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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Of Pizza and Toppings You Want // Mad for Pizza

Pizza is awesome. This is especially true after a hectic busy day at work. So after one very long, tiring work day, this is exactly what we decided to do. It’s actually just been a couple of weeks ago since we first tried Mad for Pizza, and we were right back in because of two main things: good food and value for money.

Mad for Pizza offers a topping-all-you can pizza in their menu for P280. You can also select from one of the three pizza flavors on their preset menu for P250. For just an additional 30 bucks though, you get total control over all aspects of your pizza, from the dough to the sauce and of course, all the toppings. Yes, you can go crazy with the toppings even, and it’s still going to be P280.

Unlike Project Pie, Mad for Pizza is more of a casual dining sit down restaurant. Well, sort of. You enter their restaurant and you don’t line up at their pizza counter. Instead, you’re directed to a table and given a menu. When you choose to make your own pizza, you’re given the option to either fill out a sheet with which toppings you want, or head up to the counter and tell the pizza-maker what specific toppings you want. You can even do two flavors on one pizza. Which is what we did.

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Capers putting the toppings on our pizzas!

Here’s what we ended up with:

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2/3 of our Pizza

Half all-meat and cheese and half cheesy pepperoni mushroom. Regrettably this is the best photo I have, since we got excited and immediately took out slices the moment our server put the pizza on our table. The first time we went there, we thought we needed one each. We realized one pizza was good already for the two of us, unlike Project Pie’s where one pizza would be too bitin for sharing.

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Pizza!!

The first time we were in, we randomly picked a starter – Fried Calamari. It easily became our favorite, so we had it again this time.

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What we loved about their calamari is the juiciness of the fried squid, though I’m actually betting the batter tastes more like fried chicken batter, which it probably really is. Still, not a bad thing, really, as it coated the squid rings well, giving way to that juicy and tender squid meat.

If you’re an extra hungry couple, you’d likely need to get one pizza each. But otherwise, their pizza is heavy and topping-filled enough to make up a satisfying meal for a couple. You can just add sides or pastas instead of adding another pizza.

For a dinner time, Mad for Pizza wasn’t filled with many people, which I actually feel rather sad about. It’s got good food and great value for money, and while the location can be a big factor (not really much foot traffic in Il Terrazzo), I’d wish more people would drop by to give their pizzas a try.

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Mad for Pizza
2nd Floor, Il Terrazzo
305 Tomas Morato cor Scout Madrinan

Of Ribs and Roasts // Smokin’ Pig Legendary Rib Joint

Tipsy Pig, Black Pig, Flying Pig, Fancy Pig. For some reason there’s an influx of restaurants / gastropubs named after our favorite porky friend (I made the last one up though). However, if you want direct-to-the-point, juicy, meaty goodness, then Smokin’ Pig Legendary Rib Joint is the one for you. No frills, just good food you crave for cooked to its best, served with appetizers and sides which taste, I must say, more than what you would normally expect.

Tucked in one of the corners of Capitol Green Street right beside Capitol Golf (several hundred meters away from Celebrity Sports), you’d find Smokin’ Pig. It’s pretty straightforward – all the seats are at the veranda, which means everything’s al fresco. This probably adds to the rib-joint / roaster feel to it, and you’ll feel the fresh breeze while enjoying bird’s eye views of Marikina, Balara, and Loyola Heights. We went there for dinner, so the nighttime breeze was good, but I’m not too sure how this fares during lunch hour when it’s generally hotter. 

With the typical gastro-pub / beer-match feel to it all, they had nachos, chicken fingers, onion rings, and some sloppy fries as part of their appetizer selection. However, D and I have been always on the lookout for the best chicken wings we can possibly find, so we got the Smokin’ Pig Fire Wings.

Smokin' Pig Fire Wings

Smokin’ Pig Fire Wings

D and I agreed that this was one of the best chicken wings we’ve tried so far. Just the right amount of flavor to it – without it being too much of a fire bomb (i.e. too spicy). Well-cooked, juicy wings smothered in just the right amount of glaze. The chives in the sour cream also added to the savory taste. The taste was just right, and it’s such that it’ll make you want to get more without you getting tired or sawa from it.

14-Hour Slow Roasted Beef Belly

14-Hour Slow-Roasted Beef Belly

D got a plate of the 14-Hour Slow-Roasted Beef Belly. With the right red-wine taste and the slow-cook process, it was a hit. The meat was tender, flavorful, and oozing with juiciness with each bite. It came with a side of mashed potato and stir-fried beans, the taste of which really complemented the rich flavor of the beef belly.

Smokin' Pig's Signature Baby Back Ribs

Smokin’ Pig’s Signature Baby Back Ribs

Ahh, rib joint. I, of course, had to try their ribs. After all, I do enjoy a sinful serving of baby back ribs every so often (the last one I had months ago was at Casa Verde in UP Town Center, which proved to be very depressing). Their Ribs come in A La Carte, Plate with Sides, and Platter, which would suit your or your group’s appetite for ribs, depending on how many you are. Since D already got himself the Beef Belly, I opted for the Solo Plate which included 1/4 rack of rib and two upgraded sidings. They ask you whether you want it wet or dry, and being the traditionalist baby back rib-lover that I am, i just had to have it wet. Slobbery, better. 

As far as ribs go, I think Smokin’ Pig’s is one of the best-tasting and best value-for-money ribs around the metro. Tony Roma’s rank up higher in the taste and meat-quality aspect, but theirs also cost more so it should follow that they rank higher in those aspects. Smokin’ Pig’s, on the other hand, combines good quality meat with a really good recipe.   

Almond Almond Cookiezza

Almond Almond Cookiezza

Another surprise of the night was the dessert. The Cookiezza felt more like a chocolate cookie dough pie a la mode, but its taste wasn’t overpowering or too sweet. Just the right hints of sweetness to close the palate after all that savory goodness.  

The Legendary Rib Joint!

The Legendary Rib Joint!

 With its location being just a few minutes away from my house, and with me not having to go as far as BGC or Ortigas for good ribs, I have a feeling I’d be dragging D to Smokin’ Pig pretty often to address the occasional barbecue rib craving. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, as he also loved everything, from his beef belly, to the side dishes. The Mac & Cheese was also a surprising find – I wasn’t able to take a closer photo, but it’s something I would come get again when we come back. All in all, definitely a good dining experience, as D and I agreed everything we tried tasted delicious! 

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Smokin’ Pig Legendary Rib Joint
Ground Floor, Capitol Greenstreet
Capitol Hills Drive, Matandang Balara
Quezon City
(+632)9043148

*address and contact details taken from MunchPunch