Friday, March 27, 2015

Theo and Philo: Local Artisan Chocolate

Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates offers quality local chocolates with interesting twists. These chocolates also have a nice packaging. Each flavor has its own design. Colors dominantly used are red, white, blue, and yellow/gold (colors of the Philippine flag).

Inside, the chocolate is wrapped in silver foil sealed with a golden Theo and Philo sticker. I noticed that one kind of foil was thinner with diamond patterns, and the other had no patterns but was a bit thicker.

They use local produce – they source their cacao beans from Davao and their sugar from Bacolod.

I bought three variants: Dark chocolate with Calamansi (local lime), Dark chocolate with Ginger and Mint, and Dark chocolate with Siling Labuyo (chili).

In general, I like their dark chocolate. It’s not really sweet but also not too bitter – and that’s how I like my dark chocolate.

Here are the three variants that I bought:

Dark chocolate with Calamansi (local lime)

This is my favorite among the three. It has a fruity citrus sweetness with hints of sourness mixed into the chocolate. You can occasionally spot the zest in the chocolate too. I also tasted some sweet crystals in it(sugar maybe?).

Dark Chocolate with Ginger and Mint

What makes this dark mint chocolate different from others is that it has ginger. The taste was dominantly mint but bits of ginger are there too that gives a familiar kind of spice in an unfamiliar setting.

Dark Chocolate with Siling Labuyo (chili)

Looks like a normal chocolate bar, yes? But unlike the other two, this one had an undeniable spicy kick. I like that it’s not the kind of spiciness that stays in your mouth (and hard to get rid of) since I am not a fan of super spicy food. It gives just enough hotness. Among the three, I think this one is the most unique.

I bought my Theo & Philo chocolates from the Team Manila store in Mall of Asia. Since they only had some flavors available when I went there, I’m gonna check if they have the Barako coffee, 70% dark chocolate, Pili nuts and Pinipig flavors on my next visit.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Banzai: Teppanyaki Theater

When we heard of a Japanese Buffet place, we just had to try it. We visited Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater with a discount voucher from an online deals site that gave us about a 20% discount.

Here are photos of some of the buffet stations:

We arrived a little before opening time for lunch so the buffet plates were still full when we started. The buffet is not limited to Japanese cuisine. They had other Asian offerings like Filipino, Korean, Thai, and Chinese food. They also had assorted salads, desserts and unlimited drinks. They have tea, a coffee dispenser, and various types of cold drinks and lemonade to choose from.

On my plate: [top] okonomiyaki, shrimp tempura, kaniyaki/takoyaki, [bottom] salmon sashimi, tuna sashimi,tamago (egg).

As usual, I had salmon and tuna sashimi. I did not get the ones with rice so that I won’t get full easily. The kaniyaki is like a takoyaki but has a crabstick in the middle instead of a slice of octupus. The flour mixture was chewy, soft, and tasty. 

On my plate: [top] chicken gyoza, chicken skewer, [middle] fish teppanyaki, tuna teppanyaki, salmon teppanyaki, squid teppanyaki, shrimp teppanyaki, [bottom] chicken teppanyaki, beef misono, Japanese hotdog, beef teppanyaki

Since “teppanyaki” is included in their name, I got a sampling of all their teppanyaki. My favorite was the squid teppanyaki. The squid was tender and not at all rubbery. I also liked the shrimp teppanyaki.

I also had tried some of their salads, some hainanese chicken, and some korean appetizer.

According to my fellow gastronomers, the beef stew and lemon chicken were great (unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste them).

We were already quite full and decided to have some nachos to munch on, topped with bacon and cheese of course.

Their crepe is not only eye candy, but it is also filled with real fruit. This one had mangoes in it.

This other one is mango crepe ala mode (I just added the ice cream). They also had a lot of pastries which were pleasing to the eye.

At around 1:30PM, the “theater” part of the place’s name began. Actors walked around in full costume and in character while a background music plays on.

After their routine, it was the chefs’ turn. They had a knife-juggling exhibition which culminated with a blast of flames. These shows, added to the buffet experience.

They also have a trick art gallery where you can pose with ninjas or get into a sumo fight. Costumes are available too.

This lantern filled aisle is one of the many Japanese themed interior decorations in the buffet place.

If we visit again, I’m still going for the salmon and tuna sashimi, squid and shrimp teppanyaki, and kaniyaki, then maybe try a bowl of ramen (though I suspect the noodles will make me feel full quickly), and taste more of their viands like the beef stew and lemon chicken.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Merry Moo

After having a light burger for lunch, we had a desire for dessert. Good thing the kiosk of Merry Moo was nearby. There was a number of flavors on display. They also have free taste to help you decide on the flavor you like.

I first tasted Horlicks which was like vanilla but with a malt twist. Avocado tasted like an avocado but in ice cream form. Their best seller is Sea Salt Caramel.

Toasted Almond Pineapple was next. It had a fruity sweetness to it. Then I saw the Strawberry Basil flavor which was not on the top layer of the display. It was a unique mixture of herb and fruit.

Just look at the smile of that cow.

In the end, I went with my first one, Horlicks. Maybe I was looking for something that’s closer to a classic but still a little different. I liked its milky-wheat like flavor. It occasionally had malt candy in it too. It looks white under sunlight but it actually has a beige-white color.

The were also other flavors like cookies and brownies and brown butter cookie dough. I ought to have a taste if their candied bacon flavor if its available next time.

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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Mitsuyado Sei-Men

Dipping noodles. Mitsuyado Sei-Men offers a different approach to eating your noodles. With tsukumen, you get some noodles, dip it in the sauce, then eat it. This is unlike ramen where the noodles is already in the soup/broth.

To get a bit of everything, we ordered the Marutoku Tsukumen, large serving since it has aji-tama (Japanese soft boiled egg), char siu (pork), yasai (vegetables), and a sheet of nori (seaweed). We also had an order of gyoza to accompany our meal.

Our gyoza was served first. It had a steamed wrapper on one side and a fried side at the bottom which added a different texture. The filling tasted of pork and its pork oil which was good by itself. If you want something saltier, a dip in its sauce would do.

Here comes our main order, the serving size did not disappoint. The large version can be shared by two people with average appetite. We chose to have our noodles served hot (you can opt for cold noodles). The noodles were thick, chewy, and a good base for the flavorful dipping sauce.

A component of the dipping sauce is yuzu – a citrus fruit, and a dominant soy based flavor. This kind of reminds me of a toyo-mansi pancit canton probably because it also has a citrus fruit and soy sauce.

The dipping sauce is not solely broth. It has some tender pork chunks, vegetables, and naruto (shaped fish cake) as well. The pork chunks absorbed the flavor of the dipping sauce resulting to a citrus-soy taste pork.

The marutoku set of toppings added more flavor to the meal. The vegetables had a light crunch and the char siu provided more meat. I liked the soft yolk of the egg.

What I also like about the place are its interiors. The walls were designed to look like Japanese shops along a street and the ceiling was painted to look like the sky.

There was even a ramen cart.

And a bike on the wall (?).

Branch visited located at: Blue Bay Walk, Pasay City