Saturday, February 28, 2015

Backlog Post: House of Wagyu Stone Grill

Wanting to explore the world of beef and steak, we bought a voucher from an online deals site that gave us about 50% discount for a meal at House of Wagyu Stone Grill which included a 350 gram, grade 9 Wagyu beef. It also came with soup of the day, mashed potato and vegetables.

French onion soup (soup of the day) is pleasantly served into three bowls. I liked the presentation where an herb infused oil over the soup mimicked latte art. The soup itself was thick and creamy. I am not really a fan of onions in burgers, but I like the taste when they are all caramelized and sweet. You could pair it with the house bread if you like.

Apron time! Before our main dish was served, we were assisted by the serving staff to wear aprons. Yes a full upper body apron. I wondered about the necessity of the apron for a while, but I guess it was part of the experience.

Then comes the slab of raw meat on top of a piping hot stone. The stone grill is sort of a cross between a sizzling plate and a smokeless grill (the types you see in yakimix). It cooks the raw slab of meat on the spot so you get to decide on your doneness.

…After a while we noticed some oil marks of the paper covered table. We realized that the brown apron was to cover our clothes from the occasional juice that sizzled out of the stone grill.

I remember being specifically instructed by the server to slice a few pieces of meat off the slab and cook it a few slices at a time, not chop the whole slab into pieces at once and cook it altogether. This is to keep the natural juices in the meat and enjoy the full flavor.

House of Wagyu smokeless grill is a bit pricey but the meat you get is worth it. The meat, the raw meat grilling in front you, just seeing that juice and smelling that beefy goodness, you’ll know you have something good. When I tasted my first slice, it had all that natural beef flavor . This is the natural version of all those beef flavored bouillon cubes in the market. Even without additional salt and pepper, the meat had enough flavor all by itself. It was also tender and did I already mention juicy?

Before I forget, the mashed potato with vegetables was a good pair to the meat. The mashed potato has a cheese-like flavor but not overpowering. The vegetables were fresh and crisp. I’m glad that it had broccoli and cauliflower and not just the usual corn and carrots.

My opinion is quite torn on cook it yourself food (i.e. smokeless grills, hot pot, etc) because I often do not want to wait for the food to be cooked (already hungry) and I just want to eat. But still, cooking it yourself is what makes the experience different compared to other types of food service.

Nonetheless, I loved eating at House of Wagyu Stone Grill. Their meat really tasted good. Imagine having that flavor without any sauces! I haven’t had any beef with that kind of taste all on its own. This Wagyu beef is a must try. And seeing the meat get cooked in front of you is plus factor for dining experience. You could also get a view of the Manila Bay sunset if you dine in the afternoon.

*This is a backlog post. Actual food expedition was made more than a month prior to publishing of this post.

Branch visited located at: Technically, this is located at Two Ecom Center (beside Mall of Asia) but it is still within the Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Backlog Post: Boon Tong Kee

Boon Tong Kee serves Singaporean dishes and we had some of their popular dishes sometime last year at a discounted price courtesy of online discount vouchers.

Signature Boiled Chicken
Also alternatively known as Hainanese Chicken, it is the simplicity, natural flavor of the meat, and the mixture of the condiments that characterizes this dish. This is a good choice for the health conscious.

Crispy Cereal Prawns
This is not the usual breading you get in tempura nor furai. As the name suggests, it is made out of some cereal. Floss also covered the prawns. The breading is flavorful, a bit salty to match the big prawn meat. It was indeed crispy.

Crispy Roast Chicken
Another chicken dish, this time roasted. The skin was browned and the meat is also quite simple in taste.

Braised Yi Mian with Prawns
Noodles and prawns. Not exactly a soup nor pancit but more like saucy noodles topped with halved prawns.

*This is a backlog post. Actual food expedition was made more than a month ago.
Branch visited located at: 2nd flr, Entertainment mall, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sebastian's Limited Edition Valentine's Ice Cream 2015

Matinong Boyfriend (sensible boyfriend), Matinong Girlfriend (sensible girlfriend), Closure, and Unfinished issues, no I am not talking about anyone’s love life but I am referring to the limited edition Valentine’s flavors of Sebestian’s Ice Cream. They offer free taste in small wooden spoons to help you decide which flavor to purchase. This is what I got from the ice cream sampling.

Out of curiosity, I tried the “Unresolved Issues”, which is mainly ampalaya (bitter gourd) sorbet with candied ampalaya. At first I tasted the coldness of the sorbet, then a little bitterness, ooh here comes the ampalaya. Yep, it was bitter. Then a final wave of bitterness echoed in my throat. It was definitely bitter. It was kind of cool how they were able to capture and execute the bitterness in a sorbet.

“Closure” is a Chrysanthemum ice cream with vanilla and hints of orange. This one is sweeter but not too sweet, perhaps more relaxing. Not really sure what chrysanthemum tastes like but there was orange and vanilla in there.

I also tried the “Matinong Girlfriend”. It is made of potato chip ice cream with potato chips covered in white chocolate. It did taste like a bag of cheddar/sour cream chips – only this one was in ice cream form.

The “Matinong Boyfriend” is composed of passion fruit sansrival ice cream with toasted macadamia nuts. It had some sour-sweet passion fruit sorbet (the bright yellow parts) which balances well with the ice cream (cream colored parts). The ice cream itself has a buttery taste and is not really that sweet. Its creamy texture mixes well with the icy passion fruit sorbet and toasted macadamia nuts.

This is what I eventually ordered. These are limited flavors and available only on Valentine’s weekend (Feb 13-15, 2015).

Branch visited located at: 2nd flr, Entertainment Mall, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City


Some cheesecakes are sweet and milky, some have a noticeable cheese taste, some are compact / siksik, and some resemble cream in consistency. This time, we get to taste 5 different flavors of mini cheesecakes in convenient (and recyclable) mini jars from CheeCups. We had a discount voucher for this one too. We were supposed to get 6 flavors but the Triple berry blend was not available for discounted purchases at that time.

Cheesecake in a cup – this is probably where CheeCups‘ name came from which is also pretty descriptive of their product.

Run down of the flavors we had:

As the name suggests, crushed oreo chunks on top, and a crushed oreo cookie crust sandwiching the cheese cake. The cheesecake itself seemed quite sweeter than all the other ones. Or maybe it was just the oreos. This and S’mores are my favorite flavors.

This is the only one in the batch that has the crust (crushed graham?) on top of the cheesecake together with the topping. Along with the marshmallows, there was also chocolate drizzle and a few nuts.

Almond Kiss
Topped with white chocolate mini kisses and almond slivers. The almonds added bite and texture.

Coffee toppings for this one. The coffee taste was not limited on the topping but is also present on the cheesecake itself. Maybe the cheesecake has coffee in it. It seemed a little browner in color too.

Chocolate Chip Cookie
Literally topped with half a chocolate chip cookie. The cheesecake on this one seemed thicker.

All of the flavors has a soft crust and a cheesecake with a cream consistency that gets more solid when chilled but is still easily scooped out. The cheese itself was not too sweet nor milky and it actually had a hint of sour, just right to balance the sweet toppings. These little goodies are best eaten straight from the fridge. After consuming the contents, the mini jars can be reused as containers for keeping little trinkets – or your very own mini cheesecake concoction.

Branch visited located at: SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Nipa Hut

Nipa Hut / Motoyori restaurant in Pasig is a place where you can get Filipino food (and Japanese food). Being at an elevated place, the winds are a tiny bit colder. The entrance and a part of the restaurant resembles a Nipa Hut which also serves as the no smoking area.

Outside, there is also a dining area for those who want more of the breeze and view while eating. The view offers a nearby look at the city (and houses) with a backdrop of the tall buildings along with a sight of some mountains. This place could have an awesome view at night when the buildings and houses are all lit up.

Here we ordered two Filipino food set meals that we got for a discounted price thanks to another online discount voucher.

Banana heart is not something I eat often. But I am glad that this Kilawin Puso ng Saging was good. “Kilawin” implied that it had vinegar. I was expecting something very sour but the dish is also pleasantly sweet. The brownish color hinted it had something along the lines of soy sauce, and the sweetness meant it also had some sort of sugar to balance the taste. There were also tiny bits of pork mixed in it.

Bulalo is a soup known to have a rich beef flavor along with rich beefy oils. It may also have marrow or tendons. This version’s meat was tender and the soup had a beef taste.

This crispy pata has the crispy skin lined with fat and tender pork.

Here we have Chicharon bulaklak. It is a variation of chicharon made from the fat along the pig’s intestine.

For seafood, we had sizzling bangus (milk fish), topped with mixed vegetables. The fish was seasoned and buttered.

Also included in the two set meals are Pork BBQ and Lumpia.

We visited this place earlier and tried a different set meal, also using a discount voucher. Here are the dishes we had.

I liked the kare-kare with their generous amount of the pumpkin and peanut mixture. It is like pumpkin soup but better because of the peanut taste, pork, and vegetables in it.

We also had inihaw na pla-pla with atchara, tomatoes and chopped green mango on the side, and sisig for something grilled and sizzled.

Below are the three set meals we had:
Set 1: Kare Kare, Inihaw na Pla Pla, Crispy Sisig (previous visit)
Set 2: Bulalo Soup, Sizzling Boneless Bangus, 3pcs BBQ, Chicharon Bulaklak
Set 3: Whole Crispy Pata, 15 Pcs. Lumpiang Shanghai, Kilawin Puso ng Saging
My personal favorites are the Kilawin Puso ng Saging, Kare-kare and Bulalo.

Overall, the meat in their food was tender, the ingredients they used tasted fresh and the food was not overpoweringly seasoned. The breezy view is a plus too.

Branch visited located at: Pasig City

Sunday, February 1, 2015

California Pizza Kitchen

Decided to eat lunch with another gastronomer at California Pizza Kitchen since we had a voucher from an online deals site. We only paid Php 500 for the voucher but we get to order food worth Php 1,000. It was as if we got a 50% discount.

We previously visited CPK and had pizza and pasta. Too bad I wasn’t documenting food expeditions yet at that time. But I do remember the taste of their pizza dough. It had a gentle crunch. It was a little chewy but not too thick. I loved that the dough was not too oily. It also had a tiny tinge of sweetness too (or was I imagining it?). So for our visit today, we wanted to explore the menu beyond the pizza and pasta.

I wanted to try something with the BBQ chicken since the menu items with the BBQ chicken is a specialty dish. I decided to go with the The Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad instead of the pizza to explore the menu. We ordered the full sized salad so we can share. Fresh tomatoes, crisp lettuce, corn, beans, nacho strips and chicken fillet cubes with BBQ sauce in one bowl/plate is already a filling meal. The chicken itself was tender and lightly seasoned while the BBQ sauce definitely has that smoked flavor and was not too salty. This dish had a crunch in the lettuce and nachos, and a bite in the tender chicken.

Say Cheese :-) Yep the milkshake’s name comes with the smiley. And yep, it is a milkshake with cheese. Not only topped with cheese but infused with it. The shake itself has more of a cream or vanilla taste. It is actually sweet unlike some popular ice cream brand’s Quezo Real flavor that has a salty kick in the ice cream itself. With every sip of this shake, you get bits of cheese, I think it is mozarella or some other kind of stretchy cheese. Topping off the cheese shake are sharper tasting cheeses. I just hope there was more bacon toppings (haha).

More cheese! For additional order, we had Fried Mozarella. What makes this different from the other mozzarella sticks that I have tasted so far is that it is wrapped in wonton wrapper. Other mozarella sticks I have tasted have the cheese covered in a bread-like ingredient which is thick and has a flavor of its own. Thinner yet crunchier, the wonton wrapper really lets you taste the cheese inside and not just some breading. It is also powdered with Parmesan cheese outside. This comes with a marinara sauce to dip the sticks in.

Open faced Quesadilla topped with nacho strips – two of my favorite Mexican inspired dishes in one. The flavor is not too strong. The quesadilla itself is more on the crunchy side rather than the chewy side but I liked it nonetheless. I kind of felt like eating a thin crust pizza at one point. The chicken meat and beans added a soft contrast to the crunch.

Branch visited located at: Mall of Asia, Pasay City