Got a taste of Bicolandia at Gata, Tomas Morato

Bicolano cuisine is characterized by spiciness and the use of gata (coconut cream): the spiciness gives the dishes a certain excitement while the gata gives them a distinct richness.

I’m not much of a Bicolano food fan myself (but I’m willing to give almost anything a try) so during lunch with my officemates, I found myself trying out a newly opened restaurant along Mother Ignacia Street – Gata: Flavors of Bicolandia, Atbp.

The resto’s interiors have a bright and airy feel; its walls are even adorned by a large colorful mural as well as paintings that depict food and food preparation.

For our lunch, we ordered some of Bicol’s most popular dishes:

  • The ever-present Laing (Php235) made of dried gabi leaves sourced directly from Bicol
  • Adobong Bicolano Liempo (Php250), Bicol’s traditional way of cooking adobo characterized by the lack of sauce
  • Piniritong Manok ni Lola (Php230), homestyle fried chicken, cooked like how grandma does it 🙂

The flavors are familiar and comforting but the serving portions are on the small side.  That said, my dining experience here certainly merits another visit.

Update: I recently attended a Zomato Foodie Meetup held here.  Together with fellow Zomato foodies, I was able to taste more of Gata’s signature Bicolano dishes such as:

  • Sinantol with Kamote Chips (Php190).  Great for vegetarians, this dish pairs deep-fried kamote (sweet potato) chips with the tangy sinantol which consist of finely grated santol rind cooked in coconut milk.
  • Laing Bites with Gata Sauce (Php180).  Another all-veggie dish, this features laing wrapped in deep-fried wonton and served with a homemade gata sauce.
  • Cocido na Buong Lapu-Lapu (Php495). Bicol’s version of Sinigang, it is less sour but still has a hearty broth.
  • Kare-Kareng Bagnet (Php330).  At last I was able to taste this dish made of sizeable slices of pork belly served with a gata-infused kare-kare sauce.
  • Kinunot na Pagi (Php295).  Flakes of stingray meat simmered in gata, quite a new foodie adventure for me! (Trivia: There’s a joke that when a Bicolano takes some gata to the beach, the sharks and stingrays get the hell outta the way!)
  • Halo-Halo Turon with Ice Cream (Php110).  Classic halo-halo ingredients in lumpia wrapper then deep-fried and served with vanilla ice cream.

Gata: Flavors of Bicolandia, Atbp is located at Unit 3, The Grandia Place, Mother Ignacia Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City.  It is open everyday from 11.30am to 3pm and 4pm to 10pm.  For reservations, call +63 995 4627251.

Gata Flavors of Bicolandia Atbp. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other Zomato foodies, I was invited to attend a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant.  Food items specified here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Want to learn how to cook your favorite Filipino dishes at home? Check out these recipe 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.

Lechon Feast at the Lechon Shop, Tomas Morato

In the Philippines, a celebration wouldn’t be complete without lechon. This much-loved national dish is an offshoot of our colonial roots, having been brought here from Spain. The word lechon, in fact, is a Spanish word referring to a roasted suckling pig.

The best examples of lechon are characterised by tender flavorful meat and crispy, crackling skin, best served smothered with a think and slightly sweet lechon sauce usually made of liver, breadcrumbs, vinegar, sugar and spices and partnered with steaming hot rice.

On the birthday of one of my coworkers who has a marked preference for lechon, he treated us to one of his newly-discovered haunts: The Lechon Shop along Scout Tobias near Tomas Morato in Quezon City.

Operated by the same people as Leonardo’s Lechon based in San Juan, The Lechon Shop offers diners lechon by the kilo. (If I recall correctly, our group ordered 4 kilos.). We also ordered Chicharong Bulaklak and Laing which we ate with our steaming plain rice. A welcome surprise were the Maja Blancas that brought us back to our childhood.

The place is quite cozy and almost had trouble fitting our large group in. However, the server was friendly and accommodating, and helped us all find our seats.

This celebration was one for the books and I, for one, don’t regret the sinfully decadent consumption of lechon. After all, you only live once and “nasasayang lang ang calories pag hindi ka nasarapan.”

The Lechon Shop by Leonardo’s Lechon is located at 49B Scout Tobias Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City. For reservation and inquiries, call (02) 745 3104.

The Lechon Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Want to learn how to cook your favorite Filipino dishes at home? Check out these recipe 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.

Soul Food Feast at Morganfield’s, Ayala the 30th

The fam recently met up with the in-laws for a birthday celebration at Morganfield’s at Ayala The 30th.

Morganfield’s is a casual dining restaurant specializing in “good ole’ fashioned barbecued pork ribs with an extra dose of Southern hospitality” – the tenets of cooking what has come to be known as soul food.

Its signature dish – Sticky Bones – is made of slow-cooked and hickory smoked tender prime pork ribs, which are then basted with the home-made tomato/based sweet-and-sour mopping sauce, resulting to the “sticky bones” left when diners are done with the meal.

This and more were feasted on when the fam ordered Rib Sampler (Php3,295) sharing platter. It’s basically a humongous serving of 3 Flavors of Barbecued Ribs, loads of sausages, garden salad, corn on the cob, corn bread and french fries. For added meat, we also ordered a 300g Rib-eye (Php1,325), a juicy medium-done US rib-eye steak accompanied by a special garlic butter, baked potato and crisp garden vegetables. To represent the fruits of the sea, a serving of Beer-Battered Fish Fillets (Php395) was ordered. And, as if all that was not enough, we munched on some Onion Rings (Php155).

There was a wide range of hearty flavors and textures that made for a filling meal, albeit quite an expensive one as well.

The place had a fun and casual family-friendly vibe, helped by cheery and helpful wait staff.

This Morganfield’s branch is located at the 2nd Floor, Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. For reservations, call +6327213502.

Morganfield's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kids take a first crack at adulting at Kidzania Manila

Children can only aspire to what they know exists.

This is central to Kidzania and its Director of Education Dr. Ger Graus’ philosophy.

When you enter Kidzania, you enter a sprawling but kid-sized edutainment zone where children can explore and discover on their own while learning how to operate in the real world. It is a mini-metropolis, where the kids can fill roles in establishments such as a bank, a school, a hotel and more, while imbibing Kidzania’s culture, economy (it has its own currency – kidzos – that kids get paid with after fulfilling their tasks), and even language (say “Kai!” for “Hi!” and “ZanK-U!” for “Thank you!”).

The fun learning roles kids can take part in at kiddie-fied real-world establishments or brands include:

  • Actor or Street Performer (Star Magic – Acting Academy)
  • Artist or Student (National Bookstore – Art and Design Academy)
  • Pilot or Cabin Crew (Cebu Pacific – Aviation Academy)
  • Pastry Chef (Goldilocks – Bakeshop)
  • Client or Banker (Bank of the Philippine Islands – Bank)
  • Free Reader, Book Display Designer, Creative Story Teller, or Book Writer (National Bookstore – Bookstore)
  • Plant Engineer (Coca-Cola – Bottling Plant)
  • Crew Member (McDonald’s – Burger Shop)
  • Customer, Car Designer, Car Salesperson (Honda – Car Dealership)
  • Tourist, Tour Guide, or Safety Inspector (Victory Liner – City Tour Bus)
  • Clean Energy Engineer (First Gen – Clean Energy Center)
  • Cable TV Service Installer (SKYcable – Climbing Building)
  • Cookie Engineer (Cream-O – Cookie Factory)
  • Culinary Student (Lady’s Choice – Cooking School)
  • Logistics Officer or Pick-Up and Delivery Team Member (LBC – Courier Service)
  • Treats Inventor (Oishi – Creative Hub)
  • Fashion Model (Penshoppe – Fashion Boutique)
  • Firefighter (Pioneer Insurance – Fire Station)
  • Gas Dispatcher or Mechanic (Shell – Gas Station)
  • Electrician or House Painter (First Balfour – Hime Finishing)
  • Home Shopping Host (O Shopping – Home Shopping Studio)
  • Health Care Worker (Johnson & Johnson’s – Hospital Baby Care Training Center)
  • Paramedic (Green Cross – Hospital Emergency Room)
  • Surgeon, Assistant Surgeon, Anesthesiologist, Instrumentalist (St. Luke’s Medical Center – Hospital Operating Room)
  • Receptionist, Wait Staff, Housekeeper (Holiday Inn – Hotel)
  • Production Engineer (Magnolia – Ice Cream Factory)
  • Laundry Operator (Champion – Laundromat)
  • Feature Writer or Comic Artist (Metro Publishing – Magazine Company)
  • Marine Conservationist (Century Tuna and World Wildlife Fund – Marine Research Lab)
  • Recording Artist (Star Studio – Music Studio)
  • News Writer (Philippine Daily Inquirer – Newspaper)
  • Pharmacist (Mercury Drug – Drug Store)
  • Pizza Maker (Yellow Cab – Pizza Parlor)
  • On-Cam or Off-cam Talent (ABS-CBN – TV Studio)

… and so much more!

Parents accompanying their kids won’t be bored either. They can hang out at the Parent’s Lounge where they can sip of some coffee as they watch TV or surf the net powered by SKYzone.

Hungry little ones can sate their appetites with the Belgian Waffle, Purfood Hotdogs, Goldilocks and McDonalds outlets inside the park.

And here’s something to spur you to visit Kidzania really soon: Until July 31, you can avail of an Unli-Pazz which allows a kid and an accompanying adult to enjoy a month of unlimited visits to Kidzania for only Php2,475. (You can view more details here.)

Kidzania is where kids can take a first fun glimpse at adulting.

Disclosure: I work for SKY which is one of Kidzania’s featured establishments and powers the cable TV and internet access in the Parent’s Lounge.

Next Westworld episode to be set in Shogun World

HBO recently released new Westworld photos pertaining to the episode “Akane No Mai” which will premiere on Monday, May 21.

Hinted at in last season’s finale, Shogun World will bring us new characters such as the ones played by Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel,” “Pacific Rim“) and Hiroyuki Sanada (“The Wolverine,” “47 Ronin“). The video teaser also hints at interactions of Shogun World denizens with Maeve (Thandie Newton) and her gang.

New Westworld episodes will air Mondays at 9am with same day primetime encore at 10pm.  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.

HBO Go not available in your area? Watch it on HBO on Amazon.

Check out my other posts on Westworld:

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.

Steak Lunch at Sizzlin’ Steak, SM East Ortigas

I was initially excited when I saw that Sizzlin’ Steak opened a branch at SM East Ortigas.  Being a confirmed carnivore, I decided to take the fam out to lunch here one Saturday.

The place was packed when we got there (the resto being newly opened and all) but there were still some unoccupied tables at the back, which, curiously, the servers weren’t ushering us to.  After some minutes of awkward waiting, we were finally seated.

We crossed-ordered some items from Teriyaki Boy next door (read about that here) but Hubby and I decided to get twin orders of Australian Marbled Steak (Php675 each) for ourselves.  These were served on sizzling plates with plain rice and some veggies; the gravy, of course, was poured over the steaks for that sizzle.

Given the price of this dish, I wish there was more I could say about it.  Sadly, I had to sprinkle some salt on my steak to get a little more flavor out of it.

The service was also slow. Aside from not being quick to usher us to our seats, the staff also neglected to refill our water glasses (I ended up having to stand up and get the water pitcher myself).  Lastly, they forgot to give us the official receipt I requested for.

Oh, well. Maybe next time, I’ll have a better experience here.

 

Lunch at Teriyaki Boy, SM East Ortigas

Update: I patched things up with this resto (so to speak). Check out my updated review here.

I used to really enjoy dining at Teriyaki Boy.  This is the place that developed my family’s love for ebi tempura. My special go-to order would also be the Wafu Steak and Yakimeshi Rice; I found the blend of flavors rich and satisfying.

This is why we cross-ordered some items from the Teriyaki Boy menu when my family dined at its sister-store Sizzlin’ Steak.  For appetizers, we got a Dynamite Roll (Php185) and a Tuna Tempura Tartare (Php165).  Both were pretty good.

For our mains, I wanted to order my favorites Wafu Steak and a Yakimeshi Rice (Php75).  However, for some reason, the Wafu Steak is no longer in their menu! We then ended up getting two orders of Tonkatsu (Php280 each) for the kids.

Later that same week, I went back with my daughter for a late lunch.  We ordered a Chashu Ramen Shoyu (Php245) which fell short in comparison to the other ramen I have tasted.

I might still be feeling miffed at the removal of Wafu Steak from the menu.  Hopefully, the next time I dine here, I will be in a better frame of mind to enjoy the store’s offerings.

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.