Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Japanese Standard

December 27, 2008
Izakaya Kikufuji
Pasong Tamo, Makati City

Having been to Japan, I think my standards for Japanese cuisine have doubled. Without exaggeration and sounding like a complete asshole, I believe that nothing can compare to the authenticity of the original. Ever since I was a kid, my family would frequent our favorite restaurant Kimpura and we've always believed that it was the ultimate representation of authentic Japanese cuisine. Kimpura was our comfort food. Coming back from Japan, I had the opportunity to go back to Kimpura and compare. I was shocked to realize that the food we had been in love with all this time was only subpar compared to Japan's. Sushi and Sashimi in Japan were both fresher. Ingredients: better. I've never felt so disappointed in my life. After putting something high on a pedestal for that long only to find out that it was not as good as you thought was definitely a bummer. As a result, I do regret going to Japan sometimes.

Kikufuji was nothing different. A subpar performance against the high standard that I put up. It was really nothing special. Yeah, there were a lot of Japanese eating there but it was disappointing. The sashimi we tried was not that fresh. The tuna was not that good and seemed old since it contained a lot of tough tendons in between the meat. Good thing the salmon sashimi was the saving grace. It was far better than the tuna. Better though doesn't mean best. Best sashimi in Manila so far is still at Kuretake in Rockwell. The sashimi they have there will literally melt in your mouth.

Since we were craving for some squid and in any form for that matter, we decided on Squid Teppanyaki. Flavor was ok. Nothing really stood out except for the toughness of the squid meat. The squid was really overcooked. Served on a sizzling plate, you can just imagine how tough it got because of the constant heat introduced to the meat. I never knew squid can actually taste like rubber. The best part of the dish was the Coke beverage we ordered as it helped lubricate the throat and allowed us to swallow "rubber" easier.

The Mixed Tempura, a dish I consistently order, was far from being extraordinary. It was just ok. The only thing left to consider is the serving size which was really small compared to the other Japanese restaurants out there. This is one of my favorite dishes in the Japanese menu but it didn't do wonders for me this time.

Lastly, we sampled the Sukiyaki. Our prayers were answered when we actually liked it. The serving was pretty big. A lot of beef was put into the soup. The ingredients were really fresh and the flavors were incorporated throughout the whole dish. We said to ourselves that finally Kikufuji did something right. Lastly but definitely not the least.

I've tried a lot of Japanese restaurants and only few of their dishes actually stood out. Kikufuji didn't. Being overrated and overpriced was the difference. Not the food. Chefs must bear in mind that real food critiques do not care about the price, they care about how the food looks and tastes. Those are the only factors foodies consider so instead of jacking up the price trying to trick people into thinking high price equates to high quality, they should concentrate on how to make their dishes as close to Japan's as possible. I still believe that somewhere in the Metro, there is still a restaurant worthy of being in comparison with the standard. Until then, let me reset my taste buds and search again.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

As Promised

Ma-Oli Ang Pasko, on its 4th Season, has officially come to an end.

Jela won the dock for just subscribing to my blog and as promised, I personally donated the price value of the dock amounting to Php 3,000 to the charity of her choice under her name.

She chose the Cribs Foundation, Inc. as her charity and here is the receipt of the donation:

Thank you for joining Ma-Oli Ang Pasko. I'm sure the people in Cribs are thankful for your generous donation. See you on Season 5 of Ma-Oli Ang Pasko.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everybody! :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Timberland In SM Marikina

December 19, 2008
Timberland
SM Marikina
Marikina City

The latest Timberland store recently opened in the shoe capital of the Philippines, perfect timing for your last minute Christmas shopping.

Come visit us at the 2nd floor of the new SM Marikina.

Pictures of the opening can be found here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Congratulations!!!

And the winner of Ma-Oli Ang Pasko is...

(drum roll)

wafflesnshakes@yahoo.com

Thank you for joining the raffle! I will email you a notification. Congrats and Merry Christmas! :)

Lia's Avocado Cake

December 16, 2008
Lia's
Quezon City

I really don't like sweets. It's not that I eat healthy (you know how I love butter) but I just don't like that overpowering sugar taste that are like little needles on my tongue. Pardon the over exaggeration. I do, however, sample desserts once in a while.

At the office, their favorite part of the meal is the dessert. Almost everyday we would have quite an array of desserts. The viands may be the same week after week but the desserts would be different each and every day. My favorite cake that we would usually have was the Mango Bravo cake from Conti's. That was until now...

Lia's Avocado Cake with Pistachio

I've never really tasted cake this good. The cake interior was really soft and fluffy. The air pockets were almost perfectly positioned throughout the cake layer creating the extraordinary texture. I believe the icing was flavored with real avocados and the magical part was that you could taste actual avocados in every bite. The icing was also perfectly seasoned. It was not too sweet and the flavor relied greatly on the actual fruit instead of sweeteners. The softness of the cake was given texture by the generous topping of pistachio nuts. On top of that, the pistachios also added a nutty-smokey flavor to the dessert.

With creations like this, I sometimes forget my dislike for cakes and sweets. Maybe this one can finally activate my hibernating sweet tooth.

Monday, December 15, 2008

End Of Ma-Oli Ang Pasko

Thank you for everyone who subscribed to my blog to join the promo. The contest is officially closed. The draw will be today (December 15, 2008) so stay tuned for the announcement of the winner within the week. Good luck! :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Timberland In SM Cebu

December 12, 2008
Timberland
SM Cebu North Wing
Cebu City

Perfect for the upcoming Sinulog Festival in Cebu (January 2009), a new Timberland store opens at the Ground Floor of SM Cebu's new North Wing.

Come one, Come all! Take advantage of our discounts for the Sinulog.

Other photos of the opening can be found here at my Multiply site.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

BOOters

December 7, 2008
Hooters
Mall Of Asia
Pasay City

Looking for good buffalo wings and eye-candy?

It's not at Hooters.

Nothing really special about their "famous" wings...

Not to mention the service crew (not worth taking a photo).

Trannys lurking the Greenbelt area were even better looking than them.

Sad.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dive And Turf

December 5, 2008
Zuni Restaurant And Wine Bar
Greenbelt 5
Makati City

Greenbelt 5 hosts some of the high-end fashion brands and restaurants in the metro. A meeting with old friends brought me to dine at one of the many restaurants there, Zuni Restaurant and Wine Bar. The place is fairly packed but since it was a Friday night, I wasn't really that surprised. At first glance at the menu, prices were really steep and I had pretty high expectations.

We started the meal with an order of French Onion Soup. I vowed myself to order this each time I see it on any restaurant's menu. So I did. Fortunately, Zuni's version was fairly good. Not the best but passable as one of the good ones. The beef broth base was really intense but I sensed a bit of MSG. My tongue stung a bit whenever I would sample a spoonful of soup. It was either they used a bit MSG or the broth was not homemade. You can buy broth off the shelf and maybe that was what they used. It was flavorful indeed but I don't know if the flavor had a degree of artificial flavoring. Overall though, this was a good hearty bowl of French Onion Soup that I really liked. Basic. Flavorful. And the mozzarella cheese on top was just heavenly!

Our main course was a plate of Porterhouse Steak and Sea bass. We were too hungry at this time so it may have clouded our judgment a bit, but the Porterhouse was really impressive. Cooked perfectly the way I like it: Medium Rare. It is not as thick as I would expect but at least it was good. Very filling. The vegetable side dish was also yummy. The Porterhouse Steak was really affordable since it was very big in serving size and when compared to the Sea bass order, it was Goliath! The Sea bass was tiny. For almost the same price as the Porterhouse, you'd want to expect something bigger. And too bad we got the end cut or tail-end of the Sea bass as the serving part since it was a bit overcooked. The meat was not moist and succulent, the way it should be. Instead, it was really flaky and dry. It must've spent a little too much time in the oven or warmer.

Zuni has one of the steepest prices I've ever seen in the area though I'm not a good judge in this case since I haven't been to the other restaurants yet. Sadly, the dishes we sampled in Zuni were not that extraordinary when you put price into consideration. Nothing really stood out. You can have these dishes at any other restaurant outside the ridiculous price range. I mean, if you are gonna do pricing and mark-ups on the food Zuni has, at least make sure they are above par and not just this average.

Overated?

Try it out and you decide.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Timberland At The Shang

November 27, 2008
Timberland
Shangri-La Plaza Mall
Mandaluyong City

The newest Timberland store opened recently at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City. Thank you for all the people that made the opening a success!

It's not too late for your Christmas shopping so come and visit us in our store. The store is located at the 3rd floor right beside Warehouse.

Some of the pictures of opening can be found here at my Multiply site.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tom Yum: Test One

Tried out this Tom Yum Set package that was just lying in the cupboard for quite some time now. It's not expired yet, Thank God! My mom also bought another brand for us during her trip to Thailand and I'm gonna try and blog about that next time. Stay tuned for Tom Yum: Test Two. But for now, onto the initial testing phase of THIS specific brand:

The Ingredients:

Fresh Shrimps and Straw Mushrooms

The Conclusion:

A bit bland. Lacked a bit of sourness. But had good heat.

Nothing a drizzle of fish sauce and a squeeze of lemon can't fix. Wish we could've found some coriander though for a more authentic Thai flavor and garnish. Couldn't find it in the grocery we went to. Too bad. Nonetheless, the Tom Yum was really ok. Better than I initially expected. I can't wait to try out the next brand of Tom Yum ingredient sets so I can do a little comparison.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Too Busy To Even Think Of A Good Title

It's been 12 days since my last post and I would like to apologize for that. It's been really hectic and busy in the office these couple of days cause we're opening up a new retail store. I've been in and out of the office looking after the construction. To add to that, internet in the office has been way too slow and it keeps on fluctuating. I hate the internet connection in our country. Definitely sub par! Ranting about it will result to nothing so I just swallow it all. I also haven't been to new restaurants worthy to blog about lately and I miss it. I miss eating. I miss blogging. I miss my readers. Don't worry though, I'll just fix my world and return back to the blogsphere I love.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Plato Platina

November 6, 2008
Blue Wave Complex
Pasay City

Didn't have any choices at the Blue Wave Complex since most of the restaurants were either fast food outlets or closed down so we decided on Plato Platina. This restaurant was probably the few left to maintain their location since the beginning of the complex itself. I've been here two times now and both were good experiences. Company I had was great and the food... quite expensive but fairly good. This time company was great but I guess the Law of Diminishing Returns must have caught up on me.

Seeing as this was an Italian restaurant, we ordered a pasta dish and a pizza to stay in theme. We decided to get the Quattro Formaggi Pizza and the Aglio Olio with Mushroom Spaghetti. The pasta dish was fairly good but the problem was there was completely nothing special about it. Even the mushrooms included were just the normal canned button mushrooms found in any grocery. I mean, I would understand a pasta dish being pricey but for the price of Php250 a plate, I would expect better mushrooms than CANNED BUTTON MUSHROOMS. The dish was completely far from anything special and one can easily create it in the confines of their own kitchen. I may not be a professional cook but even a frustrated chef like me can make a better Aglio Olio with Mushroom Spaghetti than this.

The pizza, on the other hand, was surprisingly good. The serving size was pretty big for two people. And it was very very affordable. Php 275 for a whole pizza. A little expensive than the pasta but far better in the quality of the ingredients. My only complain about it was that it was filled with mostly blue cheese. I expected FOUR different cheeses in one pizza since it was in fact named Quattro Formaggi Pizza for this reason but I only got to taste two. The blue cheese and the mozzarella were predominant all over the pizza top but the rest of the cheeses were either overpowered, low in quantity, or simply not there. Good thing blue cheese is one of my favorite cheeses else this would also be another disaster like the pasta.

As you can see with the photos that I have, the serving sizes of the dishes were quite small so we decided to add on a "protein" to our carbohydrate-filled meal. Browsing over the menu, nothing seemed to be appetizing so I just decided on the first, most Italian-sounding entrée I saw. It was Saltimbocca which was sort of like a pork roulade with some ham and basil rolled into it. It also had mozzarella cheese inside and topped with marinara sauce. Saltimbocca literally means "jumps in the mouth" but this dish, on the other hand, will never jump into my mouth again. In fact, the dish didn't do any "jumping" whatsoever. It was really nothing special. Sampling it this one time would be more than enough. The quantity of the serving was also quite small and the taste was a bit too complex for my palette. A little bit too chaotic. And for the price of Php 395, it was not quite affordable.

Reading over this blog over and over again, I can't help but ask myself why I made so many references to the prices which I don't normally do in all of my different food reviews. Price is really not that important to me in the critique of restaurants. I would gladly spend for food anytime and as long as the quality of the food and the service is good, I will NEVER complain about restaurant prices. With Plato Platina, I could not help it. The service may be good but the food, nothing extraordinary. They are the most expensive establishment in the Blue Wave Complex area and frankly, I don't know why. The food that they served us was, in my opinion, sub par. It is way off of being special. For their prices, I expected more. Good thing the iced tea was bottomless. At least there was something affordable...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ma-Oli Ang Pasko - Season 4

It's MA-OLI ANG PASKO once again

And I am giving away a KODA iBuzz iPod Dock...

Just SUBSCRIBE to my posts via Feedblitz
(Philippine subscribers only)
and get a chance to WIN...
THAT EASY!
Draw will be on December 15, 2008

On top of that, I will personally donate the price value of the iPod Dock (Php 3,000) to a chosen charity of the winner. You get a free iPod Dock and the charity gets a Php 3,000 donation! It's gonna be a Merry Christmas for everyone! :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Hate Judy Ann Santos Because

She's so lucky to have met the great Anthony Bourdain!

And now I hate her even more!

And why Cafe Ysabel?!? I may be bitter but Cafe Ysabel is NOT a good REPRESENTATION of authentic Filipino cuisine! Take him to the provinces instead!

Note: Pictures were asked to be taken down since they are not mine and I didn't ask permission to grab them. They can be found here instead.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dive Bohol: This Is What We Live For

October 24-26, 2008
Beach Rock Resort
Balicasag, Bohol

5 Sea Turtles in one dive. Massive school of Jacks. Awesome dive buddies. The beauty of Bohol. This is what we live for! Other photos can be found here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bohol's Food Eden

October 25, 2008
Bohol Bee Farm
Panglao Island, Bohol

I've never really been a fan of buffets. Stuffing yourself silly with everything you see just for the sake of increasing the rate of affordability is not anywhere near my list of things to do. Gluttony is definitely my least favorite deadly sin. The tired, bloated feeling you get after a buffet meal is, in my opinion, the closest experience to hell one can get. If palpitations and meat sweats are not your cup of tea, it'd be best to stay away from these kinds of spreads. With everything in this world though, there are exceptions. I'm not a fan of buffets but I am open in trying some out. Heck, you know I'm open in trying anything once! The best buffet so far for me is the Bohol Bee Farm buffet:

The whole buffet starts with a refreshing drink of fresh lemongrass juice. First time I tried it, I didn't quite like it. It was a surprise to me that lemongrass was made into juice and used for beverage. I didn't quite like it though the last time. I felt that it tasted a bit weird. Maybe I was caught off-guard with the drink. This time I knew what I was getting into and surprisingly, I kinda liked it. It had grown on me. The coldness of the drink amplified the taste and texture of its actual freshness. It was very refreshing. Something to take that buffet-overload taste out of your mouth.

After sampling the beverage, the food came to our table one after the other. We tasted just a little bit of each dish before going all crazy on everything. The way to conquer a buffet is by tasting each dish once and then going back for seconds. Focusing mainly on the good dishes is key and the secret to an efficient lunch/dinner buffet. The problem with this buffet was that everything was so damn good, so you had no choice but to just dig in. Our mantra for this buffet dinner changed to "Eat now, think later" as soon as we saw all the scrumptious dishes.

Camote Bread/Squash Muffins. Just tasted this dish... didn't want to get filled up by carbohydrates this early into the buffet. The camote bread was normal... Didn't have that sweet potato aftertaste that I was expecting. It is best served when you lather some of the homemade spreads over it. The squash muffin was really nice. It was still moist inside which is always good. You can really taste the squash in it so you ARE sure you're getting your money's worth. I'd prefer it to be warm though, ours was served at room temperature.

Homemade Spreads. This is one of the best parts of the Bohol Bee Farm experience and also one of the reason for actually going there. I was tasked to buy some to take back to Manila for my friend Warren. The last time we went here, we loved this stuff. I remember we used to buy a lot to take home and let others sample it. It was definitely addicting. There are 3 kinds of spread: Pesto, Mango, Honey spread. The pesto spread for me was the best. A hint of margarine at the tail end of the flavors is a bad sign for those health conscious people but trust me, it's all worth the heart clot.

Cab-Cab with Pesto and Green Tomato. I almost forgot about how good this was. It is a healthier alternative to potato chip. It is made from cassava which is an abundant root crop in Bohol and the harvesting of it has been one of the many livelihoods in Bohol. The cab-cab dish was awesome and having the dip of their version of a sweet green tomato salsa was magical. I just wish they also placed the other dip of coconut jam together with the dish like the way it was served my first time here. Cab-Cab and coconut jam is also a good combination.

Seafood Soup. My favorite among all the dishes served to us. It is a very hearty serving of seafood in a spicy-ginger-tasting soup. As you take a slurp of the soup, you can taste immediately all the flavors infused in it. Surprisingly, the soup is not fishy to the taste given that it is in fact filled with different kinds of seafood. Maybe because of the ginger and spices used that seem to mask the fishy taste. The soup itself is not sharp to the tongue like MSG-laden soups out there and it is very flavorful even without it. The best part about the soup is the after effects of a stinging spicy sensation of heat from either the ginger of some chili. The soup dish is perfect for the buffet since it's not that heavy on the stomach that you can still have space for the remainder of the dishes.

Organic Garden Salad. The photo of this dish doesn't do it justice. You have to literally dig in the salad and find servings of mango chunks, kesong puti, carrots, and yam bean (singkamas) then pour the mango-honey dressing over it. As you can see, flowers act as ingredients-slash-decoration on the salad. It also brings out those aromatic oils from the completely homegrown flowers and vegetables. The arugula also added some bitterness to it. I just love arugula! All the different tastes in one dish, we couldn't help but have seconds. I mean, I've tasted many salads but I've never tasted anything this good! Do I dare say it? Best salad in the WORLD!

Grilled Marlin. Probably, in my opinion, the best viand in the whole buffet. The fish was perfectly cooked and I'm sure fresh. The meat still succulent and tender. The flavor was also infused inside the fish meat which showed the intense marinating process done over the marlin. The meat was sweet and had hints of sourness within. I didn't like the sauce accompanying it though since it would only mask the true and ample flavor of the meat. I suggest you only try a little bit of the sauce over the fish and not drown it.

Baked Spareribs. I'm not really a big fan of this dish. Maybe that is also the reason why the photo itself got messed up. Kidding aside, I really don't like this dish because it is tomato-based. I never really liked tomato-based dishes (except for Lasagna). Bohol Bee Farm's version of the Baked Spareribs is quite good. The meat is still tender having sat a few minutes waiting for us to sample it. More tendons than meat though. Tendon lovers would definitely want a piece of this. Maybe the buffet isn't that perfect after all... Nahhh! A minor hurdle.

Seafood Lasagna with Carabao Cheese. Lasagna has been one of my favorite pasta dishes. This was no exception. Again, I would like to apologize for the food shot (if you can call it that), lighting was kinda dim so I had to compensate with some photo-editing. Anyway, the Lasagna was superb! Add this to the best Lasagnas that can be found out there. The cheese was awesome also. The carabao cheese was light and complemented the pasta dish very nicely. It tasted like mozzarella but tastier. The only downside though is that I didn't quite see any seafood. Maybe all were grounded up but it would've been nice to infuse some actual seafood bits in it to give it some personality.

Honey Glazed Chicken. Organic chicken and local honey was used for this dish. I have this hatred for this type of chicken because at home we used to eat it deep-fried and we would have a hard time eating it. Organic chicken is small and the meat little. Hence, if you fry it without looking over it and making sure it's not overcooked, it'll become like bits of rock. My fear for organic chicken turned me off of this dish at first but as soon as I tried it, I loved it. The chicken meat was not at all tough. They maintained the meat's tenderness during the cooking process. Kudos to the chef. The honey glaze was also amazing and it coated the chicken pieces nicely. Perfect Honey Glazed Chicken.

Organic Red Rice with Camote. The rice served was very healthy but we didn't get to eat that much of it. The carbohydrate would not be a really good idea in a buffet. We just tried some to just experience it. The rice was very aromatic and the bits of rice were really fluffy looking. The dish is a healthier alternative to the normal white rice but I think it'd be much more filling. The color alone would psychologically make you think it's richer. But for rice lovers out there, this would be nice for putting some of the soup over and eat viand with. The rice is not flavored rest assured your kidneys are safe my dear readers.

Homemade Ice Cream. For dessert. The ice cream was served in two flavors: mango and buko. I liked both but I prefer the mango flavored one. They were very creamy and rich. When you taste it, your taste buds will tell you that this is real homemade because of the intense creamy texture and strong milk flavors. The dessert is packed and not full of air like conventional ice cream that can be found in the grocery. This is the real thing. The flavor also included a salty aftertaste which was kinda weird but interesting. Up to now, I still don't know where that saltiness came from. A theory of mine would state that if everything was made naturally, the ice cream maker would have been surrounded with ice and salt. This is done to even lower the freezing point of the ice which makes it faster for the cream to stiffen and eventually freeze. Some of those may have cross-contaminated over to the cream that was being made. Well, this is just a theory. Maybe they just put in salt so that the taste would be different. I don't know. Just know that it's very good. A perfect ending to a perfect buffet.

The photos and descriptions will never do justice. Bohol Bee Farm served the best buffet I've ever tasted. A heavenly feast of organic ingredients taken directly from their farm. Rarely do you see buffets having all of their dishes blow your mind. In Bohol Bee Farm, ALL the dishes are amazing. At the same time, everything is served with the perfect Bohol hospitality. Ambiance great. Food awesome. Service superb. Other buffets can never be this perfect. It is truly the closest thing one can get to heaven through food.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dive Acacia: The Opening

October 18-19, 2008
Acacia Resort and Dive Center
Mabini, Batangas

Went over at Acacia to be a part of its grand opening. Congrats Oli for your dream finally coming true! I saw my first shark during this weekend. Black-tip! Too bad I didn't bring my camera down to take a photo. First time to see so many jacks also! Awesome awesome dives and on the way back to the resort, we saw a big sea turtle playing on the surface of the water! And being with family, friends, good food, and fun - I don't know what else to ask for?

The rest of my underwater photos are at my Multiply.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Good Ol' Days

October 16, 2008
Fazoli's
Eastwood City

I've been a corporate resident of Eastwood City and I've frequented the many restaurants and establishments within the area. I've seen restaurant changes and downfalls but one restaurant has always been my favorite. It apparently stood through the test of time and economic crisis. Fazoli's is the only Italian fast food in Eastwood City. Of course it isn't that great. It used to be ok. But now, quality has deteriorated to below average. I still love it though. It has a special place in my heart. We used to always eat here because they serve very filling meals and bottomless drinks. It reminds me also of the good ol' days working as a corporate slave. Don't get me wrong, I loved those times. The different people you meet and the sheer randomness of everyday life still brings a warm fuzzy feeling to my heart each time I reminisce about it.

Minestrone Soup

Chicken and Pesto Pasta Meal

Spaghetti with Meat Balls

Quality has deteriorated. Serving size has decreased. But I will always have fond memories of Fazoli's. I would definitely go back as long as they don't (knock on wood) close down first. I think they should introduce new food items and better the quality of their food.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dessert Of Choice

October 13, 2008
Café Breton
Greenbelt 3, Makati City

Ever since I started blogging about food, I've tried out a couple of weird dishes. This, on the other hand, may not go into the annals of exotic food but it is somewhat of a weird combination for a dessert. To tell you honestly, I'm really not fond of desserts. I really don't like the sweet stuff. Maybe on some rare occasion or if the mood calls for it, I'd try out some cakes and pastries but not to the point of gorging on it. This slight dislike of desserts might have been what gave birth to the dessert of my choice. As they would say, necessity is the mother of invention.

The dessert of my choice would be a crepe from Café Breton topped with condensed milk. Simple. Classic. Now to cut the sweetness a bit, I tried putting some salt on it. Kinda weird placing salt on a dessert but I just had to try it. Viola! A new favorite dessert of mine was born.

As you bite into the buttered, slightly crisp crepe, the sweetness of the condensed milk floods your mouth. The moment it touches your palette, the sweet-creamy texture of the condensed milk coats the roof of your mouth. The flavors rush throughout all the various nerve endings inside your mouth and you experience euphoria. You close your eyes to heighten the sensation and it is in this time you get almost rhythmic salty spurts from the tiny grains of salt sprinkled on top of the prepared crepe. It was like tiny musical notes in a beautiful song. Like the gentle tapping that mom used to give when she tucked us into bed. At that moment, everything was just perfect.

Funny how a grain of salt can make a difference huh? You guys can try it out for yourself. I promise you'll love it. Remember to close your eyes to maximize the experience though. That's also my secret to actually taste good food.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

La Maison

October 13, 2008
Greenbelt 5, Makati City

This was my second time at La Maison. The first time was for lunch and a business meeting. This time, it was for dinner and to accompany a friend on her blind date. Didn't know what I was doing in somebody else's date but I guess it's for moral support. The first time at La Maison, I loved it. I fondly remembered the very good soup that they had, lunch meals, and the Wagyu Burger. I was excited. A little TOO excited maybe...

As we were waiting for the "daters", we decided on some soup to warm our stomachs and to open our palettes a bit. I ordered the same soup I ordered the last time, the Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup. I wanted to be safe. I didn't want to try something unsure in preparation of the highly anticipated Wagyu Burger. I had the burger before but I forgot to bring a camera. This time I was ready...

Camera checked and its settings optimized, I was prepared this time. The Wagyu Burger though, was not. They ran out of stock. The very point I agreed to eat at La Maison was to take a picture of the Wagyu Burger for the blog but AGAIN, I didn't get my mission done. I mean, the Wagyu Burger wasn't as amazing as I expected and is kinda overated but I just wanted to share the photos and my review with you guys. Maybe next time the elusive Wagyu Burger will finally present itself. I'll be back for it La Maison...

Going back on track, we decided instead on sampling their other dishes. We got the Seafood Marinara Pasta, Fish and Chips, and the Baby Back Ribs. The pasta was just ok. I'm frankly not fond of tomato based pastas and this one didn't quite make an impression on me. It was normal. Same as any marinara pasta dishes I can get at a lower price range. Prices at La Maison are a little bit steep and for the price, I hope they can make better pastas than this.

The Fish and Chips, on the other hand, was a few notches above. The batter they used was really good. The fish had a very crunchy outer shell and the inside was very moist and tender. Perfectly cooked from the inside to the outside. There were also four sauces to choose from: curry, cocktail, tartar, and red bell pepper. My favorite was the tartar and the red bell pepper sauces. The tartar had no strong after taste that I usually hate about tartar sauces. The tartar sauce is perfect for the Fish and Chips and I love how it tastes. I'm just not fond of the after taste and the aweful breath you get with it. The red bell pepper sauce is awesome. A bit spicy but not to the point of burning a hole into your tongue. This was a great sauce for the "chips" (fries) as well. For me, the Fish and Chips of La Maison was fairly good but it sure ain't gonna beat Fish & Co's version. I believe that those are the best Fish and Chips I've ever tasted in Manila.

Taking place of the excitement I had for the Wagyu Burger, was the anticipation for La Maison's Baby Back Ribs. The restaurant's signage in fact said "Home of the BEST Ribs..." so I had high expectations. Good thing La Maison was telling the truth. They indeed had the best ribs I've tasted in a very long time. The meat was falling off the bone with tenderness and the flavor was through and through. The first touch of the meat on your tongue, you'd really taste all the flavors of the barbecue sauce and spices. As you bite into the meat, the intense flavors are still noticable. The ribs, I assume, were marinated really well to get this much flavor into it.

Here are a couple of things that struck me:

1. The soups are very very good. Very rich and very flavorful especially the Lobster Bisque and the Cream of Wild Mushroom. I suggest you get to taste their soups.

2. The bread made with squid ink. Ask for some. It's complementary and you guys should try it. Don't worry, it tastes the same as the normal bread but it smells really different and it has the essence of squid. It's weird when you come to think of it but it's definitely something new to try.

3. Whatever you do, don't forget to try the ribs. It's one of the best I've ever tasted.

In conclusion, La Maison may be a bit steep for those financially challenged but I think if you order the right dishes, you'll definitely get your money's worth. They have some very good entrées too that you can try which are priced on the average so you don't really have to be afraid to try La Maison out. I was not afraid, and, I'm definitely coming back for that Wagyu Burger.
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