Birthday Lunch at Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

I’m blessed to have coworkers who like to celebrate milestones with a good meal.

An officemate’s birthday falls within a few weeks of mine so two of our former bosses decided to treat us out to a joint birthday lunch.

And for that, Lola Cafe is our best bet, considering its proximity to our workplace, its Instagrammable modern interiors and its menu of imaginatively prepared homey dishes.

Similar to other restaurants in the Tomas Morato area, Lola Cafe was built from a renovated house. It boasts of a sizeable parking area (a big plus in this vicinity), a high-ceilinged bar area, and a dining area that combines the old architectural layout with a modern black and white aesthetic and a refreshing view of the lush green space outside.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Lola Cafe serves Filipino food that makes use local ingredients in imaginative ways such as:

Crispy Tinapa (Php220 for solo). Tinapa, bits of ripe mango, kesong puti tossed in romaine lettuce and arugula with slightly sweet and citrusy honey dalandan dressing.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Baked Tahong Express (Php220).  Baked mussels generously topped with mozzarella, garlic, Bicol Express sauce and green chilis.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Tartufo (Php295 for solo).  Spaghetti noodles tossed in a cream sauce with truffle oil and portobello mushroom.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Shrimp Aligue (Php295 for solo). Spaghetti noodles tossed with plump shrimp in a rich  and decadent cream sauce of crab fat and kesong puti.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Lola Fried Chicken (Php310 for solo). Juicy pieces of chicken thighs in garlic butter sauce.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Prawns in Aligue (Php420 for solo). Succulent poached prawns in a spicy sauce of crab fat, chili garlic and lemon butter.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Mango Pavlova (Php160). Crunchy cashew meringue and bits of mango layered with chantilly cream.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Kesong Puti Cheesecake (Php220). A rich cheesecake made of kesong puti topped with bukayo (sweetened coconut strips) and salted latik (caramelized coconut cream).

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

These delicious dishes, Lola Cafe’s attentive staff and the awesome company helped to make that birthday lunch truly memorable.

Lola Cafe, Tomas Morato

Since Lola Cafe is a Zomato Gold partner establishment, and all four of us unlocked or Zomato Gold privilege, our group got some of our food orders for 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 my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

Lola Cafe is located at 99 Scout Lozano Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City, open Mondays to Thursdays from 11.30am to 10pm, Fridays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 11pm, and Sundays from 10.30am to 9pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 5012620 or +63 917 8176045.

Another branch recently opened at the Fifth Floor, The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.

Lola Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Relaxing Sunday brunch at Noor, BGC

The day was warm with the sun shining down brightly from blue skies unmarred by clouds as I made my way to an area of Bonifacio Global CIty I seldom find myself visiting.

Megaworld’s Lifestyle Malls Forbestown Center (also known as Burgos Circle) is home to many new concept restaurants, cafes and dessert places. It is a wonder how I’m seldom here but that can soon be rectified. 🙂

This particular Sunday morning, I was headed to one restaurant in particular: Noor Modern Mediterranean. The place may look quite posh with its well-appointed modern interiors and the tasteful display of art and wine bottles throughout the premises but the overall vibe is one of freshness and warm hospitality. Its second floor dining area features a green wall as its focal point and floor-to-ceiling windows that affords a view of Forbestown Center as well as lots of natural light which will become quite handy when we do our food photos later on.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Yep, this hip and happening resto is to be the setting of a relaxed and banter-filled gathering among myself and my fellow foodie friends from #WeLoveToEatPH and #SaanSaPH.

Firstly, we were warmly welcomed by Noor’s Isreali-born Chef Or Hakmimi, who brings to the table the Mediterranean culinary influences he grew up with. The chef also espouses a friendly and casual dining atmosphere for his establishment; in between his adventures in the kitchen preparing Noor’s signature dishes as well as new ones he is experimenting on, he takes the time to chat with his guests and share more about his philosophy when it comes to food.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Foremost among his rules of thumb is the preference for having at least three flavors and textures in the food he serves, “so it won’t be boring.” He is right, too. Each bite of Noor’s dishes presented us with wonderful complexities: smokeyness, tartness, a hint of spice and more.

These complexities are in evidence in the brunch feast he and his staff laid out for us, which include:

Salmon Tartare. Not yet on the menu, this dish is made of thinly sliced chilled salmon topped with roe and served on crunchy black sesame seed-studded phyllo cones, an awesome start to the meal!

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Cauliflauer (Php300). I read somewhere that this dish is life-changing and I can definitely agree! Cauliflauer are deep-fried and tossed in ceasar aoili and parsley.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Moroccan Shrimp (Php480). Succulent shrimps grilled then served on a bed of tatziki (a Greek yogurt-based side dish flavored by mashed vegetables, dill and olive oil) together with charred eggplant.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Lamb Baklava (Php470). Ground lamb sauteed in olive oil and spices encased in sheets of sheer phyllo dough baked to a lusciously crispy golden brown. Served with sesame dressing and a raspberry sauce, its combo of meaty savory and tart fruity flavors is a winner.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Chicken Skewers (Php590). Tender and flavorful chicken pieces, grilled together with onions and bell peppers and served with Syrian Basmati rice and seared tomato.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Shawarma Tacos (Php630). A triad of shawarma variants – roasted chicken with tahini, tomatoes and amba aoili; roasted fish with tsaziki, coleslaw and cilantro; and roasted mushrooms with garlic aioli, sumac onions and parsley – served open-faced on warm pita bread. These are best eaten by hand! (A bit messy but that’s part of the experience!)

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Knafe (Php390). A classic Arab desert made of shredded buttery phyllo pastry, ricotta cheese, rose water syrup and yogurt ice cream topped with chopped pistachios. That interplay of warm and cold inside my mouth, together with the sweetness and rich buttery flavor is quite decadent. My only regret is that I have gone through forty plus years in life and I’ve only tasted this heavenly dessert today.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

Almond Creme Brulee (Php330). A mildly sweet, creamy almond cream custard garnished with raspberry sauce and mint.

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

All of these dishes are made from scratch in the kitchen by Chef Or. Ingredients are locally sourced and the produce are organically grown in local farms.

Chef Or and his staff also served us with the resto’s signature cocktails to complement the dishes and to add to the day’s happy vibe.

Noor, BGC

Gypsy Mango (Php380). Rum mixed with organic mango liquor, fresh mango and cilantro. A perfect drink for this summer day!

Noor, BGC

Cinnamon Fashion (Php340). A version of the Old-Fashioned cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters and adding some brandy, but here, it is garnished with a cinnamon stick.

Noor, BGC

Built to Spill (Php350). A blend of bourbon, ginger root and mint leaves.

Noor, BGC

Noor (Php390). The resto’s house-recipe cocktail made with gin, freh basil, cucumber, fresh lemon juice and tonic water.

Noor, BGC

Flavored Soda Water. Sparkling water flavored with juices of sweet fruits such as lychee, passionfruit and strawberry to quench our thirst and refresh our palates.

Noor, BGC

With such a lavish spread of good Mediterranean food, refreshing cocktails that kept us in high spirits and the company of great friends, it was a very enjoyable Sunday brunch!

Noor, BGC

Noor, BGC

And here’s some good news: did you know you can get free drinks at Noor, thanks to Zomato Gold? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

Noor is located at Unit F133, Forbeswood Heights, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, open daily from 11am to 12 midnight. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 956 1563426.

Noor 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.

Mix and Match Lunch Set at Half Saints, Tomas Morato

For me, the office lunch break is a sacred hour.  In this precious spot of time, I can take a break from the pencil-pushing, number-crunching and many of the stresses I take on in the course of my job.  When I have lunch with a coworkers, it also presents me with an opportunity to chat and get to know them, discover shared interests or vent on common frustrations.

This is why going out for lunch is especially important to me.  Having a packed lunch from home to eat at the office pantry or buying one to-go from the office foodcourt may be more efficient and economical, but does not provide me with a change of scenery that helps in keeping my stress levels down.

However, lunches out are not exactly budget-friendly.

Fortunately, nearby restaurant Half Saints offers DIY Lunch Sets wherein diners can mix and match options for rice and viand, all for Php165.

It’s such a no frills yet fun way to decide on what you’re having for lunch.

A friend and I dropped by on our lunch break and got for ourselves:

Black Squid Rice + Bacon Slab and Egg

Pink Salmon Rice + Shrimp Skewer

Since I had some money left over, I decided to indulge myself with a Paprika Cheese Tart (Php70).

Our boss asked us to get her lunch to-go so we opted for Black Squid Rice + Japanese Fried Chicken Bites that we took back to office.

The food choices do embody Half Saints concept of providing comfort food with a twist, influenced by owners Christine Roque, Trina Roque, Tricia Roque, Tanya Mesina and Joana Arciaga’s Filipino roots merging with their exposure to other cultures. The ingredients and dishes are familiar but are melded together in novel ways (and prettily plated too!), producing flavors and textures that do excite one’s senses when the dishes are laid down on the table.

Furthermore, through its advocacy, Half Saints also supports local businesses by sourcing its ingredients from local food and farmer cooperatives.

The food took some time to get to us (the waiter even got one of the orders wrong), though, so we busied ourselves by poring over some of the books artfully displayed in the store. The resto has a minimalist feel to it – and no wonder, its interior design was inspired by coffee shops in Tokyo. It proved to be a cozy and quiet place to hang out in.

Half Saints, Tomas Morato

I think this place would also be a nice after-office refuge. I can picture myself with a mug of Half Saints’ freshly brewed coffee and a pastry, just chillin’ after a day’s work.

Half Saints is located at the Ground Floor, Ignacia Place, Mother Ignacia Corner Sergeant Esguerra Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City, open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11.30am to 10pm. For reservations, call +63 935 9330512. Or you can book your table via Zomato like I did.

Half Saints Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tempura Overload at Tenya Tempura Tendon, BGC

Considered of the most successful tendon restaurant chains in Japan, Tenya Tempura Tendon opened its doors in the BGC Stopover Pavilion. Its goal, driven by the vision of its founder Mr. Yoshio Iwashita, is to provide diners with high quality yet affordable tendon and tempura.

Tenya prides itself on the quality of its ingredients – such as the sweet succulent tiger prawns, the heart-healthy canola oil, Japanese rice and secret dontare sauce for its tendon – and its methods to produce consistent and tasty tempura such as the specially designed infrared heat technology-powered fryer.

Tempura is one of Japan’s most popular dishes, characterized by seafood, meat and vegetables covered in a light batter then quickly deep-fried to produce tempura’s signature golden-brown hue.

During our family’s recent foray in BGC, we chanced upon this Tenya branch around lunchtime and decided to try it out.

We ordered a Yume Ooedo Set (Php1,295) which consist of 6 black tiger prawn tempura, 6 kani sticks, 3 squid, 3 fish tempura, 2 small kakiage (chopped vegetables and seafood), 3 battered green beans, 3 battered sweet potato, 4 rice and 4 miso soup. Aside from that, we also ordered a 5-piece Salmon Tempura (Php310).

The servings were hearty and the textures and flavors were varied enough that we did not experience umay (roughly translates to flavor-fatigue). The batter was light and adhered well to the fried seafood and veggies. Given that all four of us ate our fill, our orders were affordably priced indeed.

The service staff were friendly and accommodating, quick to assist us with our requests.

My only complaint about the experience was that the store’s airconditioning system was not able to counteract the summer midday heat.

This Tenya Tempura Tendon branch is located at the 2nd floor, BGC Stopover Pavilion, Rizal Drive cor 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (Tel No: 02 – 512-4776). Other branches are located at:

  • Ground Floor, Market! Market!, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City (Tel No: 02 – 833-9682)
  • 4F SM Megamall Bldg. A, Doña Julia Vargas Ave, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City (Tel No: 02 – 696-5996)
  • Food Street, Ground Floor, SM Southmall, Almanza, Las Piñas City (Tel No: 02 – 984-3872)
  • ASEANA Avenue cor. Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. Paranaque City (Tel No: 02 -370-5924)
  • GF Water Garden, Extension Site, Civic Drive, Festival Supermall Alabang, Muntinlupa (Tel No: 02 – 512-4862)
  • GF North Wing Entertainment Mall, Sunset Ave. cor. Seaside Blvd. SM Mall of Asia Pasay (Tel No: 02 – 810-2784)
  • GF Southpark Bldg. Paseo de Magallanes, Makati City (Tel No: 02 – 821-5797)

For more details on Tenya Tendon and Tempura food offerings, visit Tenya’s website.

Tenya Tempura Tendon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You said what?!? Fat Fook!

Despite the odd-sounding name, there’s nothing obscene about Fat Fook, except probably the amount of food you will end up consuming. In fact, the name’s meaning in Cantonese comes closer to “big blessing.”

This Taiwanese resto, managed by the same group that operates Ramen Nagi, opened its first store in the very busy SM North EDSA. The decor has quite a modern feel with touches of eccentric Asian aesthetic such as bright red architectural accents and porcelain bowls used as light fixtures.

After doing some field work in the morning, a coworker and I were treated lunch at Fat Fook. We were able to sample the unique tastes of Taiwan with these orders:

  • Taiwanese Sausages (Php288). The sweetness of the sausages were enhanced by the thin slices of raw garlic wedged into them.
  • Taiwan Style Fried Rice (Php258). Tiny cubes of Taiwanese sausages are mixed into rice with finely chopped carrots and green onions, sauteed with a savory brown sauce.
  • Salted Egg Shrimp (Php398). I would have preferred for the shrimps to be shelled so that I won’t have to scrape off that tasty salted egg sauce from the shells before eating the shrimp.

Fat Fook seems very promising and I look forward to tasting more of its offerings. The good news is: a new branch opened at Robinsons Galleria which is nearer my place.

Fat Fook Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Seafood Haven at Crab ‘n Crew

The folks invited us to try out this seafood resto in Project 6.  It is located in a small building along Visayas Avenue.  There is ample parking space but given the seemingly universal appeal of its #CrabAllYouCan for only Php699 offer, be ready to wait for your table like we did.

The resto’s interiors have an industrial feel to it with multiple hanging lights and black and white photos providing accents to the decor.

Our group ordered a Mussel Bag (Php420/100grams) and a Butter Bag (Php999, consists of seafood and corn on the cob bits), which we ate with our hands (making use of the bibs and gloves provided.)

I like how the mix of textures from the crabs, prawns, mussels and oysters and their respective sauces made for hearty meal.

The wait staff are also friendly and attentive.

Crab n' Crew Restobar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sumptuous Seafood at Shrimp Bucket

Shrimp Bucket is where my officemates and I go when we feel that we deserve a very happy lunch. For one thing, we eat here fairly often despite the pricy menu or we make our pleasure so evident that the friendly wait staff can recognize us on sight and already know what we will order.

The resto’s interiors have few decor but the most interesting are the bucket chandeliers. There is ample seating for around 30-40 people.

We plan our outings here ahead of time (usually to coincide with payday), so we usually have a lot of time to fantasize about our signature orders:

  • 1 pound of shrimp with Salty Eggsperience sauce
  • 1 pound of Mussels with The Mardi Gras sauce (slightly spicy with yummy chorizo bits thrown in

These sumptuous seafood dishes are best eaten family-style with steaming hot rice. Do take advantage of the bib and plastic gloves provided by the resto so you can eat with your hands to really enjoy the experience without worrying about making a mess or dirtying your clothes.

I have tried some of the resto’s other offerings such as the pan-fried fish fillet in soy ginger sauce and the crispy belachan pork but the combination of the Saltjy Eggsperience shrimp and the Mardi Gras mussels is still unbeatable for me.

This Shrimp Bucket is located at the 2nd floor of Il Terrazzo, Tomas Morato cor Scout Madrinan Street, South Triangle, Quezon City.

Other branches are located at the following:

  • 2nd floor of Ayala Malls the 30th along Meralco Avenue in Pasig
  • Along Missouri Street in Greenhills
  • Ground floor of Grand Hamptons Tower 1 along 31st Street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
  • Ground Floor of UP Town Center along Katipunan Avenue in Diliman, Quezon City
  • Circuit Makati in Olympia, Makati