Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MUANG THAI (Banawe Branch)

Been a regular customer here for at least 8 years already, but most of the time I usually buy their food To-Go. This is one of those rare occassions that I dined on the premises.......


An order serves at least 3 people (max of 5). Its served piping hot, broth has that beefy flavor with a light kick from the coriander (which is a plus because my family loves the flavor of coriander). Rice Noodles which has the thickness and texture of Linguini is firm to the bite.

This brings back memories of my trip to thailand almost a decade ago. I remember having noodle soup almost everyday for breakfast for a whole week.


Chicken was a little dry already and the satay sauce was way too sweet for my taste.


This is an all-veggie spring rolls. Best to eat it while its hot so you get the crispiness. The subtle sweetness of the sauce complemented really well with the rolls.

I personally think this would also make a great beer mate (pulutan)


I've tried other establishments that offer Bagoong Rice and this in my book is still the best. One can actually opt not to order anything else as this can be considered a complete meal.


Imagine a creamier version of our local suman. I especially liked the addition of some gate (coconut milk). And as for the mangoes ...... well at least they are indeed ripe.

For someone who isn;t really fond of desserts, I find this one quite enjoyable.


Directions: From Quezon Avenue, take Banawe going into the direction of Del Monte. Your first landmark should be a Yellow Cab and a KFC establishment to your left. (this I think is Maria Clara). Keep going straight and probably just a block or two you should see a Chinese inspired resto (Mandarin Sky) to your right. A few doors further down, the small pink sign of Muang Thai should be visible.

While we dined in the Banawe branch, I heard there is another bigger branch somewhere near East Ave.

RYU RAMEN (Tomas Morato)

The minute I heard (actually read) about the existence of a Ramen House in the Tomas Morato area, I immediately called the attention of my parents (who like me are very fond of noodles) and they instantly said that we should try it at the soonest possible time. So it was a few days later on a sunny sunday afternoon (right after our weekly "groceries") that we decided to go for a snack. (unfortunately for that particular day, my dad was feeling under the weather so it was just me and my mom)

While still browsing the menu, I thought of requesting for an order of Fried Pork Gyoza only to be told by the friendly waitstaff that said dish was still unavailable and that a new batch won't be available for another 45 minutes. (yes, they make their own gyoza).

Soy  Based Broth with Ground Pork and 5 Slices of Chasu (Pork)

I asked about their noodles and they said that it wasn't homemade in that they bought it from a supplier. Anyway, the noodles were nicely cooked as it had a firm and bouncy bite to it. Broth was still piping hot but was a litte bit too salty for our taste......... When we were still in the resto, I didn't really took notice of what the menu said about the 5 slices of pork. It was when I was editing the pics that I realized that we were served only 3 pieces. (Guess I will have to be more careful the next time around. hehehehehe)

This was mom's order but she transferred some of the broth and noodles for me to try (I didn't get to taste the egg though)

Miso Broth with vegetables, ground pork and special butter

At the very least, I enjoyed the tasty and piping hot broth.......its got a nice light miso flavor that doesn't feel heavy on the stomach. What really irked me was the overwhelming quantity of the cabbage. Why I think it took me a good 10 to 15 minutes just to eat away at all those cabbage (and a little beansprouts) on top before I can actually reach the noodles. And on the bottom of the noodles lies more cabbage. In the end, all I tasted were cabbage cabbage and more cabbage. I couldn't even remember if there was any ground pork or if the special butter was indeed special. (lest I forget about the corn, well the quantity was too insignificant for my taste buds to even notice)


RYU RAMEN is located at the Upper Ground Floor of MJB Building, 220 Tomas Morato Ave. corner Dr. Lazcano St., Quezon City

Directions: From the Timog-Tomas Morato Circle, take Tomas Morato heading into the direction of E. Rodriguez, probably around the 5th or 6th intersection you should see a Brothers Burger joint and Alfredos Steak House to your right. The Ramen House should be right across the steak house.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

YABU (House of Katsu)

A friend of mine suggested we try this place a couple of months back and it got me interested even though I know I myself am not always a fan deep-fried-battered food. (which would explain why I'm not always a fan of Tempura). But a foodtrip is nonetheless a foodtrip. And I thought perhaps a restaurant that had people lining up and waiting just to get in deserves to be tried before I make a final verdict.

On a personal sidenote: We were a party of 8 that particular sunday morning. And it took an hour of waiting before our table was ready.

While waiting for my order to arrive, we were a given a small bowl which contained what look like sesame seeds. We were also each handed this wooden piece which the friendly waitstaff said was to be used to grind the sesame seeds as part of the process of making our own sauce.

Make our own sauce you say ???? As far as I noticed, there is only one sauce to speak of. Its the one that tastes pretty much like the chinese HOISIN SAUCE. All that we have to do is add some of that sauce into the bowl of grinded sesame seeds (probably the kitchen staff were too lazy to grind the seeds for us) and voila !!!! we now have a sauce that tastes like ...... HOISIN SAUCE.

On a personal sidenote: Come to think of it, the grinding of the sesame seeds part is quite effective in keeping tables with restless and noisy kids entertained for a couple of minutes.

For my order, I opted for the PREMIUM KUROBUTA TONKATSU SET
According to the menu, the pork used here is of the Kurobuta variety (also known as Black Bershire Pig) and is considered the world's finest pork. It is called the "kobe beef" of pork due to its rich marbling, softness and flavor.

Included in our order of the katsu is a bowl of miso soup (no pic available), refillable or unlimited servings of steamed rice and coleslaw. And to take away the oiliness and fatiness after the meal, some fresh fruits is also part of the meal.

In fairness to the dish, the pork is moist and quite tender to the bite. But I personally find it quite difficult to fully enjoy the "kobe-ness" (is there such a word? hehehehe) of the pork when it is being overwhelmed under all those batter and breadcrumbs.

On a personal sidenote: I sampled a piece of the "regular" pork katsu that my sister ordered and while the "regular" does have a bit more dryness to it. The only major difference would be the pricing.


At the end of the day, I guess for those who are already fans of katsu dishes, YABU can be considered one of the better places to go to here in the metropolis (though there is still probably other establishments to try). But for non-fans like me ........ its going to take a whole lot more to make me a believer.

YABU House of Katsu is located at the 2nd Floor of the Atrium Section in SM Megamall.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

KOKORO RAMENYA (Roxas Boulevard)

My first taste of Tonkotsu (Pork Bone Broth) Ramen was during a trip to Singapore a few years ago. It was in this small ramen house in one of the shopping malls called AJISEN Ramen House where I discovered that there is more to ramen than just Shoyu, Shio and Miso. And of course I was extremely thrilled to find out a few months afterwards that there are already branches of AJISEN here in Manila (I eventually tried them too and in my own personal taste, I find them to be quite excellent too)........ Since then, AJISEN's flavors has always been my personal benchmark in finding good ramen.

There are actually a couple more ramen houses within the metropolis that serves the Tonkotsu variety, unfortunately most if not all that I have tried so far seems lacking. (I actually have more ramen reviews in the coming days).

It wasn't until a few weeks ago, when a fellow MTC member (Tequilasunrise) informed me of the existence of another new ramen house. I did some light browsing on the net for some more info (as well as the directions in getting there) and when I was ready, I invited both my parents for this foodtrip adventure. (yup we are a family that just loves noodles)


Of course once we were there ......... my curiosity had me browsing over at the appetizer section of their menu.


Just by looking at it, one can tell that they really packed it with stuffings. I picked it up with a chopstick and the skin did not break nor tear. Tastewise, its quite good but nothing really extraordinary. (at least its not overly oily). On a personal issue, I would prefer each of the dumplings be just a tad smaller in size. (good for a single bite)


With already an order of fried dumplings, I wasn't just about to spoil  my ramen appetite by ordering too much appetizers. But again, the curious  person in me just had to order some sushi (or sashimi) for the sake of trying.

Size of each sushi is just about right for that single bite... Fish is  fresh, stickiness of the rice is just right though I feel it could use  more acid.

Rich and Creamy Tonkotsu Noodle Soup boiled for 18 hours & topped with Kikurage (mushroom) Chasu (Pork Slices) and Hard Boiled Egg

The dish is served piping hot, also included are generous (but not overwhelming) servings of toppings. Mom was actually thrilled about the inclusion of bamboo shoots. The eggs are nicely cooked, hard boiled on the outer layer and nice and creamy when it comes to the yolk part. The flavor of the broth is quite good, in fact pretty close to the Tonkotsu flavor that I have been looking for these past few months. (unfortunately, the broth from AJESIN ramen house will still win me over).

When i asked the server about their noodles, they said these are of the "fresh" variety .... meaning that they make their own noodles. They said its not hand-pulled as they use a machine to make them.

Noodles are firm and bouncy to the bite, thickness (for me) is just right as its easy to pick up a few strands using the chopstick. But like most "fresh" noodles ...... its best to finish up as soon as possible before it gets too soggy.

Cold Noodles dipped in Kokoro Special Sauce

After finishing of half a bowl of the hot ramen (yes, we usually share a big bowl) I thought to myself, I didn't drive all the way out here just for the taste of one ramen. SO I decided to try one of their cold variety. On the menu, it was actually written TEN MORI UDON so they were supposed to be using those thicker type noodles (think Lomi) but I requested to them if they could change the Udon to the usual "thinner" noodles.

Normally a Ten Mori is served to you in separate containers, one being a plate of cooked noodles (but already at room temperature). Then a small plate or cup where there is leeks, spring onions and wasabi in which you mix to the cold broth that is usually placed in a small soup bowl (those normally used to place miso soup).

Then take a few strands of the noodles, dip in the cold broth (I usually let it soak in their for a good 20 or 30 seconds) before slurping away. (hahahaha yes, I try to slurp as loudly as possible just like in the movies)

Noodles are nice and firm to the bite too. And since their is no hot broth involved in this dish, the noodles will stay firm for a much longer period. Going to the cold broth, its got a nice sweet salty flavor (kinda similar to your tempura dipping sauce) but I personally felt they were just a teenee weenee bit heavy-handed on the soy sauce.


A serving of Ebi Tempura is also included in the Cold Noodle Dish. And since I'm not a fan of tempura, I had my parents take care of that department.


KOKORO RAMENYA is located at: 2/F Avenue of the Arts Bldg.,
Roxas Blvd. cor. Sta. Monica, Ermita,  Manila

Directions: If you're coming from Baclaran going into the direction of Luneta along Roxas Boulevard .....take the service road once you pass Pedro Gil and just look to your right until you see a building which looks like whats on the picture.

If you're coming from the Luneta area, best option is to take Padre Faura until you exit towards Roxas Boulevard. Stay on the service road, take a left and the building should be a block or two away.

NOLITA (Bonifacio High Central)

Recently  took a stroll in the Bonifacio High area and was glad of the numerous  high end looking restaurants coming to life. But I guess on this  particular day, given that I had a couple of nieces around, looking for  more child-friendly restos is going to be the order of the day. Besides I  love pizzas so I don't mind.

Yes  you heard me right, NOLITA serves pizza ....... ordering here is pretty  much like what you do in SBARRO. You line up, order your ready-baked  pizza flavor from the person who looks like the pizza guy and he will  re-heat the pizzas for you. Along the way you can also order for  additional drinks, burgers and chili con carne (plus a whole lot of  other stuff) from the friendly cashier.

I actually forgot what  they call my pizza but its loaded with shrimps, oozing with mozarella  cheese and it even has a sunny side up egg on top. (love the yolk, half  runny-half cooked). Their crust is of the soft variety, there's a sign  that actually encourages you to use your hands when eating the pizza  (although there are utensils around) and that its best to fold the pizza  (yes, its a big slice of pizza) lengthwise so it can fit into your  mouth.

I  have to say, this is one good pizza ...... the softness of the crust  (I'm more partial to thin, slightly cripsy dough, but this one is fine  with me), the gooiness of the cheese, the scrumptious shrimps and even  the egg make for one tummy filling meal. But then again. if you're the  kind that would opt for a little more variety, then paying more than 250  pesos for one slice of pizza may just seem a bit on the expensive side.


Yours  truly still not having had his tummy filled (I forgot to eat breakfast  that morning), I decided to try a burger...... Again I forgot the exact  name of it so lets just call it ANGUS BURGER (who knows? thats what they might actually call it)

I'm  usually not easily bothered with the price, but I guess there will  always be exceptions ....... I mean 300++ for a burger (even of the  angus variety) I would have expected something that would last for more  than 2 bites. (ok I'm exaggerating a little..... 3 bites). Sure its got  some tomatoes, lettuce and onions. But how about some french fries or  wedges on the side ???? (I think Charlie's Grind and Grill has some  fries)

Oh the burger patty (while looking all juicy and all that from the outside, is a bit dry on the inside ........ and bland too.


NOLITA is located at: 7th Ave. corner 29th St. South,
Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

You will have to pardon me if I cannot give out a more detailed  direction ...... The Fort Area is one of the place that I'm not that  familiar with (as far as the ins and outs are concerned). Anyway there  is google map for the moment.

Friday, September 7, 2012

BUFFET 101 (Robinsons Magnolia Branch)

Had been hearing about this "Eat-All-You-Can" Establishment for quite some time already ...... back then, their only branch is situated near the Mall of Asia in Pasay, and with me coming from the Malabon area, that distance was the deterrent in me giving the place a try. (besides I'm not always a fan of Buffet style food)

Fast forward to the present and a friend (as well as my sister) told me of the same establishment that just recently opened a branch in the new Robinsons Mall along Aurora Boulevard in New Manila. And with both mom and dad interested in trying out the place, I guess there isn't much excuses left.

Please pardon me if I didn't take pictures of every station as I personally am not comfortable doing so with sooo many people getting their food and drinks...... Anyway, aside from the Long buffet spread (situated in the center) which has most of the assorted ala carte and salads. The stations at the wall houses most of the specific food groups like Chinese Food (peking duck, dimsum steamed chicken, shabu-shabu), Meat (roast beef, roast lamb and bbq), Japanese cuisine (mostly sashimi and sushi), desserts and drinks. (juices, sodas, fruit shakes and draft beer).

Since I definitly cannot feature every food item in the spread, here are the ones that I tried. (in no particular order) ....... By da way, whatever food I had that particular night may be the same as the other nights.

Beef Bulalo Soup. I only partook of the broth and it had a very beefy flavor. Soup is still piping hot.

Pomelo Salad. A simple mixture which included a slice of mandarin orange and some coriander at the bottom. I like the combination of the acidity from the citrus and the strong pungent kick from the coriander.

Assorted Sashimi.  Tuna was good as it had a firm bite to it. Salmon is so-so as some batches are a bit too soft. The kani (crabsticks) were too dry....... (I'll get to the sushi in a short while)

Assorted Sushi.  They did a decent job with the rice. At least its sticky enough that it won't easily crumble when you pick it up with your fingers or chopsticks but not overly sticky that it gets stuck in your teeth everytime you chew on it. (rice however could use a little more vinegar)

Seafoods were quite fresh. Very minor issue would be the octopus which was slightly rubbery.

Assorted Dimsum. Pork Siumai is good, especially that each piece has a small shrimp on top.Size is just right for a single bite. The dumpling with the thicker wrap is not going to get much praise from me.Tthe dumpling wrap is too thick so thats pretty much what I tasted. The beef ball is definitly undercooked, its still reddish inside.

Scallops in Tausi. Nice flavor as it reminds me of the Steamed eel with tausi from Ying Ying teahouse. Too bad the scallops were just a little over. (but overall still a nice dish)

Baked Oysters and Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. Too much cream cheese for such a very small piece of oyster (shell not included). Spaghetti is not bad as its not prepared the traditional "Filipino" way. Pasta are firm enough.

Italian Pumpkin Rissotto with Seafood. Its too one dimensional ....... all I taste is pumpkin. (guess the seafood flavor got left out)

Barbeque Pork Ribs and Roast Beef. I asked the cook manning the meat station if the pork ribs had been sitting there for a long time already and his reply was that its a new batch. Going back to my table, I took a bite and its dry and tough. (too bad the sauce had a nice flavor). The Roast Beef too was dry and tough to the bite. And the meat was totally bland. (some gravy did help a little)

Grilled Sausages and New Zealand Lamb. Sausages were of the regular kind (and not the hungarian type) so there is no spicy kick. Also noticed the absence of any dipping sauce for it. The Lamb was totally bland and a little tough to the bite ..... mint jelly did not even taste like mint. Actually I felt the so-called mint jelly is a little on the spoiled side.

Oh speaking of spoiled ...... Mom had a small cup of Kani (crabstick) Salad and had to spit it out because it was already spoiled. Of course Mom told me about it as we were already on our way home. (she knows I would have said something to the manager of the resto if I knew about it.... And mom is not the confrontational type thats why she just shrugged it off)

Drink-All-You Can Draft Beer. For the most part, all I had was sodas (they'reserving Pepsi products) ....... But I did try a glass of the beer (would have drank more, but I had no drinking compansions at that time :lol: ). Anyway, beer is beer. And the good part about is is that its served very cold.

On a personal sidenote:
Overall, food is definitly a "Hit and Miss" experience ...... some are good, some are so-so and some are not so good.

What I'm not really happy about is the use of "seats" most commonly used in fastfood establishments.

I guess the management of the establishment wanted to maximize every available space so they can accomodate as many diners as possible. But in the end, it became a bit too cramped. Going back to the seats, this is definitly too small for a group of 6 people and there is always the hassle of having to stand up if the diner in the inside wants to get up and go for more food in the buffet spread.

Sure there are tables with individual chairs but they reserved that for a bigger party (8 pax or more)


Buffet 101 is located at Level 2 of Robinsons Magnolia, Aurora Boulevard (between Dona Hemady and Balete Drive), New Manila, Quezon City.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CAFE FRANCE (Ongpin St. corner Nueva)

Was recently in the Binondo area with some relatives ..... we had just come from a family function and they suggested we stop by for some coffee before we part ways. They said that we try Cafe France since it just recently opened. All of my relatives opted for just coffee while I thought about trying at least a sandwich to go with my coffee.

I ordered a Gourmet Norwegian Salmon Sandwich ....... and this was what I got.

My expectations were probably a bit too high that particular day. But if I'm not mistaken, I don't see anything "Gourmet" about it. Heck this is probably one of the most boring looking sandwich I've seen in my entire life. Call me "maarte" but I would at least expect a better presentation and probably a side of chips or fries.

Boring looking aside ..... is the sandwich any good ????

Lets just say all I tasted are the egg salad. (maybe they should have called it an Egg Salad Sandwich and bill me less than the 195 pesos that I paid for)


Oh !! Coffee (served lukewarm) wasn't that good either and all of my relatives (who are coffee adiks) agreed on my statement.