First time for the both of us in Bacolod, the land of Chicken Inasal and Kansi. A beautiful place with a tremendously rich history (literally). The land of smiles and of beautiful people both inside and out...
May 17, 2009 Calea Lacson Corner 14th Street, Bacolod City
Calea is a well-known food destination in Bacolod for desserts. It took us quite a bit of time looking for Calea but it was all worth it. We ordered two of their best sellers while waiting for our taxi to the airport:
White Choco Cheesecake
The Chocolate Cake was really good and not overly sweet. The only problem was that it wasn't as moist as I'd hope for. The texture was a bit crumbly. The White Choco Cheesecake, on the other hand, was perfect. Probably one of the best cheesecakes I've ever tasted (not counting Classic Confections) in my entire life. The white chocolate topping gave the smooth cream cheese some texture and bite. The tangy raspberry sauce was also an amazing complement to the sweet and creamy cake.
May 17, 2009 Kansihan Ni Conee Capitol Shopping Center, Bacolod City
Two things we wanted to find in Bacolod during our short food trip:
One is the most authentic Chicken Inasal in Bacolod which we found in Manokan Country. The second one is the kansi, an Ilonggo version of the Bulalo where the beef shank is boiled in a sour (and spicy) soup. Authentic kansi is made sour by using an indigenous fruit called batuan. We found it at Capitol Shopping Center (or locally known as Shopping) in a place aptly called Kansihan ni Conee. Their version was pretty good! My favorite part of the soup was the tenderness of the meat and of course, the abundance of the bone marrow! A lump of cholesterol-filled goodness that you wouldn't mind having a heart attack for.
We tried it at JT's Manukan but we didn't like their version. The meat was old and gamey. The soup lacked tanginess and spiciness. We had to add a few more chilis and squeeze a little bit more calamansi. It was very different from the one in Bacolod where it was perfect from cooking pot to bowl.
May 16, 2009 Manokan Country: Nena's-I Bacolod City
The first choice, the best choice: Nena's-I
Bacolod's Chicken Inasal - Succulent, tender, and very flavorful. If you want to imagine or picture how it really tastes like, you can go to JT's Manukan in Gilmore Avenue, Quezon City. In my opinion, they have it closest to the original. Price is doubled though compared to Manokan Country's.
For every Chicken Inasal meal, you SHOULD have lots of garlic rice smothered with Achuete-Garlic Infused Oil sprinkled with rock salt. Remember to use your hands in eating your meal! :)
The secret to good Chicken Insal is definitely the dipping sauce (Sinamak Vinegar, Soy Sauce, and Calamansi).
May 13, 2009 Khao Pad Ortigas Home Depot Pasig City
Khao Pad is the old Thai Canteen located at UP Diliman International Center and Balara. People from the Katipunan area would surely remember this as one of the great food finds you can find in UP. This was a refuge for students and teachers during those busy school days. A place for good comfort Thai food, just like what "Mommy" used to make.
The Ortigas Home Depot - the new "place-to-be" nowadays, where the nightlife suddenly sprouted like wild mushroom. Filled with everything from coffee shops to restaurants to bars, the whole area now caters to the call center agents and dormers in the vicinity. Finding its way in the middle of it all, Khao Pad:
Pad Thai - Too bad they ran out of noodles and instead substituted it with sotanghon (mung bean noodles). The taste though was still the same even if the textures have been changed. I loved the spiciness of the dish from the chilis and the saltiness from the fish sauce.
Thai Spring Rolls - Fried spring rolls that were, in my opinion, too basic. The taste was far too simple and the textures were not extraordinary. Good thing there was vinegar to spice err "sour things up"! :)
Chicken In Green Curry - This was my favorite among all the dishes we ordered. It really tasted like the real thing. The curry was spicy and sweet. The chicken meat was really tender and succulent. Pouring the curry over some hot steamy rice was a temptation I surpassed which I'm sure, you guys will not be able to...
Tom Yum - This was just ok. It was not as authentic as I'd hope for but nonetheless a very soothing bowl of our favorite Thai sour soup. It tasted more like sinigang (Philippine sour soup based of tamarind) instead of the usual lime and lemongrass. Authentic herbs like these were clearly not visible in the bowl. On the other hand, it was a damn hearty soup. It had lots of meat and seafood in it like shrimps, squid, and chicken. It was quite filling.
Although Khao Pad didn't quite reach the authenticity of REAL Thai cuisine, it didn't matter. It was good comfort food and brought back so many memories of the good old college days. And for me, that right there was more than enough. Khao Pad will always be home to me.
Sometimes bad things happen and we wonder why? They say everything happens for a reason but is this just another one of the many clichés our friends and families tell us to make us feel better? Trekking to Pinatubo made me see how one of the biggest catastrophes in the Philippines resulted in one of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. And another Grey's Anatomy "relate-everything-to-your-life" moment later... realize that the reason for tragedy, catastrophe, and problems in our lives is to make it more beautiful.
May 9, 2009 Charlie's Grind And Grills Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Thank God for Facebook status messages and good friends that point the way...
Philly Cheese Steak - Very very good sandwich for those craving for meat! I mean the serving was really big and the meat was plenty. I can actually say that the meat versus bread ratio is 2:1. Batangas beef was used so the meat was really tender. Meatwise, it couldn't compare with the Php400 cheese steak at Elbert's (Cheesesteak Sandwiches) but pricewise and tastewise, it definitely can!
Black Angus Burger - A very filling burger. An absolute dream snack for when you have the munchies. The beef pattie was really tasty and you can actually bite into meat. Some burgers are filled with extenders but this one wasn't... ALL BEEF BABY! :)
Buffalo Chicken Wings - The chicken wings were very succulent and flavorful. The hot sauce was fairly mild and lacked some punch. Whole dish was ok but I think they held back on the dressing... The dipping was lacking in amount and substance. We hardly tasted the blue cheese. Good thing the wings were good or this would have been a failure.
Fish And Chips - The fish was perfectly cooked and tasted really good with the batter. Their version can actually rival Fish & Co's but of course, not Charlie's, not anyone, can beat the best.
Vanilla Milkshake - Best I've tasted in a long time! So creamy and so delicious! Remember to order this when you go to Charlie's...
As you can see, we tried everything people said was good at Charlie's. Another thing good about dining in a group instead of alone or as a couple is that you get to try everything...
A new mall has risen amidst the busy, traffic-filled interchanges of the Philippines' self-proclaimed "City Of The Stars". Established and new restaurants plus a few specialty shops are immediately visible from the outside of the mall. One of the new restaurants inside is 145°F.
The place reminded me of Je Suis Gourmand a lot and the wine cabinets adjacent to the kitchen added a bit of sophistication to the place. The kitchen was clearly visible like that of Lolo Dad's but instead of a glass divider, 145°F has a chest-level counter top to separate the cooking and the dining areas. I must admit, from the utensil to the ambiance, 145°F didn't let anyone down.
In any restaurant though, the bottomline is the food. Even with amazing ambiance, the biggest factor STILL is the dining experience. Still high from our Lolo Dad's experience and our temporary addiction to foie gras, we decided to get the Duck Breast With Foie Gras. The texture of the foie gras was nice, seared on the outside and buttery on the inside. The only downside to it was the aftertaste... There was a distinct bitter taste that emerged after the foie gras melted in my mouth which might have been caused by the cooking process. The dish may appear perfect in texture but it was a tad bit overcooked. Foie gras is very sensitive to heat. Liver easily gets bitter when overcooked and it is not as easy to cook as it looks. This is the reason why it should be cooked perfectly because even a tiny miscalculation can cost the biggest of errors. To bad, 145°F almost had it...
The duck breast too was a bit overcooked and it had a weird initial taste of wax... I don't know if the duck meat was not of superior grade but it seemed a bit off. We also had a hard time cutting through the breast part because it was a little tough. THEN AGAIN, maybe we were just expecting and/or we were stuck with memories of Peking Duck?!? The serving of the duck breast was, as expected in a fine dining establishment, a bit small so we decided to get another entrée.
Since the restaurant's specialty was steak - which is the primary reason for the name 145°F (internal temperature of a steak cooked medium-rare), we decided to try their Angus Ribeye. The ribeye was ok and it was so similar to the one at Je Suis. From seasoning to texture, it all appeared to be the same. I swear, the only difference was the side dishes. Steak was good but again, maybe we just expected too much. Maybe Elbert's set such a high standard that no steak will ever match it so far?
At 145°F, I realized that food is indeed the biggest factor but it is NOT the only major factor. There is, of course, service. Service at 145°F was exceptional! Looking at the experience as a whole, our dining experience was great and realizing that everything doesn't revolve around food is actually something to remember for food reviews to come.
SM City North Edsa is the largest mall in the Philippines and the second largest in the world. There is definitely no question that Timberland will be a part of that! A new Timberland branch recently opened at the 2nd floor of the newly renovated SM City North Edsa Annex Building.