New Japanese hangout at Omotenashi

My daughter was craving for gyoza so when she accompanied me to my office last Wednesday, I gave in to her craving by having our lunch at nearby Omotenashi Japanese Restaurant and Bar.

The term omotenashi directly correlates to Japanese hospitality.  It is the combination of words “omote” which refers to the face one presents to the public and “nashi” which means “nothing.”  The resulting word means “selfless service,” anticipating the needs of the guest and providing service from the heart.

From the outside, this Quezon City Japanese restaurant may seem like a rowdy drinking hangout, especially with the banners promoting its beer promos.  Inside, however, the decor is more subdued: natural light from the windows is soft which bounces off from the white walls decorated by paintings of fish and traditional Japanese scenery, and pictures of the food offered inside.  That said, I find the interiors lacking the zen quality I’ve come to expect from Japanese restaurants.

We ordered Gyoza (Php188), Ebi Tempura (Php378 for 5 pieces),Chicken Teriyaki (Php328) and Gomoku Chahan (Php188).  The gyoza, or minced pork dumplings, were served hot and had a good balance between the pork and aromatics in each bite.  The tempura and chicken were well-seasoned and went nicely with the chahan, or Japanese fried rice.

I took advantage of a reservation app that gave me 20% discount on the food items so, even with a 10% service charge, my total bill came out as less that Php1,000.

I had some misgivings about the service charge, though. Despite being polite and helpful, the lone wait staff was a long way from the quality of service that the name and tenet of omotenashi implies.  Some more training and support from the restaurant management may be in order.

This branch of Omotenshi Japanese Restaurant and Bar is located at 42 Sgt. Esguerra Corner Eugenio Lopez Street, South Triangle, Quezon City.  For inquiries, call +63 9178148511.

Register to Eatigo through this link and get up to 50% off your food bill in this resto and various other restaurants in the metro as well as Php100 worth of rewards.

Check out my reviews of other nearby Japanese restaurants:

Omotenashi Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spanish cuisine at Burst, Bel Air

While on a business trip in Makati, I took a (very) late lunch at this quaint Spanish restaurant inside the Alphaland Mall.

Burst’s dining space is dimly lit with darkwood furniture and paintings of Spain’s vistas adorning the walls. Mellow pop and OPM music are piped in, giving the place a relaxed vibe (but detracting from the Spanish feel).

I have been craving paella for quite some time, and the resto has a promo wherein most food items have significant price cuts, so I took this opportunity to satisfy my craving.

I ordered Paella Negra (Php240 regular price/Php155 promo price) and Lengua (Php295 regular price/Php195 promo price).  The seafood in the paella provided contrasts in color to the squid ink-colored rice; its flavors were fresh and hearty.  I found the flavor of the lengua, or braised ox tongue, overpowering the paella so I opted to have it wrapped up to go.

The serving staff was prompt and friendly.

The overall look and feel of the place leave much to be desired but I can’t complain about the food and the service. I wouldn’t mind returning and trying out the All Meat Paella and Callos, more of the Spanish cuisine that I would like to sample.

Check out my review of another Spanish restaurant.

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

Wholesome fare at Kenny Rogers Roasters, SM East Ortigas

While Kenny Rogers Roasters has languished in its home country to the point of declaring bankruptcy, the chain is still going strong in the Philippines.

I guess its signature healthy and wholesome flavors – from its wood-fired rotisserie chicken to its homemade cornbread muffins – have found a foothold in the Pinoy palate.

The fast-food chicken restaurant which was introduced in the country in 1995 already has a location that is quite near to me – SM City East Ortigas.

I’m glad to know that whenever I have a craving for juicy roasted chicken or those hearty cornbread muffins, with a side or mac n’ cheese or corn n’ carrots, I can just head on over to the branch in the nearby mall.

Now if only they’d take care of those shaky tables…

Kenny Rogers Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Samgyeopsal for lunch at Oh My Korean Grill and Chimaek

Again, another Korean food joint that set my heart all a-flutter.

Located just a stone’s throw away (if the stone couldn’t get far because you have a particularly limp arm) from my office, the newly opened Oh My Korean Grill and Chimaek resto features an arresting light pine and dark wood facade and industrial minimalist interiors with some K-pop accents.  Since it’s newly opened, it doesn’t that greasy-smoky smell that seem to permeate other Korean grill joints, and worse, gets transferred to your clothes by the time you leave the restaurant.

Chimaek, in case you’re wondering, is a portmanteau of “chiken” and “maekju,” the Korean word for “beer.” So chimaek simply means “chicken and beer,” probably a good idea for harassed office workers at the end of a stressful day.

It’s not a good idea, however, for office workers out on their lunch break.

So, together with a couple of friends, I ordered the following:

  • Samyeopsal (Php250). Thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat.
  • Chadolbegi (Php300). Thinly slice beef brisket
  • Plain rice for each of us

While the meats were being grilled at the next table (thankfully, so that our group won’t smell like barbecue when we get back to the office), we were served soup and banchan, side dishes, of kimchi, soy potatoes and dried anchovies.

Once cooked, I wrapped some bits of the meats – seasoned with salted sesame oil and soybean paste, together with some rice and thin slice of raw garlic, in the lettuce leaves provided.  To add some kick to each bite, I added some of the spicy kimchi inside the wrap.

The service was quick and efficient, and the staff were warm, polite and helpful.  I’m looking forward to trying out its other offerings, particularly those with cheese: the Cheese Kimchi Bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice with cheese and veggies) and the Cheesy Ramyun (Korean ramen with a twist of cheese).

Oh My Korean Grill and Chimaek Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my posts about other Korean restaurants:

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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

Origin stories in the Marvel Super Heroes Storybook Collection

Yesterday, I arrived at National Bookstore’s #BookBingeBazaar at SM Megatrade Hall 3 even before gates opened, ready to binge on books.

While I didn’t find any of my favorite genres (Regency and Highlander romances or Biblical fiction) as most of the books on display are for teens and kids, I chanced upon some gems such as this Marvel Super Heroes Storybook Collection priced at only Php275.

Being a #MarvelCinematicUniverse geek, I just knew I had to get it, either as a gift for my son (in whom I want to encourage a love of reading) or as the start of my Marvel memorabilia collection.

It’s a hardbound, 300-page tome that contains 20 origin stories of popular Marvel comic book super heroes: individual members of the Avengers and the X-men, as well as of the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer.

The stories are presented with colorful illustrations and in large font and language style suitable for preschool age kids. I can see myself holding storytelling sessions with this book.

The storybook is published by Marvel Press under the Disney Book Group. It helps to expand the Marvel experience outside of the comic books and movies and introduce the Marvel characters and their universe to new audiences and future fans.

For kids who are outgrowing fairytales, this is a great book to read. For adults who are also Marvel fans, it’s a great piece to have as a part of your collection: a touchstone to the stories that have shaped much of today’s popular culture and a link to the stories you grew up with.

Today is the last day of National Bookstore’s #BookBingeBazaar which is part of the book chain’s 75th anniversary activities. It features books priced at Php75, Php175 and Php275 each. Held at SM Megatrade Hall 3 at SM Megamall, the bazaar is open from 10am to 10pm.

Missed the book bazaar? Click here to buy The Marvel Superheroes Storybook Collection on Amazon.com.

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