In another life, I would be ranting about getting failing marks for midterms (HI TAXATION!), the first time in my
extended college life. I’d tell you (or rather, myself) that I’m posting about food to improve my mood, make me happy etc etc. Don’t get me wrong, food STILL makes me happy but I no longer need to depend my joy on it. Besides, I’ve already prayed about my academics and am well aware that it was my fault more than anyone else’s — prioritizing social life and lying on bed all day over school works.
Now that I’ve already DABDA’d my way out of my 4-points-short-of-passing grade, time for another food photodump!
For this one, I decided to arrange the restaurants by location starting with the farthest one in Tagaytay. The city is a favorite because of its distance, cool weather, and restaurants. Drove up one afternoon with my siblings and father. Our destination was Tower Ground Bulalo Restaurant along Aguinaldo Highway. Just like what I’ve always said, the beauty of going out on a weekday is avoiding the crowd. We were the sole customers after lunch time and we’re able to dine in peace with a view of Taal Lake and Volcano!I honestly am not a big fan of Bulalo. I prefer Nilaga or Sinigang but since it’s almost synonymous with Tagaytay, we still ordered one. All versions from all restaurants I’ve been in taste the same to me HAHA! We also had sizzling liempo and when your meat is served in that orange-y color then you’ll know, based one experience, that it will not be good, so-so at best. But Tower Ground wasn’t all bad. We enjoyed the Adobo with gata! Perfect mix of spicy and salty and creamy (and oily!). Also, it was a joy to discover fried tawilis, perfect with vinegar. I think it was my first time to eat fish without minding the scales given the fact that I meticulously remove even the ones in canned sardines. My father was amazed with the prize of this dish, 150 pesos for more or less 12 pieces. I would be too, but thanks to tagging along with my grandmother, I know very well how cheap these are sold in Batangas public markets.The downside of eating al fresco in Tagaytay is that food get colder faster thanks to the cool breeze. My father, who likes his food piping hot, was not happy. Also, there’s the long way home made worse by traffic. We spent more time on the road than our destination, a theme applicable to the life of anyone who’s ever lived in Manila.Next is an area you can’t make me go to unless it’s 1) via private transpo 2) something really important, and 3) to meet certain people because just thinking about the travel time and effort makes me want to stay at home and just catch up on my manga. But I missed Fae and she’s included in that “certain” qualifier so off I go to my two-ride (sometimes three), two-hour journey to the great north, Quezon City!
First stop was Artsy Cafe along the still booming Maginhawa Street. Every time I come back, there’s always something new my wallet and tummy and time can not keep up.
Oops, forgot I’m weaning myself over the habit of wanting to try everything nga pala haha! K. I hope this area doesn’t reach a point where it can no longer expand and the establishments close one by one because of over saturation. Based on my observation though, it’s still a few years down the road.
Artsy Cafe has nice interiors but I wasn’t able to take photos because it was full during our visit it felt intruding to take pictures of strangers without their permission. It’s bigger than your typical Maginhawa joint with white and blue as predominant colors. The pasta dishes were pretty decent but it was the Mango Pudding dessert that makes me want to go back. Layers of mangoes and whipped cream and vanilla ice cream and nuts and meringue! Every bite was delightful. The fruit in season! YAY!Next stop was the Harry Potter-inspired cafe, Nook. The place was small but it’s not surprising given the fact that rent in the area might have risen in unprecedented levels over the past few years. It can accommodate two tables al fresco, two on the first floor and maybe 8 to 10 people on the second floor. It can get really crowded on peak hours but thank God we only shared the place with 5 other people during our visit (and they left early hehe).My internal Potterhead is screaming in delight. The place will do while I wait for that time when I can finally visit the Wizarding World in Universal Studios and bask in the world I first lost myself in. Anyway, part of the experience was to don robes and pretend play. Some customers monopolized the wands so I wasn’t able to hold one. In response, I refused to take off the robes and wore it the entire time we were there 🙂A sign said board games were available at the counter. We settled for snakes and ladders because there were only two of us and I missed the game! Of course the visit wouldn’t be complete without an order of Butter Beer. I don’t know how the drink is supposed to taste like, my only comparison being the one I tried to recreate in Starbucks, but this one was surprisingly good I didn’t mind that it was full of calories. It was sweet but not overwhelmingly so that it makes my head spin and makes me want to drink a lot of water. We also had Banana Speculoos Smoothie and their new offer, bacon-wrapped sausage sandwich with fries (I think it was called Nook Bomb?). The sausage was really good and really oily but we were too full to finish everything. Despite that, I was glad I get to catch up with a dear friend in a Harry Potter themed cafe 🙂❤On another trip up north, I found myself in Casa Italia on SM North EDSA The Block. Lesson learned: if the place specializes in gelato, don’t go assuming that their food are also any good lest you want to be disappointed big time. We tried two pasta dishes and blue cheese pizza and they were all bad, especially when you consider the price. I felt so cheated I ended up not getting gelato even if I was excited to try it. But I still have to give it to them, the yogurt shake was delicious and the place was nicely done. I am only smiling in the picture because it was taken before we ate. I was still smiling afterwards and the food had nothing to do with it.For dessert we headed to the nearby La Lola Churreria. I’ve passed by this place a couple of times in different places in the past and of course have seen people post about it on social media but I haven’t really joined the Churros-craze (if ever there is one) and I can’t really differentiate for the life of it an authentic Churro from a fake one.Common sense will tell you what the place specialized in Churros. There’s classic, savory, sandwich, and stuffed. We settled with classic and dark chocolate coated plus an order of Hot Chocolate Dip. It was reasonably priced for me given the serving size. Also, these deep-fried things which we all know are bad for our health are really good I even enjoyed my already chocolate coated Churro with the also chocolate dip. Thank God the buzz surrounding the brand has died down so we didn’t have to fall in line (when it opened last year, I saw pictures of long winding queue and I told myself no, thanks). Next time, I want to try the sandwiches and ones served with ice cream. That is, if I get around to forgetting how unhealthy this is. So greasy yet so good. Case in point, see the wet inside of a Churro. Hint: It’s not water.Nearer home is University Belt, notorious for flood, snatchers, and students. Lots of
them us. Our stop was The Eatles, a Beatles-inspired restaurant along P. Noval Street.I invited Pags who was an even bigger Beatles fan than me. The place had memorabilia all over and we even had to enter via a red phone booth! The floor had black and white tiles, wala lang.We were already giddy just looking at the menu because the dishes are named after songs of the Fab4. HAHA fangirling really is a funny thing. I was singing the lyrics in my head while reading the items.We had Nowhere Man’s Hungarian Aglio Olio, The Eatles Black Cheeseburger, and Bungalow Bill’s Buffalo Wings. The pasta had a spicy kick. The burger was decent and the black buns added novelty. It was the wings that stood out, so delicious we were tempted to order another plate.Still in university belt this time near Mendiola, is Amo Yamie Crib, a favorite among students because of its interiors and instagram-worthy food presentation. Taste-wise, not so much.Since I’ve tried most restaurants that Binondo has to offer and new ones don’t usually pop up there as much as in other areas (which is good because most places have been operating for years meaning they’re actually good and not merely sustained by hype), I decided to seek the help of Google for suggestions which lead me to an article which stated that Fu Dao Dumpling in Lucky Chinatown is a must. I was looking forward to trying this one only to be disappointed big time. Lesson learned: don’t trust Rappler with your food choices.A bowl costs more than 100 pesos and though it’s one of my basic principles to not waste food I bought with my parents’ hard-earned money no matter how mediocre the taste, I had to make an exception with this one. It was so bad I couldn’t bring myself to have another mouthful. The broth was gross (I’ve had satay in other places and it didn’t taste like this) so I resolved to only finish the noodles. But they were slimy so I told myself to at least finish the dumpling but even that proved to be a challenge. I only ate 3 out of four pieces, practically forcing the third one down my throat. You know what the worst part was? I was with my father for crying out loud. And though he usually teases me to finish my order, he felt a pang of pity after having a spoonful and told me to not mind, we’ll just eat somewhere else. Now he has another story he can condescendingly remind me of every time we eat out in Binondo. In his words, “Agin agin manin“.From Lucky Chinatown we went into the less tourist-friendly allies and emerged in Ongpin.Where we headed straight to Dong Bei’s Dumplings along Yuchengco street to erase the horror that was Fu Dao’s out of our taste buds. Thanks to the ever reliable xiao long bao and pork dumplings.Afterwards we had decent la mien or lamian (which means noodles) at Lan Zhou La Mien along Benavidez street, near the famous Wai Ying. If I remember correctly we’ve been here before. It was where I ordered Kutchay dumpling, wasn’t able to finish it, and had to endure my father’s teasing for an entire week. But I guess he no longer remembers. Thank God for short term memories. Or maybe, you just forget petty shortcomings of people you love ❤
Anyway, Pangs said he discovered the place during one of his visits to Binondo sans me. He liked their Beef Mami which was good for two and served piping hot. I had a taste and it was good but we both agreed that it is still not as good as Ling Nam’s.And because I was already at a point where my tummy can no longer accommodate a whole bowl but I still want something to eat, I had half an order of pork dumpling which I happily devoured. By this time the atrocities of Fu Dao was already forgotten. This Kalamansi juice drink with honey was really refreshing albeit a bit expensive at 50 (or was it 60 pesos)? Then we visited Salazar’s Bakery afterwards where I saw the exact same bottle. The difference was, it was only being sold for 24 or 25 pesos! I’m hoarding this on our next trip.“Ito yung binibili mo lagi diba? Ilan kukunin?”, Pangs on Tikoy with Monggo fillings.After navigating through narrow alleys we found ourselves in Quiapo. I’ve traversed this area countless times but I can’t remember our route because it seems like we take a different one every time. In conclusion, left alone, I will be lost. After all, I’m geographically-challenged and in my father’s affectionate tone, mukhang tatanga-tanga minsan.There seems to be a lot of interesting restaurants opening at SM Manila lately. I saw a branch of Ramen Cool on the upper floors for example. And there’s Teresita’s of San Fernando on the ground floor. I’ve visited the place alone before and enjoyed their version of Kare-Kare very much, thick and gooey and oily! Of course I didn’t eat the eggplant on top but I assure you, one cup of rice isn’t enough. And it’s the best 130 pesos you’ll spend on Kare-Kare (especially since other restaurants charge up to 400 pesos for this dish and they can’t catch up with this version in a hundred years).
On another visit I was with my father and brother and in addition to Kare-Kare we also tried Dinuguan (not the version I’m used to but still delectable. I think it’s more popularly called Serkele where I came from), Breaded Porkchop (with vinegar!!!), and Beef Caldereta (not in picture but it was also thick and gooey and oily. In short, perfect!). Luckily, we went during their Blessing ceremony and they were giving out free halo halo for the customers! I prefer Razon’s version though. Still, I hope they open a branch at Robinsons Manila. The dishes are so good and affordable I can forgo eating at fastfoods because it will be a disservice to myself to choose manufactured food over these.Another restaurant at SM Manila is Kuya J. I Initially thought the casual dining establishment was owned by Jericho Rosales only to find out that he is merely the brand ambassador. Anyway, I hope other celebrities follow Marvin Agustin’s suit and be entrepreneurs if ever they’re thinking of retiring instead of running for public office.
Here’s my mother who wouldn’t leave the place without having a picture with Echo even though she hates his character Gael in the teleserye she diligently watched before (she stans Paolo Avelino).Kuya J serves Filipino food. I’ve been a customer twice and both times I ordered and enjoyed the Creamy Seafood and Corn Soup. I like corn on everything! Halo-halo, ice cream, ramen, soup, snack, etc. Cool fact: According to the internet, even though it’s eaten as a vegetable and sometimes as a grain, it actually is classified by botanists as a fruit!
Other items I’ve tried are Kare-Kareng Bagnet (no match with Teresita’s), Gambas (no match with Cafe Adriatico’s), Sizzling Sisig (no match with Camalig’s) and one of their specialties, Lumpia Presko (no match with Globe’s). Haha! I’m not saying it’s no good to eat at Kuya J’s. In fact, they offer decent renditions of Filipino favorites, the ones in parentheses are just the best I’ve tried so far. If you can’t be the best, at least be good and Kuya J’s excelled in that area. Their crab rice was delicious though it entails additional fat but when you’re eating Filipino food who cares about that? What I enjoyed more are their desserts, Tablea Coffee Flan and Cebuano Mangga Cheesecake!In Makati, I had dinner with bebes Abi and Dai at Torch in Greenbelt 5. The restaurant is good for people who can’t decide what type of food to have or group of friends who can’t agree on what to eat because it offers Italian, American, Japanese, and Filipino items, from sushi to pasta to burgers to pizza and steaks.
We settled for half White Truffle Sausage and half Philly Cheesesteak Pizza, Volcano Roll, Torch’s Signature Roll, and Blackened Chicken Alfredo pasta. At first glance, one might think that the servings are small but all our orders were carbohydrates and we weren’t able to finish everything. Too full to stand haha! Though dining here can make a dent on a student’s budget, I enjoyed everything especially when paired with too-personal conversation with dear friends.This is what happens when you let a friend read your personal messages out loud :)))On another trip to the Metro’s business district, we had dinner at Krazy Garlik, also in Greenbelt 5. The tab was on Ramm who’s about to leave the country for work. Thanks bebe!
For someone like me who likes garlic, the place is a treat. We had 40 Kloves Chicken and Garlicky Cripsy Pata complemented by Hara Kiri Rice, one of the best fried rice ever! It can be eaten by itself, actually. Again, just like most establishments in Makati (especially inside malls), it’s kind of expensive for an unemployed like me but I can say that you wouldn’t feel cheated after eating. Also, everything’s better when free hehehe. Hi to Pat who I haven’t seen in years!Loitered at Cafe Pascucci after Ysa left. I think we had Fraspuccio Confuso and Hot Mocha. Their blends are strong and not too sweet so I have no complaints.Revisited Kanto Freestyle Breakfast and the place had a renovation since the last time I was there. It looks a lot better now. We ordered old favorites and thankfully, the food still taste the same. If you’re consistent, food can be a very lucrative business.My favorite from the sweet portion of the menu, grilled buttered suman with ube and goya ganache!Celebrated my Schwester’s 23rd with the family at The Food Club Manila, Bldg E Baywalk, Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. Happy birthday schwes! Yay for promos 🙂I can only imagine how crowded buffet places get during peak seasons (which is Christmas thanks to all the reunions). Good thing it’s February and a weekday at that so most tables were unoccupied and the food displays didn’t look too murdered.The food choices weren’t as extensive as Vikings but the quality is at par with it, if not better. I especially enjoyed the Carbonara though I have to remind myself to stay away from carbs in buffets because they make me full easily.Halo-halo because we miss home.The akala-mo-hindi-nag-aaway shot 😉Afterwards we walked around the area. It reminded me of High Street. Then we saw this huge light ball(?) and picture taking ensured.