Nadai Fujisoba

Nadai Fujisoba is a Japanese franchise that specializes in soba and udon. They opened their first restaurant in Shibuya in 1966 and then opened their first international location in Taiwan in 2014. They have further expanded and has made their their way to the Philippines in 2015 and currently has 5 branches in the country.

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I got to eat at their SM Aura location during my short trip to the Philippines. We were there for lunch with my sisters, nephews and niece. I was excited to try out this restaurant since it’s a welcome change being a ramen fan. I think my daughter would love this place since she has always preferred soba or udon to ramen. They serve hot/cold soba and udon, donburi rice bowls, and tempura.

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These were our selections:

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I chose Yasai Kakiage Ten Tama Soba – soba noodles with mixed vegetable tempura, soft boiled eggs, onion leeks and wakame seaweed. You have an option for your tempura to be served on the side if you don’t want it to get soggy since they usually put this in on top of your soba.

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Karaage Soba was my nephew’s choice it’s soba with Japanese fried chicken, leeks and wakame seaweed.

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Ebiten soba is soba with two pieces of prawn tempura, leeks and wakame seaweed.

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Ebi Tendon is prawn tempura served with a sweet ten tsuyu sauce over rice.

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Mori Soba was my only niece selection its cold soba with dipping sauce.

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My sister got Currydon which is curry sauce with pickles over rice.

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We also got two side orders of potato croquettes.

The food was exceptionally good. The broth not overly salty compared to those I have had before. It is very light and would not make you feel bloated like what happens when you have ramen. I hope they would open a franchise in North America soon.

Tuan Tuan Chinese Brasserie

My family are such foodies, they know what is new and the best places to eat. My sister took us to Tuan Tuan, the first Chinese Brasserie in the Philippines. They serve Hong Kong style comfort food with a French flair.

We already had a big lunch and was looking for a place to have dessert and this place just fits the bill. The restaurant features The Dessert Kitchen which has an extensive selection of decadent and gorgeous treats.

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My nephews and niece chose these parfaits.

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Mango Fever is ice cream with rice pops, pistachio crust, peanuts and mango.

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Black Temptation is ice cream with cocoa crisp, oreo and chocolate pearls.

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Romantic Valentine is ice cream with corn flakes, peanuts, strawberry and pistachio crust.

My two sisters and I shared these two desserts.

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Taste of Uji is green tea ice cream with mini rice balls, red beans and warabi mochi.

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Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo.

Their desserts looks very decadent bit they are actually very light and not cloyingly sweet. I really loved not only how they are presented but how they taste as well.

My sister also let me try their signature dish barbecued pork snow bun and crispy minced duck snow bun. These are very popular and would understand why as this was just excellent. Its has a light and crisp exterior and such wonderful savory filling.

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The place is also nicely appointed. It has a very chic but at the same time cozy feel to it. One of the nicest restaurant I have been to.

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I just learned that there is a The Dessert Kitchen located in NYC but from the photos on yelp, they don’t even come close to the one I’ve been to in terms of ambiance and food prep/presentation.

Fely J’s Kitchen

Fely J’s Kitchen is part of the LJC group of restaurants. Our family has been a long time fan of their their flagship restaurant Cafe Adriatico (known for it’s Spanish cuisine) and Bistro Remedios (known for serving chic Filipino fare) in Malate as long as I can remember. Fely J’s is a restaurant dedicated to the the memory of Felicidad de Jesus-Cruz, mother of the late restaurateur Larry J. Cruz (LJC). It features Fely J’s recipes she picked up in her travels. It not only serves Filipino food but other Asian dishes as well.

We ate here for another birthday celebration, this time my nephew’s. They gave us a private room for our party of 13.

We are given complimentary kropek or fish crackers while we wait for our order.

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For starters we got Utan Ilonggo a Visayan style vegetable soup with clams, shrimp, lemongrass, malunggay and saluyot leaves. This soup was just sublime, it looks very simple but was surprisingly flavorful. My sister’s and I all agree we can eat this by itself.

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The sizzling sisig which is finely chopped pig’s cheeks sauted in spices and served in a sizzling plate was hit with the young ones, my 3 nephews and niece can’t get enough of it and say’s this is one of the best they have ever tasted.

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We also had Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls – fresh rice paper rolls stuffed with vegetables shrimp and pork with a peanut and Thai dipping sauce and Fried Calamares – deep fried squid with sweet chili sauce.

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For the mains we had Tilapia with sweet plum sauce – whole deep fried tilapia that was graciously sliced and served to us by our waitress.

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Lamb Kaldereta which is stewed lamb in tomato sauce, red pepper and olives.

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For veggies we had Gule Magalang a vegetable dish that is similar to Utan Ilonngo but it is heartier and also a favorite of mine and Stir fried broccoli with mushrooms.

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Last the Chicken Inasal which is grilled chicken marinated in garlic, calamansi and spices.

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For dessert we had Minatamis na Saba – sweetened bananas with milk which took me back to my childhood as this was commonly served as a snack.

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The Sikreto ni Maria Clara was a surprise and became the crowd favorite, it was sticky rice and mangoes covered with softened macapuno (coconut) ice cream then topped with grated panocha (similar to muscovado sugar).

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Canonigo with Mango Balls – caramelized meringue with custard sauce and mango balls. I remember my mom making this for us but using canned fruit cocktail instead of mangoes.

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Maiz con hielo is sweet corn kernels served with shaved ice and milk and sago’t gulaman which is considered a cooler is tapioca balls with jelly sweetened with brown sugar syrup.

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Overall I would describe Fely J’s to be home style Filipino food with flavors that are refined and sophisticated. Spices are not too strong and overpowering and would not give you a cloying or greasy after taste. Service was excellent since they have well trained staff.

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar is in my list of the top three places to eat and visit during my trip back to the Philippines. My family had lunch there to celebrate my dad’s 77th birthday. After attending a short service at UCM we just walked a few steps to the restaurant which is located on the same street in Legaspi Village, Makati.

I have heard many great things about this restaurant and was really excited to try out their food. They serve modern Filipino food with a twist. Meaning they make traditional Filipino food but present it in a more exciting way. We kind of went overboard and ordered at least 10 different dishes. Everything on the menu looks so good and my family wanted me to try out as many as I can.

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For appetizer we got Isaw or grilled chicken intestine. This is considered a very popular street food and I must admit it’s my first time to ever try it. Theirs was grilled to perfection and the spices and flavorings just right. Upon my nephew’s recommendation we also got Sizzling Kansi which is bone marrow with gravy. This is a very rich dish, it has got a lot of meat in it too and a unique way of serving bone marrow.

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Another note worthy dish is the Tortang Talong with Sardines and Kesong Puti (eggplant omelet with sardine and cheese) with a dipping sauce of spiced coconut vinegar and chili banana ketchup. This is something I would like to recreate in the future.

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Inasal lumpia is chicken Inasal (shredded grilled chicken) wrapped in lumpia (rice paper) with achuete garlic sauce. This was a surprise because the flavor just explodes in your mouth and everything goes well together. This dish reminded me of peking duck served in wrappers.

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Their Pinakbet a vegetable stir fry dish was full of umami since it has talangka sauce (crab roe), crispy tofu and their very own XO sauce.

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We got Crispy Hito as a seafood dish, it was fried really well and came in a coconut sauce. Our other main dishes were Kare-Kare (beef in peanut sauce) and Chicken Binacol which is poached chicken in coconut and ginger which kind of reminded me of Tinola.

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Last but not the least is Chicken Inasal, the Bacolod style grilled chicken.

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Eating Filipino food will not be complete without rice so we got two kinds garlic rice and danggit fried rice which is a special request of mine.

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We didn’t have room to try out their dessert. Overall this is one of the best Filipino restaurant I have ever been too and would not hesitate to go back again.

Pollo Tropical

Pollo Tropical is a fast food chain that started in Miami, Florida. It specializes in Caribbean cuisine and is known for its flame grilled marinated chicken, beans and rice. They opened a location is New Jersey sometime in 2009 and our family fell in love with its food. It’s our go to restaurant on lazy weekends. Sadly they closed down in 2012.

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When we went to Florida for a short vacation over the holidays we made it a point to visit a location. It was actually our first stop. We ordered our usual which is a whole chicken family meal which comes with sweet plantains and rolls. You are allowed 2 sides, our favorite is the yellow rice and black beans. The meal only comes to around 25 dollars including taxes and drink, more than enough to feed our family of four. You will be given a number after you order at the register and your meal will be delivered to your table. There is a saucing island where you can find more than half a dozen sauces. Our favorites are the cilantro garlic and the curry mustard.

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Leaky Cauldron – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando

We just came back from a trip to Universal Orlando to visit the new addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. The place was simply amazing, it was like stepping into the world of Harry Potter. Anyway, I’m here to talk about our dining experience there, we chose to eat at Leaky Cauldron.

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Leaky Cauldron serves traditional British fare. A menu board is placed on both sides of the entrance, inside there are roped lines leading to the register where you place your order. After your order is taken you will be handed your drinks and a numbered candlestick. Then asked to proceed to the dining hall where someone will seat you at your table. Your food will be delivered to you once it’s ready.

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Each of us got something different so that we can taste most of what they have to offer. For the mains we got the following:

Fish and Chips – North Atlantic cod battered and fried with french fries and tartar sauce
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Beef and Lamb Guiness stew – a combination of beef and lamb with chunky root vegetables served in a warm crusty bread bowl.
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Cottage pie – a savory combination of beef and vegetables in a potato crust served with garden salad.
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Toad in the Hole – a popular dish of English sausage baked into a Yorkshire pudding and served with onion gravy, minted peas and roasted tomato.
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For beverages of course we got butter beer, the original, frozen and hot and pumpkin juice.
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Dining at Leaky Cauldron just completed our magical experience of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The overall feel, ambiance and look of the place is really something straight out of the book. The food was good, we specially liked the fish and chips and toad in the hole. And of course we will never get tired of butter beer.

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Tendon Hannosuke

One of the reasons we love going to Mituswa Marketplace in Edgewater, NJ is their foodcourt. They have a number of restaurants that offer quality and authentic Japanese food. One of these is Tendon Hannosuke. This is not our first time to dine at this outlet. We just didn’t realize that this is part of the famous “Kaneko Hannosuke Restaurant in Nihonbashi.” It is a known fact that this restaurant has the longest queue in Tokyo. Customers would wait for an hour just to be seated. It just dawned on me that I know and have eaten at the same establishment after watching someone vlog about their experience in Japan.

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So this weekend, my family and I had lunch again at Tendon Hannosuke here in NJ. My husband and I ordered the Edomae Tendon which consists of Anago (eel), 2 shrimps, kakiage, soft boiled egg and nori. One of my girls had the Original Tendon which has white fish, 2 shrimp, soft boiled egg and nori and the other had Tempura and Soba set – soba, 3 shrimp, nori, eggplant and vegetable.

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Every meal comes with a bowl of miso soup and pickled radish.

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The tendon (consisting of eel, shrimp, nori, vegetable and egg) is arranged over a bowl of rice and then a sweet salty sauce is poured over it. That is why this tempura does not require any kind of dipping sauce. The texture of the tempura would also not be crisp all over because of the sauce. Portions are very generous and you will surely leave more than satisfied.

My observation though is that the quality of food at this location is not always consistent. We had an excellent meal on our first visit 2 Summers ago. The second time we found the food a tad too salty and greasy for our liking. This time it was ok and the wait wasn’t that long too. Make sure you go right after the store opens at 11 am, I think that is when you get it at its best.

Maharlika NYC (Filipino Moderno)

I am really thrilled to say that Filipino food has finally arrived. It is becoming more main stream here in the United States. There are several Filipino restaurants that have opened in the New York City area in recent years that caters not only to the Filipino palate. One of these is Maharlika in downtown New York. They started as a pop-up moving from one restaurant to another, which finally led them to opening a place in East Village.

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Reservations is highly recommended when you visit if you are a party of four or more. The place is small and it get’s really busy specially during weekends. We got there around 1 pm on a Saturday, we were lucky that they were able to seat us right away, because the place filled up pretty quickly after that.

On the table you will immediately see a bottle of Jufran sauce (banana ketchup) and Maggi liquid seasoning. These are some typical sauces/condiments Filipinos love to use. The server would also offer you a vinegar dipping sauce one with chillies or without.

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We didn’t order any appetizer, though the sisig was pretty tempting. I got the Flip’D Chicken and Ube Waffle which is batterless fried chicken with purple yam waffle served with compound anchovy-bagoong butter and housemade caramelized macapuno syrup. My husband ordered one of the Silog Breakfasts the Cornsilog which is corned beef (house brined w/ peppercorn and bay leaf) served with sunny side up egg, garlic rice and ensalada.

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Portions are huge so be sure to come with an appetite. Food was very flavorful and did not disappoint. The Ube waffle and chicken was simply an amazing combination of salty and sweet. I was not a fan of the anchovy compound butter that came with it though. I find the taste too strong and distracting. Their corned beef was housemade and not the canned variety and is quite good. We also ordered the calamansi seltzer very refreshing drink to have since it was quite humid that day. Can’t wait to be back to try out the rest of the food from their menu.

Le Pain Quotidien TriBeCa

Le Pain Quotidien is our go to place for breakfast and brunch whenever we go to New York City. We discovered this restaurant back in 2012 when we were in Georgetown, Washington DC. This is an international chain of bakery/restaurant founded in Brussels. Le Pain Quotidian literally means daily bread. It started with the goal of serving fresh oven baked bread. A common theme in any Le Pain Quotidian that strikes you as soon as you enter is the long wooden communal table at it’s center. They use organic ingredients whenever possible and offers seasonal menus. I usually try to order from their seasonal menu when available.

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We had brunch at their TriBeCa location the other day. My husband got the Organic Steel Cut Oatmeal with bananas, walnuts and maple syrup and Two Organic Soft-Boiled Eggs served with their organic bread.

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I on the other hand ordered from their seasonal menu and had a Ginger-Plum Pistachio Muffin and the Baked Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Dill.

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A Salt & Battery

It’s very hard to find a good fish and chip shop in the US. I’m not talking about the one’s you get at chain restaurants but authentic British fish and chips. I heard lots of good things about “A Salt & Battery” after doing research. We just never have gotten around to try out the place.

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We had the opportunity to do so today, albeit unplanned. We were just strolling down West Village in New York City when we happen to pass by it. The restaurant is real small once you go inside. You place your order at the register then they will call you once your food is ready. We ordered a regular size fish (cod) and chips which came with their homemade tartar sauce. The food lived up to our expectations. The fish was crisp outside and tasted real fresh and the chips were good too. I’ll try their battered bangers (sausage) next time and maybe some of their homemade pie (steak and ale) too !

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