Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mogu Tree Noodle House

There's a noodle shop that has become a bit popular along Ortigas Avenue Extension and just before the Beverly Hills Subdivision gate. Mogu Tree Noodle House offers a different take on food that is quite appropriate for rainy days like what we have this wet season. Here are a few photos I took one time we decided to stopover and try out this small restaurant in Antipolo City.

Mogu Tree menu
Illustrative noodle combinations
They also have dumplings if you prefer to have somethings on the side to enjoy with your noodles
And if you can't do without rice, they also have some rice bowls .
Customers have the choice of noodles and what you want to go with them including the type of soup. Mogu Tree has a lot of ingredients to choose from and the suggested combinations in the menu shouldn't stop you from coming up with your own noodle concoction.
The noodles are served piping hot so I would recommend spending some time in conversation (if you have company) or doing something else while letting your meal cook a little bit more and cool off enough for you to enjoy eating.
You are free to experiment on combinations for your bowl of noodles. Of course, this will come at a cost if you opt to have more ingredients than the ones suggested in their menu. In our case, both the wife and I were able to come up with good meals based on our 'experience' with ramen. Mushrooms and dumplings work well with their plain noodle soup and ramen noodles. We will definitely be back but probably time our next meal during the off-peak as Mogu Tree seem to have acquired a good following during this season of rains. As the saying goes "Masarap humigop ng mainit na sabaw kapag maulan at maginaw" ("It's good to have hot soup when it's rainy and cold.") 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ineng's Barbecue

We enjoyed Ineng's barbecue from when we first tasted their specialty at Market! Market! many years ago. It's good to eat there from time to time instead of just ordering barbecue to take home or for office lunches. There's an Ineng's located at a mall near our home so one time before watching a movie, we decided to have lunch there.

Their mixed pansit - canton and bihon was a generous serving. Good old fashioned noodles are a welcome alternative to pasta and brings back memories when spaghetti was not yet the 'in' thing for get-togethers or parties. It's part of what we call 'comfort food' especially when you are abroad and often eat what they have there instead of home cooked meals.
Inihaw na longanisa (grilled local sausage) - I tried their 'longanisa barbecue' out partly to compare with the one (also grilled) I had in Cebu recently. Of course, there are different types of longanisa in different parts of the Philippines but the grilled ones were definitely better than fried.
Liempo barbecue (grilled pork belly) is also good but then what do you expect from a restaurant whose specialty is pork barbecue?


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chocolate review: Goplana Gorzka 60% cocoa

I spotted another bar at a popular supermarket inside the Clark Freeport. I didn't notice it before as it was on the shelves with the M&Ms and Snickers bars. They weren't conspicuous enough for my quick scan of the shelves for dark chocolates. The last time though, I had some time to browse the shelves so I was able to pick up a couple of these chocolates from Poland. Previously, I had bought some chocolates from Romania and became curious about Eastern European chocolates. The Clairvoyant went around Eastern Europe during one of her trips to Europe a few years ago and wasn't able to bring back chocolates from the countries she visited.

Goplana's wrapper states a cocoa content of 60%.
Nutritional information about the chocolate in Polish, English and French
Ingredients and other information about the chocolate

Goplana Czekolada Gorzka (Polish for dark chocolate, as I learned) is good chocolate. It is not as refined as the Belgians and other chocolates from Western Europe that we have tasted but it is better or equal that of others like Villar's and the Heidi bars I got from the same supermarket. The 90g bar is priced PHP 58.00 (I also checked and learned that the Heidi bars I bought were priced at PHP 78.00 per bar.) so it is good value for money. I will soon post about another Goplana bar I got at Clark.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rodic's Redux

With the recent fires consuming UP Diliman's CASAA and the Alumni Center Hostel eatery, we thought about the eateries at the Shopping Center. There were several popular ones when we were in college in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among these were Baroque's and Rodic's, which served typical food for students, the low-priced, quick meals that included the popular silog (sinangag and itlog /fried rice and egg) combinations as well as Filipino favorite viands like adobo, menudo and bistek. Only Rodic's remains of these eateries with 2 branches now on either side of the SC's single corridor.

Rodic's Jumbosilog - Jumbo hotdog, sinangag (fried ice) and itlog (egg - fried or scrambled)
I like to break up the fried egg and mix it up with the rice.

Back in the day (when we were university students) Rodic's had child flakes available on every table. We used to mix ketchup, soy sauce and chill flakes to come up with a spicy sauce to dip our jumbo hotdogs on. We always look back to those days when we enjoyed eating at Rodic's and the other eateries at the SC. But nowadays, we also laugh as we realized how unhealthy our meals were back then and how limited our tastes were and our preferences for breakfast or lunch. We didn't mind smelling of mantika (cooking oil) or prito (fried food) in those days while now we are so conscious about these things. Will we eat at Rodic's or the other eateries again? Likely and definitely for me as I am still with UP but also likely and definitely but less frequently for the Clairvoyant and me given all the other options and favorites that are available to us for meals out.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Project Pie at Fairview Terraces

Fairview Terraces offers almost entirely different restaurant options compared to the 'usual' ones you'd find at SM Fairview or Robinsons Fairview. It is a good thing especially for people who want to have something different from the usual. As we are usually in the area every other Sunday, we try to go to a different restaurant every time for lunch. This time around, we decided to go to Project Pie. 

We have been curious about the restaurant since it opened many months ago and observed many people going to the restaurant. We were usually early at the mall (we go there for lunch right after church) and so there were few people at the restaurant. We quickly familiarized ourselves with their system and decided to order several pizzas. Following are some photos we took of the interior and the pizza we ordered.

The interior of the Project Pie branch at Fairview Terraces had an industrial feel. Part of the decor is a wall containing scribbles of sayings or quotes from famous people.
You can purchase drinks at the counter that entitle you to several refills of any soft drink - their version of 'bottomless' drinks.
Another look at the industrial interior of Project Pie complete with air conditioning, drop lights and sprinklers.
Counter and staff - their staff we're helpful and knowledgeable of their products.
#1 - Classic cheese pie
#7 - Prosciutto, caramelized onions, mozzarella, parmesan
Dessert pizza - nutella and banana
#6 - Grilled chicken, sliced red onion, cilantro, mozzarella, gorgonzola, BBQ sauce
Project Pie's gimmick is to build your own pie. Hence, the term 'project'.
#2 - Pepperoni, Italian sausage, crumbled meatballs, mozzarella, signature red sauce and garlic
Project pie served good pizza. We thought their ingredients were high quality. Of course they won't compare with really good pizza places we've gone to abroad but here perhaps they would be at par with the regular offerings of Shakey's, Domino's and Pizza Hut, and definitely better than Greenwich or The Old Spaghetti House. Better than them would be Yellow Cab, California Pizza Kitchen (though I haven't been here for some time), Amici and Italliani's. Their dessert pie was good and I guess would be a hit with children and those who like Nutella. #6 was surprisingly very good (we ordered a second one just to be sure).

Their come-on, which is basically 'build your own pizza' is a good one but not many people would probably take on this option given the choices of pizzas that are practically ready to go. Maybe customers will just add some ingredients like pepperoni, sausage or cheese to their basic pizzas. After everything I've written about their pizzas above, Project Pie is a relatively expensive option considering the serving sizes (small thin crust pizzas). This is probably the biggest factor why we see less and less people eating there (at their Fairview Terraces branch, at least). Of course, they basically offer only pizza so they are automatically at a disadvantage against the other pizza places and especially those that are actually full Italian restaurants (Italliani's, Amici, Bellini's). I think they should do something about their pricing and expand their menu to attract more people.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Blake's Wings and Steaks, Marikina

We frequently pass by Gil Fernando Avenue (formely Angel Tuazon Avenue) in Marikina and try out some restaurants in the area. A favorite is a Japanese restaurant along the road. As we were already hungry and we wanted to try a new restaurant, we decided to try out Blake's Wings and Steaks, which we spotted as we passed Seifuku. 

We ordered steaks instead of wings (did I mention we were hungry?) and our orders included mashed potatoes and buttered vegetables on the side. The Clairvoyant ordered java rice to go with her steak while I opted for plain rice. You can check out their menu to see what they have to offer.

Porterhouse steak with original flavor and mushroom gravy
On-and-on strings - lightly breaded, fried onion strips
Porterhouse steak with Hickory BBQ flavor and pepper mushroom gravy
We also had their house lemongrass iced tea, which was good. We definitely will be back to eat the restaurant and maybe the next time we will be trying their wings. We also noticed that entire families had lunch there so it is something like a neighborhood family restaurant. The service was okay as their staff were attentive and you didn't have to wait long to be served your food.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chocolate review: Royce Macadamia Chocolate

Royce chocolates is one of the better known Japanese chocolate brands. While it is expensive in Manila, the chocolates are cheaper in Japan (obviously). As such, we usually get our Royce' chocolate fix whenever we are in Japan. Since the Clairvoyant and I either visit Japan or have stopovers there en route and back from the US, we make sure to check out the shops at Narita Airport for Royce' chocolates.

Last May, I came upon this box of chocolates and was instantly curious about its contents. The box screamed chocolate covered macadamia, which is a really good combination. From what I understood from what I could read in Japanese, this was dark chocolate and that was enough for me to pick up a box on the way to the cashier to pay for my purchases. 

Cover/wrapper of the box of Royce' Macadamia Chocolate
Unwrapping the package revealed a nice looking box
The box contained four packs of dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts
The chocolates were good and it seemed like the macadamias were just a bonus. The chocolate is definitely dark and it is smooth tasting with a slight bitterness even with the powdery texture. I forget again exactly how much this cost us. It was definitely below 1,000 JPY but more than 500 JPY (maybe 800 yen?). I would definitely pick-up another box or two the next time I am in Japan.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chocolate review: Kablon Farms All Natural Raw Chocolate 60

I featured a chocolate bar from Kablon Farms in South Cotabato, Mindanao earlier this year, which I bought at a small trade fair in Cebu City. We found that chocolate to be a bit raw in taste compared to most other chocolates we've tasted and which I featured here before. In fact, it was far from the Malagos chocolates from Davao. And that was Kablon Farms' dark chocolate bar! This time, we tried their Raw Chocolate bar, pictures of which are below:

Kablon Farms' chocolate claims to contain 60% cacao from a single origin
The previous Kablon chocolate I featured used cane sugar as sweetener. This one used coconut sugar.

We also found this bar a bit wanting in terms of taste. It didn't have a distinctive taste compared to the first Kablon Farms bar considering this was "raw chocolate." There's definitely room for improvement and perhaps they are already improving their product so I will look forward to the next time I encounter the chocolate, wherever it may be that I can buy a bar or more.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Capital Seafood Restaurant, Monterey Park

After church on the Sunday, the day before our flight back home as we concluded our vacation last May, our cousins took us to Capital Seafood Restaurant. Our cousins, like us, like good Chinese food and Capital is a very popular restaurant in Monterey Park where we could have a great lunch. The queues are quite long (a proof of the restaurant's popularity) so we had to wait for our number to be called and eventually led to our table by their staff.

Vegetables, rice, noodles and other delights you can order or wait for their staff to go around for you to choose from their carts
Lunch entrees
They had a wide selection of dimsum and breads
The shrimp hakaw was really good with us joking that they used prawns instead of shrimp.
Steamed pork dumplings, crispy coconut buns (pan de coco if you're in the Philippines), and noodles from our lobster dish
Almond souffle
Pineapple custard bun - this was a very pleasant surprise for us
I wasn't able to take a photo of the other items we ordered including the steamed vegetables and other dim sum we had ordered. Nevertheless, the photos cannot substitute for the splendid lunch we had there. We are also already looking forward to the next time we visit our relatives in LA and explore other places for lunch and dinner.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

iHOP at UP Town Center

We finally got to eat at iHOP one Saturday when we had brunch with a couple of friends including one we haven't seen for a quite some time (she lives abroad). They have a full menu with a lot of items to choose from including their version of Filipino breakfast for those who are looking for their 'silogs' in this otherwise foreign restaurant that specialises in pancakes (iHOP stands for International House of Pancakes).

iHOP has four syrups to choose from including classic maple syrup
French toast, fried eggs, bacon and sausages to go along with my pancakes.
Salad and toast
Blueberry pancakes
We had really good meals at iHOP. Their servings were generous and the quality is high. Such reasons make the prices acceptable and reasonable. We even ended up taking home leftovers as we ordered some food to share in order to maximise our brunch reunion. However, my opinion is that their pancakes are not that special. I have tasted pancakes at 5-star hotels and at their competitor, Pancake House, and I really couldn't say that there is a significant difference other than the toppings. Overall though, I would say thumbs up for iHOP. Hindi lang pwede pang-araw-araw (You just can't eat here on a daily basis.) partly because its a bit pricey.