Mom-and-Daughter Dinner at The Chocolate Kiss Cafe

Despite the resto being a fixture in many an Isko or Iska’s memories of college days in the UP Diliman campus, I have, ironically, only eaten at The Chocolate Kiss Cafe twice in my life, and both times took place years after I graduated.  This is probably because my student allowance can not accommodate a meal at the poshest (at the time) restaurant in the campus.

The most recent instance was after attending the #KahayupanSaDangal exhibit at the nearby Bulwagan ng Dangal.  My daughter and I decided to have dinner at #ChocKiss (as the kids call it nowadays).

Although there was ample parking space around the UP Bahay ng Alumni where the resto is located, it was sparsely lit.  Even the walk to the second floor lacked proper lighting.

The resto’s interiors, however, were amply lit and had a cozy atmosphere.  Covers of popular music were played live by violinist Royce Aviguetero and guitarist Bobot Mabalot in the background as we dined.  On the walls were displayed whimsical and colorful artworks by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK) member Yas Doctor.

We split orders of Ceasar Salad (Php210), Beef Salpicao (Php315) and a slice of Chocolate Chip Cheesecake (Php145).  The salad lived up to “the good stuff” positioning of the resto; the resto’s own-recipe Ceasar Salad dressing gives good flavor to the greens, bacon bits and croutons. The beef dish was passable: the cubes of ribeye steak were tender, well-seasoned and were well-complemented by the garlic rice and steamed veggies.  The cheesecake, however, was a bit of a letdown: the chocolate chips distract from the rich flavor we expect from a New York-style cheesecake, resulting to a too-sweet cake.

We were supposed to order the Carrot Cake that ChocKiss is known for but the last remaining slice was already reserved for another diner. But hey, that’s what next visits are for, huh?

The Chocolate Kiss Cafe is located at the 2nd Floor of the UP Bahay ng Alumni along R. Magsaysay Street (across the UP Film Center), UP Diliman Campus, Quezon City.  For reservations, call +632 433 1140 or +632 434 3577 or email goodstuff@thechocolatekiss.com.

The other branch is located at the 2nd Floor, Urban Turf, UP Town Center, along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.  For reservations, call +632 946 3276.

Click here to visit The Chocolate Kiss Cafe website.

.The Chocolate Kiss Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mini-series based on J.K. Rowling’s C.B. Strike detective novels to air on Cinemax

Did you know that Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling wrote a series of crime novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith?

Proving once more that her literary prowess extends beyong children’s fantasy, Rowling penned the Cormoran Strike series which depict the eponymous war veteran turned private investigator whose unique insight and background as a military police investigator proved crucial in solving three unsolvable cases.

British television station BBC adapted the novels as a seven-part miniseries titled C.B. Strike, starring Tom Burke (“Only God Forgives,” “The Three Musketeers”) as the title character. The mini-series, will premiere in the Philippines on May 12 (Saturday), 10pm on Cinemax (ch 198 HD | 36 SD on SKYcable), and will stream on HBO Go, HBO’s online streaming service exclusive to SKY subscribers. The series also stars Holliday Grainger (“The Borgias,” “Bonnie and Clyde”) as Robin Ellacott, Strike’s assistant.

Episodes cover the first three novels in the series and include:

#01 “The Cuckoo’s Calling: Part 1”

Premiere: Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 10pm

After supermodel Lula Landry is found dead outside her London flat, war-veteran-turned-private-investigator Cormoran Strike is visited by Lula’s adoptive brother John Bristow, who disputes the police’s assertion that her death was a suicide. Strike tasks his temp secretary Robin Ellacott with background research on the case, but instead she uncovers details about Strike’s own illustrious yet troubled past. Meanwhile, Strike attempts to track down DI Eric Wardle, the chief investigator on the case, as well as those who may have seen Lula in her final days, including her wealthy neighbour Tansy Bestigui, famous rapper Deeby Mac, designer Guy Somé, and Lula’s best friend Rochelle. Written by Ben Richards; directed by Michael Keillor.

 

#02 “The Cuckoo’s Calling: Part 2”

Premiere: Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 10pm

Strike connects with a model, Ciara, who offers insights into Lula’s complex friendship with Rochelle and introduces him to Lula’s volatile boyfriend Evan. Robin learns more about Strike’s past from his sister Lucy, and contemplates taking a more stable position in a corporate office. Strike questions Tansy about her changing accounts of the night Lula died, and tries to get to the bottom of Deeby Mac’s whereabouts – and why the building’s security guard didn’t see anything that night. Written by Ben Richards; directed by Michael Keillor.

#03 “The Cuckoo’s Calling: Part 3”

Premiere: Saturday, May 26, 2018 at 10pm

Robin gets a taste of private investigating at a high-end shop Lula visited the day of her murder. Later, she and Strike try to track down a hooded figure in the CCTV footage that Strike obtained from police, as Lula’s long-buried family secrets come to light.

Written by Ben Richards; directed by Michael Keillor.

#04 “The Silkworm: Part 1”

Debut date: Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 10pm

Strike investigates the disappearance of a provocative author, Owen Quine, whose wife Leonora has come to Strike for help. Questioning those in Owen’s inner circle – agent Liz Tassel, author Andrew Fancourt, publisher Daniel Chard and editor Jerry Waldegrave – Strike is eventually led to a gruesome crime scene plucked from the manuscript of Quine’s next book, “Bombyx Mori.” Finding herself caught between Strike and her fiancé Matthew, Robin sets up an introduction between the two. Written by Tom Edge; directed by Kieron Hawkes.

#05 “The Silkworm: Part 2”

Debut date: Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 10pm

Strike tries to convince DI Anstis, the lead investigator on the Quine case, that their prime suspect is not the murderer. Later, Strike lunches with Quine’s agent, Liz Tassel, while Robin tails Quine’s rival Andrew Fancourt, finding a possible clue at Fancourt’s wife’s gravesite. Delving deeper into the hidden meanings and concealed secrets in Quine’s “Bombyx Mori,” Strike and Robin scour all corners of London’s literary world to unmask the killer. Written by Tom Edge; directed by Kieron Hawkes.

#06 “Career of Evil: Part 1”

Debut date: Saturday, June 16, 2018 at 10pm

Arriving at the office, Robin is horrified by the delivery of a gruesome package: the severed leg of a teenage girl, Kelsey Platt. Convinced the girl’s killer is sending him a message, Strike looks into suspects from his past who each have vendettas against him. As Robin’s relationship with Matthew hits an impasse, the investigation takes her away on an overnight trip with Strike. Written by Tom Edge; directed by Charles Sturridge.

#07 “Career of Evil: Part 2”

Debut date: Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 10pm

As Strike and Robin search for clues on their three suspects, Robin’s mother arrives in London to encourage her to make a decision about the wedding. After visiting with Kelsey’s sister, Strike is scolded by an angry DI Wardle for meddling with police business, while Robin questions a suspect’s girlfriend. With the killer continuing to taunt them, Robin inadvertently puts herself in danger as she and Strike arrive closer to the truth. Written by Tom Edge; directed by Charles Sturridge.

HBO Go not available in your area? Watch the series on HBO on Amazon Prime.  Sign up today for a 7-day free trial.

Series and episode details provided by HBO in a recent press release.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

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Westworld renewed for a third season

Avid fans and theorists will be happy to learn that the Emmy-winning HBO Original series has been renewed for a third season as announced by the HBO Programming President Casey Bloys.

In a press statement released today, Bloys notes that “it’s been an extraordinary pleasure to work with the exceptionally talented Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, as well as their gifted cast and crew. From the inspired storytelling to the incredible visuals, we are so excited to see where the next chapter will take us.”

Described by Time as  “one of the biggest shows on earth,” and hailed by Entertainment Weekly as “brilliant” and “enthralling,” Westworld debuted on HBO in October 2016, becoming HBO’s most watched freshman series ever.  It has just started its ten-episode second season on April 23, 2018 after a two-year hiatus.  There’s no word yet on how long before the third season makes it premiere.

WESTWORLD was created for television by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy, who are executive producers with J.J. Abrams, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Athena Wickham and Ben Stephenson. Production companies, Kilter Films and Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television; based on the film written by Michael Crichton.

New Westworld episodes will air Mondays at 9am with same day primetime encore at 9pm.  New episodes will also be available for streaming within the same day on HBO Go, HBO’s online streaming service exclusively available to SKY subscribers.

Disclosure: I work for SKY and part of my job is promoting its products and services, especially the content it provides to its subscribers. I consider being able to share my love for TV shows and movies and the experience of watching and talking about them with like-minded people some of the biggest perks of my job.

Bingsu treat at Hobing Korean Dessert, BGC Stopover

Bingsu treats have grown in popularity in the metro, especially now with the searing summer heat.  Bingsu is a Korean dessert characterized by shaved ice sweetened with condensed milk and topped with fresh fruits, yogurt, ice cream and bits of yummy baked goods.

While the fam is exploring options for lunch in Bonifacio Global City during a particularly hot summer day, we came across this branch of Hobing Korean Dessert and couldn’t resist having our dessert here.  After eating our lunch at nearby Tenya Tempura Tendon, and, eager for something cool and sweet to counter the hot and humid weather, we proceeded Hobing.

Despite being billed as the Korean halo-halo, bingsu is best enjoyed when the shaved ice and toppings are not all mixed together.  This allows you to enjoy the varying textures and flavors that went into the bingsu.

We ordered a large serving of Mango Cheese Bingsu (Php320), thinking that a regular serving will not satisfy all of us.  What we got was a delectable and prettily presented confection: finely shaved ice  flavored with mango syrup, surrounded by huge cubes of ripe mango and topped with rich New York Cheesecake bits, vanilla ice cream and slices of roasted almonds.

We are definitely eager to try Hobing’s other bingsu offerings soon.

This branch of Hobing Korean Dessert is located at the 3rd Floor of BGC Stopover Pavilion, Rizal Drive cor 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City. Other branches of Hobing Korean Dessert are located at:

  • Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo
  • SM Megamall in Mandaluyong
  • Glorietta 4 in Makati
  • Jupiter Street in Makati
  • Eastwood City Walk in Quezon City
  • SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Ayala Malls the 30th in Ortigas Center, Pasig
  • SM North in Quezon City
  • Banawe Lifestyle Center in Quezon City
  • SM City Marikina in Marikina City
  • U.P Town Center in Quezon City
  • SM San Lazaro in Manila
  • Ayala Fairview Terrace, Fairview Quezon City

Check out my rundown of bingsu treats in the metro.

Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tempura Overload at Tenya Tempura Tendon, BGC

Considered of the most successful tendon restaurant chains in Japan, Tenya Tempura Tendon opened its doors in the BGC Stopover Pavilion. Its goal, driven by the vision of its founder Mr. Yoshio Iwashita, is to provide diners with high quality yet affordable tendon and tempura.

Tenya prides itself on the quality of its ingredients – such as the sweet succulent tiger prawns, the heart-healthy canola oil, Japanese rice and secret dontare sauce for its tendon – and its methods to produce consistent and tasty tempura such as the specially designed infrared heat technology-powered fryer.

Tempura is one of Japan’s most popular dishes, characterized by seafood, meat and vegetables covered in a light batter then quickly deep-fried to produce tempura’s signature golden-brown hue.

During our family’s recent foray in BGC, we chanced upon this Tenya branch around lunchtime and decided to try it out.

We ordered a Yume Ooedo Set (Php1,295) which consist of 6 black tiger prawn tempura, 6 kani sticks, 3 squid, 3 fish tempura, 2 small kakiage (chopped vegetables and seafood), 3 battered green beans, 3 battered sweet potato, 4 rice and 4 miso soup. Aside from that, we also ordered a 5-piece Salmon Tempura (Php310).

The servings were hearty and the textures and flavors were varied enough that we did not experience umay (roughly translates to flavor-fatigue). The batter was light and adhered well to the fried seafood and veggies. Given that all four of us ate our fill, our orders were affordably priced indeed.

The service staff were friendly and accommodating, quick to assist us with our requests.

My only complaint about the experience was that the store’s airconditioning system was not able to counteract the summer midday heat.

This Tenya Tempura Tendon branch is located at the 2nd floor, BGC Stopover Pavilion, Rizal Drive cor 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (Tel No: 02 – 512-4776). Other branches are located at:

  • Ground Floor, Market! Market!, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City (Tel No: 02 – 833-9682)
  • 4F SM Megamall Bldg. A, Doña Julia Vargas Ave, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City (Tel No: 02 – 696-5996)
  • Food Street, Ground Floor, SM Southmall, Almanza, Las Piñas City (Tel No: 02 – 984-3872)
  • ASEANA Avenue cor. Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. Paranaque City (Tel No: 02 -370-5924)
  • GF Water Garden, Extension Site, Civic Drive, Festival Supermall Alabang, Muntinlupa (Tel No: 02 – 512-4862)
  • GF North Wing Entertainment Mall, Sunset Ave. cor. Seaside Blvd. SM Mall of Asia Pasay (Tel No: 02 – 810-2784)
  • GF Southpark Bldg. Paseo de Magallanes, Makati City (Tel No: 02 – 821-5797)

For more details on Tenya Tendon and Tempura food offerings, visit Tenya’s website.

Tenya Tempura Tendon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweetly decadent dipped strawberries from Fruiquet

I came home to a sweet birthday surprise: a box of 12 Dipped Strawberries Supreme from Fruiquet, sent by the boss! (Note: what a way to make one feel valued, hint hint hint to other bosses out there!)

Each strawberry was huge, three times bigger than the ones we usually find in local groceries (I heard Fruiquet sources these from the US), and dipped in smooth semi-sweet or white chocolate with decorative swirls that give the berries a festive and appetizing presentation. Each bite produces a burst of sweetness in my mouth, luscious and fruity from the strawberry and rich and decadent from the chocolate.

And since great things become even better when enjoyed with loved ones, I shared the box of succulent goodies with my family during my birthday get-together.

Dipped strawberries are just a sampling of Fruiquet’s innovative fruit gift offerings. Its main products are fruit bouquets wherein fresh fruits are cut and moulded into visually appealing edible arrangements which have the bonus attributes of being edible, yummy and healthy to boot! The arrangements can be further customized by including fun accessories like personalized cards, plush teddy bears, foil balloons and even red, white or sparkling wine.

Fruit bouquets are great gifts for almost any type of occasion. For example, you can give an arrangement with a plush teddy to congratulate a couple on the birth of their new bundle of joy.

You can gift your special someone a bouquet of fresh and dipped strawberries, melon balls and pineapple flowers as an anniversary gift.

You can bring a big basket of cut fruits as your contribution to a potluck party.

Or you can have a mug of cheery cut fruit wedges delivered as a get-well gift to someone feeling under the weather.

You can order your fruity treats from Fruiquet’s stores, via phone or online.

  • Quezon City branch: 221-D Katipunan Ave., Project 4, QC (Tel: 02-7945999)
  • Makati branch: Bridgeway, 3F Dela Rosa Carpark 2 (beside Balai Pandesal) (Tel: 02-9459999)
  • Website: www.fruiquet.com

Try to place your order a day or two in advance to give the store ample time to prepare the arrangement.

If you are the lucky one who received a fruit arrangement, it’s best to consume it within a day since, as you know, fruits are best when fresh.

Note: Photos here (aside from the yummy dipped strawberries) were taken from the Fruiquet website.

Chocoholic indulgence at Maitre Chocolatier, Tomas Morato

Chocolate has long been associated with desserts and sweets, but its origins are decidedly and deliciously savory. Bitter fermented beverages made from cacao beans date back to 350 BC in Mesoamerica where it was believed to have magical properties. Cacao beans were considered so precious that they have been used as currency.

Chocolate’s sweetened variants came about due to European influence. Its unsweetened form was unappreciated by Europeans but once mixed with honey or sugar, it quickly grew in popularity which spread from Spain to rest of the continent.

The Industrial Revolution brought with machines and processes that sped up the production of this sweet confection and now, chocolate is a multi-billion industry.

Maitre Chocolatier (translates roughly to “master of chocolate making or selling”)is the first boutique chocolate cafe in the country wherein chocolate is creatively incorporated, not only in desserts and drinks, but also in salads, soups and entrees.

I was treated to a pre-birthday lunch here (such a suitable choice for a chocoholic like me). We split orders of the following chocolate creations:

  • Ham and Egg Sandwich with White Chocolate (Php136). The classic sandwich was given a chocolatey twist by adding creamy white chocolate to soft-boiled egg, mashed potato, smoked ham, lettuce leaves and cucumber slices between wheat bread slices. We found the smoked ham a bit tough to bite through, but the chocolate added some depth to the ham’s flavor which is further complemented by the freshness of the veggie ingredients.
  • Linguini in Pesto Sauce with Parm-Crusted Chicken (Php258). Al dente pasta noodles in pesto sauce made with fresh herbs and spices are accompanied by parmesan-crusted chicken strips to be dipped in a special white chocolate sauce. The portions are of good size and the chicken complemented the pasta quite well. I found the white chocolate sauce a little too sweet but could be improved with the addition a more mustard-y or citrus-y flavor.
  • Sweet Ebony – Lindt Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake (Php182). Definitely the highlight of the meal! Dark chocolate mousse layered on top of a moist and airy chocolate sponge cake, finished of with a generous swirl of whipped cream and piece of dark chocolate.

During an earlier visit to this joint, I was also able to sample the Golden Euphoria – Ferrero Hazelnut Crunch Cake (Php218). A velvety chocolate sponge layered under a chocolate hazelnut mousse and topped with a Ferrero Hazelnut ball.

Maitre Chocolatier is truly a haven for chocoholics due to the variety of chocolate infused food offerings and their quite reasonable pricing. However, the place could use a bit more style in its interiors.  While the big windows let in a lot of natural light during daytime, it detracts from the cozy and intimate atmosphere I’ve come to expect from cafes (it also ruins photo opps for those seated near the windows). A room scent that smells of hot chocolate wouldn’t hurt either; the sense of smell is a powerful come-on when it comes to food, after all.  (Note: I’m not trying to be a know-it-all when it comes to store design; I’m just already imagining my perfect chocolate sanctuary, so please bear with me, hehehe!). The store could also benefit from sprucing up the display of the chocolates on sale to add a premium feel of the resto.  (By the way, check out the chocolate bars they usually have at 50% off.  Don’t pass up the chance to bring home some imported chocolate treats to your loved ones at half the price!)

Still, I think I will be finding my way here quite often in the future, given my predilection for chocolate treats.

This branch is located in the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato area, at the corner of Scout Bayoran Street, South Triangle, Quezon City.

Its other branch in Metro Manila is located along Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati.

Maitre Chocolatier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato