Four reasons why Sammy’s in Cainta is a hidden gem worth uncovering

The areas east of Manila are home to many noteworthy restaurants that satisfy the discerning foodie’s need for great food and beautiful surroundings.

Sammy’s, the rustic restaurant tucked away in one of the inner subdivisions in Valley Golf, Cainta, has a lot more going for it.

Curious yet? Read on to discover four reasons why this hidden gem should be brought out to the light of day for everyone to enjoy.

One: The warm welcome.

Sammy’s is located in a fairly hidden street in the Valley View Executive Subdivision, one of the residential villages inside Valley Golf in Cainta, Rizal. Together with my foodie friends from #WeLoveToEatPH and #SaanSaPH, I was able to locate the place thanks to Google Maps and to the cute signboard made of corrugated steel that hangs outside the gate.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

When the gate opened, we were greeted by the smiling Chef Sammy Isidro and his lovely wife Dorothy. And boy, do they have a lot of fun stories to tell! (But more on that later.)

Two: The beautiful place.

The restaurant is actually located at the second floor of their house. A high ceiling decorated by hanging Edison lamps and large windows that let in lots of natural light give the room an open and airy feel. While the area is just big enough to seat twenty to twenty-four people, the layout makes it seem much bigger.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Adding character to the place is its decor which is a cross between rustic and industrial. Polished pine wood tables and woven hemp place mats complement the black and white ceramic ware and clear glassware. Clocks made of bike parts adorn one wall, while a light fixture made of pipes accent another.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Even the washroom is visually appealing: check out that kawali sink!

And the lush greenery from the trees outside provide a verdant backdrop for all of these elements, and, of course, the delicious dishes that Chef Sammy whips up in the kitchen.

Three: The delicious Indonesian-inspired food.

Sammy’s serves a carefully thought-out curation of Asian cuisine influenced, no doubt, by the seventeen years the couple spent in Jakarta. (Doing what there? Again, more on that later, I promise!)

Sammy’s, Cainta

We were served these delectable dishes:

Sammy’s Breakfast (Php390). This big-enough-for-two meal consists of Chef Sammy’s favorite breakfast meal items which include Pinoy classics such as beef tapa, tocino, longganisa and danggit, accompanied by garlic fried rice and omelet.

Sammy’s, Cainta

5-Hour Pork Belly in two ways…

With Laing and White Rice (Php290). A lean piece of pork belly is roasted at low temperature for five hours to achieve a tender texture and a smokey flavor. It is placed on a bed of homemade laing, the Bicolano staple made of taro leaves accompanied by steamed rice.

Sammy’s, Cainta

In a Cubano Sandwich with Kamote Fries (Php250). Showcasing the versatility 5-hour pork belly, Chef Sammy uses it in a hearty Cubano sandwich together with pickles, cheese and a tart sauce in a crisp Cubano bread with kamote (sweet potato) fries on the side.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Konro with White Rice (Php530). In this Indonesian version of braised beef, big chunks of flavorful ribs are slow-cooked for hours in its own drippings, thereby concentrating its flavor. By the way, this giant serving is also big enough for two.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Nasi Goreng (Php190). In this Indonesian take on the fried rice, precooked rice is flavored with kecap manis (a sweet kind of soy sauce), shallots, garlic, shrimp paste and tamarind, and made heartier with the addition of juicy pieces of chicken satay on skewers and krupuk crackers.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Mango Crepes with Vanilla Sauce (Php160). Chef Sammy first tasted this dessert when he was a waiter at La Scala years ago and his fond memories of it drove him to include it in the menu of his own restaurant.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Banana Bread French Toast (Php140). Slices of homemade banana loaf are dipped in a rich egg mixture then lightly toasted, making this dessert extra decadent.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Martabak Manis. This thick pancake dish popular in Indonesia is filled chocolate sprinkle, crushed peanuts, cheese and condensed milk. It’s not yet on the menu but given our enthusiastic reaction to it, it definitely should be.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Fresh Fruit Shakes: Ripe Mango Shake (Php140) and Banana Milk Shake (Php130).

Sammy’s, Cainta

Hot Bicolano Tabrilla Chocolate (Php65). This cup of decadently thick hot chocolate made from single-origin tabrilla from Bicol is perfect for lazy Sunday mornings when you just want to luxuriate in its sweet comfort… or any other time, really.

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Four: The singing chef… and his wife!

And now for the low-down: Chef Sammy and Dorothy spent seventeen years as singers in the Hotel Mulia Senayan Jakarta, where they exemplified the musical prowess of Pinoys to the hotel’s international clientele.

In between his singing gigs, Sammy achieved his Diploma 1 at the Jakarta Culinary Center.

Now that they have their own establishment back home, Chef Sammy and Dorothy still break out into song from time to time, but mostly as an extra treat for their dinner guests after dessert has been served.

Imagine a Valentine’s Day date, an intimate proposal or an anniversary celebration with these two singing in the background. (Kilig time ahead!) 😍😍😍

So given all these reasons, I think it’s high time that Sammy’s become a prime destination for foodies, and not just for those living east of Manila. Don’t you agree?

Thanks to Chef Sammy and Dorothy for an awesome dining experience for me and my foodie buddies!

Sammy’s Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s, Cainta

Sammy’s is located at 14 Raspberry Bend Street, Valley View Executive Subdivision Phase 3, San Juan, Cainta. The restaurant is open Tuesdays to Saturdays for breakfast from 7am to 11.30am and for dinner from 7pm to 10.30pm, and on Sundays for breakfast from 7am to 11.30am.

Seating is strictly by reservation so call +63 939 1483960 to book your table.

Sammy's 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 blog posts on breakfast joints around the metro:

Japanese-Korean Buffet at Firefly Roofdeck, Poblacion

Dining at a roofdeck restaurant affords you a spectacular view to enjoy together with your meal.  Aside from the stunning vista of city lights, you also get to enjoy cool, clean and calming breezes far removed from the busy streets below.

Despite my acrophobia, I have a special affinity for roofdecks: I guess the peace and relaxation I experience when situated far above my normal concerns outweigh my chronic fear of heights.

This is why I was excited when Zomato invited me to a foodie meetup at Firefly Roofdeck.

Located at the 32nd Floor of City Garden Grand Hotel in Makati, Firefly Roofdeck provides a chill ambiance in which you can relax and while away the workday’s stresses.  The resto’s ceilings, spacious dining area and al fresco setup give you an expansive background for your get-together with friends or solo chill-out drinks while waiting for Makati rush hour traffic jams to abate.

Firefly Roofdeck’s view of the Makati skyline is quite simply breath-taking.  Especially during evenings, you will see a wide expanse of blue-black sky awashed with pin-points of colorful lights and skyscrapers jutting upward.

Firefly Roofdeck recently launched its Japanese-Korean buffet, coincidentally, two of my favorite cuisines.  It boasts of an extensive menu of new and favorite Japanese and Korean dishes, giving diners a wide selection of viands to choose from.

These include:

  • Salad Bar (with choice of Wafu, Ponzu, Yangnyeom Jang dressing): Kimchi, Sigeumchi Namul, Oi Muchim, Hobak Bokkeum, Gaji Namul, Gamja Jorim, Mu Saengchae, Pajeori, Eomuk Bokkeum; Chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard dish)
  • Japanese Bar: assorted maki rolls and takoyaki
  • Cook-to-Order marinated Chicken and Pork
  • Assorted bread rolls
  • Soup: Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup)
  • Carving Meat/Centerpiece: Buta no Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly)
  • Main Courses: Seafood Cheese Tteokbeokki (Spicy Rice Cake), Chicken Nanban (Deep-Fried Chicken with Tartar Sauce), Gaji Namul (Steamed Eggplants) and Japchae
  • Rice: Tori Chahan and Steamed Rice
  • Dessert: Sata Andagi (Okinawan Doughnuts), Fresh Fruits and Chef’s Discretion Desserts

At only Php800+ per person, it is available only for dinner until November 30, 2018.

The sheer variety of food on offer can be quite overwhelming at first, but as I’ve often advised when eating at an eat all-you-can buffet, concentrate on food that are your absolute faves or try out ones you don’t get to eat often.  This way, you get to maximize your savings and the experience.

Some menu items could use a few tweaks such as offering mild and spicy ssamjang dipping sauces to go with the grilled pork and chicken, replenishing the ebi tempura more often, offering more dessert choices (hopefully bingsu!) and lessening the sweetness of the teokbokki.

Other than those points for improvement, the upscale ambiance and the superb servicing of Firefly Roofdeck’s wait staff make dining at Firefly Roofdeck truly memorable.

https://flic.kr/p/NyN6qK

Aside from the Japanese-Korean Buffet, diners can opt for other menu items ala carte such as:

Rooftop Barbecue (includes vegetables and choice among rice, French friends or mashed potatoes):

  • Grilled Squid (Php650)
  • Grilled Liempo (Php325)
  • Beef Tenderloin (Php780/200g | Php1,395/400g)
  • Lamb Rack (Php728/200g | Php1,195/400g)
  • Rib Eye (Php840/200g | Php1,395/400g)
  • Salmon Fillet (Php875)
  • Tiger Prawn (Php595)
  • Chicken Breast (Php295)
  • Hungarian Sausage (Php575)
  • Veal Bratwurst (Php575)

Bar Chow

  • Mezclado Nueses & Patatas Fritas (Php195)
  • Lechon Kawali (Php495)
  • Tinapa Salted Egg Roll (Php225)
  • Buffalo Itik (Php625)
  • Grilled Tuna Panga (Php850)
  • Grand Chicharon (Php150)
  • Adobo Potato Wedges (Php225)
  • Lechon Sisig Overload (Php350)
  • Crispy Crablets (Php245)
  • Papas Fritas (Php195)
  • Chicken Fingers (Php295)
  • Cerveza Pescaito Frito (Php325)
  • Nachos A La Queen (Php395)
  • Camaron Picante (Php425)
  • Pollo Palomitas en Parilla (Php295)

Firefly Roofdeck is located at the 32nd Floor of the City Garden Grand Hotel, Makati Avenue corner Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati City, open daily from 10am to 2am.  For reservations and inquiries, call +63 2 5543429.

Firefly Roofdeck - City Garden Grand Hotel 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.

Need some tips to maximize your eat-all-you-can experience?  Read my buffet survival guide.

Check out my reviews of other buffet restaurants:

Happy lunch at Twapakto in Scout Rallos, QC

My officemates and I were happy to discover this new eatery along Scout Rallos in QC.  It’s a bit of a distance from our workplace but the travel to the location is well worth the time.

Twapakto, a Fookien word that means “big tummy,” calls to mind the bliss that comes from having a fun and satisfying meal with good friends.  Even the store’s interiors have a fun vibe; the bare concrete walls set off the colorful furnishings with cute illustrations of happy big-tummied people.

Our group of four ordered a bowl of Crispy Pork Belly Rice (Php180) for each of us and a half-order of Twapakto Char Siu or Chinese Pork Asado (Php380) for sharing.  Now, I’m not much of an asado aficionado but I found myself liking this dish; the meat was full-flavored and the sauce was not too sweet.  The piece de resistance, however, was the pork belly; the meat was tender, the skin was cracklingly crispy and the fat melts in my mouth.  I also ordered a Leche Flan Shake Special (Php100), which was a sweet, creamy cap to the meal.

We went back to the store the following week but were disappointed to discover that it’s closed on Mondays. 😦

I look forward to coming back to that Crispy Pork Belly, though.

Twapakto is located at the 2nd Floor, Elements Hall, 27 Scout Rallos Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City.

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

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