A taste of home in the South at Serye, Santana Grove

Whenever a group of diverse people need to sit down for lunch, chances are, they would agree to go for Filipino food.

And why not?

The familiar dishes and comforting flavors of Filipino food have an easy appeal to most of us.

That’s what happened when my officemates and I stopped over for lunch at Santana Grove on our way to our fieldwork in Paranaque. Most of us live quite far from this area so we were happy to find a chill place to eat before we go back to work.

After doing a quick scan of the options available, we agreed on Serye as our venue for out midday repast.

Serye, Santana Grove

Serye, Santana Grove

Serye, Santana Grove

Serye’s owner Alvin Reyes Lim is part of the well-known Reyes family of restaurateurs who brought about time-honored establishments and brands such as Aristocrat, Alex III, Reyes Barbecue and Mama Sita’s. In fact, he pays tribute to his heritage through his restaurant’s name as it is an anagram of Reyes.

Serye also means progression, as denoted by his restaurant’s well-crafted menu of classic Filipino favorites, some of which feature strong Spanish influences.

Our lunch that day consisted of:

Hototai Soup (Php195). Light yet flavorful broth with pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetables and wisps on wonton thickened with a fresh egg.

Serye, Santana Grove

Deep-fried Chipirone (Php320). Seasoned baby squids deep-fried to a golden brown.

Serye, Santana Grove

Serye’s Sisig (Php295). Serye’s version of the Kapampangan classic with seasoned pork cheeks sauteed in onions and chili peppers, topped with a fresh egg.

Serye, Santana Grove

Pinakbet (Php220). Serye’s take on the Ilocano dish with choice veggies sauteed in homemade shrimp paste sauce.

Serye, Santana Grove

Binagoongan (Php515). Hearty pieces of crispy and meaty bagnet and steamed veggies on a bed of homemade shrimp paste sauce.

Serye, Santana Grove

Serye, Santana Grove

What a lucky find: a delicious taste of home in the South.

Serye is located at Santana Grove, Dr. A. Santos Avenue, Barangay San Antonio, Paranaque City, open daily from 11am to 10pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 88269317 or +63 2 88254691.

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

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Manam Comfort Filipino, Trinoma

Comfort food are fare that provide the diner with a feeling of consolation or well-being and are oftentimes associated with the food enjoyed at home or during childhood.

While these evoke nostalgia and sentimentality, they also excite the taste buds and stir anticipation.

After a typical morning at the office, my officemates and I opted to get some comfort and good eats at the newly opened branch of Manam in Trinoma.

Manam, Trinoma

Manam, Trinoma

Manam, Trinoma

We were welcomed by Manam’s friendly and accommodating wait staff as well as its well-appointed yet cozy interiors.

Manam was formerly known as NamNam, and it boasts of a menu that offers both the classic renditions as well as fresh twists on Pinoy cuisine.

That day, we feasted on these dishes:

Adobong Kangkong (Php98). Kangkong (water spinach) shoots sauteed in garlic and soy-vinegar.

Manam, Trinoma

Gising Gising (Php125). Sigarilyas and kangkong sauteed with pork and chilis in coconut cream and bagoong (shrimp paste).

Manam, Trinoma

Pinakbet (Php130). Okra, string beans, eggplant, squash and tomatoes sauteed in with pork bits and shrimp in bagoong.

Manam, Trinoma

Mangga at Bagoong (Php140). Sliced green mango and shrimp paste, this combo is famous for that sour-salty dynamic.

Manam, Trinoma

Caramelized Patis Wings (Php170). A twist on fried chicken, patis (fish sauce) flavors the zesty wings.

Manam, Trinoma

Crunchy Salt and Pepper Squid (Php280). Lightly battered squid pieces tossed in a crunchy mixture of stir-fried garlic and chilis.

Manam, Trinoma

House Crispy Sisig (Php398). Ranked as the No. 1 Sisig in Manila for two consecutive years, this dish features chopped pork jowl and cheek served sizzling.

Manam, Trinoma

Sinigang na Beef Short Rib and Watermelon (Php775 for family size). The sour broth of the beef sinigang is given a slightly sweet twist with the addition of watermelon.

Manam, Trinoma

Manam, Trinoma

Bibingka de Leche (Php125). A layer of leche flan (caramel egg custard) tops a pancake-like rice cake.

Manam, Trinoma

Kape, Sago at Gulaman (Php105). The samalamig (Filipino version of slushy drink) given a twist with the addition of coffee flavors.

Manam, Trinoma

Puto Bumbong with Muscovado Butter (Php80). The classic purple rice cake traditionally steamed in bamboo tubes accompanied by grated cheese, grated coconut and a bar of muscovado-enriched butter.

Manam, Trinoma

What a delicious way to get some comfort on a work day!

Manam, Trinoma

This branch of Manam Comfort Filipino is located at Ground Floor, Trinoma Mall Garden Wing, Bagong Pag Asa, Quezon City, open daily from 10am to 10pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 79005750.

Other branches are located at:

  • Powerplant Mall, Rockwell, Makati
  • Net Park, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • O Square, Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan
  • South Wing, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay
  • Ayala Malls Manila Bay, Entertainment City, Paranaque
  • SM North EDSA, Bago Bantay, Quezon City
  • SM City Fairview, Novaliches, Quezon City
  • Ayala Fairview Terraces, Novaliches, Quezon City

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

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Pre-holiday lunch at Chives Bistro, Lamp Quarters

It was the start of the holiday break, and my office buddies and I wanted to celebrate this short period of freedom by dining out together and catching up.

Together with my East-based coworkers, I hied myself off to Lamp Quarters in Marikina to have lunch at Chives Bistro.

This restaurant has a rustic industrial design with its combination of wood and metal furnishings and decor, but still retains homey vibe in line with its concept of combining European and Asian cuisines.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Chives, Lamp Quarters

While waiting for our orders, we were provided with complimentary bread to be dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Chives currently has Weekday Lunch Specials for only Php195 which consist of a viand plus spring roll, choice between red or white rice and raspberry iced tea. Our orders included:

Set A. Grilled Gangnam Chicken.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Set C. Grilled Baguio Sausage.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

These lunch specials do offer good value and I appreciate the novelty of the chicken and the longganisa as well as the option for a healthier rice given to the diner. The spring rolls, however, are heavily flavored with tinapa, the smokiness of which clashed with the main viand.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Our group also ordered:

Fried Chicken (Php195). Deep-fried chicken pieces coated in homemade sriracha marinade with a cucumber dip.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Truffled Mushroom Pasta (Php280). Fettuccine noodles tossed in alfredo sauce flavored with a bit of truffle oil along with shiitaki and shimeji mushrooms. Taking the place of bacon is the the etag crisp which is a type of cured pork made in the Sagadas.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Turones (Php130). Flambed bananas, chocnut and parmesan cheese in lumpia wrapper.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

Celebrity Cake (Php150 per slice). A moist chocolate cake topped with rich chocolate ganache and and a pinch of pink salt. This dessert has been hailed by Spot.ph as the No. 1 Chocolate Cake in Metro Manila.

Chives, Lamp Quarters

I find Chives’ concept and food curation exciting but some dishes, like the lunch specials, suffer a bit in the execution. Also, some items were not available when we were there which does limit our choices.

Still, I wouldn’t mind coming back and checking out Chives’ other dishes… especially if I could have my friends again with me when I visit!

Chives, Lamp Quarters

By the way, two of us unlocked our Zomato Gold privilege so two of our orders are free! Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 (Buy 1 Get 1) deals on food or 2+2 (Buy 2 Get 2) deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use the code JELLYB to get 10% off the membership fee.

Chives Bistro is located at Lamp Quarters, Gil Fernando Avenue, Santo Nino, Marikina City, open Sundays to Thursdays from 11am to 11pm and Fridays to Saturdays from 11am to 12 midnight. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 88664158 or +63 927 8591926.

Another branch is located at EM Gems Building, L. Sumulong, Circumferential Road, San Roque, Antipolo City.

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

Lunch Buffet at Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

The Tomas Morato area is definitely a foodie haven. At practically every corner is an old and familiar or a new and exciting food destination, something that will spark a foodie’s curiosity and appetite.

One such destination is Vanilla Cafe along Mother Ignacia Avenue. Formerly known as Vanilla Cupcake Bakery, it has expanded its repertoire from cupcakes and pastries to pastas and classic Filipino food.

Enter its doors and you will be taken to a place of fun and cuteness with pastel-printed walls, plush floral couches and dainty chandeliers.

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Guess what: come around lunchtime and you can eat your fill at Vanilla Cafe’s Lunch Buffet where you can enjoy a delightful curation of Vanilla Cafe’s food offerings served with delicate country style flair.

Have a sampling of these dishes:

Prettily prepared canapes and veggie dips.

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Freshly made pastas.

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Binagoongan and Tinapa Rice.

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Classic Pinoy Favorites: Sizzling Tofu, Sizzling Sisig, Bagnet, Fish Sarciado, Chop Suey, Chicken Adobo, and of course, Vanilla Cafe’s famous Kare Kare.

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

And since there’s always room for dessert, have a cupcake (or two… or more!) because, why not!

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

This buffet is best enjoyed with pals as a barkada lunch date…

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

Or as part of a festive celebration!

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

So check it out: the Premium Lunch Buffet is available at Vanilla Cafe Tomas Morato on weekdays from 11am to 2pm for only Php398 per person (+10% service charge).

Vanilla Cafe, Tomas Morato

This branch also has a Boomin’ Breakfast Buffet available everyday from 7am to 10am at Php228 for adults and Php114 for kids ages four to eleven (plus 10% service charge). Kids below four years old eat for free.

This Vanilla Cafe branch is located along Mother Ignacia Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City, open Sundays to Thursdays from 7.30am to 11pm and Fridays to Saturdays from 7.30pm to 12 midnight.  For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 2 83743783 or +63 918 8264552.

Other branches are located at:

  • Second Floor, Garden Wing, Trinoma Mall, Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City
  • Second Floor, Evia Lifestyle Center, Daang Hari Road, Almanza, Las Pinas City
  • 20 Villamor Street, Lualhati, Baguio, Benguet

Planning a get-together? Why not order one of Vanilla Cafe’s Party trays? Pastas, entrees, salads and rice trays are available for order at any Metro Manila branch.

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Maximize your buffet restaurant visit. Read the tips in my buffet survival guide.

Check out my blog posts on other buffet restaurants in the Metro:

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

It’s great to have officemates who love to eat (not as much as I do, but still).

Before we took our holiday break, my boss decided to treat our team to dinner at The Alley by Vikings in UP Town Center.

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

What sets this buffet restaurant apart from the others is that it takes the form of a street-style food hall which incorporates concepts from around the world. Walking around the stations, you get a feel of touring the streets of the countries where the featured food items originate.

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

Instead of filling your plates yourself, you can request for small servings of the dishes from their respective stations, similar to the street food tripping experience. For example, our “food trip” here included the following stations:

  • Hao Chi – for Chinese dimsum and Peking Duck
  • Yatai – for Japanese sushi, sashimi and okonomiyaki
  • O’Sean Eleven – for seafood chowder
  • Just Steak a Minute – for freshly grilled steaks and other meats
  • Ferino’s Bibingka – for freshly made puto bumbong
  • Hunnycomb – for cakes and pastries

Buffet Rates:

  • Weekday Lunch: Php738 for adults, Php188 for kids 3ft for 4ft, Php388 for kids 4ft to 4ft 6in
  • Weekday Dinner/ Weekend or Holiday Lunch and Dinner: Php938 for adults, Php288 for kids 3ft for 4ft, Php588 for kids 4ft to 4ft 6in
  • Kids below 3ft eat for free

There are a lot of food choices, and more food stations than the ones I mentioned, which can be quite overwhelming. Refilling the more popular stations such as the sushi and the muscovado sugar for the bibingka took a long time.

I would also guess that the air-conditioning couldn’t cope with the volume of diners as it was quite warm where we were seated.

All that said, it was still a good time spent with my office buddies.

The Alley by Vikings, UP Town Center

This branch of The Alley by Vikings is located 2nd Level, Phase 2, UP Town Center, Ayala Mall, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, open daily from 11am to 2.30pm and from 5.30pm to 10pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 82771888, +63 2 82772888, +63 917 6735888 or +63 918 9078888.

Other branches are located at:

  • 2nd Level, Ayala Malls Cloverleaf, A. Bonifacio Street, Brgy. Balingasa, A. Bonifacio, Quezon City
  • C1, Upper Ground Floor, Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Planning a visit to The Alley by Vikings? Here are some promos you can take advantage of:
    • 20% off Weekday Lunch for every group of 5 pax from January 2 to February 28, 2020
      Birthday celebrants eat for free on the day of their birthday if accompanied by one full paying adult, or within their birth month if accompanied by four full-paying adults
  • (Note: Terms and conditions apply for the above-mentioned promos.)
  • The Alley by Vikings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

    Maximize your buffet restaurant visit. Read the tips in my buffet survival guide.

    Check out my blog posts on other buffet restaurants in the Metro:

    A European take on the puto bumbong at Vanderlust, The Podium

    The food item that I most associate with the Christmas season is the puto bumbong.

    I was late in joining #TeamPutoBumbong, having developed a liking for this delicacy when I was already working, but it soon worked its way up to the top of my favorite seasonal food items.

    Puto bumbong is a type of steamed rice cake (“puto”) made from a special local variety of rice called pirurutong which has a deep purple color. The grains are soaked in salted water overnight then drained and packed densely into bamboo tubes (the “bumbong”) and steamed until done.

    The resulting purple cylindrical rice cake is is then usually served on banana leaves, slathered with butter and sprinkled with muscovado sugar and grated coconut.

    Well, you couldn’t get more Filipino than that!

    Well, Vanderlust, the bistro owned by world wanderers Val and Anthony Tan, has just introduced a European twist to the puto bumbong: by cooking it ala Dutch baby pancake.

    While retaining its native ingredients, this puto bumbong is baked in the oven using a cast iron skillet instead of steamed in bamboo tubes.

    Vanderlust, Podium

    It is served topped with generous helpings of custard, toasted coconut, queso de bola and muscovado syrup.

    Vanderlust, Podium

    It’s basically everything we love about the puto bumbong with a novel way to enjoy our favorite Christmas delicacy.

    Vanderlust, Podium

    This dish is exclusively available at Vanderlust’s branch in the Podium so hie yourself over there if you want a taste!

    Many thanks to Jen of SandUnderMyFeet.com for sharing this dessert treat!

    Get a free dish when you and a friend dine at Vanderlust Bistro, thanks to Zomato Gold! Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 (Buy 1 Get 1) deals on food or 2+2 (Buy 2 Get 2) deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use the code VOLT0979 to get 10% off the membership fee.

    You can also book your table at Vanderlust Bistro using Eatigo to get up to 50% off your food bill. Sign up using my referral link to get additional perks.

    This Vanderlust Bistro branch is located at Fifth Floor, The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City, open Mondays to Thursdays from 11am to 10pm and Fridays to Sundays from 10am to 10pm.  For inquiries, call +63 2 88717314.

    Another branch is located at 100 Scout De Guia Corner Tomas Morato Avenue, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City.  Check out my review of this branch here.

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

    San Juan’s newest food and nightlife destination – Varra Restobar

    The workday is through and you’ve earned yourself a little bit of a respite, wouldn’t you say?

    If you’re looking for a place to meet with friends, enjoy good food and perhaps have a drink or two, then this newly opened and somewhat hidden restobar in San Juan would be just the thing.

    Varra, San Juan

    A namesake of P. Guevarra Street where it is situated, Varra Restobar offers food lovers new reasons to make Little Baguio in San Juan their next foodie destination.

    Together with my foodie friends, I ventured to Little Baguio in San Juan to check this resto out.

    Getting to the resto is quite easy (it’s already on Waze, peeps!), but finding the entrance may be a challenge. Here’s a tip: go straight to the back of the building (where the car wash is) and climb up the stairs straight to the third floor. And then, you’re there!

    Here’s what you can look forward to:

    One: A chill place to hang out

    The place has a relaxed vibe that is conducive for friendly get-togethers or chillin’ out with your favorite drink and bar chow.

    It has a sprawling dining area with an abundance of power outlets. If ever your gadgets are low on battery, you can easily juice up again without having to leave your table.

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Want to party in style? Reserve the stately Lounge and hold your celebrations for up to 40 pax for Php35,000 (fully consumable).

    Varra, San Juan

    Or you can let loose with the gang in privacy and comfort in the VIP Room for just Php20,000 (fully consumable). Aside from the well-appointed interiors, you and your friends can enjoy your own private comfort room and a buzzer to summon the service team for your requests and orders.

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Two: Mouthwatering comfort food

    Whether you’re after a feast or a snack, Varra offers you a well-curated array of sure-win familiar dishes or fresh twists on the classics.

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    These include:

    Crispy Shrooms (Php130). Deep-fried and crispy oyster and enoki mushrooms that you will want to pop into your mouth again and again.

    Varra, San Juan

    Spam Chips (Php210). Thin slices of spam deep-fried to crisps accompanied by garlic aioli.

    Varra, San Juan

    Messy Fries (Php150). Fries served with beef, lots of cheese and garlic aioli. It’s the kind of mess I certainly wouldn’t mind!

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra’s Nacho Overload (Php350). Crunchy nacho chips doused in cheese sauce and overloaded with beef, tomatoes, onions, peppers and olives. Perfect for munching while chatting with friends.

    Varra, San Juan

    Soy Garlic Chicken Poppers (Php240). Fried chicken balls served with coleslaw, rice and fried egg.

    Varra, San Juan

    Beef Tapa (Php240). A classic breakfast staple, this consist of garlicky marinated beef served with salted egg, salsa, rice and fried egg.

    Varra, San Juan

    Chicken Pesto Marinara (Php380). A tomato-based pasta topped with grilled chicken flavored with pesto sauce.

    Varra, San Juan

    Classic Carbonara (Php290). A creamy iteration of the carbonara loaded with ham pieces and served with poached egg.

    Varra, San Juan

    Wings Basket (Php230). Six pieces of juicy and flavorful fried chicken wings flavored with your choice of sauce – Buffalo, Sou Garlic, Garlic Parmesan, Hickory BBQ, Chili Cheese and Honey Sriracha – that go so well with rice. We got two baskets each of Soy Garlic and Garlic Parmesan.

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra’s Steak Salpicao (Php380). Ooh, this is definitely the star of the show! Tender and flavorful slices of steak sauteed in garlic and oil and served on a sizzling plate.

    Varra, San Juan

    Three: Refreshing drinks

    As you enjoy the tasty viands and bar chow, quench your thirst with Varra’s Signature Cocktails (Php200 each) which include: Blue Cruise (white rum, lemon and triple sec), Rosee el Varra (tequila, sour mix and Hoegaarden Rosee), Varra Mountain (gin, gin de cacao, sour mix and triple sec) and Basil Slush (blended basil leaves, rum, lemonade and sugar).

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    If you don’t feel like imbibing alcohol ot if you’re the group’s designated driver, you can also opt for non-alcholic drinks such as Varra Iced Tea (Php80), Frozen Peach Iced Tea (Php100) and the cranberry and citrus-y Sunset Spritzer (Php130).

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Well, it sure looks like San Juan just got itself a new go-to place for munchies, drinks and chillin’ out!

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Varra, San Juan

    Many thanks to Ms. Lovely Tan and the crew of Varra Restobar for the invitation!

    If you and your gang can’t get enough of wings, take advantage of Varra’s Unli Wings & Rice Promo for only Php359 per person, available from Sundays to Thursdays.

    Varra Restobar is located at 333 P. Guevarra Street, Little Baguio, San Juan, open from Sundays to Thursdays from 6pm to 2am, and Fridays to Saturdays from 6pm to 3am. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 916 5870345.

    Varra Resto Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

    Check out my reviews of other bars and watering holes in the Metro: