26th St. Bistro by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

I just love Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Manila. We went there for breakfast on our first morning in Manila.

This particular location has a full service restaurant as well as counter service. What I love about this CBTL is how cozy and inviting the place is. It’s decorated in warm tones and the furnishings is reminiscent of a Filipino home. It’s floor to ceiling glass walls also adds to its charm since it makes the room bright and gives it a modern feel at the same time.

IMG_1090


They serve breakfast the whole day but offers pasta, salads and other dishes as well for lunch and dinner.

IMG_9651


For our first day, I had the Filipino breakfast of Angus Beef Tapa – it’s beef tapa with garlic rice, sunny side up egg, baked pesto tomato, atchara jelly and chili balsamic reduction. The beef and tapa was done right and and just love their modern take on this Filipino classic.

IMG_9932


One of my girls had Chicken Longganisa – it’s homemade chicken longganisa with garlic rice, sunny side up egg, baked pesto tomato and atchara jelly. This was also a superb dish.

IMG_9661


On our next visit, I got the breakfast platter of smoked ham, chicken sausage and onion omelet. This is served with baked pesto tomato and sourdough toast.

IMG_9927


I also came here for dinner one night with one of my girls and had the Filipino smoked milkfish (tinapa), it was served with garlic rice, atchara jelly and salted egg salsa.

IMG_3107


This became our breakfast go to place since we were still jet lagged and would wake up really early.

But I also love CBTL for after dinner desserts or coffee. They offer great cakes, breads and pastries. We tried the guiltless chocolate cake, mango tres leches cake and one other kind of chocolate cake.

IMG_3257


IMG_3259


IMG_3255


IMG_3252


We don’t have this franchise in NJ so I made the most of our stay by coming here as often as I can. This became our go to coffee spot during our stay in Manila.

Manam

On my family’s recommendation, we ate at Manam on the first day of our vacation in Manila. It’s a restaurant specializing in Filipino comfort food. They serve the classics as well as Pinoy dishes with a twist.

As we were a big group my family including my parents, sisters and their kids, we were able to order and try out several dishes.

We got Ensaladang Kamatis and Kesong Puti – House made kaesong puti, fresh basil leaves, native tomato wedges, extra virgin olive oil. My dad loves kaesong puti and this was an ingenious way of using it.

IMG_9689


Crispy Sisig – Pork jowls and cheek, chopped and served on a sizzling plate. My girls have always wanted to try this since it is hard to come by in NJ. This was the best sisig we’ve had from among the many restaurants in Manila.

IMG_9697


Garlic Rice and White Rice. Yes, Filipinos need their rice and we chose to get two kinds.

IMG_9695


Sinigang na Salmon Head sa Miso and Guyabano. We got this upon the recommendation of my other sister. I was skeptical at first on how it would taste since I was not a fan of guyabano. But this came out surprisingly good. It reminded me of tom yum soup. Unfortunately wasn’t able to take a photo.

Sinigang na Baboy sa Sampaloc – Pork shoulder simmered in our house-made sour tamarind broth. This is a classic dish and a favorite among the kids.

IMG_9696


Sizzling Corned Beef Belly Kansi. This is one of Manam’s specialty dishes, it was really tasty and beef fork tender.

28746904858_5e99534ccd_k


Chicken Inasal Skewers. This is just an ok dish for me, I’ve had better inasal at other restaurants.

IMG_9700


Crispy Pancit Palabok – Crunchy glass noodles with chicharon, fried garlic, shrimp,
baby squid, and tinapa flakes, with a thick and savory house-made rich shrimp sauce poured over. This was at standout dish, the presentation was one of a kind and the taste was even better. I have to stop myself from finishing it.

IMG_9691


Kare-Kare with Oxtail – An oxtail, tripe, and peanut stew, served with house-made bagoong on the side. This was another winner and a favorite from among the dishes we ordered.

28746900518_06bcecf995_o


We ate at Manam a second time since we really love the food here but at different location. We ordered Kare-Kare and Sizzling Corned Beef Kansi again and had the following the dishes too.

Adobong Kang Kong – Local morning glory, adobo-style, stir-fried.

28746902798_1c4d3cabc4_k

Pancit Lomi – Thick noodle soup topped with fresh shrimp, pork belly, liver, squid balls, chorizo, and mixed vegetables.

28746901438_287b6c0df1_k


For dessert we had Bibingkang Galapong of Salted Duck Egg and

41719805685_24be91ba22_k


Namnam Halo-Halo

41719805105_7a5e7fdd18_k


We will definitely miss this restaurant and will surely be back if we visit Manila again.

Locavore

Locavore is restaurant that showcase Filipino classic dishes that is given a new twist. They source local ingredients from around the country and try to get the freshest possible. We were able to dine at this restaurant when close friends of our invited us for dinner here. This is located at Forbestown in BGC just a walk away from the place we were staying. They have several locations in Manila and have been in business for several years now.

I love how the restaurant is decorated, in wood tones and with nice ambient lighting. The menu is quite extensive, from appetizers, mains, desserts and they also offer breakfast and merienda all day.

We made the following selections:

Sizzling Sinigang one of the dishes they are famous for, lived up to it’s name. They serve this in a sizzling platter where thick sour sinigang gravy is poured over tender pieces of meat. I just love how the vegetables remain crisp because of how they plate it. It’s also interesting that the only kind of greens added are french beans.

IMG_1280

Mac’s Boneless Fried Chicken was well seasoned and came with it’s own special sauce on the side.

IMG_1284

Dinuguang Lechon was an interesting mix of lechon belly, roasted garlic and tomatoes and some pork cracklin (chicharron) on top. I just took a spoonful of this since it’s too rich and flavorful for my taste.

IMG_1283

Pakbet Ratatoulle is my favorite dish of all, it’s a mix of different veggies such as sigarilyas, squash, okra, eggplant among others. Flavor was great, I would have enjoyed it more if the vegetables were cut a little bigger and not diced.

IMG_1282

Fried Oyster Sisig is a clever take on sisig where pork cheeks and jowls are commonly used. Here the oysters are breaded and fried and comes with garlic aioli.

IMG_1281

We ate these with garlic and plain rice. Wish we were able to dine a second time before leaving Manila. I would have love to try out their silog and brunch offerings.

Marugame Udon

Marugame Udon or Marugami Seimen is a Japanese franchise that first opened it’s shop in 2000 in Kakogawa City. It’s a self-service style restaurant that specializes in Sanuki Udon. They have several locations all over world and just recently opened their first shop in the Philippines last August 2017. They are located at High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

IMG_0501

During our recent vacation in Manila, we noticed the long lines outside this restaurant almost everyday when we would walk along High Street to scout for restaurant options for dinner. We didn’t have any clue at all that this is a well known franchise when we got in line. The wait wasn’t that bad since the line was moving quite quickly and efficiently. It was only when we were seated that I vaguely remember my sister have told me about this place. How much they enjoyed the food here and that we should put this in our “must go to” list.

IMG_0517

IMG_0518

The restaurant is very nicely decorated, it’s just like stepping into those typical Udon places in Japan. They also have a system in how you place your order. First, choose your type of Udon and then let them know if you like it served “hot’ or cold”. BTW, there are two kinds of serving size regular or large. Wait for your Udon to be prepared or cooked, once it’s ready you can place it on your tray. Move your tray and select from several omusubi and tempura side dishes offered. The choices was impressive, there were at least five kinds of omusubi – spam, tuna, salmon to name a few. There were enormous vegetable kakiage, chicken karaagee, gyoza, tempura and so much more. Once you have chosen your sides, you proceed to the register and pay. There is a condiment station where you can season and flavor your udon the way you want it. The servers will also point you out to your table which is really convenient specially in a such a busy place.

IMG_0522

IMG_0523

IMG_0547

On our first visit we got the following.

Tendon
IMG_0535

Omelette Katsu
IMG_0539

Pork Paitan
IMG_0533

Spicy Pork Udon
IMG_0532

and side order of vegetable kakiage and kaarage omusubi.
IMG_0534

Food was great specially for the price and serving size. I find the broth authentic tasting and the noodles fresh. The vegetable kakiage was good too, but it would have been better if more variety of vegetables was used since I find that it had too much onions in it. We like the omusubi too and even had spam omusubi to go.

The second time we went we got the usual Pork Paitan and Tendon and tried out these two dishes:

Chicken Paitan
IMG_4212

Beef Ontama Bukkake Udon
IMG_4209

and Noritama Omusubi as well various tempura as sides.
IMG_4211

We love this place and wish we have one here in the Northeast. I learned that the first North American location just opened in L.A. September 2017 just one month after the Philippine shop opened.

Manam

On my family’s recommendation, we ate at Manam on the first day of our vacation in Manila. It’s a restaurant specializing in Filipino comfort food. They serve the classics as well as Pinoy dishes with a twist.

As we were a big group my family including my parents, sisters and their kids, we were able to order and try out several dishes.

We got Ensaladang Kamatis and Kesong Puti – House made kaesong puti, fresh basil leaves, native tomato wedges, extra virgin olive oil. My dad loves kaesong puti and this was an ingenious way of using it.

IMG_9689

Crispy Sisig – Pork jowls and cheek, chopped and served on a sizzling plate. My girls have always wanted to try this since it is hard to come by in NJ. This was the best sisig we’ve had from among the many restaurants in Manila.

IMG_9697

Garlic Rice and White Rice. Yes, Filipinos need their rice and we chose to get two kinds.

IMG_9695

Sinigang na Salmon Head sa Miso and Guyabano. We got this upon the recommendation of my other sister. I was skeptical at first on how it would taste since I was not a fan of guyabano. But this came out surprisingly good. It reminded me of tom yum soup. Unfortunately wasn’t able to take a photo.

Sinigang na Baboy sa Sampaloc – Pork shoulder simmered in our house-made sour tamarind broth. This is a classic dish and a favorite among the kids.

IMG_9696

Sizzling Corned Beef Belly Kansi. This is one of Manam’s specialty dishes, it was really tasty and beef fork tender.

28746904858_5e99534ccd_k

Chicken Inasal Skewers. This is just an ok dish for me, I’ve had better inasal at other restaurants.

IMG_9700

Crispy Pancit Palabok – Crunchy glass noodles with chicharon, fried garlic, shrimp,
baby squid, and tinapa flakes, with a thick and savory house-made rich shrimp sauce poured over. This was at standout dish, the presentation was one of a kind and the taste was even better. I have to stop myself from finishing it.

IMG_9691

Kare-Kare with Oxtail – An oxtail, tripe, and peanut stew, served with house-made bagoong on the side. This was another winner and a favorite from among the dishes we ordered.

28746900518_06bcecf995_o

We ate at Manam a second time since we really love the food here but at different location. We ordered Kare-Kare and Sizzling Corned Beef Kansi again and had the following the dishes too.

Adobong Kang Kong – Local morning glory, adobo-style, stir-fried.

28746902798_1c4d3cabc4_k

Pancit Lomi – Thick noodle soup topped with fresh shrimp, pork belly, liver, squid balls, chorizo, and mixed vegetables.

28746901438_287b6c0df1_k

For dessert we had Bibingkang Galapong of Salted Duck Egg and

41719805685_24be91ba22_k

Namnam Halo-Halo

41719805105_7a5e7fdd18_k

We will definitely miss this restaurant and will surely be back if we visit Manila again.

Edo Sushi

There is a new restaurant in town, it’s a fusion of Japanese and Korean cuisine. They specialize in rice bowls and sushi. We tried it upon the recommendation of a friend. You order on the counter and they deliver your food at your table.

31944326_10160330869575313_6805862819997679616_n

We tried the Edo bowls. I had the protein bowl which is fresh salmon, tuna, avocado and cucumber over sushi rice. Serving is pretty decent, I just wish that they have some sauce mixed in with the fish like poke bowls and cutback on the amount of rice on their bowls.

IMG_9363 2

Husband got the Crunchy Bowl which consisted of 2 shrimp tempura, 2 fire stix (deep fried imitation crab meat) cucumber, avocado and shogun flakes over sushi rice. There was a lot of food in the bowl and portions was more than adequate.

IMG_9367

Daughter got the Dragon Bowl which is grilled eel with sauce and avocado over sushi rice. Its just like unagi don with a side of avocado.

IMG_9364

The other daughter got Spicy Ramen, its flavor is more Korean than Japanese and came in a huge bowl. All their ramen includes pork belly, crab sticks, an egg, scallion and carrot. It wasn’t anything special because they are really not a ramen place.

IMG_1707

All in all our experience is satisfactory but I personally won’t give it a 5 star rating. They have an interesting concept and menu sounds good, but the food was not mind blowing or maybe my expectations was just high. Food presentation is excellent though and place is nicely appointed and is very clean. We also find it a bit pricey, their salmon and tuna bowl was $14.95, a poke bowl in New York City would set you back only for $11.95.

Tim Ho Wan

My sisters brought me to Tim Ho Wan-BGC during my visit to Manila last Summer. This is a Michelin star dim sum restaurant from Hong Kong which has numerous locations across Asia, Australia and now have their first New York City location which opened December 2016.

IMG_8008

I haven’t tried their restaurant in East Village since I have heard waiting times there is horrendous and the food does not really compare to the ones they serve in Asia.

My experience in their BGC location in Manila was great however. Their menu is written on the paper mat on the table with photos and description of the food. Price range from P120 – P160 which is about 3 – 4 US dollars pretty cheap for a Michelin star restuarant. It is best to eat with a group so you get to sample as much of their dim sum offerings.

These are what we had for our early lunch.

We tried their famous Baked Bun with BBQ Pork P145

IMG_8060

Prawn Dumpling P160

IMG_8038

Wasabi Salad Prawn Dumpling P140

IMG_8058

Beef Ball with Beancurd Skin P120

IMG_8048

Spinach Dumpling with Shrimp P120

IMG_8042

Fresh Greens with Oyster Sauce P180

IMG_8046

Stir Fried Chow Mein P130

IMG_8052

Congee P140

IMG_8026

Everything we had was good, my favorite was the baked bun and the wasabi salad prawn dumpling since this is something I don’t usually see in other dim sum places. We got two orders of each item above except for the congee and chow mein. Serving was more than enough for our party of 5 girls. I had jasmine tea with my meal which is standard drink in any dim sum place. What I like about the food here is that is tastes fresh and not like something that has been sitting in a cart for awhile and it comes to your table piping hot.

I would come and eat here again, not sure if I will at their NYC location though.

Ikinari Steak – East Village, NYC

I just learned about this restaurant while searching for places to eat in East Village. This is a franchise based in Japan and is known as a “standing restaurant”, meaning they don’t have chairs and customers stand while having their meal. It makes for a unique dining experience as you get to interact more with other patrons and gives you a more communal vibe. However, they now offer limited seating for those who prefer to dine that way.

ikinari-15

ikinari-13

There is a system in eating at this restaurant, First you go up the counter and chose your cut of meat and how much you want. They weigh and cut it right in front of you. They recommend ordering your steak rare to fully taste and appreciate the flavor of the meat. You have a choice of prime rib, sirloin, filet and assorted steak. It comes with a side of corn but you can choose from other side vegetables such as broccoli, beans, potato and onion. Your steak will be brought to your table and you can choose to add any of the several sauces available in front of you.

IMG_3789

We chose prime rib and sirloin and just got 10 oz each which is more than enough for us. I had the side of beans while husband chose corn.

ikinari-10

ikinari-8

The meat was really tender and flavorful and was I able to polish off my plate.

There are also other side other sides and drinks available for you to order. We got a cup of clear beef broth soup since it was a rainy day and garlic pepper rice which I highly recommend. It comes in a sizzling platter surrounded by steak pieces and topped by corn. You are to mix everything together once it arrives at your table. We loved the rice and you can eat it alone since it is like a very flavorful and filling fried rice. This reminded me of pepper lunch, the difference is that this is meant as a side and not a meal itself

IMG_3796

This is probably one of the best steaks we have ever have and will surely come back.

Atrium Dumbo

During a mini vacation in New York City, we explored DUMBO which is short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. This is a quaint neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough. We planned to have brunch in the area and were there early. To kill time, we had coffee first at One Girl Cookie and took a stroll at the most instagrammable street in Brooklyn, Washington St. which has the magnificent view of Manhattan Bridge.

37180321640_d0fbbf349a_z

We chose Atrium Dumbo as our lunch spot mainly because it is highly rated and does not have the touristy feel to it. We didn’t have any reservations but were seated right away since we arrived before the lunch crowd.

The tea and kalamansi soda immediately caught my eye. Kalamansi is a native lime of the Philippines and is very tart and citrusy but makes for a refreshing drink.

23585683228_09091b6de9_z

For starters I got their non-dairy butternut squash soup and Avocado Crostini which is avocado toast topped with a Soft-Boiled Egg, Grated Parmesan and Chili Pepper.

23585688678_58497c6c55_z

23585689258_3c912822b3_z

My husband got Fish & Chips served with Tartar Sauce, Caramelized Onions and Potato Wedges.

23585685778_d21c2fd777_z

Service was attentive and courteous and love the ambiance too specially their vertical garden. Would not hesitate to come back to try out the other offerings from their menu.

Mary Grace Cafe

Mary Grace Cafe is hands down my favorite restaurant in Manila. I am a fan of their cheese rolls and ensaimada since this has always been the treat my family would bring everytime they would come to visit me here in the Northeast.

Mary Grace started out as a home business selling her famous ensaimadas which eventually grew and expanded into cafes. This was my first time to ever try out their restaurant though this is a regular go to place of my family. The restaurant is very cozy and has a rustic chic feel to it.

36696205896_fc80394d01_o

IMG_9160

I was impressed with the selections in their menu. How it combines Filipino classics and modern western flavors in a very unique way. It took me awhile to order since everything in their menu looks so good and tempting. In the end we made the following choices:

IMG_9165

IMG_9174

Local Greens with Chili Daing and Crunchy Garlic (Daing is a local dried salted fish)

IMG_9172

Seafood Chowder – A hearty chowder made with seafood broth, clams, mussels and prawns.

IMG_9170

Grilled Kesong Puti with Batard Bread – Grilled kesong puti, garlic and olive oil spread. (Kesong puti is the local white fresh cheese made from carabao’s milk)

IMG_9178

Dory and Saffron Cream Pasta – Fillet of cream dory atop linguini noodles, covered with a light creamy sauce, and flavored with leeks and a hint of saffron.

IMG_9168

Seafood Pasta – A medley of fresh clams, mussels, prawns, squid and cream dory
enhanced with herbs, olives and mushrooms

Sadly we didn’t have room for dessert.