Bench Cafe opens newest branch in Trinoma

The clothing brand Bench has been around for as long as I can remember. One of the “proudly Filipino” enterprise success stories, it has been a major player in local fashion and has even expanded its sphere of influence to that of a lifestyle brand with its personal care producrs, skin care services and hair salons.

It even ventured into the food business, notably with the opening of the first branch of its eponymous restaurant Bench Cafe last year.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Fast forward to today and Bench Cafe has already opened its fifth branch at Trinoma Mall in Quezon City. Such speedy growth is proof that its concept of combining traditional and modern takes on Filipino food works and has found its place in Metro Manila’s highly competitive food scene.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

The cafe held a special preview for bloggers the day before its Grand Opening. Together with my fellow foodies from #WeLoveToEatPH, I got a taste of how Bench Cafe’s Chef Carlo Miguel melds local flavors together and updates classic Pinoy favorites such as:

Binagoongan Ceasar (Php149). Romaine lettuce with dilis and croutons tossed in a creamy dressing made with bagoong (shrimp paste) and queso de bola.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Tinapa Cones (Php129). Homemade lumpia wrappers formed into crispy cones and filled with tinapa (smoked fish) mousse and salsa.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Gising Gising (Php195). A spicy dish of chopped beans cooked in coconut milk and chilis.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Sisig Skillet (Php249). Pork cheeks and belly cooked in two ways and served topped with calamansi foam.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Fried Chicken (Php480). Whole spring chicken fried to a golden brown with crispy flavorful skin and juicy meat served with a honey patis sauce.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Dancing Fish (Php400). Crispy butterfly tilapia doused in escabeche sauce.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Pancit Guisado (Php239). Stir-fried noodles with shrimp, meat and chopped vegetables.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Silogs (from sinangag or “garlic rice” and itlog “egg”) are breakfast staples for many Filipinos. Bench Cafe serves these with garlic rice, fried egg and homemade atsara. The silog variation we’ve tasted here is the Tendon Silog (Php199) made with melt-in-your-mouth beef tendon in pares sauce.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bongalmusal (Php349). If you’re ever at a loss on what to have for brekkie, this hyped-up silog meal serves up everything you could want! Spam, US beef tapa, tocino, daing (dried fish) and corned beef. Best of all, this dish is good for two so do share it with someone special.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe also introduced Bench-Tos which are glamourized takes on the fare available at a Pinoy turo-turo. This small roadside eatery is where diners point out the food they want and a serving is placed on their plates. Bench Cafe updates this concept by merging it with the Japanese bento – the chosen viand is served on a tray along with vegetables, homemade salsa and atsara as well as steamed Ifugao rice. Variations of this offering that we tasted include the Bagnet Kare Kare (Php339) which has a rich peanutty sauce that has no need for bagoong to have flavor, and the Inasal Liempo (Php299) which is Bench Cafe’s take on the Visayan grilled pork belly.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

To cap out meal, Bench Cafe serves up its own takes on dessert classics with the smooth and creamy leche flan it dubbed Flan B (Php185) topped with macapuno and Classic Turon ala Mode (Php49).

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench also applied its own twists on the popular dessert called Halo-Halo, which consists of sweetened fruits and other fixings topped with shaved ice and served with milk. Its variations include White (Php85 for 12oz | Php129 for 16oz) made with coconut shaved ice with garbanzos, caramelized banana, leche flan, nata de coco and coconut ice cream; Mango Otap (Php90 for 12oz | Php109 for 16oz), mango shaved ice with crushed otap, mango puree, cream and fresh mango cubes; Ube (Php95 for 12oz | Php149 for 16oz), ube halaya and palm beans added to the White Halo Halo; and Mais con Hielo (Php60 for 12oz | Php100 for 16oz), corn- flavored shaved ice with milk and kernels of sweetcorn.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

I had a great time discovering fresh ways to enjoy the food that I grew up with at Bench Cafe.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Many thanks to the management and staff of Bench Cafe for having us and to EJ of #ILoveToEatPH for extending the invitation.

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

Bench Cafe, Trinoma

This Bench Cafe branch is located at Ground Floor, MRT Wing, Trinoma Mall, Bagong Pagasa, Quezon City, open daily from 10am to 9pm.

Other branches are located at:

  • Second Floor, Bench Flagship Store, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Level 2, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
  • Ground Floor, Padre Faura Wing, Robinsons Place Manila, Ermita, Manila

Bench Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I attended a foodie meetup held here wherein food and drink items were served to allow us to sample the fare. These were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Buy One Dish, Get One at 50% Off at Tres

From ‪August 13-16‬, buy 1 dish and get another at 50 per cent off at Tres located on the 2nd Level, The Annex, SM North EDSA and along Rufino Street corner Ayala Avenue, Salcedo Village, Makati.

The offer includes all the menu items and is available all day everyday from ‪August 13-16‬ only. The discounted dish must be equal or of a lesser value than the 1st dish. Only 1 redemption is allowed per single transaction. No minimum purchase is required. The offer is good only for dine in and cannot be used with other existing promos, discount and gift check.

Tres Promo

Tres is home to good old home Filipino cooking serving the original dishes and those inspired by the late culinary figure Chef Ed Quimzon.

Some of the bestsellers include Kare-Kare-Kare served 4 ways – Classic Beef with flank steak and tripe; Seafood with prawns, squid, fish, shellfish, and clams; Crispy Beef Tadyang, Crispy Pata and Crispy which is a combination of chuck, flank steak, and tripe. The Kare-Kare-Kare Platter is a big order of beef ribs, pork knuckles, prawns and vegetables.

TRES coined the term Kare-Kare-Kare because they give you extra sauce to pour, peanuts to top, and the original TRES bagoong as an accompaniment.

The TRES Crispy Pata is another bestseller. It is soaked in a secret marinade and fried twice for that double delicious crispy crackling goodness. The meat is tender and steeped with flavor. It is served with thinly sliced sweet potato crisps and a sweet and spicy soy sauce and vinegar dip.

Binagoongang Lechon Kawali combines the crispiness of lechon and the spiciness of the Bicol Express sauce. Sizzling Crispy Beef Tadyang is simmered in soy sauce with garlic, onion, laurel leaf and pepper.

For dishes with Spanish and English influence, there is Lengua con Setas, Hickory Baby Back Ribs and Lamb Adobo. Roast Iberian Chicken is the Spanish version of the more familiar roast chicken but this time, the whole chicken is slow roasted in olive oil and spices. There is also Gambas Al Ajillo with fresh prawns sautéed in garlic, green peppers and olive oil. Classic Beef Salpicao is beef tenderloin sautéed in olive oil, chili, roasted minced garlic and then grilled to coax the natural sweet flavor of the meat to come out.

If you are looking for hot delicious soup, there is Beef Bulalo, slow cooked beef marrow until its almost fall-off the bone tender and made more flavorful with corn, green beans, cabbage and potatoes.

The Sinigang comes in 4 variants. Sinigang na Salmon sa Miso, Sinigang na Spareribs, Sinigang na Bangus and Sinigang na Hipon.

There is more. Sugpo at Aligue is fresh prawns sautéed in crab roe, garlic and chili. TRES Bagnet Sampler comes with 3 slices each of Classic, Kare-Kare-Kare and Mantecado with matching sauces. Sizzling Adobo Belly, Lumpiang Shanghai, Bangus ala Pobre, Calamares, Crispy Tilapia, Crispy Ginataang Hito are some of the other choices.

For vegetable dishes, the Gising-Gising is a crowd favorite with ground pork sautéed with Baguio beans, chili and coconut milk. You decide if you want it real spicy. Pinakbet is more decadent with Bagnet, Ampalaya Ensalada has no bitter taste with crispy dried shrimp and a light dressing. Ensaladang Talong, Laing and Monggo round up the choices.

Of course a Filipino table will not be complete without rice. There is the standard Pandan Rice with an aromatic smell, Kalkag Rice with crispy dried shrimp and Lechon Rice with crispy lechon skin and sauce.

There is Halo-Halo that is super thick and creamy and overflowing with macapuno, beans, milk, leche flan, ube and grated ice. For more desserts, try the Ube Macapuno Royale Cake Chocolate Lava Cake, Leche Flan, Biko and Banana-Ube Turon.

For reservations, catering and other inquiries, visit TRES on the 2nd floor, The Annex, SM City North EDSA or call ‪352-7032‬ or ‪0917-529-0837‬; and TRES on the ground floor of Keyland Ayala SLC Building, Rufino near the corner of Ayala Avenue, Salcedo Village, Makati or call ‪0927-791-5489‬. You may also visit facebook.com/trescuisineph.

Say hello to a great summer with Ombu Kusina’s Flavored Ice Halo-Halo

Summers are for great times with great food, and spent with great friends.

Together with my fellow foodies, I experienced what certainly seems to be the start of a great summer.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

In a recent Foodie Event hosted by Ombu Kusina, it launched its newest and coolest offerings: three new scrumptious halo-halo flavors!

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

The halo-halo is a favorite Pinoy dessert made of crushed ice, evaporated milk and other sweet ingredients such as nata de coco, beans and coconut strips, served layered on top of each other, but then mixed together so that each spoonful is a mixture of sweet ingredients and the crushed ice. Ombu does its own take on this classic icy treat, with three flavors, available only during the summer, at only Php160 each. These include:

Milk Tea. The milk tea craze has surely hit the country and how! Now this exotic drink which originated from Taiwan flavors the Pinoy halo-halo through the use of brewed Earl Grey black tea.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Mango. Fresh ripe mango are pureed, mixed with milk then frozen to create mango-flavored crushed ice, served with the usual halo-halo ingredients and toppped with succulent mango cubes.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Tres Leches. As the name implies, the crushed ice is flavored with three kinds of milk and topped with creamy leche flan. This is my favorite among the new halo-halo variants.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu’s Chef Griffin Oraiz explained that what sets Ombu’s halo-halo treats apart from similar offerings from other restaurants is the use of flavored ice: the flavors are infused into the ice, resulting to a more intense taste and creamier mouthfeel.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu also showcased some its signature dishes which are well-suited for the summer, such as:

Suzi Wong Sandwich (Php270). A three-layered sandwich made of ham, cheese and pickles between four slices of butter-toasted crusted bread and served with house-made deep-fried purple camote chips.

Ombu, Tomas Morato

Tinapa Croquettes (Php240). Tinapa (smoked milkfish) is combined with a creamy bechamel sauce and sauteed onions, then coated with breadcrumbs, deep-fried to a crisp golden brown and served with a house-blend special garlic mayo dip.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Three-Cheese Pizza (Php420). Mozzarella and cheddar cheeses are combined with the local kesong puti, a home-grown cheese made of carabao’s milk, on top of a crisp oven-baked pizza crust.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Tokwa’t Baboy (Php260). Tokwa (tofu) are cut into cubes, fried and served with hearty pork chunks in a house-blended spicy soy vinegar sauce. This is actually a great complement and a traditional companion to the next dish which is the…

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Arroz Caldo (Php130). The traditional Pinoy version of rice porridge with chicken pieces, it is highlighted by the use of cured, soft-boiled “ramen-style” eggs that adds a different dimension of flavor to the Pinoy merienda staple.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

These dishes and the seasonal halo-halo flavors all adhere to Ombu Kusina’s modern take on Filipino cuisine: infusing classic Pinoy dishes with new and exciting cooking styles and influences. These help to make Pinoy cuisine fresher and more relevant to a growing number of foodies, who are looking for their next food adventure.

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

Ombu Kusina, Tomas Morato

And if that isn’t reason enough for you to hie on over to Ombu for a taste of its innovative and flavorful dishes, how about this: use my code – VIPBeingJellybeans – when you dine in and get 10% off your food bill!

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Ombu Kusina is located at the Ground Floor, Sequioa Hotel, Mother Ignacia corner Timog Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City, open daily from 6.30am to 10.30am. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 441179.

Read my review of a previous visit to Ombu Kusina here.

Ombu Kusina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I was invited to join a foodie meetup held at this restaurant. Food items mentioned 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:

A quick merienda at Razon’s, SM East Ortigas

After a bout of errands at SM East Ortigas, we decided to have merienda here. (Note: For some reason, getting a table at the burger joint at the next stall was taking too long despite the empty seats. Go figure.)

We ordered items that Razon’s of Guagua is famous for: Halo-Halo (Php85 for the junior size) and Pancit Luglog (Php118 for the single size).  The halo-halo is notable for its simplicity: just the sweetened saba bananas, macapuno and leche flan, all flavors that we grew up with as our household pahimagas (dessert).  As for the pancit, I found its portion size too small given its price.

Razons, SM East Ortigas

Razons, SM East Ortigas

Fortunately, we also ordered Dinuguan with Puto (Php170) and Pritong Lumpiang Toge (Php35) so we were at least able to sate our hunger.

Razons, SM East Ortigas

Food took quite a while getting to our table, and, while the service staff were accommodating, there were no efforts to anticipate our needs or queries.

All in all, other than the halo-halo, there is no compelling reason to return here.

Razon's of Guagua Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

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Bingsu treat at Hobing Korean Dessert, BGC Stopover

Bingsu treats have grown in popularity in the metro, especially now with the searing summer heat.  Bingsu is a Korean dessert characterized by shaved ice sweetened with condensed milk and topped with fresh fruits, yogurt, ice cream and bits of yummy baked goods.

While the fam is exploring options for lunch in Bonifacio Global City during a particularly hot summer day, we came across this branch of Hobing Korean Dessert and couldn’t resist having our dessert here.  After eating our lunch at nearby Tenya Tempura Tendon, and, eager for something cool and sweet to counter the hot and humid weather, we proceeded Hobing.

Despite being billed as the Korean halo-halo, bingsu is best enjoyed when the shaved ice and toppings are not all mixed together.  This allows you to enjoy the varying textures and flavors that went into the bingsu.

We ordered a large serving of Mango Cheese Bingsu (Php320), thinking that a regular serving will not satisfy all of us.  What we got was a delectable and prettily presented confection: finely shaved ice  flavored with mango syrup, surrounded by huge cubes of ripe mango and topped with rich New York Cheesecake bits, vanilla ice cream and slices of roasted almonds.

We are definitely eager to try Hobing’s other bingsu offerings soon.

This branch of Hobing Korean Dessert is located at the 3rd Floor of BGC Stopover Pavilion, Rizal Drive cor 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City. Other branches of Hobing Korean Dessert are located at:

  • Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo
  • SM Megamall in Mandaluyong
  • Glorietta 4 in Makati
  • Jupiter Street in Makati
  • Eastwood City Walk in Quezon City
  • SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Ayala Malls the 30th in Ortigas Center, Pasig
  • SM North in Quezon City
  • Banawe Lifestyle Center in Quezon City
  • SM City Marikina in Marikina City
  • U.P Town Center in Quezon City
  • SM San Lazaro in Manila
  • Ayala Fairview Terrace, Fairview Quezon City

Check out my rundown of bingsu treats in the metro.

Hobing Korean Dessert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato