Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Breakfast on the Streets

Oh honey!!! THE Honey Garlic Chicken
Nothing quite beats having a good, hearty breakfast after a tiring graveyard duty. That's why I feel super lucky to work in a place neighboring Kanto Freestyle Breakfast. The first time I went here, I was surprised with how 'cowboy' the ambiance is. It is literally set right on the streets with plain seating areas with its order counter reminiscent of a sari-sari store/carinderia. Recently though, it has undergone renovation and is transferred temporarily on the adjacent street.

What surprised me more is the food! The presentation is adorable and the taste is to die for! My all-time favorite is their Honey Garlic Chicken (₱95). Semi-sweet, garlicky fried chicken paired with creamy lemon dipping sauce. So good!

Their new New Zealand Beef Tapa
Another one of their best-sellers is the New Zealand Beef Tapa (₱110). Savory tapsilog with fresh red tomatoes with a lil bit of pesto sauce. They recently changed their tapa supplier (I think) and though the new one is still delicious, we like the previous better.

Their pancakes are also a must-try! I highly recommend these two: Goya Chocnut Ganache and Oreo Cookie Butter (₱95 each). 

Just like the name, their Goya Chocnut Ganache is a mouthful! Huge dollop of chocolate ganache over homemade pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with Pinoy-pride Chocnut bits. I salivate by mere sight of this work of art.

Clockwise: Deep-fried Oreos, Oreo Cookie Butter
Pancakes, & Goya Chocnut Ganache Pancakes
Do not be scared of their Oreo Cookie Butter. Yes, it sort of looks like asphalt placed on top of pancakes but trust me, it's really good! I love the uniqueness of the dish and that despite the ingredients, it's not too sweet! 

Their Deep Fried Oreos (₱60) are also good! However, I like the ones in Flaming Wings (with ice cream and all) more.

It's really hard to resist when a colleague says, "Tara, Kanto!" (*English Translation: "Let's go to Kanto!") because you know you'll get value for your money. They have added 12% VAT to their menu prices which saddens me but hey, all's still good. It's definitely worth coming back to. 

Rating: 4.25/5


Kanto Freestyle Breakfast - 549 San Joaquin Street, Plainview, Mandaluyong City

Sunday, May 17, 2015


As a foodie, I've tried not only interesting places to eat but also enjoy just about anything food-related. TV and films are on that list. My interest ranges from cooking shows like Barefoot Contessa up to animated movies (even fake food is appetizing!) like Ratatouille.

Chef is a 2014 film written, produced, directed by and starring Jon Favreau. The story revolves around Carl Casper, a celebrated chef in a popular gourmet restaurant. But when a notorious food critic gives him one bad review and Casper subsequently learns the power of twitter, all hell breaks loose. He loses his job, gets a viral meltdown video (which is fantastic, by the way), and finds that he has to start over from scratch. 

It's an adorable comedy-drama about taking a journey, rediscovering the passion for work, and valuing the people around you. I like the sincerity of the characters and that modern day techie applications are put to good use here. Plus, I love the smidget up-close scenes when mouth-watering dishes are featured!

Chef is the kind of movie that makes you hungry and satisfied at the same time. :)


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mex It Up!

After watching the latest film on Cinderella, we had an uber filling lunch (Burp! Oof... can still feel them beans) at Mexicali

Truly a mouthful!
The colorful nook is conveniently near the theaters and can seat around 25 persons. Ate Faye had their Chicken Enchilada for ₱194. Corn tortilla stuffed with pulled chicken meat, drizzled with *mole sauce and served with Mexican rice, salsa, and greens. Aside from the mole, she liked the whole enchilada. Pun intended. ;)

I ordered their Combo 5 (Please don't judge me! I shared. Haha.) which comprises one burrito, an order of garlic quesadillas, and drink for ₱304. I chose the chicken burrito which had all the works in it... Rice, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and chicken wrapped in a lightly grilled wheat flour tortilla. Every bite was divine. Like the enchilada, it was juicy and flavorful.

An array of quesadilla, tortilla chips, and burrito
The quesadillas were phenomenal. We'd definitely come back for these cheesy goodness. 

We had difficulty finishing everything though since we were easily sated, perhaps with all the carbs going on. I'm pleased to know that we can avail good Mexican food for an affordable price.

Now that's a wrap!

Rating: 3.75/5


Mexicali - 4F, The Block, SM City North Edsa, Quezon City

*mole (Spanish). noun. ancient word for 'mix'; now mostly refers to a variety of sauces (often a dark red/brown color) from Oaxaca, Mexico.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Team Tim Ho Wan?

Tim Ho Wan is one of last year's most reviewed restaurant in the country. Being a person who hates falling in long lines, I've often strolled past the place, wondering about their famous pork buns. Until recently, I tested my patience and finally got inside! Better late than never, right?

My sister and I were one of the first to be seated but it soon got cramped! Our table was small, the place was packed, and servers were being summoned from left and right. Again, we waited quite awhile for our food to be served. I felt excited though when I took my first bite of their Baked Bun with BBQ Pork (₱145). Three pieces of crisp, flaky, soft baked bread with pork filling. I really liked it. It was delicious but the taste, which reminded us of cold-cuts asado, wasn't entirely new to us. 

Clockwise: Wasabi Prawn, BBQ Pork Buns,
Vermicelli BBQ Pork, and Beancurd Skin Roll w/ Shrimp
I was very disappointed with the Beancurd Skin Roll with Shrimp (₱140) since it looked and tasted dry. I couldn't help compare it with its counterpart in Causeway which is way better! In contrast, their Vermicelli Roll with BBQ Pork (₱160) was soggy and gooey. Not a fan of those two. Sorry.

What we loved was the Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumplings (₱140). It had a crunchy wrap with juicy prawn goodness inside. Wasabi sauce was drizzled on top, giving it an extra pow! Their Cold Barley Water (₱50) was also refreshing.

For my verdict, Tim Ho Wan is an upscale version of other dimsum-serving Chinese restaurants. We ordered a few (and some unsatisfactory) items but adding the service charge and 12% VAT, our total bill was too pricey. I understand that it was a busy time but the service was a let-down since we had to follow-up most of our orders, as well as the bill (only to find it wrong!). We were eager to dine here but it didn't live up to the hype.

Rating: 3/5


Tim Ho Wan - Upper Ground Floor, Main Building, SM City North Edsa, Quezon City

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Welcome to the Club!

Rice is an essential part of the Filipino meal. I can't imagine my life without it. Seriously. So when I heard of the restaurant Kanin Club, I just. had. to. try. it.

One sunny day, I finally did with my sister and cousin Brian. The place had the traditional Pinoy vibe with their wood and rattan furnitures. However, we opted to have our lunch on the open seating area outside UP Technohub to catch the breeze. 

Clockwise: Aligue Rice, Vegetarian Delight,
Crispy Dinuguan, & Gambas con Kabute
First off, we had their Gambas con Kabute (₱360) which was a slightly spicy dish comprised of button mushrooms, shrimps, and white onions. I liked it but my two companions found it a tad too salty.

I guess we were on a mushroom roll 'cause we also had their Kanin Club's Vegetarian Delight (₱290) which had 3 kinds of mushrooms sauteed with tofu and banana blossoms. The blossoms gave it this overwhelmingly sweet taste which I wasn't a fan of.

What made a big hit on all three of us were the Aligue Rice (₱165), a steaming bowl of rice dolloped with crab fat (hypertensives, beware!) and their famous Crispy Dinuguan (₱274), a must-try! Unlike the usual recipe with bits of soft, chewy *lamang-loob, their version was made of chunks of very crispy, pure pork meat. It had the spicy-sourness I always look for in dinuguan so high marks for that.

The service was tedious because there were many diners that time. But I'm happy to have this as our first Filipino cuisine blog entry. I don't know why it took us so long but I promise to feature more next time! :)

Rating: 3.75/5


Kanin Club - Ground Floor, UP Ayala Technohub, Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

*lamang-loob (Tagalog). noun. animal organs.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What If

What if you meet your soul mate only to find out that he/she is already taken? Will you agree to just be friends as long as you are together?

In this 2014 rom-com, Wallace and Chantry (portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan) meet at a house party and hit it off in a heartbeat. Despite her having a long-time boyfriend, they end up becoming the best of friends anyway. But how long will he keep his true feelings hidden? And if he does come clean, will the result be worth risking their friendship?

"It's very easy to be cynical about love until you've had that instant connection. If you're lucky, it happens once in a lifetime."

I like that here, I don't think of Radcliffe as Harry Potter anymore. He is able to hold his own and make a convincing 'hopeless romantic cheese ball'. Kazan, with her unconventional beauty, builds a love-hate relationship with the audience (Read: me and my sister) while her character struggles with the situation. Also, I love Adam Driver. Period. Haha. He plays Allan, who is Wallace's crazy yet reasonable friend and Chantry's cousin.

What If is a funny, enjoyable, and relatable film. Ultimately, the witty dialogue and chemistry between the main stars make it promising. Yes, we're all familiar with the elements in the story line. But somehow the artsy, nerdy charm of it all makes it still refreshing.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuan Tuan - Chinese with a French Twist

My girl friends and I were exploring the new building in SM Megamall the other day and were enticed to try a number of new restaurants. But Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie's cozy, sophisticated ambiance lured us instantly inside.

The vintage trinkets on the walls, crystal chandeliers hanging everywhere, and a faux indoor garden at the back made the room a feast for the eyes. It's not your typical Chinese resto with woods and reds.

We ordered their Steamed Halibut with Chili and Garlic (₱468). The fish was tender and flavorful with just a hint of spice. We only wish they'd removed the bones as there were quite a few.

We also had their Special Noodle Soup Combo of Laksa*, Sliced Cuttlefish, Fish Ball, Hofun + Deep Fried Fish Fillet + Choice of Drink (₱518). Thick, slurpy noodles, milky, curry soup, and yummy seafood toppings. It was the best laksa I've had so far!

The deep fried fish fillet (cream dory I believe) was really good also. It went well with the tangy mayo dip. As for the free drink, the options were HK style coffee or HK lemon tea. The lemon tea was quite strong for my taste but I admire that they served it in a metal mug so as to keep it cold. 

Lastly, we had their House Special Trio on Rice (₱398) which had 3 sections: The sweet orange part was pork chop (I highly suspect some honey in there), the green middle was wild mushroom which tasted like pesto, and the white one was baked seafood- my favorite among the three.

The dishes are a bit pricey but considering their serving size, which filled 4 of us, it's justified. The servers were attentive but as diners began to pile in, they got busy that it took awhile to get our bill. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed our stay there. There were things pleasantly introduced to our palates. Props for the Chinese fused with French cuisine concept.

Rating: 4/5


Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie - 3F, Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City

*laksa. noun. a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisine.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hanamaruken's Hadouken

Ramen is one of my comfort foods. A good bowl of noodles and savory soup can warm up anyone's day. So when my sister asked me to try Hanamaruken Ramen, I was totally game. 

I love the look and feel of the place from their wooden seating and blue Japanese accents up to the upbeat ethnic music playing in the background. It's like being transported to Osaka where it was founded in 1983.

We had an order of their Gyoza (₱150) which was more than satisfactory. The chewy, juicy dumplings had a hint of ginger, hence, giving it a fresh aftertaste.

Ate Faye and her evident egg addiction! :)
Next served was their Spare Ribs Ramen (₱390). I had deja vu upon taking my first sip... It reminded me of Narcissus Stewed Pork since the slow-cooked meat tasted similar to the in-can favorite. The tonkotsu broth was very flavorful. My Ate added aji tamago (₱50) since she's crazy about eggs (Me not so much especially when it's soft-boiled).

The Drunk Man Rice Bowl (₱240) was clearly the hadouken (a Street Fighter reference. Y'all 80-90's kids know what I'm talking about ;)) in our lunch. It was the strongest dish by far with its sweet and spicy pork on a bed of rice and fried egg, likely sobering up a drunk man. You need not be drunk to appreciate it though. It's sooo good! Will definitely come back for more and perhaps try their signature Happiness Ramen next time.

Rating: 4/5


Hanamaruken Ramen - 2F TriNoma Mall, North Triangle, Quezon City

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Message of the Messenger

I recently finished 'I Am the Messenger' by Markus Zusak and since Martha blogged about The Book Thief, it is only fitting I write about this one.

Ed & his Aces
Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old taxi driver. He has no goals or accomplishments to speak of. He lives in a run down apartment with his elderly dog, plays card games few nights a week with his pals, and loves a girl desperately who doesn't want to love him back. He concludes his life is pretty meaningless and he's only going through the motion of living.

One day, he foils a bank robbery and gets his fifteen minutes of fame. As he settles back into his old routine, he receives an old Ace of Diamond playing card in the mail. Three pairs of address and time are written on it. At first hesitant and confused, he checks them out one by one. He discovers that he has to help someone in each of these houses. A woman being abused by her husband almost every night, a lonely old woman, and a girl who has no self-confidence. Just as he thought he's done, another playing card with another set of tasks, is given to him.

Although the genre and style are different, I experienced the same feeling with this book as with The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I felt inspired and lectured on without appearing so. Zusak successfully blurred the lines between reality and sublime, metaphorical events. He drives his message directly through the reader's hearts. I found myself urging Ed to finish his tasks every time a card arrives at his doorstep.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Life at 50/50

On most days off, I like to cuddle with our dogs and stream movies online. I often go for the light, feel-good genre. That's how I came across the 2011 film, 50/50. It's actually a comedy-drama loosely based on a true story.

27-year-old Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives life on the safe side. He doesn't smoke, drink, do drugs and, because car accidents are one of the leading causes of death, drive. Yet lo and behold, after going to the doctor because of persistent back pain, he learned that he has cancer and a 50/50 chance of survival.

His struggle begins by breaking the news to his goofy best friend Kyle (Seth Rogens), artist girlfriend, and overprotective parents. He also doubtfully sees Katherine played by Anna Kendrick (Love her!), an inexperienced PhD candidate, for therapy to help voice out his issues and feelings about his condition. 
"You can't change your situation. The only thing that you can change is how you choose to deal with it."
The movie is very realistic, showing the inimitable glum of battling the big C but also finding humor in it. It has brought me equal parts of tears and laughter - a weird but amazing combination. I'm yearning for more films like this. Funny, heart-pinching, and inspiring.