Dumpling Desires // Tasty Dumplings at Banawe

One night after work, we decided we wanted to have some dimsum. With Banawe being along the way, it was just fitting that we headed there before going home. We had a couple of places in mind, but as we drove along, we found on place which seemed super interesting.

D & I have a knack for hole-in-the-wall places and unexpected dining, so this place at the corner of Amoranto and Banawe instantly seemed like a gem.

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The place is pretty straightforward, and it felt like a legit dumpling eatery you’d find along the streets of Chinatown. It had that noisy Chinese restaurant ambience that somehow makes it feel more legit. Simple chairs and tables, can get a bit crowded on busy hours.

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Their menu offered dumpling meals, soup, and their famed fried pork chop. First came the dumplings, which you can get steamed or fried. It had veggies and some meat in it, and it reminded us more of gyoza. Somehow I guess our idea of dumplings is equivalent to siomai or those stuff you get from Dimsum and Dumplings. So unfortunately this didn’t quite fulfil our Chinese siomai craving.

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Something that got me interested though was the Hongma.

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Hongma-maaa

It was basically like a pork stew, something like a tastier asado or a less salty pata tim. They recommend to have the Silver Roll with it, which is basically like your siopao bread that’s fried. The pork was nice and tender, though it wasn’t as tasty as I would’ve wanted it to be. Should’ve had a little more saltiness or umami to it, I guess. Pairing it with the fried siopao bread was good though, and it filled me up pretty quickly.

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D on the other hand got the porkchop with some noodles. We heard a bit of good reviews about it, but when we had our portion, it was rather underwhelming. So-so, according to D, like it had too much breading. Taste was fine, a bit on the salty side. We were both eating into it trying to find the tastiness that other people had talked about, but couldn’t really find it.

IMG_8591It was served with this brothy noodle soup. Not too memorable, but it complemented the saltiness of the pork.
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THE VERDICT: It wasn’t as good as its name claimed. The dumplings simply weren’t that tasty, and everything else fell short. We didn’t find anything worth craving for from those that we’ve tried, so our next stopover there is rather unlike. Good try though, and this will not stop us from trying random hole-in-the-wall places!

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Tasty Dumplings
583-585 N.S. Amoranto Ave. cor Banawe St.
Sienna, Quezon City
(02) 742-2917

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OMG BEST MEX EVER // Chihuahua

About 2 months before opening, D saw a Chihuahua signage over at the Crossroads in BGC, near the Starbucks Drive Thru outlet. Upon telling me, I felt instantly giddy and excited, and for about two months I kept on insisting to check if it had opened so we can finally eat there. After soooo much waiting, we finally saw its red-and-white signage shining like a bright star to my Mex-food-stricken craving.

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ahhhhhh finallyyyy

Similar to its Greenbelt and Makati Avenue branch, the place has a fast-food feel to it. You order from their counter, where you’d also see almost everything being prepared fresh and upon order.

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You fist pick the format you want (burrito, quesadilla, etc), and then the type of meat. There was just one thing for me though: steak burritos!!

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I regret that the photo doesn’t do much justice, and I don’t really know how to make burritos look good in photos. Burritos will always be one of my comfort foods, and by far, Chihuahua’s Steak Burrito really is in my Top 3 favorite burritos EVER. The steak, the rice, and all its filling – beans, greens, olives, peppers – just blends together to create one of the most heavenly burritos EVER. I just love it. Writing this post is making me crave it at this very moment. Ahhhh burrito, you’re pure awesomeness.

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D on the other hand doesn’t feel the whole rice with the wrap thing. But he does love the taste and the meat. Thankfully, the Mexicans also have him covered, thus the Steak Quesadilla. It was really tasty, and the cheese super flavorful and authentic. It oozed out nicely as we bit through the nicely charred quesadilla. If I’m going low-carb, I’d probably get the quesadilla, but my craving for the spice-y rice-y tastiness in a burrito will never be complete with a quesadilla. At least I can get D to have this 🙂

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Sorry – I must have gotten carried away with my burrito. We did get nachos and cheese before our mains were served. Very good flavor too – I have no words except I just want to get back to Chihuahua — pronto.

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Like the other two branches, their BGC branch also has the hot sauce rack, which I don’t really get to maximize. Still, it’s a good rack of options for those who like to have it spicier.

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As for me, I’m perfectly happy with the Chipotle and their Tomatillo.

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Yes, I agree!!

THE VERDICT: It remains to be one of our go-to Mexican Restaurants in the city. Really really thankful they have a branch now in BGC, because both of their Makati branches are a chore to get to. I really think I need to drag D to go there real soon!

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Chihuahua
2nd Floor, Crossroads BGC,
32nd Street, Bonifacio Global City
(02)555-0414

Happy 2015!

Much regret on having close to zero posts during the fourth quarter of 2014! Things just started to get really packed at work, what with 2015 looming really closely then. For a moment there, we were thinking of giving this up and letting it slide into the limbo of abandoned blogs, but somehow we realised during the first few days of 2015 that this should be something worthwhile to continue doing.

…well there’s also the fact that random people are doing it, so what more we who are so much more capable and awesome and exciting…

To be quite honest, we haven’t saved much of the recent photos from dates onto our laptops yet. There have also been dark days where we just decided to not take any photos at all! Interestingly though, those have been very few, so we just have a bunch of backlog entries we’d be posting in the next few weeks. If, by any chance, we realise we’ve forgotten about the restaurant and its food, we might just forgo posting and just post some of the newer places we’ve been able to try.

Here’s to more dates and more plates this 2015. Cheers!

Eat Meat! // Meat Plus at Subic

Meat Plus is one restaurant D and I always heard of from people who’ve been to Subic or Clark — they ALL say it’s a must to eat there when you are in Subic or Clark. I’ve been in both Subic and Clark with my family countless numbers of times but we’ve never eaten there, so one long weekend when D and I decided to drive to Subic, we ate at Meat Plus.

Leaving Manila at about 930, we just got in just in time for lunch.

What to Expect

Meat Plus is structured more like a fast food restaurant, where you line up at their counter and order your food there. They have various meals and combinations and sides, but D and I were there for one thing – steaks! For just P415, you have a 200g portion of rib eye steak.

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You can also choose to select your meat from their fridge, and have them cook it for a fee of just PhP100.

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The Place

It’s not really the nicest, coziest place ever. And we really didn’t expect it to be.

IMG_8630Expect Fast-food Level type of interiors, seats, and seating configurations. It’s three rows of tables upon tables in this main area, and if you want to cross from one row to the other, either you squeeze through that gap in between tables in front of those men in black and white eating, or go all the way around.

The Food

The mushroom soup was quite good. I prefer creamy, thick mushroom soups, but the taste of theirs is good because you can almost taste crushed wild mushrooms with it, even if it had a thin consistency.
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Ahh, yes. A few minutes after we ate the soup, came The Steak. It was served with gravy, a cup of rice, and some steamed and buttered fresh vegetables.IMG_8634

The steak was cooked nicely as we had asked it to be – medium rare. I set aside the gravy, and just focused on savoring my piece of meat.

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Hmmmmeaaaat

You can actually tell it was good quality meat just by the taste of it. They just seasoned it quite lightly, and I had to add more salt and pepper to my slice as I ate through it. D was already okay with how thick the slice was, but I personally like steaks which are at least 1-inch thick. I was cutting a wide piece each time, folding it in half before putting it in my mouth to simulate that thick-piece-of-meat feel.

It was actually a good meal for us, since where huge meat eaters. Very badly put, but D and I suddenly missed Hot Racks at the compound of Club 650 in Libis, which has sadly been torn down as they build another condominium building there.

Worth the detour? I wouldn’t say so. We could eat there should we be in the area again, but we’ll likely not take the long drive specifically to just eat there. We couldn’t blame everyone raving about it though, since steak houses usually are too high brow, and their steaks usually cost an arm and a leg. For just less than PhP500, you can get good quality steaks at a relaxed and casual atmosphere in Meat Plus. Definitely worth a try, specially for those looking for a quick indulgent steak meal, and for those who just need their carnivorous fix.

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Meat Plus Cafe
6 Sampson Rd.
Olongapo City, Zambales
(047) 252-6096

Legit Korean // Jang Ga Nae

My family really loves Korean food, and if anything, I was so glad D had also learned to like Korean food when I started to bring him to some Korean restaurants. We even searched around for the best Korean restaurants in the city, and one restaurant we found was Jang Ga Nae, located along Escriva Drive (in front of NEDA sa Pasig and close to UA&P). Interestingly, I heard from some colleagues too that some Korean colleagues they had frequented the place. When you get there too, you see how there’s a lot of Korean nationals eating, and that’s usually a good indicator that the place serves good authentic meals.

The Food

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Banchan!!

I always love Korean banchan or appetizers. My favorites are kimchi, dilis, and the potato balls in sweet syrup, but I can still pretty much eat everything. Jang Ga Nae has a good selection of about 5-7 items, all or any of which are refillable when you request them to.


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Their Dolsot Bibimbap is one of the best ones we’ve tried so far — which actually makes me wonder how it can be better since it seems like such a pretty simple and straightforward dish that you mix at your table, yet theirs is much better than the other ones we’ve tried. Be sure to put in all the bibimbap sauce so you taste it at its spicy-ish best and mix it well, and of course be careful not to touch the hot stone bowl.

Then came my favorites – the Korean BBQ. This time, we had the usual Ssam Gyup Sal (Pork Belly) and their Marinated Beef Ribs, which they cook in front of you.


IMG_8700 IMG_8707What I really love about Korean BBQ is how it encourages you to have your proteins with your greens. When you order their BBQ items, you’re given the Ssamjang which is their red bean paste, and some sesame oil with salt and pepper mixed with it.
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Take a piece of meat and dip it in the sesame oil.IMG_8712

Then dip it in the Ssamjang.
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Then wrap the meat in the lettuce. You have the option to actually add in some rice (from your bibimbap), some kimchi, or other ingredients. I usually take mine just as the meat or with the rice and kimchi. Sort of feels like a greenish Korean Sushi when you have it with rice. IMG_8710

And you take the entire thing in your mouth and chew.

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In case you run out of lettuce or sauce, you can always request for more. As it is, I find that it’s a simple way to get yourself to eat greens and proteins at the same time. D likes to just have the BBQ by itself, dipped in the paste and the oil, though he does the whole lettuce wrap thing every once in a while. Whichever way though, since the meat by itself is good already, D still gets to taste the legit Korean taste to it.

Definitely one of the restaurants we always go back to!

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Jang Ga Nae
G/F 8137 Plaza,
St Josemarie Escriva Dr
San Antonio, Pasig
(02) 633-6960

Homey Feels // Casa Roces

Tucked in one corner of Manila, inside the Malacanang Compound, is Casa Roces. There are various accounts of why it is called Casa Roces and why it should not be called Casa Roces, so we wouldn’t go into those details any more. What we like to note is how very nice and quaint the restaurant is — quite romantic, actually, and we were discussing how it wasn’t out of the ordinary if we suddenly witnessed somebody proposing to a girlfriend there. To note, though, I was there with colleagues, and not D. We had an expat at work we had to show around, and of course showcase some FIlipino fares. Casa Roces was pretty near work, so it was a top choice. It’s operated by the Cravings Group under the official restaurant name, Cafe Chino, but the name Casa Roces seems to have stuck with most people.

The Place

Located in front of Malacanang Palace, Casa Roces is a house that was restored or renovated to its current look. It’s homey, quaint, and had really nice interior decorating that revealed some tidbits about the house’s history.

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The Food

Unfortunately the night we were there, they had different items we originally wanted that were out of stock. So below are some of the food we had. First up, Baked Laing Dip with Lavash.

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Baked Laing Dip with Lavash

The dip was good, though honestly we felt that laing was too creamy and it deserved rice. It’s an amusing concept nonetheless, what with other restaurants and their spinach or malunggay dip appetizers. The Laing is a good idea, though a little underdeveloped.

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Oyster Mushroom Frittura

This next one, Oyster Mushroom Frittura, one got us a bit confused, though in a really good way. Basically they’re strips of oyster mushroom, fried with a little coat of breading. We initially thought it was some sort of pork or meat, but realising it’s oyster, we thought it was actually a really good and unique appetizer.

For our mains, we decided to have one each. Good idea to have, actually, as their entrees do not really come in for-sharing portions.

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Ox-Tail Kare Kare

Their Ox Tail Kare Kare was good, though not the best we’ve tried.

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Lechong Kawali

The Lechong Kawali (I couldn’t find what it was originally called in the menu) had a hearty barbecue sarsa with it, so it’s not the usual dry Lechong Kawali you’d expect. However, it was a little fatty on the type of meat they used.

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Pescado en Salsa Verde

The Pescado en Salsa Verde was also on the okay side. Nothing spectacular with it.

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Lengua in Mushroom Sauce

I had the Lengua, but again it wasn’t the best around. The meat was a bit tough, and the sauce that went with it was just okay.

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Paella Valenciana

Unfortunately, last to arrive was our Paella, so we were already filled by the time it came. It was good, but I’m still more a fan of Casa Armas Paella.

Ultimately, Casa Roces has that very nice, homey and romantic feel to it. However, the food just doesn’t level up as spectacular as the place. It’s worth a detour, if only for the ambience and the cute afternoon-tea feel to it, but I wouldn’t purposefully go back to it since the food wasn’t too good. For a place that you really have to intend to go to (versus just passing by it, and deciding on the spot to eat there, as is usually the case is with mall restaurants), I think the food really really has to be good and unique. A lot of room for improvement for them on that point.

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Casa Roces (Cafe Chino)
1153 JP Laurel St cor Aguado St
San Miguel, Manila
(02) 735-5896

Of Ice Cream Out of a Science Experiment // Kool Kids Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Liquid Nitrogen sounds like a scary element. Or maybe you’re just scared of your Chemistry class from school, from which it sounds really familiar. You’ll normally see Liquid Nitrogen experiments churn out some ice cream in Chemistry class, but one ice cream shop in Manila has commercialized this whole concept, churning out freshly made ice cream right in front of you with the help of Liquid Nitrogen.

IMG_8471They only mix upon order, so you’ll see their staff mixing together cream and the flavoring you like using a mixer, and then they’ll use Liquid Nitrogen to cool it down into a yummy ice cream hardness. It gets a bit smokey from the liquid N becoming gas almost instantly after it comes out of its container, but that’s the cooling action happening right in front of your eyes!

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Don’t worry though, since food prepared with Liquid Nitrogen is completely safe. I think one MasterChef or Iron Chef episode had one of the contestants making ice cream with Liquid Nitrogen, and it proved to be much quicker than using an ice cream maker.

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From Cream to Ice Cream right in front of your eyes!

We got the Nuts for Nutella flavor, and we absolutely loved it. It’s really smooth and creamy, and you can taste little dollops of Nutella as you eat through it. The ice cream tends to be a bit harder than the usual ones, and you’d probably need a bit more power as you go through each scoop, and be extra careful since you might ruin the cup while you’re scooping through the ice cream!

Totally worth it, though!

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Kool Kids
East Capitol Drive, beside Tomahawk

Other Branches:
Rockwell’s Weekend Food Bazaar at the Basement
SM Megamall Building D (the new one where everything nice is at)