A feast for the senses this Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

A delightful 5-course Valentine meal awaits you and your beloved at Ilustrado Restaurant and Café in Intramuros, Manila.

The amuse bouche is Beet and Goat Cheese Arancini of sugar beets, goat cheese, tarragon pesto and Arborio rice. There are 3 appetizer choices of Mushroom Duo with truffle oil, shitake and cremini mushrooms and heavy cream in puff pastry served with mesclun; Jamon and Melon, Serrano Ham, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, extra virgin olive oil, mint, lemon and balsamic glaze; and Salmon Mille-Feuille with smoked salmon, pickled cucumber, capsicum, arugula, fried wonton with dill sesame dressing.

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

Soup is Roasted Tomato Soup with Chistorra, tomatoes, Chistorra La Reina sausage, heavy cream and mozzarella. Cucumber Melon Sorbet cleanses the palate.

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

Main entrée choices include Australian Lamb Ribs, braised lamb ribs, vegetable couscous, mint jelly aioli and au jus; Barramundi Fillet, miso glazed barramundi, oven roasted vegetables noisettes, tomatoes, cauliflower puree, basil and radish; and U.S. Beef Tenderloin with mushroom duxelle, fried enoki, creamy basil polenta and demi glaze.

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

Dessert is either Chocolate Fantasy, this entremet is all about chocolate starting with Malagos dark chocolate mousse, chocolate ooze, chocolate ganache, chocolate cake, coffee syrup and walnuts. A less decadent yet equally satisfying sweet offering is Berry Bavarois of strawberry Bavarian, sabayon, puff pastry, passion fruit and chocolate.

Valentine’s Day at Ilustrado

The Ilustrado Valentine offering is priced at Php2,200 + 10 per cent service charge for the set and is available for ala carte lunch and dinner ‪from February 11‬ to 17. A musical duo will serenade guests ‪for dinner on the 14th‬ where the Valentine special will be offered exclusively as a set.

For reservations visit Ilustrado Restaurant and Café at 744 General Luna Road, Intramuros, Manila or call ‪527-3674‬, ‪527-2345‬, email catering@ilustradorestaurant.com.ph, visit www.ilustradorestaurant.com.ph or www.facebook.com/ilustradorestaurant.

Disclosure: Menu details and images provided by Ilustrado Restaurant in a recent press release.

 

Check out my previous review about Ilustrado Restaurant’s Degustation Menu here.

Authentic Chinese Dishes at DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Up until now, McKinley Hill was an unexplored territory for me. I would see pictures taken at the Venice Grand Canal or hear about newly opened restaurants in the area, but I haven’t found the opportunity to visit them.

Thanks to an invitation extended by Saan Sa PH, I was able to explore the area and sample the authentic Chinese dishes of DaTang.

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

The restaurant occupies a sprawling area along the The Venice Piazza’s Grand Canal. Its interiors feature a mix of classic Asian and modern influences, with panels of traditional Chinese paintings adoring one of the walls, bright red Chinese lanterns providing soft illumination, dark brown furniture and grey tiles highlighted by gold accents. The round tables are equipped with lazy susans, rotating trays that help in distributing food among the diners, particularly useful in Chinese restaurants wherein large varieties of dishes are served all at once. The restaurant also provides a magazine rack style implement with cover for bags, quite a boon for those who lug around their purses, camera bags and other items.

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Jazmin Laboriente, the restaurant’s marketing manager, shared that unlike dishes served by most of the Chinese restaurants in the metro which are rooted in the Cantonese regions, DaTang’s offerings dishes originated from the Sichuan and Hunan provinces which are characterized by their propensity towards bold and spicy flavors. This direction in menu items is driven by Fan Li, the restaurant manager, as well as the three Chinese chefs who oversee the kitchen’s operations.

No wonder, then, that the restaurant is patronized by so many Chinese customers.

The spice factor of some of the restaurant’s signature dishes may have been tempered for the Filipino palate, but those seeking the heat can simply request for the authentic spicy version of the viands or ask for liberal amounts of chili oil or chopped chilis to get the kind heat that they want. (As for me, the tempered version is fine, hehehe!)

Our Chinese food feast consisted dishes which were exotic in both taste and appearance, such as:

Appetizers

Preserved Eggs in Ginger Sauce (Php220)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Beef and Scallion Dumpling (Php280)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Pork, Shrimp and Mushroom Spinach Dumpling (Php260)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Salted Egg Yolk Custard Bun (Php120 for 3 pieces)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Stir-fried Chinese Brocolli (Php195)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Braised Pig Feet (Php350)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

The appetizers are mostly mild-flavored food – usually either steamed or braised — which serve to whet the diners’ appetite for more.

Mains

Mapo Tofu (Php280)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Sliced Beef in Hot Chili Oil (Php580)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Sweet and Sour Pork (Php280)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Shredded Pork Fried Rice with Egg (Php195)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

This is where things get interesting. 🙂

The Mapo Tofu and the Sliced Beef in Hot Chili Oil are both characteristically spicy and oily (though I’ve heard from other attendees that they’ve tasted spicier versions of these dishes elsewhere).

The appearance and texture of the pork slices in Sweet and Sour Pork can be likened to katsu: they are firm yet tender to the bite. Unlike the sweet and sour dishes we’re used to at home, its sauce is more sour than sweet.

These three main dishes are well-complemented by the Shredded Pork Fried Rice with Egg, which balances out the spiciness of the viands.

Dessert

Fried Sesame Balls (Php75 for 3 pieces)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Snow Pear (Php150 for 3 pieces | Php300 for 6 pieces)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Fried Milk (Php240)

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Being a certified sweet tooth, of course I would have something to say about DaTang’s dessert offerings! The mung-bean-filled Fried Sesame Balls – buchi to most of us here in the Philippines – are pretty much standard fare in many Chinese restaurants. The Snow Pear and Fried Milk, however, are quite unique in look, feel and taste. The Snow Pear are actually glutinous rice filled with custard, very sticky and quite yummy. The Fried Milk bars are actually breaded custard that, when served hot, melts in your mouth in a mild burst of sweetness.

A meal at DaTang is guaranteed to be a journey to a side of Chinese cuisine seldom experienced in the metro.

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

Curious yet? How about checking out this resto and its offerings on or before February 10 to take advantage of a 45% discount on all food items?

DaTang, The Venice Piazza

DaTang is located at Ground Floor, Venice Grand Canal Mall, McKinley Hill, Taguig City, open Mondays to Fridays from 11am to 11pm and Saturdays to Sundays from 10am to 11pm. For reservations and inquiries, call + 63 2 8452792 or +63 917 8620075. You can also order and pay via WeChat for your food and just have them picked up at the restaurant.

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a food tasting held in this restaurant. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

DaTang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Chinese restaurants:

Come together over Pinoy comfort food at Sari Salo, the Podium

One of the newly opened stalls at The Podium’s Corner Market Food Hall during a food tasting event was Sari Salo. This eatery’s unusual name stems from two Filipino terms consisting of repeating syllables (another Pinoy quirk, hehehe!): sari-sari and salu-salo.

Sari Salo, The Podium

Sari Salo, The Podium

Sari-sari refers to “variety and sundry.” Hence, the ubiquitous neighborhood mom-and-pop stores present and vital in many Filipino neighborhoods are called sari-sari stores. These stores connote affordability, being the go-to places of families within the neighborhood for tingi-tingi (unit purchases) of basic food items and home necessities. It is also a place where people (stereotypically the chismosos or the busybodies) come together and hangout to talk about neighborhood life.

Salu-salo, on the other hand, refers to “a social gathering or party.” It’s a time when family or friends come together for a good time, and usually over good food.

Sari Salo, in turn, strives to live up to the wealth of cultural meaning that its name implies with its simple, Filipino comfort food you and your family or friends can enjoy while you spend time together after a shopping trip or a movie date at the mall.

Take for example the sampling of its offerings served during the food tasting event: the Crispy Pork Binagoongan (Php230) and the Angus Beef Sisig (Php280 for regular | Php350 for super-sized).

Sari Salo, The Podium

Sari Salo, The Podium

Sari Salo, The Podium

The pork binagoongan has the right combination of saltiness and spiciness that make it a tasty viand to eat together with hot steamed rice. The beef sisig, on the other hand, is flavorful and tender to the bite, given that its made of Angus beef, of course.

The food was served efficiently without much fanfare, giving us tasters more time and attention to devote to savoring our meal.

Sari Salo’s stall is also a more spacious and colorful rendition of the sari-sari store, and littered with fun Pinoy pop culture references. And since #EveryOppIsAPhotoOpp, I gamely struck a pose (or two, hehehe!). Thanks to Chef Jocen of Boodlebear for taking the photos.

Sari Salo, The Podium

Sari Salo, The Podium

Sari Salo, The Podium

I would recommend Sari Salo to mall-goers hankering for Pinoy comfort food.

Sari Salo is located at the Corner Market Food Hall, Second Floor, Podium Mall, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. It is open daily from 11am to 10pm.

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a Blogger Event held in the Corner Market Food Hall. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my review of the other stall featured during the food tasting event: Pizza Morena.

Sari Salo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Seven Reasons why Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali is your road trip foodie stopover

The Santa Rosa – Tagaytay Road is just teeming with strip malls with various dining options as well as standalone restaurants. Any foodie would be faced with the dilemma of where to eat with so many food choices available.

May I present the Bistro Charlemagne in Nuvali as a viable option? Here are seven reasons why which became even more apparent when my extended family made our way down here after our Tagaytay sojourn.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

One: It’s where the cuisines of the East and West come together and have a ball

Being a third-generation restaurateur, owner Charlemagne Lim achieves the balance between tradition and novelty in cuisine. The offshoot of Little Asia, Bistro Charlemagne features a little bit of the well-loved dishes its mother-restaurant popularized and a whole lot of new or innovated-upon dishes developed specifically for this new concept resto.

Take the Ceasar Salad (Php295) for example: the crisp Romaine lettuce, classic dressing, shredded chicken breast and slivers of parmesan cheese are to be expected and quite yummy… but add delicate boiled quail eggs into the fray? Say what?!?

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

How about the Crispy Lumpiang Hubad (Php305)? The classic shredded and sautéed vegetables that make up the local fried vegetable rolls of our childhood are served on top of a crisp pastry while doused in garlic sauce and sweet soy dressing.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

The much-raved about Beef Tenderloin Rolls with Cheese (Php405) did not disappoint either. Our group loved the finely rolled tenderloin slices stuffed with melting cheese on top of authentic teriyaki sauce that we ordered for another plate of these goodies.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Or consider, a new favorite of my daughter #ExhibitA and myself, the Drunken Lengua in Mushroom Brown Sauce (Php405). Those melt-in-your-mouth tender morsels of pan-seared ox tongue are served with mushrooms and asparagus spears on a bed of rich buttery brown sauce. If you had misgivings about eating the more exotic meat parts like ox tongue, this will change your mind.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

The Japanese Beef Fried Rice (Php125) tasted the Kamameshi Rice of Japanese restos but had a lighter feel. It went so well with our viands that we consumed three bowls of it.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Two: Your favorites are here too!

Missing the taste of the familiar? No need to fret because old-time favorites are also available on the menu for those seeking more of the flavors they loved and less of the adventure into the unknown.

These include the Tuna Tataki (Php305), an appetizer made of lightly seared tuna loin lightly coated in a crust of sesame seeds and served with the traditional Japanese ponzu sauce. (And yes, we got two orders of these.)

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

The Chinese food staples Salt and Pepper Spareribs (Php345) and Salt and Pepper Squid (Php365) rounded up our mains.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

And because we Pinoys, for some reason, can’t fathom a family meal without a vegetable dish, there’s the Brocolli with Prawns and Mushrooms (Php445). We had one of these as-is, while another was made without the prawns to suit the taste of one of the little ones in our party.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Too bad the Chicken Fingers (Php345) did not make it to our table on time so we just had that wrapped to go.

Three: There’s something for your sweet tooth

Knowing the kiddos’ predilection for peanut butter, I ordered a serving of Reese’s S’mores (Php245). It turned out that dipping crisp graham crackers into warm toasted marshmallows resting on a ganache of peanut butter chips is a decadent treat, not just for the young ones but also for the grown ups!

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

And wouldn’t you know it; we had another serving of this yummy dessert because…

Four: Birthday celebrants get a special treat!

As Hubby’s natal day was within seven days of our visit to this resto, we were given a free serving of the house special Little Asia’s Crispy Chicken, one of the recipes passed down from Charlemagne’s forebears. (We simply had to present a valid government-issued ID as well as reach a minimum single-receipt transaction of Php1,995.)

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

A candle was placed right smack in the middle of another Reese’s S’mores for Hubby to blow out while the restaurant staff sang a Chinese version “Happy Birthday to You.”

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Five: Did you know Bistro Charlemagne catered to international stars?

When top musical acts such as Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Smashing Pumpkins and Paramore had their concerts in the country, Bistro Charlemagne was in charge of keeping the stars and their entourage well-fed.

Six: On a budget? No sweat!

When petsa de peligro comes along, you can still satisfy your craving for your favorite Bistro Charlemagne dish with a set meal at only Php215! This already comes with rice, soup and iced tea.

Seven: Check out its new Lenten Specials

Even if your road trip takes place in the days leading to the Holy Week, you can still keep your Lenten observance with Bistro Charlemagne’s new seafood offerings such as Crispy Fish Fingers, Octopus ala Pobre and Baked Salmon in Truffled Spinach Cream Sauce.

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

Thanks to Bistro Charlemagne for serving as the tasty final stop of our Tagaytay weekend sojourn!

Bistro Charlemagne, Nuvali

This Bistro Charlemagne branch is located at GFF-6, Building B, Ayala Malls Solenad 3, Nuvali, Don Jose, Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Another branch is found at Fifth Floor, Ayala Malls Feliz along Marcos Highway, Dela Paz, Pasig City.

For reservations and inquiries, call +63 049 2580846 or +63 917 8334223.

Check out my review of its branch in Pasig here: East meets West at Bistro Charlemagne, Ayala Malls Feliz

Bistro Charlemagne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea break at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Crosswinds Tagaytay

One morning during our family’s sojourn in Tagaytay, I braved the bracingly cold breezes and the light drizzle and went for a walk from the cottage where we were staying upwards along the Calamba-Tagaytay Road.

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

After years of living a sedentary lifestyle, I am now trying to ease my system towards being more active. I found walking to be a low-impact way to get the blood pumpin’ and, hopefully, get the calories burnin’. Plus, I get the chance to leisurely see the Tagaytay sights.

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

Two kilometers into my walk, I espied the windmill at the entrance of Crosswinds Resort which happen to have right below it a branch of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

Feeling that I’ve earned the respite, I decided to stop over and have a cup of tea. I was welcomed by the cafe’s relaxing vibe, just starting to fill up with people getting their breakfast. I decided on a hot whole leaf tea drink for my break from walking: something that will warm my system against the cold winds of Tagaytay while light enough not to negate the calories burned from my exercise.

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf prides itself on its drive to provides its patrons refreshing drinks made from their collection of unique, hand-plucked and premium whole-leaf tea harvested from the most exclusive tea-growing estates in the world.

Its whole leaf tea drink offerings come in unique pyramid-shaped single-serve tea bags which allow their contents comprised of tea leaves and buds to fully expand and infuse flavor upon steeping in hot water. This allows drinkers to experience the same aroma and richness of tea normally achieved through brewing tea leaves in a teapot or using a tea infuser.

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

I chose the Lemon Chamomile Tea (Php120) sweetened with a Honey Stick (Php15). Like other Herbal and Fruit Infusion teas, it was steeped in boiled filtered water for seven minutes, during which its fresh, crisp and lemony aroma wafted to my nostrils. Its bright and citrus-y taste is light and soothing, setting me up on a mellow yet happy mood for my walk back to the cottage.

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

CBTL Crosswinds, Tagaytay

This Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branch is located at Crosswinds, Calamba Road, Tagaytay City, open Sundays to Thursdays from 8.30am to 7pm and Fridays to Saturdays from 8.30am to 8pm.

Other branches in Tagaytay are located at:

  • Al-Fresco Area, Lower Ground Floor, Fora Tagaytay, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, open daily from 10am to 8pm.
  • Second Floor, Ayala Malls Serin, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road, Tagaytay City, open daily from 8.30pm to 9pm.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my blog posts on some of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf branches in Metro Manila:

Recovery comfort food at Chelsea Kitchen, Mega Fashion Hall

After a bout of workouts at Gold’s Gym, my daughter #ExhibitA and I went to Megamall for some errands.

For our post-workout recovery food, we settled on Chelsea Kitchen in Mega Fashion Hall. We have never eaten here before but we’ve always been curious about its offerings.

Chelsea Kitchen is part of the Raintree Restaurants Group, a restaurant family that complements the lifestyle and preferences of the metro’s foodies.

The restaurant’s open concept and bright yet homey decor is a beacon for hungry denizens looking for yummy comfort food.

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

#ExhibitA took the lead in choosing the dishes for our meal while I finished off my errands at the mall. By the time I came back, the food was already served and waiting for us to dig in.

We started off some Mozzarella Stuffed Mushroom Risotto Balls (Php195), battered and deep-fried balls of cheese, risotto and mushrooms served on top of a cream sauce.

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

We also grazed on an order of Caesar Salad (Php250), fresh crisp greens tossed in with bacon bits, anchovies, capers, grated parmesan, red onions, focaccia croutons and doused with parmesan ceasar dressing.

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Our mains consisted of an order of Fried Chicken Parmigiana (Php320), large pieces of chicken steak crusted with herb crumbs, smothered in white sauce and melted mozzarella, and a platter of Wicked Truffle Mac N’ Cheese (Php395), a fresh and decadent take on the lunchroom classic using four different kinds of cheeses , Canadian-style smoked bacon, button mushrooms and green peas, made even richer with a few drizzles truffle oil.

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

We thoroughly enjoyed refueling our bodies with Chelsea Kitchen’s tasty offerings and we look forward to trying its desserts (hopefully when our diets allow it!)

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Chelsea Kitchen, SM Mega Fashion Hall

Chelsea Kitchen is located at Ground Floor, Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, open daily from 10am to 10pm. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 2 9586777.

Plus, since both of us unlocked our Zomato Gold privilege at this resto, we got the Chicken Parmigiana and Risotto Balls for free!

Want to score a similar discount? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

Chelsea Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other restaurants that offer comfort food:

CinemaWorld bring stories of love in transit on SKY on Demand this February

This February, Cinemaworld presents two stories of love in exotic places. Both titles will be in their original language with English subtitles and will be accessible online for free to SKYcable via SKY On Demand.

Love in Transit, CinemaWorld

Love in Jaipur

Anne and Francois plan to get hitched in Jaipur. She is tasked with bringing his mother’s urn of ashes to India but loses it along the way. Lost and desperate, she meets Ravi, a Franco-Indian, who helps her search for it but feelings develop between them.

Love in Transit, CinemaWorld

Love in Bora Bora

Valentine is secretly in love with Jerome, her best friend and colleague. She plans to confess on a work trip but this is foiled when Celeste, Jerome’s girlfriend, tags along. However, as the days go by, she realises she might’ve been wrong all along.

SKY On Demand is the video streaming service available to SKYcable subscribers that lets them watch their favorite channels live or on demand, anytime, anywhere and on any device.

To use SKY On Demand, register at skyondemand.com.ph. You can watch the movie and more using your computer’s browser or by downloading the SKY On Demand app from the Google Playstore or the Apple App Store.

CinemaWorld is a 24-hour, movie channel that premieres the world’s best and award-winning movies, box-office successes, critics’ favorites from all around the world. In the Philippines, SKYcable and One SKY subscribers can add it to their channel line-up for only Php150/month.

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.

Header photo by Charlie Hang on Unsplash.