Melt Grilled Cheesery

We were here with my parents for lunch on their 52nd wedding anniversary last July 2018. It was only my family who celebrated with them as the rest were tired since we just all came from an out of town trip the day before and others had to go back to work.

We were excited to try out this restaurant since it’s a change from what we have been having throughout our Philippine vacation. They specialize in grilled cheese sandwich, a fancier and gourmet version that is. My girls love grilled cheese so they were looking forward to trying theirs out.

One of the girls had the CLASSIC MELT – it’s made out of their house blend mozzarella and cheddar cheese melted between grilled buttered sourdough bread served with a side of creamy tomato puree and honey.

IMG_3239


My parents shared the LE THERMIDORE melt – it’s their house blend of melted cheese with shrimp, tomato cream. caramelized onions, and aioli between grilled butter sourdough bread.

IMG_3240


They also offer pasta dishes and I shared with my husband a plate of CREAMY TOMATO MEAT LINGUINI – it’s linguini tossed with their signature bolognese sauce, finished in cream, wine and rosemary oil.

IMG_3182


IMG_3241


My other daughter ordered the TRUFFLE CARBONARA – it’s linguini tossed in mushroom truffle cream sauce and bacon topped with arugula and Parmesan cheese.

IMG_3242


We also had the PARMA HAM SALAD and CEASAR SALAD to share among all of us.

IMG_3246


IMG_3181


They serve huge portions and I’m glad we opted to share dishes. It also exceeded our expectations being first time customers. This is definitely a place for cheese lovers.

Kimpura

Our family has a long history with this Japanese restaurant. We have been loyal customers since the early 80’s when our dad started bringing us here. We have celebrated many special events, occasions and milestones here. We started patronizing this resturant when they were still at the Makati Commercial Center beside Rustan’s, their original location. We would always dine at their Teppanyaki table. Though at times we would go to the main dining hall for tempura and their private rooms if we want a more intimate family gathering.

On my last visit to Manila, I decided to celebrate my birthday here with my entire family; my parents, sisters, brothers in law and nephews and nieces. I booked a private room in advance for a teppanyaki style dinner.

For starters we had miso soup, kobachi beans and were given complimentary tazukuri (candied dried anchovies) with some pickled vegetables. We also had tuna sashimi and California rolls. I got an additional order of shrimp tempura too for all, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a photo.

IMG_6459


IMG_6435


IMG_6465


IMG_6469


Before dinner is prepared we were given the dipping sauce for meat and seafood as well as separate sauces for the sushi/sashimi and the tempura.

IMG_6455


As customary, the chef first prepared the fried rice. Watching the chef make the rice infront of us brought back memories. The fried rice even taste the way I remembered it, much better than Benihana.

IMG_6468


IMG_6474


Then we had the following :

Tofu steak.

IMG_6457


IMG_6475


Chicken Teppanyaki

IMG_6462


IMG_6480


Prawns Teppanyaki

IMG_6479


And the Steak with beansprouts .

IMG_6482


We had a great dinner overall. Quality of food and taste is the same the way I remember back in the early 80’s. This is among the very few restaurants in the Philippines which has remained in operation for more than four decades and is consistent in the quality of food and service they provide.

Din Tai Fung

The Michelin starred Taiwanese restaurant that specializes in “xiao long bao” steamed pork soup dumplings has four locations in the Philippines. They opened in December 2015.

IMG_1009


IMG_1016


Even after three years there are still lines outside all their stores. We went to the one in BGC. Though there was a line as expected the wait time wasn’t that bad . They have an efficient way in handling these using the same number queuing system in Taiwan. Bear in mind that all of your party must be present for you to be seated at your table.

We were all excited to dine at this restaurant, specially my girls who love xiao long bao. After you order they would take time to explain to you the correct way to eat the soup dumplings and the dippings sauce that goes with it. This is soy, rice vinegar with ginger slivers.

IMG_1029


IMG_1018


We got the following items:

Pork Xiao Long Bao

IMG_1026


Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai

IMG_1037


Salted Egg Yolk Prawn

IMG_1028


Stir Fried Watercress

IMG_1030


Crispy Beef Strips

IMG_1033


Shredded Pork Fried Rice

IMG_1024


The Xiao Long Bao was excellent, one thing I realized though that Shanghai Dumpling which is the place near us where we get our dumpling fix in NJ is at par with Din Tai Fung. There is also a window that gives you a peek inside their kitchen. There you can view how they wrap and prep dumplings they serve in the restaurant.

IMG_1038


I was impressed how clean and efficiently run the place was, the servers were attentive and they even gave me a bin to put my handbag in. That was a first for me since most restaurants just have a bag hook underneath the table. I think it’s the attention to detail that sets them apart and what makes them world class.

Shake Shack Manila

I took my sister’s family who was my host for my month long vacation in Manila to Shake Shack in BGC. It officially opened May 10, 2019 at Central Square, Bonifacio Global City (BGC). My nephews were very much interested to know if the burgers served is the same in taste and quality as those in NYC where it originated. They wanted me to do a taste comparison.

Thankfully there was no wait in line when we got there. Though it’s obvious that the crowd hasn’t diminished yet even it’s been open for several months already. We got outside seating since it was already packed inside given that it was only 6pm. It was surprisingly nice and pleasant to be dining outdoors that balmy September night.

IMG_6379


IMG_6386


Shake Shack has items that is exclusively offered only in Manila like the ube shake and calamansi limeade. Also Concretes that is specially created for them like Shake Attack, Calamansi Pie Oh My and Uuube-by baby.

IMG_6375


We all had the classic Shack Burger single while my two nephews got the double patty. We got the crinkle fries and cheese fries as sides as well. I tried their calamansi limeade, it’s the Filipino version of lemonade. The burgers and fries tasted the same as the ones we have here in the US. The only difference in taste I noticed is that the burger patties is Manila is more seasoned or saltier. It’s priced almost the same here too, the single costing 250 pesos (US $ 5.16) and the double at 410 pesos (US $8.46).

IMG_6395 2


IMG_6404


IMG_6403


And last but not least I got the Uuube-by-baby concrete that I shared with my sister. It’s vanilla custard mixed in with ube, coconut marshmallow, ube cookie, toasted coconut, sago pearls, crispy pinipig topped with leche flan.

IMG_6397

Sentro 1771

Sentro 1771 is said to be the pioneer in promoting Modern Filipino Cuisine. They mixed and played around with ingredients to produce classic Filipino dishes with Western and Asian twist.

They are the restaurant that created the Sinigang Corned Beef which I have blogged about several years back. They have been in business since 2002 and they still try to maintain the kind of standard and quality of food they pledged to provide their guests.

I’ve been to Manila several times but it was only last year that I got to dine at this restaurant, two times for that matter. The first was to take my parents out for lunch after my mom’s meeting at church and the second was during my sister and brother in law’s 25th wedding anniversary.

On my first visit, I had to try their famous SINIGANG NA CORNED BEEF which made them popular. They offer a solo and sharing size. What is unique about this restaurant is that they cook their sinigang according to your preference. The server will let you sample the broth to make sure the sourness is to your liking. He would then asked the kitchen to adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. Sinigang is a sour broth and Filipinos can be very particular on how sour they like their soup to be.

IMG_7407


I also got the BANGUS PANDAN (milkfish with miso-tomato-malunggay stuffing grilled in pandan leaves) and FRESH SMOKED FISH SPRING ROLL for appetizer. This is fresh lumpia of tinapang bangus (smoked mikhfish), salted eggs, mustasa, onions and tomato. Since I am in Manila, I tried their housemade salabat which is the Filipino version of hot ginger tea.

IMG_7410


IMG_7394


For dessert we shared an order of BIBINGKA – the Pinoy pancake topped with kesong puti, salted duck egg and grated coconut and BANANA and KAMOTE UN-CUE – caramelized saba banana and sweet potato.

IMG_7420


IMG_7416


IMG_7356


IMG_7528


The second time was when my sister and brother in law celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at the small private room of Sentro 1771. They decided to keep the festivities simple and didn’t invite anyone outside the immediate family so it’s just my parents and us four sisters together with our respective families. My brother in law is known to pull out all the stops whenever he entertains and invites us out to eat. He almost ordered the entire menu since he wanted us to sample all their specialties. He got three orders of each since we were a party of 16. Here are what we feasted on:

SIZZLING TOFU – Diced tofu in a special soy sauce and mayonnaise dressing.

IMG_7464


MACAU CHORIZO AND CHEESE TIDBITS – Mini spring rolls filled with Macau chorizo, shallots and keso de bola.

IMG_7466


GRILLED CHICKEN BARBEQUE – Grilled boneless chicken leg marinated in their very own barbeque sauce.

IMG_7467


BEEF CALDERETA – The popular Philippine beef stew with tomatoes, spices and bell peppers.

IMG_7478


GRIILED SQUID – marinanted in soy and calamansi.

IMG_7476


STIR FRIED AMPALAYA and MALUNGGAY – Thinly sliced bitter melon Cooked with garlic, onions, chicken, pork and shrimp.

IMG_7470

SENTRO BAGOONG RICE – Topped with omelette strips, Macau chorizo, air- dried beef tapa, chicharon, and green mango strips.

IMG_7469


CLASSIC GINATAAN – Ube, sweet potato, glutinous rice balls, banana and tapioca cooked in thickened coconut milk. 

IMG_7525


COFFEE PIE – Chocolate-cashew crust with coffee filling topped with cream cheese and toffee sauce.

IMG_7517


BUKO SPLIT – Ube ice cream in fresh coconut topped with macapuno and buko jello.

IMG_7511

Nanbantei of Tokyo

Nanbantei is a Japanese franchise specializing in “yakitori” which are grilled meat on skewers. They have several locations in Asia and have been in the Philippines since 1998. My brother in law (youngest sister’s husband) first brought us here way back in 2006 when we first came to visit the Philippines since moving to the Northeast. We really enjoyed the food here and the ambiance. This seems to be a favorite of my family since we always have a meal here everytime we visit.

IMG_7912


IMG_7913


This entry was during my visit September 2019, this time it was my eldest sister who brought me here.

As I have mentioned they offer various yakitori dishes. Though their menu is not limited to these, they have rice bowls, sushi, sashimi and other specialty items as well. Once seated they will give you complimentary “namayasai” which are fresh vegetable sticks served chilled. This comes with their special sauce made of miso and other spices. I really love this simple yet flavorful appetizer. I wasn’t able to take a photo of it though.

My nephew and I both had the “Tonkatsu Rice Bowl”, my other nephew got California roll while my brother in law had the grilled salmon head.

IMG_7917


IMG_7915


IMG_7924


Then we had Surf and Turf Platter to share , this includes beef with garlic, skewered shrimp, pork with asparagus, potato with bacon, salmon balls with teriyaki sauce and corn. I recommend that you order the platter to share instead of getting it per stick if you are eating with a group so you can have a sample of everything. For the more adventurous they have grilled chicken liver, gizzard and skin like those found in typical yakitori places in Tokyo.

IMG_7918


IMG_7921


IMG_7922


Their portions is just right and enough for you , remember this is Asia where serving size is not humongous like in a typical American restaurant.

M Bakery (Magnolia Bakery BGC)

Magnolia Bakery in Bonifacio Global City opened last August 2018. We’ve walked by it’s location several times while they were still fixing the place up Summer of 2018. When I was back in Manila September 2019, I passed by it and went in to satisfy my curiosity. I wasn’t really planning to grab something there since I have been to Magnolia Bakery in NYC a dozen times being from the East Coast. But at it’s entrance is a big poster showing their Manila exclusive Banana Choc Nut Flavor pudding. Who can resist that right ?! So we decided to get dessert there after dinner. My nephews promising it’s going to be their treat.

IMG_7904


IMG_7905


While in line I saw that they also have their own version of ube cake, a Manila exclusive made with homemade halaya and ube meringue buttercream sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes and ube cupcake. That really convinced me that we made the right decision.

IMG_7906


IMG_7926


I got both the ube cupcake and banana choc nut pudding. For those unfamiliar, Choc Nut is an iconic Filipino peanut chocolate treat which became popular in the 70’s. The best way to describe it is think Reeses’s peanut butter cup without the chocolate coating. Though Choc Nut is more crumbly in texture than Reeses’s.

The Banana Choc Nut pudding was great though the Choc Nut flavor was quite faint and didn’t really come out. I love the Ube cupcake since it was moist and the flavor of ube stood out. I would have gotten the slice of Ube cake too, if I wasn’t too full from dinner.

IMG_7930


IMG_7934


IMG_7935


P.S. You may be wondering why it’s called M Bakery in Manila. The franchise owner said that they dropped the name Magnolia so that Filipinos not familiar with the brand would not associate it with other Filipino company or product with the same name.

Rural Kitchen of Liliw Laguna

I had dinner here with my parents September of last year. I found out recently that they have permanently closed their doors on October 31, 2019. I’m glad that I was able to experience dining at this small but really wonderful Filipino restaurant.

It was upon my family’s recommendation that we decided to have dinner here on a Wednesday evening. It was before attending a midweek prayer service at the nearby Union Church of Manila. This little restaurant was truly a gem and a find. It was located in a tiny area on Rada St., Legaspi Village in Makati. You are likely to miss it if you didn’t know it’s exact location. It’s very narrow but it has made good use of it’s space. It’s decorated with Solihiya (woven natural cane) chairs which added to it’s charm.

IMG_6719


They provide complimentary bread rolls called bonette (they look like tiny pandesal) with butter and and some kind of local salsa.

IMG_6732


We ordered Ukoy as an appetizer together with Pako Salad. Their ukoy came out as a surprise since it’s not made into the traditional round patties but rather into square thin shapes. It was crisp and flavorful. I also loved the pako salad which was a combination of fiddlehead fern, jicama (singkamas) and kesong puti (local white cheese) with calamansi dressing. I love trying out salads made up of local ingredients.

IMG_6739


IMG_6736


Then we had the oxtail Kare-Kare (oxtail stewed in a peanut based sauce) as mains and Pritong Hito (deep fried catfish) which was served with pickled papaya and ampalaya. These were also very well prepared and seasoned perfectly. Food was as expected made the traditional way and very well presented or plated. Prices were reasonable and I might say inexpensive for the quality of food served. If memory serves me right I only paid around 1,400 pesos for the entire meal and that’s for three persons. This is without taxes and tip and converts to around 30 US dollars.

IMG_6742


IMG_6744

Afternoon Tea at the Grand Hyatt Manila

There are several 5 star luxury hotels in Manila that offer Afternoon Tea service. The Grand Hyatt in Bonifacio Global City is one of them. I was set to bring my girls here back in 2018 when we went home for vacation but we didn’t have time in our busy schedule. So when I got the chance to go back home again last year I made sure to include this in my itinerary.

We went here for a post celebration of my birthday. Afternoon tea at the Hyatt is served at “The Lounge” from 2:30 – 5:30 pm daily. The classic afternoon tea for two is priced at P1,450.00 which is roughly 32 US dollars without tax and gratuity. I find this quite reasonable and inexpensive compared to afternoon tea service in New York City. Considering that this is in a luxury hotel.

IMG_6314


The classic tea service for two includes the following : classic or raisin scones with jam and clotted cream. For the sweets you can pick two from these choices: strawberry cheesecake, almond Florentine cake, mango coconut, classic tiramisu, mango shortcake, fruit tart, black forest and mocha hazelnut cake. For the savory side you will be be given quiche lorraine, avocado sandwich, smoked salmon, egg prawn and prawn sandwich.

IMG_6323


You can either have coffee and tea with it. The tea selection is quite extensive which I found to be excellent too. As expected service was exceptional.

IMG_6330


IMG_6332 IMG_6335


IMG_6337 IMG_6339

Tendon Kohaku

This is a long overdue post, two years to be precise ! When we went home for a month long vacation in the Philippines Summer of 2018, we stayed at an Airbnb in Bonifacio Global City. There we had an unlimited number of restaurants we can choose to dine in every single day. We happened to chance upon Tendon Konaku one evening while strolling inside Uptown Mall, debating amongst ourselves where to have dinner. After a quick glance at the menu posted outside, I realized it’s just like Tendon Hannosuke at Mitsuwa. They specialize in “tendon” or tempura rice bowl. Kohaku means amber in Japanese. It serves to define the color of their tempura which is “fried to amber perfection”. This is also a Japanese franchise and have several locations in Singapore and Malaysia.

IMG_1838


I was impressed how the place was decorated and appointed. Service was also good and servers where attentive. We ordered the following items.

IMG_1855


The Wasabi Potato Salad for starters. Serving is more than enough for us to share. It’s made up of salad greens with a sprinkling of fruit and corn and a scoop of Japanese style potato salad in the center.

Then the girls had the Udon with Tiger Prawn Tempura and Thinly Sliced Pork Niku Udon.

IMG_1857


IMG_1858


While my husband and I both had the House Special Kohaku Tendon. It’s made up of an assortment of Chicken breast, tiger prawn, squid, crab stick, green beans, shiitake and pumpkin tempura. It also comes with a bowl of miso soup and pickled radish. This type of tempura doesn’t need a dipping sauce since some sweet and salty kind of sauce is drizzled over it just like in Tendon Hannosuke. You can choose from original and spicy kind of sauce.

IMG_1862


Food was delicious and well prepared.