City of Dreams Manila opens a VR Zone and Food Park

City of Dreams Manila is changing the landscape of entertainment and dining as it unveils The Garage.The new attraction is a VR Zone and food park that enables guests to delve into the immersive experience of virtual reality entertainment and delight in a wide range of casual dining choices from the carefully curated selection of food and beverage trucks and trailers set in a comfortable, air-conditioned space.

Bandai Namco Amusement from Japan, one of the world’s leading video digital entertainment development companies, provides the virtual reality experience at the VR Zone.

“The Garage is City of Dreams Manila’s latest attraction featuring unique entertainment activities in partnership with Bandai Namco Amusement. With their creativity and cutting-edge technology, we are honored and delighted to partner with them, and together blaze a trail in delivering extraordinary entertainment experiences that go beyond gaming and recreation in the Philippines,” Kevin Benning, City of Dreams Manila’s Chief Operating Officer said.

The virtual reality experience provided by a leader in video digital entertainment development is complemented by quality food and drink choices offered by 10 of the hippest and contemporary food and beverage partners including the resort’s own talented staff. This concept, curated all in one place, makes The Garage a first of its kind in the country — “setting us apart from the rest,” adds Benning.

“Bandai Namco Amusement is honored to partner with luxury integrated resort City of Dreams Manila and bring to this exciting destination our first VR Zone entertainment facility in Southeast Asia. We hope to bring outside of Japan an immersive, multi-sensory and fun activities to Filipinos and foreign guests with our unique VR activities at The Garage,” Kunihisa Yagisita, Bandai Namco’s General Manager stated.

Set in a 2,714-square meter cool and comfortable space located at the upper ground floor, The Garage stands out with its modern industrial interiors catering to a 563-seating capacity. Designed by award-winning Paris-based creative design agency, Malherbe Design in collaboration with Westar Architectural Interior Design, a group known for its strong sensitivity to contemporary design aesthetics, The Garage is further given life and vibrancy with graffiti works of two prominent names in the street art scene: Kookoo Ramos and DeeJae Paeste.

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#graffiti that graces one of the walls of the newly opened #VRZone and #FoodPark @thegarageatcod. It helps set the mood for enjoyment among gamers and foodies. Wanna chance to check out the VR games available for free! Like and tag a friend in the comments under the giveaway posts here and at @sandundermyfeet, @herlculis, @hungryherl and @foodventuresbyfrapao. Be sure to follow all our accounts to qualify! #TheGarageAtCOD #VRZoneCOD #GamesGastroGalore #cityofdreamsmanila #virtualreality #bandai #bandainamco #VRPark #virtualrealitypark #virtualrealitygames #gaming #gamers #mariokart #skirodeo #philippines #itsmorefuninthephilippines #wheninmanila #wimadventures #virtualrealityworld #virtualrealitygames #virtualrealityexperience #virtualrealitygaming #virtualrealityarcade

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Game of a lifetime

The Garage’s VR Zone features a new generation entertainment facility that offers an exhilarating and startling experience with top-of-class VR technology.

One of the exciting activities at the VR Zone is the famed Mario Kart Arcade GP VR, which was developed by Bandai Namco Amusement under license from Nintendo. The three-minute Mario Kart Arcade GP VR enables one to choose to play as one of the characters: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, or Yoshi; step right into the action-packed world of Mario Kart universe; and race until the finish line through a course filled with traps such as giant Piranha Plants and Thwomps or large stone creatures that attempt to crush the players. This highly sought-after game can be played by up to four persons and is open to enthusiasts 13 years old and above.

For those seeking a different kind of thrill, the Hospital Escape Terror, which can be played by up to four participants, is described as a ‘horrifying experience unlike ever before’. This immersive horror room game is open to thrill-seekers ages 13 years old and above. Hospital Escape Terror’s players have the goal to escape and survive altogether the dark, cursed, and abandoned hospital within nine minutes while being restrained on a wheel chair.

The two-minute Ski Rodeo on the other hand, is a steep downhill ski simulator that lets a player ski a vast snowy mountain course with sharp slopes and steep drops at an immense speed with the goal to finish at the fastest time possible or within the allotted time. This heart-dropping game, which can be played in pairs, is open to individuals with a height of 140 cm and up.

Tickets are available on site. Single player ticket price is available at P450 nett; while packages are available for those playing in groups or pairs: P800 nett for two persons playing Ski Rodeo; P1, 200 per person for three activities; and P1, 600 nett for a group of four persons playing Hospital Escape Terror or Mario Kart GP VR.

Gastronomic Galore

Going hand in hand with the one-of-a-kind entertainment experience, The Garage’s VR Zone is offering a selection of 10 food and beverage trucks and trailers: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, Katsu Sora, Pink’s Hotdog, Little Flour, El Chupacabra, Pizza Grigliata, Farmacy, Chocol8, The Roaster and Juiced. The casual dining experience is also enhanced with the sustainability drive of City of Dreams Manila: only eco-friendly, biodegradable and compostable plates, utensils and take-out bags are used at The Garage.

Hailing from Japan, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka’s well-loved ramen is characterized by its mild, pearl-colored Tonkotsu soup which is carefully prepared by taking the time to simmer the pork bones before adding vegetables, dried fish, kelp and other special ingredients. This exceptional soup with thin-noodle ramen, and perfectly topped with mouthwatering slices of Char-siu pork and pickled plums is meant to be savored to the last spoonful.

Another food truck specializing in Japanese cuisine is Katsu Sora. A household name in the metro for good tonkatsu or Japanese deep-fried pork cutlet, Katsu Sora’s  secret to their naturally tender, marbled, and flavorful tonkatsu is the use of only premium pork meat. The restaurant is known for serving dishes that use four kinds of world-class pork that are of the highest quality: Iberico, Kurobuta, Shimofuri, and Sakura. Their Iberico and Kurobuta Tonkatsu sets are served with their famed Juugokokumai rice, a premium rice blend that includes white rice, corn, barley, millet, sesame seeds, and black beans.

Los Angeles’ most popular hot dog stand, Pink’s Hot Dogs has been hailed by multiple publications as the number one hot dog in America. A staple in Hollywood since 1939, their lip-smacking hot dogs especially the iconic “The Hollywood Legend,” which is a medley of Pink’s eponymous hotdogs with chili, cheddar cheese, mustard, and chopped onions, are sought after by everyone. This legend continues in Manila since opening their first store in 2016, and is offered together with other American favorites such as burgers, fries, nachos, and more.

Little Flour Café by the highly successful Wildflour Café + Bakery, is known for its well-loved and locally-inspired Filipino rice bowls, delicacies and grilled items.

El Chupacabra is a casual street taco bar serving a delectable array of Mexican-influenced dishes for lunch and dinner, as well as uniquely tweaked versions of popular local plates. Apart from Mexican-style street tacos, El Chupacabra is also known for burritos, enchiladas, and grilled chicken sticks.

Pizza Grigliata serves nothing but hot, freshly-made artisanal pizza to deliver a different kind of pizza experience that stands out from the rest. Uniquely prepared, Pizza Grigliata’s pizzas are handmade from scratch everyday using thin crust dough topped with the freshest ingredients which are torched and grilled.

Farmacy takes us back to the time of classic turn-of-the-century ice cream parlors. Satisfying the sweet tooth of guests, Farmacy is known for serving fresh homemade ice cream “the right way,” and for serving an extensive array of comforting treats such as milkshakes, sodas, coffee, and pastries.

Alongside the well-curated food and beverage outlets at The Garage are City of Dreams Manila’s own exceptional outlets: Chocol8, Juiced and The Roaster.

Chocol8 features handcrafted chocolates in a number of shapes and forms, and are enhanced with special ingredients such as fruits, nuts, and spices.

For those into healthy concoctions, Juiced offers a variety of freshly squeezed smoothies, slushies, and juices daily; while The Roaster is the go-to outlet for an array of gourmet coffee creations made from freshly roasted Philippine beans. In keeping with the resort’s sustainability campaign, the beans are sourced from coffee growers and farmers in various communities supported by the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc.

The Detox, Smoothies, and Sluhes

The bar at The Garage offers a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for guests to pair their choice of food from the trucks and trailers.

JASMINE RED SIGNATURE ICED TEA

The Garage is open daily from 10 AM to 2 AM. For more information, call (+63 2) 800-8080 or email guestservices@cod-manila.com or visit www.cityofdreamsmanila.com.

Details provided by The Garage in a recent press release.

Dessert stopover at Gelato Lab, Tomas Morato

Gelato is ice cream made in the Italian style.

Some trace its origins to Bernardo Buontalenti, an inventor in the service of the Medicis in Florence during the Renaissance era, as a by-product of his innovations in ice conservation.

Today, gelato has spread to the most parts of the world. In the Philippines, for example, it offers people some cool respite from the heat and humidity. It also has a slightly warmer serving temperature than regular ice cream which enables it to hold well in the country’s tropical weather and allows it to have a softer yet denser texture.

Tucked inside the Picnic Grounds of Elements Hall along Scout Rallos Street in the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato area is Gelato Lab. It offers all-natural hand-crafted gelato made with high quality ingredients. To maintain the freshness of its gelato, each flavor is churned in small batches.

My daughter #ExhibitA and I decided to stopover this dessert station on our way home from a nearby bar. The call of the sweet gelato treats was just too strong!

Gelato Lab, Tomas Morato

Gelato Lab, Tomas Morato

Gelato Lab, Tomas Morato

I got myself a cup of the Dark Chocolate gelato (a regular flavor hence priced at Php100/cup | Php360/pint | Php740/tub). #ExhibitA, on the other hand got a cup of Cookie Dough gelato (a premium flavor hence priced at Php120/cup | Php400/pint | Php840/tub).

Gelato Lab, Tomas Morato

Gelato Lab, Tomas Morato

Both flavors are sinfully yummy and well worth the short side trip. 🙂

Gelato Lab is located at the Picnic Grounds, 2nd Floor Elements Hall, 27 Scout Rallos Street, Bgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City. For queries, call +63 2 4138008 or email gelatolabph@gmail.com.

Did you know you can serve Gelato Lab’s treats in your next party? For Php9,000, you can have a Gelato Lab scooping station that will give out 120 cups of gelato. This package already includes the freezer, cups, spoons and paper napkins, and one server. Your guests will be able to choose from 3 regular flavors (or you can upgrade to premium flavors for an additional Php400/flavor). For additional 20 cups of regular flavor gelato, pay Php1,300 while for additional 20 cups premium flavor gelato, pay Php1,500.

Gelato Lab’s regular flavors include: Banoffee, Black Sesame, Caramel Popcorn, Cashew, Coffee Straciatella, Custaroon, Dark Chocolate, Earl Grey, Latter Macchiato, Leche Flan, Mango Pudding, Milo Dinosaur, Oreo Cheesecake, Sea Salt Caramel, Snickers, Thai Milk Tea, Ube and Vanilla Bean.

Its premium flavors, on the other hand, include: Baileys Irish Cream, Cookie Dough, Jack Daniels Whiskey, Maltesers, Macha Choco Chip, Mochacchino, Pina Colada Sorbet, Pistachio, Rum Raisin, Strawberry and Tiramisu.

Gelato Lab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yummy ice cream break at Cold Stone Creamery, BGC

Rain or shine, weekend lunches while out with my kiddies are some of the most fun experiences ever. Oftentimes, after feasting in our favorite haunts in Bonifacio Global City – Saboten being one of them – we want to prolong the family bonding time by enjoying some yummy dessert.

Good thing there’s a Cold Stone Creamery Parlor nearby. The store is known for its ice cream, freshly made right in the store and churned on frozen granite stone (hence the name) together your choice of add-ons like nuts, fruits, candy and cake bits.

Being chocoholics, my son and I split a cup of Chocolate Ice Cream topped with chocolate chips.  My daughter, on the other hand, chose a cup of French Vanilla Ice Cream topped with crushed graham crackers.

Cold Stone Creamery BGC

Cold Stone Creamery BGC

The ice cream had a rich and premium texture and taste which made the hefty price tag of Php158 per cup seem kinda worth it.

This Cold Stone Creamery outlet is located at Ground Floor, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.  Other outlets can be found at:

  • Second Floor, Main Building, SM City North EDSA, Bago Bantay, Quezon City
  • Ground Floor, Main Mall, Mall of Asia Complex (MOA), Pasay City
  • SM By The Bay, Seaside Boulevard, Mall of Asia Complex (MOA), Pasay City
  • Ground Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
  • Corte de Las Palmas, AlabangTown Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  • Level 4, Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas, Quezon City
  • Upper Ground Floor, Building A, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
  • Ground Floor, Trinoma Mall, Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City
  • Level 2 , Greenbelt 3, Greenbelt, Makati City
  • Evia Lifestyle Center, Daang Hari Road, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  • Second Floor, Ayala Malls Serin, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road, Tagaytay City

Cold Stone Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This post contains affiliate links.

Want to make ice cream at home? Check out these ice cream makers available on Amazon.com!

Nostalgia ICMP400WD 4-Quart Electric Wood Bucket Ice Cream Maker. I like its combination of old-fashioned look and modern convenience.

Cuisinart ICE-21 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream Maker (White). This one has clean lines that will look good in most modern kitchens.

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Happiness Overload at Hanamaruken, Trinoma

I have been going through my #ramenphase for quite a while now.  I seek out ramen joints in the hopes of tasting rich creamy broth, firm noodles and flavorful melt-in-your-mouth meat.  The ramen that started this phase is actually the Signature Happiness Ramen I tasted during a Zomato Foodie Meetup at Hanamaruken, Ugong a year ago.  (Check out my Zomato review here.)

Since then, I have been converted to a Ramen Girl.  While I have gone around various ramen shops along my usual haunts in Pasig, Marikina and Quezon City, my thoughts would always go back to the ramen that started it all: the ramen that I measure all other ramen I tasted since against.

Imagine my absolute delight when one fine Friday, after a long and grueling meeting that extended to lunch time, my boss agreed to have a happy lunch with me and my work buddies at Hanamaruken in Trinoma.  And oh, what a happy lunch it was!

Our group of four divided among ourselves:

  • 2 bowls of Signature Happiness Ramen (Php580 each)
  • 1 order of Gyoza (Php240)
  • Initially 1 order of Chocolate Lava Cake with Ice Cream (Php180) but it was sooooo gooood that we ordered another one!

The Signature Happiness Ramen lived up to its legend in my mind.  One bowl was hearty and more than enough to satisfy two hungry and stressed office workers.  The gyoza was also flavorful and whet our appetite for the ramen while the lava cake with ice cream was a decadent cap to the meal.

I look forward to embracing this kind of happiness again when I eat at other Hanamaruken outlets.

This Hanamaruken branch is located at Second Floor, Trinoma Mall, Bagong Pag-Asa, Quezon City (call 02 7209283 for reservations).  Other branches are located at:

  • The Grove By Rockwell, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City (tel: 02 695 3643)
  • Second Floor, Alabang Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City (tel: 02 869 9857)
  • Hole in the Wall, Fourth Floor, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City

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

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.

Bingsu treat at Jang Da Bang Cafe

Despite the spate of relatively balmy weather these last few days, there’s no denying that summer is already here.

And with the hot summer days, icy snacks like bingsu are a godsend.

I discovered Jang Da Bang Cafe during one of my Korean Food adventures at my favorite Korean resto, Jang Ga Nae, with my daughter – slash – partner-in-crime. After indulging ourselves in our favorite Korean dishes, some of which were quite spicy, we decided to try out the cafe right next door for dessert.We were happy to discover that Jang Da Bang has the same owner as Jang Ga Nae (as if the similarity in their names was not a dead giveaway, duh!). In fact, in our subsequent visits, the family developed the habit of ordering our preferred bingsu dessert at Jang Ga Nae (included in our bill), then hopping over to Jang Da Bang where our freshly made bingsu will be waiting for us.

While Jang Ga Nae’s interiors have the quintessential Korean grill resto look and feel, Jang Da Bang has a brighter and more airy ambiance. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in a lot of natural light that brings out the pops of color in the displayed artwork and plants. It has a more relaxed atmosphere compared to its sister-store, making it an ideal place for hanging out.

We have sampled its two fruity bingsu offerings: mango and strawberry. Both have finely shaved ice flavored with condensed milk and accompanied by cornflakes for texture and red bean paste for added sweetness. A regular-sized order of either is good for sharing among three: myself and my two kids who apparently inherited their “sweet tooth” from me.

Our preference is the mango bingsu (Php199 for regular). Aside from cubes of sweet ripe mango, it also has bits of peaches, pears, nata de coco and the occasional cherry from – standard can of fruit cocktail, and is topped with vanilla ice cream.

The strawberry bingsu (Php205 for regular) on the other hand, suffers in comparison to the other variant only because the tartness of the strawberry bits is not adequately countered by the sweetness of the strawberry ice cream topping.

Going here for dessert after our Korean lunch has become a weekly family habit which will likely continue on for quite some time.

Jang Da Bang is located right across Jang Ga Nae at 8137 Plaza Ortigas, Jose Escriva Drive, Ortigas, Pasig City (behind the University of Asia and the Pacific).

Jang DaBang by Jang Ga Nae Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carnevores satisfied at Number 1 Barbecues, SM East Ortigas

Number 1 Barbecues is a recently-opened restaurant in SM City East Ortigas.  Because of its Unli-Rice promo, it was always full of people for its first few months that my family was only able to eat there last December in time for my son’s birthday lunch.

Interestingly, Number 1 Barbecues offers a range of dishes from different cuisines including Filipino, American, Japanese and Mediterranean, so there would be something for everyone. Its’ relatively cheaper pricing and free unli-rice offer makes it a great venue for group and family meals.

We ordered the following:

  • Lechon Belly (Php109)
  • 12-Hour US Smoked Beef (Php129 + Php50 for extra smoked beef) – served with mashed potato and coleslaw
  • 12-Hour Smoked Pork Belly (Php119 +Php40 for extra pork belly) – served with mashed potato and coleslaw
  • 5 pcs Shrimp Tempura (Php149)
  • Kani BBQ Bacon (Php99)
  • Chocolate Cake ala Mode, Chocolate Mouse and Creme Brulee (Php39 each)

The meats are tender and well-seasoned but the servings are quite small so it’s a good thing we ordered extra servings of the smoked beef and pork belly, satiating our group of carnevores.  The desserts are adequate bookends to the meal.

Number 1 Barbecues is located at Ground Floor, SM City East Ortigas, along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City.

Number 1 Barbecues Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet indulgence at Baskin Robbins

The home of the famous 31 flavors opened in SM City East Ortigas, serving classic ice cream flavors and more to us East of Manila folks.

Founded in 1945 by brothers-in-law Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins by merging their own ice cream parlors in Glendale, California, Baskin Robbins now claims to be the largest chain of ice cream specialty stores in the world.  Its slogan “31 flavors” highlights the its proposition that their customers do have the option to sample a different ice cream flavor every day of the month.

After dinner and while waiting for the last screening of Justice League, Hubby, my daughter and I decided to get our just desserts at this ice cream shop.  What sold the place to us was the available seating located under the stairs beside the free-standing stall (great use of what would have been wasted space). Hubby and the daughter went for the more classic flavors: Chocolate in a cup and Vanilla in a Chocolate Cone, respectively.

I went for one of the BR Flavors: Maui Brownie Madness.  It’s composed of chocolate frozen yogurt littered with pieces of macademia nuts and chunks of rich chocolate brownies.  I even added a topping of chopped almonds.  The confection was smooth and creamy which made a nice contrast the bits of brownies, macademia nuts and almonds.

This branch of Baskin Robbins is located at the Ground Floor of SM East Ortigas, along Ortigas Avenue Extension, Pasig City.

More details about Baskin Robbins:

Baskin Robbins Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fresh, huge and great burgers at Zark’s

There are days when you just want to forget about greens and calorie counting (which to me is everyday) and sink your teeth into some sinful, hearty and greasy burgers.  These are times when a visit to this burger joint comes in.

Zark’s Burgers was named after its owner, Zark Espina Varona, a burger fan himself who put up his first store near De La Salle University along Taft Avenue in 2009 (all the better to cater to those hungry students, I guess), with the mission of offering burgers that are “FRESH. HUGE. GREAT.”  The chain has since grown to 29 stores with branches in Metro Manila, Laguna, Batangas, Cebu, Iloilo and Bacolod.

When my hubby and I craved for sinful burgers, we visited the branch in SM East Ortigas and treated ourselves to:

  • Chicken Fingers and Fries (Php159) for sharing
  • The Zark’s Classic Cheeseburger (Php109 + Php40 for fries and drink) for me.
  • The Zark’s Ultimate Burger (Php149 + Php40 for fried and drink) for hubby. It’s composed of a quarter-pounder burger with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, cheese sauce and, of course, bacon
  • Snickers Ala Mode (Php149) for sharing.  It’s a Snickers bar dipped in batter, deep-fried and served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup

In a later visit, I even tried out the heart-healthy (not! But YOLO – Uh-oh!) Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Burger (Php279), a burger completely wrapped in bacon strips, then deep-fried, giving it a crispy crust that gives way to a juicy burger as you bite into it. I didn’t even need the Mamba sauce that came with it.

This Zark’s Burgers branch is located at 2nd Floor, SM City East Ortigas, along Ortigas Avenue Extension in Pasig City.

More info at:

Zark's Burgers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato