A fortunate mistake at Auntie Anne’s, SM Hypermarket Pasig

So let me set the scene: there I was at SM Hypermarket with my daughter (#ExhibitA) all set to do some grocery shopping when we decided to have dessert at Auntie Anne’s.  She ordered an Original Pretzel (Php65) because she all about the basic but still good kind of pastry, whatever that means, and a Chocolate Dip (Php25). I on the other hand was supposed to order my usual: an Almond Pretzel (Php80) and a Caramel Dip (Php25).  However, I caught sight of these almond crunch-covered pretzel sticks so I ordered those instead, thinking they would just be cut-up versions of the pretzel that I love.  It turned out, what I actually ordered was a pouch of Almond Cream Cheese Stix (Php90)!

Imagine my surprise when I bit into the warm and chewy, baked-from-scratch, almond-crunch covered and caramel-dipped pretzel and I got a taste of the mildy sweet and slightly tangy melted cream cheese inside the pretzel sticks! The experience combined three of my favorite things: almonds, caramel and cream cheese.

Plus, since I presented my BDO Rewards Card, I got 10% off on the total bill!

This is one mistake I don’t regret making.

Auntie Anne's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carbo-loading at House of Lasagna, SM Megamall

I decided to try a new restaurant reservation app that comes with discounts. After braving the crowds and lugging the books I bought at the National Bookstore #BookBingeBazaar at the Megatrade Hall, I was in the mood for some carbo-loading and chance to rest my feet.

I chose to book a table (all by my lonesome) at House of Lasagna because I love lasagna (it’s among the few popular pasta dishes that my mom has not been able to master so I was deprived of it when I was young), and it offers a 20% bill discount right around lunchtime.

This resto is located at the lower ground floor of SM Megamall Building A, quite near the foodcourt. The place may seem small but it can seat around forty people or so. The mall’s airconditioning is not as strong here so I opted to sit at one of the outer tables, which has a couch that is too low to eat comfortably from the table but this location did afford me some good lighting to take #foodporn pics. (And really, which one is more important, hmm?)

I ordered its best-selling Beef Lasagna (Php295) served piping hot from the oven with some freshly toasted garlic bread on the side, and a plate of Southern Fried Calamari (Php220).

The beef lasagna has a creamy and cheesy bechamel sauce that frames the al dente cooked noodles and savory meat sauce. It does have a strong herby oregano taste which sometimes overpowers the cheese (not always a good thing for a cheese lover like me).

The calamari, on the other hand, is has the right blend of tenderness and firmness that shows it was properly cooked. I liked the blend of spices and the texture of its coating: it’s not too bready and has a peppery taste.

The lasagna is a bit rich and heavy on the stomach so I took half of my order to go.

I had trouble getting the wait staff’s attention for water refill and bill out requests but I don’t mind that too much.

With the discount, my bill came out at Php412, a bit steep for a single person but worth it if the orders were for sharing.

House of Lasagna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Food nostalgia at Classic Savory, SM East Ortigas

Pinoys have an interesting relationship with food, particularly the tastes they have grown up with. A lot of the appeal of classic Pinoy fare has to do with the memories associated with the flavors you encountered during family gatherings and celebrations: the pancit canton that was your lola’s specialty, the turon that you used to munch on with your cousins for merienda and so on.

Such nostalgia came into play when Hubby and I took a break from shopping and errands, and dined at the Classic Savory branch at SM City East Ortigas.

This food chain started as a panciteria by the Ting brothers in post-war Manila, primarily serving lomi to its mostly Chinese clientele, before it introduced fried chicken to its menu, thereby attracting more Pinoys to its offerings.

That blend of Pinoy and Chinese flavors were present in the combo meal (Php485, good for 2 persons)  that we ordered.  It consist of a half chicken, pancit canton, fried rice, salt and pepper spare ribs, special turon and iced tea.  Given its price and the mix of flavors, I think this is already good value for money.

Classic Savory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Want to learn more about Filipino cuisine? Check out these books on Amazon.com!

Want to try some recipes today? There’s no need to leave home to shop for ingredients.  With Honestbee, just order your groceries online and you’ll get them delivered right at your doorstep at your preferred time. Use this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.  You can download the Honestbee app on iTunes or Google Play.

If you’re in the US and an Amazon Prime member, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh to get your groceries delivered to you.

Instant Roast Beef for family celebrations, thanks to Chef Resty!

To me, roast beef is in the same level as lechon .  It simply adds something extra to the celebration or family meal.  When I hotel or restaurant buffets, I would ignore some of the food items but definitely not roast beef.

There are times when I would crave for it or would like to serve it during a holiday meal but it’s a bit hard to DIY, or at least achieve the taste and texture that I’m looking for.

That’s why I’m ever so thankful that Chef Resty’s Roast Beef Carving Station reopened its stall in SM Hypermart Pasig.  With this stall so conveniently located near my place, I can order some roast beef for take out to enjoy at home after a bout of grocery shopping.

What I like about Chef Resty’s roast beef is its right blend of texture and flavor, brought about by several factors: high-grade Angus beef brisket marinated in herbs and spices then slow roasted for hours to achieve a juicy and tender meat.  Its rich buttery gravy was also made from its pan drippings, a perfect foil for the roast beef.  I usually order a side of

For a family meal, I usually order 700 grams of roast beef (at Php130/100 grams), sides of herbed marble potato and corn and carrots (Php20/serving) and just have rice prepared at home.

This way, the family gets to enjoy a gourmet roast beef meal at less than Php1000.

Chef Resty’s Roast Beef Carving Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Katsu Teishoku at Zipang, Tomas Morato

My daughter (aka #ExhibitA) has been hankering for Japanese food since her work immersion in Quezon City started. On our way home from her last day of work immersion, I decided to take her to Zipang.

Located at the corner of 11th Jamboree and Scout Fuentebella in Quezon City, this Japanese restaurant features a cozy seating area with modern Asian aesthetic that gives the place a Zen vibe. It also has an open kitchen where you can see the resto’s Japanese chef in his domain, working on his food creations. The servers are polite and attentive to the diners, as well as deferential to the chef.

Upon entering, we were greeted by the staff in Japanese and ushered into a nearby table. We were given warm oshibori (wet towels) to cleans our hands.

Zipang is an antiquated name for Japan. In a way, it contrasts with the resto’s food concept, as its offerings are stripped down to the basic and the modern.

As we were both quite ravenous by the time we got there, #ExhibitA and I decided to order Teishoku Meal Sets: mine was of Pork Tonkatsu (Php230) while hers was of Chicken Katsu (Php220). The centerpiece of these dishes were the tender and juicy meats covered with flavored batter and panko breading, then deep-fried to a crisp golden brown. They were accompanied by a mashed sweet potato appetizer, a subtly-flavored miso soup, and refillable rice.

With both of us having well-sated appetites at less than Php500, I wouldn’t mind returning with a more adventurous set of orders.

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

Surprisingly affordable Japanese fare at Isaribi, Tomas Morato

Somewhat hidden among the old and new eateries along Tomas Morato is Isaribi. Opened a mere 8 months ago, it is the second branch of the Japanese chain in the Philippines, with the other branch located in Legaspi Village, Makati.

Together with a group of officemates, I ventured to this restaurant right across Vitto’s along Scout Lozano Street to satisfy our gang’s craving for Japanese food.

“Isaribi” translates to “fishing fire,” a fire used to lure fish at night. It was taken from an ancient Japanese poem by Kakinomoto Hitomaru in the Manyoshu, a collection of writings reflecting 7th and 8th century life in Japan.

When we entered, we were welcomed by greetings from the servers accompanied by some beats from a drum. The place was quite spacious with tastefully laid out tables with built-in grills. When we sat down, were offered cold oshibori (“wet towels”) to clean our hands. Points of interest also include the walls decorated with what appeared to be sake bottles. All in all, the decor and the rituals contributed to a premium and authentically Japanese feel to the resto.

While my coworkers took advantage of rice meals that come with eat-all-you-can rice and soup (a really tasty miso broth), I decided to give in to my ongoing ramen phase. Our orders consisted of:

  • Tonkotsu Ramen (Php300). Milky-white pork-broth with firm ramen noodles, thin slices of green onion, half of a tamago (soft-boiled soy-tinged egg), and slivers of cha siu pork belly. While the pork slices are not as melt-in-your-mouth tender as I usually prefer, the broth had a strong garlicky taste which sets it apart from similar ramen I’ve tasted from other Japanese restos.
  • Gyudon (Php280). The Japanese beef bowl, with tender and slightly smoky-flavored grilled beef and a savory-sweet sauce.
  • Katsudon (Php280). A bowl of rice topped with sliced pork cutlets coated with flavored egg.
  • Tendon (Php280). Rice toppings with shrimp and vegetable tempura.
  • Tonkatsu Teishoku (Php280). Pork cutlet covered in panko and flavored batter, served with salad. This took some time getting to our table.

I look forward to coming back here to feast of the sashimi and grilled beef offerings.

Isaribi is located at the Belfrant Building along Scout Lozano. The street is one-way going towards Tomas Morato so plan your trip accordingly. For reservations, call 02 4415302.

Check out my previous reviews of Japanese restaurants:

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

Why not try your hand at preparing Japanese cuisine at home?  Check out these recipe books from Amazon.com!

Want to try some recipes today? There’s no need to leave home to shop for ingredients.  With Honestbee, just order your groceries online and you’ll get them delivered right at your doorstep at your preferred time. Use this referral link and get Php500 off for a minimum spend of Php2,500.  You can download the Honestbee app on iTunes or Google Play.

If you’re in the US and an Amazon Prime member, sign up for a free trial of Amazon Fresh to get your groceries delivered to you.

Unwinding at Manila Hotel’s Tap Room

Taking advantage of a credit card promo, my mother-in-law treated us to dinner at Manila Hotel’s Tap Room to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday.

Manila Hotel is a historic 5-star hotel located along Manila Bay. Built in 1909, it is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines.

The Tap Room is Manila Hotel’s English pub-inspired bar. Its dim lighting, dark wood interiors, plush seating and soothing jazz music from live performers make it an appropriate place to unwind in with your favorite drink.

While waiting for our orders, we were served with salted peanuts and green peas to go with our drinks (mine was, of course, a double shot of Bailey’s).

Our food orders included:

  • Pizza Manila Hotel (Php550). A thin-crust pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, Laguna cheese and olives.
  • Slider (Php550). Two cheese-stuffed mini burgers with guacamole and barbecue sauce.
  • Chicken Shawarma Wrap (Php450). Roasted chicken wrapped in a toasted flour tortilla and served with tahina dip, garlic sauce, pickles and French fries.
  • Fried Fish and Chips (Php750). Battered fish fried to a crispy golden brown and served with large cut fries.
  • Deep-fried Calamares (Php450).
  • Buffalo Chicken Wings (Php450).
  • Sizzling Pork Sisig (Php450).

Being located in a 5-star hotel, the Tap Room’s service was top-notch.  The wait staff was elegantly dressed, very accommodating and helpful.  They even brought out a slice of chocolate mousse as a birthday treat for my sister-in-law.

The food was well-presented and well-flavored.  However, given the pricing, hanging out at the Tap Room for dining or drinks is not something I can do too often.

Tap Room - Manila Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato