Haven for coffee and comfort food lovers: Little Owl Cafe, New Manila

Hidden away in New Manila is a haven for lovers of coffee and comfort food.

Renovated from one of the previously worn-down houses along Broadway Avenue, Little Owl Cafe is nestled among lush greenery. Started as a coffee shop but now a full service cafe, it serves food that features a fusion of Italian and Asian cuisines that professionals working in the area or families residing nearby can enjoy.

I was recently invited to a Blogger’s Dinner at this restaurant where I was able to sample some of its delectable offerings:

Omelette Chorizo Rice (Php270). Part of the resto’s All-Day Breakfast Menu, it consists of homemade longganisa rice, delicately wrapped in a thin omelette and topped with onion gravy and aioli.

Sisig Tacos (Php210). Three pieces of soft-shell tacos topped with crispy sisig and a savory liver aioli sauce. A great start to the meal!

Glazed Cauliflower (Php210). Cauliflower covered in a sweet and spicy soy glaze then deep-fried to crispiness. A great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!

Truffle Mushroom Pasta (Php350). Al dente noodles tossed in a rich homemade mushroom sauce made with three different kinds of mushrooms – shiitake, enoki and shimeji – topped with fried enoki and drizzled with truffle oil.

Shrimp & Aligue Pasta (Php330). Pasta noodles tossed in a creamy tomato sauce incorporating shrimp aligue and served with plump grilled shrimps.

Beef Tapa & Cheese Sandwich (Php295). A Pinoy take on the Philly Cheesesteak which showcases savory slivers of beef tapa, it is accompanied by a hefty serving of crisp shoestring fries.

Chicken & Waffle (Php270). Chicken thighs covered in batter then fried to a crisp then served with sriracha coleslaw over cheddar waffles.

Lechon Kawali Bibimbap (Php320). The classic sweet-spicy Korean fried rice served with sauteed mushrooms and spinach accompanied by deep fried pork belly and fried egg. A great combination of Pinoy and Korean flavors!

Chicken Satay (Php280). A bowl of Indonesian- inspired fried rice served with grilled chicken thigh and its trademark peanut sauce.

Beef Rendang (Php420). Tenderchuck slow-cooked in aromatic spices and coconut cream. A little too spicy for me but a sure winner for those who like their food with lots of kick!

Kimchi Salmon Sinigang (Php420). Salmon belly and loin seared then served in a spicy and sour soup.

Iced Mocha (Php170). A rich yet refreshing blend of chocolate and coffee flavors, it is among the Toby’s Estate beverages served in this restaurant.

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Pink Owl (Php180). A fruity cocktail of vodka, lychee, watermelon and mint. A suitable drink to chase away the workday stress.

Little Owl Cafe’s food offerings provide its diners with an adventurous break from the everyday meals but with enough familiar flavors to make them appealing to those with more conservative tastebuds.

Its premises are well-appointed, tastefully furnished and prettily lit, great backgrounds for foodie shots and group photos.

Since this resto is conveniently located a short distance from my workplace, I definitely can drop by again for dinner with friends after office hours.

Little Owl Cafe is located at 65 Broadway Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City, open Mondays to Saturdays from 11am to 10pm and Sundays from 8am to 9pm. For inquiries, call + 63 917 8181468 or +63 2 5012036.

Little Owl also accepts bookings for special events such as weddings, birthdays, holiday parties, press conferences and more, with function rooms that can be reserved for a minimum consumable amount.

Little Owl Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

Ground Zero Esports Lounge in Antipolo is now open!

Gamers in the East of Manila now have a new haven to come together and enjoy their favorite e-games in comfort.  Even better, they also have a place where they and their families can enjoy great food, with gaming-themed dishes and drinks at that.

The opening of Ground Zero Esports  Lounge in Xentro Mall, Antipolo raises the game for the local cybercafe industry by responding to evolving needs of the gaming community. With gaming and e-sports gaining ground in the mainstream, with some players having grown up and starting families of their own, having a place where they can hang out and dine while enjoying their passion becomes paramount.

At Ground Zero, patrons can take advantage of the impressive hardware with cutting-edge specs, fast internet connectivity (up to 300mbps) and upscale interiors to play to their heart’s content, hold a LAN party or do their office work remotely.

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Families can also enjoy the spacious and well-appointed dining area, expansive food choices and an breath-taking view of the Antipolo skyline.

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Together with fellow foodies, I attended the Grand Opening and was able to sample some of the resto’s gaming-themed dishes served buffet-style to guests. (Note: Serving sizes and presentation from the party buffet will differ from the actual ala carte menu.)

Chicken Hex (Php320 for Hex Duo | Php550 for Hex Squad).  Crispy and spicy buffalo chicken wings served with ranch dressing.

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Mirana Pasta (Php320).  Pasta in marinara sauce served with fresh seafood.

Ground Zero, Antipolo

4 Cheese Pizza (Php435).  A homemade pizza dough topped with bechamel sauce made with parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella and bleu cheese.

Sisig Pizza (Php435). A Pinoy take on the pizza with pork sisig, peppercorn sauce, quail eggs and green chilis topped with mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Rum BBQ Pudge Ribs (Php490).  Grilled ribs marinated in rum barbecue sauce. (Note: In the ala carte menu, this is served with diner’s choice of Java rice, plain rice, mashed potatoes or House Special Fries).

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Beef Salpicao.

Ground Zero, Antipolo

For dessert (the highlight of my meal), we had Pistachio Sans Rival (Php160), Blueberry Cheesecake (Php130) and Red Velvet Crinkles (Php80).

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero, Antipolo

Ground Zero is a promising restaurant and gaming cafe concept as it brings together a spectrum of gamers, foodies, families and everything in between.

Ground Zero Esports Lounge is located at the 2nd Floor of Xentro Mall, Mambugan, Lower Antipolo, Rizal.

Ground Zero Sports Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I attended the grand opening of this restaurant.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

A feast with a view at The Nautilus Whiskey Bar, QC

I’m not much of a drinker but I understand the appeal of hanging out somewhere scenic or cozy, favorite concoction in hand and just chat with friends.

Last Friday night, together with fellow Zomato foodies, I did just that at The Nautilus Whiskey Bar. Named after the submarine helmed by Captain Nemo in Jules Verne’s classic adventure novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, the bar boasts of an extensive wine list, steampunk-inspired interiors made to look like the inside of the famed submarine designed by artist Ram Mallari, Jr., and a roofdeck that provides a breathtaking view of Quezon City.

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Sunset drinks.

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For this gathering, The Nautilus brought out more than just the regular bar chow:

  • House Buffalo Wings (Php275). Spicy chicken wings drenched in hot sauce and melted butter with a side of blue cheese dressing. Nothing like something hot and spicy have one go looking for drinks!
  • Wagyu Cubes (Php450). Melt-in-your-mouth cubes of tender wagyu beef served on a hot plate.
  • Tuna Carbonara (Php275). This dish featured the Mega brand of tuna flakes cooked with mushrooms into a white cream sauce.
  • Roasted Spiced Chicken Au Poivre (Php445). A spice-infused roasted half-chicken served with crisp steamed vegetables and fries.
  • Baked Norwegian Salmon (Php495).  Cheese-topped salmon fillet served with onion links, shiitake mushrooms and steamed vegetables.
  • Nautilus Signature Cheeseburger (Php325).  Homemade quarter-pounder beef patty drizzled with melted cheese, topped with deep-fried onion rings and served with crisp potato fries.
  • The Nautilus Sling (Php302.50). A blend of orange juice, lime juice, triple sec, blue curacao and bourbon whiskey.

The Nautilus Whiskey Bar is located at the roofdeck of Prime Hotel, No 70 Esguerra Street, Brgy. South Triangle, Quezon City (across Hi-Top Supermarket).  It is open Tuesdays to Thursdays from 5pm to 2am, and Fridays to Saturdays from 6pm to 3am.  For inquiries and reservations, call +63 998 8680324.

Also, catch performances by singers Paula Bianca, Ana Ramsey and Aileen Udtog on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays respectively from 8pm to 12mn.

Special deals include:

  • Buy 1 Get 1 on local beers and selected cocktails as well as 10% discount on bottles during Happy Hour, 5pm to 8pm Tuesdays to Thursdays.
  • 10% off on all bottled whiskey with a free Coke or Sprite carafe every Friday and Saturday.

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

The Nautilus Whiskey Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of another bar in the area – Vitto’s Wine Bar & Restaurant.

Now available at Gangnam Wings, Megamall: Samgyeopsal Sets!

My love for Korean food is well-documented in this blog and in my social media accounts.  This love has only been further stoked when, urged by my husband and daughter who are both K-drama fanatics, I started watching Goblin.  Everytime I see Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook and Kim Go-Eun either wolfing down or sedately eating samgyeopsals or ramyuns, I would find myself near to salivating.

I was happy to discover this Korean chicken-and-beer joint located at SM Megamall during a recent Zomato Foodie Meetup.

Named after the upscale district in Seoul made famous by Psy’s earworm of a song, the place had a lively and informal vibe, with playfully designed interiors (check out those rubber chickens!) and K-pop music videos playing in the background (yes, including songs from Goblin OST). Gangnam Wings is well-suited to the after-office crowd who will be craving for their chimaeks (chicken and beer) after a day’s work.

This resto is well-known for its authentic Korean fried chicken: crispy skin and tender juicy meat enhanced by distinct sauce coatings. Even its dishes have that playful vibe with its most popular orders named (not surprisingly) after famous Korean dramas: Goblin Wings (Php280 for half dozen pieces), which is a combo of three sauces – the Original Crispy, Garlic Soya, and the Sweet and Spicy – Php280; and Descendants of the Chicken (Php548 for ten pieces), which consist of any 2 combinations of sauces from Korean Buffalo, Korean Barbecue, Honey Garlic, Soya Yogurt and Spicy Asian.  These sauces indeed have distinct flavors but, surprisingly, I liked them all, even the Korean Buffalo which was quite spicy.

I would recommend pairing the chicken with Beef Bulgogi Fries (Php298).  These consist of thick fried potato wedges topped with beef bulgogi bits, aromatic herbs and a special mayonnaise.

A surprising piece de resistance is the Ginseng Chicken (sorry, I didn’t get the price :-)).  A whole spring chicken is boiled, together with herbs and seasonings, for an hour with rice inside, such that the rice cooks while inside the chicken.  The closest it comes to texture and flavor is the arroz caldo but with significantly less rice and a lot more falling-off-the-bone chicken.

For dessert, we had Rockmelon Bingsu (Php280), shaved ice with melon balls served in the melon shell and topped with a big dollop of vanilla ice cream.  I can imagine myself eating this with my kids to ward off the summer heat in the near future.

I also sampled two of its Sojuritas (soju cocktails): the Watermelon Soju (Php688)and the Yakult Soju (Php248).  Both were refreshing drinks with a little kick but I had to stop myself at two shots apiece as I still had to drive myself home.  (By the way, I much preferred the tangy sweetness of the Yakult Soju, but then again, I was never a big fan of watermelon anyway.)

However, the real star of the show is the affordable Samgyeopsal Lunch Set which are now available for lunch and dinner.  From 11am to 2pm, diners have the choice between Unlimited Pork at Php349/head, or Unlimited Pork and Beef at Php399/head.  From 5pm to 8pm, on the other hand, Unlimited Pork is priced at Php449/head, while Unlimited Pork and Beef is priced at Php499/head.  These sets come with unlimited meat, rice, ice green lettuce, side dishes (such as kimchi, mini potato balls, sweet fishcakes, vinegar radish, bean sprouts and onions, all prepared fresh in the kitchen) and iced tea.

Currently, all of these Korean barbecue sets will be composed of unmarinated meats but marinated variants are being considered for future offerings.

A concern that was raised was the absence of exhaust pipes to suck out the smoke from the cooking meats on the dining tables.  Surely, the lunch crowd will not appreciate smelling like inihaw when they get back to their offices after their meal break.  Owner Rinky Tuano assured us that this concern has been considered and will be addressed by air conditioning and the exhaust in the kitchen.

Gangnam Wings is located at the Megastrip Unit 1-114 Upper Ground Floor, outside Building A, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City.  Other branches will open soon in San Fernando, Pampanga, Sta Rosa, Laguna and in Antipolo, Rizal.

Gangnam Wings 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.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

At the request of Gangnam Wings, this post was updated to reflect the new pricing of the Samgyeopsal Sets.

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

Late Night Drinks at Alchemy

Hubby and I attended a Saturday afternoon event here which extended to late night drinks with his friends and officemates. The place has an open-air veranda upstairs conducive to drinks and chats.

Alchemy is the ancient practice of mixing elixirs and potions to either come up with gold or the key to eternal life. Here, the elixirs are mixed for the patrons to have a good time. It has an extensive liquor list which include local and imported beers, wines from France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina, as well as other potions such as vodkas, rums, whiskies, liquers, etc. Also mixed in are lively music from the DJ upstairs or the live band downstairs.

Since I’m not much of a drinker, Hubby got me 2 double shots of Bailey’s Irish Cream (Php180/shot) and sampled their thick cut French Fries (Php110) and Hummus (Php200).

We stayed here until almost midnight (clearly my limit given we’ve been there since afternoon and I already consider myself a tita) but I had a fun time Hubby and some new friends.

Alchemy Bistro Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other wine bars:

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