partying people. We just had some drinks to go with our sashimi and maki.

Kampai Sushi Bar opened a few weeks ago at the new Robinsons Place in Antipolo. It's the first Japanese themed restaurant, cafe or bar at Robinsons.
The salmon sashimi was okay but they used local variety of salmon or what appears to be the not so desirable part for sashimi. This looked like it was more suitable for sushi instead. Pwede na but Japanese food-lovers will surely be disappointed if they don't improve the sashimi
They call it "Antipolo Maki." It's obviously derived from "California Maki" and tasted okay. However, we were disappointed it only had cashew nuts and no mango in it. Antipolo is famous for suman, mangga and kasuy (rice pudding, mangoes and cashew nuts). The sticky rice (subbed by Japanese rice) was there as well as the cashew, but the mango wasn't.
The jury is still out there on Kampai Sushi Bar. We'll probably eat there again to check out the other items on their menu. We were there just for a quick, light meal and we weren't expecting much. But then we'd also like to have a good Japanese restaurant near our place where we can go to if we have cravings for Japanese food.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Carbonara or something like it

The Clairvoyant remembered that we still had some prosciuto in the freezer so we decided to try to make some carbonara. This was, of course, inspired by the cooking on David Rocco's reruns that we usually catch on TV. My only request was for her to do away with the egg. True to her recent form with respect to her cooking, the Clairvoyant with some help from our helper turned in another terrific dinner. Well, it is not so difficult to satisfy me on the dinner table especially when good pasta is being served.

Homemade creamy carbonara with prosciuto, button mushrooms and pepperoncino
A close-up of our delightful dinner

I think the keys to good pasta recipes are the ingredients. The herbs, meat, spices and pasta should be high quality. That gets you probably halfway to a good meal. The other half would have to be the cooking itself and with formal instructions as guide, one should not be afraid to put in his/her touch to customize the flavors according to the tastes of whoever will be eating the food.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen

Did I mention before that I love Italian food? And this is among the reasons why I like to try out restaurants serving Italian food wherever I may be including cities and countries I go to where it is imperative to try local food (I still go to Saizeria when I am in Japan despite all the Japanese restaurants around me.) I've heard about Mama Lou's Italian Kitchen from friends and that they now have a branch at UP Town Center. I didn't get to try it out until about 3 weeks ago.

The first time I ate at Mama Lou's was when an old friend treated us to lunch a few weeks ago. He ordered for us what he said were specialties of the restaurant. Needless to say, we had a very good lunch. A week after that, a friend and I decided to eat out during one lazy weekday that we suddenly found ourselves without any meetings or classes. We ordered items different from what I had the week before. I could say that based on these, so far, that the food is top quality and they are consistent with this critical aspect of food.

The items on their menu is impressive
Interior of the restaurant
Mama Lou's special pizza with prosciuto, arugula, mango and balsamic vinegar
Spaghetti seafood pomodoro
Ravioli spinaci pomodoro
Chocolate cake
Some tips: Based on what I've seen so far - it's easy to get a table during lunchtimes on a weekday. It is difficult to get a table on evenings for dinner and during the weekends (lunch or dinner). A must try  is their version of iced tea.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

The macarons of TWG

I had a nice surprise for my birthday last month waiting in the refrigerator. The Clairvoyant bought a box of macarons from TWG, our favorite tea place when we were in Singapore that's now also in Manila. When I opened the box, it seemed she got at least one of every kind of macarons they had at TWG. It was definitely a treat that we enjoyed over several nights after dinners.

The nice box came with a nice ribbon.
TWG is, of course, well known for its wide selection of teas. And its been selling and serving the finest since 1837.
Based on the excellent quality of the macarons, I guess the Gran Crus description also extends to these treats.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nic's Kitchen

There's this nice cafe in the Mandaluyong/San Juan area that we went to many years ago when we met up with a good friend living near there. We never returned to eat there despite our interest as it was out of the way. Sasadyain talaga if we wanted to eat there or the other cafes we saw in the area. There's finally a Nic's Kitchen that's more accessible to us as they opened a branch at the UP Town Center. We decided to eat there one lazy Saturday noontime and was surprised there weren't much people eating there. I guess they thought it was more a shop than a restaurant. That's their loss as the food is good at Nic's Kitchen.

Nic's Kitchen has many bottled delights including their bangus specialty that's ready to eat with bread or rice.
Parmesan chicken with pasta and bread.
Roast beef salpicao with salad on the side.
The cafe/shop is a cozy place to eat. Nothing fancy but nice for conversations or small meetings. They have a good menu and even better, more selections for cakes and pastries.
Another look at the cafe's interior showing more goodies in the refrigerator.
A good meal deserves a good dessert to cap it off


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Shi Lin and Xiao Long Bao

We always seem to miss our lunches and dinners out when we were still residing in Singapore. Among those we miss is our frequent visits to branches of Din Tai Fung, a popular Taiwanese chain well known for its specialty - Xiao Long Bao. Xiao Long Bao is a steamed dimsum with ground meat and a signature soup that makes it such a delight to eat. I haven't had good Xiao Long Bao in Manila even as I tried the version of one restaurant in Binondo recently. To be fair, there might be one or more restaurants in Binondo that I should try one time that probably serves really good Xiao Long Bao.

The Clairvoyant mentioned to me one time that they ate at this restaurant at Bonifacio Global City that's near their office. She said that it served good Xiao Long Bao as well as other items. It also reminded her of Din Tai Fung. Unfortunately, I haven't had much opportunities to go to BGC and eat out with the Clairvoyant there. But then last week after attending a seminar in Alabang, we decided to have lunch at the Alabang Town Center where we spotted a Shi Lin branch, and so I finally was able to try their Xiao Long Bao.

Interior of Shi Lin's Alabang Town Center branch
Xiao Long Bao just as we like it - steaming but not scalding, flavourful soup. It's the real deal!
Crispy lean chicken chop over fried rice was surprisingly flavorful
You can see the staff preparing the dims and noodles from the window
Din Tai Fung is reportedly going to open its first branch in Manila this year. That will surely be a game changer for the Chinese restaurants here as they bring their specialties and perhaps challenge other similarly themed restaurants to raise their games. Until then, I am quite satisfied with Shi Lin and will surely be back to eat at this restaurant soon.